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: 189 20.6%
  • No I do not run a DSB

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

    Votes: 115 12.5%
  • I do not think a DSB is a good idea

    Votes: 218 23.7%
  • I have had a DSB in the past

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

    Votes: 73 8.0%
  • I am just here for the comments

    Votes: 112 12.2%

  • Total voters
    918

Paul B

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LoL :D btw anything “evolve” in that tank yet?
Nothing except trilobites but they are evolving into Godzilla Larvae.
I feel all this talk about DSBs is silly. Everyone knows the only true system is a reverse undergravel filter system. :p
 

brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
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Earlier we had pondered a few times about oxygen command by DSB’s and how that can affect power outage longevity

just remarking back on that, for sure there’s no predictable timeframe with or without dsb during power outages, it’s simply a safety hedge to consider when living in outage prone areas. more time until total macro organism loss if you have no sandbed.

Whether we design systems that completely take in display tank waste into the bed and never remove it, classic hands-off method, or whether it’s a rarely cleaned but still cleaned occasionally (diatom filtering, python suction cleaning etc) design like Paul’s above, the bare bottom system that has the lowest storage and most throughput simply has a duration edge before loss cascade vs a designs that store up any degree of organics. heterotrophic non filtration bacteria are a massive competitor in our systems, they rob biofilters of precious surface area and they absolutely take in massive amounts of o2. Based on what I’ve seen in lab measures, I’ll say a section of an old sandbed all black and gnarly in cross section pics is commanding more oxygen than all the fish in the tank~ making the aged sandbed your greatest o2 user during power outage events. #1 in the tank.

low o2 will sap snails first, get a load of dead snails you’ll spike anyone’s reef with ammonia which then cascades into benthic animals and then the actual bacteria in the sandbed which majority are obligate aerobes

a sandbed itself can die, as a separate zone in a power outage aquarium. So can a holding pond, oxygen is the tipping point.

Old canister filters on large fw tanks back in the day- we knew to not let those start back up after a long power outage as the sewage they pumped out was dead aerobes, power outages can kill sandbed aerobes and this may or may not crash the display.

Industries like meat packing require precise microbiological control of wastewater effluent ponds which is where rinse waste and separated production wastes are routed to decompose into the environment and/or get periodically harvested in sludge dredge work...in the ponds. The usda/govt each day counter-tests every angle measurable looking for compliance issues, at every step in the chain, and oxygen level consistency is in the top three things they test for. The entire facility. its a massive study of detritus effects in water...and the rate at which the facility can crank out carcasses for sale/grilling/burgers is solely determined by catch pond acceptance rates. lake and pond science runs meat packing industry, that’s pretty neat.

the oxygen command differences, BOD and or COD from a clean water sample vs a sample including organic waste have been studied and manipulated for over fifty years now... it’s neat to think entire industries already know the effects of sand vs no sand and we can use their measures to design specialty systems if desired. I don't think sandbeds are bad at all, but not having one also comes with benefits (or keeping one clean, same benefits)
 
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Lasse

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@brandon429 I wonder if you ever have run a system with DSB of your self for a long period? - Or if you base your knowledge by reading or listening from others (including theoretical work).

Sincerely Lasse
 

brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
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Yes, fair question. Let me search out some threads from 2003 I will back edit them in

my opinions are based on working in small tanks that have no volume to speak of, we get to see quick results vs having to wait ten years.
we relay the results to large tankers, hopefully before the invasions set in.

My takeaways are additionally shaped by lab work measuring samples from the environment and then the sand rinse thread which is the only one I know of actually working with other people’s sandbeds long enough to draw a conclusion specifically about aquariums. Am basing my claims on different perspectives, and am open to input.
am impressed by work threads though...if you have any tuneup works you’ve done on sandbeds in threads other than yours, do link
 

brandon429

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Don’t let the mere shape of a vessel distract, see details
IMG_1803.JPG

consider these pic details:

container is mighty old- coralline and sandbed stratification are visual indicators indicating age and care details

The water volume, lack of, should indicate a specific design meant to measure effects of a truly aged deep sand bed
container not lacking coral health. wanted to miniaturize the reef for testing faster than large tanks require

packed as much coral as humanly possible into a jar above a sandbed taking a third of the volume, 5 or 6 pounds of quality live rock, and never touched the bed for nine years. noted each phase the mini model went through online.

I had nitrate 10-25 ppm whether it had sandbed uncleaned or not, and in retrofitting the vase for old age I went to cleaning the sandbed vs storing within it, to hedge against loss above/ 02 anticipation. Plus I like the white bed look. It didn't harm my system, but the liability didn't get me less water changes or low nitrate or no gha issues. My system was degassing nitrate see the bubbles, it's my opinion I built and tested a legit dsb by vase-certain zones are expanded and certain areas are restricted such as the neck area and water line, gas exchange point. It was a fine long term balance. Didn't harm my tank any.



call it niche work agreed, but patterns galore are extracted from that system and are used daily in our work threads which are applications and tests of claims. Only the work we do in others tanks matters when making a point, I’m not used to being asked for my own practice, fair request though and if someone doesn’t have home examples agreed that’s an imbalance

i study micro models at my place and upscale the work to large tanks with challenges

As of 11/20/19 14 yrs test
20191120_095808.jpg
 
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fredk

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There is one thing I’m certain of

one group claims liability from sand

another group says that’s crazy they work fine with no liability
... and there is a third group that says it works without claiming no liability. It's not a black and white us vs. them.

where these two groups never meet is in a thread where group B, success, fixes up mal performing sandbeds for group A live time using methods that made their tank work as measured

someone should change that trend and produce the first DSB diagnostics thread ever made. No theories, no biochem, or first person safety guarantees - just work in others tanks who state they have a problem and the tank is tracked until success

I truly believe group B has working sandbeds for decades, the catch is being there in person to veer off course/innovate action/know when to clean or add more sand etc

nobody writes a procedural manual that can be copied step by step, the first offer was add sand/ add plenum and get all the benefits. We know that doesn’t work well for everyone.
Not entirely true. Dr. Shemik detailed what he knew about sandbeds, grain size, benthic organism densities, sand bed dynamics in the wild and how that compared to the assays he and Dr. Toonan did on a limited number of reef tanks.

He was able to hit what he thought were the correct organism densities in his tank and confirm that not many other tanks reached these densities. He was also able to confirm that it was difficult to maintain these organism densities over time, and had a reasonable hypothesis as to why. The four inch bed depth that has been quoted here as the minimum for a deep sand bed came from Ron and what he found was the minimum depth to support organism densities and diversity.

He was also able to bring these densities backup through periodic re-inoculation.

In short, quite a bit is known/documented about sand beds. How many people with sand beds use or have tried Dr. Shemik's method? How many are even aware of what he has written?

Another point on lost information. Someone posted earlier that there was not even anything documenting what the minimum required depth is. Not true. Years ago Dr. Toonen did an experiment where he confirmed that you did not need a deep bed to get the benefits of sand bed nitrogen processing. Hypoxic conditions start within milimeters of the top of the sand bed. How deep depends on water flow over the bed. He got very good results with a two inch bed.

Of course, with such a shallow bed, a different long term maintenance regimen is required.

To me, there are now only two reasons to keep a deep sand bed in a tank: you like the large critters that require a deep sand bed, you like the benthic critters that need a deep sand bed. I happen to like both.
 

brandon429

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sounds good to me. My tank did go through a few issues like outages and mainly a heater out for 60 days I didn't know about/bleaching and Ill never know if the older/packed in bed would've lasted (if changing conditions would have caused loss in the bed/don't know cant be sure)

by having the white clean bed, I simply hedged safety bets for a very old system, my custom call. I think based on the # of entrants into the sand rinse thread, there are truly issues with the masses doing any degree of sand as the tank ages. Merely speaking in numbers (it takes work threads to see numbers) sandbeds do not function well long term without being a liability, I realize we may not agree on that statement but I figure requests for reworks will stop in the sandbed when they're set and go, to any depth. I saw the Toonen study back in the day on reefcentral someone linked it.

I also recall lots of hours spent in Ron's diagnostics forum on reefcentral watching him advise sandbed work, agreed he's a pioneer.
 
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fredk

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Yes, fair question. Let me search out some threads from 2003 I will back edit them in

my opinions are based on working in small tanks that have no volume to speak of, we get to see quick results vs having to wait ten years.
we relay the results to large tankers, hopefully before the invasions set in.
...
Scale, or lack thereof is the largest issue of a 'self maintaining' sand bed that relies on benthic organisms for nutrient processing. It was the reason that Dr. Shimek had organism replenishment as part of his regimen.

Wipe outs happen very quickly in a tiny tank. less so in a larger tank.
 

Malevolent

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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
74eb841c4ea1f26e553934100825818c.jpg
No idea why you would use an acronym for deep sand bed or that you would use it often enough to warrant an acronym. New reefers already have a hard enough time trying to get the information they need, why make it harder on them. I normally just skip posts or information that use acronyms.its not like you can google DSB and come up with deep sand bed nor should I have to. If your to much in a hurry or lazy to spell it out “at least in the topic” than I won’t waste my time on reading something I have no idea what it means.
As far as deep sand beds, not sure what you are considering deep sand beds. 3”, 6”, 10”. To me a deep sand bed is 3”. If you have to keep stirring your gravel and cleaning it by hand then it’s a deep sand bed (3”). I figured anything more than 3” is for specific live stock and most of those are not reef safe so it’s a mute point.
Of course , take everything I say with a grain of salt as this is just my opinion and in no way to be used with my current reefing experience or lack of.
 

Belgian Anthias

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As I understand it DNRA is a reduction process and denitrification is an oxidation process - they are not similar - they are opposite each other.

Sincerely Lasse
If one looks only and at a part of the chemical process. And of course, they are not similar, certainly bio-chemical.
Bio-chemical both compete for NO3. During the total process, heterotrophic denitrification yields more energy as DNRA but due to more efficient use of different enzymes, DNRA ( bacteria!) are faster and may outcompete denitrifiers (bacteria!).

This is especially pronounced when NO3− is limiting compared to organic carbon, as organic carbon is oxidised more 'efficiently' per NO3− (as each molecule NO3− is reduced farther). The balance of denitrification and DNRA is important to the nitrogen cycle of an environment as both use NO3− but, unlike denitrification, which produces gaseous, non-bioavailable N2 (a sink of nitrogen), DNRA produces bioavailable, soluble NH4+. (Wikipedia)

Another difference that may be of some importance is the fact DNRA do not have the intermediate step of N2O production which in the case of heterotrophic denitrifiers may create an important sink of fixed bioavailable nitrogen.

I think most DSB users use it for the assumed increased denitrifying capacity which capacity in practice may or may not contribute to better passive nitrogen management. DNRA ammonia production + denitrifiers fixed bioavailable N2O is something that a DSB user should be aware of. (CMF De Haes)
 
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brandon429

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Sandbed advocates pls comment here, about that, it's why our sand rinse thread opposing nearly every tenet held in this thread exists. Having an unclean sandbed is a serious risk. It was directly claimed to be no risk on early pages here.
 

fish farmer

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... and there is a third group that says it works without claiming no liability. It's not a black and white us vs. them.


Not entirely true. Dr. Shemik detailed what he knew about sandbeds, grain size, benthic organism densities, sand bed dynamics in the wild and how that compared to the assays he and Dr. Toonan did on a limited number of reef tanks.

He was able to hit what he thought were the correct organism densities in his tank and confirm that not many other tanks reached these densities. He was also able to confirm that it was difficult to maintain these organism densities over time, and had a reasonable hypothesis as to why. The four inch bed depth that has been quoted here as the minimum for a deep sand bed came from Ron and what he found was the minimum depth to support organism densities and diversity.

He was also able to bring these densities backup through periodic re-inoculation.

In short, quite a bit is known/documented about sand beds. How many people with sand beds use or have tried Dr. Shemik's method? How many are even aware of what he has written?

Another point on lost information. Someone posted earlier that there was not even anything documenting what the minimum required depth is. Not true. Years ago Dr. Toonen did an experiment where he confirmed that you did not need a deep bed to get the benefits of sand bed nitrogen processing. Hypoxic conditions start within milimeters of the top of the sand bed. How deep depends on water flow over the bed. He got very good results with a two inch bed.

Of course, with such a shallow bed, a different long term maintenance regimen is required.

To me, there are now only two reasons to keep a deep sand bed in a tank: you like the large critters that require a deep sand bed, you like the benthic critters that need a deep sand bed. I happen to like both.
This is a lot of the care requirements that I knew of back in the day and is probably one of the reasons why my current beds don't function well.

My biggest takeaway from how to have a functioning deep sand bed is the sand bed fauna small and large, but it seems when long term sand bedders discuss how great their sand beds work there is never mention about sand bed fauna counts.

I have a hard copy of Shimek's guide to Live Sand Examination..it was an article posted at reefs.org waaay back in 1999. I absorbed this info as well as info from Adey's Dynamic Aquaria book. I did a sandbed count on my first 4" DSB after two years which was a tiny bed in a 20 gallon long sump, inoculated with live sand and live rock and IPSF wonder mud/sand. It had a fauna count of 40,000 per square meter in the sump and my main tank with 1" of crushed coral and sand was 70,000 per square meter. This didn't count for large snails only micro fauna. The normal range was 10,000 to 100,000 per square meter. Shimek recommends in his guide to evaluate every 3 months and once the bed gets down to 1,000 to 5,000 animals to reinoculate with a faunal booster "kit".

Do deep sand bed adovcates do this? Did the failed sand bedders not do this?

My thoughts of not wanting to use sand beds is what I consider the "faunal cost". I tend to run sand beds in tanks 55 gallons or smaller and feel that I would have to buy kits every couple years as well as snails which for me seem to last a couple of years. I question how long a failing bed would take to recharge, a few months, a year? A lot of the science behind this seems to really be like anything else with reefing..there are so many variables inside the box...your mileage may vary.
 

Belgian Anthias

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An interesting publication about the use of a DSB is:
Calfo, Anthony, en Robert Fenner. Reef Invertebrates: An Essential Guide to Selection, Care and Compatibility. Monroeville, PA: Reading Trees, 2003. " living filters"! The use of DSB is promoted.

But also, Anthony Calfo writes that most marine aquarists are better looking for alternatives to the bio-filter to provide extra export for nutrients and he proposes the following alternatives: a semi-closed system, automatic daily water changes, aggressive skimming of the water and aquaculture techniques for ponds ( Calfo, Anthony. Book of Coral Propagation: Reef Gardening for Aquarists. Volume 1 Volume 1. Monroeville, PA: Reading Trees Publications, 2007. Page 81.) He does not explain why!
Most of the proposed alternatives are difficult or not possible in a home system.

Employing active nitrogen management, using biofilters, not being dependable of a DSB and or other uncontrollable passive methods, makes a big difference for maintaining a closed aquarium system.
 

Quietman

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I do not believe you need additional fauna (other than bacteria which will come naturally) with a plenum as the method that has for managing buildup of 'bad' nutrients is quite different. Part of what I'd like to see in a test tank. And I know there's no definitive proof and lots of dated or misinformation on how to maintain. Most of what I believe I'd follow is from Bob Goemans (www.saltcorner.com). Great in-depth write up of not only how to but testing he's previously done.

I do not think it would work for most people in the hobby (including myself for my primary tank for that matter). I want too many fish and higher flow demanding corals for a DSB (plenum or otherwise). And the technology to more readily ensure success is available for a reasonable cost (which is what I think the Calfo reference above was referring to).

I thought long and hard about doing this for main display at one point...but when it came down to why I'm in this hobby, it's originally and primarily to have a well stocked attractive display in my living area.

But I am still curious. A low cost, low flow tank with a Jaubert plenum, few fish (but I can go with species I didn't want in display - damsels maybe), softie or other low demand corals, perhaps some display algae I think could be very attractive. I was even thinking I may go completely old school and get actual live rock. One low flow circulation pump (if any), no sump, no or small air stone skimmer, few water changes. Wondering if that would be as fun and interesting as my current technology main display tank.
 

Belgian Anthias

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There is no reason to use a DSB with the exception in the case it is needed for showing and keeping those specific animals needing a deep sandbed. A DSB will not make a difference when it comes to nitrogen management.

An old school bottom filter is more effective as a normal DSB as the flow true the filter bed can be managed. This way simultane nitrification and denitrification can become in balance, certainly when some elemental sulphur is added and mixed to the filter bed. Some call it a plenum. The results of the Jaubert plenum are also not spectacular due to the low water exchange rate. It should not be the intention to create anoxic zones in the filter bed or in the plenum because it is not needed.
Till now there is no proof the addition of "live rock" improves passive nitrogen management compared to base rock.
 
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Lasse

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No - I call it RFRDSB :D And @paul B`s will be RFDSB :D

I agree that a classic DSB is a slow working system but I have seen this working during many years in reef aquariums - but if it is because of mature reefs with a fast nitrogen flush, hence a low loaded system or very effective DSB - I can´t say.

I run my system with around 1046 ppm S and I´m not interested to ad more S to my system. The graph show a rising trend too.

191121 triton 005.PNG

Highest value rather soon after a redoing of my RFRDSB and in the middle of my last large WC.


Sincerely Lasse
 

Belgian Anthias

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As far as deep sand beds, not sure what you are considering deep sand beds. 3”, 6”, 10”. To me a deep sand bed is 3”. If you have to keep stirring your gravel and cleaning it by hand then it’s a deep sand bed (3”). I figured anything more than 3” is for specific live stock and most of those are not reef safe so it’s a mute point.
Of course , take everything I say with a grain of salt as this is just my opinion and in no way to be used with my current reefing experience or lack of.
If one has a DSB, for me this is a sand bed of more than +- 2,5cm or +-1 inch thick, with the intention to increase the denitrification capacity, as a bio-filter, or for any other reason, I think stirring up the deep bed is a very bad idea, exempt when it is done on a daily or more regular base, continues by the habitants, by specific livestock.
If one needs an active sand bed (ASB) for improving passive nitrogen management max 2,5cm seems more than enough. This should also avoid caveats caused by a DSB.
 

Belgian Anthias

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For me, a DSB is a sandbed more than 1" thick

A sand layer of +- 2,5cm or 1" will have about the same nitrogen exchange rate and denitrification rate as a DSB . What will be the benefit of a DSB if not necessary for specific life stock or a seaweed tank?
A DSB may be hiding a lot of surprises. These risks are reduced considerably by limiting the sand layer to max +- 2,5 to 3cm, +- 1".

Of importance in a reef tank concerning nitrogen management is the fact a skimmer removes DOC and TOC continuously and does this very selective. As most nitrogen becomes available as inorganic nitrogen it is not removed by the skimmer, an unbalance is created between available nutrients and available nitrogen. Nitrate availability by itself does not kill and is toxic at a very high level, also for corals. But it is confirmed high nitrogen availability is responsible for coral bleaching, at periods of increased growth creating phosphorus starvation, a situation which can be avoided by keeping the nutrients balanced. In a system with a skimmer, almost all reef systems, this means nitrogen considered not needed should actively be removed to restore the nutrient balance. Using an assimilation method for taking up nitrogen increases the risk for phosphorus starvation as the nutrient balance is not restored.

Due to the possible nitrogen sink of ammonia and N2O within anoxic zones of a DSB, a lot of usable nitrogen may suddenly become available creating blooms.
 

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