To be honest, I had kinda given up on the system ever getting balanced. After having fish in the system for a good 5 months, anything I planted in the grow bed would just wither and die, clearly not getting the much promised nutrients from the captive fish below. My water tests never revealed any presence of fish waste, and always had a pond full of algae, so I blamed it on our cool night time temperatures that didn’t allow the bacteria to thrive in growbed, which meant the algae were consuming the wastes and not my plants. At about six months, things started to change. There was a long warm dry spell that might have been enough to get the bacteria going, or maybe it was just enough time (bacteria do grow less vigorously in cool temps), but suddenly the mint that had been languishing in there started to become a healthy bush. A few other plants began to follow suit. Feeling encouraged, I tossed some Mesclun salad mix seeds in the cinders and even they began to sprout and grow. I let one good rain flush the pond clear of algae- and things got even better. The plants grew even faster, and the pond has stayed clear of algae. The algae had been robbing nutrients, and now that the grow bed is firing on all cylinders and absorbing all of the nutrients, there is nothing for the algae to feed on and re-establish itself.
Balance. It’s a beautiful thing.
And it reinforces the fact that living in a high altitude cloud forest environment like Volcano, requires a special kind of patience.