Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Cycling Has Begun!

Monday, June 25, 2012:
1200: Boiler is up and running!
1700: Jeff says he is "giddy" because all systems have been automatically running all day without a hitch. In the afternoon, the Hunts have some visitors from far away. They are intrigued by the aquaponics. They pray for "The Watered Garden". That was nice. :)
1100: Jeff runs back to the greenhouse to make certain no pipes have burst or something similar. All is well.

This is our over-kill water heater. We plan to use solar as much as possible. Beans, tomatoes and squash growing in the background. Found a birds nest full of birds in the woodpile!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012:
0600: Jeff again checks the greenhouse. All is well. 
0930: Water temp is 80, just as ordered, for the growing pleasure of the bacteria! 12 tsp of ammonia added to system via fish tanks.
10:00: I plant every plant that hasn't died yet, thinking "it will be a miracle if these plants make it, " for these reasons:
1. My hydroponically grown plants are emaciated and undernourished from being crowded in a teensy grow-sponge for approximately 1 - 2 months too long.
2. The healthy looking plants, I removed from the dirt, washed the roots in 3 successive buckets of water, and put them in the gravel naked. They love this (not).
3. The top of the gravel is dry, so the plants look just like they have been planted in a parking lot! A little disconcerting. (But the top of the gravel is suppose to be dry.)
I plant all these plants even though they don't look great, because we need the biofilter. I expect them to look worse before they look better, due to the stress of the cycling. I did add "Maxicrop" which is the recommended seaweed/fish fertilizer. I have lettuce and basil seeds started as well. If all else fails, we will be a lettuce and basil farm this year.
Poor little plants - can't even see most of them. 
12:30: Ammonia is 2 ppm, and the goal is 3.5. Six more tsp added.
2300: Ammonia is 2 ppm, and Jeff adds a bottle of bacteria. Maybe he shouldn't have.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012
0930: Ammonia .5 ppm. Hmmm. So check the nitrites. Nitrite .5. So are the bacteria Jeff added dealing with the ammonia and making it low already? Couldn't be. Check nitrates. O. Add 10 tsp ammonia.
12:30: Ammonia 2 ppm. Add 6 tsp ammonia.
1830: Ammonia 4 ppm. Okay, stopping with the ammonia already! Shouldn't have added the bacteria last night - too confusing. Now we test daily for ammonia and nitrites. When we have significant nitrites we'll start testing for nitrates.

So now we have been running about 3 days without any major problems. One fitting popped off, and we lost some water. There's a couple of small leaks that have to be dealt with. There's water build-up UNDER the sump bin causing it to bubble up - doesn't make us happy, the pump doesn't know where to sit. Weird. Nothing Jeff can't figure out. Actually he now tells me he just pumped the water out from under the sump.
And all the plants look perfectly happy so far. :)

So this is the beginning of "cycling". When this process is over, it's time for FISH! Some of us have been waiting to see those little fishies swimming around. Soon. :)



  1. Cool! Let me know how your ammonia/nitrite/nitrate balance works out!

  2. Hello Unknown. :)
    We keep adding ammonia every day, because it is being devoured by the off-the-chart numbers of both nitrites and nitrates! I thought the nitrites were suppose to go down, but they're not yet - don't know what that means. Ordering fish now.