Alissa's sister Abby helped us rinse all the hydroton as we added it to the grow beds on January 4, 2020. (Er, excuse me, Winnie reminded me he actually was the one who did all the work. My mistake.) By this time I'd also made countless trips to Menards to acquire various PVC pipe fittings in order to assemble the plumbing, as well as spent countless hours researching grow lights.4
Once water was flowing, I started "cycling" by adding Ammonium Chloride (in the absence of fish waste) to encourage bacteria colonies to take up residence, and somewhere in here we added our first plants, too. I tested the water almost daily to watch for nitrites (which would indicate the presence of ammonia-eating bacteria), and then waited not-so-patiently for nitrates to appear, indicating that the tank was fully cycled and ready for fish. After days then weeks of testing but not seeing any nitrates, I kept adding more and more Ammonium Chloride, to no avail. I was baffled.