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  1. #1
    Members Jeff's Avatar
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    Is this best way to START OVER FRESH?

    Quick question. As some of you may know, I've had a major aquaponics disaster, where after two years, ALL OF MY FISH died in a matter of two months. I think the cause may have been a number of factors, some of which may be metal toxicity (from a water heater), poor water quality from overstocking, and then a bunch of poor choices I made to try and fix all of it.

    I have two fish left (both which look like they will survive, but they're in a hospital tank).

    So I used this opportunity to completely TEAR DOWN my system and move it into a more accessible area of my yard (with more sun, 360 degree access, etc). My question though is this:

    I took every bit of hydroton and rinsed it off inside of a 5 gallon bucket. It wasn't a deep scrub or anything......I simply rinsed it until the water running out of the bottom of the bucket was clear and not murky. I did that for my entire 120 gallon grow bed.

    In doing so, I know that I may have destroyed the nitrifying bacteria (which I don't care at this point, I just need to start relatively fresh).....but I did keep all the worms in there (which help to break down the solids or dead plant matter). Other than that, I have 110 gallons of new water in the system and going to cycle it again.

    My question though: If my fish died from a parasite of some sort, would having the system run (fishless) for a couple of weeks kill off anything in there (which may not have a host to feed on)? Or should I be safe and treat the fishless system with PraziPro and Proform C, both medications used on fish to help rid them of parasites and sickness?

    My theory would be even if there isn't fish in there, running the medication in there could "kill" anything that would harm the fish once I put them back in there. So any free floating parasites could get whacked by the medicine.

    My biggest fear is that I will go through all this, put my remaining two fish in the tank (with new treated water), and they still die from some "mystery" which has killed all my other fish.

    So again, the question: do you think I need to medicate the EMPTY tank (which has the same grow media but 100% new water), or do you think running the system without fish for a couple of weeks will kill off any parasites since they may not have any host to feed off of (unless they attach to worms).

    What do you think?
    ------------
    My System: Jeff's Backyard System Here We Go!

  2. #2
    Members Roger L.'s Avatar
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    Re: Is this best way to START OVER FRESH?

    Jeff, just a thought here. If it were parasites wouldn't they have attacked the worms also? Any dead worms?
    At what point did our government cease to be of the people, by the people, and for the people?

  3. #3
    Members Jeff's Avatar
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    Re: Is this best way to START OVER FRESH?

    Roger - I didn't see any dead worms. In fact, most looked like they were THRIVING! Some looked more "waterlogged" than others, probably due to the damper conditions at the bottom of the grow bed.

    The only reason why I say "parasites" in my original post is because frankly, I am not too sure what killed off all my fish. My last one to die definitely took a slow turn downhill, but when he died, I looked over his body and couldn't see anything obvious. His gills looked fine....I saw no lesions or raised scales......etc. In fact, he never even had clamped fins. Up until the day before he died, I would witness him try to eat, but he would spit the food out, and all my research points to something called FLUKES. But without a microscope, I can't prove anything definitively.

    I also noticed him begin to rub up against things. So it either was a parasite, or it could have been the salt I added to the water (it was only 0.1% or so, to help with fish health). Otherwise, I have no explanation how this fish slowly went downhill when my ammonia, pH, kH, nitrites, and nitrates appeared to be safe levels.

    So now, my system is relocated into a sunny part of my yard, and it's just filling/draining without any fish in there. It's been about 18 hours, and I already see a bunch of reddish, brownish sludge sitting on the bottom of the tank, which obviously dislodged and came out after I turned over all the hydroton media.

    I will vacuum that crap out, and leave things running for another week or two before adding any fish in there. I just don't know if I should treat the water with those aforementioned items (PraziPro and ProForm C) as a precaution......or would I be wasting this expensive medication since I wouldn't be using it on fish (but rather an empty tank).
    ------------
    My System: Jeff's Backyard System Here We Go!

  4. #4
    Members dead_sled's Avatar
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    Re: Is this best way to START OVER FRESH?

    How long can a parasite live without a host?

    If you are worried about the spread of disease, how about cleansing the system with chlorine? After it has done its job, the sun will break it down.

    I am leaning toward metal poisoning. $.02
    Less irritating avatar since 02/27/14.

  5. #5
    Members Jeff's Avatar
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    Re: Is this best way to START OVER FRESH?

    The use of chlorine probably scares me more than the parasite! Do you think that's the best option? Keep in mind that I have 100% new tap water running through the system which has NOT BEEN TREATED, meaning it should have some chlorine and chloramine in there from the city.

    Again, up until now, this is all I did:

    1. I did a 100% water change. All old water was removed, replaced entirely with new tap water (110 gallons to be exact).

    2. All empty grow beds were washed and scrubbed with water (no chemicals).

    3. All the media was RINSED in batches of five gallons, and then returned to the empty grow beds.

    My only concern is that if there is something "toxic" or dangerous in the media, then rinsing it may have only removed some of it. But I'll be damned if I am going to empty it all again, know what I mean!

    The best case scenario (for me) is that simply running the system without fish for X-number of days/weeks may "purify" it if there is a parasite or something. Running a medication through the system is still up for debate, in case anyone wants to chime in about that.

    If some some reason the culprit was metal poisoning, will that dissipate after running the system for a while? Would chlorine or any other chemical have any effect on that?

    Again, there is no proof on my part that metal toxicity even happened. However, I suspect it may have contributed since I pulled out a very corroded looking heating element from the system.

    The only SYMPTOM I have to go on is this (in case this helps you with a visualization):

    - I had an EXTREMELY SICK KOI in the system. By "extremely sick", I mean I thought he was a goner. Lying completely on his side, barely breathing, not able to swim AT ALL.....and when he tried, he could spin in circles before resting back on the bottom of the tank.

    I took this fish into a hospital tank, ran some Maracyn-2 through it, and in three weeks, he made a FULL RECOVERY. Eating, swimming perfectly, you name it.

    I then took this fish and put him back into the main tank.......and within a couple of days, I noticed him FLASHING.

    I have no idea why he would flash except that SOMETHING was irritating him. Would metal toxicity make him flash? I wouldn't think so, but then again, what do I know. What I do know is that I DID have SALT in the main tank.......so he could have been flashing from the salt, or he could have been flashing from a parasite. In that time, his only other tank mate died a couple of days later.

    That is what prompted me to tear down the system, rinse everything, and fill it up 100% with new water. This is where I now stand. The fish (who recovered and began flashing again) is living in a hospital tank and doing fine. I am just leery about when to put him back into this new tank, just in case there is something wrong in the media.

    Knowing all that, let me know if you have any other thoughts or suggestions.
    ------------
    My System: Jeff's Backyard System Here We Go!

  6. #6
    Members dead_sled's Avatar
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    Re: Is this best way to START OVER FRESH?

    If I was in your shoes, I would chlorinate one evening and let the system run without aeration. Then the next day I would restart the air and allow the air and sun to release the chlorine. I would guess this should kill what needs to be killed. Also considering your water contains chloramines, I would add vitamin C, as discussed in one of your previous threads. In case metals were residing in your system, you could try this: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news ... nnovation/
    ^^^ sorry the full editor is not responding to my requests
    I would give it a week or two after that before introducing living things. Just my opinions. Good luck.
    Less irritating avatar since 02/27/14.

  7. #7
    Members Aloha Don's Avatar
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    Re: Is this best way to START OVER FRESH?

    This is just my first thoughts ...actually they are more questions than answers...
    If it were a disease or parasite....How long could it live if you remove all fish and water?
    Since you have your system down at this point....Could you just drain and let the sun bake out any problems you may have?
    I have heard of people adding hydrogen peroxide to their systems....would this help?
    curious...
    Put all excuses aside and remember this: YOU are capable - Zig Ziglar

  8. #8
    Members Jeff's Avatar
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    Re: Is this best way to START OVER FRESH?

    Dead_Sled - Wow, that was a very intersting article on banana peels! It says "do not try this at home" since the results will be negligible, but I'm halfway tempted to just throw some banana peels into the empty fish tank, just to see what happens.

    By only concern is that I don't want to KILL all the worms in the grow beds. I feel that they have a roll in the system to help break down any decaying roots or plant matter in there (as well as any fish poo that might make it into the grow beds which bypass my little DIY filters I installed). So I don't really want to kill everything in the system. I'd prefer to just purify water may be living in the water (if anything). Again, I have no idea if there are parasites or not. That just might be a good excuse to make me feel better about the loss of all my fish!

    So if you know of any chlorine ratio which may kill parasites but not harm worms (LOL), let me know!
    ------------
    My System: Jeff's Backyard System Here We Go!

  9. #9
    Members Jeff's Avatar
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    Re: Is this best way to START OVER FRESH?

    Aloha Don - Thanks for sharing your thoughts on my situation. You ask how long a parasite could live if all fish and water were removed. Well, I did remove all fish, and all water has been replaced........but keeping the system "DRY" or waterless would kill all the worms I have in there. I was hoping to have a solution which didn't involve that possibility.

    I'm still halfway debating on running the medication through the system even though there won't be fish to medicate. My reasoning is that if it can cure fish from parasites, then perhaps it can cure water (or anything in the grow beds) from the same parasites. Again though, for all I know, my system could be parasite-free and I'm just drawing at straws with this one.

    One thing I can't deny: my grow beds were FILTHY after TWO YEARS of never cleaning them. After I rinsed off the media and mixed it back into the grow beds, they unleashed a CRAPLOAD of floating particles into the new water I added. The water went from crystal clear to absolutely horrid. All kinds of floating junk (probably bits and pieces of roots, debris, old fish poo, etc) were dislodged and it makes me a little sick to know that all of that was residing in my system.
    ------------
    My System: Jeff's Backyard System Here We Go!

  10. #10
    Moderator urbanfarmer's Avatar
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    Re: Is this best way to START OVER FRESH?

    Rinse and repeat (excluding any mistakes).

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