QUESTION OF THE DAY Do you know what a DSB is and should you or does it even matter?

DSB or Deep Sand Beds (check all that apply to you)

  • Yes I run a DSB

    Votes: 190 20.7%
  • No I do not run a DSB

    Votes: 497 54.1%
  • A DSB is a good idea

    Votes: 116 12.6%
  • I do not think a DSB is a good idea

    Votes: 219 23.8%
  • I have had a DSB in the past

    Votes: 227 24.7%
  • I will have a DSB in the future

    Votes: 73 7.9%
  • I am just here for the comments

    Votes: 112 12.2%

  • Total voters
    919

revhtree

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What the heck does DSB stand for? DSB is an acronym for deep sand bed!

The question and poll of the day is inspired by @JoshH and we're hoping to really get some good info from you!

How many of us are running a DSB and what are your experiences with it?

How deep is your DSB and how deep do you think it needs to be to be a DSB?

Is your DSB in your tank or is it a remote DSB?


image via @TriggerThis
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Aquarium Specialty - dry goods & marine livestock

andrewkw

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When I kept garden eels I had no choice but to keep them in a deep sand bed. I used a sloping sand bed that did eventually level off, but at it's deepest point I tried to keep it at about 10", As you can see there was not a lot of live rock in the tank. One thing that eventually happened over time was the skimmer basically stopped working. The deep sand bed was providing almost all the filtration. This wasn't a reef so I wasn't doing a lot of testing but nitrates never got high despite daily frequent frozen food feedings. Cyano was initially a problem but that too went away once the sand was established. The skimmer still ran it just was not collecting very much.

I only ran this tank for a few years due to a long distance move. There was just no way for me to move 300ish lbs of live sand when I had a 6 week period between moving from my old house to my new house. I dreaded breaking this tank down. I expected the sandbed to stink and be black at the bottom. It was surprisingly clean and did not smell too bad. If I still had this tank today I'd start to worry about it "going bad" for lack of a better term. I never had a deep sand bed long enough which would probably be close to 10 years for this to become a problem personally.

For 1 year I had a small homemade acrylic tank that housed a hadoni anemone. That tank also had about a 6" deep sand bed. This was strictly for the anemone and it was able to fully retreat under the sand. It only did that maybe twice but this tank was going smooth other then the fact I built it myself and it leaked.

For regular reef tanks I'm pretty against sand. I prefer bare bottom, but if I wanted to house creatures that needed a deep sand bed I wouldn't be opposed to doing it. I have several 5 gallon buckets under my deck filled with sugar sized sand should I wish to use it again at some point. I would worry a bit about a tank I planned on keeping for 10+ years having a deep sand bed, but for a satellite tank, or a non forever tank I wouldn't hesitate to rinse out that sand outside and use it again.

gardeneeltank.jpg


gardeneeltank2.jpg
 

JBKReef

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I would argue that if you have the space a remote deep sand bed could be valuable but in tank, with all the livestock constantly providing detritus, it’s asking for problems.

I am considering for a future build, after all mechanics and chemical filtration to have a refugium / DSB as part of my denitrification process.

I believe @Lasse has a DSB as part of his dream build.
 

saf1

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Yup - know what one is. I seem them all the time when I go SCUBA diving :)

With regards to our aquariums it is a hot button and as a result seen many a wild fire across many different forum boards. I run one that is between 4 and 6 inches deep. I've had success but my oldest tank with one has only been 7 years. I say 7 because at that mark I upgraded to a 210 gallon and while moving the contents from one to another it is sort of a reset. So we shall see.

Personally I like them and will always have them. With that in mind there has to be an understanding that our glass or acrylic boxes do not replicate what Mother Earth does with the currents in open water. It could be issues down the road which is why the remote aspect of it is around. Don't know, don't pretend to have the answer nor will get caught up in the debate. Been there, done that.

I like them so I run them.
 

ca1ore

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I have been running a RDSB for years. I see no real disadvantage (if designed correctly); though the benefits are somewhat elusive. I would not personally run a DSB in my display just of the off chance something did go amiss.
 

Quietman

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I've always been very interested in low tech, low flow, low maintenance tank with a Jaubert plenum and DSB as primary nutrient removal. This would be experimental tank simply because I find the whole idea/possibility of deep sand bed fascinating. Naturally, I'd be talking very limited choices in corals and livestock. Just seems very elegant solution at the opposite end of the design spectrum from my display tank. Once my main stocking of display is completed (early next year hopefully), I'll be making more concrete plans.

It also happens that my wife loves Xenia that I don't want anywhere near my display tank.
 

Greybeard

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Back in the day, DSB's were all the rage.

Mid 90's, we were getting Home Depot to ship truck loads of Southdown sand from the east cost to the midwest. Reefing clubs would buy it by the pallet. Southdown was (is??) a very fine, white, calcium carbonate based sand, mined, ground, and sold as play sand. Nearly ideal for a DSB, and even with shipping it in from the east coast, we were paying like $6 for a 50lb bag of it.

My 220 had 400 lbs of Southdown, an 8" sand bed.

At that time, you could buy DSB fauna from Garf, Inland Aquatics, and IPSF. Inland is gone now, Garf, with the passing of Leroy, isn't providing the kinds of things they used to, and IPSF is down to a couple species of worms. The old critter packs were amazing, full of life. Short of buying farmed sand out of Florida (and getting lucky!), there just isn't any way to get the micro fauna that DSB's require these days.

I've been keeping, or trying to keep, corals in aquaria since the mid 80's. I've been through many trends, many different 'current best practices', etc. Of all of them, there is NOTHING that beats a DSB for stability in the first 5 years. Nothing. You want an amazing, easy to maintain, super stable reef with very little effort, knowing it's only going to last 5 or 6 years? DSB! Yes... they only last that 5 or 6 years... after that, you've got nutrient problems. That DSB is an awesome nutrient sponge, until it's full.

Don't know anyone doing it, but a BIG remote DSB might well be something worth trying... say 50% of the display tank's surface area, in an 10" deep tray, with 8" of oolitic sand... unlit. End of 5 years, take a couple of pounds of the sand to seed a new DSB, toss the rest in the creek, and start over. Might work.

These days, I'm kinda going the opposite direction. Bare bottom, minimal dry rock, engineered bio filter media, high flow, very limited biology.

Not a great shot, but the only one I have from that era :(
OldTank.jpg
 

Blknovass

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Can we define DSB? I run about 2.5” and for me this is deep. I have had no issues but I also mix it up the sand every week while doing water changes and have a sand star and horseshoe crab.
 

Greybeard

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Can we define DSB? I run about 2.5” and for me this is deep. I have had no issues but I also mix it up the sand every week while doing water changes and have a sand star and horseshoe crab.
Not a DSB... not to my way of thinking, anyway.

A DSB is a 4 to 10 inch deep oolitic sand bed, where anaerobic bacteria can process nitrate deep in the sand bed. You can't stir it, if you do, the anaerobic layers will release all kinds of nasty into the tank.
 

Blknovass

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Not a DSB... not to my way of thinking, anyway.

A DSB is a 4 to 10 inch deep oolitic sand bed, where anaerobic bacteria can process nitrate deep in the sand bed. You can't stir it, if you do, the anaerobic layers will release all kinds of nasty into the tank.
Good to know cause I always thought I was running a DSB.
 

Peace River

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Many years ago I did it incorrectly and had disastrous results. These days I stick with low or no sand and get nervous if may sand bed is over 2". ;Nailbiting

Full respect to those who have had success with a DSB - I am just admitting that is not me. ;Shy
 

Feet4Fish

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I have designed and soon will be running a remote plenum. It will be approximately 50% of my displays surface area. It will be 4 inches of crushed coral 3-5 mm grain size. 6-8 inches of water will slowly flow over the substrate. Will be cryptic. This plenum will be for a 650 gallon system and be comprised of two stacked 50 gallon Rubbermaid stock tanks. This design is based on previous experience of a smaller scale plenum (which I made some mistakes), readings of articles by Goemans and Gamble and personal conversation with Goemans. I will be detailing every aspect of the system on my build thread.
 

Key-tie

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My DSB varies between 4" and 6"...
Allows me to place my rocks at almost any angle i want and it holds them in place.
My goby and wrasse, have both cleaned out burrows under the center of large live rocks...and as i lower the light intensity at the end of the night, i can see them both disappear...poof...under the rocks to safety in their sand burrow.
I believe it benefits the animals in the tank that use sand in their natural environment, and i believe it goes a long way to keeping them content and happy/safe.
The fact that it can be a great nitrate sink is also a very good thing if done correctly.
 

Bbfishb81

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I have about 5 inches of sand on my tank. I prefer it that way. I love having critters and only way I could have a few of them is with a DSB. Sand sifting sea star, horseshoes and, conch, and cucumbers all require sand, and some of the things I've had in my tanks.
 

Lukas75

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DSBs if maintained properly are great. That having been said, it is my understanding and experience that an in display DSB can be a time-bomb. It’s not a question of if something will go wrong it is when.

BUT what in this hobby does not follow the not if, but when rule? It’s another flavor of nutrient control and absolutely necessary for some animals, but not my cup of tea.
 

Goose91

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I am very interested in running a dsb when i finally upgrade to 120g (currently have a 35 with crushed coral). But where my curiosity lies with those who have had success or not, did you have the proper critters needed for a dsb. To clarify that point, all reef tanks are a recreation of a tiny chunk of the ocean. And the closer you can replicate the ocean, the healthier, and more stable, your tank should be as its a close to the real deal as you can make it. So i feel running a dsb is different. If your going to have one any sand imo, your gonna need to ensure that you have the proper critters need to inhabit that niche you created or it will almost certainly not be balanced and crash.

So who here has had great success with a dsb and what critters and regural maintenance did you do to help consume and keep nutrient levels in check?
 
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How often do have to clean your aquarium glass?

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