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Old 09-22-2020, 01:06 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Water is smelly but plants are still growing?

Hello everyone. I really need some advice for my new set up tank 2 weeks ago. For the substrates, I used Fluval Stratum substrate but I was curious and did a stupid thing. I add some of fertilizer under the substrate https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01MF77OID/ . My logic was that fertilizer was advertised as organic, so it wouldn't hurt if I have some under the substrate? Plants in my tank: Ludwigia repen, ludwigia mini, pearl grass, dwarf hair grass, coontail, guppy grass and elodea anacharis.
And now I'm facing a real trouble, as the title, the water is smelly, not that I can smell from across the room but still notice if I come close to the tank. Water is also turning cloudy and I notice biofilm everywhere, on the surface of water, glass and any objects in the tank.
The weird thing is my ludwigia repen and ludwigia mini are still growing new leaves. My pearl grass stems now look longer than before. Guppy grass and elodea grow new roots. I'm not sure about dwarf hairgrass since I'm scared to disturb the substrate to check now.
https://imgur.com/FUERAAN
https://imgur.com/3MlSWOI
https://imgur.com/MMKlLps
https://imgur.com/yI4ZzBw
https://imgur.com/nNRXI83
I tested the water with teststrips:
GH: 300+
Nitrate: 0
Nitrite: 0
CL2: 0
KH: 40
PH: 6.8
https://imgur.com/8sQTYHW
My other fish tanks with 1+ year old show the same GH so I thought GH alone wouldn't be a problem.
I really don't know what I should do to treat this tank, or just rebuild it from scratch. The plants may look not dying but I have a feeling if I don't do something, it will affect my plants soon.
I also have a question, my albino cories just laid some eggs this morning. I have no experience how to raise cory fries, should I just leave the eggs there? The cory tank also has some kuhli loaches, ghost shrimps and snails.https://imgur.com/UePTDT6
Thank you in advance for your time
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Old 09-22-2020, 02:47 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Water is smelly but plants are still growing?

How much fertilizer did you use and how large is the tank? The description of the fertilizer says it has both quick release and slow release ingredients, and the analysis is 4-6-4. This is pretty rich for aquarium use. But your nitrate and nitrite levels are undetectable. Did you test for ammonia?

We don't know what nutrients are in the Fluval Stratum except that it is "Collected from the mineral-rich foothills of Mount Aso Volcano in Japan." That makes it sound like Folger's Coffee (mountain grown!)--great marketing hype but it doesn't tell us anything useful.

Please describe the odor. Is it offensive like rotten eggs or spoiled food? That would be bad. Or it is earthy, like compost or freshly turned soil? That odor is normal for planted aquaria.

Do an ammonia test, your local aquarium store might do one for you. Start doing large water changes. Your plants are growing, and that is a good sign. You don't need to tear the tank down yet.
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Old 09-22-2020, 04:07 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Water is smelly but plants are still growing?

Hello Michael, thank you for replying.
My tank is 20Gallon and I use about 3 Starbucks venti cups of that fertilizer. The Fluval substrate is also 2+ inches. The odor is a fishy like my other fish tank but stronger a lot. I also just noticed some amoniac smell. I will rush to a local fish store as soon as I get a chance to test my amonia. Probably keeping 1 specimen and do a large water change tonight. My nerite snails seem don't like the water. They keep staying at the surface. Ramshorn and bladder snails seem fine. They're eating the Indian almond leaf.
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Old 09-22-2020, 04:43 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Water is smelly but plants are still growing?

Did you test for ammonia?
Hey, fish emulsion & chicken poop can be organic.

People have success adding a little Osmecot under the substrate.
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Old 09-22-2020, 07:39 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Water is smelly but plants are still growing?

I didn't have an amonia test kit atm. I'll try to do it soon. Probably I added too much fertilizer .-. I bet 3 Starbucks venti cups are way far more than a "little".
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Old 09-22-2020, 07:53 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Water is smelly but plants are still growing?

What are the ingredients in the fertilizer?
I have a feeling you’ll need to tear this tank down and wash the fertilizer out of the substrate.

Oh, blood meal stinks too.
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Old 09-23-2020, 07:04 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Water is smelly but plants are still growing?

A "venti cup" is about 20-24 liquid ounces, or about 0.6 liters, so you put about 2 liters (a half gallon) of fertilizer under the substrate of a 20 gallon tank. I doubt that you can avoid having to remove the substrate and start over. That was a very big mistake.
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Old 09-23-2020, 02:27 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Water is smelly but plants are still growing?

Yikes! I am not a Starbucks customer and had no idea a venti cup is so large. Yep, you need to tear that tank down, or do massive water changes every week for 6 months.
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Old 09-23-2020, 09:48 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Water is smelly but plants are still growing?

Thank everyone for your advices. I ended up tearing that tank down today. I found out my plants are dying from the bottom. Most of the plants have their root melted except dwarf hairgrass, elodea and luwidgia, but I think it's the matter of time for them to die soon. I'm sure I overdosed them... That was why they had new leaves but still dying from the bottom.
The smell of the fertilizer is super stink, lol. Strong chicken poop smell.
I learn my lesson today. Not gonna try any crazy idea w/o consulting anymore. Thank again!
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Old 09-24-2020, 06:20 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Water is smelly but plants are still growing?

When I make mistakes like that I try to remember that this is a hobby, and one of the pleasures of this hobby is setting up a new tank. So, correcting my mistakes is a pleasure, not a chore. I've had a lot of pleasure.
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