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FISHLESS CYCLING Aquaponics HELP!
09-26-2013, 01:10 AM, (This post was last modified: 09-26-2013, 01:13 AM by Nolan.)
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Nolan Offline
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FISHLESS CYCLING Aquaponics HELP!
At first i started out with my ammonia around .75-1 ppm. Its the 10% ammonia from ACE Hardware. Slowly, my pH has been dropping which i thought was normal. the pH started at 8.0 and today is the 5th morning after i have started and I am reading a 6.0 pH Which is way too low for the bacteria. My ammonia hasnt dropped, yet my nitrites have been at .25ppm for two days now. Also, my nitrates are starting to show up, and are actualy increasing slowly. HOW DO I keep the pH around the mid 7's? The water temp. is set to the mid 80's and i am experiencing a lot of evaporation, i have to add water daily( the pH of the water i add is 7.2 so it should help but doesnt seem to raise it). I do not have an air stone yet, maybe thats theproblem, or i should just add in some plants which in turn may balance out my pH? someone please shoot me suggestions! my cycling seems to have been working, but i am scared i may stall it with this pH drop. I have heard crushed eggshells help, and the synthetic pH Up or Down isnt healthy for the system in general. Oh, and my tank is about 10 gallons, but since it is an aquaponics system the fish tank has 10 gallons and the sump has about 10 gallons, so overall my system is running with about 20ish gallons.
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09-26-2013, 01:45 PM, (This post was last modified: 09-26-2013, 01:52 PM by Ram.)
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RE: FISHLESS CYCLING Aquaponics HELP!
You do not need to mess with your PH at this point. PH of 6.0 is perfectly fine for fishless cycling. There is nothing to worry about until you suddenly see PH 5.0 or lower.

You need to know that many people have tap water of PH around 6.0 in their area. They don't have a problem with their aquarium nitrogen cycle.

Even when your aquarium water PH had truly crashed to 5.0 or below, a simple partial water change of 30~50% will restore your water PH and buffer. No need for egg shell or any other methods. Wink Not to mention egg shell method is for long term, it is not an immediate solution. Definitely stay away from those "PH up" or "PH down" chemical products, they will just mess up your aquarium and do no good at all.
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09-26-2013, 03:04 PM,
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Nolan Offline
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RE: FISHLESS CYCLING Aquaponics HELP!
Maybe I am just getting anxious for it to cycle. In the mean time I am going to purchase an air stone since my fish will need one anyways, and I will just continue to monitor the pH and add tap water if it drops. Good to know about the eggshells! I was considering using them but I guess I wont need to until maybe later on. I'm always looking for alternate natural methods besides using the chemical products. I just started cycling less than a week ago, and the nitrates are already showing up which seems fast compared to most peoples experiences. I think I will add my plants soon if this keeps up. Thanks for the reply!
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09-27-2013, 01:26 AM,
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RE: FISHLESS CYCLING Aquaponics HELP!
PH 6.0 won't interfere with fishless cycling.

If you already have nitrite and nitrate just less than a week into the cycling, you are making really quick progress. I didn't get either readings until several weeks later on my first try. Have you used any bacteria seeding? Live bacteria product such as Tetra SafeStart or a piece of filter media from well established aquarium can do such trick.
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09-27-2013, 03:16 AM,
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Nolan Offline
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RE: FISHLESS CYCLING Aquaponics HELP!
I have read in numerous publications that a pH any lower that 6.0 will dramatically slow the nitrification process, as dropping the pH to 5.0 or below will inhibit the bacteria from growing completely. 8.0 is what I thought to be ideal for the bacteria.

The first time I added ammonia to my system I added WAY too much, bring the pH to over 8.8! I had to do a complete water change, and after that I was reading 1-2ppm ammonia and 7.5pH without adding more ammonia after the water change. This is what started to worry me in the first place, just the thought of adding way too much may mess it up. Every day since I have added a small amount of ammonia keeping the ammonia levels around .5. Three days after doing the complete water change and adding drops of ammonia daily, my nitrites went to .25ppm, the next day they were still at .25ppm but i was also reading 1ppm of nitrate. The next day, ammonia was kept the same and nitrites still reading .25ppm but the nitrates went up to maybe even 4ppm. The pH dropped all the way to 6.0 almost overnight, i did a 40% water change bringing the pH back to 6.4 which is what its currently at. But I am reading even less nitrites and nitrates now, seems to me the sudden pH drop stalled the cycling possibly.

I did not use anything besides ammonia to help with the nitrification process. My 2ftx4ft grow bed is full of hydroton (expanded clay pellets) so I have a HUGE amount of surface area for the bacteria to grow on. It constantly floods and drains giving it good oxygen circulation. I set the temp. to 85 but I know that warmer water doesnt hold oxygen as easily, so I need an airstone. I was very surprised when I saw my nitrate test had turned light orange (1ppm)
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09-27-2013, 10:45 AM,
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RE: FISHLESS CYCLING Aquaponics HELP!
I am actually surprised to see your water PH can swing that dramatically before/after adding ammonia. Adding ammonia itself shouldn't have such impact on the water PH. In my case, PH went from 8.0 straight out of the tap to 7.8 in my aquarium.

Although there certainly is an "ideal" and "less ideal" as well as "stall" point of water PH for the bacteria, you shouldn't worry too much about it. As long as it is not at the "stall" point, your aquarium is cycling. The tap water in different areas have very different PH as well as hardness. Most people do not have the ideal PH for cycling, but they manage. The bottom line is, you can always do partial water changes whenever you feel like it is less than ideal.

Have you tested your water hardness? The PH swings too rapidly might mean extremely soft water. I didn't see such dramatic change until I get large amount of nitrate toward the end of the fishless cycling.
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09-27-2013, 02:13 PM,
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RE: FISHLESS CYCLING Aquaponics HELP!
Well in my case, I added two entire cap fulls of ammonia which shot it to over 8.8. Oops. Haha now I just add the ammonia by the drop.

I never even considered the water hardness. If the pH continues to fluctuate I will test my water. As for now I will watch my pH and wait for my ammonia to start disappearing.

Thanks for the replies, I will post back on how things went.
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09-29-2013, 10:55 AM,
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RE: FISHLESS CYCLING Aquaponics HELP!
When you had PH 8.8, what was the reading of your ammonia?
Too much ammonia itself can stall the fishless cycling, because at too high concentration even the ammonia eating bacteria will start to feel the toxic of the ammonia lol...

Usually we aim for no more than 5~6ppm ammonia. If somehow you overdosed ammonia during fishless cycling, an immediate partial water change is needed to lower it.

Good luck on your fishless cycling. Smile Don't forget to post photos and videos of your aquarium once it is done and stocked with fish.
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09-30-2013, 08:36 AM,
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Nolan Offline
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RE: FISHLESS CYCLING Aquaponics HELP!
The ammonia was reading the highest color on the scale, definitely above 8ppm. Did an immediate water change which fixed it but good thing I had just started! I had no bacteria that could have been killed. Pictures will be posted!
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10-04-2013, 10:51 PM,
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RE: FISHLESS CYCLING Aquaponics HELP!
Ammonia is toxic to everything including the ammonia eating bacteria if the concentration is high enough. Keep it at anywhere between 2~6ppm should be fine for the fishless cycling. As the matter of fact, 6ppm was the number I was aiming for. I wasn't worried if it was slightly higher, but I'd be worried if it is off the scale. There is no need to worry about the ammonia concentration unless it is too high to even get an accurate reading from your test kit. No need to aim for any precise reading, just a general scale of between 2~6 will be perfect.

The reason I aimed for 6ppm is because I wanted to fully stock my aquarium as soon as the fishless cycling was done. I needed as much bacteria as possible in order to get rid of a lot of ammonia daily. If you don't plan to heavily stock your fish tank at once, there is no need to aim for 6ppm ammonia. Smile
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