FAQs about Marine Substrates
Marine System Substrates (Gravels, Sands) by
Bob Fenner, Marine Substrate
Options by Sara Mavinkurve, Deep
Sand Beds, Live Sand,
Live Sand, Live
Rock, Biominerals in
Seawater, Understanding Calcium &
Moving/Replacing/Adding To 1,
Moving/Replacing/Adding To 2, Marine Substrate Moving/Replacing/Adding To
3, Marine Substrate
Moving/Replacing/Adding To 5, & Marine Substrates 1, Marine Substrates 2, Marine Substrates 3, Marine Substrates 4, Marine Substrates 5, Marine Substrates 6, Marine Substrates 7, Marine Substrates 8, Marine Substrates 9,
Reef Substrates, By Type:
Aragonite/s, Coral Sands, Silicates, Dolomites/TapAShell,
Southdown & Such,
Collecting Your Own, &
Size/Grade, Location, Depth,
Cleaning, Deep Sand
Beds, DSBs 2, DSBs 3,
Calcium, FAQs 1,
Switching sands, SW
Hello helpful friends.
I did attempt to try first by reading many threads of questions on this but
haven't been able to pinpoint an answer so I'm sorry to have to bother you
with another question.
<No bother at all, we are glad to help>
I have a 40-gallon breeder saltwater sumpless system that I have been
running for about two years. I want to switch the sand out as it is in the
"no man's land" category of around 3"deep. It is also a little larger than
what is recommended for nitrate reduction. I have the sugar-fine grade
coming next week.
I have been struggling with too much algae so far. Hair algae, diatoms,
cyanobacteria, the works. I have two hang-on skimmers and a hang-on
refugium. These have been helpful along with weekly water changes but not
good enough. I am suspecting my sand has been a detritus trap as I also have
not been stirring the sand at all for water changes.
<I suspect the same, sand should be very fine to keep detritus on top for
ease of removal.>
So, question is, I have an empty 20-gallon tank with a 20-gallon sump that I
could use to temporarily house my livestock while I empty the 40 and replace
the sand. Will that be ok? Will it re-cycle when I add the new sand to the
40 and put the old water and livestock back in the 40?
<It will re-cycle but even with “old” water it will take the normal period
(4 weeks) for the sand to mature.>
I am also waffling on the new sand depth. I was thinking either 1/2" or 4".
But it's only a 40-gallon tank. I think larger tanks can absorb 4"of sand
better than smaller tanks. (Aesthetically) What do you think?
<I think that for practical purposes, the 4” will have efficient anaerobic
functions and will be the route to go even though it won’t have an aesthetic
look; another option could be to use the 20- gallon sump with 4”or even
6”deep sand bed to filter the 40-gallon aquarium, this would be my choice.>
Thanks so much for your invaluable input.
<You ’re welcome. Wil. >
Tank Leak Help; sand trtmt.
Having a terrible day and need some help figuring out what to
do. I have a 220 gallon reef tank that has been running since 2001. The
seam on the bottom right hand corner is leaking and I am replacing the
tank asap. My
question is what do I do with the sand bed?
<Scoop it out (squarish plastic... like Tupperware, containers are great
here. IF there's a bunch of gunk/mulm interstitially, rinse, throw away
most of this, but save some (like 10%) of the substrate un-rinsed for
I know I have to use new sand in the tank but how can I do this without
clouding the water.
<IF adding some/new sand, RINSE this thoroughly. See WWM re
instructions... small batches, clean bucket....>
Replacing the tank and moving all the fish and coral seem easy to me.
Actually looking forward to re-scaping everything.
Its the sand part and cloudiness that is making me nervous. I am
concerned about killing all the coral.
<Should there be too much cloudiness, employ auxiliary particulate
filtration for a few days... Outside power filters, more fine filter
media/pads in your sump... Bob Fenner>
Live Sand Maintenance
I've read your write on live sand maintenance at Live Sand , where you
"Maintenance Issues: Should you periodically stir your Live Sand, even
vacuum it? In my opinion, yes. A bunch of infauna will die consequently,
but the effects of sifting are warranted: removal, reshuffling of mulm,
release of trapped gasses, re-assortment of life forms... all make
stirring, vacuuming "worth it"."
My question to you, and I realize there's a lot of debate here, e.g.; one
camp saying not to vacuum the sand at all, but when you say to vacuum, how
deep do you suggest vacuuming the sand? Down to the glass or just at the
<Were it me, mine, I'd vacuum all the way to the bottom, BUT only half or
third of the tank/DSB at a time... alternatively, I'd at least stir (with a
wooden or plastic dowel) the whole thing and vacuum the top couple inches.
Re: Live Sand Maintenance
OK. The sand bed in my tanks is on average 2 to 3 inches. So I am not
sure if that constitutes a DSB.
<Four inches, 10 cm. plus is about it. Depends on grade mostly>
As I am always reading, learning, trying to maintain the best tanks
possible, and for whatever reason I started recently reading more about
sand bed maintenance, my new concern (question) is have I been creating
potentially deadly issues for my fish by vacuuming the entire tank sand bed
from top to bottom?
<Nah; not much/any cause for concern>
I see that you've stated to me to not vacuum the entire tank but only 1/2
or 1/3 of the tank each water change, yet stir up the rest of it with a
wooden or plastic dowel.
<Yes; to preserve infauna stocks>
I suspect that will reduce the disruption of beneficial bacteria while not
potentially releasing an over abundance of toxins in the water?
I do on average 25% water changes in my FOWLR tanks every 3 to 4 weeks
(these tanks, except one, includes some noxious soft corals, e.g.;
mushrooms, leathers, ...etc.), again, while always vacuuming the entire
tank and from top to bottom. Thus far, it has been working thru the years
but I am beginning to wonder based upon further reading if I've just been
fortunate so far and I've really been playing with fire by my husbandry and
eventually I'll either 1) kill off good bacteria and/or 2) stir up and
release too many toxins (nitrates, nitrites, ...etc.) that could quickly
and negatively impact my water quality despite the water change? Or maybe
my sand bed isn't deep enough to where it has mattered that much?
<There is a means and extremes measure here. You do want to have an ongoing
static AND disruptive (mild) situation. Too much change can trigger too
much negative reaction; too little can allow the same>
Thank you, John
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
DSB Transition 12/5/16
Aloha Bob, I followed your tip and remove all the black cinders from the first
stage of my sump.
Together with installing a GFO reactor I have gotten the phosphates down from 5
to <.25. Here's a pic of my DT, which I may keep shallow and vacuumed then
install a DSB remotely.
Do you like the idea of a giant Rubbermaid tub DSB\Refugium as part of this
<Yes I do. These are MIGHTY fine products... sturdy, easy to modify, chemically
inert... and cheap per volume>
Looks like Cyano keeps creeping in .
<Time going by here... Patience!>
Still no coralline with 12KDH. Using RI water now with lots of water changes.
Only has come down from 14- high KDH is still a mystery.
<Time here as well>
I plan to add a few inches to my sump, regardless. In the next image you can see
my current second chamber of my outdoor sump. There are some layers of cinders
in there and lots of life.
My main question is do I remove all that sand pictures in my sump, since it may
have trapped phosphates- then leave a little bit to re-seed the coral sand? Or
do you feel it's safe to just place new sand atop this and not stir things up
<The latter is the route I'd go>
Keep in mind I have plenty of room outside to plumb in a new sump or remote DSB.
Would you replace the 20gal sump with a 36-90 since I have the room?
My DT is 100g. Mahaloz!
<I would ALWAYS make sumps, refugiums, DSBs... As LARGE as possible>
Too view of sump. 12/5/16
This goes with my last two emails for perspective....
DSB replacement cont... 12/5/16
Here's a couple more follow up pics show the close up of the layer of black
cinders in the sand bed. Remove or safe to cover with more sand?
<Safe to cover>
Also note the precarious positioning of my sump on the ledge. This is why
I'm thinking of replacing it with a long larger sup against the back with a
proper base. Do you agree or think this will suffice? Thanks!
<I'd replace w/ larger w/ proper base for sure. BK>
Re: DSB Transition 12/5/16
Perfect, thanks! Since I’m solar powered I’m going to gravity drain from
this sump into the RubberMaid via a 2” pipe, or something, so as not to add
an extra pump and possible failing system.
<You are wise here>
Or better yet, use this sump inside the (250g?) RubberMaid, as a pump return
By the way I see you replied Bob Kubby. Is this a typo, or a long-lost
<Just pulling your fins, BobF>
In Radiant Health,
Substrate Confusion - Shallow Tank Coral Placement
Good morning, I've spent about an hour searching through your FAQ's and
information on sandbeds and crushed coral, etc... I find that I'm still
I have a shallow 60g tank that has 46g of "live area" - it's an Innovative
Marine, so the additional gallons are hosted in the equipment alley along the
I have around 60lbs of liverock, some of which I keep in the equipment alley
slots (away from pumps) for the added filtration and have aquascaped nicely to
allow flat areas for eventual coral placement. My question is, I don't have the
vertical space for a deep sand bed in this shallow tank.
I've elected to go with crushed coral and have approximately 2.5" along the
bottom. I'll start with FOWL system and after I am confident with the equipment
I've purchased, livestock, general care and maintenance, I'll proceed to add
corals in 7mths after a summer holiday.
<Sounds/reads good thus far>
1. I have 2.5" of crushed coral, if I reduced that to 1" it would allow an extra
inch of swim room if I did. Is there any other advantage or disadvantage to
reducing my crushed coral bottom?
<A bit easier to vacuum, stir, clean... less digging space if you have animals
that do so>
I wasn't sure on what critters I'd want, thus initially elected to go with 2.5"
but now am re-thinking. Anything else I need to watch with crushed coral bottom
of that depth at 2.5"?
<Not really; no. Not much chance for issues with anaerobic decomposition>
2. Does crushed coral HAVE TO be vacuumed?
<Mmm; depends on a few factors... the size, shape of the grains/pieces,
circulation, how much your livestock may tumble, AND the chance introduction of
interstitial organisms. Re this last: folks can get lucky and have "pods" and
much more live twixt grains... and these will reduce to eliminate the need to
In your FAQ's you mention all the beneficial organisms that will be vacuumed up.
3. Are there ideal critters that will help maintain a crushed coral bottom?
<Ah, yes. A myriad of life forms... worms, crustaceans, molluscs, echinoderms
and much more. Some will definitely "derive" from your live rock>
obviously I'm saying NO to a sandsifting star, but what about Nassarius snails
in crushed coral?
<These are excellent burrowers>
4. What is the ideal space from top of liverock to water level for most corals?
<Mmm; depends on species, lighting (intensity mostly)>
I will have 360W Kessil LED's, thus can alter my intensity if needed. I believe
I currently have 5-7".
<This is fine for most varieties... Some LPS, Fungiids... you may want to place
near the bottom or on it>
Thanks again, you guys are awesome!
<Glad to assist your efforts. Bob Fenner>
Hello from Indiana. I have a 4in DSB that is 6 years old, and due to a
slow leak in my 55gal tank, I need to relocate the occupants. I'm sure
the question has been answered somewhere in the forums but I couldn't
quite find specific directions on moving the DSB to a new tank. Given
the age of the DSB I suspect I need to discard most of it but want to
maximize the number of pods, miscellaneous critters and helpful bacteria
that I take along. How deep of sand can I safely collect for transfer
and any tips on gathering up the most detritivores (i.e. collect at
night, put out food)?
<I'd scrape off the top two inches or so, and place this on top of all
new fine sand... See here for much more:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
reusing current sand bed 6/21/16
i am resetting-up my 55 gal and will be creating a reef tank.
my 2” sand bed is OLD (maybe 8 yrs?). can i remove the sand, thoroughly wash it,
and reuse it?
<Yes... some are better re-used than others... for various functions... Like
buffering pH, providing soluble alkaline earths (Ca, Mg...)>
i want a 4” bed so if i can reuse the old, should i mix new with old, or replace
old (washed) and top with new?
<Ah yes; a good plan. Gone over on WWM btw. Bob Fenner>
thanks in advance
Deep sand bed question 6/22/16
I took my 55 gal marine tank down so I could remove many scratches (acrylic!)
and wash the gravel. I had a 2" bed and want to add more substrate to create a
Without doing enough research here (shame on me) I purchased another 2" worth of
the same substrate--tropic Eden reeflakes, 2-3mm. After belated research
I now see that I should be using much finer substrate.
<Would be better, but...>
So--can I top this 4" of flakes with 2" of aragonite sand, or mix 2" of sand
with the top 2" of flakes, or just go with the 4" of flakes and take other
<I'd just go ahead and mix all... as it will be in time. BobF>
Thanks in advance!!
Temporary Move of Tanks; and re-use of old/er substrate
Good morning. I've just spent about an hour reading through your tank moving
threads but haven't really found the answers I need as my situation is somewhat
different than just a one time move.
Here are the facts;
We are redoing the flooring in the room that houses my two tanks, a 75
freshwater planted tank and a 125 gallon, DSB Reef tank with Live rock and
corals. In planning for this move I have re-homed all of the fish already.
The 75 gallon freshwater planted tank has a 3 inch soil bed with an inch of
large grain gravel on top. I am hoping this is a small enough set up to simply
drain it down to the gravel level, move it, refill it,
<Get some help lifting!>
then repeat the process three or four days later when the flooring is done. I
recently did this with a 72 bow front at our boat club and only lost about half
of the plants but that was due to not being able to refill the tank in between.
The 125 is another story. The plan is to keep the live rock and corals in a 30
gallon bin and run one of the existing and seasoned mechanical filters on it for
the duration. The 5 inch sand bed and plenum are the concern.
<Most of this I'd scoop out... the top few inches siphon into flat containers
(best, Rubbermaid trough/s), under an inch or so, just scoop most out, rinse
ahead of replacing in the tank>
I am almost of the opinion, since it is an aged system (7 years old or so), to
simply discard the entire sand bed and take this opportunity to scrub out the
<Likely a good/opportune time to switch out... again, I'd save, re-use the top
I may try to save the top layer but I am not sure how much of the assorted
worms, copepods etc will actually survive two moves in less than a week.
In your opinion, is complete replacement the correct method?
<I'd save.... the top>
I'm thinking the tank itself, at 6 feet, is too large to attempt to leave
everything on the bottom and move it without the risk of breakage.
<Yes.... as in your backs!>
<Our businesses did such moves MANY times... Remember the great expediter that
is bier and pizza/BBQ>
Thanks again for all of your help.
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Addition of fresh live sand to 2 yr old tank
Hello my dear experts! one just cannot thank you enough for the stuff we learn
all the time from your website! I need a little guidance....I have a 2 yr old
35g mixed reef tank with a 2-3 inch sand bed but I am afraid they are not
uniformly distributed anymore. Have gradually lost some during water change over
the yrs and some parts moved around by my reef lobster. I
would like to add some new sand to those parts and have bought CaribSea Fiji
pink LS (ca 5kg) bag same as original layer. Qs is, do I simply add the new LS
slowly into my tank or need to rinse the new sand to remove its bacterial fauna
before addition as my tank might have its own kind? The rinsing theory was
suggested by a rerouted LFS in Orlando...As always very thankful for your
thoughts...br Kaustuv from Denmark
<Can be simply rinsed and added over, mixed in... Read here re:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
DSB for new 150gal setup 1/13/15
Hello. I am starting a new 150gal FOWLR aquarium and want to do a DSB of
I was able to secure 120lbs of Carib sea special grade sand 1-2mm at
next to nothing from a friend (he aborted his set up 3 mo.s ago and had
it sitting in his basement). Would it be a bad idea to get 2" worth of
live sand, of a smaller grain size, put that down first and then put the
Carib special grade on top to make up the sand bed?
<I'd just get more fine sand as you have already, and have some (a few
ten lbs.) of good Live Rock seed all. IF instead you decide to buy some
Live Sand, DO place it/this on top of the new/non-live; NOT under>
Or given the 120lbs of special grade that I have, would you recommend
doing something else?
<Yes; as stated>
Thanks, I LOVE this forum.
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: DSB for new 150gal setup. Rdg 1/13/15
Thanks for the quick reply! Just a quick follow-up, I thought the 1-2mm
size of the special grade was too big for the anaerobic portion of the
DSB(hence my first thought of putting finer sand below it). Is the 1-2mm
size that I have acceptable for the entire DSB? thanks again.
scroll down to.... B>
Moving my 24g reef 12/3/14
Hi there. I will be moving my reef next week from Southern CA to San
Francisco and have been preparing and researching over the past month or
I plan to have lots of mixed and heated saltwater ready at the new
apartment in SF. I plan to move my four fish in a RubberMaid with heater
and airstone and a couple pieces of live rock, but am hung up on what to
do with my live sand.
<If it's... "clean", just move it with a bit of water on top>
I keep reading that I need to rinse or throw it out, because exposing it
to O2 will cause an ammonia spike.
However, with such a small cube, I wouldn't have to disturb the sand
bed, and will be able to move the tank with a couple inches of water and
sand left in it. Is there a reason this will not work?
<VERY likely will work>
<Welcome! Bob Fenner>
Re: Moving my 24g reef 12/4/14
Great!! Thank you very much.
<Bon voyage Nick! BobF>
I was after some advice please: The
sand in my aquarium has lost some of its luster. I have a blue
cheek goby which sifts the sand and I also clean the sand with a
gravel cleaner but everything still looks a bit tired.
I remember reading that it is a good
idea to swap out live rock after a while to rejuvenate it...
should I do the same with my sand, or would that be removing too
much good stuff too? My sand bed is of fine grain, and is around
two inches in thickness. If I was to replace all or part of the
sand, what would be the best way to go about it? Using a gravel
filter makes enough mess at the best of times so I image this
would be a bit of a nightmare. The health of my livestock comes
first, so any advice will be adhered to!
Your thoughts on this would be
Hello Alex and thank you for your
thoughtful question. It is indeed a good idea to periodically
either add to, or replace part of all hard substrates in our
systems, including both live and base rock, as well as
substrates. The rationale here is that in our over-crowded,
over-fed systems, reductive (i.e. acidic) reactions predominate,
dissolving out more easily soluble and necessary materials, most
celebratedly the alkaline earth elements Calcium and Magnesium
and alkalinity in the way of mainly carbonate, bi-carbonate. Of a
certainty, folks could dispense with the change out/additions of
hard matter, utilizing supplements, calcium reactors and
more'¦ but I warrant that the change out/addition route
is superior by far, granting triturating and small to large
burrowing livestock a more natural base, and providing a reserve
of the aforementioned chemicals.
Replacing sand can be done in a few ways'¦ The better
involve removing some of the existing in a systematic fashion;
usually one side of the tank or the other. My favorite method is
using a siphon of large diameter to pull out along with water
during changes therein, though a slow and steady 'scoop'
method, utilizing a plastic food container works fine'¦
though more cloudy water is to be expected.
Adding new to the old is best done by
pre-rinsing the new, spreading it finely, over a period of days,
onto the existing, so as not to 'drown' the life
(interstitial fauna) present within. Some life is lost with both processes,
but this is very quickly replaced and improved with the new
substrate material being populated by existing populations of
organisms on the live rock and in the sand.
Dry rock and Liverock 12/27/13
Well after a year or two of research and acquiring all my equipment
I am ready to go from my 30 gallon tank to a 125 gallon tank. I had a
question regarding the curing and cycling of dry rock with the addition
of adding 40 lbs of established live rock from my 30 gallon that I have
had going for three years now. What are your thoughts on adding
100 lbs of dry rock with the 40lbs of established rock directly to the
new tank with live sand?
<Put the olde/live rock and sand on top of the new/dead>
or would it be better to add all to a large Brute trash can, go through
the curing and cycle process and add to the new tank?
<Just rinse the new and install. Bob Fenner>
Sand bed top layer sticky/lumpy??
I have a question regarding the sand bed in my 220 gallon reef. I was
moving a rock today and noticed that the top layer of sand in areas
seems to be lumpy/sticking together... almost gooey looking. This gooey
top layer is around a cm deep, under that top layer, it seems to be
normal. I was doing a light siphon to pick up some visible
detritus, and I was dragging up these sort of strings/clumps of sand.
Thanks so much
<Could be... either biological... organisms making the goo... or simply
supplements glomming together... Do you have a microscope of let's say
four hundred magnification? Bob Fenner>
Re: Sand bed top layer sticky/lumpy??
Thanks for the quick reply Bob!
Unfortunately, I do not have a microscope handy. I have read that
bacteria can do this sort of thing, worms I'm the LS, or even snail
<Yes! These and more>
Do you feel that there is any danger to my aquarium regarding this?
<Mmm, not much; no. As long as a good part of the bed is patent, not
stuck together, you/they should be fine. This stated, I would break up
the mass/es, with a wooden or plastic dowel... while executing your
regular water changes>
I have a couple of sleeper gobies on my wish list, maybe these guys could
I have read that you enjoy goatfishes; any of those in particular that
would work in a 220 with a few tangs and a fox face?
<The smaller species are good choices here>
Regarding the sand bed, I was looking to add a couple more inches of
sand, would you recommend siphoning out this top layer beforehand?
<Mmm, no; not necessary, nor advised. I would keep it in place, stir,
vacuum and place the new on top>
And will I potentially wipe out some of the life in the sand bed if I
were to put two additional inches of LS on top of the pre-existing LS?
<Maybe "some"; but not appreciably much... you, we could write/do a
thesis on the changes here>
What is method you recommend for taking a 2" sand bed to 4"?
<Please peruse these files:
and the linked series, above>
Thanks so much
<Ah, welcome. Bob Fenner>
DSBed move 10/4/13
Hey guys, I hope all is well. Quick question. I'm moving/upgrading in a
couple days, and I want to transfer my sump with a 16x14 inch deep sand
bed to the new tank. It's only been used for about 4 months. If I'm
careful not to disturb it much and keep it wet, will I run into any big
problems? The total time for the move is estimated to be 2-3 hours.
Thank you for the help. P.s. it is about 4 1/2 inches deep. Take care.
<Due to its new-ness and the short duration in transit you should be
okay here John. I would keep just enough water in the sump to be over
the substrate. Bob Fenner>
Moving live sand; synthetic salt mix, stored water f's as
Hello WWM Crew,
First off, a big Thank-You for all the experience you share on this
labour of love website. I have learned so much in the last few years
reading FAQ’s on this site and R. Fenner’s book (which I have an
autographed copy). It’s amazing how much is on this site. I search for
an answer for one question and then I just get lost in reading all the
info on my question. I have a couple of questions, one I know I have
read on this site before but for the life of me I can’t remember the
response and I just can’t find it again. When I take the cover off of my
20g trash can of new salt water that has been aerating for a week I get
a faint smell of ammonia (like a cat litter box) but just for a split
second. I test the water for ammonia and of course I get a 0. What is
the cause of this?
<I suspect (don't know) that you are actually detecting "faint ammonia"
from the small bit of organic material that is part of most commercial
salt mixes... being liberated as a gas by mainly chemical decomposition.
Not to be mysterious, the most common salt in synthetics (NaCl) is to
degrees simple "sea salt" collected from insolation ponds...>
My next question is about mixing salt brands. I always use Tropic Marin
salt and I received a bucket of Red Sea Coral Pro for free. Would I see
any negative effects on my system if I were to mix 80% Tropic Marin and
20% Red Sea when I mix up my ro/di water in my 20g trash can?
<Perhaps a little; not dangerous>
Now for my dilemma(it’s going to be long). I am going to be moving to a
new house and I am reading quite a few articles on moving and disturbing
live sand. Most opinions are that it is not worth the trouble using the
same live sand as most everything will die off and cause more pollution
and re cycling of the new set up. I also read that it is a good idea to
change the sand every few years as the sand loses buffering capacity
over the years. The sand I have now is about 6 years old. Would you give
me your thoughts on my moving plan?
<I might save, use a "bit" of the old sand (transported in an insulated
container... an inch or two water over it) on top of the new substrate.
I'd likely rinse, keep the remainder of the olde sand for possible
future "other" use/s>
First I have the luxury of time on my side. The new house is only 20
minutes away and will be empty on August, 1st and I will be in the old
house till September, 1st. So you see I want to plan it properly. Here
is my idea. First I will take 20g of water from the DT(90g)and set it up
in my 20g long with about 20lbs of LR and some sand. The 20g long will
also have a canister filter running with a Polyfilter, Purigen and some
filter floss. I will put my Aqua C Remora on it as well as a power head
and a T5 strip light. Then I plan to put my live stock in the 20g long
which consists of 1 Percula, 1 Royal Gramma, 1 Pajama Cardinal, 1
Brittle star, 1 Cleaner Shrimp and various snails. The rest of the LR
and LS(about 80 lbs each)I will put in a Rubbermaid tub with a heater,
power head and my Vertex 100 skimmer. I will also take all of my water
from the 90g to the new house. Now that the 90g is empty I will take the
opportunity to have it drilled as I have been using a CPR siphon
overflow for the last 6 years and I have to say, believe or not, I have
had absolutely no problems with it. When I get the tank to the new house
I will add the water and LR from the old house and start up the system.
If I move the LR to the new house in the Rubbermaid tub do you think
there will be any die off?
Now comes the part about the sand. Would it be better just to use new LS
about 1” depth and add some of the old LS to seed?
<Yes; but more of the new>
After all that I will run the tank for August and bring the live stock
when parameters are all good. How long would it be safe to keep the live
stock in the 20g long set up?
<As long as they get along; indefinitely>
Well I think that is my whole plan. Any thoughts or ideas would be welcome
as I would like this move to go as smooth as possible, I know you
understand that. I am sorry for this long letter but this is the first
time I am doing a move with an aquarium and I would like to avoid any
disasters if I can. Thanks in advance for your expertise.
<I might speed up the transit, resetting up time frame myself. But what
you've stated will work. Bob Fenner>
Re: Upgrading tank and corals losing color
Thank you Mr. Fenner! I do have another question. I am doing
the conversion on Sunday and have begun rinsing the sand. I've read some
FAQs advising not to rinse.
None the less I'm still doing it. I am a little concerned on how the
cloudiness will affect the fish and corals. They will be in
holding tanks while the tank stand modification and plumbing are done. I
know the water will take a day or two to clear up but I want to keep
their time in the holding tanks as short as possible. Also will the new
substrate have drastic and immediate effects on the pH or alkalinity in
such a way to adversely affect the fish/corals? Thank you again!!
<Not to worry. Rinse. BobF>
Re: Substrate 6/27/12
Ok, lemme get this straight...over the last 6-7 years I should have been
removing rock & sandbed for newer & more beneficial?
<Yes; posted over and over on WWM: renews (increases) soluble portions
of use (alkalinity, alkaline earth materials, and much more),
re-inoculates the system w/ a wide mix of organisms (first law of
ecology), helps lower precipitated materials (organic and not)...>
(Yikes) I also have a 100 or so pd.s of rubble rock(broken up coral bases)
Which I thought helped with the calcium levels, as it broke down?
<Mmm, not so much as time goes by...>
Take that out to? So adding the ozonizer is just another means of
benefitting water quality?
<... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/redox.htm
and the linked files above>
Which I've been researching, but I've got 2 protein skimmers in the
sump. Also going to add a refugium to sump.
Now my dilemma, what to do with the sand & rock? Can I dry it out? Cycle
<Some can be re-used (as base... after drying, cleaning...)>
I can't pass it on too anyone else? Would I be bad take'n it back to
<VERY bad. Do NOT release anything into the wild, please>
I would like to recycle what I can, but be responsible too. What
do you do with your left over rock & sand?
<Garden/ing. Bob Fenner>
Re: Substrate 6/27/12
Got it, I don't get on your website; obviously as often as I should!
<Seems I'm on it all the ding-dang time!>
I WILL make that a priority. To much convoluted info. Elsewhere. Thanks
for all your input. Looks like I've got a lot of gardening on the horizon
for me. Renee Jones
<Ah good. BobF>
Re: Substrate 6/28/12
Hahaha,....I'm sorry. I can just imagine how much nonsense you put up
<Just (largely) human nature... a lack of discipline; simple following
of directions. "Comes w/ the territory">
But that's why you get the " big bucks" for? LOL My problems
are on a very small scale, I'm sure. Last question, what brand of
ozonizer do you use/ recommend?
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/redoxsyssel.htm .... B>
Re: Substrate 6/28/12
Thanks again : )
<As many times welcome. B>
Substrate Troubles 6/10/12
Saltwater chemistry and sand beds 5/29/12
I have a question about substrates.
I have a 55g fish/rock/some corals tank. I have been
reading about different substrates, crushed coral, sand, mud and such.
Mine is a crushed coral/sand mix. I recently found a few pounds
of sugar fine sand my wife brought back from California a few years
back. I decided to add it, so I rinsed it thoroughly and spread it
across my bed.
Now I am worried that I should not have. It is like a blanket sealing
off the coarser substrate from the tank. I am worried that my pod
population will suffer and lack of circulation might lead to nitrate
What do you suggest? I can leave as is and it will eventually blend
itself, I can siphon off the majority and mix the rest, or I can mix it
all in with the coarser stuff.
I hope I did not just make a big mistake.
<You may have made a mistake. Although the fine sand you added
will eventually find it's way through the coarser sand, the make up of
the new sand may be detrimental to your system. The most common
constituent of sand in non-tropical coastal settings is silica, usually
in the form of quartz. Silica sand can lead to diatom blooms in
your system and offers no buffering capabilities like calcium carbonate
or aragonite sand. A good test to determine the constituent of the
sand is to place some of this sand in a small container and cover it
with vinegar. If it is silica sand it will begin to fizz and
Thanks for your help and thanks for all you do. Fantastic wealth of
information you provide.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Bob in Colorado
Re Substrate Troubles 6/11/12
Incredible response, even on a Sunday! Thank you!
<Bob pays double time on Sundays so why not. :-) Actually no pay
involved, we are all volunteers including Mr. Fenner.>
I have removed 98% of the sand, the rest will get mixed. At least being
as fine as it was it separated easily and quickly.
I will ask first next time.
As long as I have you reading this, one more question.
I am interested in adding a Xenia coral to my tank. I practice good
husbandry, weekly water changes, constant monitoring of temp and
The only question I have at this point would be regarding lighting. As
said, standard 55 gallon tank. 2 t5 ho (1 10,000k, 1 420/460), 2 t8 ( 1
full spectrum Coralife, 1 Home Depot plant grow light), spot use of a
1050 lumen led lamp.
<I'd get rid of the plant light, can lead to nuisance algae growth.
Other than that you should be fine with your lighting for Xenia.>
Will this be enough, and how difficult are Xenia to properly keep?
<Read here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/xeniidarts.htm>
A daily reader.
<You're welcome and thank you for frequenting our site. James
Bob in Colorado
I've got a couple of questions for you. I mixed up a new batch of
saltwater yesterday and tested it this morning. I tested: pH 7.97
(using a Hanna meter), calcium 520 (using new kit bottle says it expires
2014) and alkalinity 9 dKH. Notes of interest: made the RO/DI
water last Thursday.
It has been aerating for 3 days in a 32 gal Rubbermaid container. I
added the Coralife salt directly to the water while mixing it and
continuing aeration (using powerhead and airstone) to a salinity of
1.025. I would like to increase the pH and the alkalinity using
SeaChem Reef Buffer. Will that help to drive down the calcium?
<Most reef blend salts do have elevated calcium levels which should drop
within a few days as long as calcium loving animals are present.
Reef Buffer is not going to drive the calcium level down.
As to raising your pH, yes, Reef Buffer should raise it to 8.3 when
I read water makeup FAQs and I saw where other people have had the same
problem with Coralife. Also I was thinking about adding more sand
to my 55 gallon. The tank has been running for 6 years and some of the
sand has been lost to cleaning.
<And also will slowly dissolve.>
I thought I read somewhere on your website that the benefits the sand
provides diminishes significantly after 2 years.
<For reasons above and in six years, quite a bit of detritus will
accumulate in the sand bed which diminishes the buffering effects of the
sand due to the acids present.>
Thank you for all of your expert advice! It is truly appreciated!
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re Saltwater Chemistry and Sand Beds 5/30/12
Hi James! Thanks for getting back to me.
I do vacuum the sandbed when I do water changes.
The current sandbed is really shallow, in some places I can see glass so I want
to add/change over to Aragonite. I read where you can't add it on top but it can
be slowly added and combined with the current substrate. Is it possible to do
that and slowly increase the amount of Aragonite to make a DSB?
<Yes, providing the grain size is the same.>
Currently I have, at the most, 2 inches of substrate. Thanks James!
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re Saltwater Chemistry and Sand Beds 5/30/12
My current substrate is a little bigger than aragonite oolite but not as
big as crushed coral. I tried to find out what I have (via web, etc) and
can't find it. Anyway I want to change over to aragonite oolite. Do I
need to take out what little sand I have now in order to add/change over
to oolite even if I mix the oolite in with current? I have oolite
in my refugium and I like it.
<You don't have to take it out but the finer sand will likely find it's
way to the bottom and you may not like the appearance. If it were
me, I'd siphon out sections of the old sand during a water change and
replace that section with the new sand.>
<James (Salty Dog)>
Re Saltwater Chemistry and Sand Beds 6/1/12
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)