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Thread: Anaerobic Substrate...

  1. #1
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    Anaerobic Substrate...

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    Most of you may know I recently tore down my tank of about 1 and 1/2 years to do a complete change in aquascape. As part of this, I decided to remove a rather large piece of driftwood. Imagine my surprise when I found that the gravel beneath my driftwood (which has quite a large base), had turned completely black... Yes it looks like that portion of the substrate had become completely anaerobic.

    I didn't thick much of it... after all I figured when the plants move in, all will be well. how wrong I was...

    I planted many plants in my tank, but in the area where the driftwood was, I planted some nuphar japonica, Ech. Oriental, and C. Balansae. The Ech. Oriental grew slowly, and the C. Balansae didn't seem to grow at all. Only the Nuphar did well. At first I suspected Alleopathy... As such, I decided to move the C.Balansae.

    On uprooting, I noticed the roots were almost completely blackened... even those of a healthy plant I recently transplanted were almost all black. Out of curiousity, I uprooted both my nuphar and e.oriental... It became evident that my e.oriental had also struggled with the anaerobic substrate, and only recently started to overcome... most of the older roots were partially blackened with some newer ones being white. As for the nuphar? Well perhaps the presence of its rather large tuber gave it enough reserves, or perhaps it was planted nearer the fringe. Again some roots could be seen to have black bands (almost like a zebra)...

    I've since moved my C.Balansae away to see if it can somehow make a comeback, though I'm not very hopeful. I'm curious though, have any of you encountered such problems before? and what would you have done to the substrate given that you knew it could pose a problem.
    Allen

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    I have the same problem with anaerobic substrates some time back. It was with my E. oriental. The plant keep dying when the roots start rotting in the anaerobic substrate. It happened only when the plant was just introduced. Now, the plant has fully establish itself and has no problem with the substrate anymore.

    Anaerobic substrate is not totally bad... I think. It helps in the reduction of Fe3+ to Fe2+ so that it can be absorbed through the roots.

    BC

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    when I tore down my tank, same thing.

    it maybe that
    a) substrate heater really is needed
    b) or JBL has a problem


    I also noted that in my old setup, every time I plant any kind of tuber/corm, they rot/smell bad. (nuphar, aponogetons, nyphaea, nyphoides,crinum..), even though I had most of the tuber out.
    in some cases, the entire tuber rots away , but the plant survives and doesn't grow a new one. (mh lighting though)
    ---

    anyone using any other substrates with this problem?
    ie; roots turning black, when you dig up the substrate, you can smell hydrogen sulphide (source of unexplained fish deaths.)

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    ----------------
    On 12/26/2002 11:26:17 AM

    when I tore down my tank, same thing.

    it maybe that
    a) substrate heater really is needed
    b) or JBL has a problem
    ----------------
    Actually I have 2 things to say...

    1. My substrate is dennerle deponit, so its definitely not just an issue with JBL
    2. I have an undergravel heater... In fact the cable runs right under the area (can feel the heat when I stick my finger in). Having said that, I'm sure that having such a large piece of driftwood restricted water flow no matter how much cable ran under it... Its one of the problems with using driftwood and rocks... you create "dead areas" where no water flow is possible.

    Thankfully, the area of substrate is OK now... the gravel is actually white again. In fact I see no trace of the blackness... which is a relief.
    Allen

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    I have a few spots in my tank which is always anaerobic... one of which is under the driftwood and another under a rock. From the side of the tank I can see some part of my substrate is black. When the roots of the plant grows into the black area, the black colour disappear.

    So far the only problem I had was with the E. oriental. Otherwise, I have no problem with the fishes or plants.

    BC

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    Guess that proves that roots will help to oxygenate the area and keep it aerobic. Which is another reason why we should plant heavily I guess.

    I'm still wondering though, would you guys do something to an obviously anaerobic substrate before planting into it?
    Allen

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    Sometimes I plant a hardy fast growing plant, like H. deformis, in the anaerobic spot to "aerate" it before planting other more fragile plants there.

    BC

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    Will it help if we poke the areas which are likely to become anaerobic, eg under the driftwood/rocks with the pincer or scissors when we're pruning? i.e. once a week. Do you think it'll be enough to prevent it from becoming anaerobic?

    This is pretty scary, it'll be horrible to discover one day that all your fish have suddenly died....


    eggz

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    If you have plants with large root systems near it, it should be ok. I've had lotuses and echinodoruses with roots that probably covered an area at least a foot in diameter.
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    So if we plant lotus next to driftwood or rocks, this should help because their roots can creep under the "dead spot". At least in theory. Right?
    I have dwarf cichlids in my tanks! Do you?

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    Doesn't need to be a lotus... any plant will help, though plants with larger root systems will help more...
    Allen

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