Sand vs. Crushed Coral

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Lang, Welcome to!!! :smilecolros: :smilecolros: :smilecolros:
First off I guess the general concensus is that CC is not the way to go and that a DSB is better
CC is not really bad, but as you know it just takes more maintenance. LS is a better choice in that regard. In order to get the true benefits of an actual DSB it needs to be about 6inches in depth. Most people have sand beds of 2-4inches.
if I try to syphon the sand it will get sucked up the tube and through my PYTHON into my drain?
Yes, do not syphon the sand bed.
It is my understanding that I should buy some small 'critters' to clean my sand for me.
Snails, reef hermit crabs, sand-sifting stars, etc...
I don't want to have to worry about everything looking dirty in a week because the bright lights are creating too much algea and brown crap on the sand.
This is actually more a product of having excess nutrients in the water rather then lighting. PO4 and NO3 are common contributors to diatoms and cynobacteria algea that accumulate on the substrate. This is more likely the cause of your previous troubles. However, too long of lighting schedules, direct sunlight and old bulbs can also be a contributing factor.
I didn't have any LR in my set-up before but I guess I should put some in this time around. What does this LR do and will it mean that I won't have to do very many water changes any more?
LR is simply the best biological filter media available. It works by being an environment for beneficial bacteria to grow. This bacteria keeps water parameters in normal limits. there is no substitution for regular water changes.
My plan is to eventually get 1 or 2 blue spotted stingrays.
I hope you are planning a multi-hundred gal. tank. These are difficult animals to keep and require A LOT of free swimming space and a soft and sand substrate to burrow in. Just not a good choice for the home tank.
I suggest you invest in a good book on SW tanks. I like "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" by Robert Fenner.
At least you recognized the benefits of DSB over CC before you had the tank stocked. I was not as fortunate. I replaced my CC with a DSB after it was fully stocked with corals and fish. Here is how I did it.

1) Removed all corals and fish and placed them in large bowls with aquarium water. Placed the bowls in my bath tub which I had filled with a little warm water to keep the corals and fish in the bowls warm. You need to monitor this temp thru the whole process.
2) Loaded a big, clean trash can with all of the live rock and about 2/3 of the aquarium water. Placed two powerheads and a heater in it to keep it warm and to keep the water moving.
3) Scooped out all of the CC and thru it away.
4) Drained the remaining aquarium water out and thru it away.
5) Added the live sand.
6) Placed wax paper on top of the DSB and slowly added the aquarium water that was in the clean trash can with the live rock back into the aquarium. Added live rock along the way.
7) Added the corals and fish back in at the end.

Everything worked well... I didn't lose any livestock at all. The only bad thing that happened was I got stung by a bristleworm while removing the CC. The whole process took about 5 hours and the resulting sandstorm was pretty much cleared up by the end of the next day. In retrospect, the only thing I would have done differently would have been to place the liverock in before I added the DSB. Oh well... too late now.

Thanks very much for the detailed reply to all of my questions. I have learned so much from this forum in the short time that I have been visiting here. I guess the blue spotted stingray is a bad choice of animal to have for my tank. I'm glad I found out here first before I went and bought one. Anyway, I'm going to keep visiting this forum and reading as much as possible and hopefully will make the switch to a SW set-up soon.
Just wondering what exactly is LS? Is Carib-Sea agaramax .01 to .03 mm grain size an example of LS? Can I just go to my LFS and buy it in bags?
Live sand is a term to describe live sand substrate. The substrate harbors beneficial bacteria. Eventually, a sand substrate will become live over time.
Use a larger diameter piece of pvc and a funnel to put your sand in. You can place it where you want and it will not cloud up the water as bad. You should be able to find the play sand in your area. Check HD for the durascape white play sand. I like it better because the sand has larger particles and does not get blown around by circulation.
Thanks guys! I have read about terms like 'playsand' , DSB, and carib-sea agaramax sand. All of these are just different examples of LS correct?
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