Dying Fish in tank

I deleted my comment because I was acting like an ass.


Hey Bryan, thanks for pointing this out! It is horrible that one of the fish died, and I could not possibly guess why that happened, but I want to make it clear that a significant effort is made to look after the fish and the hydroponics area in general, and as far as I know this is a very rare occurrence. If you do see a specific problem with the tank or hydroponics setup then please make sure someone is aware by posting the details about what’s going on. Thanks!


A scolding tone is also not excellent. Do you have information to indicate that negligence caused the fish death? Fish do die. Erring on the side of civility will help keep this forum a place folks want to visit.


Sorry for the smart ass comment. I apologize. Admittedly it’s been almost a decade since I took care of fish and even longer since I grew in hydroponics, so I spoke out of turn. I was frustrated about something else and seeing a fish that can live > 35 years dying set me off. I know that is not an excuse and @tomthm you are absolutely right I was not acting excellent at all.

Again, I am sorry for acting the opposite of excellent.


Aww thats terrible.

This is the first fish to have died in the system since it was started in Janurary of 2019.

A sad milestone. :frowning:

Ill be in this saturday to try and figure out what may have happened.

Im told the water is fairly clear so im not sure off the top of my head what may have happened. I came in to do my maintenance a couple weeks ago and it should have been fine for another 2 weeks.

I have the water test kit by the door if anybody would be kind enough to do a quick water check itd be appreciated.

Hopefully i can make sure this doesnt happen again.

If there are any issues with the system always feel free to txt me.

James Manley
(Should be a sign on the system with my info)

This system was built to be a community project. With the hope of getting others involved. I dont have alot of experince in fish care. If you have any advice on how to keep the system healthy let me know itd be much appreciated.


Thanks for the response. Who among us hasn’t reacted in such a manner when something’s bugging us? I have, more times than I would like to admit. Hope things are good now!


@Tookys Hi James! The fish tank is looking pretty cloudy. I can see about half way in to the tank. Is it a self cleaning system or is there anything we can do? There are lots of young fish, 2-3 inch long. Maybe they’re producing more poo than the system can clean?

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Hey @Mollie,

The main thing to do is to keep the water lines between the sump clean. I cleaned them last sunday. Hoping it would have cleared it up a bit by now.

I may need to check the pump for the grow bed and upgrade it filter more water during it’s on cycle.

As far as more poop, the food is limited so all the poop in the system is kept the same even as fish numbers change.


Is the grow area being maintained? There are plants to the hitting the ceiling, there are dried leaves everywhere, there are moldy grow pots with nothing in them.

I count 12 very large fish plus a bunch of small ones. Is this too many fish for the tank? On of the fish has an open sore and busted eye.

What is the community gaining from this setup? How many members are running the project?

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I am the only one running this atm.

I am always encouraging others to get involved. If others want to try maintaining or experimenting with new plants or adding new sensors or expansion to the system let me know.

It takes 3 hours of driving for me to go and maintain the system. So I can only check in once a month.

With covid restrictions i havent focused as much on curb appeal.

There are 2 basil plants, 1 aloe that has grown decently (behind the cotton plant by the window) And 1 large cotton plant. I’ve been letting the cotton grow out of curiosity of how much cotton I’ll be able to harvest from it. I have about a palms worth of brown cotton that I’ve harvested so far.

Mold? I’m well aware of it. To understand the system. Then entire growbed is one giant petri dish. All that gravel is meant as a medium for bacteria to root itself on and break down the fish waste. If you have concern about the mold, I’ll scrap some of it off next time I’m there, but I am aware of it, it is very common for those coconut fiber planters. The majority of it is actually algae growing from the light and water in the planter during a wet cycle.

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I’d be happy to volunteer a bit of time to curb appeal. The grape vine and basil look beautiful. I think a bit of tidying the stuff under the planter and sweeping up would make a difference. I don’t mind doing that next time I’m there. @Tookys It would be really cool to teach a class on the system so that any members who are interested in it can learn about the system and even be trained on simple maintenance tasks to help out.


@Tookys I would be willing to clean up the plant side of things as well. I wish I knew more about aquaponics to take more on. Years back a had a pretty decently sized hydroponic setup and that is where my anti-mold mentality comes from. Honestly my main concern is the fish. I will reach out to some aquaponic communities this weekend to get my head wrapped around what is acceptable. I am not trying to be a drag and I would love to see the project keep going I just want to make sure the fish are not suffering. I’ll do my research, some cleaning of the dead leafs/cob webs and get back with what I find.


I did a quick cleanup of the grow bed and will do more tomorrow. @Tookys what are the volumes of the grow bed and the fish tank?


I went ahead and created a new topic to discuss the system in greater details.

-> Aquaponics Discussion

Thank you both for helping tidying up, i look forward to working with y’all going forward to help keep the system, and the fish healthy.

Id be happy to host classes and further events, wasn’t sure anybody really had much interest.

Thank you for helping keep the system healthy.

There are lots of differences between aquaponics and hydroponics, the biggest one ive found is that aquaponics can be a bit more forgiving if you set it up right. The system manages itself for the most part. Only real maintenance is cleaning the pipes, adding food, and water. It can handle power outages, or broken pumps fairly well so long as you respond within a couple days. (the type of fish is a big factor in that too, tilapia can be hard to kill)

I’m not a fish expert, and i don’t know where to start for researching more about them. There were some members who were trying to help decorate the tank before, but they wouldn’t take proper steps to ensure the new decorations were properly cleaned or even safe. I would love for that tank to be decorated nicely if i knew the people doing it would take the proper precautions in doing so. I have kind of let it go during the time of covid, and id need to invest time into getting it cleaned properly.

(the tank has a thin epoxy layer so you cant be to aggressive in trying to scrub off the algae otherwise you risk damaging the tank)

That grapevine is actually a brown cotton plant, i would love to try grapes again, i tried on a smaller system years ago, but it died shortly after sprouting.

Ive collected enough cotton to make a single winter mitten i think so far lol.


Let me know if you want to get something official on the books for a class/event. I can setup the event and registration for you in Neon so we can ensure it stays an appropriate size with current precautions. A session on the setup and ways people can work on the project is a great way to get more members involved!


Sure I’d be interested in setting up a session. Early Saturdays are best for me.

I can be somewhat accomedating during thanksgiving or after mid december.


This thread, IMO, is a hackerspace community at its best. The interactions between participants identified an existing need, and resulted in volunteers to address the need, without conflict over who owns what. This really brightened my day.


Sounds good @Tookys, just ping me when you’ve settled on a date/time. It’s best if we can have at least 10 days notice for classes/events so we can get it on the schedule and start promoting (and so participants have some time to plan).

Very true @tomthm!!! <3