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Hello,

I have just recently used some DYI root tabs bought from a vendor that are osmocote based. Since putting the root tabs into the substrate (placed fairly deep, have not seen bits and pieces floating to the top) I am noticing a massive build up of air bubbles on the surface.

I read on another website that the wetting agent from the osmocote can raise surface tension, causing bubbles not to pop. I also noticed the odd bubble or two floating through the tank itself and not being popped.

Will this go away? Have others experience this?

Looking for some info.

Thanks

I think I have confirmed that osmocote does contain surfactants...

https://www.scottsaustralia.com.au/gardening-needs/lawn-care/Wetting-Agents-Water-Crystals/1560/

I don't see how I am just finding this out, and not finding tons of threads on this when osmocote seems to be such a popular method for creating DYI root tabs. This method has been around for probably 10+ years.

To my understanding surfactants are bad news in aquariums.
 

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Interesting here. I have used them forever, but I recently have had a lot of issues with surface film on my 40 gallon breeder and the only thing that has changed is I made my own osmocote + caps this time around.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Have you noticed beneficial bacteria dying off? A large spike in ammonia would most likely confirm this. Yes it has been said that osmocote has ammonia, which could contribute to an increase, but my thoughts are a large increase could signify death of beneficial bacteria
 

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Have you noticed beneficial bacteria dying off? A large spike in ammonia would most likely confirm this. Yes it has been said that osmocote has ammonia, which could contribute to an increase, but my thoughts are a large increase could signify death of beneficial bacteria
The only time I had an ammonia spike from osmocote was due to not burying the tabs deep enough. If you burying them deep like you should, then you should not have an ammonia spike.
 

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The only time I had an ammonia spike from osmocote was due to not burying the tabs deep enough. If you burying them deep like you should, then you should not have an ammonia spike.
I totally understand that. What I am saying though is the surfactants should degrade your beneficial bacteria (based on information all over the internet about not using surfactants in aquariums) and thus translate into other problems like ammonia spikes.

I am more concerned about the death of fish/bacteria than ammonia.

Picture...



Tested my ammonia, since I added a bunch last night, and it appears to have dropped back to zero. So that tells me there hasn't been a significant effect on beneficial bacteria.

I've done more reading and I can find some versions of osmocote indicating they use "hydroflo" wetting agent (surfactant), other versions it isn't exactly clear. I have checked the MSDS on my specific version of osmocote and it doesn't list any wetting agents, however I am unsure yet if those are required to be listed.

With that said, I did some research on Hydroflo (made by Solutions4Earth) and it indicates it is not toxic and biodegradable.

Still being unsure.. I have also that polymer coatings can potentially cause bubbles to not break. Polymer coating is clearly displayed on the label of osmocote. Are these coatings harmful to beneficial bacteria/fish? I don't know much about polymer coatings but Everris, who makes Osmocote, indicates their Poly-S polymer coating technology is biodegradable.

If there is someone out there with more information or knowledge of chemistry, it would be great to find out. I'm going all in on this one..
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
If anyone out there is following along...

I tested my water parameters tonight and notice my pH crashed majorly (this has never happened before). My KH was also down to 0 ppm, and that has never happened either.

At this point I made the decision to dig up all my plants and gravel and attempted to remove the osmocote. Let me tell you... pain in the ass. haha.

Anyways I removed quite a bit and I am fairly confident that I removed about 90%, I found all the clusters I put in.

After removing them I did 50% water change and tested parameters. (note: I did a 50% water change after the initial finding of bubbles on June 16)

Water has been circulating for over an hour and the bubbles are significantly less. It was totally the osmocote.

pH is back up (naturally as the water change would bring it up since tap was higher than the tank was currently at)
KH is back up (same as above)
Ammonia at 0 as expected. I have added more ammonia, note: I have no fish and trying to finish my cycle, which seems to have stayed on track despite all of this.

One thing to note: My glass top on the aquarium, when dried, was littered with crusty white spots (almost like dried salt). I have a picture and can upload if interested.

I will check back in 24 hours.

I am not sure why the osmocote was causing an issue in my tank, as I know this method has been used for like two decades now, but it appears to have been an issue in my tank. I will be moving forward with SeaChem Flourish tabs, despite the price (this was the first reason I went with these damn osmocote tabs)



UPDATE @ June 21:

Last night as I noticed the pH was dropping again. I used a pH meter to get a more accurate reading. pH was at 6.5. Confirmed tap is at 7.5. Also noted that Nitrates were sitting around 20ppm. So I have done a 50% water change.

After the water change the bubbles appear to be popping as they hit the surface more so than ever before. There is still some build up but I expected so. I went out and bought Seachem's Flourish Root Tabs. I feel better that I have something that is specifically built for aquariums. I know they aren't as "potent" but at this point I'd rather be safe. I am waiting on the pH to stable out before putting these tabs into the gravel.

It seems that my issues are slowly disappearing after removing the osmocote. I guess that really ends the situation. Whatever the reasons.. I had issues with it and based on the results I have to say that I strongly believe osmocote has surfactants in it. Whether or not these are dangerous to fish remains to be undetermined, but with so much information out there on the internet about how they have negative effects makes me personally not want to use osmocote.

Crossing my fingers Seachem's product will do the trick.

AgSafe has an amazing product in my opinion based on the ingredients but I cannot source this in Canada. http://agritab.com/agsafeaquariumplantrootspikes.aspx

Cheers all!
 
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