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FAQs about Deep Sand Beds, Location

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

Recommended substrate for competing objectives (DSB, avoidance of  cloudy tank with stirrers)    7/3/12
Crew, I am planning a 200G FOWLR with: Porcupine puffer, Wrasse (Coris Gaimard or Choerodon Fasciitis), PYTB Tang, Eibli Angel, Bicolor Goatfish, 2 Maroon Clowns, Eibli Angel, and 3 Engineer Gobies.
As you can see, I have selected some functional fish in the tank, particularly with substrate stirring. However, I don't know if/how to balance the desire for a DSB (for NNR), using the finest substrate possible, with the prospect of a cloudy tank due to the engineers, goatfish, and wrasse. Can you recommend a substrate and depth?
<A fine... 1-3 mm. mix of aragonitic or coral sand... rinsed well (in aliquots of 5-10 pounds in a swirling garden hose discharge in a clean "pickle bucket")... as deep as you can stand... 3 plus inches>
Also, is there risk that these fish will stir the deeper pockets of the DSB, causing problems (nitrates and other toxins due to disruption of DSB activity)?
If so, should I instead plan the DSB in the refugium and target a lesser depth, and coarser, substrate?
<Best to have fine/r substrate in both... which is what I'd do>
Thanks, Dave
<Welcome. BobF>

DSB covering the bottom of the sump...?  2/4/11
Good Morning,
I am in the process of a 150 gallon display tank with a 150 gallon Rubbermaid sump. I want to put a DSB (4"-6") in the sump. There will be a ASM G-4 Skimmer, live rock, Chaeto and light, carbon, a MAG 18 and a MAG 12 for the return pumps.
Is it ok to make the whole sump a DSB and put the skimmer on a milk crate and lift the return pumps off the sand?
I have been told this will cause a problem down the road.
<? What sort of problem/s?>
Others have said I should use a secondary container with in the sump and put the DSB in that. It would be about 1/3 of the sump, then it would be easily removable and replaceable and contained. Would that be enough to be beneficial?
<Any helps>
Or would you suggest using the whole sump? Is there a problem covering the whole bottom of the sump?
<... already answered>
Thank you all
God Bless,
Sean Obergfell...upstate very cold NY....Go Steelers!.. when you marry a Pittsburgh girl, you marry the Steelers
<Ok. BobF, unmarried>
Re: DSB covering the bottom of the sump...?  -- 02/04/11

Thank you Sir. I appreciate your time. It looks like I will be going with using the whole sump as a DSB.
 Re: DSB covering the bottom of the sump...?
Bob F.,
Sorry one more question.....what way would you set it up?
DSB in full sump or use a separate container?
You sir are my deciding factor...
So, Thank you.
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/dsbphysmakeup.htm  and the linked files above. B>

Re: DSB placement    12/29/10
The problem with doing a remote DSB is the size. The DSB in the DT would be 36" long by 24" wide by 6" deep. If I move it to the fuge, I get 15" long by 16" wide by 6" deep.
<Ah, yes; still worthwhile even if smaller>
If I put the DSB in the DT, I can do a larger fuge for algal filtration/mud. The other option is BB in DT and 6" DSB in fuge with algae.
I'm Trying to figure out the best use of my system space. Any advice/comments here?
<As posted: http://wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm
the second tray down. B>

Sand Bed Question (Placement, Depth'¦Lighting Too!) -- 05/21/10
Dear WWM crew,
I wanted to compliment your time consuming devotion to providing insight for those of us less educated in the ways of taking care of aquatic life.
<<Many thanks'¦and we do hope the latter is being 'reversed' as a result>>
I spend hours reading through your site, and enjoy reading responses the team makes.
<<As do I!>>
I do need a little guidance at this point.
<<Happy to proffer my opinions>>
I currently have a 75g tank that is not pre-drilled. After a power outage, and a lost siphon I decided investing in a pre-drilled tank was ideal, and since I'm already buying another tank...might as well make it a little bigger.
I am going with a 90 since it will fit on the same stand I spent hours building. My system is 8 months old now.
To the point:
In tank I have
1 - Yellow headed Goby
1 - Lawnmower Blenny
3 - Yellow Tailed Damsels
2 - Percs
1 - Yellow tang
1 - Pink fish my wife picked up, can't remember name at the moment (at work).
<<Hmm'¦an Anthiine species perhaps?>>>
This is the extent of my fish stocking, and I've told the wife we are done adding more fish.
<<Okay (guess we'll see how that works out [grin])>>
I do have some various clean-up crew, crab, snails, corals, and shrimp, oh my! My questions all require clarification, so I'll bold the actual question:
1. I want to have a DSB in the 90 system. I currently have one in the DT part of my 75, but am not happy with how difficult it is to perform maintenance.
<<'¦? In my experience and opinion, a properly set up DSB in an adequately configured system requires little, if indeed 'any,' maintenance>>
I have 130lbs of LR in there as well, so cleaning under rock, and providing enough flow without creating ravines in the sand is proving difficult.
<<Do look up/research 'gyre flow' for aquarium systems'¦a good way to go even if you 'don't' utilize a DSB>>
I believe I have enough room under my stand for a 55g,
so I was thinking of buying one and putting a DSB there.
I realize there is no mathematical formula for size of this, but can you recommend how big I would need to have the DSB in the 55 to provide adequate benefit to the entire system?
<<A 'minimum' of 6' of sugar-fine Aragonite'¦ My own 55g vegetable refugium has a 8'- 9' sugar-fine DSB>>
Looking for surface area, and depth. Keep in mind this 55 will serve as a holding spot for skimmer, heater, etc.
<<Mmm, okay then'¦I suggest you partition off what room you think you will need for the equipment, and fill the remaining with 8' of the sugar-fine Aragonite. Adjust the height of the partition such that it will hold the sand (and maybe some macroalgae?), but is still low enough to allow water entering the refugium-side to spill over in to the equipment compartment (sump-side). Do let me know if you need further clarification here>>
1a. If putting the DSB in the 55 is fine, I was thinking of putting <1" of aragonite (larger sized for easier cleaning) in the DT for aesthetic purposes only. Is this fine or should I stick with the finer sand in the DT as well?
<<A sub-1' layer in the display of a larger grain size will be fine. I prefer a DSB in my display, but do recognize how limiting this is in smallish systems (mine is a 96'x30'x30' display)>>
2. When I transfer to the 90, I am not intending on moving the sand from the 75 to the 90, but instead was looking to buy new sand for the DSB. My 75 has a 29g with a DSB in it currently (about 30lbs). Can I put the sand I have in the 29 on top of the new DSB in the 55?
<<You can'¦this will provide a good 'seeding' for the new DSB, and do expect 'some' die-off (cycling) of bacteria at the least from the inevitable mixing of the substrate>>
3. I currently have a fluorescent light fixture over the 75 (2 12,000k and 2 actinic for 216w),
<<Too much 'blue' in my opinion>>
and a simple 100w grow lamp over the sump. The DT just got over a hair algae battle, and rock has a little, not much, coralline growth on it. The lights on the DT run 12 hours. The Sump has a grow lamp on 24hrs,
<<For what reason I wonder'¦you make no mention of macroalgae>>
and the rocks I have in there are covered in beautiful growth. Is the difference because of inadequate lighting in the DT?
<<Likely due to both a difference in spectrum and intensity>>
I am planning to go MH with the 90, but wanted to confirm this was my problem.
<<Likely so'¦though there are differing species of coralline algae with differing lighting preferences>>
I realize time is a weapon with these systems,
but if the sump can grow it, the DT should be capable as well, correct?
<<Under 'like' environmental conditions'¦correct>>
3a. Just wanted a little clarification on lighting with MH. I was planning on converting my current fixture into 4 actinic, and adding 2 250W 15,000k, or 20,000k MH lights.
<<Do what you like, but this is way more blue light than you need'¦and is not optimum re the needs of your corals unless you plan a deep-water biotope>>
Does this seem a reasonable approach?
<<Is the current 'rage' re reef lighting it seems'¦but I am a proponent for more natural-spectrum lighting. Keep the actinic fluorescents if you wish, but were this mine, I would go with a good 10K MH halide bulb over the higher spectrum (and lower output) bulbs>>
This to be a full blown reef tank.
<<I take that to mean the ubiquitous 'reef-garden' then'¦all the more reason for some 'full spectrum' MH lighting'¦in my humble opinion>>
Sorry for the bombardment of questions,
<<Not a problem>>
but wanted to come to the source, as a lot of information on the web is conflicting, and inaccurate.
<<This is true'¦but still best to gather information from several sources, and then use your own good judgment to make a decision>>
Again, your team is appreciated, and I hope you (whoever responds to this) truly enjoys this fantastic service you provide to the SW community.
<<We (and I!) surely do that. Cheers my friend'¦ Eric Russell>>

Re: Sand Bed Question (Placement, Depth'¦Lighting Too!) -- 05/23/10
Hi Eric,
Thank you for the reply.
<<Quite welcome>>
Just to clarify...
I did not have measurements for under the stand correct in my minds eye while writing this at work.
So the biggest I can go is the current 29g under the stand.
That said, I'll be going DSB in the DT after all.
<<I see>>
I'll look into the 'gyre flow' you recommended.
<<Indeed do so'¦will prove beneficial to your DSB, corals, et al>>
On the MH, you're suggesting 10,000k only, no actinic?
<<Is one option (my own display currently has 10K MH lighting 'only'), but many folks don't like this 'natural appearance' of their systems claiming the Actinics make things more colorful. But I say'¦ If you've been running 'heavy' on the blue end of the spectrum (whether MH, Fluorescent, or a combination thereof), give your corals some time to adapt to the spectral difference and higher output of the lower Kelvin bulbs and you might be surprised at what develops>>
If so that would actually be easier to set up.
<<Indeed'¦and save a bit of cash too>>
Thanks for your help!!!
<<Happy to share'¦ EricR>>

DSB.....Tank vs. Refugium - 01/29/08 Hello Crew and always thanks for the help. <<Hiya Julie'¦ it's a pleasure to share>> I am nearly at the end of setting up my 110G 5' long reef tank. <<Neat>> I have used a 50G 48" long tank as the sump and have about an 18-19G section (21" L x 12" W) in the middle to be used as a refugium. <<Okay>> My question is this: Can I get away with a 1-2 inch Sand Bed in the main tank if I have something like a 5-6" DSB in the refugium to do the adequate or above benefits or should I make the tank sand bed 4" to go with the DSB in the refugium? <<Sure you can'¦ But the degree of efficacy of this smaller DSB will depend on the bio-load of the system>> I was hoping to increase swimming room and dispose of the unsightly size of a DSB in main, but won't if you think the refugium DSB is not large enough to support the main tank. <<All depends on how you stock the tank my friend. Other considerations will include the quality of any other ancillary filtration methods (chemical reactors, skimmer, etc.) and your maintenance/husbandry practices. I am a proponent of DSB methodology, and believe bigger is better'¦but with proper stocking and maintenance you can do fine with what you have planned>> Thank you, Julie << Happy to assist. EricR>>

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

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 querier'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>>

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.> 

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 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>

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>>

Optimum Deep Sand Bed box dimensions? Hail crew! <Greg> Thanks for helping with my other question. I won't waste time by repeating it here, but the tank is much happier since I followed your advice. I've read the deep sand bed articles and want to get the benefits of one--nitrate removal is my main goal. However, I don't have a lip on my stand and think the deep beds look ugly. My solution is to build what I'm calling a sandbox. My tank is 100 gallons (5 feet long), and I'm leaning toward a DIY acrylic box (no top of course) of 5" deep x 4" x 20" with a 4" deep sand bed.  It won't get me all the benefits of covering the entire bottom of tank, but I'm thinking it has to help somewhat. And, I can hide it in the back behind some rock. <Sounds like a good plan> My question is--assuming that the volume of sand will remain approximately the same, would I be better off maximizing the length and width (and keeping it at 4" deep) or going deeper (6" deep or even more) and having a smaller length and width box? <Mmm, deeper is generally better, but minimally so here> Aesthetics is part of what I like about the hobby, which is why I'm limiting the size and not going with both very deep sand and large length and width. I have to choose! <I do understand, and agree> Here's  the same question in streamlined form. If the dimensions matter, which of the following would you choose if goal was nitrate removal? (all have appx same volume in sand) 4" deep x 4" x 20" 6" deep x 4" x 14" 8" deep by 4" x 10" <The first> Thank you for your time! <Thank you for writing. Bob Fenner>

O Where, O Where Should a DSB Be? (1/21/04)    Hi!, Hope everyone is doing well. <Thanks. Steve Allen here. I certainly am. Just went snorkeling for the first time in my life with Bob F here in Kailua-Kona. It is amazing what's right there in the water that most people are oblivious to.>    My question has several parts, I will try to be brief. I am going from a 90 gal. to a 180 gal. aquarium. <Great> I am try to decide between these options. A 55 gal. sump or larger? <As big as you can fit where you plan to put it.> Also should I put a deep sand bed in the sump or in the tank? <Either or both would work. I have mine in a pair of refugiums plumbed to my 180G.> In the 90 gal. I was using a deep sand bed in the tank and macro algae in the sump. Also I have about 150 lbs. of live rock that I will be transferring over. If the sand in in sump is preferred, can I still put a thin layer of sand in the tank, like an inch or so? (1/2 to 1 inch to cover the bottom is nice. If you want a wrasse that buries itself at night, you'll need a DSB in the main tank. Hope this helps.>

DSB Hello, <Hi! Ryan with you today> I am currently working on setting up a 75 Gal FOWLR and have some questions on the sand bed, filtration and water flow. <Gotcha.>  The set up would consist of 2 -1 1/2" bulkheads with an elbow and strainer placed in each corner of the upper back panel of the tank for the overflow bottom of tank is tempered glass). <OK> These would drain to a 29 gal sump with an AquaC EV 120 skimmer and the water would be returned by a SEN 900 pump through 3/4" pipe over the top center of the tank with 3 outlets. <Great> I would like to have a 1" live sand bed and 75 #s of live rock in the display tank.  The occupants of the tank would be as follows: 1 Percula Clown 2 Green Chromis 1 Spotted Cardinal 1 Hi Fin Goby 1 Chocolate Chip Starfish 1 Turbo Snail 3 crabs 1 Coral Beauty 1 Yellow Tang 1 butterfly <pretty vague...but I would not recommend any butterfly to a tank less than a year old> May add some corals down the road <Not with your current list of tenants.  Skip the crabs and the chocolate chip starfish, and it's possible to keep corals in this setup.  Coral Beauties are seen in reefs, but usually eat coral polyps in a system of this size.> I am concerned about the filtration (nitrate levels in the long run) and the water flow rate. <Nitrate levels will not become uncontainable with regular water changes.> I would like to keep the maintenance to once a month. <Hmm...all reef tanks require daily maintenance.  Once a month for a regular overhaul is OK, but you'll need to observe and react daily.> Would the skimmer, live sand and live rock be enough filtration? <Yes> Would the 2 -1 1/2" bulkheads provide enough flow? <Yes> I have used the drain and overflow calculator at reefcentral but I think that this tool is based on the drains being drilled in the bottom of the tank. <as long as your systems TOTAL turnover is more that 10x hourly, you're ok.>  I also used the head loss calculator and came up with 546gph.     Would a DSB in the sump be a good idea? <No, the volume of water moving through the sump makes it a bad place for a DSB.> I could rearrange the DIY glass sump that I have already made to accommodate an area that would be 16"L x 9"H x 8W for live sand, but I have read on the site that DSB is not ideal for FOWLR set ups because of the bio load. <I'd spend the money on more quality live rock.>  I do have an area in the sump that I could put bio balls that would always be submerged would this be better than the live sand in the sump? <No, better to cram it full of rock.> I have been reading a lot of the articles and FAQs on WetWeb for the past three weeks and I am so confused.  My head really hurts from all the info. <This hobby is supposed to be therapeutic! ;)  Good luck, Ryan> Information overload!!!!!!! Sincerely, Doug

DSB and light cycle ?? 3/13/04 I would like an expert opinion please.  Thought you folks might lead me in the right direction.   <Adam here today, and I will certainly try!> I am planning a 400 gallon mix reef/fish tank 96x30x36 tall.  I would like a fair amount of fish with plenty of open space for swimming.  For circulation I am planning a Amp Master 3000 for return and 4 Tunze streams to get me in that 10-20 times turnover zone or greater.  With that much water movement and the fair amount of fish waste produced can I still use the fine sugar grain sand bed in the display?   I am afraid I will have a sand storm if I really turn up the Tunze streams and my other concern is that the DSB will not keep up the fish waste pollution.  I have heard of DSB failure due to overstocking with fish.  I do not plan to over stock, but plan to have a fair amount of fish.  Need your opinion if a refugium based DSB would be best in my situation.  I also plan to do 10 gallon weekly water changes and use a Euro-reef 12-2 skimmer.  If I have the room I wanted to run reverse lighting Gracilaria/Chaetomorpha fuges too. <You could still use the fine sand, but you may have to finesse the current devices so that they don't blow directly onto the sand.  You will also have to secure them well so that they can't be redirected by coming lose or being dislodged by snails or other inverts.  A healthy, very alive sandbed should handle any reasonable bioload, particularly with the other methods you plan on employing.  A remote sand bed/refugium is worth considering, but you will have to be very conscious of detritus accumulation in the display.  If you have a fine DSB in the display, brittle stars and sea cucumbers will do a lot of that work for you.  FWIW, I would aim closer to 10% weekly water changes rather than 10 gallon!> If I went to a refugium DSB how big of an area do you think I would need for good nitrate reduction for this size tank?  Also.....if I go refugium DSB what specific grade sand and depth would work best in the display tank.  I want to produce a lot of copepods/amphipods somewhere in the system for my fishes with medium course sand like CaribSea special reef.  Could this be accomplished with a 1/2 or less med-course sand in the display?  Need your suggestions please. <Ironically, I have found that CaribSea's "special grade reef sand" is the least reef tank suitable sand they produce, and is only useful for aesthetics.  Use a coarser substrate (crushed coral or Puka shells) to encourage pod populations and finer (oolitic, Southdown, sugar fine) for nitrate reduction.  Each of these must be managed.  DSB's must be kept "lively", and caution must be used that coarse substrates don't accumulate detritus.  A remote DSB 1/3-1/2 the area of the display should be adequate for nitrate reduction and should provide plenty of growing space for macroalgae.> For lighting I was contemplating 6 hr on-off cycles.  I live near the desert in CA and could keep my lights off during the hottest part of the day with this cycle.   I have heard of people do this with fish ok....but is it ok with corals too. <I would suggest that you have some light on throughout the entire photoperiod.  You could reserve your most intense lighting for a few hours in the morning and a few hours in the evening to ameliorate heat issues.> That's all for now. Thanks!<Best Regards.  Adam>

Deep Sand Bed Thanks for the reply.  I have been "doing my homework" since November.  I am just about ready to dive in! <Excellent!> I bought Anthony's "Book of Coral Propagation" and Anthony and Bob's "Reef Invertebrates" as well as several others.  I truly value the WWM opinions above all others.  Thanks for such a great site.  One more question... would you recommend a DSB in the main tank if I don't have one in the refugium?  Thanks again. Dan <Deep sand beds are very useful, and add a nice adjunct for biological filtration to your system. If you don't mind the aesthetic of a deep sand bed, I'd highly recommend one! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Deep sand beds 4/1/04 Hey again guys.  A complex maybe and simple question(s) pertaining to deep sand beds. I am planning a nano reef in a 10 gal with an old 15 gal below as a fuge.  In the fuge I would like Gracilaria for nutrient export and food for another tank and pods. The fuge would have around 12 gallons, 4-5'' DSB of sugar size oolithic sand, and LR. <Sounds like an excellent plan.  I would go with a minimum of 5" of sand in the 'fuge since it will settle and dissolve faster then you might imagine.> My target species for the nano are an Open Brain and a Plate Coral in the sand and Xenia, Green Star Polyps and Mushroom frags on 10-12 lbs LR. My fish would 1 Purple Fire Fish and a Clown Goby. <The clown goby is an excellent choice, but I would reconsider the purple fire fish because of their jumping tendencies.> My question is would it be beneficial to have a 3-4'' DSB in the both tanks? <Only marginally.  A DSB in one or the other should be plenty.> Also should I use a different size sand, for the needs of different size creatures, in each tank? I would seed both sand beds with larger crushed coral from 2 other tanks and possibly try and get a handful of sand from the LFS. <Different sized sands will definitely support different types of life.  In order for this to work, you would have to use fine sand in one tank and fine in the other, but it would be a worthy experiment! Unless you have a stellar LFS, do consider getting "seed" sand from other hobbyists.> As long as you are here would it be better to just drop in the larger CC or put it in a cheese cloth or something and then remove it after a while? <Probably not worth the effort.  The CC will quickly sink into the finer sand and won't cause any problems.> Thanks again. You guys deserve all the beer you can drink.  Walt <Ha!  You have obviously never seen a WWM crew bar tab!  Best Regards, Adam>

Re: Deep sand beds 4/2/04 Adam,  Thank you for the quick response. I am planning on a glass top to hopefully keep the firefish in the tank. <Ahhh....  Wise choice.  Do keep in mind that this will greatly reduce light transmission into the tank.> In your response on different size sand you said one tank should be fine and the other tank also fine I believe. Did you mean to use sugar size <1mm oolithic in one and say a 1-2 mm slightly larger grain in the other? <Ooops!  I mis-typed.  I meant one should be fine (oolitic/sugar fine) and one coarse (Puka shells, crushed coral, 3-5mm).  The 1-2mm grain size products (like CARIBSEA "special grade reef sand") don't support any useful life besides bacteria.  Critters can burrow into fine sand or live in the spaces in very coarse sand, but nothing does well in the in-between grain sizes.> Also if I did skip the firefish would 2 clown gobies pair up as they are hermaphroditic or would they have to be purchased as a mated pair?  Thanks again  Walt <It is always better to purchase a pair if possible to be sure of their compatibility.  Your retailer may be willing to put two together to see if they get along.  Spawning of clown gobies is very common in captivity and their partnership/social behavior makes them a very delightful choice.  Best Regards.  Adam>  

Remote DSB Hello crew at WWM, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> I'm a marine newbie'¦my tank is about 4 months old now'¦I'm thinking of adding a sump to my 55g reef/fish tank.  The biggest tank I could fit in my cabinet would be something like a standard 10g tank but about ¾ of the standard height'¦so I would probably have around a 5-7 gallon sump. I would like to add a 4-5' DSB in it.  Is that enough area (volume) for NNR for my 55g tank (around 35-45g of actual water). <I think that, if you set up the sandbed with a fine oolithic aragonite product, it can have a very positive effect!> Tank setup'¦ 55g All-Glass Tank 75lbs base rock (pretty much live now) 2 lbs live rock 220 watts Compact Fluorescent (110w 10k, 110w Actinic) Red Sea Prizm Protein Skimmer (this skimmer really sucks) CSL 9 watt UV sterilizer Magnum 350 deluxe filter 2 PowerSweep powerheads 2 False Perculas 1 Yellow Tang 1 Yellowtail Damsel 1 Dwarf Lion 1 Coral Banded Shrimp 3 Emerald Crabs around 9 Astrea Snails around 12 Blue-leg Hermit Crabs 1 pretty much bleached ???? anemone mushroom corals button polyps Pumping Xenia One Torch Coral Branch -- 2 stems One Hammer Coral Branch -- 2 stems Coralline Algae is just beginning to encrust rock and glass'¦ Thank You, Ronald Leguidleguid <I'd go for it, Ronald! Even a small sandbed can have some very beneficial results! It is certainly worth the effort! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Skimmers and DSBs Hi Guys,<Hi James, MikeD in Florida here> Two quick questions.<Sounds easy enough>  For my new 1650 litre system of 7 marine fish and LR<400 US gallons? I'm seriously envious, with my largest being a 1200 litre tank> only, would it be better to buy 2xturboflotor1000 or 1 x turboflotor5000 shorty? Here in South Africa AquaMedic is the only skimmers available and the 2 options come out at the same price.<if the cost is the same, I believe I'd go with the two as the likelihood of both going kaput at the same time is slim, thus when you eventually do have a problem, you're not under so much pressure to make instant repairs and the negative impact will be less> Also, should I put a DSB in the main tank or will one in the sump be enough?<That largely depends on your sense of esthetics and the type fish that you are keeping. Wrasses that bury at night, for example have been known to commit suicide diving into a bare bottom, and likewise many puffers bury at night.> If so, how deep a substrate in the main tank?<I run about 6" in my 1200 liter tank, but by living near the sea, rely on large marine snails and fish safe crabs to keep it from becoming a detritus trap.> Many Thanks again,<You're more than welcome.> James.

- Remote DSB in 50G FOWLR - Salute to the crew at WWM! Greetings from Malaysia and an immense big up for a fantastic site (my fishkeeping bible of-sorts). <Word.> Right, to my question, I've read through the articles and FAQs re. DSBs and am still a little blurred around the edges. My tank is a 48G FOWLR with a skimmer (AZoo tri-super, an Asian brand I think. The recommended brands like Aqua C/Berlin are not available or waaay to expensive) and an Eheim knock off called Jebo (once again Eheim products are way beyond reach) plus powerheads and two internal Fluval 4s containing activated carbon... All are functioning adequately but due to overstocking (I volunteered to adopt my friends refugees as she had to move overseas) nitrates are a little high at around 50ppm. <Eek! Do a couple of 25% water changes, get those nitrates down.> Anyway, I did an overhaul as the refugees gave everyone whitespot so I removed them to treat in a few QTs recently acquired (have learned my lesson and full of remorse) and now my main tank is bare bottomed (from UG with medium grade coral sand) but I'm planning to add a sump to my system (about 30-40gallons) and am wondering whether a remote DSB of 5" around a half or third of the entire sump area (the rest will be for the skimmer and return pump) is a wise or recommended idea? <It's not a poor idea...> I've read on FAQS that DSBs are not advised in FOWLR 'main' display tanks due to the heavy bio-load but what about remotes? <I've not seen this recommendation, and I for one run a setup very much like this on my own FOWLR tank so... I think you would be fine.> Is it going to help with denitrifying significantly at my specs? <'Significant' is hard to define - I think it will 'help', 'how much' is hard to say.> Also, if it is gonna help, do I need a lot of live rock above it? <Well, you would need the live rock no matter what - doesn't necessarily need to be 'on' the DSB.> I'm not sure there is enough space for DBS and LR. <Chances are not - most sumps don't run at their full capacity, so I rather doubt you will have the room.> Another option is using the space for add more LR to boost my systems specs. <And this would help too.> The Jebao will be relegated to holding activated carbon and phosphate removers when the sump is added. The tank mates are: (original) Maroon clown 3" 2 yellow tail damsels banana wrasse 11/2" marine betta 2" fu Manchu lion 3" (refugees) clown trigger 11/2" yellow margin trigger 11/2" Niger trigger 2" Picasso trigger 2" I know this is a mix made in hell but its only temporary till I can find homes for the triggers (they are remarkably well behaved at the moment) either with other fish keepers or my LFS. What it boils down to is will the remote DSB be beneficial to my system with the original occupants? <I think so, yes.>  I know it won't cope with the present capacity but what about when the triggers move on? <I'd be looking for a larger tank myself - that banana wrasse will get much larger than it is now.> Thanks a lot for your time! Nicky. <Cheers, J -- > Shifting Sands...? (Remote DSB) Hello to all! <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> I have a 65gal FOWLR tank w/ a fine substrate ranging in a depth from 1/2"-3".  After reading your FAQs I would really like to add another 100lbs of sand but I don't feel up to going through the process of taking everything out.  I have a 20H which I use as my refugium that is gravity fed to the main tank.  My question is: I have a 3" sand bed in my refugium w/ 6-10lbs of live rock. Would the DSB in my refugium make up for not having one in my main tank? <It certainly would benefit your system...Good thought! I know a lot of hobbyists who do just this, for a variety of reasons> I know I would probably benefit more by having the DSB in the main tank and it might come down to doing so. <Well, not really a big problem, IMO. Some people like the benefits of DSBs, but hate the aesthetics of a 5 or 6 inch sand bed in the display...A remote DSB is perfect for them> Thanks, Jason-Surfs Up! <Glad to help! Save me a spot in the lineup, bro... Regards, Scott F>

DSB Hi Bob (I hope it's Bob) <Tis> I just read your exchange with Steve Walker regarding the set up of his custom 825 gallon tank. My question is this, with so much controversy over DSB lifespan, wouldn't it be wiser for him to go with a bare bottom or minimal sand?  He is going to have a large refugium with DSB and an enormous live rock capacity.  I am already worried about my barely cycled DSB giving up the ghost down the line and that's with just a 55 gal tank.  I would have a heart attack if I had to redo a 825!!!  Thanks and keep up the good work, I love this site. Jerry <Thank you for this... I suspect (strongly) that in the course of rinsing and placing all this sand and consequently the rock, that Steve will have plenty to think about re this possibility. Have actually seen much larger (public) aquariums with DSB's, plenums... Like many endeavors, there is correspondingly less work (relatively) with increasing size... not too hard over the course of a few good sized water changes to vacuum out a good part of the substrate with a good-sized diameter length of tubing. Bob Fenner>

DSB Bob, I appreciated Jerry's question, and your response.  I can't say I'm excited about rinsing 2000+ lbs of sand, but as you suggested, when it comes time to replenish/replace - I will always have the option to 'go thin'.   <Yes> To the question of DSB lifespan, it occurs to me that I have made a rather large assumption about my DSB design and I had better flush it out (no pun intended) sooner rather than later.  Am I correct in assuming/understanding that DSB lifespan is, in part, a function of its rate of dissolution? <Yes>   Or asked differently, if the rate at which the DSB dissolves is reduced, will it remain viable longer? <Affirmative> If this assumption is valid, is it reasonable to assume that I can reduce the rate of dissolution of the main DSB (1000+ lbs of sand) by adding a second large DSB (another 1000 lbs of sand) in the refugium(s)? <Correct> Could this strategy serve to extend the life of the main DSB by any meaningful amount of time (recognizing both DSBs will dissolve at an equal, but slower, rate)?   <Yes, could easily double plus> Anthony estimates in his book that the half life of the DSB is 18-24 months - hence the reason for my dreaming/scheming to find a way to extend the interval for what will certainly be a significant maintenance event. <I agree with this value and your concern/thinking. Bob Fenner> Thanks again for your thoughts. Steve  

Re: Where to put DSB, need help with skimmer adjustment. >Hi - Thanks for all the help.   >>Hello, and you're welcome.  Marina tonight. >I'm setting up a 180 Gal reef tank, and moving very slowly.  I'm currently in the process of curing 250 lbs of live rock.  I plan on getting 50 to 100 lbs more.  I'm curing the rock in a 70gal Rubbermaid trough and my 140 gal sump using a Fluval 404 filter and my Aqua-C EV240 skimmer. (All the filtration setup is in my basement - the tank is above the basement and I'll cut two holes in the floor for water moving between the basement and upstairs.) I'm having a little trouble getting the skimmer adjusted.   I always seem to be turning the outflow value one way or the other.  But I'm starting to get some good dark skimmate. So far - that's all good. >I also just got 400 lbs of Southdown sand (I live on the west coast - Seattle) but found someone on a newsgroup that had purchased a skid.  My question is about the DSB.  I'm a little concerned about putting the DSB in the tank (60x30 - x 24 high).  I'm thinking about putting the DSB in a Rubbermaid trough that's a 50 gal - about 28 inches wide and 48 inches long.  So I would have slightly less area (and consequently slightly less surface) but I could make a slightly deeper bed with the same amount of sand.   >>I've seen it done, and it works great. >My concern is detritus getting into the sand.  At some point it seems that the sand is going to be filled with gunk and have to be churned/cleaned.  It will be easier to do that in a trough that in the tank.   >>No, you do NOT want to do this with a DSB.  Please see here (and follow other links for more information, also, see the setup section of our marine aquarium articles on the home page at http://www.wetwebmedia.com   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm >So if I have the room and ability to locate the DSB outside of the tank, is that preferable to being in the tank itself? >>That's a matter of personal preference.  You would do better to use animals like sandsifting sea stars and cucumbers to handle the detritus and stirring issues, but part of the *reason* for having a DSB is to gain the anaerobic area that will allow natural denitrification.  If you stir the bed up on a regular basis, you have just defeated its purpose.  The tubs, a refugium, or within the sump and/or tank will all work just fine.  FYI, the system in which I saw the tubs being used (within the sump) was on a 150gal, and the sump is UNDER the house (no basements in Cali, mate).  This guy has an AWESOME system, and he uses the DSB tubs to put his frags and/or the corals that are not doing well.  They tend to come back in there.  Also, he has much macroalgae in this section of the system.  Hope this helps!  Marina >Thanks for answering all my questions so quickly and thoroughly!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sand bed Hello, <Hi there> I have recently found your website, and I find myself on here everyday. I find myself totally immersed on your website.  <Mmm, soon you'll be answering queries!> I have just purchased my 55 gallon fish tank and a 30 gallon fish tank for my sump. I plan on purchasing a ~20 gallon Rubbermaid container for my refugium. Would it be okay to add a deep sand bed in the refugium (~4in) with live rock and add only 1 in of sand bed for the 55 gallon tank? <Yes> And approximately how much water should flow through this refugium? <A few... 2-3 turns per hour is about ideal) Thank you for your time. <You're welcome. Bob Fenner> Dave

Marine Fish only & sandbeds Hello to Ye of great aquatic knowledge, <hmmm... so many jokes, so little time> I've been reading quite a few of your web pages and clicking the various links and I've sent a few emails and had some very informative replies. I'd just like to say thanks before anything else because my tank is looking and doing better than ever. As I gather information to prepare for the next, not too distant aquarium project, I have a few points of confusion I was hoping you would clear up. First, I have a couple of sandbed related questions for what will be a 374 gallon or larger Fish only/live rock setup that I didn't see too much of on the various pages because most people who wrote in seem to be more on the reef end than the large fish end of the aquarium world and the fish people didn't ask my questions for me; <agreed> 1. I've read the FAQ page http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dsbfaqs.htm (and the other sand bed question pages) and there seems to be common knowledge about deep sand beds in reef tanks and then there are two segments on a page referring to a fish only & live rock tank where Anthony Calfo says "Truth be told, most reef fishes are too much of a burden for our DSB fauna and that is one of the reasons why a fishless, upstream DSB refugium is so popular " <yep... and this statement does honestly make some assumptions about the typically overfed and or overstocked tanks that are so common. As well, most tanks have no where near enough water flow either. As such, DSB methodologies can be easily corrupted with heavy fish loads (reef or no)> and Steven Pro says "<I would add the additional LR but not sand. I do not like DSB with FO tanks. The sand bed can too easily become overwhelmed by the influx of nutrients from such greedy eaters as your fish.> which puts both guys on the same page,  <agreed> so I would like to ask what would be the opinion at WetWebMedia.com of the ideal substrate (sand, crushed coral ,possibly live rock across the bottom held up 1/4 inch by supports, none, other)  <bare bottomed is the easiest and ugliest. Anything else is fine if kept shallow enough (1/2 inch or less) so that detritus cannot accumulate easily. Strong water flow is always necessary (no dead spots) in any tank, and course media is tougher to keep clean> (mostly) Large Fish only aquarium with a large amount of live rock? From my point of view, sand looks the best and always did, but years ago, the advice I always got was that sand is unhealthy for fish only tanks.  <that advice was mistaken. Mismanaged sand beds are bad for fishes, properly managed ones are very beneficial if one takes the time to plan and maintain right> Now, everywhere I go .... fish and sand in the same tank. Healthy combination? <can be yes> 2. How much substrate (if any)? <over 5" if nitrate control is needed... less than 1/2 inch if not> 3. I currently use just enough crushed coral to thinly cover the bottom glass in front of the live rock (bare glass under and behind the rock) and use the large ended siphon tube to pull detritus out of the crushed coral during water changes,  <a fine practice/application>but with a tank as large as I want to upgrade to (minimum 374 gal.), I can't imagine vacuuming that much substrate on a regular basis unless I do a section at each water change and if sand is used is it just as frequent a job?  <that's what strong water flow (keeping detritus in suspension) and two skimmers are for :) Seriously> I see many huge tanks in public aquariums with sandbeds on the bottom and I don't get the impression they vacuum the sand . <massive water flow again><<Most actually do vacuum... but "after hours". RMF>> What is their routine and if that's not applicable to a home aquarium,  <easily applicable.. most people just underestimate random turbulent water flow> what would you advise? <above> 4. I have read about reef tanks with 2 inch sand beds and then a sheet of plastic screen to keep it undisturbed and then another few inches of sand for critter access, which sounded like a possible plan in a Fish Only/Live Rock Tank before I read Anthony and Stephens comments.  Am I correct that they are saying the issue is not the sandbed disruption (although that could be a problem with large fish),  <yes... could be a problem with digging fish especially> but the fish generated nutrients that would still be a problem even with that much sand on a 120 by 30 inch tank bottom? <exactly... nutrient overload... such should be in skimmer> With a screen divider situation, the sand under the screen is to be left untouched always? <not really the point... needs to be sifted by microfauna... not stagnant> 5. I see these newer products of live dry or damp sand in a bag that allow instant aging and stocking of aquariums.  <absolutely ridiculous products> Wouldn't ordinary dry, bagged aquarium sand mixed in buckets with the recommended per tank gallon amounts of saltwater BioZyme or other instant bacteria products have the same basic results?  <not even necessary... dry sand inoculated in tank with a handful of live... all is "live" in weeks> Would that be more effective than just adding the bacteria directly to the aquarium?  <the bacteria products for the aquarium are not much different than adding flake food to rot... they are barely "alive" if at all... simply a usable source of food for inevitable naturally occurring bacteria in tank> Could home made cement mixture base rock created and cured like the public aquariums do be brought to life (aerobic bacteria anyway) <no thrilled with this idea> in buckets with the instant bacteria products? This is part of my master plan (The home made rock) plus the actual live rock I have in the current tank, plus new live rock. <too heavy... learn fiberglass casting techniques instead... seriously. That's what more big aquariums use> Sorry to bug you with what is probably basic knowledge to most active aquarists, but although I've had aquariums for 30 years (17 fresh water, 13 salt), I haven't stayed on top of the new methods in the last few years and it's time to catch up! Thanks, Rich <enjoy the journey, education.. kindly, Anthony>

DSB & Sump Hello to whomever is on call at this hour... <Steven Pro up with the birds.> My question is this, I am getting ready to deepen my sandbed to around 5" or so, but as I was reading your FAQs, I noticed that there is a mentioning of a DSB in the sump and not necessarily in the main tank, so would it be better to only make a nice deep bed for critters in the sump and not in the main tank? <I would do both. That is what I am planning on my new tank.> I have mostly fish with a carpet and a few mushrooms, so a shallow bed isn't ideal for my carpet. Also, how would I get edible critters from the sump to the main tank since the sump is under it? <Their larvae would reach the main tank by way of the return pump.> Maybe leave some rock in the sump to accumulate live stuff and rotate rocks out adding edibles to the main tank? <You could do this, particularly for algae if your main display is over eaten by Tangs.> Also, I don't have a light on the sump, are there animals that I could leave in the sump DSB, like cucumbers, sifting stars, murex, conchs, or anything not caring if there is light? <I would just add a few really nice pieces of new rock and see what develops.> Thanks in advance for your response. Kim <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

One Or Two DSBs? - 08/20/05 G'day Crew... <<Howdy!>> Halfway through the design phase for a marine biotope, due to the insistence of SWMBO I asked a home builder friend of mine to check out the load-bearing capacity of my house (slab on grade) and sure enough, the footings built to code here in southeast Georgia (American, not Asian) won't be able to support the massive installation of my dreams.  Sigh... <<Interesting...  I have a home built on brick pillars (no slab) in South Carolina...and a 500 gallon reef system in the living room.  Now, there may be dynamics involved with a slab I'm not aware of, and I mean no disrespect to your builder friend, but a hundred dollars or so invested in a "structural engineer's" time might prove you CAN have that massive installation.>> In the interests of domestic tranquility, and structural integrity, I am now drafting plans centered around a 65 gallon display tank with a 29 gallon refugium hidden in the stand.  Aqua-C Remora skimmer and Chaetomorpha for filtration and nutrient export, plus a happy habitat (Honeymoon Suite) for 'pod reproduction in the 'fuge. <<All good>> Lighting in the refugium will be alternate with the display tank to help minimize pH swings (if I understand what I am reading in the WWM FAQs). <<You do>> Received my copy of "Reef Invertebrates" five days ago and the binding is already showing signs of wearing out <G>. <<Great book, ain't it.>> Read it cover-to-cover twice, and it falls open to page 30 when I pick it up.  Which leads (finally) to my question...  If I have a DSB in the refugium, do I need one in the display tank as well? <<More/bigger is always better, but "no", you don't have to have a DSB in both.>> I am still not sure what the population of the display tank will be, other than live rock and just a couple of fish for accent. <<Sounds good now...but will you be able to hold to this stocking plan? <G> >> During a 'eureka' moment I realized the visual impact of a DSB in the display tank can be masked by using 6 inch baseboard molding around the bottom to hide the BG algae, diatoms, etc so it isn't really aesthetics driving the design, just wondering what the state-of-the-hobby thinking is along these lines. <<Subjective really...  I use/like a DSB in both my display and my 'fuge...but I also know successful reefers who don't.  If you plan to keep any burrowing/sand-sifting fishes or crustaceans, you'll want to consider this as well.>> Or, turning the question around, postulating ZERO bioload, what amount of DSB is needed to support a volume of ~95 gallons holding about 100 lbs of live rock?  What I am wondering is whether there is a 'K' factor about the carrying capacity of a LR/DSB setup where you can calculate that 'X' pounds of LR and 'Y' sq ft of a 5 inch thick DSB will support 'Z' grams of creatures?  My assumption is there will probably be <several> grams of critters in every sq ft of a DSB because...that's what a DSB is, after all.  I've Google till my fingertips bled and can't find anything remotely applicable to this question so I'm appealing to the WWM 'spurts <G>. <<Likely you won't find such a formula...and no need to make this so complex.  Ideally, you want as many square feet of 5" deep sugar-fine sand bed as you can muster within your physical limitations, and in keeping with your (or your spouses <G>) sense of aesthetics.>> Thanks for all you do, I truly believe the WWM is the finest resource available to us ignorant, struggling marine aquarists. John <<It's not ignorant to ask questions my friend, and your query indicates you're far from same...  Regards, EricR>>

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