Vacuuming sandbed?

Jholley565

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What are the pros and cons of vacuuming the sand bed? I’ve heard of some people doing it but I’ve never done it.
 

SDK

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What are the pros and cons of vacuuming the sand bed? I’ve heard of some people doing it but I’ve never done it.

Belated welcome to R2R. There are two schools of thought on this and you can make either work.

There are not many pros or cons to this in my opinion. It is more just two different methodologies.

I would say pick one plan and try to stick with it. Most of the problems that I have seen come from letting the sandbed get too dirty and then attempting to vacuum. Make sure you either have an adequate sand stirring crew, or stir and vacuum regularly.
 

jda

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It depends on if it is mature or not. You are going to get a lot of venom and bile about sand beds and nearly all of the people posting have no idea why/how what happened in their tank happened.

If the sand bed is mature and an active bio filter (this can take years), then you need to only do small parts of it at a time.

If the sand bed is not an active bio filter, then you can pretty much do what you want... this includes young sand beds and shallow ones.

I would caution you to take most of what you search and read in the last decade with a grain of salt since almost nobody knows what they are doing with them anymore and their experiences are short and knowledges is passed-down and not earned. Some of the older stuff is better and more accurate since people used to have more success with them before the "biocube generation" of reefers around the late 2000s.
 

MichaelReefer

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Here I will sum it up for you.
1. I vaccum my sand bed and the tank is pristine.
2. I never vaccum my sand bed and the tank is pristine.
I never do. I heard some people do new sand every few years, or take it out and wash it. I've never done it. *shrug*
 
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Jholley565

Jholley565

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I vacuumed mine just because I had extra saltwater I needed to use and I had some GHA on the sand but I don’t think Its worth it after I finish my GHA battle. Seems like extra work and I can’t even get to half of my sandbed.
 

SDK

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It depends on if it is mature or not. You are going to get a lot of venom and bile about sand beds and nearly all of the people posting have no idea why/how what happened in their tank happened.

If the sand bed is mature and an active bio filter (this can take years), then you need to only do small parts of it at a time.

If the sand bed is not an active bio filter, then you can pretty much do what you want... this includes young sand beds and shallow ones.

I would caution you to take most of what you search and read in the last decade with a grain of salt since almost nobody knows what they are doing with them anymore and their experiences are short and knowledges is passed-down and not earned. Some of the older stuff is better and more accurate since people used to have more success with them before the "biocube generation" of reefers around the late 2000s.
Curious as to your thoughts on plenum systems....

My last long term reef tank (over five years undisturbed) was back when the plenums were in vogue. By the time I broke it down I was not happy with the way the sandbed aged.

I then got into Berlin system tanks and had better success. Because of that, I have leaned towards bare bottom systems since then.

Right now I am setting up a larger tank that I will eventually switch over to SPS when I feel it has properly aged.

I have not looked at DSB and plenum/no plenum articles in quite a while, but am thinking about going with a sandbed again for this tank.

I’m wondering what your configuration is since you are someone who has had long term success with this.
 

jda

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I have never used a plenum, so I have no real thoughts. Biology and chemistry has not changed since Jaubert developed the german plenum system, so all of the books and articles should still apply in the same ways.
 

RayDRoot

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My sand bed is for my Melarnurus wrasse to sleep in, and aesthetics. I vacuum it out weekly as part of my maintenance schedule.
 

SDK

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I have never used a plenum, so I have no real thoughts. Biology and chemistry has not changed since Jaubert developed the german plenum system, so all of the books and articles should still apply in the same ways.
I'm aware that the basic laws of marine biology have not morphed in the last 30 years, thanks...

Most of what was published on this by Jaubert/Goemans and in FAMA, etc was before anyone kept these systems long term.

I’m trying to figure out if my results were an anomaly, and the only way to do that is to ask those who have been around long enough to have tried.
 

brandon429

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Let examples make the final convince about whether sandbeds should be left alone, totally cleaned, or moderately cleaned. Above is total cleaning. Here below is moderate cleaning. The middle ground between total hands off and all out rip cleaning



find patterns you think are worthy, see how action or inaction worked out. You have two hundred reefs in these two threads to scan for patterns and testimony
 
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jda

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I'm aware that the basic laws of marine biology have not morphed in the last 30 years, thanks...

Most of what was published on this by Jaubert/Goemans and in FAMA, etc was before anyone kept these systems long term.

I’m trying to figure out if my results were an anomaly, and the only way to do that is to ask those who have been around long enough to have tried.
Most people seem to think that biology and chemistry have changed, so you are one of the smart ones... seriously. It is a big gripe of mine and one of the reasons why I just think about disappearing some of the time since people have gotten so dumb... and impatient.

There are many, many pages on Wet Web Media about plenums, but the format sucks and is not any better than when you likely read them years ago... but it is there.

I never went with a plenum because a 3" sand bed would keep the nitrates at .1, so why give up more tank space to a plenum when I already had all of the denitrification that I could want. This is why I never went with a 6" like Dr. Ron suggested all of the time.

The closest that I ever came to a plenum was taking over the care of a very large FO tank with under gravel filters. This was a display at a dentist's office. I stopped using the filters, but left them in the tank and the nitrate went down over the next 5-6 months. I guess that these would act as a poor-mans plenum. My only experience is that algae came as the N got low enough not to poison it, and then left again after it got low. The N was about 300 to start. It took a while for these oxic areas in the under gravel filter to get to be anoxic. Nitrates were "clear" when I moved away and handed the tank off to somebody else to maintain.

Generally speaking to everybody, there are pages upon pages of Berlin, plenum and other methods on WWM, reefs.org and reef central - this board did not exist back then. There are also books by real authors that survived peer review, the vetting of publication and editing process and have actual science in them... like real stuff. Probably smart to not discard these. Berlin has been, and still is, the most successful reefing method to date. It would be a shame to not look at this stuff in lieu of some thumb-suckers with boogers on frag plugs who can post online and think that their experiences are equal.
 

pdxmonkeyboy

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I can not remember the source but I was researching plenums at one time and there was a very good article that spelled out pretty well that they were not that effective.

I do agree that people in the hobby are impatient and easily swayed by the sparkly things. Remember when reefing WASN'T about the brand of gear you had?
 

steallife904

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I cut the bottom of a water bottle off and zip tied it to the hose I use to do water changes. Every other water change or so I use it to swish the sand around a bit and it vacuums the crap out. my home made gravel cleaner :). I only do a section at a time. The water in the bucket usually is nasty looking. that's why I do it. I randomly will stir the bed a little every now and then as well either before water change or just so it goes into the filter socks. Everytime I do the corals love it.
 

SDK

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Most people seem to think that biology and chemistry have changed, so you are one of the smart ones... seriously. It is a big gripe of mine and one of the reasons why I just think about disappearing some of the time since people have gotten so dumb... and impatient.

There are many, many pages on Wet Web Media about plenums, but the format sucks and is not any better than when you likely read them years ago... but it is there.

I never went with a plenum because a 3" sand bed would keep the nitrates at .1, so why give up more tank space to a plenum when I already had all of the denitrification that I could want. This is why I never went with a 6" like Dr. Ron suggested all of the time.

The closest that I ever came to a plenum was taking over the care of a very large FO tank with under gravel filters. This was a display at a dentist's office. I stopped using the filters, but left them in the tank and the nitrate went down over the next 5-6 months. I guess that these would act as a poor-mans plenum. My only experience is that algae came as the N got low enough not to poison it, and then left again after it got low. The N was about 300 to start. It took a while for these oxic areas in the under gravel filter to get to be anoxic. Nitrates were "clear" when I moved away and handed the tank off to somebody else to maintain.

Generally speaking to everybody, there are pages upon pages of Berlin, plenum and other methods on WWM, reefs.org and reef central - this board did not exist back then. There are also books by real authors that survived peer review, the vetting of publication and editing process and have actual science in them... like real stuff. Probably smart to not discard these. Berlin has been, and still is, the most successful reefing method to date. It would be a shame to not look at this stuff in lieu of some thumb-suckers with boogers on frag plugs who can post online and think that their experiences are equal.
I think the lift tubes probably added to the longevity. Mine started to produce too much hydrogen sulfide gas in the fourth year
Most people seem to think that biology and chemistry have changed, so you are one of the smart ones... seriously. It is a big gripe of mine and one of the reasons why I just think about disappearing some of the time since people have gotten so dumb... and impatient.

There are many, many pages on Wet Web Media about plenums, but the format sucks and is not any better than when you likely read them years ago... but it is there.

I never went with a plenum because a 3" sand bed would keep the nitrates at .1, so why give up more tank space to a plenum when I already had all of the denitrification that I could want. This is why I never went with a 6" like Dr. Ron suggested all of the time.

The closest that I ever came to a plenum was taking over the care of a very large FO tank with under gravel filters. This was a display at a dentist's office. I stopped using the filters, but left them in the tank and the nitrate went down over the next 5-6 months. I guess that these would act as a poor-mans plenum. My only experience is that algae came as the N got low enough not to poison it, and then left again after it got low. The N was about 300 to start. It took a while for these oxic areas in the under gravel filter to get to be anoxic. Nitrates were "clear" when I moved away and handed the tank off to somebody else to maintain.

Generally speaking to everybody, there are pages upon pages of Berlin, plenum and other methods on WWM, reefs.org and reef central - this board did not exist back then. There are also books by real authors that survived peer review, the vetting of publication and editing process and have actual science in them... like real stuff. Probably smart to not discard these. Berlin has been, and still is, the most successful reefing method to date. It would be a shame to not look at this stuff in lieu of some thumb-suckers with boogers on frag plugs who can post online and think that their experiences are equal.
I appreciate the detailed response, thanks...
 

pdxmonkeyboy

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Not to get way off in a plenum discusssion as I have NO experience with them, only research. This article did however seal the deal in me deciding it wasnt worth it.


What I see often times in the aquarium world is that people tend to be attracted to solutions or ideas that are intuitive to them, even though they may not in fact be supported by facts.

Ergo...oh that makes sense to me..if there is a gap under the sand bed, then water will be able to "get there" and be treated. In actuality, that isn't how concentration gradients and subsurface flow works. Which is quite apparent in the above linked study as they found that ordinary DSB resulted in lower nutrient numbers.

Seems like they may have fell out of vogue for legitimate reasons.
 
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Jholley565

Jholley565

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I’ve came to the conclusion that I will vacuum my sandbed until I get my algae under control then I’ll let it be.
 
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