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post #1 of 7 Old 05-23-2009, 11:12 PM Thread Starter
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Question live sand v.s. sand

Hay guys, first time asking a question so here goes. I am running a 55 gal saltwater ref tank with 7 ref safe small fish , a couple of zoanthid polyps and some Xenia. My question is for my sump, I want to add a 3" sand bed with some algae and a small piece of live rock, dose the sand need to be alive or can I take some sand from the tank and use it as fertilizer? Thanks for the time. MK
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post #2 of 7 Old 05-24-2009, 06:56 AM
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Originally Posted by golfnut2 View Post
Hay guys, first time asking a question so here goes. I am running a 55 gal saltwater ref tank with 7 ref safe small fish , a couple of zoanthid polyps and some Xenia. My question is for my sump, I want to add a 3" sand bed with some algae and a small piece of live rock, dose the sand need to be alive or can I take some sand from the tank and use it as fertilizer? Thanks for the time. MK
I would avoid disturbing the sand bed in your aquarium. Different types of bacteria grow at different depths, and moving sand from your display into the sump could cause some of the bacteria to die, adding unnecessary nutrients into the water. Given the risk and cost factors, I would buy a bag of sand.

For the record, at this point, the sand in your tank is probably more "alive" than what you will buy at the store as "live sand". The copepods, amphipods, and other small life forms that live within the live rock will quickly spread to the sand bed. So, if you want to use a very small portion of the sand from your display to help "seed" the new sand in the refugium, that would probably be fine. It won't take much, just a 1/2 cup of so of sand. You will need to syphon it out with a syphon hose to prevent the water from clouding.
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post #3 of 7 Old 05-24-2009, 09:23 AM
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dont add 3 inches. its either less then a half inch, 4 -6 inches or no sand at all.
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post #4 of 7 Old 05-24-2009, 10:17 AM
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dont add 3 inches. its either less then a half inch, 4 -6 inches or no sand at all.
Agreed.
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post #5 of 7 Old 05-24-2009, 03:13 PM Thread Starter
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Will a half inch of sand be enough to remove the nitrates plus algae to help with phosphate or will 3.5 inches of space be enough to grow algae?
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post #6 of 7 Old 05-24-2009, 03:21 PM Thread Starter
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Sorry guys about that last post, I need to clarify. I have 7.5 inches"height" in the middle section of my sump, this is where I want to put sand. I would like some suggestions on the best thing to do with this space. Thanks. MK
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post #7 of 7 Old 05-24-2009, 04:52 PM
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Will a half inch of sand be enough to remove the nitrates plus algae to help with phosphate or will 3.5 inches of space be enough to grow algae?
a half inch of sand will not support anaerobic bacteria to remove nitrates. You'll need t go with a deep sand bed for that, as onefish and pasfur suggested, 4-6", no less. 4" is a good depth though, I don't think there's a great need to go up to 6". A 1/2" sand bed is pretty much for looks only, if you don't want to go bare-bottom. The important thing is that it is not deep enough to really trap significant amounts of waste. Sand depths less than 4" aren't deep enough to grow de-nitrifying bacteria, but anything over 1/2" (but less than 4") will cause water quality problems by trapping organic wastes and letting them break down into nitrates without being removed by your protein skimmer.

As far as algae goes, it depends on what type of algae you want to grow. Assuming you're talking about macroalgae, there are several species, and many don't need a sandbed to grow. Chaetomorpha (or chaeto for short) is a very commonly-used macroalgae for sumps, and does not (to my knowledge) require a sandbed.

I guess my point regarding algae is, your choice of sandbed might not impact your choice of algae. It depends on what type of algae you want. But, since you want denitrifying benefits from your sandbed, you'll want to go 4"-6" of depth, which I think would be fine for any type of algae that does require sand to grow in.

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