This week we are starting cycling our 2 tanks at the polytunnel – with our wonder ingredient to get us kick-started – Ascophyllum – a large and rather common brown algae – the type that (if you are a North Atlantic dweller as we are in the UK) slithers past your ancles as you take a chilly dip! This seaweed has long fingers with bubbles in them that are full of air. These help the seaweed float upwards from the rocks it grips onto when it’s in the sea.
‘Cycling’ is about getting the system ‘balanced’ – Ph Oxygen, Nitrites, nitrates and so forth, to ensure a good environment for the fish, bacteria, worms and plants. Cycling involves circulating the water around the system and adding the nutrients that the ecosystem needs to encourage nitrobacter bacteria and nitrosomonas bacteria as well as carbon consuming heterotrophic bacteria. Once the system is cycled, and stabilised, we can add fish – hopefully in 2-3 weeks.
We will be inoculating the tanks with some dark seaweed sludge to provide both ammonium for our bacteria, and macro ( N, P, K, Ca, Mg, S) and micro nutrients ( Mn, Cu, Fe, Zn) plus cytokinins, gibberellins, betaines, mannitol, organic acids, polysaccharides, amino acids, and proteins that will be beneficial to our growing plants (Norris 1999).
J. Norrie & D. A. Hiltz (1999). “Seaweed Extract Research and Applications in Agriculture”. Agro food Industry hi-tech.