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System cycling newbie

Discussion in 'Water Chemistry' started by Johnny3nglishman, Jul 21, 2014.

  1. Johnny3nglishman

    Johnny3nglishman Member

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    image.jpg

    I have nitrites and nitrates. Low levels but no mistaking it. The plants seem a lot happier the last day or so also! Probably the beer that did it. Many thanks for all your help!

    Cheers
     
  2. Robert123

    Robert123 Active Member

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    Cool. Nitrites will peak hard in the next few days then as the ammonia dwindles.

    Have another Dogfish :)
     
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  3. DJBaird

    DJBaird Member

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  4. Johnny3nglishman

    Johnny3nglishman Member

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    I don't think there is an inline chlorine filter that will remove chloromines. Some may claim to but I have done a lot of reading on this and doubt the claims. Chlorine is a different matter though.

    Cycling wise nitrites are up to approx 10ppm (had to 50/50 the water). Ammonia around 1.0ppm. Nitrates are approx 40-80ppm.

    Couple of questions. Is there a toxic level of nitrates?

    If I have 150 litres of hydroton what is the safest possible stocking density for a newb system. I have read that it's one tidler per 10 litres of bio filter... Would say 8 baby goldfish/koi/cheapest things in the pet shop work?
     
  5. Robert123

    Robert123 Active Member

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    Yes. Nitrites scare me even more than ammonia (just because - I don't have the data). Wait for the nitrites to go back to 0.5 before throwing in fish. I don't ever like to see my tanks above that level. Only a few more days. Don't rush it.

    Try a Hopageddon this time (if you can find it). Almost there.
     
  6. Robert123

    Robert123 Active Member

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    Oh... Yabbies rule on stocking density is what I suggest you follow. Since I run a biofilter in addition to my grow beds, any data I have gathered on that subject is tainted.

    I also started with goldfish. Lost several on start up, but I think my water was too clean. Once I mildly salted with pool salt, I never lost a fish again other than to the diner plate (either mine or dinner for another fish). About 6-10 Goldies are still in there. They were feeders when I got them, but they almost look like small koi now.
     
  7. Johnny3nglishman

    Johnny3nglishman Member

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    I will check out the rule re stocking density. I was actually meaning nitrates not nitrites. Is there an upper level of nitrates that fish won't tolerate?

    Beer wise I am in Ontario so it's mostly locally brewed IPA as well as my home brew. Red Racer from BC is good too. If I see the brands you mention stocked I will try for sure. I was chatting to an American the other day about dogfish! Sounds amazing way of brewing!

    Cheers
     
  8. Robert123

    Robert123 Active Member

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    I've never worried about nitrates. I think you can go 100+ without a problem but you'd be wise to get a second source on that data. My nitrates never get very high As the plants do a good job keeping them down.

    I absolutely love IPA's - all kinds. Certainly have my favorites (as we all do) but I'll take an unknown IPA over a "normal" domestic ale everyday. Been quite some time since I've been up your way. When I get up there again, I'll be sure to sample the local brews.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2014
  9. Johnny3nglishman

    Johnny3nglishman Member

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    Thanks, quick question. My ammonia is bottoming out to almost zero. Will the bacteria be ok without ammonia for a few days while the nitrites are cycled through?

    I see people continuing to add ammonia but wouldn't that just delay the process by creating more nitrites?

    Nitrates up above 160 right now.

    Cheers
     
  10. Robert123

    Robert123 Active Member

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    Personal opinion, you'll be fine for right now. Since you are close, what are your current four water parameters (pH, NH3, NO2 (nitrite), NO3 (nitrate))? Might be time to throw some feeder goldies in there.

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

    Follow-up on previous conversation:

    I had a little hic-up on my biofilter (see other thread), so I looked up the parameters for Tilapia as my system burped up on NH3 and NO2.

    pH - you've got a wide range with Tilapia (5-10, best 6-9), but I always like to keep pH 6.5 - 7.0 to keep the NH3 ionized (read below).

    Ammonia (NH3) - You want to keep the unionized level at < 1. Our test kits read total NH3. Here's a great little on-line calculator you can use to find the unionized NH3 from your test reading and pH.
    http://www.svl.net/resources/calculators/unionized-amonia-calculator
    Right now, I'm at 1.0 NH3 with my pH at 7.4 so I'm not too concerned cause my unionized NH3 is just 0.02

    Nitrite (NO2) - Try to stay below 5 ppm. I was surprised to find the NOEL was that high even with just 10 ppm salt. You can get away with even more NO2 if you salt higher as the chloride ion will deactivate much of the Nitrite with regards to toxicity. Recommended target chloride concentration for aquaculture is 150-200 ppm for normal operations. You have to be careful in aquaponics as too high an elevated salt level can harm some of the plants, but when you need it for fish health don't hesitate to use it. I've got mine at 300 ppm right now, but if I see any signs of nitrite issues with the fish I'll move it up to 1 ppt (1000 ppm) with pool salt as yabbies often suggests for "hospital" treatments. I can always dilute it down later. I'd rather lose plants than fish.

    Nitrate (NO3) - I was very surprised to find it was as high as it is. Toxicity on tilapia is stated to occur at 300-400 ppm. I don't ever plan on getting anywhere neat that high in my system.

    For those interested, here's my "go to" reference on Tilapia:
    http://www2.ca.uky.edu/wkrec/tilapiatankculture.pdf
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2014
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  11. Johnny3nglishman

    Johnny3nglishman Member

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    Ammonia 0.25ppm
    Nitrites 5.0 approx might be a tad higher
    Nitrates 160+
    pH 7.4-7.6 (I'm right between the high range and normal range tests.

    I was thinking of giving nitrites one more day and trying the fish. Maybe eight tidlers?
     
  12. Robert123

    Robert123 Active Member

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    Why not? On the edge for nitrites, but that's about the level where I gave it a go. I lost a couple fish every few days thereafter 'till I added in some pool salt. You might consider whether you want to salt a little bit before dropping the tiddlers in there.
     
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  13. Johnny3nglishman

    Johnny3nglishman Member

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    I'll pick up some salt. I presume there will be instructions to get to a certain ppm... May as well if it won't hurt the plants at low levels.
     
  14. Robert123

    Robert123 Active Member

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    I suggest you go to the pet store and get some aquarium salt. There might be instructions with it - I really don't know cause I've always used Morton Pool Salt - but realize those instructions will probably be for salt water aquariums, not for aquaponics. Whatever salt you do get DON'T USE IODIZED SALT.
    To figure out the amount of salt you need to add, you need your total water volume and your desired use rate.

    Amount of Salt to Add = V * PPM / 1000, where
    V = Volume of water in liters
    PPM = Desired level of Salt in ppm
    NOTE: This assumes you don't already have salt in your system.

    Let's assume you have 250 liters of water and you want to shoot for 100 ppm. If the stuff you get is 100% active (i.e. solid), the amount of salt you need is:

    250 * 100 / 1000 = 25 grams (Hopefully you have a kitchen scale you can use.)

    That small amount is why I think you might want to get some salt from the aquarium store rather than getting a bag of pool salt. You probably don't want a 50 pound bag of salt laying around lol.

    Make sense?
     
  15. Johnny3nglishman

    Johnny3nglishman Member

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    Yes that makes total sense. I will go with the aquarium salt. I should be able to measure that amount pretty accurately.

    I'm going to wait a bit longer on the fish as I just did a dilute test to check. Actual nitrite levels are closer to 20 ppm than to 5. Pretty sure even with salt they'd be pretty pissed at me putting them in.

    Will the ammonia converting bacteria be ok without food for a day or two?
     
  16. Robert123

    Robert123 Active Member

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    I think so, but you can always just add one drop of common household ammonia each day (pure, unscented - no surfactants!) if you want to be sure. That'd be like adding 0.5 ppm each day.
     
  17. Johnny3nglishman

    Johnny3nglishman Member

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    Cheers, oh and if you're ever in a Kingston region give me a message so I can buy you a brewskie!
     
  18. Robert123

    Robert123 Active Member

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    Thanks.
     
  19. Johnny3nglishman

    Johnny3nglishman Member

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    Hey Robert, things looking good here. Fish are in and happy, plants seem happy as well. This mornings readings were

    pH 7.4
    Ammonia - trace
    Nirites - trace
    Nitrates - trace

    Is it normal for nitrates to be this low in a cycled system. I do have plenty of plants. Lots of lettuce and even a small chilli and a single bush bean.

    Beds wise I have approx 150 litres of wet gravel fully utilized with plants.

    Fish wise I have three small Goldie's and seven tiny minnows.

    Cheers
     
  20. Robert123

    Robert123 Active Member

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    Glad to hear it. The balance of plants to fish is going to be somewhat uniquie to each system and our individual choice of fish and plants. Just let it ride and if your plants seem to be staving, then maybe thin some out.

    FYI, I rarely see much if an excess of nitrates in my system and I have an overload of fish, so I wouldn't worry about that reading being so low quite yet. Plants will gobble nitrates up quickly.
     

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