Making Live Sand Live in Nano


New member
I was wondering if someone might be able to help me out. I have a sand bed in my 10 gallon composed of that cribsea direct ocean stuff. Now I was wondering how I can truly activate this stuff. I have just read an article that outlines that a true sand bed must have: Various worms, mini starfish, snails, copepods, burrowing shrimp and tiny sea cucumbers. Now it is clear that the bagged "live sand" really does not have all these ingredients, so what should I do. Is it possible to buy those things and add them to the tank ? I am a little lost on this please help me out.

One more thing, The tank is cycling and has been for about 2.5 weeks. The live rock and sand was added on day 0, and the live rock was held at my LFS for several months before I purchased it. There seems to be a lot of small shrimp looking things crawling on the rock, some of them even swim around a little. Are these copepods? Will they move to the sand bed?

I am getting some algae, mostly brownish on the top of the sand bed and a little on the rock. What does this mean? Where am I in the cycle? Should I clean it? Please help me out I am a little, well lot, lost.

Thanks guys.


New member
i thought oceandirect sand was live sand?
im not sure what the definition of "live sand" actually is, however:
"Various worms, mini starfish, snails, copepods, burrowing shrimp and tiny sea cucumbers. "= my definition of a MATURE live sand bed, which will take TIME.

often the mini stars, snails, copepods worms etc are things that hitchhike on various things such as live rock and corals. as time progresses, these things, if they dont die off, will reproduce and as your tank matures, you will see more and more of them.

as for the the cycle. the algea sounds like diatoms. perfectly normal, and should clear way for other... more green algea.

astrea, turbo, nassarius, trochus etc snails should do a good job on keeping the tank clean. fighting conches (not queen conches which get huge) should do a job on the sandbed along with the nassarius snails.

tigertail cucumbers will also keep the sand clean.


Unofficial #1 BJ Penn fan
In time your sand will become live. The small shrimp looking things could be any type of pods. As for the brownish algae that is a diatom bloom. The bloom is normal for any tank that is newly established. Hope that helps. This is the perfect place for you to ask these questions. Welcome to our hobby!


New member
thanks for the quick replies guys. I want to be thorough and make sure that I create an environment that can sustain life before anything goes into the tank. I have a challenge since I picked such a small tank to start out with, but I am up for it and I will enjoy all of it.

On the answers: Hitchhikers are clean and good but what I do not get any of these things. Is there a way to make sure that I will have a healthy sand bed with the creatures I listed? I was wondering if they can be purchased and placed into the sand? There has got to be some kind of solution to this dilemma.


Reef Monkey
Premium Member
You really don't have a dilemma at all. Your live rock more than likely has all of those things living in it right now. In time, they will multiply and make their way into your sandbed. Honestly, a sandbed isn't even necessary, so don't worry about whether that happens next week (which it won't), next month or next year. You have time for that. Now, you can indeed buy such things to "seed" your sand, but in your case, I'd say it's completely unnecessary, and more than likely a waste of money.


New member
you really are over thinking your sandbed. All of these things you are asking if you can purchase are prob already in the tank thanks to your LR. Most of them aren't something to worry about, your sandbed in time will become a natural filter where good bacteria will form to help clean out your tank. Stop over thinking it. Its gonna do just fine, best of luck to you!


New member
you can get a few things that will help you out with some of the algae blooms, that would be normal Clean-Up-Crew. Most times, you always want to feel you get the best hitch-hikers you can, but what you get is what you get.

Many local fish-stores carry some of these, but very few will carry a full array. Especially when talking about CUC members, which most smaller hitch-hikers are, shipping via an online store is possible, although most require you to spend xxx dollars, and doesn't make it reasonable for a nano guy.

What I might reccomend getting is 1 brittle star, 1 Tigertail cucumber, and 10 or so dwarf hermits(either blue-leg or orange-leg). Amongst these guys, they should keep your sand very clean, and the hermits will be doing a lot of sand-stirring, making them great for keeping the algae off the sand, and also off the rock. the brittle-star and dwarf hermits should be fairly common, and fairly cheap. If you have a LFS near you that dabbles in SW and Reef stuff, they should have hermits. I am sure you could ask them to buy an extra 10 for you next time you go. I have seen them anywhere from $1-$3 in a brick and mortar store. That's the only purchase I would suggest until later.

None of this stuff is necessary, but are common hitch-hikers of live rock and sand. And, if you have a few of each, by adding more of whatever you have will on a very small level, stress eachother out, because they will be competing for protein sources. I wouldn't worry about the pods, if you can see some, they are inevitably more, and should flourish in your tank.

One big thing I would reccomend is getting tons of test equipment. All your ph, nitrite, nitrate, ammonia, and the like. These are critical, and as I have learned, especially so in a nano tank. These tests will show you where you are in the curing process of the rock, and the cycling of the tank. You are probably nearing the end of your cycling.
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New member
Nearing the end of my cycle, excellent. I was planning on getting some testing supplies in a couple of weeks to make sure things are good before any live stock goes into the tank, but as per your suggestion I might want to do this sooner. I was told by the guy at my LFS that it will take 3 months, he was probably being conservative, but I am in no rush. Any suggestions for a cost effective test kit?

I still dont know what I will do with the sand bed, perhaps nothing!

I will take the advice on the CUC.


New member
Well, theres 2 ways to do a cycle. REAL LONG, or REAL SHORT. Usually, you can do a crash cycle with some live rock that is uncured. When you do this, it has all the little dead guys and gals in the rock, and it has a lot of rotting stuff, which causes a huge ammonia spike, and nitrite and nitrate cycles are very high as well to follow(doing water changes deminishes, but levels before the water changes are huge), but you do water changes, and get through it. This, from what I read, will take 3-4 weeks. If you started with a "bio-activated" sand, some of the bacteria should have been "seeded" and make that move a bit faster. After this, you still have to adhere to the slow-fill rules, but can add your first critters with more safety.

Or, you could do it over 3-4 months. Chances are, you will have to do the 3-4 month deal. HOWEVER, this does not mean you cannot add anything for 3-4 months. If you got your rock from the LFS, and he had it for a long time, it OBVIOUSLY was cured rock. If you picked it up in person, there is little to NO chance that there was die-off. The die-off is partially what creates the cycling(it creates the ammonia, and I have heard to speed this along a BIT, you could throw a little granular food in there to boost those levels). The problem(hence why it takes so long) is that every time you add a bioload(fish, invert, shrimp, worm, snail, etc.) you go through a new cycle. Once you have established generous amounts of bacteria in the sand/rock etc. these cycles will become much less strong, and much shorter. So you would add a CUC, wait 3 weeks, monitoring levels, add a fish(very hardy one first), wait 3 weeks, add another fish, wait 3 weeks, add some more CUC, wait 3 weeks, and now you have a pretty well cycled tank. And any time you add a fish or "critter" do tests like eery 2 days. You should see ammonia spikes, then nitrite spikes, then nitrate spike, all in a cycle. The more you have(critters), and the longer it has stabilized(ammonia=0, nitrite=0, nitrate=<20), the smaller and shorter the spikes.

Oh, last reccomendation. Get one of those cheaper "all-in-one" kits for the cycling(although seems like you might have already passed that level) because you're going to be testing every 2 days or so for at least a month with realistically no "critters" in the tank, other than hitch-hikers.

My guess as to "you're almost done" is that(again what I heard somewhere) once you start getting algae, it means you are getting fair nitrates in the water, and the nitrate spike is the last in the cycle. Could mean many other things too, like lighting, etc. But for now, with these purposes, let's call it from the cycling.