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PostPosted: Apr 28th, '15, 07:03 
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My first attempt at Aquaponics not going so good :/

Pretty sure I've screwed up every aspect of the setup.

Believe it or not I actually researched this for couple months hoping to have a descent setup but....fail.

I built my lil Aquaponics in the basement.

I have 2x 4" x 10' pvc with 15 slots each. (Messed up and drilled to close). I also have 2x 24" × 36" GB.... only 1 is planted right now. Planned on adding more growing space as the fish grew.

Using a 100 gallon Stock Tank for fish. 50 Tilapia and 10 goldfish in there.

I thought if I were using grow media that I didn't need a separate biological filter and the grow media would act as the biofilter. Is this right or wrong?

All of my beds are constant flow and drain at 1.5" below surface. I THINK this is where I really messed up.... everything drains from the top...not from the bottom as I'm seeing in most of your setups.

Not understanding what "cycle" meant...still don't fully understand the full process.

After everything was built here's how I proceeded....
Filled with tap water
Waited 3 weeks and then added plants.
Several days after I added plants it dawned on me...duhhhh other than water what is feeding my plants? So I added worm tea.
Waited 1 week then added goldfish.
Tested water daily: Temp 69° F. , PH 7.6, Ammonia .25, Nitrites 0 and Nitrates 0.... same readings every day. Missed the part where I was supposed to test for the Nitrate spike early on to know when my system is ready.
Waited another week then added 50 Fingerling Tilapia.

I lost 10 Tilapia and 3 goldfish so far. No casualties in the last 2 days.
I think it was too cold for the fingerlings so the temp is now ranging from 71-72° F.

My Ammonia is fluctuating between .25 and 1.0. I though maybe my test kit was bad so I bought another one today and it's reading 1.0. I'm testing Ammonia several times a day because I'm impatient and in my crazy little mind I think it will somehow help. I'm not going to feed these guys again for a few days and continue testing like a mad woman.

My PH is always 7.4 - 7.6. My tap water is off the charts at 8.8...as high as the test will show. I expected my PH to be high for a long time because of my tap water. I think it should drop on its own....eventually....right?

Nitrite and Nitrates always at 0.

Just picked up a GH and KH tester.
GH 180
KH 40

No idea what any of the readings mean :(

What I think I know now is PH should be little under 7.0 and everything else at or near 0.

I will attach pics shortly.
Any/All help is appreciated!!! :)


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PostPosted: Apr 28th, '15, 07:08 
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My files are too big to attach...grrr


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PostPosted: Apr 28th, '15, 07:35 
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To reduce the file sizes, there are several programs. My favourite is Picasa:
https://picasa.google.com.au/

You've got too many fish for 370L (100Gallons) of water, and no where near enough filtration. By my count (and I'm doing rough calculations because of silly US inches/gallons), you have enough media for 13 fish, with 25L of media per fish. The media bed can act as a filter, and take away the need for additional filtration, but there is a point that the beds can't process the amount of solids that come into it, and then they'll build up, and bad things happen, 1 fish per 25L is the nice limit that's been discovered through trial and error.

We can't keep tilapia here, but from reading up, they grow really slowly at 21C (71F), and die off at 10C (50F). Have you considered a fish that can tolerate the conditions better? Tilapia are a tropical fish, they need warmer water.

Look at your pH with the ammonia toxicity chart:
Image

I've had my system running around a pH of 8 for over a year, and most things including fish thrived, but if the ammonia gets too high (and with your stocking rate, it will), you'll run into problems.

For now, I'd recommend getting additional solids filtration happening, giving away a few fish, and be patient with the cycling. And if you're heating the water, heat it a little more (after the filtration is set up/fish given away).

And since it's a problem in almost all indoor systems I've seen on here, what's the lighting for in the basement like? Productive plants require a lot of light, and high intensity light, a simple fluro over the top won't be enough, cheap LED's won't be enough, they need proper indoor grow lights, and they aren't cheap - to buy, or run.

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PostPosted: Apr 28th, '15, 07:49 
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I have 3x 4' shop lights with a 6500 kelvin and a 1650 kelvin bulb/tube in each one. Yes the low kelvin bulbs were $30 each. I have mylar dropped behind them. My plants are doing good from what I can see. Not 100% sure since I've never grown half the stuff I have in there.

I wasn't as concerned now for the fish to grow fast. I'd prefer to keep temperature below 70° because I didn't want them breeding. But yes I have a heater and can turn it up more.

Is it possible to add a ton more grow beds and a separate filter? Would I be able to keep 50 Tilapia in there then? Goldfish won't be a problem to get rid of but no one in my area would take Tilapia. :(

Brb... going to try to take some pics and upload. If that doesn't work I will try picasa.

Thank you! :)


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PostPosted: Apr 28th, '15, 07:58 
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I have a 250 gallon fish tank and 3 beds 4'x8' and I only have about 55 fish.

You've got too many fish.

And even if you did add more filtration it won't take long for the fish to get stressed due to crowding.

You've got too many fish.

Make the necessary corrections and drive on.

:support:

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PostPosted: Apr 28th, '15, 07:59 
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So my Ammonia levels are ok? If I'm reading it correctly my Ammonia isn't toxic until it hits between 1.3 and 2.1 for the temperature I have set? What tester are you using? Mine only read in .25 increments.

I can't get rid of fish but I do have space to add grow beds and tanks. If needed I could buy a fish tank and split them up.


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PostPosted: Apr 28th, '15, 08:00 
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Wish I would have found this site before I started :(


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PostPosted: Apr 28th, '15, 08:10 
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https://picasaweb.google.com/1180387813 ... JDyr6LsgwE


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PostPosted: Apr 28th, '15, 08:16 
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There are my pics... so embarrassed to share. Guess I had to start somewhere.

I don't understand how everything I've done can be so far off from this forum to others.

So back to I have way too many fish.... getting rid of them isn't really a option. I can't just throw them away. I can add on though but I need time. We're not filthy rich and what we have so far has cost twice as much as I expected. :( Most of the problem started from not having much available unless I was prepared to drive all over gods creation. I ordered what I could and picked up the rest from the local home depot, Wal mart and pet store. We live in a small city and Aquaponics is 0 existence here...well kind of 1 now haha.


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PostPosted: Apr 28th, '15, 08:29 
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Aquapo noob, congrats on getting started. Just doing what you have done show a lot of initiative. My suggestion would be to start simple with something like the ibarrel system that uses a 55 gallon drum. You can learn and make mistakes on a smaller scale and when you are ready expand into something bigger. There are several good guides but I used this one. http://m.instructables.com/id/Barrelpon ... quaponics/


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PostPosted: Apr 28th, '15, 08:33 
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Thank you everyone! Appreciate your time and help :D

I wanted to start with the 55 gallon drums but I would have to drive over 1 hour one way to get them and I don't have a truck. I looked into 55 gallon drums and the ibc to have them shipped in but the cost was astronomical.

Did my link to pics work?


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PostPosted: Apr 28th, '15, 08:42 
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Hi Aquapo, I'm feeling your frustration :support:
aquapo noob wrote:
My files are too big to attach...grrr
I use the simple photo editor that came with my computer to shrink and save the photos at 800x600 pixels (just a right click on the photo, then edit, resize and save). I think there's a thread on loading photos somewhere.

People will be able to give better advice once they can see your system and you provide a few more details on your pump and flow rates and how your system is connected up. It sounds like you have all the right bits - its just managing it with the appropriate amount of fish that is the issue.

+1 to all the other advice from the experienced APers on the forum. They know, because they have experienced the pain of overreaching and losing fish. The 'oft repeated rules of thumb' thread says you need 20-25 litres of wet media per fish for biofiltration, so you could grow out up to 10-15 tilapia in your system. You definitely have way too many fish. There is also an excellent science based fact sheets and calculator on AP by Dr Wilson Lennard if you want to look into this in more detail http://www.aquaponic.com.au/fact%20sheets.htm

Cycling your system refers to establishing the bacterial colonies on your growbed media which will convert the ammonia that fish excrete to nitrite (both are toxic to fish) and then nitrate which is okay for fish and is what your plants use. There are a number of ways of doing this with or without sacrificial fish. Either way, you need an ammonia source to feed the bacteria so they can establish. As the the nitrosomonas bacteria which convert the ammonia to nitrite colonise, you will see a nitrite spike, which then abates as the nitrobacter establishes converting this to nitrate. When you can add ~1ppm ammonia to your system and in 24 hours you measure 0 ammonia and nitrite, it means your system is cycled and is ready for fish. You can get more ammonia and nitrite spikes when you add fish so you need to keep monitoring and withhold food if it gets out of hand so your system can catch up.

You pH should start dropping as nitrification (conversion of ammonia>nitrite>nitrate) occurs, so don't worry about that too much - 7.4-7.6 is okay for now and you wont have to worry about it until it drops towards 6. As for nitrate, some folks systems run at near 0 nitrate as their plants take it up as soon as its produced and others run in the 100s. Mine is over 160ppm at the moment as it is a new system and the plants are still small and have slowed their growth with cooler weather - I would prefer the nitrates to be 80ppm or less. Being indoors, your plants will need a proper grow lights to thrive and have a useful harvest.

I agree with all the other advice that you need to significantly destock your fish to a level your system can handle, otherwise you will continue to have deaths and the survivors may be permanently damaged and fail to thrive. It will take time and $$ for you to build enough new growbeds, and even more time for them to cycle so they can process the fish waste, and more grow lights which are expensive to buy and run. You will need biofiltration to keep your fish alive even if you split them into another tank. There are mechanical filters that you could build - check out some of the RAS threads for swirl filters, radial flow filters (RFF), moving bed biofilters (MBBF).

Hang in there, and take the advice of the experienced APers.

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PostPosted: Apr 28th, '15, 08:52 
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If you go to www.fastonline.org they have a barrel ponics manual that has a parts list and instructions on how to put it together. I'm working on a similar system.


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PostPosted: Apr 28th, '15, 09:01 
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Sweet h20grow! Good luck.

Unfortunately I'm not willing to pay for the drums to be shipped in but ty for the link. That's what I wanted originally to start off...that or ibc but both are crazy expensive to ship to me.

It's like our little city is on a remote island minus the all the cool stuff...lol
We have nothing here.

Just going to order the duraskrim and build a couple big grow beds.


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PostPosted: Apr 28th, '15, 09:21 
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All those valves would have cost a fortune! Ouch town, with NFT, you just need one pipe at the end, and the water flows along the lenght.

I'm glad the lighting is up to scratch. We see it way too often when it's not.

Your pictures worked, but with Picasa, you can select all the pictures you want, click on the export button, and save them to your HD, then you can upload them with the picture add function on BYAP, or start up something like a photobucket that allows hotlinking. Picture add function is easier I'd imagine.

If you can't get rid of the fish (try a craigslist ad?), then expansion is your only real option, bigger tank and more growbeds. The tank can be wood and pond liner as well, makes it easier to size it up that way too. I'm guessing the fish are still quite small, so you've probably got a bit of breathing room, just keep a close eye on the ammonia, and feed accordingly (if it goes up into the dangerous area, stop feeding).

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