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By no means am I an expert. Long story short, I live in NY. 3,000 gal in-ground pond 4.5 feet deep covered with a heated greenhouse. 1st winter with the greenhouse. around 40 channel catfish. Five 4'x8'x12" grow beds in Hydrocorn media (baked clay). thought my 80,000 b.t. u. ceiling furnace would keep my water temp warm enough. No way. water slowly approached 49 degrees F. noticed fish were backing off eating and my plants started slowing in growth. tomatoes were dieting off. 0ppm on everything. I took emergency measures and installed a 50 gal. conventional gas water tank. water heater brought the water temp gradually up. fish are eating like starving sharks and my water is 80 degrees. again, my bio filter is 0 on all readings, plants not growing like they should. I assume I lost my bio-filter when the water got into the 40's so I need to re-cycle with my catfish in the pond. Its probably me and not Mrs. Bernstein's book but to me it seems the book focuses more on fish less cycle. can anyone give me guidance in re-cycling my water (bio-filter) with fish? I hate to lose any. their getting to be a nice size. Thank You! Happy new year!

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If your ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate are 0 (which you seem to indicate), then the bio-filter is doing great. Perhaps the plants are greedily sucking up the nitrates they haven't been getting?

40 degrees wouldn't kill your biofilter, just slow it down, with the water warmed back up, i'd say the bioactivity picked right back up... as long as your water readings are good..

the cold probably shocked the plants quite a bit though, get some cool weather plants in

Thank you Keith!

Keith Rowan said:

40 degrees wouldn't kill your biofilter, just slow it down, with the water warmed back up, i'd say the bioactivity picked right back up... as long as your water readings are good..

the cold probably shocked the plants quite a bit though, get some cool weather plants in

Should I add more fish?

you'll probably see your nitrates start to rise, depending on how many of your plants died, i'd get more plants going before adding fish... just to get everything stable at the new temps

what kind of feed are you using?

It's possible things got a little too cold for your catfish (although, I'm not entirely sure where catfish are comfortable temperature wise) and their metabolism slowed down, which caused them to eat less. Eating less means pooping less, so your plants may not be getting enough nitrates. Post some pics of your plants.

I agree with Keith. I don't think you lost your biofilter, since your levels still look good. However, I would keep a close eye on everything now that your catfish are eating more intensively. It's possible your biofilter has slowed a little because of the lack of ammonia entering the system (because the fish weren't eating) You may see spikes in ammonia/nitrite/nitrate. How long has it been since the appetite of your catfish has improved?

I'm feeding them commercial feed from the hatchery I Baught the fish from. It's actually Perch feed. They always eat it no problem being scavengers.

Keith Rowan said:

you'll probably see your nitrates start to rise, depending on how many of your plants died, i'd get more plants going before adding fish... just to get everything stable at the new temps

what kind of feed are you using?

Alex, as soon as the water temp rose, they started eating like starving sharks! My tomatoes were the plants that took the cooling temps the hardest. My green/red peppers are still growing like they are on steroids. Strawberries are doing nice. Swiss chard is so so to ok. Lettuce is poor, I sew the seeds right into the grow beds. Radishes are small. Beets not good. My gut says the 49 degree temp for about a week did not help. Been about two weeks since I installed the water heater. I do have new green shoots growing from the old tomatoes. When temps were cool, I feed the fish once/ day. As the temp rose, I feed them more at the one feeding then the last week 2-3 times/ day. I'm seeing a rise in ammonia (.25) nitrite 0-.25 so I'm going to back off on food for a day or so. In general the fish are eating more than they ever have so I need to make an adjustment in my routine. Your thoughts?


Alex Veidel said:

It's possible things got a little too cold for your catfish (although, I'm not entirely sure where catfish are comfortable temperature wise) and their metabolism slowed down, which caused them to eat less. Eating less means pooping less, so your plants may not be getting enough nitrates. Post some pics of your plants.

I agree with Keith. I don't think you lost your biofilter, since your levels still look good. However, I would keep a close eye on everything now that your catfish are eating more intensively. It's possible your biofilter has slowed a little because of the lack of ammonia entering the system (because the fish weren't eating) You may see spikes in ammonia/nitrite/nitrate. How long has it been since the appetite of your catfish has improved?

Randall, I would agree if the air temp in the green house was not 70 degrees F. And the water temp was not 80 degrees F. Or am I missing something? I basically have summer time in the greenhouse for western New York State.


Randall Wimbish said:

I would bet that you could cut your feeding back to once a week or two and your fish and plants would do better in the winter.  This discussion actually helped me and possibally answered my plant probs. Maybe. ??

i concur with the group.. the bio filter is most likely fine.
ive had 0 nitrates for two months now,, plants are still growing. there comes a point when your plants are taking every thing you can produce.
as for Randall's tip burn.. most likely just the cold wet greenhouse conditions.. they will do fine when the temps go back up.. not enough sunlight to grow tomatoes in the winter any way. keep them trimmed up real good..., any over grown plants will harbor molds, funguses, etc.
Here is what it looks like this morning (1/2/14 9am)
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Outside temp.
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