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Old 01-19-2007, 12:10 AM   #1
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Live sand dead?

Hey everyone, quick question for you guys. My setup is a 55 gallon FOWLR setup...80lbs live sand, 50 pounds dead base rock (plan is for the live sand to slowly convert it to live rock), fluval 305 canister filter, berlin air-lift skimmer...2 clownfish, choco chip starfish, assorted crabs and snails...and, i'm ashamed to admit, a copperband butterfly, which has its own post in this forum...

anyways, I was poking around on my tank today and discovered that my tank's sand is a little screwed up. It has a crusty layer on top about an inch thick...also covered in algae, had a diatom bloom...does this mean that all the sand below it is dead? My tank cycled, and my clownfish have been in there for 2 weeks and been fine, but my ammonia is slowly climbing. Would this be because there is no bacteria left in the sand?
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Old 01-19-2007, 12:25 AM   #2
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A crusty layer? That's weird. Did you cycle the tank?

I doubt it is because of the sand, I'm guessing it's not a cycled tank.

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Old 01-19-2007, 12:27 AM   #3
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It looks like your tank is going through it`s cycle. When cycling the ammonia will go up and then nitrites and then nitrates. Your sand is OK but your clown will die unless you do some PWC`s and get that ammonia down.
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Old 01-19-2007, 12:46 AM   #4
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nah, tank definitely cycled...ammonia skyrocketed, then went down as nitrite went up, then went down as nitrate went up, water changes have nitrate down to about ten. All confirmed by LFS.

Wouldnt the crusty layer block any oxygen from getting to the sand, thus killing the bacteria? I'm assuming all bacteria was killed off, since ammonia is climbing back up...

I have another question...If I have to buy new live rock and live sand because this is all dead, at least enough to seed what I have now, it's going to be very expensive. I was looking at a wet/dry filter with 5 gallons of media space. If I crammed that full of live rock and live sand, would that be enough filtration for my tank? I could leave my canister going and I have a protein skimmer. If I can do that I'd rather do that because it would be very very expensive where I live to get a lot of new sand or live rock.
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Old 01-19-2007, 12:59 AM   #5
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You dont even need the sand. If you had your base rock in the tank when it cycled then you had your nitrifying bacteria on the rock. My guess is still that your tank did not cycle. Sorry just my guess.
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Old 01-19-2007, 01:03 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by melosu58
You dont even need the sand. If you had your base rock in the tank when it cycled then you had your nitrifying bacteria on the rock. My guess is still that your tank did not cycle. Sorry just my guess.
No, the live rock is completely dead...i bought a case of caribsea base rock, which comes dry and even says on the box that its dead.

I really believe my tank cycled...ammonia went well above 6, nitrite went well above 10, and nitrate was at like 40...

This is all so discouraging...my saltwater experience has been one step forward, two steps back the whole time...
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Old 01-19-2007, 01:14 AM   #7
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I'm just wondering what a crusty layer of sand is doing on your sandbed. Never really heard of that before. The sand doesn't need to be there for your tank to maintain it's cycle. I'm kinda at a loss. Nothing died? Nothing got into the tank as a contaminant?
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Old 01-19-2007, 01:21 AM   #8
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Well it doesnt need to be. Im sorry that it has but you need to take advice from people that have been there. Now you say the tank cycled. We will go with that. Something right now is causing your ammonia to jump up. Is there anything dead in your tank? Are you overfeeding your tank? One thing is sure. Your clown will suffer, if you dont do a PWC, from ammonia poisoning. How often are you doing PWC`s? Just some questions to answer. But if you cycled your rock with the tank then it has alot of nitrifying bacteria on it. If you cycled then added Rock then it probably does not have enough and that could be the problem as far as the ammonia going up. Just wanted to answer a post earlier. I have LR and a skimmer for filtration. That`s all that is needed. Hope all goes well
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Old 01-19-2007, 01:25 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by melosu58
Well it doesnt need to be. Im sorry that it has but you need to take advice from people that have been there. Now you say the tank cycled. We will go with that. Something right now is causing your ammonia to jump up. Is there anything dead in your tank? Are you overfeeding your tank? One thing is sure. Your clown will suffer, if you dont do a PWC, from ammonia poisoning. How often are you doing PWC`s? Just some questions to answer. But if you cycled your rock with the tank then it has alot of nitrifying bacteria on it. If you cycled then added Rock then it probably does not have enough and that could be the problem as far as the ammonia going up. Just wanted to answer a post earlier. I have LR and a skimmer for filtration. That`s all that is needed. Hope all goes well
ah, I think I'm beginnig to understand. Let me make sure I get it.

So, let's say for kicks and giggles that the live sand was never live. So there is a deep sand bed of dead sand and dead live rock. No bacteria on either one. If the tank cycled anyways, the live rock is now live?

Sorry, I'm new to all of this and very confused
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Old 01-19-2007, 01:58 AM   #10
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How long has the tank been cycled for?
Tanks normally go thru definite phases during and after cycling.
Algae blooms are common after cycling, and have their own phases.
Diatoms are usually the first phase after a cycle.

Don't worry about replacing, or "seeding" your sand and rock.
There is plenty of nitrifying bacteria to start your tank growing on the surface of your rock and sand since your cycle.
Although it's not necessary, a sump or fuge with additional LR and LS certainly won't hurt anything.
Between enough LR, LS, and your skimmer, you really shouldn't need anything else to get your water params in order.

Currently, IMHO, your tank is understocked on rock for effective filtering.
A minimum of 1.5lbs per gallon is recommended... more would be better in your case since you're only starting with base rock.
The more surface area for nitrifying bacteria to grow, and quickly, would be best.

As for your ammonia buildup, my best guess is that your tank hasn't grown enough beneficial bacteria to handle your bioload and feeding schedule yet.
As time goes on your ammonia from fishwaste, leftover food, and decomposing algae may be outcompeting your bacteria growth leading to more ammonia than it can process.

Of course, more info would help.
How often is your feeding schedule?
How much, and what do you feed? (flake, frozen, pellets, etc.)
How much, and how often do you do a PWC?
What kind of water do you use to top-off? (RO/DI, tap, distilled, etc.)
Do you test for phosphates?
What is your PH?

I've read about sand crusting together before, but right now I can't remember what it indicates... I know it's nothing that's irreversible tho...
Don't be afraid to stir it up just as bugs, worms, snails, crabs, and fish would naturally do.
I'm guessing your tank is still new so you won't be in danger of stirring up any really nasty stuff that might cause a problem.
Speaking of which, do you have any sand sifters in your cleanup crew?
Nassarius snails are excellent for that job, and would help scavenge any leftover food that might be causing ammonia as well.

The veterans here are awesome and have helped me tremendously so you're in good hands... and BTW, welcome to AA!


**EDIT**
Oops. There's been 5 new posts since I started this one.
Sorry if I repeated too much of what everyone else said.
I need to learn to type faster. LOL
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