Barebottom Reefers vs Sand Bed Reefers: Which one are you?

BRS

Are you a sand bottom or a bare bottom reefer?

  • Sand

    Votes: 694 81.0%
  • Barebottom

    Votes: 135 15.8%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 28 3.3%

  • Total voters
    857

Stain

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Explain please! Just interested.
I miss the look of a thin sand bed. I had 10lbs in a 20long, but started removing it as it was too thick for my taste. I recently moved and upgraded to a 40b, bare bottom. I love how I can control where the detritus settles, love that the snails can eat from it, love that I can crank my wave makers. If I didnt have a sump full of rocks I wouldnt of done it. It also promotes a different type of bacteria growth than a sand bed does. It just fits my style of reefing more than a sand bed did.
 

flyfisher2

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Bare Bottom for me. I do like the initial look of the sand and the fact that it makes it possible to keep certain species which I have to bypass presently.
But in all honesty the stability and convenience stop me from going back.
This tank was set up in September of 2020 with tiny frags.
Torn down completely to replace stand in May of this year and all things taken into account I’m more than satisfied with its progress.
It works for me.
I read what others have said about recreating a “natural” piece of the ocean. That may be true but for me, succeeding long term is priority.
My success relies largely on stability and I find that easier to achieve BB.
And just to be clear, my SCA 150 is sitting with rock and water and I’m still on the fence with which way to go because we want wrasses, gobies, and the like.
5930FBCC-B92A-4111-88DF-473E56064360.jpeg
 

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Fourstars

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14EAFB7F-A062-4537-8FBA-BDBA5CF8D0B6.jpeg

Bare Bottom for me. I do like the initial look of the sand and the fact that it makes it possible to keep certain species which I have to bypass presently.
But in all honesty the stability and convenience stop me from going back.
This tank was set up in September of 2020 with tiny frags.
Torn down completely to replace stand in May of this year and all things taken into account I’m more than satisfied with its progress.
It works for me.
I read what others have said about recreating a “natural” piece of the ocean. That may be true but for me, succeeding long term is priority.
My success relies largely on stability and I find that easier to achieve BB.
And just to be clear, my SCA 150 is sitting with rock and water and I’m still on the fence with which way to go because we want wrasses, gobies, and the like.
5930FBCC-B92A-4111-88DF-473E56064360.jpeg

Tank is looking insane! We set up our SCA 150’s about the same time, I remember your build. I think you’ll regret putting sand in that tank at this point, remember there is no sand on the reef crest. I’m in the process of cooking rubble in my fuge and once it’s covered with coralline I’m moving it to the DT, like the look so far.
 

warrasell

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I miss the look of a thin sand bed. I had 10lbs in a 20long, but started removing it as it was too thick for my taste. I recently moved and upgraded to a 40b, bare bottom. I love how I can control where the detritus settles, love that the snails can eat from it, love that I can crank my wave makers. If I didnt have a sump full of rocks I wouldnt of done it. It also promotes a different type of bacteria growth than a sand bed does. It just fits my style of reefing more than a sand bed did.
Cool thanks!
 

Subsea

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I have read quite a few conflicting oberservations on this thread. If your desire is SPS, you may lean toward bare bottom. I see no scientific evidence that BB is more stable. I do see people’s live styles reflected in their reefkeeping methods.

After 50 years of Reefkeeping, I operate high nutrient mixed garden lagoons. I prefer other filter feeders besides coral. Clams, scallops and sea apples are my favorites. Using reverse flow undergravel filter converts inorganic nutrients in water to live food for hungry mouths. When I hear sandbed requires much maintenanc, I suggest use biodiversity wisely with your sandbed detrivores. I am a Laissez faire reefkeeper. I use microbes & biochemistry to maintain mature reef tanks > 25 years young.
 

MamaP

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I have sand. I think it's more natural, like the sand on the bottom of the ocean, I like the look of it better, and I like the biodiversity with sand and the creatures that inhabit it. I also really enjoy watching my sand sifters cleaning it up and munching on it all day!
 

210 Reef Tank

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I really like the way the sand bed looks not to mention all the benifits of having one. Cleaning the sand periodically is a challenge but I would rather have it then not. I have 2 sand sifting starfish that are so cool also. They just go about their business everyday.
 

Jason Arego

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Wife and I run one of each, Just depends on fit or function, what do you want it to look like? At best it saves a little time with cleaning, if you even clean it.. if you have enough of whatever you're using for biological processes sand, rock, plates, etc.. then in our experience there is no leg up for one or the other.
 

UK softy bloke

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Today let's talk about the substrate or the non-substrate of your reef tank! Some reefers like the look of a sand bed and others like the maintenance of a barebottom reef. What about you? Let's talk about it today.

1. Are you a sand bottom or a bare bottom reefer?

2. Why do you choose one over the other?


image via @dr.dator
_MG_9740.jpg
I think if you have a reef with just 2 or 3 bommies then you have to have sand. If like me you have a low spread out scape then there is hardly any room for sand. When the bottom glass is covered in coraline algae it looks great.
 

Nemo&Friends

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I prefer sand much prettier and natural look. Tried bare Bottom for a very short time. Did not like the look and found it less forgiving that sand when debris are present. Everything show, in sand it is not so obvious. Plus I wanted to have snails who like sand and i want micro algae and being able to plant them.
 

Creggers

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I have sand in my 75 and will always have sand in traditional rectangle tanks.

I do however plan on eventually upgrading my 75 and making it purely LPS/Softies (with sand) and having a 60 cube with SPS only running BB with a sandy fuge.

#goals
 

A Young reefer

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Not that I’m aware of, however I’ll be honest to the point that this is the first time adding sand to an established tank for me. I’m thinking It may result in a brief algae bloom as any silicates in the sand burn off
oh I see would be glad to hear some updates after you do so , since I am considering doing the same .
 

FishTruck

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Bare bottom for me this time. Each time I make a bigger tank, I add the challenge of making it also easier to care for. Not having to maintain a sand bed is nice - and the extra options for high flow are also working in my favor. The 10 year old sand bed in my old tank turned into concrete and made it tough to make changes in the aqua scape - which led to some issues. Also, worrying about scratching panels while scraping glass is something I don't fret about now.

Overall, I am having much better luck with acropora BB versus SB, but, this could be due to many factors.

The downside is that the water is less clear comparted to a sand sand bed, with particles always flying around when the pumps really kick in. Also, I do miss the little sand caves that would get dug out by sand dwelling creatures. A bright white well maintained sand bed is a gorgeous feature that I miss. But... an dirty sandbed that needs a major overhaul is something I don't miss at all!
 

tc760

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I recently (18months) switch to BB with my new 180G build. It seems that it has taken a lot longer to stabilize and be less prone to swings. I have lost some corals and don't know why. That being said when I started my 100G 8 years ago with sand and tried adding corals in the first 18 months I had mixed results as well. By year 6 I was hardly doing water changes and everything grew out of control. I love how clean I can keep my BB. I love that I can grow encrusting corals and zoa's on the floor. I do have a white starboard bottom so it does have different look than just glass. It's awesome to grow out Zoas and easily scrape off frags. No more chipping at rocks. I can now control how far my Zoas spread. The flow creates little piles of detritus that can easily be sucked out. I do miss some of the sand sifters but don't miss having to constantly move the sand around cause the pumps blow it up against the glass or rocks.

As for the natural look. That's such a personal perspective. Diving since 1999 I can say that I have seen some amazing coral gardens and yes there is sand. In all the places that don't have coral or under the rocks. But the most beautiful coral reefs I have dove on are all sitting on top of huge rock work with minimal sand around. If we really wanted a natural look we would put rock all over the bottom of the tank and have little patches of sand.

At this point, I can say that I have some mixed opinions on both styles. For me, I will continue with BB. It seems slower to mature but in the recent months I have really seen the stability increase and the corals are starting to respond. With this tank, I have automated so much that I honestly think I have lost touch with my tank's pulse. I have also transitioned to SPS dominated from a mostly LPS/softy tank. I have to believe I am the weak link at this point, not the tank. I'll bet at the 6-year mark I will probably be in the same place I was with the 6-year-old tank with sand.
 

reefsaver

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I love biodiversity. My favorite substrate would be a layer of Oolitic aragonite, followed by a layer of some finer sand, and follow that up with crushed coral/shell aragonite added to that. Seed it with bacteria and live rock and wait it out a while for the organisms to accumulate to assist in the aeration of the substrate as well as not dumping waste into the substrate breaking down and forming pockets of ammonia and gas. You could just use crushed coral to speed it all up and not worry about the gas but I think the 2 extra layers adds more real-estate for the life in a reef you don't necessarily see but do have important jobs.
 

jtonephilthy

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I have a bare bottom display but I did leave a big section open in my sump filled with about 15/20 lbs of course aragonite sand for some softies or possibly a full blown frag section. So I’m sorta in the middle I guess. I love sand for its filtration and bacteria colonization qualities. I think it def serves a purpose in a reefs eco system. To each their own though I think they both look pretty awesome
 
BRS

ARE YOU PROUD OR EMBARRASSED OF YOUR REEF TANK?

  • Proud

    Votes: 222 58.0%
  • Embarrassed

    Votes: 49 12.8%
  • Neither proud or embarrassed

    Votes: 95 24.8%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 17 4.4%
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