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What is the most ideal level for plants and fish? I have chard, turnip greens and peppers. and no fish until I find out that it is cycled up. I don't know how to determine if it is cycled up yet either.

What all levels do I need to test for again? Any help welcome.

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You need to be able to track

Ammonia

Nitrite

Nitrate

pH (often comes in two separate tests for different ranges)

and temperature

 

During initial cycle up daily testing is pretty normal.  Once you get past cycle up (both ammonia and nitrite reading 0ppm or very near there to) then you just need to track pH regularly to make sure it doesn't crash or anything.  It is a good idea to run occasional tests of the other things or to run tests if something doesn't seem quite right or when you change the feed levels or fish load etc.

 

You want your ammonia and nitrite to be 0 since elevated levels of those are not good for the fish and are an indication that something is wrong with the bio-filter or you are overloaded.

 

pH, needs to be between 6 and 8 for the bio-filter to work.  Most fish are fine in that range.  The bio filter would prefer the pH be between 7 and 8 but the plants would prefer the pH be between 6 and 7.  Most people find that systems will work between 6.5 and 7.5 and perhaps the best pH would be 6.8 but so long as you can get the pH to settle in fairly stable and the plants, fish and bio-filter all seem to be working, well that is what you want.  Beware that many test kits only measure down to 6.0 and you can't tell if it is 6 or lower so it is a good idea to keep the pH enough above 6 so you can be sure it hasn't crashed.  A pH crash is when the pH drops too low for the bio-filter to work and the ammonia spikes again.

 

What level do you want for Nitrates.  Enough that the plants are happy but less than 500 ppm.  The exact level of nitrates generally doesn't matter that much, however the test kits become hard to read (at least for me) if the level is above 40 and running dilution tests is a pain so I would like if my systems were to remain below 40 ppm to make them easier to read.  What if your nitrates don't measure at all, well as long as your plants are happy, that means your system is well balanced and it's all good.  If your plants show signs of nitrogen deficiency and your nitrates reads 0, well then you maybe need to feed higher protein or quality fish feed, or you need more fish or less plants.

 

Does this help?

here are some videos

Water testing videos

oh, here is a fishless cycling post.

Fishless cycling

 

If you have no fish, you can check your bio-filter by dosing the system to 1ppm of ammonia (pure ammonia with no detergents or use aged humonia, pee) and if both the ammonia and nitrite levels can get back to 0 within 24 hours, you can count the system as cycled.  Look at the link to read about the whole fishless cycling process.

This is great. Thanks! I will be coming back to this often until I know it fully.

TCLynx said:

You need to be able to track

Ammonia

Nitrite

Nitrate

pH (often comes in two separate tests for different ranges)

and temperature

 

During initial cycle up daily testing is pretty normal.  Once you get past cycle up (both ammonia and nitrite reading 0ppm or very near there to) then you just need to track pH regularly to make sure it doesn't crash or anything.  It is a good idea to run occasional tests of the other things or to run tests if something doesn't seem quite right or when you change the feed levels or fish load etc.

 

You want your ammonia and nitrite to be 0 since elevated levels of those are not good for the fish and are an indication that something is wrong with the bio-filter or you are overloaded.

 

pH, needs to be between 6 and 8 for the bio-filter to work.  Most fish are fine in that range.  The bio filter would prefer the pH be between 7 and 8 but the plants would prefer the pH be between 6 and 7.  Most people find that systems will work between 6.5 and 7.5 and perhaps the best pH would be 6.8 but so long as you can get the pH to settle in fairly stable and the plants, fish and bio-filter all seem to be working, well that is what you want.  Beware that many test kits only measure down to 6.0 and you can't tell if it is 6 or lower so it is a good idea to keep the pH enough above 6 so you can be sure it hasn't crashed.  A pH crash is when the pH drops too low for the bio-filter to work and the ammonia spikes again.

 

What level do you want for Nitrates.  Enough that the plants are happy but less than 500 ppm.  The exact level of nitrates generally doesn't matter that much, however the test kits become hard to read (at least for me) if the level is above 40 and running dilution tests is a pain so I would like if my systems were to remain below 40 ppm to make them easier to read.  What if your nitrates don't measure at all, well as long as your plants are happy, that means your system is well balanced and it's all good.  If your plants show signs of nitrogen deficiency and your nitrates reads 0, well then you maybe need to feed higher protein or quality fish feed, or you need more fish or less plants.

 

Does this help?

here are some videos

Water testing videos


Ok, I have seen where some people have no filters and others have several different stops before the water makes it back to the fish and I admit... I don't know what they are all for so I modeled mine off of the simplest systems based on my lack of knowledge. (keeping it as simple as possible) but... I thought the hydroton and plants were the biofilter in my system. Is this true in my case or am I missing something completely vital? I've put pics on here before. do you remember? or know where to find them (I don't know if my pics are on with everyone elses or how that works) let me know if you need me to post another pic     55gal aquarium with a grow bed right on top
TCLynx said:

oh, here is a fishless cycling post.

Fishless cycling

 

If you have no fish, you can check your bio-filter by dosing the system to 1ppm of ammonia (pure ammonia with no detergents or use aged humonia, pee) and if both the ammonia and nitrite levels can get back to 0 within 24 hours, you can count the system as cycled.  Look at the link to read about the whole fishless cycling process.

yes your bio filter is your grow bed with the media in it.  When we talk about bio-filters we are really talking about the bacteria that we encourage to colonize the media in our grow beds.

 

you can find your pictures by going to the top where it says photos and when you click on that, there will be a bar across above the photos where you can choose my photos.

You can also fine them by going to your page and go down to the photo slide show and blow to the right is a link to view all and from there you can see all your photos.

 

None the less, there is no way to know if your bio-filter is cycled up without dosing it with ammonia in some way and then testing the water to see how quickly the ammonia and nitrate go away.  If you have no fish then the bacteria will be slowly starving to death so if you want to go for a time with not fish but don't want to have your whole bio filter die off, I recommend reading about fishless cycling.  You can keep your bio-filter bacteria alive by dosing small amounts of ammonia (just make sure it is the pure ammonia with no cloudiness or soap/detergent/fragrance added as those will kill fish.)  You can even totally cycle up a system using ammonia.  Dose till you get around 1-2 ppm of ammonia and if both the ammonia and nitrite can reach 0 ppm in 24 hours, then the bio-filter is cycled up.  Remember though that if you leave it to starve, then you will have to let it cycle up again when you add fish.

ok so I am feeding the bio filter of bacteria which is the third part of the system when I dose it? ok... and once it is established it can still starve because the plants consume that which it converts and they wouldn't feed it  but the fish (or dose) while getting the cycle up (and throughout system life) do. right?

TCLynx said:

yes your bio filter is your grow bed with the media in it.  When we talk about bio-filters we are really talking about the bacteria that we encourage to colonize the media in our grow beds.

 

you can find your pictures by going to the top where it says photos and when you click on that, there will be a bar across above the photos where you can choose my photos.

You can also fine them by going to your page and go down to the photo slide show and blow to the right is a link to view all and from there you can see all your photos.

 

None the less, there is no way to know if your bio-filter is cycled up without dosing it with ammonia in some way and then testing the water to see how quickly the ammonia and nitrate go away.  If you have no fish then the bacteria will be slowly starving to death so if you want to go for a time with not fish but don't want to have your whole bio filter die off, I recommend reading about fishless cycling.  You can keep your bio-filter bacteria alive by dosing small amounts of ammonia (just make sure it is the pure ammonia with no cloudiness or soap/detergent/fragrance added as those will kill fish.)  You can even totally cycle up a system using ammonia.  Dose till you get around 1-2 ppm of ammonia and if both the ammonia and nitrite can reach 0 ppm in 24 hours, then the bio-filter is cycled up.  Remember though that if you leave it to starve, then you will have to let it cycle up again when you add fish.

Yes the bio filter is the third leg of the triangle of aquaponics as I see it. 

Either you dose it or you have fish that feed it. 

And yes, the bio-filter can starve if it is not being fed by the fish waste or by you (same as the plants can starve if the bio-filter were to quit working.)

Yep, we feed the fish, the fish feed the bio-filter, the bio-filter feeds the plants the plants feed us, we feed the fish............ sometimes the fish feed us too and sometimes we have to dose the bio-filter if we remove all the fish or are fishless cycling.  kinda round and round it goes.  I'd better go to bed and quit babbling.  good night.

Adam Shivers said:

ok so I am feeding the bio filter of bacteria which is the third part of the system when I dose it? ok... and once it is established it can still starve because the plants consume that which it converts and they wouldn't feed it  but the fish (or dose) while getting the cycle up (and throughout system life) do. right?
You are very helpful and an educator respected.

TCLynx said:

Yes the bio filter is the third leg of the triangle of aquaponics as I see it. 

Either you dose it or you have fish that feed it. 

And yes, the bio-filter can starve if it is not being fed by the fish waste or by you (same as the plants can starve if the bio-filter were to quit working.)

Yep, we feed the fish, the fish feed the bio-filter, the bio-filter feeds the plants the plants feed us, we feed the fish............ sometimes the fish feed us too and sometimes we have to dose the bio-filter if we remove all the fish or are fishless cycling.  kinda round and round it goes.  I'd better go to bed and quit babbling.  good night.

Adam Shivers said:

ok so I am feeding the bio filter of bacteria which is the third part of the system when I dose it? ok... and once it is established it can still starve because the plants consume that which it converts and they wouldn't feed it  but the fish (or dose) while getting the cycle up (and throughout system life) do. right?
Great job TC. I always have a chance to learn from your replies, thanks.

I figured it was fair to record my results here since I started this discussion for anyone that is following as I already posted this in my loop siphon discussion.

I have some test results and I wanted to ask what you think

pH - 7.8

Ammonia - 0.25 ppm

Nitrite - 0 ppm

Nitrate - 80 ppm

My best guess before I have an expert answer. -It needs help but I have a bio filter -whatcha think?

I also thought I would ask the question for anyone to answer: Isn't it somewhat positive that I have some ammonia being that I haven't starved my bio filter?

no nitrites means balance. right?

and nitrates way up must mean conversion. correct?

I must admit after thinking about it... I'm confused.

   Do I really want ammonia 0 at this particular point with no promise of source? (such as fish)

 I don't have an ammonia source just yet. ( no aged humonia)- is there a way to speed up the rancidity of something?

Since your ammonia isn't 0 it means there is something breaking down in there and your bacteria haven't starved.  Some people will use a tiny bit of urea fertilizer, it will take a bit to convert to ammonia but would work if you have it on hand.  If all else fails, a pinch of fish food might help to ensure your bio-filter doesn't starve but you will want to try and clean out any uneaten feed before you put new fish into the tank.

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