Aquatic Plant Forum banner
1 - 20 of 20 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
29 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 20g long with 1" of MGOC dirt mixed with a few pounds of saf-t-sorb capped with 0.5-.0.75" of back diamond blasting sand. There is also a heater and small circulation pump behind a foam filter.

There is nothing sitting on the substrate; the driftwood is siliconed to the tank wall and hovers above it.

For the last 7 days the water has been so cloudy that I could only see about 6" deep and many plants were not receiving a significant amount of light. There is a surface film that, when disturbed, disperses through the tank as little white tufts that collect on plants and the substrate. Manually removing the surface film is futile.

When I do water changes I target sucking up these tufts and the water I extract has a SIGNIFICANT sulfur smell. It can be smelled from 10+ ft away, like rotten eggs or an ungodly fart. The aquarium itself does not smell; only the water I draw out. Replacement water is treated with seachem prime and sits for 24 hours before I add it. I routinely poke the substrate but there isn't significant amount of trapped gas.

My stem plants and floaters are the only ones not melting and my s. repens look like they were hit by a nuke, melting away stem and all.

I've been checking water parameters every day for the last week and ammonia held at about 4ppm with zero nitrites or nitrates. That's with routine water changes.

I've lowered the water level to increase the amount of light that reaches the bottom. I also rigged the pump to make a little waterfall that hopefully keeps some of the surface clear of surface file. I'm on a 5 on/4 off/6 on schedule. No algae yet.

What exactly do I do here? How are the plants supposed to grow and suck excess nutrients if the light can't reach them due to the cloudy water?

Plants:

Anubias petite - confirmed not melting

Crypto parva - status unknown, water is too cloudy for me to see it

Alternantha reineckii mini - melting

S. Repens - melting significantly

Salvina minima - confirmed growing and propagating

Crypto undulatas red - melting slightly

Rotala red - confirmed growing

Ludwigia repens - confirmed growing

Animals:

20+ Malaysian trumpet snails that seem to be doing fine, and at least two wild/natural bloodworms

Picture:
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
2,788 Posts
Sorry, but this tank looks like it needs "an all hands on deck" rescue. Something is off here. Worms churning the substrate, filter's flow not allowing soil particles to settle, STS causing cloudiness?

Whether it smells or not, I would remove the driftwood until your tank stabilizes. Change water and poke substrate. Four ppm ammonia may kill plants.

When I set up my tanks, the water cleared up by the next day. It should be that way no matter what soil you use.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
29 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
There are no soil particles suspended. It's entirely a white cloud. The flow is incredibly minor, maybe 1gpm.

What is STS?
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
2,788 Posts
Sorry. STS is Safe-t-Sorb. I found it causes a fair amount of cloudiness from clay particles and they don't always settle right away.

The white cloud is probably a bacterial bloom. All those nutrients make a wonderful bacterial growth medium. Removing the driftwood will definitely help. I bet it is releasing nutrients along with the soil. Both are contributing to rampant bacterial growth.

Filter is probably okay and keeping the tank from going totally anaerobic. A good thing....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
29 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Sorry. STS is Safe-t-Sorb. I found it causes a fair amount of cloudiness from clay particles and they don't always settle right away.

The white cloud is probably a bacterial bloom. All those nutrients make a wonderful bacterial growth medium. Removing the driftwood will definitely help. I bet it is releasing nutrients along with the soil. Both are contributing to rampant bacterial growth.

Filter is probably okay and keeping the tank from going totally anaerobic. A good thing....
Unfortunately, the driftwood is siliconed to the side of the aquarium. I did this because I didn't want it to sit on top of or in the substrate and I liked the look. I cut a flat spot on the driftwood so it would be totally flush with the side and ran a bead of silicone around it so nothing could be trapped between it and the side. So, given that, the only way to remove the driftwood would be... very labor intensive and disruptive. I'd likely have to start over because there's no way to remove it without disturbing the substrate immensely. It sounds like, if I start over, I need to find a way to make it removable... Hindsight is 20/20 I guess. I didn't think it would be an issue- I soaked and resoaked it several times for over a week before putting it in.

I've been doing routine water changes. Today was the first day the water change didn't smell like rotten eggs and the surface film isn't as thick. When the surface is agitated it doesn't disperse into white tufts. The water is stinky but it's swamp-like. Ammonia is down to 2ppm. Got a hardness tester today, 10 degrees gH and kH. Trumpet snails started sifting the sand whereas previously they were going up the glass. Gonna try to wait it out and see what happens. If it fully crashes then I'll start over with mineralized top soil- I'm mineralizing some as we speak, just in case.

I trimmed all the dead plants back and accidentally pulled one up and it had some very bushy white roots. I'm cautiously optimistic that the melt is not fully related to ammonia poisoning and that they are simply preparing to generate new leaves for submersed life after growing immersed.

Two questions:
1) What are you thoughts on introducing daphnia to control the bacteria bloom so the light can penetrate better?
2) When I suck out water for a water change, should I do it from the bottom to collect lose debris? My thought is that this would be a double edge sword- it removes decomposable organics but also removes bacteria that hang out down there.

Here's another photo. Since I lowered the water level I had to rig the pump to provide waterflow over the now exposed anubias and move the heater so it was submerged. The tile is slate, confirmed 100% slate with no additives by the manufacturer... don't think it would be causing any issues.

 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
2,788 Posts
You have made some good changes such as temporarily lowering the water level and getting over half the driftwood out of the water.

I wouldn't count too much on daphnia. (Hard to culture in tanks.) It wouldn't hurt to siphon from the bottom and collect a little debris.

Your observations on snail behavior and plant roots indicate that this tank might come out okay. Tank has all the ingredients for success- hardwater, soil, lighting, floating plants, etc. A little patience and your smart tinkering might be all this tank needs. The first few weeks can be rough going!
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
2,788 Posts
A biofilm is just an ecosystem based on bacteria. It will go away once the problem--excessive organics that they feed on is solved. To remove a biofilm, I skim the surface with a tea cup while changing water.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
29 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The biofilm has significantly cleared up along with the smell. Not sure if it was causing the smell, or what was causing the biofilm was causing the smell, but it was impossible to remove this biofilm. It was almost like a sheet of Saran wrap laid on top of the water. Trying to scoop it out would just push it around, and agitating it would disperse it into the water where it would float around until it got caught on something. What I would do was agitate it and then suck it up with my water changes.

Makes me wonder if the biofilm was so thick that it was preventing gas exchange? It was trapping bubbles underneath it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
88 Posts
Yes when its really bad manual removal doesn't work very well (it works but is an endless job) - its back again in 24 hours. I had the exact same problem last week. Surface skimming (Eheim 350) 10 minutes a day does work but after reading Diana's post I can see that the problem is not normal - excessive biofilm. Its not a problem I have ever had in the past. Seems my fertilisers are out of whack - too much organics.

Yes it will stop gas exchange - killed a tank full of daphnia and amphipods I have. The daphnia are still partly alive. The plants were the least effected but it will kill those too given enough time. When its bad its like a slime coat. You put your hand in the water and it gets very slimey. Horrible thing. Reflects light and reduces tank illumination as well.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
88 Posts
Well miracle of miracles! I have two amphipods that have survived, which I transferred to a second rain water tank a week ago and never seen again till just now - assumed they were dead. They look pretty happy today. Added just a few glasses of river water and 10mL of a hard GH/KH water solution I have made up from a solid GH/KH builder powder as 100% rain water sounds like trouble to me? I hope its a male and a female and they breed again. So far they have survived in city towns water (a few weeks after I bought them)/river water and rain water for almost a year. They hide really well in the moss (fisidens) and I rarely see them until this morning. This new tank had a 100% water change yesterday and clean out - put the plants back in.

I think that the biofilm disaster that killed them all in the 20L was more complicated than just gases and biofilm - plants survived but fauna almost wiped out. I don't measure water parameters in the tank as I don't have fish, but I think I will have to start doing so. I have the test kits, need to start using them. I suspect a seachem over dosage killed them,might be a nitrate problem, maybe the Phosphate dosage? Had about 50 at one stage in the 20L tank swimming around like fish along with Daphnia and a triangle like shaped thing that zig zags around with a strange motion. I suppose Daphnia and Amphipod's are sensitive to nitrates etec just like fish are.

I need to somehow work out why my tank was doing so well for 6 months and now is a disaster. Have cut back on the seachem dosage and am trying to stick to the recommended dosage better, reducing it a bit to avoid poisoning stock. My suspicion is 'advance' was causing the biofilm problem, so have stopped using it.

I understand that Amphipods are detritus eaters, I have alot of mulm at the bottom of a bare bottom tank (plants in pots) so hopefully that is all they need. Everything was going well when I was using flourish and advance only (about 2ml a day), but as soon as I started to add some NPK, trace, iron etc, it all went bad.

EDIT. Bit of a comedy of errors - now I may have set up new tank syndrome on the 2nd tank (can't put them back into the death tank)... if I had known 2 had survived I would not have rebuilt that tank and done a 100% water change. Time will tell if they survive or not. Don't like my chances.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,482 Posts
Well miracle of miracles! I have two amphipods that have survived, which I transferred to a second rain water tank a week ago and never seen again till just now - assumed they were dead. They look pretty happy today. Added just a few glasses of river water and 10mL of a hard GH/KH water solution I have made up from a solid GH/KH builder powder as 100% rain water sounds like trouble to me? I hope its a male and a female and they breed again. So far they have survived in city towns water (a few weeks after I bought them)/river water and rain water for almost a year. They hide really well in the moss (fisidens) and I rarely see them until this morning. This new tank had a 100% water change yesterday and clean out - put the plants back in.

I think that the biofilm disaster that killed them all in the 20L was more complicated than just gases and biofilm - plants survived but fauna almost wiped out. I don't measure water parameters in the tank as I don't have fish, but I think I will have to start doing so. I have the test kits, need to start using them. I suspect a seachem over dosage killed them,might be a nitrate problem, maybe the Phosphate dosage? Had about 50 at one stage in the 20L tank swimming around like fish along with Daphnia and a triangle like shaped thing that zig zags around with a strange motion. I suppose Daphnia and Amphipod's are sensitive to nitrates etec just like fish are.

I need to somehow work out why my tank was doing so well for 6 months and now is a disaster. Have cut back on the seachem dosage and am trying to stick to the recommended dosage better, reducing it a bit to avoid poisoning stock. My suspicion is 'advance' was causing the biofilm problem, so have stopped using it.

I understand that Amphipods are detritus eaters, I have alot of mulm at the bottom of a bare bottom tank (plants in pots) so hopefully that is all they need. Everything was going well when I was using flourish and advance only (about 2ml a day), but as soon as I started to add some NPK, trace, iron etc, it all went bad.

EDIT. Bit of a comedy of errors - now I may have set up new tank syndrome on the 2nd tank (can't put them back into the death tank)... if I had known 2 had survived I would not have rebuilt that tank and done a 100% water change. Time will tell if they survive or not. Don't like my chances.
Does your town water add chlorine or chloramine?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
88 Posts
Not sure about chlorine etc... I used some water conditioner in the town mains water when I bought them to transport them to where I live. When I lived in a city I used to keep a large water tank with aged water (would always wait a week before using it out of the tap) and found I never had to condition the water, seemed to work.

Frustrating few weeks - got these guys by accident in some moss I bought and they seemed pretty tough but starting to think they are not so tough. My guess was the aquarium store was feeding them to fish. Saw one die this morning and the other is likely gone to. When they come out and dart around sometimes it seems they aren't happy at all. For many months they were thriving and multiplying and as they eat detritus I didn't need to do anything. Hard to figure.

Think I will stick to plants, I find plants harder to kill. Its kind of good in a way as I can modify my tanks now without worrying about killing something. Daphia and others seem to come in my water sources naturally.

Probably the wrong forum for my present liquid fertiliser problems. The quicker I go the natural tank route the better.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
88 Posts
By the way MrGreen I think I solved why my source water is so high in CO2 at the moment. I think its a temperature thing. Its winter and the rain/river water is colder (10-13 degrees) than my tanks which are at 20 deg C. My guess is they have a higher dissolved gas content. First winter I have kept aquaria so have not noticed this before. But I may be wrong - always learning in this hobby. I tend to do water changes early morning and right now we are getting 1 degree C overnight temperatures and frost.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
29 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Good news everyone! Water cleared up significantly. First time I've been able to see to the back of the tank. Only the stem plants, anubias, and crypts appear to be surviving and the rest is a wasteland. Gotta get some new plants in. Ammonia is still bouncing between 2-4ppm and no nitrites or nitrates. Lots of detritus worms now. Snails appear to be doing fine. Above the waterline on the left side of the tank you can see a bloodworm morphing into its fly stage.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
29 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Many of the plants died, but I was able to purchase and plant some hardier ones that seem to be doing well now. Ammonia is down to 0ppm and nitrites are climbing!
 
1 - 20 of 20 Posts
Top