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Adding Deep Sand Bed to Established Tank


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I have a 50g tank thats been up for about 5 months. It has about a 1" sand bed of live Caribsea sand and I want to make it a deep sand bed (DSB). It has about 60 pounds of sand now. I just bought Argonite dry sand that is 1-2mm grain size to slowly add to existing sand bed. Is this grain size too big for a DSB?

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  • 1 month later...

I think the grain size is fine. However, i'd rinse the aragonite very well in ro/di or old water change water to prevent cloudiness. Adding sand to an existing system always clouds the water, but there are ways to minimize it such as rinsing and placing directly to the bottom using a bottle or pvc pipe.

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Grain size is fine, rinse the heck out of it and you shilould be fine. What's the total depth of sand inch wise you are wanting to achieve? IME anything over 4" will give you the deep sand bed benefits. I run 4 1/2 to 5"

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You'll go through a small cycle, depending on the bioload. Bacteria at the top layer of your sand will die but they will be replaced within a few days. This will happen when stirring sand, just not to the extent of completely covering it with new sand. Some organisms living in your sand now may die as well.

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In the long term, sandbed maintenance is required for longevity and stability. The grain size determines the inhabitants of the sandbed. According to Doctor Ron Shimek, the grain size should be smaller than .5 mm to support a diversity of worms. My 12 year old Jaubert Plenum is coarse sand, 2-4 mm at 5" deep. It favors bacteria. Janitors in the top inch of substrate include amphipods, copepods, mini stars, Drawf Florida Cerith Snails and bristle worms. Over the years I favor janitors which reproduce in captivity.


When you add the sand, do 50% at a time. Wait for at least a week before covering the rest of tank. This should help preserve stable bacteria populations.


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I usually prefer a finer grade, at least predominately, but a mix of grades overall. This will encourage a diversity among infauna for species and types that prefer different grain sizes. Personally, I wouldn't try to exceed a 1/2" at a time to make sure infauna can burrow upward to adjust to the environment. Granted, they are pretty tough things as a group, but you don't want to lose more than you have to, especially with something that you want to preserve the population as much as possible.

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