Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

Hi everyone,

I'm getting a bit frustrated with my Aquaponics system.  It's been cycling (with fish) for a little over 4 weeks now.  For a while there everything tested normal.  Now in the last few day's my tomato plant died.  A number of the sprouts that started (parsley, basil, variety of lettuce, corn)  all died after about a week of looking great.  I have two tiny basil sprouts and 1 tiny parsley sprout left.  Today my water tests are as follows PH 8.2 (I have never been able to get it below 8), Ammonia 1, Nitrite 2, Nitrate 160.  I haven't had any fish die yet accept for those that have jumped out.  I have a mixture of catfish and sunfish.  I feed them other fish and duckweed but mostly fish since the duckweed(dried) goes through my overflow valve into the grow beds.  I don't want to use any commercial flakes with soy.  

Is this normal for cycling?  I mean the test levels.  Should I dig up a tomato plant from my outside garden and put into the system to help convert the ammonia?  I don't know if the 3 little sprouts I have can manage it?  

I tried adding vinegar to lower the PH.  It helps a little but I have to add it daily.  I added liquid seaweed a couple times to help the plants grow because it didn't seem like I had enough fish.  I can't figure out the ratio of how many plants to how many fish.  Along with size of fish to size of plants?  


I'm using brown river rock as my media.  12" deep grow beds.  


Any suggestions?


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Yes, I meant nitrite is 0ppm.  I was multi-tasking and typed too fast without proofreading.  I have maxicrop without the iron.  


I'm experimenting with dried duckweed, worms, bugs, etc., anything off the farm in an effort to be more sustainable.   I have laying hens and won't feed them commercial feed.  Instead I mix a whole grain diet for them.  I've started growing some of the grains myself.  It's taking a lot more time and energy but in the end I have eggs free of gmo-feed.  And just maybe in the near future all my feed grown right here on our farm.  My motivation is my children.


I'm growing duckweed in a separate system then scooping some out to dry in the sun.   I may be forced to use a commercial feed for a time.  I'll have too see if I can find out the specifics of what is in fish feed in order to replicate.


I appreciate all the help I have received  from the aquaponics community.  I hope in time I can give back some of what I have learned.   

Thanks again for all your help.  :):):):)

Yeah the nitrate doesnt need to be that high, I just like it up there. Right now mine is like 20ppm cuz of the cold weather, I cant feed enough (need more fish, and a greenhouse)


Since you're just starting out I'd suggest making your life a little easier and buying some good food.  Later you can formulate your own feeding regime and start a little worm farm.  I use Hikari Staple, bought online from petsmart.  Dont buy the crap from walmart, sounds like you wouldn't anyway though. 


I cant wait to have the space for chickens! I've seen an aquaponic greenhouse where chicken poo is fed to the fish a few days a week, but I haven't researched it at all

I don't recommend the chicken poo going into the aquaponics system.  Chickens are warm blooded and things like e. coli and salmonella can be transmitted from chickens to us through food grown in water contaminated by their poo.


It might be fine in asia to use manure and even night soil directly in the fields but they cook all their fresh water fish and veggies well.  This doesn't jive if you are planning to eat your salads raw.

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