Deep Sand Bed Problems?

danelch

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I recently turned my 90 gallon mbuna tank into a planted desert-themed tank with sand as the substrate of course. It's like 2" deep in the center and 4" deep in the sides.
I've recently read about toxic waste gas accumulation in the substrate and the problems it can lead to once the bubbles escape!
I hadn't thought it through while I was doing it. I really love the scape and don't want to change it either. It's lightly stocked atm with around 15 small sized fish eg guppies etc

Now I have 3 problems:
1) what if I want to plant some plants in the substrate with root tabs etc ? Would the disturbance in the substrate result in release of any such gases ?
2) can Malaysian trumpet snails cause any such issues when they bury themselves in the substrate? (Don't have any in there atm, but I plan on having them as a clean up crew

3) would it be wise to not disturb the substrate at all e.g by surface syphoning during a water change etc to prevent this problem?

Thanks in advance. Really hoping for some sound advice and answers soon as I plan to get new plants and fish the coming week !
 

sloughdog

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The snails would actually keep the gases from building up and alleviate the problem.
I have sand about 2-3” and never had an issue. I think between the Malaysian snails, plant roots, kuhli loaches, Pygmy cories and me poking around in the sand stops gas build up.
 

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Well, having deep sand just increases the risk of having a gas buildup underneath.
If you have bottom-feeding fish like cory and loaches, they will help stir up the sand a bit which will prevent the gas.
 
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danelch

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Zentuckyfriedchicken said:
Just stir the sand during water changes and you will have 0 problems
Do I need to stir just the surface? Or at a deeper level ?

Also it's been around 3 weeks since I set the tank up . Is there a possibility that some gases might have built up already that could be released if I stir it up now ?
Thanks

sloughdog said:
The snails would actually keep the gases from building up and alleviate the problem.
I have sand about 2-3” and never had an issue. I think between the Malaysian snails, plant roots, kuhli loaches, Pygmy cories and me poking around in the sand stops gas build up.
Ok so I'm definitely getting the MTS now!

Is it too late to add plants and/or MTS now though? Cuz the tank's been setup for like 3 weeks ? Maybe some gases might have built up already by now you think?
Thanks

Fanatic said:
Well, having deep sand just increases the risk of having a gas buildup underneath.
If you have bottom-feeding fish like cory and loaches, they will help stir up the sand a bit which will prevent the gas.
Is it too late to add plants and/or MTS now though? Cuz the tank's been setup for like 3 weeks ? Maybe some gases might have built up already by now you think?
Thanks
 

Hunter1

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I have a dirty tank (2 actually) with organic potting mix covered with BDBS. 1.5” of soil covered with 2” of BDBS.

My chain swords were growing like crazy but a couple got uprooted so I started replanting them. Gas bubbles like crazy! I was worried I just gassed all my fish. Even thought I smelled a sulfur smell.

Nothing died. I mean dozens of big bubbles.

Over the next few nights I probed the substrate, getting even more bubbles.

So, IMO, if you don’t have anything under there with a nitrogen source, you have nothing to worry about. But probing it with a stick, spoon, something wouldn’t hurt.

I think sand provides a solid barrier so nothing gets below it as long as you vacuum the surface.
 

sfsamm

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I don't believe that it becomes an issue in standard setups. My understanding is it becomes an issue when you have DEEP sand beds creating anaerobic conditions and generally isn't an issue in a freshwater tank especially if you only have 2-3" of substrate. It is a very real issue but is considerably misunderstood and overly worried about. In all reality very few people are going to a have 6"+ sandbed in freshwater tanks when it becomes something to be concerned about. Do your regular gravel vacs and if you have any plants or snails digging around in your 2-3" you'll be fine. Unless you took proper action to keep the sides at 4" depth they'll slowly sluff down anyway but if you are still worried dig your gravel vac in a couple times a month or poke it with a bamboo meat skewer during your regular maintenance.

Didn't think I'd find what I was looking for so quickly. Here's a decent breakdown of what is actually required to create conditions that hydrogen sulfide actually forms in aquarium. If you sit and read it you'll have more questions but you'll understand that it's not as worrisome as some make it out to be. Especially in freshwater.

http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2005-12/rhf/index.php
 

Lunnietic

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In my opinion its never to late to add plants. I have about 2 inch thickness of sand in my tank amd haven't ever had issues. I have both cories and snails helping with that however.
 

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danelch said:
Is it too late to add plants and/or MTS now though? Cuz the tank's been setup for like 3 weeks ? Maybe some gases might have built up already by now you think?
Thanks
No, I wouldn’t think so.
I usually just poke up and down with a chopstick to see if there’s any pockets of air trapped underneath
 
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danelch

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Thanks everyone for your help!! Everyone here at fishlore is amazing!!

After all that you guys have siad , I guess I'll add plants and MTS during a water change ,stir up the substrate as often as possible and also add a few bottom dwellers to help with all this!!
Thanks again
 

Hunter1

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sfsamm said:
I don't believe that it becomes an issue in standard setups. My understanding is it becomes an issue when you have DEEP sand beds creating anaerobic conditions and generally isn't an issue in a freshwater tank especially if you only have 2-3" of substrate. It is a very real issue but is considerably misunderstood and overly worried about. In all reality very few people are going to a have 6"+ sandbed in freshwater tanks when it becomes something to be concerned about. Do your regular gravel vacs and if you have any plants or snails digging around in your 2-3" you'll be fine. Unless you took proper action to keep the sides at 4" depth they'll slowly sluff down anyway but if you are still worried dig your gravel vac in a couple times a month or poke it with a bamboo meat skewer during your regular maintenance.

Didn't think I'd find what I was looking for so quickly. Here's a decent breakdown of what is actually required to create conditions that hydrogen sulfide actually forms in aquarium. If you sit and read it you'll have more questions but you'll understand that it's not as worrisome as some make it out to be. Especially in freshwater.

http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2005-12/rhf/index.php
Thanks for the information
 
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