Aquaponic Gardening

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First I should start off with the details of the setup.  I have an IBC tote with 24 blue nile tilapia and unfortunately 14 goldfish, they range anywhere from 2 g - 10 g in weight so they are still small.  There's about  80-90 gal water.  Temp stays steady at 76 degrees.  Ammonia (slight trace---I blame the goldfish) and PH are both in normal ranges. 

Now about the problem:

Biggie, my 10g male tilapia, has red eyes.   I noticed this yesterday.  Then this morning when I was feeding them I noticed that he didn't seem very interested in the food.  I was very concerned that he could not see because he didn't .  I finally saw him suck up some pellets that had fallen to the bottom but he just grabbed a few and didn't even flinch when the little guys came around him and stole the extras.  Today he's been hanging out alone in a corner.  The only info I could come up with during my research is maybe an infection like streptococcal. 

So my treatment for now is to skip the antibiotics, try to lower the temp a little, and reduce feeding and density.  I've already added conditioned water.  Weather here is actually changing from sunny to stormy so I think that will help me reduce the temp (removed heater already.)  I've also reduced feeding.

Does anyone have any advice for me?  Am I on the right track?  What else can I do to help this guy and make sure this infection doesn't spread?  While I'm not new to decor fish aquariums and gardening, I am new to fish infections and aquaponics. 

Seems like only yesterday I was a little girl flushing a dead fish in the toilet---walking away without a care.  Now I'm trying to save one's life.  How things have changed.  Any help would be greatly appreciated. 


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If you have a tank you can use as an isolation tank/quarantine, it might be best to remove him from the rest if none else seem sick.  Anyway, remove him and treat in a separate set up.  Salt is the only treatment I would recommend for food fish in an aquaponics system but I don't know if that will work against whatever this is.

Thank you for your response.  I haven't moved him yet.  I did consider that originally but wanted some advice before I started chasing and stressing him out.  It's too dark now and I can't see them all very well but I will definitely move him in the morning.  I did add some aquarium salt.  Hopefully they are all okay until the morning. 

If he can't see, netting him should be fairly easy.  If he can see, you will learn that when you go to net him.

Well i tried to find some images online and I think I may have just jumped the gun.  I didn't move him because his behavior seems to be improving.  He came out to eat this morning although he stayed back.  I think what's happening is he's hiding from us because we caught him about a week ago and measured him and a few others.  Now I think that this may have just been his behavior all along.  Either the redness in his eye is going away or it's more of a refraction in his eyes or the water because sometimes I think I see it in other fish and then I don't see it at all. The black and white of his eyes are still visible but it looks like there's a small red dot right in the front where the white is.  Maybe he's getting better.  Maybe it's just a little pigmentation and that's just how his eye is. 

We added water yesterday (15 gal) to reduce the density and added salt.  My tote setup is just approaching 4 weeks.  I retested the ph and my nitrites (2-5ppm) and nitrates (40-80ppm) are high.  Ammonia is 0.25ppm.  Ph 8.0.  In the beginning there were no nitrites and nitrates.  I'm assuming this is just due to cycling and my setup just needs more time so I shouldn't intervene, right?  About a week ago the ammonia was high and so we did some water changes and that fixed the ammonia problem.  Would that explain the spikes in the nitri(a)tes? 

Unfortunately I don't have a salinity refractometer.  I'm assuming I should get one.

Relax, keep testing the water quality but it normally takes a good 6 weeks to get past the worst of the spikes in ammonia and nitrite.  Your nitrite is still high so keep feeding light until it falls too.  Otherwise you are probably on track.

Thanks...light feeding isn't something I have been doing since I figured he was okay.  I will make sure to do that.

Hello. Can you report on how this turned out for you? I currently have an issue with Streptococcosis and I am wondering if this will eventually run its course or whether or not I will lose all of my fish.

Is salting an appropriate response in an aquaponics system? Salt is hazardous to plants, watch out that you don't overdo it.

Salt is about the only medication appropriate to an aquaponics system.

That said, you have to be careful how you salt your system.  Some fish don't like much salt while others would be fine with sea water.  The plants like salt less but certain plants are more salt tolerant than others.  Strawberries Definitely don't like salt.  Tomatoes can handle quite a bit of salt.

1-2 ppt is generally enough to help against nitrite spikes

1-2 ppt of salt is reasonably safe for most things.

3 ppt of salt is often used when there is illness or parasites to deal with.

Some salt tolerant fish (like tilapia) might be kept in 6 ppt of salt if they are having difficulty with illness or parasites but many plants will be affected by salt levels that high.

I keep bluegill and channel catfish.  The catfish are sensitive to salt so I don't like to subject them to higher than 3 ppt except for possibly doing a quick dip in 5 ppt as I count in new fish or transfer them to a new tank.

salt for fish health in aquaponics

Keep in mind that salt doesn't evaporate out and isn't used up very quickly by plants so if you are going to be using salt often, you should get some way to measure salt levels so it doesn't build up. 

Im dealing with the same issue right now, I had to get rid of one of my breeding colonies because they had it the worst, Im losing my mind, I might just throw them all away, bleach everything and start fresh of things dont start improving

I know it's kind of late but I've come a long way since then so I figured I'd share.  After I lowered the temp, reduced feedings, did a small water change and added more hiding spots everything worked itself out and I haven't had a problem with them yet.  so far so good......

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