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Old 08-07-2003, 08:36 AM   #1
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Whats the best substrate

Im setting up my 55gal with a 20gal sump. Im going to use the Jean Jaubert/ NNR system for the substrate I will have approx. 5-6" of sand with a plenum/air space in the middle of the dsb, in the sump, and approx. 1-2" sand in the 55gal.
I have heard many conflicting statements about what is the best sand to use. I know I will be using some live sand. What is the best kind of live sand to use? What should I mix it with, I've heard good and bad about crushed coral, and just what is aragonite? Is aragonite better than CC?. I plan to keep a full reef, with only a few fish.

Thanks for the help!

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Old 08-07-2003, 10:19 AM   #2
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I'm not familiar with the Jean Jaubert system so I can't really comment on it's specifics... but the thought of a plenum in the middle of the DSB confuses me a little... can you point us to some info on the Jean Jaubert system... I'd like to read up on it and see what it's intentions are.

As far as the best type of sand, you deffintly want argonite sand, which basically means it's not silicat sand. The best way to accumulate the majority of your sand bed is by going to Home Depot or such and look for Southdown play sand. This goes by a few different names, Southdown, Carribean Play sand by Old Castle and Yard Right play sand. This is argonite sand and is used by countless folks for their aquariums (don't be fooled by the warningon the bag that read, "not recommended for aquarium use")

for your LS, there isn't really a "type" of LS, but diversity is what you want to strive for. See if there are a couple different LFS in your area that sell LS and get a few pounds from each. See if there are other aquarium keepers in your area that might be willing to give you some. You really only need enough LS to top off the dry sand that makes up the bulk of your DSB. the LS will seed the rest of the sand quickly.


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Old 08-08-2003, 02:53 AM   #3
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Thanks Billy Z that was a great answer. As for the Jaubert, The idea behind NNR is...Live sand systems in Monaco utilize a void space or plenum underneath the substrate. It is believe that this stagnant water area helps to setup an oxygen concentration gradient throughout the substrate. Oxygen levels start at saturation at the surface and gradually decrease as the depth of the substrate increases. This creates an area low in oxygen or anoxic space in the sand. The idea is that the water space underneath the sand helps the substrate maintain the oxygen level from either rising too high or going totally anaerobic. The plenum also causes diffusion of various chemical ions in to the water.

Anaerobic conditions would create Hydrogen Sulphide which is totally undesirable and would result in the stressing of the tank life. On the plus side the system is believe to naturally dissolve calcium, magnesium, and strontium at natural levels within the tank with no supplemental additions. It has also been postulated that the plenum or void space acts as a nutrient sink preventing some undesirable nutrients from entering and dissolving in the water column.

You can read about it in John Tullock's "Natural Reef Aquariums" book and in books from authors like Fenner, and Nilsen and Fossa and more. They are all books from T.F.H. Microcosm series. www.t.f.h.com.

Also here is a web site that you might find interesting and can explain NNR better than I can! Thanks again.

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Old 08-08-2003, 10:39 AM   #4
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Dr. Rob Toonen has already finished his first experiment regarding the efficiency of plenums and deep sand beds. Although it needs to be replicated, he found absolutely no difference between the efficiency of a plenum, and that of a regular sandbed at NNR.

I would also read his two part series "Are Plenums Obsolete?" before putting forth all that effort to create a proper plenum system.
<<PART 1>>
<<PART 2>>
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Old 08-09-2003, 03:45 PM   #5
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Reefadict --
Here's a quote form a page on the link you referenced which is dated as last modified June 14, 97.
"The present trend however is not to add one because plenums tend to become repositories for nutrients and other unwanted material. "

Based on the the information I have been reading for the past six months, plenums are no longer "in fashion" in marine tanks and are considered obsolete.
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