Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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pop 07-20-2013 08:25 AM

Help starting DSB
Hello Friends:
I have gotten the idea that deep sand beds are associated with saltwater setups and I would like some suggestion on how to set one up and get it running as a freshwater tank.
Is it possible to have a DSB in a fishless aquarium?
My goal is to create an environment for denitrifying bacteria.

Thanks for any and all suggestion.

Chesh 07-21-2013 05:08 AM

Yanno, Pop. . . I've seen enough debates on this very subject that I feel POSITIVE the answer lies somewhere in my mind - I just can't seem to put my finger on it! I want to say that the consensus was that it wouldn't work with freshwater, but. . . I can't remember why, or if that's correct. Maybe it was the debating that got me mixed up in the first place!

I'll look to see if I can find any of those older threads, OR one of our Salty friends who know far more about this kind of thing than I do to help you out. It's a good question. I'd like to see the answer myself!

And just out of curiosity - why create an environment specifically for denitrifying bacteria?

pop 07-21-2013 06:05 AM

Hello Chesire:
To answer your question why create an environment specifically for denitrifying bacteria? See if it will work for me. I have one aquarium and I was given a 25 or so gal aquarium by someone who gave up fish keeping. I donít want the responsibility of another inhabited tank yet my wife is giving me static about the empty aquarium sitting in the living room. When the dbs starts working if I can I would put very low light plants in it and maybe some mts or some type of worm. If the environment I create is habitable then I might consider having two or three water critters. The time frame I bargained with the wife is 6 to 10 months I have to get it together.

Another reason is I would like to experience the complete nitrogen cycle.

Many friends on the fresh water side believe you can only deal with nitrate by using chemicals or by water changes so I want to verify their paradigm. I came to the saltwater side because they seem more flexible on this subject and opened to implementation.

Thank you for asking and considering to assist me,

wake49 07-21-2013 07:22 AM


The reason that Deep Sand Beds work in Saltwater aquariums is because of detrivores, microorganisms that feed on detritus and such, and anaerobic bacteria. The deepest part of the sand bed, in a saltwater aquarium 4-6", harbors anaerobic bacteria that convert nitrates into nitrogen gas which leaves the system naturally. Above that layer are detrivores, who move the sand around all so slightly to keep it from crystalizing and clumping together, or from Hydrogen Sulfide pockets from forming.

In Freshwater, I do not think that these detrivores exist. Freshwater burrowing wormlike creatures are a lot larger, and will probably disturb the anaerobic layer that harbors the anaerobic bacteria necessary for a Deep Sand Bed to work.

Read this: Ron Shimek's Website...Deep Sand Beds

Maybe you should start a saltwater tank? lol

pop 07-22-2013 05:01 AM

Hello wake49:
I have read this article ĎRead this: Ron Shimek's Website...Deep Sand Bedsí from another thread you posted. You are right about the sand sifting critters; I am thinking that MTS snails and some type of fresh water worm would work for sifters. I am more concerned about nitrogen availability; I was thinking about 4 or 5 inches of substrate with some not many stemmed plants.
Would having plants represent a limiting factor for the development of autotrophic nitrifying bacteria colonies.
Would it be possible to use only ammonia for a nitrogen source and not have any living critters to jump start the DSB?

I know you are right about disturbing the anaerobic layer but I want to try anyway itís only a couple of month and not much investment.

Thank you for the suggestion

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