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Old 09-17-2012, 06:47 PM   #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NicoleIsStoked
Somebody I work with told me I have to use live sand. I think I already asked this but just to confirm, I can use pool filter sand if I want to, right?
And for the aquaclears, is the foam, bio balls AND carbon required?
They aren't all required. Some people use certain components and not others. The sponge is to catch the large particles of food/poop and BB grow in there, the bio balls are a place for BB to grow, and the carbon is to remove odors and small particulates and clear up the water. Its up to you what you want to use.
I've read that you can use pool sand, but I never have.
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Old 09-17-2012, 08:57 PM   #42
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Live sand isn't required, just like live rock isn't required, although they will speed up your cycle. Also, I suppose you could use pool-filter sand, however, pool-filter and play sand are silica-based sands. That means that over time they will release silicates which feed diatoms. Diatoms is an alga (most often it is brown, but there are many different types). Aragonite sand probably contains some silicates too (idk exactly), but if you are adding the pool-filter sand, you're just feeding the diatoms. Wouldn't be a lovely tank with diatoms covering the glass, sand, and rocks. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong as I only have the basic idea Hope this helps, or just gives some random knowledge!
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Old 09-17-2012, 09:12 PM   #43
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Sand - Live Sand is not required. To be honest, sand is not required, but is extremely helpful for a number of reasons. Sand creates an environment for microfauna such as copepods, amphipods, bristleworms, certain snails, and other critters far too numerous to list here. Each of those performs a specific function in the mini ecosystem you are trying to create.
Pool Filter Sand vs Aragonite Sand
Pool Filter sand can be used, but as obscurereef mentioned, it is silicate based and you do risk that breaking down over time, though it's not quite as huge a deal as some make it out to be if your ph is stable. Which brings me to the next point. Aragonite sand is made of Calcium Carbonate (CaCO3), which can provide limited buffering ability. In other words, if for some reason, your ph begins to drop, the aragonite will begin to dissolve, raising the ph back to where it should be.
Dry aragonite vs Live Sand
Live Sand is sand collected from real reefs, or more often, aquacultured in existing and established reef tanks. It is already coated with the denitrifying bacteria you are trying to establish with a Cycle. It is often advertised as containing a complete range of microfauna. However, when you consider the process of scooping and bagging the sand (crush, grind), shipping (chill, heat), storage (deoxygenation), shipping(broken record here...), and finally your purchase... you are left with sand containing bacteria in suspended animation, along with various microorganisms in varying states of decay.
Is it worth the added expense? Well, it will jump start the cycle pretty quickly, but you can get just as much benefit from using 90% dry sand and topping with a handful of sand from a friend's tank.
By the way, dry aragonite is much less expensive than "Live Sand" and while I don't have numbers handy, for a shallow sand bed, probably wouldn't cost much more than the pool sand.

Aquaclear filter media
None of those are required. They may help, but aren't required. The "Berlin Method" of biological filtration involves using sufficient Live Rock, sand, and a protein skimmer. In general, this is more than adequate to keep dissolved nutrients to a minimum. Few reefers use carbon on a regular basis, as it can also remove desirable elements from the water. Bio-balls are a controversial topic. Some swear by them, some swear at them. The foam is probably the only thing in thre I would keep, simply for mechanical filtration, to suck up any random floaty bits.
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Old 09-17-2012, 09:20 PM   #44
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Macdracor, you're awesome. Thanks for the boatloads of info. I read somewhere that adding some baking soda will also buffer the pH. What is the controversy relating to bio-balls?
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Old 09-17-2012, 09:26 PM   #45
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Never used baking soda, but it is a buffering agent. You'd need to do some research on appropriate quantities and dosing frequency. Of course, that's all assuming you end up with ph issues at all. Just make sure you test religiously!
So, bio-balls are designed to provide a surface for bacteria to adhere to, and favor a specific species. Can't recall the name, but it's not important. They work really well at converting Nitrite to Nitrate. Some say too well, and there are tons of stories about skyrocketing Nitrate problems related to Bio-Balls. But... Nitrates don't appear out of nowhere. The Nitrogen has to come from somewhere, generally from Nitrites, which come from ammonia, which comes from fish poop and decaying matter.
So, in theory, if you don't overstock and don't overfeed, Bio-Balls should work great. But, with sufficient Live Rock, you shouldn't need the balls at all, since their only function is turning Nitrite to Nitrate.
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Old 09-17-2012, 09:34 PM   #46
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Gotcha. Btw I just googled bristle worms and almost barfed. If that's in my tank I don't want to stick my hand in. Is there anyway to kill these things? Maybe remove them with tongs and flush them down the toilet?
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Old 09-17-2012, 09:37 PM   #47
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They are nocturnal and hide in the sand and the rock, and you'll pretty much never need to get anywhere near them.
And they are easy to kill. They're worms. BUT!
Bristle worms are the most beneficial organism you can have in a saltwater tank. They aren't pretty, but they are SOOOO useful.
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Old 09-17-2012, 09:46 PM   #48
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If you want to see the difference between fire worms and bristle worms this is a great video:
Good Worms vs Bad Worms - YouTube
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Old 09-17-2012, 10:07 PM   #49
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Fireworm is not a species. Neither is bristleworm. Both terms are interchangeable for polychaete annelid worms. Now, there are a few species that have the above words IN their names, such as the Bearded Fireworm

Which is a predator of Gorgonians.
There is also the Bobbit Worm

The Bobbit Worm is an ambush predator.

These two species do on occasion make it into tanks, but it's rare. I haven't found a case of anyone having either, at least not that could be verified. Most people see a common bristleworm such as E. complanata

and freak out, thinking it's "the dreaded fireworm that will eat everything and try to kill me, too!"
The truth of the matter is that the VAST overwhelming majority of bristle/fire/ugly worms that we see in our tanks are a good thing.
One thing to consider with places like IPSF... These guys offer some great stuff, and offer microfauna few others do, which is fantastic, but they are a not so local LFS. And what do we always say about advice from the LFS? Grain of salt, guys. IPSF also recommends dozens of clams for the sand bed, which will die in the average reef system from starvation, and they Trademarked (TM) the name MiniStars rather than say "Micro Brittle Stars" like the rest of the english speaking world.

I'm sure at least someone is reading this thinking I am making this all up or talking out my rear, but allow me to quote Ronald L. Shimek, PH.D. from his fantastic article on Polychaete worms in Coral & Reef USA 2013 Annual Edition.
"In the long run, it has become obvious that a thriving population of bristleworms of almost all types promote the longterm health of aquaria."

Should check out the article, if you can find it. It gives names of the VERY few known bad worms, along with pictures of the good, the bad, and the ugly, and tons of info.
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Old 09-17-2012, 10:22 PM   #50
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I read an article yesterday that suggested that it is better not to buy live rock and sand because you wind up with a slew of creatures you don't want. It suggested instead, getting base rock and cycling with ammonia or a dead shrimp, allowing the rock to become live without pests. It linked to a forum where a guy posted a picture of a four foot worm he pulled out of his tank. The thing looked like something from alien vs predator. Thoughts?
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