Reusing Live Sand
I just bought a 120g tank complete. My sister is very familiar with saltwater tanks and has a 75 g reef tank. I am new to all of this. She bought a 180 g complete from the same individual. We went to the home, drained the water removed the fish, live rock and live sand. Traveling home she called her contact in Louisville, KY to ask about reusing the live sand. He said absolutely not. He said it would release extreme nitrates and ammonia. She called 4 other aquarium stores and they told her it was no problem to use the sand if it was kept moist. We transported the water, set the tank up, put in the sand, rock and water. Everything looked great day one, yesterday the fish weren't doing well. (Sailfin, yellow tang, 2 maroon clowns, a Sally lightfoot? and 3 blennies, I think). Had one individual tell me I didn't need a protein skimmer if this was all of the fish I had in the tank. The set up that came with it was ancient. My sisters contact said to get a skimmer ASAP and also a new return pump, so I did. My sister felt the fish were definitely not going to make it so don't worry about it. She can only help over the phone as she is 2 hrs away. I couldn't stand to see the fish die, So I mised up some salt water, drained the tank, removed the live rock so I could catch them and took them out and put them in new salt h20 with a power head and thermometer. The aquarium nitrates/nitrites are off the chart and I am not sure where to go from here. How long can the fish survive in my 55 gal trash can with a powerhead if I keep changing out the h20? How often should I cange the H20? Was this from reusing the live sand or would this have happened anyhow? Also, I wasn't prepared for the relocation and the water that I have used from home is tap h20, which I have read is definitely not good. My sister knew I should use RO, but like I said we weren;t prepared. Any suggestions?
Moving that tank has set you back about 1 month or longer. Sorry. You mentioned the pieces were ancient, leading me to believe that the tank had been undisturbed for many years. You can indeed reuse the sand. IN fact I can't imagnie that sand would ever go bad, it is sand after all. But what the LFS was trying to say was that buying all new sand would have helped prevent your spikes. I don't believe though that it would have been enough. I think that no matter what you did your levels were going to spike. I've been following threads about people moving tanks for a few years. It was always advised to get a new sand bed as it would be a much faster cycle. You'll probably need to keep that water int he tank stirred up a lot and hopefully your new skimmer is of quality and size that it will help pull the wastes from the tank. I'd start doing a lot of water changed in the main tank as well. Keep stirring the sand while sucking out the water. Use a plastic gravel vac as well. Heavy daily water changes and gravel vacuming will help get the wastes out. You won't need to fill all 120g of the tank. About halfway would be good unless the rock is expsoed. Then when the cloudiness begins to recede you'll just have to wait for the tank to recycle.
The fish should be fine for quite some time in their bucket, but since it could take a few months for everything to cycle back you might just trade them to an LFS for credit. That way when your tank is set you can go back and pick out some new fish.
What I've noticed when moving my tank( and I have moved it alot since march) Is when I put it back together it will raise your levels off the chart so I would keep my fish in the rubber maid bin till the tank levels would settle down to were it was safe enough for the fish and corals. I would just make the tube like a home with a filter airstone, rocks and the light. Live sand can go bad, even if you keep it wet. One of my neighbors went over seas when the war broke out. He thought that it wouldn't go bad if he stored it in a bucket with a lid in his house. Within about 1-2 months the sand started to smell real bad, and couldn't be used any more. Even though they are small. When the organisms die they decompose, which pollutes the sand. Live sand also has a shelf life to. Also when stirring it up you can try to screen some of the bigger particles out yourself. Good luke with your setup. :D
But as I said the SAND itself can't go bad. It's a matter of cleaning it and reseeding it.
Well you got me there, but I was referencing that the organisms in the sand can make the nitrates etc rise.
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