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Old 09-11-2005, 04:30 PM   #1
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Sand or no sand?

Someone recommended today that I forego sand in my tank and keep the bottom clean, or use a very small sand bed. He told me that a sand bed of 3"-4" can become a nightmare if it doesn't get stirred up enough. I'm looking now at the 180-gallon size, so I suppose that would be a lot of sand for critters and/or water movement to keep stirred up so it doesn't pack down.

Are there any problems that would occur with no sand or very little sand? I assume some creatures wouldn't like it, but I could avoid those.



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Old 09-11-2005, 05:04 PM   #2
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Sand is important. Don't forgo it. It gives your
LR something to sit on, and a place for wastes and detritus to gather. It also gives home to a number of pods as well. All beneficial things.

The only real problem with a dsb is that it can form pockets of nitrogen gas in it. You will be fine however with a 1 to 2 inch sand bed.


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Old 09-11-2005, 05:52 PM   #3
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It is your choice there are pros and cons to both. I would never set up a tank w/out a SB. For me its the look and I love the pods and worms, its just natural.
Look at the LFS who run bare bottom, you see all the fish poop all the time. Then you will need to vac it up when you do water changes, which is a PIA.
Run a shallow SB 3-4 inches and get some sand sifting snails and your good to go.
Pick up some play sand instead of LS to save some $$
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Old 09-11-2005, 06:04 PM   #4
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I wouldn't run any aquarium without some form of bedding, be it sand (like me) or crushed coral or argonite. Your rock isn't evenly balanced and has points of pressure which could scratch or damage your tank. Having the sand helps distribute the pressure and weight of the rock. Even though it is in water it still has a weight factor which you don't want to apply to your glass.

I also have found with my aquarium that my calcium levels have been relatively high requiring little buffering, when I've had my DSB.

I've also read in other threads here that it's better to have a DSB than crushed coral or argonite. Check those threads for an explaination.
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Old 09-12-2005, 10:10 AM   #5
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Please go with sand, you won't regret it. Especially with the size of tank you're considering. You can add so many wonderful little creatures that thrive in the sand, gobies, blennies, wrasses, jawfish, etc etc.
An aquarium is a living mini ocean in your own home, so how can you have an ocean without sand?
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Old 09-12-2005, 10:31 AM   #6
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Regardless of which you choose, waterflow is one of the biggest keys to either method (bare or sandbed). You don't want detritus being able to settle and mix into the sandbed, the wisest choice is to use high and dynamic flow to keep it suspended as long as possible to me removed through filter feeders, the skimmer, etc.

You don't have to worry about the rock stressing the glass and breaking it from being placed directly on it, that is an urban legend. Many European reefers go bare bottomed with huge tanks, there is also a plastic product called Starboard being used to line the bottom of tanks if you feel you have to have something.

FWIW, I am a "sand guy", but understand that it is not a "set it and forget it" methodology. One of the biggest choices should revolve around what animals you plan to keep (soft corals, stony corals, no coral!) and then analyze the benefits and pitfalls of the systems.
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Old 09-12-2005, 12:12 PM   #7
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Thanks very much, everyone.

I totally agree that it needs sand to look natural ‚ÄĒ that is what most bothered me about the idea of not having it. Also, I assume all the creatures will like having it even if they don't depend on it.

I just want to make sure the whole thing is as healthy and clean as possible!
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Old 09-12-2005, 12:36 PM   #8
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I've been surprised at how nice some of the bare bottomed tanks can be. By adding corals, coralline algae, etc., they really do not have to look as naked as you would expect. But, I too remain a sand guy for now....I would like to run two tanks to see which I really prefer with experience, I can always add sand later
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Old 09-12-2005, 02:27 PM   #9
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although i'm a "sand guy" (and a relative newbie) lots of people on other forums talk about "Starboard" which apparently is some sort of stuff you can cut to fit the bottom that looks like sand, but acts like a bare bottom. may be an option for you. google it I guess.

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