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Taking the saltwater plunge- newbie Q's

This is a discussion on Taking the saltwater plunge- newbie Q's within the Beginner Saltwater Aquariums forums, part of the Saltwater Fish and Coral Reef Tanks category; --> Welcome to the forum. Great find on the tank! A few things to add, i would not use well water. i would stick with ...

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Taking the saltwater plunge- newbie Q's
Old 01-13-2009, 03:59 PM   #11
onefish2fish's Avatar
Welcome to the forum.
Great find on the tank!
A few things to add, i would not use well water. i would stick with the RO/DI. What have done with my unit is mount it on a sink in my laundry room. I fill 5 gallon jugs but i run the waste line into the washing machine ( you just have to keep an eye on it because it will overflow ) This way when it comes time to wash clothes there is water in it without having to fill up. If using any other water (distilled water can work but id still go RO) your going to have algae issues from the start. Algae feeds from phosphates and nitrites, which reminds me - pick up a liquid test kit. API is a decent one and they have what is called "master saltwater test kit" which is a pack of what you'll need. Stores sell these for $25-40 but online you can find them for about $20. Salifert and elos are more accurate brands but API works well enough esp. for a FOWLR setup.
What was reffered was not about under gravel filtration but rather the dept of your sand bed is very important. I would go 1'' or 1.5'' OR 5-5.5'' to 6'' deep. Any depth of sand in between traps detritus and debris and causing more problems. 5'' or so deep allows de-nitrifying bacteria to grow which in turn acts as a natural filter, this along with good flow blowing on live rock will filter your tank. You still have to perform water changes to export bad nutrients and import good but no mechcanical filtration is required except a protein skimmer if you wish. I recommend one, and read reviews as some are garbage and some are golden. If you havnt already bought a hydrometer DONT! save the $6 for a hydrometer and go straight for a refractometer. Ebay sells them cheap. Refractometers are accurate in testing salinity. I personally would get to hydor koralia #4 powerheads in a 125, atleast to start.
What fish are you planning on stocking with as this is very important. You want to add docile fish first and aggresive ones last.
Hope that helps and feel free to ask questions.
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Old 01-13-2009, 06:16 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by onefish2fish View Post
the dept of your sand bed is very important. I would go 1'' or 1.5'' OR 5-5.5'' to 6'' deep. Any depth of sand in between traps detritus and debris and causing more problems.
Wow. This rarely happens. I very respectfully disagree on this. It is a very long topic and Goemans has a ton of information available on the web, but here is the quick logic...

Small amounts of sand, say 1.5'' or under with good sand sifters is ok, but you would be better to go bare bottom. Any amount of sand will trap detritus, and you need a deep enough sand bed to allow for denitrification. 1.5'' won't hurt, but you have to be very cautious of water flow and detritus accumulation.

The old rule of thumb to use 5-6'' of sand came from people attempting to use a modified plenum system, without a plenum. They would place 2'' of crushed coral, followed by window screening, then another 2'' of crushed coral, then another layer of window screening, and finally 2'' of aragonite sand. This worked ok, but if the bottom layer was disturbed a hydrogen sulfide smell would pollute the tank, because the sand be was to deep. The correct method was to use 5-6'' minimum placed on top of a plenum, used to raise the sand bed. This allowed waster to slowly flow thru the sand and eliminate dead layers.
This works fine and is the "plenum" method of denitrification.

The other method is referred to as a "Deep Sand Bed", or DSB method. This is the method I personally have used for a decade or longer and have discussed many times on this site. You want a MINIMUM of 3'' and preferably 4'' of aragonite sand. If you go much over 4.5'' of sand you will get dead layers as described above. The DSB works well provided you have adequate amounts of live rock to "seed" the sand bed, and sand sifters to keep the sand bed gently stirred. Usually hermit crabs, snails, and starfish are sufficient. The amount of life that thrives in the sand bed is very similar to having a Refugium, as the fish will not eat the copepods, amphipods, etc etc until they come to the surface. These small lifeforms keep the sand bed from packing and allow for extremely effective denitrification.

My aquarium had a Nitrate cycle very similar to a typical Ammonia & Nitrite cycle. The Nitrate climbed to 20ppm after 6 weeks and by week 10 was zero. It has remained zero for over 8 months with 3 daily feedings. This is typical of my experience with these types of setups.

By the way, I sometimes sit for extended periods of time just watching the littler critters in my sand bed. It is amazing to watch how much life actually exists in these aquariums.
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Old 01-13-2009, 08:33 PM   #13
Thanks for the info and replies, OF2F and Pasfur. Disagreement is a good thing, as it forces thinking and research, which I am still doing.
Putting aside, for the moment, the question of the depth of the substrate, I think you both would agree that the crushed coral I have is too big? That leads to a couple of questions.
Can what I have be further crushed to make it finer? (I doubt it, lol)
If not, how about placing my cc as a lower layer and then covering that with a finer arag sand? Or a mixture of the two?
I am prepared, if the general consensus and research dictates, to obtain sand.
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Old 01-14-2009, 06:59 PM   #14
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I do not like fine grain sand, personally. Most aragonite that you see retail today is appropriate, bagged as "aragonite sand". It is actually a mix of aragonite, crushed oyster shell, and crushed coral, but the grain size is correct for denitrification purposes. It is larger than a sand grain, but smaller than your typical bag of crushed coral.

I would suggest against using crushed coral on the bottom and sand on top, for the reason described in my post above about plenum system errors.
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