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Substrate


Obiji

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Hey everyone,

I was just looking for opinions on substrate. I know some people swear on Crushed Coral or Live Sand. I was kind of contemplating doing a mixture of the two. Whats everyones opinion on sand colors? Black? Black+White? White? Crushed Coral? Live sand? Dead Sand? Gravel? Are there any other substrates that I am not thinking of?

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I like the blue glittery rocks from PetsMart...

But seriously, any version of crushed coral is probably your best choice. Depends on what you want to keep. You will want a finer sand for burrowing type creatures. Beyond that it is mostly a personal preference.

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I like the blue glittery rocks from PetsMart...

But seriously, any version of crushed coral is probably your best choice. Depends on what you want to keep. You will want a finer sand for burrowing type creatures. Beyond that it is mostly a personal preference.

Can you elaborate on the crushed coral? Why would it be my best choice?

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Crushed Coral(aragonite). Thats whats in my new tank and love it. In the refugium i put 20lb of live sand on bottom with 20lbs of crushed coral ontop, 10lbs or live rock and some chaeto and macro algae. To me it seems like you dont get the cyano outbreaks like you do with live sand.

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I seem to recall reading something on MAAST recently that Bob Fenner(?) was advocating a mixture of substrates to better replicate the ocean floor. (Maybe it wasn't MAAST or Fenner, but I read it somewhere and it was by someone famous. ;) )

At any rate, it made a lot of sense to me and I plan on doing that in my 75. I picked up 2 bags of Sea Floor Special Grade at Carlos's Sale and figure I will add some crushed coral as well as some oolite type to get a nice mixture.

I have pulverized limestone in my 58, and it looks nice, but it's too fine for my tastes. I also wonder if it may be contributing to the algae problems I've had.

I don't see much benefit in buying live sand, it'll become live on it's own once rock is in there. Although, adding a bit of sand from an established tank can speed up the process and add to diversity.

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I think the point of adding, at least, a small amount of "live" sand is to introduce small critters and bacteria into the sand bed that help to cycle waste through the nitrogen cycle. I'm not sure that the same species of bacteria thrive on live rocks, since the rocks and sand bed present different micro-environments. Maybe that's a good question for a microbiologist.

I'm not an expert, but I have not come across any information about sand (non-silica type) contributing to an algae problem. It seems that most algae problems come from phosphate and nitrate in the water (from waste).

My tank has a couple inches of fine aragonite on top of coarser aragonite. Since I don't have any burrowing fish, I wish I did not have the fine stuff. Any time I mess around on the bottom, I get a cloud of the fine stuff stirred up, and it settles out everywhere, including on corals.

Good luck.

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I run crushed corals, medium and some fine. I don't like any sand in my sump b/c of cleaning. If you disturb it too much it can become toxic. I do like to have snails that turn up the substrate in my tank to help aerate. I bought 160# at RCA sale, 1/2 live 1/2 crushed for a 120 that I am building.

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I seem to recall reading something on MAAST recently that Bob Fenner(?) was advocating a mixture of substrates to better replicate the ocean floor. (Maybe it wasn't MAAST or Fenner, but I read it somewhere and it was by someone famous. tongue.gif )

At any rate, it made a lot of sense to me and I plan on doing that in my 75. I picked up 2 bags of Sea Floor Special Grade at Carlos's Sale and figure I will add some crushed coral as well as some oolite type to get a nice mixture.

I have pulverized limestone in my 58, and it looks nice, but it's too fine for my tastes. I also wonder if it may be contributing to the algae problems I've had.

I don't see much benefit in buying live sand, it'll become live on it's own once rock is in there. Although, adding a bit of sand from an established tank can speed up the process and add to diversity.

I think I agree with your decision as well. I was planning on aiming for a mixture me thinks. But what is your take on cleaning it? Is it going to launch the sand/oolite all over the tank/reefs/equipment?

Anyone else have opinions about substrate?

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I have fine to medium course aragonite sand and also lose some while siphoning. As a result of this depletion, I've had to add more substrate once or twice. I've always used live black and white aragonite sand when setting up and adding, but since I've become more stringent with the quarantine process I wonder if adding live sand to an established system might introduce unwanted parasites/disease. Does anyone know if this is possible or true? Pardon the slightly off topic question.

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Live sand is the biggest ripoff & mistake that a reefer can make!!! Their is really no such thing as live sand unless it is taken straight from the ocean

just think about it for a second,

"how is all of the life, bacteria, organisms, etc. that is supposed to be in live sand, going to live in a sealed bag, without a constant supply nutrients, oxygen, or waterflow."

plus it could be sitting in a warehouse, that stays over 90*; for who knows how long before it is actually moved or shipped anywhere

and if this is the case, couldn't the die off from all of the 'life' in the sand be somewhat dangerous? couldn't it raise ammonia levels, that could lead to other problems?

truth is, best substrate you can get is from an already running tank, though it may have ick or other dangerous diseases in it, the substrate is at least 'Live' enough to sustain the parasite.

Or you could go down the other road, and just add the dreaded 'dry substrate' to a tank. it won't even matter since it will soon become 'live sand' after having live rock and other living organisms in the tank

now if you have the decision between crushed coral or dry sand, that is a tough decision to make.

on one side, adding crushed coral could be in a sense, adding live rock to a tank. since that is something that live rock is composed of, dead coral skeletons.

but it would not allow for as much aeration and burrowing activity that a substrate like sand would have to offer

on the other side, having a very fine substrate (such as sand) would also have it's benefits. It would be allowing much more aeration of the sand bed since it would make it much easier for sand sifters and burrowing creatures to keep any unhealthy, dead spots from settling in the substrate. And the finer or smaller grain, the better aeration your substrate is capable of. Which means, the more aeration of your substrate, the more nutrients that are available to be used in the water column by creatures such as corals. Also, if you have too many nutrients (such as nitrates and phosphates) they are easier to be removed by a simple water change, than it would be a tank a with a large grain substrate-which could keep sand movers from aerating the substrate as much-which would give more places for nutrients such phosphates and nitrates to harvest-Thus become more toxic to the tank and inhabitants over time!

i'm not saying that any one choice is best, but to mix it up according to what it is you plan on keeping would probably give the you the best results.

that is just my opinion on the subject, oh and just to mention, my substrate is a mix of very fine live rock, regular sand, and a small percentage of gravel sized live rock. most of my substrate was just dry sand and mixed with what i obtained from a live rock only tank.

Wyatt

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Obviously we've heard some great information and opinions on sand vs crushed coral. I'll address aesthetics. Clearly the color or tone of the sandbed is a personal choice. I’ve seen black, pink and white commonly offered and see custom mixes. (See some of Mama’s postings for here very attractive brown sandbed) I can only offer some thoughts. I have two nano’s setup with black sand and feel it gives some corals a very dramatic look, other corals seem muted or lost. I have a third setup with a white sand and will be using white for my new 120. I feel this offers a less dramatic canvas but more predictability (as both online and in the LFS white sand is dominate).

In the end it’s a personal choice, take time and look at tanks or tank pictures where your tank will be placed and make a choice you’ll be happy with.

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