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FAQs about Deep Sand Beds 7

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 2, DSBs 3, DSBs 4, DSBs 5, DSBs 6, DSBs 8, DSBs 9, DSBs 10, & 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,

DSBed move     10/4/13
Hey guys, I hope all is well. Quick question. I'm moving/upgrading in a couple days, and I want to transfer my sump with a 16x14 inch deep sand bed to the new tank. It's only been used for about 4 months. If I'm careful not to disturb it much and keep it wet, will I run into any big problems? The total time for the move is estimated to be 2-3 hours. Thank you for the help. P.s. it is about 4 1/2 inches deep. Take care.
<Due to its new-ness and the short duration in transit you should be okay here John. I would keep just enough water in the sump to be over the substrate. Bob Fenner>
Re: Dsb move

Awesome, thanks again Mr. Fenner, your help is much appreciated
<Certainly welcome. BobF>

DSB       3/7/13
Hello WWM Crew,
Having poured over your site on the topics of DSB, I feel that I am finally getting up to speed for the most part on DSB.  I wrote about 6 weeks ago about a "new" nitrate problem that I couldn't resolve. (Yikes high, over 100) After researching your site, I felt it was my sump (Tidepool), at least in part and Bob agreed.
<Yes; I recall>
Following his suggestions, I removed the wheel then ultimately the entire unit and swapped it for a Eshopps R-200 refugium. Due to size considerations, this was the largest unit I could fit. My "fuge" area is now 10 x 13 1/2.  (the entire unit is 36 x 14 x 16, substantially larger then the Tidepool). I run a Reef Dynamics skimmer in the sump.  When I went to my LFS to buy sand for the DSB, they were aghast that I would do that...gave me all the warnings of killing everything etc.
They convinced me to go with just Chaeto macro algae for now on alternating light schedule.  So, feeling a light in the knowledge dept, I went home and spent a week or so learning about DSB before I make my move.  So here it is...the scenario or question. 5 year old 90G reef, Sump with approx 25 gallons of working water. Return pump is running at apporx 1200 g/hr.. I also have two Tunze Turbelles running at approx 1700 G/h. So my total pump volume is approx 5,000 g/hr (too low??).
 I can't adjust this flow rate much right now from my sump, will this be too much/little for a DSB, since I read multiple times that they enjoy a low flow rate?
<Will also be fine; just not "more efficient" for the extra flow>
 Also,  Knowing my new Chaeto likes to tumble, I can add a small power head to tumble it.
<Likely unnecessary, as you'll find>
 In the display tank, Will Chaeto over the DSB be a problem?
<Not a problem>
From your postings, I don't think so, but again we're dealing with 2 flow rate issues.  My sand bed in the display is between 1.5 and 3 inches with about 70 lbs live rock. It would appear to be your "medium sized grain" of aragonite, not too fine.  I have since learned about the "life" of my sand, and realize this is less than what I started with. I have a medium bio-load 7 small fish, some soft's/zoo's/star polyps and one medium sized Torch Coral. I think I came to realize that my display sand bed is in the danger zone of being a nutrient trap and the other part of my NO3 spike.
<Could well be a contributor>
 The main point of question, will a DSB (properly constructed) in my limited space be enough to give me NO3 relief?
<I'd bet w/ ten to one or better odds>
 Without converting my display tank into a sand tank, I intend on being far more aggressive with sand maintenance up top, which will also help. If you think it may help, I can "clean" my current sand bed buy siphoning off some detritus and adding some fine sand, but again, I don't want to alter the aesthetics too much if possible. The never ending balance between cost/aesthetics and function once again rears its head.  Thanks again, you guys are great! Brett
<Thank you for sharing... I sense the energy and opening awareness in you.
Bob Fenner>

Establishing a working deep sand bed - 01/27/2013
I have a question on establishing deep sand beds in a marine aquarium. I watched an instructive video last night in which a sterile 4 inch deep fine sand bed using 1 -- 2 mm particles was put to life with the addition of live rock in a newly established aquarium.
<Easily done>
In less than one week, the life from the rock moved into the vacant neighborhood of the sand bed. Life was in form of bacteria that established itself in the different layers with aerobic bacteria on top and anaerobic bacteria at the base that was already forming bubbles breaking down nitrates.
Detritivores also moved into the neighborhood, various worms, and smaller life forms that are essential in turning over the sand bed. From what I have read, the sand can be turned over 5 times in 24 hours. In the setting the sand bed never had to be touched.
<Good to at least stir occasionally. See WWM re DSB maintenance>
No cleaning, no
stirring is needed, and the ecosystem takes care of itself. No rubbish algae collected on top as the sand ecosystem dealt with this. The quality live rock is what made this happen, turning a sterile sand bed, into a dynamic biological filter.
<In an ideal world; yes. There are (still) some insoluble materials to contend with, that accumulate... better to vac these out on a periodic basis>
This is something I have not been successful in the past with marine aquariums I have had in the past. I live in New Zealand, and live rock is not available. It is simply not allowed into the country. The closest you will get to some of ecology needed in a deep sand bed, are some hitch hikers on fragments of corals.
<These are useful as well>
I have had a few bristle worms and tube worms (setting up camp in the pumps). I constantly spent time siphoning off rubbish on my 4 inch sand bed of 2 mm crushed marble,
<Not a favored substrate for a few (stated on WWM) reasons>

despite zero levels of nitrate nitrite ammonia and phosphate. It is the reason I eventually gave up on the hobby.
I live in Northern New Zealand, 35 degrees south, and am surrounded by miles of white sandy beaches and coastal mangrove swamps. The mud in mangrove swamps is rather rich in all sorts of life, and from what I read 10 billion bacteria per teaspoon of mud. Any life there has to be tolerant of full salinity next to the beach, and wide temperature fluctuations. It is not the same ecosystem as a coral reef of course.
<It is close... proximal enough>
After this preamble, the question here is, whether there has been any success in just adding mangrove mud and perhaps sand from tidal pools at the beach, to a sterile sand bed in a newly set up aquarium. Would this import beneficial bacteria, and just as importantly, a working detritivore colony to continuously turn over the sand as effectively as those imported from live rock?
<I do think it would, will. There may be some non-measurable risk of introducing undesirable life forms, but I would gladly take this gamble>
All the Best from Michael Lomb
<Cheers, Bob Fenner, closer to you than home currently> 

deep sand bed in sump... No reading, using WWM   /BobF     – 11/20/12
<We ask that people, in the instructions on writing us, limit their attachments to a few hundred Kbytes... yours are some 8 Megs... Why?>
How are you doing? i need some advise <advice> on deep sand bed in sump.
I have done some reading on the dsb for marine tank. some say is an old traditional way of reducing nitrate.
some reefer find it effective.
<... have you searched, read on WWM re? Again, not following our SOP... This is gone over and over...>
Most of the experience reefer rather do without dsb on the main tank and only grow cheato with bare bottom in sump.
<Not so; most folks have/use substrates>
is it true that dsb is the nitrate factory and will explode after a long while?
<... No>
What is your view for DSB in sump?
<Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm
and the linked files above>
the above photo is my current sump.
I have plenty of live rock, bio homme, bio king and a compartment with some cheato.
<Algae that goes "crunch"? It's Chaeto...>
As my friend will be decom his tank soon, he will be giving me his live sand and live rock to me.
I plan to remove the middle compartment of Bio King and replace by DSB of 6 ".do you think it will work?
<Better than what you presently have>
 do i need to wash the sand when i receive from my friend with my tank water?
<Maybe... if it's "very dirty">
What is your advise? or do you think my current sump is ok and maybe just to add in more live rock?
<Keep reading>
currently i am only housing  all LPS and tangs.  As i plan to better manage my nitrate and PO4 so i can add in some SPS in future.
I have no intention to run any bio-pellets or PhosBan equipment.
<I wouldn't either>
hear from you soon.
thank you once again.
<Please learn to/use WWM as it's intended. Bob Fenner>
Deep Sand Bed In Sump? Sure!    /EricR     – 11/20/12

<<Hello Leslie>>
How are you doing?
<<Fine thanks>>
I need some advice on deep sand bed in sump.
I have done some reading on the DSB for marine tank. Some say is an old traditional way of reducing nitrate. Some reefers find it effective.
<<I am a fan>>
Most of the experience reefer rather do without DSB on the main tank
<<Indeed… Although a fan of the methodology as expressed, I do find just a couple inches or less of substrate to be more aesthetically pleasing. I do have a DSB in my 55g refugium…and until about a year ago I had a 6-8 inch fine Aragonite DSB in my 96x30x30 display tank>>
and only grow chaeto with bare bottom in sump.
<<I employ Chaetomorpha in my refugium over the DSB>>
Is it true that DSB is the nitrate factory and will explode after a long while?
<<Not in my experience, no. I’ve had the DSB in my sump for 9 years, and had one in my display for 8 years…removed only for reasons of aesthetics (and to give my fishes more swimming room!)>>
What is your view for DSB in sump?
<<I think a DSB of fine Aragonite material is a useful adjunct to any filtration system>>
The above photo is my current sump. I have plenty of live rock, bio homme, bio king and a compartment with some Chaeto.
<<I see this>>
As my friend will be decommissioning his tank soon, he will be giving me his live sand and live rock to me. I plan to remove the middle compartment of Bio King and replace by DSB of 6". Do you think it will work?
<<Sure… But do be sure to keep using the/a skimmer…preferably in the first compartment receiving raw water from the display>>
Do I need to wash the sand when I receive from my friend with my tank water?
<<I would try to remove any trapped detritus, yes. But do also save off a few cups of sand “before washing” to use as a starter culture of the fauna re>>
What is your advice?
<<You have it>>
Or do you think my current sump is ok and maybe just to add in more live rock?
<<Is up to you…but the addition of the sand won’t hurt, and at the least will provide another matrix for cultivation of beneficial biota>>
Currently I am only housing all LPS and tangs. As I plan to better manage my nitrate and PO4 so I can add in some SPS in future.
<<Okay…though do consider they too require “some” measurable quantities of both>>
I have no intention to run any bio-pellets or Phosban equipment.
<<I have not been pleased with results from utilizing bio-pellets; mainly due to poor reactor design re…but because I feed my tank very heavily I do utilize a small amount of GFO to help keep PO4 “manageable”>>
Hear from you soon.
<<How about now!>>
Thank you once again.
<<Happy to share>>
<<And to you in kind… Eric Russell>>

Final Questions on Remote DSB Plan for a 220 Gallon Reef Tank 4/15/12
Hi everyone,
<Hello Bryan>
Longtime reader with my first question! I have really tried to do my homework by reading on here, as well as reading Coral Propagation and Reef Invertebrates several times. Love them both! Anyway, I've been planning my RDSB for some time now and want to run my plan by for feedback as well as a few final clarifications.
System: A 220 gallon display with about 200lbs of live rock, a 75 gallon sump with skimmer and Chaetomorpha (sp), a 15 gallon fuge/holding tank.
DSB Goal: primary purpose is for NNR (Nitrate Reduction). But as you'll see I'd like to add Invertebrate (i.e. - zooplankton) Culture and possible macro algae.
So I'd like to keep nitrates down to zero if possible.
<Best to have a small amount with corals and clams.>
My plan is/was to use a 100 gallon Rubbermaid stock tank filled with sand, at least 6 inches, maybe more. 
I know the DSB should be at least 6" deep, but I'm thinking there's no limit to how deep? I.e. -The deeper the better?
<I would go no deeper than 6 inches.>
I was going to put like 12-18" inches of sand in the bottom of this huge 100g Rubbermaid stock tank. And then the rest place some live rock/rubble and then top it off with Chaeto and a light.
<I believe it would be more effective without the rock on it.>
Then the more I read I thought I should split the two goals (NNR and Invert/Macroalgae production) into two vessels.
1) For NNR I should fill the holding tank all the way to the top (i.e. - RDSB in a bucket), keep it completely dark, and then have the top 10cm or so flowing fast with water to keep particulate settling down. 
2) Then, find some other vessels for invertebrate and macro algae culturing.
<Just use your 15 gallon fuge for this or bump it up a little on gallon capacity.>
How large for my sized tank? I was thinking of a 75/100 gallon glass tank, or maybe several 20g plumbed together (I have the space, for the most part).
<Plumbing nightmare, better to use one tank.>
Or, should I switch the use, use the 100g Rubbermaid for the invert prop and plumb several 20g tanks as RDBS?
Sorry if I'm over thinking this but I'm big on planning, especially something this important!
Finally, I've read a lot on the use of sand, esp. A. Calfo's breakdown. 
Ideally I'd fill the NNR vesicle with sugar sized -Oolitic sand.
For the other DSB, I've seen Anthony say silica based sand is ok, good b/c its inexpensive, bad b/c of the shape of the sand.
My question is: I've always heard silica-based sand propagates Phosphate (PO4) and never to use it? I would love to fill up one of the vessels (or both) with play sand from a big box store but they all say "contains silicates".  Would really make my operation cost effective but I would never take the risk just to save a few $$$.
<Silicates can cause diatom blooms.  I wouldn't use.>
So, based on my primary and secondary goals, equipment and space available, have I missed anything?
<Yes, aquarium technology has advanced to a degree where there are better methods and less problematic than DSBs to control nitrates.  Carbon dosing and nitrate reactors are the two primary ones.  Do check into this.
Thanks in advance!
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>
Bryan Heron

High nitrate reduction... but so quickly??/Nitrate Control/DSBs 12/13/11
Dear Crew,
  Once again I must beseech you for help with an anomaly that I have experienced. About 3 weeks ago I added an 8" DSB into a 15"x15" section of my sump to help battle high nitrates. On Friday evening I did a test and got a reading of about 40ppm. I wanted to get that resolved, but it was later on and the children needed tending to, so I resolved to doing it first thing Saturday morning. I wanted to verify my reading so Saturday I did the test again and got about the same results. Unfortunately I got called away for some family stuff, and was never able to get my water change done for the rest of the weekend. Today I went to check the readings again, as I was somewhat worried as to what they  would be, but they read about 5ppm?!? I rinsed the tube out and rechecked two more times, and go the same result each time. I only had the one test kit (API) and so I couldn't verify it against another test kit to make sure it was reading right. The only other major change I made to the system was finally getting to hang my 2x250w metal halides (Yah scratch and dent LumenMax reflectors for $40), and removing the glass tops, replacing them with fluorescent egg crate diffusers.
I have them hanging 24" above the tank right now, as I went from 4x39w T5s.so it was just a little bit of a difference. But I am sure the coral appreciated it. Hehe. Everything in the tank has been reacting just fine to the light change, except some mushroom corals on the top of the tank that needed some shade. Sorry, got a bit off topic there. Back to the Nitrates.
To me it seems that such a drop in a short amount of time is just weird, and I can scarcely believe it. Nothing I have seen in the hobby seems to happen "over night" (except tank crashes.lol), especially when dealing with water parameters. Could it be the sand bed is catching up quicker than I expected?
Is it normal to see such a shift so quickly? I don't have any algae in the tank other than Chaeto in the sump that is lit for 12 hours a night.
Perhaps the combination of DSB starting to mature, with export from the Chaeto?
<If the sand bed was alive, there is a possibility this could happen but it would be unusual for this to occur in such a short time.>
I want to get another test kit to see if I get the same results, but I figured I would ask and see if this is a normal occurrence, or perhaps verify my kit might be bad. The test kit is only a few weeks old and is from July 2011according to the lot number, so I assume they shouldn't be expired.
Unfortunately, the LFS was out of the Salifert kits at the time, and API was my only option. Well Crew, what do you think? Please help me out here.
<Unless Salifert has modified their Nitrate Kit, I personally do not like this particular kit.
The test sample is much too small to read accurately.  You might want to look at the new Red Sea Pro series nitrate kit.  Informational video can be found here.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mf7jXkNBmX8.   Do keep us updated.>
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

RDSB Advice - Calfo's Technique 11/3/11
Anthony Calfo,
Just wanted to say thanks for your help by posting information about the RDSB on various websites. I am currently running a 32 gallon brute filled about 70% with oolite sand (fed by a Maxijet 1200), for my 125 gallon display, although I am not sure if an increase in flow is needed.
There is no detritus accumulation - there is a sock beforehand. I was simply curious if more flow would be better - say a Mag 6 instead. Or does flow not matter so long as no waste builds up in the RDSB?
<Adrian, Anthony has not been with us for quite some time. He can be reached at
readingtrees@yahoo.com . James (Salty Dog)>
RDSB Advice - Calfo's Technique 11/7/11

> Anthony Calfo,
> Just wanted to say thanks for your help by posting information about
> the RDSB on various websites. I am currently running a 32 gallon
> brute filled about 70% with oolite sand (fed by a Maxijet 1200), for my 125
> gallon display, although I am not sure if an increase in flow is needed.
> There is no detritus accumulation - there is a sock beforehand. I was
> simply curious if more flow would be better - say a Mag 6 instead. Or
> does flow not matter so long as no waste builds up in the RDSB?
> <Adrian, Anthony has not been with us for quite some time. He can be reached at
> readingtrees@yahoo.com. James (Salty Dog)>
> Regards,
> Adrian
Thanks James - although no response from him - would you care to give advice?
<Adrian, I'm not familiar with Anthony's RDSB so I cannot comment other than suggest a flow rate of at least 350gph. Have you seen this?
James (Salty Dog)>
Re RDSB Advice - Calfo's Technique 11/8/11

That is a great article. I have read it yes, however I am unable to find any information about the flow (other than keeping it fast enough to not allow detritus to settle) when you are using a filter sock beforehand. In my case, there is no chance that detritus can settle, so I am unsure of flow or how much water can be above the sand. Many people were not using a pre-filter sponge or a filter sock, and thus had to move the water quickly over the top of the sand, but I have a good 5-7 inches of water above my sand - which is in a Rubbermaid brute bin.
<Sounds like you're on the right track.>
Also, my nitrates are reading about 7, when I thought they would be 0 (as I have 180+lbs of RDSB), although I have a hard time comparing the color charts on Salifert's test kits and then dividing by 10 (low range tests).
<Is better to have a low amount of nitrates present in the system as clams and some corals benefit by this. Yes, the Salifert kit is difficult to read on the low range due to the very small sample being tested. Of all the NO3 kits I've used in the past, the LaMotte kit is the best but is on the pricey side. James (Salty Dog)>
All The Best

FOWLR and DSB (application/efficacy) -- 10/26/11
Hi Folks,
<<Hiya Mike>>
I was hoping you could provide some guidance.
<<Will try>>
I tried searching your site but can't find the answer to my question. First some background. I have a 1500 gal fish only marine aquarium with 25 fish ranging from clowns to a 15 inch Vlamingi tang and a dinner-plate-sized French angel.
<<Very nice!>>
It originally was set up with a wet/dry with two sand-filter pool filters containing plastic bio-media. I am not satisfied with my high nitrates, and I am sure my fish would agree with me.
I started converting the filtration system. Last year I added a 4ft x 6ft x 5in DSB/Refugium.
<<Excellent'¦am a big fan re>>
I removed one of the sand filter containers. I am now starting to add dry rock base rock in the hopes of converting to a FOWLR system so that I can remove the final sand filter and eventually the wet/dry. So far I have added about 120 lbs of rock into the sump (I know, a drop in the bucket).
<<But coupled with the DSB'¦>>
The rule of thumb seems to be to have 1 lb of rock per gallon.
<<Very hard to measure'¦so many variables to consider'¦a 'rule' mostly propagated by those who sell the rock, in my estimation>>
My question is do I need to maintain a similar ratio or does the DSB count for something?
<<The DSB counts for much here>>
I don't think I can fit 1500 lbs of rock in my current sump.
<<Nor do 'I' believe you will need to; I would expect you to be able to get away with considerably less than this>>
And I assume it's not a good idea to stack up rock on the DSB in the refugium.
<<A matter of preference, really'¦I can't say that I have ever noticed a difference in DSB performance either way>>
Any insight you can provide would be greatly appreciated.
<<I have a moderately-heavy stocked 330g reef display which I recently 'redesigned' utilizing the 'negative space' aspect of captive reef design. As such, my display contains only about 60 lbs of live rock'¦supplemented by a sugar-fine substrate of a couple inches in the display but also by a very mature inline 55g lighted vegetable refugium (Chaetomorpha) with 6-inch DSB (also sugar-fine aragonite). It's only been a few weeks, but I've not suffered any deleterious effects to water quality'¦and I feed my tank very well. My point is I think you can get by with much less rock than you believe'¦just how much will take a bit of testing to determine. Were this me; and depending on urgency here, I would add another 180 lbs of dry rock (for a total of 300 lbs) and let this become 'colonized' (throwing in a couple tens of pounds of 'live' rock with the dry rock will speed things along and seed many beneficial organisms). Once the rock is ready (4-5 weeks), I would remove one of the devices mentioned and monitor water quality closely'¦if all is well after 4-5 days, remove the remaining device and continue monitoring. As long as ammonia/nitrate doesn't become an issue, you can then 'play' with the amount of rock to determine how much is needed to give you the desired result. Having a goodly supply of fresh saltwater readily available for water changes/dilution as/if necessary during this process is a good idea. In addition to the DSB and rock, I would suggest throwing some light on a corner of that DSB if possible and adding a large ball of Chaetomorpha, to be harvested periodically as an additional export for nitrogenous products. The Chaetomorpha also provides an excellent matrix for organisms that are of benefit to 'any' marine system>>
<<Happy to share'¦ EricR>>

DSB conversion 10/5/11
I've been doing a lot of reading about DSB on your site. (I love your site btw) I think I have the right idea about what to do, but I was looking for confirmation or correction.
Background: I have a tank that's already established. It's 90 gallons, wheel filter, refugium, protein skimmer, 100 pounds LR, and 1"-2" course sand/shells. I'm having trouble with nitrates and lots of algae. I'm planning on getting a cleaner pack (bunch of snails and hermits) from an online retailer to deal with the algae that's already there.
<I find these packs to be way too much for the sized tank they advertise, go with a small pack or just get what you want and skip the preselected packs.>
I was thinking that a DSB (in combination with the frequent water changes I already do) would help bring down my nitrates.
<That is what DSBs do best.>
The question: First off, with the kind of set up I described, is converting to DSB even worth it?
<Sure assuming you have the appropriate depth and water flow.>
Assuming yes: As I understand it, I can get bags of "sanitized" sand from Home Depot or Lowes for DSB.
<You can but it is better to get aragonite sand which is calcium based and help buffer the tank. This was available at Home Depot at one time, I'm not sure it still is.>
If I take this sand and mix it in a tank with my water change out water, this should be enough to "prep it" for the display tank right?
<Really should not need to do much prep as long as the sand is clean, just add it slowly to the tank and try to limit the sandstorm that will follow.>
Also, I was also thinking about ordering LS to supplement. Should LS be added on top, or mixed in with the Home Depot stuff.
<Added on top, most all the life exists in the first inch or so, mostly just bacteria lower than that.>
Now the tricky part, how to add it. I believe (from other suggestions in the FAQ) that I should add an inch or two every other week until the desired depth is achieved.
<If you already have a substrate with life in it then yes, it gives the critters a chance to move up without being suffocated. The problem with adding sand over crushed coral is with time the crushed coral being less dense tend to move to the surface.>
I could move the LR around and pile up the sand, but this would result in a biweekly redesign and possibly stress out the livestock. I had an idea that would not move the LR around and hopefully have a less detrimental affect. I could use a mix of sand and water (mostly sand) and add it to the tank with a funnel and stiff Tygon tube. This would allow me to strategically add sand around and behind the rocks (making sure there are no critters of course). It would half bury some of the rocks on the bottom, which might look cool, but would also result in "thin" spots in the DSB. Does this idea have merit, or am I being a complete noob?
<Best to keep the rock as close to the glass as possible to avoid rock falls and dead spots in the DSB, unfortunately this usually means burying a fair amount of expensive rock. The other thing you could do is create a PVC framework for your rock so that is sits just above the sand, but this is much more difficult to do in a established tank.>
Thank you in advance,
<If you have not already please read here and related FAQs.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm >

Sand Is So Sandy All The Time <?>/Deep Sand Beds 1/24/11
Hello Bob and friends,
<Hi Josh>
Hope all is going well and your having a good new year.
<Not bad.>
Now to get down to it. I am setting up a new aquarium. Dimensions are 8' x 2' x 5'. The return will be a Reeflo Dart and the closed will be a Reeflo Hammerhead. I have a question on deep sand beds. This will be a Fowlr system and I am not doing corals. My question is how deep can I go. I have read people saying that 4" is deep. Others say 5" and so on up to 8". My question is how deep is the max. Can I go 1'?
<Best to read here.
And FAQs regarding depth here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dsbdepth.htm>
Thanks so much,
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

DSB, Calcium and Alkalinity 12/13/10
Good Morning Crew.
<Hello Sarah, but not a good morning. We have snow up the kazoo, it's 9 degrees out, and I need to blow out the driveway.>
I hope this finds everyone well. I have made it for a year with my 90 gallon saltwater tank learning and having a lot of fun along the way. Not to mention lots of mistakes in stocking. My system itself has worked for me. I'm still using a wet dry filter with skimmer rated for 300 gallons. Have a HOB power filter that I use to add carbon. Should I remove this HOB filter?
<Many hobbyists use these, canister filters, and media reactors as a means of chemical filtration. Why do you want to remove it?>
I know the wet dry is a nitrate factory but I have had luck with keeping them low and don't want to tear down the whole system to switch to my dream system.
<I would remove the bio balls over a period of two weeks if you are using such biological filtration media, it isn't necessary with live rock.>
That will come later. I do water changes of 10 gallons every Friday and also change the pad in the wet dry at that time. After reading about 5% water changes twice a week'¦.well I'm thinking about doing this Tues and Friday. It just sounds easier then what I am doing.
<Twice a week is overkill, once a week is plenty, and my schedule is 10% every two weeks.>
For the last month or so I have seen my Nitrates start to climb. Not high but staying on top of things. So I decide that a deep sand bed would be a good idea. I have 1.5 inches of crushed coral and started to add size zero white sand to the top, on one side. Thing is I added 1.5 to 2 inches on that one side before reading that I should have added ½ of that every two weeks or so. Are my worms, pods and all those good critters I saw going to make it or did I just wipe out ½ my sand bed?
<You should be OK here.>
And this is what is in my tank: Flower Pot Coral that is growing, Bubble Coral, Star Polyps, Pulsing Xenia, Eagle Eye Polyps, Mushrooms that don't fully open and have never looked great. Not sure why or what to do with them at this point. Lantern Bass, Yellow Tang, Bi Color Angel, Hippo Tang, Marron Clown, Sixline Wrasse, Ocellated Dragonet, Pistol and Watchman Goby . Cleaner Shrimp, Snails, Hermit Crabs, Feather Dusters, Urchin and Fighting Conch. Everything looks good and is doing well except the Mushrooms.
<Likely allelopathy issues here. May want to move any corals that are near the mushrooms.>
Here are my numbers'¦.PH 8.2, Ammonia and Nitrite 0, Nitrate 10 not really high but don't want to see it climb,
<Actually 5-10ppm of nitrate is beneficial for many corals and clams. I would not strive to keep it at 0.>
Calcium 440, Phosphate 0.5, just tested kH at 14.
<Too high, I'd try to keep around 7-9dKH.>
I had never tested kH before but decided to do so because I have been using Reef Builder, Reef Complete and Reef Plus in my tank for the last 4 months on the advice of LFS. Corals all are looking good and showing growth accept the mushrooms. Fish are active and have all shown growth as well. Chemistry is frustrating so I try to keep it simple....I was reading your article on understanding Calcium and Alkalinity and see that using Liquid calcium in not a good idea long term and kH being 14 in a little high. So with adding a deep sand bed and continuing to test, should I drop these supplements and switch to Kalkwasser? How do you add it?
<Actually, I'm not a fan of using Kalkwasser, it can create problems with pumps (excessive calcium buildup), and can dangerously raise pH if not dosed properly. What I've been happy with using the last year or so is Tropic Marin's Alka Balance. This product maintains calcium and dKH at acceptable levels, although I do supplement occasionally with a marine buffer. The only other additive I use is magnesium which is an important element to maintain when keeping stony corals.>
I really don't want to add a calcium reactor to this system.
<I don't blame you, the less to mess with, the better.>
You see I have this plan of upgrading this tank but won't be able to for another year or two for what I have planned. So I don't want to put expensive equipment into a system that has been working well without it.
Even though the Liquid supplements are easy to use and seem to work I don't want to see future problems from its use. What are your thoughts?
<Liquid calcium supplements are OK to quickly raise calcium levels, but I would not use long term.>
Thank you and stay well.
<Oh I will and you're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re DSB, Calcium and Alkalinity 12/13/10
<Hello Sarah>
Sorry to hear about your winter wonderland. Honestly I am jealous. Wish you could send it my way.
<I just got in from blowing out a 85'x16' drive. The temp is 9 degrees with a "feel like" of -5. Could you tell me what is so wonderful about that? Where do people get this "winter wonderland" from....must have never experienced it. HAH!>
I do have live rock and have thought about removing the Bio Balls but again the thought of messing with something that is working has stopped me. This is something I have been back and forth with for some time. I know some put live rock in as they remove the Bio Balls. Do you recommend this or leaving the filter empty?
<I'm not saying you need to do this, is entirely up to you. Wet/dry systems using bio balls are a nitrate factory only because the system is so darn efficient at denitrification. As long as your nitrates stay somewhere near 10ppm, as you say, leave well enough alone.>
Would it be possible to store a chocolate chip star fish in there? For harlequins in another tank : )
<Sure, as long as you ensure the starfish doesn't get sucked into the pump intake.>
I'm confused about your water change recommendation. WetWebMedia by Scott Fellman "The Perfect Water Change Regimen". Five percent twice a week.
Good for corals and happier fish.....is this not so?
<Yes, it is so, but I don't feel this is an absolute necessity to maintain a healthy tank providing the tank
is not overstocked, overfed, and an efficient protein skimmer is in use. Mmm, I don't recall you mentioning
the use of one.>
Also have tried to move the mushrooms away from corals but can't seem to find a happy place for them. Maybe its time to find them a new home.
I will check into Tropic Marin's Alka Balance. The less supplements or what ever I'm adding the better.
<Is exactly how I feel about it. It's unbelievable how many additives/products are out there, and all
promising to make your tank a dream system.>
Am I correct that only water changes will lower the alkalinity over time?
<Yes, is the safe way to do this although acid buffers will lower the dKH, and I would advise against
doing this.>
Thanks James, enjoy that snow.
<Grrrrrrrrr! Will NOT enjoy the snow, but you're welcome Sarah. James (Salty Dog)>
Re DSB, Calcium and Alkalinity 12/13/10 - 12/14/10

Back again.
<Hi Sarah>
I have experienced your snow. Lived in the UP for a long time.
Don't see as much as I used to but we still get it. I'm just one of those nuts who love snow.
<Nice to look at, that's all. I live in mid-Michigan and am quite familiar with the amount of snow the UP can get in one winter. UGH!>
Anyway, looking at the Tropic Marin Alca Balance. It is hard to find.
Looks like I would have to order it.
<Yes, much cheaper that way as well.>
It is supposed to keep Alkalinity at 6 to 9 and Calcium at a natural level?
<Yes, providing your tank is not overstocked and/or produces an excessive amount of acids such as uneaten food, nitrates, etc.>
That's about 420 correct?
<Well, that all depends on the dosing level, something you will need to monitor for a while until you
reach a happy medium, but I would try to maintain 380-400ppm. I'd start with the recommended dose and test weekly. You may have to increase or decrease the dose depending on your test results. Do ensure you magnesium levels are maintained. Briefly, calcium loving inverts need this to be able to absorb the calcium that is available to them.>
From all the reading I have done we should keep dKH at 9 to 12. Sea Water is 7 to 9.
So which is better and why? Should there be a reserve in our aquariums?
<In heavily/moderately stocked fish only systems, I would strive to keep dKH levels at 9-10 for a better reserve as pH swings can more easily occur in these type systems. In well maintained reef systems with a low to moderate fish load, 6-7 dKH is much better as it helps prevent calcium precipitation and creates a balance more akin to what is found on the reefs. I had asked Lou Ekus/Tropic Marin about this product as to maintaining dKH/calcium levels and I will post his reply here.
"Hi James, sounds like you're right on track here <as to the use of ALKA-Balance as the sole means of maintaining Ca/dKH>. The thing about the ALKA-Balance is that it will 'lower' dKH in time. I'm not sure that continued use of it as the only Ca source would 'maintain' a dKH of 7. Using it will certainly help take a high dKH and bring it down to that range, but 'overuse' might lower the dKH to the range you're in. It sounds like your plan is perfect. However, I would keep an eye on my dKH after going back to use it to see if it continues to drop. If it does, I would alternate doses with Bio-Calcium to help maintain that dKH around 7. Let me know how you make out.
Oh, keep an eye on that Ca level. Letting it get up to 550 will just cause you headaches!
Best regards,
Lou Ekus
Director of US Operations
Tropic Marin"
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog) >

Deep Sand Bed Setup 9/20/10
Hi Crew,
I am currently thinking of upgrading to a 275 litre tank one and wanted to know about the requirements of an effective deep sand bed and whether my plans for the new tank were bonkers or not!
I intend to use the live sand from my current 200 litre tank, however in the new tank I am going to partition off an area at the back of the tank with Perspex (or similar).
<I would go with mostly new sand and just a little live sand from your current tank to seed it.>
In the current tank the DSB is at the front, partitioned off against the live rock at the back. I have to say it looks somewhat unsightly.
<Why have you done it this way out of curiosity?>
...The new DSB will be at least 5-6 inches deep (the current DSB is 4 inches) and intends to place egg crate over the top and then surround the DSB with live rock from my current tank.
<Unconventional but probably ok.>
The rock will go above, to sides and in front of the DSB 'box'. I hope I am making sense thus far...! I will continue use a protein skimmer (Deltec MCE 300) and a canister filter (Rena XP4), with a number of power heads including an Vortech MP100 which I hope will create some undertow.
The reason for this effort is that I do not want the expense of installing a sump under the tank, moreover I am not confident of plumbing it in myself and I would like to use the equipment I have already got.
I guess my question is, do deep sand beds require light and water flow across the top of the DSB in order for it to be effective?
Many, many thanks!
<Light is unimportant for nitrate reduction which is the main point of DSBs, but water flow is very important, and I'm not sure you will get adequate flow throughout the DSB with this design.>
Re: Deep Sandbed Setup 9/22/10

Many thanks for the reply.
Firstly, the reason for partitioning my DSB at the front of the tank was to limit contact with the live rock i.e. not have poop collect under it and to ensure that there is flow of water over the DSB. For turnover I should mention I have Cerith snails in the DSB together with some other little critters such as copepods and miniature snails/star fish which I can see at night time :).
<Nassarius snails are also good for this.>
Is my theory about water flow correct or should this be flow actually going through the DSB to keep it turned over?
<Sounds like you are on the right track.>
Or can I rely upon turnover through snails and other critters within the DSB?
<Snails/sandbed critters are for keeping detritus from collecting at the top of the sandbed, the flow is to create the correct conditions deeper within the sandbed where denitrification can occur.>
If you have any alternate suggestions for having a DSB set up in the main tank without having a sump I would be most interested. This was the only workable way I could think of without having to drill the obligatory holes.
<Many use PVC framework to suspend the rocks just above the sandbed to allow for proper flow, others more lazy like myself just have their rock directly on the sand and use vigorous flow to keep water moving throughout the sandbed. The first method is definitely the preferred way to go, and if I was to redo my sandbed what I would do.>
Re: Deep Sand  Bed Setup 9/24/10

Excellent advice, thank you again.
One final question (I promise!) I have very fine sand - what is the best to get a flow of water through the DSB without it blowing everywhere? Can I just rely on the power heads blowing water over the top of the DSB and the Vortech creating an undertow or do I need some method on ensuring I have physical flow within the bed itself?
<Powerheads should be fine, you don't want to force water through the DSB as it would over oxygenate the lower areas preventing denitrification.>
Would some kind of closed loop system with a power head pumping water into a pipe which is full of holes and closed at the end to create sufficient agitation through the DSB? I would ensure that the water coming through the power head would be filtered by having the outlet of the canister filter blow into? I presume this is a similar principal to that involved with fluidised bed filters, however, I may be completely off beam here....
<Would kill off the bacteria in the DSB that reduces nitrate to nitrogen gas as it is does not like much oxygen.>
I am probably making it too complicated and I have no idea why I did not think of simply suspending the rocks over the DSB......!
- I am off to buy some of those other snails that you mentioned. A Sea Cucumber sounded great until I did my research.
<They are fun to watch as they emerge from the sand at feeding time.>

Sand Beds, 3/2/10
You know, this hobby would be much easier if I was actually intelligent.
<Join the club.>
Nevertheless it is a blessing to have WetWebMedia as a resource. I have a couple questions on DSB's. With the help of WetWebMedia, I'm constructing a new 180g with a 50g sump. About 20g within the sump will be used as a refugium to help improve water quality. I'm planning on using a combination of LR, macroalgae and LS.
I believe I understand you preference/recommendations on macroalgae and LR, but I still confused about the LS.
From the 10,000 hr's I have spent reading about LS on your site, I find many mixed reviews. Since I seem to be unable to discern the answers to my questions, would you mind assisting?
<Fire away.>
Given the refugium size (13"x24"x17"tall) within my sump, and purpose, what would you suggest;
1. What would be your recommended size & type of LS?
<I personally would not use live sand, fine aragonite sand will become live with time and seeding from the live rock, especially true if you are going to go with a deep sand bed for nitrate reduction where you would just end up burying most of the life you paid for anyway.>
2. Should I use a Plenum (basic underground filter without tubes as a platform for LR)?
<I wouldn't, will slow flow too much through the sand and trap detritus.>
3. Should I support the LR with a foundation of dead rock, to keep sand from being under the LR?
<If you are going with a shallow bed here (< 1 inch) then just place the rock directly on the glass (carefully) and fill around it with sand. If you are going with a deep sand bed (4+ inches) then I would go one of two ways, either just place your rock directly on the sand (which has some downsides where dead spots can form, but is easy and the way I personally did it) or create a framework of PVC pipe to rest the rock on to allow for better flow of water through the sand. The second way is better and if I were to redo my tank what I would do, but I'm lazy, what can I say.>
3. What would be your preferred LS depth for my application?
<Less than 1 inch if you are not looking for nitrate reduction, more than 4 inches if you are. The middle ground will just cause you headaches with no benefit.>
4. Because of the required "stirring maintenance" and potential for a "nutrient sink" developing, would I be better off just eliminating the sand and just use the LR and Macroalgae?
<You could, depends on what you are trying to accomplish.>
Thanks for your help and wonderful website.
Les Currey

Improving Nano tank sump/DSB   2/26/10
Hello Crew,
<Hi Stan>
I have a question about "fixing" the shallow sand bed in my sump, but first a brief system description...
I have a 29g display with around 40lbs of live rock and base rock, with an overflow into a 20g (long) sump. The sump has an Aqua Remora skimmer in the first chamber, then a refugium area that is about 18 inches long, with a 5-6 inch layer of (very) live rock rubble suspended on an egg crate rack over a shallow (1-2 inches) bed of live sand. Water flows over this area, and the live rock rubble is covered with tunicates <Nice!> and small feather duster-like worms. This spills over into a pump chamber housing a Marineland 3000 pump, which goes to a SCWD that I have estimated to be flowing around 450gph. Display is lit by a set of 65w PC bulbs for 11 hours a day. The sump is not lit.
<Really? Your system might benefit from this.. have you read WWM re?>
Primary inhabitants are a single purple Condy (which is large and beautiful), a few Mushrooms, one Gorgonian, a single Rock Anemone, a Green Brittle Starfish, a few Hermits and Snails, and a huge bristle worm. <No fish? Unusual>. I will not add any more livestock other than either some Peppermint Shrimp or a pair of Coral Banded Shrimp.
My question is what is the best course to take regarding the sand in the sump? I don't want to compromise the fauna on the rock there, or risk an event with the sand that's already there. I feel like the shallow depth is a time bomb of sorts, and I am leaning toward adding sand (1mm or smaller) an inch at a time, covering 50% of the bed at a time, until I get it to an acceptable depth (is 3" enough, or should I go deeper?).
<I would either remove an inch, or, better, add several inches, one inch at a time, a month at a time. To a total of not less than 4 inches, preferably 5-8>
If removing the sand altogether from the sump is best, I will go that route.
<I would not. This is a habitat for a multitude of animals>
My display is 1" or less.
Thanks for all your efforts at putting together and maintaining such a super website!
<No problem, although most of the work has been compiled by 'older' crewmembers than me!>
On a personal note, you were very helpful a while back in setting up what has been my favourite tank in my past 20 years of aquarium keeping, and it is looking very much like the Caribbean biotope I was going for.
<That's marvelous news!>
I did cave when I saw the Anemone, but have been resolute in not adding a fish to the aquarium as I feel it would be irresponsible.
<Could indeed be. I am not an expert here, but I don't think this Anemone is easily paired with Clowns, and is definitely a danger to other fishes>
I committed myself to waiting for the tank to mature, and this has made all the difference!
<Patience pays!>
The fun my family and I have watching all the tiny creatures in and around the rock has more than compensated for the lack of fish and heavy coral stocking I see in similar tanks.
<Outstanding Stan! There certainly are several different ways to 'skin a cat'>

Sand questions 11/11/08 Greetings from Singapore! <Hello! Jessy here. Greetings from southern California!> Got a quick question for u. I have a 11 month old 3ft, 60gal, FOWLR tank with some grade '0' sand(around 1" deep). Since my wavemaker pump keep pushing my sand away to the side(leaving a huge gap in the middle of my tank), I decided to add more grade '0' sand to make it deeper(around 4" deep). Will it be causing any problem to my Livestock/Tank? <Adding new sand shouldn't cause any issues to your livestock, if it was new sand. You could possibly have a small ammonia spike if there was anything in the sand that would die off, but generally speaking you should be safe. As a precaution I'd keep an eye on your levels and water changes are always a great way to prevent any unforeseen disaster.> Thanks, Andrew Munday <Regards, Jessy>

DSB question and more 6/16/08 Hi.. <Hello Mohamed!> Better to give you details on my reef aquarium.. I have a 90 gallon aquarium with a 25 gallon sump, OR1200 return pump, AquaC EV180 skimmer, 1 Tunze stream 6060, 2x 150w 14k Metal halides, 4x54w Aquamedic actinic T5 lamps and 2x54w T5 white 10k lamps. <Sounds like a great setup.> I have a 4.5inch DSB with no plenum. Is this okay??? <Yes, definitely.> Secondly, my sand bed is very dirty most of the time... what should I do to remedy this? Will more flow help?? <More flow is one of the primary tools to keep the sand from accumulating detritus. Small sand stirrers such as Nassarius snails can be helpful too. If your sand is dirty with algae or BGA, that is another issue.> How's the algae free sure flow mod for the MaxiJet 1200?? <It is great, I love them. I was part of the pack the last few years fabricating my own, the new drop in kits are lifesavers. Low power draw, quiet and tons of flow.> Furthermore, the sand I use is very fine... about 0.5mm or less. It is about 2 years old. Due to this, a lot of sand keeps blowing in my tank and it always goes on top of rocks and stuff no matter where I point the Tunze. I'm going insane trying to control it even without the Tunze. <It will take a bit of trial and error to get it right, but it can be done. You will likely find it easier to keep your sandbed in place throughout most of the tank with the addition of another powerhead (such as the MJ mod). Colliding the flow from the two can provide a greater, but more dissipated flow. With one the directional flow can be tough, digging troughs that other sand then falls into, continuing the cycle.> Note: Tunze is on the back top right corner of my 48"x24"x18" tank and is pointing straight to the other end (length wise). Should I use a coarser grain of sand to avoid this problem?(2-3mm).. If so, how do I do it in an established aquarium? <You can if you wish. I personally like the sugar fine sand. If you do want to switch you can siphon out the sand with your water changes over a period of a few weeks, then replace with the new. One word of warning: if your rocks are supported by the sand you will end up with a rockslide. If this is the case you may have to teardown the system to switch. Again, the fine stuff can work with some experimentation with flow.> Also, I got CaribSea Aragamilk and have been using it for 3 weeks and my calcium is still 300-320ppm.. I stopped using Kalk due to pH fluctuations. Also on your recommendation, I have purchased a Milwaukee ph controller and GEO 618 calcium reactor to remedy this but the shipment has not yet arrived (will do so in a week). Will the reactor be able to pull the calcium up to the 400s? <It can, but with an increase in alkalinity too. You will want your Ca and Alk in balance, then use the reactor to keep it that way.> Is there anything DIY I can do in the meantime? <For the amount of time you are looking at you will want to simply buy a small quantity of another Ca supplement or increase your water changes to get things in balance, assuming your salt has a higher level of Ca (it should). > Thanks a bunch and I hope you guys can help me make my tank look good... PS: how's the blue background at the back of the tank? Should I change it? <Looks good if you like blue backgrounds ? A personal choice that will be covered in coralline with time!> Mohamed.
<Welcome, thank you for writing, Scott V.>

RDSB Water Flow Questions 12/21/2007 WWM Crew, I just finally finished reading the many pages of information on deep sand beds and nitrate reducing methods. I found it to be an excellent discussion and a wealth of information. However, I have a question that remains unanswered... For background, I have a new 210G BB SPS dominated tank with a 60G sump, and I'm using a 75G AGA (48" x 18") for a RDSB with 6" of sugar size sand. The RDSB is not lighted. I have 150# of Tonga LR in the main display. I'm using a Reeflo 250 Orca as my skimmer and I typically run carbon passively in my sump. Flow through the entire system is high with detritus staying in suspension and being removed via a filter sock in the sump. My main focus/desire for the RDSB is for nitrate reduction followed by an increase in bio-diversity of the overall system. I'm interested in opinions on both (1) overall flow through my RDSB as plumbed into my total system (currently I'm moving less than 200G/hour through the RDSB tank with the returns directed at the top of the tank) <This sounds good to me. I'm sure opinions vary on this, but I think as long as your moving about as much water in an hour as you have in the main tank, you're probably good. Of course, to a point, more is probably better.> and (2) flow within the RDSB, not only in volume, but with respect to how, where, and by what means (currently I have no additional flow other than the main returns). <Water flow actually THROUGH the DSB is largely dependent on the benthic life of the sandbed. You want to have a lot of worms, micro-crustaceans, etc. living in the sand to turn the sand grains around. This is what moves water down and through the sand.> Specifically, I'm interested in opinions on flow techniques at the sand/ water interface level. <If you want to add more water flow above the sand bed, you can just add a powerhead. If you don't think you can do this without creating a sand storm, you could try piling some rocks in one corner and pointing the powerhead at the rocks from the other side of the tank.> Thanks in advance and thanks for maintaining this excellent resource. Tony <De nada, Sara M.>

Exciting new question... same old DSB questions -- 09/13/07 Hello.. (sorry for subject line, just trying to inject some excitement as I know you must get flooded with the same questions) Compliments on a great site, so much information, and it seems, a complete information overload for my brain. My husband and I have been in this hobby for 9 months and have fallen in love with it to such a degree that we have just upgraded from a 42 gallon (UK) to a 130 gallon. (30 gallon sump) inhabitants will be fish (yep!) LR, inverts. The old tank had 1/2 inch crushed coral sand this has now gone. We fully intended to go with a DSB for this new tank as we were under the impression this is the best way to go, our LFS (bless them) said not to, as it can release sulphur back into the system which will kill all livestock? <Ugh... this is just not true.> Obviously we want to set this tank up right, from the start. In your humble opinion, should we go for a DSB in the main tank (4 + inches of aragonite, live sand or normal?) <Sand beds are great for keeping nitrates low and adding biodiversity to the tank. Fine aragonite is preferred, but pure silicate sand-box or masonry sand will do just fine. But whatever type of sand you end up getting, you'll need to "seed" it with live sand and live rock. Please start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm and try here: http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-06/rs/feature/index.php and do a search on WWM and/or Google for deep sand beds. There's a whole lot out there written on this topic.> should we also have a DSB in the sump? <If you have one in the display, you don't need one in the sump. But it's up to you.> or shall we go with Miracle mud? <Miracle mud is not necessarily any better than any other type of fine, live sand.> I assume we would need sand sifters of some description as well. <You need worms and other critters, but not sand sifter stars (or other such echinoderms which can actually destroy sand beds). Again... do some research. There's a lot out there to read.> As there is so much information, pro's and con's, it can be confusing and I guess it's personal taste but any advice would be greatly received. <Do a lot of reading. This is the only real advice I can give you here. Don't just go by what the LFS tells you (and that applies to just about everything).> Thank you in advance, Nicola <De nada, Sara M.>

New Tank Question: DSB and Water Movement    7/30/07 Hi James, How is everything? Hope everything is well. <Hi Jon, everything fine here.> Before anything else, I am happy to tell you about the Fromia millepora (red sea star) that I have inquired about. I was so happy when I finally moved him from my quarantine tank to the display tank. He immediately went around and took some algae I left for him in the front of the glass. He's been all over the tank already and for two days now seems doing just fine. I love him and did add diversity in the tank. <Good to hear.> James, you have seen pictures of my tank and it is indeed very healthy as you have mentioned. I probably have over 50 baby snails by now crawling about the tank thanks the initial 10 Cerith snails that kept laying eggs. Moreover, just tonight, I believe I saw the eggs of my 2 clown fish. I feel it is their egg as they were protecting it unlike the eggs laid by my Cerith snails that they very much like to nip. Oh boy, it's been truly a wonderful experience for me. Love every minute of it. <Can be a rewarding hobby.> The sponge that has grown at the back of my LR is now protruding upwards and has covered the top of this rock and is exposed to total light. It is quite interesting to note that the color on this one however is orange yellow. At its current growth rate, I may not have room for new corals at all. As you know James, this is my 1st venture in having an aquarium and a SW tank at that. I really could have not done it with your help. <Glad to be of assistance.> Old tank questions (60 gal): 1st. I have been setting my eye on some Holothuria cucumbers (particularly the tiger tail). I prefer them over the sand sifting star (which I read devours everything in the sand). <Anything dead, yes.> The thing is for weeks now, since I last wrote you, I have wanted to add more diversity for my current tank. I am not satisfied yet with the research I have done on it so far. There is simply too much variability for me to make any realistic generalizations about the risk of this specific sea cucumber. The best generalization that I can make is that for most deposit-feeding sand cucumbers the risk of a tank wipe-out is quite low and considering the added benefit plus bio-diversity in my tank, I am beginning to feel it is worth a try. Am I right in thinking this? (My first question). Secondly, if I am to put it 1st in my quarantine tank for 1 month, how am I to feed it? Lastly, how do one properly acclimate this? Is it the same as your advice to me as the red sea star? <Jon, I'd stay away from Cukes, they can be more trouble than they are worth. Read here if you haven't already. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seacukes.htm The sand sifting starfish would be a much better choice. Keep in mind, these guys should be fed unless you have a well established sand bed. I feed mine with a syringe (no needle attached). I take the syringe and draw up a few bloodworms and inject them under the starfish. Has been working well so far. They will also eat dried Nori.> 2nd. I know Phosphate less 0.03 concentrations is a good value for reef aquaria. Last week, I purchased a Red Sea P04 test kit and for the 1st time have tested P04 concentration in my tank and found out that I have about 0.1 ppm PO4 level. <More than likely you are just reading the low end of the scale and is not indicative of the actual level. Phosphates are generally absorbed in the system very quickly.> I am not having hair algae nor some red slime outbreak or anything but want to make sure I won't have them at all (I do have some hair algae but is controlled in just one spot and comes and goes). I have a refugium with lots of Chaetomorpha algae that I trim from time to time which I believe helps (thanks to your advice early on). Does putting some ROWAphos or PhosBan in a poly filter bag and hang this by the sump do the trick? Or is it really necessary to get a Phosphate reactor as some other guys in other websites seems to strongly suggest for some fluidize action. I ask because everything seems fine'¦'Now' but I don't know why I keep worrying about something that has not happened yet. Also I feel I don't really want an absolute zero PO4 at all because my current tank seems to be thriving (I have maiden's hair and shaving bush plants in the main display tank and some spaghetti algae in the refugium). <I'd leave well enough alone, but if I decided to use a product, it would be Rowaphos.> New Tank (2009 7'x3.5x2' Upgrade tank) 1st question. Given the size of the tank, if you were me, how big/ proper ratio should the refugium be if I were to use DSB on it? How deep of a DSB would you go? Will you employ the use of a plenum (mix opinion on its usage - quite confusing)? Main tank will have at most 2 inch of live sand. I ask this because I read somewhere here or maybe Mr. Anthony Calfo's book (I can't remember) that a refugium size 20% of the display size is recommended for effective NNR. I also remember reading here a long time ago that a small amount of nitrates is beneficial or even necessary for keeping corals and to target 1-5ppm. <Jon, do search/read on our site on DSB's and refugiums. There is too much info available for me to write here. Yes, small amounts of nitrates are beneficial for plant/algae growth, and clams will also absorb it.> 2nd question. Again if you were me, what system would you use with regards to water circulation and proper water flow if you want to keep mostly SPS with a few LPS and soft corals? This tank is going to be in the center of the room viewable on all sides with pipes running to a room (about 15 feet away, piping under the floor boards) for the stuffs needed to keep the tank thriving. Obviously, the overflow is going to be in the center of the tank which is why I am having quite a fascinating imagination of how I am going to properly move the water. I want to eliminate as much as possible using powerheads attached to the glass. <I'd bulkhead the water coming into the tank and use a couple of the SCWD' (Switching Current Water Director) in the system. Again, this subject should be searched on our web site, too much info requiring too much time to do here. Go here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/plumbingmarart.htm One thing to consider in planning is the distance from tank to pump. Every foot of pipe used will lower the pressure/flow rate of the pump and the amount of water that can be returned to the sump. Here is a link to some useful information regarding this. http://www.reefcentral.com/calc/hlc2.php> Lastly your thoughts on the best skimmer out there to blow waste off this upgrade tank. I was thinking of Precision Marine Bullet XL Model 2 protein skimmer. My second choice is a Deltec Protein skimmer but they are just way too expensive for me. <Personally, I like the AquaC's. Virtually hassle free and very efficient.> Thank you so much again James. It has been truly a joy writing you. <Why thank you, Jon, and good luck in your new venture.> Sincerely, Jon G.

DSB, gen.   -- 07/03/07 Morning crew! I've come to bother you for some more advice... At current I have a 55g tank with roughly 45-50lbs of live rock and nothing filtration wise but a prefilter and a recirc skimmer in my sump. Being as I've had my old 30 gallon tank glaring at me for some time now, I though about adding in a refugium with a DSB for added filtration/denitrification and fauna production for my dragonet. Is it reasonable to try and add this after my tank has been setup? <Sure> My plan was adding about 6" of fine to medium grade sand and a few pieces of (cured from my show tank) live rock to get things started. <And/or you should add about a measuring cup or two of your live sand from your established tank.> Does a DSB have to be cycled and functioning before I plumb it into my system? <That depends a bit on what type of sand you'll be using. Aragonite sand can leach stuff (like phosphates) when it's "new." So if you use aragonite sand, you might want to "cycle" it for a little bit before attaching it to the main tank. On the other hand, silica sand (masonry or classic sand box sand -- i.e. the kind that makes glass) should be good to go after a good rinsing with RO/DI water.> Or would I be fine to set it up and turn it on with no ill effects? <See above. :-)> My second question is on what inverts I should populate my refugium with for adequate sand stirring? Unfortunately to date I've not found any information on the subject that actually recommends anything specifically, simply "add sand stirring inverts" but perhaps I've not looked hard enough? <Well, if your current sand bed is well populated, then the answer is simple... just use your old sand to "seed" your new sand. If not, try looking for starter (or "seeder") live sand sold at a variety of places online (not the stuff sold in bags, the stuff kept and cultured in tanks). The "live sand" sold in bags is good stuff, but it's not likely to have much in the way of critters (probably mostly just bacteria and some other microbes). To get the good worms and everything, you'll need live sand that's been cultured in a tank. Or, you could just bum some off a fellow reefer with a well populated sand bed.> Thanks for the help, Mike <De nada, Sara M.>

Another DSB/Nitrate Reduction Question -- 06/23/07 I have a 58gal tank + sump with approx 45lbs live rock, crushed coral substrate. <<This last is likely a large contributor to your Nitrate issue>> A Finger Leather, a few Mushrooms, Xenia, Zoanthids and some Yellow Polyps. <<But for the Xenia, quite a noxious combination>> All are small and well spread out. <<But in a relatively 'small' volume of water'¦do employ some purposeful chemical filtration (Poly-Filter/Carbon)>> Livestock = Yellow Tang, <<Tank is not big enough for this fish, mate>> Maroon Clown, Royal Gramma and a Sixline Wrasse + Snails and Hermits. <<Not that you should consider it now, but if things change, that Pseudocheilinus will make future fish additions problematic>> Protein skimmer that makes about an 8-12oz of dark skimmate a week. My nitrates are consistently in the 20s. <<Ah yes, this needs to come down. It's hard to say for sure but, perhaps you need a better/more efficient skimmer>> 5-gal water change every 2 weeks with aged RO water. <<Allowing the salt mix to 'blend' for several days I hope>> It's understood that by increasing water changes, I will dilute the Nitrates, but I do not want to have to do this on a permanent basis. <<Mmm, understand the mindset'¦but on this small volume this is an inexpensive and most healthful process. And doubling the volume to 10-gallons could make a very big difference here>> Reduced feeding does not seem to help reduce the Nitrates. <<Coming from somewhere else>> It seems that I have a lot of debris in the crushed coral even after using a gravel vac. <<Course substrates can be very problematic>> I have taken some crushed coral out and cleaned it but I am afraid to do a lot at once for fear of shocking the tank. <<Mmm'¦may not be much of an issue if the existing depth/volume is small>> I think that a DSB is the way to go. <<I am a strong proponent of this methodology>> After the DSB is up to par I would add more live rock. <<Don't act too quickly re the rock'¦fishes need room to roam>> At the present, 100lbs of pet store aragonite is not in my budget. <<The retail side of the hobby IS proud of this stuff>> I see 4 ways to get to my goal of having a DSB. 1) Remove all of the crushed coral at once and add a bag at a time of aragonite over several months until it reaches the 4-6 in. depth. 2) Add a 12x16x4 DSB in the sump inside a plastic container and then do the above. 3) Wait until I can get enough sand to do the change at one time. 4) Wildcard option, to use limestone play sand that I found in a local Home Depot (Chicago region). It did pass the vinegar test, but it does not say where it is from. The pallet is in a slot marked Old Castle but I did not see Old Castle on the label, I can/will check again. <<This is probably not Limestone but rather Aragonite sand'¦and most desirable/useful as such re our hobby>> If these were your choices, what you would do? <<Hmm, a combination of all these choices! I would purchase sand from Home Depot'¦add the DSB to the sump and wait a week'¦remove the crushed coral from the display and add the full depth of sugar-fine Aragonite to create the DSB'¦ And do consider rinsing this sand before adding to the display. Some authors say this isn't necessary'¦and on new systems it is less of an issue'¦but I speak from experience when I say you will not like the result if you merely dump this sand in to your existing display without rinsing away at least 'some' of the 'fines'>> Until the nitrates are lower, I will not add anything and will have to increase the water changes. <<Good>> I consult the WWM regularly and am thankful to all of the crew for the comprehensive site. <<The 'Crew' is happy you find the site useful>> I do not understand how you all have the time and patience to answer our repetitive questions. <<Hee-hee! Can be trying at times for sure'¦but the greater good we 'know' we are doing far outweighs the occasional inconvenience or thoughtless/selfish querier. And to be fair, the 'Crew' has it easy compared to Bob who must 'handle' all the queries we leave, as well as maintain the site/post all for the public's edification>> After reading your daily questions for a while, I have come to the conclusion that many of us who ask questions (myself included) are not ready to accept the hard truth; we want a magical cure to Ich and other problems, as in my case Nitrate reduction. <<Ah yes! Tis true many write in looking for validation for something they know is wrong, and subsequently refuse to accept the 'hard truth' as you say'¦but by far the majority of folks are just looking for some 'personal' attention/guidance to their dilemmas. And as we often tout here'¦nobody should rely on a 'single' source for their information anyway. Hobbyists should research/attempt to gain information from a variety of sources (books, NET chat forums, WWM, hobby clubs, etc.) and use their own good judgment to choose a course of action'¦WWM is just one cog on the wheel>> Thank you! <<Quite welcome'¦and 'thank you' for this opportunity to rant [grin]. Eric Russell>>

DSB Size/Depth - 08/29/06 Hi again, <<Hello>> I am trying to add a DSB for my 125 FOWLR due to a persistent nitrate problem. <<Ok>> I do have sand in the main display at present but due to the home improvements done by my fish on a regular basis the SB is 2-3" in some spots and much less in most others. (Apparently they don't understand the benefits and keep moving it around when I try to fix it.) <<Ha!...indeed>> Be that as it may, how big of a sump/refugium and how deep of a SB would be an appropriate remote DSB? <<In my opinion...As large a vessel as you can practically employ, with a "minimum" 6-inches of sugar-fine aragonite>> I also have close to 200lbs of LR in the system.  Thanks again for all your help. Mordy <<Regards, EricR>>

DSB/Wet-Dry/Nitrates - 08/28/06 Hi there! <<Hello!>> How are you all today! <<Don't know about the rest, but I'm doing fine, thank you>> I hope I am not bugging you with a repeat question. <<No worries my friend>> I have read thru all your FAQs on sand beds and am getting confused. <<Oh?>> There seems to be many contradictions and I really want to get it right. <<Indeed...differing methodologies/opinions...>> I have a 220 gallon setup that is about 8 months old.  I used 220 lbs of live rock to set it up as well as about 120 pounds of CaribSea live sand.  That gave about an inch of sand on the bottom. <<Ok>> I also have a wet-dry running and am not sure if this is necessary and will contribute to higher nitrates. <<The wet-dry filter is not necessary, or even desirous, if this is a reef system...but can be beneficial to a FOWLR, though these days my preference when additional bio-filtration is needed is to turn to a fluidized-bed filter>> My nitrates are around 50. <<Mmm, you have a problem then, in my opinion.  Nitrates should be <5ppm for a reef and <20ppm for a FOWLR>> I have an ASM G3 protein skimmer and a Blueline 40HDX pump.  After the first few months of losing several fish, my tank seems to be settled and I have had luck with my fish for the last 4 months without any casualties. <<Won't last with nitrate readings this high.  Though maybe not immediately evident, the high nitrate level will have/is having an effect on the fish and will cause problems/deaths in the long-term>> I'd like to get my nitrates to 0 and am wondering if I should increase the sand bed to at least 4 inches and get rid of the bio-balls. <<One approach>> I could also add some more live rock. <<Sounds like you have a lot of rock in there already>> Would you advise this or should I stick with my 1/2-1 inch sand bed (I lose some sand every week when I vacuum as it's fine sand)? <<I'm a fan of DSBs...I would try increasing the depth of the sand bed...and stop the weekly vacuuming as this will be counterproductive to the DSB.  If detritus accumulation is a concern, then increase water flow in the tank>> If I made it a DSB, how would I go about it with all the fish and live rock in there? <<Considering the current depth/weekly vacuuming, simply add the sand until you reach the new desired depth.  Pre-rinsing will help to reduce the associated cloudiness>> Can I purchase a different kind and put it on top? <<You can>> I would like to add some pink. <<Won't stay "pink"...I recommend a sugar-fine substrate, though you can go a bit larger if you wish (1mm-2mm)...or even go with a mix of these>> Also, would the LR need to be removed if I was adding 3 or 4 more inches? <<Nope...in fact, I prefer to place my live rock on the tank bottom and fill around it with the sand for better stability>> What about the fish? <<If you go to the trouble to pre-rinse the sand to reduce the "fines" suspended in the water column they should be fine.  If you wish, you could even add the sand in stages (a day or two apart)>> I really have no where else for them to go as it's a 220.  Maybe knowing my fish would help determine what sand bed is best for my tank.  I have a Bluefaced angel, a maroon clown, a purple and Sailfin tang, a fairy wrasse, a Twinspot wrasse, a zebra moray and a few gobies.  Also 2 anemones and a couple starfish and hermit crabs. <<Yikes!  Anemones and 50ppm nitrates?  Maybe you should try testing with another brand of test kit (Salifert, Seachem) to validate this reading>> I have had a little trouble with red Cyanobacteria and have been physically suctioning it out every week as well as weekly water changes.  I can't get it all off the rock but do blow some of it off with a bulb syringe.  I was wondering if increasing the sand bed would help get rid of that as well as hair algae which I have a little of? <<The DSB will provide numerous benefits, one of which will be the reduction of nitrogenous compounds (algae fuels), but an increase in water circulation will also help with the Cyano>> Any help in resolving the sand bed issue once and for all for my setup would be greatly appreciated. <<I think a 4"-6" sugar-fine DSB to be a worthwhile addition.  As for the wet-dry, you might try replacing the bio-balls with fist-sized pieces of live rock and see if that helps with your nitrate.  Adding some carbon/Poly-Filter somewhere in the filter path will also prove beneficial>> I want to do the best I can for my fish and make it as healthy in there as I can for them. <<Then address/determine the source of nitrate and bring that reading down.  Do have a look here and among the links in blue at the top of the page:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm >> You have such an awesome website and I read it often. <<Were pleased you find it of use>> Thanks so much for all your help. Heather <<Happy to assist.  Regards, EricR>>

Re: DSB/Wet-Dry/Nitrates - 08/31/06 Thanks Eric for all your great advice so far. <<Is my pleasure>> I did add a Poly-Filter. <<Always beneficial>> I change my carbon monthly and I clean out my filter pad as well as protein skimmer at least every other day. <<Excellent>> I was all set to order 150 pounds or so of sand when I decided first to take your advice and try another nitrate testing kit. <<A good move...and the cheaper route no doubt>> I bought the one the LFS had which was SeaTest and got a reading of 10 or less while the Red Sea by Marine Lab reads at least 50. <<Mmm...>> How can there be such a discrepancy? <<Many reasons my friend...differences in quality/age of reagents, contamination, inaccuracy of the gauge/scale/benchmark...even human error <grin> >> It seems odd that two tests can be so far apart. <<Is advisable to keep fresh test kits of good quality (Hach, LaMotte, Salifert, or Seachem...to name some of the better ones available)>> It makes me angry after spending so much money on my setup and continually trying to find ways to bring my supposedly high nitrates down.  Which test should I believe? <<I'm inclined to believe the SeaTest over the Red Sea kit>> I prefer my shallow sand bed and would rather not add 4-inches or more to it if my nitrates are under control. <<Indeed, maybe you don't need the extra denitrification the DSB would offer after all>> I plan on this being mostly fish therefore the bioload will be higher than a reef tank and I worry that in the long run the DSB might not be best for a FOWLR tank. <<The DSB would be fine...though a fluidized-bed filter will react more quickly to fluctuating bioloads and is likely cheaper and easier to install>> I will remove the bioballs and put LR in the wet/dry like you suggested.  I appreciate all your help. <<Happy to assist>> I now have a dumb newbie question. <<Ok>> You mentioned that I might want to increase the flow to my tank. <<Yes>> My 220 has two overflow boxes predrilled and I have a Blueline 40HDX pump which I was told was more than sufficient for my tank. <<Mmm, about 1200 gph "before" head loss..."sufficient" for feeding the sump yes, but not likely to provide "sufficient" flow/elimination of dead-spots/suspension of detritus...in my opinion>> However I don't think it pumps your recommended 10-20 times per gallons. <<Likely not even 5x your tank volume, after head loss>> How would I add more flow to this system without it looking ugly? <<Perhaps addition of a couple Tunze Stream pumps, or a "closed-loop" with a multi-nozzle return manifold (see here and the links in blue: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pbretfaq3.htm  and   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/circmarart.htm >> I know this is a stupid question and probably very basic but I'm not really sure how to go about increasing the flow. <<Not stupid, and not always "basic", but do read the link/links provided and learn/choose your options.  Get some ideas of what you want to do and come back to bounce them off me if you wish>> I do have a deep tank at 30 inches and some Cyano on the sand.  It is also only 8 months old and I don't know if this is a phase or something I should address? <<If your only source of water flow is your sump return, increased water circulation may indeed help>> Thanks for all your great advice. <<Always welcome>> I don't trust my LFS very much because when I told them I thought my nitrates were around 50 they said I was crazy to worry as their fish only setups have nitrates of over 300. <<Mmm, well...while it's true that in most FO/FOWLR systems Nitrates "alone" may be no real worry, 300ppm will certainly cause harm.  The fact this store claims no ill effect is largely due to the "transient" nature of the livestock ...though their customers are likely not so lucky do to the harm/further insult to health imposed by this store on their livestock with this kind of water quality.  In my opinion, it is irresponsible (and probably just plain laziness/ignorance) to subject the livestock to these nitrate levels no matter how long the duration, and even more irresponsible to advise customers that this is "OK">> They seem to think I'm a bit crazy and that I overreact and worry too much about my fish. << (sigh)  Maybe it's time to find another LFS...>> That is why and how I found your site and am a true fan. <<Yay!>> Thanks! Heather <<Be chatting, Eric Russell>>

Re: DSB/Wet-Dry/Nitrates - 09/01/06 Hi Eric! <<Hello Heather!>> I think I'm becoming your groupie. <<Hee-hee!  Cool, I think you're my first!>> Thanks so much for your speedy reply. I was shocked how fast you wrote back. <<A matter of timing/luck for the most part>> And it's nice to converse with someone who cares about this hobby and doesn't roll their eyes at me when I ask too many questions. <<Mmm, indeed...too bad your LFS doesn't see the value in education/keeping their customers in the hobby...or maybe they just don't have the capacity re>> (Well maybe you are but I can't see it at least like at my LFS) <<Ha!  I'll never tell! (and spoil my image <grin>)>> I've been reading and am considering the Tunze Turbelle Stream pump. <<An excellent choice...I use these for water movement in my own system>> It's around $190. <<Not cheap, but excellent quality/engineering/performance>> Is it all inclusive or do I need to buy anything else with it? <<Based on the price I'm guessing you're looking at the model 6080?  This is a synchronous-motor pump (does not run on a controller/wavemaker) and is ready to go out of the box.  But, depending on your tank design/bracing, you may need one of the holding device extensions (3000.244 or 3000.260).  These should be available on the site where you purchase the pump (if not, they can be found at MarineDepot.com), just review the information on each and determine which is needed (if any) for your tank>> The internet stores don't really say much but they talked about timers and wave controllers.  Is any of that necessary? <<No...and not possible with some pumps/powerheads>> Where is the best place to put it in the aquarium? <<Hmm...distal from the sump return line...and positioned toward same for creation of a random turbulent flow pattern>> Would one be good since it says it pumps about 2250 gph on top of my 1200 gph I'm already getting? <<If this creates enough water movement to keep detritus in suspension/eliminate dead spots, yes...will likely take a bit of experimentation to determine the optimum position (or number of powerheads required)>> I have a feeling that more gph would definitely help with the Cyano. <<Me too, though other factors to consider as well.  Have you read our articles/FAQs on blue-green alga?  Here's a good place to start: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm>> I always worried 5X wasn't enough flow but again my LFS disagreed with me. <<You must evaluate the needs/requirements of the livestock, but it is likely an increase in flow will be appreciated...even "enjoyed">> I'm trying to find another LFS but I live in Melbourne Beach Florida and unless I want to drive 90 minutes there are only 2 close by.  I'm not too happy with either. <<I see...best to arm yourself with "your own" knowledge/research>> You were right about the 300 ppm nitrates hurting fish.  When I sat down and worked out where all my fish losses were from, they were all from that store. <<Indeed...as if the stresses of capture/transport weren't enough already...>> I think I lost 8 out of 10 of the fish purchased there for a loss of about $500. <<a pity>> All my other fish purchased elsewhere have done fine. <<Hardly a scientific analysis...but does seem rather telling>> I guess they only care about the bottom line. <<Unfortunately there are stores out there with kind of short-sightedness>> Neither store carries live rock and the store that did and had a conscientious owner (shocking), went out of business. <<...why does it always have to be the good one's...?>> Do you recommend any internet sites for quality cured rock? <<Some of the members of my local reef club have been raving lately about the rock offered at Reefermadness.us >> I guess that is it for now.  I'd like to purchase a quality pump that gives good gph and add some more LR and see how that goes. <<Sounds fine>> I read the links you sent me as well as Anthony's report on pumps and like the Tunze like you suggested. <<You won't be disappointed>> Thanks so much! Heather <<Cheers my friend, Eric Russell>>

DSBs...Bed Size/Sand Type/Depth   8/12/06 What's happening? <<Good Morning!>> I just got my brand new 135 gallon (72x18X25) glass aquarium the other day (got a good deal at Glasscages.com, in case some one needs a recommendation on an inexpensive source) and am planning on setting up a new reef. <<Cool!>> I want to use my old 55 gallon that I have now for the refugium. <<A great idea>> I have been doing a bit of reading about the proper depth of the sand bed and came to the conclusion that is should be 1/2 inch and no more or 4-6 inches and no less. <<Depending on what you want from it/what you want it to do, yes...a good "generalization">> I wanted to run my plan by you guys (and ladies) and get an expert's opinion. <<Have never considered myself an "expert", but I'll be glad to share my opinions/experiences>> Because I don't care for the looks of 6-inches of substrate and aren't looking forward to spending hundreds on sand, I plan on only using 1/2 inch of sugar fine aragonite in the display and packing the 55 gallon refugium with 6+ -inches of slightly coarser aragonite to get the benefit of the DSB.  What do you think? <<This sounds fine and is a quite acceptable alternative to placing the DSB in the display tank...though the total surface area will be quite less, as your are aware I'm sure>> I'm assuming once I install the baffles I will have about 30" of the original 48" of space in the refugium to cover with the substrate.  Will this be substantially large enough to do the job, or is the 6-inches in the display needed as well? <<All relative...the DSB in the refugium will be effective...just not as effective as a larger DSB in the display.  Whether or not it is effective enough will depend largely on the stocking density of the display and your aquarium maintenance habits/husbandry skills>> Will adding more than 6-inches in the refugium be even more beneficial or would it be overkill? <<Depending on the coarseness of the substrate you use, a few additional inches could be beneficial>> From what I read it sounds like DSBs need more flow to keep nutrients from building up. <<A healthy flow rate does help, yes>> Would you recommend an under gravel filter with some powerheads, or just a strong pump circulating the water from the refugium to the display? <<Definitely the latter>> I also wanted to ask what you thought about oolitic sand? <<Is ideal for marine sand beds/DSBs>> I saw an ad on EBay with decent prices.  All it says is that it is oolitic, .4mm-1.6mm, consists of aragonite, dolomite, calcite, crushed coral, and shells.  And it comes straight from the ocean here in the US.  Doesn't really specify where and therefore I'm being a bit cautious. <<Mmm, might be wise.  I believe there's only a few places where "aragonite" sand is collected...haven't ever heard any were off our own shores, but I'm not an authority re.  You might want to try/order a small amount and give it the old "vinegar test" to see how much of/whether it is truly aragonite>> Thanks for all your help. Jon <<Happy to assist.  Regards, EricR>>

DSB..., Denitrator, Substrate Type/Adding Snails - 08/10/06 I have decided to install a DSB in a large bucket after trying for months to set up an AquaMedic NiTRATE reductor 400, without success.  It would either produce sulphur or nitrate because the turn flow valve was very difficult to adjust, making it difficult to get the correct flow rate, the drips were either too fast or too slow, it was a right pain. <<Indeed...manufactured nitrate reduction equipment always seems too "fiddly" to me, no matter which design you choose.  I think you will have better luck with the DSB>> During my visits to various aquatic shops in the area, I am getting many different reasons for and against the use of DSB's, also the use of various different types of media. <<Not surprised...some folks love'em, some folks hate'em...and even among those who employ a DSB opinions will vary on application.  But the basics are the same...a deep enough bed for the size granulate chosen to permit adequate stratification of the different bacterial zones>> One that has been proposed is the use of PLAY PIT SAND; have you any thoughts on this? <<I do...the "play" sand is quite suitable for nitrification purposes and will perform this function as well as aragonite sand of the same grain size...but...the play sand will not provide any buffering capacity and it is decidedly "sharper" than aragonite which "might" be rough on some of the critters which will inhabit the sand bed.  The play sand will work fine, but my preference is sugar-fine aragonite sand...or even a "mixture" of the two if obtaining enough aragonite is an issue>> I was also thinking of using sand snails to help with the movement of the upper layers of sand within the DSB. <<You can do this (Nassarius and/or Cerith species), though it is not necessary.  Sand dwelling/stirring critters will find their way to the DSB in time>> Will they require feeding or will they manage to survive on their own? <<Possibly...best to let the DSB mature for several months before adding>>   Any feed back on this would be gratefully appreciated. <<You have mine>> Phil Bowen England <<Regards, Eric Russell...South Carolina>>

Small Refugium DSB - 07/26/06 I made a 5 gallon refugium that sits behind my main tank, a ten gallon, with the goals of nutrient export, pod production, pH stability and increased water volume. <<Excellent>> I was planning on putting Chaetomorpha, live rock rubble, and some sand in this refugium and running it on a reverse photoperiod. <<Okay>> My question is would I see any benefits from a deep sand bed in this size refugium (the sand area's footprint would be 5"X15") or would I be better of with a shallow sand bed and more water volume? <<Everything is relative my friend...considering the small size of the display, this particular DSB could indeed provide some benefit>> Thanks a lot for any help you can give me. Eli <<Is my pleasure to assist.  Regards, EricR>>

DSB Canister Filter? - 07/24/06 Hello, <<Howdy>> I just started the fish keeping hobby and I established a 90 gallon reef tank in my living room. <<neat!>> While doing research I came across the process of denitrification. <<Okay>> I came to understand that Nitrate filters are not reliable. <<Mmm, probably not so much "not reliable" as "fiddly"...requiring constant attention/adjustment to optimize their usage>> Instead, I read that a DSB could be very effective at reducing Nitrates. <<Indeed>> Well the thing is, I don't want to add a deep layer of sand in my display tank, and since I can't get a sump (there's no space under the tank) I came up with an idea that might seem weird: Could I apply a thick layer of sand in an empty canister filter to act as a DSB filter? <<Mmm, no...aside from not being a large enough volume to be of benefit, pressurizing/running the filter will cause the water to be "forced" through the entire volume of sand. This will defeat the denitrification process as there will be no "stratification" of the sand bed with the varying levels of oxygen allowing the different classes of bacteria to form/populate...all of which are part of/necessary to the process of denitrification>> I imagine it will fulfill the role of a sump. <<Not in my opinion>> Please correct me if I'm wrong. <<Since a sump is out of the question, you might wish to look in to the addition of a "hang-on" style refugium in which to place the sand bed.  Another option would be if you have room "over" the tank to place a large (salt) bucket half-full of sand with water pumped up to the bucket and allowed to gravity drain back to the tank from a bulkhead fitting placed just below the lip of the bucket>> Also, I live next to the sea, where the sand in the coastal areas is extra-fine (which I read is preferable for DBS).  Could I use this sand? or is it a bad idea? <<Best not to use it due to the possibility of introducing pollutants/pests>> One last question.  Concerning macroalgae, how effective are they at denitrification? <<Not so much "denitrification...is a different type of host/environment, performs a different function from the deep sand bed...yet still useful through regular harvesting for removal of organic compounds (including nitrate) as part of their nutrient uptake>> Also is there a problem to add those in my display tank (I'm particularly interested in red macroalgae)? <<Can be done, though some species can be very invasive (e.g. - Caulerpa sp.) while others might be quickly consumed (e.g. - Gracilaria) by some fish species (e.g. - Tangs/Rabbitfish) Sorry for the long read. <<No worries mate>> Any help will be greatly appreciated. <<I hope I have>> Thank you. Mohammad <<Regards, EricR>>

Protein Skimming Power/Phosphate/DSB removal  7/15/06 Hello, Thanks for running such a great site.  I've learned so much from reading your Q&A's. < Bob and the others do a wonderful job! > I have a 55g reef tank with about 50 lbs of live rock and a 4" deep sand bed.  It's about 15 months old and so far everything has been working very well, except for a recent, steep phosphate spike.  Is that typical for a DSB? < No, that is not typical at all. >   (I don't believe it is from overfeeding.) < Are you feeding frozen foods? If you are not rinsing the foods well, the phosphate from the juices could be encouraging the spike. Another thing to consider, if the prepared foods have fish meal in the first five ingredients, the phosphates could be coming from that! >   Is an extremely high level of phosphate a possible cause for my losing a number of fish recently, a day or two after acclimation (which I normally do gradually over about 1-1/2 hours)? (It's not due to a mantis shrimp;  there is no clicking, and no sightings at night.) < I seriously doubt the phosphates would cause that kind of reaction. I would look more at temperature fluctuations, or the possibility of airborne pollutants. > After talking to a couple of LFS, I'm becoming convinced that the DSB will eventually crash, and I am planning to remove it soon.  How gradually do I have to do that? < A four inch sand bed is not deep enough to really cause a serious problem, but if you must remove some, only remove an inch or so. Remember, the sand under the first inch layer is horribly toxic. Don't stir up too much! > My main question has to do with skimming.  I have an Aqua C Remora (not Pro) with the MaxiJet 1200 powerhead and overflow box (I have no room for a sump).  One LFS is saying that that is not enough skimming capacity for a 55 g tank.  Currently I have four small fish, a cleanup crew of 20 hermit crabs and 15 snails, four small colonies of mushroom polyps and two small frogspawns, but I hope to add a few more fish and many more corals.  How much skimming power do I really need with this setup, once the DSB is gone? < That is directly related to the amount of food you feed, and the frequency of partial water changes. To place exacting limitations, or requirements on such is difficult. > < Yet another thing to consider is the possibility of your source water or supplements containing phosphates. Be careful when adding anything to buffer the pH, for nearly all related products use phosphate buffering agents! > Many thanks for all your help < I hope I was indeed helpful! > Bob < RichardB > "Sponges grow in the ocean. I wonder how much deeper the ocean would be if that didn't happen." ~Steven Wright

DSB's...Adding More Substrate  6/26/06 Hi Crew! <Hello Brett> I've decided to beef up my substrate by adding another inch or so to my DSB. Right now it's about 2-3 inches and am planning to add another inch or so of Arag-Alive Fiji Pink.  Will I be safe adding it all at once, or should I gradually add the sand over a few days?   <Should be no problem adding all at once.> Thanks for any help! <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Brett

DSB   6/9/06 Hey Crew! Thank you for the great service you provide, don't know what we would do without you all! I am becoming more confused by the minute.  I spent quite some time researching & thought I had covered all my bases.  I have DSB of 7 inches.  I decided to go w/ depth for a few reasons (filtering, maintenance, & wanting to keep a Jawfish).  I read that you were not supposed to disturb a DSB, as it might "crash" the tank.  Now, I am reading that I should "poke" or "stir" the DSB to prevent a "crash". Can I get your thought on this?  If it does require "poking/stirring", how should this be done and how often? Again, thank you for the site & any help I can get on this matter. Take care, Wendy <<Wendy:  Intentionally stirring up the DSB ruins the whole point of the DSB; namely that you need higher and lower oxygen areas in the DSB to realize the benefits of the DSB.  Best of luck, Roy>>

Re: QT screw up, oh and DSB sand  - 05/13/2006 Thanks again for your reply Bob. The weirdest thing has happened - the ich (or at least what I thought was ich) disappeared from Regal tang in less than a day. Is that possible? <Umm, yes... is not really gone... is/has cycled off... your system is infested... and like that not-so-popular ex-Austrian Gov of the Sunshine State, it'll be "baaaaack"> - I guess it could have been micro bubbles but I don't think so  since all I have is small hang on filter and power head as filtration- maybe some sand particles in the QT ( there is no sand bed in the QT)?. <I suspect you're right here. This was Crypt> In my other QT, my yellow eye tang has regained its color and the fish seem happy. I am doing a 10% water change in QT every 2-3 days to help the stress levels. Can a FW dip with Methylene blue remove ich immediately? <Not generally...> That's all I did!! Any ideas ?- Oh well. On an unrelated matter I have a refugium with a DSB that I had taken offline for a couple of months. I have decided to give more space to the Chaeto so I began to remove my 7 inch sugar fine sand  (to use in my new system) when I noticed some black streaks in the sand and smelled an odor . Can I still reuse the sand and if so do I need to rinse or recycle  it with salt water? <Best to give this a vigorous rinse at least... the hydrogen sulfide smell should be "all gone" before re-using... though the black stain may well persist. Bob Fenner> Many thanks again

Deep Sand Bed - 05/11/06 HI, I was wondering if you could tell me the proper way to manage a 5-inch deep sand bed? THANKS. <<A rather nebulous question my friend.  Do start reading here ( http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm) being sure to follow/read among the links in blue at the top of the page...and feel free to come back with more specific questions if need be.  Regards, EricR>>

Nano DSB  - 04/26/06 I am a huge fan of the DSB and have had great success with it in my 75 gallon reef tank at home (thanks to the info on wetwebmedia.com). I have now started a 24 gallon AquaPod at work so I can enjoy my reef all day. <Very cool!  I want one at work too!  But just remember -- you're working with a whole different animal here now that you limited your water volume to such a small amount.> I employed a 4 1/4" oolitic sandbed with 25-30 lbs of LR. <Sounds nice -- however severely limits your volume once again, you will have to be much more careful here, won't be as forgiving as your 75g> I also threw in a couple scoops of sand from my DSB at home to seed it with some pods and worms. The tank is stocked with 2 small Chromis, a very small ocellaris and the usual assortment of janitors. <Just fine amount of bioload here.> Corals include a pom pom xenia, star polyps, Fungia sp, assorted zoo's, 2 Ricordea yuma, and other various mushrooms. The Nitrate has steadily risen in the AquaPod (unlike my tank at home that has had undetectable levels for almost 2 years) it's currently around 50ppm after 2 months. <Ouch, much too high here -- especially stressful for your inverts.  You have much too much in this tank given its only 2 months old.> Is the DSB just not deep enough for a volume this small, maybe it needs more time? <I wouldn't add anymore sand here, you already have little water.> I don't think the bioload is anywhere near "too much" fish wise and I feed very sparingly. <Bioload is fine.> I run a micron filter pad, changed daily and use RO for top off. I'm planning on buying a little skimmer for it, but don't have great confidence in the cheap ones that can fit in an aquarium like this (current's fission skimmer). <Absolutely must have a skimmer here.  Personally I've found that the fission doesn't do much.  Adding a sump/refugium with a better skimmer like the Remora, would be the best option.> Would it be worth slowly adding another inch or so of sand? <I wouldn't, no.> Any ideas are appreciated. For now I'm just going to go back to weekly water changes until I get things figured out. <Keep up your water changes, it is possible that you haven't quite cycled completely though.  You're really high and you have enough in there to add to it daily.  Next time, with a volume so small, I would wait a little longer than you did before adding inverts precisely for this reason.  Good luck, Jen S.> Thanks so much, Jeremy
Re: Nano DSB For Jen S.
 4/27/06 Thanks for your reply Jen. <No problem Jeremy!> Your right, that is a lot of coral for a 2 month old tank. They have all been frags from my big tank so pretty much free (it's hard to resist bringing them with me to work!). <I get you here!> Anyways, I  just wanted to let you know that if you really do want a Nano for work, fostersmith is selling these 24 AquaPods on special for only $169(shipping was $13 so its like 25% cheaper than I've seen anywhere) for the next week or 2. <Thanks for the info -- I ALWAYS order from them, but I don't believe I'll ever go Nano reef tank again (I have a 12gal up and running among others.)  There are just too many mod.s to make to these already built systems.> They do run a bit hot and we had to mod them with some additional fans in the light cavity and some breathing ports on the outer shell to evaporate the condensation. <Great mod.s, you should have seen me adding proper lighting to an eclipse hood!> All and all I am pretty happy with them so far. I'm going to try and shave 1/4 off of a Berlin airlift 60 skimmer nice and quite plus no extra wattage in the tank) crossing my fingers....it should fit in the back chamber. <Great luck!  I just added a sump/refugium to add the skimmer into, among the many other benefits.  Thanks again for the info!  Jen S.> Thanks again! Jeremy

DSB and Confusion(s)  - 04/19/06 Hello to the WWM person of the day! <Guess that is me, Adam J with you today'¦..'err tonight.>   I have a 100gl tank which I purchased recently and when it was moved I saved half the water, as well as most of the sand. <Okay.> I set it up as a reef, with 4" DSB, but kept having algae blooms because one powerhead blasted a corner and stirred up the sand too much. <Common problem with DSB's.> At this point I decided to remove a pesky tang and Anthias, which came with the purchase, so having to basically break down the tank to catch them, I moved all the LR to my 40gl tank with no sand bed. <Okay.> OK, here's where things get fuzzy...I decided I would like to keep the smaller tank as the reef tank instead. <All right.> It has plenty of pods and critters and I want to set it up as a Seahorse exhibit. <Be sure to research the needs of these creatures, not an endeavour I recommend to just casual aquarists.> Now for the 100gl...It has been sitting for 3 months with old water, no light, no heat, etc. <What about flow, was it stagnant.> I drained nearly all the water, and to my surprise, a few snails (who got left behind), were still moving along in there. With the tank sitting so long with out any attention, is the sand still viable? <Sure.> I am planning a FOWLR, so I need to decide what to do with this sand. <Keep if you want, but once the tank is in 'working' order again I would allow a minimum of 30 days to let it stabilize.> Do I clean the sand entirely with saltwater, remove it completely or just the top layer? <I would vacuumed any detritus out of it, stirring if necessary since there is no livestock in the tank.> Would it be usable for the 40gl tank? <You could, but moving it will disturb the anaerobic pockets, it will cause the 'levels' in the 40 gallon to go array'¦this is fine if their isn't any livestock in there yet.> If I want to add sand to make it deeper, would I want to add sand a little at a time or could I put in another inch all across and stir it up a bit? I assume curing any new LR might be done simultaneously. <That's what I would do.> This would all take place before any inhabitants move in, <Great, that's what I was concerned about.> of course. Trying to juggle setting up two DSB's at once is giving me a real headache. Please help me stop the "spinning room" syndrome! Thanks! <Adam J.>

Re: reusing an old sand bed    4/25/06 Thanks for clearing the confusion Adam. <He seems to have skipped town...> No, there is no water flow in the big tank. I'll do as you recommended and simply siphon off the sediment along with stirring up the top layer of sand. As for the 40gl, it does have a couple of fish (a fire fish, plus a small clown who will be returned to the 100gl ), also Xenia, hammer, GS polyps, a feather duster, along with a couple of turbo and Ceriths, hermits and a Choc. chip star (which will go back in the 100gl when its livable). I do have some experience, along with all the research I'm doing, to feel confident making the reef ready for horses. Here's my next question... should I retrofit a DSB with new sand into the 40gl? <Could... as you'll see/find, I am a big/ger fan of remoting such in separate tied-in sumps/refugiums... much easier to maintain, manipulate> As mentioned earlier, all the rock and inhabitants were originally placed in there as a holding tank with out any sand bed. I do have plenty of pods and such living in a few clumps of Chaetomorpha (Brillo pad) algae and I've see Nano tanks kept without one, but I wouldn't be able to put a fuge on the back. On a scale of 1-10, which would you opt for? Also, I plan on returning the bio-balls to the big tank's sump, in addition to keeping the DSB. Any concerns?   Thanks again <Sorry, don't understand your stated options clearly... I would choose the largest/r 'fuge... place the DSB there. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm see the area about four "paragraphs" down on Refugiums? Bob Fenner>

DSB For A Large Tank - 04/09/06 Dear Bob, <<EricR here this morning...I think Bob is still asleep/recovering from his Lavaman ordeal <grin>.>> I currently have an 8ft tank and would like to add a deep sand bed to assist in denitrification and to provide more comfort for my stingray. <<A very good idea in my opinion.  I too have a 8ft tank, with a 6" DSB...but no stingray (is a reef display).>> I have read the article on the website, and am aware that 3" depth is a minimum. <<Mmm...can depend on 'grain-size' of the substrate, with larger grain-sizes meaning deeper beds.  But even when using sugar-fine sand my preference is for a 4-inch minimum.>> There is 40kg of fine coral sand, 12 kg of fine grade aragonite currently in the tank which makes up an average depth of between 1-2 inches.  I will create the DSB by adding sugar fine sand, although I would like your opinion as to how deep I should go? <<Were it me, with this mix of sand, I would shoot for an absolute minimum depth of 4 inches...even 5 or 6 inches if your not opposed to the look/loss of depth to the open water column. I know that bigger tanks require deeper sand beds. <<Not sure I agree with this.  All things equal, the sand bed will be proportionately larger in the larger tank.  As far as I'm concerned, 'minimum' bed depths would apply equally to all tank sizes.>> Current inhabitants included a small masked-stingray, 3 snowflakes. <<Sounds like a very nice display.  This ray (Dasyatis kuhlii) seems to be one of the better choices for aquariums (not to be confused with Taeniura lymna...another/different 'blue-spotted' ray with a very poor survival record) and will definitely appreciate a 'fine' sand bed.>> Also, I have attached a spare 10g tank as a refugium (which I know is small, but at least it puts the tank to good use) and would also like to know if creating a deep sand bed in there, without having a DSB in the main display, would have any sort of effect on denitrification? <<Probably not a noticeable effect...considering the size/stock list of the display.  I think putting the DSB in the display is your best option.>> I'm just trying to get my head around the proportionate area of DSB and its correlation to the degree of denitrification. <<Please have a look here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm >> Thanks in advance, Joe <<Quite welcome.  Regards, EricR>>

New CaribSea Aragonite Substrate    4/6/06 Good afternoon gang! <Jeff> I just purchased a bag of the CaribSea Aragonite to add to my growing 55g FOWLR tank.  Once home I found a hole in the bag.  Should I set up a QT for this  sand, or would it be safe to add to the tank as is? <Very likely fine as is... just rinse (for dust mainly) and pour in>   Also, I am increasing my DSB to somewhere between 3 and 5" based on what I have been reading on the WWM site.  I currently have between 2 and 3" of sugar sand with a mixture of crushed shells.  I have approximately 50#'s of crushed coral that I took out of the tank when I added the sand.  Can I mix some of that crushed coral with the aragonite to get my DSB where I want it?   <Yes> The reason for the DSB was to get away from vacuuming the CC every two weeks. I don't want to add the CC if I will have to go back to that biweekly cleaning regimen. <Still will need to be stirred a bit... See WWM re DSBs> I am also getting ready to add 48#'s of live rock, already have about 12lbs in tank, once it get through the curing cycle. With the addition of the LR and the increased DSB, I am wanting to remove the bioballs I have in my wet/dry filter. <Should be fine to do> This tank has been established for about 2 years.  Nitrates have always stayed around 10 to 20 PPM.  With all I am doing/want to do, with regular water changes, am I headed in the right direction to get nitrates down to zero? <Yes... perhaps a later addition of a refugium...> Thanks in advance for your help! Jeff <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: New CaribSea Aragonite Substrate  4/6/06 Thanks for the reply Bob!! <Welcome> You mentioned that the sand/CC mixture would have to be stirred around a bit....I have about 75 Ilyanassa snails currently in the tank to keep the sand stirred up.  Will that work? <Should... perhaps but a bit of "grunge" that you might want to stir at the edge where the viewing panels might show it> These snails are about the size of a dime and seem to be doing quite well. ...or do I still need to stir it up about every two weeks or so? Thanks again!! Jeff <Likely no need here. Bob Fenner>

DSB and Live Rock Quandary   4/1/06 What is right? Good evening from NC!  <Good evening to you too!> I have a 55 FOWLR tank that has been up and running for about 2 years.  I currently have about 12 lbs of rock, some coral skeletons, barnacles, shells, and a 3" sand bed.  Water conditions are acceptable:  ammonia - 0, nitrites - 0, nitrates - 15 to 20ppm, PH - 8.0 to 8.2, SG - 1.023-1.026....the latter three vary a little with water changes. The rock I currently have in the tank is partially in the sand, with one piece on top.  I have recently purchased 48 lbs of Fiji Premium rock and have it curing now.  It is currently in a 35 gal covered trash can with a heater, air stone, and a power head...I do not have an extra skimmer...so I hope what I have will work.  I am closely monitoring the ammonia and changing water as needed per what I have read.  <Sounds good.> My question is....after curing, should I move the sand and set the rock on the bottom of the tank, then push the sand around each "base"?  Or set it on top and try to "wiggle" it into the sand?  I only have three fish at this point....2 damsels and 1 blue tang...along with 1 blue leg hermit and several small snails.  I would like to add an anemone and a pair of clowns once I get everything in place and all the water conditions stable.  After reading WWM for hours it seems, I know that the rock will need to stay clear of the back and sides for cleaning purposes.  I am just not certain about the sand placement.  <This is really your preference.  Either way you have to make is stable.  Setting it up with no substrate is one way to do it.  However you can also use a cement designed for SW tanks to stabilize it also.  It's really what is easier for you.  Good luck! > Thanks in advance for your input.  Trust me....it is very much appreciated!!  <No problem, Jen S.> Jeff

Regarding the use of Macroalgae and DSB in a unorthodox remote manner  2/26/06 Crew, Hope you are all well. <Doing well thank you! Tim answering your questions today.> I have been unable to find any reference to this idea and would like a singular or collective opinion if you have interest. For those of us who have smaller reef systems with no room for refuge, sump, etc. (at least no room we are allowed in the living room or I would have 10 interconnected tanks); <My situation also at present... though stay tuned as I am intending on soon posting a useful article regarding this issue!> Here are my assumptions - Since macroalgae does a wondrous job ( specifically Chaeto and Caulerpa, Chaeto being my preference ) <Mine too - Caulerpa has a host of problems of its own!> in the removal of dissolved organics/excess nutrients - and a DSB if maintained properly can be wondrous as well - and a DSB can be remote Could it be possible to have a non-connected system (i.e. LARGE Rubbermaid container) with the proper heat, moderate circulation and enough lighting to effect macroalgae growth, to basically use as a tank water  purifier.  I can envision swapping 10 gallons of change water out of the tank with 10 gallons out of the remote system and letting the DSB and macro 'process' it for later use. <I would not recommend this, although I appreciate your thinking. The reason is that doing water changes do not simply reduce the level of DOCs in the water, keeping nitrates and phosphates under control, but also I) removes a variety of other chemicals that may be in the water that may not be filtered out by algae or a DSB, for example the toxins released by some corals and other animals ii) water changes actually are important for adding chemicals to the water, in particular trace elements that may become depleted otherwise. Of course with regard to the latter, you could supplement these manually with additives, but I would still be concerned about a potential build-up of toxins in the water.> I could set this up in the garage even in colder months with the proper insulation and heating and have an available supply ready to use as change water.  Would also ensure that when/if the DSB got icky or Caulerpa went crashed, there would be no main tank crash. Just a wild thought and thanks for any input, if you feel its warranted. <I would recommend avoiding this option> My only other options is to hypnotize spouse to put a 120g in the formal living room that can have a refugium...<If you manage this, please do tell me your technique as I have been trying the same for some time now, but so far my spiral print-outs have been unsuccessful!>.but she might see that coming.. Take care, Bill
Re: Regarding the use of Macroalgae and DSB in a unorthodox remote manner
- 2/28/2006 <Hello - Tim responding again. I hope that you are well!> Yet another reason that WWW is one of the best sounding boards <Thank you very much - we do try!> - that is an EXCELLENT point - I thought that I had thought all the options through and the non-exported 'stuff' simply did not enter my brain. <Thank goodness - most of it is the kind of 'stuff' that you do not particularly want entering your brain either! :o) > Especially considering the new Dragonette that I just got acclimated and has been spewing a little mucus during acclimation :) <Do ensure that your tank is adequate to support this lovely little fish - or that you have a replenishable source of copepods!> Interesting how diatoms seem to be attracted to any amount of mucus from every nook of the tank..... ewww..  Oh well, water changes it is :).  I also noticed that one of my Strombus snails appeared to be expelling multiple cloud bursts of gametes - I thought most all snails copulated in some way and then laid egg strands - is this something you have ever seen? <No I am afraid that is not something that I have experience with - perhaps other members of the crew will be able to comment on this. In any case, do check the WWM site for more information.> I can't imagine it is an efficient way of reproduction with the speed at which they move :) <Interesting point!> I could not get a pic fast enough, then it went on its merry way cleaning the rock.... Take care

DSB maintenance   2/24/06 <Hi Steven - Tim answering your question today!> I have a question regarding the maintenance of my DSB.  First I should describe my system.  The tank in question is a 55g FOWLR containing a 5" bed of fine aragonite with about 80lbs of rock.  Its inhabitants are a pair of Clarkiis and a cleanup crew consisting of a few large Turbos, some Nassarius snails, blue-legged hermits, and a Diadema urchin.  This tank flows down to a 10g dark refugium (used for plankton generation) and then into a 29g illuminated sump housing various soft corals.  Filtration is largely natural with the except of small amounts of carbon (changed weekly) and a SeaClone 150 skimmer. <Is the skimmer working for you? I have read mixed reviews.>      Now for the DSB question.  My concern is that I have not been properly maintaining the sand bed.  I have heard a lot of mixed opinions regarding the cleaning of DSBs.  Some say to occasionally stir the top inch, others say to stir the whole sand bed, and some say to vacuum the sand.  I have been doing none of these.  Instead I was assuming that the Nassarius snails would adequately stir the top inch as well as remove detritus.  Do you think that this is sufficient? <Review the information at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm and the related links with regard to proper maintenance of a DSB. In terms of the Nassarius, their adequacy will depend on the number in your tank; the blue hermits will also help.> Or should I begin a cleaning regimen? <Always a good idea - especially in terms of vacuuming the surface of the substrate.> If I do start cleaning the sand now am I putting the system in danger by releasing excess nutrients and/or hydrogen sulfide? <This should not be a problem, though will depend on the age of the sand bed and the extent to which your cleaning crew have been keeping things tidy.> I guess I was thinking about starting to vacuum the sand and starting by doing only a small fraction every few days so that if there is hydrogen sulfide release it will be on a smaller scale. <Always better to be safe, I agree.>      And one more question regarding the tank's set-up.  When I set up this tank I first laid down the sand bed, and then placed the rock on top.  The rock covers approximately half of the DSB surface area.  Was this a mistake?  Recent reading suggested to me that it is a mistake because the area underneath the rocks will not be reached well enough by the detritivores and can't be stirred by myself without removing the rock, so it will end up being a large nutrient sink.  I guess my thoughts during the set-up were that rock on top of the sand would be fine because uneaten food/waste would not settle under the rocks and so this area would relatively nutrient-free with the except of small amounts of organics seeping in from neighboring uncovered portions of the bed.  Furthermore, the rock placed atop the DSB should aid in creating the hypoxic conditions necessary for natural denitrification, correct?  Your opinions are much appreciated!  And huge thanks to the entire WWM crew for taking the time to make us all better aquarists!

DSB layered sizes  - 2/21/2006 Hey guys, First I want to thank you all for the great information on the site. It is truly invaluable. I have a question regarding a DSB in a 24 gallon Nano tank. I have used a 4-8" DSB in my 75 gallon reef tank for over a year (I know that's a big difference, the current has done lots of shaping). I used Aragamax "Select Grade", and the nitrates are undetectable. Needless to say I am very happy with it. So this is my question, I am starting up a 24 gallon AquaPod (I hope these ones don't crack!) at work to keep part of my reef with me all day. My LFS does not carry the Aragamax "Select Grade" that I used for my first DSB. They do have the "Special Grade" which is still pretty fine, but not sugar fine. They advertise the Special Grade as 1-1.7mm. Is this Ok to use, or should I wait until I can get the true "oolitic" size? <I would use either... the one on hand is fine> I was thinking that I could put down 3" of the "Special", and then maybe 1" on top of that using the "Select" I have some select left over). I can also get a "super fine" 0.2 to 1.22 mm, I was worried that may be too small. What do you think? Thanks, Jeremy <If mixed, will mix... Bob Fenner>

Refugium Methodology...Reverse Flow DSB? - 02/11/06 Hi, <<Hello>> I have a 210g reef tank (200lbs. LR and a large number of corals) with a 40g sump and a 40g refugium. <<cool>> Lighting is an Aquamedic space light with 3-250W 20K HQI.  My skimmer is an Aquamedic model, not sure of the model number but I have found it to be excellent. <<ok>> The pump for the return is a Dolphin 3000gph.  I have been toying around with various ideas to try to improve on the refugium because it's not doing what it is supposed to do which is act primarily as a nitrate reducer. <<I see...>> In talking to various people, I came across an idea that intrigued me but have not been able to verify it.  In a nutshell, it uses a plenum (~2"tall) and has approximately 5-6" of sand on top. <<You don't need the plenum...>> The interesting part is that a pipe is run under the plenum and water is slowly pushed thru the sand and then returns to the main tank. <<Hmm...ok>> I have not been able to verify the effectiveness of this, and while I don't mind experimenting, I would prefer not to do anything that would have a truly detrimental affect.  Any ideas would be great. <<I'm not familiar with this methodology...for my two cents, I would employ a simple lighted vegetable refugium with a 6" sugar-fine DSB and Chaetomorpha algae.  But if you're interested, do set up a test system as described, and let us know your findings.>> L <<Regards, E >>

DSB and ammonia production   2/7/06 Robert or WWM person. <Okay> I understand that under some conditions a DSB or other anaerobic nitrate reduction can return ammonia instead of nitrogen gas.  This has resulted in a civil discussion between me and some others. 1) Is my point correct and there is some way however remote a DSB can return ammonia instead of nitrogen gas. <Yes> 2) is the poster correct in his assessment that the page on WWM is incorrect?: from:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwnitrates.htm quote: This occurs in two half-reactions Nitrate to Nitrite to Nitrogen NO3 + 2 electrons + H+ <=> NO2 + H2O NO2 + 3 electrons + 4 H+ 1/2 N2 (nitrogen gas) + 2 H2O or, taken together: NO3 + 5 electrons + 6 H+ <=> 1/2 N2 + 3 H2O Where some anaerobic microbes (lack of oxygen) convert nitrates into transitory nitrite and ultimately ammonia molecules. Note, with the use/incorporation of H+/protons pH is elevated. Note further that this is where the reduction of carbon-based materials comes into play in "feeding" purposeful Denitrators, providing the electrons and hydrogen ions, balancing these RedOx equations.   <This/these are valid statements... though not (necessarily, very) complete> unquote poster: quote: That is his entire discussion of the chemistry of denitrification. Note that he heads his listing of the equations "Nitrate to Nitrite to Nitrogen," that none of the equations contain ammonia, and that the only reference to ammonia is in that singular sentence. Note also that aqueous ammonia in your tanks exists as ions, not molecules. <Mmm, the "chargedness" of chemical species has nothing to do with whether they are molecular or no> So the sentence as it stands, taken in context, seems incongruous. A reasonable conclusion is that his mention of ammonia in that sentence was in error; <Mmm, just an omission> that he likely meant to say "some anaerobic microbes (lack of oxygen) convert nitrates into transitory nitrite and ultimately nitrogen molecules." <Okay> unquote and emphasis added. To me your site said exactly what it meant to say.  That under some conditions it is possible to generate ammonia not nitrogen gas.  But under normal (say low ph values)  you get nitrogen gas. <One common set of conditions, yes> thanks in advance. Bob <... I would like to make complete declarative statements re this (and other important aquaristic) topics... Am wondering though, how much utility/popularity these would enjoy. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

DSB invention  02-05-06 Maybe a new invention Hi all.  I'm a saltwater fish enthusiast.  And I had an idea that may work to reduce nitrates.  If one built a chamber with a four foot long piece of 3" pvc and had a 3" to 1 1/2" adapter on each end.  And filled the chamber with 2-4mm aragonite substrate.  Then pump water through it.   Could there be the Anaerobic bacteria in there that would reduce the nitrates?  Maybe this is something that people are already doing. Or maybe it wouldn't work, but it sounds good in theory.  What do you think? <First off, you would need a pretty powerful pump to push water through 4' x 3" of aragonite.  You would in essence be pushing aerated water through it so that would eliminate the anaerobic function.  Much less fooling around if you just went with a DSB.  James (Salty Dog)> Nick Myrtle Beach

Question on DSBs   1/27/06 Hello Crew, <Jennica> I've read your Reef Invertebrates book.  The book and your website appears to -very- strongly recommend using sugar-fine sand (e.g., like CaribSea Aragamax sugar sand), but the reference chart at CaribSea ( http://www.carib-sea.com/media/aquatic/reference.jpg) gives these sizes only a "G" rating at best for use in deep sand beds.  Only the grains the next size step up earn the "E" rating.  Do you know why that is?   <Mmm, nope> I'd really love to pursue a DSB not just for the denitrification, but also for the opportunity to watch interesting creepy crawly critters in action. Regards, JJ <Do contact CaribSea here... and make known what they say. Thanks. Bob Fenner>
Re: Question on DSBs   1/31/06
Hello Crew, <Jennica> Per correspondence below, I emailed CaribSea regarding their "Good" grading for the sugar-sized Aragamax sand as opposed to "Excellent". This is their response: "It was simply an oversight while creating the new catalog, and website. It will be changed to excellent in the updated versions." Thought you'd might like to know. Regards, Jennica <Ahh! Thank you very much for this follow-up... Seems the folks putting the catalog together made up a classification scheme but forgot to revisit and put "real" (relatable prompts) in its place before sending to the printer. Bob Fenner>

Replacing Sand, Building Depth Back Up - 01/05/2006 Hello, <Hi there Anne.> I've looked through the questions but haven't come across one that answers mine........ <Ok.> I have been taking out small amounts of sand during my weekly water changes (the last three times) that seem to have Cyanobacteria growing on it. <Hate it when that happens. You can try a smaller diameter tube, should help.> I'm starting to notice my DSB isn't so deep anymore. Is it ok to add sand back into the tank a little at a time to build this back up? <Yes, and you're right, a little at a time. When adding try moving small portions, add the new, smooth the old back over. Don't bury the existing bed.> Thank you <Gladly. - Josh> Anne Canfield Staff Research Associate II California National Primate Research Center <Awesome. I love 'em!:)>

Deep sand bed I can't seem to get my nitrates under 20ppm even with weekly 10% changes. <As you (will) know, there are a few key inputs/outputs here...> I was/am thinking of converting to a DSB.  Right now I have 25 lbs of crushed coral in the tank(50g) as a substrate. Would I benefit from replacing the crushed coral with sand? <Perhaps> If I add sand, should I leave the crushed coral or remove it? <If there is room, I would leave it, have both> One local "expert" just told me that sand will eventually kill a tank as it traps all of the nitrates and phosphates until one day it all gets released into the tank.   <Mmm, well... there is some factuality to the statement...> I'm thinking that if a maintenance crew of crabs, snails, sand sifters, etc are in place that should take care of that concern no? <This and periodic replacement, addition of material, yes> Now, I do have a fuzzy lion and I'm fearful that any shrimp I add he will just eat, so there goes part of the cleaning crew. Thanks David <Please take the time to peruse the articles and FAQs files archived on WWM re DSB's, Nitrates... marine substrates period. Bob Fenner>

Re: replaced deep sand bed   1/10/06 Hi all, I am sure I should of given you more information. This is a 55 gallon tank with 1 year old  60 lbs of live rock. There is an internal refugium with sand and rock and macro algae. I hope this is enough information. I really appreciate your support. Thanks Ernie <... sounds good. Bob Fenner>

Moving A DSB...No Party - 12/06/05 WWM DSB Guru: Hello, <<Howdy>> I'd like any advice you have on moving a DSB. <<Generally not worth the bother/mess to try to move the entire bed...is up to you...but I would place new sand in the new tank and just seed it generously with sand from the old tank.>> Currently, I have about a 3-4" sugar-fine Oolitic DSB in a 100 gal. reef that's been happily gobbling nitrates for 2.5 years. <<Very good!>> I'm moving all of the livestock to a larger tank. I plan to move the LR and the fish first, then slowly scoop out sections of the DSB, rinse it gently in remaining tank water, and replant it in the new tank at about 10 lbs per day (I think I have about 150 lbs total to move.). <<Mmm...see my previous comment. Do be aware that relocating the old sand bed will cause a die-off of micro-/macro-life within the bed as the different levels/layers become mixed together.>> DSB critters like my sand sifting starfish will move after the bulk of the sand gets moved into the new tank. I'm planning on avoiding moving the whole thing at once to avoid any noxious sulfur based gases getting dumped into the new tank, or any other nasties that might be released upon disturbing the bed. <<Of little concern.>> I'll disturb quite a bit of the anaerobic bacteria, <<Among other things...>> obviously, and might require months of maturation before the newly transplanted DSB is working at full throttle again, I assume. <<Not much difference here between this or heavily seeding a new bed eh?>> Is this the correct approach, or do I need not worry and can move all at once? <<I don't recommend moving the entire bed unless the tank will sit fallow until it cycles. Whichever method you choose, consider placing the fish/livestock elsewhere until you can test/confirm the safety/stability of the new setup. EricR>> Cheers, SLC 

Water flow and the Deep Sand Bed 11/30/2005 Hello Crew <Hi.> I have a small matter, I was hoping you could guide me to put an end to my tank being cloudy from my circulation pump stirring the sand bed. <Okay.> - 120 gal all-glass - 4 in DSB - return manifold schematic used from your WWW forum http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pbh2oret.htm, thanks a million for this thread. - return pump; external HD Blueline A.K.A. pan world magnetic pump model 200PS <Sounds good.> The pump is rated @ 1750PH @ 0 ft head - max ft head pressure 39 ft. I have calculated my plumbing system including the manifold to approx 10 ft head giving me 25 gpm or 1500 gph per the flow chart schematic. I had the system running approx 4 weeks prior to putting any lights to the tank. Now that the lights are up, I have noticed a large amount of sand mixing in the main tank and the water movement is pushing the sand bed out of conformity on the sides of the tank; actually displacing the sand completely as the glass is visible on both bottom sides of the glass tank. Not to mention the tons of microbubbles developing from the water rushing through the refugium / sump to the return pump to the tank. <Seems like the micro-bubble problem could se solved with a few strategically placed baffles.> I know I know, too much water movement. :((, I read many articles including your books and many other readings pushing for min 10 x the main tank volume min. I know that having 100/lbs LR, approx 120/lbs Arag DSB displaces the water volume for sure maybe 90 - 95 gal( I am not an engineer I only have resource material for reference). I have cut down the return pump ball valve almost 2/3. I have 1 - 3/4" loc line flat nozzle agitating the surface water wonderfully and, the other 3/4" round nozzle placed 1" below water level positioned for deeper water circulation around the rocks and tank. No matter what I do the only way to reduce the sand mixing is too almost shut the valve close to almost 1/4 open. This reduces the stirring of the sand completely but, my fear is now I am almost certain I am not even obtaining 3 x water volume circulation. I have invested in the http://secure.microbyte.net/virtual/webaquatics/onlinestore/detail.cfm?ID=OS1142&storeid=1 water flow gauge but it is ordered and I have to wait until I get it to know what my water movement could really be. I was curious, is there any other way to get the tank's sand to a more stable situation with my current water pump configuration? <Well this is one of the downfalls about keeping a DSB in a high flow reef tank. Your exact problem is why many hobbyist prefer to keep the DSB in the sump/refugium area rather than the display.  I would rather you not sacrifice the flow rates by closing the valve, I'm a huge proponent of LOTS of water flow. I have had this problem before and it came down to the way my return nozzle was aligned. IT was aligned much to liner and the flow was going directly into the sand bed. I remedied this by creating a much more turbulent flow environment by positioning the returns aimed directly at each other or other obstacles such as rock and glass and other power heads.> Thanks in advance and thanks a million. <I hope this has helped.> Sincerely Maurice Rousseau Jr. <Adam J.> 

DSB in 20L?  11/29/05 Hello crew! <<Howdy>> This is a great site, and your archives have answered many of my questions. <<Excellent to hear.>> In searching I found several people using 20L's for sumps, but no discussion about 20Ls and DSBs. <<Ok>> I am opting to go with a 20L (36x12x12) for a sump on my 90g AGA MegaFlow tank (600 gph overflow, 48x18x24). The sump will contain a Euro Reef CS6-1, 2x200w heaters (should be able to fit them across with width), and a MagDrive 9.5 return pump. <<Sounds good...I personally love the ER skimmers.>> I like the idea of a remote DSB. <<Many do>> The layout will be similar to the plumbing diagram you show at the bottom of this page (but with one overflow): http://www.wetwebmedia.com/plumbingmarart.htm.  <<A popular design.>> I have a not-to-scale sketch that I made at http://filebox.vt.edu/users/stwalker/ReefPics/Sump.JPG.  <<The page would not display.>> <<URL showed one too many slashes, works fine now, but posting here for your viewing pleasure.  Marina>>

Click the link above to find full-size diagram on querior's site.

The lower height of the 20L (12") makes for easier access since I only have 23 in. available from the bottom to the top of the stand. However, I'm concerned that 12 in. will not be enough height to leave space for power outages, and still be able to run a DSB w/ macro algae. <<Will limit volume, yes...have you considered/done a test fit with a 29 gallon tank?>> ReefCentral's sump volume calculator states I'll need 7.5g to handle the tank overflow which equals about 4 inches of height in the 20L leaving 8 inches for use. <<I recommend you use the calculator as a rough "guide"...perform your own volume check once all is installed.>> Considering the size of the skimmer and return area leaves ~1/3 of the tank for the refugium area. <<Which is why I prefer separate sump/refugium when possible.>> Here are my questions: 1) Will a 4" DSB and 4" area for macro algae work and provide some benefit? <<Certainly...though in this instance bigger is definitely better...>> 2) Is there something you would change about my plumbing diagram? <<Maybe...if I could see it.>> 3) Would I be better served by using a mud substrate and more area for macro algae, or should I look into a larger sump to be able to run a DSB? <<My preference/experience is with a DSB...I would opt for the larger sump if possible.>> I'm still in the process of setting up, and haven't purchased a QT tank yet, so I could use the 20L for that if a larger tank is a better option. <<Ok>> Since I can't fit the 20L through the stand doors anyway the only affect of a taller tank will be that removing the skimmer would be more difficult if I ever needed to do so. <<And you will...for periodic maintenance/cleaning...all must be considered.>> Would modifying the stand to have a side access door be a good idea? <<Mmm...if "modifying is an option, why not customize/build to accommodate a larger sump (and maybe a separate 'fuge too?).>> Thank you for your time. -Steve <<Regards, EricR>>

Juwel Filter Conversion - 11/25/05 Quick question, would it be possible to place a deep sandbed in the internal filter of my Juwel reef tank? <<A DSB can be placed most anywhere...many aquarists prefer placing them in sumps, refugiums, old salt buckets, etc., rather than in the main display.>> Currently it only house the pump heater and a bag of Rowaphos, I should like it be put to good use. <<Add some Chaetomorpha atop the sand bed and some light (RDP), and you'll have a nifty little vegetable refugium.>> Thanks in advance, Will <<Welcome, EricR>>

Deep Sand Bed Maintenance - 11/15/2005 If I go with deep sand beds instead of crushed coral how do I clean the sand since you can't gravel vacuum? <Various sand sifters are available. Most important however is strong water flow, regular water changes, not over feeding and effective skimming. Read this link, and follow the links above, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm . Oh yes, and I forgot to mention earlier that your Tuskfish does need live rock, or at least some suitable hiding spaces. - Josh>  Thanks Tony 

Miracle Mud & DSB...Can I Use Both? - 11/10/05 Hello There <<Hello>> I love your forum, your assistance and guidance is an absolute wonder for the Aqua-ciety. <<We're pleased you find it useful.> I have a quick question, I did read your FAQ's and I did not come across any discussion or topic specifically about using a DSB and Eco-System filtration combined. <<ok>> My setup - 120 gal, 6" aragonite DSB, 100/lbs live rock. I am wondering 1 thing.  According to the Eco-System website installation procedures, they specifically instruct the public NOT to use more than 1" sand bed in the main tank along with their filtering system.  I have read your pages on DSB's and I agree for a DSB for main tank filtration but I wanted to add the Eco-System refugium below the tank for extra filtration.  Do you recommend using a DSB 6" inline with the Eco-System/refugium with their product MM (Miracle Mud)? <<No reason you can't do this.  The choice is yours to either follow the Eco-System procedures exactly, or in your case since you already have the DSB in the tank, to use a "modified" version.  I don't think employing both methods together is going to "hurt" anything.>> Any insight would greatly be appreciated.  Also, I was curious to know if I had to read your comments on the web or would you be so kind to email me directly? <<We do both...we post and reply.>> Thanks in advance and thank you for you wonderful efforts in this hobby. Sincerely, Maurice Rousseau Jr.

Adding sand where once there was none - 10/20/2005 Hi! <Hello> Great site! Can I add a DSB to my 40g tank that currently has no substrate at all?<Absolutely!> And is it as simple as pouring it in?<Essentially yes.> My tank is occupied by 3 fish, 2 maroon clowns and a yellow Tang<We all make mistakes> (who will be going to a bigger home soon, I promise).<Yay!> <Sounds like a plan.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugdsbfaqs.htm This link will help you out. - Josh> Dan

DSB's, depth, gasses  10/20/05 Crew- <Craig> I was doing some follow up on your FAQ's about substrates and DSB's and I noticed that Steve Allen said that DSB's denitrify all the way to nitrogen gas. <Mmm, can...> In my 30 gallon reef's DSB, I have noticed that small pockets of air can be seen through the glass all around the edge of the sand bed. I assume these pockets of air are the end product of denitrification. <This is possible... but other reactions result in gasses produced here as well> If they are, it would be significant to note that the air pockets only occur within the top 1-2" of sand. Would this support those of the opinion that deeper DSB's offer no advantage over more shallow beds? <Mmm... no... the gas may be simply coalescing... floating up to this level> Or is it just as likely that the visible air pockets are the accumulation of nitrogen gas that has risen to the top of the bed after being created in the deeper parts of the bed? <Bingo> Since there is a lack of consensus on the virtue of DSB's, I thought I would pass my observations along. Craig <Appreciate this. It may well be that some studies have been done, published on the make-up of these gas accumulations... not easily found, indexed in the pet-fish literature, but... there are college/university libraries with computer-based search systems... Bob Fenner>

Sand in large setup 10/18/05 Crew-  <Craig> Quick question. What type of commercially available sand would be acceptable to use for the deeper portion of the DSB? I am not sure I like the projected cost of putting an all aragonite 6" DSB in a 220 gallon tank. Ouch! Is there a cheaper silica free alternative to aragonite that I could likely find in bulk? How many inches of a DSB bed could be of the cheaper variety and how much should be the aragonite? Please let me know of any other details to be aware of for such a proposed DSB. If there are FAQ's that already address this, please point me that way. As always, thank you for your time.  <Craig, here is a link to FAQ's concerning your question.  http://www.google.com/custom?q=south+down+sand&sa=Google+Search&sitesearch=wetwebmedia.com  James (Salty Dog)> 

Uneven DSB 10/18/05 Hi Adam  <James here today> It's Ai Kun again. I have a question on DSB. My tank, which is appx. 5 weeks old was started on a 4 inches deep DSB. After I added my maroon couple two weeks ago, they started 'digging' around and eventually built two small caves under the live rocks. They have dug so deep that I could see the glass at one of their spots.  Now I have a very uneven sandbed, a few spots of barely there sandbed and mostly very deep sand (appx 6-7") at all sides of the tank. Would this unevenness pose any problem? I tried to smoothen the sandbed, at least in areas not around their sleeping spots, but they still haven't got tired of 'digging'. I appreciate any advice/suggestions which you may have.  <Pretty typical of maroons digging and such. I don't see where this will cause any problems. Read info in this link for more help. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm James (Salty Dog)> Thank you again. Ai Kun  <You're welcome>

Question On A Tiered DSB - 10/05/05 First, I'd like to thank you for all of the valuable information I've received from reading through your site. It has been a great help. <<Excellent!>> I am starting a new tank and want to be able to take advantage of the benefits of a DSB but don't want to have the DSB in the display tank.  Instead, I want to put the DSB in the sump. <<A refugium would be better, but ok.>> Here is my question.  The stand is relatively tall but the length is only 48".  After placing the equipment and a refugium, there is not much space for a DSB. <<Mmm...would place it in the refugium.>> I was wondering if it would be possible to tier the DSB such that it would be like a layer cake. The first layer would be 6" of sand covered by 4" of water.  Above this layer would be a layer of Plexiglas.  On top of the Plexiglas would be another layer of sand and water.  On top of this would be a final layer of Plexiglas, sand and water.  Circulation of the water across each layer would be provided by small powerheads.  Would this work? <<Possibly... An effective DSB can be as simple as a 5-gallon bucket filled with sand and water flowed over it...so your design could work, though it sounds a bit "fiddly".  I suspect you're trying to maximize surface area in the DSB, so why not just put it in the refugium?>> I look forward to your response. Michael

Mud/DSB/Refugium - 09/30/05 Hello and thanks for the great site and forums. <<Glad you like 'em.>> I could not link to the forums page to post there, so I thought I would send an email.  Thanks in advance for your help. <<Email is fine.>> I am setting up a built-in system intended to house a live-rock based reef.  My 90G show tank overflows via a custom tank top into a 55G tank converted to a three-chamber sump and returns to the main tank via a pump running at probably 1100gph (Supreme Mag Drive 12). <<Mmm...pretty good pump...but with head height, probably returning a bit less than you think.>> This custom setup was originally intended to house an ecosystem (mud) filter in the central chamber (about 20" x 12").  Over time and having read various apparently conflicting information, I wound up investing in some Aragamud from CaribSea instead of Miracle Mud.  Do you know this product, and is it intended to be an alternate to MM or have I been steered in the wrong direction. <<Honestly, no...I'm not a user/familiar with either product.  Though I think for the application you describe either will suffice.>> I may be confusing the functions of a DSB with a mud tank with a refugium, and what I really want to do is set it up right in the first place. <<Either will do what you desire.  The finer grades of substrate just require less depth to get the job done.>> My goal is to create a system that allows relatively low maintenance - i.e., it provides filtration (denitrification and nutrient export) , it can provide planktonic food, it can reduce the amount of artificially added supplements needed. <<Oh... so you are seeking Utopia! <G> >> So is this ideal system a mud tank with just a thin layer of mud and macroalgae, a DSB with live sand live rock rubble and macroalgae, or something else? <<My preference is a 6" DSB of sugar-fine aragonite with Chaetomorpha algae.  Though you could add a layer of "mud" on top of the DSB if you want.>> I have read through many of your excellent forums, but am still confused.  Does a mud system accomplish denitrification? <<If deep enough, yes.>> Can a mud system support creatures that could produce the planktonic food a "refugium" can? <<I think a vegetable refugium excels here.>> Does a DSB have to be "partially changed out" like Ecosystems recommends mud systems do?   <<Not so much changed out as added to.  Aragonite has a half-life of about 18 mos. so you'll need to add more every so often.>> Sorry for the disorganized questions.  Your advice is greatly appreciated.  I have already invested $$$ in the system, if I have to invest more to set it up right in the first place, I am ok with that. <<<<Very good my friend, starting right is key... EricR>>

Creating a Deeper sand Bed!  9/23/05 Hi Bob, <Hey there! Scott F. here tonight!> Thanks for your speedy reply to all my questions in the past. I find this site the most informative tool on the net (really I do)! <Glad to hear that! We certainly enjoy bringing it to you!> Anyways, to get going, I've been looking into making my sandbed a bit deeper. I have a 100g reef with 150lbs of medium grit LS in the 1.0-2.0mm range at about on average, 3 inches deep.  I made a mistake in adding 20lbs of oolitic LS to it a couple of months ago, is this harmful? <I don't see any real problems with that.> The reason why I say, "on average 3 inches" is because I have this annoying maroon clown that has been raised without an anemone, she likes to shimmy in the sand causing a major disturbance in the bed. <An unavoidable Clownfish behavior!> I have a BTA that she has been hosting in for several months... but old habits are hard to break. My question is, I would like to achieve a 6" bed. Is my grit too big? <Well, it is a good size if you're looking at a 4"-6" sandbed depth, as this slightly larger grain size does require a greater depth on the average than the finer stuff to foster denitrification.> Also, if I go "deep", should I get rid of the Clown (very beautiful, if she wasn't so pretty she'd be out of there) so that the DSB would remain undisturbed? <A tough call...It is best if the deeper (greater than the top inch or so) layers are left undisturbed. If you really want to have an undisturbed DSB, the Clown may need to be removed.> Right now I'm getting nitrogen gas bubbles in the sediment... should I tamper? <I wouldn't tamper with it, lest you disturb the very processes that you're trying to encourage.> Do what you do best,       Missy <Rock on, Missy! I think you're on the right track here! Regards, Scott F.>

Deep Sand Bed 9/8/05 Hi Guys, I am in the process of increasing my sand bed. I am currently up to 4 inches down the front a bit shallower toward the back but more a less 4 inches through out. <Sounds good!> Should I add more sand or is this fine my tank size is around 300 litres.  I would rather not add if you feel I can get away with 4 inches for a DSB as my water has been murky for a while.  Thanks Regards, Ziad Limbada  <4" is fine for function, but you may have to add more later as it dissolves and compacts.  Best Regards,  AdamC.>
Deep Sand Bed part 2 9/13/05
I was thinking that I would rather get more sand and add some more just to just over 6 inches, while I have the rock out of the tank I might as well spend a little more time and do it properly. <I agree that now is the time!> I have spent over 3 weeks doing this process and I am amazed how much the sand has compacted in this time.  I figure that I am almost there, might as well do the Full Monty even if it takes another 2 weeks. <Kudos on your patience!> I for one love the look of the deep sand bed. Regards, Ziad Limbada  <Me too!  Best Regards.  AdamC.>

DSB stirring organisms, yea or nay ? Leave out the macro-fauna  8/27/05 Hola Crew... <Que tal Juan?> Getting down to the last few questions as I make the final decisions on the reef tank I am designing and I just became more confused than normal <G>. <Keep studying> I *was* planning on adding a brittle star and a couple of gobies to a 150 gallon (size keeps changing !) reef tank with a 6" DSB but my research today lead me to some comments by Dr. Ron S. (whose opinion I certainly respect) where he seems to indicate nothing larger than infauna should be allowed into a DSB display tank. My question is; is this a topic being hotly debated currently ? <Mmm, not as far as I'm aware. RonS's opinion is widely shared> Should I flip a coin or add the macro fauna and hope they don't burrow down into the anoxic area of the DSB ?!? <I wouldn't> Thanks again for all the *great* info at WWM ! John

Anorexic Anaerobic Bacteria  8/27/05 Dear Crew: <Paul> Six months ago, I started a 75-gallon reef aquarium with an inline 29-gallon refuge sump.  My plan for natural nitrate reduction (NNR) was to reduce nitrates to nitrogen gas by cultivating anaerobic bacteria with a deep sand bed (DSB) and live rock. <Okay> During the first 5 months of this aquarium, I performed 25% water changes every week to keep the nitrate levels under control.  I want to be able to reduce my need for water changes with NNR but this does not appear to be happening. Last month, I decided to wait 4 weeks before changing the water. While the ammonia and nitrite levels remained near zero, I found that my nitrate levels had climbed to between 25 and 50 ppm per the Salifert Nitrate Test. <High> I can add macroalgae to my refuge sump for nitrate export but I'd rather do that as a last resort. <Why?> Currently, my refugium is only used for water changes and houses an Iwaki MD30 pump, a Jager heater, an Ice Cap fan, and a Remora protein skimmer with carbon filtration. I need your advice on what I must do to achieve NNR with a DSB and LR in the main tank.  The DSB is 4" deep on average and contains sugar-fine oolitic Pure Caribbean Aragonite from Petroglyph.   While it is full of bubbles when viewed from the side and contains feather dusters, I see no bubbles on the surface of the DSB.  Most of the main tank's volume is occupied by live rock covered with purple coralline algae and Pachyclavularia violacea but no observable bubbles.  The tank has a generous 10x water flow and 300 watts of DE-halide illumination with fluorescent supplements. Everything else in the tank seems to be thriving: 1 Condylactis anemone (left end of tank) 1 Ritteri anemone (right end of tank) 2 Green Fiji Trees Discosoma mushrooms Rhodactis mushrooms Pachyclavularia violacea Palythoa Assorted button polyps Halimeda algae 1 Maroon Clown 1 Flame Hawkfish 10 Blue Devil Damsels 10 Pajama Cardinals Asteroidea sand-sifting starfish Turbo snails Hermit crab cleanup crew (1) What more must I do to cultivate the anaerobic bacteria needed to reduce nitrates to nitrogen gas? <Perhaps add a couple more inches of substrate... I would> (2) Are there nitrate-reducing anaerobic bacteria cultures that I can buy? <Mmm, unnecessary> (3) Has anyone succeeded in NNR with a DSB and LR in the main tank without macroalgae and frequent water changes? <Yes> My anaerobic bacteria are anorexic! <Heeee! Do consider removing some/all of the LR from the refugium, adding macroalgae and a reverse daylight photoperiod there. Bob Fenner> -Paul.

Re: Anorexic Anaerobic Bacteria 8/28/05 Bob, <Paul> I appreciate your reply and wish to pose some follow-up questions if I may. <Make it so! (Pulls down his tunic)> You appear to be suggesting that oolitic deep sand beds (DSB) are more effective in natural nitrate reduction (NNR) than live rocks (LR). <In general they are> (1) Is this confirmed by published research? <Mmm, yes... a cursory search of pet-fish literature... by Bob Goemans, J. Charley Delbeek, Ron Shimek... maybe Stephen Spotte, Martin Moe will likely show> (2) How do LR's compare with DSB's in ammonia & nitrite reduction? <In established settings, about the same... Initially the rock is more "active", important... per weight, volume... but with time, the DSB> (3) Does the type of LR matter (Florida versus Fiji)? <Oh yes... in general, Pacific "rock" is much more "full of holes" than tropical West Atlantic types... much more useful in terms of "biological filtration"> Currently, the size of my DSB is restricted only by the large amount of LR in the aquarium.  I can remove live rocks to increase the size of my DSB.  Is this how NNR is accomplished without algal filtration? <One way> To answer your earlier question, I do not want to add macroalgae to my refugium because of my bad luck in ordering it.  My order of Gracilaria parvispora from Hawaii arrived with Aiptasia.  My order of Chaetomorpha from the East Coast arrived with Caulerpa.  Unfortunately, there are no local fish stores in my corner of Colorado. <Mmm, I'd look around... local fish club/s or the Net... and get some small bit of "pure" culture from a fellow hobbyist... Or have you tried Inland Aquatics, Terre Haute, IN? Morgan Lidster has a mighty fine reputation...>   My refugium cannot accommodate another DSB because I designed it to provide an upward current to suspend macroalgae.  I want to make NNR work with LR and DSB in the main tank and would appreciate your suggestions. <Can be done... though am a big/ger fan of DSB's being remoted, outside of main/display tanks> Thanks very much.  I very much appreciate your forum and I think that is greatly advancing marine husbandry. <Wowzah!> Best regards,
<Bob Fenner>  

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