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What’s your opinion on the role of detritus in a reef tank

ScottR

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Some people search far and wide for the most useful CUC to tackle detritus. Others see it as a nitrate factory. However, detritus does play an important role in let’s say, a well-established mixed reef.

Thoughts?
 
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andrewkw

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It will become a problem if you let it. Most of my tanks are bare bottom for ease of detritus removal. I do not try and remove 100% though. Food source for bristleworms ect, even place for micro fauna to hide. However an example I will use is if your tank generates 1 cup of detritus a week (not a real number) and 500 cups = crash then removing half a cup per week means you have 1000 weeks until it's a problem.

My frag tank runs almost completely clean with a white painted bottom, however the sump has a crazy amount of detritus that is only removed maybe twice a year. I would speculate with no evidence to remotely prove this, the problem when you get a crazy amount is the creatures inside are prone to occasional die offs and that could be what is causing the problem. Also long term as in many years you will have a bed several inches deep that is just unsightly.

Depending on how your tank runs could also effect this. I mention the deep detritus bed. If I'm heavily target feeding LPS and the bristleworms come out and drag giant pieces of food into their detritus beds they may not be able to eat it all before it completely rots out. Yes they eat dead / dying matter but it's still breaking down in your water while this is happening.
 

brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
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We dont have any trouble growing corals in low to no detritus tanks, the waste doesn’t matter anymore since we have great feeds to offer the tank. It’s an option, its no longer better to keep waste in the tank vs export it

by removing detritus from filthy reefs we have compiled the most cyano fixes in one thread / sand rinse thread. We fixed about five hundred tank issues, all caused by detritus. If a tank isn’t having problems, detritus sequestered away in the bed isn’t too harmful.
some people nowadays want to act preventatively though.
 

brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
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Another thing I’ve come to see is that all the wiggling and moving diversity of worms and pods that really do house in zones that also tend to trap detritus aren’t that important at all. If they’re gone, corals still grow. If we want them to look at and ponder, thats ok too. The upper reef can be managed independently from detritus zones, helpful to know. Ten years ago if you didn’t farm the detritus and heavy worm zones you’ll never reef again lol instability etc.

i prefer live rock, true live rock, to solve the sterility problems reefs have nowadays. I don’t see the balance being in the sandbed, it’s in rock maintenance and maturation techniques and that a house all good pods too after a while of guiding and gardening. half a million reefs are healthy and have detritus, and as many are low to no detritus throughputs they’ll both work. I advise 100% of my message setups to be low to no detritus, not zero but at least occasionally cleaned, and we have zero invasion issues in these setups.
 
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atoll

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Great stuff, I have plenty of it and it's a great free coral food for many corals. Wouldn't be without in in fact to ensure I have plenty I have no prefiltration what so ever, no socks, rollermat,filterwool or whatever, just a skimmer that removes small amounts. IMO it's far from the devil it's made out to be by many.
 
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ScottR

ScottR

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Another thing I’ve come to see is that all the wiggling and moving diversity of worms and pods that really do house in zones that also tend to trap detritus aren’t that important at all. If they’re gone, corals still grow. If we want them to look at and ponder, thats ok too. The upper reef can be managed independently from detritus zones, helpful to know. Ten years ago if you didn’t farm the detritus and heavy worm zones you’ll never reef again lol instability etc.

i prefer live rock, true live rock, to solve the sterility problems reefs have nowadays. I don’t see the balance being in the sandbed, it’s in rock maintenance and maturation techniques and that a house all good pods too after a while of guiding and gardening. half a million reefs are healthy and have detritus, and as many are low to no detritus throughputs they’ll both work. I advise 100% of my message setups to be low to no detritus, not zero but at least occasionally cleaned, and we have zero invasion issues in these setups.
The reason I posed this question was because there seems to be conflicting thoughts on whether detritus is good or bad. I run a BB tank and one with sand. The BB allows me to see the amount of detritus in the display. When I stir things up with a powerhead, most corals seem to go into feeding mode. I use real LR from the ocean as well. My nitrates are on the high side but everything continues to grow. I’ve lost maybe one coral this whole year which is a huge contrast to this period one year ago.
 

fish farmer

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Some people search far and wide for the most useful CUC to tackle detritus. Others see it as a nitrate factory. However, detritus does play an important role in let’s say, a well-established mixed reef.

Thoughts?
It's all about balance. Detritus is food for stuff, if you don't have the right stuff to eat the food then you are "overfeeding".

Much like balancing dissolved compounds, etc. Some folks run Mg, Alk, Ca way higher than NSW.
 

brandon429

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one neat framing aspect of detritus is that to move reefs that have waste locked in takes a certain order of ops, a procedure to avoid loss, but moving bare bottom reefs is just moving them/ drain n move nothing special.

the detritus that collects in a typical deep sand bed is not the same safety as aerated detritus lining a sump, developed while exposed to full oxygenation. Taricha has a thread right now in chem forum where they study the chemical aspect of bad, gray anoxic detritus just to observe outcomes from varying states of decay

our friend Blusop has a thread where hundreds of large tank owners stick stir their beds from the start, to allow no waste compaction, and it’s helpful marine snow feed in those setups. They’re making good distributed use of the oxic form of detritus
 

merereef

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So do most people here run filter socks or not?? If i dont run filter socks the sump gets full of ditritus and i feel it may be a concern but from reading these posts it seems it may not be as bad as i thought.. so ditritus is food? Do people find tanks do better with or without filter socks?
 
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nickkohrn

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I do like allowing the buildup of some detritus in my bare-bottomed SPS-only frag system. I allow it to collect in the first chamber of my sump, which holds my filter socks, live rock, and MarinePure spheres. Weekly, I blow everything around in that chamber with a small pump, and it causes the system to cloud with detritus. I don't let the detritus become unmanageable, but the amount is enough to cloud the water for an hour or so. My corals seem to enjoy it because they extend their feeders almost immediately.

I think that bare-bottomed systems have their challenges, but the maintenance of detritus removal is easier, allowing hobbyists to control the buildup to suit their systems. For example, my bare-bottomed SPS-only system requires cleaner water than some other systems, and I can easily see when detritus gets out of control. I can remove enough to leave a small amount that seems to keep my corals happy.
 
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ScottR

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So do most people here run filter socks or not?? If i dont run filter socks the sump gets full of ditritus and i feel it may be a concern but from reading these posts it seems it may not be as bad as i thought.. so ditritus is food? Do people find tanks do better with or without filter socks?
I, against the advice of myself, decided to run socks in my Red Sea nano only because I had them. I don’t feel they help better than anything else, such as filter pads. I just like the idea that I don’t always need to throw them away. But detritus is food for many corals and inverts. It’s generally looked down upon but I feel most people misunderstand it.
 
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ScottR

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I do like allowing the buildup of some detritus in my bare-bottomed SPS-only frag system. I allow it to collect in the first chamber of my sump, which holds my filter socks, live rock, and MarinePure spheres. Weekly, I blow everything around in that chamber with a small pump, and it causes the system to cloud with detritus. I don't let the detritus become unmanageable, but the amount is enough to cloud the water for an hour or so. My corals seem to enjoy it because they extend their feeders almost immediately.

I think that bare-bottomed systems have their challenges, but the maintenance of detritus removal is easier, allowing hobbyists to control the buildup to suit their systems. For example, my bare-bottomed SPS-only system requires cleaner water than some other systems, and I can easily see when detritus gets out of control. I can remove enough to leave a small amount that seems to keep my corals happy.
I find that bare bottoms are easier to manage as well. I like the fact that you know what’s on the bed. With sand, it’s a mystery concoction, although I do love the look of sand and the types of fish and inverts you can keep with it. Btw. Congrats again on your hospitality badge
 

nickkohrn

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I find that bare bottoms are easier to manage as well. I like the fact that you know what’s on the bed. With sand, it’s a mystery concoction, although I do love the look of sand and the types of fish and inverts you can keep with it.
I love the appearance of a nice, clean, bed of sand. I love that they reflect light and seem to add more visual interest to systems. I have never had fish or shrimp that utilize sand, so I'm not missing out there, but it was always fun watching Nassarius spp. appear from the sand when they sensed food enter the water. The only issue that I had with sand was that I often became too lazy to maintain it to a level that wouldn't cause my display to look impossibly disgusting when the sand was stirred. :(

Btw. Congrats again on your hospitality badge
Thank you! I appreciate that. :)
 

90's reefer

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My 120 is bare bottom. That being said detrius builds up in one place for bi monthly removal.
I cant get to whats under rocks and dont try.
What I notice is po4 before blowing off rocks and letting settle is around .02ish.
After it is .06ish everytime.
Anyone else notice this trend.
Corals also like it.
 
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ScottR

ScottR

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I love the appearance of a nice, clean, bed of sand. I love that they reflect light and seem to add more visual interest to systems. I have never had fish or shrimp that utilize sand, so I'm not missing out there, but it was always fun watching Nassarius spp. appear from the sand when they sensed food enter the water. The only issue that I had with sand was that I often became too lazy to maintain it to a level that wouldn't cause my display to look impossibly disgusting when the sand was stirred. :(


Thank you! I appreciate that. :)
I’m limited with wrasses and some nems with BB. But eh, I don’t mind. I have two tanks for a reason :cool: Selling my wife on that second one was tough though.
 
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ScottR

ScottR

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My 120 is bare bottom. That being said detrius builds up in one place for bi monthly removal.
I cant get to whats under rocks and dont try.
What I notice is po4 before blowing off rocks and letting settle is around .02ish.
After it is .06ish everytime.
Anyone else notice this trend.
Corals also like it.
I read a book once, that explained that SPS corals and many others benefit from the dirty water at night and they feed off of detritus. They recommended to blow off your rocks at night when many corals feed. I have no evidence this has worked but I have no complaints. I wish they could talk to me and say “that was a nice meal”.
 

merereef

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I read a book once, that explained that SPS corals and many others benefit from the dirty water at night and they feed off of detritus. They recommended to blow off your rocks at night when many corals feed. I have no evidence this has worked but I have no complaints. I wish they could talk to me and say “that was a nice meal”.
You know... this made a lot of sense!! I will blow rocks and stir sand at night so i dont see the cloudy water and corals can feed... how perfect is this idea...
 

Intense37754

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I don’t have a sump and what doesn’t get picked up by the filter and skimmer my diamond goby appears to get as he seems to turn the entire sand bed over multiple times throughout the day, the crabs, snails, and shrimps clean the rest . I have no algae or diatoms so I’m going to have to say it’s food for a few of those critters.
 

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