biological cycling / 3

Goldfish are my least favorite type of fish; they’re total jerks who steal all the food, they love to bully plants and other fish in the aquarium, and probably worst of all, they poop so much. That last reason, combined with the fact that they are just ridiculously hardy (as in hard-to-kill) is probably why I’m using them to kickstart the biological cycle for the tank.

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Picture of the tank taken on 2/16/16

After the big water change, I introduced the goldfish to the tank (along with the single plant). I let them be for a few days, and then transferred some of the spinach seedlings to the growbed. The other plants hadn’t grown in quite as well yet, and I figured spinach would be a good one to test things out with.

 

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Freshly planted seedlings 

I was a little worried at first because the whole transfer process felt a little clumsy to me; I gently pulled the seedlings out of the soil/compost and washed out the roots, then created a ‘dimple’ in the growbed, stuck the seedlings in, and then covered the dimple back up. After checking in today though, I feel alot better – the seedlings seem to have taken hold pretty well in the growbed. I’ll transfer some more spinach this afternoon, and possibly some cilantro as well.

That both the fish and the spinach seem to be doing okay is indicative to me of a few things; first, that nothing disastrously wrong has occurred! Yay! Second, it makes me pretty confident that the biological cycle is being established successfully – I’m fairly certain that within a week, the system will be mature enough to host new organisms (fresh seeds directly planed in the growbed, and a larger community of fish).

Looking ahead, there are a couple of ways in which I’d like to expand the project. I really want to introduce vermiculture to the growbeds, most likely in the form of red composting worms. They would help remove larger organic matter (such as dead root systems or physical fish waste) and convert them into vital minerals (a common deficiency in many aquaponic systems) that the plants can absorb. I also want to culture daphnia to feed the fish, as not only a supplement to their likely diet of dried fish foods, but also a more accurate replication of what they might eat in their natural environments. I’ve also decided that the aquarium will be a planted tropical freshwater community aquarium, which essentially means there will be a variety of fish (guppies, tetras, danios, rasboras, etc.) and plant species (swords, anubias, dwarf grasses etc.), as well as invertebrate (shrimps and snails).

I’m so excited! Whether or not all of this will happen before or after spring break is yet to be seen, either way, I can’t wait!

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