Aquaponics Update #13 – Combined Filters, More Plants in Tank, Trying to Increase Bacterial Growth

My tank has been doing great, the plants were doing well & the fish seemed healthy…but as this is my first AP tank, and an experiment, I wanted it to be better.  Through the trials & error of building the first one, and reading about other people’s set ups, there were some improvements I thought I could make while maintaining the main system.  I wanted to improve things without trying to “fix what wasn’t broken.”  The tank was started on Sept 23rd, 2010.  Almost 2 months into this, I felt the tank was on its way to being more mature and I felt confident the water chemistry was stable enough to handle some moving around and possible death of some bacterial colonies while I had my hands in there.

Old set up

Here is a wide shot of my old set up.  A couple of things I’ve noticed prompted me to improve the system.  My fish should have as much room as possible – there are 2 aux filters, half the main filter,  a pump, and a heater taking up room.  My shrimps seem afraid – though they will most likely always hide because my one goldfish is SUPER aggressive and wants to eat EVERYTHING (it attacked a plant root today like it was a worm) they need more small hiding paces to move around in.  The base of one of the dieffenbachia had rotted – the plant itself it bursting with life, but when it was planted the very base of it must have not been healthy and rotted away, so it was now free floating.

Close up old set up - interior of tank

These three main points prompted me to make a plan for some changes.  My changes needed to be quick so as not to over stress the fish or kill too many of the bacteria colonies that keep my tank clean and filtered.  So I had to make room, create hiding spots, plant the free floater, and maintain bacteria.

I decided to not mess with the main filter, I suspect a majority of my bacteria live amongst the rocks and roots of the plants – so the plan for that was to just lift it higher out of the water so there was more space in the tank filled with water and not filter.  I found (love GOODWILL!) a tall glass container that could house almost all the rocks (which were growing colonies of bacteria) from BOTH aux filters.  With one gone, and the new one being more tall than wide, there would be more room in the tank.  To raise the main filter higher, I found two glass bricks that took up the same room as the one glass brick I used to have in there, but could be stacked.


So I removed everything, and to my surprise my fish didn’t seemed stressed by me messing in the tank.  They actually swam around very calmly, coming up to my hand and trying to eat, but never freaking out.  I had also thought half my shrimp had been eaten, but I found all of them while cleaning, and even they seemed calm.  One of them actually swam up to and perched on my hand while I was working and moving stuff around – he didn’t even budge when I tried to get him off so I could take my hand out, LOL.  OK, so animals look like they are feeling good, time to move on with the redecorating.   It was also time for new cuts of tubing, I’ve learned shorter is better (equals better flow)

New tank view

Here you can se the new set up, two bricks stacked getting much of the main filter out of the water (on the left side of pic), and the bigger & single aux filter on the right.

The pump has been moved to the other side of the tank, and I only needed a short piece of 1/2 inch tubing to power the main filter from the new position.

There is a large amount of lava rock covering the floor of the tank now.  This is a combo of what was already in there, what was left from combining the two old aux filters, and some new rocks.  This new arrangement will allow a great deal of surface area for new bacteria to colonize, as well as plenty of small spaces for my shrimp to scurry about in while hiding from the greedy fish.

There is only one hose feeding the aux filter from the main line, and I have this “t” coming out right below that hose to create some constant surface agitation to help with O2 exchange.  I was happy to see the shorter hose length meant better water pressure – at least until the bio slime builds up, LOL.

Here a shot of the top of the new aux filter.  Basil, moss, golden pothos (new), zygocactus & hoya (also new) now populate the top.  The main filter plant population has stayed the same, and I’m sad to say the purple velvet plant will not be growing, I think the seeds got eaten by something, because they all seem to be gone – oh well.

To the tank itself I’ve added a large bunch of philodendron that need to take root, a large cutting of rubber tree (member of the ficus family, so I expect good things), and a cutting of a monstera (swiss cheese plant).  I still have the java moss, elodea & marimo ball growing as well.

This is a good close up view of the new set up.  Lots of open room for the fish, a good current coming down from the main filter, and lots of plant & rock hiding spaces for the shrimp.  Hours later everyone still seems happy, and the shrimp are out exploring…so I’m happy I didn’t fuck things up 🙂  I’m also confident the new set up will allow for increased growth of bacteria for waste processing – which if course will be good news (if the tank health stays steady) so I can start cycling my big tank once I have all the parts together.

Slide show below of rest of pics and here is a link to the latest youtube of the tank.

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One thought on “Aquaponics Update #13 – Combined Filters, More Plants in Tank, Trying to Increase Bacterial Growth

  1. Pingback: Aquaponics Update #14 – New Critters, Table for the New Tank & National Coverage | Chef Ricky's FoodStream

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