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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a beautiful new reef set up about 6 or 7 months old that I'm ecstatic with. Everything was perfect until I purchased a sixline wrasse to take care of little critters living on the LR. Silly me, I assumed that the sixline was too small to bother my nassarius snails until I came home the other day and realized that all of the nassarius are gone with only their little shells left behind. I freaked and did water testing. Turns out everything is fine. I just have an evil sixline. :mad:
Now, my sand is sitting unstirred and is in desperate need of a good grooming. I read on another website that adding gobies or blennies or other sand sifters to a DSB could be really bad for the bacterial balance in the sand. I'm not sure my tank could be considered a DSB but the sand is anywhere from 2 inches in some places to three or four in others. Is this true? What sand sifting beings do you guys recommend adding to a tank? Also, should I be stirring the sand when i do a water change? What steps should I be taking during a water change? :fish:
 

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I guess my first question is, what do you mean by, "...take care of little critters living on the LR..."? In almost all cases, we want those critters in our tank, so I am curious what you had that needed to go.

The idea of a deep sand bed is to create anoxic zones for anerobic bacteria to grow in. When you stir this up it allows oxygen into those zones and the bacteria dies.

It doesn't really sound like you have a deep sand bed though, even though four inches gets close.

I have a yellow watchman goby with a pistol shrimp, it's the shrimp that really does the work, but they are a team. I also use those nassarius snails you can't have.

I don't recommend sand sifting stars as they will eat the beneficial things out of your sand, then once it is all gone, they starve to death. If you have a very large tank with lots of open sand areas they may do okay.

I do not stir my sand when I do water changes etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for responding!! I have a 72 gallon bow front. So, no not huge. I got the wrasse to get rid of two things, I have these teeny black worms that were growing out of control in the sand bed. They have actually gone away pretty well. Never really could figure out what they were even after extensive research and posts to the TRT. I also have teeny snails are so small you can hardly see them roaming over the LR. They aren't tube worms, i know what those guys look like. These actually roam around. I also researched them and found out they can eat the good stuff out of your aquarium. The wrasse didn't eradicate either of the problem guests but he is keeping them under control which is all i need. Will the wrasse eat the shrimp tho? I've heard good things about the goby/pistol shrimp combo.
 

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There are different types of snails, can you provide a photo (using macro mode) of one of the snails?

The most common one is the collonista which is a tiny algae grazer and harmless, actually beneficial.

pyramid snail is the one to worry about, it's a parasite, but can easily be identified by the shape of the shell from which it gets its name.

As for the little black worms, I seem to remember you posted on them before. I think most of us have had them in our tanks. I know I have, and they have always been harmless. Like you I've never been able to get a 100% positive ID on just what they are. I will try again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I wish I could get a picture of them but they are sooo small. And I dont' have a macro lens for my camera. I googled the collonista but they look bigger than what I have here. and the ones i have are kinda built like the pyramids but they aren't on my snails and they aren't white. They just roam around. The little black worms seem to be gone now. I don't think that really had anything to do with the wrasse. the ones out of the refugium are gone too. I'm thinking it was just part of the cycle. do you think I should take the wrasse back to the LFS and go back to snails as a cleanup crew? Also, I noticed that there are teeny grey starfish on the LR as well. Up until recently it wasn't an issue because I only had softies but I just purchased a couple LPS. Those guys eat LPS, right? how could I do away with them if they are bad? I have some of the white algae grazing stars in my tank too that I would hate to lose.
 

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Personal opinion of course, but I would take the fish back and get store credit for it. While I don't have a problem buying snails to take care of alagae, in my experience it is a bad idea to buy a fish to take care of problems. They have their own needs and issues that can off-ballance a tank.

Collonista snails are tiny. It can be hard to tell by the photos you find on the Internet because they are usually taken to make it look bigger. They are about the size of the head of a pin.

I did some more reading on the worms, there still wasn't anything solid, but one theory is that they are tube worms that are migrating and will build a new tube once they find a nice spot. I don't think that's the case but it's another angle to investigate.
 

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Some folks don't like a sand sifting fish because it eats the tiny organisms in the sand that they want to "process" food and fish waste. I think for the most part they are unlikely to overgraze a tank to the point of sterility and the usefulness of some sand dwelling critters is debated.

FWIW I think that something that stirs the sand helps the looks of the tank and is minimally effecting the actual removal of waste one way or another. I keep a YWG in my 40 and he does stir the top layer somewhat.
 

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If you have a deep sand bed, you don't want anything sifting it, but if you don't have one, then in my opinion, you DO want something sifting it.

I like my goby/pistol shrimp and my nassarius. The think with the goby is he pretty much stays in one spot, finds a cave and hangs out, so I don't worry about him eating more than I want him to. In this case the shrimp does most of the digging.

I also have a blue and pink spotted goby which makes little piles of sand. He never goes deep enough to get all the life so I don't worry there.
 

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I have a DSB and I use sifters. I also deep siphon it regularly which is the opposite of what you are going to read in most places. I use sifters for sand movement not for what they eat. They eat stuff out of the sand... and poop back into the sand for other micro-organisms to eat.

But sand beds are one of those things with a million different viewpoints on. You sort of have to decide for yourself what seems to work for you. :thumbup:
 

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...which is the opposite of what you are going to read in most places...
Wow, that's interesting to hear. I was just reading Dr. Ron's stuff on the subject and (of course) he has strong feelings against it.

I don't run a deep sand bed so don't get excited about it either way, but because I have read much that differs from your practices I'm really interested in hearing your experience and the theory behind doing it the way you do.

I don't want to start a big discussion on the issue so if you think it will cause a flame war PM me with it. If not post it here.
 

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I don't think any topic in reef keeping should be taboo. A few years ago debates on DSB and BB got pretty heated :worm:

My view on sand critters is though they can help break down larger bits into smaller bits and even bind up nutrients temporarily... they are not removing anything from the system. They have at best a supporting role to bacteria. Now bacteria of course have processes to gas off nitrogen. But what we put in is not only made of nitrogen. There is no way for a DSB to process phophate in any meaningful way (though some experience PO4 reduction when using coil de-nitrators which are functioning on the same basic principles). Aragonite sand does do a wonderful job of binding it unitl it gets full. So if we run a completely According to Hoyle (or according to Shimek in this case) DSB we will have no readable nitrates or phosphates for years... until the sand is loaded to capacity with PO4.

So IMO sand dwelling critters help break things down but don't remove anything. If I remove a few with the siphon hose I am then removing the nutrients from the tank. I think refusing to siphon a sand dweller because it processes nutrients is like never harvesting the algae in a macro fuge or ATS.



Now as far as never siphoning... there are 2 principle reasons I hear repeated. One is that you disturb the anoxic bacteria by exposing them to toxic oxygen and that you release harmful sulphueric compounds.

The bacteria that are responsible for denitrification are not true anearobes but functional anaerobes that live in a hypoxic rather than an anoxic enviroment. They are not poisoned by oxygen and even if they were the growth rates of bacteria would quickly replace any lost due to stirring the sand.

As far as releasing toxic sulphur... this is produced in anoxic conditions by true anaerobes. SInce I stir the sand regularly this will not be produced anyway. To tell the truth in all the years I have seen folks run even in unstirred DSB over 6 inches for 5-10 years.... I have never seen one produce sulphur compounds. It can happen but it is not a frequent issue.

YMMV ;)
 

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Very interesting, and yes, quite different than the prevailing wisdom on this subject. You covered everything I was pondering.

Your post left me with one question however: if the above is true what is the real benefit of a DSB over a shallow one?
Habitat: Some critters that live in the sand will do better. A Jawfish or sand dwelling nem is not going to be happy without enough sand.

Denitrification: DSB are removing nitrogen, though there are other ways to do it.

Looks: I am just plain used to using them.

To me they are like a classic car... they have their foibles but they are great if properly maintained. If I was trying to do a all SPS reeftop then they might be more work than they are worth but they function well for my mixed reef (which is primarily lagoonal species). Every piece of equipment or methodology has it's trade-offs. For me they are a good choice.
 

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Looks: I am just plain used to using them.

To me they are like a classic car... they have their foibles but they are great if properly maintained.
Say no more!

Well, I had not considered one, but after reading your post I will look into it more closely and I have a feeling I may end up doing one on my next tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Collonista snails are tiny. It can be hard to tell by the photos you find on the Internet because they are usually taken to make it look bigger. They are about the size of the head of a pin.
The ones in my tank are about the size of a pin head. I bet you're exactly right and that is what they are. Fortunately, they are still in the tank as I see one now and again. As much as I hate to be that person who gets a pet then gets rid of it, I may consider taking the wrasse back and finding some substrate dwellers. I need that sand stirred more than I need that wrasse to clean all the life off the rocks.

Thanks guys!!! This thread has been really helpful!!!
 
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