Deep Sand Beds still a thing?

shred5

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Jun 7, 2007
Messages
5,104
Reaction score
3,066
Location
Waukesha, Wi
There are still a LOT of people who know what they are doing, but they just do not post except to occasionally sell their corals and maybe on a super-specific issue like disease or something. If you ever get invited to a private forum, FB group, or the like, then do it... these are teeming with experts helping experts and you can learn so much (as well as have access to all of the best frags).

In any case, if if anybody is considering sand in a build, feel free to PM or link me and I will help if you want it. I think that it is a tremendous idea if you will just do maintenance in three or four years and if you have patience to wait through a few ugly months. You will receive more than you give with a sand bed.

There is a link in my signature to a tank that I started in May. It has the three legs to a strong table (sand, rock and light). It does have easy corals since they grow fast and I only have a year, but I document the ugly phases and they are over now and the tank is starting to get crystal clear and beautiful. There are photos of more difficult corals in my flickr album.
Yea I had invites to a private forum a while back but did not take it. It was a SPS forum I think mainly. I wish I would have just to have another outlet. I miss fishnet with allot of the more experienced people back in the day. Man those debates were huge.

I am not a fan of the word expert for myself. I like to think more of advanced and experienced reefer. 30 + years reefing and still learning.
 

JoshH

Tank Status: Drier than Fins... .... but clean!
View Badges
Joined
Dec 3, 2016
Messages
5,955
Reaction score
15,139
Location
Calgary, Alberta
There are still a LOT of people who know what they are doing, but they just do not post except to occasionally sell their corals and maybe on a super-specific issue like disease or something. If you ever get invited to a private forum, FB group, or the like, then do it... these are teeming with experts helping experts and you can learn so much (as well as have access to all of the best frags).

In any case, if if anybody is considering sand in a build, feel free to PM or link me and I will help if you want it. I think that it is a tremendous idea if you will just do maintenance in three or four years and if you have patience to wait through a few ugly months. You will receive more than you give with a sand bed.

There is a link in my signature to a tank that I started in May. It has the three legs to a strong table (sand, rock and light). It does have easy corals since they grow fast and I only have a year, but I document the ugly phases and they are over now and the tank is starting to get crystal clear and beautiful. There are photos of more difficult corals in my flickr album.
DR Ron a old friend.
Picture of us maybe 18 years ago doing a tank tour in Min.
He could really drink beer.
I guess his wife's health is not good and I do not think his is anymore either.
I hear very little from him.
1573747712202.png
Well, for me atleast I can say I greatly appreciate the information the both of you have shared on the subject. It's great to have members that can share there actual experiences and knowledge on a topic like this. With my new build I am looking into methods that some would say are "Dated" but I like there overall simplicity and proven results.
 

Feet4Fish

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Jan 9, 2015
Messages
1,176
Reaction score
1,117
Location
Lynn, Indiana
I wouldn’t have the success I do know if it wasn’t for books by Sprung, Fenner, Mo and Goemans!
That is really sad because it is our experience that still helps others. I hear what you are saying and I just avoid certain threads now a days. I post allot less too over the years. Seems allot of the experienced people have stepped away from the forums and most post are from people that have joined R2R in the last two years or so. Seems allot have moved over from Social media.

I worry about the hobby. I think the fact there are no new books by people like Julian Sprung is hurting the hobby by not dispelling certain things in the hobby or providing guide lines for people to follow..

Fact is people believe the people on YouTube and some are really bad. Just because you make a video does not mean you know what you are doing. Some are a complete joke.

I think people need to realise is BRS does videos to move product. They are a retailer and distributor and are in business to make money.
I do not get how they can say everyone else ideas are anecdotal all the time. None of their test are long term and that should be everyone's goal for a long term reef. How can run a method a few months and then change to a different one and tell how it worked. Their videos are also their opinion...

Do not get me wrong there is allot of good info in BRS videos but people need to realise they are trying to sell you something. None are lab controlled or even scientific. BRS marketing is really good at getting people to believe stuff with out a doubt. The best marketing in the biz.


I was in a thread a few weeks ago trying to explain cyano.. And of coarse someone wants them to dump a chemical in their tank. Guess what he does? Any how this person believes the person that said He used this product three times to rid cyano.. Really if you learned how to get rid of it naturally you would not have it come back 3 times. It is becoming really sad. No wonder the average person does not last a few years anymore.


It is sad to me that allot of the people that have been in the hobby a long time are leaving the forums because they are tired of it all.. You try and teach someone how to take care of a problem naturally so they learn something and it does not come back. There are still some pretty experienced people on the forums with allot of knowledge especially on the fish side of the hobby. Just sad to see so many leaving or posting less.

I think the biggest competition to the forums like this is going to be private forums.
 

shred5

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Jun 7, 2007
Messages
5,104
Reaction score
3,066
Location
Waukesha, Wi
Well, for me atleast I can say I greatly appreciate the information the both of you have shared on the subject. It's great to have members that can share there actual experiences and knowledge on a topic like this. With my new build I am looking into methods that some would say are "Dated" but I like there overall simplicity and proven results.
There are allot of people that do or we would not be posting anymore and I am not always right or my methods are not the only way.

There are allot of good people on the forums and ones who want to learn..
 

eschaton

Member
View Badges
Joined
Oct 27, 2019
Messages
90
Reaction score
86
As I've mentioned in other threads, fundamentally there's just a lot less money involved in a "natural reef aquarium" type system, because after setup with live rock and sand it more or less supports itself with minimal intervention. In contrast, there is big money to be made with things like reef supplements and testing, which means there is a financial interest for both companies and third-party tubers being sponsored to push relatively tech/chemical heavy methods of reef tank management.
 
Best reef aquarium LED lighting

BZOFIQ

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 31, 2014
Messages
1,348
Reaction score
1,045
Location
NYC
As I've mentioned in other threads, fundamentally there's just a lot less money involved in a "natural reef aquarium" type system, because after setup with live rock and sand it more or less supports itself with minimal intervention. In contrast, there is big money to be made with things like reef supplements and testing, which means there is a financial interest for both companies and third-party tubers being sponsored to push relatively tech/chemical heavy methods of reef tank management.
NAILED IT!
 

BZOFIQ

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 31, 2014
Messages
1,348
Reaction score
1,045
Location
NYC
I only have one question for the well-informed.

I've used a DSB in the past with aragonite sand (oolitic type if memory serves well); hobbyists across the pond advise against it and say to use silica sand. Any thoughts on that specifically?
 

shred5

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Jun 7, 2007
Messages
5,104
Reaction score
3,066
Location
Waukesha, Wi
I only have one question for the well-informed.

I've used a DSB in the past with aragonite sand (oolitic type if memory serves well); hobbyists across the pond advise against it and say to use silica sand. Any thoughts on that specifically?

I have never heard this and do not know why you would want silica sand in a reef?
To me you would be loosing the benefits of the calcium carbonate.

Any info on this? I would be interested on reading this.
 

jda

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Jun 25, 2013
Messages
6,532
Reaction score
7,943
Location
Boulder, CO
I can take a shot at silica, although it would just be based on supposition... First, it is cheaper and more available. It does denitrify seemingly just as well, or well enough. Most people do not understand that aragonite will buffer and that the aragonite-phosphate binding is one of the most important one in our tanks. The silica is also rumored to be very hard to reef animals and it acts like a bunch of tiny razor blades like diatomaceous earth in our lungs. Since it does denitrify, this is the "easy" part to understand so it "works." Some think that silica sand will release silica into the tank, but this appears to be another one of those message board urban legends since it does not.
 

kalare

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Aug 15, 2016
Messages
179
Reaction score
144
I recently got a tiger conch for it, he's pretty slow paced though. I've also been looking at brittle/serpent stars. How did you get bristle worms? I've been looking and it feels like they only exist on the internet... No one has them or offers them.
Other poster says only live rock, and while that's the place all of my bristle worms have come from, and I would never pay for a bristle worm, if you start with dead rock and are anal about not letting anything into the tank, your fauna variety will suffer for sure. For those types of people, you can acquire all sorts of goodies from indo pacific sea farms, including bristle worms of the good variety. I'm positive 99.8% of users on this forum have never heard of them, but for us old timers reefing over 20 years, I'm sure the name will be familiar.

 

fish farmer

Well-Known Member
View Badges
Joined
Nov 13, 2017
Messages
867
Reaction score
1,294
Location
Brandon, VT
Even Dr. Ron and the like changed as the years went by. I will agree that past writings are kind of a moving target, but in the end, most of what they say is right if they hobbyist digs in a bit and figures out the rest and how it applies to them. Wet Web Media also changed over the years and is still very helpful if you can get over the format.

I will always run an aragonite sandbed preferably of mixed grain sizes... sugar is too small for me and the carib sea stuff is a bit too big, so I mix them if I can. I love the stability and that the sand will keep my N very low, but detectable, will buffer P at NSW levels where it is nearly impossible to raise or lower it without massive amount of media. Plus, I like the fauna that they house and create.

The stability, as mentioned before, is amazing.

For care, I just vacuum some of it every 3/4 years and don't do more than 20% of the visible/accessible region at once. ...so in year three or four, do 20% every three months until you get the whole exposed area. The conchs and cucumbers do really like to move into the vacuumed regions after a few days, so that tells me that there is something there for them to live off of. I like to do this to get the inert stuff out of the sand that seem to legitimately "gum up the works." This is where I think that Dr. Ron's first publications are lacking - even though a sand bed is not a nutrient sink, they can get full of sludge and mud that while doing nothing can also impede progress. Other than this inert "gunk" removal, the worms, conchs, cucumbers, etc. do a wonderful job for years and years.

I also like my sand bed to tell me when I am approaching too much flow. Fresh sand beds can move around with a fish fart, but once they get some bacteria on them and start to get established, they will not move with quite a bit of flow. If I am moving around sand, then I have too much flow for my tastes. Remember, that I believe that once you have competent flow, that more does not do anything for the tank.
A lot of what you posted makes sense to me.

I just read Dr. Ron's article posted, which was posted in 2008 and pretty much was the same I heard in 2000 when I was intrigued by the simplicity of DSB's and the natural technique. I feel somewhat jaded on the simplicity of the approach discussed back when I was playing with sand. I felt it was "set it and forget it", recharge a clean up crew periodically and that's it.

I have noticed when old sand bedders discuss there beds that many of the tanks also employ skimmers and some form of algal filtration. There is also occasional siphoning of the surface layers.



As brandon429 was suggesting it would be nice to have a updated "How to sandbed in 2020?"

What are the limitations? Minimum tank size. Size of bed related to total water volume.

Does diversity really matter or a few snails and cukes good enough?

How much hands off vs hands on maintenance?

How long will a new bed take to mature and function?
 

jda

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Jun 25, 2013
Messages
6,532
Reaction score
7,943
Location
Boulder, CO
Here is my take on the 2020 version.
  • No minimum tank size
  • 3 inches, or more, depending on taste/preference
  • Aragonite
  • Mixed grain size, but still small enough for sand sifters to utilize (not sure ATM what the ideal size is)
  • Leave it alone
  • Flow just up to the point where the sand moves in an established tank - early on sand will move more freely but it settles down once it gets bacteria and stuff on it.
  • No organic carbon or GFO at least for many years - you want the no3 to build up so that the anoxic bacteria in the sand has food to grow and establish
  • When you start to see lots of worms (all kinds), pods and other micro fauna, then get some sifters and cleaners - I prefer Caribbean conchs and cucumbers. This might be near the one-year mark.
  • Water changes and skim heavy. Feed normally. Heavy import and export of food.
  • At first, the P will be VERY low because the sand will absorb most of it. Once the sand starts to absorb some and the water level starts to rise to where you want it, then get a fuge online. For me, this is 1 or 2 parts per billion, but YMMV.
  • In years 3 or 4, clean just a tiny bit with 2-3 months between so that the cleaned areas have time to re-establish as oxic or anoxic. I siphon to the bottom so the zones definitely get disturbed.
  • Add sand if some dissolves or gets sucked up in cleaning
  • Most importantly, send me frags of your nice stuff as thanks for the help
  • Feel free to add on
Seriously, if you want to do this, then go all-in on a natural method and resist the urge to buy a whole bunch of reactors and chemicals. All that you should need is to change some water on a regular schedule and run some 2 part or get a CaRx.

Recommended, but harder: use real live rock if you can. I don't care what anybody says, all dry rock has bound terrestrial phosphate and while you can mitigate some, there is still some in there. This will require more fuge or export mechanism later. If Indo ever comes back online, then this is best rock, IMO... more porous and better at nitrification and housing microfauna. For me, man-made rock is the worst and is dense and hard like concrete.
 

jda

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Jun 25, 2013
Messages
6,532
Reaction score
7,943
Location
Boulder, CO
^ this should pretty much be what Dr. Ron said with the exception of the cleaning after a few years. It has been a while since I have read his book(s), so I am working off of memory.

Don't forget to export your P and NEVER FORGET that the sand can do this job of a slacker for a while, but it will come back to get you in the end, so be smart up front, have a plan and don't get behind.
 

fish farmer

Well-Known Member
View Badges
Joined
Nov 13, 2017
Messages
867
Reaction score
1,294
Location
Brandon, VT
Don't forget to export your P and NEVER FORGET that the sand can do this job of a slacker for a while, but it will come back to get you in the end, so be smart up front, have a plan and don't get behind.
...and there's my problem right there....I went and looked at my records of my first reef from 2000 to 2002, granted the test kits were probably wrong but never got any PO4 readings until year 2. I still have some of that PO4 laden rock 19 years later...

Thanks for the input, most informative.
 
Best reef aquarium LED lighting

saf1

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Jan 15, 2018
Messages
4,278
Reaction score
6,344
For those types of people, you can acquire all sorts of goodies from indo pacific sea farms, including bristle worms of the good variety. I'm positive 99.8% of users on this forum have never heard of them, but for us old timers reefing over 20 years, I'm sure the name will be familiar.
Mr. Heslinga is a stud.

Alas you are right though - a lot of people do not know about IPSF but they have been in business for a very long time and Mr. Heslinga has some incredible publications to his name and what he has done.

Back in 2000 when I needed a clean up crew I was directed to him. Bit later I was looking for some food. They had a really solid reef food not to mention their tang heaven algae packs. Great stuff that my Kole and Yellow tang at the time went bonkers over. Totally fish story on my side but the yellow tang's eyes got the size of silver dollars when I threw some in the display the first time.

Getting ready to place an order from them this week as we speak. I wanted to get some coral food and a few other things.
 

squareriggersailor

Well-Known Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 16, 2015
Messages
858
Reaction score
802
Location
Madison
I don't know why, I thought IPSF closed it's doors a while back. I will have to peruse their site and perhaps place an order, although receiving shipments of marine life this time of year in WI is always risky.

As far as using calcite rather than aragonite, it appears that calcite is also calcium carbonate, just with a different crystalline structure, and a little more magnesium. It also binds phosphate.
 

jda

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Jun 25, 2013
Messages
6,532
Reaction score
7,943
Location
Boulder, CO
I have no information about this, but I would worry about calcite for the sandbed critters who sift and digest it just as I worry about aragonite that is crushed up instead of naturally formed. Jagged edges, if even microscopic, are a problem for them. If not using any sandbed critters, then it would probably the same.
 
Top Shelf Aquatics

Where do you go in case of a real reef tank emergency?

  • Me, myself and I

    Votes: 230 43.6%
  • Local Friend

    Votes: 48 9.1%
  • Reef2Reef

    Votes: 202 38.3%
  • Other

    Votes: 47 8.9%

Online statistics

Members online
738
Guests online
3,279
Total visitors
4,017
Your Reef
Top