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A Dedicated "Sand Pump" or Powerhead to keep sand and substrate clean! Possible?

Do you use "Dedicated FLOW" to try and keep your sand bed clean?

  • Yes

    Votes: 60 16.4%
  • No

    Votes: 238 65.0%
  • Maybe

    Votes: 46 12.6%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 22 6.0%

  • Total voters
    366

revhtree

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WARNING: This could be a dumb idea of a lazy reefer! Couldn't be me could it? :p

Sand looks natural, it can be beautiful, critters love it, but it can also be a pain in the rump and look nasty too! :( So we have to keep it clean! So how do we do it? Well there are many ways to maintain a clean sand bed and we have discussed them before and will again a little more today. But the main thought of discussion today is a powerhead/pump that would help keep the sand clean. How?

The whole idea here is to have the "sand pump" placed just above the sand line that will keep detritus suspended and not allow it to settle on the substrate.

First we need to consider a few things.
  • Sand blows around easily depending on the grain size and type of the sand or substrate.
  • We need to be able to control the flow pattern of the powerhead to maintain, as much as possible, a more linear/horizontal pattern.
  • Pump or powerhead needs to be strong enough to maintain the linear flow pattern for a good distance.
So let's talk about this today and I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas.


1. Do you think a "sand pump" is an idea that has any merit and what input do you have on this idea?

2. What ways are you using DEDICATED FLOW now to keep your sand bed clean without blowing it all around your tank?



image via @SunnyX
DSC_0138.jpg
 
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revhtree

revhtree

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Wouldn't Paul's RUGF work the same way? Blowing water into the sandbed to keep it clean.
Not sure what that is! Please share a link!
 

homer1475

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@Paul B Reverse undergravel filter.

An old school under gravel filter that you run backwards. So instead of sucking the water through the sand, you blow the water up though the sand keeping detritus suspended.

Maybe @Paul B will chime in here since he's been tagged. I know it's super old school, but it came to mind, and I really haven't read that much on it.
 

92Miata

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Not sure what that is! Please share a link!
Reverse under gravel filter - he pumps water under his gravel and it flows up through.


IMO - larger grain size - lots of flow with standard stream pumps - let the sand get blown around. The sand being blown around isn't a problem if you don't have all the 'silt' that smaller particle sands come with.
 

TerraFerma

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You can't really "clean" sand unless it's getting blown around. A perfectly clean sand bed on the top will still have ton's of detritus if you stir it up with a finger. I have a thin sand bed that gets blown around depending on the wave maker. It still contains tons of detritus.
 

ReeferBlaine

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Interesting concept! I am a slave to the conch tho! One of my longest tenured critters in one of my reefs.

He/she gets what they want when it comes to sand. Also, do an amazing job keeping it clean! Another cool thing is that I purchased the conch at 1" and is now easily over 3"..

I love the idea though! Lazy reefers unite LOL

 

Thunderrap

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I have a Cube 20 with a ReefWave 25 placed Vertically in my tank. I have it low enough so the bottom part of the gyre will blow across the sand bed to keep most of the gunk from settling but not enough to blow the sand around. I would think something like the reverse under gravel filter would be a good idea or if someone could create an "air mat" that would produce enough turbulence to keep the sand clean but not make it look like there is an earthquake going on in your sand bed or having a sheet of air bubbles going up the tank like an air stone. I hope that makes sense LOL
 
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Vette67

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Been keeping reefs for over 20 years and I didn't know cleaning the sand was a thing. I wouldn't want to clean it anyway, because I might vacuum out some of the cool critters that live in the sand bed. All of the pods / worms / and other fauna that make their home in my sand bed should be left where they are. Who would want to hurt this guy?
IMG_6595[1].JPG
 

brandon429

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those come back from the rocks. infinitely. nobody is adding real live sand...they add sand, maybe wet sand, but no animals they come from the rocks or the frags we add over time that serve as vectors. cleaning the sand leaves it clean, then it gets those same worms again ad infinitum

kp aquatics has real live sand aware, I just dont ever see that being used, we use bagged stuff

I personally love the problems that sandbeds bring to reefing. I enjoy doing the deep cleans for the owners when they are so fed up with sandbed problems they're willing to do anything shy of shutting down the aquarium. we are out to 38 pages of straight work now in the sand rinse thread, there is a marked/pronounced/serious need for sandbed work because the esoteric arrangements promoted to make them work don't work for the masses.


the life in a sandbed is like an ant farm, its neat to watch, but if you don't have it, no harm.

All bare bottom owners know the sandbed fauna are just more bioloading but they're neat diversity too. running the tank with less organic waste sinking is producing better results for thousands of reefers long term

We used to be told those sandbed animals reduce waste, make the tank self-process its fish waste, and create a total balance where you can run the reef hands off from the start- they don't. That's why we all started reefing thinking dsb's were the right way and 75% have changed course fully, because the masses need a way to deal with the waste they trap.

jc is coming for this post in 3..2...
 
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Vette67

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those come back from the rocks. infinitely. nobody is adding real live sand...they add sand, maybe wet sand, but no animals they come from the rocks or the frags we add over time that serve as vectors. cleaning the sand leaves it clean, then it gets those same worms again ad infinitum

kp aquatics has real live sand aware, I just dont ever see that being used, we use bagged stuff

I personally love the problems that sandbeds bring to reefing. I enjoy doing the deep cleans for the owners when they are so fed up with sandbed problems they're willing to do anything shy of shutting down the aquarium. we are out to 38 pages of straight work now, there is a marked/pronounced/serious need for sandbed work


the life in a sandbed is like an ant farm, its neat to watch, but if you don't have it, no harm.

All bare bottom owners know the sandbed fauna are just more bioloading but they're neat diversity too.

We used to be told those sandbed animals reduce waste, make the tank self-process its fish waste, and create a total balance, they don't. That's why we all started reefing thinking dsb's were the right way and 75% have changed course fully.
That is a picture of my pseudo DSB in my fuge. That is the standard grain sized substrate. That was rip-cleaned back in May. So to your point, you are correct. Those worms came back to the gravel even after that sand was cleaned with fresh water. But the problem in my main display is that I have the oolitic sugar sand. There wouldn't really be an effective way for me to vacuum it without picking up 99% of the sand with it. But in my main DT, I only have 1/2" to a maximum of 1" deep sand. I keep it pretty shallow so that it theoretically can't build up too much. At least that's what I tell myself. I try to keep nassarius and other snails that are sand burrowing to keep my DT sandbed turned over.
 

Karen00

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Been keeping reefs for over 20 years and I didn't know cleaning the sand was a thing. I wouldn't want to clean it anyway, because I might vacuum out some of the cool critters that live in the sand bed. All of the pods / worms / and other fauna that make their home in my sand bed should be left where they are. Who would want to hurt this guy?
IMG_6595[1].JPG
If some of these guys do get inadvertantly sucked while siphoning the sand bed do you think the used water could be poured into a nylon stocking or filter sock to collect these guys to add back to the tank? I'm a noob and I'm working through the next phase of my research which is maintenance. To clean or not to clean the sand bed is in my reading list. Coming from freshwater with a sand bed I do siphon it but I'm not necessarily keeping sand bed creatures like folks do in saltwater.
 
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Karen00

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How does mother nature take care of this? Is there some magical creature we don't know about in the final stage of detritus consumption that consumes but puts out no waste (I think this would be the proverbial unicorn) or do you think it eventually settles to the very bottom over the millenia and simply becomes a new layer of the earth under the sand (which of course we don't have the luxury of waiting for in our aquariums? Or maybe it just stays where it lands (eventually becoming buried) and if a big siphon came along and disturbed it there would be one huge cloud of nasty stuff in the ocean's water column.
 

Vette67

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If some of these guys do get inadvertantly sucked while siphoning the sand bed do you think the used water could be poured into a nylon stocking or filter sock to collect these guys to add back to the tank? I'm a noob and I'm working through the next phase of my research which is maintenance. To clean or not to clean the sand bed is in my reading list. Coming from freshwater with a sand bed I do siphon it but I'm not necessarily keeping sand bed creatures like folks do in saltwater.
There are definitely 2 schools of thought on this. In my opinion, if you have a shallower sand bed, like I do, then it is less necessary to keep it vacuumed. The deeper the sand bed gets, the more likely it is to build up with detritus and go anoxic, and cause problems with things like hydrogen sulfide and other nasty gasses. @brandon429 is definitely of the school of keeping a clean sand bed, and has the data to support his theory. If you intend to vacuum your sand bed, be sure to use the medium grain substrate. In my case, in my display tank, I have the oolitic sugar sand, which is virtually impossible to vacuum without grabbing the sand itself in the siphon. But I would argue that also makes it difficult for detritus to get into the lower layers of it as well. My data is only my own experience and theory, for what that's worth (which may not be much). But I will agree with @brandon429 that deeper sand beds do require routine maintenance. In my refugium (which has about a 2 to 3 inch deep sand bed), the sand was starting to get almost black in color, and smelled like rotten eggs. Years and years of detritus buildup clogged the sand to the point where oxygen could no longer penetrate the lower layers, and I had to essentially rip clean it. You can see in that picture how clean the sand looks, because it was recently rip-cleaned.

So that's my thought. Shallow sand beds (like 1/2" or so) don't need maintenance, but if you go much deeper than that, plan on cleaning it at least at some point. I don't personally clean my sand unless I have some indication (like that blackening color) to let me know that it needs to be cleaned.
 

Karen00

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There are definitely 2 schools of thought on this. In my opinion, if you have a shallower sand bed, like I do, then it is less necessary to keep it vacuumed. The deeper the sand bed gets, the more likely it is to build up with detritus and go anoxic, and cause problems with things like hydrogen sulfide and other nasty gasses. @brandon429 is definitely of the school of keeping a clean sand bed, and has the data to support his theory. If you intend to vacuum your sand bed, be sure to use the medium grain substrate. In my case, in my display tank, I have the oolitic sugar sand, which is virtually impossible to vacuum without grabbing the sand itself in the siphon. But I would argue that also makes it difficult for detritus to get into the lower layers of it as well. My data is only my own experience and theory, for what that's worth (which may not be much). But I will agree with @brandon429 that deeper sand beds do require routine maintenance. In my refugium (which has about a 2 to 3 inch deep sand bed), the sand was starting to get almost black in color, and smelled like rotten eggs. Years and years of detritus buildup clogged the sand to the point where oxygen could no longer penetrate the lower layers, and I had to essentially rip clean it. You can see in that picture how clean the sand looks, because it was recently rip-cleaned.

So that's my thought. Shallow sand beds (like 1/2" or so) don't need maintenance, but if you go much deeper than that, plan on cleaning it at least at some point. I don't personally clean my sand unless I have some indication (like that blackening color) to let me know that it needs to be cleaned.
Excellent. Thanks for this!! I also know about fine sand being a problem. When I switched from gravel to sand I ended up buying some stuff that was so fine that most of it was sucked up by the siphon when I did my weekly clean. Also there were always sand clouds being kicked up by my gobies. I ended up changing it to a heavier/larger grain and have had no issues since and cleaning it is a breeze. It was awful trying to get the old stuff out. It was the stuff of nightmares and was about a 5 hour job doing the change on a 15g tank!! I still get shivers thinking about it!! Haha.
 

SMSREEF

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1. Do you think a "sand pump" is an idea that has any merit and what input do you have on this idea?

2. What ways are you using DEDICATED FLOW now to keep your sand bed clean without blowing it all around your tank?
#1 I dont think so. I like my conch and sand star.
#2 I dont really have "dedicated flow, but i do consider the position of my wavemakers to add as much flow as I can to my sanbed without blowing it all over the place. I did have to change my sand out to a coarser grade (caribsea special grade) so it doesn't blow around as much.

nobody is adding real live sand...
I ended up adding a few cups of real live sand (from the keys) and some live rock after having too many issues with dead sand and dead rocks in my new tank.
the life in a sandbed is like an ant farm, its neat to watch, but if you don't have it, no harm.
Agree. Awesome to watch, and I think my tank looks better with the sandbed. I run a bare bottom nano tank as well.
 
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