Substrate Anaerobic - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-28-2015, 09:31 PM Thread Starter
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Substrate Anaerobic

I have potting soil with a small covering of play sand and flourite (1 year old). I made a stupid mistake and made the substrate too deep, so it's anaerobic in quite a few places. I know this because methane bubbles come out periodically. From what I've read and experienced, these bubbles are harmless. I've lost no fish to them and the bubbling doesn't happen often.

However, I think this needs to be corrected. I'm having a serious algae issue and I haven't been able to balance the tank for a while now.

It's a heavily planted 65g. It's been going for a year now. Fairly heavily stocked, CO2 injected, Finnex Finnray2 (actually 2, but I don't turn the second one on), RO water, Sunsun 302 with inline atomizer.

It's a marginally dirty tank and I believe that the substrate is making it worse. Between the organics and the substrate, I believe I have a nutrient sink. Nitrates stay at a fairly solid 5-10 ppm. If things were moving correctly, I should be adding nitrates.

Should I correct the substrate? If so, I'm tempted to do very small sections at a time. Leave the fish, remove the plants from a small section, scrape the top of the substrate, replace plants. Its the most stress free way for the fish but the danger is allowing the tank to get overwhelmed by organics that will be released. The second method is do it all at once, remove the fish, the plants, scrape, replace the plants and put the fish back in when things have stabilized.

Thoughts?
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-28-2015, 11:35 PM
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Ive had good luck with a syphon removing substrate.. .start with water, stick into substrate, drain into a bucket... use a larger diameter tube and it works fine


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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-28-2015, 11:59 PM
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Are your plants healthy?
How frequently are you trimming your plants?

I'd say, if your plants are healthy and your trimming at least monthly because of there quick growth, don't mess with the substrate.

I'm sure with your experience you can find other ways to combat your algae issue. Reduced lighting, reduced feeding, phosphate levels, etc.

Best of luck to you.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-29-2015, 12:45 AM Thread Starter
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They are healthy. Having to trim constantly. Thanks
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-29-2015, 06:27 PM
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They are healthy. Having to trim constantly. Thanks
Are you sure it is methane? Can you smell it? Sometimes this can be other gases as well. And if it is only happening occasionally with no ill effects to plants or fish, you should be fine.
Just for thoroughness sake, how deep is the substrate at the deepest parts (and roughly how deep is the soil and how deep is the sand?)?

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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-29-2015, 08:02 PM
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Are you sure it is methane? Can you smell it?
Methane is odorless, that's why they add methyl mercaptan to natural gas...

That said, if there's hydrogen sulfide mixed in, you can sure smell that..

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-29-2015, 08:04 PM
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Methane is odorless, that's why they add methyl mercaptan to natural gas...

That said, if there's hydrogen sulfide mixed in, you can sure smell that..
You are correct. I read methane but was thinking hydrogen sulfide. Thanks for catching that.

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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-29-2016, 03:35 PM
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Freshwater Deep Sand Beds Work
by Deirdre Kylie

What is a deep sand bed?

"A deep sand bed is a sand substrate coupled with bacteria and multicellular organisms working together as a powerful biological filter. Originally developed in the saltwater aquarium hobby, deep sand beds (DSBs) extended the biological filter from converting ammonia and ammonium to nitrate, to eliminating nitrate by denitrification - using the oxygen in nitrate, releasing harmless nitrogen or nitrous oxide. This was desirable because of saltwater organismsí great sensitivity to nitrate. In freshwater, nitrates are much less toxic, requiring infrequent water changes to control levels, but the freshwater DSB as described in this article does more than eliminate nitrate...."
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-29-2016, 04:07 PM
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The link you are making from your substrate gassing off -> algae issues may not be the case.

Your issue may be that you are running a 'marginally dirty tank'

If your tank is dirty with organic matter sitting in dead spots, etc then you should clean your tank up in general first before making any more assumptions. Siphon out organic matter, clean filters, etc... After a few larger water changes doing these maintenance items and cleaning off the algae you already have you may notice improvements.

Also pics would really help in assessing the situation...
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-29-2016, 04:18 PM
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Originally Posted by NickMach007 View Post
You are correct. I read methane but was thinking hydrogen sulfide. Thanks for catching that.

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N2 can be bubbling out as well..
Really not seeing how any of this could be causing an algae issue..

Nitrate (NO3) and phosphate (PO4) don?t cause algae. Ammonia does!! - Aquarium-fertilizer.com

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How we said before, algae spores want ammonia (NH4) and algae needs nitrate (NO3). You are reading this article probably late, because your algae spores became regular algae. But donít worry. You can still fix it. You have to start adding nitrate (NO3), phosphate (PO4) and all other important nutrients including CO2. It doesnít make any sense? No, it makes sense. You have to care about your plants, because they arenít in a good shape right now. Old leaves produce ammonia (NH4) and algae spores become an algae. Fertilizing will cause that your plants will be in a good shape and they wonít produce more ammonia (NH4) so there wontít be a new algae. Additionaly, healthy plants will eats ammonia so algae spores will suffer. On the other hand, algae which is present in aquarium right now will be grow because it is full-grown algae which eats nitrate (NO3). Yeah, thatís true, but you will remove it after a while and there wonít become another one, because you removed ammonia, so no other spores will become an algae. Pretty cool, isnít it?

If there is an algae bloom in your tank, and you will cut the dosage of fertilizer down, it is the worst you can do because your plants will suffer from lack of nutrients, their leaves will be unsightly and will cause ammonia (NH4) -> algae. Plants have to be healthy, only in that case algae wonít be present in your tank!

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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-30-2016, 01:39 PM
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My tanks have always "burped" but that's never resulted in algae. Algae, for me at least, has always been a result of excess organics or excess light. If you aren't adding nitrate, then it's coming from somewhere, which means you either have too heavy an animal load, too much decaying poop/food/plant trimmings, a dirty filter, or you're overfeeding. It could result from the decay of your substrate, but if you are heavily planted I would suspect other problems first. Just my two cents.
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