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

BRS

Are you a sand bottom or a bare bottom reefer?

  • Sand

    Votes: 738 80.0%
  • Barebottom

    Votes: 149 16.2%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 35 3.8%

  • Total voters
    922

Andrew D

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I voted other because I have crushed coral in my 350G display, a remote DSB and BB in my frag tank. I love the look of crushed coral but admittedly after 10 years and little free space on my substrate it's a little difficult to maintain.
 

Paleozoic_reefer

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Started with sand in my first tank, but found the maintenance a problem. I do miss the fauna that occurs in a sand bed and the critters that need sand but I guess I've found ways around that for the ones I really want. A stable pH is also a benefit of a sand bed, but I have a deep sand bed in my refugium so that has helped quit a bit. I also worry about potential rock falls and not having that cushion if they hit the floor of the tank, but I have enough rubble to hopefully be there if that ever happens. But despite those negatives I still think for me the pros out weigh the cons. I really love that I can have my power heads full blast with little consequences especially when I need to get rid of accumulated detritus. I really think random and strong (almost-blowing-away strong) flow is a key ingredient to a successful tank. Besides at this point I couldn't even see a sandbed in my tank if I had one!
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nicksreefs

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lucky enough to Have both set ups (2 x pico- 140l & 160l).

Just settled them both in (6 months old the pair of them)

160 has LR & sand (deep tank). 140 has LR only (shallow lagoon style)

finished stocking fish & CUC 3 weeks ago.

Starting to add corals in now (debatable approach but I’m happy with it)

Both have hardier corals in to start so I can gauge how the tank will react before bringing the big guns in (Zoas, elegance, daisy polyp & plating monti)

am also “stress testing” both tanks now ie deliberately delaying routine maintenance (with seriously regular testing!!!) until i

Very little difference in “performance” maintenance is about the same in both but focused on different areas…

BB = less glass work but more hoovering of the bottom

SB = more glass work but no hoovering of the sand bed

so far I’d say it’s basically aesthetics but let’s see when the more sensitive corals hit the reef!
 

Jase4224

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First off it kind of annoys me that so many people state that sand in ‘more natural’. This depends on what you are actually trying to replicate in your aquarium and I see only a tiny percentage of reefers with tanks that look like a scene from the ocean. Which is understandable as we like a range of animals in our tanks. I’ve snorkelled on the GBR and Ningaloo and yes there is lots of sand but many large areas/massive coral bommies without sand. In fact if you are looking at a lot of corals you’re probably not seeing sand.

Also for me whether I have sand or not depends on the livestock I want to keep. I set my tank up with the Harlequin Tuskfish as my dream fish and I also put a shallow sand bed. Now my sand bed looks like crap because my Tuskfish will eat any animals that would keep it clean. My rocks and back wall are super clean though. I’m definitely considering sucking out all my sand.

If I specifically wanted to keep sand dwelling/cleaning animals than I would love sand but if not than BB makes more sense.

So it depends on whether or not it makes sense, as opposed to being for looks.
 

JaimeAdams

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I like coral. Coral does not grow on sand. Some may be able to grow over top of sand, but nothing grows on sand. If you go diving on the reefs you swim over open areas of sand to get to the actual coral reef where all the coral are growing on dead skeletons/rock. They aren't just out there growing on the sand flats.

You can get a lot more water flow in a tank without the issue of sand blowing into corners.

Coral will grow across the bottom or on tiles in essence giving you more space to grow coral.

I can understand having sand when there are sand dwelling fish on your must have list, but other than that bare bottom all the way.
 

Jase4224

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I like coral. Coral does not grow on sand. Some may be able to grow over top of sand, but nothing grows on sand. If you go diving on the reefs you swim over open areas of sand to get to the actual coral reef where all the coral are growing on dead skeletons/rock. They aren't just out there growing on the sand flats.

You can get a lot more water flow in a tank without the issue of sand blowing into corners.

Coral will grow across the bottom or on tiles in essence giving you more space to grow coral.

I can understand having sand when there are sand dwelling fish on your must have list, but other than that bare bottom all the way.
Your first paragraph sums it up perfect
 

Waynerock

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Life is better with a bare bottom. I could never keep sand clean and my OCD about killed me. Every day cleaning sand. The goal is to have corals covering the bottom. Maybe someday. Highly recommend IF and I mean IF you got ocean sourced live rock or very established LR when starting or else it’s gonna be 9 months of unstable hell. And don’t decide a year later you want a BB and take out your sand. My self and others have had bad issues that way.
 

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Reefahholic

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I always liked the look of sand. A friend of mine talked me into going BB one day when my sand was not looking as white as usual.

To my surprise…it was actually pretty cool. So much easier to maintain. I stayed BB for about a year until I shut down that tank after I caught Covid July 2020.

I’m most likely going BB in the new tank. I did put some white Starboard on the bottom, so I think it will give me the feel of sand for a while until it’s covered in coralline algae.

One helpful tip of you plan to do Starboard. It’s much easier laying it flush with the bottom glass then trying to run it all the way to the edge of the glass. In other word’s…stop just at the edge of the inside silicone seam. I’m about 1” or so from every glass panel. I also flame polished the Starboard and it sticks/silicones very well.

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Reefahholic

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Started with sand in my first set, but found the maintenance a problem. I do miss the fauna that occurs in a sand bed and the critters that need sand but I guess I've found ways around that for the ones I really want. A stable pH is also a benefit of a sand bed, but I have a deep sand bed in my refugium so That has helped quit a bit. I also worry about potential rock falls and not having that cushion if they hit the floor of the tank, but i have enough rubble to hopefully be there if that ever happens. But despite those negatives I still think for me the pros out weigh the cons. I really love that I can have my power heads full blast with little consequences especially when I need to get rid of accumulated detritus. I really think random and strong (almost-blowing-away strong) flow is a key ingredient to a successful tank. Besides at this point I could even see a sandbed in my tank if I had one!
97036E65-D012-4E46-B935-CD9C42717375.jpeg
That is one nice softie tank. Gezz!
 

Jase4224

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Life is better with a bare bottom. I could never keep sand clean and my OCD about killed me. Every day cleaning sand. The goal is to have corals covering the bottom. Maybe someday. Highly recommend IF and I mean IF you got ocean sourced live rock or very established LR when starting or else it’s gonna be 9 months of unstable hell. And don’t decide a year later you want a BB and take out your sand. My self and others have had bad issues that way.
I’m considering removing my sand bed. It’s only about 1” deep and I have plenty of actual live rock in my tank. I could move 1/3 of the sand down to the sump if that’s a better idea. The tank is around 3 years old.

Can you give me some info as to why you don’t recommend removing a sand bed? Cheers
 

JNalley

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Sand looks better, ads more beneficial biological filtration, is more natural than a bare bottom, gives home to all kinds of life; certain Starfish, certain species of gobie, etc. if you go with light colored sand it reflects some of the light into harder to reach places. The benefits of sand, as long as you take proper steps to maintain it, far outweigh the cons of sand
 

daileyo

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Watching the critters make tunnels and the snails hide or pop up for feeding time

I completely agree. I love it when a bunch of nassarius snails pop out at the same time during feading... has a bit of a rising-from-the-dead feel. I call them my zombie crew.
 

carbasaurus

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Totally team sand bed. No judgement here, I just like the critters that live in it plus I like having a place for conches and wrasses to bury . (Also paranoid that I might drop a rock some day and crack the bottom of the tank!
 

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