Increasing Live Sand Substrate

Mini Fin

New member
I have just started a new tank, 28 HQI Nano, and have yet to add any corals into the tank. I currently have 30 pounds of LR and 20 pound of Fiji Pink CarebSea live sand. The tank has been cycling for about 2 weeks now and I would like to add additional substrate to increase the depth by another 1 to 1.5 inches. It is currently about a 1/2 inche across the bottom of the tank. The question I have is can I add more live sand or do I need to go with non-live substrate such as argonite? It is my intention to go with the following fish:

1 - Multi-Color Dwarf Angel (I know it might nibble on various corals)
1 - Blue Spot Jawfish
1 - Psychedelic Mandarin Goby
1 - Picasso Clownfish

Any advice on how to increase the substrate would be greatly appreciated,



New member
I would just add more live sand don't put any creatures in the tank yet. you could go with a more inexpensive dry live sand mix your other live sand will help seed it with benificial bacteria. i new to the hobby but iv read several books and talked to 6-7 diffrent marine aquarium shops. the wort thing you coud do is rush things. your fish choices should be recosidered from the advice I got, from all the shops said a mandarin goby is very hard to keep in and aquarium less than 100 gallons they said you should have atleast 100lbs of live rock beacause 99% of the fish would only feed on natural micro organisms that come with the live rock and only add it to a very well established aquarium, they said I might get away with it but dont even think about adding one for atleast 6 months, and still it would be very hard to keep alive. I know it is a really neat reef safe fish that is inexpensive but Iv been told to stay away from it if I want to have it live for more than a month. the dwarf angel I inquired about also they said it would eventually get to big at about 6 inches but I plan to have a reef aquarium first and the fish secondary. and iv also heard jawfish are not suited to a nano aquarium. If I were you I would get some advice from a few stores and find someone that is giving you good advice and not just trying to sell you stuff because iv been there luckily I found a small store that has been giving me good advice. but anyways good luck.

Mini Fin

New member
Interesting, regarding the fish considerations. I have had several LFSs advise that you can keep a Mandarin if you supplement the aquarium with copepods on an ongoing basis. Most of the resources that I read state that at least a 20 gallon tank is necessary for the Blue Spot Jawfish and that they are reef safe. However "reef safe" is a very generic term and may not mean that they are compatible with all corals and inverts. I plan on having some clams and porcelain crabs in my tank so I will want to make sure they can survive together.

The Multi-Color Angel is the fish that does concern me the most. I have one located that is really eating like a horse. Very healthy and beautiful fish. It is pricey though at $150.00 but the LFS owner states it is reef safe and is fully grown at 2 and 1/2 inches like many other dwarf angels. My main intention is to be accomplished in maintaining a Nano Reef so the fish will need to play nice and emit a reasonable an acceptable bio-load.

How long should I wait before adding any new sand substrate? And when I add the sand should I mix it with the existing live sand or simply layer it on top and let the natural inhabitants do the mixing?


New member
Mini Fin..... First of All, let me say,

:wavehand: WELCOME!! :wavehand:

I have a 29 gallon Biocube that I've had going for over a year and a half. About 6 months ago I acquired a Blue Spot Jawfish. I knew I was going to need a deeper sand bed and my tank was already mature. I simply got a bag of live sand and poured it in, with fish and inverts and corals. Of course I removed most of the larger rocks first. I had no problems whatever.

IMO, I would take the money you would spend on the angel fish and buy another Picasso, that way you could end up with a mated pair!

Here is a pic of my tank with the deeper sand bed and my jawfish and clowns.


Mini Fin

New member
You have the nano reef that I want to build. What a wonderful example of a well thought out and completed reef environment. I went back and forth on whether to get a JBJ Nano 28 HQI or the Oceanic Bio-Cube. The clincher for me was the store owner that I was most impressed with and felt could teach me the ropes sold the JBJ product.

Has your Blue Spot created a burrow and if so how much time does he stay burrowed and does he spend much time top-side?

I was advised against a mated pair of Clownfish by some folks as they say you run the risk of having 1 or both of them become aggressive and domineering. It is my intention to place a anemone, probably a Rose Anemone, in the tank to see if a symbiotic relationship will occur.

Twelve years ago I tried a fish only tank when the predominant filtering technique was an under gravel program with a plenum and I failed miserably. Now I am trying again with live rock and live sand and a lot of new technology that wasn't around the first time around.

Thank you for chiming in.



New member
Thanks for the compliment, Ron. Like you, I originally thought I wanted an anemone. But the draw back with them is they require a very stable tank and they have a tendency to move. With the corals I have, I didn't want to run the risk of having them get stung. My clowns have used the brain coral, the yellow polyps, and the duncan as their hosts, (all shown on the left side of the tank).

The blue spot is pretty much a "bottom dweller", occassionally coming out for feeding. He has built 4 burrows and is in each of them sometime during the day. I might also add that if you want an even, level sand bed, these are not the fish for you. They are constantly digging and spitting sand everywhere! He is a great fish to watch though. He uses all kinds and sizes of live rock rubble to line his entrances with. They are avid jumpers, I've already had to rescue him from the rear chambers. I have covered the top with plastic gutter guard from Lowes. HTH!


New member
whos to say anything about what can and cant happen with fish. i think when we look at the requirements we have to go with majority rules. my little brother works at a pet store and the owner is a close friend of ours. now i know they say mandarin gobys are fine if the water is treated with copepods, but majority rules say that will not work. while you may have him a month or so, or it may work and you have him for his life. at our friends pet store he has a 36 fowlr tank with a yellow tang adult who has been fine for years now. but when you read they say 90 gallons at minimum. what it comes down to is how much are you willing to spend on a fish you may not have that long. imo i would wait till your tank is established at least 6 months before getting a mandarin goby. nothing good comes fast.


New member
Welcome to RC.

I don't see any problems adding more live sand, but be aware there will be decaying mater in it that may cause the cycle to start over.

I am sorry to say that I think most of the fish selected are poor choices for your tank.

Clown: Excellent choice.

Jawfish: Possible, but they need to dig a burrow and it is recommended that you have 4 inches of sand as well as an open sand area away from rocks to construct the burrow. Both these requirements are difficult yet not impossible to meet in a 28 gallon tank.

Multi-Color Dwarf Angel: No way. You tank is simply to small for a fish that grows to be 4" and is a very active swimmer. I would not put one in a tank less then 4 feet long. Add to this the likeliness to eat corals will be increase in a small tank do to having less live rock for it to graze on makes it a double no.

Mandarin: Absolutely not. They just require to much live food. They need hundreds of pounds of live rock to sustain them. The bottled pods are extremely expensive and each bottle contains about what a healthy mandarin would eat in a day. You could spend $500 a month and still not be guaranteed to meet the mandarins dietary needs. I would not even recommend an expert try this let alone a beginner.

I am sorry to be so negative, but hopefully you will read this and it will save you heartache of watching your fish die. Don't worry there are tons of cool fish that would do great in your tank. Please check out the link below and find something more suitable for your tank size.

There are lots of other fish that would work that are not on that page, but at least its a place to start.

Good luck.