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FAQs about Deep Sand Beds & Substrate Size

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, Location, 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,

The bigger the better... but no minimum, matching value... Just too many other factors to place in a string of variables in such an equation... foods, feeding, lighting... chemistry... temperature..

Re: Recommended substrate for competing objectives (DSB, avoidance of cloudy tank with stirrers)     7/6/12
Bob, thanks. Thoughts on below as an option?
<A worthy choice.>
 I don't see a grain size listed, although it seems to be a varied.
My main concern would be selecting something too fine, resulting in a hazy water column from the engineer gobies, goatfish and friends. As I typically do, I look at WWM sponsor options first...this is what I came upon:
<Just initially rinse as they state... BobF>

Let's Get this Straight.... DSB size, make-up     1/4/12
Hi there!
<Car bear>
So after spending a TON of time reading your web site and others on DSB, I find it interesting that there is no real simple straight answer to my question (or rather a formula).
<Of course there is, "it depends"...>
  For example, I have a 60 gallon reef with over flow built in.  Tank is 48" x 12" (typical size).   I have a 20 long to put under it for a refugium/sump.  (I do remember that a sump tank size needs to be at LEAST 1/3 of the total tank volume, but bigger is better... well not when you don't have the space.)  Okay, now for the direct question, what size does the DSB have to be.... in terms of WIDTH and LENGTH (my refugium tank is 12" wide, so how many inches long do I need MINIMUM)  Yes I know it depends on stocking.  I am talking rule of thumb. 
<Mmm, here it comes again: "The larger the better">
  I will get into DEPTH in a second....... I found a formula that was in metric, so converted to standard, 3.5" to 6 SQUARE INCHES per 1/3 gallon  (formula was 9 - 16 cm per 100 liters).  If THAT is the case, then say 5" was about the middle.... 5 square inches per 1/3 gallon or 15 square inches per 1 gallon. 
<Square? I would've proffered summat in cubic inches/cm.s>
For 60 gallons, well that would be 900 square inches.  What am I missing here?  Or does the 900 square inches include the sand bed depth?
<Don't know... but there should be a discussion of such>
  (if that is the case then I would need 12" x  12" x 6" deep or 864 square inches)   I feel bad for the poor soul who is now reading this and thinking WHAT????   My sentiments exactly. 
<Lo siento mucho tambien>
Depth.... after reading a WWM article on DSB, I came to the conclusion that depth was directly related to granule size. 
<To extents, yes>
I think I understood that the oolite sand that is sugary in density, would only need to be 3" deep.   Then that would throw off my formula above!!! 
12 x 12 x 3 is only 432 square inches btw.......... Then when reading in WWM q & a, one of your staff says 4-6" on oolite sugary sand!  Really?  I thought 4-6" was for the next level up (medium sand)  according to your page:
<Mmm, yeah>
Please clarify also this.  One "expert" says keep the DSB and the Chaeto separate since all the bugs will crawl into the Chaeto and not be in the DSB (which from what I read, these bugs prefer sand... so, huh???).
<Not a big deal>
   Then says don't put rocks on the DSB because it will cause dead spots. 
<This either>
Then in your Q & A, I read the opposite, that it is okay.  So do I need one compartment only for rubble (to break the bubbles from the main tank), one for DSB and one for Chaeto?
 I wanted to put shaving brush in the DSB, now I wonder if I should since I read the roots could cause the DSB to harden......  ARG!!
<Again, little spuds>
One more question.  Has to do with the baffle height on either side of the DSB.  I have seen designs where the baffle height is the SAME as the sand level (which seems odd to me since you need a slower flow), and I disagree with that.  BUT I would like to know how many inches above the DSB should the baffle be.
<A few... more if the water flow is higher...>
Baffles..... set apart 1" or 1.5" or 2"......  Ahhh!!!!!!!
<Any of these should work>
  I know they have to do with flow, but I would assume (say on one side of the set of baffles after the refugium, a 1" to 1.5" space between say baffle 1 and 2; then between 2 and 3 make it 2" between so I can stick my hand in if something needs to be removed from between the baffles.  (this was an issue I had with my other refugium)  Or would the reverse be better.
 I honestly read until my eyes crossed, so I really appreciate any help.
<A tool can be inserted twixt any of these spacings>
Carrie :)
<Welcome! Bob Fenner>
Subject: re: Let's Get this Straight....    1/4/12

Would 3" deep sugar fine sand x 12" x 10" work with a 60 gallon normally stocked.
<Sure. B>

DSB size  11/26/09
Good morning, crew!
<Yawnnnn! Joshua>
This website is an invaluable resource, and I appreciate all the work you clearly do to keep it up. It makes a nice supplement to my new copy of The Conscientious Marine Aquarist!
<Thank you for stating so. Is not coincidental>
My question for you this morning is about the effectiveness/utility of what I am fairly confident is an undersized DSB. I've seen lots of related FAQs/etc. related to this issue (including the www.wetwebmedia.com/dsbsize.htm FAQ), but none that have directly addressed my issue. I am basically trying to decide whether to continue using my current DSB, whether I should try and expand it, or whether I should just remove it and use Chaeto and a thin sandbed instead.
<Ok. I understand the proposition>
I am running a three-month old 39g Cadlights Pro (20Lx24Wx20H) reef setup with a 12g sump. I have a 150w HQI fixture with 2x24w Actinic supplementation. My return pump is rated to ~750gph, but that's without taking account of head loss. I plan to upgrade this return pump as soon as possible to something providing closer to 1000gph (before head loss) (the Eheim 1262 would be my first choice, though it's expensive. I may end up going with the Taam Rio 20HF or a Mag 9.5).
<Mmm, I'd skip on the Taam unit as a choice... Really, save up for the Eheim>
My goal is to successfully run a primarily SPS reef with lots of interesting biodiversity and bright/interesting colors and organisms.
<Well-stated goal>
I am currently stocked with a CUC of about 10 blue-legged hermits, 2 red-legged hermits, a few Astraea snails and a peppermint shrimp. My fish are: 1x ocellaris clown, 1x royal gramma, 1x lawnmower blenny, and 1x bluespot Jawfish (I was apprehensive about the combination of the blenny and
Jawfish, but I've never seen any evidence of aggression among them).
<I'm just done penning and sending out a piece (article) on the most commonly employed Opistognathid, (O. aurifrons) and gearing up (the supporting doc.s out and read) for one on Opistognathus rosenblatti... is actually a cool to colder water species... I do hope your tank is well-covered>
I haven't stocked any corals yet (other than some hitchhiker star polyps!), but I do plan on doing so in the future once I have added appropriate supplemental flow to the display.
My water tests as: undetectable ammonia/nitrite/nitrate/phosphate, specific gravity of 1.024, pH of 8.2, temperature between 80-82F, calcium ~420ppm, alkalinity ~9dkh. I do not use any carbon/GFO/etc. I dose Brightwell Aquatics Reef Code Parts A + B and Seachem Magnesium, as needed. I use only RO-DI 0 TDS water for daily top-offs and bi-weekly water changes. I run a Bubble-Magus Mini skimmer made specifically for the Cadlights tank 24/7.
<Sounds very nice indeed>
My display has about 60lbs of LR in it and what averages out to be a 1-1.5" sand bed (it gets deeper and shallower in some places, thanks to a certain mischievous Jawfish).
<Ah yes>
The sump is divided by double baffles into 4 separate chambers. There are basically three equal-sized chambers, the first of which is divided in half to make four total chambers. Water drains from the display into one of the half-chambers through a filter sock and LR rubble, then into the other half-chamber (which contains the skimmer). Water flows from both of those half-chambers down and then up into the next chamber (which contains a refugium with a 5" DSB of Caribsea Fiji pink (not oolite, but fairly fine particles), 2-3 small pieces of LR, a ball of Chaeto and a hermit crab), and then down into the last chamber (which contains a return pump). The actual surface area of the DSB is approximately 6"x16".
<Got you>
(As a side note, I do wish I didn't have to use the filter sock so that I could feed something closer to "raw" water into the skimmer, but I get terrible microbubbles/splashing/gurgling from my drain pipe, and a filter sock has been the ONLY thing that has helped. I wind up washing out the filter sock about once a week).
<This is fine... no loss to the skimmer>
As far as any issues I've noticed, I have several patches of GHA and a small bit of Cyano, but I am confident that this is likely the direct result of a lack of flow/dead spots/detritus build-up. I do what I can to manually remedy these issues, but there's only so much tweezers/turkey basters can do. I plan to add a Ecotech Vortech mp20 within the next month, and I think that will fix my issue.
<I do too. This/these are mighty fine products>
I haven't noticed any problems that I think are the result of the DSB, but again, I haven't had to answer to the added bioload from the corals I plan to add.
So, what's the verdict? Is my DSB too small to make a difference, or is even an undersized DSB worthwhile?
<It is worthwhile>
Should I remove the DSB and just use Chaeto and a thin sand bed?
<I would not. I'd leave it in place, perhaps add some finer ("oolithic") aragonite to it as it dissolves, loses volume>
Or, would it be worthwhile to expand my sump's refugium chamber to allow for a larger DSB (this option is not very attractive to me from a logistical standpoint, but I don't want to pretend like it's not a possibility, either)?
<Not necessary>
Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer!
Best regards,
<And you. Bob Fenner>

Re: DSB size   11/30/09
Thanks so much for the quick and helpful reply!
I'll be looking forward to your Opistognathid article!
<Ahh! Have attached both (the O. aurifrons and O. rosenblatti) pc.s for your perusal here. Cheers, BobF>

Big Tanks Need Big DSBs -- 06/30/07 Hello, <<Hi There>> My main display tank is around 900-gallons. <<Neat!>> My Nitrates have shot up lately, to 50+. <<Not so neat'¦>> I have set up a 7-inch deep DSB in my refugium tank. It is 23-inches x 16-inches in surface area, with the other half of the refugium live rock. <<This is a start, but you need much more here for this large and likely well-stocked system>> Is this a big enough DSB for my system or should I have more? <<If you have the capacity, definitely go larger>> I do have another 50-gallon tank connected to the system, which I could also use if I have to. <<Indeed do this, and add another if you have the space for it. You could even use plastic trash cans/storage containers for this purpose. The more the better in my opinion. As an example'¦ I have a somewhat smaller system with a 375-gallon display. I have 1,000 lbs of sugar-fine Aragonite in the display and another 300 lbs of this material in a 55-gallon in-line dedicated vegetable refugium. I'm a firm believer in the DSB methodology>> My clown trigger is getting some white spot although my other fish are fine, probably stress from the nitrates. <<Possibly, yes>> How long does a DSB take to have any effect? <<A DSB should start providing 'some' benefit fairly quickly (say about a week), but will take a bit of time (weeks to months) to realize its full potential (can be helped along by obtaining/adding a few cups of substrate from fellow hobbyists/your LFS). Though with the small DSB (in relation to tank size) you have now, you may not notice much improvement other than a possible slowing/stabilization of Nitrates'¦if that>> I have ordered another skimmer (Bubble King) so that will help as well. <<Beautiful skimmers'¦but, is your current skimmer not doing its job?'¦or maybe simply not 'big' enough?>> I'm doing 105-gallon water changes once a week as that is about as fast as I can make my water. <<Unless this system is 'very much' overstocked I would think this to be sufficient'¦the answer to your Nitrate issues is likely to be found elsewhere>> I have recently started using Ozone, can this cause Nitrates? <<Not that I am aware'¦ Randy Holmes-Farley has written some excellent pieces about Ozone usage (and so much more) in the hobby; do have a look on Reef Central at his archived articles in the Reef Chemistry forum>> Have to ask. <<Understood>> One more thing, should I also get an Aqua Medic nr5000 nitrate reducer to help things along? <<This could prove beneficial. But these Nitrate reduction units seem too 'fiddly' to me'¦would much rather put my stock in a large DSB>> All the big systems around here are using them but they do cost, an additional mV control and probe is needed. <<Yes, pricey bits of gear>> I will do anything for my fish so if you recommend them then I will have to part with the cash. <<Mmm, perhaps as a 'last-ditch' effort'¦ Add as large a DSB (even multiple containers re) as you can and see how things proceed'¦I would even consider putting a macroalgae (Chaetomorpha gets my vote for its 'user-friendliness') in the vessels over the DSB for some additional organics removal'¦with all lighted on a reverse-daylight schedule. I would also add Poly-Filter to your filter flow-path or in a large canister filter to pull down those Nitrates>> Oh well, I enjoy it so much. <<Indeed>> Thanks for the help again. <<Quite welcome'¦hope you find it useful>> When I see people in shops struggling for information, I just pass them a bit of paper with your website on it, boy do they thank me when they see me next. <<Ahh!'¦a strong endorsement indeed, and is redeeming to know>> Kind Regards, James <<James, I would be most interested to hear how you proceed/things progress'¦please do send me an update if you find the time. Eric Russell>>

DSB - Minimum DSB Height, Minimum Water Height, and Natural Sunlight.  4/6/07 Hi guys, it's Jason here from Makati, Philippines. <Hi Jason, Mich here in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.> The city here is eerily quiet because it's a religious holiday over here today. <Religious holiday here today also, but is always quiet.> I'm still thinking and re-designing my refuge.   <It is good to plan as much as possible.> The things I do know is that I definitely want a DSB, some Chaeto, and that I want my tank to be displayed (not just another sump in the dark). <OK.> I've been reading thru your FAQ's and have been trying to find what the minimum depth for a DSB should be before it starts to lose effect.  It seems that 5" of all sugar fine sand is deep enough.  No longer going to use a layer of crushed coral.  Perhaps just some pieces here and there. <Sounds good.> Also, what is the minimum water column height you suggest?  Would this be 5 inches as well? <No, does not need not be this deep.  You need enough to keep the surface of the sand wet.> The current design I'm thinking about is the minimum DSB with a minimum water column length, with but have a longer length, perhaps 36" .. <Ok.> I also wanted to place this refuge in front of my window where it gets strong natural light in the morning.  Is this advisable/ok?  Do I run any risk of algae blooms? <Lot of variables here, but may be OK.  Natural sunlight is commonly used in many large aquariums.> Hope you guys are doing great! <Doing fine, thank you!  -Mich> Jason

DSB size 1/2 Tank volume enough for NNR? YES!!! 1/2/07 I have a question about creating a DSB. <I'll take a shot at it! Graham here.> My system is a 220 gal FOWLR.  Currently have wet/dry, Coralife protein skimmer and UV sterilizer.  Tank also has about a 150 lbs of live rock that I put in about 2 years ago. <OK...> I am considering adding a DSB, but do not want to put the sand in the main tank.  If I use a separate tank, does the floor area need to be the same as the main tank?  For example, my main tank is 2" X 6" of floor area.  Will a DSB in a smaller tank still work?  Like maybe a 2' X 3' tank with 6" of sand in it....will that work?  My purpose for this is NNR. <The setup you describe sounds quite adequate, as it is roughly 1/2 the volume of your display. Here's a good read for you: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dsbsize.htm (And it can be found by typing "DSB SIZE" in the google search tool). Tip: Using this tool shortens the time it takes for you to get answers you need.> Thanks in advance for the help. <You're welcome, as long as I helped!> Scott <-Graham T.>

Re: Switching to a larger tank & DSB q's 1/03/07 Graham,       Thanks for the prompt reply. <Welcome.>   I have read the article in question about DSB setup and just wanted a little clarification.  I would like to setup the DSB in the refugium 4"-5" deep of sugar fine sand and use the same sand except 1" or less for the display.  The reasoning for this in the display is that I have used larger grained sands before and know how easily detritus gets built up in the gaps. <Understood, though this size is still useful for it's beneficial species hosting properties. > Also, my tank is going to be only 20" tall and wanted to have as much area top to bottom as possible.   <I agree on this point.> I would like to accomplish both NNR and food culturing in the refugium.  It looked like the article was saying one way or the other was better but I know I've seen them set up with LR, algae, and the DSB all included.   <Yup, but did you see it work?> I just wanted to know the best route to take knowing the tank style I'm working on is a FOWLR slowly working towards a reef setup.   <Not sure there really is a *best* route to take here. With this sort of thing in my own setup, I trust myself to find a way. Experiment with just the sand for NNR and add some LR later. Remember your own stated goal: NNR, with a possible move toward reef later.> For the sump/refugium setup, yes I am planning on getting a 20-30 gal (hopefully a 30 but we'll see) and using silicone to put in acrylic baffles to split it into 3 sections.  What would be the best way to order the sections as far as water to the skimmer, fuge, and then return or is there a better order of flow. <No, you have the idea I usually find most profitable. Your skimmer removes organics that are attracted to the surface tension between air and water. (Hence the bubbles? I knew that Graham, where are you going with this?) Guess where there's another mechanism similar to the protein-skimmer's interior? The surface of your tank! Your surface skimmer should be feeding directly to the protein skimmer for the most direct route to the organic-trapping bubbles.> I have read about other people doing this but if you have another suggestion any advice is appreciated.  Do you have any thoughts about my question on switching to the new tank and setting everything up immediately?  I'm not sure if I should set the refugium/sump up and running with the display right away or let it cycle alone. <The refugium isn't a separate system, and therefore won't need to be "cycled" in the normal sense. You obviously will need to give it a chance to "setup" before it does the job(s) you have in mind, but there is no reason I can think of to cycle it. (BOB, interject if I'm off-base.)> If I have to cycle the fuge/sump is it the same as cycling a tank even though I would use new sand and cured rock or would you suggest live sand for the fuge?  Would that be the reason to cycle it?  Also have read different opinions about the use of live rock or not in the refugium.  Like I mentioned I am worried about recycling the tank when I add in the fuge setup, new sand, and the new rock I am getting even with keeping all the old water and LR. <I'm not sure why... maybe I'm missing something, (or I'm just rushed on my lunch break ;) but I see so reason to be worried about the cycle. Maybe you should brush up on the cycling FAQs we have available here?> OK so maybe it's more than a little clarification but I don't have any LFS that I trust or anyone else with a marine setup that I talk to on a regular basis.   <There you go, now I'm blushing!> Thanks again for the advice. <Again, you are welcome Jeremy. *BUT* do try to read every bit of the FAQs here on a topic or a related topic before "bugging" me. J/K, but there are some simple explanations to Protein skimming and fuge setup here that will enlighten you.>      Jeremy    <-Graham T.> 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.> 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> 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>

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 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 Materials - More Questions >Marina, >>Hello Dan. >Assuming the mineral analysis from the quarry shows acceptable levels of undesirable compounds, I'm going to try the limestone, but I'll have to screen it once to get the desired maximum particle size, then again to screen out the pieces that are too small.  What should my max and min particle size goals be? >>I've actually seen DSBs with rather large particles (one DSB which was working *very* well had fine gravel sized particles - over 3mm), as well as those that could only be called silt.  I wouldn't worry too much about screening out small sizes, let water movement handle that, nor large except for aesthetics.  1mm-3mm is what I'd call "standard", though I can't say it's written in stone (no pun intended). >Of course, I plan to wash it thoroughly, soak it in clean water with frequent changes until the pH is stable at 9.0 or less (according to WWM) before slowly introducing it into the aquarium.  Dan >>You're on the right track, and unless the limestone is heavily occluded with other materials, doubtful if it's being quarried (I assume for building), then I suspect it should come back with pretty good results.  Marina - DSB Grain Size - Hi Guys, I have a quick question about substrate selection for a DSB.   I plan on putting 5+ inches into a 125G aquarium.  I see that there are two sugar fine substrates from CaribSea .  Their standard oolitic sand has grain sizes of 0.2 to 1.22mm.  They also have a more expensive oolitic 'select' with grain sizes of 0.5 to 1.02mm.  Is there a difference in performance that justifies the difference in price? <I'm not aware of one, but would think the higher price is just due to extra processing.> I don't want to spend more than I have to, but I don't want to cause myself grief over a few bucks either. <Think you'll do just fine with the standard oolitic sand.> Thanks for your help and keep up the good work. Larry <Cheers, J -- >

Deep Sand bed questions - 1/23/04 Thank you for your great web site and great book! <Thanks for purchasing the book and reading here> My question is, if I use 8 inches of Carib sea Tahitian moon black sand in my main tank will I get the benefits of a live DSB, or is the sand just too coarse to get an NNR effect? <Nope. Will be fine> Will I end up with a big mess because of trapped detritus in this sand? <Just use a baster to put the detritus in circulation before a water change> I don't have to use the sand if it is going to cause problems, I just really like the look of a dark substrate. <No worries> I also have a refugium that has the capacity to put as much as 1ft of Carib sea Aragamax sugar fine sand in it. The refugium is 4ftL  2ft wide and 20 inches tall. Is there a point of diminishing returns when it comes to sand beds? <Possible but not much scientific evidence to prove such as of yet. I hear Bob Toonen is working on some science and sandbed stuff. Look for it soon> Is it best to have the sand base as deep as possible or is there a limit where you start going in the wrong direction. <As stated above but you could look/see here for all kinds of information on DSBs: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm> Also, before this tank there is another tank that will hold a mud/algae refugium that is the same dimensions. How deep should the mud be? <3-5 inches> Is there a point of diminishing returns with mud as well? I believe same as above> I am also going to be using live rock, protein skimming, a calcium reactor, a sump sponge that I rinse out daily, and a canister carbon filter that I turn on from time to time when needed. The water will flow through the sump in this order, first to the protein skimmer, then through a sump sponge to a chamber with the carbon filter, then into the mud/algae refugium, then into the deep sand bed refugium, then into a tank with the calcium reactor, then back to the main tank. I put the carbon and sump sponge before the refugiums because I don't want to filter out any beneficial organisms. <Exactly> I figure If I am cycling all the water in my tank 10 times an hour they should still be able to have an effect on water clarity where they are. Let me know if I am wrong in this thinking. A Final question, my tank is a 140 gallon 48.5 x 24.5 x 28.5., My lighting is 2 250 watt halide bulbs, one 10,000k one 65,000k <You mean to say 6500K> and 4 95 watt compact florescent 03 actinics. Given that I will have a 8 inch DSB the light penetration of the water will now be 20.5in instead of 27in. The lights are suspended 1ft above the open air tank. <Too high. I would keep them around 6-8 inches if possible> In this tank I will want to keep anemones, corals, clams etc.. I would list the species but I haven't decided just yet. <Then I would go with two 400W MH's if possible or some mixture if it is financially possible> Should I go with the 250 watt halides or the 175 watt. The fixtures are very expensive so I want to go with the choice that offers the greatest latitude. <then 250s it is> The substrate will be black as well as the back of the aquarium, which I know absorbs allot of light. <~Paul> Thank You, Greg Kirton       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>

DSB Hi all! Another question here! After doing some searching I can't seem to find an answer. In my 46 gallon bowfront I have 24lbs. of CaribSea Live aragonite. After reading your site I wish I didn't. However I did so that's it. What I'm wondering is if I wanted to do a DSB of 3" should I layer some fine sand above it or go with a larger size, CaribSea 1-2mm. ? Would this cause more problems? Thanx again for all the help! Eileen :)<I prefer the 1-2mm CaribSea, but that is just my personal preference, good luck, IanB>

Mistakes, Or Innovations? Hello everyone, I love the info. you all have been providing, it has saved me from making mistakes, thanks. <We're very happy to be of help to you! Scott F. at the keyboard today> I have been reading DSB FAQ's for the last two days and I now have a couple of Q's of my own. I think I should have visited your site sooner in regards to this subject. I don't know why I didn't, brain fart :). Hopefully it will be less flatulent in the future:). <I won't touch that one...I could. But I won't! > Anyways, I bought and placed Carib Sea Aragonite ( I think it was Sea Floor Special) in my new 125 gal. corner show tank. It didn't have the particle size on the bag any where but it looked to be no more than 1mm in size. I know it isn't sugar fine or oolitic. It does have many other smaller sized particles in it ranging from what looks to be sugar fine all the way up to 1mm. I was under the understanding that a range in sand size (from sugar size to 1mm) was good to have because the different critters that will eventually be in their need different sizes. Each species needing a particular size in order to survive. So if there is a range in sand size the DSB will be able to support a large diversity of species. True? <I believe that it will> Then I read, after placing this sand in to the tank, the DSB FAQ's on this web site and sugar fine seems to be the size that best be suited for a DSB and particle sizes shouldn't be mixed. <Well, there is a lot of thought and controversy on this matter. Yes, an all oolithic sugar-fine aragonite is ideal, but mixing grades of smaller-grain sands is also useful, IMO. I've done this in deep sand beds before with great results. However, you don't want to mix grades that are too dissimilar, as this can result in lots of compaction and channeling, potentially reducing the efficiency of the bed. Finer grades are useful for assisting with buffering and releasing bio-minerals into the water.> I had also added live sand samples to help seed my current sand bed from reputable LFS's. Since my sand bed is already mixed should I go ahead and fill it with the same material I have started with or should I fill the remaining 2" ( I'm going for a 5" DSB) with sugar fine sand to increase its numbers in the DSB? <I'd continue with the same material at this point.> Next Q. I know that certain sand sifters eat DSB critters, I understand why this is bad and I'm not going to use them, but I have also herd that when sand sifters are sifting they are also destroying the tubes/burrows, that these DSB animals make. In doing so, they are restricting good water flow through the DSB that aids in the denitrification process and filtration and that this destruction is not a good thing. The DSB should be left undisturbed by all except for the DSB animals and only they should do the sifting. Yes, No? <I would say an unqualified yes. I believe that you don't want animals that are too aggressive in their sandbed movements. Even in regular maintenance, the hobbyist should not disturb anything but the top layer of sand, IMO> My 125 gal came with two wet/dry filters attached in the overflow box. They are filled with bio balls, should I replace these all together and put carbon filter pads in their place? My new tank has only been running for 4 or 5 days. <Personally, I'd dump the bioballs altogether, and let the sand bed and live rock do the "filtering" in your tank> My sump is a plastic barrel cut in 1/2 and holds 40 gal. The reason for its addition was because we could not get the pump to stop leaking at the threaded pipe attachments. We were going to add a sump any way. We needed something that would keep the leak contained and it was the best option from what we had to choose from. <A great improve move, IMO!> I know it isn't the most desirable shape but it's what we have to work with for the time being. I wanted to put a DSB made up of sugar fine sand in the sump. I  was thinking of attaching PVC to the inlet hose and have the PVC go all of the way around the inside of the barrel with little holes in it pointed towards the sand. Would this diffuse the water enough so that it wouldn't destroy the DSB? <It probably will. I'm afraid that you'll have to experiment with this. You can always dial down the flow if too disruptive> Would it provide enough current to prevent dead spots or any other harmful scenarios? If this is a good idea, should I place the pvc on top of the sand or just enough above it for adequate (non-destructive) circulation? <I think it will work. I'd place the return just above for maximum efficiency> Almost done:) I have seen some F/O and reef tanks with a little macro algae purposefully planted in there. Some looked like grass the other was green and broad leafed. It looked really nice but should it be done? Or, should all algae's be kept in the fuge? <Your call. As long as you can manage the growth of the macroalgae, and as long as they don't overrun other sessile life forms, there is no reason not to include macroalgae in the display.> Last one, I have rinsed my sand with tap water, I had no other type to use, will the sand in my tank now be leaching tap water chemicals in to my tank? <I suppose that it's possible, but I wouldn't lose sleep over this> I also have some LR in a 50 gal soon to be F/O that had been setting in fresh water from the tap for 2 mo. It was dead at the time and bleached. I don't know why I didn't think of this before, duh, but are they now leaching these tap elements back in to my salt tank? <Again, probably not a problem> There is a lot of emerald green micro algae on them, the snails aren't eating it. I am going to add a fuge in to the system with macro algae, will this eventually remedy the problem, if there is one, with the element leaching. Or will the micro algae growing on it now use up these elements? <Well, it will grow as long as there is "fuel" to use for it's growth.> Sorry, I need to buy Phos., ALK., and Calcium test so I can't tell now if that is what is happening. Ammonia:0, Nitrate:0, Nitrite:0, PH: 8.3, Specific gravity: 1.023, temp. 78-80F DSB 5". Or should I just remove these pieces of LR, they are coloring up nicely now, red, purple, lots of green. <I'd leave it in there at this point> Ok I'm done, so are my hands. Thank you for your time. Shauna <My pleasure, Shauna. Feel free to write any time if you have more questions. Regards, Scott F>

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>

How Much Sand and Filtration for a 1300 Litre Tank? Hi Guys, << and gals, although not here right now >> I'll be as quick as I can.  I do really have to ask these questions as you are the only people I will listen to.  The LFS are no help.  My 1300 litre main tank and 500 litre sump have just been delivered. << Excellent >> 1) I have read all the DSB FAQs but need a little clarification. I have bought some aragonite 1mm - 2mm size as I couldn't get sugar fine size (I'm in South Africa). << I don't like sugar size, so I think you got what you want. >> My aim would be for natural nitrate reduction.  Do I add a 5-6 inch deep sand bed to the main tank or  to the sump and how deep in the sump if so?  << I like about 4 inches in the main tank, and in the sump. >> A DSB in the sump only may be sufficient as I only have 3 Tangs, Niger trigger, Coris wrasse and a blue ringed angel plus LR and no corals.  << Actually the more corals you have, the less sand you need, as the corals are helping to filter the water. >> They are all around 4-5 inches at the moment.  I don't plan on adding anymore fish. In my 300 litre tank which is there current home my nitrate ranges from 0 to 10. 2) Is it better to add 2 x Turboflotor 1000 or 1 x Turboflotor 5000 shortly? AquaMedic is all that's available here? << Sorry, I'm not familiar with them.  Basically the more filtration and the more water motion the better. >> 3) If I put a glass cover on top of the tank to stop dust, evaporation etc. would it not stop oxygen getting in and gas exchange? << Yes, and no.  A glass cover isn't bad, unless it is like a tight seal and doesn't allow gas exchange.  A better idea is a glass shield right under the bulbs, but not all the way across the tank. >> 4) I have read sump FAQs as well, but do I add bioballs and those round ceramic things to begin with, or just more LR? << I would stay away from bioballs, and just go with more live rock. >> Thanks so much.  I've just been reading the "Goodbye to Powerheads" article so I'm away to build a water return manifold.  My fish are going to love me for this.  I don't know how people can swap their fish around, I have gotten so attached to mine. << Me too, good luck. >> Kind Regards, James. <<  Blundell  >>

What substrate size should I use in my DSB? Found your site. Read the FAQ's.  Still confused, don't want to make mistake! Am setting up 110X tank for reef community.  Propose 100-150 lbs Fiji. LR My concern is the live sand bed, which everyone seems to have slightly different opinion on.  I intend to do a DSB but want it varied enough to be safe and yet support both small and somewhat larger micro-crustacean populations.  Would I be correct in using @ 60% Nature's Ocean Aragonite Live Sand (.05-1.0 mm), 20% Medium Grade (1.0 to 2.0mm) such as CaribSea Seaflor Aragonite, and 20% Coarse grade (2.0-4.0 mm) crushed coral? These recommendations come from Dr. Shimek and Jonathan Lowrie, with the addendum that large populations of diverse infauna are a must. << I really don't think substrate size matters much, but would rather have a mix than a constant particulate size.  Therefore, I like what you are proposing to use. >> If this is incorrect I would love to know BEFORE I invest in more sand.  I already have 80 Lbs of the Nature's Ocean Live Sand.  Please help!  I want my "critters" safe and happy. << I think this would work well, no worries here, as long as you like the looks of those substrates. >> MommaKat <<  Blundell  >>

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.

Set-up DSB - 7/14/03 Anthony or other crew members: <a treat tonight... you get me and several of my multiple personalities: one is a professional wrestler interestingly enough> I continue to be grateful to you & Bob & the entire crew for all that you do for this great hobby. <friends and fellow hobbyists like you are the inspiration. We thank you in kind!> I read the FAQs everyday. I love your new book-gave it 5 stars on Amazon. <wow... gracias! Such feedback on Amazon and abroad really is a big help to other browsers/buyers... and certainly to the authors <G>> One piece of advice I liked was related to the importance of supporting the LFS. I have access to 2 very conscientious & helpful ones here in the Salt Lake City area (Mountain Shadow Marine in Centerville and The Aquarium in Sandy). <ahhh, yes... I know Randy as MSM and like him very well! Will look forward to meeting the other folks in time> I always respect a merchant who won't sell you something he doesn't think you're ready for. <agreed... it helps the customer, long-term business and the hobby at large. Kudos to them> I am working with both of these to expand from my current 80G FOWLR. I have convinced my wife that this is a good middle-aged expensive hobby-safer than a Harley and cheaper than an antique fire engine (maybe not by much). Anyway, she gets a new floor and I get a new tank (not near the new floor). <all good and agreed :) > In 2 weeks I will set up a 180G FOWLR circulating with the 80G (eventually to become a reef) and a 44G upstream refugium. I have already paid for the All-Glass pre-drilled 180G. Water will be pumped out of drilled hole in the back of the 180 & split between the 80 & 44, then returned by gravity to the 180. There will also be a 48X20X18 sump under the 180. This will contain a DSB & algae and a Euro-Reef CS8-2 skimmer (with ozone). It will be lit by power compacts as recommended by Randy at MSM. <fine set-up/plans> Eventual stock: 80G: 1 ocellaris clown, 1 dusky Jawfish, 1 flame angel, 1 Royal Gramma, 1 canary wrasse, 1 yellow tang, 4 cleaner shrimp 180G:  1 Foxface Rabbitfish, 1 purple tang, 1 bird wrasse, 1 Lemonpeel angel, 1 majestic angel (5", already in QT, active, eating voraciously, was thriving at LFS for 6 weeks), and possibly a snowflake eel. No shrimp. Questions: 1. Does this grouping seem reasonable? <yep> 2. I want the 44G refugium to be a 'pod farm. I love watching Mysis, 'pods, tiny brittle stars & other creatures. What DSB substrate is best to get the greatest variety? Per your book, different sized produce different critters. Could I make half of it sugar fine and the other half a bit larger? <no mixing of substrates... and for the larger micro-crustaceans... they will favor media above the substrate after all. For natural: Chaetomorpha spaghetti/wire algae (or another like mass)... or artificial... course polyester pads (like pond filter pads or dish scrubbies)... superb pod condos> 3. With DSB in the sump, refugium and 80G display (for Jawfish), do I need any substrate in the 180? <not for NNR> I know that bird wrasses do not bury themselves & there will be plenty of LR for hiding in. <agreed> 4. I currently have a Remora Pro on my 80G-should I leave it there for additional skimming beyond the CS8-2? <yes, please... and alternate cleanings with other unit to help maintain uninterrupted skimmate production> 5. Which would be better, ozone or UV (or both)? <I have little or no use for UV on a display tank... but find many benefits to ozone and a Redox meter on such aquaria> Thanks, Steve Allen. <thanks kindly my friend... be chatting soon. Anthony>

A Few Questions, Cont'd By the way, in reviewing my email to you, I noticed some ambiguity in one of my questions... <I'm sure it was unintentional! ;)   > "Asked differently, what surface area and depth (i.e. volume) of sand would be good for the 125-gal main display? Smaller would be better when considering space available." <I wish a magic formula existed which would indicate a specific amount of sand needed, but too many variables exist.  The amount of denitrifying bacteria increases with volume of sand AND proper food source.  The food source here is directly correlated with whatever livestock you may add to the mix.  Simply put: You'll need to construct your sand bed based on what you'd like to keep.  In a reef, keeping the bio-load light is a key to success.  If you're planning on 1+ pounds of live rock per gallon, a huge DSB isn't necessary, and it sure isn't pretty to most.  A smaller, remote DSB offers lots of options and serves it's purpose.> What I meant was, what volume of sand (DSB) in the sump is recommended to support the 125-gallon main display.   <If you're going to use the Ecosystem system, the only way you'll be able to run a deep sand bed is in a refugium.  With a 125 Gallon display, a 20-40 gallon refugium with a 4-6 inch DSB will work well and help to support a beautiful reef.  Good luck! Ryan>

DSB Grain size (11-21-03) A question about optimal grain size for a DSB - I am starting a 90g reef, with 20g sump and 45g refugium - I plan for 6-8" DSB for both the tank and fuge - would you use grain size ranging from 0.2 to 1.2 mm called "sugar" sand, or 0.5-1.2 mm called "Select" - the select is more expensive. This is a lot of sand - around 450 lbs.<I would go with the sugar sand if it saves you money.  I don't really see any advantages in going with the "select".  There are a lot of people using Southdown play ground sand from Home Depot and having good results also.  I would do a search on this at our site: www.wetwebmedia.com.  Cody> Thanks John

DSB Grain Size II (11-22-03) Thanks very much. <No problem!> Southdown is not available here. I tried to get some, but with shipping it would cost MORE than the "expensive" sand. I may try using local natural ocean sand, after screening it and washing it. Our local ocean temp is only 6-8 degrees Celsius - so of course most of the flora and fauna would not survive at reef temperatures. Any comments here?<If you use the ocean sand rinse, rinse, and rinse some more! There might be something on this at our site, www.wetwebmedia.com.  Good luck, Cody.>

Sorting Out A Sandbed Situation... My current tank is a 55 gallon reef. The tank is about 1 1/2 yrs. old and is experiencing a major algae/ red slime outbreak. I am about 99% sure this is due to the nutrient sink I have created with my 2 - 2.5 inch mixed size sand bed. As luck would have it I will be flooring the room that it sits in and replacing it with a new tank, stand and larger sump/ refugium. I have plenty of new Southdown (real cheap here in NJ) as well as the Florida live sand and (mixed sizes) and aragonite from the existing tank. I was going to use a DSB but after talking to Jason at AquaC and reading a lot of posts, it seems as though they are starting to fall out of favor. <Well, there has been a lot of talk on the hobbyist boards of late regarding the alleged downsides of deep sand beds. While much research remains to be done on this topic, I think the benefits of DSBs outweigh any negatives. I get the feeling that a lot of the negative stuff is put out by people who have had bad experiences due to lapses in husbandry, improper installation of the sand bed, and other potential miscues...The DSB concept is quite valid, IMO> The way I see it I have several choices: A) 1" Southdown in display with 1" existing live sand in dedicated 8g 'fuge. B) 4" Southdown in display with 1" existing live sand in dedicated 8g fuge. C) 1" existing sand in both display and fuge. D) 1" Southdown in display with 4-5" existing live sand in dedicated 8g fuge. I am leaning towards C since I like the look of Southdown Sand and the flexibility of taking the fuge offline if I want to change to shallow bed, or mud at a later time. I am starting to think that the most important thing is macro for nutrient export regardless what bed I use. <Well, one thing that I feel pretty strongly about is that you need to go 1/2 inch or less, or 3 inches or more. My thinking is that 1 inch is too shallow to foster denitrification, but too deep to be fully aerobic, which is a potential recipe for long term problems. If you're inclined to go this route, better to use a sprinkling of sand in the display, and a 3 inch plus bed in the sump...Modified Plan "D"> I am looking for any thoughts or suggestions you guys might have. I would just like to get it right this time around. <You're on the right track!> Thanx as always, Ken <My pleasure Ken...It's good to get feedback from lots of sources here. I would take anyone's suggestions (including mine) with a grain of salt, taking into account basic husbandry concepts, an plan your system in a manner that works best for you! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Sandbed Stuff Thanks Scott F. <You're welcome!> I meant to say option D. Anyways, what about 3-4" Southdown in the display with 4-5" of the existing mixed size live sand /cc for the fuge. <Ahh...sounds good to me> Denitrification in the main tank with pod production in the refugium. Would I need to clean/rinse the existing sand before adding it to the fuge. Would I need to add a specific detritivore kit? I currently have 3 brittle stars. <Personally, I would not "clean" the sand, for fear of eliminating more potentially beneficial life forms. I'd limit additions of detritivores to the existing brittle stars, and maybe some worms. Again- I'd be hesitant to add any creatures that could be too disruptive. Possibly contrary to popular thought, but I don't think that lots of "sand stirring" is either necessary or desirable, especially in a well-maintained tank> The existing sand bed is loaded with spaghetti worms and bristle worms that I can salvage. I was thinking of adding 2 small cukes, about a dozen Nassarius snails and about 2 dozen of the smaller red leg Mexican hermits to new Southdown in the display. <That seems fine to me...Again, I wouldn't disrupt the bed too much, even in the display> Also saving some of the existing sand in nylon bags and using it to seed the display, or is just adding it to the fuge sufficient for biological activity? Any thought or comments are greatly appreciated. Thanx, ken <Well, Ken, I'd be inclined to just place it in the refugium. Sure, you can seed the refugium by keeping it in bags, but in my experience, such procedures don't seem to be necessary. Just dump it in! BTW, for a lot of killer information on DSBs and refugia, trust me and get a copy of Anthony and Bob's "Reef Invertebrates" book- exactly what you're looking for...Makes a great holiday gift! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

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

Re: sandbed question Hello again, I have a couple of follow-up questions. 1. For future reference, when you have a sandbed in a separate sump is there a certain size that is appropriate for a 100gal tank? <Mmm, well, the bigger the better... no less than a fifth the volume of the main tank...> Do suggest adding one of those sand starter kits like the one from inland aquatics that has the worms and other stuff? <Generally not... enough critters come in/on the live rock to adequately inoculate the new substrate> Do you have to feed the sandbed since it is separate, because I thought the worms and other stuff in the live sand eat the detritus. Do you add sand sifters? <No to both... enough food of different sorts will find its way there... and almost never a need for sand sifters> 2. For now, do you know if those fluidized filters actually work and if they are a benefit? <Do work... but almost never needed... You don't want to overdrive nitrification... such technology (FB) is for high and variably bio-loaded systems... like wholesalers, aquaculture facilities... Bob Fenner> Thanks again, Brett

DSB OR Expensive Protein Skimmer Hello Bob <Hello Antoine> I have a 280gal FOWLR Tank 60x30x30 with a 11" Vlamingi Tang, 7" Red Coris Wrasse, 6" Twin Spot Wrasse, 5" Pink Tail Trigger, 16" Snowflake EEL, 12" Golden Tail EEL, and a newly acquired 18" Leopard Moray. Now what I'm in the process of doing is removing the Snowflake and Golden Tail EEL to a 75 gal tank. I think that I will trade my Pink Tail Trigger in at the LFS for a miniatus grouper or Formosa wrasse since he is always being harassed by the Vlamingi tang. <Okay> Now since I acquired the Leopard moray I'm putting a strain on my filtration system. Water parameters have moved up Ammonia .1ppm, Nitrite.2ppm and Nitrate up to 60ppm. <Yikes... I would forestall feeding till there was/is no ammonia or nitrite period> Everything was at zero except for the Nitrate being around 35ppm. I'm thinking that this is probably going on because of the undersized skimmer. I ordered and now have in possession another Turboflotor 1000 that I was going to use on my new 75 gal but now I'm wondering if I should send it back and get a Euro-Reef CS8-2 (requires less adjustment correct) for the 280 gal or just add a 20 gal sump DSB with about 6 inches of fine sand which would be a cheaper way to control my water parameters and use the turbo-flotor on the 75 gal.  <I would get the bigger, better skimmer for your larger system for sure> My goal is control denitrification and have to do less maintenance. I thought about a refugium but this would require me to cut the Caulerpa back all the time and worry about it dying on me causing a possible disaster. <Not a huge concern> The original Turboflotor did great until I added the leopard moray and I know as he grows that he will put a greater strain on my system. I just don't know if the DSB will do as just a good of a job as the $400.00 Skimmer. <Not... you would need a couple hundred gallon DSB to "do about the same good"> Another thing is before I only had a half of cup full of dark skimmate in my collection cup per week and now its every three days so I know I'm pushing the skimmer to its limit. I have always done maintenance on the skimmer, weekly water changes, run activated carbon, Chemipure and every so often PolyFilter pads. There is also 200lbs of rock in the tank that I think is enough and still allow the fish to have plenty of room to swim around. <Much to consider. Bob Fenner>

DSB (and nitrates) Question 8/18/05 Good Morning Crew! <Andrew> I've got a question, which might not have a simple answer (What does in this hobby? )..... <Don't know... and am afraid to expand on...> My question lies in the necessary size of a remote DSB in relation to the "primary" tank for Nitrate control.  I've read every (And there are a LOT) query regarding DSBs on this board, and the info in the Reef Inverts book by Anthony, and Bob, but I'm still not sure I've gotten what I'm looking for. I'm in the process of moving my tank, and will be setting up a 72G bowfront tank, with a 20G sump, and (roughly) a 4.5G HOB CPR Aquafuge for Pod production/Macroalgae. If I don't go nuts on stocking levels, would a 5-6" DSB in the Sump (Probably 2/3's DSB, partitioned for water inlet from tank, and the Eheim 1260 return pump) and Refuge be able to control my Nitrates at or very close to Zero? <Mmm, will definitely help... only practice can tell how much> If you need any further information regarding additional circulation, filtration, etc, let me know.  I just hesitate to add the DSB to the display tank as a 72G primary Aquarium isn't particularly huge, and I'm not very fond of the 5-6" sand bed look, <Me neither...> but if it's necessary, function will prevail over form. I realize a lot has to do with maintenance, stocking levels, etc. but is there an effective "rule-of-thumb" ratio of Nitrate-consuming sump/'fuge size to aquarium size? <Not as far as I'm aware, or concerned... the bigger the better... but no minimum, matching value... Just too many other factors to place in a string of variables in such an equation... foods, feeding, lighting... chemistry... temperature...> (I have this really bad feeling you're going to say there are too many variables to tell) <Heeeee! It may well be time for you to join our Crew, start answering queries...> I'd just prefer to add the DSB from scratch, instead of stressing the heck out of the livestock by adding it later should it not be adequate. <Will be fine... I say, go ahead!> Thanks for your help with the question,  and for the amazing amount of help and information you provide! -Andy
<Glad to share. Bob Fenner>

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