can disturbing the substrate kill your fish? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-07-2018, 03:03 AM Thread Starter
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can disturbing the substrate kill your fish?

I have a 5 gallon planted tank with a few tetras and octos. When doing the 40% water change today, I may have disturbed the substrate a bit more than usual.

One octo and tetra started swimming sideways and upside down, then they both died.

Could I have released some type of toxic air pocket when disturbing the soil?

Thanks
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-07-2018, 04:39 AM
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Yes very possible. Gas can become trapped in the substrate and poison fish. Try to disturb no more than 1/4 of the substrate in any one cleaning.

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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-07-2018, 11:35 AM
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Yes, but it depends on the substrate. Deep sand with no plants is worst culprit as it compacts and creates anaerobic pockets, which release hydrogen sulphide when disturbed - smells like rotten eggs. Plant roots moving through and larger grade gravel help prevent it. Disturbing small areas at a time help prevent a build up.

As you were doing a water change too though, it could also be an issue with the water you added in.
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-07-2018, 01:15 PM
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If I ever disturb the substrate I always take do a water change and/or take some 1/2" filter tubing and suction out that area immediately.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-07-2018, 05:12 PM
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ABSOLUTELY. I've done it. What has since worked is the second I smell anything... you will know... I add 1 cap of Prime (In a 75 gallon). A few drops would he good in a smaller tank, but I would do it preemptively. The first time it happened I killed an entire 75 gallon tank of breeding trios of Peacocks, Nyerei, and a few others... it happened very quickly.

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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-08-2018, 02:47 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tamsin View Post
Yes, but it depends on the substrate. Deep sand with no plants is worst culprit as it compacts and creates anaerobic pockets, which release hydrogen sulphide when disturbed - smells like rotten eggs. Plant roots moving through and larger grade gravel help prevent it. Disturbing small areas at a time help prevent a build up.

As you were doing a water change too though, it could also be an issue with the water you added in.
It was a typical water change with the same type of water I've been using for over 3 years.

When I disturbed the substrate (pretty deep) a small dust fog formed and I was quick to siphon it out, but then soon after the 2 fishes were doing flips and then went belly up. Hard lesson learned.

With a mature plant bed, how would you guys recommend cleaning the bed? Electric fish tank vacuum?

Thanks for everyone's responses.
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