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Sequential comments about what we did and learned about our new system.


Water: System filled with water and checked for leaks, all good no leaks.

System: Fish tank holds 240 gallons, two 4’x8’x9” troughs hold about 375 gallons of water, according to Friendly Aquaponics. That makes my system about 615 gallons total.

Equipment: water pump and two air pumps with 4 air stones all work.


Found a local AP group on Made contact with Adam Cohen who advised municipal water supplies have Chloramines in them now a days, vs Chlorine. Chlorine will gas out over a day or two, Chloramines supposedly do not leave the water. I researched Chloramines on internet, he was correct Chloramines don’t gas out.


Water: I have no Chlorine test strips or drops do I took water sample to Petco. Andy, the marine biologist working there, said no Chlorine or Chloramines in the my water sample. I’m not sure if they were ever in my water.


I noticed those Mosquito larva were living in my new fish tank and trough. Friendly Aquaponics said they use “mosquito fish” to eat them and have successfully wiped out the Mosquito population on their acreage. Seems the water attracts lots of Mosquito who are looking for water in which to lay their eggs. The Mosquito fish are glad to ingest each resulting larva, thus breaking the Mosquito reproductive chain. I like that! Only the female Mosquito bite people and eat blood, so I only care about eliminating them!

Mosquito larva

Mosquito larva

It took me a while to research “Mosquito fish” types, and where to buy them. I finally settled on what was easy to find and cheap, Petco “feeder minnows”.

8-Jul-11, Friday, Temp 100

Water: We started our Fast Fish Less Startup of our system. I wasn’t real clear about how to follow the FAP startup. They said to use Ammonia if you don’t have fish yet, but did not explain when to add fish if starting this way, or if I should add more ammonia daily as I found elsewhere. I research Fish Less Startup and found some good advice, and then compiled my own steps.

Reference these posts:

I put in a small quantity of pure Ammonia to get the system water to a pH of 5. This was recommended as a way to do a Fishless system startup for the Nitrogen cycle.




Bacteria: After a few hours of cycling the water, I added Proline nitrifying bacteria from Aquatic Eco Systems to system.

nitrifying bacteria

nitrifying bacteria

9-Jul-11, Saturday, Temp 102

We planted our first seeds in the raft, about 48 total in 6 rows of 8 each using 2” net pots.

We also transplanted our seedlings about 32, from starter plugs (dirt) into 2” net pots

Care: We watered the seeds and seedlings, planted in Grodan and Hydroton, with trough water.

Seedlings into Hydroton

Seedlings into Hydroton

Scarlett hydroton

Scarlett hydroton

Jaxon first planting

Jaxon first planting

10-Jul-11, Temp 100

Care: We watered the seeds and seedlings in Grodan and Hydroton with trough water.

11-Jul-11, Temp 102, Water 92

Care: We watered the seeds and seedlings, planted in Grodan and Hydroton, with trough water.

Fish: We added 12 PetCo feeder minnows (albino i.e. light orange) to each trough and to the fish tank in hopes that they would eat the mosquito larva we see swimming in the tank.

Feeder Minnows

Feeder Minnows

 12-Jul-11, Temp 103

Last 10 days have all been over 100 degrees. Water up to 92 degrees at night.

Fish: About ½ the PetCo feeder minnows survived over night and were very active;  fast little buggers, amazing. Guess this was the first time they were in a large body of water.

Seeds: The okra, cucumber, and Basil are already showing green.

Seedlings: the seedlings that had roots that touched the water survived the transplanting from 9 July.

Care: We watered the seeds and seedlings, planted in Grodan and Hydroton, with trough water.

Planting: So we planted more of every seed se have, 3 types of lettuce, okra, cucumber, onions, carrots, bale, etc.

13-Jul-11, Temp 102

Fish: Three in trough 1, 2 in trough 2, and 3 fish in Fish tank. The ones that survived seem very health and fast. First feeding of tropical flakes fish food

Care: We watered the seeds and seedlings with trough water. The pH is 7 and not Nitrites or Nitrates yet.

Seeds: 5 of 16 Basil are an inch tall or so.



14July11, Temp 104

Equipment: Permanent waterproof system  thermometer arrived and installed.
Seed starter trays from The Aquaponic Source came in with Rapid Rooter plugs.

Seeds:We planted 50 seeds to test how well the new trays and Rapid Rooter plugs work. We added Dhrstrom’s maxicrop seaweed power (similar to Seasol) as nutriant to the seedling plugs, one teaspoon to a gallon of water. It is not required with the plugs but we wanted to see “best case” results for starting seeds. Just soaked plugs, filled under tray, and set in the sun.

16-Jul-11, Saturday

Added 10 gallons of de chlorinated water, troughs getting low

17-Jul-11  Sunday

measured but did not write down test strip results.

18-Jul-11 Monday, 104 Temp, Water 92 degrees at 3:00 PM

It looks like my system has made it thru the Nitrogen startup cycling! I don’t believe it, fast! The water was in the system about a week on July 8 when we put in the nitrifying bacteria. Today is the 18th so that’s a 10 day Nitrogen cycle, I’ll watch to see if I messed something up, etc.

Yesterday and Saturday’s numbers were written on a scrap of paper that I lost/

Today the ammonia is zero with a good show of nitrites and nitrates.

Test Strip First Nitrogen

Test Strip First Nitrogen

Time to get fish!



I got 65 more albino (orange) “feeder minnows” from PetCo for $0.15 each. If half of them survive a couple days, I’ll buy Tilapia. Because the store keeps lots of fish in a small tank they keep the water 68 degrees, better dissolved air (DO) in the water. Moving them to my 92 degree water stresses them, many don’t survive, but those that do are speedy and healthy.

The last 16 days have all been over 100 degrees!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011, Air high 102, water 90?

My Nitrates cycled between July 8 and July 18. Supposed to take 3-4 weeks if you add nitrifying bacteria like I did. Must have been because my system had water in it circulating for 2 weeks before I started my Nitrogen cycle. Go figure!

All Lost?

While I was at the Dentist, our 2 Lab dogs got through the AP gate (left unlatched) and had a party on my rafts, in my AP troughs, they played “king of the mountain” and “splish splash”. My wife and daughter panicked and tried to put the now smaller pieces of my rafts and plants back together in the troughs. About ½ of all the plants, Hydroton, Rapid Rooter plugs, and Grodan rock wool went into the troughs along from dirt the dogs tracked in. By the way, I car for dogs much! Now I want even less connection. Oh well, the females out number me four to 1 at this house.

I decided I could drain the tanks and start over or just go with it, so I cleaned it up and went forward!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011, Air high 102, water 89


We brought home 10 lbs of Tilapia in 5 buckets, about 25 fish total. It took about 40 minutes in the 103 degree ride home with heavy traffic in my minivan. We had an inverter run air pump with lines into each bucket via holes in the lids, no air stones. Some buckets even had small re-freezable plastic ice in them to cool the water some.

The Tilapia are about 8” long or so, from RS/Clint’s AP system in Red Oak Texas. They are intriguing, as I never had an aquarium so this in new fun for us!

We dropped several fish several times while netting to load them. They are so healthy that they tried to fly out of the nets and buckets. My shirt was soaked the first time we took a net full out of the 55 gallon barrel! LOL.

Also I got about 20 gallons of AP water, with good bacteria in it, to add to my system.

Two fish found floating the next day. I think the two fish died from bouncing on the ground when netting and the resulting dirty water in the bucket and the car sloshing the bucket. Others are very active and already eating after only a couple days adjusting.

RS rocks!

To buy some great Tilapia or Catfish, big or small, contact RS in Red Oak!
(RS is South of downtown Dallas about 25 miles)



To see pictures of RS’s AP System:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Nitrites and Nitrates took a brief turn down after adding fish. Below are the readings from my test strips for the first 15 days of my system after Nitrogen Startup. I had Municipal water in the system for 2 weeks before I learned enough to be comfortable starting the cycling with the bacteria.

Note that I cycled my system without fish, just pure ammonia. Then when the Nitrates showed up 20 July, I put in 10 lbs of Tilapia.

July 11, the day after I started cycling the system, I added 36 Feeder Minnows in hopes they would eat the mosquito larva, they did, Yea!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Nitrites and Nitrates bounced back. Yea! System has obviously cycled and adjusted to the addition of 10 lbs of fish.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Nitrites and Nitrates same as yesterday, Ammonia is going down a little though, good.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Nitrates went wild, up to 160. Guess you can’t have too much of a good thing, fertilizer.

I need to get more roots into the water.  Grow little seeds, GROW!

Just heard on the news this is our 23rd day of temps over 100 degrees!
Tough test on plants, fish, and Aquaponnist!.

25-Jul-11 Monday

I added 15 gallons of de-chlorinated water to system

26-Jul-11 Tuesday

Fish tank water relative clean but turning a light green in color. FAP says their AP water is not clear but a light brown tea color.

Q: How does the FAP system handle solids, with no bio-filter in the design???

Q: What are the other options with the FAP system to address bio-filtering? Prawns, water fleas, other?

Q: When do you know if a bio-filter is needed?

I added 15 gallons of de-chlorinated water to system

26-Jul-11 Tuesday

Fish tank water relative clean but turning a light green in color. FAP says their AP water is not clear but a light brown tea color.

How does the FAP system handle solids, with no bio-filter in the design???

When do you know if a bio-filter is needed?

What are the other options with the FAP system to address bio-filtering? Prawns, water fleas, other?

27-Jul-11 Wed, High temp today at my site was 106, water temp 92

Taro came, planted one with short stalks and one “tuber” in the 2” net pots. Planted 3 others into dirt in pots. Watered with seaweed water.

I added 20 gallons of de-chlorinated water to system. Is my system leaking or evaporation that large?

Seaweed Nutrient

Seaweed Nutrient

I added 20 gallons of de-chlorinated water to system. Is my system leaking or evaporation that large?


I discovered that the roots of several of my larger ‘dead’ plants are dark in color, not white. Must be Algee or something on them. Hurts to nurture a plant in this heat just to loose it to unknown causes. I’m not learning as fast as I’d like.


The Taro is the only plant that seems like it belong in this heat! I ordered 3, received 4, tore off a “nodule” with a tiny root from one Taro  and planted it in the AP net pot; all 5 plants are surviving and growing fast!


It looks like my system made it through the start up cycle and I didn’t go through such a fast “Nitrogen Cycle” after all.  I’m guessing the heat directly effected the cycle time.

I started out by adding Ammonia and the Nitrifying Bacteria day 1. By day 11 the Nitrites peaked and about day 19 the Nitrates peaked. The Nitrite, Nitrate, hardness, and alkalinity all “balanced out” at about day 30, today.


Started working on building the remainder of my Media based system. It follows Murray Hallum’s CHOP2 flood and drain system plans from his “DIY Aquaponics” DVD. It will be a totally separate system from the Friendly Aquaponic Raft system. I want to learn fast and grow the plants that do the best in the media and rafts, like tomatoes in the media and lettuce and big/heavy plants in the rafts, etc.




Got 2 yards of large gravel delivered today for the CHOP2 flood and drain system. Washed enough to fill one short growbed. Lots of dirt and work!

Rock of Media

Rock of Media

The rock I purchased were described as 1 & 1/2″ sized gravel, but consisted of several different sizes. I sifted/washed out the dirt and small pieces and am hand sorting out the biggest ROCKS. I suspect I’ll have lots of left overs.

Rock Sizes

Rock Sizes


Too much Algae in the Raft system presently. No way to keep the sunlight out without a major shade creation effort. I’m thinking AP growing in TX in the summer is best done in deep shade! At least the Taro loves the sun. Wonder if I could setup a top layer of the Taro plants and use their huge leaves to shade the other plants? hum…


New leaves were looking yellow so I added 1 tbs. of chelated Iron mixed with 1 gallon of water.


New leaves were looking much better, yellow going away.

The Basel leaves in the AP system smell heavenly! Hope the tomatoes in the buckets recover and grow so we can have fresh Italian food soon.

The first plant bloom appeared recently on one of the bean plants! One full flower and a partial flower plus lots of runners looking for something to climb onto.


First AP Flower

First AP Flower