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Are These Decorations Creating Hydrogen Sulfide?

Discussion in 'Aquarium Aquascaping' started by BlackOsprey, Nov 16, 2018.

  1. BlackOspreyWell Known MemberMember

    Obviously I don't think some rock piles and a piece of driftwood are directly creating H2S. However, they do create some areas in the tank where no plants are growing, and between that and the dirt layer underneath, is it creating this excessive H2S that's killing my plant roots?

    I have another smaller dirted tank that has very few rocks and other decor, mostly overgrown with plants, and while it creates H2S I've never had plant roots rot from it.


    (the anubias in the middle is surrounded by a rock pile, and the java ferns on the right are growing on one big rock.)
  2. Silister TrenchWell Known MemberMember

    I think it's more likely that you're seeing a deficiency - either Co2 or lighting. This is just an educated guess based on the photo you posted.

    I say Co2 because the algae on the glass, heater, and various spots is more often seen in high-light systems where nutrients are plentiful, light intense, but Co2 is out of balance. The coloration of your plants, appearing very light green, also says you have intense light. Co2 seems the obvious deficiency based on the photo.

    I say lighting because I'm not sure which plants are dying back, where they are Planted. Could be that if you have a more light demanding species the shade from the hardscape or floating plants are shading it from it's demand from light but -

    - still an issue with Co2 most likely.
  3. BlackOspreyWell Known MemberMember

    I've never heard of CO2 issues causing plants to develop black roots and rot.
    The only plants that have died back are the plants that have developed these black roots, which are all incidentally planted near rock piles and other areas that lack a lot of plant growth.

    The algae is there because my tank was previously out of wack before I made some major changes. I had weaker lighting and no dirt layer, and adding dirt has greatly improved my plant growth. the s. repens are getting tiny new leaves and the banana plants have basically exploded.
    The algae was honestly much worse than before. What you see here is whatever I didn't wipe off when I tore down and redid this tank.

    I'm also not sure if I'd call this lighting "intense." It's medium at most.
  4. Silister TrenchWell Known MemberMember


    Not once did you mention "black roots" in the prior message. I made an educated analysis based on what I saw in the photo. The algae says nutrients in the water column. Because it's green all it says is the light isn't low, but is more likely medium to high. Dirt, garden soil, top soil (whatever) has an over abundance of nutrients, and often all the needed nutrients, but the algae in the water column says it was added recently or you disturb the cap because it's not simply staying in the substrate. The health of the other plants says all the nutrients are there, the medium light algae says light is the correct spectrum for photosynthesis. Since there's no obvious sign Co2 is being additionally added to the tank, Co2 deficiency is the obvious problem based on the photo.

    If you had mentioned black roots previously my educated guess based on the photo would have only changed to this -

    -Co2 deficiency
    -Lighting issue
    -Anoxic Zone that's been created

    Because I still don't know what plant is actually effected, Co2 is still the simplest solution as healthy plant growth would fix a Anoxic Zone because the roots would oxygenate the substrate. Black roots just means the rotting of what should be a healthy system to me.
  5. BlackOspreyWell Known MemberMember

    I'm wondering mostly because the plant with the rotting black roots, bonsai rotala, was able to grow in another tank of mine with almost identical conditions, just in a smaller volume of water, a deeper cap, and fewer decorations and more plant growth. This other tank had no CO2 injection either, and while I'm sure the rotala probably grew slower, it still grew and developed strong healthy roots.

    The rotala in this tank are cuttings from the smaller one, and the main difference between the two is the amount of rocks and driftwood leading to less plants rooted in the substrate. I thought it was possible the two might be related.

    I've considered DIY CO2 but given how many disasters that can create between pH swings and fish poisoning and BBA outbreaks, and how the majority of my plants (java ferns, anubias, java moss) can do fine without it or have emergent leaves, I'm not convinced it's worth the trouble. Especially when I've made no CO2 work just fine before.
  6. Silister TrenchWell Known MemberMember

    I wouldn't bother with diy Co2. As you pointed out, the inconsistent levels usually create messes.

    Your success in another tank could have given it more access to light. Rotola 'Bonsai' needs a good strong light, but it's small size, a heavy layer of floating plants, means it's probably not getting enough light. It's already a slower growing plant in good lighting, but if it's not getting enough it is outcompeted for Co2 and nutrients by plants in more advantageous areas.

    You could remove the hardscape if that's still a strong concern, which would be the easiest test to see if that's a problem, or move it to a place spot with better lighting in the tank. If giving it more direct light doesn't seem to help, then I'd try liquid dosing carbon versus diy injection. Alternately you could liquid dose carbon anyways, which would help reduce algae and yield better growth all around, but if lighting is the problem it won't help the rotola.
  7. BlackOspreyWell Known MemberMember

    Hmm. I'd agree if it weren't for the fact that the other tank used a dinky Nicrew light, which is probably weaker than the Finnex Stingray light I'm using on the 10g. The tank is completely overgrown but the rotala maintained slow but steady growth and good health despite the shade created by a mat of duckweed and all the corkscrew val and anacharis above.
    I'm sure bonsai rotala would grow much faster with a high-tech setup, but hey, what doesn't?

    I decided to rearrange the tank, removing most of the rocks and driftwood. Unfortunately the pet stores nearby today were really lacking in plants so there's still a lot of area in the tank that remains unplanted. I'll try to fix that with additional plants and cuttings.

    I'd do liquid carbon if it weren't for its tendency to melt anacharis and other plants. I've used it in this tank before and the anacharis was dying even at a half dose.