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I posted this earlier but as a reply to a previous post by mistake so posting again.:

So we are about 3 months cycled,  water regulary tested for several weeks at ph 8 , am .25- .50, nitrite 0-.25  nitrate 0-80.  My kh tests at 11.  I have been testing for iron every couple weeks and add the chelated iron to help with the plants with the ph issue as suggested here on forum.  The lettuce and rapini, and bok choi look good, zuchinni hanging in there.  Everything else has not grown much........literally 1" in a month.....somethings not even that.  I am guessing that the iron alone is not going to solve the nutrient lock out and that I need to add muriatic acid ?    I have read about the high KH factor so assume it is the problem but not clear how best to deal with it.  The PH has not dropped since the beginning although the KH has come down from 18.  Should I start adding mur acid or invest in RO ? 

One other question......My other system has very similar test results but it has no fish and I did a fishless cycling.  Do I need to keep adding ammonia until I get the fish..........I have not added any for weeks but it still tests 8.2 , .50 ammonia, 0 nitrites, 80 nitrates.  So are the bacteria creating their own ammonia ?  Thanks for any advice.....this is my first system and dont  understand the chemistry behind it all yet.

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You might want to re-read Alex's previous advice and try muriatic acid.  He was specific as to how to do it.

Nitrifying bacteria do not produce ammonia, they consume it.  In your "other" system, you wrote that ammonia is .5, right?  The 8.2 is your PH?  If yes, then either add fish or add ammonia.  Perhaps you should add ammonia and then monitor to ensure that it drops back down but the nitrate 80 seems to indicate bacteria are established.  

Some plants started from seed take a long time to become established and begin to grow rapidly.  As an example, basil in my system is just doing nothing, other than the seeds sprouted a month ago, or maybe six weeks.   From past experience, I know they will, eventually, grow vigorously.  

thanks George......will start the muriatic acid and add ammonia to other system.

George said:

You might want to re-read Alex's previous advice and try muriatic acid.  He was specific as to how to do it.

Nitrifying bacteria do not produce ammonia, they consume it.  In your "other" system, you wrote that ammonia is .5, right?  The 8.2 is your PH?  If yes, then either add fish or add ammonia.  Perhaps you should add ammonia and then monitor to ensure that it drops back down but the nitrate 80 seems to indicate bacteria are established.  

dKH of 11 is pretty high, so go ahead and start adding muriatic acid. Start with a tablespoon and work your way from there (or alternately, you can scoop out a 5 gallon bucket and see how much acid it takes to bring to the right levels and then multiply for however many gallons are in your system). You should be able to move fairly quickly since you haven't added fish yet.

Also, yes, it's better to keep adding 2-4 ppm of ammonia every day (that is, however much ammonia it took to get 2-4ppm when you first added it). You'll want to keep feeding your bacteria or they'll die back and you'll lose progress.

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