Originally Posted by Fresh2o
Sounds like the stump might be the culprit in your case.
What will you do differently when you restart this? The rubber mat may or may not be a factor. Perhaps a thin layer of sand under the gravel might help dissipate the weight of the rocks? Just a suggestion.
If I have to restart completely, I think I'm going to go with egg crate just to be safe, leave out the osmocote, and probably buy Ecco-Complete instead of blasting sand, since that's what I did on a prior tank which worked fine.
As to the driftwood -- I don't know. Certainly fasten it down differently, but that's cosmetic. Maybe the problem was caused by it, I don't know. I like the piece. A Chlorine Soak probably won't solve it -- if it's decaying wood it may actually make it worse (if delay the onset). There's no bark, it's mostly hard to a fingernail test. Some of it is flaking off in thin areas, but not in a mushy way. In short it looks appropriate.
About the only thing I know for sure didn't cause it is the rocks. So if I have to literally empty the tank of everything, I probably won't put anything back but the rocks, and find driftwood elsewhere, rather than risk a repeat.
it's refilling now from about a 50% WC
(I have storage for only about 30% but will just make more to fill the balance). I'll see how that goes for a few days.
If it's the matt + osmocote giving off ammonia at that rate I may be doomed. If it's decay products from the initial bloom, it will come down now and stay down until the cycle kicks in. I should know in a few days.
I still think the mat itself is OK -- it's been two weeks and just a trace of ammonia in a glass with very little water. But ... since it's useful to let others learn from our mistakes... I would still say "in an abundance of caution don't do that". Which of course is what everyone said to begin with.