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Smelly Whiskey Barrel and other issues....

Cat

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Hello,
I've had a water lily in a half whiskey barrel for about 10 years it's always been beautiful but the wood had started to go so I bought a couple of new barrels to replace the old one and start a new one off. I think these barrels have come fairly fresh from the brewery (guessing here ) because its been about 2-3 months and the water is constantly slightly white and stinks. I didn't have any water pump going in the old barrels, they were fine without it, but I thought maybe things are just getting a bit anaerobic in there so I put a air stone pump thing in there from one of my fish tanks but that just seemed to make things worse. So I emptied it, bleached the inside of it and then re-charred the wood on the inside and refilled it. I only did this to one barrel because I didn't know what sort of effect it would have. I stuck a load of plants I already had in it, I thought that might help, a Schizostylis and a few other dwarf lilies.

Anyway a month on they both still stink, they are both a bit cloudy and now they have crazy amounts of rat-tailed maggots and mosquito larvae in them. I have a 3 year old and he used to play in the old barrel quite a lot, I'm worried it will be bad for him to play in them, the smell might put him off I don't know. I don't know whether to try and kill everything, which goes against all my normal instincts, I've read that rat-tails are actually quite hard to kill anyway. I think you can put washing up liquid in to kill the mozy larvae or oil, not sure! The water lilies are started to produce quite a lot of new leaves so they don't seemed bothered?

I just don't know what I can do to speed up all this, I don't even know whats really happening there, wondered if anyone has any experience of this or suggestions as to what I should do going forward? I assume with enough time they will settle down........
 

castle

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Loads of water changes, you’re meant to do 50% every few days for a month. it’ll take 6 months or so to get rid of the whisky/death smell, it will gradually fade. Water sounds like it’s going stagnant. I wouldn’t have bleached it though.

On iPad, excuse poor gramma.

I’ve had a new barrel running since January, stank horrendously for about 3 months. Running an air stone 24/7.
 

Cat

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Thank you for your reply. I'll do a water change today, it did do this initially as a fish tank approach but bc I was using stored planted tank water I thought I might be making it worse as obviously that water is quite rich organics!
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
I don't know whether to try and kill everything, which goes against all my normal instincts, I've read that rat-tails are actually quite hard to kill anyway. I think you can put washing up liquid in to kill the mozy larvae or oil, not sure! The water lilies are started to produce quite a lot of new leaves so they don't seemed bothered?
As the plants grow in you will lose the Rat-tailed Maggots and Mosquito larvae, they are both colonists of organic rich, temporary water bodies, and you don't find them in established "ponds".

Feed the Mosquito larvae to your fish, they are "caviar" for Tetras etc. You need to creep up on the barrel with a net and make a quick swish before they all hide at the bottom.

cheers Darrel
 

mort

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The rat tailed maggots are the larvae of hoverfly/drone flies and are really cool little critters but can be found in some of the stinkiest and foulest water there is so it's not the best sign (I have tonnes grow in my comfrey tea buckets which is disgusting).
If you do water changes and the plants are actively growing I think things will improve. I'm guessing what you are seeing is similar to new aquarium wood developing mould but without as much dilution factor or filtration to stop it becoming a problem.
 

Cat

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Hi all,

As the plants grow in you will lose the Rat-tailed Maggots and Mosquito larvae, they are both colonists of organic rich, temporary water bodies, and you don't find them in established "ponds".

Feed the Mosquito larvae to your fish, they are "caviar" for Tetras etc. You need to creep up on the barrel with a net and make a quick swish before they all hide at the bottom.

cheers DarrelI

I have tried feeding live mosquito larvae to my fish before but unfortunately my fish didn't eat all of them and then they started flying out of the tank and my husband was not impressed!
 

Cat

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The rat tailed maggots are the larvae of hoverfly/drone flies and are really cool little critters but can be found in some of the stinkiest and foulest water there is so it's not the best sign (I have tonnes grow in my comfrey tea buckets which is disgusting).
If you do water changes and the plants are actively growing I think things will improve. I'm guessing what you are seeing is similar to new aquarium wood developing mould but without as much dilution factor or filtration to stop it becoming a problem.
Thats partly why I don't particularly want to kill them, I like hover flies. Chances are it is pretty anaerobic in there, never had this problem with barrels before I'm assuming they had longer since being actually used for whiskey compared to these ones. I'll change out half the water for now, just wondering how long its likely to take to 'mature' because its going to make for an unpleasant summer garden experience!
 

mort

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I wonder whether this is a bacterial bloom caused by the alcohol residue rather than a wood fungus I was first considering. It could be a combination of both but with the bacterial bloom you would get a reduction in oxygen which would make it more inviting to mozzies and hoverfly larvae.
I think regular water changes is still your best bet and it's probably it will look bad but then quickly improve.
 

Cat

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I think it's probably whiskey related but obviously just guessing. The water lilies are thriving at least, I was wondering whether I should get some what I think people used to call Canadian pond weed to aid oxegenation? But I'm not sure if it actually does anything or shops just like say it does because it sounds useful?
 

sparkyweasel

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Thats partly why I don't particularly want to kill them, I like hover flies.
I love hoverflies. :)
Perhaps you could put some of the water you take out when waterchanging into a bucket or tub. Put as many of the Rat-Tailed Maggots as you can catch in it, and put it somewhere unobtrusive like behind the shed. Some dead leaves would probably be good for them. :)
 

Cat

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I love hoverflies. :)
Perhaps you could put some of the water you take out when waterchanging into a bucket or tub. Put as many of the Rat-Tailed Maggots as you can catch in it, and put it somewhere unobtrusive like behind the shed. Some dead leaves would probably be good for them. :)
I have a pond so I could put them in there, judging by how many I have in both tubs they will have a bumper crop this year. I changed half the water a couple of days ago and it's not stopped raining since which is unusual here in Cambridge. It's also forecast to rain for the next 5 days which is really really unusual, so I'm getting commentary water changes now.😁
 

sparkyweasel

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They remain unharmed, the slugs have been rampant so I need all the help I can get!
Hedgehogs and toads would help. You can make suitable hiding places and hope they come. Or sometimes a wildlife hospital will be looking for homes for rescued ones when they are ready to be released.
 

Cat

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Hedgehogs and toads would help. You can make suitable hiding places and hope they come. Or sometimes a wildlife hospital will be looking for homes for rescued ones when they are ready to be released.
I have a ridiculous amount of frogs, there were over 50 last year, but I've haven't seen a toad. We have a hedgehog safe border around our house/garden so they have free reign and I have parts of the garden that I keep rough so that there are places to hide, but we don't have hedgehog home. I love the idea of giving a home to a hedgehog, we don't have a cat at least but it's a small garden on a terraced street so not sure how safe it could be for a hedgehog. The rat-tailed maggots/ larvae seem to be curling into big pulsating balls, loads of them together, which is a curious thing....
 
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