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 Post subject: 10 Gallon System
PostPosted: Feb 10th, '09, 02:11 
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It's about that time to start a thread on my system. :mrgreen: I'll try to eventually get pics up. Here's the details thus far...

10 gallon fish tank aquarium
0 fish
1 plastic shoebox growbed with bell siphon
2 ivy clippings
10 sprouts
1 airlift xp-125 pump (2000cc)
one outlet going to 1 minigeyser water pump
one outlet going to an airstone in the airlift biofilter

I have been fishless cycling with pure ammonia. At one point, I smelled ammonia and quit adding it. I think this was due to an accident I had a few days before where I wasn't quite sure if a large slop of ammonia had dropped in the tank or if it all went onto the window sill. Well, since, the ammonia was converted and water levels were good, until the fish accident.

This past weekend I realized that the long forgotten baggies actually had sprouts! :cheers: Only took a few months. SOME seeds finally sprouted after 2 weeks of the heat mat being turned off using the baggie method. So I transfered the sprouts to the growbed and they perked right up after an hour.

I developed the minigeyser pump as way to pump water using an air pump for less electricity and greater reliability (thread elsewhere on the forums here). So now I intend to develop this system only using the minigeyser as "proof of concept" and further testing for everyones benefit to carry this thing through to the end (hopefully there won't be one).

I added an airlift biofilter (made from ~2 liter V8 plastic bottle) to help with water movement and ammonia conversion. Gravel to weigh it down, quilters poly batting inside for bacteria growth, and airstone inside at the bottom for water movement and a hold near the bottom about 2 inches by 3 inches. Theory here is the airlift pulls water in through the bottom hole up through the filter and out the top, meanwhile, the air also supplying bacteria with air.

The two ivy clippings don't look too well, about medium. They looked about medium when I clipped them to begin with and look only slightly less good than that now and it's been about 3 or 4 weeks. I figure this is due to minimal nutrient in the fish tank until I can get fish and food in there. I have added 2 tablespoons of sea salt to the system for some nutrients. The ivy clippings are stuck in the actual fish tank, not the growbed.

The growbed (depending on current siphon configuration) fills about 15 minutes and drains about 2 minutes. I use no timers.

My fish tank and growbed are both clear. The growbed sits over the fish tank and everything sits right in front of a window with miniblinds closed but lets plenty of light in. Neither the tank or growbed is covered. So what's the deal with lack of algae? :?: About two months ago I put in some green string algae from the local river, mainly because I was curious as to why algae hadn't appeared yet. :?: It eventually found it's way to the poly filter and stayed there. For the next month or two whenever I would manipulate the filter for various reasons/configurations, I would see the algae still green. I figured it hadn't died, but it never did multiply either. I threw out the big pieces as I saw them. Maybe some river water I put into the tank with some minnows (rip) had remnants of dead algae that was still doing its chemical thing and has prevented algae ever since? Although this is the same water source I got the algae from to begin with. I came across an article someone was experimenting and found this to be the results. Once algae starts dying, it will help kill of the rest of it by the decomposing chemical it produces. Or maybe the algae in my tank was missing something vital to live? Maybe that's why the two fish died also? I really know don't on this one.

On to two weeks ago. I got 10 minnows from the local river and while their bucket was acclimating water temps, the air stone came up out of the water and I didn't find that till a few hours later. 8 died. I put the other two into the tank. Inadvertanly wasn't thinking being upset at the whole situation and dumped the water into the tank as well while I was trying to get out the dead ones. Apparantly the dead ones had built up quite some ammonia levels. The next morning, the other two fish were dead and stuck to the filter (which didn't have any water sucking through it). I guess they tried to hide in it and died from stress. That morning I measured and ammonia was at 2.0 (85F, pH 7.0, Nitrite 1.0, Nitrate 10). Now two weeks later my readings are as follows: 80F, pH 7.0, ammonia 1.0, Nitrite 5+ off the charts!, Nitrate 15)

I figured slow water circulation causes the ammonia to not be gone, which means the airlift biofilter probably isn't working, right? So why is my Nitrite so high? Could it be from gravel I washed off in the sink and put in the growbed to add to the system the next morning? Shouldn't the chlorine have dissipated off the dry gravel by then? Before I added the fish, water levels looks good and cycling so there was plenty of conversion happening then. Could there be other causes?

I plan to add a 2nd growbed with minigeyser soon (week or two) as soon as I finalize more drainage siphon testing.

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 Post subject: Re: 10 Gallon System
PostPosted: Feb 10th, '09, 08:29 
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Seriously, this cant be healthy.
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The Nitrite spike part of cycling can take some time to get past and if the ammonia spike is too high it can slow the whole process down a bit.

You said something about washing off dried media in tap water. If you had been cycling but let your media dry out so you rinsed it in tap water, you may have lost what little you had gained in the fishless cycling. Just because a system has cycled at some point in the past, does not mean that it will remain cycled if the bacteria are allowed to dry out or starve to death.

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 Post subject: Re: 10 Gallon System
PostPosted: Feb 10th, '09, 12:55 
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+1

keep us posted and pictures when things turn around.


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 Post subject: Re: 10 Gallon System
PostPosted: Feb 10th, '09, 21:54 
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That's the odd part. I've been fishless cycling for 3 - 4 months now with the poly batting filter. The growbed and gravel just got added a few weeks ago. There should still be plenty of bacteria on the poly batting in the airlift biofilter. :scratch:

btw: I've finalized the test with the inner container pivot (floating outlet) and that growbed should be getting added by this weekend when I have spare time. A bendy straw and a ping pong ball, yup! :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: 10 Gallon System
PostPosted: Feb 11th, '09, 21:07 
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Have you placed any of that batting in the grow bed? Might speed things along..

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 Post subject: Re: 10 Gallon System
PostPosted: Feb 11th, '09, 22:33 
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I placed some small pieces in there originally. That lasted about a week until I had to redo the bell siphon shroud. I didn't put them back in when I put everything back together and stuck the sprouts back in as well. They perked right back up within the hour just like they did the first time I moved them over from the baggies. I always let the tap water sit in a pitcher for at least a day to dechlorinate before I add it to the tank so it doesn't kill the bacteria. I have never washed the filter pieces. Any other ideas on the nitrite spike? Are one type of bacteria affected more by chlorine?

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 Post subject: Re: 10 Gallon System
PostPosted: Feb 11th, '09, 22:42 
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TO me it seams that the bacteria that break down the nitrite are just slower to get started and going than the bacteria that break down ammonia.

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 Post subject: Re: 10 Gallon System
PostPosted: Feb 11th, '09, 23:01 
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That seems like an awful lot more nitrite than ammonia was converted. Between the last two readings, ammonia went down by 1.0 (from 2.0) and nitrite went up by 5.0+ (off the chart) (and nitrate went up by 5 to 15). I take it they are direct conversions of 1ppm ammonia converts to 1ppm nitrite?

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 Post subject: Re: 10 Gallon System
PostPosted: Feb 12th, '09, 09:56 
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i also have seen the ammonia to nitrite bacteria grow pretty quick. my nitrite to nitrate is going very slow, and the weekly water changes work fine for me. daily indoor water temp ranges from 60 to 70f during winter. i know it needs to be higher for optimal growth. summer time won't be a problem.


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 Post subject: Re: 10 Gallon System
PostPosted: Feb 12th, '09, 22:19 
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Took readings again last night and ammonia is now 0, nitrite off the charts (although it is a really nice deep rich purple color!) and nitrate down from 15 to 12. If my sprouts are starting to take nutrient, I hope nitrate bacteria catch up in time. Still boggled as to what happened to the bacteria I use to have, guess the v8 airlift biofilter isn't working. I'll prolly take it out once I stick in the 2nd growbed soon.

I'm going to try having the growbed contain 6 plastic bottles as planters (with media in them and holes). :joker: Anybody else tried this method over plain gravel/etc media? It'd be easier to remove the plants and transport them this way. It also makes it convenient to move them around should the need for container maintenance/changing be required. I'll prolly fill up the extra in-between space with gravel to cut down on amount of water required to fill since I'll be using another minigeyser pump. If all systems were built this way, there could be a "plant exchange" to help new systems get established quicker and for people to trade plants. :)

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 Post subject: Re: 10 Gallon System
PostPosted: Feb 12th, '09, 23:21 
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I have kinda tried such a thing with plant containers in my "nursery bed" It really didn't speed things up much. It seems like a good idea to be able to lift out a container with a plant but if you have put gravel around and between the containers, that gravel falls down into the holes and makes replacing containers a bit of a pain.

Originally my nursery bed was only filled half way with gravel so the water would flood over the gravel and I would place pots, flats, and other small plant containers in it with seeds for starting plants to transplant into the dirt garden or to other locations in the AP system. This did seem to work well for some things and I will still probably do this with part of the bed but at the moment I have the bed pretty filled with gravel.

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 Post subject: Re: 10 Gallon System
PostPosted: Feb 13th, '09, 00:24 
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Good tip there on the filler gravel. :thumbup: What about sticking my poly filter there? With it wet, it'll form around the bottles and keep shape but it won't use up much extraneous water volume. Any other suggestions to fill the space between the bottles so a fill takes less water (since I'm pumping minimal throughput)? :fish:

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 Post subject: Re: 10 Gallon System
PostPosted: Feb 13th, '09, 11:03 
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maybe a pot in pot setup, you take out one pot and other stays behind to keep the hole clear - would have to be fairly stiff, I'd suggest using lightweight media to stop the outer pot from crushing inwards.


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 Post subject: Re: 10 Gallon System
PostPosted: Feb 13th, '09, 22:55 
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Think I'll just be running the bottles without filler material in between and see how long the fill/drain takes. In the process of getting things ready for this second growbed, I took apart the v8 airlift biofilter.

The mystery of the missing nitrate bacteria is solved! :cheers: Upon removing the poly batting from the bottle, I noticed that ALL of it was 99% dry! :shock: Turns out the device did not work at all for moving water up past the bacteria in the filter. Apparently I dried out the filter that was sitting at the bottom of a 10 gallon tank filled with water. :banghead: But that's all part of research and development! So now that my high nitrites are explained, I'm holding off on fish until my system learns to fully cycle again.

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PostPosted: Feb 18th, '09, 22:43 
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I finally got some pictures. :cheers: The picture quality isn't what it could be since I took them at night with normal room lighting and a flashlight to help. I've also lightened up the pics with irfanview (best image viewer/editor I've ever come across that is free and takes up minimal diskspace).

I'll start with the remains of the airlift biofilter. You can see the poly batting on the right that USE to be home to my bacteria before it got dried out inside the tank. and on the left is the cut up V8 bottle.
Image

Here is the full overview of the entire system, and the tank and growbeds are clear (aside from limestone buildup from hard water). You see that the entire setup is right in front of a window. I have yet to have any algae problem, but will cover the sides if I ever do. The growbeds are sitting slanted because they are just slightly short enough to fall in the tank if I had them crosswise and someone bumps them. There is a basket on the left side of the growbeds to simply help with preventing water evaporation. No fish yet but the container of fish flakes is hopeful :) On the right of the tank is also the individual water test kits, vingear, sea salt, and ammonia.
Image

A pic of the bell siphon. The wrap around tubing is only closing off two air holes I was originally testing with, no longer needed. :D What looks like knife cuts in the bottom of the siphon pipe are crenelations, they just doesn't appear very well in the picture. They could actually be wider as right now I set the siphon pipe on a few small rocks to help lift it up a little more for proper water pull under it.
Image

A closeup of my inner container pivot (floating outlet). It is a bendy straw with connections siliconed together. There is also a marble inside the cut up ping pong ball to help sink it better to it works like it is suppose to. Placement of the straw end and top hole is crutial to it working due to its shape and ability to possibly trap air in the top of the ball as it tries to sink. A square box float WOULD work better but I couldn't think of what to use for one.
Image

Each growbed has a no holes overflow (the white pvc) and one bed with all gravel and one with gravel inside 20 oz soda/water bottles (the orange bottle is a medicine bottle from the pharmacy). The small medicine bottle with a cap on it is just to take up some water filler space in the drain part that is sectioned off. The bottom of the styrofoam is not sealed so water comes through there.
Image

Some gravel with transplanted sprouts. They perked up within an hour of transplanting and most of them haven't done much since. Nitrate is reading 10-15 at the moment, leftover from the original bacteria I had in the filter media before trying the airlift biofilter idea.
Image

This pic was taken looking down into the tank between the two growbeds. You are looking at new ivy clipping roots and one of the upside down terra cotta pots that the minigeysers reside in. The left growbed uses the minigeyser on the right side of the tank and the right growbed uses the minigeyser on the left side of the tank to help with circulation. It took 2 or 3 weeks for the ivy clippings to develop new roots. They are just now starting to look better.
Image

Here is a pic of my two air pumps behind the tank.
Image

And also behind the tank is the pitcher for top off water.
Image

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