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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Mar 2017
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    Question Issues caused by Hydrogen sulfide or something else?


    0 Not allowed!
    Hi! This is my first post on this site, so excuse any improper forum etiquette i may use. This is a lengthy read concerning issues in my tank, but i know the specifics really matter sooo, here ya go

    I have a 20gal (~75L) tall aquarium that has been running roughly 1 1/2 years now. My intention with it was to make a vibrant tank. Live plants, colorful fish, black backdrop and white sand.While i have had two other aquariums for a total of 4 years, this was my first planted tank. When i first set it up, I put about 1in of organic soil in the back of the tank, and covered the rest of the bed in roughly 1 and 1/2 inches (~4cm) of pool filter sand. I then planted some bacopa and ludwigia in the back. After the first few months, I noticed occasional bubbles coming out of the sand and the sulfur smell. As well as my ludwigia dying. No issues with my fish however. (5 cherry barbs, 3 corys and 1 GBR at the time) I researched this at the time and it seemed that this was a usual by-product of dirted tanks but would not last, however over a year later, a few H2S bubbles always rise when i adjust decor or occasionally from water changes. Now this is where I want to ask if these few bubbles every week or so are serious or not, especially considering I change the water after the bubbles anyways. I hear this is extremely toxic so im not sure if this is a big cause for issues in the tank or not.

    I moved to a new house about 6 months ago, and when i did all the fish died except my GBR (Surprisngly.) I moved him and did a short cycle and added him back. Then 6 neons, 4 corys and another GBR (female) and fake plants. But i began to see more than the usual little issues after the move. I ignored pH testing (Idk why...) but just checked it a few weeks ago realized the tap here is 8.2-8.4pH All other levels when I checked were zero with nitrates at about 20. The two causes for concern i have are a pretty developed diatom infestation and my male GBR dying about a week ago a day after a water change. Aside from this, all fish are active eaters and appear healthy. Im wondering if the hydrogen sulfide is a culprit or pH?

    As for treatments... I am very alarmed by the pH and have started using 80% RO water, 20% tap when doing water changes 2 weeks ago, and tomorrow i plan to put a media bag of peat moss in the HOB filter to lower pH. (No carbon, just biomax and sponge on intake for bio. filtration) I think the peat/RO will help with diatoms and pH, but i've heard i should add a powerhead or airstone to help increase O2 since the temp is higher (81F or 27C) and HOB doesn't add much flow. Will this get rid of diatoms and anaerobic bacteria? If i added this, which one would you suggest? I don't personally enjoy the bubble effect, but if it will help i will. Lastly, As far as overfeeding, I typically don't. But I use flakes as common food, and little bits may not get picked up by corys. As far as lighting, i have a 6month old 10,000K bulb. 3 of the sides of the tank have been blocked off with black aquarium liner to prevent excess light.

    Thank you so much for your time, and i anticipate any response!

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    Timaru NewZealand [south island]
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    2 Not allowed!
    Quote Originally Posted by DeathTheKid View Post
    Hi! This is my first post on this site, so excuse any improper forum etiquette i may use. This is a lengthy read concerning issues in my tank, but i know the specifics really matter sooo, here ya go
    Hi and welcome to AC,

    I have a 20gal (~75L) tall aquarium that has been running roughly 1 1/2 years now. My intention with it was to make a vibrant tank. Live plants, colorful fish, black backdrop and white sand.While i have had two other aquariums for a total of 4 years, this was my first planted tank. When i first set it up, I put about 1in of organic soil in the back of the tank, and covered the rest of the bed in roughly 1 and 1/2 inches (~4cm) of pool filter sand. I then planted some bacopa and ludwigia in the back. After the first few months, I noticed occasional bubbles coming out of the sand and the sulfur smell. As well as my ludwigia dying. No issues with my fish however. (5 cherry barbs, 3 corys and 1 GBR at the time) I researched this at the time and it seemed that this was a usual by-product of dirted tanks but would not last, however over a year later, a few H2S bubbles always rise when i adjust decor or occasionally from water changes. Now this is where I want to ask if these few bubbles every week or so are serious or not, especially considering I change the water after the bubbles anyways. I hear this is extremely toxic so im not sure if this is a big cause for issues in the tank or not.
    From what I understand the basics is more at the start of the dirted tank.
    For my one I have heavily dirted a section of substrate for my crypt carpet to grow in. I left the tank sit for a couple of months with the plants in it, no fish stocking. In the process there was a lot of stabbing of the gravel substrate to release the pockets of bubbles. There was also a process of water changes, to keep things in order.
    Once there was no more noticeable air bubbles, and the crypts started to take off forming a carpet, then the stocking started.

    The research that I have noticed in quite a few forums and threads relating to dirted tanks, is poking the substrate, prior to stocking. And also having a carpeting plant in areas that the stem plants are not located. Also having plenty of planting in the tank.

    I moved to a new house about 6 months ago, and when i did all the fish died except my GBR (Surprisngly.) I moved him and did a short cycle and added him back. Then 6 neons, 4 corys and another GBR (female) and fake plants. But i began to see more than the usual little issues after the move. I ignored pH testing (Idk why...) but just checked it a few weeks ago realized the tap here is 8.2-8.4pH All other levels when I checked were zero with nitrates at about 20. The two causes for concern i have are a pretty developed diatom infestation and my male GBR dying about a week ago a day after a water change. Aside from this, all fish are active eaters and appear healthy. Im wondering if the hydrogen sulfide is a culprit or pH?

    As for treatments... I am very alarmed by the pH and have started using 80% RO water, 20% tap when doing water changes 2 weeks ago, and tomorrow i plan to put a media bag of peat moss in the HOB filter to lower pH.
    Do you have a Kh GH test kit? My tap ph isn't quite that high, 7.8. But the kh and Gh is really low and soft. Are you able togged yours tested??
    Seems that the water has been changed to suddenly, causing instability in the pH. There is a lot of research out there on so many options for lowering ph. But the key to it is do the research well before doing it. Helps save for any fluctuations in the ph.
    Are you able to pre mix your water in a large new/clean container, with a small bubbler or a power head, and age it prior to adding it to your tank, to help avoid buffering issues?
    Last edited by mac; 03-12-2017 at 07:48 AM.

  3. #3

    Join Date
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    0 Not allowed!
    Thanks for the reply!

    I was poking the substrate and growing the plants for a little under 2 months before i added the fish. But yes, I should have made sure the gases stopped before I added the fish. As far as carpetting plants, I tried baby tears and dwarf hair in another tank with no success, and since the top substrate is sand I just avoided that. I don't tend to have a green thumb, so over time most of the plants i had have died off. (Probably because of lack of knowledge in some aspect of aquarium plants..) Because I was tired of cleaning up plant decay, i just replaced almost all of them with fakes. I've been wanting to add more live plants, as that was the intention to begin with. Will they grow if I plant them in the substrate how it is now? I really don't have the time or resources to re-dirt and re-cycle the tank unfortunately.

    I do not have a kH GH test kit at the moment. I just assumed it was hard because 1.) Higher pH is usually associated with increased particulates in water. 2.) My tropical reptile tanks have gotten extreme hardwater spots on the glass from misting with tap. 3.) The last place I lived was about 4 blocks from where I am now, and this region in general is known for hardwater (Alot of limestone everywhere haha)

    I do not have a bubbler or powerhead right now, so i couldn't effectively age the water yet. Also with my busier schedule, im worried I would slack on doing a multiple day/step water change If i were to age the water (I assume you are saying with peat moss as i've heard that method) would leaving it for a few days cause issues? Or is the longer the better? Also do you think the gas currently poses a big threat? I intend to fix that, but i know its a bit more complex of an issue and im more worried about the pH at this point haha

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