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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was wondering do you guys deep siphon your sand or just try to siphon the top? I heard conflicting information. Siphoning the sand releases trapped garbage in the sand bed and gets released into tank and makes nitrates and other bad stuff go up. My tank is 8 months old. Sandbed is only about more or less 2 inches. Everytime I have tried a deep clean of my sandbed days later my Nitrates sky rocket?
 

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So there is garbage in your sand? Where do you think it's going to go? One of the best things to keep a tank with a substrate in it is the keep the substrate clean. Because nitrates is exactly what can and most likely will happen from the garbage being put back into the water column instead. The trick is not to let it get there in the first place :) the same principle applies to filters as well.
 

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I dont think youll get much controversy here
Anyone who cares to argue feel free
Most here, if they have a sand bed at all, will clean it as best they can, all the way to the bottom
Only way to keep it clean, prevent buildup of eventual toxic issues in your tank

Deep sand beds can have great short term advantages (nitrate reduction, for one), but eventaully too much detritus builds up and this leads to long term tank crash

Best to clean your sand, deal with nitrate increases in other ways
 

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What you can do to clean your sandbed is siphon about 1/2 of your sandbed. Try not to do underneath much of the rock work, it's better if we do the other half of the sand and then under rocks in different stages as to not greatly offbalance the environment. How big is your tank? In my 55gal with two inches of sand I would siphon about 10g of water each week. You can cut down on how much water you change by having a shallower sand bed, I now keep 1/2in to an inch with all my base rocks on bare glass. It's easier to clean under the base rocks and I can clean my whole sandbed with a little less then 10g.

Btw siphoning refers to cleaning the substrate. With sand my main technique is to stick the siphon straight down into the bed and pull up and kindve let the sand tumble in the siphon tube and out back into place. It's simple and kindve fun. It's like having a earth digger drop substrate in slow motion.
Do this for every water change, blow off your rocks with a turkey baster and clean your glass before you siphon the sandbed and wait a little bit so that detritus will settle on top of the sandbed then siphon the sandbed.

Now you have been changing the water and 'taking out the garbage' at the same time. As long as you don't disturb too much while going slow cleaning your sand, I mention slow because you need to go slow so you don't disturb the sand that you won't clean this time, your nitrates shouldn't go up very much. But if the nitrates are a problem from siphoning the sandbed to get rid of the garbage permanently then you should have a 'part 2' of your plan in which case I would probably do a 10-30% water change the following day (or immediatly after siphoning the sandbed if you have livestock that doesn't mind the noise) and when I say that please remember our little glass box gets stressed easily so slow is smooth and smooth is fast :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Yes, thank you very much PhaneSoul. I think I am playing catch up on my maintenance. I have an ornament that is trapping waste. I am going to take it out of tank. When I siphoned the last time tried only 50% but maybe that was too much at a time since I am playing catch up now.
 

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No problem, you should check out the 'reefkeeping made easy' thread in my signature it will teach you a lot. You don't need to get rid of your ornament, if it's a great detritus trapper then use it as that until your detritus problem is solved. Just take that specific item out each water change and give it a nice cleaning. And when your ready to stop cleaning it like it's special to you just put it in a high flow area where detritus cannot settle in it.

It's better to go slow and do as much of the sand bed as you think comfortable without disturbing everything else around you. You can always come back another day and do more. Just remember where you stopped. Basically you want to export as much or more detritus (garbage, fish poop, uneaten food, live rock purgings (sometimes referred to as flock but mostly referred to as detritus) and anything that isn't beneficial to the environment) then what is imported.
 

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I would do it slowly like mentioned. Once you get it taken care of then you won't have to worry. I'll blow my sand around and wouldn't worry about it a bit. I actually try to keep my sand only in the front. So when I do a water change I'll take a powerhead and blow all the sand that moved to the back to the front so it can be cleaned.
 

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I don't necessarily siphon my sand bed, but I will use a small power head and turn the whole thing over about once every month or so. I'll usually do a 5 gallon water change, and a filter sock is used until the water looks clear again. I've been doing this for about 5 years now without any problems.

Just as an example, here's what my tank looks like after this is done. Siphon that muck out!

 

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My tank will be 2 years old this August. I have 2-3 inches of sand in it. I know that detritus accumulates in the sand bed, or at least I know that theory. Also I know that it accumulates there in nature. And also I know that this is not a good idea to disturb sand bed because H2S trapped there will escape and hurt of kill your livestock. I have tried to syphon my sandbed couple times and did not see any detritus there. Also, even if I try to do that, most of my sand surface would not be accessible because of the rock structure.

So I guess you have 2 choices. Either syphon is regularly to keep it crispy clean or forget about it.
 

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My tank will be 2 years old this August. I have 2-3 inches of sand in it. I know that detritus accumulates in the sand bed, or at least I know that theory. Also I know that it accumulates there in nature. And also I know that this is not a good idea to disturb sand bed because H2S trapped there will escape and hurt of kill your livestock. I have tried to syphon my sandbed couple times and did not see any detritus there. Also, even if I try to do that, most of my sand surface would not be accessible because of the rock structure.

So I guess you have 2 choices. Either syphon is regularly to keep it crispy clean or forget about it.
your probably not going to see it, at least to the untrained eye, but its there. either way if you decide to leave it or clean it it still needs to be removed. H2S, what is that abrieviated for? whatever it is, it takes time for detritus to be broken down into H2S, removing the detritus before it has a chance to be broken down into H2S is the key here. Remove the garbage before it has a chance to leech nutrients back into the water column (shallow sand bed) or remove the detritus before it has a chance to break down and become anoxic (deep sand bed) or if you dont disturb the sand bed its best to change out the whole thing each year or two. if you dont change the sand or clean the sand the sandbed will become full of nutrients and just leech them back into the water column.

the reason the ocean is fine with keeping nutrients in the sandbed is because the ocean floor is massive, is able to hold alot more detritus then our little glass box can, and also detritus is exported out of the ocean via plate tectonics. no matter how hard you try, i dont think your going to replicate that.
 

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My tank will be 2 years old this August. I have 2-3 inches of sand in it. I know that detritus accumulates in the sand bed, or at least I know that theory. Also I know that it accumulates there in nature. And also I know that this is not a good idea to disturb sand bed because H2S trapped there will escape and hurt of kill your livestock. I have tried to syphon my sandbed couple times and did not see any detritus there. Also, even if I try to do that, most of my sand surface would not be accessible because of the rock structure.
You don't have hydrogen sulfide built up if you regularly siphon the sand bed. Have you ever siphoned the water directly from the sand bed into a bucket? If you do, you won't see clean, clear water. You'll see brown sludge not too much cleaner than what comes out of a protein skimmer run wet. How would it be a theory that detritus accumulates in the sand bed? It is directly observable. Detritus accumulates in the place with least flow (gravity permitting). Usually, this is in the sand bed (often next to a rock which will block flow).

So I guess you have 2 choices. Either siphon is regularly to keep it crispy clean or forget about it.
So I guess you have 2 choices. Either siphon is regularly to keep it crispy clean or forget about it and let your tank slowly crash.
 

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I like what fribee does!
Im starting to get that cloud look after a cleaning for a while..
Fish dont seem to mind...
Infact, the corals seem to LOVE it, the extend their polyps during this time
Is that your experience frisbee?
 

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I personally wouldnt discount igvm's experience with his tank, its been up alot longer than mine...
I think that with only 2-3 inches of sand, your not at any major risk of H2S buildup, thats only for deeper sand beds
Its more ditritus accumulation and a nitrate source, which you dont have an issue with I take it
 

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I like what fribee does!
Im starting to get that cloud look after a cleaning for a while..
Fish dont seem to mind...
Infact, the corals seem to LOVE it, the extend their polyps during this time
Is that your experience frisbee?
Pretty much... Even when I leave the sand alone and just use a power head to stir up any detritus that may have settled in the sump, I'm still getting a great feeding response from the corals.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
My biggest issue I found out was my big U shaped orniment trapping ALOT of fish waste. I cut a whole through it but I don't think I will put it back in. It says it was reef safe but I also have alot of pineapple sponges as well. Too bad I really like how it looks. I guess I get to do some more aquascaping.
 

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Deep sand beds can have great short term advantages (nitrate reduction, for one), but eventaully too much detritus builds up and this leads to long term tank crash

Best to clean your sand, deal with nitrate increases in other ways
Golly, ten years in and I guess I'm still waiting for the crash from my sand bed. I guess I'll go warn 'me to duck and cover. Actually I just did a total tank breakdown and switched out all my sand for 240lb of new aragonite.

To the OP: yes I deep clean my substrate but only one half of it with each water change. I don't want to suck down too many Copepods and such.
 
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