FAQs about Marine Smelly
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Stinky water after Halimeda algae die off
Stinky reef stuff
Hi Bob and Crew. I thank you in advance for your time. You have answered
my questions before and have been a huge help to me.
I have a 65 gallon reef tank. I had a 60 for maybe 8 years and switched
to this 65 a few months ago. At your advice I got rid of most of her
purple mushrooms, they were everywhere! These are the only corals I
have, maybe 20 purple mushrooms. I have had a blue jaw trigger and a
clown for 8 months now? (Estimate) and added a dwarf angel 2 months
back. I also have a random ugly goby that hides most of the time, he's
been with me for 7+ years. That is it for stocking. A tiny bit of black
sand. Some live rock. A few faux coral inserts, Tsunami brand. I feed 3
cubes of Mysis a week. New life spectrum pellets everyday. I use Selcon.
I have an amazing skimmer that pulls lots of dark yuck and a hang on the
back filter that I use with a filter cartridge with carbon. I rinse a
few times a week, replace every few weeks. Sometimes I just cut a blue
bonded filter to fit.
<This protocol should be fine>
It captures so much, If I don't use the filter my glasses sides get
filthy, takes many rinses of the filter to get all the brown out. The
tank is near a window, no direct sunlight. I switched to a led fixture
at the time of the tank change, has 30 watts. Now for the question, I
hope I have not bored you. My rocks and faux coral inserts keep getting
covered in brown yuck. I'm assuming diatoms.
It smells awful. Awful. I took one of the inserts out yesterday to rinse
and the smell is horrific. I'm used to gross stuff with my tank, I've
been cleaning out that skimmer cup for years, it's hard to gross me out,
but this is otherworldly. My whole house smelled, my daughter in her
bedroom, yelled about the smell. What is this?
<Likely a mix of Protists... dinoflagellates, diatoms as you mention,
plus other microorganisms... could be the source of the smell alone; but
am wondering re the faux corals as well. If it were me/mine, I'd pull
lightly bleach, wash these and let them air dry for a week; and use a
unit of Chemipure in your filter flow path>
I've dealt with every type of algae out there, this I don't know about.
It comes off very easily. Is there something I am doing wrong?
<Can't tell from here>
Have you had any experience with this? What is this that smells so bad?
Thank you for any insight you can provide.
<Please do keep us informed of your actions, observations. Bob Fenner>
Water stinks! New water make-up
I have an RO/DI unit for water. I mix in a Brute trash can, as
recommended. I raise the temperature to about 75F during mixing, use
power jets to agitate, and generally age the water a bit. My water tends
stink (light mildew odor?),
<Can't say, but I'd likely be adding a good carbon filter here... If
this doesn't do it, bleaching the whole apparatus occasionally>
and also has marine buffer precipitate (per the packaging, this could
indicate "poor ionic balance").
Recently I left a full vat of water (with salt mix) for 2 days without
aeration or heat. I thought I'd save some power, as I was not due for
another water change for a week. After I noticed a much stronger stink,
and for 4 days have used power jets/heater but the odor has not
diminished (and the precipitate is far worse than normal).
<Summat growing there it seems>
Testing yields 7.9 ph and no measurable
Do I have anything to worry about in using this water?
Could mildew or "poor ionic balance" cause a problem in the main tank?
<Some small chance of both, yes... I would be investigating what the
source of both troubles are and fixing. For the latter, review the use
of alkaline earth materials (additions of Ca, Mg...) and their counter
effects on alkalinity/pH. You're likely fighting yourself here. Bob
Re: Water stinks! Premix syn. and water qual. f's
Thank you. I noticed a fresh batch of RO water in a separate mixing vat,
that had aged had no odor. I added salt, let it age, still no smell. It
must have been the brute mixing vat I had been using.
<Rubbermaid "Brute" brand? Never had an issue w/ this fine line>
Likely from cooking live rock previously.
<Ahh! Assuredly this will do it>
This confirms for me that vinegar scrubs may not be adequate. And yes, I
was fighting myself (what else is new).
<You are wise here: answer, "not much">
I filled it with water, added a 1300gph powerhead, a cup or so of
bleach, and let it go for an hour plus. I then rinsed it three times.
What can I do to ensure any bleach residual is fully neutralized?
<Rinse, rock salt rinse of the polyethylene, air dry and/or sodium
hypochlorite ("DeChlor" or such) dechlorinator use in spades... A week
of air-drying will do it>
I will add Seachem Prime to dechlorinate, but is that adequate?
<I'd let air dry, but enough of the Prime will be adequate... You can
get/use simple "free chlorine" test kit/s... from the pool/spa outlets
I see this mitigates the chlorine, but there is discussion on the web that
sodium hydroxide may remain?
<This is simple to rinse out. Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Water stinks! 7/11/12
Oh the wars I wage on myself...What kind of chemistry nightmare have I
<Heeee! Relative to what?>
Is it possible to ruin a brute trash can for water mixing purposes!?
<Not really; no... Our companies and many other petfish/ornamental
aquatics, heck, institutions, put these durable products through
use-hell... They really last and put up w/ abuse>
Well I see the air drying has at least eliminated all liquid. But, there
is clouded precipitate left throughout the interior. It seems to be
etched into the polyethylene. Perhaps a 24 hour vinegar soak and heavy
<I'd just leave the precipitate... not worry. BobF>
Re: Water stinks! 7/11/12
Thanks! Well, at least I find myself amusing!
<A good sign of mental/emotional stability/hlth.>
I forgot to point out that the precipitate was not at the water line of
the bleach rinse, but at the previous mixing water line (i.e., the
putrid cloudy concoction that arose from RODI, fresh salt, and buffer in
the bad polyethylene). Not sure if that matters.
<Not really; no>
Now I better get back to punching myself in the face...
<Literally only please. B>
A Stinky Situation- Reef Odor: That Marine Fish Tank Smell.
Thanks again for your admirable (and perhaps saintly?) dedication to
<Glad you find it useful.>
This is a question that I was not able to find on the site and it does
not relate much to the hobby- maybe I should try Martha Stewart's
I have the most amazing reef tank thanks to Bob and the crew. Truly, it
would not be a success without your wisdom and guidance. The corals are
growing wonderfully and all specimens are flourishing. However, the
guests to view the system were not knocked down by its beauty but by
Ok, it is not that bad but a distinct odor is noticeable. The smell is
hard to describe but it is NOT the smell of the ocean.
<I actually live next to the ocean and it can be pretty smelly from
time to time.>
I test the parameters every week and have not noticed anything out of
the ordinary (did not think numbers were needed in this email).
Water changes are performed weekly with RO water and skimmer is cleaned
often. I also have a tight fitting lid that covers 99% of the surface
<Do you have a collection bottle for the skimmer?>
Any idea where the source would be and how to rid the smell?
<The first thing to keep in mind is that ALL marine tanks have a
odor, which can vary from a clean, briny odor, to something slightly
worse than rotten fish. In a well maintained system, the odor isn't
that bad, but can bother some people. There are a few different sources
for the stink, the skimmer, trapped water growing mold\mildew, and the
tank itself - particularly if you have algae - even desirable
macroalgae can have a distinct 'funk' to it.>
I use a fan for cooling and have lots of circulation within the room
which does not seem to help regarding the odor. I would prefer not to
use air fresheners as I know that the tank can absorb these.
<True. Avoid air fresheners if at all possible>
One possibility is that water got in the carpet and it needs to be
wet/dry cleaned but this is my only hypothesis.
<A 'sniff test' on the carpet can confirm or deny that
Any help would be GREATLY appreciated! Again, thank you for all that
<There are a few things you can try. First, start running carbon in
your system. If you already are, try changing it frequently. Second,
keep the skimmer clean. If you are using a collection bottle for the
skimmate, plug the opening with a sponge (which still allows the drain
tube to enter) and cover the sponge with carbon. Lastly, adding ozone
to your skimmer can help greatly. It not only helps keep your water
quality high, but the ozone that isn't 'burned up' in the
skimmer gets off gassed into the room.
This can deodorize a room pretty quickly.
Tank Smells Bad/Mmm, Pink Skunk Clown Present?
My tank has started to smell a lot like a tidepool for the last 2
Makes the whole house smell nasty. Tank is approx 2 years old. HEAVILY
STOCKED - but has been for a while.
<Isn't helping matters, heavy bio loads will cause problems and
is likely why you are using all the additives you mention below.
I'd get this down to a manageable
Currently 240G + 50G Sump+Fuge. I run carbon, GFO, Zeolite, filter
socks, G4x skimmer and poly in sump baffles. All socks/poly are cleaned
every 3 days. Skimmer cup cleaned and scrubbed daily. Carbon and GFO
run 24/7. I also have a Korallin bio-denitrator. Carbon and GFO changed
every 25-30 days. I also use Prodibio supplements for over one year
I change 80G per week. Have started to do about 120G per week in an
effort to control the odor.
The only thing that has changed is the use of ZEOvit additives and
changed to Brightwell salt over the last month.
I cannot figure out why it smells. Should I double up on the
Change out carbon weekly? Upgrade my skimmer? Start skimming
Get rid of the mechanical filtration? Don't want to start changing
everything around that has been working well for the last year without
knowing what the issue is.
Any advise would be appreciated. Can't stand the stench much longer
<Mmm, I'm thinking something is dead/rotting in your system or
on the floor behind the tank. Check it out. Is the odor similar to a
rotten egg smell?>
Also do you know if I should be mixing ZEOvit additives and Prodibio
<I wouldn't believe mixing these products would have anything to
do with the smell. You did mention that the only change was the use of
ZEOvit additives, may want to temporarily discontinue,
eliminate as a possible source.>
I use the Prodibio Bioclean/and carbon source.
I use the ZEOvit Pohls Xtra 2ml per day, Sponge Power 6 Drops per day,
Coral Vitalizer 6 drops per day, & Amino Acid Concentrate LPS 1 ml
per day. I also add about 6 drops of vitamin C every other day.
<Mmm, why all the additives, may be a problem here. For filtration
media I'd stick with one product.
Chemi Pure Elite is a media which contains several ion exchange resins,
high grade carbon, and phosphate remover, and has always been my fave.
Keeping calcium, magnesium, and alkalinity levels where they should be
will satisfy the corals along with supplemental feedings three times
per week. I personally use DT's Live Phytoplankton and am very well
pleased with the results. Sponge growth has increased tremendously and
coral expansion has improved. May want to stop making soup and simplify
your maintenance by using one product for feeding corals.>
Thx as always,
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Water Smell! 5/7/08 Good evening Crew!
<Hello Ganz!> I have a 10 month old 60gal/20 gal sump/ASM Mini
G/55 lbs Live rock tank, with 3 fishes about 3 inches each. I change 5
gallons of water every two weeks. <OK> Recently when I open the
hood to feed, I get a bad smell. I should say I have been feeding them
a bit more than before. Is the stench due to me overfeeding? <A
possibility, what do your water tests tell you?> They eat all the
food I feed them. <I bet, fish can be pigs!> I also see some
green growth in my live rock here and there that doesn't look like
coralline algae. Is that bad? <It is not usually considered
desirable, it is a natural indicator of general water quality. Cut the
feeding back to the level you were previously. Your fish may act
hungry, but do not give in and overfeed!> As always thanks for your
help! Cheers Ganz <One other point to check regarding the smell. Do
look for any leaks from the past/present or condensation inside the
hood/canopy/stand. Many times the condensation inside a canopy or stand
can start to mildew, causing a smell that seems to be the tank itself.
Good luck, Scott V.>