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Old 09-15-2003, 11:49 PM   #1
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Really LS/LR question

Having kept marine aquaria off and on over the past ten years, I've built up a very simple set of questions in regards to live and sand live rock. As much as I've learned to respect and strongly advocate the use of both LR/LS, these questions constantly generate dumb looks from the staff at any pet store and I've never been given a suitable answer to any of them. I'll try and pick some brains here I guess and see what happens.

1. Why is live rock almost *always* kept in anechoic tanks at pet stores with no fish or other organisms in the tank to help kick start the nitrogen cycle, or keep it going? What is 'live' rock then supposed to feed off of? Other live rock? This to me seems like selling house plants from a room with no light.

2. Please explain how live sand in a sealed bag sitting on a shelf at room temps for months at a pet store suddenly becomes 'live' when it's immersed in a live aquarium? It would see to me the surface of Mars has more oxygen than a sealed plastic bag.

3. Bonus Question: Many of my reef keeper friends are convinced that DSBs (deep sand beds) are the way to go to keep nitrate's down. While I'm not for or against DSB's, I can't figure out how several inches of dense sand can possibly accomplish anything other than anchor your tank to the floor in the event of a tornadao or keep jawfish in bliss. Yes, I realize that little critters in the sand along with light/oxygen hating bacteria help break down nitrate - I'm not disputing that. What I'm baffled about is the belief that the amount of water circulation that occurs through several inches of dense sand is anything more than trivial. Without mechanical circulation, how can anything other than the first few inches of a DSB accomplish anything? How does water magically penetrate 4,5 and even more inches of sand substrate?

Please help enlighten me!!!!
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Old 09-16-2003, 12:06 AM   #2
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1. Why is live rock almost *always* kept in anechoic tanks at pet stores with no fish or other organisms in the tank to help kick start the nitrogen cycle, or keep it going? What is 'live' rock then supposed to feed off of? Other live rock? This to me seems like selling house plants from a room with no light.
I had to look up anechoic and I'm still not sure how it fit in that question [shrug]

Why would anyone in their right mind put fish in a tank with LR that is for sale? When I worked at an LFS, we used to bring in and sell a couple hundrerd lbs of LR ina week, the rock we got from the wholesalers was rarely cured (btw, thise of you buy "cured" LR from the LFS, unless they move it very slowly...don't count on it being cured). The die off from the rock was surely enough to feed a constant cycle in the tank. The disruption of taking LR out and inspecting it before the customer would buy it, would be enough to stress the fish to death, fish in your rock tank is a bad idea IMO.

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2. Please explain how live sand in a sealed bag sitting on a shelf at room temps for months at a pet store suddenly becomes 'live' when it's immersed in a live aquarium? It would see to me the surface of Mars has more oxygen than a sealed plastic bag.
It can't. It's a waste of money, it may or may not contain bacteria for the nitrogen cycle, but it contains no critters, which IMO makes it live.

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What I'm baffled about is the belief that the amount of water circulation that occurs through several inches of dense sand is anything more than trivial. Without mechanical circulation, how can anything other than the first few inches of a DSB accomplish anything? How does water magically penetrate 4,5 and even more inches of sand substrate?

Diffusion is the common answer, but here is my solution...

Your sitting at the table with a plate of spaghetti in front of you. Unless a strong gust of wind comes along...your still hungry (unless you take action and pick up the fork and start eating). The bacterias food (which you do not dispute the existance of said bacteria) is in the water (just like the spaghetti is on your plate) the bacteria pass the water down the depths of the sand bed. Might not be completely accurat (heck it might be complete BS), but I like it
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Old 09-16-2003, 01:46 AM   #3
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Reefrunner, what kind of sand do you recommend other than live sand since you say it is a "Waste of Money"?
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Old 09-16-2003, 08:56 AM   #4
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what kind of sand do you recommend other than live sand since you say it is a "Waste of Money"?
True LS is not a waste of money, LS in a bag is. Any dry sand will develop bacteria on it for nitrification or denitrification in a few weeks, so the prepackaged LS is a waste. I recommend adding dry sand and seeding with LS from another reefers tank. This sand will include bacteria and infauna necessary for keeping your sand bed healthy.
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Old 09-16-2003, 10:20 AM   #5
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Good LFS's will sell live sand from a tank simular to their rock tank. This is a tank that they would have setup for the sole purpose of cultivating live sand. The live sand tank might be connected inline with their forsale tanks or maybe a display tank to keep feeding the sand bed disolved organics for the bactera to consume.

There is a major difference between comercially bagged "BACTERA" sand and live sand that is in an established aquarium. In the bagged sand you never see worm trails or any otehr sign of critters within the bag. In an established reef tank you will easily beable to see worm trails and other critters living within the sand bed.
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Old 09-16-2003, 03:06 PM   #6
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How much sand from another reefers tank will be sufficient to seed a sand bed. I used 2 bags of that bagged crap when i set up my tank and haven't seen any signs of life in that sand (worms etc.)
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Old 09-16-2003, 03:43 PM   #7
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What I'm baffled about is the belief that the amount of water circulation that occurs through several inches of dense sand is anything more than trivial. Without mechanical circulation, how can anything other than the first few inches of a DSB accomplish anything? How does water magically penetrate 4,5 and even more inches of sand substrate?
I will add to Kevins respone with this:

Whether your sand bed is 1" or 8", water is going to be down at the depths of the deepest part... When the Anaerobic bacteria eat the Nitrate in that water, it creates a Nitrogen Gas which comes in the form af a bubble. This bubble works its way to the top, and then water replaces the path of the bubble... Also, there are probably thousands upon thousands of minute worms and organisms that pump this water down to those depths, and filter it... this carries the Nitrate laden water that the anerobic bacteria eat..and produce the gas... The Powerheads that are pumping the water in your tank, also privide the cross current needed to get the process going too..Remember, water goes through cracks and crevices even air can't go through....It is ver possible for this to take place 6" below the surface...



I still like the strong wind spaghetti effect though....
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Old 09-16-2003, 04:11 PM   #8
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How much sand from another reefers tank will be sufficient to seed a sand bed. I used 2 bags of that bagged crap when i set up my tank and haven't seen any signs of life in that sand (worms etc.)
Depends on the tank size, if I remeber correctly, you've got a 30g, I'd say a couple of cups of sand would be enough.
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Old 09-16-2003, 06:12 PM   #9
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Hmmm I might just have to exchange some worek on my friends house for some LS from his tank!!! Thanks Kevin
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Old 09-16-2003, 06:21 PM   #10
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Don't make it too much work, a good quality seeded live sand shouldn't run more than 2-3 dollars per lb, and 1 lb is more than enough to seed your tank
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