The Joy of Being Green

No I don’t mean being green like saving the planet. I simply mean a pH test being in the green.
Now this is the API freshwater master test kit pH test that measures from 6.0-7.6 where yellow would be dangerously low (not because 6 is too low but because you can’t tell if it might be way lower than that.) And 7.6 is blue. My big Aquaponics system is full of washed shells as media and the pH in that system rarely gets below 7.6 and many plants struggle to get all the nutrients they need at that pH but since the media buffers the pH there is no good way to change the pH without replacing the media.

Well last year I put in a new aquaponic system in the backyard, I call it the 300 gallon system cause that is the size of the fish tank. I was very careful with that system to only use the quartz river rock as media but my well water during the dry season will keep the pH in that system up at 7.6 as well. I have lately installed rain water collection for that system but we haven’t had much rain since then.

This year I set up a tower system and I set up the rain water collection for that as soon as I could and I’m happy to say, that system is in the green and has been for a while now.

pH test picture

pH test at about 7.0

I’ve also seen issues of not only Iron lock out in my systems due to my hard well water but also potassium lock out due to the high calcium content. I am hoping that with rain water to top up my systems I’ll be able to get a better balance between potassium and calcium as I’ll be able to alternate between a potassium based buffer and calcium based buffer.

This won’t help the big system much but it is a good sign for both my tower system and the 300 gallon system.

2 comments to The Joy of Being Green

  • Robert Sirbu

    As a starter media what would you suggest? The system I am planning to have is a 275 tank (IBC TOTE) with 2 IBC totes cut in half as grow beds.
    My other question would be about water. I only have access to tap water. What would I need to do to make it ready for fish and plants? I have a liquid solution to remove the chlorine that I bought from my local aquarium guy. Would I need anything more? Thanks.

    • TCLynx

      Media, I recommend what is most easily available in the size range from 1/2″ to 3/4″ AND doesn’t affect the pH. So First step when checking out media will be to get a hand full to sample. Rinse it off and drop in a jar or glass of vinegar. If it fizzes big time you don’t want it.
      Where I am, the 1/2″ brown river rock seems to be appropriate. It might be on the small side since it is 1/2″ and smaller really but it seems to be working out ok for me.

      Tap water. You will want to run some tests on your tap water and check with your water authority to find out what they treat the water with. If it is only chlorine, you can simply fill your system up and let the water pump around for several days before getting fish or starting fishless cycling and the chlorine will outgas. Aeration and sitting out in the sun will cause chlorine to go away. However, if your water is treated with chloramine, you will probably need to either get a carbon filter to remove it (carbon filter will work for chlorine too) or use the water conditioner from the aquarium shop. You might want to check the labels and MSDS sheets on the liquid chlorine removal solution to make sure it would be safe for use in a food system since some of them may not be. You can get carbon filters that attach right to the hose that will remove the chlorine/chloramine and that is what I would recommend you get for long term, you might need to replace yearly but at least you won’t be worried about adding unknown chemicals to your food.

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