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Hi everyone,

I am currently using fish-less cycling on my aquaponics and I'm on day16.  On day 12 I got a nice helping of filter water from a co-worker who raises Koi.  Since that my Nitrates and Nitrites are rising nicely but my ammonia seems to be off the charts! My pH has stabilized at 7.2-7.4.  I am a little worried about the High ammonia.  I was adding 1/2 tsp to begin with to get the levels up but I haven't added any Ammonia in several days (unfortunately I got a little lazy with my data tracking for a few days so I don't know how long its been since I added any for sure)

My transplants and inital seeds have died off, but I thought that was due to a miss-hap I had with my bell siphon where the bed was full of water for about 12 hours with no drainage or high pH.

Bottom line:  how can I lower the ammonia besides a water change and do I need to be worried right now?  Again I don't have fish yet although I would like to add them soon

Thanks!

Day 1 above day 16 below

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Hi Suzanne,

If the Ammonia is 6ppm and over, and you need to hurry things a bit, you can exchange some water to bring it back down to around 4ppm. If not, you can leave it to cycle on its own without adding anymore ammonia and it will eventually cycle itself. No need to worry, either way involves gain/lose a few day to being fully cycled. You can read here for more........ http://www.bioconlabs.com/nitribactfacts.html

So I got a dechlorinating filter and added about 30 gallons (I'm guessing) to the system which brought my ammonia down to 4.  My pH has been low 6.8-7 so that may be affecting the Nitrification process. I added some Maxicrop for the plants and am looking at ways to buffer up my pH

Hi Suzanne,

If your Temperatures aren't too low, that Ph is fine for cycling. I have fully cycled systems between 7-14 days in 85F temps with similar Ph's. Some people recommend adding plants during cycling. I like to add the plants soon after cycling to avoid any chance of stunted growth and damage to plants/roots.

I think the Maxi crop crashed my pH.  It dropped to 6.4.  After adding the water and then waiting for over an hour the pH went back up to 7 from 6.8 but an hour after the Maxicrop, it had dropped.  It is still at 6.4 this morning so now I need to raise it.  I'm running into issues finding hydrated lime and some of the other items since we are done with outdoor growing season.  I will try the local grow stores.  I know they have pH up products but it seems most Aquapons prefer the other methods

 

Suzanne, I wouldn't be so concerned about Ph while cycling.  For your city water issue, there are a couple of solutions that i've had success with.  Asorbic acid (vitamine C) and Dechlorinator H from echological labs.  I also like their NightOut II product for boosting bacteria.  Lyncs are available on my home page if you're interested.

My pH dropped to 6 (or lower) so I added 1/8tsp of hydrated lime. The pH came back up to 7 and is slowly falling again.  I will watch and just keep it from going under the 6.0 mark since I have an API kit and can't test below that

 

I had a drop to 0 on my Nitrites and a slower drop on my ammonia (low as .5) so I was figuring/hoping I was almost cycled.  At the same time I've noticed yellowing on my leaves which I thought was an iron deficiency at first but since its on the older leaves and my nitrogen levels at 0 I've thinking it is a Nitrogen issue instead (some other older leaves yellowed then dried up and curled)

 

I had stopped adding Ammonia since me numbers had been off the chart but I have started 1/2 tsp a day again so we will just measure and watch

 

Nitrates have been hanging at 80-160 (hard to tell sometimes because the color seems in between)

 

maxicrop won't "crash your ph" or really have any affect on it..if the ph drops too low, that will interfere with nitrification..i keep mine around 7.2 with lots of shellgrit in my growbeds.. shellgrit will only start to act on a system when the ph drops below 7.. it will act slowly and will stop adding to the ph when you get to around 7.2-7.4

the nitrification process causes your ph to drop.. good to keep the hydrated lime on hand, and test regularly.. you don't want to make changes of more than .2  in one day when you have fish

What else might cause a drop from 7.0 to 6.4 in about 2 hours?

I want to make sure that doesn't ever happen again

Those crashes typically occur when your nitrification cycle finally consumes the residual carbonates in your system.  As soon as those carbonates are consumed, the system pH will drop suddenly and unexpectedly.  Believe it or not, it's actually a wonderful place to be in.  From here on out, assuming you don't slow down the amount of nitrogen entering the system, your pH should stabilize at a lower pH range- you'll have to correct a couple times a week with KOH or hydrated lime (ideally both) to maintain a range that's ideal for your plants (I recommend 6.2-6.8 or so).

Nate, I'm glad to know you're alive.  I've referred dozens of folks to your vids.  I didn't realize until lately that I've become a nate story profit.  really glad you chimed in.  But I think I'm moving on as you're always too busy to anser basic questions.

Thank-you everyone for your answers and insight.  Normally I can am a patient person, but this is just so exciting it is hard to wait.

My current levels are

pH6.6

Ammonia had dropped to 0.25

Nitrites 0

Nitrates 80-160 (the color is somewhere in between on the chart)

I had stopped added ammonia for about 10 days when my levels went over 8ppm (and I had only been adding 1/2 tsp every other day)

With the pH drop and adding the Maxicrop plus Iron my nitrite levels dropped from 5ppm to 0 although my Nitrates are still high. I also started noticing yellowing (and browning) of the leaves in some of my plants which I had attributed to a lack of iron but it is the older leaves and the outer edges not the new leaves so I am wondering if it is the 0 on the nitrites.

Since starting to add the ammonia again levels go from 1ppm to 0.25 within 24 hours.  I am so close now I keep wanting to jump the gun and get some fish

The above shot is the cucumber I started from seed in the grow bed on 10/13 and the lower shot is a late kale from my garden I transplanted after giving it a good washing (also started from seed in my garden)



Nate Storey said:

Those crashes typically occur when your nitrification cycle finally consumes the residual carbonates in your system.  As soon as those carbonates are consumed, the system pH will drop suddenly and unexpectedly.  Believe it or not, it's actually a wonderful place to be in.  From here on out, assuming you don't slow down the amount of nitrogen entering the system, your pH should stabilize at a lower pH range- you'll have to correct a couple times a week with KOH or hydrated lime (ideally both) to maintain a range that's ideal for your plants (I recommend 6.2-6.8 or so).

Hi Nate,

There seems to be a lot of ways to get hydrated lime, including masonry hydrated lime at The Home Depot. Is that acceptable or is there a better source? I found some lime for lawns at a hardware store as well. The stats are: 

Component Percent
Calcium Carbonate + 2% Lignosulfonate 98.5
Anionic Polyacrylamide Emulsion 1
Anionic Linear Partially Water-Soluable
Polyacrylamide 0.5

Is that an acceptable product? Thank you for all of your help!

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