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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I'd have to check Sylvia... but I can't see how a "bicarbonate" could have a stable pH value of 6.3

 

Carbonates, and doubly strong BiCarbonates form the basis for pH buffer to raise pH...

 

Sounds like an oxymoron to me...

thanks for checking, Rupe.  This is out of my league.
All the google hits for pH of ammonium bicarbonate seem to reference 7.8 ...
hmmm....sounds like some misinformation then.  I've been using ammonium chloride to cycle.  It is what AquaticEco sells.   I'm a little concerned about the chlorine, but Dr. Lennard tells me that there is so little chlorine that it doesn't matter. Is that one of the things you would recommend for fishless cycling?

Now I don't know the chemistry well enough but since it is the chloride in sodium chloride that actually helps protect the fish some from the nitrite spike when cycling, it seems that ammonium chloride wouldn't be a problem.  Chloride being a bit different form than the chlorine.

Of course one might need to re-assure me that things won't some how re-combine to make the ammonium chloride into chloramine or something like that.  (saddly, I didn't make it through Chemistry, just too dyslexic apparently.)

Here's where I am at after adding 1 tsp ammonia everyday for the past few days:


ammonia - .25ppm

nitrite - .25ppm

nitrate- 5-10ppm

 

I'm having a tough time getting ammonia and nitrite down to zero after 24 hours of adding 1 tsp ammonia (which would bring the ammonia count up to 2.0ppm after a few cycles).     Is .25ppm close enough?  thanks!! all.  Also, I love the peppers and tomatoes, Francois.  Glad you were able to get those to grow well in AP.

 


Lena E said:

thanks Harold!  I will add 1 tsp. ammonia and see what happens!

Hi Lena,

Looking back on your previous post, i think that the one teaspoon is a large amount for a system this size.With the setup you have it probably won't "digest" 1 teaspoon of ammonia in 24 hours. I originally cycled with a daily maintenance dose of one teaspoon of urea in 50 gallons of FT housing 10 Tilapia. Which means with your .25 ammonia/nitrite, your system is more than prepared for the 3 fish you have. Congratulations you are fully cycled! Nitrates show you are ready for plants. 

Lena E said:

Here's where I am at after adding 1 tsp ammonia everyday for the past few days:


ammonia - .25ppm

nitrite - .25ppm

nitrate- 5-10ppm

 

I'm having a tough time getting ammonia and nitrite down to zero after 24 hours of adding 1 tsp ammonia (which would bring the ammonia count up to 2.0ppm after a few cycles).     Is .25ppm close enough?  thanks!! all.  Also, I love the peppers and tomatoes, Francois.  Glad you were able to get those to grow well in AP. You can add fish feeding lightly and test daily. If you notice the readings going up, cut back feeding, if they are going down, that's ideal. Test everyday so you will get a "feel" of feeding ratios for your amount of fish.

Good luck and happy AP'ing.

 


Lena E said:

thanks Harold!  I will add 1 tsp. ammonia and see what happens!

Lena,

   What happens if you do a 1/2 teaspoon dose.  If you can dose to 1 ppm and get down to 0 for both nitrite and ammonia in 24 hours, you can call it fishlessly cycled up.  Since you have been dosing to 2 ppm and are getting down to .25 you are probably in good shape.  What is your pH?  and if you leave it a day without a dose does ammonia and nitrite get down to 0 if so, I would say you are ready for fish.

Hi all... Just my contribution from my recent (and still current) experience cycling my system. I have a tank with roughly 230 gallons of water being filtered by 3 vertical grow towers. Once I got the towers I put the media in my koi pond filter system (set up just like an aquaponic system) for a few days. After this i set everything up, put the media back in the towers and hung them and started up the system (Water was in my tank for a good while before i started everything up, I put a bunch of guppies and duckweed in there to keep it lively). i have up all the pics on my page so everyone can check them out. I then took the regular koi pond filters and thrashed them around thoroughly in my tank and squeezed out all that goodness that had accumulated in them. Within a few hours I started to see little snails everywhere, including all over my grow towers (these snails don't seem to be interested in the plants by the koi pond so im REALLY hoping they wont trouble my herbs). This was saturday, today I took down two of the towers and you would not believe the accumulation of bacteria in these things already, they are not completely covered but it was enough for the media to slide in and out of the tower without much effort. Any who, hope this helps some people boost their cycling. 

 

Regards,

 

Xavier

I just started cycling my system last night.  I did a baseline test (before i put in ammonia)  and i got a 10 PPM of Nitrates instead a 0 PPM. How will this affect my cycling?  I added all the seedlings i had started to the system to begin using those nitrates up.  Im pretty sure it is because i have a well and live in a heavily farmed area which is all monocropped to corn.  The nitrate fertilizers they use are never efficiently absorbed by the soil, so it runs off to pollute all kinds of water sources.  Damn GMO corn; they should grow Elm trees instead of corn which produce more protein per acre from their acorns and require little, if any, fertilization.

My rainwater tank has nitrates to that level as well. It may just be a general background bird dropping kind of figure. If there is nothing to remove the nitrates, they probably slowly build up until they get high enough for some kind of spontaneous algae festival. 

 

I've not been ably to get an exact figure on when nitrate levels become an issue, but from everything I've read, all aspects of your system - fish, plants, bacteria - enjoy nitrates up into the hundreds without any issues. 

 

It could well (no pun intended) be agricultural runoff, but I've tested my rainwater tank, my dam, and the River Torrens that runs through my front yard, and always see nitrate levels around 10ppm.

AJ Grottke said:

I just started cycling my system last night.  I did a baseline test (before i put in ammonia)  and i got a 10 PPM of Nitrates instead a 0 PPM. How will this affect my cycling?  I added all the seedlings i had started to the system to begin using those nitrates up.  Im pretty sure it is because i have a well and live in a heavily farmed area which is all monocropped to corn.  The nitrate fertilizers they use are never efficiently absorbed by the soil, so it runs off to pollute all kinds of water sources.  Damn GMO corn; they should grow Elm trees instead of corn which produce more protein per acre from their acorns and require little, if any, fertilization.
Thanks Bullwinkle, im glad to c someone else had this occur as well.  I will proceed with the cycling :)

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