LFS guy told me not to do a DSB - what's your opinion?

mistybellis

Premium Member
Okay, so I am setting up a new 75g tank and I stopped by the LFS (which is 2 hours away from me -hahaha), and I checked out his tanks.

The guy really seems to know his stuff. He has 3 beautiful display tanks (180g) with an overflow and a refugium with lots of Caulepra. His substrate choice was:

Natures Ocean (Premium Marine Substrate)
Seaflor Aruba Puka Shell (distributed by Caribsea)

There was approximately 1/2" of substrate scattered across his tank floors. He said that the refugium and LR was his method of denitrification (I think) and that a DSB was a bad idea because it would turn into something like rock or cement over time.

He also said that you had to have a ton of sand sifting critters for the DSB to do it's job adequately, and that if not properly maintained, it would cause serious nitrate problems in your tank.
He went as far as to say that he had several customers over the past year that had a bad nitrate problem in their tank and that they didn't know why. When they removed the DSB, problem was solved. I think they started relying on the fuge or something.

Which brings me to my dilemma:

I need help in deciding what to put as my substrate.

I purchased the following (rather prematurely and without further investigation):

150 lb Southdown Sand
20 lb Natures Ocean Premium Marine Substrate Samoa Pink Sand
20 lb Caribsea Arag Alive, Live Aragonite Reef Sand
18 lb Seaflor (Caribsea) Aruba Puka Shell

I have an overflow and sump with PS currently being built by Lifereef. My plan is to add a refuguim ASAP. I currently have approximately 70 lb of cured LR (30lbs of which I have had in another tank for about 3 years). I don't know exactly what type of theme I am going with in my tank, but I want to be ready to handle a pretty good bioload.


Should I use a combo of the above listed for my substrate? Should I forego a DSB?

I am trying hard to do the right thing as I go. If I use a DSB, can anyone point me toward threads that discuss proper maintenance of this type of substrate? I plan to keep this tank for MANY YEARS and I really want it to thrive!!!:D
 

DaveC

Premium Member
I went with a DSB in my tank the 2nd time around....the first time I mixed up various stuff for the bed, but 2nd time around used just southdown as the finer the better....it never came close to turning hard even after 3 years....the trick is to get various snails and other inverts and dig into the sand bed to keep it turned over..I guess it is possible if none of these inverts were used it could turn hard...I used www.reeftopia.com for all my sand diggers, plus fighting conch's at about 1 per 25 gallons or so, also had a tiger cucumber...what you want to stay away from are things that eat all the live inverts and other minute things that crawl around in and out of your sand bed....and of course never vac it.....I am sure you will find many pro's and con's on DSB as some like it, some do not...you are starting out right by asking questions, do some research on both and make up your own mind...so do not use any substrate all all, just bare bottom, but personally I do not like that look....good luck

DaveC
 

Sk8r

Staff member
RC Mod
Some sands will turn to rock---in my experience the puka shell is the most likely to do so: I had crushed coral and shell in an aquarium 6 years old, and had calcification of the sandbed in places. Aragonite in the current aquarium [7 mos old] is still as loose as when I put it in. I wish I'd used some southdown as well, because pure aragonite is a little dusty and chunky, and there are some coral bits in it that attract red algae, not the best appearance, but more food for the sand-critters.

Keeping conchs and nassarius snails indeed will keep the sandbed aerated. Don't expect to vacuum it: that's destructive of the sandbed. But burrowing creatures can be a help.

I keep mandarins and nearly keep up with the copepod demands of 2 of them [I do buy copepods to supplement] with a dsb and a ferocious lot of sand-touching rock and rubble piles. No dsb, less place for copepods. Almost all my fish [see list in sig] tend to appreciate those little bonbons that grow free in the tank, and it sure makes feeding easier when you have to leave the tank for 5 days: it's self-feeding for the most part. That is one of the benefits of a dsb.
 

PatMayo

New member
I have found that those who do a DSB the second time around or after they have several years experience have better luck with the DSB. I think it is because of the knowledge and patience factor the second time around. This hobby takes a lot of patience and if you don't have that, especially in light of a DSB, you can have very poor results.

I elected to go with a SSB and even then I have had many challenges that have taken some time to get over. I think the SSB overall would have fewer challenges to overcome but if done properly either way can be successful. It's so easy to overfeed a tank and not have good nutrient export that a DSB can be more troublesome in the short term.

Good luck with whatever method you choose. I know there are some really good threads with excellent information on DSB's. Maybe Waterkeeper or some other person can dig those up for you. I tried to find one yesterday for you but couldn't locate it. Have you read the Newby thread by Waterkeeper? I think there is some information in that thread as well.

I would certainly do some more research before you make your final decision. It will most likely help a lot regardless which method you choose.

Here is Waterkeepers thread.

http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=239848

Regards,

Pat
 

ledford1

New member
You could go with a remote DSB - that's kind of a happy medium.

I first tried DSB. Now have SSB. Next time, I'm awfully tempted to try BB.

Do whatever you would like. You can have success any way you like it.
 

Poorcollegereef

Future Doc
lfs owners and all marine addicts are all a bit superstitious to some degree. My lfs guy (like you my local one is 1.25 hours away) swears by a dsb and feels like the whole dsb nitrate myth is well, a myth. I think what your lfs has experienced was either a lack of care from his patrons or that his substrate choices were not very good. I feel a dsb is a great method for nitrate reduction but then again, i couldnt afford it so i made a small refugium with a dsb and it is working well. I think many marine addicts try different methods and if they do not work right away because they didnt do something right, they fuss and complain, do some research about another method, get it right and are forever deeply loyal to the new method... normally refusing to try anything else. oh well, some occupational therapy is always good. goodluck
 

mistybellis

Premium Member
I think I am going to go with a DSB. I have some Southdown Sand and I am going to give it a try. Sk8r - I am also interested to see where you buy copepods. Any suggestions on where to get some macroalgae for a fuge? Poorcollegereef, thanks for noting that I am an OT. I'll keep everyone posted on my progress.
 

sulcata1619

New member
mystybellis,
If you can find a local reef group to join you can get some cool stuff. I live in northern california, joined a group and asked about macro for my fuge. One guy gave me three kinds and another guy cave me feather caulerpa. Keep in touch, I can send you some for the cost of shipping once it starts to take off in my sump. I just started the fuge last week. Hopefully should be trimming weekly pretty soon.
 

mg426

New member
The above mention of a remote DSB caught my eye. that is exactly what I run. I have a couple inches in the main tank then aroundn 6+ in my 30 gallon refugium. I dont care for the DSB look in the main tank. I have not had any thing but good luck/results with my DSB.
 

mistybellis

Premium Member
THANK YOU sulcata1619!!! I have to say there aren't many reefers here in rural southeastern KY, I tried joining the local reef club (2 hours away) but they always had meeting during week nights and I could leave work in time to get there, oh well. I would love to take you up on your offer!!!

mg436-I am adding a sump to my tank, but it is very compact and does not allow for a DSB, it is mainly for flow. Do you have a lot of critters stirring up your main tank sandbed or your remote DSB? I would love to hear more on how to manage the sandbed, weather shallow or deep....
 

WaterKeeper

Bogus Information Expert
Premium Member
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=8132508#post8132508 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by mg426
I have not had any thing but good luck/results with my DSB.

Exactly MG; I feel that using a DSB is the Best way for the newcomer to the hobby have a fully stable tank. Sure, having a bare bottom tank lets one siphon off the poop but a well functioning DSB process that poop and turns it into inorganic materials which are taken up by the bed itself or by other inhabitants of the tank.

Everyone has good intentions to dutifully clean the tank everyday but over time that tends to slip away. You can try a remote DSB but I've not tried one myself. If you are interested here is the Bed in a Bucket thread on the subject.
 

mistybellis

Premium Member
I am completely thrilled to have the honorable Waterkeeper post to my thread - THANKS!!! I will read the information immediately.:D
 

AZDesertRat

In Memoriam
Oh Geez !!! You shouldn't have said that, he will get a case of the big head now and we won't be able to tolerate him!
 

cecilturtle

Premium Member
Misty,

In a nutshell, this is what has worked for me...

SSB: optimal grain size just under crushed coral. I think fiji pink 2-2.6mm grain. Must siphon at least every other water change. Med load. No refugium. With skimmer. Premium skimmer for higher loads.

BB: optimal SPS tank with high turnover rate. Considerably higher bio loads. No refugium. Premium level skimmer needed.

DSB: easiest tank to run. I like mix of Southdown with some fiji pink above (70/30). Med bioload, but restrictions on fish, crabs. IMO, refugium a must. Skimmer needed, with premium skimmers for higher loads. Seems to work best if you wait first two months or so before adding fish. Add detritavore kits 2/yr. Never touch the sandbed. Hangon refugium actually works very nicely.
 

imtheonlylp

New member
anyone know where to get southdown online? or anywhere for that matter? is HD the ONLY distributor in the world of this elusive stuff?
 

mistybellis

Premium Member
So, is it true that you should never mess with a DSB (Deep Sand Bed)?

Someone once told me that you should mix it up every once in a while to keep it from getting that concrete like texture. I bet that mixing up the sandbed does some kind of gas release or messes with the denitrification process though. Anyway, does anyone know how to maintain a DSB over time to keep it looking show tank worthy? My current tank gets bubbles in the sandbed and a layer of algae below the surface. I know water changes and a cleaner kit (snails, etc) are very important, any other clues would be welcome.

Southdown Sand- I drove 4 hours to Home Depot in Cincinnati to get mine. I don't know of anywhere else to get it. :p
 

AZDesertRat

In Memoriam
Don't mess with a DSB except to maybe siphon of a very thin surface layer once in a while if it has dead spots. A good clean up crew should do all the maintenance you need. Critters like sand sifting stars, gobies and other digging things should be avoided if you want to sand bed to thrive. I use nassarius and cerith snails, a fighting conch and a few hermits to keep it clean, well that and about 35X turnover of random flow.
 

demonsp

In Memoriam
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=8173260#post8173260 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by mistybellis
So, is it true that you should never mess with a DSB (Deep Sand Bed)?

Someone once told me that you should mix it up every once in a while to keep it from getting that concrete like texture. I bet that mixing up the sandbed does some kind of gas release or messes with the denitrification process though. Anyway, does anyone know how to maintain a DSB over time to keep it looking show tank worthy? My current tank gets bubbles in the sandbed and a layer of algae below the surface. I know water changes and a cleaner kit (snails, etc) are very important, any other clues would be welcome.

Southdown Sand- I drove 4 hours to Home Depot in Cincinnati to get mine. I don't know of anywhere else to get it. :p


Ahhhh im dumb . Thanks anyway :)
 
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