new (stressed) fishies! /6


Picture of the tank taken on 4/6/16

You’ll see a school of eight neon tetra in the bottom left corner of the tank, a school of seven giant danios in the right middle of the tank, and a school of eight golden barbs just beneath them hiding close to the plant. You might also notice one of the two albino bristle-snout plecos suckered onto the front glass pane towards the left/center of the tank.

YAY! The plant species currently in the tank are, in no particular order, argentine sword, hairgrass, rorippa, and what I believe are moneywort and ludwiga needle leaf. There’s also the same anubias from before and two pieces of vine and drift wood with some kind of hygrophilia (I think) binded to it.

I really want to plop a nice big gray stone in the back right corner to round out the ~aesthetics~ of the tank, but that pretty much sums it up.

The fish are still a little stressed out as it’s only been a few days since their introduction to the tank, but we were able to get past the first-night hump with no fatalities so I’m pretty confident they’ll acclimate and settle in well. As of right now, the only thing that indicates their stress to me is their tendency to stay at the bottom of the tank and their lack of schooling. Other things such as pH, ammonia levels, and temperature, should be OK.

Speaking of which  – I took some said measurements over the past few days and the results have been pretty good: pH and ammonia levels were between 6.5-7 and 0 – 0.5 respectively before putting the new fish in, and were between 6.0-6.5 and 0.-0.5 respectively just a few days after. These results are pretty ideal, although I’m not sure what might have caused the drop in pH – I reckon it might be a combination of increased biomass and stressed fishies (they’ve been known to diffuse ammonia through their gills). If it stays low, I’ll have to look into it more, as the ideal pH is around 7.

Test strip readings for daphnia culture

Something I totally didn’t expect also happened – I took a pH measurement for the daphnia culture just to check that they were working properly, and the test strip turned bright red almost instantly, indicating a ridiculously basic pH level! It threw me off so much that I performed the test twice to make sure. I have absolutely no idea why a thriving daphnia culture would exist in such a basic environment, while showing regular levels of ammonia (between 0-0.5), but it may explain why my other attempts to start up daphnia cultures have failed thus far.

I’m hoping to get some more species in the tank soon – especially ones to take care of the pesky algae growing on the glass (it’s the reason the tank seems a little mucky). I actually ‘borrowed’ two snails from one the school’s tanks (shh) to help out with that – it shouldn’t be a problem, as snails are usually seen as pests in tanks anyhow.

Picture of arugula taken on 4/9/16

In terms of plant life – the arugula is KILLING it. Cilantro and basil are growing pretty well too, but the spinach is still struggling.

An ambitious plan that I went to set into action is set up hydroponic grow lights to equalize access to sunlight, which I think is a huge factor affecting the plants’ growth right now.

Anyhow, the ‘failure’ of the spinach is really more of an opportunity to understand more about plant growth in aquaponics systems – expect future experiments to learn more about said subject!

I know this is getting to be a bit of a long post – my next one should cover the progress of presentations so far.

tl;dr NEW FISH! Happy days.


we’re back! / 5

So basically, aside from literally everything dying, the one thing that I really hoped wouldn’t happen over break did happen…

The pump somehow got flipped over, such that the water-sucky part ended up face down in the substrate; because of this, water flow was greatly reduced, and as a result, there wasn’t enough pressure to start the siphoning effect in the growbeds. Basically, the entire circulation system stagnated.

For such a serious issue, we actually got off pretty lightly. We lost two of the goldfish (there are six left), and all of the spinach kind of withered up and died. Way more water had evaporated than I expected, and the remaining half-tank of water was yellow and cloudy. Also, there appeared to be an algae bloom in the right growbed (it received the most sunlight), likely caused by the stagnant circulation. Everything else seemed to be okay.

The systems been up and running for a little over a week now, and everything seems to be getting back on track. I’ll take pH and ammonia readings later today just to make sure that nothing is disastrously wrong, and hopefully we’ll be able to continue developing the system throughout this week (more fishies!).

On a side note, I was initially really worried that the red composting worms would have drowned in the growbeds because of the broken siphon, but after some digging around, I managed to find at least a few of the lil’ wrigglers still happily alive.

I gave my first big presentation on March 23rd, just two days after we got back from break, in the NEST. For how little I prepared, I think it went pretty well! I got a lot of positive feedback, which is awesome – it’s definitely really gratifying to see how much people take interest in the project.

Future presentations: I’m still a little behind on setting these up, mostly because I want to make sure the physical system is OK first. I’ve reached out to EcoAction about giving a presentation soon, and hopefully I’ll be able to use that as a platform to speak at more clubs (ECOs, EAT). I’m also planning to reach out to Mr. Holley and the biology department about presenting in certain classes (Biology 100, 500, 580; Science 420). I want to make sure I have a well developed presentation that will be relevant at the various academic levels before locking anything in.