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Human grounding probe
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I just spent three hours reading through the DSB myth thread and decided in all fairness to put up a pro DSB thread. Although I have not been in the hobby as long as many on here have. I research constantly for ways to improve the quality of life for the animals I choose to own. This is in no way a BB bashing thread. BB tanks are fantastic for those who choose to maintain them properly. What I want to discuss is how to PROPERLY maintain a DSB and make it work for those who choose to keep them.

This thread just about covers the myth-conceptions of DSB's http://www.thereeftank.com/forums/showthread.php?t=23293. So I won't bother to list them again. It's goes into great detail about how they crash. But I didn't see anything on how to avoid it. It's my opinion that DSB's are the "under gravel filters" of the marine aquarium hobby. Every body and their uncle loved them to begin with. That is until they were neglected for so long they finally crashed and wreaked havoc on the aquarium. Well, call me old school. But every one of my fresh water tanks, even planted) have UGFs. Never had an issue once I figured out they required regular maintenance just like any other functioning filter.

IME, when a mechanism or methodology fails the first reaction is to call it faulty. When in fact it was the maintenance or application that was to blame.

DSB Pro's:
1) It acts a a "sink" for nutrients.
2) Provides a colonizing surface for beneficial bacteria.
3) Provides food for the aquarium.
4) Has a buffering capacity for Ca+ & Alk.
5) Is home to a plethora of interesting and beneficial organisms.
6) Is more forgiving of husbandry missteps.
7) Looks nifty. (I really can't stand the way BB tanks look)
 

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Premium Member
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the problem and complication with maintaining a DSB... is that it can take longer and cost more than BB. BB is easy because you suck the poop out and your done. BB you have to dig and poke and siphon all the sand. additionally you have to be a lot more careful about your CA, Alk, and mag levels since these form the foundation for all the bacteria that are processing the waste in your DSB.

the other issue is if you forget to clean a BB tank for a week or so you will be fine, but forget that with a DSB and you risk developing the black spots of sulphur nasty that will kill your tank...

yes you can maintain a DSB and keep it going for a while... but why bail water from the ship when you can plug the hole?
 

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Human grounding probe
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Discussion Starter #3
Ok, first off Twitter, you are trying to turn this into a BB vs DSB debate which I don't want.

Secondly, maybe a DSB does cost more, maybe it requires more upkeep. But think of a DSB as a classic car. Yeah there are new, faster, better models out today. But if MAINTAINED properly a classic still gets the job done.
 

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Human grounding probe
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Discussion Starter #4
As for the H2S issue, or the "black sulfur spot" issue. There is no way you can arrive at that situation unless there was an already building problem. No way no how and I work with H2S on a day to day basis so I take my opinion as educated. You can't take new sand, dump it in a tank, add water, a ton of food and leave it for a week and get the dreaded "black spot". You need a chronic hypoxic condition with enough food for that to happen. The black spot is what happens when you don't keep your sand bed clean.

BTW, before I started vacing my sand bed it was pretty much left alone for 7 months and I don't have a hint of the black spots of which you speak. So leaving a well maintained DSB alone for a week wouldn't worry me in the least.
 

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Human grounding probe
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Discussion Starter #5
I need to address the #1 pro on my list of "Pro's for DSB's". This is the lynch pin in my theory of why they don't work for most people. Yes a sand bed is a "sink" for nutrients. But just like my kitchen sink is a "sink" for my dirty dishes. Sooner or later it will fill up and overflow and otherwise funk up the rest of my house. But if I regularly clean those dishes then there isn't a problem. I can even go a few days without an issue. So long a the usual routine includes REGULAR washing.
 

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Human grounding probe
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Discussion Starter #6
the problem and complication with maintaining a DSB... is that it can take longer and cost more than BB.
You and I both know that the pocket book goes out the window once a love for coral obsesses a person............
 

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Administrator
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there is this thread already. :D

most of your pros are correct except for point 3. in fact they are a huge consumers of these elements and keeping them in check in a DSB system usually requires aditional equipment like reactors and suppliments, which are not needed in a BB system. i would actually say point 3 is a con for DSB's. they make keeping Ca and alk levels consistant almost impossible without added maintenance, and isn't ease of maintenance what DSB's are suppose to be for?

G~
 

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I guess I better get ready for my tank to crash I've been running the same sand bed for almost 15 yrs. And I dont syphon any part of the sand bed but I beleive the high flow rate I maint. in the tank is why it works for me. I do have to top it off about every18-24 months.
 

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I agree with tabwyo. A well maintained DSB has no bad side that I can think of. Many people run a sand bed like a mechanical filter. They allow it to accumulate detritus and all the other nasty stuff from the tank then change it out. This approach is costly and dangerous for the tank inhabitants. I have one of the oldest sand beds around, and my water stays very clean. I run my display BB with the water flowing across the bottom and up the front glass. I keep a 100 micron filter in the overflow that is changed out every morning. The water drains into my sump/refuge that holds my DSB and algae. The sand bed is very easy to clean with very little on top of it other than the macroalgae. I have many different members of the cleaning crew that help keep the sand bed clean. Syphoning the sand bed during water changes is very easy. I don't plan on ever changing my sand. It has worked for about 15 or 16 years so why fix it? Like tabwyo said, If you keep the dishes in the sink clean they won't foul the air in your house. Just my 2 cents.
 

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Ok, so more...how does one "properly maintain a sand bed"? I have a big tank that is BB, but I also have a small tank that is a sand bed bottom...I don't see black spots but I do see red, which I would think is cyano in the sand bed?.....I always heard that you are not suppose to disturb the sand bed...if you siphon or stir it aren't you disturbing it? Should you just poke a siphon down to these areas? Truly, I would like to hear how to properly maintain it...I have a tiger shrimp that has a home under a rock- he's moved the opening's from which he crawls out from to get food and then excapes back to his home...obviously hes living with the sand...how should I be keeping it as clean or fresh or full of nutrients so that he as well as the other inhabitants in this tank are healthy happy specimens/pets?
 

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If the typical sand bed is left alone for extended periods of time organic matter will begin to accumulate in its depths. This organic matter will begin to break down and produce a wide range of pollutants. It will basically become a septic tank for your aquarium. The problem with this is that there is no barrier between the animals in the aquarium and this septic tank. On all the drains in your house that lead to the sewage system there is a trap. This trap provides a barrier between the people living in the house and the noxious gasses produced by the septic tank. To keep a sand bed from becoming a septic tank it needs to be cleaned. Sand dwelling animals like your shrimp help a great deal with this task. As they turn over the sand it releases the organic matter into the water current and it can be removed by the filter system before it can build up and cause problems. Physically turning the sand over by hand and vacuuming it during water changes will help to keep it clean. Some people suggest you not disturb a sand bed because it can release toxins into the water all at once when it is disturbed, causing a tank crash. My problem with this philosophy is that if these toxins are building up in your sand bed to this point you are on your way to a tank crash anyway. Eventually these toxins will build up to the point that they pollute the tank, if the sand is disturbed or not. To keep this from happening all we need to do is keep the sand clean and water moving through it. Even if it is very slow movement. However, this is just my opinion.
 

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Human grounding probe
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Discussion Starter #12
Marineduud

I have a feeling you higher flow rate is the key to theh longevity of your sand bed as well. It just stands to reason that if crap can't settle there it won't get a chance to rot there.
 

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Im a big fan of my BB tank...but have no problems with collection of crap on my DSB tank either. rock is lifted with spraybars keeping 100% of the sandbed with flow over it......stuff cant settle anywhere.

Positive flow is key. I keep no sandsifters as far as nassarius snails or otherwise either. I do have a pink spotted watchman and a Chevron who move the sand here and there......but neither one of them are necessary.
 

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Human grounding probe
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Discussion Starter #14
there is this thread already. :D

isn't ease of maintenance what DSB's are suppose to be for?

G~
I looked for that thread and couldn't find it. Sorry G.

As for the question of isn't a DSB SUPPOSED to make aquarium maintenance easier. Yes!!! But obviously not the way it was originally intended. But almost any device or system used to make our lives easier still requires some amount of work to keep running right.

I don't consider vacuuming my sand once or twice a week any more trouble than siphoning out detritus from a BB tank on a daily basis.
 

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I don't consider vacuuming my sand once or twice a week any more trouble than siphoning out detritus from a BB tank on a daily basis.

I know this isnt supposed to be a dsb vs bb debate...and Im not debating........ im only saying this in response to this statement.

Not everybodys BB tank needs siphoned out. Mine NEVER does with the exception of when I move a frag from my dsb tank to it and forget to shake the sand off of the rock before moving it.
 

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I don't vacuum my sand near that much, and I never vacuum my BB display. There are many contributing factors to how fast a sand bed will get dirty. A large biological load and a small sand bed with no cleaning crew will cause the sand to get dirty very quickly. If the biological load is small in comparison to the size of the sand bed and there is a good cleaning crew it will take much longer for the sand to become dirty. The flow is also important. If it is strong enough to keep particulate matter suspended long enough for the filter to remove it there will be less to accumulate in the sand.
My display is 29gl with one little Mandarin goby. The rest are corals, mostly Elegance corals. The DSB is in a 55gl sump/refuge. It takes a long time for this small biological load to pollute a sand bed this big. I have different species of snails, crabs, shrimp, a cucumber, and sand dollars, in/on my sand so I don't have to clean it very often.
 

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Human grounding probe
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Discussion Starter #17
Fly Guy

How is your display & sump set up so that you never need to siphon anything out??? Not being combative, I'd really like to know for future reference. You obviously have good flow and good husbandry technique.
 

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Fly Guy

How is your display & sump set up so that you never need to siphon anything out??? Not being combative, I'd really like to know for future reference. You obviously have good flow and good husbandry technique.
The sump and my coast to coast oveflow box DO need vacuumed out on occasion. I do it every water change or two in theory, but of course will go a month sometimes without doing it.. Its the display that doesnt need siphoned. I dont siphon the stuff out though........a few seconds with a 6 HP shop vac and done

I accomplish it with lifted rock on narrow acrylic risers flsuh mounted in holes in a thick piece of hdpe, so free flow across the floor and spraybars with a ton of flow going both across the floor and under and behind the srpaybars themselves.

OM 8 way lovin' powered by a Hammerhead on a 90 gallon tank.
 

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c.a.g. owner and operator
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am i to assume the sand bed is in the display tank and not in the sump ? if it were me , once a week i'd just take my hand and run it thru the sandbed , just to keep it turned . i think you can do that alot faster than counting on a clean up crew to do it .
 

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I don't beleive that bacteria are using alkalinity for a carbon source.

Carbon metabolism in bacteria is either heterotrophic, where organic carbon compounds are used as carbon sources, or autotrophic, meaning that cellular carbon is obtained by fixing carbon dioxide. Typical autotrophic bacteria are phototrophic cyanobacteria, green sulfur-bacteria and some purple bacteria, but also many chemolithotrophic species, e. g. nitrifying or sulfur-oxidising bacteria.<SUP class=reference id=_ref-70>[78]</SUP> Energy metabolism of bacteria is either based on phototrophy, the use of light through photosynthesis, or on chemotrophy, the use of chemical substances for energy, which are mostly oxidised at the expense of oxygen or alternative electron acceptors (aerobic/anaerobic respiration).
Click on organic Carbon

a few types of compounds such as carbonates, carbon oxides and cyanides, as well as elemental carbon are considered inorganic
 
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