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.

 

Yabby trying to escape

With all of the talk about my plants in my IBC system i have failed to mention the other stars of the show so far. At the moment i am running about 10 yabbies as well as an unknown amount of small feeder fish or gambrusia that i was able to catch from the local river. The Latin name for the yabby is Cherax Destructor and the destructor part of its name is well earned. They are highly territorial and are also cannibalistic, so they don’t mix well with others. I have included a link to Wikipedia below for a bit more reading on them.

Cherax Destructor

I am really hoping that these guys will grow to a size that suitable for eating. I actually caught quite a few more than the 10 in my system, so i cooked them up and ate them. Even with a day or so in fresh water they had a bit of a muddy taste, which i am hoping the guys in the IBC wont have. Even if they do still have the muddy taste i will still keep some as pets. They are a really interesting creature to watch and it is always fun pulling one out of the water to scare someone with. 🙂

 

Growth Update 28/03/12

I took a few more photos to share today.

I have been having problems with wind absolutely hammering my plants. Solution? Wind break. So i got the tools out of the shed, cracked a beer and got to work. Using leftover pine from making the frame the the grow bed sits on i constructed up the frame for the wind break. I used a sheet of polycarbonate as the material for the wind break so i could still get maximum sunlight on the plants. I should note here that sun light is something i am very conscious about with they whole system being under the back patio. The polycarbonate is hinged along the top to allow me access to the plants from the back of the system. That will save me having to climb on the fish tank to reach back there.

I also planted some new silverbeet plants and i trimmed back my spring onion because it was starting to get a bit old and unruly. I also planted some dwarf beans between the rhubarb and the capsicum plant as well as an unknown creeper type plant that started growing in one of my pots.

Sorry about the poor photo quality. Its the best i could manage with my phone.

IBC Growth Update 10/3/12

The first growth update of my IBC Aquaponics system!

Every thing has been ticking along smoothly for the first 10 days or so. Plants are looking happy and the small gambrusia fish and yabbies that i put in the fish tank are still alive and feeding. I have also been dosing the system with additional ammonia to help the system cycle. Cycling means to establish the bacteria i mentioned in the previous post to a level where they can handle the ammonia load of the trout that i am planning on getting for winter. Usually this process takes 4 – 6 weeks so i still have a while to go, but i dont think the small fish and yabbies will provide enough ammonia to properly cycle the system.

 

IBC Aquaponics

Firstly I would like to point out that this blog actually started on the 19th of August 2012, but I have back dated this post to try and get a bit of a timeline happening.

 

Well… Aquaponics. Where to begin. I was told about aquaponics from a guy at work. A quick bit of googleing led me to the Backyard Aquaponics website and the start of a new hobby. I say hobby but it probably should be described as a bit of an obsession.

The whole thing took me about 4 days to build. I am not going to disclose how much beer was required to get through it, but the build time should have been a lot less than it was. Lets leave it at that. There was a fair amount of tweaking required to get the overflow in the middle draining enough water. So what is it all about i hear you ask? Well at the very bottom is a fish tank. In the fish tank is a pump that pumps water up into my grow bed at the top. The water is distributed evenly around the grow bed via the loop of pipe around the outside of it. Water then drains through the media and drains down the stand pipe in the middle back to the fish tank.

Some of you might be thinking ‘I can see that, but why would you bother?’ That is simple to answer. If any of you have kept an aquarium before you may have had a biological filter. What the biological filter does is convert toxins in the water that the fish produce into something much less toxic. What i mean by this is, the grow bed is filled with bacteria that do good things for us. Two types of the bacteria I am particularly interested in. Nitrosomonas sp converts ammonia that is created by fish into nitrites. Nitrites are still toxic to the fish though, so Nitrobacter sp comes to the rescue and converts the nitrites into nitrates. Nitrates are far less toxic to the fish. So much so that you almost dont need to worry about them.

Now most people that own an aquarium will do a water change to get rid of that wonderful nitrate. I say wonderful because it is actually a very good fertilizer for your plants. That ladies and gentlemen is why i call my filter a grow bed. I put in lots of tasty vegies and herbs which go crazy and remove the nitrates for me. The great thing about this is that it saves a lot of water. The plants also get all the water and nutrients they could ever want. This comes with a few advantages, a few of which I will list here.

  • You can put your plants much closer together. No competition for nutrients means you can throw you planting distances out the window.
  • The plants get as much water as they need without wasting any of it. Instead of most of your water draining away, it drains into the fish tank.
  • Plants grow much much faster than they do in the ground.
  • Many more advantages i cant be bothered typing. You get the idea though 🙂
Now, as much as i wish it were true, I dont want anyone thinking ‘Gee this guy is really smart!’ I am just spouting out information that i have learnt from the Backyard Aquaponics forum and the free book available there the ‘IBC of Aquaponics.’ You can find links for both on my links page. This is just a super simple run down of the essence of aquaponics. There is much more to it but for now i will leave you with the photos that were taken just after i planted out my grow bed with a few herbs and vegies i had in some pots.
If you want to get in contact with me feel free to hit me up on Google+. The link to my profile is in the footer below.

 

Welcome to the first blog entry.

This blog is all about my efforts to understand why people want to communicate their entire lives to the world unknown, hopefully share some knowledge and meet people with similar interests.

I will be filling this blog up with anything that interests or I enjoy doing.

I should point out that this blog was actually started on the 19th of August 2012, however i have back dated the first few posts to try and get a timeline going on.

Hopefully I am not the only one who gets something from this blog!

Enjoy 🙂

So i went out and caught a few yabbies for my aquarium sump tank and i managed to catch a few fish in my traps as well. I was wondering if anyone knows what they might be and whether they can go in my aquarium?

The first fish photo actually has red fins along the top but you cant really tell in that photo.

After some research i also found that the fish with the long tail is called a swordfish. Here is a link with more details about it. It looks like it should be ok to add to my aquarium anyway.

http://www.fish.wa.gov.au/docs/pub/IMPFreshwater/IMPFreshwaterPage07.php?0506

I also lucked out with the yabbies too. 4 females and 1 male. Hopefully they dont fight or try and walk!

Howdy all,

Well I have finally taken the plunge into the aquarium world. I have always wanted a display aquarium since my parents had one when i was little. The problem being that i am lazy and i didnt want any fish to suffer for it. Then i heard about AP a few weeks ago and it has captured my attention since. I have spent alot of hours trawling this site (hopefully not annoying too many people) and reading the Backyard Aquaponics magazines.

Below is a pic of the aquarium. As you can see i still need to trim some of the lid off to make it fit. I also want to swap all of the plants out with live ones, however the pet shop i have been going to only have plants in the cold water area, so im not sure where to get them. The plastic ones will do for now, you cant complain at 9 plants for $6. You can also see the aquarium side of the No Holes Overflow or Water Bridge. The fish in there currently are 6 x neon tetras, 1 x plecto, 1 x bristlenose catfish, 1 x male dwarf gourami and 5 x harlequin rasboras. (1 of the rasboras is currently MIA, he might be in the pipework to the sump tank). I will try and get some pics of the fish and add them later.

Below the tank is the sump tank. This has a Jebao 4000 pump. The pump is 2000L/h and can pump to 3.2m head. There is also a valve to divert flow from the pump back to sump, which is probably about 75% open atm. So i have plenty of pump capacity to expand. The water level in the tank is much higher than i will normally run it. I had run out of fittings to divert the flow of the pump back down the the sump, so i had to raise the water level above the valve to avoid splashing everything. I also have to move all of the power stuff somewhere away from the water.

Then above the aquarium i have my grow bed. So far i have put in there strawberries, lettuce and a beetroot. I will also add some chives in there. I dropped maybe 30 worms in there a few days ago so hopefully there is enough food in there for them this early. For some reason the photo makes the plants look sad, but they are growing like mad and look much better than when i got them. I am hoping that they get enough light through the window. I can already see them leaning towards it after a few days so i am not sure. Time will tell. Otherwise i will have to look at a growning light. You can see from the grow bed picture that i have the curtain open most of the time. This hasnt been a problem due to algae over the last couple of weeks, but i expect that it will be. If i do start having problems then i will either get a backing for the tank or a UV light to try and keep it under control.

The aquarium was running for close to a month before i installed any of this AP stuff. Although i only had the 6 neons and the plecto during that time. So i am hoping that the system will cycle fairly quickly with the 2 filters sitting in the sump. I did see a significant drop in all the test numbers (ammonia, nitrites, nitrates) when i installed it, but i had probably doubled the water capacity. Before the AP stuff went in amm was constantly 0.25 or below, but nitrite was very high. I am hoping the water quality will remain good enough with the additional water for the nitrite side of the cycle to happen before a water change is needed.

Below is my NHO. It is a venturi overflow type with an air collection and removal point at the top via the syphon. The valves are there so that i can easily prime it myself without having to remove it. Where the syphon is can be unscrewed and i can pour water in. So to prime it you just pour water in till you hear it overflow to the sump, close the valves, fill it to the brim, screw the cap back in, open the fish tank valve, start the syphon for a while and then open the overflow valve. Easy! Being the venturi style you do get alot of air in the bridge which will cause it to fail, but the syphon seems to be handling it no worries and just spits the air out in the sump. It hasnt failed yet and unless there is a power outage i am hoping it wont.

Still to do:

    Backup power so the pump runs continously (High Priority)
    Closely monitor potential algae problems (High Priority)
    Make the electrical side safe (High Priority)
    Add some electronic stuff like datalogging that will require constant tinkering (High Priority)
    Trim the lid so it sits properly
    Add more grow beds. I am thinking a ‘wall’ style down the sides.
    Tidy the whole lot up
    Wait for it to cycle
    Add more fish