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PostPosted: May 3rd, '15, 07:43 
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pGUFlpZBIE

This is a video of my backyard system. I found a article put out by the United Nations on aquaponics. I don't know too much about the article but between that and the IBC's of aquaponics article, I found them to be more than adequate knowledge to start my own system!

Not a lot of pictures currently, but I hope to put more on. Since the taking of this video, I've planted some jalepeno, Romaine, green onions, red and green bell peppers, oregano and basil.

I ran the system for a couple weeks, and then threw 20 gold fish in the fish tank. They've been slowly dying off, several at a time, which makes me sad. Water test shows a pretty low pH (6.0) with a small amount of ammonia and no nitrites or nitrates. Been getting a lot of rain lately so I think that may be driving the pH acidic. I figure it just needs some time to cycle. Not sure why the fish are dying. I've been feeding them only a small amount every day. They don't really come to the surface to eat either, at least not while I'm staring at them. I'm going to put in an air stone to oxygenate a little better, hopefully that will make them happier. Any other ideas?

Overall I'm super excited about the system, hoping to put some Tilapia in there soon!

I want to put in some vertical towers at some point soon. and some duckweed growing devices. and a bsfl collector. and lots of other things I've discovered in this crazy addicting aquaponics experience. :D

Here are those articles if you don't know about them already.

http://ibcofaquaponics.com/files/IBCofAquaponics.pdf
http://www.fao.org/3/a-i4021e/index.html

Thanks all for reading and commenting!

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PostPosted: May 3rd, '15, 13:48 
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Sometimes shock from introducing fish can knock a few on the head, if you put them in there direct without acclimatizing first (for water temp and pH). See if they continue to die. If they do, let us know and we'll do some trouble shooting.

Looks good though. If the clay pebbles are too expensive, normal media like gravel, river pebbles, scoria will work quite well. It's a quarter of the price as well.

But welcome to the forum, we hope to see more of you.

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PostPosted: May 5th, '15, 01:35 
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Thanks for the comment. I have enjoyed reading through the forum.

I'm going through steps to correct the pH.

Found about 5 dead yesterday. I think i'm probably down to 5-8 fish now. I wonder if I should restock some gold fish, get some tilapia, or just let it alone for a while. I have three IBC grow beds with plants coming in. Not very old plants, mind you. Readings show some ammonia, but no nitrites or nitrates.

I hesitate to add tilapia until I know the system is functioning. Or I'm just impatient. Thoughts?

Maybe I'll build some vertical towers while I wait.

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PostPosted: May 5th, '15, 03:36 
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Hi Jason,

You may already have figured this out but if you're using the API Master test kit and reading a pH of 6.0 with the kit, the pH might be much lower because the kit only reads down to 6.0. If you need a way to raise the pH there have been some recent posts on this just use the search function. Let me know if you have any problems finding them.


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PostPosted: May 5th, '15, 04:50 
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Thanks Scotty, that is an good point, it could be worse than I thought.

Any thoughts on Sta-green Rapid Lime? Pretty cheap where I am. here's the tech sheet:

http://www.theplantschoice.com/Rapid%20 ... 0Sheet.pdf


Also I'm gonna add a bag of semi crushed oyster shells for a more long term solution.

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PostPosted: May 5th, '15, 05:39 
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I wouldn't use the rapid lime because you'd be adding a fair amount of carbonates that could make the pH a bit tougher to adjust. I'd go with a bit of this stuff to kick it up -

- Calcium Hydroxide (Ca(OH)2) (Hydrated lime or Brickie's lime or slaked lime) - Used sparingly and with caution (caustic) to raise pH and add Calcium. Probably adding about 1 tablespoon per 1000L until you figure out what works for your system is a good start. Remember not to change the pH more than .4. Contains other things like magnesium and doesn't add carbonates.

and then once you get to roughly the 6.5 range use the semi-crushed oyster shells. They are CaCO3 as well but won't add the carbonates as fast as the fine ground lime. You have me worried when you say you're going to add a bag of them though. There is still a danger that you will add too many carbonates and the pH will go too high so the way to do this is to get a mesh bag (or an old sock) and put the semi-crushed oyster shells in this so that you can remove them if your pH goes too high or gives any indication that it might. This way you're not stuck with waiting for the pH to come down for 2 years because you can't remove it.

I think you're on the right track. There are other ways to do the pH change - Nate Storey has a video on YouTube that uses a different method. You may eventually wind up using one of these but this will work :thumbright:


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PostPosted: May 5th, '15, 10:07 
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Well... my acid problem may have fixed itself.

I got off work and checked the system and found the pump hose to the fish tank hanging over the wrong side of the fish tank. All the sump water got pumped out, but the fish tank was full. I am very thankful for the CHOP system, to say the least.

At any rate, I set about refilling the sump tank with tap water and treating it with chlorine/cholomine treatement. I tested this water and it is incredibly alkaline. Seems like a perfect match for my acidic water. I don't know how my fish will feel about it though.

I'm starting to see why people do fishless cycling.

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PostPosted: May 5th, '15, 16:46 
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I'm in the same boat as you. Read the Fao paper, but I'm still in the planning phase.

What water source did you use to first fill the system? If both old and new water were from the tap and the new is alkaline then something in the system changed the pH drastically. The dandelions were from your yard? Was there any pesticides used on the lawn? I'm also not sure about using chemical treatment for chlorine? I thought I read it was best to let it just gas off? Though if you do have chloramines in your tap water I realize it's not easy to gas off. So it might be a necessary evil.

Sorry, hopefully whatever happened was a one off fluke and you haven't unintentionally added something toxic to the fish.


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PostPosted: May 10th, '15, 00:44 
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Zwiebel Ritter wrote:
I'm in the same boat as you. Read the Fao paper, but I'm still in the planning phase.

What water source did you use to first fill the system? If both old and new water were from the tap and the new is alkaline then something in the system changed the pH drastically. The dandelions were from your yard? Was there any pesticides used on the lawn? I'm also not sure about using chemical treatment for chlorine? I thought I read it was best to let it just gas off? Though if you do have chloramines in your tap water I realize it's not easy to gas off. So it might be a necessary evil.

Sorry, hopefully whatever happened was a one off fluke and you haven't unintentionally added something toxic to the fish.


I used a combination of rainwater and tap water. I cycled the system for several days before adding a product called "Aquasafe" whose main ingredient is sodium thiosulfate. Most all research I've done says that this is safe for the fishes, although it does add some NaCl to the water, but not enough to matter. No pesticides on the lawn, and I took the dandilions out shortly after I took that video.

I've been slowly inching the ph up using General Hydroponics pH Up. Potassium carbonate and potassium hydroxide. This isn't a good long term solution, so I'll be picking up some slacked lime in a few days.

But for now it seems to working. And the goldfish seem happier. The tilapia aren't eating as well as I'd have hoped. My water is cold from this wet spring weather though. Hopefully they perk up soon.

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PostPosted: Mar 10th, '16, 23:47 
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Hey Ya'll

Getting the system set up again. I had to take it all down over the winter. Joys of not having your own place. So I'm starting the cycle up again, with some upgrades and enthusiasm!!

Last year I had some serious trouble with low pH. I think it was a combination of my tap water being around 7, and a ton of rain water introduced. I never saw a rise in ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate. Not once. Also my tap has chloramine, which I attempted to combat with some "fish safe" pond eliminator. not the best. At any right, added a few small tilapia, some feeder gold fish, but they all died over the few months that i had the system running. Discouraging, to say the least. In addition, pretty much all the plants I tried crashed and burned. Really a poor experiment.

So I'm doing it again!!

This year however, the beds got a little upgrade, more expanded clay, the media guards got upgraded, and the DWC bed is getting into the mix. So we shall see. In addition, I treated the water with Vit C for the chloromine, we'll see how that works. I used some peeponics and fish feed to start the ammonia, no fishes. I'm also adding some fish emulsion to see about getting the plants going, and I planted a ton more than I did last time. Gonna be more aggressive on the plant side, see if I can establish the bacteria before adding fish.

I added a small amount of lime as well, to see about combating the low pH. So far here are my numbers. I like fishless cycling a whole lot. Stress factor is way down.

Image

I'll put some better pics up after a while.

and a outline of my plants so far.

Image

Obviously 3 days is not a long time, but the ammonia spike for me is pretty exciting! Hopefully the Nitro bad boys will populate and start doing their thing before too long!!

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PostPosted: Mar 11th, '16, 00:43 
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Set up, before adding more Expanded Clay
Image

DWC Bed
Image

More pics to come.

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PostPosted: Mar 11th, '16, 10:20 
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looking good

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PostPosted: Mar 24th, '16, 20:03 
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16 days folks.

It's been 16 days since I started, no Nitrites or Nitrates.

Here's the flowchart. Image

I started off with F and D, beds draining every 15-20 minutes, with a complete revolution of water through the fish tank about every hour. 250 gallon IBC tank, 2 IBC media beds, and a DWC IBC. Standard SLO from fish tank. I know my city water has chloromine in it, so I dosed it with ascorbic acid, which I think is why I saw an initial ammonia rise. I also dosed it with some humonia a couple times, threw in some fish feed at times, and saw the ammonia levels start to climb and stay elevated. I put some oyster shell in, but have taken that out since the pH seems to be pretty stable, almost a little high. I wasn't filtering, but now have an inline biomechanical aerated filter, fashioned after Cookies inline fishline filter. I planted after a few days, so I have a few seedlings coming in, but nothing I would guess that would suck ALL the nutrients out. I dosed the system several times with worm tea and fish emulsion. Air temps have been 60-70F, but we had a couple nights of 40's, water temps not currently being measured, but don't seem overly cold. I'll add a new temp gauge shortly.

I switched to constant flood a few days ago, to see if that would help, I grabbed a bucket of water from a local pond, to see if that would help. I want to put fish in in a few weeks, and am frustrated by the lack of bacterial growth.

Any ideas?

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PostPosted: Mar 24th, '16, 20:59 
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Patience. Your water is cold. It will take several weeks. Also, I have never seen nitrates in my system--my plants eat it all.

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PostPosted: Mar 24th, '16, 21:03 
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Also, oyster shells will raise pH. 7.8 is ok but on the high side. you probably want to take them out until you see ph drop some. Beyond that, resist the urge to make adjustments.

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