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Old 03-28-2004, 10:54 AM   #1
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live sand vs. no sand

Hi everyone, I am contemplating getting a 90 gal. and making it a reef tank.I have read and talked to people and I'm getting 2 different messages. I see alot af input about live sand and I have talked to a local guy that grows and sells rare corals , and he tells me to go bare bottom to avoid later contamination? help! Also my tank will have a wet/dry system with protien skimmer.
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Old 03-28-2004, 11:05 AM   #2
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ps. when I say wet/dry , I think I mean a sump, (acrilic box with bio-balls , pumps, and protein skimmer)
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Old 04-02-2004, 01:11 AM   #3
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I may be from the old school, but when I set up my tank some 15 yrs ago that was the way to go. Wet/dry, protein skimmer and bare bottom tank. Still have mine set up like that and I have no problems. The bare bottom eventually will get covered with coralline algea so it doesn't look bad, at least I don't think it does. 8)
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Old 04-02-2004, 02:10 AM   #4
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Bare Bottom

When I started my tank up about 11 years ago, it was bare bottom with a hang on wet/dry system. I never attempted to keep anything except fish in that time.

When I finally renovated the tank after 11 years, it had produced about 1" of sand on the bottom.

I don't know if this means anything, but the system produces sand naturally...so if you want to replicate natural...go with sand.
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Old 04-02-2004, 10:38 AM   #5
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When your LFS guy referrs to "contamination" he is referring to Old Tank Syndrom (OTS). This deals with two different possible faults of the DSB. The first is saturation. Some believe that it can become saturated with heavey metals and other contaminants and eventually start leaking them back into the tank. Its kind of like if you put a large sponge on the table and started dripping water into it. Eventually the water would start running out onto the table. There is no hard evidence that this exsist.

The 2nd concern is what is called Lump Syndrome. Due to a variety of factors (which can be avoided) the DSB is not regularly shifted and begins to develop solidified lumps of sand. This happens when the infauna (pods, worms...critters in the sand) are depleated or are not able to susstain a population with in the system. Lack of infauna would mean that the sand is not "moving" and has become stagnant. Possible cause could be a Orange Spotted Goby who has sifted them out of the sand and decimated the population to the extent that they will not recover untill the Goby is removed. At that point, because the sand is not being shifted, the sugary excretions of the bacteria present in the sand will bind the grains of sand together and start to form lumps. These lumps trap sulfides. When one of these pockets is ruptured, the sulfides will be released into the tank and wipe it out. This stuff is very toxic (to the tank..not humans) in pretty small amounts.

Now...both of these "faults" have pretty easy solutions. They range from occationally replacing small amounts of the sand bed to making sure you dont get fish that will decimate your pods.

The link below is to an article that details (in laymans terms) how the entire process works. Its not a long read, but is well worth it.

http://www.reef-aquarium.net/resources/rocksubstrate/dsb.html


I hope that helped!

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Old 04-02-2004, 11:34 AM   #6
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OK, a question. I have a 6'x 2" tank with a 2" "live sand" base. I also have 2 sand sifting stars. Have also noticed a decent amount of pods on my rock and sand. Should I once in a while recharge with a detritivore kit? Or is my volume enough to support this setup?
Thanks
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Old 04-02-2004, 12:09 PM   #7
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Great article Squishyfish! Thanks for posting that link.
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Old 04-02-2004, 12:17 PM   #8
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There is a HUGE debate in the hobby about sand beds. I for one have sand beds and continue to setup my tanks in this manor.

a 1" or 2" sand bed is not going to provide you much nitrification but a deeper bed of say 4" will given the size of the sand grains are small.

I would put down a base of argonite sand thats about 3 or 3 1/2" in depth and then add a top layer of about 1" of live sand. Dont get tha bagged junk. Get real live sand either from someplace like liverocks.com or from local hobbists.
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Old 04-02-2004, 01:06 PM   #9
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Too late. I already have the "bagged junk". I suppose my pod population came from my live rock. I had a 2 month fallow period so I suppose this allowed them to thrive.
I'll consider getting some more ls when I order my additional rock from liverocks.com this spring.
Would you suggest the periodic recharge with a detritivore kit?
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Old 04-02-2004, 01:11 PM   #10
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No problem!


As far as the sand sifting stars...They are sifting the sand for the very thing that keeps your DSB working. If you have a fuge, then it shouldnt be a problem. I personally dont believe that recharge kits will be able to reprodue fast enough to repopulate the tank. I would definately advise against keeping Madarans in the tank with any kind of sifters.

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