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Started 30 gal 1/11/12. All water parameter's are perfect and everything is thriving. Last 2 weeks sand started looking funky. Looks bad now. Got brown strands everywhere.I have never cleaned the sand. Thought that's what CUC is for. I vacuumed gravel in a freshwater tank for 11 years. How does it work with sand? Won't you just suck it all up?
 

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cheese and beer... mmmm
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use a vacuum with a smaller hose on it and a graval attachment. it wont pull as much sand up and you can get in there a bit deeper to get more out.. there is one they make for the biocube at petco witha 3/8 hose that I use and it works nice.. 2 attachments come with it.. takes a bit longer but you get a better result..
 

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Fuzzy Stick Crazy
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Also it isnt a big deal if you pull some sand out of your tank. I pull almost a half cup of sand every weekend. I keep a dry bag of sand handy and replace whatever I take out. Since sand is aragonite and absorbs phosphate, pulling out some sand also removes nutrients. Adding the new dry sand (rinsed first) will allow for more phosphate absorption. Think of it like changing the media in a reactor.
 

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Yeah, it's definitely cyanobacteria from the looks of it. I have battled it twice now. Eventually, I had to dose with the chemiclean red slime remover to keep it from coming back. After I would siphon it out, it would be back in less than 12 hours.
 

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siphoning it out only removes the biomass and the nutrients that the cyano contains. to really get rid of the cyano bloom (which this is, you can never really get rid of cyano from the system) you need to remove the detritus that builds up in and on the substrate.

if you remove its food, then it can not survive.

G~
 

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OK, this cyano is really starting to tick me off! I have a Reef Octopus HOB and I've fitted the big blue sponge on the return to stave off air bubbles. Well, this sponge is filling up quite rapidly with cyano. My LFS guy doesn't believe in vacuuming substrate. He believes you should keep everything clean with critters. His tanks look great! So Sunday I bought a Tiger Conch. The lazy thing doesn't wake up till 10am, then starts in on the cyano. The way things are going, he won't ever catch up. I am gonna treat the tank with Boyd Chemi-clean on Friday to get a handle on this stuff. I tried syphoning off this weekend and the cyano was heavier than the sand and I would have to have sucked most of the sand up. Yes, it can be replaced but doesn't that start a cycle? You guys have been telling me it's nitrates and phosphorus, but I get zero readings on everything. I understand that this treatment is not the cure. Next weekend, I will add a cucumber which also was recommended by my LFS guy. The conch and the cucumber should take care of my sand. Any thoughts? :doh:
 

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Lost At Sea
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OK, this cyano is really starting to piss me off! I have a Reef Octopus HOB and I've fitted the big blue sponge on the return to stave off air bubbles. Well, this sponge is filling up quite rapidly with cyano. My LFS guy doesn't believe in vacuuming substrate. He believes you should keep everything clean with critters. His tanks look great! So Sunday I bought a Tiger Conch. The lazy thing doesn't wake up till 10am, then starts in on the cyano. The way things are going, he won't ever catch up. I am gonna treat the tank with Boyd Chemi-clean on Friday to get a handle on this stuff. I tried syphoning off this weekend and the cyano was heavier than the sand and I would have to have sucked most of the sand up. Yes, it can be replaced but doesn't that start a cycle? You guys have been telling me it's nitrates and phosphorus, but I get zero readings on everything. I understand that this treatment is not the cure. Next weekend, I will add a cucumber which also was recommended by my LFS guy. The conch and the cucumber should take care of my sand. Any thoughts? :doh:
Here's the frustrating part about our tanks. Test kits can ONLY test for what's freely floating in the water - not what is bound in organisims, live rock and sand.

Cyano blooms are a pain to get under control, but as others and specifically Geoff states, you have to remove the food source. This is the slow and annoying part. Vaccumming the sand (using a gravel guard or even removing some of it) is essential. Waste and food gets trapped in there and stirring up daily to let a filter/skimmer catch helps. Best method is to siphon during a water change to immediately get these trapped sources of nitrates and phosphates out of the tank.

A turkey baster or low gph power head to blow off the rocks is another critical part. You'll be amazed as to how much white 'dust' is expelled from the rocks. This detritus is also food sources and contains nitrates and phospates of which WILL NOT be seen in test kits because it's bound to this waste.

You may also want to increase the flow rate in your tank. This will help waste and old food from settling on the sand and becoming trapped and/or breaking down. Again, the goal here is to keep waste suspended in the water so it can be removed by filters/water changes or skimming.

The chemical treatment does help kill the cyano you see - but the ultimate issue is that the food source remains and in time, it will be back. I loved my watchman goby as it would churn up my sand constantly. This helped kick up waste lying on the sand. But again, WE are the best clean up crew and siphoning sand, blowing off rocks and routine water changes will do more over time than any critter we put in. Some have the luck of not needing to siphon their sand, but I believe it's due to finding that balance between proper feeding, critters to stir the sand, and water flow to keep waste/detritus suspended in the water. I too know of reefers that are this lucky but each tank is unique. At this time, you first need to lower the amount of food for the cyano before you can discover how to strike this balance.

I hope this helps better consolidate all of the useful information that's been posted so far. It's a lot to take in and learn over time.
 

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Export with Care!
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LFS says critters because he makes no money with you siphon vac your sand bed. He does when you can sell you critters and chemicals. Your tank is under 3 months old, cyno popping up is normal. Getting things more dialed in cleaning wise ect it will subside and go away.

His tank are also cleaner since that is what he pays employees and himself for. They have all day to clean the tanks and maintain them daily. Their tanks should be spotless :)

Remember our test kits help but are not fully accurate of all types present in a system.

More critters you have the more they poop the more they poop the more food for cyno and algae. Everything poops
 

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have you read through this thread yet? this will explain a lot of what we are talking about. our systems are not magic. if you are not removing the same amount of material as you are putting in, then the tank will become nutrient rich. just basic physics.

G~
 

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+1 definately siphon to rid yourself of your current problem
 

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Chuck Norris doesn't poop. He farts pure oxygen:lol:
I left chuck out of it :) He's not a critter hes a god. So he is exempt per the "Divine Power" Clause paragraph 3 subsection A. hehe
 

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Here's the frustrating part about our tanks. Test kits can ONLY test for what's freely floating in the water - not what is bound in organisims, live rock and sand.

Cyano blooms are a pain to get under control, but as others and specifically Geoff states, you have to remove the food source. This is the slow and annoying part. Vaccumming the sand (using a gravel guard or even removing some of it) is essential. Waste and food gets trapped in there and stirring up daily to let a filter/skimmer catch helps. Best method is to siphon during a water change to immediately get these trapped sources of nitrates and phosphates out of the tank.

A turkey baster or low gph power head to blow off the rocks is another critical part. You'll be amazed as to how much white 'dust' is expelled from the rocks. This detritus is also food sources and contains nitrates and phospates of which WILL NOT be seen in test kits because it's bound to this waste.

You may also want to increase the flow rate in your tank. This will help waste and old food from settling on the sand and becoming trapped and/or breaking down. Again, the goal here is to keep waste suspended in the water so it can be removed by filters/water changes or skimming.

The chemical treatment does help kill the cyano you see - but the ultimate issue is that the food source remains and in time, it will be back. I loved my watchman goby as it would churn up my sand constantly. This helped kick up waste lying on the sand. But again, WE are the best clean up crew and siphoning sand, blowing off rocks and routine water changes will do more over time than any critter we put in. Some have the luck of not needing to siphon their sand, but I believe it's due to finding that balance between proper feeding, critters to stir the sand, and water flow to keep waste/detritus suspended in the water. I too know of reefers that are this lucky but each tank is unique. At this time, you first need to lower the amount of food for the cyano before you can discover how to strike this balance.

I hope this helps better consolidate all of the useful information that's been posted so far. It's a lot to take in and learn over time.
At the suggestion of my LFS guy, I did add another powerhead this weekend in hopes of stirring things up a bit more. I still can't wrap my head around getting any junk out without taking all the sand with it. What I have is a 2" plastic tube with 4' of 1/2" hose attached. This is what I used to clean my fresh water gravel. Junk came up, gravel dropped back. No problamo. When I tried it last weekend, sand sucked up, and slime fell back to the bottom. I was just trying to use enough suction to not take the sand with my vacumn. Can someone please post a pic of whatever you use for sand? How much sand do you remove? My other concern is how much sand can you remove before you have a mini cycle going on. I get the part about the water testing. To be honest, I hadn't thought of that. I guess I need a sand tester! Thanks for all the input. :beer:
 

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there is not an easy way to siphon oolitic sand. this is why it is recommended to use a more coarser sand. that way you are able to siphon it without removing the sand. those that preferred the oolitic sand just siphon some of the sand bed away each water change, then replace some of it through out the year.

a mini-cycle will not be caused by the removal of sand. it will be caused by the disturbance of the nutrients that have settled into the substrate.

G~
 

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You re getting 0 readings for nitrate and phosphate because the cyano is binding it in the bacterias cells. You stated you had not previously cleaned the sand bed, that is the cause of your cyano issues. A conch may eat the stuff, but they do not process 100% of what they eat, no organism does, so what they cant process gets pooped out, SO you have waste that breaks down and releases nitrate and phosphate.
Any food that you feed that is uneaten, fish and critter poop, slime from corals, all these organics will breat down and lead to high nitrate and excess phosphates if not removed through vigorous skimming, mechanical filtration as needed, and water changes, A well applied program of all of the above.
Cleanup critters can deal with some of the bigger pieces but they are not going to magically make it all go away, Water they eat thry are going to pass as waste, still gotta be removed from the system.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Spent 4 hrs cleaning my sand and tank, filter, skimmer, etc. Looked great last night but I can see some red color back in the sand this morning. My plan is to dose the tank as soon as it arrives.
 
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