The dirt substrate...is this supposed to happen? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-26-2013, 12:48 AM Thread Starter
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The dirt substrate...is this supposed to happen?

My 20g low tech dirt tank has been running close to 2 weeks now. I begin to notice that the dirt layer is slowly forming air bubbles. And this layer of air bubbles is slowly separating the dirt layer. Throughout the day, I also notice that air bubbles would get released naturally. My question is that is this supposed to happen? Is this the way the dirt breaths? By creating enough pressure for the air bubbles to get forced out through the top substrates?


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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-26-2013, 01:12 AM
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Basically, its a sign your soil is alive.. I would not worry..


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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-26-2013, 01:16 AM
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What's your cap?

Yes the air will release gas as time goes by and fine substrates have a tendency to trap to gas. Don't let it build up if you have a fine substrate as it may in essence explode toxic gas and dirt all over your tank.

When first setting up a tank, the longer you soak the dirt prior to capping, the more gas that will be released.

In small amounts, I have found nothing to suggest that the gas will harm livestock.

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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-26-2013, 01:18 AM
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At two weeks it's possibly just gas that was trapped in the soil when you submerged it. It's also possible that there is organic matter in the soil that is decaying and giving of hydrogen sulfide(swamp gas). How much and how long will depend on how much organic material was in the dirt you used and how much dirt you used(the more you use the longer it will take). I went overboard a bit and did over three inches of soil in my 55gallon and it was six months before the tank stabilized enough for fish. It was initially offgassing so much hydrogen sulfide that my eyes would burn if I had my face over the tank. It has calmed down and now it's a forest with some happy fish

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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-26-2013, 01:45 AM
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It's normal with newer dirt setups. The organics are being broken down and CO2 and hydrogen sulfide are the bi-products. You can use a bamboo skewer to poke some holes into the substrate to release the built-up gas at different parts of the tank on different days.

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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-26-2013, 01:50 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by fermentedhiker View Post
At two weeks it's possibly just gas that was trapped in the soil when you submerged it. It's also possible that there is organic matter in the soil that is decaying and giving of hydrogen sulfide(swamp gas). How much and how long will depend on how much organic material was in the dirt you used and how much dirt you used(the more you use the longer it will take). I went overboard a bit and did over three inches of soil in my 55gallon and it was six months before the tank stabilized enough for fish. It was initially offgassing so much hydrogen sulfide that my eyes would burn if I had my face over the tank. It has calmed down and now it's a forest with some happy fish

Wow, no, I am not smelling anything. I capped it with fine gravels. I did presoak the soil for 3 days before putting them in the tank. Is about 1" to 1.5" deep and capped with 1" fine gravels. The fish are fine. The plants are growing very nicely. Oh, BTW, I actually used the MGO Garden Soil, with manure. I did screen out a lot of the bigger chunks and some animal wastes too. Again, the fish and plants are fine. And my NO3 is low too. Less than 3ppm. I begin dose light EI on the 20g low tech tank. Twice per week.


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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-26-2013, 02:12 AM
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Yeah it was crazy. I've never had another dirt bottom tank have such a crazy start as that one. Of course I've never used that deep a soil base again either. It was a mix of MGOPS and topsoil(I ran out of MGOPS and was too impatient to wait until I could get another bag). I have it capped with about an inch of flourite and gravel. There is also probably an inch of flourite covering the plenum underneath the soil layer(an unnecessary feature probably). I will say the root feeders love the tank. Dwarf Sag and Swords do great and reproduce quite rapidly. My Crypts are like weeds.

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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-19-2013, 02:19 AM
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This is normal.

Just poke the substrate to help release the gas and your good to go.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-19-2013, 06:03 AM
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My amazonia does that too. I have an under layer of lava rock so it might be that instead of the aquasoil.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-19-2013, 08:03 AM
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Perfectly normal. At first, most of the bubbles will be trapped air and maybe a little hydrogen sulfide due to the organic matter starting to decompose. How long this lasts is a function of soil/cap depth and plant selection and plant density. Over time, hydrogen sulfide will be practically non-existent as plant roots will occupy a most of the substrate.
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