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goin2disneyland View Drop Down
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    Posted: May 04 2014 at 9:21pm
Hello everyone. I have a weird question for you. Last month we got to visit several of you and see your amazing tanks. I have been tinkering with ours ever since. I would love to know how you all keep your sand bed so clean and white! I didn't see a lot of clean up crews, but every sand bed I saw was pristine. Mine is just yucky looking. Thanks in advance for enlightening me.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hydro phoenix Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 04 2014 at 9:30pm
Lots of people have a diamond goby, they take care of the substrate. Or a cucumber of some sort.

Edited by hydro phoenix - May 04 2014 at 9:31pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DLindquist Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 04 2014 at 9:39pm
I am one of those that LOVE a clean, white, pristine sand bed. I have a pair of Pearly Jawfish and a commensal shrimp / goby that help turn a small portion the sand. I'll stir the layer of sand along the glass and lightly turn over the top layer of the remaining sand bed using a turkey baster when needed.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote love2skiutah Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 04 2014 at 10:37pm
I have 2 Sand Dollars, thanks to Darren and 5 sand sifting starfish. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DMower Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 04 2014 at 11:08pm
Mine is mostly handled by 5 conch. They mostly hide during the day and clean at night.
150 gal reef with 50 gal sump. Reef Octopus DCS-200 Skimmer. AI Sol Blues.
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Mark Peterson View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 05 2014 at 7:59am
Sand "is just yucky looking." Ouch What to do about it?

* Warning: This post is a little different than the above responses to your question. I like to use a plethora of marine organisms that support/eat each other in an interconnected ecological system, but I stay away from some organisms mentioned above. The question is a good one that many hobbyists have had at one time or another.

What is the water flow in your tank?
Good flow can help keep the sand clear and clean. The positioning of powerheads makes a big difference. I recommend that powerheads be positioned down low near or on the sand pushing water up as a stream to make the surface water roll(see image below). This oxygenates the water(gas exchange) making pH stay up where it is supposed to be and encourages waste oxidation(Redox). The health and cleanliness of a tank can be vastly improved by adjusting water flow in this way. Smile

Do you manually stir different areas of your LS bed periodically?
This procedure, using a stick, a large syringe as mentioned already, or your hand, is an excellent way to feed invertebrates like coral and shrimp, while at the same time turning over the clean sand that lies just below the surface. Yes, the detritus in the LS is great coral food. Thumbs Up

Are there any worms in the LS?
Spaghetti Worms are awesome sand cleaners. When looking at the cross section of the sand bed through the aquarium glass, if you can see worm trails in the sand that's a good thing. That is evidence of good biofiltration.

Are there bugs living in the LS?
Bugs such as Amphipods and Copepods are also good at keeping the sand cleaner.

Many of the bugs and worms that we like to encourage as part of the biofiltration are likewise producers of natural live food for our coral and fish. As a side benefite they are actually very good at cleaning the yuck off the sand. Handshake  I give free Live Sand to hobbyists so they can establish this natural cleaning ecology in their reef aquariums.

Is there any Macroalgae in the display?
I find that algae is the quintessential cleaner. Besides its well known ability to eat pollution like crazy, it provides an ideal environment for bugs to live, reproduce and eat detritus. The bugs come out at night and travel the sand looking for food. This cleans the sand. One tank in my system has a bottom growth of Blade Caulerpa which makes it look like a grassy flat. Big smile

Hermit Crabs are excellent at disturbing detritus and helping keep the top sand clean. Too many Hermits can get awful hungry and start eating Snails so it's important to achieve the right balance. I recommend about one Hermit for every three Snails

Sand Sifting Cucumbers are awesome because they generally clean just the top layer of sand, leaving the lower layers of sand to do its very important main job; Biological Filtration. SSCucumbers can get pretty large and eventually cause havoc to the sand bed so I don't recommend them for tanks under 50 gals or recommend trading a large one for a smaller one when they get to that point. Embarrassed

On the other hand, Sand Sifting Stars destroy the biofiltration, Dead eating/decimating the in-fauna and flora so completely that the sand can no longer accomplish its main function as the major part of reef aquarium biofiltration. I only recommend SSStars for a deep cleaning of an old dirty sand bed and to be removed after 2-4 months; possibly replaced with a Sand Sifting Cucumber.

I dislike what I have come to call "sand throwing" fishes. They can create a real mess by throwing sand all over the place, even covering sand dwelling coral like plate and brain coral. They also decimate the in-fauna and flora of the LS. Some Jawfish aren't so bad like the ones DLindquist mentioned.

I don't know why, but I have never used Conch Snails. I guess it's because I never needed them or because they also moderately eat the LS in-fauna and flora. The above points have always accomplished the job for me.

Aloha,
Mark Hug
808-345-1049 call/text before coming over for a visit to get free LS and Macroalgae
750 E Lakepoint Dr. #4V Murray


Edited by Mark Peterson - May 05 2014 at 9:29am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote goin2disneyland Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 05 2014 at 2:08pm
OK.   We have the blue leg hermit crabs, several dozen Nassarius snails and four fighting conchs.   Sand sifting stars are out because we have a harlequin shrimp that is trying to control our asteria star population. So, I am thinking a sea cucumber is the way to go. I don't know anything about them. What kind do you all recommend and do they need any special treatment? Marc, I usually do a water change about every 10 days and I stir up the sand then. Do you keep your macro a page in your display tank? I have a small ball of Chaeto in my refugium, but nothing in the display. You guys are so awesome to help fill my brain with your knowledge and experience! Thank you all!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Softplan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 05 2014 at 2:31pm
I have 3 conchs and a sleeper goby.  Everyone that comes over loves to watch the sleeper goby sift the sand.

http://www.liveaquaria.com/product/prod_display.cfm?c=15+31+213&pcatid=213


Edited by Softplan - May 05 2014 at 2:31pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dan9554880 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 05 2014 at 3:05pm
I used to have a diamond goby which keep the sand super clean but as mention above it eats the bacteria and microorganism found in the sand. Also I notice that they like to move the sand around how they want it even when you even it out. But overall there great fish and interesting to look at.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 05 2014 at 5:56pm
I agree that sand throwing gobies and jawfish are fascinating. I just don't care for how they mess up the biology of the sand bed.

Vacuuming the sand is the mainstay of the tank maintenance business. Every month the tank maintenance guys are there cleaning the tank, which means vacuuming the sand and cleaning the glass. Customers are happy with the tank for a few weeks and then comes the time that they are ready for you to come back to do it again because it looks so awful. I've been there. Tank maintenance people create their own repeat business.

I do water changes every month or two. I never vacuum the sand. When introduced and left alone, the animals do their thing. I stir the top half inch of sand when an area is looking a little dingy and to feed the coral I stir deeper in a small but different area each time.

Tiger Tail Cucumbers are probably the most colorful of SSCucumbers. I like to use one for every 75 gals of tank capacity. I often saw them in Hawaii stretching out from underneath large rocks in the shallows.

Here is a quick pic of one of my tanks, the one with the most Blade Caulerpa. It's a 55 gal. Notice the wave action? That's the rolling water caused by the tanks single powerhead, a 1300 gph Maxijet sitting on the sand at the bottom of the tank



I leave Asterina Stars alone unless they are eating coral. They are part of the cleanup crew. They help keep the sand clean in my tanks. Nassarius Snails are really good for nothing in my book. If Conch Snails are present in the sand but the sand is dingy looking, then what good are they?

I usually ask for a pic of the tank and in this case I would ask to see a pic of the dingy sand, but you are giving us a pretty good picture by your explanation. From what I can tell, the biology that could be keeping the sand clean is missing in this tank. Unhappy Sorry.

Aloha Hug
808-345-1049 call/text before coming to get some clean animal loaded LS and Macroalgae for free.
750 E Lakepoint Dr. #4V Murray

Other Macro in my system


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote xlr8r Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 05 2014 at 7:03pm
Mark has very good advise. Diversity is important. I love many little critters running around eating. Keep in mind that a well balanced CUC keeps things in check. Let them do their jobs. But also keep in mind it may take time to get it all in balance. My tank has clean sand but it looked nasty at one point. Patience. Nothing good happens fast in this hobby. $.02.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DLindquist Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 05 2014 at 7:23pm
I for one despise macro algae growing in my display but have a basketball size clump in my sump. I also dislike Asterina stars and during their rare appearance, they are hand picked and disposed of.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote goin2disneyland Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 05 2014 at 8:47pm


OK. I got some bad info when I bought my first tank. He told me to vacuum the sand bed really good each time I did a water change. Guess I will stop doing that! I don’t usually scrape my glass down into the sand bed, but I gave it a try and got the result I wanted. I do have tons of bugs in the sand including worms. I think I will add a sea cucumber and leave it alone. ;)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote PDoug Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 05 2014 at 10:39pm
with a young tank I would not do water changes as often the reason is you are just providing nutrients that cause nastiness. My advice is there is no right or wrong way just your way and my way hope that helps I will say if you listen to mark while your tank is a little slower in cycling once it levels holy crap does stuff grow Also Mark's tips will save you a ton of money which you can then use on Livestock. Mark does an admirable job of simulating the real thing (the ocean)

Edited by PDoug - May 05 2014 at 10:44pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 06 2014 at 12:28am
Forgive me but the sand in that pic looks pretty clean. IMO, the vacuuming has made it too clean for a SSCucumber at this time. I'd wait a month or more before adding the Cuke. What size is the tank?

When gravel vacuuming is discontinued, the sand bed will get looking kind of cruddy for a while, before the biology grows enough and catches up to be self-cleaning. Be patient.

Only once have I found Asterina Stars eating a coral. Like DLindquist, I just plucked off the offending Stars and that was the end of it. I might have a pic around here somewhere of an Asterina Star extending it's yellow stomach on to the glass to eat the biofilm and algae. Nope, I guess I never took a pic, but here is a perfect pic I found online.


Regarding Macroalgae, growing a grassy field in a display tank is not easy. Just one hungry Tang or Rabbitfish can usually devour Caulerpa faster than it can grow. The small Convict Tang in that pic couldn't keep up with the Caulerpa growth. Sadly it recently passed away. I had it for almost a year, but I believe it died of loneliness. Unhappy Convict Tangs, like the Powder Tangs, I believe are very social fish that do well in groups of their own species.

Aloha Hug

P.S. Thanks for the compliments.


Edited by Mark Peterson - May 06 2014 at 12:30am
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