Aquaponic Gardening

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Switched from de-chlorinated tap water to RO for my 160 gallon system a few months ago.    I did this very slowly. 

My tap is very hard and high PH. 8.3 and I was looking to use RO to reduce the PH.   That worked great.  PH is now stable 7.0-ish.     But, my KH is near 0 and the fish aren't happy.. Lethargic and hanging out on the bottom. 

So. There are tons of forum posts and articles on PH/KH/GH, etc but I'm still not clear on what,exactly to mix into the RO before adding to the system. 

Anyone got a basic recipe for aquaponics water using RO? 

RO +  minerals?    Which minerals?   Fish store guys didn't recommend their chemicals in aquaponic systems

RO + de-chlorinated tap?    Seems to be OK.  PH will raise up to about 7.6 before I get KH above 20 but that is prob OK. 

thanks!

 

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Are you raising tilapia? What temperature are you keeping your tank at?

Been keeping it at 82 degrees. Just 2 big goldfish for now.   I will be introducing Tilapia in 2 weeks.   The system is a year and a half old but has been just the goldfish.    They have grown great but aren't happy since introducing RO in an attempt to lower PH. 

 I know that goldfish don't need heat that but have been prepping for Tilapia for a long while.   They don't seem to mind the warm water. 

125 gallon main fish tank

25 gallon separate fish tank that shares water w/ the main system   ( tilapia fingerlings/fry will go here ) 

10 gallon sump

90 gallons of grow bed volume. 

Guys, that sounds like a lot of trouble, but I might be in for it.  I too have high PH tap water about the same as John.  I just happened to have some PH down around from when I had a pool.  That worked pretty well, but the fact is that my system naturally loses PH and as long as I did not add to much at a time that sorted itself out.  I still had the chlorine problem however and resorted to using an additive to get rid of that.  I called the utilities and discovered they used chlorine and not chloramines so in the end I just spray water into a separate tank and after a day in the sun all the chlorine is gone.  I then add it to my system by the bucket full.  All is well and additives are no longer required. A bucket or two a day keeps up with evaporation even with temps in the high 90's.   Fact is my PH drops and I keep it steady with the addition of a single lime stone rock under the inflow of one of my grow beds.  I had three before (one in each bed and that was too much).  It is crazy how little things make a big difference.  So unless this does not work, I think I might avoid the trouble.



Randall Wimbish said:

You are correct. P.H. will continually go down. Unfortunately I have chloramine in the water and one of my systems uses about 5 to 10 gallons of water per day.  In that system I am using both parts of the r.o. water to remove the chloramine and the p.h. still drops rapidly. I also put a limestone rock under the water outlet in the grow bed but I still have to add buffers like potassium hydroxide and lime from time to time. I do have a system that maintains a steady p.h. 7 using crushed granite with a few limestone rocks in there. The three carbon block filters are very near my breeder aquarium and the fry tank so I can get fast water and not have to carry buckets full of water. The carbon filters do not lower p.h..

I thought I might have choloramines in my water before I checked with the utility and bought some chemical to take that out.  It worked well on the chlorine and reviews say it works well on the chloramines as well.  Once I discovered what I had, I resorted to just filling my separate tank whenever it is needed and the next day I have my water source.  I add a couple of buckets out of the tank directly into a grow bed which is right next to the tank so no carrying is necessary.  Takes about a minute to do it.  I add a palm full of baking soda every other day and it keeps my PH where I want it.  It is very cheap about .50 a box and a box will last about 2 weeks.  I am hoping to find something that it can leach the PH from.  My grow beds were specifically set up to be PH neutral.  I kinda of wish I had incorporate so other rocks into it.  But sure as I did, I would be having problems with PH too high.  One just can't win.

Tradewind, when you type a reply to someone else's post, proper aquaponic gardening community etiquette dictates that one should put their responses at the top, with the quote of the person they're responding too in italics underneath. It's just makes it easier to read; it's the format we're used to. That and I'm a little obsessive-compulsive so I can't just leave it hangin' :)

Tradewind said:



Randall Wimbish said:

You are correct. P.H. will continually go down. Unfortunately I have chloramine in the water and one of my systems uses about 5 to 10 gallons of water per day.  In that system I am using both parts of the r.o. water to remove the chloramine and the p.h. still drops rapidly. I also put a limestone rock under the water outlet in the grow bed but I still have to add buffers like potassium hydroxide and lime from time to time. I do have a system that maintains a steady p.h. 7 using crushed granite with a few limestone rocks in there. The three carbon block filters are very near my breeder aquarium and the fry tank so I can get fast water and not have to carry buckets full of water. The carbon filters do not lower p.h..

I thought I might have choloramines in my water before I checked with the utility and bought some chemical to take that out.  It worked well on the chlorine and reviews say it works well on the chloramines as well.  Once I discovered what I had, I resorted to just filling my separate tank whenever it is needed and the next day I have my water source.  I add a couple of buckets out of the tank directly into a grow bed which is right next to the tank so no carrying is necessary.  Takes about a minute to do it.  I add a palm full of baking soda every other day and it keeps my PH where I want it.  It is very cheap about .50 a box and a box will last about 2 weeks.  I am hoping to find something that it can leach the PH from.  My grow beds were specifically set up to be PH neutral.  I kinda of wish I had incorporate so other rocks into it.  But sure as I did, I would be having problems with PH too high.  One just can't win.

Hey, that is cool.  I actually thought the system was screwing up and doing things backwards since on most other forums it is the other way around.  But when in Rome.......  So I will behave here forward.

Alex Veidel said:

Tradewind, when you type a reply to someone else's post, proper aquaponic gardening community etiquette dictates that one should put their responses at the top, with the quote of the person they're responding too in italics underneath. It's just makes it easier to read; it's the format we're used to. That and I'm a little obsessive-compulsive so I can't just leave it hangin'

Tradewind said:



Randall Wimbish said:

You are correct. P.H. will continually go down. Unfortunately I have chloramine in the water and one of my systems uses about 5 to 10 gallons of water per day.  In that system I am using both parts of the r.o. water to remove the chloramine and the p.h. still drops rapidly. I also put a limestone rock under the water outlet in the grow bed but I still have to add buffers like potassium hydroxide and lime from time to time. I do have a system that maintains a steady p.h. 7 using crushed granite with a few limestone rocks in there. The three carbon block filters are very near my breeder aquarium and the fry tank so I can get fast water and not have to carry buckets full of water. The carbon filters do not lower p.h..

I thought I might have choloramines in my water before I checked with the utility and bought some chemical to take that out.  It worked well on the chlorine and reviews say it works well on the chloramines as well.  Once I discovered what I had, I resorted to just filling my separate tank whenever it is needed and the next day I have my water source.  I add a couple of buckets out of the tank directly into a grow bed which is right next to the tank so no carrying is necessary.  Takes about a minute to do it.  I add a palm full of baking soda every other day and it keeps my PH where I want it.  It is very cheap about .50 a box and a box will last about 2 weeks.  I am hoping to find something that it can leach the PH from.  My grow beds were specifically set up to be PH neutral.  I kinda of wish I had incorporate so other rocks into it.  But sure as I did, I would be having problems with PH too high.  One just can't win.

Thanks for all the replies.       Lots of good info.     Here's my latest:

  • I read that Mosura Mineral Plus increases GH and does not alter KH or PH. 
  • I am not even certain KH was/is a problem for me.  That is just what the fish store guy thought since it was reading 0 in a strip test.  GH is/was well above 150.  
  • Fish are looking a lot happier today.  I did a few partial changes and top off's with tap water that I aerate in buckets w/ some Prime to address chlorine and Indianapolis' high chloramines.  
  • KH is now showing on the strip.  Somewhere under 40 which is the 1st green square.    I am hesitant to use baking soda but might do some testing with that in non-fish tank. 
  • PH rose to 7.4 or 7.5 with the addition of all that tap.  ( again, my tap is very hard and 8.3 PH )

Going forward, I think I'll try Randall's "both parts of ro water" trick until I can get the carbon canisters setup.    I am thinking I can mix in pure ro water into the combined ro output to lower the PH.    Hopefully, there will be enough minerals in that to keep stable 7.0 PH.    I don't really even mind the high PH as I might just give up on growing peppers.   Tomatoes, basil, herbs, and lettuce all did fine with 8.0 PH.  I just wanted to bring it to 7.0 since that is what I hear most aquaponics systems are kept at and my peppers are just sad little things.  

Here's my system btw:   http://jread.us/2013/02/aquaponic-system-ready-for-tilapia/   This was in March.  Those Tilapia croaked when I started using RO.     I have been trying to stabilize ever since and have more Tilapia on order from Sylvia showing up in 2 weeks.

    

I am not giving up!    

I will.  I must say I like this forum much better than another I have been posting on.  I have plans for a constant flow setup to grow some fall crops.  I have the seeds in my little dome tray and they are popping up like crazy.  I bought some non GMO seeds to make sure I will be eating right.  The broccoli and kale are taking off and the two lettuces and the spinach are slowly coming from behind.  I hope they do not grow too fast and force me to plant too early as it is still plenty hot here.  I will be adding a shade screen over the whole works and putting my constant flow system directly over the sump  (I do not know the initials for that kind of system).  I need to clean up the plumbing a bit so it looks a bit more organized and figure a way to cool the water down before I add the fish.  Hey, it is new and I learning as I go.  I am sure I will make plenty of mistakes along the way.  But such is life, that is such is my life.


Randall Wimbish said:

Good deal Tradewind.  Keep us posted on how the system is doing. I like the looks of your system.

Alex. Thanks for the etiquette lesson.

Wow!  I think it would be great to have my system in a temperature controlled environment.  But a basement in my part of the country is not something you will find.  I really like how you have the website to show it off.  No, no, no I am not going to take on another project.  I just dumped a huge website that I have had up for years because of all the effort that went into keeping it current and the all links active.  I could have done something simple.  Oh no, I had to go full bore.  I will never learn.  You are obviously a wiser man than I.

John said:

Thanks for all the replies.       Lots of good info.     Here's my latest:

  • I read that Mosura Mineral Plus increases GH and does not alter KH or PH. 
  • I am not even certain KH was/is a problem for me.  That is just what the fish store guy thought since it was reading 0 in a strip test.  GH is/was well above 150.  
  • Fish are looking a lot happier today.  I did a few partial changes and top off's with tap water that I aerate in buckets w/ some Prime to address chlorine and Indianapolis' high chloramines.  
  • KH is now showing on the strip.  Somewhere under 40 which is the 1st green square.    I am hesitant to use baking soda but might do some testing with that in non-fish tank. 
  • PH rose to 7.4 or 7.5 with the addition of all that tap.  ( again, my tap is very hard and 8.3 PH )

Going forward, I think I'll try Randall's "both parts of ro water" trick until I can get the carbon canisters setup.    I am thinking I can mix in pure ro water into the combined ro output to lower the PH.    Hopefully, there will be enough minerals in that to keep stable 7.0 PH.    I don't really even mind the high PH as I might just give up on growing peppers.   Tomatoes, basil, herbs, and lettuce all did fine with 8.0 PH.  I just wanted to bring it to 7.0 since that is what I hear most aquaponics systems are kept at and my peppers are just sad little things.  

Here's my system btw:   http://jread.us/2013/02/aquaponic-system-ready-for-tilapia/   This was in March.  Those Tilapia croaked when I started using RO.     I have been trying to stabilize ever since and have more Tilapia on order from Sylvia showing up in 2 weeks.

    

I am not giving up!    

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