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 Post subject: Re: Marc's System
PostPosted: Aug 11th, '11, 20:28 
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Things are getting exciting with the Nitrites kicking in this week. Its only been just over 3 weeks since I started cycling. :cycle:
System parameters
PH - 8.0
Ammonia - 4
Nitrite - 2
Nitrate - 5
Temp - 17C at 8am

Hopefully it will have cycled by the end of the month and I will be able to get fish.
:getfish:

Temps in the greenhouse have been getting up into the low to mid 30C and one day of 38C (not bad for winter!)

I have mounted the air pump up high so that all the warm air is pumped through the tank and contributing heat.

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this weekend I will be insulating the tank with all that sawdust i removed from the original greenhouse which should help to stabilise the temps.

I have been cycling the system by running it 15 mins on and 15mins off rather than running it all the time. I just can't feel comfortable with plants growing in a flooded system. I guess it is the farmer in me and seeing it as water-logging.

Is there any added filtering occurring in a constantly flooded in comparison with a flood and drain system? To my mind if more water is passing through the grow beds there must be more filtering occurring.

With more water passing through the beds in either a 15 mins on and off cycle or in a constantly flooded system is there any benefit in adding 2 more holes to the inner standpipe?

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 Post subject: Re: Marc's System
PostPosted: Aug 27th, '11, 20:52 
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It's been a while since I posted so some quick updates.
The beds are growing rapidly as the tank is still cycling. Ammonia dropped to 0 today but the nitrites are still up.
System parameters
PH - 7.2
Ammonia - 0
Nitrite - 2
Nitrate - 30
Water Temp - 19.5C at 5pm

expecting fish in mid September so tank should have cycled by then

Plants are growing rapidly and loving the warm weather. Had a few days of 36C in the greenhouse before I opened up the vent. I will post some pics tomorrow

I'm thinking of keeping the skin on the greenouse and using foggers, fans and vents to cool. The temperature rarely went above 38C when it was used as a greenhouse so I cant see why I can't do it again.

I live in the middle of bushland with the closest surface natural water 2.5km away and any other surface water would be my rainwater tanks. A few years back when the kids were small we caught tadpoles and grew then out in the greenhouse. Now we have several species of frogs that are in permanent residence. While I can hear them I rarely see them.

The other night when it was pelting down with rain I went down to check on something and there was a motorbike frog with a body close to 10cm long in the middle of the tank and around the side on the lip were females (6 of them!!) The females are significantly bigger than the male and they slowly moved closer. Anyhow a male has taken up residence in one of the floating pots while several smaller males hang out under the lip of the tank. Who says you need fish to cycle the tank; I'm doing with frogs (by accident) :whistle:
Does anyone know if SP will eat frogs or frogs of this size and will they eat tadpoles, as I can't see the 'war office' letting them become fish food as it was her that introduced the frogs (as tadpoles) in the first place.
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Then we have a shed load of another small frog that live in the floating pots.
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pardon the poor quality pics but they were taken on my mobile.

The 'war office' insisted I put a light down there to attract insects so they have something to eat. The fact that they have lived in there for 15 years was lost on her. Anyhow I said they have the little frogs to eat. :upset: Light was up in 5 mins! :shifty:

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 Post subject: Re: Marc's System
PostPosted: Sep 3rd, '11, 19:33 
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A big day yesterday, fish arrived courtesty of Troutman - delivered to my tank. 100 brand new Silver perch. Gavin provides a great service as well as great fish.
100 small SP in 4000l tank makes for fun trying to find them.
They spent the first few hours doing laps of the tank and dodging frogs. Then this afternoon I went to see how they were and could not find one fish!! OMG HSM :dontknow:
I had thoughts of them having been sucked up into the pump. Anyhow while looking closely at the pump, well as close as you can when it's under a metre of water, to see if the holes were big enough to suck in the fish, when I saw one of the little blighters trying to get under the pump. Lifting the pump up there they were :wave:

The tanks all cycled in time for the arrival - it took 47 days over July and August, which I though was fairly good for winter.

The Motorbile frogs have been breeding like mad and there are eggs all through the roots of the plants. However, each time I look at them there are less and less and no tadpols. I think them SP are snacking :whistle:
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 Post subject: Re: Marc's System
PostPosted: Sep 3rd, '11, 20:11 
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Been a busy weekend so far. Fish arrived yesterday and today I finalised the installation of the backup system.

The backup consists of a fail switch, deep cycle battery, Ctek charger, 12v sump pump and inverter.

I have Johnson 12v 1600gal/hr pump connected to the 70 Ah deep cycle battery via a fail switch. The battery is kept charged by the ctek charger (well worth the money). The Johnson pump is connected to a "spray bar" - 25mm pvc pipe with holes in it. Works well with water splashing along the full diameter of the tank.

For long term outages or when I'm home when the outage occurs I have 300w inverter that i can connect to the battery and then to the main tank's pump. with a 15 on 45min off cycle the battery should run the pump for around 10 hours. For outages longer than that I should have the generator up and running or I can use the second deep cycle battery from my 4WD. I can also connect the air pump to the inverter to ensure there is heaps of air.


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The specifications for Johnson pump are impressivewith a capacity to pump 1550 gals per hr at 1m head and a max head of 5m. Not bad for $129
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All up $500 including the inverter. Not a bad investment to prevent a tank full of dead fish.
All the gear was discovered in a boating store. I know nothing of boats but now I spend a heap of time checking out what they have that I can use in the system.

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 Post subject: Re: Marc's System
PostPosted: Sep 12th, '11, 21:08 
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Some more updates. Fish settled in well. I was surprised that I never saw them during the day but at night I could see them darting about. I had put some 100mm pipe in so they did not have to hide under the pump and sure enough that is where they seem to spend their day.
Before the fish arrived I had a fair bit of thread algae growing. It was hanging off everything and coating the bottom of the tank. On the sides where it gets less light the algae could only survive as threads but close to the wall it was a brown layer. Having had inside tanks for most of my life, thread algae is a real problem. Anyhow resigned to the fact that on the weekend I was going to have to cover the tank I left it alone. As the week wore on the algae got less and less, fish had rounded bellies and were not interested in food (despite tank temps up around 18 -19C) there were less and less tadpole eggs and no taddies. Well ignoring the obvious (the quickly disappearing algae) I supposed the fish were snacking on the tadpole eggs and any taddies that hatched.

On Thursday Western Power in all their wisdom turned the power off for about 6 hours. I came home to the backup system working well (luckily I had installed it only days earlier) but no water had been through the beds for most of the day. The plants looked ok but I was worried about the bacteria and having just cycled I did not want to have to do that again. Anyhow. on the bottom of the tank were small black thread like "things". I assumed that the fish having eaten their full of tadpoles had crapped and with no water movement there it was. How wrong I was. being more worried about the possibly escalating ammonia as the tank cycled again I ignored the obvious. After a few days I noticed that despite the water moving again the black "things" were still there and had heads! yep they were the tadpoles. The fish seemed to be ignoring them. Then the next thing I noticed was how clean the tank looked. Apart from the brown slime on the side (bio film) there was hardly a green speck in sight. It seemed that the fish were eating the algae.

All this time I'm trying to feed the blighters and they were busy helping them to the smorgasbord in the tank.

Having had my first HSM it is easy to miss the obvious. So not only missing the missing algae I also missed the slowly missing duckweed. Well as much you can make that judgement call when there is water circulating and there are plants and floating rafts catching it, but each time I look I swear that there is less. So the buggers are now working their way through that.

Oh and beside a very minor increase in the ammonia the tank did not cycle again. The increase in ammonia was probably due to the pigs eating all the algae/duckweed and begrudgingly eating the pellets the idiot kept giving them.

The tank is a clear as the first week or 2 I had it which is great.

The plants are growing well and we had our first harvest of bok choy.
The Lebanese cress (Apium nodiflorum) has taken over half the tank and the watercress is struggling to compete.
The better behaved veggies in the beds and on the floating rafts are far more civilised but still growing fast especially compared to those planted in the ground at the same time.

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 Post subject: Re: Marc's System
PostPosted: Sep 12th, '11, 21:25 
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And a few more views of the plants, this time the floating rafts. I conducted a little experiment. in a couple of the lettuce cups I used differing amounts of rock wool from just enough to cover the bottom (4) then 1 each increasing the rock wool all the way to just rock wool. It is easy to see from the photos which lettuces are doing the best (those with just enough rock wool to stop the hydroton from falling through).
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When I started this thread I mentioned that one of the benefits of having this system in a greenhouse and up off the ground was that I could get away from the bandicoots and possums that were destroying my ground vegie garden.

How wrong I was.
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this picture is of the second raft this time I did the right thing and only used a small amount of rock wool so they should have been growing great guns. But that was not to be. The bloody frogs all 10 to 12 cm of them sat on them pulled them out and generally trampled them. In the morning I would find the plants floating in the water and the hydroton on the bottom of the tank. Ugggh I can't win.

On a positive note I picked up a great thermometer for the tank from Jaycar for under $20. It is fairly accurate (but should be calibrated so you have some idea how much it is out).
the pic below is the temp one morning in the greenhouse when I was showing the kids the different air temps at different heights.
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 Post subject: Re: Marc's System
PostPosted: Sep 12th, '11, 21:50 
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Seriously, this cant be healthy.
Seriously, this cant be healthy.
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Nice posts Marc.

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 Post subject: Re: Marc's System
PostPosted: Sep 12th, '11, 21:54 
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Thanks Outbackozzie. Its been a rush so far.

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 Post subject: Re: Marc's System
PostPosted: Sep 13th, '11, 00:04 
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HI Marc I just read your thread. Looking very good to me. Keep up the good work. What is a bandycoot? Size like mouse rat cat dog ??

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 Post subject: Re: Marc's System
PostPosted: Sep 13th, '11, 00:10 
http://www.google.com.au/search?q=bandi ... 95&bih=688


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 Post subject: Re: Marc's System
PostPosted: Sep 13th, '11, 09:27 
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Hi Don, what he said :laughing3:
they are about the size of a cat, not very bright and dig, and dig and dig. They also seem to have an uncanny ability to get through fences. You guys have squirrels and racoons so I should not complain too much.

When I was a kid bandicoots were rarely seen as the foxes predated on them. Since the successful Western Shield (1080 poison program) the foxes have dropped significantly and the small mammals are coming back.

Checked on the fish this morning and the taddies are getting less. It looks like the SP having devoured all their vegies are now moving on to protein.

I guess they will eventually eat everything in the tank and decide that they have no choice but to eat pellets!

It is not that they don't eat them. I put about a table spoon in (soaked so they sink) and they ignore them. I came back a few hours later and they will be gone. I don't like feeding like that as it is hard to know if the fish have eaten it or it has been moved to some spot by the water circulation and is building up. Maybe I need some yabbies? In the mean time I'm testing the ammonia morning and night to identify if there is a problem. So far it is sitting on 0.25 not going up or down so maybe the fish are eating it.

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 Post subject: Re: Marc's System
PostPosted: Sep 13th, '11, 09:59 
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Marc,

I have got one simple little IBC set up with 15 SP's from Gavin on Sunday, and they have cleaned almost half a tank in just two days. Messy eaters though. Algae all through the water now. Was clear up to Sunday. Haven't seen them yet. Could be hiding in the bits of PVC pie I threw in for their entertainment.

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 Post subject: Re: Marc's System
PostPosted: Sep 13th, '11, 11:25 
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Hi Dr bee, mine did the same but did not make the mess. water is a clear as crystal. Are you able to feed your fish with pellets at all? What size are you using? How do you hold your pipe under the water as mine all float unless I put something heavy in them.
Cheers
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 Post subject: Re: Marc's System
PostPosted: Sep 13th, '11, 15:46 
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Marc,

I fed crushed floating pellets between 2 pavers to about 1 - 1.5mm. Gave them a pinch this morning hoping to see the little ones, but none came to surface. Waiting for full test kit to arrive with batch of pellets from BYAP before feeding more. Don't want to kill them with love. Gavin recommended quite small 1mm size I'm guessing. Didn't think to ask how much food for the 50 we got.

My pipe is quite thick, not he cheap rain water pipe from Bunnings so that might help them sinking. Chucked in a few different sizes and some bends, maybe keep them amused?

Off home now. Will see if I can find the little blighters.

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 Post subject: Re: Marc's System
PostPosted: Sep 13th, '11, 18:53 
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Hi Marc
I started my system a couple of weeks after yours. I was unable to spend any money on mine like you did, and with no test equp and a lack of knowledge my system crashed a few times. my system is not pretty but is a good learning curve... one day I hope to have a big system like yours.
James
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