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Cleaning Gravel?

This is a discussion on Cleaning Gravel? within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> My one remaining question on this topic relates to the addition of supplemental calcium in the form of 650mg calcium sulfate pills. I'd read ...

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Old 02-02-2012, 04:20 PM   #21
 
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My one remaining question on this topic relates to the addition of supplemental calcium in the form of 650mg calcium sulfate pills. I'd read several posts recommending this for healthy inverts and they certainly seemed to enjoy the treat. Watching the Apple Snail dig in to the white mound reminded me of Tony Montana. As thorough as they seemed to be, some remains found their way into the substrate. Last time I did my WC, I vacuumed the gravel and plunged into a particularly white bed of sediment, an act which was immediately accompanied by an unpleasant sulfur smell as the water was siphoned into the waste bucket. Because of the white cloudy sediment, the calcium sulfate-sulfer smell connection, and the fact that I'd recently placed a pill there, it was an easy inferential leap to blame the pill for the malodorous experience.

Questions:
1) Does my inference seem logical? Would the leftover sediment from a calcium sulfate pill cause a foul smell when disturbed/removed from its resting place? Could this become dangerous if not removed?

2) If I ultimately adopt a Laissez Faire approach to gravel vacuuming, can I rely on plants to also assimilate any calcium sediment that seeps through the substrate? Would a dramatic increase in the uptake of calcium cause my plants other problems (e.g., nutrient imbalance)? Should I scrap the calcium supplements altogether and rely on hard water and blanched vegetables to stave off shell erosion, etc.?

Last edited by onemanswarm; 02-02-2012 at 04:23 PM..
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Old 02-02-2012, 05:58 PM   #22
 
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Calcium is an essential macro-nutrient for all plants; it is crucial in cell structure and permeability, and it activates some enzymes. It can significantly decrease metal toxicity. Apparently an excess of calcium may inhibit other nutrients (according to Peter Hiscock), and of course it raises hardness which would be an issue in a soft water environment. I've no idea how high calcium would have to be to be detrimental, but I wouldn't think you would be approaching that level, though I can't be certain.

Some of this depends upon your water GH and KH. If the GH is already high, as in a tank with livebearers or rift lake cichlids, there should be sufficient calcium for invertebrates. In a soft water aquarium, adding calcium might be needed for the inverts.

I believe hydrogen sulphide occurs from so-called dead spots where organics build up, oxygen is non-existent, and anaerobic bacteria produce hydrogen sulphide, as I referenced in my previous post.

This probably is not of much help; I'd be interested in whatever others can tell us.
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Old 02-02-2012, 09:58 PM   #23
 
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Calcium is an essential macro-nutrient for all plants; it is crucial in cell structure and permeability, and it activates some enzymes. It can significantly decrease metal toxicity. Apparently an excess of calcium may inhibit other nutrients (according to Peter Hiscock), and of course it raises hardness which would be an issue in a soft water environment. I've no idea how high calcium would have to be to be detrimental, but I wouldn't think you would be approaching that level, though I can't be certain.

Some of this depends upon your water GH and KH. If the GH is already high, as in a tank with livebearers or rift lake cichlids, there should be sufficient calcium for invertebrates. In a soft water aquarium, adding calcium might be needed for the inverts.

I believe hydrogen sulphide occurs from so-called dead spots where organics build up, oxygen is non-existent, and anaerobic bacteria produce hydrogen sulphide, as I referenced in my previous post.

This probably is not of much help; I'd be interested in whatever others can tell us.
Your insights are always helpful! My GH is150, KH 180. If this is hard enough to provide sufficient calcium for inverts, perhaps I'm better off not supplementing with the calcium sulfate. I'd rather not risk inhibiting other nutrients required for healthy plants unless I see signs of deficiency from the invertebrates.

I didn't figure I'd be a candidate for anaerobic dead-spots with MTS burrowing throughout the relatively large gravel substrate, but the sulfur smell was potent and unmistakable. Is this something I should be concerned about moving forward?
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Old 02-03-2012, 11:46 AM   #24
 
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Your insights are always helpful! My GH is150, KH 180. If this is hard enough to provide sufficient calcium for inverts, perhaps I'm better off not supplementing with the calcium sulfate. I'd rather not risk inhibiting other nutrients required for healthy plants unless I see signs of deficiency from the invertebrates.

I didn't figure I'd be a candidate for anaerobic dead-spots with MTS burrowing throughout the relatively large gravel substrate, but the sulfur smell was potent and unmistakable. Is this something I should be concerned about moving forward?
I was thinking about this last night trying to get to sleep--some people count sheep, I count bacteria?.

Anyway, if any object or substance "smothers" the substrate, a dead spot is likely to occur, so I would expect that may be what occurred here. While I personally wouldn't worry too much about this, I would be even less concerned about calcium excess.

The GH is the hardness factor when dealing with fish or invertebrates. KH has absolutely no affect upon organisms. GH is the level of mineral salts in the water that determine the hardness; primarily calcium and magnesium, though a few others may be involved but not usually as crucial as these two. A GH of 150ppm or 8.3 dGH is just into the medium hard range. If the pH is in the high 7's or above, I would think it sufficient without supplementation, depending upon the fish. The pH is not necessarily an indication of GH of course, I am only mentioning it because one would expect it to be in the mid to upper 7's with this GH so that would be "normal." If I saw a lower pH with this GH, I would consider adding calcium/magnesium which is easily done with dolomite or aragonite-based gravels or sands.

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Old 02-03-2012, 04:25 PM   #25
 
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Counting bacteria, eh? Daunting when you consider their rate of reproduction! At any rate, you pegged my pH (7.8). If I'm reading your last post right, there's probably no reason for me to need to supplement calcium. At the same time, there's probably no reason for me not to supplement calcium. It's reassuring to know that for once I can't go wrong!
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Old 02-03-2012, 04:45 PM   #26
 
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Counting bacteria, eh? Daunting when you consider their rate of reproduction! At any rate, you pegged my pH (7.8). If I'm reading your last post right, there's probably no reason for me to need to supplement calcium. At the same time, there's probably no reason for me not to supplement calcium. It's reassuring to know that for once I can't go wrong!
I've never kept Apple Snails or other inverts, aside from the regular small snails, so I will let those who have comment on whether the calcium food is needed or not. If it is, I would try to prevent the dead spot issue. As with any feeding, you don't want to overload unnecessarily.
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Old 02-03-2012, 05:00 PM   #27
 
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I've never kept Apple Snails or other inverts, aside from the regular small snails, so I will let those who have comment on whether the calcium food is needed or not. If it is, I would try to prevent the dead spot issue. As with any feeding, you don't want to overload unnecessarily.
I appreciate that advice. I've seen some people offer the calcium on a small dish. In retrospect, I'm guessing this was done to prevent the dead spots. I've joined a few threads in the invert forum dealing with the question of whether calcium supplements are essential, and the majority of keepers strongly recommend it. I'd still prefer to try to get by with the combination of relatively hard water and blanched vegetables, if only because it seems more natural to me than creating a food trough out of a mound of semi-dissolved white talc.
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