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astroboy

Idea for no-sand setup

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I'm setting up a new 90 gallon tank and I had an idea for a sandless setup. Over the years, whenever I've had to tear down a tank, the sand always contained a lot of disgusting stuff, even when the sand bed had a depth of under one inch. This seems to me to indicate that even a little sand is an unavoidable nitrate sink, so I've decided just to not deal with it anymore.

 

To avoid the accumulation of detritus I'm thinking about mounting the rocks on egg crate (styrene lighting panel) which would be supported by lengths of small diameter PVC pipe. I'd have small pumps at the bottom of the tank pushing water along the length of the pipes. This should push any detritus up into the water column where it would hopefully be removed by filter socks or the skimmer.

 

Does anyone have any experience or opinions on such a set up? The only problem I can think of is that the bottom current and lack of sand might greatly reduce the population of amphipods and other small critters, but would this necessarily be a bad thing?

 

Thanks!

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2 things.

 

I used egg crate under my 1/2” sand bed and it was a mess. Everything gets trapped in the little squares and you have to use a small siphon to clean it. If you want to mount to something, get the cutting board material cut to the size of the bottom glass and mount to that.

 

Ref to the PVC pipe, if you use it cap the ends. I have read multiple threads where different types of worms will inhabit the pvc pipes and grow to the length and diameter of the pipes. Someone pulled an 4+ foot bobbit worm out of their PVC pipes. Only way they figured it out was all their fish were disappearing. And that was the last thing they checked. It was on RC years ago.

 

You could also plumb in a remote sand bed with a 5 gallon bucket if you need too

Edited by epleeds

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I use Marine Board at the bottom. It’s plastic so it’s a coralline algae magnet and it spreads out the downward force of your rock work. It will not stay white though.

 

 

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If you direct your current appropriately, you can force the detritus to settle in an area in which it is easy to siphon. A 5G water change allows me to siphon the spot with reserve.

 

 

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I run my tank barebottom, with the glass painted white. The easiest thing was mentioned above. Get your flow right and it will create a pile for you. Siphon is out when needed. I sometimes skip the water change and just siphon the junk into a filter sock in the sump. Works for me and the white bottom looks great IMO.

 

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I have bare glass bottom.  It does stay clean aside from coralline, but I kind of have a problem with the tank being too clean.  Plus I like how sand looks.  Surprisingly it grows so much coralline that it actually lifts off and moves around as sheets in the tank.

 

Also, everything I try to set or fix on the bottom glass gets moved around by snails and flow, even if I glue it down with putty.  I had visions of getting a nice mat of zoas on the bottom, but some jerk always pushed it under a rock.  With sand in the bottom it's easier to get things to stay put.

 

I've come around to the idea that a little dirt and yuck in the sand doesn't hurt and might just help given how good our means of nutrient export are these days.  I may add sand at some point.

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I run my tank barebottom, with the glass painted white. The easiest thing was mentioned above. Get your flow right and it will create a pile for you. Siphon is out when needed. I sometimes skip the water change and just siphon the junk into a filter sock in the sump. Works for me and the white bottom looks great IMO.

 

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This. Sans the white. I just let it show through, covered in algae almost instantly anyways. I know where my detritus collects, and do the same above, sometimes just into a filter sock, like GOSKN. 

 

 

I have bare glass bottom.  It does stay clean aside from coralline, but I kind of have a problem with the tank being too clean.  Plus I like how sand looks.  Surprisingly it grows so much coralline that it actually lifts off and moves around as sheets in the tank.

 

Also, everything I try to set or fix on the bottom glass gets moved around by snails and flow, even if I glue it down with putty.  I had visions of getting a nice mat of zoas on the bottom, but some jerk always pushed it under a rock.  With sand in the bottom it's easier to get things to stay put.

 

I've come around to the idea that a little dirt and yuck in the sand doesn't hurt and might just help given how good our means of nutrient export are these days.  I may add sand at some point.

 

We have different experiences. I've gotten stuff starting to take over the bottom of my tank, but it does move around just as frequently, sand or not. I am just getting into the coraline stage, which I have been wanting to come for a long time now. It'll be another 6 months, but the zoas will take over pretty fast, if the ricordea stop splitting first. 

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I actually scrape the bottom to keep it white.. I can't get it all but can keep it looking pretty good...

 

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I actually scrape the bottom to keep it white.. I can't get it all but can keep it looking pretty good...

 

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk

 

Aint' nobody got time for that!

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Is vacuuming the sand occasionally (e.g. once or twice a year) to bothersome? Additionally, detritus is relatively inert and I've yet to see anything showing it increases nitrate levels. If it's a move to simplify things, I understand but outside of that, I don't see the point. 

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I HIGHLY recommend everyone vacuum their sand bed regularly.  Where do you think detritus and such accumulates?

 

As for alternatives to a real sand bed, why not try a epoxy sand bed.  I have done this and I know of a few others that have done this too.  It gives the illusion of a real sand bed, without the issues.  You can have sections that are real sand to accommodate sand dwelling creatures.  

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The basics behind your concept, Mark, is well known and was used even on older, deep sand bed tanks years ago. In that case, though, aquarists used a "spray bar" to create flow low in the tank to either push detritus out of corners and from behind rock walls (where flow was low and stuff tended to accumulate) to more easily reached areas of the tank where it could either be siphoned out or picked up and suspended by the stronger flow of in-tank pumps to where it might find the overflow and be picked up by filter socks. Your idea sounds like a twist on this basic idea.

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