Foul odor from newly planted 20G - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-14-2019, 04:08 PM Thread Starter
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Foul odor from newly planted 20G

I've noticed a strong foul odor coming from my 20G acrylic tank the past several days. I've had plants in this tank before and it has never smelled like this. Last Friday, I added a bunch of new plants, which are adjusting to my water (i.e. melting). Could the smell be from the plants decaying? My other planted tanks have never smelled like this, so I'm a bit confused.

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post #2 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-14-2019, 04:10 PM
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Decaying plant matter can certainly stink. I'd endeavor to remove all that isn't alive.
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post #3 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-14-2019, 04:14 PM Thread Starter
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Decaying plant matter can certainly stink. I'd endeavor to remove all that isn't alive.

There isn't much visible die off to remove. Everything looks pretty good actually. I have a couple large Nerites in the tank. Maybe one of them is dead and that's what I'm smelling? Except I'd expect my Congo Tetras to make a quick meal out of a dead snail.

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post #4 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-14-2019, 04:16 PM
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Hmm, not sure I would expect that. At this point nothing to do but find the cause. An aquarium should never stink. Have a mild earthy smell when your nose is right over maybe, but never a foul odor. Something is decaying and needs to come out.
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post #5 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-14-2019, 04:21 PM Thread Starter
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Hmm, not sure I would expect that. At this point nothing to do but find the cause. An aquarium should never stink. Have a mild earthy smell when your nose is right over maybe, but never a foul odor. Something is decaying and needs to come out.
I planned on rescaping that tank anyway, so I guess now is a good time.

My bottle of Prime smells like rotten eggs, so I'm sure adding that to the water isn't helping.

  • 60G low-tech planted acrylic elongated hexagon
  • 29G low-tech planted glass rectangle
  • 20G high-tech planted acrylic rectangle

Last edited by mossman77; 08-14-2019 at 04:31 PM. Reason: ...
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post #6 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-14-2019, 04:56 PM
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All dechlorinators use sodium thiosulfate and will have that odor in the container. Shouldn't be enough going in the tank to cause any problems though. I'm betting you find a dead snail and this will be over shortly. Pro tip- do not use your hand to remove the snail. That stink is hard to wash off.

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post #7 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-14-2019, 05:05 PM
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Are you, by chance, using Seachem Stability to cycle the tank? I dose this occasionally into my shrimp tanks, and dosed it daily while cycling, and it consistently seems to cause a foul smell. Not exactly sure why, but just sharing my experience.
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post #8 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-14-2019, 05:17 PM Thread Starter
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Are you, by chance, using Seachem Stability to cycle the tank? I dose this occasionally into my shrimp tanks, and dosed it daily while cycling, and it consistently seems to cause a foul smell. Not exactly sure why, but just sharing my experience.

It's a mature tank. I had several plants die off over the past few months and recently replanted it.

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post #9 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-14-2019, 05:23 PM
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Depending on the substrate there can be a buildup of anaerobic matter down there or something dead(organics) trapped in there. Don't go stirring it all up at once. Do half then wait a day
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post #10 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-15-2019, 06:45 AM
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Did you add any plants with bulbs? The bulb might be rotting and releasing a rotten egg smell. Try adding new activated carbon to the filter to remove the odor. I suspect something is rotting under the substrate. Remove any dead roots or bulbs. Increasing circulation might help. If using well water you might have hydrogen sulfide gas seeping into your water supply, but the toilets and sinks would also stink.

I've had snails fall out and die behind my tank without realizing they were missing. A dead snail is the worst thing I've ever smelled in my life. Took a day for my fingers to stop stinking even after bleaching and scrubbing them clean. Don't touch dead snails with bare hands. Use a bag and beware that the body might fall out of the shell if tilted the wrong way. You don't want that happening inside the tank or on the floor.
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post #11 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-15-2019, 02:51 PM
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Which specific substrate are you using? How much? Post a photo of the tank if you can.

What's the specific odor? Can you describe it in a bit more detail?

What do you add to the tank? Everything - fertilizer, additives, foods.

What are your tank's water parameters?


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post #12 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-15-2019, 03:22 PM Thread Starter
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I'm using Eco Complete, which has been in there over a year. It's hard to say what it smells like. It just isn't a normal fish tank smell. My other tanks smell earthy, but this one is more pungent as of the past several days. The only thing that has changed is adding a bunch of plants and dosing with NilocG Thrive C. I add NilocG Thrive C two times a week (and just started to last week) and feed blood worms and flake food. Parameters are 0/0/15/7.5/4/4/80 (Ammonia/Nitrite/Nitrate/pH/gH/kH/Temp).

Several of the plants are melting now that I look closer, so maybe that's it.

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post #13 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-15-2019, 04:00 PM
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So the tank started emitting an odor around the same time you started using a liquid fertilizer?

And plants started to melt around the same time, as well?


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post #14 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-15-2019, 04:04 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by somewhatshocked View Post
So the tank started emitting an odor around the same time you started using a liquid fertilizer?

And plants started to melt around the same time, as well?

I added a bunch of new plants last Friday (there were no plants remaining from the previous planting) and started dosing with Thrive C at the same time. The plants are starting to melt, as expected. The tank used to be planted and I've used liquid ferts before (Aquarium Coop) and never had this smell. I suppose there could be some residual plant matter decaying inside the substrate from the old plants, but I thought I got most of it out. I planned on rescaping anyway, so I may remove the fish and redo the entire thing (meaning remove all the old substrate and replant with same plants).

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Originally Posted by Amp2020 View Post
Did you add any plants with bulbs? The bulb might be rotting and releasing a rotten egg smell. Try adding new activated carbon to the filter to remove the odor. I suspect something is rotting under the substrate. Remove any dead roots or bulbs. Increasing circulation might help. If using well water you might have hydrogen sulfide gas seeping into your water supply, but the toilets and sinks would also stink.

I've had snails fall out and die behind my tank without realizing they were missing. A dead snail is the worst thing I've ever smelled in my life. Took a day for my fingers to stop stinking even after bleaching and scrubbing them clean. Don't touch dead snails with bare hands. Use a bag and beware that the body might fall out of the shell if tilted the wrong way. You don't want that happening inside the tank or on the floor.

They are all stem plants (if that's what they're called), so no bulbs. I'll add carbon as suggested. Circulation is excellent, so that isn't it (canister with up to 10x turnover per hour). I'm on city water and my other two tanks don't smell at all.

I'm using Thrive C in all three of my tanks, and this is the only tank that smells, and the only tank with new plants (15 of them).

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post #15 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-15-2019, 04:24 PM
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Rescaping will probably clear things up for you, since that's the route you want to go. And it does sound as if new plants are part of the problem.

Doubt it has much to do with your substrate, as it's inert.

While you didn't ask for any advice on the fertilizer front, it's going to be exponentially cheaper for you to buy dry fertilizer salts when you run out of the liquid you've got. They're easy to mix up. $8-$10 worth of dry ferts will last you several years. May be worth considering when the time comes.
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