Detritus is it as bad as some make out?

Discussion in 'Reef Aquarium Discussion' started by atoll, Apr 10, 2017.

  1. atoll

    atoll Valuable Member

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    I have been running my 100 gallon for nearly a year now without filter wool. socks or other forms of mechanical filtration unless you call protein skimming mechanical filtration which is it to a point.
    I currently use Siporax, Oxydators and an ATS to deal with nutrients and all seems well. I also have a number of detrivores and a 1.5" of sand on my tank floor. Water quality is good with decent growth on all corals inc SPS and LPS.

    Quote from Eric Boreman
    "It is a paradox that in an attempt to "cleanse" the water column of particulate material using flosses and other mechanical traps, the result can be poorer quality water as well as one which is visibly less "clear.""

    Below is a link to an interesting article on Detritus by Ronald L Shimek on the subject.

    http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2002-03/rs/

    20170401_154645.jpg
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2017
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  2. Randy Holmes-Farley

    Randy Holmes-Farley Reef Chemist Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Article Contributor Expert Contributor

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    I let detritus accumulate in my sump to form a mud more than an inch thick.

    IMO, it is only a concern if you are trying to maintain a ULNS system, or otherwise have issues with elevated nutrients.
     
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  3. Oscar47f

    Oscar47f Well-Known Member

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    I think it depends on the system you run and i do think some is good but no a lot if that makes sense. For example if your running a zeovit system then your best interest is to siphon out and remove as much of the detritus as possible then add the nutrients in the form of foods and additives... while if you're not running the zeovit system then the particles benefit some of the tank inhabitants because you aren't feeding as heavily and or taking it out of the system.
     
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  4. atoll

    atoll Valuable Member

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    Thanks, Randy. So it begs the question then what forms of nutrient export do you use and are nutrients an issue for you in any way for you with so much detritus? I am assuming to get a 1" layer it must have taken a number fo years to get to that thickness.
     
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  5. Labridaedicted

    Labridaedicted Wrassetastic R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018 Partner Member 2019

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    Agree with above. If left alone, it will break down into nutrients and can cause issues if left unchecked in terms of algae or bad color in corals. Otherwise, can be food for corals. It's all a matter of your preferred system nutrient management. I personally try to keep it out of the system as much as possible to maximize color in sps.
     
  6. atoll

    atoll Valuable Member

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    When we say "it breaks down into nutrients" all food does that and IMO it's a matter of how much nutrients detritus breaks down to. I have a fair number of various critters as outlined by Randy above, along with them and my other nutrient export mentioned above I don't find detritus an issue at least not so far and if Randy has a 1" depth of it then I see no reason why I should have an issue.
    If anybody can point me to a proper scientific paper on just how much detritus adds nutrients to the water I would like to read it as I have done extensive Googling without much being revealed at all. I am not suggesting detritus does not break down but is it exaggerated especially when there are the likes of critters, bacteria and ATS filtration to deal with much of it.
     
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  7. Labridaedicted

    Labridaedicted Wrassetastic R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018 Partner Member 2019

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    It's tough to get actual blanket numbers. The detritus has various compositions depending on the system. It is a conglomerate of partially broken down fish poop, food, dead micro organisms, etc... it doesn't directly cause a problem but as anything breaks down, the elements it is composed of is released into the water. So these compounds and elements will depend on what makes up your detritus. Being organic nitrogen (in various forms) as well as carbon (again in various forms) are main constituents. It's all part of the decomposition process. It's not necessarily a problem in any system, but it can be in others like all things in this hobby.
     
  8. brandon429

    brandon429 why did you put a reef in that R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    detritus debates get tested when we set up nano reefs that don't handle detritus, and then check back in three years. we can set up a mini model of any reef here and assess its 20 year detritus issue in 3 by scaling the bioloading and cutting the volume as best we can match in scale...
    detritus matters relative to volume and offsets we use. I like ATS and think they are natural replications and they allow detritus to break down in the tank, provided we are harvesting algae in cycle to deal with the compounds generated in addition to fish bioloading/feeding etc. I think the need for ATS remarks upon bioloading and storage of waste, not that storage of waste has no measure for us

    others will use vodka or carbon dosing to handle bioloading both in accumulation and as live animal waste.

    Even Paul has to handle detritus in his system (RUGF/occasional takedown cleanings/occasional bed export work) or it wouldn't be 69 years old.


    If anyone here sets up a typical nano and doesn't touch the sandbed at all, ever, no ATS and has typical fish bioloading and detritus all in the DT, we get cyano doom by month 33 post histories show.

    I show not one able model running full detritus and getting old in the nano world, and large tankers are still dealing with detritus though not directly. keeping detritus in the main tank does work, its how all the 90's reefed. I think it emulates a more stagnant and plant dominated portion of the reef, though flow and other factors may not match from a given example.

    I think detrital floc is helpful coral food and very much a part of the marine food chain, but that has no bearing in how we get old nano reefs on file so that floc is kind of incidental it seems. perhaps retail feed is good enough

    the Biological oxygen demand of any biosystem is greatly increased by detritus, its a more useful substrate to bacteria than caco3 is as there are nutrients still left... its a great food source to millions of oxygen hungry bacteria and right when a power outage comes, a keeper doesn't want to have a bunch of detritus that's for sure. they'll want the non eutrophic approach.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2017
  9. atoll

    atoll Valuable Member

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    I never have an oxygen depletion issue ever as I use Oydators which ensure it's never an issue.
     
  10. Randy Holmes-Farley

    Randy Holmes-Farley Reef Chemist Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Article Contributor Expert Contributor

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    I used many at the same time. Macroalgae, organic carbon (vinegar) dosing, GFO, large rock filled refugia, GAC, skimming, and 1% daily water changes. :)
     
  11. atoll

    atoll Valuable Member

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    Sounds good to me. I use some of those things like GAC, an ATS, Live rock and skimmig. Works for me plus and I am thinking of using vinegar.
     
  12. iiluisii

    iiluisii Valuable Member MTRCMember

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    In reality you would think it's free food for corals. Why not put a power head on the sump and keep the detritus suspended at all time for corals to take advantage of. Or maybe turn it one ones every night to blow all the detritus through the return pump and feed corals at night??
     
  13. atoll

    atoll Valuable Member

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    All I need to do is stir my sand in my DT a little but not too much.
     
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  14. Labridaedicted

    Labridaedicted Wrassetastic R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018 Partner Member 2019

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    This is the idea. If it's suspended, it's free food and your mechanical filters and skimmer should remove the bulk of the leftover so it doesn't settle on the sand or In the sump.
     
  15. rosshamsandwich

    rosshamsandwich Well-Known Member

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    I am going for the Randy method. I like that idea. Is detritus skimmable?
     
  16. rosshamsandwich

    rosshamsandwich Well-Known Member

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    I am going for the Randy method. I like that idea. Is detritus skimmable?
     
  17. atoll

    atoll Valuable Member

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    Depending on where you have your skimmer positioned in the sump some detritus will be removed by it but much will still remain and settle in the sump depending on your sump layout, through speed. baffles, size and type of skimmer and other equipment you have. It is not possible to say how much detritus will be removed by a skimmer as far as I know but some will be removed by it.
     
  18. hart24601

    hart24601 Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    I would say this title really depends a great deal on the bioload of the system. It's hard to make blanket statements across all systems. I could have a 120g jam packed with coral with huge demand and just a couple small fish, or some people that have an extremely heavy bioload in the same system that has kilograms of fish and is fed correspondingly large amount daily.

    Is detritus as bad as some make it out to be? With a reasonable bioload and good flow it's not, but if one has a huge bioload and lack of flow it might be just as bad as some make it out to be.
     
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  19. atoll

    atoll Valuable Member

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    I have a heavy bioload, lots of fish and corals and feed heavily 4 times a day plus a heck of a lot of flow. I still get detritus in my sand and sump but IMO it's not a problem. My tanks been set up 22 months and although I blast the sand now and again I don't clean the sump of detritus.
     
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  20. Paul B

    Paul B Valuable Member R2R Supporter Reef Spotlight Award Build Thread Contributor Reef Tank 365 Article Contributor Partner Member 2019

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    I probably have some 40 year old detritus in my tank. I use a reverse UG filter. OK, you laughed enough. I do stir or make a typhoon in my tank yearly but not because I want to remove all the detritus. It's because after a while my UG filter will clog. I don't feel detritus does anything else and actually think it is beneficial. Bacteria, pods, worms and Godzilla Larvae need someplace to grow and eat. Detritus captures particles that those things eat.
    New, Clean tanks are never healthy, guess what one of the reasons are? :cool:
     
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