Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

Aloha,

I'm just getting into Aquaponics and this is my first experiment.  I am running a 20 gallon fish tank (FT) and a 21.5 gallon grow bed (GB).  My auto siphon is set at the 20 gallon level in the grow bed leaving roughly 1 1/2 " of dry gravel on top.  The total GB depth is 15".  I started cycling the system three days ago using the Peemonia method.  Two days ago I added a hefty amount of bio active water from filter squeezings from my local fish store.  Within the last 24 hours my FT has turned a very cloudy yellowish color and my GB is starting to smell like my kids diaper pail.  I haven't begun to heat the tank but I'm considering it because the outside temp is sub zero and the room the tank is in is around 60.

My levels are:

pH = 7.4

Ammonia = 4ppm

Nitrites = 0

Nitrates = 0

Is this stink normal in the cycling process?  Can I expect it to subside as the bacteria colony establishes?  Will the tank clear up during the process?  I'm afraid that the stink may get me and the system kicked out of the house and into the cold.  

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"...no need to piddle around...don't piss off the missus too much..."

great urine puns, Vlad. 

Urine luck! Urine hot water. Urine a happy place.

Good call Helratz. Yeah man, you really want to block out any extra light...ambiental, or from grow lights etc...Paint it, wrap it up, whatever, but algae will 'steal' nutrients from your plants and can wreak mischief with diurnal pH (meaning causing your pH to swing twice everyday)...With those kind of small plastic bins, if you paint them, scratch them up real good with some fine grit sandpaper to give the paint some tooth. It really helps so that the paint doesn't flake off over time. Or, if it's not practical to paint it at this point, block it out with strips of duct tape or whatever...and cover up the top of that sump at the bottom (if that bin on the floor is in fact your sump tank)...

I take it your NH4 is still around 2-3ppm?

Ok, since you say you need to tinker...start thinking about some of the common "new system" problems, like having to add Iron. Try to find/order some chelated iron (if you can buy a product that uses the superior EDDHA chelate...if you want I can send you a link)...and grab yourself a bit of 100% pure seasalt (NO iodine, or anti-caking additives). Your fish might need it to get through any nitrite spikes that tend to occur after you add them, or even sometimes after you harvest a grow bed...and your plants will love you for the magnesium and potassium and other trace elements the salt provides. But DO NOT just go adding any 'ol amount to the system...0.5ppt to 1ppt is plenty of salt. 1 to 3ppm is plenty on the iron side. Those two items should go a really long way in avoiding some of the nubie system problems that many encounter...(the fact that you are cycling with humonia already puts your system at an advantage... plant essential element-wise). But you might as well be prepared and get to tinker at the same time :)

hehe...thanks for noticing Jon    yeah, I'm a goof-ball that way...

My grow light are a far CRI from full spectrum...ba-dump-bump...

Jon Parr said:

"...no need to piddle around...don't piss off the missus too much..."

great urine puns, Vlad. 

Urine luck! Urine hot water. Urine a happy place.

Nice. I'm glad I mentioned that algae can cause a di-urinal pH swing. :D

Urine the right spot for advice Kieth, this information is golden.

Hi All,

Some people try to create the impression that AP is simple and anyone can become successful at it in a short space of time. It takes dedication, time, money, extensive testing equipment  and you have to really love this to understand and manage AP if you want to release its full potential. AP is a hydroponic system and requires delicate nutrient management, its just not simply fish and growing plants.

I'm not sure I agree. The beauty of aquaponics is that the whole thing is simple. Another great aspect of it is that you can be as involved as you want to be, just like with soil gardening. Soil gardening can be an elaborate plot of land, with soil testing, compost formulas, and well planned seasonal crop rotation for maximum production. Or you can have a basil plant in a pot. On a window sill. Fed by tap water. Both are still gardening. And besides, if it's not ridiculously simple, I won't succeed at it, so now the real test...

Harold Sukhbir said:

Hi All,

Some people try to create the impression that AP is simple and anyone can become successful at it in a short space of time. It takes dedication, time, money, extensive testing equipment  and you have to really love this to understand and manage AP if you want to release its full potential. AP is a hydroponic system and requires delicate nutrient management, its just not simply fish and growing plants.

It can be simple if you get on board with the right information from the start.  Many of us come here with the idea that we should take the best of many systems; and then we get into trouble.  Simple fill and drain with 3/4" rock works.  But I think the people drawn to aquaponics are creative experimenters.  We tend to muck it up until we see how simple works best.

I have come full circle.  I'd only advise fish if it is your pleasure.   I love the symbiotic relationship, but peeponics is the least expensive and most productive way to go.  OK that's just my opinion.  But why worry about the fish when you can maximize the condition for vegetable?  Pee is free and nutrient rich.  The fish are fun, but if you are serious about growing vegetables then forget the fish and grow plants. 

I like the idea of raising fish, but it takes a serious amount of attention to do it well.   Most of my overhead has been due to raising fish, but it's the vegetables that make this venture economical.  The nitrification makes it easy, but nitrification does not need fish.  Pee requires very little expense, and temperature, pH and Nitrates can be optimized with no concern for those fragile big lipped pets.

If I want fish I can buy it for less than the cost of raising them.  I'm actually thinking about selling all my fish.

Alex Veidel said:

I'm not sure I agree. The beauty of aquaponics is that the whole thing is simple. Another great aspect of it is that you can be as involved as you want to be, just like with soil gardening. Soil gardening can be an elaborate plot of land, with soil testing, compost formulas, and well planned seasonal crop rotation for maximum production. Or you can have a basil plant in a pot. On a window sill. Fed by tap water. Both are still gardening. And besides, if it's not ridiculously simple, I won't succeed at it, so now the real test...

Harold Sukhbir said:

Hi All,

Some people try to create the impression that AP is simple and anyone can become successful at it in a short space of time. It takes dedication, time, money, extensive testing equipment  and you have to really love this to understand and manage AP if you want to release its full potential. AP is a hydroponic system and requires delicate nutrient management, its just not simply fish and growing plants.

Well, I guess it depends on from which perspective you look at it from... Saying, "Nature is beautiful in its simplicity", while this may statement may be perceived as  true...if you really look at things in detail and begin to comprehend all that is going on, you may just as easily say "Nature is wonderfully, (ridiculously even) complex...and it's beauty lies in that wonderful web of complexity". Both statements are equally true, are they not? To me, that is the beauty of AP and what makes it such a great (and interesting) hobby. It works on so many different levels...Good stuff...

But even that basil plant on the window sill has an incredible amount of 'complexity' going on...how do the roots defy gravity and move water upwards?...how is it exactly that that basil plant is turning friggin photons of light into a carbohydrate mass for cryin out loud!?! To me that's pretty mindblowing when you think about it, really.

Is it necessary for one to know the inner workings of those (and other equally "confounding") things to successfully grow the basil plant on the window sill? Thankfully, it's not...but it's sure worth trying to understand those things as best we can. Not just so that you will in all likelihood be able to grow a better basil plant, but because of the myriad of other connections to things made inside the Operators mind.

I think what Harold may have been referring to is part of the current "marketing" of AP...as an "easy" way to farm (as if any kind of farming were "easy"...) and it's certainly not the cheapest method or growing food that's for sure. But, I don't think too many folks got into AP because of the lure of quick and easy profits hardyharhar ...

Well now, I'm piss-poor at philosophy, but if urine a stressful situation, APee can really be relaxing.

Hey Jon, If you're American when you walk into the bathroom, but you're Asian when you walk out...What are you in between..? 

HAhahahahahahahahah!!!! Great quote John.

Jon Parr said:

Well now, I'm piss-poor at philosophy, but if urine a stressful situation, APee can really be relaxing.

Good re-statement Vlad. Yeah, when I said "simple", I meant simple for me. You're absolutely right, Nature is unfathomably complex. Yet, it is designed in such a way that it just about takes care of itself. The more you learn about it, the more you appreciate it and the more you understand it, the more you get out of it. And you're right Harold, aquaponics is not magic, it's science. You can't just throw things together and expect to be a millionaire farmer while sitting on the couch eatin' potato chips.  It's interesting, I'm a minimalist that strongly believes in working hard. I don't enjoy doing a job myself if I can find a way to get nature to do it for me and save me time for other important things, but I'm more than willing to do my part. As of right now, I don't mind a little less production for a little less work. Lots of people have a drive to control every aspect of their work and get top notch production out of their labors. I think that mostly depends on personality. Both have their place in life and there's definitely room for each in aquaponics. More power to ya!

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