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FAQs about Live Sand Bed Systems, Placement

Related Articles: Live Sand, Marine System Substrates (Gravels, Sands) by Bob Fenner, Marine Substrate Options by Sara Mavinkurve, Deep Sand Beds, Reef Systems, Refugiums

Related FAQs: Live Sand 1, Live Sand 2, Live Sand 3, Identification, Selection/DIY, Biota, Maintenance, & Deep Sand BedsSumps, Refugiums, Live Rock Calcium, FAQs 1

Take care when adding, moving substrates... Tridacna maxima (Roding 1798), the Large Giant Clam.

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

Re: Lettuce Sea Slug with Bubble on Back, now adding LS  4/16/09
A quick aside, if I may:
I would like to deepen my sandbed in hopes of adding a blue spotted Jawfish. If I go about this by adding a cup of live sand every day, would this be too rapid a change for my current crew (everything seems to be in balance now)?
<Is a fine plan... in point of fact, this new substrate doesn't have to be "live"... will become so over time mixed in with what you have>
Thanks for reading this additional question. I Googled the question and did a lot of reading about how critical sandbeds are to the health of an aquarium, but did not find a direct answer to my addition question.
<Be chatting, BobF> 

Sand, Silt and Sediment Settling Soon?  2/1/07 Hi, <Hello Billy!> I have recently added live sand to a new reef setup.   <Very good.> There was nothing in the reef but water, now I can't see anything.     The tank has a pinkish grey cloudiness to it.  Will this go away on its own or should I do something.   <Is the sand currently being blown around in your tank or has the sand settled?  As long as it's not a sandstorm, then it will settle.  Than being said it does take quite some time, possibly weeks, for the sediment to settle when new sand is added to a setup, especially if the sand wasn't rinsed.  Are you using any mechanical filtration?  This could help.  You could also add a bag of carbon in/near your filter/pump.  This will improve the water clarity.> Thanks so much, Billy s. <Welcome!  -Mich>

Live sand vs. crushed coral   12/11/06 Dear sirs <and madams?  Mich here.> I have a 55 gallon saltwater aquarium. <OK.> I currently have crushed coral bottom. I want to switch to live sand can I cover the coral with sand or should I remove the coral and add the sand? <You can do either.  What are you trying to achieve?  Are you trying to make a deep sand bed for nitrate reduction or is your goal an appropriate home for specific live stock or something else?  How long has your system been running?  How much crushed coral is on the bottom currently?  Theoretically either option is possible, there are pluses and minuses to either approach.  What is currently living in your tank?  Hard to give a clear answer without more info.  Be aware the sand may make your water very cloudy unless it is rinse well before adding it to your tank.  Hope this is helpful. -Mich>    

Restarting Tank...LR/LS Question - 06/09/05 Hello WebSiteMedia Guru's, <<Good evening>> Not wanting to sound too cliché, I very much love your site and all the great information you have for all of us! Thank you already for what you have taught me while reading through your site. <<And thank you...happy to serve.>> I am 'Beginner-again', having had marine fishes a decade ago and recently restarted a fish only tank in Nov '04, and converted it to a combo in March '05. My biggest problem, currently, is an amazing growth of Diatoms in an otherwise seemingly healthy tank ( based on the growth of fishes and inverts ). If I don't scrape the glass in 4 days, I can't look through it. Phos = 0, Nitrate = 0, Silica = 0. pH 8.3, SG 1.0024 <<Hmm...likely a result of your "conversion."  Will probably pass with time/good husbandry.>> Being from the old school, I started the set-up with a W/D filter ( 10 gal ). I now understand that is not desirable. <<Fine for the FO setup...no, not so desirable for the reef.>> Being ignorant, I also started the tank with my old substrate (15 year old Dolomite!, yup, I can hear you now ). <<tee hee!>> Sooo, if I searched your site well enough, I now understand the following: 1) I need to change the Dolomite. <<I would.>> 2) I need to add more Live rock. <<More of a subjective issue in my opinion.  I prefer to leave lots of space for corals to grow, fish to swim...>> 3) I need to get rid of my W/D media ( bioballs ) and convert to sump only. <<Another good move, yes.>> Here is my current set up: Tank: 75gal Lighting: Compacts 2-55 watt 10,000 2-55 watt actinic-3 Filter: Remora Pro w/ Mag drive, 10gal Wet/ Dry Sump Water circulation: One 200gph powered, internal <<EEK!  You need to increase your water circulation by 10-fold my friend!>> Substrate: Dolomite <<Again...tee hee!>> Live Rock:  44lbs Premium Fiji Fish: 1 - Foxface 1 - Molly Miller Blenny 2 - Redeye Cardinals Inverts: 1 - Fighting Conch 5 - Blue legged hermits 2 - Scarlet Hermit crabs 4 - Astraea Conehead nails 2 - Banded Trochus Snails 2 - Cluster Dusters - Feed Zooplex 1 - 6" Hairy Mushroom Polyp ( splitting very well ) - Feed Zooplex 1 - 5"  Candy Cane Coral ( Fiji ) ( splitting well ) - Feed Zooplex 2 - Turbo snails ( haven't seen them in a while ) Plants: Shaving Brush (not doing well, being eaten) <<Your Foxface said to say "thank you!">> My questions: Should I change the Dolomite to live sand or other (what do you suggest? & how many pounds) at the same time of adding more live Rock (I am scared!) <<No need to be frightened <G>.  Replace the dolomite with sugar-fine aragonite (no need for live...will become "live") to a MINIMUM DEPTH of 4" (6" is better), and if you really think you need it, add more FULLY CURED live rock after the sand.>> I should remove the bioballs slowly AFTER more rock and substrate change, yes? <<Of small concern I think given the size of your wet/dry, but it won't hurt either to wait a couple weeks after the addition of sand and rock to pull the bio-balls.>> If my tank will have app. 90 pounds of live rock, what is the sense of having a refugium? <<Huh?  Thought you said you read our FAQs <G>?  Start reading here and at the related links in blue, then come back and tell me "why indeed?": http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm>> Any other suggestions? Keep reading/learning/researching.  And increase the flow in that tank!>> Thank you very much, in advance, for any specific help you can offer! Rainer <<Very welcome, Eric R.>> P.S.: My apology if this is a copy of a post which reaches you - I have problems w/ my DIAL UP provider and am using another e-mail account) <<No worries mate.>>

Setting Up Live Sand How do I put my live sand in my new tank? The water is already in and circulating in tank and sump. I am concerned that it will get suspended in water and get in sump and skimmer and filters. <<Not to worry, turn off circulation, release sand at bottom. Turn it on and let er' rip! Only very fine particulates will be suspended and be skimmed/filtered out or settle. If settling in sump bothers you (most are designed to trap particulates) then vacuum that out. Remove any vegetative matter etc. from screens, filters, powerheads. Be happy! Craig>> 

Bio-Sand Man! - 2/24/03 Hey!<How goes it?> I would like to add the bio-activated sand to my 47g tank. How would I go about adding it to my tank?<Well that depends on how much you want to add and what type of substrate you have now.  If you have sand now, all you have to do is add a small cup of live sand.  If you have crushed coral you need to remove it first.> Tank is stocked and I have no sump or sessile invertebrates.<I need some more info before I can give you a better answer.  Please get back w/ me on the type of substrate you have and what you are planning on doing.  Phil>

How much live sand? - 2/19/03 Hello again, <Hello, Paul here>I am planning on starting up a new tank (saltwater).<Cool. Be sure to read as much as you can. Think about what it is you want to keep and devise a plan. A good plan goes a long way to success>  I was wondering how much Live Sand I would need for a 50 gal rectangular tank (36x15x20). <Well, there is a formula in there somewhere, but there is really no way of telling without a little more info. In any event I would buy enough to do a 4" live sand bed. See, the size and general geological makeup of your sand needs to be added into the formula. The best way to do this is to have an idea of what type of sand you plan to use and know how many pounds per cubic inch. I may be wrong here but I believe it is: (l)engthx(w)idthx(4")intended depth of sand bed pounds per cubic inch of sand your placing. Not really easy to determine, eh? The rule I use has served me well. I look at what a bag of sand will roughly fill an area of my tank. So if 2 30lb bags of sand will kinda fill half my tank to roughly 4' then I will need 4 bags to gain approximately 4' of sand for my entire tank. I always buy an extra or two in case I under estimated, and I always return any unopened bag(s).>  I'm aware that a 1-3" bed is ideal but have no experience with Live Sand up until now.<I think the theory is now  1" or less for no anaerobic effect or 4-4 1/2" for anaerobic effect. Check here as I am sure Anthony Calfo has made mention of this many times here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dsbfaqs.htm>   Any insight would be great! <I think your on the right track here. Information is half the battle. Read some, plan out your tank, know what animals will populate your tank, read about them, buy, and build. A couple days of research will really help your tank succeed. Thanks for the question. To all the math majors out there, if I am wrong about the formula please indulge us with your genius. Paul - out> thanks again Kevin Conner  

How much live sand for 50gal - 2/20/03 Thanx for the input I was out at one of my local shop's yesterday and the owner recommended 50lbs. of sand to get about a 3" bed (in my "proposed" 50 gal. tank) <I would go more for 4" if you can.>  He also recommended I get (1) 25lbs. bag of a fine grain sand (1) 25lbs. bag of a medium grain sand to mix up the granularity a bit.<I would also do all sugar fine if possible. Check out Anthony's replies here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dsbfaqs.htm and follow the other links around the top of the page as well.> Once again thanks for your input and take care. <Thank you for the follow up, Kev.> Kevin Conner <Regards, Paul>

HELLO CRAIG, Live Sand Your advice sounds reasonable, but don't you think that if I remove all gravel, I would also remove all beneficial bacteria and fauna growing in there? <That's what you are replacing with "live" sand. In my mind you are removing the trapped wastes and replacing it with another bio-media that has better capacity as a DSB without coarse consistency to trap larger waste particles.> I posed the same problem to another crew member. Jason C >said he thought I could mix in live sand on top of the gravel, at least 4"-6". Who is correct, I kind of think that you are, all that gunk would be trapped under the sand. <I'm sure Jason has a good viable reasoning as well! I would think (like J I'm sure) that if you kept the crushed coral you would vacuum the heck out of it before mixing with sand. With enough sand and a good cleaning, Jason's idea is certainly viable as well. six of one, half a dozen of the other, as long as you clean it really well.> I am going to buy some live sand today, which brand and how many inches do you recommend? Should I add some CYCLE to speed up seeding. I want to get as much fauna in the sand and as soon as possible. Please advise, Thanks, Andre <Alright Andre, you will want to do this slowly by adding over time, or all at once remove everything, put inhabitants in another tank/Rubbermaid container, etc. add sand, replace rock, filter/let settle and replace inhabitants, perhaps the next day. With good live sand and your rock, filter etc. you should be alright as far as water quality. What sand you use depends on finances and the overall bio-capacity of your rock, filters, etc. If possible, I would prefer live sand from your LFS or on-line supplier from fishless systems to avoid parasites like ick. You can also mix live sand with dry aragonite sand to seed the "dead" dry sand. There are various suppliers of live sand to seed your tank with a good variety of flora and fauna, try IndoPacific Sea Farms. I have used bagged "live" sand, but it really isn't the same as sand from an established system.  Go as deep as you can afford, you will be surprised to see it dissolve over time and DSB's process nitrates!  Best of luck!  Craig>

Adding live sand, or live rock to established system Hello, You have always helped me with questions in the past. My questions are --- I have an established reef tank and I was contemplating removing the crushed coral substrate and replacing with live sand. <Based on recent experience, remove all the water (using a high flow pump and plastic containers) and livestock, remove the old substrate, replace with sand and refill the tank. Return the livestock. If you don't have the tools to do this, I would wait until you do. Remember, 4" minimum and better 6" for the bed> Would this cause an ammonia spike or other problems to the fish and corals? <Should be OK. Make sure you have plenty of aged seawater on hand as you will likely need to do some water changes> And, I need to add more live rock, would adding too much at one time cause problems? <I would get a plastic tub, heater, power filter, a power head, and a cheap light and cure the rock for several weeks before introducing it into the main tank.> Also, I want to remove the bio-balls from the wet/dry and replace with live rock, would this be fine? <A good move in my opinion. Remove the bioballs a little at a time over a couple weeks. One more thing: you want to wait several weeks between making each of these changes. If you try to do all these things in a short period of time, you'll will have trouble.> Thank you for your help, Tim <My pleasure, Don>

Re: Live rock and sand for a new tank Hey again Don, It is so true when they say too much information is not good either.  I am so confused!!!!! <My constant state of being it seems at times> I just read the main (1st) article that Mr. Fenner has posted on substrates and in their he DOES NOT recommend going with live sand.  Is this the case?  It seems like it is the rage right now and everyone is doing it.  For my 55 gal am I just better of buying 10-20 lbs to use as seed sand and then compensate the rest of the bed with store bought bag sealed sand, and then mix the two together before adding to the system?  Can you suggest a sand I should use?  I see the best size granule recommended is greater than 1.5mm and as close to round as possible? Thanks again...as always...I am so sorry to bother you guys!!  Its just that I truly want this to work this time and get it right.  Too many mistakes and lack of successes over the years.  I refuse to give up!! <Understood. I apologize for the delay, but I wanted to get Bob's take on the article as the author. This information was written sometime ago when it was popular to go to the beach and just get some sand which is not a good idea for the reasons stated in the article. Better to use a commercial sugar fine or oolithic sand (< 1mm) and lay that down as a bed. Then some live sand sprinkled over the top. Or, you can just let your live rock 'seed' the dead sand. This will take a little longer, but much cheaper. So I would stick to the original 30# or so of sealed, store bought, 'dead' sand, and seed with just a handful or two of live sand from a store or friend and you will have good life in no time. Or, skip the live sand all together and just allow time for the live rock to seed the sand with is certainly going to happen. Hope this helps, Don> Louis Rizzo

Live Sand Bed 7/4/03 Hello at WetWeb, <Cheers> Just reading the live sand bed section in Anthony and Bob's new book, and I have a couple questions.  Let me preface them by saying I recently had to remove the aragonite bed from my 180-gallon reef due to what I believe was phosphate precipitation. <Yes... does occur... but usually is not a problem unless the bed is stirred or agitated. Else it is neutrally bound> The bed was like concrete and I was having algae problems, so I opted to remove it.   <Hmmm... that actually sounds like a water chemistry problem. Adding calcium/Kalk too quick or too much and/or spiking the pH is what causes that. Subsequently, the compromised sand bed can feed nuisance algae or at least not deter it. Point being... the problem was not your sand bed... but the advice you got on how to maintain it> Removal of the substrate and large water changes seem to have greatly assisted in alleviating the nuisance algae.  I suspect the problem arose from playing the see saw game with alkalinity/calcium, etc., and using additives to try to balance it and instead made it worse.   <Exactly, my friend> Out with the old.  I now want to add a new live sand bed and am considering using the Carib Sea Seaflor Special Grade Reef Sand for starters, which is what I had in the original bed that I removed after it became so compact.  There is no specific grain size indicated on the bag of the Carib Sea, so I can't give you that specific information.  If you are familiar with this particular grade, would you opine as to how deep a bed you recommend, and how much live sand and sand stirrers you would add to it to seed the bed?   <No worries... simply seek sugar-fine grains at a depth of 3" minimum... 4-6" better still.> I'd like to add a few Holothuria cukes, etc., once its established to keep things clean, and perhaps some critters from IndoPacific SeaFarms to improve the life and stirring of the bed.  This system is old and the buffering capabilities, etc., have greatly reduced, and I would like very much to get it in balance again with a good sand bed.   <No troubles at all... can be had> I must admit I'm a bit paranoid after all the work I went through to remove the substrate and alleviate the algae problem.   <Understood... but easily prevented. Do focus on excellent water flow (10-20X tank volume) and due diligence with dosing supplements (starting with 2-part mixes in a balanced tank, mixing said liquids vigorously before every use (else see-saw occurs), etc)> Sorry for blathering.  Your suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  BTW, I never give up.  Just want to do it right this time. Many thanks, Peggy <Excellent to hear! Best regards, Anthony>

Adding Live Sand Hey Crew. Hope you can offer some good advice. I would like to add 2 or 3 more inches of sand to the 2 or 3 I have now. I'm in no hurry so a little at a time is no prob. I was going to try and find Southdown but so far no luck in my area (Texas). I thought I could move sand from a corner , spread it around and replace with new sand. I didn't know if this would cause to much cloudiness or would I be better off to tear down the whole tank and add it all at once. These indecision's keep me from doing anything. The sand I have now is proper type and size. Any thoughts are appreciated.  Thanks , Mark <I would drain the tank with a high volume pump removing the livestock along the way. Add the sand and pump the water back into the tank and add the livestock. Good luck, Don>

Adding live sand, follow up Dear Mr. Blundell, << No Mr. just "hey you" or "Blundell" >>  I have really made a mess of things! (It never occurred to me that you would answer personally!!!) << Isn't that why we are here?  I hope we help, we try. >> While I was expecting to read your answer regarding 'adding live sand to an existing set-up' in the daily Q and A, and 'thinking' I had no time to wait, I started removing the crushed coral.  I left two to three inches, added a couple of inches of SeaChem 'Pearl Beach' Aragonite and added the 250lbs. of live sand. (The tank is 72' L.x18' D. and the bed is now 5' deep.) << That isn't bad.  It really can't be too deep. >> I also added what must be approximately 50lbs. of 'base rock'. YUCK!!!  Well, the tank is cycling. (Duh!)  Amm. is 0.4, nitrites 0.4, nitrates less than 10 and I was 'thinking' again.  Would it hurt or help to do a water change and add my original live rocks which are being held in a Rubbermaid tub with heat and circulation. << I think a water change can't hurt.  I'm not sure it is going to do any good here, but it can't hurt.  I would add your other live rock, as live rock is always good.  Mainly you need time and patience, just wait it out. >>  I believe that one should not do water changes during cycling unless approaching  1.0 but I don't know if this holds true since there is still a lot of the original bacteria in the tank and filters. << I have no idea where that 1.0 number came from.  I would say water changes are good even in stable tanks that read 0. >> This time a will wait for your reply. << Okay, but my reply may be full of bad information, so you shouldn't just do what I say. >> Thank you so much for your time and effort (and patience).  P.S., the original live rock has lots of life on it including worms, baby brittle stars and bi-valves.  I don't want to kill anymore of the little guys. << Understood, but those things can also help "cycle" the new rock and get things going again. >> Diane <<  Blundell  >>

Adding live sand 8/31/04 Dear Crew, I have spent hours reading your fabulous site and I have seen several questions similar to mine however I have also seen several different answers.  I have 250 lbs. of live sand coming from Tampa Bay Saltwater that I was going to add to my 125 gal. tank that already has four to five inches of crushed coral of different grades, with the smaller size settled to the bottom.  These smaller grains are small enough to start clogging the UG. filter plates (which I am removing as I do my water changes).  What I have planned is to remove fish to various other tanks, then remove live rock (approximately 60+ lbs.) to a large Rubbermaid tub.  Remove the top one inch, possibly two inches, of the larger grade of crushed coral and add the live sand on top.  Is this feasible? <Disturbing all of this "muck" can be disastrous if not handled properly.  Your plan is a reasonable one, but I would consider leaving the UGF plates in place and simply pulling the airlift tubes.  If there is a lot of life in your CC, I would add the new sand on top a little at a time (this will require you to store the sand properly for at least a few days).  By adding 1/4" or so per day, you give the life in your current sand time to come to the surface and not get buried alive.  Even if there isn't much life, there is little harm to leaving the larger CC.> If I remove all CC then I will not have nearly enough depth and I have already broke the bank with this T.B.S. order. (Also have 100 lbs. of live rock coming)  Plus I was thinking the differences in size would help future burrow builders.  With this order comes a variety of hermits, snails, cucumbers and starfish; and others I know I'm forgetting. The inhabitants now are: 1 3" Coral Beauty 1 2" Six-line Wrasse 2 2.5" Firefish 2 4" Scissortail Darts 1 Flame Hawk (going back to store) 1 4" Tasseled Filefish (not including fins or tassels) <Adding all of this sand and rock will initiate a new "cycle" in your tank.  You can avoid this by cycling it all in a separate vessel before adding it to your existing tank.  I would highly recommend this.  You could also add it directly to your display and move your current animals, but this seems like the greater hassle.> I was wondering just how big a threat my Filefish will be at this time and if I must leave him out, what size tank could he be content in?<It will probably be fine in as small as a 20g tank for the short period of time you would have to remove him for.> Also, with the addition of so much more live rock and everything rearranged could I add my feisty Cherub Pygmy Angel in with the Coral Beauty? <They would probably be fine in such a large tank.> Please, one more question, but first a brief description of changes.  Three weeks ago I removed the first of three filter plates during a water change and had also switched salt mix from Coralife to Instant Ocean and now my pH has gone from a pretty constant 8.1 to 8.6!!!  Is it the different mix? My well water tests at 8.0. <A good possibility.> A month ago we added different lights: 3 175 watt Metal Halides with a 72" 2x96 watt Power Compact blue actinic bulbs and now have blooms of hair and turf/mat algae.  Could this affect the pH? <The photosynthesis from the algae could be driving CO2 down and pH up. You can verify this by checking the pH in the morning and in the evening.  If evening pH is much higher than morning, then photosynthesis is the culprit.  If there is little change, it is most likely the salt mix.  If you find large swings, you need to improve gas exchange in the tank (greater water movement, larger skimmer, etc.)> Please help and thank you so much for your time and dedication.  Diane. <Glad to!> P.S.  Could pH. rise with evaporation and the corresponding rise in salinity?  We are having a hard time getting the top-off right with the hotter lights and the open top now.  Again, thank you.  <This is not likely to be a significant factor, although if you removed glass cover in this process, you may have increased the gas exchange, leading to the higher pH.  Best Regards.  Adam>

Live Sand 10/26/04 Hello. This is my 6th marine system. had fish only and corals of many kinds, all very successful. read many many books. my current system is about 2500 liters. read your articles on live sand. once, twice and thrice. I have no substrate at all right now and thought of putting LS. from what I understood a lack of oxygen may occur in lower levels of my LS system if not stirred well and frequently and if it is too deep. I intend to go for no more than 2-3 inches deep. I'm really sick of the look of grainy substrate ("crushed corals" etc.) and want to go for a  the "tropical island sand" look with dusty white sand. <this can work... but requires very strong water flow (20X +) in the system to keep solids from settling in and accumulating> should I use LS ? < at least a little bit (pounds) to inoculate the dry bed> how deep should it be? <for fin sand... I prefer 3-4" minimum> what kind ? (Fiji sand, the sand on my beach ?) <fine for better denitrification> anything else I should know ? <macroeconomics> thank you very much for your time. Mr. Asaf Gur. <with kindest regards, Anthony> Tweaking An Established System...? Gentlemen - <Scott F. with you tonight!> First of all Happy Holiday's to all and what a wonderful site you have, so very helpful and priceless! <Thanks so much for the kind words! Hope that your Holiday Season is a good one!> My question is how deep should my live sand substrate be?  Here are my details: - 60 Gallon Tank - Remora Hang on Skimmer - Wet / Dry Trickle filter with live rock as the medium (Poly filter above rock in chamber so it goes thought this first) - 9 Watt Coralife U/V Sterilizer - Fluval 404, packed with Chemi-pure and Purigen (No Ceramic media or pads) - (2) Coralife Power Compacts (2x96 10K) and (2x96 True Actinics) - 2 Rio 600's for water circulation, plus water return from sump and Fluval - 75 lbs live rock in tank Animals: (1) Potter's Angel (1) Green Mandarin (Eating prepared foods) (1) Maroon clown (1) Green Bulb Anemone (1) Torch (1) Piece of live rock with assorted polyps NH4- Zero N02- Zero N03- getting better, 30 ppm (going down) SG - 1.023 The sand right now is about 1.5" thick.  What should I do, if anything, to make my system more efficient? Thank You gentlemen! Bryan J. McLaughlin <Well, Bryan, there are a few things you can do. First, I'd consider just using the wet dry filter as a "sump"; and not directing water flow over the live rock. It's similar, in my opinion, to using plastic bioballs. Efficient at converting ammonia to nitrite, and nitrite to nitrate-but that's where the efficiency stops. If you're accumulating nitrate, you'll need a deeper sand bed to help reduce it! Consider increasing the sandbed depth to 3" plus if denitrification is your goal. Another suggestion: Don't use the Poly Filter as a "prefilter". At $5.00-$10.00 each (depending upon where you get 'em), these are expensive "mechanical media"!  These are chemical filtration media, and you need to orient them as such within the system. Better to place these in the water, where the flow can be directed through the media for maximum efficiency. Finally, do consider a potential lighting change at some point (utilizing metal halide). Anemones require intense lighting, and metal halide is the most economical solution, IMO.  Hope this helps! Regards, Scott F.> Live Sand and Live Rock Curing 9 Jan 2005 Hey guys. <Hi Stephan, MacL here with you tonight.> I have been having problems receiving your reply on my last e-mail! I figured you guys might have been off for the holidays? Anyways I will try again with some questions. I getting ready to order my Fiji LR for my 180 gal. reef. I going to start with 180 lbs and perhaps more later depending on how it will fit with the aquascaping design. Is buying all of the live rock at once the best way or should I buy and cure in smaller batches at a time. I have a former 100 gal. tank I can use for curing. Is best to cure it in the 100 gal. or should I cure it directly into the tank? I plan to put 5'' of sand on the bottom of the display. <Stephan, Sorry if you didn't get a timely reply. We weren't off for the holidays but not a lot of us were around. I know I personally didn't hold up my end like usual. So lets get to your questions and get you all fixed up.  Stephan, there really isn't going to be much difference except in the smell as you cure your live rock.  Honestly as far as doing it in one bunch of multiple bunches you really need to find a way to get it some circulation all around, and also be able to blow the nasty die off away from the rocks in my opinion. Most people prefer to add the sand first so that the live rock can help to feed the sand but you also get the die off from the rock on the sand so its really a toss up as to what you want. I personally think its worth the smell and the die off to feed the sandbed and bring it to life.>   Should this sand be added first before water and LR or after? <About adding the water, one of the best things I have found is to pour the water into a picture that's sitting in the sand if the sand isn't live yet. I prefer to add the water first with live sand and then cut the bag open.> Also, what kind of turnover rate should I aim for in a Cryptic refugium. <Depends entirely on what you keep in the refugium and the purpose of it. I will say I'm not familiar with the term Cryptic refugium. Sorry if I'm missing something. Maybe some more details?> What is the name for reef keepers' convention and when will it be held this year? <There is IMAC, the International Marine Aquarium Conference in June and then there is MACNA, Marine Aquarium Conference of North America in September. Both have websites online.> You guys provide a great service and I am very thankful. You guys rock! (live rock that is)<You are very kind!> Sincerely Stephan Gaudreau <Thanks Stephan, Take care, MacL>

Depth of LS Do you have any experience with the Jaubert method? I really don't want to use this method, for the simple reason that it make the tank look lousy!! You see about 5 inches of substrate on the bottom of the tank. Will 2-3 inches of sand provide you with the same effect? Does the bio-load you have make one method better than the other? What type (size) substrate would you recommend? I love the look of fine sand. But is this a detriment to the tank's filtration? Maintenance? Inhabitants? <Yep. Two/three inches of two, finer graded substrates will do enough good... almost as much as deeper beds. Bio-load does have an effect... if it's too great... you'll "pile up" nitrates more than if the load were smaller... The lower section (about two of the three inches) about 1/8" inch diameter, the upper 1" about 1/16"... with a screen between. Fine sand is fine... if not too deep, and the more consistent the grade, and more spherical, the better. Maintenance? I'm a stir and gravel vacuum proponent... one side of the tank every two weeks to a month.. just the upper bed... A drain underneath is nice to exit some of the plenum water once a month or two... and (here's the big groan part) taking the whole thing down and re-doing it every year or two... This is why I like to remote such NNR (natural nitrate reduction) systems to sumps... Bob Fenner 80 gal. reef tank Bob, I am in the process of setting up my first reef tank and need a little advise. How much sand should be put in? Should it be all live sand or a mixture of what components? The tank is 80 gallons, 48 x 17 x 24 with four 55 watt power compact and two 175 watt , 12,000k metal halide bulbs. Thanks a lot...........Robert >> Hmm, well, depends... on the types of livestock you intend to keep, your sensibilities of what looks good, and what you otherwise want to do with this sand bed (like is it going to be a denitrator of some sort?)...  But if it were me, I'd start off with "about" an inch (you can add more later)... maybe fifty, sixty pounds for now... Add more if that doesn't "look" like enough... and either allow your live rock to seed it on its own, or buy a few (maybe ten) pounds of live sand to sprinkle on top, once you get about the amount you want in of the "non-live" sand. Bob Fenner, whose live sand input can be found at www.wetwebmedia.com in greater detail.

Live sand Dear Bob, I just started a 65 gallon SW tank with plans to add live rock and eventually have some corals. I am starting to cycle my tank now and have a damsel fish. My substrate is crushed coral. I want to add about 20lbs of live sand and wonder if the sand will all sift to the bottom.  <Hmm no... not unless it's exceedingly finer than what you have in place now> Do I have to remove most of the crushed coral or move it to one side of the tank (will that work)? <I would "sprinkle" it on top of what you have... it will all eventually be mixed together> Will I have to add the live sand in small batches so as to not spike the ammonia level or will the Damsel fish be ok if I add the sand all at once? <You can add it all at once. Please read over the Live Sand materials on our site: http://wetwebmedia.com/livesand.htm Bob Fenner> Thank you, Kathy

Adding a Sand Bed Bob, I recently wrote asking about Calcium reactors and sand beds. I believe I will, on your recommendation go with the Knop reactor. I hope it works as well as it claims.  <You will find it does> My other question was the addition of a LSB. I asked about creating one in my sump that as of now contains only live rock. I do at this time have 1/4 to 3/4 of an inch of live sand (it wasn't purchased live, but it sure as heck is now!) of various size in the tank now. It is seemingly teaming with life, mostly visible tube worms that extend in all directions out of the sand and winding up the LR. I also have a clam embedded, polyps and mushrooms and living out of the sand. What type of damage will I do to my five year old tank by adding new substrate. <Not much, temporary> My first thought was to add new substrate in small amounts, thereby not smothering any life to quickly and give it a chance to "surface." I still feel that this method will bring about some casualties and possibly cause a spike in my chemistry due to the die off. My next thought was to leave the display tank alone and just add a CPR refugium. It is much easier, but will it help to the same degree as adding depth to the display bed? <Mmm, differently> I also have no plenum in the display tank. I have a 45 gallon tank and was going to go with a 24" by 4" refugium. Due to the footprint of the LR wall in the tank right now, I wouldn't be able to get much more sand than that in it anyway. I won't disassemble the wall as it has "grown" together in many places. Suggestion as to which course I should follow will be appreciated? Thanks for the help, Brett <Do try adding a bit of the new substrate every month... and consider adding the refugium as well.... More is... more better. Bob Fenner>

Live sand bed help Hey Bob, I'll try to keep it short and to the point. I was using an undergravel (crushed coral) filter that's been in my tank for about a year now. I thought it would work like my old freshwater system, so I chucked it and replaced it w/ 40 lbs of LS (retail stuff that comes in a bag) and already (2 days) the tank looks better. One concern was the depth of the sand, I have a 25 gal. tall and the sand is 3-4 inches deep. Do I throw out some sand and keep it between 1-3 inches or wait to see if black stuff starts to form? <Leave sand at this thickness and do not worry about the black layer.> I'm running 90W SF lights, Berlin in tank skimmer, and 3 circulation pumps. livestock 2G chromis,2 cleaner shrimp, 2 peppermint shrimp, 1 Percula and 15-20lbs LR. I also do 5gal weekly water changes, and use Salifert iodine & all in one. Thanks for your help and keep up the excellent work! <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Live Sand Good Evening, I emailed earlier (sorry I am on a different computer and somehow the "leave a copy on the server" check on my work email program has been changed so I can't include my earlier email and reply - it would have come from jcraddock and was sent and replied to earlier today). I mentioned that I was planning on using 1.5-2" of LS in my reef set-up and the reply came back to use 4-6". I came home and looked back in my archives and found the article that led me to this amount - now, I'm not trying to pit one aquarist against another - and I understand that both may work well - I am, however, trying to make an educated decision and I would like to know what I'm missing. As I said in my earlier email - I'm open to any/all suggestions and I know that I need to read and ask many questions, but I'll eventually have to make my own decisions. The following was listed in the "About web site by Stan & Debbie Hauter" web page address http://saltaquarium.about.com/library/weekly/aa070198b.htm; "Unless you are going to be using the Jaubert/Plenum method of filtration, excessive amounts of live sand should not be used. The sand bed becomes too thick, which allows unwanted DOC's (dissolved organic compounds) to get trapped, that in turn can contribute to the growth of undesirable micro and macro-algae. Here are some suggested amounts of live sand to use: - As the author of Simplified Reefkeeping, Robert Metelsky recommends a thickness of approximately 1-3/4 to 2 inches, which calculates to 1.45 pounds of sand per gallon. For a 55 gallon tank, this is 80 pounds. - The FINS Reefkeeper Live Sand FAQ's says that it is normally used at a rate of 10 pounds per square foot of bottom area, which yields about a 1 inch deep covering. - In Michael Paletta's The New Marine Aquarium, he suggests a depth of 1/2 to 1 inch, "as even this amount has been shown to have some utility in lowering nitrate levels". Basically, the bottom line here is that anywhere from a 1/2 to a 2 inch layer to cover the bottom of the tank should be sufficient. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! J.T. Craddock <Do read through are site for your answers and our collective opinions. I would use either less than 1" and have no denitrification or 4-6". -Steven Pro>

How much live sand? Great incredibly informative website. <Thank you from all of us.> I'm setting up my tank (reef) for the first time since the great Northridge Earthquake with the following parameters: 60 gallon Aquasystem with built in wet dry <You may want to consider removing the W/D media.> Fluval 304 canister filter (ceramic media removed) 90lbs live Fiji rock (in 2nd week of curing) Remora Pro protein skimmer One Powerhead Lighting ?? (2 fluorescent and 2 Blue actinic) I can't remember the name but I purchased from Marks Tropical Fish in Studio City. My question is this: How much live sand should I have? 1.5"? 3"? <For reef tanks, I prefer to use a 4-6" deep sand bed, DSB.> Is live sand better than Aragamite? <Live sand is generally seeded aragonite sand. I usually use almost all dry sand which I seed with liverock and/or some livesand. I would purchase the livesand that is not already prepackaged.> Which would you prefer? <See above notes.> Darrin from Sherman Oaks, California <Good luck to you. -Steven Pro>

Re: Live Sand, DSB or not Greetings all- Thank you again for answering my questions last weekend. You guys are the best. <Thank you very much!> My plan is to switch, when I move my tank to paint and have my dining room floor redone, from an UG filter with crushed coral to no UG filter and live sand. Since I will be adding more live rock and the live sand, I may hold off on the refugium for now (due to all the costs in the paint and the floor, not to mention the LR/LS). My questions are: 1. Is the 1.5 lbs live sand/gallon a decent approximation of the amount of sand needed (I've seen this at other websites, but I don't know if your recommendation of 1-2 inches of LS is roughly equivalent)? <It depends on what you want to do, thin covering vs. DSB. I would stick to 1" or less or go the other extreme and go 4" or more. 10 pounds of fine aragonite sand will cover a 12" x 12" area at about 1" thick.> 2. Any suggestions of what to add to keep the sand clean, beings that the tank inhabitants include a 4" moon wrasse which has been the kiss of death to snails and hermit crabs (I don't think the Koran angel and the yellow tang have been too tough on the critters, just the wrasse)? <That is a hard one. I would probably stick with the worms and Chitons that you get for free with most good quality live sand and live rock hitchhikers.> Once again, thank you for all your help. I'm confident that the moving and painting and moving back will go smoothly with your advice, and I'm looking forward to getting a "new and improved" tank running after the room is done. All good wishes, Daryl Klopp <And to you too! -Steven Pro>

-Live sand bed for a 35g FOWLR- Thanks Kevin,  I am going to actively seek out the remora. <Cool> I have another question non-skimmer related. I am reading everything I possibly can on the substrate topic in you FAQ's and articles but it's still a little unclear. Lots of different answers for the similar substrate questions. <As there will likely always be> It's either 1.5" or 3-4 DSB. I would like to go with Carib sea Fiji Pink Reef Sand with aragonite because I like the way it looks with that slightly pinkish tinge. How much Aragonite do I put in for substrate for 35 gallon FOWLR tank? <If you want to reap the denitrifying benefits and all that other jazz of deep sand beds, I'd suggest sugar-fine sand. If you like the pink color, Natures Ocean makes a pre-packaged "live" sand (total BS, but already packaged in nice clean water! think no clouding!) that is a nice pink color and a nice particle size. It's a little more expensive, but worth it for being dust-free. I'd suggest a 4" base of this mixed in with as much true live sand as the budget allows for.> I am going to go with about 35 Lbs Fiji live rock. Does it matter if I go Live sand or not? <Yes it does, if you're planning on constructing a deep live sand bed, you need to get them critters in!> One last thing, Would I be okay to use a few small pieces of Tufa rock as a base rock to lift the live rock up above the substrate slightly? <Sure, but a much better idea would be to cut several pieces of 1" or so PVC pipe cut as deep as your sandbed is. You can bottom-out the pieces in the sand where the rock will go. This way, the rock will have a solid base, and it will be hard to collapse the rockwork. Good luck! -Kevin> Cheers, Mike

How much live sand? - 2/19/03 Hello again, <Hello, Paul here>I am planning on starting up a new tank (saltwater).<Cool. Be sure to read as much as you can. Think about what it is you want to keep and devise a plan. A good plan goes a long way to success>  I was wondering how much Live Sand I would need for a 50 gal rectangular tank (36x15x20). <Well, there is a formula in there somewhere, but there is really no way of telling without a little more info. In any event I would buy enough to do a 4" live sand bed. See, the size and general geological makeup of your sand needs to be added into the formula. The best way to do this is to have an idea of what type of sand you plan to use and know how many pounds per cubic inch. I may be wrong here but I believe it is: (l)engthx(w)idthx(4")intended depth of sand bed pounds per cubic inch of sand your placing. Not really easy to determine, eh? The rule I use has served me well. I look at what a bag of sand will roughly fill an area of my tank. So if 2 30lb bags of sand will kinda fill half my tank to roughly 4' then I will need 4 bags to gain approximately 4' of sand for my entire tank. I always buy an extra or two in case I under estimated, and I always return any unopened bag(s).>  I'm aware that a 1-3" bed is ideal but have no experience with Live Sand up until now.<I think the theory is now  1" or less for no anaerobic effect or 4-4 1/2" for anaerobic effect. Check here as I am sure Anthony Calfo has made mention of this many times here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dsbfaqs.htm>   Any insight would be great! <I think your on the right track here. Information is half the battle. Read some, plan out your tank, know what animals will populate your tank, read about them, buy, and build. A couple days of research will really help your tank succeed. Thanks for the question. To all the math majors out there, if I am wrong about the formula please indulge us with your genius. Paul - out> thanks again Kevin Conner  

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