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Deep Sand Bed Experiences

This is a discussion on Deep Sand Bed Experiences within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> worms are a 50-50 thing, ... they do burrow through the substrate, ... and your fish love to eat them. so you always need ...

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Deep Sand Bed Experiences
Old 12-19-2012, 10:35 AM   #11
worms are a 50-50 thing, ... they do burrow through the substrate, ... and your fish love to eat them. so you always need more

malaysian trumpet snails will turn over the top of your substrate as well, usually seen as a pest so are free, ... you will quickly have hundreds and will never be rid of them (honestly, you'll have them for the life of your tank, like it or not) if your over feeding your snails will help in dealing with extra food.

freshwater clams work too, ... but these will thrive in tanks you don't take care of as well, ... a bit of backwards thinking there :/ if your tank is too clean they will die of starvation, sure they will open up when they die, ... then someone mentioned that if they die under the sand, all you know is they died for their smell (rotting), and the weight of the sand keeps the shell from opening, so my thought of the snails just having lunch turns into a tease for the snails and your tank smells rotten :( or you spend lots of time learning the extra work to take care of clams in your tank. (or have a very shallow bed - under an inch)

have heard clams can deal with green water in peoples tank, ... only one source so far so it's interesting but still a curiosity, ... wouldn't have to worry about your clam starving though, ... least not till it removed all the green water from the tank.

assassin snails are a good alternative to malaysian trumpet snails, so named because they hunt and kill other snails. ... they reproduce very slowly, they burrow in the sand, will eliminate your Malaysian trumpet snails within a few weeks. as they reproduce slowly you won't have near as many, ever. ... they lay eggs where the trumpet snails have live young and one can turn into 400. the assassin snails need a partner and don't lay a lot of eggs.

one persons description, they got 5 or so, got rid of their trumpet snails, when they dug up their tank years later they found 20.

things that burrow, will keep the top aerobic layer healthy, they don't burrow more than the top inch or so, so mulm will be removed from sight as it sinks down as sand moves around. still there, just don't see it.
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Old 12-19-2012, 10:45 AM   #12
for freshwater, have a detailed look on the life and reproduction of blackworms and tubifex worms.

ron shimek is detailed about his saltwater, but didn't explain any 'why' only what to do.

finding 'why' gets very interesting and informative.

i've been reading and searching for 3-4 months now, ... not a lot, till you consider i work at a call center and can spend time between and during calls in my 8 hour day to read and search, ... that's a lot of time.
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Old 12-19-2012, 11:30 AM   #13
the bugs ron selected are saltwater, but their function is universal, ... burrowing detritus feeders, ... it's a function not a specific critter
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Old 12-19-2012, 11:32 AM   #14
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As long as soil/deep sand bed substrates aren't diaturbed and there is enough oxygen, they are relatively safe. (I use soil, but soil substrates have the same issues and benefits of deep sand beds, but also add nutrients and a wide variety of organisms that live in substrates- bacteria, fungi, etc)

Key elements are the grain size (i prefer sand of 1mm minimum, such as estes 'reef sand'. Its freshwater safe.) and oxygen levels (bacteria on the surface of the substrate break down hydrogen sulfide. They need plenty of oxygen or water movement to work effectively. Oxygen will not interfere with the denitrification bacteria.

Also, please take into account, lakes can produce hydrogen sulfide without a problem because they have MUCH lower stocking levels and a MUCH higher quantity of water.
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Old 12-19-2012, 04:18 PM   #15
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I am assuming your initial question is related to freshwater tanks, not marine, so my question would be, why do you want a "deep" sand bed? And by "deep" just how deep are you meaning?

While we're waiting on that, I did briefly discuss this substrate bacteria issue in my article on bacteria, here:

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Old 12-19-2012, 04:34 PM   #16
both fresh and salt, forum sites that have both fresh and saltwater discussions i try to add the same question to both

how deep ?, ... enough so nitrates are reduced properly
end result, ... this and a hundred other questions lead to some idea towards a better understanding of the possibility of a self-sustaining tank.

so far a serious deficiency in that idea is in the denitrification process nitrogen gas is produced and that will be evaporated out of the tank. that and other road blocks i'm going to face :( first is finding all the road blocks and seeing what, if anything, can be done about them.

experiment time comes next year when funds are available after christmas to find what sand grain size will support the highest bioload. from that how much anaerobic substrate is needed to balance the aerobic substrate.

so i don't know how deep is deep enough, ... maybe it's 2" of anaerobic, maybe it's 3", maybe it's 4", dono. i've never heard of a stress-test for a deep sand bed like this. i have heard of a lady who had a tank stocked with what she stated was about 3x recommended bioload and still zero's for ammonia & nitrite/nitrates in her planted tank.

it's like the debate on deep sand beds is held by fans of and those scared too, ... either way people who are new to it and people who refuse to do it. ... thats a very uneducated group to be talking about what a deep sand bed is and is capable of doing.
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Old 12-19-2012, 04:54 PM   #17
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so i don't know how deep is deep enough, ... maybe it's 2" of anaerobic, maybe it's 3", maybe it's 4", dono. i've never heard of a stress-test for a deep sand bed like this.
I included some general depth numbers in that article I linked. In my research I don't believe I came across anything specific, since so many factors play into this. The water parameters, temperature, fish species and number, live plants, snails, etc. I have never yet come across any reliable source advocating deep sand beds in freshwater; around 3-4 inches is max. So I would tend to assume there is no benefit beyond this, and most agree there could be a detriment.

i have heard of a lady who had a tank stocked with what she stated was about 3x recommended bioload and still zero's for ammonia & nitrite/nitrates in her planted tank.
We would need to know this magic "recommended bioload" to begin with, since this too is dependant upon all those factors I mentioned above. But it is true that with sufficient live plants you will [=should] never see ammonia or nitrite above zero, and nitrates can be zero or slightly higher, but not usually above 5-10ppm unless something is way out of whack. And I'm thinking natural planted tanks here.

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Old 12-19-2012, 05:00 PM   #18
I forget what the name of the website was, but there was a very good article and forum on freshwater deep sand beds. Just google it.
A while back I thought about doing it, but I decided not to because I already had play sand in my aquarium and it recommended a sand with larger grains so the detritus can penetrate the sand and decompose.
It was a fanatastic thread, but like 20 pages long, so expect to read alot.
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Old 12-19-2012, 06:16 PM   #19
DeeDeeK was the lady who started the thread on that forum. she also wrote the same article, a kind of "how to" on freshwater deep sand beds.

she hasn't been on in the last 6mo. or so :(

i had lots of questions to ask her, joined that forum just to be part of that thread. in the middle of all the posts somewhere she linked to the article i believe your talking about. (she wrote it), i read that article before i started looking in forums for info.
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Old 12-20-2012, 02:13 PM   #20
7 or so years ago when I first started posting on these forums, deep sand beds (DSBs) were all the rage. For saltwater tanks.

Then a funny thing happened. It seems there were reports of DSBs crashes after 4-5 years of operation.

And in the next couple of years more emphasis on macro algaes.

I agree with the previous post about FW aquariums----- we got plants.

With the extension that in saltwater we also have macro algaes. Which perform the same functions in a marine environment.

IMHO on one hand we have plant life consuming ammonia, nitrates, phosphates, and carbon dioxide. While returning oxygen and fish food. Not to mention exporting toxins through bioaccumulation.

On the other hand we have DSBs which reduce nitrates to nitrites to nitrogen gas in a low oxygen environment. So even when working correctly at the sand bed surface we have a low oxygen, high co2, high nitrogen gas environment. Plus the DSB does nothing for phosphates. So the tank has phosphates, co2 and nitrogen gas and no nitrates. The perfect environment for cyano bacteria.

Plus when the dsb is not working as intended not only can we get the sulfides but actually further reduce the nitrites to ammonia. So the dsb is actually returning ammonia to the system.

So the reader can be the judge of which system is better for the tank.

I'll take plant life anytime.

Still just my .02
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