OK folks, the following article was written and contributed by a member of our forum who shall remain anonymous and it states how he personally does things. Whether he is doing it right or wrong isn’t the issue here. What is at hand is that he has done the very best he could with what knowledge and equipment he had at the time and that is the spirit of a Do It Yourselfer Aquapon.
So with that in mind, if you decide to write a comment, be sure it is constructive and helpful not only to the contributor of this article but also to the readers of the Aquaponics Magazine around the world. JCO
STARTING THE SYSTEM
Fill your system with water and adjust water levels in the grow beds when full and empty. I like to have all the water run thru the grow beds at least once an hour most of my systems do it like 4 times an hour. These are not hard fast rules, this is just what I do. I know people that run there systems on timers and run them as little as 30 minutes every 6 hours. Their systems seem to do fine for what they’re growing.
Once the system is up and running consistently for a couple of days and you’re sure your system is working correctly; by that I mean your bell siphon is working correctly and you have your water flows adjusted properly and everything is humming right along as you intended on it running, it’s time to get busy with the pH.
There are many ways of checking your pH but this is just how I do it. Some people use sea salt to raise pH and Vinegar to lower it. I use clean crushed eggshells to raise my pH I put them in a piece of cheesecloth and either put them below the high water mark in the grow bed or hang them into the fish tank water. This is a slow process because the water has to dissolve the egg shells slowly over time. I haven’t had to do this on system startup yet. This is how I prefer to do it once fish are in the system.
Lowering pH still takes some time but with no fish in the system, you can be a bit more aggressive. I take a gallon of water and using a glass eye dropper I find out how many drops of my pH down are needed to lower the pH to the desired level. I shoot for a pH of 7. I add this much per gallon of system water and wait 24 hours and retest the water. pH will normally not stay where you put it the first time.
You have to repeat this process again every day until the water stays at the pH setting you desire. After you reach the desired pH, wait another 72 hours and see if it has maintained that level. I have found this can take 5 days to 4 weeks to get stable water pH. Do your self a favor do not short cut this. It is easier to raise pH to desired levels than to lower it. Finding a good water source is a must.
I prefer to use RO water myself. The RO water I get has a pH of 6.4 to 6.8
NOW THE FUN PART
There are several ways to get you bacteria farm a running. Here are some of the easiest to acquire.
1.) Add a small amount of healthy pond, lake water or other Aquaponics system.
2.) Add a small amount of healthy Aquarium water or squeezing from there biofilter.
3.) Bio-filter starter from and Pet store.
Then add Live Fish. I would suggest cheap feeder goldfish, to begin with as there is a strong likelihood some will die while the system stabilizes. This is not the time to use some of your neighbors’ high dollar Koi to help out your project!!