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billygoat

18g Caribbean Biotope

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Ratvan
2 minutes ago, billygoat said:

Oh man... you kept the sand so you could do it again!? You are one of a kind, @Ratvan😂

 

You may need to add some sort of organic nutrients to the water in order to get sulfide deposits to form. Bacteria in the sandbed produce hydrogen sulfide because they are turning to sulfate (which is abundant in seawater) as a catalyst for the oxidation reactions that drive their metabolism, but they of course need something to "eat" in order to be doing this in the first place. Maybe since you used builder's sand there are less organics down there? It's hard to say for sure.

 

Man... you kept the sand so you could do it again. I can't get over it. 😂😂

 

EDIT: Also how old was your pico when you started to have problems with the sandbed?

Well technically I can get away with it as I build roads and sewers. So I can argue that I am investigating the effects of saltwater on anaerobic bacteria within the waste water system. Yeah I throw nothing out. Ever lol, Also fairly sure I stole the sand from the bins out back. Once I'd taken all the general construction waste out and rinsed a few dozen times

 

I "feed" the tank a couple of times a week once I have finished target feeding with reef roids. I mix it in a plastic cup so i rinse the cup out and dump it in. 

 

The Pico was not old at all, 2 Months? 3 Months? 

 

I might send some of this off to the people who I use to do my Soil and Water Investigation reports to see exactly what sort of organics that I found

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billygoat
37 minutes ago, Nano sapiens said:

Important topic!  Numerous threads from the last decade or two show that not stirring the sand bed on a Pico and small Nano tanks (at least once in a while) typically does not provide a good outcome if one wants to keep the tank running in optimal condition for longer period (years).  Time wise, typically somewhere between 8 months and about 1-1/2 years on a small nano before negative effects are seen and then the distinct possibility of a crash.  I ran into this issue early on at around the 1-1/4 year mark with my 12g nano when I lost many of my corals and have been regularly maintaining my sand bed since then for 11 years now.

 

How much to clean?  That's a good question as each system is unique in it's assemblage of animals, filtration, etc. and the amount of detritus it produces.  Vacuuming detritus from a small section every month or so would be a good place to start, IMO.  As mentioned, using a turkey baster to blow out an area that can't be reached with a vac is helpful.

Well, I certainly am not one to turn down good advice! I already perform frequent turkey bastings, but I will have to include small disruptions to the sandbed as part of my periodic maintenance routine. The more I read about it the more I realize that sandbed maintenance definitely seems like something that should be on every reefer's radar. Thanks for the tips @Nano sapiens!

 

Do you think adding some more burrowing animals might be a good idea as well? I was thinking about picking up another goby, and possibly also a pistol shrimp. A jawfish is also an option but I'm afraid it would make a large mess of things... they are pretty cool though.

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billygoat
34 minutes ago, Ratvan said:

I might send some of this off to the people who I use to do my Soil and Water Investigation reports to see exactly what sort of organics that I found

This actually would be super cool information to have! It's great that you have access to such resources. Testing your current setup as well would be a great way to kind of figure out what you're working with!

 

Oh now that I think about it, your pico is bare bottom at present, isn't it? I guess that would simplify substrate maintenance quite a bit. 😅

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Ratvan
1 minute ago, billygoat said:

This actually would be super cool information to have! It's great that you have access to such resources. Testing your current setup as well would be a great way to kind of figure out what you're working with!

 

Oh now that I think about it, your pico is bare bottom at present, isn't it? I guess that would simplify substrate maintenance quite a bit. 😅

Yeah now bare bottom on both tanks. I kind of miss the sandbed though......

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Nano sapiens
1 hour ago, billygoat said:

Well, I certainly am not one to turn down good advice! I already perform frequent turkey bastings, but I will have to include small disruptions to the sandbed as part of my periodic maintenance routine. The more I read about it the more I realize that sandbed maintenance definitely seems like something that should be on every reefer's radar. Thanks for the tips @Nano sapiens!

 

Do you think adding some more burrowing animals might be a good idea as well? I was thinking about picking up another goby, and possibly also a pistol shrimp. A jawfish is also an option but I'm afraid it would make a large mess of things... they are pretty cool though.

Any creature that turns over the sand bed is helpful, especially if the detritus that is kicked up is captured and removed from the system (floss that is cleaned regularly, skimmer, etc.).  The difficulty is that in small nano aquariums the choice of really effective sand stirrers is quite limited compared to larger systems, so a bit of aquarist assistance is typically needed.

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billygoat
17 minutes ago, Nano sapiens said:

Any creature that turns over the sand bed is helpful, especially if the detritus that is kicked up is captured and removed from the system (floss that is cleaned regularly, skimmer, etc.).  The difficulty is that in small nano aquariums the choice of really effective sand stirrers is quite limited compared to larger systems, so a bit of aquarist assistance is typically needed.

Got it. Thanks again for all your help regarding sandbed maintenance! I don't know where I would be without all the experienced reefers on this forum. Probably out a whole lot of money with nothing to show for it, I imagine. 😂🙏

 

I decided there's no time like the present and went to town on a corner of my substrate with a turkey baster. The amount of detritus that came out of the sand was astounding. I didn't stir it all the way to the bottom, just agitated the top half or perhaps 3/4 of the sand, but dang it was like a blizzard in there! After basting I let things settle for a half hour or so and then tested ammonia. The test came up negative, with no detectable ammonia in the water, which leads me to believe that those little bubbles up against my glass are probably just the products of photosynthesis. So that's a bit reassuring.

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Amphrites
1 hour ago, Ratvan said:

Yeah now bare bottom on both tanks. I kind of miss the sandbed though......

I like barebottom tanks, honestly I'm liable to grab some cheap cutting mats, slice em' up, and just grow easy Monti's, psammo's, stylocoenella, and cyphstrea on the bottom. Just them them all take over whatever areas they prefer.

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Nano sapiens
1 hour ago, billygoat said:

Got it. Thanks again for all your help regarding sandbed maintenance! I don't know where I would be without all the experienced reefers on this forum. Probably out a whole lot of money with nothing to show for it, I imagine. 😂🙏

 

I decided there's no time like the present and went to town on a corner of my substrate with a turkey baster. The amount of detritus that came out of the sand was astounding. I didn't stir it all the way to the bottom, just agitated the top half or perhaps 3/4 of the sand, but dang it was like a blizzard in there! After basting I let things settle for a half hour or so and then tested ammonia. The test came up negative, with no detectable ammonia in the water, which leads me to believe that those little bubbles up against my glass are probably just the products of photosynthesis. So that's a bit reassuring.

Your welcome.  Hate to see nice reef tanks take a dive when a bit of prevention is so benefical.

 

As far as what you're seeing as bubbles, you are correct that is very likely the oxygen by-product from photosynthesis.  Interestingly, the fine details such as which microorganisms are actually in the sand bed (bacteria, archea, fungus, molds, etc) and what they all do, and how they interact in a typical reef tank, is not well researched.  What we do know is that a heavily clogged substrate limits advective flow (with it's fresh supply of nutrients) from getting to the embedded microorganisms that we rely upon to maintain good water quality.

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YHSublime

I would still continue to do just what you did in one corner with some regularity all over, in short spurts. 

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billygoat
13 minutes ago, YHSublime said:

I would still continue to do just what you did in one corner with some regularity all over, in short spurts. 

Oh yes, I'll certainly make substrate cleaning a regular part of my maintenance routine. Once or twice a week I will stir up a small area of the sandbed; I figure that if I work my way around the tank in a regular fashion it will take me a couple of months to get back to where I started, at which point that area should be ready to be cleaned again. The turkey baster seems perfect for this activity, as I can use it to stir up the sand without even having to move my macroalgae out of the way - I can just blast the sand out from under them, and then smooth it back down again with more gentle pulses from the baster.

 

I also decided to remove my screen lid for awhile. I mostly had it on there to keep snails in the tank, which seems like a bit of a silly reason. My fish are tiny and could probably jump through the gaps on the sides or even right through the 1/4" mesh if they really wanted to, but they have never shown any inclination to do so. It's been awhile since I've had no top at all on the tank and I have to say the clean look of it is refreshing.

 

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Lypto

I had a 10 gal with a 3inch sand bed that I left alone with on the advice of others, It turned out to be a major headache later on, about 2 years later the sand had turned cement-like and trapped a fair amount of hydrogen sulfide under the layer, it also served to trap nutrients. I think its good to keep a sand bed agitated, in a real reef the sand is always being shifted or burrowed or sifted by something or other, and in a small system it's hard to replicate that kind of diversity.  I personally don't worry about it too much. Aside from keeping the sand clean. I noticed that cyanno was forming and agitating the bed with a glass rod and and blasting the rocks often enough served to really help. I used an airline hose with to suck up the gas deposits and just ran carbon to deal with the bubbles. Smelled awful but never had the problem again.  I hope it works out for you!

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billygoat
35 minutes ago, Lypto said:

I had a 10 gal with a 3inch sand bed that I left alone with on the advice of others, It turned out to be a major headache later on, about 2 years later the sand had turned cement-like and trapped a fair amount of hydrogen sulfide under the layer, it also served to trap nutrients. I think its good to keep a sand bed agitated, in a real reef the sand is always being shifted or burrowed or sifted by something or other, and in a small system it's hard to replicate that kind of diversity.  I personally don't worry about it too much. Aside from keeping the sand clean. I noticed that cyanno was forming and agitating the bed with a glass rod and and blasting the rocks often enough served to really help. I used an airline hose with to suck up the gas deposits and just ran carbon to deal with the bubbles. Smelled awful but never had the problem again.  I hope it works out for you!

I like your idea of using a glass stirring rod to mix up the sandbed. Mechanical agitation is probably a good option for certain narrow areas of my tank where the baster would likely make too much of a mess. I also noticed today that releasing clouds of detritus from the substrate seems to be great for my gorgonians and other soft corals. All the filter feeders were having a field day. The porcelain crabs were loving it!

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Nano sapiens
1 hour ago, billygoat said:

I like your idea of using a glass stirring rod to mix up the sandbed. Mechanical agitation is probably a good option for certain narrow areas of my tank where the baster would likely make too much of a mess. I also noticed today that releasing clouds of detritus from the substrate seems to be great for my gorgonians and other soft corals. All the filter feeders were having a field day. The porcelain crabs were loving it!

Yum, yum, bacteria coated detritus  :)

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billygoat

I got to spend another peaceful morning observing my aquarium today! There is little else I would rather be doing. 😊

 

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DutchNanoReefer88

Hey, there's a fish in the tank!! 😄

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billygoat
5 hours ago, DutchNanoReefer88 said:

Hey, there's a fish in the tank!! 😄

In fact, there are three! They're a bit shy though. 😉 Except for my blenny, he's not shy at all - just very well camouflaged!

 

So! Today is August 15th, and that means my little tank is eight months old! 🥳🎉 It's well on its way to being a mature system. Thank you all for tagging along on my journey and helping me out so much with all sorts of different things. Without all the guidance and encouragement I've gotten from the wonderful community here on N-R I would never have been able to come as far as I have. And there's still quite a ways to go, so I hope you all stick around! Expect plenty more huge blocks of text and washed-out phone photos in the months to come! 😅

 

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billygoat

Had a bit of a scare this morning as I noticed my big fish-eating mushroom all balled up after feeding and simultaneously could not locate my smaller masked goby anywhere. But when I came back from work I tossed some flake in the tank to test if the fish was still there, and sure enough he popped up out of the rocks safe and sound. I was concerned that he might have wandered into the Maw because I recently made some changes to his territory at the back of the tank!

 

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I wanted the algae a bit further back so I could scrape the glass easier, so I moved some out and relocated the big shell from the center of the tank to this corner. Happily my sailfin blenny, who only occasionally went into the shell before, seems to have taken up residence there! I think the shell was a bit too exposed for his taste when it was smack in the center of the main window.

 

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What a cutie. Total pig though. Eats more than both the other fish put together.

 

Those cinnamon palythoa at the top are starting to open consistently during the daytime. Took them awhile to acclimate but they seem to have come around. They are very large!

 

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Okay that's all for today! Thanks for reading! 😊

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billygoat

The newcomer orange Ricordea has joined its enormous brethren in the corner of the tank. Hopefully it will grow to match the size of the green ones!

 

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