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Used Gravel

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by Pam, Jan 12, 2018.

  1. Pam

    Pam New Member

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    I set up a 30 gallon dirted tank several weeks ago with a gravel cap. It's my second dirted tank. At the last minute I changed my mind on the gravel size and added used gravel to the cap. I didn't rinse it, so now I have mulm in the cap which is disturbed and enters the water channel very easily. At first I thought it was the dirt but it's not. It's clearly mulm in the gravel.

    Tank has cycled, water is clear (except for the floaties from the mulm) and the plants are growing.
    Low-tech, no CO2, no ferts (yet), no fish. Medium planted.

    At first I was disgusted that my tank has mulm from someone elses tank. But is it acting as a fertilizer?

    Suggestions.
    Start tank over? But the plants are doing so well.
    Remove and replace the cap? Dirty mess, but whenever I move a plant and disturb the dirt, the dirt clears away very quickly. The mess would be temporary.
    Leave it alone? If I leave it, I will want to do several water changes to clean it up a bit.
    Is it fertilizer?

    Pam
     
  2. Allwissend

    Allwissend Article Editor
    Staff Member Lifetime Member Article Editor

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    Hello Pam,

    first welcome to the forum. Don't worry, mistakes are made so we gain experience and in this case it is nothing really serious. Fish waste, detritus aka mulm is certainly a source for nutrients, especially N. However it may take some to convert to nutrients available for plants, and some of it never converts under aquarium conditions/time-frame. As long as the originating tank did not have any disease you are good to go.

    As for the aesthetic part, I would do a largish water change and lightly vacuum the top cm of the substrate without disturbing the dirt part. Running a power head and a filter will filter floss will most likely catch all the detritus that easily floats. The rest will fall in between the gravel and on top of the soil. The potential problem here is that with high amounts of mulm and largish gravel you can easily run in anaerobic conditions forming in the soil area. This is somewhat prevented by having Malaysian trumpet snails (though considered by some a pest).

    At this point I do not see a point in starting over. Tanks with soil can take some time to get started.
     
  3. Pam

    Pam New Member

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    Thank you Allwissend, for such a thorough explanation. Your advice and information are greatly appreciated.

    I'll go with the water change and vacuum you suggested. I just need to get over the "icky" sensation when the mulm is disturbed :). I didn't realize heavy mulm contributed to anaerobic conditions. The gravel is really small, but I am keeping a watch for anaerobic conditions and hoping to avoid getting snails. I'm poking the soil with a skew to release bubbles and there is no rotten egg smell.

    Thanks again for the help!
     
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