Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

I had been cycling my system for several months waiting for the weather to moderate before adding fish.

I thought I had the optimum balance, but hadn't tested regularly, and now upon testing find ammonia and nitrites are around zero, but so are nitrates.

How do I start all over. I have two of the three grow beds planted (sparingly).

I want to add fish after the March 15 fish sale.

Thanks, David

Views: 153

Replies to This Discussion

Hayward water is very high ph, and I have been bringing it down with vinegar.  Could that have contributed to the problem?



You say you've been cycling the system, with no fish.  What has been your source of ammonia?


Hi David,

I don't think you need to start all over. I have been running my system for almost one year now and have never once had measurable nitrates, not even during fishless cycling. At one point I even tried feeding the fish more to increase the nitrates thinking that I was supposed to have some, but even then I didn't get any measurable levels, just bloated fish. I have been growing plants the whole time with no issues and have never had a nitrogen deficiency (potassium, yes, but not nitrogen). During cycling I just added ammonia and Maxicrop and the plants did fine. Once I added the fish, I had to start learning to supplement to avoid nutrient deficiencies, but nitrogen has never been an issue despite never once having measurable nitrates.

Watch your plants for the answer. Are they growing without signs of deficiency? If so, then you should be fine. Check out Friendly Aquaponics if you get a chance. They report being able to grow without measurable levels of nitrates too and they are a commercial operation. 

Also, Bright Agrotech has a really great key for diagnosing deficiencies in aquaponics. You can find it here:

I think you'll be just fine!! Good luck!

Hello David,

The Nitrogen cycle is actually a little difficult to "catch" in the tests.  This is because it is a cycle, so the levels will quickly rise and then quickly fall again as the bacteria do their job :-).  I get pretty excited when I see the nitrites and nitrates because I do not see them very often, even in systems that are over a year old and are growing healthy plants.

If you have fish, they are producing ammonia.  If you are seeing any ammonia, then you can almost be sure that there are nitrobacters as well... otherwise, your ammonia would spike up to a toxic level for the fish.... If it is doing that, then you have another problem.

Hope this helps, let us know if you have any other questions.


I have been using an industrial strength pure ammonia, no perfumes or addatives. I added 30ml at a time and run it through the system and check again.

Paul Trudeau said:


You say you've been cycling the system, with no fish.  What has been your source of ammonia?



© 2024   Created by Sylvia Bernstein.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service