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I am currently in the planning stages of my future tank. I am going to be getting a 150-180 gallon tank from my brother-in-law which has been sitting empty in his basement for at least 6 years. He also has a couple hundred pounds of sand which had been in a different tank which sprung a leak and is now dry and in buckets.

My question is: How should I treat the sand before it is used? My plan was some very lengthy rinsing, possibly using vinegar to help dissolve any debris from the previous tank. What are your thoughts on this?
 

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Sand "absorbs" certain wastes in a tank environment that can't be readily removed...over time the sand will absorb so much of these that it needs to be replaced...with that in mind you can rinse the sand very well and reuse it...just be aware that at least some of the "life" of this sand has already been used up.
 

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One idea that comes to my mind: if he has time to spare, why couldn't he "cook" his sand?? Toss it in a garbage can with some salt water, a heater, and a powerhead. Stir it up every day, do 100% water changes weekly. I imagine over time that would deplete the stored up phosphates..
 

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Hmm I don't see why not... it's diffusion. If phosphates are high in the sand and 0ppm in the water, they would leak into the water. But I'm sure someone's tried it, so there must be a reason why they say it can't be done
 

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Sand basically has the surface exposed to the water column, as opposed to the rock being hopefully free on all sides, The dynamics of the submerged layers of the sand bed are different than rock exposed to the 4 dimensional waterflow around rock
 

· Marine Addict: 75g Habit
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i don't see why he couldn't try it. if he has time to burn, it would show whether it's working in the first week by checking the phosphate levels in the water before and after each week of "cooking". it certainly seems like a sound theory...and every experiment starts with a solid educated guess and bullet proof verification of the theory through the test phase.
 

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i don't see why he couldn't try it. if he has time to burn, it would show whether it's working in the first week by checking the phosphate levels in the water before and after each week of "cooking". it certainly seems like a sound theory...and every experiment starts with a solid educated guess and bullet proof verification of the theory through the test phase.
As I understand the science behind it, sand beds tend to hold onto both adsorbed phosphate and the detritous trapped in the layers of sand. Since the sand has more open channels oxygen diffuses into it and creates aerobic zones deeper than it would in Live Rock, The deeper layers of deep sand beds tend to promote different chemicl changes often involving sulfur and sometimes , under certain conditions , resulting in pockets of Hydrogen Sulphide, and other noxious compounds.
 

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just replace the sand. in a 180g tank you do not want to be starting off with sand already laden with phosphates.

you can not cook sand in the same matter as you can LR unless you are able to keep the sand suspended all of the time. the problem is that the bacterial turgor can not get a mechanical advantage against the other grains of sand allowing the bacterial flock from pushing up to the surface to be removed. since the bacterial flock (which is phosphate laden) can not be removed in a timely manner. the phosphates that were removed by the turgor will quickly reabsorb phosphates again from the bacterial flock that the sand is again sitting in since the flock can not be removed quickly enough. in LR the bacterial flock is removed constantly by the flow in the cooking bucket. since the bucket only has LR in it the flock then settles to the bottom of the bucket where it is removed when you change the water.

theoretically, if you have the time, you MIGHT be able to cook sand. it would require you to vacuum the sand out every day minimum. you would end up with a lot less sand from all of the vacuuming. the more the sand blows around in the bucket the better.

sand is cheap. why spend the effort for a $5 bag of 40lb sand? heck you can get a truckload of sand for about $100 and do more tanks than you could ever want.

you can not check for phosphates that way. the sand itself absorbs the phosphates. this is the problem. since the sand is sitting in the very stuff you are trying to remove from the system (the phosphates) the sand will just uptake the phosphates from the water before you can test the water. the readings will always read 0. if you want to test if it is working you would need to take samples of the sand itself, crush it to oblivion then test the resulting powder, make sure to test the water first to make sure you are not already starting with phosphates. in this matter you will have an idea on if it is working.

G~
 

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This is strictly theoretical and probably not worth the guy's time, BUT... what if he were to set up a return pump with a hose beneath the sand so it constantly bubbled up water from beneath? Or If someone really dedicated rigged up a system with a manifold capable of pumping lots of water from beneath? It would keep the sand tumbling and cause most of the detritus to rise to the top
 

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This is strictly theoretical and probably not worth the guy's time, BUT... what if he were to set up a return pump with a hose beneath the sand so it constantly bubbled up water from beneath? Or If someone really dedicated rigged up a system with a manifold capable of pumping lots of water from beneath? It would keep the sand tumbling and cause most of the detritus to rise to the top
Problem is not just the detritous, the calcium carbonate sand grains bind PO4 themselves. Back flushing might work with silica sand, then again it's so cheap why waste the time
 

· Carpe Noctem
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My wife loves it when I replace sand. it means I get a new project in the yard:D It works great for stone pathways and other little projects;)
 

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Thanks for the feedback. Looks like I will be buying some when the time comes. I have read in several posts to avoid the bagged 'live' sand. Correct?
I wouldn't pay premium price for a bag of sand that's been sitting around for who knows how long. If you are putting in live rock a lot of stuff will migrate into the sand anyway.
 

· Perfeshunal Hikk
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I don't see how sand used in a reef tank for a few years can be totally destroyed. Isn't sand thousands of years old?
It isn't phosphate laden though. And most of what you see in the ocean is silicate based. It doesnt react with phosphates the way ca based sand does.
 

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in the ocean the sand is constantly being blown around, then mixed up completely every huge storm. sound familiar. ;) it is constantly being moved around, so that HA/cyano is allowed to get going. we have low flow system compared to the ocean, so we are making things harder on ourselves.

G~
 

· Ummm... yeah.
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Thanks for the feedback. Looks like I will be buying some when the time comes. I have read in several posts to avoid the bagged 'live' sand. Correct?
Correct. Not really worth the trouble. You may want to find someone local that can give you a cup of established sand as a starter. Or using cured rock would work as well. If I'm not mistaken.
 
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