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Old 10-20-2003, 03:23 PM   #1
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Are DSB's timebombs?

just thought id share an interesting conversation from another forum about dsb's having to be replaced completely due to their nature of absorbing nutrients and gaseous nature. Here's a quote.

Quote:
DSB's are nothing more than a nutrient sponge in your tank. Period. You can try to explain it away as much as you want, but in the end their sole purpose is to soak up the built up nutrients and junk in your tank. The problem is that we're dealing with a relatively small and finite volume...and it's only a matter of time before it gets full. That's when stuff hits the fan. If you visit various other reef boards, you will see a rather common occurance of those who have had their DSB's up for 4-5 years...and their tanks have gone straight to hell. Even the LR becomes oversaturated with nutrients, leading to uncrontrolled nuisance algae, coral bleaching, etc. in tanks that were otherwise thriving and healthy. Once the DSB is saturated, the only option is to COMPLETELY REPLACE IT. You can spend money every year introduce new fauna packages from various vendors and recharging it with biodiversity on an extremely regular basis...but at some point its going to reach maximum overload. All this to avoid siphoning out some crap every once in a while.
It was my understanding that in a reef tank we are simulating the effects of a natural ocean but as our sandbeds remain static and not moved around by tides it would seem to me that this quote is true and that indeed the buildup of waste in a dsb is an inevitable fact.
Quote:
The problem is that the conditions of a typical DSB is the complete OPPOSITE of conditions on the natural reef. In nature, much of teh sandbed is actually aerobic, with smaller portions being anaerobic or anoxic. In our systems, it's the anoxic areas that comprise most of the DSB because that's the part that takes care of denitrification and that's the process we want to occur. Not so on the reef. The DSB is NOT creating natural conditions in your tank...don't be fooled by that statement.
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Old 10-20-2003, 03:37 PM   #2
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Perhaps those that do not have proper sand stirrers (assarius, cerith, bristeworms, stars, gobys) in their tanks are the ones that run into that problem. If you have a dsb full of beneficial detrivores and sand stirrers then it would seem you could run indefinitely without problems.

But if you have a DSB without those organisms it just becomes a yuck trap.

Just my 2cents.
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Old 10-20-2003, 03:45 PM   #3
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If you don't have such a deep sand bed (around 3-4") you won't have to worry about the anoxic zone being such a threat.
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Old 10-20-2003, 03:46 PM   #4
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after a while tho it would seem that even those clean up crews cant get all the detritus and the sand gets "used up" and less soluable. My question is whats the alternative? Plenums? CC? Barebottoms?
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Old 10-20-2003, 03:51 PM   #5
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I don't think it is the literal soluability of the sand that does anything since sand is actually silica which is pretty nonporous, but the sand just creates an area for the beneficial bacteria and detrivores. Therefore it would never get used up in that sense. The beneficial bacterial and detrivore cycle would just keep going.

BTW I am just purely speculating from what I understand, I have never had a DSB, I run crushed coral at 2-3".

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Old 10-20-2003, 04:40 PM   #6
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well heres the link if anyone wants to get the full story.

http://www.nano-reef.com/forums/show...threadid=19019
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Old 10-20-2003, 05:11 PM   #7
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Thank you for the link, I have a lot to learn about DSBs myself, I'm just speculating and therefore trying to understand it better myself.

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Old 10-20-2003, 05:16 PM   #8
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So does anyone have any suggestions for caring for jawfish? They of course need a DSB. Do they stir the sand up enough that I would not need to worry about it, or do I need to replace the sand in a couple of years? My DSB is about 6 inches, 4 being live sand, and the remaining 2 or so is CC. I also have a purple firefish that has made a burrow in the sand as well? Will this be enough to not have this problem further down the road?

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Old 10-20-2003, 05:19 PM   #9
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This has been an ongoing debate with folks lining up on both sides. OTS (old tank syndrome), to my knowledge, has not actually been documented anywhere and is still pretty much a theory. It would be an expensive and lengthy experiment to test it. Most of the sand we use in SW tanks is aragonite and will dissolve over time...silica sand can be used but is not recommended for best results. It would be interesting to have some sand from an old tank tested to see exactly what is in it. To really prove it though, you'd have to set up several tanks, run them exactly the same, and take regular samples of the sand for testing over a period of 4-5 years. How one would go about doing that without disturbing the anoxic areas in the sandbed is beyond me though. Personally, every tank I have uses a DSB. JMHO.
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Old 10-20-2003, 05:22 PM   #10
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It kinda comes down to personal preference, eh? Like they say, there si more that one way to skin a chicken.

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