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PostPosted: Aug 4th, '18, 12:21 
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Hi all,

I have a standard IBC setup (see photo), constant flooding, pump always on (3000lph pump), running a fish-less cycle.

This is already end of week 7 and apart from twice early on I haven't seen any nitrites in the system.

pH has been quite stable, Ammonia sometimes typically around 4 ppm with sometimes peaks to 8.0ppm as I occasionally add some Seasol to supply some food. Measurements below.

It is winter here in Melbourne and temperatures typically are between 0 and 8 degrees during the night and anywhere between 9-16 degrees during the day.

My question: Since this is already of week 7, do I need to be more patient and wait for the temperatures to creep up or could it be a different reason that I don't see nitrites build up?

I don't have access to water from an established system.

What I did notice:

- sometimes I have some crystals build up on the top (assume salt crystals?) (see photo)
- Also the water from the growbed splashes on to the wooden beams and there is some slight mould build-up.

I read that with low temperatures the bacteria either do not grow.

Thanks in advance. :wave1:


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PostPosted: Aug 4th, '18, 15:29 
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winter and cold water/media temperatures does make it hard. but there also needs something to get the bacteria going as well. so questions....

(a) what are your fish plans...sort of mid season at the moment.
So where do you think you will be heading for this summer ?

(b) what are you adding to the system ? You need something to kick the bacteria off in any event.

(c) can see your Ammonia NH3 spikes in the data and they are not lasting long, however there has been an initial rise in NH3. Can you explain these..

(d) what are the units in the graphs ?


>> sometimes I have some crystals build up on the top (assume salt crystals?) (see photo)

yeah that is normal, though usually in summer/autumn/spring when weather is warmer
nothing to worry about *except* may be a sign that your water level in the media is too close to the surface and that media is wet close to the surface. How deep is your grow bed ?

>> Also the water from the growbed splashes on to the wooden beams and there is some slight mould build-up.

Mould or algae ? Green algae etc is pretty normal. Maybe post some pics if worried.

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PostPosted: Aug 5th, '18, 10:12 
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dlf_perth wrote:
winter and cold water/media temperatures does make it hard. but there also needs something to get the bacteria going as well. so questions....

(a) what are your fish plans...sort of mid season at the moment.
So where do you think you will be heading for this summer ?



Originally I was first going to start with gold fish, yet coming closer to spring, I was thinking Jade Perch with increasing temperature when the system does get cycled.

dlf_perth wrote:

(b) what are you adding to the system ? You need something to kick the bacteria off in any event.



I started off with peeponics, once the ammonia went up I got some Seasol. I have been adding that every about 4 days a little. From reading through the forum I thought that when there is ammonia in there, the bacteria will colonize in the growbed?

dlf_perth wrote:

(c) can see your Ammonia NH3 spikes in the data and they are not lasting long, however there has been an initial rise in NH3. Can you explain these..



I think that adding Seasol I got a temporary rise. Also sometimes the color was a bit inbetween 4 and 8ppm, chose the higher one.


dlf_perth wrote:

(d) what are the units in the graphs ?



that would be days, in total 7 weeks

dlf_perth wrote:

>> sometimes I have some crystals build up on the top (assume salt crystals?) (see photo)

yeah that is normal, though usually in summer/autumn/spring when weather is warmer
nothing to worry about *except* may be a sign that your water level in the media is too close to the surface and that media is wet close to the surface. How deep is your grow bed ?



From the bottom of the growbed to the surface of the pebbles is on average 180mm. There is 25-30 mm space between surface and water level. If I use the auto-siphon then the level of the pebbles does lower about further 25 mm every time the bed drains. Because of that I have left it to constant flooding as the plants probably don't like going up and down. Not sure how to prevent that (I shortened the stand pipe a bit but didn't change and the pebbles should be saturated by now.


dlf_perth wrote:

>> Also the water from the growbed splashes on to the wooden beams and there is some slight mould build-up.

Mould or algae ? Green algae etc is pretty normal. Maybe post some pics if worried.



I think it's mould. Photo Added. Thanks!


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PostPosted: Aug 5th, '18, 12:19 
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>> Originally I was first going to start with gold fish,

not a bad plan. If you go down that path you can easily add 5 small goldfish now provided the ammonia is less than 0.25ppm (mg/L). They will help the system turnover and give you something to watch. Goldfish don't need to be fed every day and they will keep algae down etc.

>> what are the units in the graphs ?
>> Also sometimes the color was a bit in between 4 and 8ppm, chose the higher one.


I meant the Y scale. Those don't look like like ppm (else are very high).
What are you testing with ?
4-8ppm is very high, so you may have overloaded with ammonia, which can actually kill bacteria (and plants don't like)...
May be better if you show the actual test strips/colours.

>> From the bottom of the growbed to the surface of the pebbles is on average 180mm. There is 25-30 mm space between surface and water level. If I use the auto-siphon then the level of the pebbles does lower about further 25 mm every time the bed drains. Because of that I have left it to constant flooding as the plants probably don't like going up and down. Not sure how to prevent that (I shortened the stand pipe a bit but didn't change and the pebbles should be saturated by now.

sounds like your media bed is too shallow if the media is floating (causing rise/fall).
Sadly that is one of the things not clear with the IBC aquaponics - everyone cuts it nice and neat with the frame and dont end up with enough depth.

Less than 200mm of media is not really ideal that would explain the white precipitate. An ideal depth is 250-300mm with water level 70mm below the top of media.

as it stands your setup will evaporate a lot of lot of water in summer and the plants will struggle.
Plus it is not really an effective biofilter.

Options will depend upon what you can access. Another IBC would be OK cause you can easily chop it deeper and have a wicking bed or sump as well. Shallow bed could be a DWC.

Else maybe look at one or even two large deep tubs of some form while you are getting the system going....

>> I think it's mould. Photo Added. Thanks!

not sure on the wood, cant really see. Could be mould in that situation given damp and cold.

what type of Seasol and how much ?

what is your water source ?

As you don't have fish in system I would consider changing out 50% of your water and getting your ammonia right down to 2-3ppm. Then let the system run for a week and see where your levels are. They need to be very low 0-0.25 (ie. yellow if you use API) before you go with goldfish.

*however before you do anything* make sure you are doing your water tests correctly, exactly as the instructions say. Including shaking etc as required.

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PostPosted: Aug 5th, '18, 19:47 
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dlf_perth wrote:
>> Originally I was first going to start with gold fish,

not a bad plan. If you go down that path you can easily add 5 small goldfish now provided the ammonia is less than 0.25ppm (mg/L). They will help the system turnover and give you something to watch. Goldfish don't need to be fed every day and they will keep algae down etc.

>> what are the units in the graphs ?
>> Also sometimes the color was a bit in between 4 and 8ppm, chose the higher one.


I meant the Y scale. Those don't look like like ppm (else are very high).
What are you testing with ?
4-8ppm is very high, so you may have overloaded with ammonia, which can actually kill bacteria (and plants don't like)...
May be better if you show the actual test strips/colours.

ah fair enough, yeah the units on vertical scale are ppm. So that would be a bit high. I read through the forum earlier and read that 4ppm Ammonia was ok, so didn't pay attention to it further. It could explain why I did get nitrite after a few days and they stopped occurring once the ammonia started rising to 4ppm. I will do as you say and bring the ammonia down by replacing 50% of the water. I use the API test kit, see photo below


>> From the bottom of the growbed to the surface of the pebbles is on average 180mm. There is 25-30 mm space between surface and water level. If I use the auto-siphon then the level of the pebbles does lower about further 25 mm every time the bed drains. Because of that I have left it to constant flooding as the plants probably don't like going up and down. Not sure how to prevent that (I shortened the stand pipe a bit but didn't change and the pebbles should be saturated by now.

sounds like your media bed is too shallow if the media is floating (causing rise/fall).
Sadly that is one of the things not clear with the IBC aquaponics - everyone cuts it nice and neat with the frame and dont end up with enough depth.

Less than 200mm of media is not really ideal that would explain the white precipitate. An ideal depth is 250-300mm with water level 70mm below the top of media.

as it stands your setup will evaporate a lot of lot of water in summer and the plants will struggle.
Plus it is not really an effective biofilter.

Options will depend upon what you can access. Another IBC would be OK cause you can easily chop it deeper and have a wicking bed or sump as well. Shallow bed could be a DWC.

Else maybe look at one or even two large deep tubs of some form while you are getting the system going....

Yeah that is a bit of a pitty as I followed the instruction manual from IBC of Aquaponics. Only afterwards I saw online that 250-300 mm was recommended. Don't easily have access to anything else.


what type of Seasol and how much ?

what is your water source ?

See the photo. So far I only used the white one on the right and used the cap to add (less than a cap every 4 days). Water is from the tap, yet before I got I added the plants I had the pump circulate for a few days

As you don't have fish in system I would consider changing out 50% of your water and getting your ammonia right down to 2-3ppm. Then let the system run for a week and see where your levels are. They need to be very low 0-0.25 (ie. yellow if you use API) before you go with goldfish.

*however before you do anything* make sure you are doing your water tests correctly, exactly as the instructions say. Including shaking etc as required.


Thanks Darren, much appreciated!


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PostPosted: Aug 6th, '18, 22:03 
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Good luck Snoeck.

Dropping the NH4 will help, particularly in winter.
Take out volume and add tap water over couple days in a couple of goes - will be some chlorine affect but not too much.

Use the white seasol for time being but not more than once a week.
Plants don't like ammonia, so they should pick up with a lower level.
Better as a foliar spray and/or direct on plants/media and not poured into the system.

Get your media up as high as you can. Maybe even consider some light rock on top.
My preference would be pea gravel but you may not get that so easily in Melbourne.

If you lower the water level to 5-7cm and have maximum media you can get you should be fine.
Will be limiting with anything other than goldfish though as you have a limited wet media volume.
You will need to stay with shallow rooted leafy greens and avoid things like tomatoes etc.
If you want these then look at buckets or tubs.

ultimately try and source another IBC when one pops up cheap.
That will give you a pretty good setup.
The best option is the beds beside the fish tank.
Bit different to the IBC-Aquaponics, but can be done various ways for most systems.
Sump is optional.

You can put something around top so that you can get your media up high.
As long as water stays below the rim of the IBC cut-off you should be OK.

Maybe switch to a timer and run 30-30.
Don't worry about a siphon. Not necessary anyway.
Just put a small hole about 20-30mm up from bottom of standpipe.

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PostPosted: Aug 7th, '18, 12:57 
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Cool,

I might see if I can raise the bed by building something around the growbed, eg. timber lining & have the water level at the top of the current growbed.

Why would you recommend 30-30 timer? Would there be any difference compared to constant flooded?

Will report back in a while with results. :thumbright:


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PostPosted: Aug 7th, '18, 19:32 
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you may not be able to overfill the IBC bed but a barrier would allow you to at least fill it to the brim.
best to keep the water down inside the IBC shell - you have heaps of depth for that bit.

Maybe look at something other than wood though.
Guess you could use some black plastic and drape it inside the IBC shell before back filling the media.


>> Why would you recommend 30-30 timer? Would there be any difference compared to constant flooded?

it allows the flushing of the bed. But constant flood is OK.

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