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PostPosted: May 12th, '17, 11:42 
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Hello! I thought this would be a good place to catalog and diary my system.

For starters - I have an approx. 225 gal (850 L) system. 140 gallons are in 3 55 gallon barrels in series. I have my fish split between two of the barrels, and I have floating plants in the third as additional biofilters. This all goes to a 5 gallon swirl filter, which I have a spigot on for quick draining to water various outdoor plants with the semi-solids as they collect. The water is then redirected to a 15 gallon container I have expanded clay in to use as a biofilter to clean up the water and to grow the lovely bacteria. I have also added worms to this. Right now there are just some arugula sprouts. My system is still getting up and running on the plant side of things. this all goes to a 30 gallon "sump", where my pump happily sits and does its job. The water is pumped to a T (with valves on each output to control flow. One of these outputs goes to a stair-stepped PVC NFT/DWC-ish that drains to the fish tanks. Right now nothing is really growing in this. It does a great job at aerating the water throught the waterfalls though. The other output goes to a 9"x3"x6' DWC with rafts. I have some lettuce and kale growing in these but they are still babies and are suffering some deficiencies I believe - been applying a foliar cal-mag spray very lightly, and they seem to be getting more green by the day.

Attached is a graph of my API kit readings. I have a nice big excel spreadsheet. I love data! But 900x900. . . just won't do to share the whole thing.

Would love advise or just comments!

I'm in the Idaho aquaponics meetup group, though it's not super active.


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PostPosted: May 13th, '17, 13:23 
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Hi Nils :wave: ,

Looks like you're getting cycled but it's still early and you'll occasionally see a spike. The system will get more stable as time goes by. You've left out a critical piece of information, the water temperature. The ammonia changes form depending on this and the pH so it's tough to see if you're in or close to the toxic levels. The table for checking this is at the link below -

http://ibcofaquaponics.com/information/tables-and-charts/

I'm not sure how you're getting those readings from the API kit since I know it's not that accurate - yes you can guesstimate or extrapolate but only so much :?. Might just be a quirk of the graphing software :dontknow: .

How many and what kind of fish are they?

Post some pics of the plants if you can - I have doubts about it being a calcium or magnesium deficiency. With a pH as high as you're showing and a new system it's most likely an iron deficiency. Potassium and nitrogen would be other likely possibilities (but not because of pH). It's easiest to tell if there are up close and farther away shots since the shots of the entire plant can tell you if the nutrient is mobile or not.

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PostPosted: May 13th, '17, 22:02 
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Water Temp-wise I have been sitting between 62 and 68 degrees. In Idaho we are still in spring, last frost usually May 10. I have a 100W heater(I know not enough!) right now. Air temps in the greenhouse have been 50 lows 80 highs.

I'll run an NPK test and check those values.

You are probably right about the Iron. . . though the cal mag seems to be helping. Maybe it is just masking the iron deficiency.

I have 9 blue tilapia, and then 3 plecos (one for each tank).

As far as the API readings, I would agree. I have not been extremely pleased with the testers, but I also haven't seen anything better within a decent price range. That senseye thing looked kinda cool. Noticed there was a PI post about monitoring but not sure how that will work out. Right now I use careful measurements and dilutions to cut the sample. I worry I might not be perfectly accurate, but the graph charts seem to "act as they should", so that gave me some hope I was at least tracking differentials somewhat accurately. Part of the confusion may be I use .1 as a stand in for 0 since I am using logarithmic axis values and 0 is a null. For example ammonia has read between 0 and 0.25 for 2 weeks or so.

I have another graph for temps. I wish I could post the whole spreadsheet, but it becomes way too small!. I'll get more stuff up soon, some pictures etc. Planning on making a little YouTube video so I'll link that as well.

I've seen that chart, but I don't know how to interpret the results to the fish. It looks like I'm somewhere between 0.53 and 0.71, but what does this mean? That an ammonia reading above that is deadly to blue tilapia?

I have been trying to figure out what nitrite to be concerned at. It seems I may be at the beginning of another spike. I've cut the fish to half rations as a precaution.

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PostPosted: May 13th, '17, 22:33 
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Nils wrote:
You are probably right about the Iron. . . though the cal mag seems to be helping. Maybe it is just masking the iron deficiency.


Wouldn't surprise me if there was more than one deficiency at this stage although your nitrates are in a good range.


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PostPosted: May 14th, '17, 11:35 
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here is a graph of my temperatures. I have been thinking about tracking highs and lows as well, but haven't bothered yet. . .

My nitrites were up at 1 ppm yesterday, but today it appears to have dropped back down between .5 and 1 (so near 0.75)


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PostPosted: May 14th, '17, 15:01 
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Water temps are cool enough that the bacteria will probably take a bit longer to get established. I think your system is just in need of some additional time.

The 15 gallon container by itself probably isn't enough filtration for the fish you have (if it isn't the case now it will be later) but the DWC should eventually pickup the slack. I didn't notice any filtration of suspended solids other than the 15 gallons of media. If down the road, the plants in the DWC or NFT portions start having problems, it might be the suspended solids causing problems by coating the roots so keep this in the back of your mind as a potential problem.


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PostPosted: May 15th, '17, 04:01 
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scotty435 wrote:
The 15 gallon container by itself probably isn't enough filtration for the fish you have (if it isn't the case now it will be later) but the DWC should eventually pickup the slack.



I have a swirl filter in front of the media bed to help with solids. It's been working very well! I take a half gallon every few days to keep it clean and to water some pepper starts I have in the greenhouse as well.

Picked up some chelated liquid iron and added to the foliar spray.

I was looking around in the tanks more closely today while taking measurements. I think the plecos have died? All the tilapia still seem okay.

Oh, I added the fish in May 4.

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PostPosted: May 15th, '17, 04:41 
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The swirl filter will help with the settleable solids but the suspended solids which will pass right through so still keep an eye on the plants in the DWC and the condition of their roots :thumbright:.

It's possible that you've lost the plecos, they don't like cool temps that much but hopefully they're still around.


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PostPosted: May 15th, '17, 04:47 
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Will do. I've been trying to determine if I should add the iron directly to the water? But I think the ph will lock it out, yes? I don't want to have to foliar spray forever. .

Also, is there anything I should be doing to keep these fish safe since it sounds like it will take more time to even out? It was a real headache to get the tilapia.

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PostPosted: May 15th, '17, 08:41 
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Nils wrote:
Will do. I've been trying to determine if I should add the iron directly to the water? But I think the ph will lock it out, yes? I don't want to have to foliar spray forever. .


This depends on the form of the chelated iron you have and on the pH. Probably your best bet at this point would be some Fe-EDDHA iron chelate (Fe-DTPA might work also) which is available at the higher pH you're running ..... but.... the pH will eventually come down and other forms should then work if added to the tank.

If you aren't growing strawberries you can salt the water to help the fish with nitrite poisoning and stress (Use Sodium Chloride (NaCl) - regular table salt here in the US but uniodized and without anti-caking agents at 1part per thousand should be enough). Sort of cheap insurance against nitrite poisoning. If you do have strawberries you'll probably want to use CaCl2 or KCl instead. It's the chloride ion that helps the fish with nitrite so you'll need to adjust for the amount in whatever compound you use.


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PostPosted: May 15th, '17, 08:52 
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Nils wrote:
That senseye thing looked kinda cool.

I have a couple of seneye devices. They work reliably but there's a monthly cost because the slides need to be replaced.

I'm pretty confident they'll warn me if I have any ammonia spikes (my system is fairly stable so I don't think I've had any for a long time). I also like the warnings when temperature goes out of range and when water level is low.

But be aware that, if your KH is low like mine, the seneye doesn't report accurate pH.

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PostPosted: May 15th, '17, 09:52 
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Looks like 1/2 OZ :1 gal, so my system needs about 7.5 lbs of salt.

I am not currently running strawberries. I was planning on having some eventually, but for now I want to establish the DWC to act as another place for the bacteria.

I will look and see if the liquid iron I have, what type it is. How do I know how much to add? There is so much information I will see something, and when I need it I can't even find it! haha.


Thanks Dangerous Dave. We will see. I might be getting a new position at work requiring some travel and something like that will become required to monitor from afar and offer guidance to the fish-sitter.

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PostPosted: May 15th, '17, 10:03 
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That's why I got the seneye... lots of travel and an assistant fish keeper who sometimes has higher priorities elsewhere.

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PostPosted: May 21st, '17, 22:56 
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Okay, got some pictures. One picture gets most of the system, the other picture show the other side of the greenhouse with my environmental controls - exhaust turns on when temp gets to 70, fan turns on when temps get to ~65, heater turns on when temp goes below 60.


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PostPosted: May 26th, '17, 10:08 
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Added EDDHA iron to the system. It turned the water SUPER red, but the plants are doing much better. I am trying a different technique to germinate directly "wrapping" a little rayon ball around the seed about the plug. Started some new seeds, and transplanted a permanent rosemary in the media box.

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