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Water smell causes

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Hi all,

I just got home from a 10-day trip, and upon doing my girls' 95% water change, I noticed that their water smelled bad. Not quite as bad as when they have gotten sick, but in the same vein. My boyfriend had dosed Prime daily since the cycle was unstable. Upon testing their water before the change, the parameters were better than I expected: .25 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 10 nitrate, 8.2 pH. There were some plants that were dying that I removed. My boyfriend said that the water has only been smelling bad 6 to 7 days after the large water change I did on Monday night before I left.

So can water just smell after not being changed for 10 days? One of my fish has some fin issues that look slightly worse, but otherwise they were not bottom sitting or anything to indicate a bacterial infection (yet)... I'll be keeping an eye on them.

Also, so other than water changes and perhaps emptying out the filters, what else could I do?

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Lots of different possibilitys.

1. You haven't adjusted back to the usual smell that you're normally used too?

2. Maybe they spawned?

3. There could be an underlying issue.

4. Filter may need cleaning.

1st thing to do.

Save some water (for testing) do a large water change 90-100%.

2nd monitor the tank

3rd re test the water.

and do another water change in a day or 2

Edited by blackmoors

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Can't think of anything else other than what blackmoors wrote, other than confirming it may have been the dying plants :idont

Good to hear the water conditions did not go too out of whack in the 10 days without a water change.

Edited by LisaCGold

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What does it smell like?

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It smells a bit fishy, so I am concerned that there may be some kind of illness lurking. I'll dump the water out of the filters today and swish them in case there is dead plant matter in there. It is definitely not how the tank normally smells and I hope that the very large WC helps. I'm not home now but will be testing again this morning.

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My tanks have that very "wiffy" fish type smell sometimes after a large spawn.

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I think they are both female and I haven't seen eggs :(

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Just because the are both female doesn't mean a spawn couldn't happen. Females will chase each other in hopes of a meal.

When you cleaned, did you notice any white fungus or anything? Sometimes that can indicate a spawn, since the eggs will go rotten if they aren't taken care of. 

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Hun get us a tank shot :)

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No fungus other than worsening opaque patches on my older fish's tail. I will post a tank shot when I get home and report if the smell is as pronounced.

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I hope you can get this fixed soon! Your water chemistry needs to give you a break for once.

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Just got home: smell is present but still present. I think I might empty out the water in the filters (no rinsing of media) in case there is plant sludge in there. I hadn't noticed this when I did my big water change yesterday, but there is white stuff on the sponge intake covers that doesn't seem to me like poo casings, but if they are sick perhaps they are. They do have a sand substrate. Could these be rotten eggs? I had no idea that female fish could spawn when they're very hungry. And they certainly have been very hungry. 

 

White stuff: 

 

20150926_110356_zpsjzuxhz8j.jpg

 

20150926_110408_zpsiuhwtzfo.jpg

 

Full tank shot as of this morning: 

 

20150926_105220_zpsfmccuntu.jpg

 

Water parameters are: 

Ammonia: .25 ppm

Nitrite: 0 ppm

Nitrate: 0-5 ppm 

 

Bear in mind, of course, I did the monster water change as soon as I got home at 4 pm yesterday. 

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I know four causes of a fishy small:

 

Spawning.  I believe the milt has the smell.

 

Algae.  This smell can hang around through several water changes.

 

Excessive detritus, typically in the filter or in the substrate

 

Fish with an infection or parasites.  This comes from my observation that a hospital tank with a sick fish stinks after 24 hours from a 100% water change.  As the fish recovers the smell goes away.

 

First localize the smell.  Remove the filter, rinse everything.  Separate the media and sniff the filter and the media.  If the smell comes from the rinsed biomedia your only option is to add some carbon to the filter.  If the filter doesn't smell much after rinsing, look at the tank.  

 

I'd empty it completely, rinse it well, put the sand in a separate tub of water for rinsing.  If the smell doesn't come from the filter, it probably comes from the substrate.  Put the tank back together barebottomed and see if you have lost the smell.  You can put the sand back in after washing it free of odor.

 

 

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I know four causes of a fishy small:

 

Spawning.  I believe the milt has the smell.

 

Algae.  This smell can hang around through several water changes.

 

Excessive detritus, typically in the filter or in the substrate

 

Fish with an infection or parasites.  This comes from my observation that a hospital tank with a sick fish stinks after 24 hours from a 100% water change.  As the fish recovers the smell goes away.

 

First localize the smell.  Remove the filter, rinse everything.  Separate the media and sniff the filter and the media.  If the smell comes from the rinsed biomedia your only option is to add some carbon to the filter.  If the filter doesn't smell much after rinsing, look at the tank.  

 

I'd empty it completely, rinse it well, put the sand in a separate tub of water for rinsing.  If the smell doesn't come from the filter, it probably comes from the substrate.  Put the tank back together barebottomed and see if you have lost the smell.  You can put the sand back in after washing it free of odor.

 

 

OK--I've been doing fish stuff as replies have been posted: I think it was the filters themselves. There was mulm at the bottom of the filter (where the water accumulates pre-AC sponge--I have AC 70s--and it was smelly. I have smelled the tank water the fish are currently in since they are having a silver bath for their fins. No smell at all. The tank itself does not smell any longer, and I siphon the sand for detritus every water change (normally 70% every 5 days). 

 

I hope this will solve the mystery, but I will post again here or in D&D if there are ongoing issues. Thank you for the suggestions--it has helped me not to freak out and do a massive crazy-cleaning that might disrupt my cycle (again). 

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Oh, and I also added carbon to one of the filters. 

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I just thought I'd post a quick update that the smell is gone. It is only very slightly grassy, which is how their tank normally smells and actually is kind of pleasant. I am going to keep the carbon in one of the filters for a few more days just to be thorough. Thanks again for your help!

Edited by QandD

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Yay!!

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