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Old 05-26-2008, 11:50 PM   #1
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Lightbulb The Ideal Tank II - sand or barebottom

In the planning of a large upgrade, I am cannot decide on using a 1inch or 4inch sandbed, or going barebottom in the display tank. I am likely getting another acrylic tank and dont want to worry about scratches. I have mainly SPS that cannot get enough flow, and I have sandstorms. I dont care if people say SPS displays are old school, I like them.

Also I am getting paranoid of the bad critters that hang out in the sand. Still, it looks so much more natural, even if corallin, etc covers up the base.

I would, of course, have a large sump with mud, a deepsand bed and more live rock, as well as a refugium tank. But the I wanted the display to look like a scene from nature...
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Old 05-26-2008, 11:58 PM   #2
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What scene in nature has a reflective acrylic base to it? Just my initial reaction. I don't have SW (yet) but I prefer the look of a thinner sandbed.
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Old 05-27-2008, 12:17 AM   #3
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With a thin sand bed there isn't much for inverts or sand dwellers to utilize. With a thick sand bad there is always piles of sand that seem to bury your rocks and mound up in places. I think I would go with the happy medium not 1" or 4" but like 2-3".

On a side note why keep mud in the sump? what are the benefits.
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Old 05-27-2008, 12:54 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rayray View Post
I dont care if people say SPS displays are old school, I like them.
??? Haven't heard that... guess I'm "old school" 'cause I think SPS displays are pretty darn cool.

Quote:
Also I am getting paranoid of the bad critters that hang out in the sand.
Like what? If you're talkining bristleworms, I think they just get a bad rep, and get blamed for all the ills of the world. "I've heard bristleworms are the cause of global warming..."

Personally, I think sand beds look more natural, having seen both bare and sand. But I won't argue that bare bottom is easier to keep clean and looking nice. It's really a genuine Catch-22... go with a DSB to reduce/eliminate nitrates or go bare to reduce/eliminate the stuff that builds up to create nitrates in the first place. Either way, you end up with the same result... it just depends on what you want your tank to look like.
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Old 05-27-2008, 01:27 AM   #5
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Waste processing takes 4inches or deeper, so 2-3 is not advisable. 1 inch is just for looks. I heard of a mat of 1inch sand that is glued into place & rolled onto the bottom for looks, removed to clean up & doesn't whirl round. Anyone tried it?As for bristleworms, of course they are not the cause of global warming, but they are the cause of high gas prices... they have to go.Another issue with sandbeds that I will end up getting burrowing fish, inverts that may cause a rock collape. Even now my gold stripped maroon & oscellaris clowns stir up a storm with their tails. Don't get me started on gobies.The bottom line is: on reefcentral the best SPS displays are barebottom because they put like 100x tank vol through circulaton & no sand would sit still for that.
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Old 05-27-2008, 01:47 AM   #6
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Agree... DSB means 4" minimum - and that's a lot of sand. 2-3" is no man's land. I went through this whole mental debate when I started my tank, so I feel your pain!

If you put your rock on the bare bottom (that's what I did) or at least on egg crate, then you can avoid the "things burrowing under and toppling the rocks" issue. But if you're looking at pushing the envelope on flow, then yeah... sand isn't going to like that. I'm not convinced flow is the entire story there though. There are LOTS of great SPS displays that have flows in the range that sand will sit still for.

In the end, it'll be a personal preference. The rollup sand mat sounds very unique - and a major pain to maintain.
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Old 05-27-2008, 03:08 AM   #7
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Kurt, the sandbed mat would only come out for special guests (they know who they are), as strips along the front and sides if the tank & always sparkling white clean fine sand.Just for looks, I would also switch my day to day 10k grow lighs to 20k to bring out the colors.I agree with you gph of flow is not everything, its the type of flow. I would go with a surge device or dumpbucket, but that would last 1 day with my schedule & the noise.What else did you use to cover up the barebottom?
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Old 05-27-2008, 11:33 AM   #8
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The thing about maintaining a 4" deep sand bed is you get sand thicker in certain places than others. So you would have to have areas of 6" deep sand to make sure the shallow area's are about 4" thats a lot of sand. But with only 1" deep sand you would get areas that are bare bottom from the sand being taken away by the flow. I have 2 fighting conch and a sand sifting goby that maintain my sand for me and Nitrates below 2ppm. With about 2-3"sand(maybe 4" in places). I think that with a reef tank your clean-up crew can handle any sand waste problems before they become problems. Now Fowlr tanks with messy and aggressive eaters that also eat inverts cause a problem. Very messy and there is nobody to clean it up. So I would say that your substrate amount would vary depending on if it has invertabrates or not. There are lots of sand sifting creatures that would not like only 1" of sand.
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