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Old 10-13-2005, 12:37 PM   #1
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DSB, Yes or No??

I will be starting a new tank soon and I am considering using a DSB. I currently have a 5" DSB and have had no problems, but it has been setup less than a year. I am not sure that I have seen any benefits in using the DSB either. Are there any long term DSB users that can give me some better information that the second hand horror stores about tanks crashing? Thanks. R.
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Old 10-14-2005, 06:42 AM   #2
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Only horror stories I've heard are of hydrogen sulfide pockets forming within the DSB . If the sand gets disturbed too deeply - tank can be wiped out.
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Old 10-14-2005, 07:31 AM   #3
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deep sand bed is a choice.. there are some good points expressed in the following discussion..
http://www.aquariumadvice.com/viewtopic.php?t=35969

mojoreef/Mike gives the counter argument to DSB in this thread (I saved the link were he starts discussing the disadvantages or long term design problems to DSB)
http://www.aquariumadvice.com/viewto...r=asc&start=50
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Old 10-14-2005, 10:30 AM   #4
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How deep does your sandbed have to be to be considered a DSB? My sandbed is about 2-3 inches deep.
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Old 10-14-2005, 11:07 AM   #5
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The term "crash" was originally used by serious SPS keepers who also had sandbeds. It didn't mean that the tank died by a release of Hydrogen Sulphide, it referred to the point in time where the sandbed betrayed them and started putting Phosphates back into the water column. For SPS keepers, this is bad for several reasons. One reason is that Phosphates inhibit calcification by SPS. The other reason is that Phosphates overfeed the symbiotic dinoflagellates inside the SPS. Since the dinoflagellates are green and yellow (brown when put together), an overabundance of Phosphates turned their nice colorful tank brown. It was called a crash because there was no way of predicting when your sandbed would turn on you, once you knew it was happening, it was too late. Your corals were already affected....I.e. "crash".

You could have the same thing occur in a softy tank and it wouldn't be considered a crash. Softies do quite well in nutrient rich environments. However, you likely won't like the looks of the tank as you are almost guaranteed substantial algaes.

Hydrogen sulphide problems are rare. The bad that the anaerobic Sulphate Reducing Bacteria's produce can be offset by anoxic Sulphide Oxidizing Bacteria. Typically, this type of crash only happens (and rarely at that) when there is a massive disturbance to the lower layers of a DSB.

Then the terminology of "crash" got confusing. Dr. Ron started discussing sandbed crashes as a result of heavy metals. (That is utter nonsense BTW). So now when you hear the term "crash" you really need to be clear about you mean.

Do you like the looks of sand, want to keep animals that require it, etc? If so go for it. Just understand that DSB's do not do what a lot of people think they do. They were sold to the hobbiests was that you could put sand in the bottom, put some animals into the sand, and that the matter that goes into the sand suddenly goes "poof" and disappears. It would be nice if they worked like this but that would break several laws of science including the law of conservation of matter. Here's what sandbeds can do fairly well.....process Nitrogenous compounds. Here's what sandbeds cannot do....remove Phosphates. They are just temporarily stored in the bed in an inorganic form (adsorbed to the sand) or in organic form (inside the body of the bacterial biomass or sandstirrers). Unfortunately, over time, your sandbed fills up with mulm and other solids which raises the Anoxic level and shrinks the aerobic level of the sand. Once the anoxic level gets high enough, phosphates will start hitting the water column. If you keep SPS, understand that you could very well have a problem down the road. Some tanks go 2 years, some tanks go 10 or more years. There are many variables involved.

I've run DSB's, SSB's, and BB systems. There's nothing wrong with any of the systems. You just need to understand how they work. Right now, I'm watching people get sick of cyanobacteria and algaes so they're are yanking their DSB's and going barebottom. In six months you are going to see people say, "I went BB and now I have high Nitrates". If you pull your DSB out but fail to siphon up detritus or have your flow good enough to get the detritus out, you're going to get Nitrates. That's just the way it works.
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Old 10-14-2005, 12:25 PM   #6
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Thanks for all the info. I "need" the look of at least some sand. I am the typical guy who loves his fish too much--every time they beg for food, I feed them. I was hoping the DSB would be able to act as a safety net. If I over feed or miss a water change it would be there to save me. Is the DSB just going to be another parameter I have to monitor or will it make my life simpler?? Thanks again. R
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Old 10-14-2005, 01:06 PM   #7
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If you try to overfeed with insufficient skimming, flow, and waterchanges in a BB tank and your tank will let you know that you screwed up right away.

In that regard, a DSB will operate as a safety net. You can skip waterchanges, underskim, overfeed, etc. for a while and you won't see any immediate reaction in your tank. In fact, you will think that you are doing everything correctly because your tank looks so good.

Then, at some later date, all of the previous poor husbandry will come back to haunt you. Cyanobacteria, hair algae, bryopsis, etc. Now, even Dr. Ron says that when you start having problem cyano or algae on the sandbed, you should pull and replace your sandbed.

One of the main disadvantages of a sandbed is that you CAN'T monitor it. You have to wait until problem algaes and detectible PO4 arrive and that is when you know your bed is filled up.

If you want a really deep sandbed on your new tank, rubberband a plastic spork that sticks out an inch beyond some rubber tank hosing. Start a siphon, and stir the sand each time you do a waterchange. The siphon will suck up the detritus that leaves your sandbed but will leave your sandstirrers and sand. You can also buy an aquarium vacuum called a Python that will help but remember on a DSB, you only want to hit the top inch or two. You can keep a sandbed going for quite some time if you do this. This is NOT recommended for a sandbed that is already causing problems as you can sometimes release additional phosphates.

BTW....check out this homemade python made out of a water bottle for the ocean exhibit and the soon to open Atlanta Aquarium. (P.S. you have to watch a small commercial first). http://www.11alive.com/video/player....444&bw=&cid=37
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Old 10-14-2005, 04:41 PM   #8
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Mantis, awesome info. Thanks.
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Old 10-14-2005, 04:46 PM   #9
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Alot of people seem to be putting the DSB in a container or tank and plumbing it through their system.
The best situation would to plan not to overfeed.. Or learn not to.
If you think you might overfeed then agressive skimming, well directed flow and extra maintance should be planned ahead.
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Old 10-14-2005, 08:35 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Umpa Lumpa
How deep does your sandbed have to be to be considered a DSB? My sandbed is about 2-3 inches deep.
Anybody?
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