First day of EI dosing, horrible "chemical burn" smell? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-10-2013, 04:06 AM Thread Starter
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First day of EI dosing, horrible "chemical burn" smell?

Today around 8:45AM I dosed my first round of EI for my 65 gallon tank:

3/4 TSP KNO3
1/4 TSP KH2P04
1/4 TSP K2S04
10 ml of Flourish Excel

About 4PM I cranked my airstone all the way up for my daughters amusement.

About 5PM EST I left the house with a minor headache, and on the way out I thought I noticed a slight odor in the hallway but didn't give it much thought.

About 7pm we came home and had to open all the windows in the house and turn on the fans due to a awful smell that gave everyone a headache almost immediately. The best I can describe it is a horrible chemical burning smell. I was able to narrow it down to the fish tank (this is the only room that smells after a few hours of fans/windows). I suspect it may have been caused when I turned my airstone up all the way about 4pm - what I did not notice was some of the water was occasionally splashing onto the hood and running under the light where it evaporated in the heat from the lights (4x CFL). I've not been able to find anything on the internet to indicate these chemicals would cause such a smell.

The fish all appear to be fine and I've not seen any changes in the plants - of course it's only the first day of dosing, (macros only).

Thanks for your help - I'm a bit stumped.

A few details I should add:
1) I do have a DSB technically, I changed my substrate to flourite black sand last week, 1-3 inches generally sloping towards the back. It wasn't a sulfur smell so I don't believe it is hydrogen sulfide.
2) I did plant some dwarf hairgrass ~12 hours before the smell and do a ~30 gallon water change (as I lowered the water level to plant the grass easier).
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-10-2013, 05:28 AM
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Are all your CFLs still working?

I had a very similar situation. Airstone creating bubbles, which caused water to splash on a CFL. The water eventually seeped inside and caused it to blow - apparently in spectacular fashion. I came home to find the entire house full of acrid chemical smoke.

Now if there's any chance of water getting on a CFL, I seal every possible entry point on the CFL with silicone.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-10-2013, 02:05 PM
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Hi majorwoo,

I agree with DarkCobra; I doubt what you were smelling was the fertilizer. The more likely source of the chemical smell was hot wiring insulation which resulted from the water seepage creating 'shorts' in the light fixture. You are very fortunate it did not cause an electrical fire in your fixture.

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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-10-2013, 02:44 PM Thread Starter
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I have a glass lid on the tank and the CFL is raised slightly above it so it does not touch the glass (to avoid any damage to the CFL's themselves when placing the light fixture on the tank). What was happening was a small amount of water splashed on top of the tank lid, and spread across it - eventually coming under the light fixture and the CFL bulbs. At no time was any part of the CFL or the light fixture ever splashed or in contact with water.

The light fixture and all CFL bulbs are intact and working fine - I don't see any discoloration or anything on them. I have broken CFL's before and the smell was not the same.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-10-2013, 02:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by majorwoo View Post
The light fixture and all CFL bulbs are intact and working fine - I don't see any discoloration or anything on them. I have broken CFL's before and the smell was not the same.
Hi majorwoo,

I was not referring to the CFL's, you are correct if they break there is typically no smell if they break (however the phosphor dust and mercury they contain can be a health hazard). I was referring to the insulation of internal wiring within the fixture. If water didn't get into the fixture, the smell could have been the result of grounding due to the increased moisture.

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Last edited by Seattle_Aquarist; 01-10-2013 at 02:59 PM. Reason: ..
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-10-2013, 03:40 PM
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Another thought - check your power strips for discoloration or lingering smell. It's possible the splashed water dribbled right down a cord into the strip.

It's also possible that this may be a mere coincidence, and that you will eventually find a failed bit of electrical equipment that none of us suspected.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-10-2013, 03:41 PM Thread Starter
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Hm, the fixture is plastic except for the metal reflector - and I grounded all 4 sockets and the reflector as was done with the original t8 bulb. While I am no electrician, in my experience this is the correct solution.

I am working from home today, sitting next to my tank and eyeballing it every minute waiting for it to burst into flames or start to smell again Lights have been on for 2.5 hours so far with no issues - I did of course turn the airstone down, and I installed some extra plastic backing on the tank lid to make it even harder for that to occur in the future.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-10-2013, 04:08 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkCobra View Post
Another thought - check your power strips for discoloration or lingering smell. It's possible the splashed water dribbled right down a cord into the strip.

It's also possible that this may be a mere coincidence, and that you will eventually find a failed bit of electrical equipment that none of us suspected.
Good idea. I did just double check this, but everything looks ok. I mounted the power strip to the bottom of the stand inside and all the cords have a drip loop before getting to the strip so probably not. I check my airpump last night wondering if it had overheated (and my canister filter) but both seemed to be ok.
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