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Old 09-23-2004, 08:08 PM   #1
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Black area developed under sand

Woke up this morning and noticed this black area under the surface of the sand and was wondering if anyone knows what happened and what to do. Everything else in the tank is doing great except this small colony of what I think are zoos that didn't open up today. Tank is about 2 months old. Here are my parameters

sg 1.025
am,ite 0
ate trace
temp 81

The only thing that's changed is that I added 2# of LS last week. (the black area is not in the LS but in the older aragonite)

Doesn't seem to have grown at all over the course of the day. I've hopefully attached two pics. One to show the size of the area and one closeup of the darkest part.

Any ideas are appreciated.

-Ron
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Old 09-23-2004, 08:21 PM   #2
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In a tank that new I am not 100% sure, In a mature tank the denitrification process causes the black in the lower layers of a sand bed, this is my understanding I'm not an expert. I have this in my fuge. This is why I only have 3-4" on LS in my reef tank so you won't see this. IMO it's nothing to worry about.
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Old 09-23-2004, 08:25 PM   #3
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ok thanks...my DSB has been working (its only 3" deep though)...I see bubbles coming out of it and my nitrates are barely detectable...so maybe that's all it is. Not exactly the nicest thing to look at
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Old 09-23-2004, 08:49 PM   #4
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Most likely these are areas of cyanobacteria taking advantage of the low flow, high nutrient areas in your sand bed. Nothing to worry about.
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Old 09-23-2004, 09:05 PM   #5
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Its too deep for cyano. My guess is you are getting an anoxic hydrogen sulfide build up.
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Old 09-23-2004, 09:08 PM   #6
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So worst case if its hydrogen sulfide what would I do about it...siphon it out? And what causes it to build up..the DSB seems to be working and the tank smells fine.

I'm planning on getting a pistol shrimp at sometime and don't want any troubles.
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Old 09-23-2004, 09:11 PM   #7
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oh yeah and why would it be building up so close to the surface? Shouldn't that be an oxygenated area?

Thanks.
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Old 09-23-2004, 11:09 PM   #8
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It isnt very close the surface. One of my tanks started to develop it around 1/2inch. Sifon it into the bucket and smell the water in the bucket. I would suggest getting a sand sifting star, they are good at fixing that problem.
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Old 09-23-2004, 11:52 PM   #9
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Hydrogen sulfide is a gas and would appear as a bubble. The black spot is just a bacteria colony and IMO nothing to worry about. Any active sandbed "deep" or not will have a lot of areas that look like that. My sand bed is only 2-3 inches deep and has black, brown and red areas like yours all over it.
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Old 09-24-2004, 12:16 AM   #10
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Your surface proximity is relative to the rest of the tank volume. The aerobic (oxygenated) portion will maintain a depth that is relative to the rest of the tank volume and the surface area of the sediment bed. It has to do with surface to volume ratios in the overall tank environment. In a natural environment, that anoxic region would probably reside about 5 inches or more below the surface of the sediment-water interface. The depth is dependent on water conditions and the dissolved oxygen gradient from the surface to the lower part of the water column. That black area is an anoxic region in the tank sediments that could quickly develop into a serious problem if not resolved. Hydrogen sulfide gas, when introduced to an aqueous environment, forms sulfuric acid. I don't think we need to discuss the implications of that possibility. Suffice it to say that it would probably be bad.
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