Deep Sand Beds, Sand Beds, Live Sand

Discussion in 'Biological/Natural Filtration and Deep Sand Beds' started by seank, 16 Jun 2010.

  1. seank

    seank

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    I read this some time ago, and decided to copy it here for all to see. Very informative as well as well written by Charles & Linda Raabe. I have contacted them wrt using their valuable information on our website:

    [​IMG]
    There is alot of debate on the depths of sand beds but will post my opinions on their use.

    I would recommend an Argonite sand with sugar sized grain or smaller.. This sized grain is best suited for the most common inhabitants of our tanks, it provides a correct home for fish that use it as a burrow, or a hiding/sleeping place such as the wrasses and gobys. It also is the correct environment for all the sand dwelling worms and other inverts.

    It also provides more surface area for the beneficial filtering bacterias to grow on.

    For those unable to, or unwilling to set up a live deep sand bed, a shallow "dead" sand bed still provides a great amount of surface area for bacteria to live upon. Such shallow sand beds can provide for the bulk of bacterial "filtering" for both the conversion of ammonia to nitrates, as well as for denitrification purposes. Both processes can and do occur on the sand's oxygen rich surface layer. Shallow sandbeds that are not "live" will need to be disturbed once a month to prevent the bacteria from cementing the sand grains together and forming brick hard clumps. Such clumping of the sand prevents any water / gas movement, however small, from happening and could lead to the build up of noxious compounds. The "disturbance" can be simply you swishing the sand around with your hand or siphon cleaning it. The use of a "gravel" siphon cleaner can be used on sand if the siphon hose (output end) is kept raised higher than normal to slow down the force of the siphon, something you will just have to get a feel for to prevent siphoning out your sand. I must stress that this is for shallow (1-2 inches deep) dead, sandbeds. You would never want to disturb a live deep sand bed in any manner.


    NOTE: A good method of introducing a sand bed during set up is to just buy dry dead sand and once your initial cycle has completed, then add another thin layer of truly live sand on top of it. By doing so, the live sand will seed the dead sand and in due time, the entire sand bed will be considered "live".

    As usual with any given subject within this hobby, there is a lot of myth information concerning deep sand beds. The most popular myth that still abounds to this day is that a deep sand bed is doomed to fail and will become a nutrient sink releasing all kinds of toxins into your tank. Of course there can be problems with deep sand beds, but it is not due to anything inherent about such sand beds and is instead caused by not properly setting it up or correctly maintaining it. A case of blaming the sanded and not ourselves. With everything, once you understand the biology, the myths become apparent as nothing more than poor science and incorrect observations. Hopefully the following links will dispel the garbage that is thought of as being true.
     
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  3. seank

    seank Thread Starter

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    [​IMG]
    From ciliates, foraminiferans, snails, worms, protozoa, copepods, amphipods, isopods, and a great many other creatures that I can not identify, all make for a very interesting and diverse habitat, one that we do not actually see often, if at all. I will try to provide identifications when possible.
    A few observations made : My first look at a sample of "wild" sand made a few things quite obvious. For one, the sand grains are extremely small. Having observed the size of the animals that live in such substrates, even the grains that we would think of as being mud were in comparison with the animals, the size of boulders. The typical sand grains we use in our aquariums must be to them, like having houses stacked on each other. Secondly, there is a lot of organics present. All of which is the foundation of the food web within this tiny world. Having this world within our aquariums, if set up and stocked correctly, would be of great benefit to our aquariums, by not only providing nutrient processing, but by having all those myriad of life forms adding themselves, as food, to our other larger life forms that we keep.
    Not only are the residents of the sand bed visible when under a scope, but there are a great many remnants of other larger animals to be found, from small sea urchin spines, cast off exoskeletons, and an endless array of bits and pieces of animals that I could not even guess at as to what left them behind.

    A few examples of foraminiferans : This group of animals forms the bulk of animal remains that I could see.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  4. seank

    seank Thread Starter

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    Worm examples: The largest and most easily to be seen, Some species, as adults, remain near microscopic, while others are but juveniles of larger worm species. Some are detrivores, while others are the predators.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Examples of some of the more unusual finds. All photos taken at my scopes and cameras max zoom capability.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  5. seank

    seank Thread Starter

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    CRUSHED CORAL SUBSTRATES - Since this product is still pushed off onto new hobbyists and becomes a constant source of discussion and concern, I am going to try and save myself from having to constantly address this product by placing what I know of it within this page, at the least, it will save me from having to type this same information again and again.
    It is extremely common for a new hobbyist when purchasing a new setup at a local fish store to be sold crushed coral as a substrate, only to find out later from other hobbyists who have used this substrate that they now need to remove the crushed coral and replace it with some actual sand. I suppose this is not so much the store's fault as they do need to have a substrate available to include with new aquarium set ups. Being that the only criteria for a substrate is one of being nice and white, all of the other important concerns are not given much thought, if any. Hopefully, both hobbyists and store establishments will start to realize that within the quest to provide a proper habitat for our aquatic pets, the substrates provided must be taken into account also.

    As I have yet to hear of a single good reason to use crushed coral, I can only list what I know of it being a bad choice as follows -

    1 - I can think of no animals other than worms that would use such a large grained habitat to live in. Any fish that burrow or sleep in the sand such as most wrasse and goby species will not do well and most likely will end up with alot of abrasions, which only opens them up to infections.

    2 - Surface area for an aerobic bio filter, Nope, you get less surface area with crushed coral. Which could be important since only the surface of the "sand" bed will have enough oxygen to keep a bio filter going, down in the bed, it will be stagnant, but the grains will still be large enough that anaerobic bacteria will not be able to perform their function, In short, a crushed coral bed not only provides less bio filter, it also denies the benefit of having denitrification occur deeper down as you would get with actual "sand". In other words, it sucks at doing what it is claimed to be, which is a substrate.

    3 - Crushed coral is a maintenance pain in the arse, being so large grained, any and all "crud" can easily get down deep and it just lays there and rots away into ammonia. Even if there was a worm population living in the gravel, they would never be able to process the amounts generated by a normal system. Which means, you have to either siphon clean the gravel on a regular basis or stir it all up and allow your filter pads to try and trap it, then you have to constantly clean the filter pads, and during all of that, you will most likely still face water quality issues that you need not to by using "real" sand.

    4 - Its just not natural and looks like crap...lol, I have yet to see a natural habitat that is made up of crushed coral. Its either rock or sand and/or a combination of the two. Which is why "they" have to actually MAKE crushed coral, if it was so natural, why is it made and not just scooped up out of the oceans like other sands are? Yes, there are blends made to include sea shells, rock fragments and such, but the only time you are going to see that type of habitat is if you are standing on a Florida beach in just enough water to get your ankles wet, not a place you will likely find a reef, or fish for that matter.
     
  6. seank

    seank Thread Starter

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    Calcium carbonate will not dissolve in your tank, it could, but I will get to that one single possibility later... All of what I know of and found about this subject came from one single page, and if you wish to dig deeper or dont want to believe me.

    What is calcium carbonate? Also known as limestone, calcite, argonite, chalk and marble. - It is not a single item actually but is a compound ( CaCO3 )
    Calcium carbonate shares the typical properties of other carbonates. Notably:
    1. it reacts with strong acids, releasing carbon dioxide:
      CaCO3 + 2HCl ? CaCl2 + CO2 + H2O
    2. it releases carbon dioxide on heating (to above 825 °C in the case of CaCO3), to form calcium oxide, commonly called burnt lime:
      CaCO3 ? CaO + CO2
    Calcium carbonate will react with water that is saturated with carbon dioxide (CO2) to form the soluble calcium bicarbonate. CaCO3 + CO2 + H2O ? Ca(HCO3)2 Note the above where it states THE SOLUBLE calcium BIcarbonate, this is where we get the buffering effect to stabalize our pH. Also note that it takes an acid (very low pH) to effect this reaction. NOT something that is going to happen in our tanks with one possible exception. For those of us who use a deep sand bed there are bacterial processes taking place that do produce acids, those acid in such a low flow area can drop the pH level low enough to start releasing calcium bicarbonate (dissolving argonite based sands) but it will not be enough for you to be able to detect any benefit from it doing so. So to say that such sands can buffer your aqurium water is misleading and incorrect. If this myth was true, there would be no reason to use calcium reactors that force the dissolution of calcium carbonate based media through the use of CO2 injection.


    If you want to read more about this, I have checked out another link for all the clever dudes: It will explain better as well as the fact that the site have some pics- for us okes not understanding the Periodic table so well :lol:
    [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calcium_carbonate"]Calcium carbonate - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia@@AMEPARAM@@/wiki/File:Calcium_carbonate.png" class="image"><img alt="" src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d3/Calcium_carbonate.png/120px-Calcium_carbonate.png"@@AMEPARAM@@commons/thumb/d/d3/Calcium_carbonate.png/120px-Calcium_carbonate.png[/ame]
     
  7. seank

    seank Thread Starter

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    [​IMG]

    Reef Collecting - For those of you who can collect from the ocean

    Sand Bed Calculator - Determine how many pounds of sand your aquarium will need per a given depth.

    SAND / REEF INFAUNA SOURCES :
    Since live sand is not always available and the fact that a deep sand bed (dsb) is required to be "live", the following suppliers are a good source for getting the needed life forms to create a healthy living sand bed when using "dead" sand such as any of the play sands that can be purchased at local garden centers. These are strictly sources and not an endorsement by me. Do note that if you see any hermit crabs or sand sifting starfish included in any of the kits, do not buy them since such animals are detrimental to not only a sand bed but to a reef tank as a whole.

    Essential Live Feeds (copepods) Bill's Reef ( bristle & spaghetti worms ) Inland Aquatics ( Detrivore kits )
    Indo Pacific Sea Farms ( Many choices )
     
  8. seank

    seank Thread Starter

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  9. seank

    seank Thread Starter

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    THIS IS A MUST READ- VERY INTERESTING :thumbup: :thumbup:. CLICK ON THE UNDERLINED WORDS


    How SandBeds Really Work - " If aquaria are artificial ecosystems, however, the component that is least artificial is the sand bed. This part of a reef aquarium, with little input from the aquarist, functions much as do the sandy areas near a real reef. That functionality is due to a rather complex interaction of physical and biological factors, but most of those interactions are unseen, and, I think, unappreciated by the average aquarist. "

    The Importance of Deep Sand (how to set up and maintain a deep sand bed) - " These beds provide three things. First, they provide a place for processing and exporting some dissolved nutrients. Second, they provide a place to recycle detritus, excess foods, animal feces and other particulate material into usable forms. Finally, they provide a food source for many reef animals. Let's look at each of these functions. "

    How A Deep Sand Bed Can Produce Food For Reef Inhabitants. - " Our reef aquaria are what a biologist might call "microcosms," or small copies of the real habitat. These contain the appropriate substrata, animals, and algae to be analogues of the real world. "

    What Lives in Live Sand - " Two basic organism groups are found in reef sand, both in an aquarium and in nature. “Meiofauna” live on the individual sand grains or in the thin films of water between the grains. “Infauna” live within the sediment, but generally displace it in their activities. "
     
  10. scubaninja

    scubaninja

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    i understand it :( not very proud that i do though:whistling:
     
  11. Mauritius-aquarist

    Mauritius-aquarist

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    Thanks very much Sean,
    Very interesting:thumbup:
     
  12. seank

    seank Thread Starter

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    He He, I tried to recall what I've learned many moons ago, but to no avail:lol:

    Thank you, but thanks must go to the original authors, I just read it and took out the extractions:)
     
  13. sihaya

    sihaya

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    Chuck has a great website indeed. Not that I agree with it all, but it's a good resource and his opinions all seem pretty well thoughtout.

    In any case, I know it's common practice here, but I'd try to avoid copying and pasting whole "articles" and pages from people's websites in a post. In the US, this would violate copyright law for sure. But apart from that, it often just annoys the author.
     
  14. seank

    seank Thread Starter

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    I did mention and give credit to the authors as well as contacted them. I am waiting for their response.
     
  15. RiaanP

    RiaanP Moderator

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    I got a question, to those that understand the periodic table.

    CaCO3 or Calcium carbonate,
    What will happen if you add O3 ozone.

    CaCO3 + O3 = ???

    I used to understand that stuff - and did pretty well in science, But that was many moons ago...
     
  16. sihaya

    sihaya

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    This is just an "educated" guess... but I think you'd just get some carbon dioxide, oxygen and calcium hydroxide.

    http://www.lenntech.com/library/ozone/reaction/ozone-reaction-mechanisms.htm
     
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