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iball1804

Using live sand straight from the Ocean

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On one of my recent Florida trips. I was tempted to create another nano reef. Sure enough it happened. Trying to keep the costs down, I started by grabbing a bagful of sand in the ocean. It's in the tank, and has been for the past day or two.The water was very clear, the ocean sand bed had absolutely no algae, just shells. :)

 

Is this safe? Will I run into any bacteria problems or algae breakouts? Any personal experience?

 

Thanks in advance.

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On one of my recent Florida trips. I was tempted to create another nano reef. Sure enough it happened. Trying to keep the costs down, I started by grabbing a bagful of sand in the ocean. It's in the tank, and has been for the past day or two.The water was very clear, the ocean sand bed had absolutely no algae, just shells. :)

 

Is this safe? Will I run into any bacteria problems or algae breakouts? Any personal experience?

 

Thanks in advance.

 

public/private beach? :)

 

In all serious you should be fine- but I don't think that was really needed

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Yeah it was public.

 

Why wasn't it needed? It saved me 20$! I thought it was a great idea. Hehe let's just hope it works out

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The ocean near the shore is pretty dirty/lots of chemicals/BP oil spill/kids pee/etc. You should get sand from deeper out. Like 1/2 mile. I wouldn't use it.

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Wouldn't the oil spill effect 1/2 a mile out much more than near the shore?

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Wouldn't the oil spill effect 1/2 a mile out much more than near the shore?

Oil floats, don't be a smartass. I'm just saying that if you get it from near the shore, you don't know whats in it. farther out is safer.

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Gotcha. Makes sense.

 

I saw you earlier on my other thread, "Enough light for corals?" Did you like the scape?

 

PS: I'm not tying to be a smart aleck. Just thinking things through xD

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Just a thought. With this ocean sand (theoretically fully cured), and fully cured live rock, should I expect a cycle at all?

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Bump. Does my above question ring true?

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Just out of curiosity - are you talking about sand right off the beach, or from the bottom? How far out?

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It was probably 5 feet out.

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I saw you earlier on my other thread, "Enough light for corals?" Did you like the scape?

It is unique. The problem that I think you will have is junk accumulating under the rocks and decomposing. If you had a power head or something under the rocks, it would keep water flowing through there and prevent this from happening. You are also going to have a hard time cleaning the glass because you cant get anything between the rock and the glass. It looks ok, but it isn't functional.

 

Just a thought. With this ocean sand (theoretically fully cured), and fully cured live rock, should I expect a cycle at all?

Yes, you should always expect a cycle. I would test your water over 7-10 days and make sure the tank is ready for inhabitants.

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Sand that close in probably gathers a lot of chemicals and waste from the ocean. The shore is one large skimmer If you were talking about 5 miles out instead of 5 feet out I would say it would probably be alright.

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I took a lot of the rock out an added some small tunnels for flow. It's rather hard to create a functional, yet appealing, scape in such a small tank! :P

 

I guess I will have to sit and wait and see what becomes of my tank. The sand really can't be that bad - there were tons of fins swimming around and in it! But if you say so, I'll believe it.

Edited by iball1804

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My guess would be that it will end up all right, unless it is actually contaminated with some unseen pollutant. I would think the ideal goal would be to get some sand from the fringe area of the reef, even just from one of the close, shallow limestone reefs that you can snorkel out to. I would think that sand would have more of the diversity you are seeking.

 

And you're missing the point about the "tons of fins" - in the open ocean, there's tons and tons AND TONS of water to accomodate all the "tons of fins" you saw. Even if the sand had crap in it, the dilution effect of the open ocean water volume allows for lots of fishes.

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Ohhh.... That makes sense! Yeah I'll just keep a close eye on it.

 

Thanks for the help!

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Ohhh.... That makes sense! Yeah I'll just keep a close eye on it.

 

Thanks for the help!

 

I've just set up a NSW and sand tank with all the materials gathered at Delray beach in South florida. I'm 14 days in with no issues at all and significant invertebrate populations. Keep an eye on your parameters and expect at least a mini cycle. Provided you beach was clean there probably isn't anything to worry about if all your tests are good. Haters gonna hate. Remember that a lot of reefers love to fiddle with every little parameter and prefer the control that mixing their own gives you. There is something to be said for that if you are trying to achieve a certain mix. If you are just going for a healthy tank, you are probably fine.

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I've just set up a NSW and sand tank with all the materials gathered at Delray beach in South florida. I'm 14 days in with no issues at all and significant invertebrate populations. Keep an eye on your parameters and expect at least a mini cycle. Provided you beach was clean there probably isn't anything to worry about if all your tests are good. Haters gonna hate. Remember that a lot of reefers love to fiddle with every little parameter and prefer the control that mixing their own gives you. There is something to be said for that if you are trying to achieve a certain mix. If you are just going for a healthy tank, you are probably fine.

And I'm sure this is true, too. Set it up and see what happens, right? Experimentation is good!

 

My mother and I were doing this sort of thing back in the 60s and 70s, with the old steel-framed, slate-bottom tanks. Undergravel filters and sterile coral skeletons. I was just a little kid. We would go to Boynton Inlet on incoming tide, and get 5-gallon buckets of water to do water changes. She had a long-handled dip net, and as the sargassum weed would float in we would net it up and shake it out over a bucket, and that's what would go into the tank. Frogfish, filefish, tobies, shrimps, etc. We would also drag seines on the grass flats up in St. Lucie County when we all went on camping trips up there.

 

My old man had an old cabin cruiser in a slip at the old Lantana Boat Yard. My mom made little fish traps out of coffee cans, with funnels made from steel window screens on the ends. We would bait those up and drop them into the Intracoastal overnight, and get gobies and blennies and puffers and such. We also had hatchling sea turtles from the beach on several occasions. We would keep them a couple weeks then turn 'em loose.

 

I made my own slurp gun when I was about 10, and started catching fishies for the tanks.

 

Damn, I'm old.

Edited by Mudfish

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And I'm sure this is true, too. Set it up and see what happens, right? Experimentation is good!

 

Absolutely. It's all about what you want your final arrangement to be. NSW tanks always come with surprises, hitchikers, and their own special blend of trace elements. On the dives I've been on I haven't noticed significant differences between water off the reef and that near a clean shoreline. A few levels are always different, but not overwhelmingly so in any one sense. Calcium is always an issue though for some reason.

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Calcium is always an issue though for some reason.

 

And that's what two-part is for!

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Haters gonna hate.

I am certainly not hating on him. I do want to see his tank be successful. He probably is ok; but by using sand from the shore, there is the unknown of what is in it. He needs to be aware that a $8 bag of dry sand from the lfs is a better choice if you are expecting to have a normal tank. I don't think he is doing anything wrong, but to advise that everything will be fine would be irresponsible. We just don't know whats in that sand. With dry sand, that isn't the case.

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It all depends on what your goal for your tank is. The Op's question is overly broad, but in general NSW and sand is just fine for most ranks provided it was collected from a clean beach. Now if you go that route, you will have surprises, (both good and bad) that you wouldn't have had with artificial water and clean sand. You can and most likely will run your cycle time down to just a few days which is a great improvement. of course you may also get crazy diatom blooms, infestations of worms and other critters as well.

 

The question though is can it work? and the only responsible answer is: sure, if you are willing to accept the consequences. If you want a carefully constructed tank with extremely delicate inhabitants I wouldn't use it. If you just want a happy little salt tank with the usual hardy suspects, it should be just fine.

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Wow my thread took off!

 

Mudfish - you are old. Good memories...

 

Herranton - I'll keep a close eye on things.

 

Acid Lamp - I appreciate the positive support and personal experience. Truly helped.

 

Any the suggestions/things to look for?

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I am certainly not hating on him. I do want to see his tank be successful. He probably is ok; but by using sand from the shore, there is the unknown of what is in it. He needs to be aware that a $8 bag of dry sand from the lfs is a better choice if you are expecting to have a normal tank. I don't think he is doing anything wrong, but to advise that everything will be fine would be irresponsible. We just don't know whats in that sand. With dry sand, that isn't the case.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't a lot of crushed coral substrates just dried beach sand from Florida? That's what mine supposedly is... I would still make sure to boil it for a while (? just to kill off any kind of bacteria) with RO/DI water just to be safe. I would also make sure that you collect it a little farther from the shore. In the end though, it might be easier to just buy a bag of sand to be 100% safe (although I bet you would be fine), but I can see the appeal of collecting your own substrate.

Edited by JaneG

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't a lot of crushed coral substrates just dried beach sand from Florida? That's what mine supposedly is... I would still make sure to boil it for a while (? just to kill off any kind of bacteria) with RO/DI water just to be safe. I would also make sure that you collect it a little farther from the shore. In the end though, it might be easier to just buy a bag of sand to be 100% safe (although I bet you would be fine), but I can see the appeal of collecting your own substrate.

 

Basically you are correct about the crushed coral. That product is usually cleaned and sifted first though. You are sort of missing the point of collecting NSW and sand though. By collecting directly from the surf zone you are immediately injecting a biologically mature sand bed into your set up along with the water that is keeping those organisms happy. Thus reducing or eliminating cycle time, and allowing the hobbyist to move directly forward without having to build a bacterial bed over weeks. As you note though, it isn't 100% safe to do so if you want to maintain complete biological control of your tanks. At that point, I would agree it is simpler to buy a prepared product.

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