Starting an Aquaponics System
Starting an Aquaponics System (Cycling)
Starting or cycling an aquaponics system is actually one of the very last things you do in the process of building your own aquaponics system. Once your aquaponics system has been built, water is flowing properly, and there are no leaks detected, you need to start or cycle your aquaponics system.
Cycling is the process of establishing a colony of beneficial bacteria into your aquaponics system. These bacteria are needed to convert the ammonia from the fish into nitrites then into nitrates so the plants can use them.
You will need a freshwater test kit for measuring the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels. You will also need a lot of patience when you first cycle your system.
Ammonia must be introduced to bring in the naturally occurring nitrosomonas bacteria. After about two weeks, or so, the existence of nitrites will bring in nitrobacter bacteria. These bacteria convert nitrites into nitrates. Nitrates are nearly harmless to the fish and are eaten by plants as food, therein filtering the water.
After about 6 weeks of cycling, you will reach your goal of reduced ammonia levels. Then you can add fish to your tank and also add more plants to your grow bed.
For faster ways to cycle your system, check out Methods of Cycling.