Beginning of my first aquaponics system

I received a DIY, IBC tote aquaponics system from, in September. It was fun and easy to put together, and only took 30-45 minutes. It was filled with 150 gallons of water, and the pump and aerator were turned on. The system came to life.

Measuring the systems state.

First, the system needed to complete a cycle to establish the proper bacteria to process the fish waste into plant food. This system came with some ammonia to start the cycle. The pH of the system started at 8.2, so i gradually added small amounts of diluted 5% vinegar to bring that down. Currently, measuring 7.5 pH. Ideally this would be between 6-7. 

After adding a small amount of ammonia, I would measure the system every few days. After a couple weeks, the ammonia level peaked, and nitrites began regestering. This signaled that the first gorup of bacteria had in habited the system. And two weeks after that, my system now has nitrates, nitrites, and very little ammonia. Until I can get my fish, I will small amounts of ammonia to to continue this cycle. 

Adding plants.

I had started a tray of seeds mid October. One one is curretnly sprouting. I think this low germination rate is from storing the seeds in my outdoor shed. As the one seed was sprouting, I realized that I could dig some plants out of the dirt garden, and transplant them into the grow medium. After a wash in a bucket of water to get the dirt off the roots, and dip in the tank to wash a few bugs off the leaves, chard, kale, lettuce, and black pearl peppers had a new home. 

Acquiring the fish.

Today, I contact the Department of Fish and Game, Fisheries. This begins a 4-6 month process to get the fish for the system. Catfish are my first choice. Mostly because of they sound like a hearty and forgiving fish, that also happens to taste pretty good.

I provide consultation for individuals and families interested in growing their own food. If you would like to schedule a consultation. Use the contact page above, and I will follow up with you.