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HELP - My system has crashed!!

Discussion in 'Water Chemistry' started by terrimac, Apr 28, 2017.

  1. terrimac

    terrimac New Member

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    Country:
    Australia
    State:
    Queensland
    City:
    Booral
    Hi all - hope someone can help me asap
    My 4,5ool system has a problem ammonia 4ppm, nitrite .25ppm nitrate 80ppm and ph has dropped to 6 from 7.2 two days ago. ammonium and nitrite were both at 0 two days ago. nitrate was the same(80)
    I'm not sure what the temp was previously but it is now 18.5 degrees. It was our first cold night here and my inside small fish tanks were down to 16.2 degrees early this morning.
    A water change is almost impossible - what do I do???????
     
  2. Yabbies4me

    Yabbies4me Administrator Staff Member

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    W.A.
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    (1). How old is the system?
    (2). If reasonably new, how long ago did if finish cycling and when did you add fish, how many, what size?
    (3). What is the total volume of wet gravel bio-filtration in the system
    (4). How are you testing the pH, what brand of test kit etc?
    (5). What, if anything, have you added to the system in the last few days?
    (6). Have you had a really good look for anything dead in the system, ie: a dead fish sucked up against the back of the pump etc?... or even uneaten fish food built up on the floor of the tank etc?
     
  3. terrimac

    terrimac New Member

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    Thanks for responding Yabbies4me.
    1. The system is over 12 months old, 14 silver perch fingerlings(now larger!) added back then. recently(1 monthago) 20 juvenile redclaw 4-6cm long.
    2.About .27 cubic metres wet gravel filtation
    3.API water test kit I use for my indoor aquariums. Am pretty sure its ok.
    4.Haven't added anything to the system that's different
    5. Nup-nothing dead in there at the moment-hopefully never!!
    The only thing that has changed in the system is that at the end of March I used rainwater (from the cyclone) to top up the tank - about 700-800 litres. Then another 200 litres a week ago.
    That dropped the ph of the system from 8 or 8.2 which is my town water to about 7.5 which I checked at the time. I didn't check for a while and noticed that it was down to 7.2 on
    Wednesday and now in two days its dropped to 6.
    I have just checked the hardness of the water and got a reading of almost 0 for both GH and KH. However this was done with pond strips so I don't know how reliable that is.
     
  4. Yabbies4me

    Yabbies4me Administrator Staff Member

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    .
    The 270L of wet gravel bio-filtration is a stretch for 14 Silvers, especially once they start approaching plate size of 500gm.

    The display system in my shop is a single IBC system with 270-280L of wet gravel bio-filtration. I started with 14 Silvers and once they got to an average of around 500gm I started get constant low level Ammonia readings, which kept climbing, so I had to start eating one every few months.

    The extra bio-load created by the introduction of the 20 redclaw definitely would have been enough to exceed the safe stocking capacity of the system and lead to Ammonia building up in the water. The extra waste and nitrification also would've added to the amount of natural acids being produced, leading to an accelerated reduction in carbonates in the system. That combined with adding rain water, would've been enough to see the pH plummet very quickly one it reached the tipping point, which is usually around 6.5

    With your low water temp and low pH, the Ammonia is not of immediate concern, but the issue does need to be addressed and reversed. You should be more concerned with the Nitrites. A level of 0.25ppm is not a catastrophe, but it will most likely continue rise, even spike, once you get the shortage of bio-filtration sorted out and all that Ammonia is converted. An Amm level of 4ppm could very well see a Nitrite level of 8ppm or more... and very dead fish.

    If the Nitrite reaches 1.0ppm before you get things sorted, you should salt the system at 1gm/Ltr. At 2.0ppm you need to start doing regular partial water changes of about 25-30% every day, or second day, until the Nitrite dissipates.

    The API pH kit only tests down to 6.0, so it may actually be lower, maybe take a sample to a local pond shop. Unless it's really low, don't be in a rush to bring it back up too quickly, do it slowly over a period of a few days, and only into the mid 6's. Partial water changes with hard tap water is probably the best option, you'll kill two birds with one stone. I would also introduce some extra carbonates, ie: a handful or two of plain old crushed limestone (Garden lime) is probably the safest option at the moment, it'll give a nice slow release of carbonates and also raise the pH slightly.

    For now, I would stop feeding for 3 or 4 days, then only small amounts every second day until you get things sorted. I'd also suggest removing some of the fish or critters, and/or add another gravel GB a.s.a.p. if possible, and keep monitoring the Amm and Nitrite.
    .
     
  5. terrimac

    terrimac New Member

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    Thanks for your reply.
    Have started on a new grow bed already. Having reread a lot of info I realise I have been pushing the envelope re bio filtration. I'm hoping that as I replace the water with tap water
    the ph/hardness issues will resolve. I have already put in a little bag of crushed seashells and will be getting a proper hardness test kit to keep a better eye on that side of things I can take out the bag of shells as things get back to normal. The redclaw are now in their own tank which unfortunately hasn't finished cycling but at least I know that and can deal with it by water changes.
    Funny you should suggest not feeding for a few days - I checked the water this morning because the fish were not feeding at all. Didn't want anything to do with their brekkie which
    was very unusual. So naturally I had a bit of scooping to do to get their pellets out again after I found out there was a problem. Okay. Thanks for the advice. Here's me getting on with
    the job of hopefully reversing my mistakes without the loss of any fish or redclaw. Will post the results when I've got them.
     
  6. Yabbies4me

    Yabbies4me Administrator Staff Member

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    Just make sure the top-up water is aerated for at least 24hrs prior to adding it, and if possible exposed to sunlight as well.

    If your Silvers have gone of the chew you'll likely find your pH is actually in the mid 5's, or lower. Mine stop eating at about 5.6-5.7
     
  7. terrimac

    terrimac New Member

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    Hi guys just an update on my system that i had trouble with last month.
    Got the redclaw out and in their own tanks. Disposed of one silver perch via my dinner plate-yum:)
    New grow beds added - these are just some old hydroponic trays that are sitting above the tank, full of scoria rock and have the water from the main grow bed dropping into them and then returning straight into the tank, full of water plants and reeds.. Added town water to top off the tank and added lime as well. ph came up to 6.4 for a few days and then started dropping again. bought a kh/gh testing kit and went to work with that. put in some bicarb soda and got the kh up to 4 but ph went up to 7 practically overnight. oops. fish seem ok though. ammonium and nitrite have stayed at 0. nitrates at just under 80 so they are starting to come down a tad (I hate these color strips:sour:). GH is at 6-7 but i can't get the kh above 2. have been adding lime once a week - about 2 cupfuls at a time- but can't seem to get the kh up to a better level.
    So in summary disaster averted. Thanks yabbies4me you helped to get me back on track and start to think instead of flapping my arms in alarm:thumbsup2:
    No fish died except the one i ate lol and the system, while not exactly in top order is coming back together safely.
    After the huge swing in ph after using bicarb soda I'm not sure if I want to do that again.I used 1/4 cup in 4,800 litres so I don't understand why - all the stuff I could find on the i'net said up to 1 cup so I thought 1/4 cup would be a small dose and build ph/kh up slowly.
    If anyone can tell me how to get the kh level back up I'd appreciate it.
     

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