Sand maintenance in wall-to-wall SPS tank

AcroFan144

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I need advice for my future build. My plan is to keep a wall-to-wall Acropora dominant SPS tank, with some LPS and softies on the bottom. I am debating going barebottom vs shallow sandbed (half-inch or so). I much prefer the look of sand, but I am not sure I will be able to vacuum once SPS grow in.

Is anyone keeping a shallow sandbed in coral packed display without vacuuming it? Any info and advice would be appreciated.
 
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I vacuumed my shallow bed up until the point I was accidentally fragging my sps. I added a bunch of nassarius snails, spaghetti and bristle worms to keep the bed stirred up. I have a conch and a few crabs as well that keep it stirred. I added rock rubble, crushed coral, and snail shells throughout, but especially in high flow areas. I noticed quite a bit more amphipods scurrying around after those additions. I actually much prefer the cluttered looking sandbed to the pristine white.

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I cracked that tank though and I'm just now about to move everything into a new bare bottom acrylic build...
 
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AcroFan144

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I like the look of your tank, it looks much more natural than my previous attempt at barebottom. I liked not having to worry about flow blowing the sand and easy cleaning, but sand looks much better IMO.
 

jhuntstl

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I like the look of your tank, it looks much more natural than my previous attempt at barebottom. I liked not having to worry about flow blowing the sand and easy cleaning, but sand looks much better IMO.
Thanks! I was going for a natural look. I'm going to miss it. The sand is special grade. I bought some dry rock/dead coral from a LFS and smashed it up myself. I also added this sand activator package from IPSF. It added quite a bit of rubble.
 
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AcroFan144

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What would be your worry if you couldn't vacuum the sand bed? I've never vacuumed any established sand bed in my tanks.
I've read about tank crashes happening in 3-4th year of tank life or so, due to 'detritus accumulation'. Not sure how valid these stories are, but accumulation of junk in sandbed seems like a potential issue longterm.
 

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I keep about 1-2 inches of sand. My base rock is all on pylons of the same height. I do not vacuum. Instead I blast with a pump and a hose every 2 weeks until I cannot see what I am doing. I would suggest that this method works. Yes, I do accidentally frag, but can you tell?

Right side.JPG
 

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I keep about 1-2 inches of sand. My base rock is all on pylons of the same height. I do not vacuum. Instead I blast with a pump and a hose every 2 weeks until I cannot see what I am doing. I would suggest that this method works. Yes, I do accidentally frag, but can you tell?

Right side.JPG
Beautiful colonies!!
 

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Beautiful colonies!!
Thank you. I should admit that was a bit of a "peak" presentation for that tank. It wasn't long before that scape became over crowded, shaded and choked for flow. Eventually had to harvest a bunch of stuff and get back to gluing in frags again.

Here is one such valida colony about 8 months after that photo. Talk about throwing shade in a 5' tank.

IMG-4750.JPG
 

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I keep a sand bed. Started out 3", but now is various. I hardly ever touch it, but about every 4 years, I vacuum it out in 20% increments with a month or two between sections to allow everything to settle. I love the anoxic areas for bacteria to complete the nitrogen cycle and turn no3 into nitrogen gas. I love that it will buffer phosphate for me so that I can never get too low. I love the critters, cucumbers and sand-sleeping wrasses - the critters and cucumbers do required lower N and P than most people have anymore. I love that mature sand don't allow a fertile breeding ground for fish parasites and any ich tomont that hits my sand has to fight for it's life from a litany of creatures wanting a meal - don't underestimate this.

I am a huge proponent of sand and really appreciate what Dr. Ron did for the hobby. The one thing that I think that he got wrong was not dealing with the glut of benign materials left over that settle in down there. This stuff is not a nutrient sink or anything like that, but it does gum up the works and keeps cucumbers from doing their jobs, water flowing freely to deeper areas, etc. I like to get it out ever 4, or so years.

Once I vacuum a section, the sand snails, cucumbers and everything spends more time in that area for a while. You have to go slow so that the oxic and anoxic areas that you disturbed can establish again before you move on.

Everything that you hear about sand being time bomb or any other useless and incorrect internet slang is all a result of poor husbandry. The sand can help you out for a long time, but eventually it cannot do it's job anymore and you have to pay the bill down the road.

I document more of my methodologies and techniques in my rebuild thread.
 
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AcroFan144

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I keep a sand bed. Started out 3", but now is various. I hardly ever touch it, but about every 4 years, I vacuum it out in 20% increments with a month or two between sections to allow everything to settle. I love the anoxic areas for bacteria to complete the nitrogen cycle and turn no3 into nitrogen gas. I love that it will buffer phosphate for me so that I can never get too low. I love the critters, cucumbers and sand-sleeping wrasses - the critters and cucumbers do required lower N and P than most people have anymore. I love that mature sand don't allow a fertile breeding ground for fish parasites and any ich tomont that hits my sand has to fight for it's life from a litany of creatures wanting a meal - don't underestimate this.

I am a huge proponent of sand and really appreciate what Dr. Ron did for the hobby. The one thing that I think that he got wrong was not dealing with the glut of benign materials left over that settle in down there. This stuff is not a nutrient sink or anything like that, but it does gum up the works and keeps cucumbers from doing their jobs, water flowing freely to deeper areas, etc. I like to get it out ever 4, or so years.

Once I vacuum a section, the sand snails, cucumbers and everything spends more time in that area for a while. You have to go slow so that the oxic and anoxic areas that you disturbed can establish again before you move on.

Everything that you hear about sand being time bomb or any other useless and incorrect internet slang is all a result of poor husbandry. The sand can help you out for a long time, but eventually it cannot do it's job anymore and you have to pay the bill down the road.

I document more of my methodologies and techniques in my rebuild thread.

That sounds amazing. I read through your build thread, and I love the success you are having.

Would you 'DSB' method work without all the clean up crew critters? Here in Europe it can get very difficult or expensive to get proper clean up crew.
 
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AcroFan144

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I just pretty much have a cucumber. The worms will come and so will the pods and stuff. I have some cerith snails that get in there, but most of them live on the rocks and glass.

I might just try your method in my next build. So if I understood correctly, 3 inches of sand results in lower maintenance needed, compared to lets say 1 inch? I really don't feel like vacuuming my sandbed often, it is not a fun part of tank maintenance for me.
 

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