Aquaponic Gardening

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I just noticed that with all the topics we have going, none are about the most mystifying topic of all - cycling your system.  How did you start up your system?  Using fish or "fish-less"?  Pee-ponics? Pure ammonia?  A bacteria product?  If so, which one?  Did you supplement with anything?  Liquid seaweed?

It's been a while since I last cycled a system.  Once you have done it a few times you get to where any new system is started with media and tank water from a fully cycled system so it becomes much easier and less dramatic.  The first system I cycled was a nail-biter.  I just used fish...period...and watched anxiously as the ammonia, then nitrites spiked.  The next two systems were cycled at the same time and I used a ridiculously expensive product that had to be refrigerated in one tank, and a combination of peeponics and Maxicrop in the other tank.  Much, much faster results (unfortunately I didn't keep great records so I can't remember more detail than that) with less angst.  I seem to remember that the two tanks cycled at about the same rate, so I'm never buying an expensive product again!  The Maxicrop enabled me to get plants in there immediately, and I followed up with fish in about a week once I could see through the water again.  What I would probably recommend at this point is cycling with a little pure ammonia and Maxicrop, and add fish once you see the nitrites going down and a glimmer of nitrates...if you have that much control over when your fish arrive.  

Anyone else?

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Careful AJ about adding too many different things as you start up since it might be hard to tell what is going on.
good point TC, there is a point were too much good=bad.   I will add each one separately and give a day or to between to make sure everything is stable.

TCLynx said:
Careful AJ about adding too many different things as you start up since it might be hard to tell what is going on.

I would probably start with making sure any chlorine is off gassed by pumping around the system for a few days (if well water that might not be necessary but you might need to try to adjust your pH to make sure it is below 8 if you have realy hard water before you start.)  Then I would add about a spoon full of the worm castings to each grow bed then dose with your ammonia source and wait till you get some changing readings before you add anything else.

 

Maxicrop in small doses doesn't seem to have given anyone else problems so that might be good to dose with when you add plants just to make sure there are some trace elements and potassium available to plants since they take a while in mineralization to become available to plants from fish food or fish waste.

 

The other items I do know know about, you will be experimenting with them so keep that fact in mind.

Good luck with it.

 

AJ Grottke said:

good point TC, there is a point were too much good=bad.   I will add each one separately and give a day or to between to make sure everything is stable.

TCLynx said:
Careful AJ about adding too many different things as you start up since it might be hard to tell what is going on.
Thanks for the info TC.  I have well H20 so no chlorine. Also i have the Merlin Garden Pro Reverse Osmosis machine so that sets the ph a 7.1 and PPM at 70 (instead of 490 out of the tap!) There would be less PPM but i think i need new filters for the RO.  So my H2O supply should be ok.  Ill start out how you explained, then do a little bit o the other stuff l8r on adding a small amount at a time, then recording the results. Also before i put those other products in i will test the PH of them in a sample mixture. 

TCLynx said:

I would probably start with making sure any chlorine is off gassed by pumping around the system for a few days (if well water that might not be necessary but you might need to try to adjust your pH to make sure it is below 8 if you have realy hard water before you start.)  Then I would add about a spoon full of the worm castings to each grow bed then dose with your ammonia source and wait till you get some changing readings before you add anything else.

 

Maxicrop in small doses doesn't seem to have given anyone else problems so that might be good to dose with when you add plants just to make sure there are some trace elements and potassium available to plants since they take a while in mineralization to become available to plants from fish food or fish waste.

 

The other items I do know know about, you will be experimenting with them so keep that fact in mind.

Good luck with it.

 

AJ Grottke said:

good point TC, there is a point were too much good=bad.   I will add each one separately and give a day or to between to make sure everything is stable.

TCLynx said:
Careful AJ about adding too many different things as you start up since it might be hard to tell what is going on.

490 ppm of what? 

I use my well water straight into my system but my well water is only hard because it comes from a limestone aquifer.  It comes out of the tap with a pH of 7 but once the CO2 is driven off the pH is usually over 8.  but this isn't that big a deal since once the AP system is cycled up, that calcium carbonate gets used up buffering the system to keep the pH from crashing too low and I still have to add more buffer material.

 


If you are removing most of the minerals from your water before adding it to the system, you are probably robbing your system of some things it could use and you will wind up having to add them later.  Exceptions would be if your well is shallow and contaminated with stuff from ground run off or has salt intrusion.  Giving soft water to your AP system will mean you have to add lime and other buffers far more often as well as making you replace your filters on the RO more often.

 

Other than that, sounds good.

 

AJ Grottke said:

  Also i have the Merlin Garden Pro Reverse Osmosis machine so that sets the ph a 7.1 and PPM at 70 (instead of 490 out of the tap!) There would be less PPM but i think i need new filters for the RO. 
490 PPM is everything in the water. in order to know what specifically is in that i would have to send it to a lab.  I use the blue lab guardian PH, TEMP, PPM/EC meter which gives the total PPM, not of each specific nutrient.  If i don't use RO i always get crusties (salt build-up).  Also, I really would prefer to use an RO as i am surrounded by tens of thousands of acres of mono-cropped corn and soy.  I DO worry about leaching of those pesticides; not to mention the crap load of chemtrails in this area (Southern WI). Chem-trails contain anything from Aluminum salts to Phosphine, a deadly poison. Click here for a video (its the 2nd video on the page). Sorry i am anal about these things, but thats 1 reason y i have grow plants and culinary mushrooms indoors using filters for the past 3 years.  I do garden outside (because i LOVE soil), put i prefer some kind of covered stucture to grow in, until all of these contaminants are eliminated.   About buffering more, i dont mind because i know what im buffering with; if i pour straight well water in i have no idea what the hell is in it.  Maybe if we humans hadnt messed this earth up so bad i could use straight well water.  I am trying to fix that by helping heal the earth just as most of the other people growing their own food are.  The healing of the earth is a team effort and should be the top priority of all peoples :)

OK, helps to know where you are and what the local water supply is like.  Sigh, yea, I guess you will have to do more of the control there yourself.

 

Good Luck with it keep some buffering material on hand then and happy growing.

Hi AJ.  Sorry I missed you question until now.  When I used this I used the "non-flush" instructions, which are for 1/4 teas per gallon.  Since the idea with this product is to jump start the bacteria, I'd go ahead and add it now.  Won't do any harm.

AJ Grottke said:

This discussion has some good info that i will take with me when i cycle my system this upcoming week.  If i can i would like to write everything down (daily inputs, daily ANN, PH, EC, Temp levels, & how many days it takes to cycle).  I am planning on using Proline ammonium chloride, maxicrop, earth nectar Ambrosia+Nectar (thank you sylvia), and i will also put a pot filled with earthworm castings and Alaskan humus below the water inlet for the growbeds.  I think that is plenty of goodies.  I love giving goodies to the organisms i grow; i might enjoy it more than giving myself good stuff (well actually their the same thing when growing food lol.)  If you treat your organisms right theyll treat you right, so i guess we both gain.  win-win scenario  :)

Slyvia, how much Earth ambrosia+nectar do you think i add to a 320 gal system (1/4 cup?)

TY Sylvia, it looks like a gr8 product; i cant wait to put it in :)  I should be starting the cycling of my system in the next few days and will record info and share.

Sylvia Bernstein said:
Hi AJ.  Sorry I missed you question until now.  When I used this I used the "non-flush" instructions, which are for 1/4 teas per gallon.  Since the idea with this product is to jump start the bacteria, I'd go ahead and add it now.  Won't do any harm.

AJ Grottke said:

This discussion has some good info that i will take with me when i cycle my system this upcoming week.  If i can i would like to write everything down (daily inputs, daily ANN, PH, EC, Temp levels, & how many days it takes to cycle).  I am planning on using Proline ammonium chloride, maxicrop, earth nectar Ambrosia+Nectar (thank you sylvia), and i will also put a pot filled with earthworm castings and Alaskan humus below the water inlet for the growbeds.  I think that is plenty of goodies.  I love giving goodies to the organisms i grow; i might enjoy it more than giving myself good stuff (well actually their the same thing when growing food lol.)  If you treat your organisms right theyll treat you right, so i guess we both gain.  win-win scenario 

Slyvia, how much Earth ambrosia+nectar do you think i add to a 320 gal system (1/4 cup?)

Hi everyone,

 

This is my very first post to the forum and found this to be a very timely discussion.  I picked up 10% ammonium hydroxide at Ace to start my first  fishless cycle, but I am not sure how much to put in my 60 gallon tank.   As I am reading through the posts, it seems that most are using other ammonium products to start.  Has anyone used the 10% ammonium hydroxide?  If so, any tips here? 

 

If no one else has tried using the 10% ammonium hydroxide, I may try to find some of the other products mentioned.  I'd rather use something that others have used successfully.  Thanks!

 

Lena

Start off my checking your pH of the water in the system after it has been pumping around for a while.  Also do ammonia, nitrite and nitrate tests and write them all down to get your baseline.

 

Then I would add a measured amount to the system, let it mix, then test for ammonia again as well as checking the pH to see if the hydroxide has any effect on the pH.  You might need to keep adding small measured amounts till you get an ammonia level of between 1 and 2 ppm.  You want the pH to stay between 6.5 and 8 for starting the initial cycling. 

 

I've never used ammonium hydroxide for cycling (I've actually never paid for my ammonia source.)

Thanks for the great advice.   We rinsed the hydroton and filled the tank about 10 days ago.  It has been cycling with just water since then.  Also, 5 days ago I added about 16 ozs. of water from our small fishtank that has 3 coy fish in it.

 

Here's what I have now: ph is 7.6, ammonia is between .25-.50, nitrite is 0, nitrate is 0.  With 10% ammonia hydroxide, I decided to add  10x what was recommended if I had 100% ammonia (2 tsp).  So today I added 20 tsp or about 1/2 cup.  I will let it cycle at the 30 mins. off, 15 mins. on for the the next day and test the ammonia tomorrow.

 

I'm thinking I can post my results on my page instead of this forum unless ppl think I should post here.

 


TCLynx said:

Start off my checking your pH of the water in the system after it has been pumping around for a while.  Also do ammonia, nitrite and nitrate tests and write them all down to get your baseline.

 

Then I would add a measured amount to the system, let it mix, then test for ammonia again as well as checking the pH to see if the hydroxide has any effect on the pH.  You might need to keep adding small measured amounts till you get an ammonia level of between 1 and 2 ppm.  You want the pH to stay between 6.5 and 8 for starting the initial cycling. 

 

I've never used ammonium hydroxide for cycling (I've actually never paid for my ammonia source.)

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