Conflicting info regarding black sand patch

StinkyLoaf

Member
In my 60 gallon there‘s a large hill of sand that gets quite deep, so a black patch forms under there. I’m aware that this is caused by the anaerobic environment deep in the sand and that it’s a concentration of hydrogen sulphide, but from doing independent research I can’t come to a conclusion on what to do about the patch. Some sources say that the patch is dangerous while some say it’s harmless, and that there are myths surrounding the danger of the patch.

I’ve stirred up patches before with no issues, but when hearing about how this can be dangerous I don’t know what to think to it anymore. Is the black patch a threat? How can I safely remove it?

Thanks! :happy:
 

bcsay720

Member
Do you have a picture?
 
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StinkyLoaf

Member
So sorry to keep you waiting. It was 10pm where I live when I posted this, so I fell asleep after. I’ll try to get a picture once there’s more light because it’s quite difficult to see rn. It’s just a dark grey, almost black patch underneath the deepest part of the sand.
 
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StinkyLoaf

Member
I did a weekly 30% water change and a rescape so the sand got stirred up a bit. The image quality is bad I know, but it’s quite sunny and bright in the house today. You can kind of see a grey colouration under the sand.

34F112F1-25EE-43AB-845B-6F2D379C791F.jpeg

As I mentioned I’ve stirred this stuff up before without harm being done. I hear about the danger of doing it online, but then there’s people who feel that the danger is just a silly myth.
 

carsonsgjs

Member
CrustyDusty said:
I did a weekly 30% water change and a rescape so the sand got stirred up a bit. The image quality is bad I know, but it’s quite sunny and bright in the house today. You can kind of see a grey colouration under the sand.

34F112F1-25EE-43AB-845B-6F2D379C791F.jpeg

As I mentioned I’ve stirred this stuff up before without harm being done. I hear about the danger of doing it online, but then there’s people who feel that the danger is just a silly myth.
Ive just done the same thing in my 17g crusty - moved a big piece of corbo root to make a bit more space and found all sorts of stuff under it compacted into the sand. Sucked up a load of the sand and waste with the siphon, and will top the sand up later next week. I dont think disturbing the sand will have a huge effect, but if anything bad happens, ill let you know!
 
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StinkyLoaf

Member
carsonsgjs said:
Ive just done the same thing in my 17g crusty - moved a big piece of corbo root to make a bit more space and found all sorts of stuff under it compacted into the sand. Sucked up a load of the sand and waste with the siphon, and will top the sand up later next week. I dont think disturbing the sand will have a huge effect, but if anything bad happens, ill let you know!
Thanks much! Yeah, the black patches have never had any effect other than being an eyesore, at least for me.
 

Fishfriendof315

Member
Its your silt patch. Your point where the circulation hits. Its a good thing. Great if you want some and or have snails to it
 

pagoda

Member
The sand is compacted and will have trapped decomposing poo, food and anything other waste lurking at the bottom of the aquarium. All aquariums get it from time to time.

My method to get rid of it or at least lessen it....as decomposed anything will build up some potentially nasty gasses......buy the biggest turkey baster you can find, stick it deep into the sand and puff it. Repeat that every few centimeters across the entire substrate, that will release any gases harmlessly (it will basically fart at you) and any gunge that comes to the top of the substrate just use the turkey baster to spot suck it and dispose of it into paper towel and throw away.
 
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StinkyLoaf

Member
pagoda said:
The sand is compacted and will have trapped decomposing poo, food and anything other waste lurking at the bottom of the aquarium. All aquariums get it from time to time.

My method to get rid of it or at least lessen it....as decomposed anything will build up some potentially nasty gasses......buy the biggest turkey baster you can find, stick it deep into the sand and puff it. Repeat that every few centimeters across the entire substrate, that will release any gases harmlessly (it will basically fart at you) and any gunge that comes to the top of the substrate just use the turkey baster to spot suck it and dispose of it into paper towel and throw away.
Hopefully I can try that. I’m saving up money for more driftwood for this tank but hopefully I can get a turkey baster and remove the patch. :emoji_pray:

It only seems to form under hills in the sand created by the fish. I’m guessing that this is because there’s less oxygen deeper down, or because waste is buried under the hills.
 

pagoda

Member
If you use the turkey baster...cost a couple of quid in any hardware shop or supermarket....it will dislodge any nasties and loosen the sand at lower levels in the pile, puffing the baster in the sand will redistribute the sand and allow the muck to escape. Initially fish can hide when you start doing it but after a while they will watch intently and almost become mesmerised by the sand puffing.....and gas bubbles rising, if you stand over the aquarium when the bubbles rise, it often smells like rotten eggs
 
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StinkyLoaf

Member
I did a 50% water change today. I managed to get lots of hydrogen sulfide out, at the cost of removing some sand. There’s still a lot of HS left. I was trying to get carrot peelings out and I can say with confidence I’m never feeding the pleco carrot again...

There was so much and it stank of rotten eggs. I kept the lid off for a while. Tomorrow I’m going to get a turkey baster and use that with each water change from now on.
 

John58ford

Member
For my notes, what type of sand are you using CrustyDusty?
 
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StinkyLoaf

Member
John58ford said:
For my notes, what type of sand are you using CrustyDusty?
It’s a fine, natural sand rather than play sand. It’s not branded and it was in a plain, plastic packet when I got it.
 

pagoda

Member
I had a feeling that the sand would fart at you alot, that smell is really bad and if the detritus causing the blackness is very bad you may even end up having to replace whole sections of sand, the gasses are detrimental to fish, especially those who love digging holes or flicking sand around.

Get the turkey baster sorted, as big as you can find, that will absolutely help aerate the sand and suck up any nasties during future water changes, they are an essential item with a sand substrate, much more efficient than a vac which has a tendency to hoover the sand more than the nasties, the baster will only suck up what you point it at.

The carrots have basically started an underwater compost heap in the sand. Whilst dealing with the mucky sand, keep a very close eye on your water quality since freeing the gas will affect it.
 
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StinkyLoaf

Member
When I went to a supermarket on Thursday there were no basters in stock. My feminine parental figure has ordered a turkey baster and it should arrive on Wednesday (along with some betta leaves and some betta food).

The fish have created a hill of sand that I’ll brush to the side during the water change later. This is to prevent the sand from being too deep.
 

pagoda

Member
Fluval make them in two sizes but they are generally more expensive than the supermarket version that does the job equally as well

 

carsonsgjs

Member
pagoda said:
Fluval make them in two sizes but they are generally more expensive than the supermarket version that does the job equally as well

Ive got the extra long fluval one because i was impatient and needed it to spot feed fry, so i got one off amazon for about 10 quid. For some reason though turkey basters are impossible to find in supermarkets these days - brexit, covid, unanticipated surge in demand for basting poultry, who knows. Any baster will do the job though as pagoda says.
 

pagoda

Member
A turkey baster or a Fluval version is essential if you have sand substrate.....it also works well to spot hoover gravel too and for feeding/mucking out Axolotls.

I have 4 of them, one for each aquarium to prevent cross contamination, sand puffing, spot cleaning and even getting the small amounts of water into test tubes for testing water quality.....invaluable bits of kit really and very easy to keep sanitised
 
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StinkyLoaf

Member
Sounds easy enough.

Thanks guys!
 
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StinkyLoaf

Member

IMG_20210418_154755_111.jpg

I used the baster... sooo satisfying!
 

pagoda

Member
CrustyDusty said:

IMG_20210418_154755_111.jpg

I used the baster... sooo satisfying!
Glad it worked out well for you

Use it on a regular basis and you shouldn't get that build up again
 

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