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Sulfur Bubbles - How Dangerous?

Discussion in 'Aquatic Plants & Planted Tanks' started by Mynxy, Jun 15, 2010.

  1. Mynxy

    Mynxy Thread Starter New Member

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    We have a couple of tanks with common topsoil under gravel as the substrate. Our ten gallon is full of cherry shrimp and plants, and our 20 gallon has some "blue" shrimp and 5 Scarlet Badis. The 20 gallon releases MASSIVE amounts of smelly gas when we push down on the substrate. The 10 didn't do it until we cleared some of the plants from the front, but it's only a little. It definitely occurs where the plants are sparse. I have a bubble filter with a lot of charcoal in the 20, and it's been getting some good water changes because I'm worried about it. Boyfriend doesn't want to pull the tank apart because it's looking really good right now. There's some sick and dying shrimp in there, but the population is still increasing. He agreed to ripping my other ten gallon up and replanting in store-bought substrate, and he wants to see how that substrate works out with the plants. (I'm blanking on what the new stuff is called.) I want to clean it out NOW, because I'm worried about my Badis. For the dingleberry shrimp (they're brown), not so much worry. So my question is - how bad is the situation in my 20?
     
  2. cooltow1

    cooltow1 Member

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    Hydrogen sulfide is a colorless, poisonous, flammable gas with the characteristic foul odor of rotten eggs. It results from the bacterial breakdown of organic matter in the absence of oxygen, such as in swamps and sewers (anaerobic digestion). It is somewhat soluble in water and acts as a weak acid, A solution of hydrogen sulfide in water is initially clear but over time turns cloudy as it reacts with the oxygen dissolved in water. not a good thing to have in an aquarium but really not damaging till it is released in to the water

    Rick
     
  3. HBIC

    HBIC Need help??? That's what we're here for :)

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    Anaerobic pockets from my experience form when substrate cleaning lacks, I wouldn't worry to much about it unless it somehow escapes and gets diffused into the water column then you may have a problem.
     
  4. Mynxy

    Mynxy Thread Starter New Member

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    Thank you for your replies, they're appreciated. :D

    Okay, so it's not an emergency as long as we let it be for the time being. Any solutions to clearing it up without ripping out the tank contents? Current theory is that it's the one inch topsoil under one inch of gravel that's trapping gas. I don't want to fill up every inch of this one with plants. Maybe a nicely rooting sword plant or similar plant could snake some roots into the trouble spots? Suggestions for other plants would be great, as my bf has extreme prejudice against swords in small tanks. Are there any other ways to aerate the soil (without poisoning the fish?) All suggestions are welcome!

    Thank you,

    Mynxy
     
  5. MOD_Dawn

    MOD_Dawn Active Member

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    if it were me I'd simply put the fish in a holding bucket, use a siphon and really siphon out the substrate (which should remove your pockets)... add some clean dechlorinated water and replace the fish back in.

    If you have a homemade siphon that you can use to adjetate (sp) the substrate use something like a skewer to slightly swirl the substrate to get the pockets released (of course not while the fish are in there).
     
  6. WhiteGloveAquatics

    WhiteGloveAquatics New Member

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    I know some with these set ups use a gravel vac and basically catch the pocket of gas in that and vent it out without it being exposed to the water.
     
  7. HBIC

    HBIC Need help??? That's what we're here for :)

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    Take a chop stick and shove into the substrate in different places to release the bubbles. If the gas is exposed to the water column it won't matter, the only time anaerobic gases affect the fish in the tank is if they get diffused into the water otherwise they simply float to the top, burst and gas off into the air.
     
  8. Mynxy

    Mynxy Thread Starter New Member

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    All sounds good. It's a natural tank w/no filter, and we don't siphon it. But we did push the bubbles out, and plunked some blyxa & Crypt spiralis near the bare spots. Should do the trick. Thanks all!