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View Full Version : Sand bed maintenance in a nano?


ToshAlexandra
10-28-2013, 07:26 PM
I've got a 28g nanocube I've had up and running about 14 months now. I havent' ever vacuumed my sand bed, have stirred it up a few times moving rock work or just to mix things up occasionally but thats the extent. My current set up wouldn't allow me to really vacuum much of it due to rock placement, but i could likely stir it up more frequently. Should I be doing this, or just leave things be? I've got 1 - 1 1/2 inch sandbed I would say.....

Any advice from the lil reef keepers?

typezero
10-28-2013, 07:36 PM
My display is a little over 2 years old. I never vacuumed my sand bed ever. My trick is during a water change, stir up a little part of your sand bed, siphon as much of that dusty water out to do your water change. After that i dump twice as much kz coral snow into the tank than normal. Helps the skimmer catch all the small particles.

Madreefer
10-28-2013, 07:38 PM
You can disregard my post if you want as my tank is a little bigger than a nano. But if you have a sufficient amount of flow to keep your detritus suspended in your water column, there's really no reason to be touching your sandbed. The more you keep your hands out of your tank the better. It's just my opinion and there's a lot out there that would disagree. And I have very little clean up crew and they're never on the sandbed anyways. I do have a diamond headed goby that stirs up the sand but he never really leaves his favourite hang out spot which is quite small

ToshAlexandra
10-28-2013, 07:45 PM
Well I think i have good flow, I use a wave maker alternation about every 30 seconds and seems to give good motion in the ocean lol

Coral snow - sounds interesting, I feel like I have always had too much particulate in my water from day one and have tried a few different things to deal with it with no good results - could this be a solution??

Madreefer
10-28-2013, 07:57 PM
Coral snow is awesome. Works great and is a very popular additive.

canadianbudz604
10-29-2013, 12:22 AM
+1 on the stirring, I do this and my sand bed is usually always nice and white.

Dearth
10-29-2013, 04:52 AM
I had a multiple ranged depth sandbed in my 33 gallon I never touched it never had any issues and even though I had a large CuC however they rarely touched the sand.

It is for the most part a personal choice but I would say don't worry about it the sandbed isn't all that deep and it won't cause you that much of an issue my sand bed was 4 inches deep on one end and less than an inch on the other end never gave me any grief and the tank was heavily stocked

Koleswrath
11-07-2013, 10:02 PM
I'd recommend at least stirring up and siphoning out the detritus with water changes. Sandbeds will be able to buffer against a certain amount of decay but only up to a point. Eventually a calcium carbonate sandbed will lose it's ability to adsorb nutrients and will need to be replaced. Cleaning it out will help extend the useful life of it.
Greg

mrhasan
11-07-2013, 10:17 PM
I'd recommend at least stirring up and siphoning out the detritus with water changes. Sandbeds will be able to buffer against a certain amount of decay but only up to a point. Eventually a calcium carbonate sandbed will lose it's ability to adsorb nutrients and will need to be replaced. Cleaning it out will help extend the useful life of it.
Greg

Can you please refer me to a link where this claim is justified/proved? I never heard of sand bed buffering/has the ability to buffer/absorb nutrients......

Koleswrath
11-07-2013, 10:47 PM
http://www.thereeftank.com/forums/f6/reefkeeping-made-easy-what-was-not-explained-160389.html

Some pretty lengthy reading material. Post #42 starts the chat about CaCO3 being a phosphate binder. Took me a few days to get through it all but there is a table of contents for convenience.

If you think about it calcium carbonate sand (aragonite) is the same material as live rock right? Calcium carbonate. Live rock binds phosphates and we need to "cook" it if the live rock was previously in a high nutrient situation. The sand binds phosphates in the same way. Unfortunately we can't cook the sand to remove them.

Interesting quote from that thread which explains what happens when you cook live rock:
"the bacteria in the LR are able to break off the bound phosphates that are attached to the calcium carbonate. (i will hunt down the references for this, though it may be more reading for you all). they then incorporate it into their bodies and bind it. the more phosphates the more bacteria bodies. if you get enough bacteria together they can create a fair amount of force. this force pushes the dead bacterium (bacterial flock) out of the LR where it can then be swept away from the LR. this bacterial flock is heavier then water so it falls to the bottom, or if your water flow is strong enough it can get pushed around until 1) it gets removed by the skimmer or 2) settles somewhere. either in a hard to reach low flow area or your sump/fuge. if this is planned then it is all good. if you have more sand in these areas then not so good. the force that the bacteria exert is known as Turgor. this makes LR self cleaning when it comes to phosphates.

this also can occur in the sand, but the problem with sand is that it is contained on every side but the top. so the bacterial flock formed from the LR and the sand just keeps building up in the sand bed till it just gets full. at the point the turgor is pushing the flock up into the water column is when you are able to get phosphate readings from the test kits".

Greg

mrhasan
11-07-2013, 10:56 PM
http://www.thereeftank.com/forums/f6/reefkeeping-made-easy-what-was-not-explained-160389.html

Some pretty lengthy reading material. Post #42 starts the chat about CaCO3 being a phosphate binder. Took me a few days to get through it all but there is a table of contents for convenience.

If you think about it calcium carbonate sand (aragonite) is the same material as live rock right? Calcium carbonate. Live rock binds phosphates and we need to "cook" it if the live rock was previously in a high nutrient situation. The sand binds phosphates in the same way. Unfortunately we can't cook the sand to remove them.

Interesting quote from that thread which explains what happens when you cook live rock:
"the bacteria in the LR are able to break off the bound phosphates that are attached to the calcium carbonate. (i will hunt down the references for this, though it may be more reading for you all). they then incorporate it into their bodies and bind it. the more phosphates the more bacteria bodies. if you get enough bacteria together they can create a fair amount of force. this force pushes the dead bacterium (bacterial flock) out of the LR where it can then be swept away from the LR. this bacterial flock is heavier then water so it falls to the bottom, or if your water flow is strong enough it can get pushed around until 1) it gets removed by the skimmer or 2) settles somewhere. either in a hard to reach low flow area or your sump/fuge. if this is planned then it is all good. if you have more sand in these areas then not so good. the force that the bacteria exert is known as Turgor. this makes LR self cleaning when it comes to phosphates.

this also can occur in the sand, but the problem with sand is that it is contained on every side but the top. so the bacterial flock formed from the LR and the sand just keeps building up in the sand bed till it just gets full. at the point the turgor is pushing the flock up into the water column is when you are able to get phosphate readings from the test kits".

Greg

Thanks for the link. Interesting...Maybe someone with more knowledge might want to chime in.

But I do know I didn't, don't and will never rely on sand bed to take care of my nutrient. And unless someone point a gun at me, I am not going to risk shaking the sand bed. Its just too risky in my opinion.

Reef Pilot
11-07-2013, 11:29 PM
But I do know I didn't, don't and will never rely on sand bed to take care of my nutrient. And unless someone point a gun at me, I am not going to risk shaking the sand bed. Its just too risky in my opinion.


What's the concern about "shaking the sand bed". I vacuumed my sand bed a lot when I was cleaning up my nutrient problem in my upstairs tank. The water would turn pretty cloudy, but would clear up completely in about an hour or so. I also dosed MB7, so that probably helped too. In any case, my fish didn't seem to mind, and some of them would be right there by the vacuum end trying to catch any pods that would be disturbed.

Koleswrath
11-07-2013, 11:32 PM
You're right on both points.
The OP should siphon as much detritus as possible from the sandbed so as not to rely on the sandbed sinking nutrients which is ultimately finite. (Disclaimer below)

In the case of someone who has not touched a sandbed in years it could be disasterous to go and start stirring things up nilly willy. However, it can be argued that eventually an undisturbed sandbed will cause more issues in the long run and that it would be a good idea to start slowly cleaning small sections at a time.

mrhasan
11-07-2013, 11:33 PM
What's the concern about "shaking the sand bed". I vacuumed my sand bed a lot when I was cleaning up my nutrient problem in my upstairs tank. The water would turn pretty cloudy, but would clear up completely in about an hour or so. I also dosed MB7, so that probably helped too. In any case, my fish didn't seem to mind, and some of them would be right there by the vacuum end trying to catch any pods that would be disturbed.

There were times when even putting a frag plug in the sandbed cause spikes. So I leave them in peace :lol: And the sandbed won't get overloaded with detritus since nothing settles in my tank (somethings the frags too), thanks to wp40. Infact, the only thing I do in my DT is just clean the glass; no vacuuming, no turkey baster; and no filter socks too.

Koleswrath
11-07-2013, 11:37 PM
There were times when even putting a frag plug in the sandbed cause spikes. So I leave them in peace :lol: And the sandbed won't get overloaded with detritus since nothing settles in my tank (somethings the frags too), thanks to wp40. Infact, the only thing I do in my DT is just clean the glass; no vacuuming, no turkey baster; and no filter socks too.

With enough flow some people have reported successful sandbed tanks for 10+ years. BUT........if nothing ever settles in your sandbed you wouldn't have a spike if you put a frag plug in it. :idea:

Greg

Reef Pilot
11-07-2013, 11:40 PM
There were times when even putting a frag plug in the sandbed cause spikes. So I leave them in peace :lol: And the sandbed won't get overloaded with detritus since nothing settles in my tank (somethings the frags too), thanks to wp40. Infact, the only thing I do in my DT is just clean the glass; no vacuuming, no turkey baster; and no filter socks too.

Spikes of what??

These days my sand is actually pretty clean, with all the circulation, and I have a goby that keeps sifting it. But even he can sometimes create a little "storm" when he pulls sand out from under the rocks. But I don't get any "spikes". Before, when I had the nutrient problem, you wouldn't believe all the detritus crap that I would pull out with the vacuum. After all, it had been "accumulating" there for 10+ years...

mrhasan
11-07-2013, 11:42 PM
With enough flow some people have reported successful sandbed tanks for 10+ years. BUT........if nothing ever settles in your sandbed you wouldn't have a spike if you put a frag plug in it. :idea:

Greg

By settling, I mean detritus resting on the sand bed and making it look ugly. The sand bed itself has lots of nutrients trapped which will not get released unless you disturb it. And over time, the fauna in the sand bed takes care of it. The fauna is more important to me (pods, bristle worms). Why don't people take out all the LR or give a shake and take out the detritus? I am pretty sure those crevice and crannies can undergo some maintenance too ;)

mrhasan
11-07-2013, 11:47 PM
Spikes of what??

These days my sand is actually pretty clean, with all the circulation, and I have a goby that keeps sifting it. But even he can sometimes create a little "storm" when he pulls sand out from under the rocks. But I don't get any "spikes". Before, when I had the nutrient problem, you wouldn't believe all the detritus crap that I would pull out with the vacuum. After all, it had been "accumulating" there for 10+ years...

My last bad experience was with nitrate. Sand bed surface remains clean, I just don't wanna peek-a-boo with whats inside, bristle worms are there to keep things in check.

I guess it just comes down to how pristine you want your DT to be. I just like my glass (both inside and outside; I hate when people put finger prints on the glasses), my rocks and sand bed which is visible to the eye to be clean. And crystal clear water. Atleats I know, if I were to care about what's inside those sand bed, I would be thinking hard about the dead spots between and behind the rocks. :razz:

Reef Pilot
11-07-2013, 11:56 PM
I guess it just comes down to how pristine you want your DT to be. I just like my glass (both inside and outside; I hate when people put finger prints on the glasses), my rocks and sand bed which is visible to the eye to be clean. And crystal clear water. Atleats I know, if I were to care about what's inside those sand bed, I would be thinking hard about the dead spots between and behind the rocks. :razz:
Don't we all want crystal clear water, and clean rocks and sand? That's what getting all the nutrients out of your tank is all about. And with zero nitrates and phosphates.

At this time, I no longer vacuum my sand. That's because it is now divided up between 2 tanks, and is not very deep anywhere. Some parts of the bottom are actually bare, because of the water currents. And the gobies do a good job to ensure detritus doesn't build up anywhere.

Koleswrath
11-07-2013, 11:57 PM
Why don't people take out all the LR or give a shake and take out the detritus? I am pretty sure those crevice and crannies can undergo some maintenance too ;)

Definately, this is what people do whey they use a turkey baster to blow the bacterial flock off the rocks. High enough and proper flow can keep the flock from clogging up the rocks as well.

mrhasan
11-07-2013, 11:58 PM
Don't we all want crystal clear water, and clean rocks and sand? That's what getting all the nutrients out of your tank is all about. And with zero nitrates and phosphates.

At this time, I no longer vacuum my sand. That's because it is now divided up between 2 tanks, and is not very deep anywhere. Some parts of the bottom are actually bare, because of the water currents. And the gobies do a good job to ensure detritus doesn't build up anywhere.

True that!

My sand bed is also shallow. I am a big anti-DSB (let's not start anything on that :lol:). I let bristles take care of ugly things :smile:

Reef Pilot
11-08-2013, 12:02 AM
I let bristles take care of ugly things :smile:
Yeah, and you think they don't crap?...:biggrin:

Koleswrath
11-08-2013, 12:03 AM
My last bad experience was with nitrate. Sand bed surface remains clean, I just don't wanna peek-a-boo with whats inside, bristle worms are there to keep things in check.

I guess it just comes down to how pristine you want your DT to be. I just like my glass (both inside and outside; I hate when people put finger prints on the glasses), my rocks and sand bed which is visible to the eye to be clean. And crystal clear water. Atleats I know, if I were to care about what's inside those sand bed, I would be thinking hard about the dead spots between and behind the rocks. :razz:

Dead spots behind the rocks are just as bad as the sandbed if the detritus is settling there and not being removed. But think about this, if you're afraid to take a peek into your sandbed because of settling detritus/excess nutrients what's preventing it from eventually filling up with this stuff and releasing it into your water at some point? Bristleworms create waste too.....

mrhasan
11-08-2013, 12:07 AM
Yeah, and you think they don't crap?...:biggrin:

Crap = coral food + skimmer's job :lol: Hmmm now u r making me wonder what bristle worm's poop looks like...I would imagine poops with bristles :surprise: Maybe that's how they distinguish between theirs and others. :lol: Ok enough with hijacking OP's thread, bad me bad me! I got a Kien-ish thread to take care of now :redface:

Scuba Diver Gal
11-08-2013, 01:59 AM
We have a 29 g biocube too and your question was a timely one for us. My son is a beginner...so am I...

Do we have to vacuum off his rocks? We had a turkey baster in there today and a ton of debris went into the air when it blew on the rocks. Then do we strain that out? So much to learn...sigh...Also, our nassarius snails seem to stir the sand up a lot. That's probably enough?

Scuba Diver Gal
11-08-2013, 02:00 AM
Sorry, didn't mean "air" meant water. Anyway the debris was floating around.

Koleswrath
11-08-2013, 02:53 PM
We have a 29 g biocube too and your question was a timely one for us. My son is a beginner...so am I...

Do we have to vacuum off his rocks? We had a turkey baster in there today and a ton of debris went into the air when it blew on the rocks. Then do we strain that out? So much to learn...sigh...Also, our nassarius snails seem to stir the sand up a lot. That's probably enough?

You can vacuum, baste or use a powerhead to blow off your rocks. The bacteria in the rocks are always producing detritus which needs to be swept in to the water column for removal by either your skimmer or mechanical filtration means. Siphon the sand bed with your next water change to see what you can pull out of there. That will tell you if it's being stirred up enough.

Greg