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Ideal sandbed depth

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    Posted: June 01 2010 at 5:29pm
I've been searching for a little bit, but I can't find any solid information, so I figured I would just get all of your opinions.  I have a 4" sandbed in my tank, but I am now starting to think that it is wasted space.  Is there any real plus to having a sandbed this thick in a small tank, or would it be better if I used a 1-2" space for sand?  I am going to be siphoning out any red slime that I can find today ( I bought another powerhead since I am going to start growing some SPS) and figured that I would tackle this as well if it is something that would be beneficial for my aquarium health.

I was thinking about trying bare bottom, but I think that would be a little extreme at the moment, that and I would be losing all of the microorganisms in the sand, rather than half of them


Edited by Ahanix - June 01 2010 at 5:31pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 01 2010 at 5:47pm
There is a lot of science behind what depth and how to make the most of the least amount of sand. Here are two recent good discussions that were pretty thorough.

http://www.utahreefs.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=41113
http://www.utahreefs.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=41111






Edited by Mark Peterson - June 01 2010 at 5:55pm
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Mine is 3" and I'm going to go to 4"
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ahanix Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 01 2010 at 6:11pm
Thanks Mark, I completely forgot about the post that I started, I guess I should have searched harder Embarrassed


Thanks, LOL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 01 2010 at 6:27pm
Embarrassed I didn't even realize that it was your post that I found. I remembered recently answering a similar question and was thinking "dang" that was a good answer I gave back then. I should find it and share it with you and not try to reinvent the wheel.LOL
Nice new Avatar btw.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 01 2010 at 6:33pm
Originally posted by bugzme bugzme wrote:

Mine is 3" and I'm going to go to 4"

Jeff, I don't want to tell you what to do or to interfere,WinkWink but may I make an observation?
You recently asked me for Utah sand which works perfect at 2" depth and here you talk about increasing the overall sand depth to 4 inches. I'm Confused Please set me straight.Smile


Edited by Mark Peterson - June 01 2010 at 6:36pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CapnMorgan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 01 2010 at 7:42pm
I use a 4" depth sand in my 180, and it is a fine oolitic sand.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ahanix Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 01 2010 at 7:50pm
I think because I don't have a lot of open area for sand, i'll cut it down to 2" tonight when I do my water change, this will help me get rid of any other traces of red slime I might have before I install my new powerhead (I guess I was wrong, I did need more flow) and I want to do a couple SPS's this week when my LED's are up and going, so the flow is a must
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bugzme Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 01 2010 at 8:02pm
Taking the sand out will not get rid of the red slime
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in my 150 I have a 5'' sand bed.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ryan Thompson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 01 2010 at 9:22pm
2 inches is the most I will EVER put in a tank. I hate a ton of sand but I don't like the bare bottom look at all either.

You are still more than welcome to come see my tank and see what I do.  Embarrassed
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ahanix Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 01 2010 at 9:25pm
Yeah, I need to come over and look at it! Hopefully I can make my way over there soon things have been super busy! (that and I have been lazy haha)

I just pulled two inches of sand out of my tank, I ran out of mixed salt water, and salt so i'll probably pull another inch out next week so I can put it to 1 - 1 1/2 inches.  

I was able to get another gallon of water in my tank with that sand out, so I think it was definitely worth it already.


Edited by Ahanix - June 01 2010 at 9:25pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote chk4tix Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 01 2010 at 9:25pm
Originally posted by Ryan Thompson Ryan Thompson wrote:

2 inches is the most I will EVER put in a tank. I hate a ton of sand but I don't like the bare bottom look at all either.

You are still more than welcome to come see my tank and see what I do.  Embarrassed


I have seen some pretty nice tanks that us the white material used for making cutting boards and some shower backs plashes.  I cant remember the name of it.  Some use like 1/2 of sand and others use no sand. 
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Starboard?  I was looking into that also (if I were to go bare bottom), I think they do it so they don't have an accidental crack if rocks fall.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jmorrell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 01 2010 at 9:41pm
I like the look of deep sand beds, and I think they are very beneficial.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CapnMorgan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 01 2010 at 11:21pm
Originally posted by jmorrell jmorrell wrote:

I like the look of deep sand beds, and I think they are very beneficial.

+1 Nature does it best. I get all the denitrification I need w/o all the dosing, water changes, or denitrators and the like. I run a large fuge, a DSB, and a good skimmer. I have no nuisance algae (and never have).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kellerexpress Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 02 2010 at 5:12am
I prefer the look and maintence of a shallow sand bed 1-2".  Ive had a 4" bed before and in a nano I felt like it took up space and was a PIA.   Ahanix Ive still got a piece of sps for ya when you get those leds up and running if you want it...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 02 2010 at 7:20am
We can never completely eliminate Cyanobacteria. A normally operating reef is going to have a patch here or there.

In our marine aquariums, when a little extra nutrient becomes available through:
-a water change(yes, new saltwater feeds Cyanobacteria),
-through overfeeding,
-after the death of a visible organism,
-after the death of a population of unseen organisms or
-because of the temporary loss of some other part of the biological filtration,
the opportunistic Cyanobacteria will gain ground.

Having enough total biological filtration, avoiding the addition of extra nutrients and having sufficient herbivores are the keys to keeping any algae from becoming a nuisance.

Lately, there have been a number of hobbyists who have not kept track of essential water parameters. This inattention can sometimes allow Cyanobacteria to flourish. The essential parameters are salinity, temperature, Alkalinity and Calcium. We don't worry about the three Nitrogen compounds, Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate. They will typically test near zero because the Cyanobacteria is eating it all up. Big smile

Of course, biological filtration is not just the sand. It's the rock too. And biological filtration is better when water moves more freely over all surfaces of both rock and sand. Opening up more sand and rock to the water flow will increase the capability of the biological filtration.

Creating more flow around the rock and across the sand can be as simple as pushing small narrow or thin rocks edgeways into the sand like the legs of a tripod. Place larger rocks on those tripod legs, then build up the rest of the structure on top of and across between several of those tripods. Think about it. This not only opens up the sand, but releases the bottom side of rocks from the suffocating effect of sitting buried in the sand. Clap

Let us not underestimate the power of bright light shining on a small patch of Macroalgae. This is also a major component of biological filtration. Algae growth of all kinds such as Coralline Algae, and even the simple green film on the sides of the aquarium, can eat up the extra nutrients that would otherwise feed Cyanobacteria. That's one of the reasons why a typical, well set up tank, left alone without normal "cleaning" will be difficult to see into but will probably not have any Cyanobacteria to speak of. Smile If anyone reading this would like to check the accuracy of this statement, simply leave that tank alone with no cleaning and absolutely no feeding for 5 days and watch the Cyanobacteria fade away.

Cerith Snails are wonderful sand dwelling herbivores and even some Hermit Crabs can be very useful in keeping the top sand clean. One of the most productive bottom dwelling herbivores is the Sea Cucumber. It quietly goes about eating the algae and the accumulating detritus from the top 1/4" layer of sand. I love Cucumbers for what they do to help keep reef aquariums clean.

    "...I don't have a lot of open area for sand..."
This comment caught my attention because it may indicate a need for more knowledge about how to maximize the biological filtration, to reduce the input and availability of extra nutrients and to utilize appropriate herbivores. I hope my comments above are helpful toward that end. Smile

Edited by Mark Peterson - June 02 2010 at 8:09am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ahanix Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 02 2010 at 10:50am
Originally posted by kellerexpress kellerexpress wrote:

I prefer the look and maintence of a shallow sand bed 1-2".  Ive had a 4" bed before and in a nano I felt like it took up space and was a PIA.   Ahanix Ive still got a piece of sps for ya when you get those leds up and running if you want it...

For sure Smile hopefully I get them running tomorrow, if so i'll let you know


Thanks!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ahanix Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 02 2010 at 11:01am
Originally posted by Mark Peterson Mark Peterson wrote:

We can never completely eliminate Cyanobacteria. A normally operating reef is going to have a patch here or there.

In our marine aquariums, when a little extra nutrient becomes available through:
-a water change(yes, new saltwater feeds Cyanobacteria),
-through overfeeding,
-after the death of a visible organism,
-after the death of a population of unseen organisms or
-because of the temporary loss of some other part of the biological filtration,
the opportunistic Cyanobacteria will gain ground.

Having enough total biological filtration, avoiding the addition of extra nutrients and having sufficient herbivores are the keys to keeping any algae from becoming a nuisance.

Lately, there have been a number of hobbyists who have not kept track of essential water parameters. This inattention can sometimes allow Cyanobacteria to flourish. The essential parameters are salinity, temperature, Alkalinity and Calcium. We don't worry about the three Nitrogen compounds, Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate. They will typically test near zero because the Cyanobacteria is eating it all up. Big smile

Of course, biological filtration is not just the sand. It's the rock too. And biological filtration is better when water moves more freely over all surfaces of both rock and sand. Opening up more sand and rock to the water flow will increase the capability of the biological filtration.

Creating more flow around the rock and across the sand can be as simple as pushing small narrow or thin rocks edgeways into the sand like the legs of a tripod. Place larger rocks on those tripod legs, then build up the rest of the structure on top of and across between several of those tripods. Think about it. This not only opens up the sand, but releases the bottom side of rocks from the suffocating effect of sitting buried in the sand. Clap

Let us not underestimate the power of bright light shining on a small patch of Macroalgae. This is also a major component of biological filtration. Algae growth of all kinds such as Coralline Algae, and even the simple green film on the sides of the aquarium, can eat up the extra nutrients that would otherwise feed Cyanobacteria. That's one of the reasons why a typical, well set up tank, left alone without normal "cleaning" will be difficult to see into but will probably not have any Cyanobacteria to speak of. Smile If anyone reading this would like to check the accuracy of this statement, simply leave that tank alone with no cleaning and absolutely no feeding for 5 days and watch the Cyanobacteria fade away.

Cerith Snails are wonderful sand dwelling herbivores and even some Hermit Crabs can be very useful in keeping the top sand clean. One of the most productive bottom dwelling herbivores is the Sea Cucumber. It quietly goes about eating the algae and the accumulating detritus from the top 1/4" layer of sand. I love Cucumbers for what they do to help keep reef aquariums clean.

    "...I don't have a lot of open area for sand..."
This comment caught my attention because it may indicate a need for more knowledge about how to maximize the biological filtration, to reduce the input and availability of extra nutrients and to utilize appropriate herbivores. I hope my comments above are helpful toward that end. Smile


Last night when I had pulled out 2" of sand, I can't believe how much more room I made in my tank (at least thats what it looks like anyways) When I was saying that I don't have a "ton of room" for sand, I almost over exaggerated.  I have at least 2-3" on both sides, 5" in the front, and this is not including the giant "cave" that I have in the middle of my tank that goes all the way to the back wall and is around 4" wide

 I also installed a new powerhead yesterday, I decided to try something a bit bigger and went with the new koralia evolution nano, even though it pushes 425gph, my tank now has a small wave, so my corals rather than blowing in one direction will gently rock back and forth.

I'm almost positive that the reason for my cyano bloom was due to the removal of my extra powerhead in conjunction with the addition of my bi-color blenny, (Dead spots in the water, and extra bio-load)

I have also never run a heater in my Biocube, and have been holding out until summer to see what my tank temperatures will be like (I like to see how energy efficient I can get with my tank) But now I am wondering if my temperature is fluctuating so much that it may be contributing to this bloom. If these do not stay stable when my LED's are up and running, then I will be purchasing a small heater to heat my tank to try and keep it to 78 degrees.


After everything I have done to my tank to help this situation, I guess the only other thing I can do is wait.  Yesterday and this morning I saw little to no signs of Cyano, and I hope this to be the same case when I get home.


I think the only other thing I need to do is pick up some more snails, right now I have 4 Astrea Snails and 4 Nassarius, along with a handful of hermit crabs, that or I need to pick up a sea cucumber, or something that will keep my sand sifted.


Thanks again for all of your help and advice, it's always helped out a lot.


Edited by Ahanix - June 02 2010 at 11:04am
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