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FAQs about Deep Sand Beds 2

Related Articles: Deep Sand Beds, Marine System Substrates (Gravels, Sands) by Bob Fenner, Marine Substrate Options by Sara Mavinkurve, Live Sand, Biological FiltrationBiominerals in Seawater, Understanding Calcium & AlkalinityNitrates in Marine Aquariums

Related FAQs: DSBs 1, DSBs 3, DSBs 4, DSBs 5, DSBs 6, DSBs 7,  & FAQs on: Rationale/Use, Dangers, Physical Make-Up, Biological Make-Up, Size, Location, Depth, Conversion to/from, Maintenance/ Replacing/Adding To,& Live Sand FAQsFAQs 2Live Sand 3, Identification, Selection/DIY, Systems/Placement, BiotaMaintenance, & Marine Substrates, Live Sand, Mud Filtration 1 Plenums Nitrates in Marine Aquariums, Refugium Substrates/DSBs,


Triggers and Sand Beds? All of your responses have been extremely helpful to me so far.  Keep up the good work. <Glad to help!> A few more questions. <Sure...> Question 1 Is there a Trigger species that I could house in this 90 gallon for the long term? <Honestly-none. Sure, it can be done, but I think it's not such a good idea> If none, then what species or type of trigger would work in this tank if bought small (1.5 inches) and then eventually put in a larger system (180 gallons)? <Many of the triggers available would be fine, with the exception of the truly larger (like the Niger and "Titan" triggers, etc) species...The more "reasonably sized ones" (max of 9-10 inches) could stay in this setup for a couple of years, if you start them as juveniles, IMO...but they do grow fast!> And, how many years could he live in the 90? <Maximum of one or two years, depending on the other inhabitants, feeding, etc> Question 2 All of that crushed coral gravel (aragonite based) that I have in my tank was bought under the assumption that it would be the best choice for a tank with a trigger in it.  Can a DSB work with this messy eater? <Well, not with the "detritivorous species, such as the Odonus, Balistes, Balistoides, and Rhinecanthus species. Definitely more possible with the Xanthichthys species, like the Crosshatch Trigger, Blue Chin, and Sargassum Triggers. These are much more "reef compatible", and usually are planktivorous in nature; less likely to dig up a sand bed...Let's face it, though- a trigger is a trigger...anything can happen...Hope for the best, be prepared for the worst...> I was under the assumption that it wouldn't because the trigger would eat all of the necessary critters that live in the sand. <Entirely likely with most of the more commonly available species>   Also, how do you vacuum the sand to get rid of detritus? (The detritus that would presumably accumulate because the critters that eat it would themselves be eaten by the trigger) <With a true DSB, you really want to avoid disturbing the bed as much as possible. If it makes you feel better, you can siphon maybe the top 1/2 inch or so...> I have spent much time perusing your site, and although I have learned much, I still cannot arm myself with enough info to make a good decision here. A detailed explanation here would be much appreciated.  Thank-you. <Well- once again, the concept of a deep sand bed and a trigger together is essentially a roll of the dice! It certainly can work with some species, but it can also backfire miserably...Unfortunately- it's your call on this one!> Question 3 If I do keep the crushed coral,  is 4 - 5 inches a good amount?  Or should I just have 1 inch? <I personally would use an extremely shallow layer (like 1/2 inch or less with this stuff...Unlike the finer aragonite substrates, this stuff can become a serious nutrient trap over time, especially if kept at a 3-5 inch depth...Yes- it can, and has been done by many people...but I wouldn't do it. Why not just a sprinkling of fine sand, like CaribSea's "Aragamax Sugar-Sized" oolithic sand? It looks nice and can be easy to keep clean in a 1/2" depth.> Question 4 I have heard that if you have less then 4 square feet of space for a DSB it is worthless.  You might recall my other questions about a refugium, 36 inches deep, 13 inch by 20 inch footprint.  Would an 8 inch DSB be worthwhile in this refugium? <Honestly, I have not heard that argument before. If you're talking about a 5000 gallon tank, then I'd agree that 4 square feet of DSB would have minimal impact. However, with a deep sand bed, the much more important issue is the depth...$ inches or more, with a maximum of around 10 inches (frankly, I'd quit at 8" myself. These depths can most readily foster the necessary beneficial processes occurring in the DSB> Question 5 I know you have answered questions on this previously, but tell my please if I have this correct.  Above mentioned refugium with 8 inch DSB (not live sand) 50 lbs of LR suspended above the sand by PVC and egg crate (will eventually make the sand live).  Will this cause any problems if I do not buy critters to stir or slowly move the sand?  Do I have to do any maintenance in this set-up or is it a set-up and forget about it sort of procedure?  Can this refugium stay running like this maintenance free for years?  (I have heard horror stories of DSB causing noxious chemical releases in aquariums) <Well, in my opinion, I would not call a DSB or refugium completely "maintenance free", but I suppose that minimal attention is acceptable. There are, of course, lots of differences of opinion on this... As far as sand-stirring creatures are concerned, many of the more commonly used creatures actually tend to decimate the very processes we work so hard to achieve...Perhaps a few snails and maybe, maybe, a small brittle star...but that is fine, in my opinion. Unless the aragonite absolutely turns into a "brick" over time, I don't see the danger of not stirring it...again- perhaps just stirring the top layer would be fine. And, yes-inert materials will become "live" after a brief period of time. You may want to check out sand bed expert Bob Goemans' great site, saltcorner.com, for more information on sand beds (although Bob favors the plenum approach, a number of the dynamics are similar in a "non-plenum" equipped sand bed...> Thanks again for all of your advice. <Any time! Hope I was helpful! Regards, Scott F>

Fact, Fiction, And Nutrient Export... I am in the process of setting up a new tank. A 135 gallon Floribbean biotype. <That should be cool! I'm envisioning the "eye candy" in this reef already! Scott F. with you here today!> Not necessarily a full blown reef in the true sense but their will be a fair amount of gorgonians as well as whatever life comes on the gulf rock. Is 90 lbs. enough rock for bio filtration or do I need more? <I think that this is enough rock, for the most part. If you maintain a deep sand bed, this will provide significant biological filtration/denitrification, as well> Now to my main questions. Their seems to be a lot of contrasting opinions and conflicts as I reed through your FAQ's. <Well, much like in the hobby at large- everyone at WWM has their own interpretation of many aspects of reef husbandry...You have to take any and all advice with "a grain of salt", and draw your own conclusion in the end...> 1) Sand bed: Bob Smith said he prefers a 1/2" shallow sand bed. Yet others swear by 4-5 inch bed with a plenum. I would rather save the time and expense and use a 1" bed. But would this provide significant denitrification as well as enough depth for some of the Caribbean wrasses I intend to keep? <Actually, there really is little disagreement and a lot of fact on this topic. The rule of thumb with sand is 1/2" or less, or 3" or more. One half-inch of sand is not enough to provide denitrification; neither is anything less than three inches. Sand beds between 1/2 inch and less than three inches are more or less a biological "no man's land", not deep enough to reduce nitrate, but too deep to be aerobic. This will result in the formation of the dreaded "nutrient sink", which has the potential to create long-term nutrient accumulation and the resulting nuisance algae blooms that accompany it. My advice- Go with a 4-6 inch bed>   2) Sump: Do your prefer an "in line" Ecosystem type setup, or leaving a standard sump in place and using the refugium in a separate closed loop? <Actually, in my opinion, a refugium should be supplied with raw water from the aquarium or sump, so you certainly could have a dedicated pump just for the refugium...many ways to accomplish the same thing...> 3) Size: Bob Fenner has made reference to the largest sump possible. Yet when I look around many configs. Most only have a mud area the equivalent of 10-15 gallons. What gives? <There are so many variables here... I'm not going to try to interpret what Bob meant (well- yeah, I am!), but he correctly points out that a larger sump gives you many benefits, among them the ability to create larger "mud" chambers (if you're into the "mud" thing), provide room for protein skimmers, mechanical/chemical media, and simply add to the overall system volume...Think about it: A 100 gallon tank with a 30 gallon sump is essentially a 130 gallon system (well- almost, because you wouldn't run a sump "filled to the brim" at all times..), so you get the picture here...As Anthony likes to say- "Dilution is the solution to pollution...More water is a good thing!> 4) Plants: I recently read a published article stating that mangrove filtration is not as effective as first thought. <Mangroves really grow to slow to be considered an effective, rapid means of nutrient export in closed systems. they offer other advantages, such as their leaves contributing to beneficial microorganism growth and their roots offering shelter and spawning areas for a variety of different animals. A cool addition to a display, but I would not view them as a viable nutrient export system> On the other hand their is now information that Caulerpa produces chemicals that can be harmful to corals. <Very true...Caulerpa does produce a number of substances which can create problems for corals in closed systems, has a propensity to "go sexual" (releasing it's reproductive products into the water column, degrading water quality), and is just plain "aggressive", often overtaking and smothering more desirable animals with it's rapid growth. That's why my personal favorites are more "purposeful" macroalgae, such as Chaetomorpha and Gracilaria. They are more "stable", grow rapidly, are not overly invasive, and are easy to harvest. All in all, they are much better macro algae for nutrient export purposes> As you can see about the only thing I can find clarity on is a flow rate of 3 - 5x mud sump area. <Well, like I said before- everyone has an opinion...What works for me may seem absurd for you...But you need to be able to sort through "facts" and "opinions"...never an easy process, but all part of the fun of this awesome hobby of ours!> I am hoping you guys can help make sense of this as you always seem to do. Forever grateful, Ken <Hey Ken- I'm glad that you turned to us...Feel free to contact us again any time! Can't wait to see how your system turns out! Regards, Scott F>

- Switching to a DSB - Hello crew, <Greetings, JasonC here...> First and foremost, thanks for the site. It has been the most helpful resource in setting up and maintaining by first aquarium. <I'm glad you find it useful.> I am afraid I have somewhat of a "mutt" of an aquarium. It is an 80 gallon all-glass. I started off two years ago with 20 pounds of liverock and two triggerfish, a niger and a Picasso. The substrate is just enough crushed coral and shell to cover the bottom, if that. Since I started, the triggerfish have grown, and mushrooms and green star polyps have come out of the liverock and are spreading. I also have purchased about 15 blue leg hermits and 15 snails, 7-8 turbo and 7-8 astrea. The triggerfish are well behaved and do not notice or bother the snails or the crabs. I am also using a Fluval 404, three AquaClear 802 powerheads, and a large protein skimmer. (I forget the brand, but it is working well) Recently, I added another 30 pounds of liverock. I think I am not planning on adding any more rock, corals or fish, but I want to maintain the health of the liverock and the system. I read over all of your FAQs and am thinking of adding a DSB or using sand as a substrate. I am mainly doing this as a buffer and to maintain the calcium levels for the liverock. <Live rock does not 'need' massive amounts of calcium, but rather provides it in small amounts to your system.> I do not add any additives or use a calcium reactor, for cost reasons, and thought this would be another method. <The primary benefit of a deep sand bed is natural denitrification - buffering is a secondary benefit, but you will get the same affect from the addition of the live rock - both are made of calcium carbonate.> My plan is to siphon out all of the crushed coral, vacuum detritus very well, remove the fish, turn off the powerheads and filters, and slowly add 4-6 inches of home depot sand. Afterwards, I will return the fish and restart the powerheads. Does this plan sound OK? <Well, just keep in mind that the Southdown sand is very, very fine and really needs a layer of something heavy on top to insure it doesn't blow all over the tank. If you have a skimmer, I would make sure it is running while you add this sand - you tank water will be filthy. If you don't have a skimmer, you should get one.> Am I crazy for using san with triggerfish? <No.> Can I leave the live rock on the bottom glass and place sand around it? <You can, but you're going to get sand all over the live rock.> Thanks for your time and help. I tried to find the answers to these questions on your site and elsewhere, but to no avail. Any other tips you can give about my current setup would be appreciated. <Cheers, J -- >

Nitrates reduced by Deep Sand Beds (DSB) - 2/11/03 Wow!  I didn't expect it to work that quick!   <yep... literally 2 weeks for most proper deep sand  beds (4" or more)> My nitrates were 80ppm for months no matter what I did (FO tank) and I converted from CC to DSB last week, and they're already down to 20ppm... how very cool! <good to hear, my friend!> Thanks for the great website and advice! <our pleasure> Now I just have to remember to keep it stirred!  (Not shaken  heh heh) <or seek active detritivores> David <best regards, Anthony>

DSB Crash Bob: I've been hearing a lot about DSB's lately (right after I convert my crushed coral to DSB of course….) Mostly everyone (well, not "everyone" says that in 3 years a DSB will crash with catastrophic consequences - some seemed to imply I would even lose my home! (JK) I would like to hear your rebuttal to that if you feel it untrue, and if it is true, is there a maintenance procedure to avoid it? <Please see here re:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dsbfaqs.htm and the FAQs file beyond. Bob Fenner> David

Re: DSB Crash Yes I did - and I could have missed it I guess, but I was attempting to address the SPECIFIC issue of the lifespan of a DSB being 2-3 years and then it crashes, killing everything in the tank.  Is this true? <Not in my experience. I am a fan of monthly "stirring", annual replenishment (including upper layer disruption) of such substrate arrangements though> I mean it does kind of makes sense I guess sense all that waste has to go somewhere... is there some method of cleaning it to extend the lifespan? <Oh! Yes... as stated, though I would not thoroughly gravel vacuum the substrate, I would stir it with a dowel (wood or plastic) on a regular basis, and add more material to it every year (you'll find it "goes away" as in dissolves over time).> Sorry for the trouble  :o) <Me too. No worries. Just trying to get to an answer. Bob Fenner>

Sand: what kind to use for DSB? Hello all again Hi I have two things today I took your advice and bought the Aqua C Remora Pro.  After two days I have emptied the cup twice of urine colored water and adjusted the cup higher each time.  Eventually I will have it tuned properly.  After two days my nitrates have dropped from 80 to 10  I have never had them that low so my hats off to you guys for suggesting that skimmer. <Excellent to hear. And kudos to Aqua C for the engineering eh?> We are going to put in a DSB and I know how I am going to accomplish it, but I don't know where to get the sand.  I would have to pay a couple of hundred bucks for that much sand from my LFS (we looked today).<Yep, its not cheap, but what is in this obsession?>  Is there anything wrong with using sand from the beach?  <Since I live in Nebraska I have never tried. I only have seen folks here recommend against it, in any way>Would I have to bleach it or anything or should I just treat it as live rock and let it cycle in a tub.  Also should I get it from below the waterline or above.  We are in New Jersey and its cold.  Another place I can get sand is at a sand fill nearby, but that is not sand from the ocean, instead it is from a freshwater fed mining hole.  There is nice looking sand in Ocean City which is not too far away.  Or the third option is to buy online, but what kind of sand is the best. <you want fine (sometimes called sugar fine or oolithic) aragonite sand. There are places online that you can order from. In New Jersey, you may be able to find some deals locally or at least close. You might check the WWM forums ( http://www.wetwebfotos.com/talk) and look in the Live Sand forum for many discussions/recommendations for alternatives> As always thanks for a wonderful site <As always you are welcome and keep us updated. Don> Bryan Flanigan Piggy the Lionfish <I will giggle every time I see a lionfish from now on <G> thanks>

Re: DSB Substrate Sorry to bug you guys once more, but it will be the last for a while ;) <No problem.> Just a quick question. I'm adding a DSB to my existing 1/2'' that I have right now. Is it ok/better to add the 4-6'' around the LR that sits on the bottom of the tank, or should I lift out the rock and place all the sand across the tank bottom? Thanks again Crew! Take care. <If it is not too difficult I would lift the rock and place some sand underneath it, and put everything back on top.  In all reality, if I did not want to yank everything out of the tank I would add it slowly over time to the existing setup. -Gage>

Another Issue -- Re: Remote DSB --- To the Crew, Again I want to thank you for all the help. I am learning that in this hobby that the more you study, the more you have to study. Every time I think I have something figured out it leads me to ten more questions which lead to .... AAARRRRRGGGHHHHHHH! My head is going to explode! <Confusion before clarity! Try to learn the scientific/biological reasoning behind the claims that are made by hobbyists in regards to equipment and methods. Then decide what makes logical sense to you> Here is where I am at. I am trying to setup my 90Gal FOWLR --> Reef. I have built a custom stand and after receiving the 440Watt VHO, I am working on the hood. I had planned on trying to get away with just a really good Eheim filter and a Remora Pro for filtration and PHs' for circulation. After talking with WWM and LFS, everyone has said "GO SUMP!!!" and of course when I built my stand I didn't plan it to accommodate it. After further measurements, I think I can custom build a acrylic sump/refugium with two smaller compartments at inlet/outlet sides with a wider middle area -- shaped almost like the Chevy logo. <Sump will be more flexible and allow you to get much more flow through your tank> Here is the design and current rounds of questions. (Again thank you for your time and patience). The tank is a 90Gal AGA with a corner overflow which is drilled for a 1" outlet and 3/4" inlet. <<Crap, tiny through-put sizes!!! RMF>> I was going to make a Durso Standpipe that would drop into the first chamber of the sump/refugium (11" long by 9" wide) (all chambers are 20" Tall). <I use Dursos. They are truly fabulous and easy to build> This would then go through a couple of baffles into the main refugium chamber (19" long by 15" wide) and finally empty into another (11" long by 9" wide) chamber which would house the return pump. This pump would need to handle about 2-4ft of head <This distance is no problem for any decent pump> a couple of 90degree elbows and would feed to the return 3/4" of the overflow. I would like to modify the water return with a tube that runs out along the top of tank to return the sump/refugium water evenly through the tank instead of right back next to the overflow <This last part is a bit confusing> (that design doesn't seem to make a lot of sense). <I think I understand: Instead of having a straight return line you're going to have a line that travels around the top of the tank. I haven't tried this so I'm not speaking from experience but it sounds like it would work. Maybe have what?... 3 or 4 flared nozzles returning the water to the tank?> Does this modification seem sound? <To me...yes> Is that shape acceptable for the refugium? <Yes. Have your skimmer in the first compartment before any filtration takes place> Would you modify the return this way? <IMO, it is a little bit risky...The worse that could happen is the returns at the top of the tank wouldn't work correctly and you would need to run the return line again and straighten it out. Not really a big deal. I think this would be an acceptable risk> What schedule pvc, and pvc glue is safe? <Your choice. schedule 40 should work although I used a slightly smaller schedule for my plumbing. Any glue that is safe for water lines will be safe for the aquarium. I use the "Red Hot" (in the red can) with the primer. Please let this set up a couple of days before running water through the line. You want to get a good solid seal> What pump would you suggest to turn the refugium over 2-3 times per <This will be the hard part. I don't really understand how one pump will be able to only turn the refugium over 2-3 times yet deliver water at full pressure to your main tank. Maybe think through this a bit more> hour, handle the head and the modification to the return? <Try the Velocity Titanium pumps or an Iwaki> Would there be a way to use a single pump to return the refugium water and at the same time limit the need for using powerheads? <This return built they way you describe may just do the trick as far as circulation is concerned> Is there any other design considerations or recommendations you would/could make? <I think you could use two overflows and always oversize plumbing on an aquarium and don't forget to install union ball valves and on both sides of your pump. At some point you will need to remove it for whatever reason and these unions make it really easy. I might would size up from the 1' and the 3/4. It all depends on how much flow you want. If you want to get an idea of how much water can be accommodated through a line check out the calculator at Reefcentral and follow the recommendations that are sent with your pump from the manufacturer>   Thank you so much for your time and patience with this n00by. <No problem. Let me know how this turns out. David Dowless>

Small DSB in sump hey guys how goes it. <Fantastic! If only I didn't have to go to work tomorrow...<Sigh> Is there any point in having a very small DSB compartment inside the sump.   <Remote DSBs can work> Like a 5 gal container with a 4-5" DSB with a 150g tank. <This amount won't likely help your tank very much> I was thinking of removing it in favor of having that much more water in the system - <Sounds good to me. A 5 gallon DSB on a 150 just isn't going to help much> any thoughts as to which would be more beneficial (slightly more water or the small DSB)? <Neither will hurt or help very much> Thanks! Mike <You're welcome! David Dowless>

Remote DSB Greetings, <Hello> Thanks again WWM Crew for all the help! <No problem> After speaking with Gage yesterday and then pouring over the Refugium FAQs (Wow -There is a lot of info!), I have found that I have a couple of quick questions. My original email is attached (follows) but the pertinent info to recap my plan is a 90Gal with DSB and a Remora Pro Skimmer (May upgrade or add another) and a Eheim 2226. Unfortunately, I will not be able to modify the stand to fit a large refugium. However, I could custom make an acrylic refugium with rough dimensions of 24" H by 48" L by 8.5" W with three baffles of 15" in Height which would give me a running capacity of about 25.5 Gallons. <Not too bad. More is ALWAYS best but these numbers will suffice> I had planned on incorporating only a sock (old smelly one -hehe) for filtration and using a DSB of 4"+ and a whole lot of small pieces of LR and some Caulerpa. I know wider is better than taller but I don't have much choice at this point. The main objective being increased system capacity, nitrate reduction and food production. Does this sound good (viable)? <Won't be as effective as a wider refugium (would provide more surface area) but will work> Would you place another smaller baffle between the LR and the sand or the rock on top of the sand all together? |             |      |             | | |         | |  or  | |  rock   | | | |sand+rock| |      | |  sand   | | +-+----+----+-+      +-+---------+-+ <If not using a plenum either will work equally. If using a plenum. sand-rock> Also, if I used a DSB in the refugium would you still suggest doing so in the Main (90Gal) tank as well? <This will be more effective all the way around. In fact, if I was doing a DSB I'd go all the way and do a plenum system> As well, with a run of about 6-8 feet can you give me an idea of what size pump to pursue to return the water? <You will need a BIG pump. Be sure your plumbing can handle 1500-2000 gph at least> Thank you guys so much! You have proven to be an INVALUABLE resource and I will continue to recommend, buy your books and support your efforts however I can. Thank you! <Fantastic! Thanks for writing. David Dowless>

Converting to Deep Sand Bed Happy New Year, you guys are the best. <Happy New Year to you too.> I started out about 7 years ago with a 130 gallon Marine setup.  I was successful for about two years then I had a catastrophe with my lights while I was on vacation for a week, and my aquarium crashed.  I let it sit fallow for two years keeping the water topped up and the filter and skimmer running.  My current setup has been running successfully for a little more than three years.  I have as a substrate about 1/4 to 3/4 inch of crushed coral that has been in the tank since the beginning.  I have about 70 pounds of live rock, I reseeded it after the fallow period and it is quite lively! I want to add about another 40 pounds of live rock and convert to deep sand bed.  I have a couple questions bout the order of things and the final setup... 1/ My LFS will cure the new rock for me, and I will saturate the sand at home in salt water before adding, Should I add some water from  vacuuming the crushed coral to the sand as it is soaking or will this just seed the sand with Cyanobacteria which is present in the aquarium? <I would save as much of the old tank water as possible.> 2/ Should the live rock sit on top of the sand, on the bottom with the sand around it, or suspended on pieces of base rock so that there is space underneath the rock for sand to fill in? <Just sit the live rock on top of the sand.  Be careful how you stack the rock if you have fish that like to move sand around.> 3/ When removing the crushed coral should I be meticulous about removing all the bits and detritus or should I leave some biology behind to keep the circle of life intact? <I would remove as much as possible, your live rock, tank, and filtration will have enough life to get the tank going again.> 4/ This may be a stupid question.  I have a giant carpet anemone about 14 inches across, a 3 inch clarkii clownfish, a 4 inch hippo tang and 2.5 inch coral beauty as well as the usual compliment of snails and crabs.  Should I remove all livestock from the tank before adding sand or can they stay if I am careful?  These are big fish and will have to be boarded at the LFS if necessary. <When you add the new rock and sand the tank will most likely go through a cycle and will probably be too unstable for the current inhabitants.  To be safe I would move them until you are sure the tank is good to go.> I have read all about this on wetwebmedia and am a lurking member of WetWebFotos, but I still have these questions.  Thank you for taking the time to read and answer my questions. <Not a problem, it's my pleasure.  If you have not already, browse through our FAQs on DSBs, there is a lot more info there. -Gage http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dsbfaqs.htm  > Kevin.

DSB / Old UGF Plate Hello to all: Due to potential of 'yuckiness' building up, is it a bad idea to use a filter plate underneath a DSB of 6 inches?  The plan is to use +/- 100 lbs of LR, Red Sea Berlin H.O skimmer, Fluval 404 canister, and various powerheads for circulation within a 75 gallon reef tank.  I also have 440 watts of VHO lighting for my eventual guests.  I do plan on keeping several small fish such as Blennies, gobies, and damselfish.  Thank you in advance. A Russell <Yes, under gravel plates are yucky, you do not want to use one underneath your DSB.  Check out the link below for more info -Gage http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm  >

- DSB Addition - Good Evening, Hoping your Holidays were pleasant. <And good evening to you, JasonC here.> I am currently running a 60g breeder tank, FOWLR, 2 Ocellaris clowns, a Koran angel a yellow tang and a rather 'cute' scribbled Rabbitfish? my wife liked. I have now about 50# or LR in the tank with an inch or so of aragonite on the bottom, with a 20g Ecosystem homemade sump underneath with another 10-20# of LR in it. I am running into a problem with algae and was thinking of adding a layer of sand, 4-5" deep and am curious as to what you would consider the 'best, easiest, least stressing' way to add in this DSB. My thinking is to basically take the LR and critters out of the tank, I have a couple wheeled Rubbermaid containers around, and placing everything in those while I siphon out the aragonite and lay in the sandbed, replace the aragonite, and then the LR with critters. <Sounds reasonable to me.> Not having done anything this drastic to the tank in a long while (I had to find a dead hitchhiking nudibranch when I added some LR) I am worried about the stress this will place on my fish and LR, I highly doubt anything will be out of water for more then a moment for transfer to the containers. I have read the FAQs, but haven't found much in the way of this particular scenario. <You should be fine. The fish will be a little stressed, but probably not any more than they were when originally caught and shipped to your local fish store. I would consider keeping that Rabbitfish separate from the others because they are venomous, and someone [a fish, perhaps you] might bump into it during the stay in the other tank. You might also consider leaving the lights off in the holding system just to make the fish think it is sleepy-time and hopefully relax a little. Other than that, the plan sounds good.> Many thanks, and happy new year, David Burger <Cheers, J -- >

Red Mangroves and DSB Anthony, Thanks for you reply, I am disappointed, I thought I came across a magic bullet to reduce nitrates naturally. I have been avoiding using Caulerpa Algae, I read it has more potential problems then benefits. <understood and agreed... but do consider a simple and remote fishless deep sand bed (could be a 10 gallon tank full of deep sand) for NNR (Natural; nitrate reduction). Works fast and effectively! (2 weeks for some). Keep unlit and with moderate flow and it will need little else> I appreciate your advice on the care for the plants and will keep the mangroves, maybe it's wishful thinking but my water does seem clearer then it was. <they may have helped some... extra attention to skimmers, filters, etc at the time they were added too helps> I tried finding your book with no success, Barnes and Nobel, Borders etc. where can I purchase it? <ahhh, yes... I normally sell my book after each show... I moonlight as a short, hairy exotic dancer for retirement parties. You can also find it at Amazon.com, CustomAquatic.com, and quite a few other retailers. List of dealers and distributors here : http://www.readingtrees.com/dealers.html > Thanks Fred Warren <no... thank you, my friend :) Anthony>

Goin' Deep! (Sandbed) Greetings Crew, <Scott F. here today!> After much online research including WWM's DSB FAQ's I decided to go for a DSB in my 55g FOWLR tank. I purchased 90lbs of Carib-Sea sugar sized aragonite, drained 40g and placed the 60lbs of LR and livestock into the 50g Rubbermaid tub I use for water changes. I rinsed the sand and placed it in the tank only to find out that I only ended up with 3" depth. <A good start> I really don't want to put my livestock through the shock they just went through again. What's the best way to add another 1" or more without yanking everything out again? I'm figuring since I have to add more I might as well go for another 60lbs and go for 5". <What I did was to just add it gradually with regular water changes. There's probably no one "best" way to add more sand to an established system, but, in my experience, adding it gradually has been the least disruptive method> Tank has been up and running for about 5 months now. I believe most would consider it a high bio-load, but nitrates have been dropping in the past month to undetectable levels and everyone seems very healthy and happy. <Those deep sand beds really work!> Specs: 55g, 60lbs LR, 3"+ fine aragonite bed (as of today) Red Sea Berlin HOT w/ Rio 2500(i know...I know...will upgrade when I add a refugium, although it does produce daily skimmate. <If its producing daily- I wouldn't knock that!> But I will ask about the tiny shrimp(?) I found living in it at a later date) <Maybe Mysis? That's a good thing!> Emperor 400 with 1 bio-wheel and both media containers modified to hold bulk mechanical filter material and TMC carbon (the Emperor will also go away after refugium is up and running for a month), 2 Rio 800's for water movement, Pro-Heat 2 titanium 150w heater, and 260w of CSL PowerCompact lighting(2 8800K and 2 Actinic) Livestock: 1 Flame Angel, 1 Cinnamon Clown, 1 Royal Gramma Basslet, 3 Firefish Gobys, a peppermint and skunk cleaner shrimp, Blue Tuxedo Urchin, Long tentacle Anemone, sand sifting star and a number of Astreas and hermits. <A nice mix of fish, but I think you should not add any more at this time, as you surmised> Water: sg 1.023, ph 8.3-8.4, temp 79-80, dKH 11, ammonia and nitrites 0 and nitrates are between undetectable to under 5ppm with both my test kits (down from a high of 20 a few months ago), phosphates nearly undetectable with Hagen kit. I know the tank specs are probably not needed for a DSB question, but always looking for pointers to perfect my setup. <Sounds nice- just keep up regular maintenance and you'll enjoy a lively tank for a long time!> Thanks for the help, Emo <Any time, Emo!> btw: once I get a decent picture I will bug you guys about some strange growths in my Emperor and skimmer. They are elongated yellow growths that can grow up to 1/2" and sometimes end up on the bio-wheel. Didn't notice them until I took the skimmer apart for cleaning and noticed them plus a bunch of tiny shrimps(?) in the bottom of the skimmer. Now I found a load in my Emperor last night while doing monthly maintenance. Just a heads up:) <We'll be here!>

DSB and Eel Biotope Hi again! <Hi there! Scott F. here today> I recently spoke to you about setting up a moray eel biotope. I am slowly changing my mind about it. I have been reading much into the newer designs of reef systems. I am just thinking to the future of the tank. I do still want an eel but I may want to expand into full reef down the road. That said, I have two real quick questions: 1) Would a DSB around 4 to 5" be ok for an eel biotope? I am worried they may dig it up and cloud the water. But in the same note I want to build some future into the tank if I go full reef.... <I'm less concerned about extensive digging activities by the eels than I am about the potential for rockwork to collapse. Many eels have been injured and/or killed by unstable rockwork. Do take this into account when designing and assembling this tank> 2) I found a local source for Southdown Tropical play sand. It is very inexpensive and I have heard good things both on your site and many many other forums. Is this a good choice for about 90% of the DSB? I will top it off with a live sand layer to seed. As I mentioned above, will the eel dig it up and destroy its chances of it working for me and will I need to ditch the bioballs if I implement the DSB method? <I think that the Southdown is a fine choice for a deep sand bed. Yes, there is a possibility that the eel will undermine the sand bed with digging...This really depends on the individual eel and its habits. Personally, I would ditch the bioballs if using a DSB. For that matter, I'd ditch the bioballs even if using a substantial amount of live rock. You do need some vigorous circulation and, possibly some supplemental mechanical filtration in this tank, not to mention a very efficient protein skimmer. These fish eat a lot and eliminate large quantities of waste products regularly.> Unfortunately I must cut some corners because I am on a limited budget and my wife will kill me if I spend a ton of money. <Understood!> Would love to go full blown reef but that cost is way out of the picture at this point. Just keep telling her I am taking baby steps! ;) <Well- taking intelligent, well-thought "baby steps" now will certainly pay dividends down the line!> Thanks for any help you can give! Tim <Best of luck to you, Tim! Regards, Scott F.>

Getting familiar with WWM, the Google Search Tool therein, marine set-up hey gang, hope all's well, a quick one for you: if you had a year old established 130g tank, 35g wet/dry, FOWLR tank, 200 pounds of live rock (Fiji, Florida, indo), and a couple tangs, a trigger, wrasse, angel and a lion in it (i know, i know), how would you now go about making a DSB in it? just buy the sand and dump it in? if you could explain to me how to go about this, preferably with what type of Carib-sea sand i should buy and how many pounds or kilo) of it i need, and how long it takes for this to work as a denitrifier so i can toss the rest of my bio balls. thanks for your time as per usual......have a great day....riot.... <Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dsbfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dsbfaq21.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/wetdryfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tricklefaq2.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bioballfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lsfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lsfaqs2.htm Sincerely, Steven Pro>

Clumping sand Anthony, Ughh.  C'mon, buddy, yer killin' me.  I set this tank up in January, so I honestly do not remember (with 100% certainty) which brand I used, but all of the local LFS's carry CaribSea, and I purchased my substrate locally -- and yes, it is medium grade. <indeed... this is a common complaint> Also, my substrate depth is less than 3", <heehee... that's what I get paid the big bucks for <G>. Not a surprise here either> but I CANNOT stand the "ant farm look" of reef tanks with 4" - 5" substrate depths.  I'm sorry, but I find it *very* ugly.   <Your aesthetic preference is valid. If you do not like the look of a DSB then you simply need to find some other way to manage nitrates. No biggie. Which do you hate more... DSB or weekly  water changes (or more)... perhaps less fish... whatever it takes. Its your tank. However, 1-3" sand is not an option IMO. It takes way too much effort to keep from clumping or becoming a nutrient sink. 1-3" sand is not deep enough for denitrification, yet too deep for aerobic faculties. It just sucks in the long run (2+ years). Especially with medium or course grains: Traps a lot of detritus, requires massive water flow in the tank and weekly siphoning of the gravel, so to speak. To other people though, this is of little trouble. Personal preference.> I used 60 lbs. of aragonite in my 75 gallon tank, about 1.5 - 2 inches deep overall. <Ughhh> Why is depth of substrate a possible mitigating factor for this particular problem? <penetration (course grains and not too deep) of spiked water in a low pH environment where fusing can occur more easily (calcite has to hit 7.6 or lower to begin dissolving but aragonite can do so at 8.3!> Would adding 20 lbs. of a another brand or type (fine Fiji pink, for example) help me any? <nope... the grains will settle... might make it worse (no ideal medium for a given faculty to exploit to the fullest> The number of seemingly innocuous pitfalls that this hobby possesses is truly amazing. <very well stated my friend> Anyway, one of your statements: "You were dosing slow enough, but perhaps the concentration in the slurry was too rich. It is a simple matter of too much or too fast." was encouraging.  I will work on 'tweaking' my dosing speed and/or concentration.  In the mean time, any thoughts on how to address the substrate *quality* issue would be greatly appreciated; but I won't increase the depth substantially.   <no worries... if you can otherwise control nitrate accumulation, I'd recommend siphoning sand out periodically until you get to no more than 1/2" depth. At this point with good water flow in the tank you will not have to service it much anymore> I apologize for being stubborn on this one point, but I really think that the "ant farm look" is quite unattractive. < no worries at all. We all have our preferences. You might consider an inline bucket full of sand downstream and out of sight for DSB nitrate control if necessary> I am, as always, very grateful for your time and consideration. <our great pleasure> Your fellow hobbyist (with concrete slab substrate), Mark Schwartz <with kind regards, Anthony>

DSB I was inclined to use a deep sand bed until I heard the following horror story: "Yes, I have read Shimek. He should have been there when we recently took down and re-set up a reef tank in a large trading company office with only a 4 inch bed of fine aragonite. The tank had been set up by another company and was wiped out because the company servicing the tank had sent an inexperienced person to clean the tank, and they accidentally stirred up the bottom a little too much. When we arrived, there was no odor, but when we got the water down and started to remove the gravel, the smell was so powerful, they had to close the office and send everybody home because you couldn't open the windows, and two of us got very sick. It smelled like a sewer. You may very well be successful with a DSB as you will not be hands-off and will care for the aquarium better than the clients for whom we manage aquaria." Any thoughts as to whether I should indeed be discouraged? <Nope, I find the story hard to believe. Even if it was true, the "bad" service company may have been doing a whole host of things wrong (incorrect grain size, lack of sand fauna, sand critters predators, overfeeding, lack of nutrient export, etc.) that led to these problems.> If a DSB is the way too go, what is the preferred substrate? <Fine grain size> I see that many people use the Southdown play sand from Home Depot. Why? <Because it is aragonite material and very cheap.> What about just using all Aragamax? <That is fine, too. -Steven Pro>

Sand Bed Depth Sand bed depth...I have only 1/2 inch of crushed coral in the tank, how would you suggest i go about creating a DSB in this tank, can it still be done in an established tank such as this and what would I need to buy and prepare it, thanks again.... <Lots of ways to accomplish this...It is certainly possible to simply add enough live sand to the tank to achieve the desired depth (3 plus inches) all at one time...Other people gradually build up to the desired level. Do read our FAQs on live sand beds, or do a Google search for more information on the topic at the wetwebmedia.com site. Good luck!  Scott F.>

DSB for a 29 gallon: How many bags of sugar-sized sand? Thanks for the quick reply.  I decided to use CaribSea Aragamax Sugar-Sized Sand. <That's what I have in my tank.> It comes in 30 lbs bags.  About how many bags will I need to obtain a 4 inch depth in a 29 gallon?   <It's hard to say. Visually compare the size of the filled sand bag to the overall size of your tank and make a guesstimate. If I were you, I would buy two bags and tell the shop owner you may need to bring one back unused. Most LFS are pretty god about these things as long as there is a clear understanding up-front.> Thanks again.  Mike <You're welcome! David D.>

DSB 29 gallon I am planning on converting my 29 gallon FOWLR aquarium to a reef type aquarium. I would like to replace my current crushed coral substrate to a sand bed. I am considering a DSB, however I cannot decide whether this is practical for this size tank. If it is practical, what depth would you recommend? <DSB stands for Deep Sand Bed, with the deep being the operative word here. Four inches or more is our standard recommendation.> Thanks, Mike <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Sugar sized sand? I have been researching how much it is going to cost me to put a 6" DSB in my 55g, and I am having a little bit of trouble figuring out what I need to get.  All of the LFSs around here, in SE Wisconsin, have pretty high prices compared to the places online so I'm probably going to be ordering my sand online. My issue is this: I am looking for sugar size sand, and most sands that I have seen on websites list their size in mm.  I have seen mixes with sizes of .18mm-1.2mm and 1mm-4mm.  What size in mm would you recommend/consider to be sugar size? Thanks- Luke <Hi Luke, shipping sand may also become quite expensive, 6in is good, 4-5in would work as well.  It has been a while since i last tried to measure sugar, but if you stay under 2mm you should be in good shape.  This is a pretty popular topic, lots of FAQs http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dsbfaqs.htm>

Southdown DSB and Eel Biotope Hey guys! I am back with a couple more questions. And by the way, thanks for the help in the past and the awesome site! <our pleasure> I recently asked about setting up an eel biotope in my 125 Gal. Would it be wise to go with a DSB for possible future grow into a reef tank when I get more cash? I am worried that the eel will dig to much and destroy and stir up the sand bed. <few if any eels will damage the infauna of the sand... just an occasional clouding of the water from scavenging activities/prowling> Is there anything I can do to avoid this? <a little bit of coarse sand on the top layer (no more than 1/4 needed)> Oh, and I found a Home Depot in my area that regularly stocks South Down Tropical sand ;) Actually the Cimex plant that makes it is in Easton, PA and I live 30 minutes outside Easton. <very cool> The other question I have is on interior decoration. I want to go with a similar look as the tank on the aquascaping section of your site: (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/aquascaping.htm). I like the look of the dim light peaking through and the dark brown stone. Where would I acquire dark live rock or rock in general that is like that and still safe for a marine tank? <hmmm... not quite sure, although many folks have used black lava with little concern other than a possible flare of algae from imparted elements of the lava> I am not interested in reef at this point and want the tank to look as natural as possible and still look menacing and creepy. Any ideas there? <yep... you should have seen the eel display I did in my last shop. I described the basics of it in my Book of Coral Propagation in the front chapter on concept aquariums/systems. The gist of it was a subterranean plumbing system with clear tubes siliconed below the sand and against the front glass to see the eel swimming down below. The tank above the DSB had no rock or anything on the sand proper short of a little bit of rubble around the mouth of each hole in the sand where the tubes met the sand surface and the eels popped up. However, there were two stalactites of rock coming down from the ceiling (live rock below water, dry rock above with air plants cultured on them). The peaks of these hanging pillars dipped down into the tank almost to the sand bottom (the eel loved to slither throughout this rockwork when it wasn't hiding below). Just below each Stalactite in the sand I sealed a large PVC collar into the sand to the glass bottom (at the same height as the sand bed so it wasn't too obvious of a well). From underneath the tank, spotlights were shone up through these light wells up the length of the rock pillars and the eel would lay his face over the well with the light shining up around to catch the warm radiating water! An awesome sight> Thanks again! You guys rock, glad I found this site..... Tim Turner, Reading, PA <How close is Reading to Lancaster? I'll be there with Steve Pro perhaps in April for That Fish Places anniversary sale. Say Hi! if you are close. Best regards, Anthony>

DSB substrate question Good morning (or maybe noon, if you're east coast), <It is now the afternoon here.> I'm building a DIY refugium with a DSB. I've seen you recommend Home Depot Southdown sand before. I went to my local Home Depot and they did not have anything by that label, but they did have "playground sand." It was sugar-fine, composed of crushed marble, taken from calcite ore. <You do not want calcite. It does not dissolve nearly as well as aragonite. There was a very good article in the October 2002 issue of Tropical Fish Hobbyist by James Fatherree discussing the differences.> It was labeled as over 99% silicate free. Is this essentially the same thing as Southdown? <It does not sound like it.> Would this work for a DSB or should I consign myself to the high prices of my LFS? <I would continue to search for a better product. There are several online vendors now selling Southdown like sand. I would also ask a local marine aquarium society. They could probably direct you to someone that sells Southdown or a similar product.> Thanks for your counsel, John <Good luck! -Steven Pro>

DSB substrate question Good morning (or maybe noon, if you're east coast), <Ahh Hi John, West Coast, a fine sunny morning!> I'm building a DIY refugium with a DSB. I've seen you recommend Home Depot Southdown sand before. I went to my local Home Depot and they did not have anything by that label...but they did have "playground sand." It was sugar-fine, composed of crushed marble, taken from calcite ore. It was labeled as over 99% silicate free. Is this essentially the same thing as Southdown?  <Hmm, don't know if this is crushed marble or coral? There are several versions from Southdown of Caribbean aragonite sand. Some is labeled "Southdown Plays and" and some "Playwright play sand". You are looking for Caribbean aragonite, "mined" from the Caribbean. Also, look in the Garden Dept, not the concrete dept where they will send you for sand. If the bag is from Southdown (on the back label) you can confirm the contents by calling Southdown at (800) 526-1753.>  Would this work for a DSB or should I consign myself to the high prices of my LFS? Thanks for your counsel, John <Yes. It will work fine. You may also seed it with "live" sand from your LFS or LR. Go for it, we can't get it out here! Craig>

Deep sand bed Hi, This is a follow up to a previous question about partitioning a corner of my tank (60" L x 18" W x 24" D) for deep sand bed and planting, whereas the remaining will be a thin layer of crushed coral on undergravel filter of height 1.5 inch with strong water circulation to remove debris trapped under through overhead filters. <I would not recommend doing this. The undergravel is a maintenance headache. I would urge you to reconsider and use a DSB or shallow layer of sand throughout.> There are two more external biological filters (a Eheim 2229 and a Fluval canister). I will put 150 lb of live rock on top of the coral. The tank is intended for fish. My questions are: 1. I just wonder what depth of DSB is optimal, is it the deeper the better even to the extent of 8-10 in? <After 8 inches you are not getting that much more out of it. 4-6" is my recommendation.> How about the surface area (your recommendation please)? <The whole tank> Can depth compensate for area? <Not totally> 2. Would a Remora skimmer be useful, I really struggled with space? <Yes> 3. Any concerns you can see about the set-up? <Mentioned above> Regards, TFChow <Best of luck to you! -Steven Pro>

Deep sand bed Dear Bob, I learn a lot from your website. <good to hear, my friend> I am rebuilding a 60 inch (100 gal) tank for marine fish only and intend to partition an 8 inch compartment to establish a deep sand bed on top of which I want to grow some plant for fish-food,  <my recommendation is anything but Caulerpa here> decoration and nitrate absorption as well. Water will be in- flowed to the compartment from a mechanical filter atop the tank and out-flowed to external biological/canister filters (see below) My tank is equipped with skimmer, 1 x Eheim wet and dry filter & 1 x Fluval filter for biological filtration. I will also install undergravel filter covered with coral pieces for decoration. The intention is to trap wastes at bottom of tank for removal through mechanical filters. <will require strong water flow here> Your advice pls if the system will work, or any suggestion from your to improve the set-up. Due to physical constraints, I could not build a under-tank sump. Regards TFChow <unless you plan to have a lot of fishes, it seems to me that you would benefit from more live rock (2lbs per gallon) and less manmade filtration (for nitrate minimization). Do maintain strong water flow and daily skimmate production. Best regards, Anthony>

Re: Deep sand bed Dear Anthony, Thanks for your advice again. I just came across articles about the combination of tribased pelletized carbon and "right now" bacteria as a fast means for denitrification. What's experience or views about this? <the industry has seen many such products with miracle claims for more than 20 years... <<Longer than this... RMF>> one hasn't panned out yet. The very nature of denitrification in an anoxic environment cannot be bottled, liquefied or pelletized. I'd be very surprised if they work if this is their claim. Quite frankly... DSB is so simple, effective and proven (not to mention inexpensive!) I have no desire to pursue another method currently. DSB is my strong advice for denitrification> Regards TFChow <best regards, Anthony>

Re: Deep sand bed Dear Anthony, Thanks for your prompt reply. <a pleasure, my friend> I'll like to have live rocks. But would it require more stringent temperature control?  <no more than for fishes... under 27C/82F would be ideal> I live in Hong Kong and it is damn hot in summer. Temperature on hot days could range from 27-28 degrees Celsius overnight to 33-34 degrees in the afternoon.  <wow... the 33-34C is getting too hot for many animals and the swing in temperature between night and day will stress many corals and fishes... hopefully the air-conditioning can keep the temperature at no more than 27-28 all day long> My flat is air-conditioned generally for 12 hours a day when there are people in.  <be careful of temperature fluctuations in the tank... many fishes will not survive the stress for many months. Parasites will be common> Also, would live rock tank more conducive to fish diseases such as white spots? <Actually... liverock reduces parasites> Assuming I place live rocks as advised by you, what's a ball park figure of medium size fishes I can keep. <more fishes if the tank is long instead of tall. But 4-6 fishes of medium adult size will be fine with good filtration (maximum adult size of 15cm/6")> Regards TFChow <kindly, Anthony>

DSB & lightly stocked FOWLR tank Hi guys/gals- <<And hello to you, JasonC here at your service.>> I was hoping you could answer a question or two for me. After I give you the specs. <<Shoot...>> I am in the process of upgrading from a 4 year old 55 FO tank into a 125 FOWLR tank w/ 40 gal refugium and 20 gal sump. The "gang" consists of: 1- 6" Naso tang 1- 4" Regal Blue Tang 1- 4" Sailfin Tang 1- 4" Yellow Tang assorted 1"ish original set-up damsels 1- arrow crab - 55gal FO "clean up crew" from F.F.E. (lots of crabs and snails) - 130lbs of live rock Equipment for new 125 FOWLR: -Berlin Turbo Classic skimmer -2 - Mag12 pumps for circulation -500w of compacts- 6x65 8000k daylights and 2x55 actinic blue I was planning on some sand and Caulerpa of some sort for the refugium. <<Any chance I can encourage you to try another macro algae besides Caulerpa? There are some other, more predictable options.>> Would this amount of livestock be ok for a DSB of 4-5"? Or should I go with the 1" or less idea in the main tank and have a DSB in the 39gal refugium? <<Yes, 4-5" would make a good sand bed, but an extra inch would help. You won't be able to accomplish an equivalent DSB in the refugium compared to the 125 because of the reduced surface area. If it were me, I would put a DSB in each.>> It sounds like the livestock will eat much of the cool stuff off of the live rock so I was considering having some of the live rock and the DSB in the refugium and skip the Caulerpa. <<Or you can rotate rock between the two so that you can offer that army of tangs something fresh and new every so often. Picking algae from the rockwork is what these fish do constantly in the wild - constantly. If you want to have showcase tangs, I'd do my best to offer them something as close to natural as possible.>> The refugium is mounted underneath the main tank and will be a display tank also. So I was hoping I could keep some of the live rock full of "life". <<Think about moving rock between the two systems - I think this would take you a long way.>> I have an extra Magnum 350 canister filter. Could it be useful somehow with the new tank? Maybe for calcium or something? <<For calcium? Heavens no... I'd use one as a substrate cleaner, or perhaps a ways to run activated carbon on the system... that's about it or perhaps EBay fodder.>> Thank you again. All of you are making me feel much more at ease about the upgrade. <<Glad we can be of service.>> Dennis <<Cheers, J -- >>

Bed of sand, adding DSB Anthony Calfo I am going to change to a deep sand bed in my 180 ga reef tank, the tank is 6 foot long I would be doing it 2 foot at the time. You have not said if the live rock is to be moved to one side of the tank while doing this? RGibson <Cheers, Ralph. I personally would never add deep sand incrementally for many reasons... not the least of which is repetitive stress on the animals from an inevitable milking of the tank after each shot of sand. At any rate... I would have plenty of tubs and plastic barrels handy... have the fine sand presoaked (freshwater is fine) and ready... use a large pump to drain the display completely (moving water to the barrels and livestock to the tubs), put the deep sand in and fill the tank right quickly again. It is the most direct approach IMO. Kind regards, Anthony>

Brittle Star, freshwater/marine algae, euryhaline sea minkees Hi, Bob and experts, <<And hello to you...>> I just brought two brittle stars and I would like to know whether is it safe to keep in a DSB ? One is a Banded Serpent Star (Ophiolepis superba) and one is normal brittle star (Ophiocoma sp). Both are about 3-4 inch big. <<As long as they aren't green brittle stars [these can be predatory] you should be all set. These seastars really don't do much below the surface of the sandbed.>> 2. Just curious to know whether a fresh water algae (seaweed) is able to grow in salt water ? <<No, I don't think so... different osmotic balance required in cell walls, etc.>> 3. One last thing, I planning to keep brine shrimp. Wonder I will stay alive in saltwater? <<You mean like Sea Monkeys? No, they need true brine.>> and if yes, can I add those stuff into my reef tank after it hatched? <<You could add it like food, but I wouldn't add these as inhabitants. The resulting die-off could spell disaster.>> Thanks Regards Danny <<Cheers, J -- >>

Trapping crabs/DSB in Sump Hello there again, <<hello back...>> Thanx for the info on the Kole Tang eating habits question (re: eating fish poop). I feel relieved that it's OK for it to be doing this. My current question is on trapping unidentified crabs. I didn't take time to identify these crabs, but I have seen at least two light brown/tan colored crabs, with bristle-like/short hair covering most of their bodies. I want to trap them and move them to my 10 gallon for now, until I get a chance to trade them in at my LFS. I plan on getting some soft corals over the next year. I read about a fish trap consisting of an empty soda bottle with the tip cut off and the neck inverted into the body. Will this work for crabs too? <<I think so, yes.>> I haven't seen any DIY taps for crabs on the web, but I only went to two sites, suggested by the OZ's Reef website. If not, can you suggest a better way of trapping these suckers? <<Not really - crabs are suckers for stinky treats so you should have no difficulties with the soda bottle trap.>> Eventually, I'll remove the hermits, and replace with more snails. Also, I was thinking about putting 4 inches or so of aragonite sand into my sump after I take out the bio-balls to make a DSB and help reduce nitrates. Any thoughts? <<Create a plan that will perhaps allow you to run without the sump for 24 to 48 hours so that you don't cloud up the main system when adding the sand bed.>> Nitrates are currently <10 ppm, and I have about 55lbs of live rock in a 55 gallon tank. I would actually put it right under the box where the bio-balls are currently in and where the water drips down to, and use a separator to prevent sand from going into my main pump and skimmer pump. <<Hmm... that part sounds a little dodgy, only because you'd end up with a lot of sand in suspension - constantly stirred up by in the incoming water. You might want to re-think that part.>> Thanx a bunch, Randy M. Yniguez, MA <<Cheers, J -- >>

Bubbles in sand Yeah, that was strange. My tank is back on track since the big water change. I'm having a minor diatom bloom that I think may be a result of some previous die-off from the alk spike, skimmer's working overtime. Anyway, here's my question... I'm seeing a lot of gas bubbles trapped in the upper inch of my substrate.  <visible through the front pane of glass only (normal...oxygen from light entering the glass there) or throughout the entire sandbed?> I've got 5-6",  <excellent> but bubbles are only in the top inch. it looks like they're being trapped by the diatoms settling through and on the surface layer of the substrate to about an inch where the bubbles stop. is this nitrogen?  <just as likely O2... but still... one should have enough water movement, detritivores, aggressive skimming, etc so that nuisance or mat alga do not form or stay long on the sand... if this is not corrected within a week or so do consider what could allow the continued growth> is it ok?  <either way, likely yes... and not at all uncommon. All assuming and starting with you having very string water movement above the sand> should I add more sand sifters to stir it up and release the bubbles?  <possible yes... starfish are very fine by me. A single "white Linckia" (sand-burrowing star) might easily do the trick> I'm only concerned cause I've heard bad stories about DSB and hydrogen sulfide. <all bunk stories... flawed designs. Well maintained DSB can go for years untold. All depends on above proper maintenance of good sand depth, strong water flow to keep detritus in suspension and a good skimmer to take it out... just like in the sea. Dynamic niches have beautiful white sand... stagnant lagoons have algae cess pools> thanks so much for your help. <best regards, Anthony>

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