Smelly Tank Problem... - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-03-2008, 07:16 PM Thread Starter
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Smelly Tank Problem...

Ok, this is really getting out of hand.
I have a 36 gal tank, I used Aqua Soil, and Aqua Sand for substrates. Various plants that have really grown well. In face yesterday was actually the fourth cut. Saturday is my water change and major maintainance day, Yesterday being no exception. During the week I usually pick out floating debris but Saturdays are the days I usually change approx. 15 gals and while the level is down I go through and clean as much debris off the bottom as I can without disturbing the substrate too much.

Ok plants are cut and cuttings are re-planted, tank is re-filled, water chemistry is ok except the ammonia seem to rise slowly to about 1.0. The problem is that after doing the water change, today the tank is giving off a rotten boiled egg smell. I cannot figure out what is causing this and it happens after the major WC. What could be the cause? It seems to effect the fish and one Neon Tetra is really suffering. I have not experianced this problem in the past. Anybody know or have advice on what I can do?
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-03-2008, 07:40 PM
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Something in the tap water? I've had well water before that can give off a sulfur smell. Even with city water, its possible to see a change in the chemicals they put in there.
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-03-2008, 08:07 PM Thread Starter
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Something in the tap water? I've had well water before that can give off a sulfur smell. Even with city water, its possible to see a change in the chemicals they put in there.
OK thanks. Any suggestions on what I can do to correct this? A couple of my Tetras are suffering almost like there is not enough oxygen in the water but I have fairly strong current at the surface and a steady stream of bubbles from an air stone to keep the water moving. The strong smell is beginning to dissipate but I had to remove the glass partition on the top of the tank.
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-03-2008, 08:29 PM
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I'm not an expert by any means, but keeping the lid up so it can dissipate is probably a good thing.

I would probably fill a bucket of the water and give it a good sniff to see if you can smell it there and then test for pH, Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate to see if there is anything elevated. If you notice something and you are on city water, I would call them tomorrow to see if there is something up.

If they find things in the water here its not unusual for them to blast the system with extra chemicals, and I hardly ever hear about it ahead of time.
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-03-2008, 08:33 PM
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are you using tap water or well water? i know my well water that bypasses the the filter and softener smells like eggs. its sulfur that makes it smell that way.
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-03-2008, 08:55 PM
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He's from federal way I am pretty sure they have tap water. What kind of substrate are you using. Any chance it could be trapped sulfur being released?
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-03-2008, 09:15 PM
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This brings up the good question,"What should a healthy planted tank smell like?".

Mine smells like a greenhouse,moist potting soil,however it only contains gravel and sand.


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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-03-2008, 10:02 PM
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That would be trapped SO2 Gas. Chances are you have something in the substrate that is decaying and releases SO2 gas. Could be a root,leaf something in the actual Soil itself. I wouldn't worry to much about is, I would however worry about the ammonia spike.If the tank has been Cycled which im guessing it has You should NEVER read Ammonia after the cycle is done. If your reading ammonia something is effecting your biological filter, and either slowing it down or killing it. I would take a water sample to the pet store and have them run a full battery of tests, see if it shows anything.
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-03-2008, 10:33 PM Thread Starter
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That would be trapped SO2 Gas. Chances are you have something in the substrate that is decaying and releases SO2 gas. Could be a root,leaf something in the actual Soil itself. I wouldn't worry to much about is, I would however worry about the ammonia spike.If the tank has been Cycled which im guessing it has You should NEVER read Ammonia after the cycle is done. If your reading ammonia something is effecting your biological filter, and either slowing it down or killing it. I would take a water sample to the pet store and have them run a full battery of tests, see if it shows anything.
Interesting, I pulled out a lot of dead and dying stuff when I did the cut back. but I'm sure I did not get it all. Also I have Aqua Soil about 6" deep in the back to 4" in the front but it's not all the way across. There is a break down to Bright sand in the center of the tank and then slops back up on the other side to about 4" in the back to maybe 2" in the front. Is it possible that I have too much Aqua Soil? The water from the tap is ok, mostly chlorine. Didn't check the pH yet but I will call the pet store and see if they will test the water for me.

BTW, I have a bunch of plants left over, sittin in a bucket of water that is getting colder by the minute. Not sure what they are but I will take a photo and post it. If anyone is interested in them let me know.
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-03-2008, 10:38 PM
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put some activated carbon in your filter it will take the smell out fast


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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-03-2008, 10:52 PM Thread Starter
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put some activated carbon in your filter it will take the smell out fast
I have Ammo-Carb, that would work, right?
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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-03-2008, 11:35 PM
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I have Ammo-Carb, that would work, right?
That's even better that is all i use unless im broke and have to buy carbon at wal mart. Its really sounds to me like a second mini cycle and/or You have more decaying than you know causing the SO2 and The ammonia to be produced faster than your biological filter can handle converting it.

I use Plain topsoil in my tanks, and i have learned that when i set a tank up with topsoil there are a few things that WILL happen. I will get a SO2 or that rotten egg smell because there is a lot of Organic material in the soil to decay. I will get a white fungus like growth on the top layer of substrate. But in time Both will correct themselves. The Smell of SO2 in it self is really nothing to worry about it will gas out and has never hurt my fish any. But the ammonia is something to worry about. How long has the tank been up? And how many fish are in it? What Kind of fish?
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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-03-2008, 11:38 PM
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Ok, this is really getting out of hand.
It seems to effect the fish and one Neon Tetra is really suffering. I have not experianced this problem in the past. Anybody know or have advice on what I can do?
Trust me the SO2 isn't why the fish is suffering, the Ammonia is what is effecting the fish.
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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-03-2008, 11:52 PM
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Do you have any photos of your tank? That will help the most. The gas you're smelling is due to decaying matter in the substrate. Tell us about your tank--your filter, water supply, measurements (N, P, pH, KH, GH), fish, heck...tell us everything in as much detail as you possibly can. The bottom line is you should not smell anything from your tank. Something is wrong, so we need to fix it. Help us help you!

PS - You don't need special chemicals...no additives (aside from a tap water dechlorinator if you have fish) or anything of the sort (plant nutrients excluded). Methodology can fix dang near anything.
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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-03-2008, 11:59 PM Thread Starter
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Trust me the SO2 isn't why the fish is suffering, the Ammonia is what is effecting the fish.
OK but would SULFUR DIOXIDE contribute to the other problem of ammonia spiking. Or is it pretty much what the other are saying that something is breaking the cycle? My tank has been up for several months, maybe since March or April. The filter, Eheim Classic Canister, was really dirty. Thats strange because I have changed the pads twice, this being the third time. The first time was a rinse and reuse until I could get new pads.
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