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Old 09-13-2014, 09:06 PM   #1 
freeflow246
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Help please! Smelly bubbles coming from substrate

I've had my NPT set up for coming on three months now. Was told I wouldn't need to poke at the soil as it's capped with very fine gravel. I was siphoning out some snail poo in some hard to reach places with a turkey baster when I bumped the gravel a little roughly and some large bubbles came out. There was a smell of sulpher, not overpowering but there. Plants are all healthy. Betta and snails seem fine. Ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate are all at 0.

So what should I do? Poke until all the bubbles come out? Remove fish and snails before doing so?

Is the only cause of smelly bubbles substrate going bad? I've heard npts can bubble for the first few months as everything settles. Could it merely be bubbles that were trapped under the substrate and smell like sulphur from whatever is in the dirt? It's miracle gro organic potting soil if that helps.
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Old 09-13-2014, 09:44 PM   #2 
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Any advice would be welcome... I'm freaking out a bit
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Old 09-13-2014, 11:08 PM   #3 
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I read on another website that releasing a small amount of the gas and then doing a large water change should be alright. I did that 45 mins ago and all seems to be well. Had about 8 smaller bubbles come up before it stopped. Only in two parts of the tank that I hadn't realized I wasn't reaching well and which had an accumulation of nerite poop. Should I invest in some MTS or just poke the substrate with every water change?
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Old 09-14-2014, 11:26 AM   #4 
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Depending on the footprint on the tank I'd recommend 1-4 Malaysian trumpet snails (if you get 2 or more they will multiply over time), I've kept some in my soil with sand capped bubble bowl and ever had gas bubble issues. I also keep them in all my sand tanks so I don't have to do the poke/chopstick thing. I'd be very warry about the gas bubbles, they will kill shrimp, and can kill fish depending on how much is released into the water. I don't beleive the gas would show up on an ammonia test kit, I might be wrong but I think its methane (but I might be remembering that part wrong), and any soil based tank (doesn't matter the cap) will have break down of the organic compounds in the soil which overtime will lead to buildup of this gas. Movement of the substrate helps deter larger pockets of it building up which can be lethal when released into the water column.
If you can't get MTS quickly just use a chopstick or fort and poke the substrate (don't stir) at the beginning of your water change have the siphon in the tank right by the utensil used to suck up any poo or gas that comes up.
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Old 09-14-2014, 07:58 PM   #5 
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Thank you! I released several more bubbles today and did a pretty large water change right after, rearranging the decor afterwards to minimize the amount of substrate covered by large rocks. There are a few red cherry shrimp still alive in my tank, and betta seems fine. I'll definitely look into some MTS and I'll keep poking and changing the water every other day or so until the bubbles are gone.
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Old 09-14-2014, 08:19 PM   #6 
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I don't know who told you you don't need to poke the substrate but that's not true unless you have MTS.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aqua Aurora View Post
Depending on the footprint on the tank I'd recommend 1-4 Malaysian trumpet snails (if you get 2 or more they will multiply over time)
Actually, MTS clone themselves, so you only need one for them to multiply.
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Old 09-14-2014, 09:15 PM   #7 
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When the tank was originally set up NPT, did you manually aerate the soil/substrate? If not, it could've stored up gases under the substrate.

I would caution against too many water changes as it can crash the eco-system. Closely monitor the water parameters and visible, physical health of the fish/occupants until the tank stabilizes itself.
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Old 09-14-2014, 09:43 PM   #8 
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I think I was told that since I have gravel as a cap over my dirt, I wouldn't need to poke. But I could be remembering that totally wrong. I ordered 2 MTS just now and hopefully that will help things. I shall poke on.

How exactly does one manually aerate? I'm not sure what that is. Since the bubbles smelled of sulfur but didn't REEK, maybe it was just gas trapped underneath.

Since beneficial bacteria live in the filter and on decor, I was under the impression that it would be hard to crash the cycle with water changes. I was intending to every other day poke at the substrate and if bubbles come out, do a 50% water change to get rid of possible sulfur.

Plants, 3 little shrimps, 2 nerites, and betta are fine.
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Old 09-14-2014, 10:05 PM   #9 
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Also, not sure if this is important or not, but the bubbles were not tinged with any color.
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Old 09-15-2014, 06:08 PM   #10 
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Manual aerating is just poking the substrate. I used a bamboo skewer and randomly poke holes. Pretty much like you're testing a cake.

FYI, the gravel cap is to keep the dirt in place.
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