Aquaponic Gardening

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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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Hi Keith,

Seems like you'll be a bit longer yet. Water temps do make a big difference with cycling, a difference of just 5 degrees can mean a day or two longer/shorter. It won't be much longer though.............take a few deep breaths.

NITRATES!!!!  on the 18th I recorded a drop to 1ppm of ammonia. I brought the level back up to 4 ppm and also recorded nitrites off the chart (a very dark red).  Today two days later the ammonia is down to 0.25ppm, dang those bugs are active indeed.  On a whim tonight, I decided to check the nitrate levels.  WOW 30ppm.  Wahooo! I thought the peppermint looked happy.

Now the debate is....add fish or keep up with the peeponics.  I'm back out to sea the day after xmas for a month.  Not sure if I want to leave my wife with a fresh batch of fish in a unstable tank, or task her with adding fermented piss every two days. Hummmmmmm.

Keith, if you put fish in there now, they will die faster than you can say "More stank at the farm"...

Your not done that you have nitrates...first your nitrites need to fall to zero. Then, when you can dose ammonia at about 1ppm or more  and have both ammonia AND nitrites fall back down to zero within 24 hours...and you can pull this off 3-4 days in a row, then you are done cycling and can add fish.

Congrats on the nitrates btw...

7 days to tinker then this thing has to go on auto pilot while I'm gone.  I've got to get it to a point where my wife can just add a specific amount of piss every day or two and keep the cycle cooking.  Then in Feb when I get home I can pick up and go forth.  Tick Tock Tick Tock.

Yeah, 7 days isn't much time...just figure out the dose that gets you to about 2ppm and have your wife dose that every third (3rd) day or so...twice a week even... Or, you can make some sort of drip emitter that will drip the humonia into the system at an acceptable rate...But at this point with your time constraints and all, I think recruiting help from the missus is probably you safest bet. 

Added a few more plants to take up some of the nitrates.  Wish my seeds would sprout, glad that the local nursery had a few left over herbs.  Parsley and sage in the bed.  Rosemary and thyme in the seed tray.  Come on Santa, hurry with the new grow lights.

Constructed a splash guard to help keep the water in the fish tank.  

Photos attached.


Wahoo, grow lights installed. Peppermint is taking full advantage of the new light.  The others are still adjusting to life in the tank.  

In a few hours the whole experiment goes into the loving arms of my wife for 28 days.  FIngers crossed.

The experiment continues.

After being gone 29 days I have come home to discover not only did my wife keep the system alive, she fully embraced it. Dutifully checking the levels, adding my urine, and all while herding a two year old.  We had a small casualty, the sage kicked the bucket. It dried up and wasted away to nothing. No big loss though.  I'm happy with the growth of everything else thus far. The spearmint has really taken hold.(evident in photo attached) This system has come such a long way from the nasty stinky thing that I started with.  

I do believe it is time to bring in the fish and fill the grow bed.


A little update, just in case anyone is out there.

Purchased 15 feeder goldfish the other and have them isolated in the hospital tank until I can be sure they aren't sick.  I'm down to 10 presently.  3 floaters and 2 sad to say had a horrible death in the septic holding tank.  Ewww.  I was siphoning out poop from the hospital tank (No filter, frequent H2O changes) and let my attention lapse.  To my horror I saw one of the tiny Golds sliding down the drain.  Then a body count revealed I actually murdered 2 of them in this way.  Poor things.  

Luckily we have a great grow store here in Anchorage  There I bought some sure-to-grow (STG) cubes for starting my seeds.  I didn't have much luck with my straight vermicompost. With these STG cubes I have lettuce sprouts in three days.  I have already transferred 2 of them into my grow beds.  Cube and all.  

All is well at the Stank Farm

Nice to have you back Keith Good to hear that things went well while you were away. Kudos to the missus!

Dont feel so bad I had 10 die in similar fashion.  Sucked up the inlet to the pump.  Hard to explain to the kids I am a mass murderer due to brain fart.

Did they rot in the grow bed? Or were you able to get them out?


Dont feel so bad I had 10 die in similar fashion.  Sucked up the inlet to the pump.  Hard to explain to the kids I am a mass murderer due to brain fart.

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