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PH is a crazy thing, especially in aquaponics.

And this is why I do not even try to change it. These are two ph tests taken from two different systems, that use top up water from the same place. Actually the same hose. The only difference is that the one on the left came from my small system that runs off a 30 gallon aquarium, and the right is from my pond. 

The aquarium system has been running for at least 4 years now, and the pond almost a year.

Right now I'm tempted to take half of the hydroton from the little system and put it in the big system to see what that does.

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What kind of algae eaters do you have? I've been thinking of adding one to my pond but i'm not sure what type would do well outside.


Very common problem and it does have a lot to do with the heat, but can also be due to an out-of-balanced system.

Block the sun as much as possible. Many people paint theirs black to block the light, but that also increases water temps, so the optimum would be to paint it black and then wrap it with something to reflect the light. Make certain you have lots of shade; 100% is fine this time of year.

Are you testing the water? What is your nitrate reading?

I am getting a little of that summer bloom algae too Ms Shocklie.  Mine is just around the edges in the raft bed but nothing to worry about at this point.  I figure the system does not have enough plant load at this temperature so nature is stepping in.  It has not created a problem for me yet.  I have been working diligently at keeping the pH in the high 6s which may be why I don't have a giant bloom this year when in past years before the grow bed it would get ridicules. 

What does your water look like chem wise?

Did I say count me in on prawns yet?

So far the levels are normal, they have been holding steady.  I am going to retest today just in case.  HOWEVER, my setup is over 3 months old.  At some point I do need to clean everything out, right?  Don't I need to clean out my grow bed and wash my rocks and clean out that old water that gets trapped at the bottom?  Maybe it's functioning like a grungy, old, backed up filter.... 

My pH is high at 8.0 and while everything was "fine" I went ahead and ordered some driftwood.  I'll let it soak for the coloring to seep out first.  I think it's finally time to do something about it, I'm sure I can get a better plant growth if I can get my pH down naturally.  My guys look "happy" for a little while but eventually they go "eh...i'm here."   I hear people say they have seen dramatic improvements when they fix their pH. 

So I vertically trellised my cucumbers because I saw someone do it on youtube to save space.  And now my littlest guy died but he is the one that gets the most sun throughout the day.  Sheri, I think I need to go ahead and shade my tote  today.  The other two seem fine.  I have this material I use as trellis, from an old project that I neglected, but it has holes in it and I think I'm going to hang it in front of my tote and see if the shade makes any kind of improvement. 

I have three chinese algae-eaters...they're somewhere in there.  The algae is all over the surface of everything but the water itself is clear for now.  Before I couldn't get enough algae and now we're overran by it.  I see the goldfish eating at it sometimes, maybe if I don't feed the fish they'll just get desperate and eat all the algae.  I thought mollies and tilapia ate algea??

No, your mucky growbed acts as a biofilter and provides a beautiful environment for your bacteria and red worms, if you have them. If not, I'd recommend getting some. They eat the old roots, leaf bits, and fish poop, and create wonderful fertilizer themselves.

Your high PH may be helping the algae along, and definitely is not helping the plants. The driftwood might help some. We tried wood and peat initially. Both did a little good, but not substantial. Also, eventually they lose their effectiveness and you have replace them. Over time your system will self-adjust, but that's over time, like, lots of time. We finally bit the bullet and used muriatic (pool) acid, and it made a world of difference instantly. The lower PH allows your plants to absorb essential micro nutrients.

Arizona shade is considered comparable to full sun in other parts, so don't be afraid to shade. That's no doubt what's getting to your cukes. I did the same thing with patty pan and butternut squash in my regular garden last year, and both rebelled. As soon as they were trellised, the raised parts withered.

All your fish eat algae, but to varying degrees. With goldfish you can neglect their feed & let them eat algae only. Tilapia can eat primarily algae as well, but it might slow their growth. They're omnivorous, and need the protein. The Chinese algae eater is not nearly as effective as the plecostomus. If you can, you might want to pick up one. Throw the little guy in there, and In a year you'll be amazed at how big the guy will be and how effective his cleaning capabilities are. We have a couple large ones and just picked up five more for various tanks. We want to have one in each tank. 

Do you have to take your plecos out in the winter?

The pleco is the only fish death I've had, died as winter set in...

It depends on whether you heat your water or not. Technically their temperature range is between 72 and 85 degrees, give or take. We keep our temps at least 70 in the winter and up to 90 in the summer, and they've done well.

Jim, what temperatures did you have in the winter?

Stephanie B. said:

Do you have to take your plecos out in the winter?

I'm sorry Sheri, I don't remember the winter temps back then and I lost those records when the pipe broke flooding the entire house when I was away on vacation...  Since then I have been using 500 feet of 1/2" drip line to heat the water in the winter.   I don't see any need for special fish to clean up cause the pond is very clean (good fishies!) 

here is a picture of the weather we had then... 

My system lines froze for several days that winter 2009/10. I turned the pump off because I was afraid the fish would get too cold if the water cycled that first night.  I also covered the grow bed.  I took this photo in the late afternoon of the frozen return lines from the raft bed, I had expected them to melt during the day, but they clearly did not. They did not melt for several days, snow was down to 2000 feet on the McDowell Mts.  Brr!    The raft bed made it, as did the covered plants.  It is colder here next to the desert than in a central neighborhood.  I'm fairly certain a media bed would have frozen that first night with a drain and fill cycle going or at least overflowed with the constant inflow from the pump and a cycling drain as the drain line would have froze up smaller and smaller with each cycle... something to think about guys and gals...

Last night I put some mosquito fish in the raft bed to mow the summer bloom in there, had a couple of mosquitoes hanging around out there too. 

Duckweed alert:  looks like110F is about the upper range for duckweed.  Most of mine turned white over the last few days... bummer. 

Thanks for the advice Sheri, I think I will definitely invest in a pleco if I can find one.  I guess I'll go the muriatic acid way, too.  This heat just destroys everything....

I found some plectos for a dollar each at petsmart. They are little...hope they make it!

$1 ea?? Great price! How big are they? I haven't found any for under $3. for ones that are about 2 inches.

Jim, that was the year we got about 57 snowflakes while we were covering our garden. We had some cold times that year! I'm impressed you keep a log. I just rely on my vast mind.

Yeah, duckweed doesn't like it too hot, and it definitely can't handle the sun right now, that's for sure! I had our greenhouse door open for a while the other day, and when I closed it, the duckweed had turned lighter where it had been hit directly. Like a reverse sunburn. Our greenhouse is staying a tad below 100 right now, and it's doing fine. Not growing as much as it was, but still growing. I'm happy about that.

You could bring what's left inside in a tub of pond water & wait for a cool down. Just change the water now & then.


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