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Re: Aquatic Plants Digest V4 #576

  Lately, growth had slowed and I decided to add clay
> balls to the substrate.  I took some of the original soil I have kept in a
> plastic container and rolled this with micronized iron.  I made about 12
> balls and inserted them into the sand.  After a few weeks black areas began
> to show up.  I've never had anything like this happen so I decided to
> investigate.

If its stinky, it's likely anaerobic, if not, likely just rotting(rusting)
> I dug up some of the black areas.  What I found was that these were
> concentrated where I placed the clay balls.  The sand had turned black and I
> don't think it was from the soil since I washed the sand in water and the
> grains remained this black color.  The really unusual thing is that after
> two days of leaving the black grains on a paper plate they returned to the
> normal sand color.  As I removed this black sand from each area, a stream of
> bubbles would come to the surface.  I believe this is a clear sign but there
> was no smell to these bubbles.  I smelled the black sand and didn't smell
> anything strong.
> Questions I have:
> 1. I may have added more micronized iron in the clay balls than before.
> Would this contribute to the problem?
> 2. Should I gravel vacuum out all of the clay balls? Will this eliminate the
> problem?
> 3. Once you have these anaerobic areas will they continue to spread?
> 4. As you can see from the pictures I have quite a bit of MT snails.  I'm
> thinking they may have contributed to the top of the substrate clogging up
> somewhat.
> 5. Why did the black color on the sand fade away after a few days?  Is this
> some type of chemical reaction?

I would look at the real issue, the plant's roots and the growth.
If they are doing worse, remove it. Make sure the other parameters are in
line too,CO2 good light, GH/KH trace elements etc. Adding some
flourite(which has yet to happen in any tank I have had or heard of) to
replace it might be a good move for you. You already have it in all the
others and it is only a 20 gallon tank so it wouldn't cost much to do. I
think the blackish color is just iron reducing bacteria but I could be
wrong. I had something like this in my tank but no smell either. I didn't
like it so it was removed. Many tanks in the past had RFUG's so this was
almost never an issue, but there were a few(4 or 5 that did this with no
Tom Barr