Welcome to the 2017 - 2018 Aquaponics Page!

Previous year's pages can be found here: 2016-2017, 2015 - 2016, 2015, 2014 - 2015, 2013 - 2014

A useful link for getting your system up and running can be found here: fishless cycle. And here is some information on when to introduce fish: introducing fish

Tuesday, 2/27/18:
We have gotten our system up and running. We have seen the ammonia being converted to Nitrite and Nitrate over time, so it appears that our bacteria is well established. We've made one last addition of ammonia and are currently waiting for the ammonia level to drop below 2 ppm, then we'll be ready to go. Here is a photo of our system:

Our goal for the week: prepare our system for fish! All nutrient levels are safe as of now aside from ammonia concentration, we are almost there! According to the links above, the common aquatic conditions deemed safe for aquaponic fish are as follows:
  • Ammonia: Less than 2 ppm
  • Nitrites: Less than 1 ppm (ideally less than .5 ppm)
  • Nitrates: up to 160 ppm

Thursday, 3/01/18- Our week in review!
The waiting game: in preparation for fish, we need to let our tank runs its cycle more. We need the hydroponic cycle to continue to run in order to bring the fundamental nutrient (NH3) down to a safe level. To monitor this change, we took regular daily measurements and noticed beneficiary process in ammonia consumption. From earlier this weeks 3 ppm, ammonia has dropped to roughly 1 ppm. Both NO2 and NO3 concentrations remain steady and pose no concern, thus we should be ready to add fish tomorrow or early next week!
Friday, 3/02/18
Ammonia has been lowered to .25 ppm.
Nitrates have reached 120, coming close to our goal of 160 ppm.

Tuesday, 3/06/18: Ammonia level is lowered to 0 ppm
Nitrate level is 20 ppm
Nitrite level is 0 ppm
pH level is 6.2
9:35AM : Added 0.8 mL of ammonia to tank.

For goldfish, Nitrite levels and ammonia levels cannot surpass 0 ppm
Nitrate levels should stay below 40 ppm
pH should be around 7.5

Monday, 3/19/18:
  • A rough start: Coming back from the weekend, our team was left with an unpleasant surprise regarding our new guests in the tank. Our 3 goldfish were found dead this morning due to an unknown cause. Dr. Tupper found remnants of a goldfish in the filter, signaling that their death could involve getting sucked in, or a lack of nutrients or proper parameters caused their death and were then sucked into the filter after they died.
  • Tomato update: despite their healthy height, our tomato plants don't look too healthy. Several leaves have wilted to death or they simply look yellow and white, signaling a lack of nutrients (specifically mineral nutrients) such as magnesium, iron, zinc, or nickel. The mineral nutrients are key for tomatoes to maintain healthy leaves for their structural integrity. Simple fix right? The issue with adding mineral nutrients comes with their side effects on water hardness, which greatly impact the health of fish living in the tank. Hence, tomatoes have always been a hydroponic crop rather than an aquaponic one. We are currently looking at potential solutions to the problem.
Our goal for the week: get the tank back on track! we have to run a thorough checkup on our tank parameters to try to diagnose a problem and look for a feasible solution. Starting with the filter, our team is gonna look to make the tank safe for fish again within the rest of the week.

Friday, 3/23/18:
  • We're back! Throughout the week, our team had to change some things around in the tank to try to troubleshoot our issues we had earlier this week:
    • Tomatoes: we noticed our tomatoes showed blatant signs of undernourishment with yellowing and wilted leaves. We decided to move our tomatoes out of the aquaponics tank and into the soil bed next to it, due to conflcting interests between the aquaponic parameters and the tomato requirements.
Tuesday, 4/3/18:
  • The tomato plant moved from the tank into soil has died, the rest of the tank is looking good as of right now, and all of the fish are alive.
Thursday, 4/12/18
  • The ammonia level has been raised up to 0.5 ppm, we believe the issue is caused by the fish excretions in the tank. On top of that, it may be that the fish are also eating the plant roots, which is forbidding the plants to take in the ammonia out of the water, and it slowly builds up in the tank.
Thursday, 4/26/18
  • Ammonia has reached a level of 2.0 ppm, the nitrates as a result have increased to 160 ppm. This may hurt the fish and may need to add water to dilute the ammonia and nitrate levels for the benefit of the fish. A possible cause of this may be that the plants aren't taking in the nitrates and they are building up in the tank.
  • Added dechlorinated water into the tank to help with Nitrate buildup.
Friday, 4/27/18
  • pH level has increased from 6.0 to 6.4
  • Nitrate levels have decreased to 0ppm, test strips may have been tampered with, after many tests it has been found to actually be 0ppm.
  • Ammonia levels are 1.5, they have decreased since yesterday and are expected to keep decreasing.
  • Nitrite levels have decreased to .25
A goal we are going to work towards in the following week are to clean the tank, this will make the environment for the fish healthier and will prevent damage to fish and the plants.

Monday, 4/30/18:
Cleaning the tank: this morning, our team tested our tank water just like we would any other day; we were surprised to see that the ammonia level shot up to 3 ppm, a dangerous level for fish living in the tank. The likely reason for this jump involves our nitrifying bacteria colony not being able to metabolize the ammonia the fish excrete. After having changed the filter last week, we created a tentative solution to protect the fish. With the help of Dr. Tupper, we changed 4 gallons of the tank water, equivalent to roughly a third of the tanks volume to remove ammonia and diffuse the rest of what was left.
Tuesday, 5/1/18:
We successfully cleaned out the tank by replacing all the water, de-chlorinating it, and reinserting the plants to the tank after this process. The fish are currently in another tank in the meantime, we are likely to put the fish back in the old tank later today, we believe it is better for the fish if we let the water de-chlorinate and let the temperature reach an appropriate level for optimum fish survival.
Friday, 5/4/18:
Ammonia levels have increased since we cleaned the tank. It is at .25ppm. It has been a gradual growth we have to watch over time.
Nitrate levels remain at 0ppm. Nitrite levels remain at 0ppm. pH is 6.0.
Monday 5/14/18:
Ammonia levels in main tank have reached 2ppm. We moved the fish into the second tank to let the ammonia levels drop.
We have been discussing the idea of splitting the group of fish 50/50 so both tanks can sustain the ammonia levels. The fish are getting bigger and we feel this will combat the issue and keep the ammonia levels well-regulated.