Aquaponic Gardening

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Hello all.  Fishless cycling my IBC system.  This is the beginning of the 8th week.  PH has stayed at 6.0 right from the beginning and I have added crushed eggshells, intermittent small amounts of calcium and potassium(ph up kit).  Ammonia is between 6 and 8(not good with color matching), Nitrites at 1.0 for the first time today and Nitrates at 0(bright gold color).  Threw some seeds on the media bed(clay pellets) a few weeks ago, lots of sprouts, no growth, seem to be getting a paler color. Checked the PH with my pool test chemical kit and same pale yellow color.  Not sure what to do next.  Any suggestions?  Thanks in advance.

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The API test kit only goes to pH 6. So anything below that (4.6, 5 etc...) shows up as pH 6.0...so you really don't know currently where you pH level is actually at.

Check the pH of your source water (tap water, well water...whatever)

And let us know what type of media you used to fill the grow bed with. There has been some sporadic "goofiness" with certain batches of LECA (the little clay balls).

http://community.theaquaponicsource.com/forum/topics/bad-batch-of-p...

You need to treat your tank(s) with Aqualife.  I'm a dealer, but find a dealer in your area.  We treat our tanks once  a week with Aqualife and have none of the challenges that you mention.  Cycled or not, do a weekly 25% water change.

 

Also when my guy needs to cycle a tank without Aqualife, he pees in a jar and dumps his urine into the tank ... it works!  We also maintain a tank of cheap feeder gold fish.  When beginning the cycling process, we dump about 50 of them into the tank to be cycled.  After the tank is cycling, those gold fish that we cannot catch, we put 2-8 inch catfish in with the remaining feeder goldfish.  The cats eat the remaining goldfish and also add good poop to the tank.

Vlad - Makes sense about the PH.  I tested the tap water and got the same reading(color).  Most of the water in the tank is rain water and that also tested the same.  I thought the PH solution might be bad but when I used the PH test for my pool, got the same color.  Also the media is 45 lb bags of PlantIT clay pellets.  

Phil - I thought urine was to raise the ammonia level and I am already around the 6 level.  I havent added any fish because I thought the idea was to get the water correct before adding fish.  You seem to be saying that adding the fish first gets the water to the right level??

Appreciate the responses and any further thoughts. Thank you both

Go buy about  50 feeder goldfish ... about $.25 cents each.  Toss them in that tank and get their poop in the system.  If some die, get them out of the tank right away so that the ammonia level does not go up.  Get some Aqualife and treat the tank accordingly.  Guess that I will start sell and shipping it since I am a dealer.

 

No you do not need urine now.

Mike - so it seems that you have your head wrapped around why you wouldn't want to add fish at a time when ammonia is 6ppm, nitrites are starting make a showing, and pH is unknown. Keep that line of thinking.

Rain water is pretty soft and aggressive having almost no mineral content (other than a few acidic pollutants like sulfur that it picks up along the way). Though I'm surprised that your city's tap water tests below pH 6. Most municipalities will raise the pH to protect pipes and equipment.

You should do the same. You want to raise your pH to a hospitable level. If it is your PlantIt media, you may have a very hard time keeping your pH in an acceptable range for any length of time.

You'll need a reliable way to obtain a true pH reading below 6. I'd recommend going to the local hydro store and getting a reliable pH pen, so that you can determine the source of your woes, and know what pH value you are actually dealing with.


Vlad,  Thank you.  I will do that. Just checked the tap water in the kitchen with my Taylor pool kit and once again the color is lighter than the lowest reading which is 7.0 on the tube.  Thanks for the information and perspective.  
Vlad Jovanovic said:

Mike - so it seems that you have your head wrapped around why you wouldn't want to add fish at a time when ammonia is 6ppm, nitrites are starting make a showing, and pH is unknown. Keep that line of thinking.

Rain water is pretty soft and aggressive having almost no mineral content (other than a few acidic pollutants like sulfur that it picks up along the way). Though I'm surprised that your city's tap water tests below pH 6. Most municipalities will raise the pH to protect pipes and equipment.

You should do the same. You want to raise your pH to a hospitable level. If it is your PlantIt media, you may have a very hard time keeping your pH in an acceptable range for any length of time.

You'll need a reliable way to obtain a true pH reading below 6. I'd recommend going to the local hydro store and getting a reliable pH pen, so that you can determine the source of your woes, and know what pH value you are actually dealing with.

For one thing, your ammonia is WAY too high.  Try to keep the level between 3 - 4ppm, do not exceed 5ppm.  With the ammonia at this level you are actually inhibiting the growth of bacteria.  You will see some trace of Nitrites but that's about it.  Do a 10% water change daily until the ammonia levels drop to 3ppm.

  Your plants will grow in plain water but you put a drop of ammonia in the water and you will start to see that they will yellow out.  You are bleaching the chlorophyll out of the plants.

  My well water comes out at ph 4.4 and I have used it with no difficulties until the plants are established and getting good growth.  All of the sudden the leaves start to wrinkle and curl.  After I buffered the water they came back.  I try to keep my pH around 6.5 - 7, and plants do very well

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