Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

I'm looking to begin cycling my system this weekend.  What would you suggest to introduce ammonia into my system to begin the process?  I'm open to suggestions.  Where can I buy this stuff?

Views: 274

Replies to This Discussion


Fishless cycling

Cycling with fish

What to use for ammonia.  You may be able to find a Jug of clean (no soap, fragrance or detergent added) ammonia at Ace Hardware.

Or you might bottle your own free Humonia if that doesn't gross you or the family out.

Or you can order ammonium Chloride from me or I believe Sylvia has cycle up packets of something to sell.

Ace Hardware Janitorial Ammonia works great. I think it was +/- $6 for a gallon. My system has a total of about 450 gallons of water, using gravel beds, so I used 5 tsp daily to achieve 1-2 ppm ammonia. The cycling was completed in 16 days. Practice patience.

Hi John, I expect that 16 days was just the initial part of cycling.  to be really done cycling up you have to be able to dose to at least that amount and have both the ammonia and nitrite down to 0 within 24 hours.  And generally even when you get to that point of the ammonia and nitrite falling to 0 in 24 hours from a dose to between 1-2 ppm, then when you add fish, you still need to keep a close eye on water quality since getting truely cycled up and settled in usually takes 6-8 weeks.

After that keeping an eye on pH remains important and if anything seems off do all other water quality tests as well.  Once a system is settled in I might check pH a couple times a week and do all other tests once every few weeks or so.

Good morning TC!

I have learned to follow your advice. At about 14 days my system had started dropping to 0 within 24 hours, but as you suggested I continued to dose for several more days. Each day the ammonia and nitrite would drop to 0 ppm and the nitrate was holding at 5 ppm with plants in my beds already. At about 18 days I stopped dosing and waited another 2 more days before I added my catfish. Now, 3 weeks later my fish are still happy and healthy and our veggies are thriving.

I continue, as you suggested, to monitor the pH every 2-3 days and it has gradually dropped from 7.8 closer to 7.2. Both ammonia and nitrite are remaining at 0 and the nitrate is holding at 5 ppm.

Our system (you can find it on YouTube, search: HOWponics) is now 6 weeks in continuous operation and doing well. I am grateful to have people like TC and others who are willing to lend their advice on this forum freely. I have a lot to learn.

Now, off to my day job. Such an inconvenience!

Well, I will ask the question that has to be on some people's minds, why Cycling?  What does it accomplish?

"cycling" gets the tank and water ready for the fish..

in some cases this involves "off gassing" the chlorine, then the addition of an ammonia source so the the beneficial bacteria can populate the system..

the ammonia is first converted to nitrites (which can be dangerous to fish), and another biological process converts the nitrites to nitrates, which the plants can use (some plants do take up ammonia directly)


some folks start the cycling process with fish, and this can be done, as long as you monitor the system and don't over-feed.. the system has to be able to process the fish waste (fish produce ammonia not only from expelling waste, they also expel ammonia from their gills.. if  a system is not cycled, the ammonia can build up to much and kill the fish, or the nitrites can build up to much and kill the fish..


Cycling ... well I read about it and I have never done it.  I have a catfish breeding pond with a lot of vegetation and fish, food and bug crap in it and all I do is to dump about 5 gallons of pond water into each IBC and then fill the IBC to the 250 gallon mark with filtered rain water, and test the water for Ph - it is always 6 to 6.5.  I then let the pump run the water through the lava rock media for several days and toss in some ''mine canary'' gold fish and feed them well.  If they live, and if the veggies in the grow box live, in about a week I put in the cats or koi. 

Not saying anything against ''cycling'' but our pond and every koi pond that I have ever seen built is/has not been ''cycled.''

Interesting about my catfish breeding pond.  Before I introduced the first 250 fingerlings into the pond it had no weeds or moss or any vegetation.  Now that the fish are happily swimming away, the vegetation abounds.  Their ammonia and poop have started a bacteria culture that has provided an excellent grow medium for the vegetation.

Sounds like you are doing very well John, Good Job (by the way it may be possible to cycle up faster than the normal 6 weeks but I generally like to tell newbies that it's 6 weeks so they don't get antsy if it doesn't happen overnight.)

Phil, you are cycling, you just didn't realize it.  The pond water and the lava rock media beds and the canary goldfish being fed are providing cycle up time and filtration.  Cycling generally means giving the bio-filter time/ammonia to grow enough of the different bacteria necessary to take care of the Nitrogen cycle.

I am going to be selling lava rock by the pound, IBCs, rainwater and catfish fingerlings in my area.  Perhaps I should also sell nutrient and bacteria rich pond water for natural recycling!  Tadpoles in the water are a free benefit.

Also my fish are in those tanks a week after the ''canary goldfish''  no 6-weeks.

Thank you so much for everyone's input.  I'm so excited I can't wait to get started!


© 2023   Created by Sylvia Bernstein.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service