Beach Sand

Discussion in 'Beginner Discussions' started by Storm, 16 Apr 2008.

  1. Storm

    Storm

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    I cant find a thread for this on the Forum so might aswell start one. Beach sand or otherwise knows as "Silica Sand". Who is using this in there display tank as a substrate and DSB for the sump? Also Advantages/Disadvantages off having it? Please post. I think it would be nice to have this thread as a reference for it as Beach Sand is always a controversial topic for Reef Tanks. I await everyones comments :whistling:
     
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  3. Rory

    Rory Admin MASA Contributor

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    Just clean it really well. It won't have the same benefits as aragonite but should work ok for a DSB. If you use it for a DSB find a reefer with some live sand and get some just to seed the beach sand.
     
  4. sunburst

    sunburst

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    Copy Rory.
    Seasand is a compromise and could imo lead to months... of uncontrolled algae issues. I think if you weigh up the potential benefits versus the potential negatives.... playsand may become more attractive. Unfortunately this too is a compromise.:leaving:

    If you do decide to go the seasand route i would collect in winter at spring low.
     
  5. Storm

    Storm Thread Starter

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    Could you guyz maby state why it would cause a problematic algae bloom? as to help other future readers understand this problem?
     
  6. Storm

    Storm Thread Starter

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  7. jacquesb

    jacquesb Retired Moderator

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    Hello Storm -

    As you know - I am using beach sand. Many people told me to get rid of it. At this stage, I cannot really see the true benefit of removing 2 metres by 700mm by 150mm of beach sand from my tank, as this is ONE HUGE HUGE HUGE denitrifying factory.

    I have found the cause of MY nuisance algae problem, and my efforts so far has proven to be correct, in getting rid of the nuisance algae. These efforts did NOT include removal OR changeover of my DSB to a different type of substrate.

    Just with ANY type of substrate, there will be detritus collection - even if you would go barebottom - there would be detritus collection. IF you don't have +-20 power-heads in your tank, each one blowing detritus into the water colum IN EVERY SINGLE corner of your tank, as well as everywhere between the live rock - detritus WILL settle.

    Detritus accumulation is the cause for nuisance algae growth and/or nuisance algae problems. As detritus "breaks down" by natural processes, it releases both PHOSPHATES, as well as nitrates. (In my opinion, where PHOSPHATES being the "food" that feeds nuisance algae).

    So - ANY sand bed (no matter if you are using aragonite/caribsea/beach sand/play sand) requires "stirring" by critters like hermit crabs, starfish (micro stars/brittle stars preferably), sea cucumbers, worms, snails, etc.... This "Stirring" also ensures that any embedded detritus in the sand bed (in the top 1cm layer at least) would be released into the water column, ensuring that the detritus in this top 1cm layer DOES NOT release any phosphates into the water column.

    Phosphates will always be present - it is the AMOUNT of phosphates that's left after the corals, and all other plant-like life forms have had their share, that causes problems. Therefor the running of algae scrubbers, as well as phosphate remover material in phosphate reactors....

    EVERYTHING IS ABOUT DETRITUS SETTLING....... IF your flow is strong enough and at the correct places, your should not have this detritus settling - no matter WHICH sand bed you use.

    If you want to keep SPS like many of our esteemed fellow reefers, and want ABSOLUTELY the minimum phosphates in the water, then go barebottom, install enough power-heads/pumps that you have around 80 to 100 times water turnover in your tank, and get the BIGGEST skimmer that you can afford. Also - don't keep many fish then either as you MUST feed them, and feeding fish causes detritus, which again causes phosphates to be leached).

    If you want a "garden reef" which is "middle of the road" - and enjoyable in a lot of ways (with fish, softcorals, LPS, etc), then a sand-bed just looks so much more natural.....

    Hope that I have not stepped on anyone's toes. I also hope that you could have learned from my bad experiences in this hobby so far.
     
  8. Andreas

    Andreas

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    thanks jacques.

    just love it when you explain something, makes so much sense!!;)
     
  9. Andreas

    Andreas

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    BTW jacques, how long did it take take before you started seeing some action in your DSB?
     
  10. lindsay pollard

    lindsay pollard pipefish

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    nice explination jacque makes loads of sence
     
  11. HenkHugo

    HenkHugo

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    beach sand is not the same as silica.

    Silica is inert where as beach sand consits 99% of broken shells
     
  12. 459b

    459b Moderator MASA Contributor

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    Thanks for the link Storm - really interesting read.

    another thing to take into account when using beach sand. Some beach sand has a faily high silica content, but nowhere close to the silica sand you buy in the shop.
    HAs anyone ever used pool filter sand? What is that made of?
    One of the benefits of using aragonite is that it dissolves and acts as a buffer...so if using silica/beach sand would you recommend adding a buffer solution. And if yes what conc?
     
  13. jacquesb

    jacquesb Retired Moderator

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    Thanks everyone for the compliments.

    Here's some more info I have come across in my 3 years of keeping salt water:
    Firstly - beach sand consists of different sources:
    = one being tiny pieces of broken shells
    = silica sand
    = tiny broken coral particles
    = tiny (and sometimes not so tiny) pieces of actual rock/stone (from different sources)

    Aragonite/caribsea, are MOSTLY (this can, and HAVE differed in the past) made from very finely ground coral and also other calcium carbonate sources.

    459b - they THEORY is that aragonite/caribsea can dissolve and buffer the water.
    BUT- this only happens at a pH of LOWER than 7. This means by the time the pH of your water drops so low, ALL your life stock will most likely be dead.

    YES - it is possible that the water BELOW a certain level in your DSB can become very low in pH, due to the processes at work (ie nitrification and the an-aerobic processes), BUT the amount of aragonite/caribsea that would be dissolved would be FAR to low to buffer ANY amount of water more than (thumb-suck) say +-50 litres of water.... Many (most) of us keep water in FAR bigger volume than that.
     
  14. 459b

    459b Moderator MASA Contributor

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    there way too many theories! Considering the buffereing capacity of aragonite (even at low pH), you would have to have all you sand dissolve before benefiting form using aragonite. So basically insisting on buying aragonite is just another way for the LPS to make money.
     
  15. HenkHugo

    HenkHugo

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    pool filter sand = Silica

    forgot to add. We use silica in planted tanks to cap the substrate as it is inert.
     
  16. Quinton

    Quinton Smarty-pants Newbie

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    Here's an interesting part from the article. I'm still inclined to use carbonate sand (or at least mix it into silica sand), as it definitely seems to have at least some buffering properties, and also releases calcium into the water:

    "It makes no difference to the animals in the sandbed what the grains are made of, and silica is actually more resistant to size degradation over time than are carbonate sands (which continually get smaller due to dissolution and passage through the digestive system of animals in the tank). Of course, therein lies the benefit of using aragonitic sands -- the dissolution of these sediments allows for some increased buffering capacity and calcium release into the aquarium and the organisms which ingest them. That is a benefit in itself and a good reason to use carbonate sands if they are available. However the buffering capacity of various carbonate substrata is also overblown. Laboratory experiments comparing the buffering capacity of crushed oyster shell (composed primarily of the most soluble forms of calcium carbonate -- high magnesium calcite and aragonite), crushed coral gravel, and dolomite sediments compared to that of silica sand. Of course silica sand had no buffering capacity and the tank pH dropped below 7.0 within 90 days. The other sediments didn't work so well, either -- after two months in a tank with a reasonable bioload, the pH of seawater in the tank with dolomite was 7.4-7.5, the crushed coral/aragonite was a little better at 7.7-7.8, and the oyster shell was the best at 7.8-7.9 -- again though, this was over only 2 months. In any case, none of them buffered the pH enough to rely on the capacity of the sediments alone to provide buffering over the long-term."
     
  17. Muz

    Muz

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    LOL, for me it was close on 6 - 7 months.

    Nice post Quinton !
     
  18. jacquesb

    jacquesb Retired Moderator

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    Thanks Quinton - It's all choice my friend. By all means - use aragonite/caribsea if you want to and feel that it could help you some way.

    Personally, I buffer my tank's water by adding sodium bicarbonate.
     
  19. jacquesb

    jacquesb Retired Moderator

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    Hi Andreas - sorry man - I meant to respond already...

    It took +-4-5 months for me so see the working of the micro critters, and also JUST about the same time (perhaps JUST there after before I saw my nitrates drop from 20 to less than 2 on my Salifert testing kit....
     
  20. Sparky

    Sparky

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    Ok, so I'm in the process of setting up a 250L system and wanted to put a DSB in tank. Using Aragonite is just not cost efficient as its about 100kg's I will need. So its either beach or play sand.
     
  21. HenkHugo

    HenkHugo

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    i'll most prob use play sand in my display tank and aragonite in the DSB which will be in the sump
     
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