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PostPosted: Jan 17th, '09, 18:12 
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Hi all, first post about my first system!

I've only been on the AP bandwagon after my brother mentioned it to me for about 2 week!. Although this little guy will only be the beginning, I was inspired by this post by Simmo_77 to have a crack at a little system first up before I go all out.

So, the system is a 3 bed stepped system with a 60L FT. The grow beds are 50L tubs, filled with normal gravel (hence the colour of the water after a good washing :shock:). The pump is very much over kill - i bought it thinking I'd hang on to it when I go to a new, larger system. It's an Infiniti 2800. The height to the top grow bed is ~ 1.6m so the pump should be doing around 1800 L/h! Currently, I have it on a 15 on/30 off cycle and with the diversion fully open just above the pump I drop the water level in the FT to approximately 2/3 of full. As you can see in the photo below, water height isn't too bad when the maximum water is in the GB's. I think i'll get away with this water level drop because of the pretty serious aeration I'm getting out of the diversion.

Attachment:
File comment: Completed system
PICT0015.JPG
PICT0015.JPG [ 34.15 KiB | Viewed 8005 times ]


Took a bit of time working out how to do the siphon outlets cheaply and easily - this was the result.

Attachment:
File comment: Outlet for siphon
PICT0022.JPG
PICT0022.JPG [ 41.65 KiB | Viewed 8007 times ]


Small amount of water loss but I haven't applied silicone to the joiner yet, that will solve the problem and I will go back and sort it out if needed.

Outlet made up from these components

Attachment:
File comment: Outlet components
PICT0021.JPG
PICT0021.JPG [ 68.38 KiB | Viewed 8008 times ]


Just chucked some lettuce, basil and chilli seedling in to start with. Also put some Coriander seeds in as well. Have added ~ 100ml of Seasol Concentrate to the system to start off with. Might need some Humonia as well!

Have thoroughly enjoyed browsing this Forum over the last couple of weeks. This is a technology well worth pursuing I think!

Cheers,

Chatty

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PostPosted: Jan 17th, '09, 18:14 
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Forgot to mention, some sacrficial Yabbies will go in next weekend. If they survive, we'll start on the goldies...

Chatty

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PostPosted: Jan 17th, '09, 18:15 
Welcome aboard Chatty.... nothing like playing with your first siphons... and getting them to work... just seems so darn simple in the end....


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PostPosted: Jan 18th, '09, 13:36 
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Since found a pretty cheap pre prepared flange. Made by the same mob who made the washer in the photo above - Fix-A-Loo - but it's made for the bottom of a cistern. Drill a 3/8" hole in the end of it and it goes together magically. Much easier than putting bits together :).

I've also added another 28L tub as a secondary FT. I've tapped straight into the side of the black bin and joined them together so they run in equilibrium to give me some additional water volume.

Attachment:
File comment: Additonal water tank
PICT0024.JPG
PICT0024.JPG [ 63.75 KiB | Viewed 7925 times ]


I reckon i'll put yabbies into the red tub and maybe some duckweed, just to see what will happen :wink:. The main tank will get the goldfish in a few weeks once the system is starting to settle down.

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PostPosted: Jan 18th, '09, 15:22 
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Just measured outflow from the bottom GB at ~ 450L/hr. I estimate that all three GB's hold 35L when full to capacity so I reckon i'm getting just under 12 water changes per hour including the additional capacity i've built into the FT.

Does anyone see an issue with the beds remaining full - to within 15mm of the surface - for 15 minutes at a time? Aside from algal issues i would have thought the only other issue could be DO but with the amount of aeration in the FT that there is i would have thought this should be OK?

I was meant to be finishing a book case that is started 2 weekends ago today - haven't done anything except tinker with the system and browse the forum :roll:

Chatty

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PostPosted: Jan 27th, '09, 18:03 
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The truth came out today, and not in a good way :(

Water pH: 8.2
Tap water pH: 7.4

Ammo: 8
Nitrite: 5
Nitrate: 5 - 10

It wasn't quite a HSM but it was close :shock:

So, not much i can do about the water pH except crank production up? I need to do an immediate water change (have limited water on hand that has 'sat' for a while to dechlorinate) and probably keep this up for a while?

Very limited algae growing in the tubs (clear tubs) but i will wrap black plastic around them tomorrow to prevent further development.

What are everyones thoughts? I suspect i'm part way through the nitrogen cycle with a nitrite level that high?

No wonder the Basil is cranking :)

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PostPosted: Jan 27th, '09, 21:18 
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Just a thought on lowering pH, has anyone tried adding elemental sulfur to their beds or tank? In the dirt garden the S is converted to H2SO4 which certainly gets pH down :twisted:

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PostPosted: Jan 28th, '09, 18:22 
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Water pH: 8.2
Top up water: 8.0 (odd that this is higher than water straight from the tap?)

Ammo, trite and trate are all the same as yesterday despite a 9L water change.

Did a further 15L water change today as well as adding vinegar - 1/2 a cup into 80L of FT water. Can anyone comment on that much vinegar going into that much water? Can anyone make a comment regarding the nute results - i'm keen to understand if i'm part way through a cycle.

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Chatty

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PostPosted: Jan 28th, '09, 21:12 
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Tap water will read differently after it has had time to change it dissolved gas content as i understand it. So if you want to test tap water Ph you need to let it sit for a while first i.e gas out Co2 which would give a lower Ph reading. As for the vinegar i have no idea but i tried using hydrochloric acid and found that my gravel buffered it back to where it started in a matter of hours. My Ph has never moved up or down from 7.8 except the swings i caused with the acid.
As for your test results they scare me. 1,1,10 was the highest numbers i ever got and that was cycling with humonia. Im sure some1 out there can help you with that one all i know is that the cycling process is slowed down at very high concentrates.

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PostPosted: Feb 1st, '09, 12:54 
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Bad news on the yabby front. Not surprising though when the pH is 8.2 and ammo reads 8+++ :shock: :roll:

Good news though is that i've managed to get my pH down to 7.6 using vinegar - it has taken approximately 3 1/4 cups so far. I've also done, in total, 65 L of water changes (3/4 of system volume) over the last 5 days. So, results from today;

pH: 7.6
Ammo: 8+++
Nitrite: 0.5
Nitrate: 5 - 10

Also added a teaspoon of chelated iron as one of the basil plants was showing slight symptoms of deficiency. All plants are the healthiest green at the moment and growing really well in this warm weather. 34 degrees today and going strong :cheers:

Going to add a couple of strawberry towers this afternoon to keep my better half happy 8) :wink:

Chatty

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PostPosted: Feb 1st, '09, 22:32 
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I tend to go into HSM with ammonia above 3ppm, but 8+?!? WOW! Can you say 50% water change? Then again, I consider myself a nervous newbie.

Does anyone near you have a healthy fishtank or AP system from which you could get some starter bacteria? This really, really speeds cycling. A handful of AP gravel or even a ml of bacterial goo from an aquarium filter will make a huge diff. Just make sure they are not fighting some infection or infestation since you don't want to add it to your system. I netted mosquito fish from our pond as starter fish, then as tilapia food, and think they introduced ich. :upset:

Good luck!

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PostPosted: Feb 1st, '09, 22:52 
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Seriously, this cant be healthy.
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+1 Fish Fingers on tap water having a different pH right out of the tap than when tested later.

A quick question, is your water source only treated with chlorine (which will go away with sitting and or bubbling) or might it be treated with chloramine which does not go away and needs to be filtered or chemically conditioned. If your water is treated with chloramine, it is probably adding to your ammonia readings as well as stopping the bacteria from taking hold.

The danger with adding fresh humonia, it has not converted to ammonia yet and won't immediately show up on the ammonia tests so it is easy to add too much. In a system the size of yours, a dribble a day of humonia would be plenty for cycling. I cycled a system with a 200 l fish tank and 250 l of grow beds using less than 100 ml of aged humonia per dose. The trick with cycling is you only want to add enough to get the Ammonia levels up to around 1 and then wait till those levels are dropping close to 0 before adding any more. An ammonia level over 8 is going to inhibit the bacteria from getting started.

If you can, a water change to get the ammonia levels down will greatly should help a lot. And then add some patients to wait it out.

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PostPosted: Feb 2nd, '09, 06:26 
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IMHO Messing with ph and waterchanging at this stage is not helping bacterial development. Bacteria would be happy at those ph levels and water changing just keeps upsetting the water chemistry. Try to keep the DO levels up and a little patience. :)
Zeolites will pull ammonia down rapidly, but I would usually only use that if I had fish in the system.


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PostPosted: Feb 3rd, '09, 11:39 
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+1. If you have no critters to be killed, then the ammonia is no longer an urgent problem. Maybe add a cheap goldfish or a few yabbies when ammonia and nitrites drop below 2ppm?

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PostPosted: Feb 3rd, '09, 19:47 
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Thanks for the replies all;

TCLynx wrote:
A quick question, is your water source only treated with chlorine


Not sure, but i would expect that it is chlorine. The algal population on the sides of the tubs seems to be growing nicely!!

Sleepe wrote:
Try to keep the DO levels up and a little patience.


The water is getting a really good stirring up with the bypass water plunging back into the tank and really catching some air. Also, added a strawberry tower on the weekend (full of carnations and mint?!) which is contributing as well. I'll be adding an air pump once i get the chemistry under control and i look at adding the goldfish.

I had a proper HSM on the weekend. Went down to the hardward briefly and came back to find water being nicely pumped onto the ground - had twisted the hose that feeds the strawberry tower around but hadn't turned it off. Hence, i did another water change - of sorts :shock: 8)

Chatty

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