Aquaponic Gardening

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Well I have been running a mini system since last year and it has be running well.  Currently it is as follows:

25 Gallon Tank

10 Gallon Grow bed flood and drain

5 gallon constant flow trough

1 gold fish very large (had 3 at the beginning of last week)

Water temp constant 71.2 degrees.

All numbers on water quality are good

0 - Ammonia

0 - Nitrite

7.4 - pH

80 - Nitrate

Currently we are growing tomatoes (big plants but blossoms all drop), 8 leaf lettuce, 2 broccoli and 8 habanero plants (no blossoms yet)

Starting two weeks ago the fish appeared to be stressed so I removed them and isolated them in a hospital tank.  They were swimming erratically, fins tight against body and laying upright on bottom of tank.  Figured swim bladder so switched to pea diet and after a few days they were all back to normal.  Tank was still test fine.  Did a good scrub on walls to get salts off and increased flow rate to filter out any loose sediment.  Did that for 3 days.

Placed fish back in tank and after 3 days the littlest one just died and the other two went right back to  the same symptoms.  So separated the two fish and quarantined them, back to peas.  Again they recovered.  Replaced the smaller of the two large goldfish and although he remained looking normal he sat at the edge of the tank and watched the larger fish in the other tank.  Refused to eat and then started to huddle on the heater.  At this point I put him back in hospital tank, pulled out the plumbing and put in clean plumbing.  I keep a spare drain set to swap so I can clean the other one without downing the tank.  He still refused to eat and died a day or two later.

I examined this one closely and there was broken blood vessels in the eyes.  Gills slightly red but looked good.  Scales were missing, and there was slight red lines through the dorsal and tail fin.  These are typical signs of Nitrate poisoning, that seems to be verified by the fruiting plants not being able to keep blossoms.

Typically I would not question the Nitrate since 80ppm is not high for AP but with the blossom drops and the blood vessel rupture I am concerned.  I have since place my large GF back in the tank and added additional O2, and increased my drain rates to keep water moving as well as removing the heater, but the fish is swimming on the bottom on its side.  It is still eating but will only eat peas.  He goes up right and starts swimming normal but it looks forced

Question is has anyone else experienced Nitrate poisoning and if so what can be done other than evacuating the whole system and replacing all the water in the tanks?

I know some are going to say Nitrite or Ammonia but I have been a long time with Aquaculture and this is not damage from either.

Views: 533

Replies to This Discussion

from the net:

 Nitrate shock can also occur when massive water changes have been performed on a mature thank that has high levels of nitrate. The sudden drop in nitrate can shock the fish.

Treatment:

  • Test the water to get baseline nitrate level
  • Perform multiple small water changes
  • Reduce feeding
  • Increase aeration
  • Use nitrate removing filter media
Even in cases of sudden exposure to high nitrates, it is possible to reduce the effect of the nitrates, thus giving the fish a fighting chance of survival.  The key thing to keep in mind is to not make another sudden change.   Ideally nitrate levels in a freshwater aquarium should be kept below 20 mg/l.  However, any changes should occur slowly, at a rate of change that is less than 50 mg/l change per day.
Test the aquarium water and record the initial nitrate level so you have a baseline to work with. Perform a 5% water change every hour or two, using water low in nitrate.  Continue until you have replaced approximately half of the volume of water in your aquarium.  This process will reduce the nitrate levels significantly, but slowly enough to avoid the effects of sudden changes.
After the final water change, test the water and note how much the nitrate has dropped.  If nitrate levels remain above 100 mg/l, repeat the process the next day.  Nitrate removing filter media can also be used of nitrate levels remain high even after multiple water changes.
Increase the aeration in the tank, as tanks with high nitrates are usually low in oxygen. Do not feed the fish for 24 hours, and then feed sparingly until the tank stabilizes. Once nitrates have been brought down, it is important to maintain the tank well to avoid another nitrate disaster.
After reading this I womder if your water changes have compounded the problem.  keep us informed.

 

Thanks Bob, but I have not done any water changes yet in the tank, just top offs of less than 1 gallon ever other day with a single does of AQ salt to minimize stress.  I am going to have to look at a possible additional filter to cut Nitrates.  Wonder if the bed could be going septic?

Bob Terrell said:

from the net:

 Nitrate shock can also occur when massive water changes have been performed on a mature thank that has high levels of nitrate. The sudden drop in nitrate can shock the fish.

Treatment:

  • Test the water to get baseline nitrate level
  • Perform multiple small water changes
  • Reduce feeding
  • Increase aeration
  • Use nitrate removing filter media
Even in cases of sudden exposure to high nitrates, it is possible to reduce the effect of the nitrates, thus giving the fish a fighting chance of survival.  The key thing to keep in mind is to not make another sudden change.   Ideally nitrate levels in a freshwater aquarium should be kept below 20 mg/l.  However, any changes should occur slowly, at a rate of change that is less than 50 mg/l change per day.
Test the aquarium water and record the initial nitrate level so you have a baseline to work with. Perform a 5% water change every hour or two, using water low in nitrate.  Continue until you have replaced approximately half of the volume of water in your aquarium.  This process will reduce the nitrate levels significantly, but slowly enough to avoid the effects of sudden changes.
After the final water change, test the water and note how much the nitrate has dropped.  If nitrate levels remain above 100 mg/l, repeat the process the next day.  Nitrate removing filter media can also be used of nitrate levels remain high even after multiple water changes.
Increase the aeration in the tank, as tanks with high nitrates are usually low in oxygen. Do not feed the fish for 24 hours, and then feed sparingly until the tank stabilizes. Once nitrates have been brought down, it is important to maintain the tank well to avoid another nitrate disaster.
After reading this I womder if your water changes have compounded the problem.  keep us informed.

 

John, have you increases aeration, thatn would be my first swag.
 
John Cubit said:

Thanks Bob, but I have not done any water changes yet in the tank, just top offs of less than 1 gallon ever other day with a single does of AQ salt to minimize stress.  I am going to have to look at a possible additional filter to cut Nitrates.  Wonder if the bed could be going septic?

Bob Terrell said:

from the net:

 Nitrate shock can also occur when massive water changes have been performed on a mature thank that has high levels of nitrate. The sudden drop in nitrate can shock the fish.

Treatment:

  • Test the water to get baseline nitrate level
  • Perform multiple small water changes
  • Reduce feeding
  • Increase aeration
  • Use nitrate removing filter media
Even in cases of sudden exposure to high nitrates, it is possible to reduce the effect of the nitrates, thus giving the fish a fighting chance of survival.  The key thing to keep in mind is to not make another sudden change.   Ideally nitrate levels in a freshwater aquarium should be kept below 20 mg/l.  However, any changes should occur slowly, at a rate of change that is less than 50 mg/l change per day.
Test the aquarium water and record the initial nitrate level so you have a baseline to work with. Perform a 5% water change every hour or two, using water low in nitrate.  Continue until you have replaced approximately half of the volume of water in your aquarium.  This process will reduce the nitrate levels significantly, but slowly enough to avoid the effects of sudden changes.
After the final water change, test the water and note how much the nitrate has dropped.  If nitrate levels remain above 100 mg/l, repeat the process the next day.  Nitrate removing filter media can also be used of nitrate levels remain high even after multiple water changes.
Increase the aeration in the tank, as tanks with high nitrates are usually low in oxygen. Do not feed the fish for 24 hours, and then feed sparingly until the tank stabilizes. Once nitrates have been brought down, it is important to maintain the tank well to avoid another nitrate disaster.
After reading this I womder if your water changes have compounded the problem.  keep us informed.

 

Yes, but I think I may have to upgrade to a larger air pump.  I have adjusted the drains to add aeration and opened the current AP to it's max.  I have also added a deflector to keep the wand from just shooting air straight to the surface.  I also added a surface pipe to cause a swirl across the the tank to bump the water movement.

Bob Terrell said:

John, have you increases aeration, thatn would be my first swag.
 
John Cubit said:

Thanks Bob, but I have not done any water changes yet in the tank, just top offs of less than 1 gallon ever other day with a single does of AQ salt to minimize stress.  I am going to have to look at a possible additional filter to cut Nitrates.  Wonder if the bed could be going septic?

Bob Terrell said:

from the net:

 Nitrate shock can also occur when massive water changes have been performed on a mature thank that has high levels of nitrate. The sudden drop in nitrate can shock the fish.

Treatment:

  • Test the water to get baseline nitrate level
  • Perform multiple small water changes
  • Reduce feeding
  • Increase aeration
  • Use nitrate removing filter media
Even in cases of sudden exposure to high nitrates, it is possible to reduce the effect of the nitrates, thus giving the fish a fighting chance of survival.  The key thing to keep in mind is to not make another sudden change.   Ideally nitrate levels in a freshwater aquarium should be kept below 20 mg/l.  However, any changes should occur slowly, at a rate of change that is less than 50 mg/l change per day.
Test the aquarium water and record the initial nitrate level so you have a baseline to work with. Perform a 5% water change every hour or two, using water low in nitrate.  Continue until you have replaced approximately half of the volume of water in your aquarium.  This process will reduce the nitrate levels significantly, but slowly enough to avoid the effects of sudden changes.
After the final water change, test the water and note how much the nitrate has dropped.  If nitrate levels remain above 100 mg/l, repeat the process the next day.  Nitrate removing filter media can also be used of nitrate levels remain high even after multiple water changes.
Increase the aeration in the tank, as tanks with high nitrates are usually low in oxygen. Do not feed the fish for 24 hours, and then feed sparingly until the tank stabilizes. Once nitrates have been brought down, it is important to maintain the tank well to avoid another nitrate disaster.
After reading this I womder if your water changes have compounded the problem.  keep us informed.

 

Why the deflector, my understanding of water dynamics is that the bubbles breaking the surface tension is where the dissolved O2 comes from and not just from the air bubbles passing thriugh the water.
 
John Cubit said:

Yes, but I think I may have to upgrade to a larger air pump.  I have adjusted the drains to add aeration and opened the current AP to it's max.  I have also added a deflector to keep the wand from just shooting air straight to the surface.  I also added a surface pipe to cause a swirl across the the tank to bump the water movement.

Bob Terrell said:

John, have you increases aeration, thatn would be my first swag.
 
John Cubit said:

Thanks Bob, but I have not done any water changes yet in the tank, just top offs of less than 1 gallon ever other day with a single does of AQ salt to minimize stress.  I am going to have to look at a possible additional filter to cut Nitrates.  Wonder if the bed could be going septic?

Bob Terrell said:

from the net:

 Nitrate shock can also occur when massive water changes have been performed on a mature thank that has high levels of nitrate. The sudden drop in nitrate can shock the fish.

Treatment:

  • Test the water to get baseline nitrate level
  • Perform multiple small water changes
  • Reduce feeding
  • Increase aeration
  • Use nitrate removing filter media
Even in cases of sudden exposure to high nitrates, it is possible to reduce the effect of the nitrates, thus giving the fish a fighting chance of survival.  The key thing to keep in mind is to not make another sudden change.   Ideally nitrate levels in a freshwater aquarium should be kept below 20 mg/l.  However, any changes should occur slowly, at a rate of change that is less than 50 mg/l change per day.
Test the aquarium water and record the initial nitrate level so you have a baseline to work with. Perform a 5% water change every hour or two, using water low in nitrate.  Continue until you have replaced approximately half of the volume of water in your aquarium.  This process will reduce the nitrate levels significantly, but slowly enough to avoid the effects of sudden changes.
After the final water change, test the water and note how much the nitrate has dropped.  If nitrate levels remain above 100 mg/l, repeat the process the next day.  Nitrate removing filter media can also be used of nitrate levels remain high even after multiple water changes.
Increase the aeration in the tank, as tanks with high nitrates are usually low in oxygen. Do not feed the fish for 24 hours, and then feed sparingly until the tank stabilizes. Once nitrates have been brought down, it is important to maintain the tank well to avoid another nitrate disaster.
After reading this I womder if your water changes have compounded the problem.  keep us informed.

 

What I have been reading is that air stones or rods release the oxygen so fast that that the air is actually forced from the water.  They are not recommended for aquaculture but since this is an aquarium I felt it was the best choice at the time.  What should be used is an air diffuser which release billions of smaller bubbles at a time more slowly allowing more surface disruption with out the force.

What I have done is put a 3" diameter pvc pipe around the rod to slow the rise to the surface.  It has caused a more uniform almost foaming action on the surface while the surface pipe forces water to move to the opposite end of the tank.  I can see the action if I drop a pea at one end but the water pump and it flows across the surface while sinking as it goes to the opposite end then get sucked back towards the air stone before resting near the drain eventually drifting towards the  water pump. 

Bob Terrell said:

Why the deflector, my understanding of water dynamics is that the bubbles breaking the surface tension is where the dissolved O2 comes from and not just from the air bubbles passing thriugh the water.
 
John Cubit said:

Yes, but I think I may have to upgrade to a larger air pump.  I have adjusted the drains to add aeration and opened the current AP to it's max.  I have also added a deflector to keep the wand from just shooting air straight to the surface.  I also added a surface pipe to cause a swirl across the the tank to bump the water movement.

Bob Terrell said:

John, have you increases aeration, thatn would be my first swag.
 
John Cubit said:

Thanks Bob, but I have not done any water changes yet in the tank, just top offs of less than 1 gallon ever other day with a single does of AQ salt to minimize stress.  I am going to have to look at a possible additional filter to cut Nitrates.  Wonder if the bed could be going septic?

Bob Terrell said:

from the net:

 Nitrate shock can also occur when massive water changes have been performed on a mature thank that has high levels of nitrate. The sudden drop in nitrate can shock the fish.

Treatment:

  • Test the water to get baseline nitrate level
  • Perform multiple small water changes
  • Reduce feeding
  • Increase aeration
  • Use nitrate removing filter media
Even in cases of sudden exposure to high nitrates, it is possible to reduce the effect of the nitrates, thus giving the fish a fighting chance of survival.  The key thing to keep in mind is to not make another sudden change.   Ideally nitrate levels in a freshwater aquarium should be kept below 20 mg/l.  However, any changes should occur slowly, at a rate of change that is less than 50 mg/l change per day.
Test the aquarium water and record the initial nitrate level so you have a baseline to work with. Perform a 5% water change every hour or two, using water low in nitrate.  Continue until you have replaced approximately half of the volume of water in your aquarium.  This process will reduce the nitrate levels significantly, but slowly enough to avoid the effects of sudden changes.
After the final water change, test the water and note how much the nitrate has dropped.  If nitrate levels remain above 100 mg/l, repeat the process the next day.  Nitrate removing filter media can also be used of nitrate levels remain high even after multiple water changes.
Increase the aeration in the tank, as tanks with high nitrates are usually low in oxygen. Do not feed the fish for 24 hours, and then feed sparingly until the tank stabilizes. Once nitrates have been brought down, it is important to maintain the tank well to avoid another nitrate disaster.
After reading this I womder if your water changes have compounded the problem.  keep us informed.

 

Sounds good all you can do is try

John Cubit said:

What I have been reading is that air stones or rods release the oxygen so fast that that the air is actually forced from the water.  They are not recommended for aquaculture but since this is an aquarium I felt it was the best choice at the time.  What should be used is an air diffuser which release billions of smaller bubbles at a time more slowly allowing more surface disruption with out the force.

What I have done is put a 3" diameter pvc pipe around the rod to slow the rise to the surface.  It has caused a more uniform almost foaming action on the surface while the surface pipe forces water to move to the opposite end of the tank.  I can see the action if I drop a pea at one end but the water pump and it flows across the surface while sinking as it goes to the opposite end then get sucked back towards the air stone before resting near the drain eventually drifting towards the  water pump. 

Bob Terrell said:

Why the deflector, my understanding of water dynamics is that the bubbles breaking the surface tension is where the dissolved O2 comes from and not just from the air bubbles passing thriugh the water.
 
John Cubit said:

Yes, but I think I may have to upgrade to a larger air pump.  I have adjusted the drains to add aeration and opened the current AP to it's max.  I have also added a deflector to keep the wand from just shooting air straight to the surface.  I also added a surface pipe to cause a swirl across the the tank to bump the water movement.

Bob Terrell said:

John, have you increases aeration, thatn would be my first swag.
 
John Cubit said:

Thanks Bob, but I have not done any water changes yet in the tank, just top offs of less than 1 gallon ever other day with a single does of AQ salt to minimize stress.  I am going to have to look at a possible additional filter to cut Nitrates.  Wonder if the bed could be going septic?

Bob Terrell said:

from the net:

 Nitrate shock can also occur when massive water changes have been performed on a mature thank that has high levels of nitrate. The sudden drop in nitrate can shock the fish.

Treatment:

  • Test the water to get baseline nitrate level
  • Perform multiple small water changes
  • Reduce feeding
  • Increase aeration
  • Use nitrate removing filter media
Even in cases of sudden exposure to high nitrates, it is possible to reduce the effect of the nitrates, thus giving the fish a fighting chance of survival.  The key thing to keep in mind is to not make another sudden change.   Ideally nitrate levels in a freshwater aquarium should be kept below 20 mg/l.  However, any changes should occur slowly, at a rate of change that is less than 50 mg/l change per day.
Test the aquarium water and record the initial nitrate level so you have a baseline to work with. Perform a 5% water change every hour or two, using water low in nitrate.  Continue until you have replaced approximately half of the volume of water in your aquarium.  This process will reduce the nitrate levels significantly, but slowly enough to avoid the effects of sudden changes.
After the final water change, test the water and note how much the nitrate has dropped.  If nitrate levels remain above 100 mg/l, repeat the process the next day.  Nitrate removing filter media can also be used of nitrate levels remain high even after multiple water changes.
Increase the aeration in the tank, as tanks with high nitrates are usually low in oxygen. Do not feed the fish for 24 hours, and then feed sparingly until the tank stabilizes. Once nitrates have been brought down, it is important to maintain the tank well to avoid another nitrate disaster.
After reading this I womder if your water changes have compounded the problem.  keep us informed.

 

Have you done a dilution test on your water sample to see if your nitrate is really much higher?  I personally can't tell the difference between shades of red on the API nitrate test once the level is above about 40-50.  I've done the one part system water to 9 parts distilled water, mix and run the test on the diluted sample then multiply the result by ten to get a more accurate reading if my nitrates are up out of the Orange.  But I've never had fish show signs of problems with the nitrates below 500 ppm.

You say you have been adding salt every time you top up water????????  I might worry that your salinity is getting too high.  Salt doesn't evaporate and it only gets taken up very sparingly by plants.

But note, you pulled the fish out of the system with high nitrates, to a system with little/no nitrates and then suddenly placed them back into the system with the high nitrates after they seemed to be better?  That may well count as shocking them with sudden changes.

And how do you get rid of the nitrates without doing water changes?  You need more grow beds and plants.  Only 10 gallons of grow bed on a 25 gallon fish tank, that is not enough grow bed to keep up with poopy fish.

Blossom drop can be for a number of reasons.  Too much nitrate perhaps but that usually just causes overabundant foliage and the plants may not even bother flowering.  Lack of potassium or phosphorus may also be responsible for a lack of flowering.  Potassium is commonly deficient in aquaponics systems where none is being used in the pH buffer and no seaweed extract is being used.  Problems setting blossoms or fruit here in Florida often is because it is too hot or sometimes because the temperatures differential between day and night is not wide enough.

Thanks TC, no I have not done a dilution test.  You are right about the reds though but 40-80vppm give or take but def. not in the purple.  Worth doing the dilution test to compare.  I even went and purchased new bottles of Nitrate test solution.

NO NO NO on the salt.  After I topped up a total of 10 gallons I added salt at that point.  Last time I added salt was back in October.  I do however add MAXI+ about 5 ml every 3 weeks.

LOL I have no problem with foliage, unless I am trying to locate the grow lights, then there is just too much.  The tomatoes are bushes, just drops blossoms.

I also have a 15 gallon trough that is constant flow.  ( I know I said 5 gallon before)  That is filled with lettuce.  So I do have a total growbed size as "25" Gallons but I am thinking I probably should have gone 1 1/2x's larger or 2x's since there was 3 fish and 2 were small Koi size.

True about placing them back in the tank and possible shock but they go into the tanks in acclimation bags for 24-48 hours, but with that much Nitrate it is possible I guess,

I don't know what MAXI+ is

I just wrote a long explanation of NPK for Plants in Dirt ... And my Titration Tests for my Aquarium. Bottom line is if you Nitrate is between 12.5 mg/l - 25 mg/l you are optimum, if 25 mg/l to 50 mg/l, you are border and plants in Aquarium will start to break down and add to the problem, and if you are over 50 mg/l you will lose your fish and plants.  As far as your Garden it goes back to NPK, N=Nitrogen, P= Phosphorus, and K= Potassium or Potash. My Nursery friends here tell my they use 40-20-40 ... they don't. hat is too hot for seedlings and small plants but they cut it x4 so it is 10-5-10. The more Nitrates you have that goes straight to Green Vegetation Growth, the Phosphorus goes to setting blooms and fruit, and the Potash is used for general plant Overall Health.  I use 4-4-4 (All Organic) for seedlings and new plants.  When Tomatoes get 24" high I change to 2-7-4. You could use 4-4-4 ... but tomato plants I bought from my buddies in the past, the vines would grow up the house turn and fall, I had 12' to 20' vines and almost NO tomatoes to show for fancy plants that people would stop by and ask how I did it ... if they only knew how angry I was when I figured it out.

I would suggest a partial water change, change out your current Aquarium plants with new ones, clean filter,and Add some Phosphorus and Potash after your Aquarium and before Vegetable beds to set Blooms/Fruit.

Best of luck

Maxicrop +

TCLynx said:

I don't know what MAXI+ is

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