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FAQs about Marine Substrates Moving/Replacement/Addition 3

Related Articles: Marine System Substrates (Gravels, Sands) by Bob Fenner, Marine Substrate Options by Sara Mavinkurve, Deep Sand Beds, Live Sand, Biofiltration, Denitrification, Live Sand, Live Rock, Biominerals in Seawater, Understanding Calcium & Alkalinity

Related FAQs: Moving/Replacing/Adding To 1, Marine Substrate Moving/Replacing/Adding To 2, Marine Substrate Moving/Replacing/Adding To 4, 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, Rationale, Selection, Reef  Substrates, By Type: Aragonite/s, Coral Sands, Silicates, Dolomites/TapAShell, Southdown & Such, Collecting Your Own, & Physical Make-up, Size/Grade, Location, Depth, Cleaning, Deep Sand Beds, DSBs 2, DSBs 3, Refugium Substrates/DSBs, Live Sand, Mud Filtration 1 Biofiltration, Nitrates, Sand Sifters, AquascapingCalcium, FAQs 1

Crushed coral giving me a headache, 12/21/11
Hey guys / gals at WWM.  Firstly I'd like to thank you all for so selflessly devoting your time to help those in the hobby, its such a great and interesting resource I have trouble getting any work done! (I'm working now ha)
<What is this work thing you refer to?>
I have a 3 foot LPS tank for over a year now but I have a bit of an issue developing.  I would really appreciate some expert advice re my 1-2 inch crushed coral substrate. Unfortunately its gradually becoming more and more dirty looking (see att.), despite siphoning it weekly with water changes and stirring it up now and then. I'm afraid it is turning into a detritus sink.
<That is the problem with it.>
I'm wondering instead of removing it, could I just cover it with 2-3 inches of a sugar fine substrate like aragonite? Or is that like brushing rubbish under a rug?
<Pretty much, and the sand being more dense will eventually sink below the crushed coral so it really won't fix your problem.>
I'm concerned that in removing it there will be a collapse, as my rock and corals aren't glued (also attached) and also that the bacteria loss with the substrate may cause a nitrite spike. Unfortunately I can't go back in time (yet) so what you recommend? Cover it up or replace it completely?
<Replace unfortunately, otherwise you will just have more problems.  Long term replacing it will be less work, but it won't be fun to replace.>

Re: Crushed coral giving me a headache 12/22/11
Cheers for the quick reply, even if it wasn't what I wanted to hear.
<No problem, sorry I had to be the bearer of bad news.>

Adding for DSB   12/13/11
Hello Everyone!
First -- I just can't thank you enough for your dedication and help to probably a few hundred thousand people(probably much more) including myself.
<All are welcome. It is to help others that we endeavour to build this site>
I have held off asking a question, until now, thanks to your vast bank of information but now I need to add additional sand to my 120g 6' FOWLR tank.  It is a 6 week old system with 1.5' of sand seeded with 1 bag of live agro, 65lbs of live rock(will continue to build to about 100lbs), 3 Damsels, 1 Fire Shrimp, a Foxface (just added'¦and cleaned up all remaining algae!), 15 Turbo Snails, 4 Hermits and some incidental worms & coral which seems to be doing well and some Coralline spots appearing already. I also have this weird thing shaped like a pencil eraser that looks like a mini volcano spitting out what looks to be like spider webs! Sponge of some sort?
<More likely a worm... look up "Featherdusters"... as in Sedentariate Polychaetes... there are many types/species>
The tank went through the red algae stage then the green hair algae stage. I cleaned all the rocks with a toothbrush in a bucket of changed out water and removed most of the algae a week ago -- yeah it stank. Have since added a 15 pound cured piece of volcanic rock which seemed to raise my Ph to 8.4 from 7.8 or it could have been the 20g water change out?
<Both, either>
 The water is now crystal clear! I do have a Super Reef 2000 skimmer (shipped & used after hair algae was removed from tank) and a sock on the return to the 30g sump -- that's all.  My plan is to have a non-aggressive reef tank with some sort of macro-algae in the sump (to also be used to feed the Foxface and future Gobies & Blennies).  Anyway, you guys always push for a DSB and I wanted to know the best way to add sand at this point and how much and any other suggestions about my tank.
<Mmm, please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/substrepl2.htm
 Thanks again for all your help! YOU GUYS ROCK!
Nitrates, Nitrites and Ammonia all 0.   
Ph = 8.4 this is good?
(2) 48" 54W Actinic
(2) 48" 54W 10,000°K
(2) 700gpm power heads
(1) 7 Mag return pump
Tank is drilled once near top for drain to sump - should've drilled 2!
 <Ah yes. Cheers, BobF>

Adding live sand to 4 month old tank, 12/11/10
I want to start off by saying thank you for taking the time to answer a question about this unique hobby.
<Welcome, but please in the future spell and grammar check your questions before submitting, it takes time away from actually answering when we have to do it ourselves.>
I have a 75 gallon saltwater tank with 1 inch of live sand. I would like to add more sand so I would have a total of 4-5 inches in my main display.
I don't care about cloudiness for a day or 2 its normal what I would like to know that I haven't found an answer on the forum is can there be any harms to my tank overall health.
<If you have Cnidarians and poor flow it can be a problem if they get buried under a sandstorm.>
I plan on buying more live sand.
<You only need a little live sand to seed with, otherwise just use dry sand which is much cheaper.>
another question is I have a sump refugium divided in 3 stages 1st stage is bioballs, 2nd stage is refugium(which is empty), 3rd stage protein skimmer and return pump I want to add 6 inches of sand in the 2nd stage and some Chaetomorpha algae. how should I add the sand in the main display and the refugium so my tank does not get affected by sudden change.
<Can do it a couple of ways, remove all the rock, add the dry sand and then a little live on top all at once, or 1/2 inch or so every couple days which allows the fauna in the sandbed to migrate to the top as the sand is added.>
I test the water once a week or more everything is 0 PH is 8.2 calcium 450 temp between 77 and 80 like 80lbs of base rock that became live over the 4 months.
thanks a lot
Daniel Jimenez
<Please see here and related FAQs for more.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm >

Sand Problem, Sandstorm, Moving a sandbed 11/24/10
Hello Crew!
I recently setup a new 175gal (400gal system) bow-front reef aquarium. The live sand I put into the display is too small, getting blown around by my closed-loop system (sand is 1.5" to 2" deep). I was considering (loathing) siphoning the sand out and putting into my 75gal refugium (which has the same sand, about 1", effectively turning it into a DSB).
<As long as it gives you a depth on at least 3.5 inches it might be worth it.>
Being that the system is about 8-months old, generally speaking, wouldn't removing the sand expose/stir-up buried toxins?
<Is an overrated concern in my opinion, especially in a relatively shallow bed like you have.>
Would it be better to do this over 3-4 days while employing a mechanical filter?
<You will create a bit of a sandstorm either way you do it so some mechanical filtration may be useful here. Doing it a little bit at a time might help prevent the sandbed critters from being buried in the new tank
as you increase the sand bed's depth.>
Instead of siphoning, could I put a larger grain of sand on top of the existing sand bed? Or would the larger grain eventually sink?
<It will probably just end up as you are now. Can you not adjust the direction of the outflow for your closed loop so that it effects the sandbed less?>
Thank you!
Re: Sand Problem, Sandstorm, Moving a sandbed 11/24/10
Hi Chris,
Thank you for responding so quickly!
I can't adjust the direction nozzles for the closed-loop system (a mistake I won't repeat in the future). Sounds like I'll be putting in new sand.
Is there a good calculator out there for determining the amount of sand needed for a given depth (2") and tank size (72" x 20")?
<There are a few out there, Google "sandbed calculator" and try a couple, see if their numbers match up.>
Also, I have scores of Super Tongan Nassarius snails in the display and they love to bury themselves in the fine sand. Any idea how large a grain size I can go with them still able to burrow?
<It will still need to be fairly fine, not more than a few millimeters in grain size.>
What's an acceptable depth range for a live deep sand bed?
<4+ inches is what I would shoot for, but it doesn't all need to be live sand, if you can find cheaper dry aragonite for the bulk of the material and only use your existing live sand to seed it with you should be fine.>
Best Regards,
<Happy Thanksgiving>

Tank Cycle, SW, upgrading to a larger sys.     8/10/10
Dear Crew
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have a 30 gallon salt water tank that has been set up for about 6 months or so and is currently housing a tomato clown. I want to take the 30 gallons of water, the filter, the 10 pounds of crushed coral gravel, and the few live rocks I have in this tank and put it into a 55 gallon tank I am currently setting up.
<Easy enough to do>
If I add new salt water to fill the rest of the tank, will it be cycled and ready for the tomato clown instantly?
<Generally, yes.>
<Here's the longer explanation: The entire submerged surface of your old tank can be part of the bio-cycle since the bacteria grow on the glass, the sand, the rocks, and even in the filter tubes and hoses, so when you move to a new tank, you only bring the bacteria from the gravel and the rocks and it will take a while for the bacteria to colonize and expand. In your case, however, your biological load of a single clown is very low AND you're adding as much as 70% more water, which adds a buffer: it takes longer for excess ammonia to build up in that larger volume of water and this will give the system plenty of time to grow more bacteria to handle that load>
<Just keep that in mind as you grow your collection: Add your load slowly, one fish at a time, several weeks (if not 6 weeks) apart, so that the nitrifying bacteria have a change to adjust and grow to meet the new challenge.>
I'm sorry if you have answered a question like this one before, but I only have a limited time on the internet (sadly).
<Don't say that like it's a bad thing, Shane. A very large segment of our society would do better personally, professionally, physically and emotionally if they had less access to the internet and were therefore forced to spend more time in the real world interacting with real things, real places and real people. "In Spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.' -- Margaret Atwood>
Thanks for your advice.

Re T5 Light Suggestion/Reef Lighting/Selection 12/8/09 And Now Replacing Substrate - 4/1/10
Hello Salty Dog,
<Hello Junaid>
The new URI lights for my tank are working really well. My LPS corals are doing great. I wanted your input on another thing I am going to start working on.
<Good to hear, and shoot.>
I have decided on switching my sandbed from crushed corals to 90 pounds of fine aragonite live sand. I have done a lot of research and wanted to run things buy you about the process I am going through. I am trying to avoid doing it section by section as I have a 90 gallon tank with LPS corals and about 90 pounds of live rock. It has been running for more than a year without any problems. I think the tank is pretty established. The method I am taking into account is a total swap of the crushed corals with the new live sand from the LFS. Below is the step by step process I am going through.
I am going to prepare around 40% new saltwater of my existing tank volume which will be around 35 gallons or so.
I am going to use a lot of buckets and heaters to store my rocks and corals in separate buckets. I might also use my old 55 gallon tank to store the live rock and corals.
<Sounds good so far.>
I am going to start by removing all my corals and putting them in a separate bucket with a heater using my existing tank water and not the newly made saltwater. I will do the same thing with my live rock and use existing tank water. I am going to place powerheads in both the live rock and coral storage buckets.
I will also take out any sensitive invertebrates such as my shrimps, etc. but I am going to leave the fish in the tank.
Since most of the water has been taken out for storing the live rock and corals, I will start by taking the crushed coral substrate out using a scoop. I am going to use some of the existing crushed coral substrate and prepare around 10-12 nylon balls with the crushed corals in it to be used later.
<Not so good. In an established tank such as yours, using a scoop to take out the crushed coral may very well unleash hydrogen sulphide gas from the substrate (not uncommon), and if present, the gas released can be very detrimental to the health of your fish. I would remove the fish to be on the safe side.>
Once I take out all the crushed corals, I will clean the bottom of the tank with a brush and take out any 'yucky' stuff out of the tank and this time as well. I will use a PVC pipe to pour down the live sand so that the tank does not get too cloudy. If some of the fish are getting annoyed, I will take them out and put them in separate buckets or with the live rock and corals as needed.
<You may want to filter the tank water with a power filter of some type, or if you have a sump with a tray, place a sheet of polyester filter material on the drip tray. Much of the debris can be trapped in that regard. Do discard the pad after this process is completed.>
Once all the sand is in, I will start by putting the live rock to with the new aquascaping I have in mind.
<Yes, do this first before introducing the fish as they will likely seek shelter immediately.>
Once all the rocks are in, I will use the 10-12 nylon balls with crushed corals in them and bury them half way into the new live sand so that the bacteria is maintained and is seeded into the new live sand. I will keep them in the tank for two to three weeks and move them around every other day within the crushed corals.
<Not really necessary with live rock as there are plenty of bacteria on the rocks for denitrification.>
Finally, I will put the remaining corals and any other invertebrates that might have been left behind from the live rock into the new tank.
<I'd also do this before introducing the fish, the less trauma the better.>
Let me know what you think about the above method.
<As above, and you may want to read the FAQ's here on substrate cleaning/replacing.
Thanks for your help in advance.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Kind Regards,

Transfer of Existing Items to New Tank   3/17/10
<Hello Trina>
Thank you for the wonderful resource that you are.
I apologize if this is already on the site. I looked and searched but didn't find it, so if it's already there, can you let me know where to look?
<Ok, will do. This site can be a bit of a 'maze' at times, even if you know your way around it. But that is why it's so great.. you can usually find your answer somewhere if you keep looking, and while looking you always pick up other 'tidbits' along the way.>
We are upgrading our FOWLR 46 gallon to a 90 gallon because our young tang is getting too big.
We've been cycling about 45 gallons of store bought saltwater and two inches of new sand for a week. Once the tank is ready we want to know how/what to move of the sand into the new tank but are confused by conflicting information found on other forums.
<You can do this a number of different ways successfully. My favourite way? Don't bother 'cycling' the new tank, as long as you have plenty of live rock just shift the whole lot right over minus most of the sand>.
Our 46 gallon has about 3 inches of sand bed in it. Some places say to transfer 20% because of all the stuff that is in it that will dirty up our new tank (or some reason that I'm not sure of), some say 50%, and some say none. How much sand should be transferred?
<Any/ all of these can/ will work, but I like to start fresh to limit the transfer of muck over, and just seed the new sand with half a bucket of old on top>
We were originally thinking that we would transfer all of it because it's just a bigger tank and we aren't changing anything or adding anything (similar in concept to a water change).
<Yes, this is how I do it>
We only have 2 Clowns, 1 Tang,
and a Royal Gramma for fish. We wanted the Tang to have as much room to play as possible and he's been very happy (he thinks he's a Clown).
<Well that's good news>
If you could give reasoning to your thoughts, I'd appreciate it. I like to know these types of things.
<The only point to 'cycling' a tank is to build up enough nitrifying bacteria to handle the fish load you have. Since your system is established with these fishes, it already has enough bacteria to accomplish this, most of this is on the live rock and sand. If you move this substrate over with the fish you also be moving over the bacteria required and so will have no problems>
Thanks for your help,
<No worries>

Moving tank  1/5/10
<Hi there.>
My question is in regards to my substrate. My tank has been up and running for about 2 years now without any problems ( sitting on kitchen counter)
45gal with hang on the back emperor filter and skimmer much more than required as for the live rock
1 banded,1 cleaner,2 clowns few emeralds and a few hermits and snails my substrate is a little under 4"(Nature's Ocean Bio-Active Reef Sand and Reef Substrate)
Finally I have a floor spot where I can build a stand and add a sump/refugium(converting a spare 10gal tank).
OK now for the question, I know the top of my substrate is very lively so I will be keeping this. I will need to remove the rest so I can move the tank, should this be trashed? placed back into the main tank? added to refugium?
I also plan on scrapping the filter and hanging the skimmer on the 10gal.
Any additional advise is welcome.
<All you need to know is here and the linked files above:
There is no need to throw out any of this sand!>
Thank you
<Welcome, Scott V.>

Substrate Replacement -- 12/09/09
Hello everyone, really enjoy this website!!
<<Hey there, umm'¦whoever you are'¦glad to hear!>>
I have a 75 gallon and am switching over to new 75 gallon with built in overflows and am adding a sump.
<<A very useful update>>
The existing tank has 90 pounds live rock, 4 inch live sand bed. 2 Maroon Clowns with Bubble Tip Anemone, 1 Midas Blenny, 4 Green Chromis, 1 Blue Damsel, 1 Yellow Shrimp Goby, 1 Fire Shrimp, 4 Turbo Snails, 2 dozen Red & Blue Legged Crabs, 1 Sally Lightfoot Crab, 2 Tridacna Clams, 3 powerheads, AquaC skimmer, Emperor 400 filter. It has been running for about a year and a half. Will do away with Emperor filter. New sump will house new ETSS Reef Devil Skimmer.
<<Mmm'¦ If you think about it down the road, do let me know how you think this compares to the AquaC unit>>
The substrate'¦do I need to change part of it out for new live sand?
<<Not necessarily for more 'live' sand (though this is fine if you have/want to spend the money), but replacing a part with new Aragonite material will surely be beneficial. Now would also be a good time to swap out some of that old live rock for fresh'¦ Like the new sand, doing so will provide a boost to the systems bio-minerals'¦as well as the biota in and on the rock>>
And if I do, how much?
<<Up to you ultimately, but I would swap out at least a third of the volume to realize any real benefit>>
After I get everything out into tubs, I was thinking of leaving about 2 inches of water over sand, swishing the sand around to loosen all the gunk and reuse what I need to. Good or bad idea?
<<This is a good idea'¦ Much of the biota in the sand will suffer from the move/the mixing of the layers. Rinsing as you describe will help to minimize the resultant pollution>>
If I need to add new live sand, what grade and brand would you use?
<<My preference is a sugar-fine Aragonite, especially at the depth you describe. As for brand'¦go with what makes the most sense economically. My own system entails some 1,500lbs of Aragonite sand. Luckily for me at the time I was setting up, 50lb bags of Aragonite 'play sand' were available at Home Depot for $7 a bag. If you can find something similar it will serve just fine, else you will have to peruse the net for the 'cheapest' over-priced 'aquarium' product>>
Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
<<Plan to allow some time for the tank to cycle from the disturbance of moving the rock and sand. 'How long' varies'¦use your test kits to determine when it will be safe to restock the tank>>
Thank you all for this website!
<<It is truly a collective effort'¦we are happy to assist. Eric Russell>>

Re: Substrate Replacement -- 12/10/09
Thank you Eric for your reply and information.
<<Quite welcome>>
This is Larry, by the way.
<<Ah!...hello Larry>>
Sorry for not leaving my name before.
<<No worries'¦but I do like to know with whom I am 'speaking'>>
I thought it would show up from e-mail.
<<Indeed'¦but we get many queries from folks using 'another's' email>>
I will go with the sugar-fine Aragonite as you suggest.
Does it matter where the new sand goes, top, bottom or anywhere in between?
<<In this situation I think it matters little'¦though perhaps for better dissolution of bio-minerals placing on 'top' might be best>>
You seem a little skeptical about the Reef Devil skimmer?
<<An opinion based on others' use>>
Something I don't know?
<<I have never been impressed with what I have seen and heard about this model. And even though I feel the AquaC line of skimmers are excellent, and that a properly sized model would be a superior choice over the Reef Devil'¦I am really partial to needle-wheel skimmers, much for their efficiency vs. power consumption and noise'¦with Euro-Reef being my current fave>>
The AquaC I have is the hang on Remora. I wanted an in-sump model. I'm sure the AquaC EV Series are good units.
<<Hmm'¦if the Remora was serving well before...an Urchin would likely have done so too>>
I did a lot of research, read a lot of reviews. The good ones are all pricy.
<<Agreed'¦and generally for good reason. But a high quality skimmer can make a world of difference. Not only due to its performance, but also often in its ease of use and maintenance>>
I got the Reef Devil on EBay, like new, for $175.
<<Then do give it a try and make your own judgment>>
Thanks Again.
<<Happy to share, mate'¦ EricR>>

Sand Bed Move and Cycling 12/1/09
Dear Crew,
<Hello Nick.>
After I thought I had a good handle on this hobby, I'm once again in need of help. I have a 90 gallon glass aquarium with plastic reinforcement on the top and the bottom. I recently noticed some salt creep on the bottom of the tank on the inner portion of the plastic reinforcement. This leads me to believe that there will eventually be a 'large' salt creep (or full out leak) at some point in the future.
<Not necessarily, any water spills on the outside of the glass will pool, evaporate and leave salt here.>
Can this be repaired without taking down the tank?
<Not likely, no.>
If not, I plan on replacing the tank with a similar version to prevent potential flooding, which leads me to the next issue. I would need to move the sand bed which is around 3-4 inches deep. Is this possible or do I need to rinse out the sand in order to reuse it?
<If it does come to this I would scoop off the top inch or two, then place the bottom layer in the tank first with the original top layer back on top.>
If it can be moved, will this create a problem for my RBTA in terms of cycling and stability?
<It could, any tank disturbance can.>
Your comments and advice, as always, will be greatly appreciated.
<I would sit tight and wait here. If it is indeed a leak the salt should be wet, it would not dry out.>
Thanks again,
Nick Wood
<Welcome, Scott V.>

Re: Substrate question :-)  09/24/09
Hi Bob,
I was wondering if you could take a look at this one. The original issue was alkalinity (dKH) dropping like a stone. The readings out of the Ca reactor were off, so she shut it down and is dosing with A\B supplements.
In the course of a year, she has lost about half of her substrate. I recommended replacing the substrate -
<<Wow! Must have boiling/bubbling the CO2 in!>>
she has a 300 gallon reef, so she will need to balance adding new substrate in and around established corals.
Beyond this, I am somewhat at a loss.
<<Let's see>>
Re: Substrate question Mystery of the dissolving substrate. SW Substrate Replacement Alk still falling like a stone. 9/22/2009
All good! We are all busy with life :-)
<Ahh yes, It can be a pain, but at least I am still gainfully employed, so I won't complain too much!>
My top off water Ph is always adjusted to exactly 8.4 with Seachem Aquavitro 8.4 liquid.
<Ahh, ok. so the readings you were giving me were before you adjusted.>
My denitrator is recirculating about 380GPH and effluent is about 2 drops per second back into tank. So its very negligible amount here. I really don't think the thing works at all honestly. No noticeable difference
<I've never been convinced they work personally. They need a super low flow to work plus supplemental 'feeding' to keep them going.>.
I forgot to mention that I use the Prodibio system weekly. I don't think they would do anything like this but most people have never heard of it so hard to find other peoples reviews of the products.
<I've heard mixed reviews myself - Some tout it as the next holy grail of reef keeping, others claim it is snake oil.>
I have added 50 Lbs of substrate as that was my initial though that I didn't have the buffering capacity needed for all that water. So pretty sure that's not the issue as it hasn't made any change whatsoever.
<50 pounds in a 300 gallon tank isn't going to make too much of a difference. I would add another 100 pounds or so - As I recall, you had lost about half of your substrate in the last year.>
I have also removed the CA reactor completely from the system. The setup was a dual chamber reactor w/ solenoid and 50 lbs co2 tank. 75 Lbs of media consisting of ARM and Zeovit mg media.
<<Jumbo size!>>
<Ok, so the biggest alkalinity consumer has been taken out of the system.>
I thought the solenoid may be the issue but I have checked it and the bubble rate seems perfectly fine and consistent. Is that the correct way to gauge if its functioning correctly?
<I would a lot with solenoids in my 'real' job - They can 'stick' - where they stay activated after they have gotten a signal to turn off. I don't know how you have yours set up to run - The test would be if it is running for a period of time when it is supposed to be off.>
After the substrate was added and CA reactor removed I moved to manual dosing.
I am adding 10 Tbs of liquid alk, 3 tbs powder alk, 15 Tbs of liquid calcium, 8 Tbs liquid mg, 1 powder Tbs Strontium daily to maintain levels.
<Are you really consuming that much calcium, magnesium and strontium per day?>
I have been able to get the CA up to 410 which seems fine to me and dKH at 6.5-7-8 level. Very hard to keep the Dkh constant without sitting there and testing and dosing all day and all night long. Completely unstable and relies on huge doses of supplements daily.
Any further ideas what may be causing this? This issue has persisted for ever and well - I don't know whats causing it!!!!!!!
<I still think you need to add more natural buffer - substrate\rock etc. I am going to refer this to Bob and see if he has any opinions as well.>
I think I've pretty much gone over my entire system with you. Anything I may have left out? I skim very aggressively about 1 sometimes 2 gallons per day of very wet skimmate. That wouldn't be removing minerals would it? I like to feed heavy so it makes things easier.
<My pleasure as always. MikeV>
<<Mmm, well... am not a fan of the ARM media... do look into just aragonite... or Korallith of larger grade... And I do suspect that too much carbon dioxide was being utilized here... I'd be checking the effluent pH... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/calcreacop.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Substrate question Mystery of the dissolving substrate. SW Substrate Replacement 9/2/2009
<Hi Cassidy, good to hear from you again.>
Quick question - I had a 2-1/2" - 3" super fine aragonite substrate in my 300G reef tank and it seems to be getting smaller and smaller as the months pass.
<Is normal, will dissolve in time.>
I've head its normal for some to dissolve but at this rapid of a rate?
There is now only about 1"-2" left after a year. I am wondering if this is affecting my buffer capacity since there are some issues like rapidly falling Alk and ca.
<I remember you had issues with falling alkalinity. - If your alkalinity keeps dropping the substrate will get used up faster.>
Does it need to be cured prior?
<If you are replacing it with 'dead' sand, you should rinse it first to knock the dust off.>
I was thinking about just turning off the pumps, getting the substrate wet then use a measuring cup to pour onto the bottom of the tank so it doesn't take several days to settle.
<That's fine.>
I'm thinking I need to add about 100 Lbs to get back where I was.
Should I stir it up to mix the live sand with the new sand or let the sand dwelling creatures take care of that?
<You can just rake it in with your fingers - I use a small plastic beach rake myself.>
Is that how you would approach this - is there a preferred method?
<If you are going to add 100 pounds, don't add it all at once. 20 - 40 pounds a day
As always your advice is appreciated.
<How is the alkalinity issue working out?>
Thank You,
Also where may I make a donation? I didn't see a link.
<There is a button on the lower right hand side of the homepage, Thank you.>

What to do about my sand?   5/13/09
Hello Crew. Thanks for your time and efforts on this great site. I often show signs of sleep deprivation due to hours spent reading here.
<Me too>
My reef tank has been up for about 2 1/2 years all ways had trouble with high nitrates(20),
<Mmm, there are a few standard approaches at limiting...>
lately been having Cyano bacteria problems. My Phosphates had got up to 1.0.
<Wow! Much too high>
I cleaned everything, pumps, tank, and sump, added some Chaeto to the sump and also about 50g of Phosban. Now the Phosphate is coming down, .25 today.
I will attached photos of my sand bed, roughly 2" deep. My questions are these: in the sand is pinkish "globules", how can I remove?
<Mmm... best to "fight" indirectly... nutrient deprivation, competition as you've started... consider adding more hard substrate, live rock... needs to be "renewed" (added to, replaced) in part after about a year and a quarter, then every six months thereafter>
I tried siphoning, but not too effective.
Secondly, from what I read I should have a deeper sand bed as much as 4".
<Yes... one approach>
Can I just put new sand on top of what I've got? What about my rock, would I need to remove everything first?
<Mmm, best to have you read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/substrepl2.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Controlling Humidity and Using Substrate from an Existing Tank -- 05/09/09
I have several salt water aquariums and I moved them into my basement last year. A 90 gallon with a 35 gallon refugium, a 12 gallon, a 20 gallon, two 10 gallons and my RO/DI water has a loose fitting lid. Only one of the 10 gallons has a lid. Since then, I have had huge moisture problems with evaporation, humidity and even a mold outbreak in the summer when it is extremely humid,
<<Mmm, I see'¦ It sounds as if you don't have enough air-exchange/enough fresh air circulating through the basement>>
I am in Chicago and the humidity can be high during the summer.
<<I live in South Carolina'¦so I do understand about 'humidity'>>
Currently, I run a dehumidifier almost nonstop. The dehumidifier has a bucket so I empty the bucket at least once a day.
<<Indeed'¦ But it sounds like rather than 'collecting' the moisture and keeping it in the room (to evaporate to the air yet again) until disposed, that you need a means of pulling the moist air 'out' of the room'¦preferably 'exchanged' with dried/drier air'¦but just exhausting the super-saturated air from the room and letting it be replaced 'naturally' (e.g. -- from the other rooms of the house) should provide some measure of relief>>
So summer is coming fast and I need to change things.
<<Agreed'¦the mold is nothing to ignore>>
I got a different container for my RO/DI water with a tight fitting lid
<<Do be sure to add some aeration/water movement to blow off CO2>>
and I got rid of one of my 10 gallons. I purchase an air conditioner dehumidifier that vents outside getting rid of its accumulated moister.
<<Ah! An excellent move>>
I am going to get rid of two more tanks the remaining 10 gallon, and either the 20 or the 12 gallon.
<<Will also help'¦but may prove unnecessary with better ventilation of the room>>
I want to keep the remaining 20 or 12, but I am going to move the one I keep to the main level of my home. I am leaning to the 20 gallon because it has a 65 gallon Coralife Supper Skimmer. Any other suggestions to control humidity?
<<You are on the right track (removing the excess moisture-laden air from the room). I have a 500g (en toto) reef system I built in to the wall between my living room and dinning room. One of my concerns during planning/construction was accumulated moisture in such a confined space'¦especially during the very long humid months here in SC. My solution was to install a 'bathroom' exhaust fan in the ceiling above the tank that vents to the outside of the house. I have it on a thermostat, but even so it runs pretty much 24/7. This has proven effective for more than 5-years now>>
Also, can I use the sand from 12 gallon nano-cube with has 1 inch to a 1 ½ sand bed in my 20 gallon?
<<Sure'¦ Be aware there will be some die-off of the in-fauna just from the movement/re-layering of the bed and monitor for any spikes in Nitrogenous compounds re>>
The 20 gallon has a shallow sand bed and so does my 90 gallon, the refugium has a sand bed over Miracle Mud. Any ideas would be great, but money is tight for the next 12 to 18 months.
<<Reuse the sand'¦just be aware of its pitfalls'¦though I think with the amount/depth you list, the risk is slight. Regards, Eric Russell>>

FOWLR Transfer 180 gallons to 540 gallons, incl. moving sand bed  4/30/09
Hey Crew.
<Hello Lee>
Here's a good one for you. I have a 180 gallons FOWLR with approximately 300 pounds of rock and a 3" sand bed. Currently I have 14 fish in there, (with my prize being my 9" African Mappa Puffer). I am switching over to a larger tank a 540 gallons and of course I'll need to take the rock and hopefully, the sand out of the old and use it for the new one and I'd like to use approximately 50% of the water.
<Congratulations on the new tank, I'm sure these fish will appreciate the move.>
The problems I'm concerned with is 1. taking the sand out of existing tank may cause a Nitrite spike and of course the fish would still be in there. 2. Is it safe to immediately transfer the fish into the new tank if I've used the old water, sand and rock ? 3. Should I just buy new sand for the new tank, but if so, would I have to wait for a cycle period? Having said all that, you can see my confusion. Dear Crew, what is the best course of action to carry out this task of tank transfer?
<Lee, I would lean towards replacing the sand to avoid disturbing the sand bed with fish in the same tank. I suggest you set up the new tank with sand and allow it to settle, shoot for under two inches of sand, or over 4 inches of sand. Then move over your rock and fish. The old sand can be saved later by washing it very well. Do keep an eye on parameters and be prepared for water changes just in case.>
Thanks in advance. Lee
<Let us know how it goes.
Josh Solomon>

Re: FOWLR Transfer 180 gallons to 540 gallons   5/2/09
Thanks a bunch, will do just that. Curious, why under 2" or over 4" of sand?
<Under two inches tends to get you an aesthetically pleasing aerobic sand bed, while over four inches tends to lend itself better towards anaerobic denitrification. In between will likely to cause you to end up with a sandbed that is slightly anaerobic but not enough so to really lend a hand in denitrification. Do read this FAQ before you make a decision: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dsbfaqs.htm .>
<Josh Solomon>

Tank move disaster... Substrate move  4/28/09
Hi crew!
<Hello Dan>
I have a situation: This weekend I moved my 90 gallon tank to my new apartment. It's the third time I have moved that monster and let me tell you, how difficult that is! Instead of listing my fish, here are pictures (I have no problem with you posting that link if u post my question):
At the time of move, there were 2 mating Eastern Skunk clowns, a Huge LTA in which they lived, misc. corals, a purple tang, a really mean bicolor Pseudochromis, and an absolutely giant frog spawn which has grown and split and grown over the last five years. The move went well initially but I believe I made several
critical mistakes:
1) I didn't hook up skimmer (at 4 am, I simply wanted to get water and fish in the tank and get some sleep before going to work at 7!)
<Likely the skimmer running could have helped the situation by helping remove some organics that became dislodged from the substrate during the move>
not filling the tank enough to the water flowing through the refugium
<Once again just like the skimmer any nutrient export would help if organics were released during the substrate move.>
no use of canister filter on first day of relocation
<A canister filter may help with polishing your water out for now. Make sure to clean it extra often, ideally every day until things get back under control>
4) reusing the water from the containers that housed the frogspawn and the anemone
<This may have been a contributing factor as well. Likely the main cause was organics that were suspended in the water during the substrate move. Do run carbon just in case and continue with water changes as necessary. Additionally a full array of test results for common parameters would help in diagnosing the problem. (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, alkalinity at the minimum.)>
My theory is that the frogspawn released toxins and I dumped them back into the tank. That, along with the sediment being stirred up like crazy, made for a toxic mix which stressed and killed one of the clowns and the mean Pseudochromis.
<You are likely correct although my bet would be on the stirring of the sediment. Like mentioned above, run carbon, perform water changes, and continue testing the water.>
When I came home from work, to see the dead Pseudochromis and clownfish, I immediately did a huge water change and finished setting up the tank.
<Good move!>
The next morning, after turning on the lights, the anemone finally woke up and became occupied by the now single and very beat up clown. The tang seems to have survived the ordeal (for now).
<These seem like good signs for now, but do continue monitoring the water.>
Do you think I should get another clown? If so, can I get a pink skunk or am I stuck with this kind?
<The singular clown can survive and thrive on his own. It is possible to add a pink skunk and have it pair, this is not a guarantee but a small juvenile age clown may up the odds.>
I would also like to get a jaw fish but am afraid since I have a rather hearty and quiet red pistol shrimp. I shockingly discovered it in the move but hadn't seen or heard from it in over a year!
<A Jawfish would probably be fine with a pistol shrimp if you haven't seen or heard from him this far. But there is some risk with another bottom dwelling animal. Personally I'd give it a try after things settle down a little bit>
Also, can i get other tangs?
<Personally I would not recommend it, Tangs are large fish and have can have a large effect on the bio load of the system. I know it is an overused analogy, but consider living your life in a closet. The time to add other tangs of similar body type would have been before the purple tang was added.>
Thanks for all the information you've shared and allowed us to share through your forum. It's been a GREAT help in my success over the years. If you would like me to detail how I moved a 75 gallon tank from Virginia to New Jersey, then a 90 gallon from one New Jersey apartment to another... I would be glad to contribute to the sharing of knowledge!
<Feel free to email us your experience so it can be shared with others. But please when you email it try to avoid using internet abbreviations with numbers or slashes.>
<Good luck
Joshua Solomon>

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