Tannin's and stained water.

KMW1954

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Breaking down my 36gal Bow Front to start over to correct some mistakes made. The tank was progressing nicely then recently it started to crash. Water parameters were all good and the fish and shrimp were thriving.
Slowly the plants started to fall off. First the s. repens then my Amazon sword then the Cardinalis. I was beginning to think the CAE were destroying them and pulling the S.ripens out of the substrate. So I removed those two fish. No improvement.

Then one morning I woke to a huge bacteria bloom and the water was very milky. I then noticed my Pleco was missing. It was always very solitary and didn't see it much before this. I was warned about the CAE attacking and damaging plecos. Still haven't found the body!

So I had been having trouble with tea staining because of the large wood piece I have so because of all this I removed the wood also from this tank to vacuum some of the garbage from the bottom. Still no body!

Now the wood has been out for over a week and have done a fairly large water change yet the staining remains so now my question is could this staining be coming from my substrate?

When I started this tank my intention was for it to be planted so I began with an Under Gravel Filter plate and then a layer of dirt. The dirt is a natural uncented clay mixed 1:1 with potting soil. The potting soil was washed to float all the large pcs. and any junk. That was put in at a depth of about 2.5" and then capped with small pea gravel.

This was then filled about half way with water and the wood and left for about 6 weeks. After the dust settled I was immediately confronted with the tannin stain. After the 6 weeks I started placing the plants. 3 different java ferns all took off and soon started sprouting new growth. The anubias were put in place with stick pins on the wood but kept drifting off. after a little work I got them to stay in place. Tried some dwarf hair grass that never took and the S.ripens and another which I don't recall what it was but it melted quickly but the S. ripens was starting to do well.

Anyways I believe all the nutrients are now gone from the substrate and this is one of the causes of the failure of the plants. Now with the shallow dept of substrate I believe it will be hard to add tabs and the Flourish hasn't been really helping.

So the plan is to tear it down, rebuild with deeper substrate so I can later add tabs and also increase the depth of the pea gravel. Hoping this too will not stain the water with tannin's. The hard part is out to be catching and removing the bazillion little shrimp that are everywhere.
 

Byron

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All the mistakes are hopefully a thing of the past. There are serious issues using soil, and I cannot see this even working with an undergravel filter plate. We move forward.

Substrate: inert sand is the best for plants and fish. That does not mean the "only," just the least problematical and less detrimental. Depth depends upon the intended plants, but I would not go overboard. I have had success with 1 inch overall depth, 2 inch, and 4 inches in my 5-foot tank full of Amazon swords. It is easy enough to supply nutrients with substrate tabs or comprehensive liquid supplements, depending upon the plants. Pea gravel is effective in certain situation, but not all fish can do well over this, and some plants will have trouble.

Tannins from wood are harmless, if unsightly, and some forest fish actually benefit from them. Light is a major factor with plants.
 
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KMW1954

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Soil and under gravel filtration is not a match as the soil will just sift through the slots in the filter plates fouling the filtration.
That is one of the areas I plan to investigate, the migration of soil thru the plate and also found a workable solution to prevent transference.

I have read many articles and watched many videos on substrates and the one thing I consistently find is that there is No Consensus on which is the best or least problematic and everyone seems to have their own favorite..

Water parameters were very stable even after the bacteria bloom. Even today I find no remnants of the pleco and should have removed it from the CAE long before.
 

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That is one of the areas I plan to investigate, the migration of soil thru the plate and also found a workable solution to prevent transference.

I have read many articles and watched many videos on substrates and the one thing I consistently find is that there is No Consensus on which is the best or least problematic and everyone seems to have their own favorite..

Water parameters were very stable even after the bacteria bloom. Even today I find no remnants of the pleco and should have removed it from the CAE long before.
I almost went to sand even with under gravel filtration but decided against. I was going to use sheets of low micron nylon sheets to keep the sand from sifting under the filter plates but the problem I saw in this was how to keep the nylon sheets clear. :dunno:
 

mbsqw1d

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If you're interested in blackwater conditions, I recommend reading Scott Fellmans blogs here -

 
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KMW1954

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So I suppose my question wasn't very clearly asked so will try again with a direct question.

The substrate I have been using is a mix of 50/50 potting soil and kitty litter clay. So is the potting soil containing enough organic material to be causing this tea color tannin staining? I also have this capped with very small sized pea gravel. The drift wood has been removed for about 3 week now and the staining with water chanes hasn't shown an improvement.
 

Byron

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So I suppose my question wasn't very clearly asked so will try again with a direct question.

The substrate I have been using is a mix of 50/50 potting soil and kitty litter clay. So is the potting soil containing enough organic material to be causing this tea color tannin staining? I also have this capped with very small sized pea gravel. The drift wood has been removed for about 3 week now and the staining with water chanes hasn't shown an improvement.

Yes. Also, these substances (both of them) are a risk to fish.
 

Byron

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Soil often (maybe always) harbours bacteria, which is why it should never be used in a tank with substrate fish that are more readily affected. Its "plant" benefits are minimal to say the least, as the only advantage is the production of CO2 from the decaying organic matter in the soil. It usually causes high ammonia, which is why most soil authorities recommend a dry start and six months before any fish are added. Considering that any benefit of soil is exhausted within one year, it hardly seems worth the risk.

Kitty Litter that is pure clay with absolutely no deordorizers or other additives is probably OK from that standpoint, but what is its supposed benefit? It is said to be useful in absorbing excess nutrients. This is easily achieved with water changes without the added risks. And there are no nutrients in the substrate beyond (a) natural organic matter from feeding the fish, or (b) what the aquarist adds, so this should easily be under control.
 
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KMW1954

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All points to consider and to be aware of.
When I started this tank it sat uninhabited for a couple months with nothing more than a large piece of wood and it settled in very nicely. I then added some live plants and all was thriving. Then a big algae bloom and then added a couple CAE and 8 Amono shrimp. They too did very well until recently that I believe the tank has now depleted the nutrients from the dirted soil and again I believe one mistake was not adding enough dirted soil to plant fert tabs.

The rooted plants are showing stress and liquid ferts are getting it done. Also the shrimp have taken over and almost out of control. Started with 8 Amono and added 8 more, then added 8 Cherry and 8 Blue. Now have hundreds of cherry and blue everywhere.

Also have a 10gal that I am using as a nursery for new plants. it has 3.5" of this same substrate and again the plants are thriving.

So as I stated before there are many differing opinions on what works and what doesn't, what is preferred and what isn't. Yet they all keep getting used.

As to my question on water staining. I have 2 examples here in my home. One that had the wood and is stained and another with the same substrate that is as clear as any other tank I have.
 

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