Smoky Smell?

Koibe

Hello,

I am currently cycling a 5 gallon tank, using API Quick Start and some medium-sized fish pellets (which are past their expiry date).

Recently, I've been getting a smell from my aquarium, resembling something smoky or burnt? My acrylic tank does not have a heater, but it has a HOB, a sponge filter and an air pump.

My process is to add in a healthy dose of fish pellets, then the next day I add the bacteria in the API Quick Start. I've been doing this routine for a week.

What is the source of the smoky/burnt smell? It's not that strong, but I can smell it when I put my nose right above the water.

Could it be that I'm overdosing on the Quick Start? I do it every other day, on days where I don't add the fish pellets.
 

Goodbye

I doubt that the smell has anything to do with cycling your tank.
Check all of your electrical cords and make sure that no water is dripping into the electrical outlets. Even one drop of water can produce a burning smell.
You're not looking for a big drip either as that would have already shorted out the circuit.
 

Lynn78too

I agree with Bill Scott. It's most likely something electrical. I would start by seeing what happens when you unplug things. I would try getting a different air pump first and seeing if that's what's causing it, wait a day. If it's still smelling, as much as I hate to suggest it, I'd unplug first the sponge filter, wait a day. If the smell is still there, turn the sponge filter back on and unplug the other filter, I've been told that if you continue to put food in the filter you won't lose the cycle and since the tank isn't heated you won't have to worry about the water temp.

If you haven't already done so, make sure that all of the cords have a drip line. You could also tape a piece of exposed tissue towards the top on the cords and see if it gets wet. If the tissue gets wet or has that look that occurs when tissues dry up, then that is also a way of checking though I'm not sure if that is a way I'd trust when it comes to my house and safety of myself and family. I would also recommend any power cords be for indoor/outdoor use. We attached the power cord up to the bottom of the stand so it will have the drip line and the safer power cord.
 

Koibe

Thanks for the quick replies, Bill Scott and Lynn78too !

My cords are actually really close to my tank, but when I smell that area I get no scent of smokiness whatsoever. I'll make sure to tape it with some duct tape though.

I'll go with the suggestion from Lynn78too and unplug the sponge filter. The air pump may be the problem as it's pretty old and I haven't used it in a while.

My HOB is still running, so at least there's still a filter. If I unplug the sponge filter, will any of the beneficial bacteria growing on it be taken away?
 

Lynn78too

Are the airlines also old? Maybe they're just degrading.

To be honest, I'm not sure about the sponge filter. Maybe since it's stayed in the water it will be ok. I know you can take it out and wash it with the tank water and it's still ok...

My cords are actually really close to my tank, but when I smell that area I get no scent of smokiness whatsoever. I'll make sure to tape it with some duct tape though.

I just want to make sure you're not duct taping it to the tank.
 

Koibe

Are the airlines also old? Maybe they're just degrading.

To be honest, I'm not sure about the sponge filter. Maybe since it's stayed in the water it will be ok. I know you can take it out and wash it with the tank water and it's still ok...
It is probably the airlines, but I'll check in the morning. Surely unplugging the sponge for a night won't affect the cycling in any way?

I just want to make sure you're not duct taping it to the tank.
LOL! No, I am taping the electrical outlets so they are waterproof.
 

Gone

I'd also recommend to check the HOB filter impeller to make sure it's seated correctly. Is it noisy? If it's not seated correctly, it can rub against the tube which could cause heat buildup.
 

Koibe

I don't think it has anything to do with my equipment, everything seems to be fine. When I come back to take a whiff, it's more like a sulphuric-type of smell instead of something burning.

There's no smoke or any sulphur powder around my tank? Is it because I keep dosing the tank with Quick Start?
 

Lynn78too

LOL! No, I am taping the electrical outlets so they are waterproof.

I just had to make sure! I didn't want to get on here and find out I should have said something.

I've never done a quick start before so I'm not sure about that. What does it smell like in the bottle? I did look on API's website and it keeps saying it's meant for a one time, but again, I've never used it so this is just speculation and you should probably check your ammonia levels.

The HOB propeller can definitely cause a problem. Also, it will be good practice so when you have to clear it out when it gets dirty/nasty. I have to clean mine out every 3-4 months or it will not work as strong and will eventually turn off completely.
 

AquaticJ

It is probably the airlines, but I'll check in the morning. Surely unplugging the sponge for a night won't affect the cycling in any way?


LOL! No, I am taping the electrical outlets so they are waterproof.
I’d use electrical tape, not duct tape.
 

Koibe

I just had to make sure! I didn't want to get on here and find out I should have said something.

I've never done a quick start before so I'm not sure about that. What does it smell like in the bottle? I did look on API's website and it keeps saying it's meant for a one time, but again, I've never used it so this is just speculation and you should probably check your ammonia levels.

The HOB propeller can definitely cause a problem. Also, it will be good practice so when you have to clear it out when it gets dirty/nasty. I have to clean mine out every 3-4 months or it will not work as strong and will eventually turn off completely.

I did a water change today to try to fix it (I've been putting that off because they say not to change the water while cycling), since I google searched it and the cause of it may be a buildup of ammonia or chemicals in the water. I'm going to hold back on the Quick Start from now on and just feed the fish pellets; I ran out of strips in my test kit so I can't test the ammonia readings.

I checked the HOB and it seemed OK; I couldn't really smell anything from it (the scent is stronger at the front of the tank).
 

Carbeo

I'd be suspicious of the light. Nodes on the led or the metal ends of other bulbs. Anything white and crunchy around them?
 

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