Aquaponic Gardening

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I hope somebody can help.  I'm still new to aquaponics.  I have a 900 gallon CHOP system.  I've started with just a few tilapia to work the kinks out.  I've been running it with fish for about 5 months now.  I've had several deaths.  Some were caused by plumbing, some by me letting the water get way too cold.  Now I'm stumped.  I was down to about 15 tilapia 6 weeks ago.  I've been losing one a week.

The symptoms are always the same.  I can always pick out the one that is gonna die just days before it does die.  I will notice one fish will lose interest in eating.  Then the behavior changes.  First it stops hanging out with the rest of the fish, it will be on it's own.  As its health declines, it will become slow and lethargic, bump into walls, and not respond like the other fish to things like feeding or the net when I try to clean the bottom of the tank..

My water chemistry seems okay.  My PH stays in the low 7's; my ammonia and nitrites remain almost non existent; my nitrates are very low; and the temperature ranges from low 70's during the day to low-mid high 60's at night.  There have been a couple major swings in temperature due to heater failures.  The most recent, we had a cold snap, and the temperature dropped to 58.  However, all the fish seemed fine the following days.

I've tried to address this by adding salt up to 5ppt.  All seemed fine, but I have now spotted the start of declining health in yet another fish.  I expect it to be dead by tomorrow or the next day.  Including this one sickie, I only have 8 left.  I want to significantly increase my stocking density, but I don't want to before fixing this problem. 

HELP

Any ideas out there?

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"my heating element.  I believe it is copper plated with zinc-chromate"

 

Talk about a trifecta Lonny... everyone of those metals is toxic to fish...

 

You can probably change your water out over time... and I certainly would....

 

The problem is probably the fact that your fish have already accumulated the metals... or are suffering from the toxic effects...

 

Get that water element out of the system....

Yep, I agree with Rupert

Okay, I removed the metal, and I'm slowly doing water changes.  TC.  I think I'm gonna stick to your advice from a couple other forums. I think heat is my problem, so I"m gonna stick to catfish and blue gill.

it will cost you less and probably get you more fish to eat too.

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