The Good Aquaponics System – Part II

Aquaponics - No Comments » - Posted on June, 3, 2009 at 10:38 am

It’s been going well.

My pro system is going well. Haven’t had to deal with frost or sub zero temps yet. I’m away for 2 months starting 11th July though, so we’ll see how well it goes then =)

Fish and veg are growing as well as I could hope. I did have one minor hiccup which left 40 fish dead, I don’t even know what happened. In the morning they were fine, floating by the afternoon, a quick water change and they’re fine again the next morning…gah. These new systems are always so unforgiving. Anyway, forget that, since then it’s been going great guns, lets have a look:

The fish feed like crazy:


I’ve had some problems with clarity – it all started when I put seasol in, and then it just got darker and darker. However it’s clearing up now:

Nitrites are still about:

But the plants are going well (photos taken a week apart):



In that first photo I’ve harvested a whole bag of rocket just to thin it out a bit. As you can see, it’s bounced right back.

The Good Aquaponics System – Part I

Aquaponics, Ideas - No Comments » - Posted on April, 10, 2009 at 9:43 pm

Well. I said I was going to go bigger and better, and I have. I was going to bulid a pond but that kind of fell through – kind of a lot of work and in the end I decided I’d just fork out some cash and get “the proper stuff”. So I bought parts of a BYAP style system from www.freshbynature.com.au and started setting it up. Now this system I attacked with a different mindset. Previously I had rushed to get things installed and going because I was working fulltime and rushing to get as much done on the weekends as I possibly could (in between soccer, doing the washing and cleaning and generally doing “life”). But this time I had 2 weeks off and I thought “I’m going to do this RIGHT”.

One of the best things about having “a good system” is that you can now relabel your old system “the dodgy system”. So I went to town on it and actually got it up and working well as well, which I’ll detail in another blog entry.

I’ve got about 177 photos uploaded here, but I’ll give you the condensed version of my efforts on the good system:

The site (complete with old system in the background)

The tank (note the grin)

Because I was doing this system “right”, I spent longer than I usually would prepping the site. This included painting the carport with potable water (i.e. safe) bitumen paint. This is because I didn’t want condensation or rain stripping some zinc from the metal and putting it into the system (which would re-introduce the heavy metal woes that I had to deal with in the last system. The motto for this system was “no risks”.

Yay, the plumbing is coming together. I used green pvc glue (which is used for potable water) to glue any connections going up to the growbeds (because it’s under pressure) and just silicon in the joints of the drainage connections.

Note some of the ball valves I have here. Firstly the one in the foreground is to flush some water back into tank (the pump is way too powerful for my needs) – this is angled such that the water is put into a whirlpool style action, the trout love moving water, and it also means that scraps and solids migrate into the centre of the tank where the pump is and end up in the growbeds. The ball valves in the background allow me to isolate the growbeds and connect it up to a hose so I can empty the tank.

This is the custom built growbed stand.

And the water coming off the hydroton when I first washed it. It’s nowhere near as much work to wash this stuff as it is scoria. Expensive, but it’s awesome to work with.

My growbed drains

And this is my overflow – it’s connected to the drain of the tank and is raised to the level I want for the max water level, past this it will overflow onto the garden.

The first inhabitant of my tank

This is the water distribution to the growbeds. I don’t know if this is strictly neccessary, but I’m not taking any risks, any “gunk” that comes out I want to be distrubted so that it can get broken down properly.

So enough with the setup stuff, lets see it in action. Here it is, with the water going, and a skimmer rigged up – it’s actually REALLY effective because of the whirpool effect. You may also notice I have some rope holding pipes together. That’s the only section I didn’t glue, I need to be able to rotate the angle of that return, so instead of using an expensive barrel union, I just used some rope to make sure the pressure doesn’t smash the fittings apart.

This was where I got excited and forgot my “patience” rule. I ordered 200 trout without cycling my system with something else. Anyway, here are the trout.

I netted 50 of ’em and chucked im in my old system.

The thing with trout is that they’re suicidal. Well OK, they jump. And when they’re not careful they tend to jump straight out of the tank. First I knew about it was when my dog arrived happy as larry with a fish sticking out his mouth.

So I got a AP hat made. I haven’t got a photo uploaded, you’ll see it in the next blog entry.

This is why it’s a bad idea to have an uncycled system and then add 200 fish. Ammonia. That’s at about 1.0. I saw it go as high as about 2.0!

It took nearly two weeks for it to start falling. No losses yet, but I’m writing this on holidays, and we all know that stuff goes wrong as soon as you go away. Nitrite readings were pretty high too, and some of the fish were looking a little worse for wear. I salted to 3ppt (which means dumping in 9kg of salt!), and when I left last night the fish were looking happier. More to come real soon.

Aquaponics Adventure Mark II Part VIII

Aquaponics - 2 Comments » - Posted on February, 12, 2009 at 8:55 pm

Once again, it’s been a long time between posts. Sorry about that. What can I say? I’m lazy.

The story so far can be traced from my last post. So whats news? Well, the short is this: Plants are great, fish are still not great. But before we begin, check out these little guys:

I’ve got no idea what bugs they are, but they’re pretty cool. Anyway, what were we talking about? Err… Vegetables growing in my Aquaponics system in Canberra.

Some evidence (for the unbelievers)

So in terms of vegetables, I think I’ve done quite well. I can’t use enough silverbeet, it loves it. The toms are ripening and I’ve eaten a few and they’re tasty as. Now the other side is fish. Well….. lets just say Christmas wasn’t easy on them. So remember I had those nice big fat ones? I went away over christmas, and the DAY before I left, I noticed they wern’t healthy at all. I think I’ve now completed the set and had every fish problem known to man.

It may be my only purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others. Time for the obituaries.

I don’t have much experience in this kind of thing, but I believe the redness like this fellow indicates ICH.

I believe this guy has Dropsy (it could also be “lateral line disease”). You can’t see it on the photo, but the other side of him is swollen out – he looks like he is pregnant on one side of his body. You can definitely see the hole in his side though. It’s got a secondary infection.

This is another one, fished out a few months later, with the same symptoms (this one was dead, where as the one above was still kicking). I think it’s Dropsy, but would be happy to be corrected. Dropsy is an internal bacterial infection.

The fish below has “hole in the head” which is bacterial too (probably all the same strain). You can see how some of the scales have peeled away from the skull there.

And then there’s the ones I killed due to stupidity. I put 2 in a bucket of salted water to try and get all the bacteria off them, and left them in there a little too long (i.e. I forgot about them for an entire day). So they died too.

I guess the worst time was over christmas. SO. Don’t give up. What went wrong? Why am I struggling with fish health? I think I have two reasons.

The first is the bloody weather. Fish don’t like it if water temperatures swing about all over the place. I think the fish gets stressed if water temps swing 5 degrees in a short period. Last saturday was 40 degrees in Canberra, today is 18 (min of 11). My system only has 1500L of water in it, and it’s all sitting up there exposed, with the bathtubs acting as heatsinks, so I think my swinging water temperatures are contributing to the problems.

The second problem is Nickel. Yes Nickel. I’m using bathtubs, and I’d heard that the enamel on some bathtubs contains lead. Obviously you don’t want that in a recirculating system, so I went and had my water tested:

So that doesn’t mean a lot to me, so it probably won’t mean a lot to you. But suffice to say, the guy on the other end of the line said “Your lead levels are fine, but your nickel levels are very close to the limit” (he was talking about safe drinking water). A quick search online found that Nickel can reduce a fish’s immune system in much the same way as Copper. So how the frig is Nickel getting in there?

Here’s a photo I took way back when I begun this project:

See that big nasty exposed area there? I reckon that’s sitting there, in the slightly acidic environment of my Aquaponic setup, and leeching Nickel into the water. Goddamnit. Someone told me that Nickel was often used to bind two metals, so it could be used to bind the enamel to the pressed metal underneath.

So what am I going to do about these problems? I’m going to go Bigger and Better.

The only way I can solve the heat problem is to move somewhere nearer to the coast? Nah, usually you solve those problems by adding more water mass. If it were 7000L instead of 1500L it would take much longer to swing. So my next system is going to have a much larger water body.

As for the Nickel, well, I could rip out the plants, take all the gravel out, line it with EPDM (pond liner) which is potable and would also insulate the bathtubs a little.

But I’m thinking, bigger, better. So I might just let this system run for a bit and see what happens, and I’ll start getting the next one up and going.

AI Just Search of Blogs?

Ideas, Ponderings, Software, Technology - No Comments » - Posted on November, 15, 2008 at 12:50 pm

Here’s an interesting idea: I reckon there are so many blogs out there that the first Artificial Intelligence (AI) will simply be a modified search engine. Tthe more obscure and convolouted the topic, the more likely someone is to blog on it. I reckon there’s probably a blog on just about everything. What about an Amish blog – yep (well kinda). What about a blog on cleaning sewers – yep (kinda). Pick a subject, google it, I bet it’s there.

And why am I picking blogs instead of just the web in general? Well blogs are opinions. To be declared an AI, the machine/software must pass The Turing Test – in short it must fool a real person into thinking that it’s a person through text based chat (e.g. IRC, MSN Messanger etc). Of course real people participate as the “control” and sometimes the judges pick the real people as machines and the machines as real people, but nobody has claimed the prize as yet (though apparently there were a few that were close this year).

So what I’m trying to say is that this software that is undergoing the test must act like a human – i.e. have an opinion. What’s the best way to do that? Data mine the millions of human opinions floating in the World Wide Web. Basically if the judge asks a question, the software would look up that question on the web (blogs only) and find someone who’s had an opinion or thought about it somewhere out there, do a bit of syntactic juggling and pass the result back to the judge.

It’s not really an AI, because it’s not really thinking for itself – it’s more like a global consciousness. It just takes the opinions of the people out there and uses them as it’s own.  I know I’ve glossed over some pretty complex stuff – how could you properly take input and find the right answer? What is this syntactic juggling? Google has technology which pretty much knows what you’re asking even when you mis-type it, so I think the technologies are out there.

I wonder how hard it would be to do this, and I wonder how good the results would be.

Aquaponics Adventure Mark II Part VII

Aquaponics - 1 Comment » - Posted on October, 28, 2008 at 8:50 pm

Well. It’s been a long time. A work colleague commented on my blog saying it was like reading the fish obituaries, and I got really discouraged and stopped posting. However my aquaponics adventure has continued, and I’ll quickly bring you up to speed since Part VI.

I’ve had ongoing flexibacter problems (the obituaries continue) – this sorry little sucker is just one example:

And when the “mouth fungus” really gets to ’em, it basically eats away the mouth completley:

I am working through my problems though. Salting the water helps fish to fight off bacteria, so I dosed it up.  I think another major problem I had is that Canberra is just too bloody cold:

So cold in fact that the running water froze at 10pm:

So basically my bacteria wasn’t active down at those low low temps, and so my whole system just wasn’t working. Ammonia was sky high, and nitrates were a big fat zero. So what do you do? You build a dodgy little greenhouse out of PVC and ebay greenhouse material:

Next winter I’ll enclose it fully, but since there was only a little bit of winter left, this would do me for now. I also created a mini “solar water heater” using some old sheets of glass and black poly pipe:

As water is pumped up from the sump to the fishtank, it passes through my “solar heater” and dumps a bit of heat into the fishtank. So heat in the Canberra winter is solved, what now?

What you’re seeing there is a strawberry struggling with salinity. Basically my system was sitting at 5ppt (5 parts of salt per 1000L of water). This is supposedly quite good for the fish, but the plants struggle a bit. Ahh the balancing act that is aquaponics. Reduce the salinity, fish get sick, increase it, plants get sick.

But it’s not all bad news. I reduced the salinity to less than 3ppt and I saw some relatively good plant growth-

6th September:

14th of September:

22nd September (notice I harvested brocoli):

So nothing truly fantastic, but it’s a start – not bad when you consider it’s been grown with no soil, and no additional chemicals. Whats more, I actually got some harvests from my system. I also seem to have also hit an all time low – I’m posing with vegetables:

However, I think the REAL exciting news is that a colleague at work was cleaning out his pond, and dropped off around 20 goldfish…. but these were BIG gold fish.

Just one of these goldfish is about the size of 10 of mine glued together (??) – it looks like “the mothership”:

By the way, this is in my hospital tank which I’d moved into the shed due to the fact that it was freezing freakin’ cold outside the shed. The idea was to leave these guys in the hospital tank (which is heavily treated with salt – about 8ppt) so that they de-stress a bit and hopefully don’t suffer the same afflictions as the current batch.

However, with so many LARGE fish in such a small tank, the ammonia shot up to 1.0 in about an hour!! Ammonia is poisonous to the fish, so I thought they’re safer in the big tank, so in they went. Of course I had to do the obligitory Rex-Hunt-style-photo-with-the-fish:

They are slippery little suckers:

I caught this guy, but I did manage to drop another on the concrete. He didn’t go into the main tank since he’d lost a fair bit of scales which leaves him open to infection. He stayed in the hospital tank.

So this is where I’m at for the moment, the big goldfish are providing a stack of nutrient, and the weather is warm, so I’m expecting some smokin’ growth, and I’m seeing signs that it might just be time:

18th of October:

25th October:

Which aint bad for a weeks growth (it doesn’t help that the second photo is taken further away). The fish are semi-healthy, a few lost scales in the process of being transferred, and i’ve seen some signs of flexi but I’m really hoping these big guys can fight it off.

Aquaponics Adventure Mark II Part VI

Aquaponics - No Comments » - Posted on July, 2, 2008 at 9:43 pm

A continuation from part V.

I’ve learnt a fair bit since the last post. The first thing I learnt is that it’s too cold in the canberra winter to have aquaponics outside without some sort of heating. See the bacteria stops working at around 8 degrees C, and my water temps are now consistently below 8. This means that the essential ingredient of the system is effectively offline. The result is that you get high Ammonia (which is toxic to fish) and low Nitrates (which is essential to plant growth). When the plants arn’t getting enough Nitrates, they look like this:

i.e. Not healthy.

So for this to be succesful over winter, I need to get those temperatures up. So I’m going to build a dodgy little greenhouse over the top of it. This will double as a shadehouse in summer.

The second thing I learnt was what was causing that strange bloodying of the lips…

After reading about flexibacter I was able to say without a doubt that this was what was affecting my fish. I had noticed the ‘fungus’ like substance on some of the fish that died, and when the article said:

The natural course of “Mouth Fungus” is that the white fuzzies or patches are followed within a day or two by redness, ulceration and necrosis, which means that the mouth quickly turns into a gnarly mess!

I knew this was it. That and the photos look just like the symptoms I’ve seen. So now I know my enemy, I can do my best to look for signs and combat it.

The final thing I learnt was that english spinach actually sucks up salt:

Those little white specks are salt. I haven’t sprayed these buggers with salty water, my system runs with about 2 parts per thousand (ppt) of salt, and they’ve actually sucked it up and deposited on their leaves. Posting on the forums, one of the members said that english spinach does well in their salty bore water, and that it also sucks up heavy metals!!

Aquaponics Adventure Mark II part V

Aquaponics - 1 Comment » - Posted on June, 4, 2008 at 8:20 pm

This is a continuation from part iv .

I lost my transvestite fish pictured below. She/he died, possibly because the bloody lip was actually a broken jaw or something and it couldn’t eat.

Remember how I said “…and I reckon the nutrient problems are an easy fix… “, well I used a foliar spray of seaweed and fish emulsion, but I reckon I made it a tad too strong, because it seems to have killed my lettuce:

One step forwards, two steps back.

I have adjusted my reflector to try and reflect a bit more down, it seems to work pretty well. In the shot below, notice my shadow is cast on the plants, but they are still getting light from the reflection.

Temperature of the main tank has consistently been below 10 degrees. Which really isn’t that bad, but it means the fish arn’t very active and don’t grow very quickly. So I used some bits of left over polypipe to dodgy up another solar heater. This time I used the large surface of the colourbond fence to do the soaking up of the sun. It works, but not as well as the roof one of my hospital tank. Probably just to do with the amount of tubing (as you can see, I don’t have much).

Its providing lots of airation and the fish don’t seem to have noticed otherwise. One annoying thing is that the fish crap tends to settle on the far side of the tank now, which means it’s harder to siphon out when I’m vaccuming. I’ll have to adjust the angles one day.

I have also been investigating whether I can get my hands on some insulation to wrap around the tank. Apparently insulating will help a great deal. If all else fails, I might just procure some bubble wrap from work and wrap my tank up. Apparently it’s a good insulator!

Otherwise, the fish seem happy and are growing:

The plants still arn’t thriving as much as I had hoped, but they do seem to be picking up a little. Probably because I’m now feeding the gold fish larger doses, and twice a day, so there is more nutrients to be had. These photos were taken 1/6/08. Of course it doesn’t help that I had to strip most of the leaves of the lettuces because I’d burnt the crap out of them with my “foliar feed spray (of death)”.

We’ll keep a close eye on how well the burnt lettuce recovers (the one in the centre of the photograph below):

Aquaponics Adventure Mark II part IV

Aquaponics - 1 Comment » - Posted on May, 17, 2008 at 4:30 pm

This is a continuation of my photo blog of my aquaponics project. See part III to get up to speed on the story so far.

In my last post I said we’d keep an eye on this guy:

Well this is what he looks like now:

He’s healed, but dead. My girlfriend unplugged the bubbler in the hospital tank to charge the batteries for her electric bike. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice and I think this guy died of a lack of oxygen. I was pleased to see that the wound had healed though, but then I saw this fish:

Either it’s a transvestite, or it’s got bleeding lips. I queried the knowledge banks of the BYAP forums and the people there seem to think that it’s just fish fights. Nothing to be worried about.

Anyway, I decided that I should revamp the hospital tank to be like a little mini-system. Why do you need a hospital tank? Well, when you first get a new batch of fish, you want to isolate them somewhere and make sure they arn’t introducing disease into your established tank. So you put them in the hospital tank for a few weeks and monitor them. Also, if fish get sick, show signs of fungus, bacteria or even fish attack like this one, you can pop them in the hospital tank and hopefully give them a speedy recovery. There are few things that you must do to the hospital tank for it to be healing for the fish.

  1. The salinity levels must be higher than the main tank. The difference in salinity level helps kill off parasitic single celled organisms, as explained here.
  2. The water hardness should be comfortable for the fish.
  3. For diseases like ICH, the water needs to be heated to a temperature which speeds up the breeding cycle. Salt water won’t kill it while it’s in the fish, but if you speed up the breeding cycle, as soon as it hits the open water it will die. Since it needs to go to open water to develop, it will eventually die off in the body and won’t have reproduced, therefore your fish is healed. This is explained much better here.
  4. Lots of O2. According to the BYAPersSalt will slightly decrease the amount of O2 that water can hold.” And there isn’t a fish that complains about too much O2!
  5. Water conditions similar to the main system. One thing that seems to really knock fish around is changing water conditions. So if I drop my fish that are used to water of pH 7.4 into a pool of water with a pH of 6.0, they’re going to really struggle. So it’s quite important to get the systems in sync.

So here is my hospital tank:

The pump is pumping water up onto the roof of my shed, the idea being that it will collect a bit of heat from the sun to warm up the water. At the moment, the tank sits in full shade, all day, and is about 2 degrees colder than the main system. So the water gets pumped up onto the roof as a kind of dodgy solar heater:

And then returns back through a mini bio-filter:

It’s all covered up to stop it collecting leaves, and I’ve got the air stones for the bubbler in as well.

The main system seems to be doing OK. I got a reflective surface setup at the back of the bathtubs in the hope that it’ll help the veg, I am yet to angle it so it reflects the light down, but it should be reflecting some light as it is:

And the plants still seem to be growing slowly:

Aquaponics Adventure Mark II part III

Aquaponics - 1 Comment » - Posted on May, 13, 2008 at 1:23 pm

This is a continuation of the aquaponics adventure from part II.

It’s been a couple of weeks. We’ve had the system going, and we’re waiting for the bacteria to establish themselves. We know the system is going (“cycled”) when we see this:

That is, Ammonia (right) Zero, Nitrite (middle) Zero, Nitrate (left) > 0. This means the fish excretion Ammonia is being converted to Nitrate! It’s cycled.

But it’s not all plain sailing from here. Fish health is a major consideration, and here I was thinking my system was chugging along smoothly and I post in a thread on the BYAP ForumsI forgot to feed them this morn. Looks like they took it out on this little guy. I’ve entitled this picture “Look ma, no tail!” Watching him swim is funny.“:

And someone wrote back with “It is bacteria not fish attack (fin rot) if i see well on the pic.
Treat with salt quick before it goes further.

This guy ended up dying. I have treated my system with salts and have even built a hospital tank. But I’ve lost about 5 fish out of 74…

Here is another one that died. Notice the blood on the fins – once again, some sort of fungal/bacterial infection:

With these problems, it’s not good enough to treat the fish and hope it goes away, you have to find out the cause. I think water quality, low water hardness, and my fish feed being a couple of months out of date contributed to the problem. Apparently as fish food ages it loses it’s vitamin content. I’m pretty sure I’ve got the water conditions right, and I’ve bought more food, so hopefully the cause is no longer a cause.

However, there is this guy. He is currently in the hospital tank – I’m not sure whats happened to him, it doesn’t look the same as the fungal problems, I think it might actually just be because he’s the little guy and has been attacked by the other fish. I’ll report on his progress next post:

Anyway, the other end of it is the plants. So here is a quick update on their progress.

Here’s some spring onions and lettuce I planted on 5/4/08

Here they are a month later on 04/05/08:

This is actually pretty slow growing for an aquaponics system. And I have a few suspicions as to why – firstly, notice that in both shots the plants are in shade. I don’t think the vegies are getting enough sun, they need at least 6 hours a day and I suspect they’re not getting this. Secondly, fish provide Nitrate, but they can’t provide Iron, Manganese, Potassium, Calcium and all the other trace minerals needed by plants to grow. So I need to add something else – in this case I’ve added a splash of Seasol, and a tablespoon of Iron Chelate. I’m going to put a reflective surface up the back there to reflect a little more light onto the plants. That should fix the light problems, and I reckon the nutrient problems are an easy fix, so hopefully in the next month we’ll see much better growth.

Here’s a final pic of my fish getting a tasty treat of worms from my worm farm. Notice how clear the water is compared with part II – the socks have done their job:

Aquaponics Adventure Mark II part II

Aquaponics - 7 Comments » - Posted on March, 31, 2008 at 9:59 pm

This is a continuation of my Aquaponics photo-journal, part one is here.

This is the overflow from the main fish tank to the beds. Notice the pipe on the inside of the tank, this extends to the bottom and so when the tank “overflows” it’s actually sucking the crap (quite literally) off the bottom of the tank and dumping it on the beds. I’ve got a 50mm end cap with holes drilled in it on the end so no unsuspecting fish end up flapping about on some hot red rocks.

And of course the key ingredient to any Aquaponics system is fish. I had 70 goldfish (of various varieties) delivered last Friday.

I also re-plumbed the pump pipe to go through the side of the sump (instead of just sticking out under the lid). This allows me to put the lid on. The sock on the return pipe filters some of the dust and solids coming back from the beds.

My dog Archie usually jumps up on the sump and rolls over for a belly scratch, he came sprinting over whilst I was doing this work and my “Archie Nooooooooo!” fell on deaf ears as he leapt up onto the sump….except the lid wasn’t on….. and he plunged in and went straight under. He is the first living thing I’ve “harvested” from my aquaponics system.

I have run some black pipe from the outlets in the bed to the other end of the bed. My rationale here is that the solids coming out of the tank want to be as far away from the drain as possible. This means that the beds can do the best possible job of filtering out solids.

I used some old standpipe from system one to act as the last part of the pipe from the pump. Because it has holes in it, it creates a venturi effect which sucks air into the pipe before it goes below the surface of the water. This does some additional airation of the water, and stops the water siphoning back into the sump when the pump is turned off (by sucking in air and breaking the siphon effect). I plan on doing something a little less dodgy in the future.

I adjusted the standpipes so that they can handle more water by chopping off a whole side and making the holes down the bottom a little bigger. This increases the drain rate and means that it’s even harder to overflow. Note the adjustable “level control” implemented by the extra bit of PVC near the top.

This is then stuck in the beds, and has three states, empty (no photo), filling/draining (first photo), and overflowing (second photo).

The idea is that the water level rises to just underneath the gravel.

But doesn’t get too full. If the water rises above the gravel it gets direct sunlight which allows algae to grow. The idea is to keep the water out of the sun where possible. I still need some fiddling with my standpipes to get the level right.

The system works off a timer in my shed. Basically it’s a cheapo $2 Bunnings timer which turns the pump on for 15 minutes and then off for 45. I will need to run it like this for about a month for the system to “cycle”. A system is “cycled” once the bacteria needed to convert Ammonia to Nitrates has established itself. There are two types, one to convert Ammonia to Nitrites, and one to convert Nitrites to Nitrates. Once a system is “cycled”, Ammonia and Nitrites will be zero, and Nitrates will be present. At the moment, my bacteria aren’t established yet, and thus I have a ever so slight Ammonia reading!