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Re: peat substrate

Bill Ruff wrote, June 13:

>Subject: peat substrate

>I set up my 70 gallon tank in April with a topsoil/vermiculite and
>silica sand substrate.
>After three months it is producing large bubbles of what I assume are
>hydrogne sulfide. It doesn't smell and the silica sand keeps the dirt
>from actually entering the water column.....................

The large bubbles are probably not hydrogen sulfide, or you would be
smelling a rotten egg smell.  It is also unlikely that  you would be
getting hydrogen sulfide unless the water in the tank were anaerobic as
well as the soil.  When the water is oxygenated, H2S produced in the soil
gets oxidized by aerobic bacteria to sulfate (SO4)--, before it has a
chance to accumulate in the tank.

The bubbles could be nitrogen gas, N2, caused by denitrifying bacteria in
the substrate utilizing nitrates in the water.  Or, they could be mathane
gas produced by anaerobic decomposition of cellulose.  You could collect
some and see if it burns.  Either way, it isn't harmful for the fish.

Paul Krombholz                  Tougaloo College, Tougaloo, MS  39174, in
cool Jackson, Mississippi where we have not yet reached 90 degrees.