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Old 10-15-2014, 04:14 PM   #1 
Blue Fish
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Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: East Tennessee
So, there was a small disaster... ;)

So...there was a small disaster. ;)

I haven't been on in awhile, life got crazy busy, and I'm pretty much just here for a quick question...but anyway. ;)

So, I have an NPT 20g long tank. There is a small HOB filter in it to provide water circulation, but the plants are doing all the work. Everything was going along nicely, two large CT bettas and a bunch of snails, all different types, life is good. And then...I dropped an almost full container of NLS pellets into the tank. Oh dear goodness....SUCH a huge mess. :P I scooped out the boys, they've been in 5 gallon holding tanks for a couple of months now until I can get all this garbage fixed.
I tried vacuuming out the's a no go. It's down there into the gravel, around the plants, floating in the's everywhere. :P Even allowing it to settle didn't help, it just got further into the gravel.

So, I've been letting it sit, most of the plants died off because I just let it go until I could figure out what to do, but I've got a TON of hair algae in there that's picked up the slack. Basically, my question I need to clean out the entire tank, substrate (dirt) and all and start again? Or can I fudge this, put down a new layer of small gravel and allow the uneaten food to just sit there as an extra fertz layer?

I'm wondering that since that algae has been going nuts in there, that it may have eaten up all the nitrates/nitrites (similar to how eventually a soil layer is depleted of nutrients and no longer really feeds the plants), and if I give it a good surface scrub, new gravel, new water, that maybe the tank would be habitable again without having to take EVERYTHING out?

I know when I first took the fish out, the ammonia spiked WAY high, (which is why the boys came out, to keep them safe, certainly not going to make them live in those conditions!!) but it's taken me longer to get around to setting the tank back up than anticipated...and now I'm starting to wonder if this unintentional fertz may have been consumed, or at least consumed enough to start again without having to strip the tank?

Comments, suggestions, experience, all are welcome! I'd like to get them back into their tank, but I'm REALLY hoping that I don't have to strip the thing. :P It's a hope, lol! :)
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Old 10-15-2014, 08:56 PM   #2 
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have you tested it?
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Old 10-15-2014, 10:18 PM   #3 
Blue Fish
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I haven't, honestly, since there's nothing living in it, I just turned the filter and heater off and let it be until I could get around to scrubbing it out. It only occurred to me the other day that I might be able to make the food into part of the soil layer, and wondered if anyone had any ideas or experience with that. I've got a crazy schedule at work, so other than taking care of my clean tanks, that one has just been sitting and evaporating.

I'm assuming that you're getting to the same point I was...wondering that if I was to test it, and the tests came back in normal parameters...I'd think that just putting some new gravel in on the top (or scooping out some of the existing gravel layer where the majority of the food is anyway, and then putting on a new gravel cap for the soil) and I can just refill and go about life as normal?

I figure that's what I'll probably end up doing, I was just curious as to if anyone else had ever done anything like this before and might have some information. :)
Never hurts to ask!
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Old 10-16-2014, 12:05 AM   #4 
Join Date: Jul 2013
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Yikes, I have nightmares about that happening. Accidents do happen, no matter how careful you are. I can only tell you what I would do if I were in your shoes--that being, break the entire tank down and start over. You can tweak here and there, but my guess is you will end up more frustrated than taking a couple of hours to do the entire tank over.
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Old 10-16-2014, 02:44 AM   #5 
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this happened to me 4 years ago.. I couldn't get the food out because it was also everywhere. then I also thought to put a new layer of gravel but that didn't end up well for me. the bottom (with food) started to rot and see green/brown. after a week or two the new layer also quickly became green of algae...
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Old 10-16-2014, 09:27 PM   #6 
Blue Fish
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Thanks everyone for the input! I think I'll try taking out the gravel cap layer first, refill, and see what happens for a couple of weeks. If it goes green, which is what will probably happen, then I'll scrub out completely and start again. If not, then great, it was worth it. :)
This will probably be the least work, because if it works, great, if not, then I'm still scrubbing out, nothing lost by trying it in two parts.

Again, big thanks for the info guys! :D
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Old 10-16-2014, 09:57 PM   #7 
Aqua Aurora
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Gut it and redo it. Don't just add more gravel, it won't fix the issue. Algae consumes nitrates but not as fast as plants. That's why people add ferts and co2 or liquid co2 supplements to speed up plant growth so it takes nutrients away from algae and helps prevent its growth.
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