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Hi Folk,

I've had a micro system running from several months now and made changes slowly over time to get me to where I am today:

- About 8 gallons

- 3 gallon total GB volume

- expanded clay media

- about eight 2" gold fish

- bell siphon

- about 3 minute cycle (small GB with 1/2 PVC stand pipe, can't slow it down without killing reliability)

 

So far, nothing grows. Nothing dies, but nothing grows. I pulled out everything except for a basil seedling. The "seedling" is 6 months old and 1" tall. The fish appear happy and healthy.

Recent tests had the following

- Ammonia 0

- Nitrates 0 (!?)

- pH 8.0

 

pH seems out of line and I've been reading on how to adjust that. We have very hard water in Los Angeles and its hard to control. The system seems to loose a lot of water on a weekly basis through splashing and evaporation, so I'm probably replacing 20% on a weekly basis, which only adds to the hardness problem.

 

Another ugly symptom- lots of algae growth due to translucent GB. Could the algae be stealing all my nitrogen?

 

My immediate plans:

- paint the outside of the GB to block light

- look into lowering pH

- add more fish (?)

 

If anyone has anythoughts on the lack of growth based on what I've layed out here, please let me know.

 

Best to all! 

 

 

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definitely block light from the ft.. algae does consume nutrients but i don't think that's your problem

what are you feeding the fish?  (i think you have enough fish)

do you have any worms in the growbeds? 

you could try treating the top up water before putting it into your ft

I'm feeding the fish standard gold fish food.

No worms.

I treat the water with aquarium water conditioner and ammonia detoxifier before topping off.



Keith Rowan said:

definitely block light from the ft.. algae does consume nutrients but i don't think that's your problem

what are you feeding the fish?  (i think you have enough fish)

do you have any worms in the growbeds? 

you could try treating the top up water before putting it into your ft

Forgot to ask in the original post about washing the GB media to reduce the algae...


What is the proper method for washing the GB media? Will I be washing away all of my beneficial bacteria?

Being a worm farmer myself, it seems like  you might need to add some worms to help get some required nutrients.  But I am still new to this as well. 

What kind of worms do you suggest? Where can I get them?

Brian Watson said:

Being a worm farmer myself, it seems like  you might need to add some worms to help get some required nutrients.  But I am still new to this as well. 

Figured out that I was using the nitrate test incorrectly. Retesting shows between 20 and 40ppm.

Still doesn't explain the lack of growth though...

I strongly recommend that you try a high quality aquaculture food.  See the shop tab on this site for a couple of many options.  There are feeding topics and groups on this site too.

Robert Pugh said:

I'm feeding the fish standard gold fish food.

Get some red wigglers.  In some areas of the country call them red worms but here in Georgia we call them red wigglers.  They will definitely give you an extra boost of nutrients. 
 
Robert Pugh said:

What kind of worms do you suggest? Where can I get them?

Brian Watson said:

Being a worm farmer myself, it seems like  you might need to add some worms to help get some required nutrients.  But I am still new to this as well. 

Update:

Painted GB white on the outside to block light. Hopefully this will control the algae without absorbing too much heat.

Re-plumbed the GB with 1/4 tubing, this changed the cycle time from 3min to 11min. This was easier than I thought. Just left the 1/2 in PVC in place and ran the 1/4 tubing inside it. Glued the top of the tubing in place with hot glue at the top of the stand pipe. Produces very reliable stops and starts to the siphon. I thought I would have to use a smaller bell, but the existing 1.5in bell works just fine. Washed media and put it back together.

Placed various bean varieties and some basil seeds directly into GB and almost every seed has sprouted. Previously seeds would not start on their own in the GB (had to use separate pot with seed starter mix). About a week and a half and things are looking promising.


I'll post again in a few weeks. I'm expecting nutrient deficiencies so I'll be back with more questions I'm sure...

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