Aquatic Plant Forum banner

1 - 7 of 7 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
While I'm not new to aquariums, I'm far from an expert and, I am new to planted tanks. This is my first go at it. I have a 40-gallon breeder with an inch of Miracle grow performance organics (in-ground) soil and a half-inch cap of black diamond blasting sand. I planted and filled the tank a little over a week ago. By day three I started noticing the bubble coming out of the soil when I poked were hydrogen sulfide. I figured if I could stay on top of the tank and poke it regularly it would sort itself out once the roots started growing.

I had to leave town over the weekend and didn’t get back until today. When I returned the tank was dark brown and the ammonia levels were at 10ppm. They were probably higher, but the test kit only goes so high. I know the brown coloring is from tannins in the water and, I expected the ammonia levels to be high. As I prepared to do the foreseen water change, I noticed there had been several eruptions from the substrate while I was gone. There is now a coating of soil over everything. This is worrying to me, but not so much as the gas building in the substrate. After poking the substrate to release what gasses hadn’t escaped and, in the process, knocked loose a couple of my amazon swords. The gas is definitely hydrogen sulfide and the roots of the few swords I knocked loose are blackened. I know this is a bad thing, and left alone, will lead to losing all the plants. I haven’t checked any of the other plants, so I don’t know if their affected or not. Do I need to scrap everything and start over to save the plants?

I would really prefer a method that doesn’t have me buying plants twice. Right now, only about 40%-50% of the tank is planted. The plan was to plant in stages since my budget wouldn’t allow me to do it all at once, patience isn't my strongest attribute. My original plan was to purchase some Dwarf Hairgrass or Dwarf Sagittaria this weekend and finish off the tank, but now I don’t know if I should wait or not.

Current plants:
Vallisneria asiatica
Ludwigia Rubin
Ludwigia super red
Cryptocorne Undulatus
Echinodorus Bleheri
Anubias Barteri
Java Fern

As a side note, I am seeing new growth on the ludwigia (both types) and the swords and crypts don't appear to be melting or dying at all.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
118 Posts
I'm no expert either, but everything I've read so far indicates that you are doing the right things. Keep poking. It's going to be up to your faster growing rooted plants (your ludwigia, for example) to get in there and help keep the soil aerated.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the reply. This whole process makes me incredibly nervous. In hindsight, the title is overly dramatic and not proportional to my question. I just found the blackened roots on those swords and panicked. For that I apologize.

While poking the substrate this morning the same thing happened, but in the light of day I noticed new root growth, so this was possibly an over-reaction.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
2,733 Posts
Addressing a problem as soon as possible is always good. It sounds like you've now got a grip on the situation. Hopefully, plant growth will continue.

Water changes and poking are good. Lowering the water level temporarily will help with any necessary water changes. A photo of tank would help.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Here is the Tank:
40b_210609.jpg

It's super cloudy right now, but I think this is more from my tap water than a tank issue. I think it has to do with the fact that the tap water in my area is basically liquid limestone. I had the same problem with a different tank, I solved it by mixing the tap water with RO water. I'm not sure if I should do that in this case. There's also a layer of dirt over everything because of the eruptions over the weekend. Any advice on cleaning that up would be great. The driftwood I'm planning on taking out and giving it and the attached plants a good rinse when I do the next water change.

There are also a couple of places where the sand needs a thin coat to re-cover the soil in a few spots. This weekend I'll be getting some wisteria for the far right corner and Dwarf Hairgrass for the foreground. I'm having trouble finding floaters locally and, since I live in the desert, I'm hesitant to order online. I know most retailers insulate live products but there's only so much you can do against 110 degrees. I'm only a week in and I can already tell this experience is going to be a serious lesson in figuring out where the line between monitoring and micromanaging is.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
2,733 Posts
Definitely do a 90% water change with a dusting. In looking at photo, I think you could easily reduce the water level by half temporarily. Just move the heater down or remove it if your house has temperature above 70F.

Cloudiness could be from both a one-time soil eruption, bacterial growth, chemical reactions in the water, or possibly aquatic worms (burrowers that come out at night). I would not blame it on the hardwater just yet. Poke the soil to release gas. If you still get eruptions, it may be aquatic worms, which fish added later will be happy to take care of.

You've got some nice rooted plants there and hardwater, so this tank has great potential. All your hard setup work will pay off once the plants take off. I have a feeling that they will. Echinodorus in hardwater and with a soil-containing substrate? That is a hard-to-beat combination!

You've got such strong growers that I'm not sure you need any floating plants.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you. I really appreciate your reply.

I did another big water change this morning and just filled the tank until everything was submerged, about 2/3. I did half first, but the exposed sword leaves started wilting, and I figured they were stressed enough. When I poked the substrate this afternoon, I noticed the sulfur smell wasn't as bad as the day before, though it's still present. I'm hoping that means I'm getting less hydrogen sulfide and more carbon dioxide. While the water was low I used a spray bottle to wash as much of the dirt off the leaves as I could.

Thanks again for the response.

Edited for spelling.
 
1 - 7 of 7 Posts
Top