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Yabbie's 2nd Indoor IBC System at Perth Aquaponics

Discussion in 'New Aquaponics systems - DIY' started by Yabbies4me, May 18, 2018.

  1. Yabbies4me

    Yabbies4me Administrator Staff Member

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    Our previous IBC display system at the shop served us well for the last five years, but the time had come for a new one.

    With this new system I used a simplified design, ie: I didn't cut the steel frame in two, as is commonly done, so the grow bed sits squarely above the fish tank. This design has it's benefits in regards to ease of construction and system size/footprint, but it also has it's drawbacks, mainly in regards to access to the fish tank, especially if fully clad, as I've done... Would I fully clad the system if I built another?... Probably not.

    Anyway, I'll cover the design pro's and con's as they pop up over the next few weeks and months, but at this stage I'd like to focus more on the cycling process... a somewhat accelerated cycling process.

    This time around I'm cycling with fish, due to the fact it's winter, the water is colder, and this gives much more wiggle room in regards to Ammonia levels. I definitely wouldn't try this in the warmer months.

    I finished building the system last Friday and filled the GB with expanded clay which had previously been used for 4 days in a display system at a recent home show. After the home show the exp' clay was drained and stored in 2x sealed 200L plastic drums for the last 7 weeks. The FT was filled with 500L of aged tap water last Friday also and the system was turned on. On Saturday I added 10x 12-14cm Rainbow trout fingerlings.

    As can be seen in the records and pics below, the cycling process is very well advanced, ie: Nitrites after just 4 days, and Nitrates after 6 days, even though the fingerlings have only been in for 6 days. I believe this is due to the fact the exp' clay was previously used for 4 days in the display system at the home show, which contained 4x Silver Perch. Ammonia from the Silvers must've been present on the moist expanded clay in enough quantity to facilitate the development of a decent beneficial bacteria colony over the 7 weeks the exp' clay was stored in the sealed drums.

    I have resisted the temptation to do a partial water change for the 1.0ppm Nitrites, as there is obviously conversion to Nitrate taking place already, so I'm hoping the Nitrite won't spike any further. I did add salt at 1gm/Ltr before adding the fingerlings, so that should help negate the possible harmful effects of the Nitrites, at this level at least. However, if it reaches 2.0ppm I will do a 30% water change.

    Cheers!

    Hayden.
    .
    Perth Aquaponics - Cladding Single IBC Display System - May 2018.jpg
     
  2. Yabbies4me

    Yabbies4me Administrator Staff Member

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    I can't attach the document with the cycling records, no matter what format I save them in???... So here they are, a bit messy, sorry.

    Cycling New IBC Display System - With Fish - May 2018

    11/05/18
    Notes: Aged tap water added to system, pre treated to pH 8.0, GB filled with pre-used (4 days, stored 7 weeks) expanded clay.

    12/05/18
    Amm: 0.0ppm
    N02: -
    N03: -
    pH: 8.0
    Temp: 20ºC
    Notes: Salt added to system at 1gm/Ltr (500gm). 10x 12-14cm Rainbow Trout fingerlings added to system. Not fed.

    13/05/18 - 1 day
    Sunday - Not at shop.

    14/05/18 - 2 days
    Amm: 0.25ppm
    N02: -
    N03: -
    pH: 8.0
    Temp: 20ºC
    Notes: 1x small feed.

    15/05/18 - 3 days
    Amm: 0.50ppm
    N02: -
    N03: -
    pH: 8.0
    Temp: -
    Notes: 2x small feeds.

    16/05/18 - 4 days
    Amm: 1.0ppm
    N02: < 0.25ppm (Tested out of curiosity, was surprised to see N02)
    N03: -
    pH: 8.0
    Temp: 20ºC
    Notes: 2x small feeds.

    17/05/18 - 5 days
    Amm: 1.0ppm
    N02: < 0.25ppm
    N03: -
    pH: 8.1
    Temp: 19ºC
    Notes: 2x small feeds.

    18/05/18 - 6 days
    Amm: 2.0ppm
    N02: 1.0ppm
    N03: 5.0ppm
    pH: 8.0
    Temp: 19ºC
    Notes: 2x small feeds. Fish fed well, despite Amm & N02 readings.
    .
     
  3. Yabbies4me

    Yabbies4me Administrator Staff Member

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    That partial water change might be in order today I think.

    19/05/18 - 7 days
    Amm: 1.0ppm (actually in between 1.0 - 2.0ppm, but definitely closer to 1.0ppm, so dropping)
    N02: 2.0ppm
    N03: 5.0ppm
    pH: 8.0
    Temp: 19ºC
    Notes: 1x small feed. Fish fed well, despite Amm & N02 readings.
    .
     

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  4. Yabbies4me

    Yabbies4me Administrator Staff Member

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    Did a partial water change (20%) on Saturday arvo to try and keep the rising Nitrites under control. Added salt accordingly, 1gm/Ltr for the volume of top-up water. I'm not at the shop on Sundays, so the first readings after the water change were done today, and were as follows

    21/05/18 - 9 days
    Amm: 0.25ppm (A quarter of what it was on Saturday, so a significant drop)
    N02: 3.5ppm (It was between 2.0 and 5.0 on the colour chart, so I called it half way at 3.5ppm)
    N03: 20.0ppm (Colour in photo not good. A four fold increase since Sat', cycling definitely well advanced.)
    pH: 8.1
    Temp: 18.5ºC
    Notes: Not been fed since Saturday. Partial water change today (125Ltrs - 25%), added salt accordingly, 1gm for each litre of top-up water.
    .
    Perth Aquaponics - Testing Ammonia, Nitrite & pH - 21-5-18.jpg
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  5. Yabbies4me

    Yabbies4me Administrator Staff Member

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    Did another partial water change (30%) today. Added salt accordingly, 1gm/Ltr for the volume of top-up water.

    22/05/18 - 10 days
    Amm: 0.0ppm
    N02: 4.0ppm (Hard to read the N02 colour chart, was between the 2.0 & 5.0, I'm calling it 4.0ppm today.)
    N03: 10.0ppm (Halved since yesterday, seedlings likely the reason, they're showing signs of taking off.)
    pH: 8.1
    Temp: 19ºC
    Notes: Still not been fed since Saturday. Partial water change today (approx' 165Ltrs - 30%), added salt accordingly, 1gm for each litre of top-up water.
    .
    Perth Aquaponics - Testing Ammonia, Nitrite & pH - 22-5-18.jpg
    .
     
  6. Yabbies4me

    Yabbies4me Administrator Staff Member

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    23/05/18 - 11 days
    Amm: 0.0ppm
    N02: 2.0ppm (Halved in last 24hrs)
    N03: 10.0ppm (No change)
    pH: 8.1
    Temp: 19ºC
    Notes: 1x very light feed.
    .
    Perth Aquaponics - Testing Ammonia, Nitrite & pH - 23-5-18.jpg
    .
     
  7. Yabbies4me

    Yabbies4me Administrator Staff Member

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    24/05/18 - 12 days
    Amm: 0.0ppm
    N02: 2.0ppm (No change)
    N03: 10.0ppm (No change)
    pH: 8.0
    Temp: 19ºC
    Notes: 1x very light feed.
    .
    Perth Aquaponics - Testing Ammonia, Nitrite & pH - 24-5-18.jpg
     
  8. Yabbies4me

    Yabbies4me Administrator Staff Member

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    25/05/18 - 13 days
    Amm: 0.0ppm
    N02: 2.0ppm (No change)
    N03: 10.0ppm (No change)
    pH: 8.1
    Temp: 19.5ºC
    Notes: 1x very light feed.
    .
    Aquaponic System Cycling Graph - May 2018 c.png
    .
    Perth Aquaponics - Testing Ammonia, Nitrite & pH - 25-5-18.jpg
    .
     
  9. Yabbies4me

    Yabbies4me Administrator Staff Member

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    Finally, the Nitrites have begun dropping again after stalling for a couple of days. I'm not completely sure why they stalled after dropping so substantially between days 10 & 11, but at least they are heading in the right direction.

    I think the system will be completely cycled by the time I get in on Monday and I'll be able to start smashin 3 feeds a day into the little trout and get some size on them.


    26/05/18 - 14 days
    Amm: 0.0ppm
    N02: 0.5ppm (substantial drop after being stalled for a couple of days)
    N03: 10.0ppm (No change)
    pH: 8.1
    Temp: 19.0ºC
    Notes: 1x Heavy feed.
    .
    Aquaponic System Cycling Graph - May 2018 c.png
    .
    Perth Aquaponics - Testing Ammonia, Nitrite & pH - 26-5-18.jpg
     
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  10. Psinet

    Psinet Member

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    Excellent post Yabbies4me. bow1

    It is interesting to see the entire cycle complete in under 2 weeks in colder weather. You are right to assume the microbiology was hiding in the expanded clay, but I am surprised to hear it was 7 weeks in storage - I would have thought that was enough time to desiccate. But bacteria have evolved well to make it through wet/dry/wet cycles. This is the primary evolutionary advantage they have over nitrifying archaea. In systems that are stable for very long periods, archaea can come to dominate the cycling process. It all comes down to the types of cell-wall they employ, and whether or not the microbe can form endospores (archaea cannot). It also turns out there is a fairly simple pathway to turn ammonia into nitrates using electricity to elicit hydroxyl reactions. Not much electricity, either!

    https://www.researchgate.net/public...ize_ammonium_removal_from_domestic_wastewater
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/23495784_Removal_of_Ammonia_by_OH_Radical_in_Aqueous_Phase
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2018
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  11. Yabbies4me

    Yabbies4me Administrator Staff Member

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    Okay, it's been a little while since I updated, I've been flat -out. I have no further pics of the tests after the 01/06/18. I don't really think they matter that much and I've been too busy to bother. The graph tells the whole story.

    As can be seen from the graph, as far as the Nitrites are concerned, there's been a few "bounces" or spikes. This has been immediately after giving the fingerlings a feed, with the intensity of the subsequent spike being in direct correlation to the amount of food the fingerlings were given. So obviously the Nitrobacter and other greeblies responsible for the conversion of Nitrite to Nitrate, are taking their time to build a colony of sufficient size to handle the bio-load. Probably temp related, as Psinet alluded to.

    The grey areas in the graph are where I've taken an educated guess at what the readings would've been, as these are areas where there was no testing for a day, or in the case of this recent long weekend, no readings for two days.

    As can also be seen from the up to date version of the graph, I've adjusted the temp recordings by 1ºC, as I had been incorrectly reading the thermometer. I though the line at the bottom of the green shaded area was the 20ºC mark, but that is actually the 21ºC mark (see pic below).


    28/05/18 - 16 days
    Amm: 0.0ppm
    N02: 1.0ppm
    N03: 10.0ppm
    pH: 8.1
    Temp: 19.5ºC
    Notes: No feed.

    29/05/18 - 17 days
    Amm: 0.0ppm
    N02: 0.25ppm
    N03: 10.0ppm
    pH: 8.1
    Temp: 19ºC
    Notes: No feeds.

    30/05/18 - 18 days
    Amm: 0.0ppm
    N02: 0.00ppm (Assumed system was now cycled)
    N03: 10.0ppm
    pH: 8.0
    Temp: 18.5ºC
    Notes: 3x full feeds across the day, to the point where they stopped feeding each time.

    31/05/18 - 19 days
    Amm: 0.0ppm
    N02: 2.0ppm
    N03: 20.0ppm
    pH: 8.1
    Temp: 18ºC
    Notes: No feeds.

    01/06/18 - 20 days
    Amm: 0.0ppm
    N02: 1.0ppm
    N03: 30.0ppm
    pH: 8.0
    Temp: 18ºC
    Notes: No feeds.

    02/06/18 - 21 days
    Amm: 0.0ppm
    N02: 0.5ppm
    N03: 30.0ppm
    pH: 8.0
    Temp: 18ºC
    Notes: Very light feed, as it was Saturday of long weekend.

    05/06/18 - 24 days
    Amm: 0.0ppm
    N02: 0.0ppm
    N03: 20.0ppm
    pH: 8.1
    Temp: 18.5ºC
    Notes: 1x full feed until they stopped eating... Will be interesting to see what tomorrow's N02 readings are.
    .
    Aquaponic System Cycling Graph - May 2018 - 05-06-18 - inc Amended Temp and N02 Alternative.png
     
  12. Yabbies4me

    Yabbies4me Administrator Staff Member

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    N02 reading was 0.0ppm today, even after 1x full feed yesterday. Conversion to N03 is obviously happening.

    I think I can say with confidence this time that the system is cycled, but tomorrow will tell after 2x full feeds today.

    06/06/18 - 25days
    Amm: 0.0ppm
    N02: 0.0ppm
    N03: 30.0ppm
    pH: 8.0
    Temp: 19ºC
    Notes: N02 reading 0.0ppm after 1x full feed yesterday.
    Conversion to N03 is obviously happening.
    2x full feeds today.
    .
    Aquaponic System Cycling Graph - May 2018 - 06-06-18 - inc Amended Temp and N02 Alternative.png
     
  13. Yabbies4me

    Yabbies4me Administrator Staff Member

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    Just when I assumed the system was fully cycled, I'm proven wrong... again.

    The Nitrobacter are obviously still struggling to establish a suitably sized colony. The pH is up in their preferred range, so I can only assume it's the temperature.

    In saying that, in the past I've cycled a couple of other systems at this same time of year (May), in the same location, and haven't had the Nitrite stage of the cycling process carry on like this. In the past, once the N02 dropped to 0.0ppm, that was it, system cycled, and no further spikes???

    At least the spikes after each feed are reducing in intensity, must be close to cycled now.

    07/06/18 - 26 days
    Amm: 0.0ppm
    N02: 0.25ppm
    N03: 30.0ppm
    pH: 8.0
    Temp: 18.5ºC
    Notes: 2x full feeds today.

    08/06/18 - 27 days
    Amm: 0.0ppm
    N02: 0.5ppm
    N03: 30.0ppm
    pH: 8.0
    Temp: 17.5ºC
    Notes: 2x light feeds today.
    .
    Aquaponic System Cycling Graph - May 2018 - 08-06-18 - inc Amended Temp and N02 Alternative.png
     
  14. TonyGrunk

    TonyGrunk Member

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    wow - thats pretty damn comprehensive - well done
     
  15. Murray

    Murray Site Admin Staff Member

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    Excellent result.
     
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  16. Yabbies4me

    Yabbies4me Administrator Staff Member

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    Bit of an update... it's been a while.

    I last recorded a full set of readings on 11/06/18, and as can be seen from the graph below, there was one last tiny Nitrite spike on 10/06/18, but since then Nitrites have been 0.0ppm... It's the Nitrates I'm battling with now.

    I've never had this issue so early on with a batch of Trout fingerlings. I was hoping to get 3x full feeds a day into them, but even with just 2x full feeds a day the plants in the system (see pics below), which are well established and growing well, can't keep up with the Nitrate production.

    In the last couple of weeks my Nitrates have reached 80ppm on three occasions. I have done 30% water changes on each occasion and backed the feeds off to just once per day on those days and the following couple of days, and the Nitrates don't rise, but as soon as I bump the feeds up to twice per day, the Nitrates jump up again.

    In the past I've had issues with both increasing Amm and Nitrates towards the end of Trout season and had to progressively harvest the bigger fish, but that's understandable. I'm hoping the system settles and the plants are able to get the N03 under control, otherwise I may have to give away a couple of the fish.

    .
    Aquaponic System Cycling Graph - May 2018 - 11-06-18 - inc Amended Temp and N02 Alternative.png
    .
     
  17. Yabbies4me

    Yabbies4me Administrator Staff Member

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    The new IBC display system is 3 months old now and showing signs of maturing in regards to the nutrients available to the plants... or the "Nutrient bank"

    The strawberry plant demonstrates this wonderfully. It's been in the system almost from day one and for most of that time it's been suffering from what appeared to be Magnesium and Potassium deficiencies, but I'd left it alone, just to see how long it would take for the nutrient profile in the system to develop to a point where the deficiency would rectify itself, or if it even would.

    As can be seen from the pic, the new growth coming through on the strawberry plant is all very healthy now... Time & patience... (y)

    This is why it's not recommended to plant nutrient hungry plants, especially fruiting plants, into a new system for the first few months... Nature needs time to get things working properly.

    Cheers!

    Hayden.
    .
     
  18. Murray

    Murray Site Admin Staff Member

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    It is also interesting that the old leaves often do not recover. That is an excellent example Yabbies.
     
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  19. Yabbies4me

    Yabbies4me Administrator Staff Member

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    A few pics of some greens harvested from the shop IBC display system over the last week or so. The system is now nearly four months old and the nutrient profile, or nutrient bank, is really starting to develop. The plants are all very healthy.

    For comparison sake, that's a 50c piece in the first pic. In the later pic that is a 40cm ruler and normal sized lighter in front of the Oakleaf lettuce, it was a beauty!

    The last pic shows the gaps left after recent harvesting, as well as the healthy growth on the plants coming through.

    While we're here, does any know exactly what model that lettuce is in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th pic. It came in a combo punnet.

    Cheers!

    Hayden.
    .
     
  20. Yabbies4me

    Yabbies4me Administrator Staff Member

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    It's been a while, so time for a couple of pics of the system me thinks. The trout are still in, a week into December. They would normally have to come out late October, very early November, but this batch haven't bought into the whole global warming thing. They are still feeding twice a day, even after yesterday's 38C, but eating about half as much as they were a month ago, so will probs have to come out soon... Pics are assured when that happens.
    .
     

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