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 Minor tank crash - bad sand!

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Liz
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PostSubject: Minor tank crash - bad sand!   Sat Aug 11, 2012 6:36 pm

Hello, All-
I have a 45-gal tank that was originally set up maybe six months ago as a Q tank for some new fish I got for my 150-gal. The tank had a thin layer of sugar sand, like the 150, some driftwood, and various bits of anubias and java fern. Driftwood and rocks for the hardscape. The inhabitants are 11 dime-nickel-sized angel babies, a pair of Bolivian rams, a half-dozen rosy tetras, a single cardinal tetra and a single BN pleco.

I decided to keep some of the angels in this tank permanently and turn it into a display tank. I wanted to plant this tank but there was such a thin layer of sand that I added some from the 150, which has excess. I rinsed this sand out heavily since there was so much silt in it. When I went to plant the plants, the original sand was discolored and I smelled the rotten egg smell of anaerobic patches. The bottoms of the rocks on the original sand were BLACK. Not good! I did a big PWC and got some better light on the tank (two Coralife 2x21w T5 for almost 2wpg) and the fish seemed happy - I stayed up very late watching them and they looked great. The water was clear and all seemed fine.

This morning the angels were acting weird, and I tested the water and found low levels of nitrite. Yikes. I put a lot of bubbles in the tank and added Tetra SafeStart, the BioSpira stuff that is now available on the shelf. In three hours the nitrite was zero, ammonia zero and nitrate 5 ppm. Amazing. The fish were no longer acting weird, and were begging for food as usual.

I doubt this was a huge cycle, and it is likely than in a day or two it would have resolved on its own, since I did not disturb the filters or remove anything, only added sand and quite a few plants, but this SafeStart might be a good thing to keep on hand for an emergency. I had a bottle since I set the tank up, about 6 months ago, and the "use by" date was April/2013, so it keeps for a long time on the shelf. I'm glad the fish did not have to suffer for very long!

Now I'll watch for rebound, like if there was too much BioSpira bacteria and itself dies off, creating an excess waste situation, and will keep you posted if there are any other issues.

Here's a pic - I'm hoping the valisneria along the left will grow up to the surface and fill in.


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Ron
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PostSubject: Re: Minor tank crash - bad sand!   Sat Aug 11, 2012 11:07 pm

Good save and info. Really love the tank, need to have you come over and redo mine!

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PostSubject: Re: Minor tank crash - bad sand!   Sun Aug 12, 2012 1:06 am

Yea it does look good. Where'd you find that wood? Store or outdoor? I've been snooping for some good pieces but everything I find is too nasty to put in my tank. I'm still too nervous to add tank top plants I find. Everyone and my mother had indoor plants until now when I'm looking for them. So goes the world - N

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PostSubject: Re: Minor tank crash - bad sand!   Sun Aug 12, 2012 12:24 pm

Nereus7 wrote:
Yea it does look good. Where'd you find that wood? Store or outdoor? I've been snooping for some good pieces but everything I find is too nasty to put in my tank. I'm still too nervous to add tank top plants I find. Everyone and my mother had indoor plants until now when I'm looking for them. So goes the world - N

I purchased some of the wood where I found a good deal (DW is so overpriced most of the time!) but will be working on collecting some myself, since I use it a lot and it is hit or miss finding some that is decent and clean and will sink. Most of what I collect won't sink, and that's why in the tank there are rocks strategically placed to wedge the wood down. I need to go ahead and set up a soaking tank to keep some DW water logged to be used in the future. I have a really gorgeous piece that is sitting on my deck because I soaked it for MONTHS with no luck, and it is so big that a rock is not enough to hold it down. Without the bark on, I don't know enough about wood to tell what species a found piece is, but I just try it and see. The bark must be scrubbed off and it can't be too decayed - there's a fine balance between dry and rotting.

*Update* The tank seems to have survived this little incident and now I'll wait to see that the plants are happy. It has been about six months since I've kept a true planted tank, so I'm enjoying it. I'm getting a Panaque changae (aka Tiger Pleco) from Anomala later on in the week that will go in this tank, and I'm looking forward to this addition. This is a wood-eating pleco and hopefully it will be happy with the wood I have. When I think about a wood-eating pleco I think of the old Pink Panther cartoons, with the termites that would buzz through a door or a chair within seconds, but hopefully it won't be like that! affraid

I now don't believe the anaerobic sand had anything to do with the insult to the cycle (thanks, Deb!) but is much more likely related to the sand I added, though disturbing the existing substrate in a relatively immature tank could certainly do it. This is something I need to keep in mind - even though the tank has been up for almost 6 months, it cannot be considered mature, especially since I added 11 small fish recently. I probably should have given the tank another month after adding the new fish to risk disturbing the substrate for a planting spree, but I assumed that the plants under 2wpg would uptake any ammonia for me and act as insurance.

Anyway, I'm glad I had the SafeStart on hand. Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: Minor tank crash - bad sand!   Sun Aug 12, 2012 2:32 pm

Liz wrote:
I'm hoping the valisneria along the left will grow up to the surface and fill in.

Me too! I can't wait to see it all filled in across the back. The tall, grassy plants always look so good in woody set-ups with light-colored sand like the 45.
Hope to see more updates on this tank. ThumbsUp

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