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There is an 'experienced' reef keeper/store operator whose website I ran across, swearing by deep sand beds (with sugar fine bottom layer and course top layer) and that you don't have to siphon, last indefinitely: http://www.aquacorals.com/HowToSetup-Steps.htm . I read from experienced reefers here that a bare bottom is best unless in a few years you want to replace 200 pounds worth of deep sand bed for a 75 gallon. Once and for all here, what is best??
 

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If I had no conscience, and I owned a LFS, I'd be telling everyone that DSB's are a "must have" as well. Why would a store not support DSB's? They get to sell a but load of sand, right off the bat. DSB's are harmless for a while, so they can sell all kinds of critters to stock the tank with. Then the algae problems start, so they get to sell algae eating critters, and filter media and equipment. They can sell more salt and an RO/DI so the water changes can increase. Then the stony corals start to die, and they can sell replacement corals. They also get to sell all kinds of miracles in bottles to solve any problem the hobbyists has. Why would a business ever say, "Just keep the system clean, and your tank will do fine"? That doesn't make them any money.

With that said, you can still run a system with sand, and keep it clean. You don't have to go BB to run a relatively clean system. You can not run the typical Shemik DSB and have a clean system, though.
 

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My reef tanks my wallet.
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Preface: I am no expert.

We are trying to keep animals/fauna that live in a giant ocean near a reef in a small glass box. We are trying to provide an environment that best keeps them alive, not trying to recreate the reef. We cannot recreate the entire reef system (rock or sand) and surely we cannot create the depth of the oceans bottom.

If you have a sand bed, there will be natural buildup of detritus/nutrients no matter how well you vacuum. With a DSB, from what I've read, you don't disturb the bottom layer. This will collect ditritus over time and you will have an anoxic layer that keeps growing and killing all the beneficial creatures in the upper layers. Eventually the anoxic layer will reach so close to the top that you need to replace the entire DSB or risk a catastrophic crash.

I personally don't want my time and effort spent worrying/maintaining a SB, so I go BB. I also don't need the aesthetics of the sand as I think my rock section looks great.

This is a hotly debated question and there are many indepth discussions on this board with far more experienced people and more scientific data.

You will hear DSB defenders say "I've had a DSB for X years and never had a problem". This could be true, but the fact still remains that DSBs have a shelf life and can pose a huge risk.

Like Geoff often says around here: I am not in the hobby of collecting poop.
 

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THere is no best setup. BB is certainly the most straightforward as you can see the poop. I have always ran DSBs and they have their place. But they are far from mandatory. THere are very successful tanks out there ran about every way you can imagine.
 

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I love the look of sand in a tank and I like to keep some critters that really need several inches of sand...that said, I do believe sand beds need regular maintenance and BB is certainly the easiest way to run a clean tank.
 

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I love the look of sand in a tank and I like to keep some critters that really need several inches of sand...that said, I do believe sand beds need regular maintenance and BB is certainly the easiest way to run a clean tank.
Totally agree with this. I have a large haddoni, so I have to keep several inches of sand for her.
 

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I've just spent several days reading many many threads provided by Geoff until my eyes bled over this very topic. In short, there is typically no sandbed DSB or otherwise that will allow you to NEVER clean them indefinitely - although there is one member here who has gone 10+ years with one. For the most part, DSBs allow one to get away with a more lax cleaning routine as it'll absorb phosphates and hide detritus. But at some point the sand becomes full and the excess has to go somewhere. Now there are methods and ways to mitigate the rate of absorbtion and then later to mask the effects of increasing nutrients in the system.

BB tanks, when setup properly allow one to easily route detritus to removal points - either the skimmer, a single area in the display tank for siphoning or the sump. This doesn't make them BETTER per say. Just provides a method for nutrient export that works well for many. This same nutrient export control can be achieved with sand/substrate. It just requires different methods of care. Cleaning the sand regularly will greatly slow the rate of absorbtion and DSBs can allow many many years before it becomes saturated. However I like the way substrate was finally described - another filter media that eventually needs to be replaced. This can be in 2 years or maybe 15. But at some point you'll want to replace the sand to prevent yourself from investing in heave mechanical methods of controlling excess nutrients.

Just my two cents I've gathered from the many many great threads I've spent so much time reading.
 

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Exactly, but a Chevy 350 is the easiest engine to work on. :D
:lol:

Well, they are the cheapest to work on for sure. I've worked on both and I have to say that simple fact that you have to remove the distributor to remove the heads on a 350 is a pain in the butt! Not so with the Ford as they allowed the cut-out around the manifold so that you can pull the top half of the motor apart quickly and easily.

But anyway, you get my point :thumbup:
 

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I have to disagree, an air cooled VW is the easiest :p
:lol:
Sorry Nate, we were talking about real engines here. :funny:

JK!!!!!!
 

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What can you do if you have items that have to have and such as sea pen? Is there a way to have a sandy area but mostly bb? If i remove my sand would my tiger watchman goby die since he eats the copopodes from the sand?
 

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bare bottom...easier to clean...no build up of detrius and dirt...there are a bunch of threads on this site devoted to this very question...run a search and read for hours.
+1, also is much more easier to catch hitch hickers, because they can not hide on the sand and also they can not run on the bottom glass. Some time ago for example, I found a hitchhicker crab on the rock, I blow him with a turkey baster to the bottom and catch him with easy.
 

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Exactly, but a Chevy 350 is the easiest engine to work on. :D
I have to disagree, an air cooled VW is the easiest :p
Have you guys every worked on a Land Rover Series I-III... talk about simple. I think the VW get the easiest to work on. The Chevy 350 just has a big support group... because my old Chevy truck was a sensitive as can be.

But I agree with the DSB being a LFS's money making scam. DSB is a particular approach for a particular environment... it is not a method of "less work"... quite the opposite in fact.
 

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I've just spent several days reading many many threads provided by Geoff until my eyes bled over this very topic. In short, there is typically no sandbed DSB or otherwise that will allow you to NEVER clean them indefinitely - although there is one member here who has gone 10+ years with one. For the most part, DSBs allow one to get away with a more lax cleaning routine as it'll absorb phosphates and hide detritus. But at some point the sand becomes full and the excess has to go somewhere. Now there are methods and ways to mitigate the rate of absorbtion and then later to mask the effects of increasing nutrients in the system.

BB tanks, when setup properly allow one to easily route detritus to removal points - either the skimmer, a single area in the display tank for siphoning or the sump. This doesn't make them BETTER per say. Just provides a method for nutrient export that works well for many. This same nutrient export control can be achieved with sand/substrate. It just requires different methods of care. Cleaning the sand regularly will greatly slow the rate of absorbtion and DSBs can allow many many years before it becomes saturated. However I like the way substrate was finally described - another filter media that eventually needs to be replaced. This can be in 2 years or maybe 15. But at some point you'll want to replace the sand to prevent yourself from investing in heave mechanical methods of controlling excess nutrients.

Just my two cents I've gathered from the many many great threads I've spent so much time reading.
great observation. The major dilemma involved with masking nutrient accumulation is there is no way to know or measure exactly when it will 'bite you in the buttocks'.... so to speak.. Thus the bare bottom, high flow provides better control over the unknown. Really, this is what bomber(spanky) had been saying with his posts back in the day. The major dilemma in reefing comes from when the tank is 'biting you in the buttocks' people tend to treat the symptoms vs remove/replace the source and stopping it from happening.
 
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