aquaponics2I’m enjoying my time at NTP so much.  The people here are great, it takes a special group of people to work together like we do, especially since most of us are interns and doing this because we love it and not because we’re getting paid for it. I’ve done extensive work as an Analytical Chemist, or a Wet Chemist, and really have no reason to be doing this other than for “networking”.  I’m so glad I took this internship, it feels great to be doing what I love and the old me is back! I can see the need for a chemist in everything that’s been done here.

I finally got one of the systems to do what is expected of it. The Pacu system finally showed the full flow of what’s supposed to happen when I force a reaction. The system is functioning correctly but it’s not as stable as I would like. The system is definitely under distress right now but there’s a solution that should reduce that. Tomorrow I’m going to re-introduce plants (aquaponics) to it and I’ve been discussing with both Justin and Hayden the introduction of some additional naturally occurring vegetation, habitual plants for the fish. The Nitrates are testing at 160ppm (parts per million) daily, which is as high as our current tests test for. The additional food is flowing through the system correctly but the filters can’t handle the access ammonia, nitrites and nitrates so we’ll use the plants to deal with this issue, unless someone has an idea that I’m not thinking of.

I wrote the introduction to 3 SOP’s this week and have submitted two for Wayne’s review. I also have started 15 binders for the different research projects and operating systems currently run at NTP. With the help of Suzi, almost all of this year’s data has been entered and is now digital. With each system that’s now digital we can see what’s been going on and how we can get it working better or where our areas of error are occurring so we can fix them. It really helps Justin and Hayden to be able to visualize what’s been going on and how they need to work to correct issues.

Things can’t always be dandy!  Something my grandmother use to say to me. The AQ1 system had to throw a wrench in our week. The pH plummeted this week, and we’ve had 5 mortalities in a week. The water is cloudy, has a foul scent and there appears to be an oily substance on top of the water. The pH issue could be resolved quickly with baking soda but that’s just a Band-Aid on a gaping wound and wouldn’t allow us to be able to figure out what’s going on. After looking back over the earlier part of the years data, thank you Suzi, this isn’t the first time this has occurred. Baking soda was used last time to stabilize the system. That lasted two months and again the system is breaking down. There’s no data about what the runoff system was doing the last time this occurred but since it wasn’t operational for quite some time prior to this issue occurring, I started it back up. The runoff system doesn’t have a full load of plants but both Hayden and I have been putting as many plants up there as we can as soon as they’re ready for the transplant from the seeding table. De-chlorinated fresh water is going to be cycled through the system but my feeling is that since it’s still tap water that’s not going to solve this issue fully but hopefully it helps some.  To me it seems highly likely that tap water could be causing hidden issues, there’s so many heavy metals and other miscellaneous chemicals in tap water that any number of them could be the underlining issue. Does anyone have any ideas here?

Wendy Chapman

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