I was out and about playing with my new point and shoot camera taking photos of my IBC aquaponics system and i saw this guy chilling near by. I am really happy with this photo as it was a windy day and i was having to wave the camera at the same speed as the leaf to get it to focus. (I think the quality of the photo is actually to do with modern camera technology, but lets not let the truth get in the way of good story shall we? :-P)


IBC Growth Update 26/4/12

Another quick post for a growth update.

The wind has still been giving my capsicum a hard time with it being such a large plant. I am going to have tie it up even more i think to help it out. I think the jalapeno might get a bit of the same treatment while i am at it. I have also been getting caterpillars hatching and munching on my silver-beet. The gambrusia make short work of them though. The carrot seeds i threw in there are also starting to germinate which is exciting.

All in all the system has been performing excellently. I am very happy with how it is all looking so far.

IBC Update 12/04/12

Its update time again! 🙂

I finally managed to pull my finger out and get some shade cloth up around my fish tank. The main reason for doing so is because if sunlight can shine on the water you will get a massive algae bloom. This is a problem commonly called ‘Pea Soup’ and it is less than desirable. Aside from robbing your plants of all the nutrients in your water it also uses up some of the Dissolved Oxygen in your water. If you are pushing limits with your fish load or have heavy oxygen using fish like rainbow trout then this can cause a serious problem. You want to keep all the oxygen in the water for your fish and plants, so its bets to avoid algae. The other reason for the shade cloth is that it looks much better in my opinion.

The plants are still going great guns. I am seeing some fantastic growth all round. I cant say how happy i am with the performance of the system so far. The parsley i had was failing to perform so ripped that out and chuck in a few extra winter vegies. The new mix included leeks, carrots from seed and some sugar snap peas. The basil got a trim up and i also nailed some gutter guard onto the wind break for the unknown creeper and the dwarf beans.

Well it has only been a few months into my aquarium journey and already i have bought 2 more tanks. They are 3 foot tanks and they will replace the current tank and sump tank i had set up before. The old tank will once again run on the filter that came with it, which means i will have to do water changes. The new tanks i decided to dill and add an overflow after a few close calls with the No Holes Overflow.

I have also got my hands on some new water plants for my systems which i am stocked about. They came from a member of Backyard Aquaponics forum who kindly mailed them up to me. Along with the new plants i also received some Cherry Shrimp that i ordered online. These have gone into the bottom tank to keep them safe from hungry fish.

I have also got some new LED grow lights to try and improve the less that impressive growth from the plants. You can really see how much they are struggling with the lack of light. Especially as the days grow shorter.

Well it is official. My system has cycled. What makes it official? I say so 😛 From my reading it seems that most people consider you system has cycled if you can dose it up to 1ppm of ammonia and within 24 hours it is showing 0 ammonia and 0 nitrites. Well…

Ph: 7.2
Amm: 0
Ite: 0
Ate: >160

Taa Daa!

Now all i need to do is wait for the water to cool enough to put trout in, get the trout and i will be on my way to my first fish harvest. 🙂

Well i finally did a water test to see how my ammonia, nitrites, nitrates and Ph are looking. I was very happy to find my nitrates levels really starting to come up. This is a very good indication that the system is well on its way to being cycled. I should mention before i post the results that day before i tested the water i added a fairly heavy dose of ammonia. One day i will explain where i get the ammonia from, but not today. So with out further a due, the results. 🙂

Ph: >6
Ammonia: 1
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 160+

The Ph in the system has dropped quite low. Lower than i can test it in fact. This is a result of the nitrifying bacteria which tend to make the water acidic. This is a common problem  to all AP systems and one that is easily dealt with. You can add a base solution to bring the water back closer to neutral, or you can put egg shells or shell grit in your system which will dissolve in the acidic water and buffer your solution. The great thing about using egg shells or shell grit is that once the water reaches around Ph7.5 or so it will actually stop dissolving and just buffer or maintain your water at that Ph. That saves me the hassle of worrying about checking the Ph every week and will also add minerals to your water for your plants. Win – Win 🙂

I have attached an image of the growth from my spring onions. Remember that is just four days of growth! I also found a photo that i took of one of the swordtails that i caught in the river. These are actually an introduced species to the river and if you catch them you cant put them back in the river. Interestingly the same goes for the yabbies.