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 Post subject: Catfish Dying
PostPosted: May 28th, '17, 06:27 
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I have a new chop and flip IBC system. It has been cycling for about 8 weeks with no fish. 25 channel cat were added a week ago. Yesterday I had one dead fish. Today one more. Water quality seems good. The water is crystal clear.
Ammonia is .25 ppm
Nitrite is .25 ppm
Nitrate is 5-10 ppm
pH is high at 8.4
I have made no attempts as of yet to lower the pH so there hasn't been a major swing. I was hoping the cycling of the tank would start to take care of that for me.

The fish are eating fine and showing no signs of stress. I'm using aquamax feed from purina. They are not gasping at the surface. I have plenty of oxygen entering the tank. Water temp is normal.

This is my first attempt at aquaponics and I don't want to lose any more fish if I can help it. What am I missing? Any help is appreciated.
Thanks!

Kyle


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 Post subject: Re: Catfish Dying
PostPosted: May 28th, '17, 15:12 
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Sorry to hear about the fish Kyle.

Have you added any salt to help with the effects of nitrites? What's your water temperature? The ammonia toxicity is related to the pH and water temp, high pH is usually not good and if you have high water temp as well that might mean that you're in the danger zone even with a low reading. I'd suggest withholding food to let the nitrite and ammonia readings come down till the situation is clear :thumbright: . Hope this helps.


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 Post subject: Re: Catfish Dying
PostPosted: May 28th, '17, 21:38 
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Thanks for the reply.
I have not added any salt yet. I've been having trouble nailing down the exact procedure and I didn't want to make the issue worse by doing it incorrectly. The fish tank is about 220 gallons. How much salt should I add?

The water temperature has been holding steady at 69 degrees F.

I realize that the goal is to have ammonia and nitrites at 0 but I didn't realize that levels of less the .5 ppm on both would be toxic to the fish. I have stopped feeding in an effort to get that number down.

Also had one more die last night. That brings my count up to three. :(


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 Post subject: Re: Catfish Dying
PostPosted: May 28th, '17, 22:41 
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At your current pH of 8.4 and the temp of 69F (20.6 C) you are in the range where the ammonia will be toxic. You hit that range when the total ammonia nitrogen reading from your kit is around 0.2 (guesstimated from the chart here - http://ibcofaquaponics.com/information/tables-and-charts/). Avoid anything that will raise the pH or temp because doing either of these will make the ammonia more toxic.

The bad news is that it's not uncommon for the fish to continue dying one or two at a time over a period of weeks because of damage they already suffered from nitrite or ammonia so whether you fix it or not, the fish deaths may not be over.

You don't have to salt and you don't have to adjust the pH. I would suggest that you should do the salting though as it's cheap insurance and also helps the fish with stress. As far as the pH - if the ammonia doesn't get to zero pretty quick you should at least consider doing an adjustment but with a pH of 8.4 you may have a lot of buffering and it may not be easily done. I've given instructions below for doing either of these, just in case.

For the nitrites 1 part per thousand of uniodized salt that doesn't have any anti-caking agents (so 1gm in 1000 mls). If you're trying to grow strawberries which are really sensitive to salt then KCl (Potassium Chloride) might be a better choice. You should treat for the total volume of water not just what's in the fish tank (a close estimate is fine)

-------------

Lowering the pH a few tenths (like from 8.4 to 8.0) might be a quick fix but no guarantees. To lower the pH use Hydrochloric acid (aka Muriatic acid)(it usually doesn't take much, this is a strong acid). Take a known volume of water from your system (5 gallons for example) and adjust the pH of this to the desired level while keeping track of how much acid is used. Once you know the amount of acid (We'll call it X) to adjust 5 gallons then for the amount of water in your system (We'll say 250 gallons) you can calculate the amount of acid needed (we'll call it Y). Basically Y = 250 (x/5). Substitute your actual numbers for those in the formula.

If the water is heavily buffered the pH might bounce back so when you adjust of the 5 gallon test batch you should let it sit for a couple of hours to see if the pH drifts before assuming the adjustment is correct. If you aren't comfortable working with acids or you can't keep the acid away from those who don't understand the dangers then I'd skip this and just wait it out. The pH will eventually come down on it's own as nitrification kicks in - how long this takes varies quite a bit.

Let me know if you have any questions.


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 Post subject: Re: Catfish Dying
PostPosted: May 29th, '17, 02:11 
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Thank you so much for your detailed response. I just finished salting the tank, and removing another dead fish... Will work on lowering the pH over the next few days to see if I can get that to help. Hopefully I haven't done too much damage to recover from. But everything is a learning process and I appreciate your willingness to teach. I will update in a couple of days.
Thanks again!
Kyle


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 Post subject: Re: Catfish Dying
PostPosted: May 29th, '17, 03:46 
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When you lower the pH, try to do it in small increments of 0.4 pH units a day, to keep from stressing the fish. 0.4 pH units should be enough to get you out of the danger zone. Don't get sloppy but just so you know - most fish can handle larger pH changes but it is a shock to them (one they'll likely survive if it's not too drastic though). Once you're out of the danger zone, if you want to keep lowering the pH rather than wait for nitrification to do the job shoot for the 6.5 to 7.2 range (again taking it in increments of 0.4 pH units). That will get you into the range where most nutrients are available to the plants.


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 Post subject: Re: Catfish Dying
PostPosted: Jun 5th, '17, 10:05 
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So I've been trying to lower the pH of the water with minimal success. As you predicted it is bouncing back pretty aggressively. I continue to lose fish. It appear as though something else is wrong now as well. They look like they have little wine speckles all over. My research shows this is probably Ich? I only have about 5 of the original 25 left and they aren't looking great. I've tried changing out some water, but it's not really helping. I'm assuming I will lose these fish as well in the next day or so.

So my question becomes now, where do I go from here? I'm fairly discouraged, but I'm not ready to give up yet. Will I need to drain my tank and refill? If I do that will it have to cycle all over again? I have to drive a fair distance to get fish. Would it be better to get goldfish from a pet store until I get this figured out? Just trying to figure out what to do as I'm not real fond of failure...and I don't want to screw this up again if I can help it. Thanks again for any advice.
Kyle


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 Post subject: Re: Catfish Dying
PostPosted: Jun 5th, '17, 14:32 
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Assuming all the fish die then I'd use Blood and Bone in the grow beds or something along those lines to keep it going without fish for a while. Without a host the ich will die out. Once you're reasonably certain that the ich is gone and that you have the ammonia and nitrites under control you can consider fish again (probably in a few days to a couple of weeks)


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