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  1. #1
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    Another newbie with fish problems

    Hey all,
    Seems I have something going on with my fish. I have been losing one or to small tilapia a week for the past few weeks. The first four or five showed no signs of disease but the last two have had eye bulge and now I have two that are swimming around slightly tilted to their sides. I caught These last two and they appear visually ok but have a feeling morning will bring bad news.

    Water has been fairly consistent over the past four days, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites and as of today nitrates are 0. I have several water changes lately due to high nitrite. I had been running consistent at 1.6 on nitrites and my last water change took care of that but has also knocked out my nitrates.

    Any pointers or ideas? I am starting to wonder if there isn't enough oxygen in the water.
    Visits to my cousins farm made me want to become a farmer. Life wanted me to be more mainstream but now is the time I come full circle and attempt my childhood dream.

  2. #2
    Moderator JCO's Avatar
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    Re: Another newbie with fish problems

    First off, if your nitrates are running high, you don't have a large enough bio-filter to sufficientently handle the amout of nitrites produce by the fish and this will cause them stress and the weakest die first.

    Secondly, if you have sufficient bio_filter power, there is never a need for a water change. When you remove water from the system and replace it with water from elsewhere, you knock the whole system completely out of balance. In Aquaponics, you are only suppose to add water to replace for evaporation and that used by the plants.

    An oversized bio-filter and plenty of oxygenatioin are the keys to a healthy Aquaponic system Take care of that and then step back and keep you fingers out of the soup.
    JCO
    Irish eyes are always smiling but
    • "In the eyes of the world, you are only as good as your last success"
    so never forget
    • "MAN IS ONLY LIMITED BY HIS IMAGINATION"

  3. #3
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    Re: Another newbie with fish problems

    If your nitrites are high, it means the system hasn't cycled completely - do a bit of reading on the Nitrogen Cycle to understand. There are a few things you can do, other than water changes, that can lower nitrites:

    1) Feed less. On a new system, that doesn't have established bacteria colonies should really only be fed once per day. Once you've started getting 0 Ammonia, 0 Nitrite and raising Nitrates, your bacteria colonies have established and you can slowly increase the ammount of feed.

    2) Plant more! Get some plants with healthy roots going if you can. Cuttings from houseplants are a good way to start if all you have are seeds to start your veggies. IME, DWC systems seem to help get roots going fom cuttings the quickest, and if the plant doesn't like being constantly wet, move it to a Flood and Drain system once the roots are established.

    3) Add heterotrophic bacteria. In the pond section of big box stores and greenhouses (in my area, anyway), you can find dry bacteria (often called something like "sludge buster") to add to your system. If you can't find it there, you can usually find a liquid form in the fish section of most pet stores - if you have a store that only deals in aquariums, go there, as they typically have better products available. If you can't find it anywhere, ask a friend who has a fish tank or aquaponics system for some of their media. A good squeeze from a dirty sponge filter will give you a good dose of bacteria. Either add it to your FT right at the pump, or even better in your filter/flood & drain.
    Jason M.

  4. #4
    Moderator JCO's Avatar
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    Re: Another newbie with fish problems

    No system can ever cycle properly if large water changes are made continously. For example, in nature, no water is ever removed from a pond. Only the addition of more water from rain to make up for what has evaporated.

    In an Aquaponics system, unlike nature, we control the amout of fish and plants, therefore we have to mimic nature. The bigger the bio-filter the better and lots of oxygenation and the addition of water when needed to make up for evaporation.

    I know from experience that tinkering with the system is something that Aquaponist do. It constantly pulls at us to stick our fingers in this way or that. however if a system is set up properly, the less you tinker, the less likely you will have problems.

    I have lost no fish in the last 12 months and I never test my water for pH, nitrites, nitrates or anything else. I observe with a weather eye and add water when needed.
    JCO
    Irish eyes are always smiling but
    • "In the eyes of the world, you are only as good as your last success"
    so never forget
    • "MAN IS ONLY LIMITED BY HIS IMAGINATION"

  5. #5
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    Re: Another newbie with fish problems

    Thanks for the replies JCO and Jvision. To cover the replies;
    I was trying to limit the water changes as I understand that is really a last resort with it highly likely to reak havick on the bio system. My nitrates were in good range but once I
    hit 3 on the nitrite scale and not able to start bringing it down within a week and a half by adding batceria (not enough time I suppose) I though the water change woudl be a wise
    step fully aware I would probably being starting fresh on the cycling again. I got the nitrite down to 1.6 and it was holding there but wanted a safer level after still having
    lost two fish in the week after getting it down to that level. Oh and ammonia was near zero at these points too.
    My bio filter should be more than ample(15 gal barrel)but with running a 900 gph pump I may need to add in more bio balls and more bacteria charging. I had begun adding in bacteria a
    week and a half prior to the large (20%) water change.
    I have only been feeding once a day from day one and cut out a few days to try to help which it did some but I should have held back a couple more from what I have now read.
    For the plant side, the beds were empty as I was waiting for the nitrates to really start ramping up. I did go a buy a few hydroponic basil and bib lettuce heads to the bed just this
    past week to help me gauge the O2. Even though the plants are doing fine and no dying roots from the lack of O2 I think I am going to buy another larger air pump to ease my mind

    As for the fish that were swimming slightly on their sides last night, they seemed to have been doing fine this morning and no losses, "Crossed finger" . But as far as the eye bulge I am still a bit miffed as one happened prior to the water change and one days after and maybe oxygen
    Visits to my cousins farm made me want to become a farmer. Life wanted me to be more mainstream but now is the time I come full circle and attempt my childhood dream.

  6. #6
    Moderator JCO's Avatar
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    Re: Another newbie with fish problems

    JCO
    Irish eyes are always smiling but
    • "In the eyes of the world, you are only as good as your last success"
    so never forget
    • "MAN IS ONLY LIMITED BY HIS IMAGINATION"

  7. #7
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    Re: Another newbie with fish problems

    Thanks JCO. I had looked up some other info last night too so will try to wrap my head around it all to figure it out. So far nothing is standing out and will have to dig some more, maybe even dig up Sherlock Holmes to see if he can help
    Visits to my cousins farm made me want to become a farmer. Life wanted me to be more mainstream but now is the time I come full circle and attempt my childhood dream.

  8. #8
    Moderator JCO's Avatar
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    Re: Another newbie with fish problems

    Have you ever watched "ELEMENTARY" tv episodes. If you have then you know why I would perfer Dr. Watson (Lucy Liu) Much easier on the eyes than Sherlock. Remember, keep you fingers out of the system as much as possible. If it's set up right, it will work itself out. Most times when fish start dying mysterously, it's just the system balancing supply and demand.
    JCO
    Irish eyes are always smiling but
    • "In the eyes of the world, you are only as good as your last success"
    so never forget
    • "MAN IS ONLY LIMITED BY HIS IMAGINATION"

  9. #9
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    Re: Another newbie with fish problems

    Hmmm, didn't think about the current Sherlock but I'm with u on that. i'd have to say her chassis isn't aging to badly now is it.

    I know your right on the fiddling and my experience with small ponds should have kept me from poking the bear but I hate seeing the victims paying the price as it does it's thing. Anyway, I will drop in some more bacteria and give it a few weeks more. If I lose more fish I may change out my liner type.

    Ps. The grow light color didn't show up on my camera as it did in the attached pic. Ain't the purtie. The color not the dead fish
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    Visits to my cousins farm made me want to become a farmer. Life wanted me to be more mainstream but now is the time I come full circle and attempt my childhood dream.

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