What is an organics build up ? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-27-2019, 08:43 PM Thread Starter
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What is an organics build up ?

Just finished removing all of the substrate out of my 135 gallon tank, that was set up for 12 years,
I cleaned it and put it all back into the tank.
Wow what a job, took three weeks. I still have a truckload of Cryptocoryne Wendtii to replant, next weeks job.
So, what the question is, what exactly is, or are, organics?
I was having some PH problems along with some algae growth that was never a problem before.
And it seems that the problem might be organics build up.
Can someone please explain to me what an organics buildup is?
I hate to sound ignorant! But I have never had a tank set up fore this long before, so this is new territory for me.
Thanks in advance.
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-28-2019, 12:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jbubba001 View Post
Just finished removing all of the substrate out of my 135 gallon tank, that was set up for 12 years,
I cleaned it and put it all back into the tank.
Wow what a job, took three weeks. I still have a truckload of Cryptocoryne Wendtii to replant, next weeks job.
So, what the question is, what exactly is, or are, organics?
I was having some PH problems along with some algae growth that was never a problem before.
And it seems that the problem might be organics build up.
Can someone please explain to me what an organics buildup is?
I hate to sound ignorant! But I have never had a tank set up fore this long before, so this is new territory for me.
Thanks in advance.
Organics are generally the result of decomposition or waste products of fauna and flora. Although there are variants, the base products are ammonia and phosphates. These can be dissolved or particulate. They can come from rotting fish food (overfeeding), fish waste from eating the food, rotting plant matter or dead animals. The BB will help consume the ammonia and the plants will help consume the ammonia and phosphates. However, too much can build up and overwhelm these natural cleaners causing nitrates and phosphates to soar. If it’s really bad, you can get an ammonia spike that can start killing fauna.

If you clean the mulm from your filter regularly (I clean mine every week) and make sure nothing is collecting on your substrate, the BB and plants can usually keep up with the organic load. Water changes and good circulation also help tremendously in reducing these waste products. If your plants are healthy and you keep up with cleaning and water changes, there should be no reason to clean your substrate as you did. If you buy a TDS meter (~$20), and keep the TDS below 400 ppm, you should never have a problem.

If you’re having specific issues, post the details and we’ll see if we can help you correct them. There is a lot more that can be explained regarding a healthy planted tank, but the above is a basic answer to your question.
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-28-2019, 10:02 AM
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In a planted tank mulm in your substrate isn't really an issue - it can actually be a good thing, it's gradually broken down by microorganisms and bacteria back into the same things that plants use to grow. Basically it just turns your gravel into soil.... which is excellent for growing plants and your root feeding crypts will love it.

If you hadn't already done it, I'd have advised against washing your gravel. It might have looked dirty, but you didn't wash out 12 years of dirt, just the most recent few weeks/months that was still in the process of breaking down.... and disturbed all the bacteria involved in that process.

Organics in the water column on the other hand is something to limit, particularly for fish health. It's a mix of waste products from feeding fish, decomposing plant matter, even hormones etc. it's not all bad - tannins are organics too and some people deliberate add them. We dilute the organics with water changes.

What is your water change routine? Ph fluxuates when you don't have enough kh to hold it stable. The nitrate cycle uses up kh. So if you have low kh to start with or don't do enough changes to replenish it you'll find your ph can drop quite dramatically.
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-28-2019, 10:58 AM Thread Starter
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For years I have used a 32 gallon garbage can filled to the top to do a water change.
Normally, once a week if life gets busy maybe once every two weeks, but normally once a week.

In the beginning when I first set the tank up 12 years ago, I had very, very, crazy hard well water. I remember testing the hardness and it was practically off the chart.
There was buildup on every water fixture in the house in no time flat.
The ph was at about 8.5 and rock solid. I picked up a Co2 system, and with the ph controller I drove it down to 7.5. In 12 years it never dipped below 7.5.

Until,,,,

About 6 months ago my water supply was changed to Lake Michigan water that has a ph of 7.6, the hardness I have not tested yet, it is supposed to be medium.
When the water supply was changed all of my Cryptocorynes melted, I sort of had a feeling they would. But what surprised me was all of my stems died.
Wow wat a mess. 2 to 3 inches of green slop covered the whole tank bottom. Fish were fine, I lost no fish, and the Pennywort survived along with one tip from a giant hygro.
My ph went down to about 6.9 to 7 in the tank.

With all of that happening I picked up a larger 55 gallon water change garbage can.
I figured with all of the cleaning that I had to do, and the loss of all of the nitrate eating plants, larger water changes would probably be a good idea.
Especially since there are 5 full grown Blue Acaras in the tank.

Well that is where I am at right now.
Sounds like I should pickup a hardness test to see what is going on.
I had a calcium test and a KH test in the past, maybe I will hit the local fish store and see what they have in stock.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-28-2019, 01:12 PM
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It sounds like you may have had the beginnings of old tank syndrome, then a lot of plant waste from the rapid change in water chemistry (although the params in your 'new' lake water are roughly the same as my well water)...however, it may simply have been the shock due to the sudden change. You might have done more gradual water changes but what's done is done.

Fortunately your fish do not seem to be negatively affected. I'd suspect that once the mess is cleaned up and routine water changes continue with the 'new' water, things will get back in control. If the lake water needs to be harder, you might add some Equilibrium with each water change. I add a tsp with every 20g water change just to increase the hardness just a tad...although even without, my community tank is home to Angel's, Neons, and livebearers and they all do just fine (mid range hardness).

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5g quarantine / hospital / grow out, 10g fry tank, 37g fry grow out tank, 110g stock tank (was outdoor, now basement)

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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-28-2019, 01:14 PM
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You might be able to get a water report from your supplier that would give you a rough idea (we get them in the UK but not sure if you do). Otherwise a test would give you an idea where you are starting from. It would be unusual to run out of kh without either going ages between water changes and/or having very soft water but just depends. Sometimes things can change seasonally depending on the source - when you get a lot of rain it dilutes the source water it making it softer. Be interesting to see what it comes back as - let us know!
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-28-2019, 03:58 PM
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@tamsin - Lake Michigan is pretty large so there would need to be a lot of rain to change the chemistry. There should be a lot of data regarding the water chemistry of the lake, but would be interesting to learn how it is treated before municipal distribution.

Tank On, Mike-
60g Marineland Community, Finnex Planted+ 24/7, Silica (pool filter) sand.
5g quarantine / hospital / grow out, 10g fry tank, 37g fry grow out tank, 110g stock tank (was outdoor, now basement)

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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-28-2019, 05:16 PM
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Changing water is a point we may all need to be aware of as it will be likely to happen more often in the future. Things do not stay the same and one thing that drives the change is population. Combine weather changes as we all see in different seasons with a larger need for water and many places do have to search out different water supplies. I'm familiar with the water questions in the St. Louis area and there it can run from normally using water from the Missouri River during normal times as it is cheap and easy to treat but at other times like during flooding, they have to resort to the more expensive use of well water. In parts of the middle of the US, the water table is being used so rapidly that it not uncommon to find the wells running low so surface water may be looked at for another supply. Surface water tends to be more soft and acidic in many cases due to the leaves and runoff while underground is running in limestone! Things change and it is not always obvious to us as the end user that there has been a change.
Combine weather changes, population stressing the supply, with changes in treatments required and we are lucky to not have far more trouble keeping it all corrected?
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-28-2019, 05:22 PM
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How much trace elements were you dosing before the incident and what kind of substrate?

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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-28-2019, 07:43 PM Thread Starter
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I just tested the KH with an API test and the vial turned from blue to yellow after 6 drops.
so, I suppose that means 6 deg. KH

I was dosing CSM+B, 1/8 teaspoon about every 3rd day, and that was with the crazy hard water that also stained the shower red.

And the substrate is Flourite.

Now I have the Co2 turned off, the tank is being lit with two 55 wat compact fluorescents. I have two more 95 wat compact fluorescents,
but no need for them now. All there is to grow now is a bunch of Cryptocoryne Wendtii that still needs to be planted.
I plan on placing an order as soon as it warms up a bit, it was -15 F just the other day.
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-28-2019, 08:52 PM
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There is a good chance that when you were dosing 1/8 tsp or 0.54 g of CSM+B every third day with 32 gallon weekly water changes for 12 years, you had 0.75 ppm Fe and other metals in the water column. And since you had Flourite, which is high CEC substrate that can adsorb large quantities of trace element cation metals everything was fine until the water source changed.

The water KH dropped and so did pH, and that triggered the substrate to start releasing the trace element metals back to the water column killing the plants.

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/1...ml#post8902346
“Another thing to note is that the substrate is a high CEC substrate, which will quickly adsorb cations from the water column which reduces it's potential for toxicity. As long as there are plenty of adsorption sites available, severity of toxicity is reduced. However, after a few months or so, the adsorption sites diminish to the point where it can no longer adsorb anymore. This results in metals remaining in the water column, resulting in very obvious signs of toxicity. Therefore, you should expect in a few months, there will be an inevitable decline in plant health and algae will most likely run rampant if the current dosing is not decreased. So high CEC substrates provide a buffer against toxicity by its ability to remove metals from the water column.

So the high CEC substrates is probably the reason why people indicate initial success with EI, because of its ability to reduce toxicity. But then after a few months, things start going downhill. Those who use sand as the substrate (which has almost no CEC), have issues with plant growth immediately.”

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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-29-2019, 12:47 AM
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I'd have to argue this one.

Flourite has a CEC rating that is close to zero.

pH of never below 7.5 may not work well with CSM+B.


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Growing is not that difficult.
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-29-2019, 04:32 PM
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Depends what we compare the CEC with.
When compared with clean sand then it is quite high, but with soil then it is lower, of course. The fact is that Flourite does have CEC ability and when we consider 12 years of mulm accumulation which is organic matter, we get very high CEC substrate. Over the 12 years, 775 grams of CSM+B was added, that is 1.7 pounds. So maybe, the issue would have happened even without the water source change. https://www.thekrib.com/Plants/Ferti...ate-jamie.html

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