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Old 06-19-2002, 12:00 PM   #1
cichlidite
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how deep should I make my sand bed, and other related questions! :-)


Greetings Again. What a GREAT website!!

I have a couple of substrate questions for the esteemed panal of experts that regularly post to this site:

1. How deep should a deep sand bed (DSB?) be, considering I have a 300 gallon tank ( a deep 300, not a shallow 300) that I intent to use as a fish and possibly invertebrete (sp?) tank? I've heard about 5-6 inches? Or, do I not need a DSB if I have 1 pound of live rock per gallon of water?

2. What type of live sand bed do I select? I noticed that some folks put down regular play sand first, then a mixture of argonite and live crushed coral? Is this simply to cut costs? Are there different types of live sand beds?

3. Given minimal feeding requirements, and bottom scavengers, is there an issue with a build up of detrius in a DSB? I heard that gravel vacs are not a good thing with salt water tanks? Remember, I'm an old Lake Tanganyika guy!!

4. I will ultimately want an eel or some other borrowing creature...are there live sand beds that are more or less conducive to these sorts of animals?

OK, enough for now. Tanks, Mike. :-)
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Old 06-19-2002, 01:04 PM   #2
karsco
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Hello again Cichlidite!

Well I will answer what I can...

1) I would at least put in a 4" bed and if you can get it up to 6" even the better. I would put both the live rock and the dsb in your tank. For three reasons: it looks more natural, it will in the long run keep your nitrates way down, and it creates a lot of bio-diversity in your tank. (In the form of worms, micro-stars, zoo plankton etc.)
2) For my tank I used south down playsand which is sand from the Caribbean that you can sometimes get at your local Home Depot. It has the grain size you are looking for to create your DSB. You may also get another brand of fine grained argonite sand at one of your LFS, but it will be more $$$$.
3) No gravel vacs! Just leave the sand bed alone and it will break down the detritus for you. Once you install your sand bed you should seed it with either live sand from an established tank or you can get live sand activator kits from either www.ipsf.com or www.inlandaquatics.com
4) The only problem with burrowing creatures (eels, gobies, pistol shrimp etc.) is that the sand grain is so fine that they have a hard time creating caves etc. because the sand will not stack like larger gravel type sand beds.

Hope this helps...
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Last edited by karsco; 06-19-2002 at 01:06 PM..
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Old 06-19-2002, 07:40 PM   #3
erasmu
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Do NOT mix crushed coral with your sand. It is too large of grain and also has sharp edges which can harm the burrowing creatures. Some burrowing animals will eat the infauna that you would like to cultivate in the DSB to do the denitrification and other tasks. It is better to avoid or limit those. Animals find it easy to move through the DSB, but as mentioned above building burrows requires them to find some larger pieces. I think most bags of the finest sand still contain some larger pieces. At least mine did.

Here is a link to Dr. Shimek's web site and some of his info on sand beds. Read more before you decide how to proceed.

http://www.rshimek.com/reef/sediment.htm

Good luck with the tank.
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Old 06-19-2002, 09:12 PM   #4
Mr. Ono
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All small particles?


I am getting a little confused now. I have seen a few photos of the tanks of some of the members here and they seem to have tanks with a coarse grade of sand on the bottom and a fine grade of sand on top. But then I read the acticle attached to the link in the above post and it recommends only fine particles.

I am re building my 60 gal. to a DSB. It was a live sand plenum tank. Most of my coarse grade (crushed coral) is going into a customers fish only tank to cover the bottom. I still have about 2 inches of medium grade live sand. I was hoping to use it as a base layer, then a screen and then top off with 2 inches of fine sand.

Should I just start over with only fine grade sand?

I'm so confused.
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Old 06-19-2002, 09:26 PM   #5
erasmu
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I understand the confusion. There is a shift going on in the position of many aquarists. You can be successful in many different ways. That is why many people swear that you can do it their way and everything will be great. I think that the more recent trend in reef tanks is to go to the DSB. For the DSB to be most effective, the fine sand is critical. I would not try to use the larger sand you have. I don't think it would be a major investment to replace it. I would also not used the screen. You want the critters to be able to continuously stir the bed. The screen would prevent everything under it from being moved. I tend to give Dr. Shimek's info greater weight than most. He has scientific training and does not go just with annecdotal data. He is also very thorough in documenting sources and studies he refers to via footnotes. Some rather famous magazine authors are too often merely stating what they assume to be true from observing their own tanks. We have seen over the last few years how appearances can be deceiving. Read what you can with a critical eye. When other respected sources support it, give it more weight. There are no guarantees...you just want to give yourself the best odds of success possible. Good luck to you.
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Old 06-19-2002, 10:54 PM   #6
Mr. Ono
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Dead sand and cycling time


Buying the extra dry sand is not a problem because of the cost but the time for the tank to re-cycle again.

Also can I get sugar size Live Sand? (0.5mm size) Hate to buy 80 lbs. of live sand and have it the same size as what I already have. (reef grade sand 1.0 - 1.2mm size)

I can add the live sand I have to increase the sand bed depth in the refugium. That will reduce cycling a bit as well as save any critters in the sand.

Would half Live Sand and dry sand greatly reduce the cycling time. Like to only a week?
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Old 06-20-2002, 08:48 PM   #7
erasmu
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Whether the tank cycles and how long a cycle lasts depends a lot on what you have in your tank. When I was preparing to swap out my sandbed, I was warned by two different people who had recently gone through the experience to expect a "mini-cycle" following the swap. They seemed to experience a short term ammonia and nitrite spike. I got the impression this lasted about a week, but they did not specify. Both kept their livestock in the tank during the spike, but did water changes to reduce the toxicity. Both had tanks that had quite a few fish. When I made my swap, I was prepared for a "mini-cycle" and tested the water each day. This spike never occurred with my tank. I never tested ammonia or nitrite above zero. I believe the reason for this is because of the contents of my tank. My old substrate was 3" of CC covered by 1" of fine grained Fiji live sand. When I removed the old substrate, I carefully scooped off as much of the fine live sand as I could without digging into the CC. I estimate I saved about 30-35 lbs. When all of the CC was removed, I added all of the fine dry sand. I ended up using six 30 lb bags to create a 4-1/2" deep bed in my 55g tank. I then added the live sand that I salvaged. This yielded another 1/2" for a total of 5" which is what I wanted. I then returned my live rock. I had 50 lbs of live rock. None of it was buried in the sand, so all of the surface area was available for filtration. The problem I ran into was that because I did not rinse my sand, there was an extreme amount of milky cloudiness. I chose not to rinse the sand (Aragamax prewashed) to avoid losing the very fine sediments. This cloudiness did not stop me from putting the live rock back into the tank three hours after the sand. I did have to positon the rock entirely by feel because there was zero visibility. The last few rocks I just set down in front with the intention to move them when the water cleared. I returned all of my snails, my conchs, one brittle star, and the five small hermit crabs at this time. I thought that the water was too milky to return the corals. I kept the corals in a rubbermaid tub with a powerhead and heater. I thought they would be better staying in the tub until the water cleared somewhat, so I placed some fluorescent lights over the tub and waited for the tank to clear. Because of the large amount of unrinsed new sand, the tank was still quite cloudy after three full days. I could just barely see the rock wall in the back of the tank. However, I was reluctant to leave the corals in the tub any longer although they seemed to be doing well. I returned the corals to the tank at the end of the third day. The water cleared a little more each day, and was pretty good on the sixth day. None of the corals died. All were quite wide open. The conchs, snails, etc. all were still alive. A file layer of sand coated the rocks so I used a turkey baster to clean them and a little on the corals off. That caused some cloudiness, but not near as severe as before. I had no fish in the tank at this time. The corals were one Pipe Organ, one Mushroom Rock, Orange Zooanthids, Yellow Polyps, one small Colt Coral, and two patches of Green Star Polyps. All of these were small. I feel this is a very small bioload. The filtration of the live rock and live sand was able to handle this load immediately with no detectable ammonia or nitrite. I think this is the key to whether and how severe a cycle your tank may see. Do you have a lot of live rock? Can you add some live sand? My live sand was very fine grained and from Fiji. I don't know if this is typical or not. Do you have a light or heavy bioload in the tank? I feel that fish are the major component in the load. Polyp rocks for example probably have enough filtration in their rock portion to make them no load. If you don't have fine live sand to use, several people have suggested making baseball size bundles of your CC bed in pieces of nylon stocking. Use one for every 10g of tank size. Put them on your new sandbed and push them in 1/2-1" deep. Leave them in for a week so that the critters in your old bed will come out of the balls and populate the new sand. Then remove one ball every two days. During all of this time you need to be testing for ammonia and nitrite. If they show up in any significant level, do a water change. I think with a reasonable bioload you can follow this approach without losing livestock. If you have a high bioload consider setting up tubs for a week or more to contain your overload or take some items into a LFS for boarding. Be well-prepared when you make the change. Good luck.
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Old 06-20-2002, 10:22 PM   #8
Mr. Ono
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small bioload


three clowns, a 6 line and a long nose hawk. Mushroom rock, 2 clams, large cup coral and a devils hand leather. They are all in a 45 gallon tank right now that is being filter by my 10 gal. refugium tank and a LifeReef 24" skimmer.

There is enough live rock to fill a 20 gallon tank. I have it in there in the dark to remove hair algae. I have 5 bags of sand coming from an advertizer of this board. He did mention the nylon stocking method for aiding in cycling the tank. And that it should be a short cycle if that at all. So in about a week the changes start.

As far as the nylon stocking goes. Are talking about "panty hose"? Or the nylon filter bags? I also have some fuval canister media baskets. I Could fill those with live substrate to seed the sand?

Thanks for all your help.
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Old 06-20-2002, 10:37 PM   #9
erasmu
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Any clean mesh fabric or container, that will hold the larger gravel grains in and let the little critters out, will work fine. Good luck with it.
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