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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everybody. It's been a few years. Looking back at some of my old threads makes me laugh a little bit. Anyway, I just recently moved into a college dorm. I have a 10 gallon planted tank with me, but I recently bought a 20 gallon long with a stand and canopy and was wondering if I could turn it into a nano reef. The tank will have a Vipar Spectra 350W. Being a student, I don't have a lot to spend, as I figured I could build it up slowly.

I'm not planning on using a skimmer, as I'll sub weekly water changes

I was wondering if I could save money on sand by purchasing play sand. I use it for my planted tank but was wondering if there is a finer form as mine is more like pebbles. I would rather spend $10 on sand then $40. Does anybody know where I can get fine, white, play sand?

As for rock, I have a lot of dried pieces back home I could place in the tank after cleaning, and pick up a small piece or two of live rock from a store.

I'm not worried about corals quite yet, as I figured I could fill the tank with a couple softies and let them grow in. I haven't considered fish yet. With the Vipar Spectra, play sand, and dry rock, is it possible? I know the hobby is not simple, and what you put in you get out, but I'm trying to see if I can make do. Anybody have thoughts or opinions?
 

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What about bare bottom?
Lower cost, easier to maintain and a longer lifespan.
Being able to see the detritus as opposed to it settling into the sand (not to mention it becoming saturated with Phosphates) makes it much easier to keep a handle on things.

As for the play sand it is hard to find good pure sand.
You don't want it too fine as it won't stay put in the flow of a good reef tank.
The hobby is really only as hard as you make it. Regular maintenance and planning what livestock you keep will eliminate many of the problems.
 

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Welcome back. What type of sand you wanting because sometime petco has it on sale online with in store pickup or you can go bare bottom also to save money. What type of filtration you going to have on the tank?
 

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Given the budget restraints I would go bare bottom or a very thin layer of 2-3 mm crushed coral. That should allow siphoning while changing water but not trap a lot of detritus.
 

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There are definite advantages to bare bottom, cost and maintenance for 2.
Personally I like the look of the aragonite substrate that is why I have it.
I have to compensate by thorough vacuuming of it and eventual replacement.
Basically, what it comes down to is what you like and what you are willing to do to have it. If you want the substrate you have to do the extra work to keep it up.
With sand though you will not have the added benefit that calcium substrates provide, binding some of the Phosphates.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I've done bare bottom a couple times, the only problem I have is that I love the look of sand on the bottom. Along with that, I've always had either a sifting/watchman goby, or a jawfish. Two of my favorite species to watch. I couldn't do that without the sand. If it took extra work to sift the sand, I could manage that. For a 20 long, it would only take a couple bags, maybe $35 I could manage. I possibly could do one bag of live aragonite and then a bag of dry sand to shave some costs. I also have two airheads that will suffice, so really I think I'm set on supplies other than salt.
 

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You don't need to do live sand. That will lower your cost.

Dry sand will be live after the cycle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
On the note of using the old rock, most of it has some dried green algae on it. Does anybody know how to get the dried algae off? It's been on there for a few years now, so I feel like it won't come off easily.
 

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You can "cook" it, there is a thread on cooking rock, it does not involve heat.
It would most likely be the thing to do as it will release any bound Phosphates.
You can also scrub it with a wire brush or use acid. Using acid can be dangerous and certain safety precautions should be flowed.
Do it out doors, use long heavy rubber gloves, eye protection and a respirator.
DO NOT inhale fumes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I think I'll try the wire brush, and I'll look up the thread of cooking it. I'll leave the acid option out as admittedly that has always been a childhood nightmare of mine. Thank you!
 

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It is not recommended unless you REALLY know what you are doing.
Brushing and cooking are much safer, and acid will dissolve some of your rock.
 

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There’s some good videos on YouTube from brs where they “cooked” old live rock and tested it. Definitely watch them.

I just reused old dead rock for my 24 gal nano build. After lots of research I decided to bleach cure them. 14 days in bleach rodi mix then drained and allowed to complete dry. Took a few days in the heat of summer. Then after aquascaping I soaked it in rodi another 2 weeks in the tank, drained and added saltwater along with my shrimp to cycle. Uglies were very very minimal and short lived. I plan on reusing this method on the rocks on my upcoming build.

On the sand you can always add a bag of dry sand to cover the bottom then add another later down the road as money come available. I agree no reason to buy live sand there’s no benefit as after the cycle there will be more life in the sand regardless if it was alive or dry.

Oh and if you have lots of dry rock at home save the money you would spend on live rock from a store and just buy you a single raw shrimp, none seasoned of course lol. $0.50 verses $5.99 lb for live rock that they measure full of water. Plus you don’t know what kind of hitchhikers you’re getting with the live rock.

Good luck and keep us posted.
Matt
 
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