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FAQs about Marine Substrates Moving/Replacement/Addition 4

Related Articles: Marine System Substrates (Gravels, Sands) by Bob Fenner, Marine Substrate Options by Sara Mavinkurve, Deep Sand Beds, Live Sand, Biofiltration, Denitrification, Live Sand, Live Rock, Biominerals in Seawater, Understanding Calcium & Alkalinity

Related FAQs: Moving/Replacing/Adding To 1, Marine Substrate Moving/Replacing/Adding To 2, Marine Substrate Moving/Replacing/Adding To 3, Marine Substrate Moving/Replacing/Adding To 5, & Marine Substrates 1, Marine Substrates 2, Marine Substrates 3, Marine Substrates 4, Marine Substrates 5, Marine Substrates 6, Marine Substrates 7, Marine Substrates 8, Marine Substrates 9, Rationale, Selection, Reef  Substrates, By Type: Aragonite/s, Coral Sands, Silicates, Dolomites/TapAShell, Southdown & Such, Collecting Your Own, & Physical Make-up, Size/Grade, Location, Depth, Cleaning, Deep Sand Beds, DSBs 2, DSBs 3, Refugium Substrates/DSBs, Live Sand, Mud Filtration 1 Biofiltration, Nitrates, Sand Sifters, AquascapingCalcium, FAQs 1


DSB Transition      12/5/16
Aloha Bob, I followed your tip and remove all the black cinders from the first stage of my sump.
Together with installing a GFO reactor I have gotten the phosphates down from 5 to <.25. Here's a pic of my DT, which I may keep shallow and vacuumed then install a DSB remotely.
<Very good>
Do you like the idea of a giant Rubbermaid tub DSB\Refugium as part of this system.
<Yes I do. These are MIGHTY fine products... sturdy, easy to modify, chemically inert... and cheap per volume>
Looks like Cyano keeps creeping in .
<Time going by here... Patience!>
Still no coralline with 12KDH. Using RI water now with lots of water changes. Only has come down from 14- high KDH is still a mystery.
<Time here as well>
I plan to add a few inches to my sump, regardless. In the next image you can see my current second chamber of my outdoor sump. There are some layers of cinders in there and lots of life.
<I see>
My main question is do I remove all that sand pictures in my sump, since it may have trapped phosphates- then leave a little bit to re-seed the coral sand? Or do you feel it's safe to just place new sand atop this and not stir things up too much?
<The latter is the route I'd go>
Keep in mind I have plenty of room outside to plumb in a new sump or remote DSB. Would you replace the 20gal sump with a 36-90 since I have the room?
My DT is 100g. Mahaloz!
<I would ALWAYS make sumps, refugiums, DSBs... As LARGE as possible>
Sky Kubby
<Bob Kubby>

Too view of sump.      12/5/16
This goes with my last two emails for perspective....
Sky Kubby

DSB replacement cont...      12/5/16
Here's a couple more follow up pics show the close up of the layer of black cinders in the sand bed. Remove or safe to cover with more sand?
<Safe to cover>
Also note the precarious positioning of my sump on the ledge. This is why I'm thinking of replacing it with a long larger sup against the back with a proper base. Do you agree or think this will suffice? Thanks!
<I'd replace w/ larger w/ proper base for sure. BK>
Sky Kubby

Re: DSB Transition      12/5/16
Perfect, thanks! Since I’m solar powered I’m going to gravity drain from this sump into the RubberMaid via a 2” pipe, or something, so as not to add an extra pump and possible failing system.
<You are wise here>
Or better yet, use this sump inside the (250g?) RubberMaid, as a pump return chamber! ;-)
By the way I see you replied Bob Kubby. Is this a typo, or a long-lost relative!? LOL!
<Just pulling your fins, BobF>
In Radiant Health,
Sky Kubby

Substrate Confusion - Shallow Tank Coral Placement      11/28/16
Good morning, I've spent about an hour searching through your FAQ's and information on sandbeds and crushed coral, etc... I find that I'm still confused.
<Let's see...>
I have a shallow 60g tank that has 46g of "live area" - it's an Innovative Marine, so the additional gallons are hosted in the equipment alley along the back.
I have around 60lbs of liverock, some of which I keep in the equipment alley slots (away from pumps) for the added filtration and have aquascaped nicely to allow flat areas for eventual coral placement. My question is, I don't have the vertical space for a deep sand bed in this shallow tank.
I've elected to go with crushed coral and have approximately 2.5" along the bottom. I'll start with FOWL system and after I am confident with the equipment I've purchased, livestock, general care and maintenance, I'll proceed to add corals in 7mths after a summer holiday.
<Sounds/reads good thus far>
1. I have 2.5" of crushed coral, if I reduced that to 1" it would allow an extra inch of swim room if I did. Is there any other advantage or disadvantage to reducing my crushed coral bottom?
<A bit easier to vacuum, stir, clean... less digging space if you have animals that do so>
I wasn't sure on what critters I'd want, thus initially elected to go with 2.5" but now am re-thinking. Anything else I need to watch with crushed coral bottom of that depth at 2.5"?
<Not really; no. Not much chance for issues with anaerobic decomposition>
2. Does crushed coral HAVE TO be vacuumed?
<Mmm; depends on a few factors... the size, shape of the grains/pieces, circulation, how much your livestock may tumble, AND the chance introduction of interstitial organisms. Re this last: folks can get lucky and have "pods" and much more live twixt grains... and these will reduce to eliminate the need to vac>
In your FAQ's you mention all the beneficial organisms that will be vacuumed up.
3. Are there ideal critters that will help maintain a crushed coral bottom?
<Ah, yes. A myriad of life forms... worms, crustaceans, molluscs, echinoderms and much more. Some will definitely "derive" from your live rock>
obviously I'm saying NO to a sandsifting star, but what about Nassarius snails in crushed coral?
<These are excellent burrowers>
4. What is the ideal space from top of liverock to water level for most corals?
<Mmm; depends on species, lighting (intensity mostly)>

I will have 360W Kessil LED's, thus can alter my intensity if needed. I believe I currently have 5-7".
<This is fine for most varieties... Some LPS, Fungiids... you may want to place near the bottom or on it>
Thanks again, you guys are awesome!
<Glad to assist your efforts. Bob Fenner>

DSB question         7/12/16
Hello from Indiana. I have a 4in DSB that is 6 years old, and due to a slow leak in my 55gal tank, I need to relocate the occupants. I'm sure the question has been answered somewhere in the forums but I couldn't quite find specific directions on moving the DSB to a new tank. Given the age of the DSB I suspect I need to discard most of it but want to maximize the number of pods, miscellaneous critters and helpful bacteria that I take along. How deep of sand can I safely collect for transfer and any tips on gathering up the most detritivores (i.e. collect at night, put out food)?
<I'd scrape off the top two inches or so, and place this on top of all new fine sand... See here for much more:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

reusing current sand bed      6/21/16
i am resetting-up my 55 gal and will be creating a reef tank.
my 2” sand bed is OLD (maybe 8 yrs?). can i remove the sand, thoroughly wash it, and reuse it?
<Yes... some are better re-used than others... for various functions... Like buffering pH, providing soluble alkaline earths (Ca, Mg...)>
i want a 4” bed so if i can reuse the old, should i mix new with old, or replace old (washed) and top with new?
<Ah yes; a good plan. Gone over on WWM btw. Bob Fenner>
thanks in advance
ken baker
Deep sand bed question        6/22/16

I took my 55 gal marine tank down so I could remove many scratches (acrylic!) and wash the gravel. I had a 2" bed and want to add more substrate to create a DSB.
<I recall>
Without doing enough research here (shame on me) I purchased another 2" worth of the same substrate--tropic Eden reeflakes, 2-3mm. After belated research I now see that I should be using much finer substrate.
<Would be better, but...
So--can I top this 4" of flakes with 2" of aragonite sand, or mix 2" of sand with the top 2" of flakes, or just go with the 4" of flakes and take other maintenance precautions?
<I'd just go ahead and mix all... as it will be in time. BobF>
Thanks in advance!!
Ken baker

Temporary Move of Tanks; and re-use of old/er substrate        8/15/15
Good morning. I've just spent about an hour reading through your tank moving threads but haven't really found the answers I need as my situation is somewhat different than just a one time move.
Here are the facts;
We are redoing the flooring in the room that houses my two tanks, a 75 freshwater planted tank and a 125 gallon, DSB Reef tank with Live rock and corals. In planning for this move I have re-homed all of the fish already.
The 75 gallon freshwater planted tank has a 3 inch soil bed with an inch of large grain gravel on top. I am hoping this is a small enough set up to simply drain it down to the gravel level, move it, refill it,
<Get some help lifting!>
then repeat the process three or four days later when the flooring is done. I recently did this with a 72 bow front at our boat club and only lost about half of the plants but that was due to not being able to refill the tank in between.
The 125 is another story. The plan is to keep the live rock and corals in a 30 gallon bin and run one of the existing and seasoned mechanical filters on it for the duration. The 5 inch sand bed and plenum are the concern.
<Most of this I'd scoop out... the top few inches siphon into flat containers (best, Rubbermaid trough/s), under an inch or so, just scoop most out, rinse ahead of replacing in the tank>
I am almost of the opinion, since it is an aged system (7 years old or so), to simply discard the entire sand bed and take this opportunity to scrub out the plenum etc.
<Likely a good/opportune time to switch out... again, I'd save, re-use the top inch>
I may try to save the top layer but I am not sure how much of the assorted worms, copepods etc will actually survive two moves in less than a week.
<Some, enough>
In your opinion, is complete replacement the correct method?
<I'd save.... the top>
I'm thinking the tank itself, at 6 feet, is too large to attempt to leave everything on the bottom and move it without the risk of breakage.
<Yes.... as in your backs!>
Opinions, thoughts?
<Our businesses did such moves MANY times... Remember the great expediter that is bier and pizza/BBQ>
Thanks again for all of your help.
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Addition of fresh live sand to 2 yr old tank         6/1/15
Hello my dear experts! one just cannot thank you enough for the stuff we learn all the time from your website! I need a little guidance....I have a 2 yr old 35g mixed reef tank with a 2-3 inch sand bed but I am afraid they are not uniformly distributed anymore. Have gradually lost some during water change over the yrs and some parts moved around by my reef lobster. I
would like to add some new sand to those parts and have bought CaribSea Fiji pink LS (ca 5kg) bag same as original layer. Qs is, do I simply add the new LS slowly into my tank or need to rinse the new sand to remove its bacterial fauna before addition as my tank might have its own kind? The rinsing theory was suggested by a rerouted LFS in Orlando...As always very thankful for your thoughts...br Kaustuv from Denmark
<Can be simply rinsed and added over, mixed in... Read here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/SubstReplF4.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

DSB for new 150gal setup     1/13/15
Hello. I am starting a new 150gal FOWLR aquarium and want to do a DSB of 4".
<Sounds good>
I was able to secure 120lbs of Carib sea special grade sand 1-2mm at next to nothing from a friend (he aborted his set up 3 mo.s ago and had it sitting in his basement). Would it be a bad idea to get 2" worth of live sand, of a smaller grain size, put that down first and then put the Carib special grade on top to make up the sand bed?
<I'd just get more fine sand as you have already, and have some (a few ten lb.s) of good Live Rock seed all. IF instead you decide to buy some Live Sand, DO place it/this on top of the new/non-live; NOT under>
Or given the 120lbs of special grade that I have, would you recommend doing something else?
<Yes; as stated>
Thanks, I LOVE this forum.
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: DSB for new 150gal setup. Rdg     1/13/15

Thanks for the quick reply! Just a quick follow-up, I thought the 1-2mm size of the special grade was too big for the anaerobic portion of the DSB(hence my first thought of putting finer sand below it). Is the 1-2mm size that I have acceptable for the entire DSB? thanks again.
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/marsetupindex1.htm
scroll down to.... B>

Moving my 24g reef     12/3/14
Hi there. I will be moving my reef next week from Southern CA to San Francisco and have been preparing and researching over the past month or so.
I plan to have lots of mixed and heated saltwater ready at the new apartment in SF. I plan to move my four fish in a RubberMaid with heater and airstone and a couple pieces of live rock, but am hung up on what to do with my live sand.
<If it's... "clean", just move it with a bit of water on top>
I keep reading that I need to rinse or throw it out, because exposing it to O2 will cause an ammonia spike.
However, with such a small cube, I wouldn't have to disturb the sand bed, and will be able to move the tank with a couple inches of water and sand left in it. Is there a reason this will not work?
<VERY likely will work>
Thank you!
<Welcome! Bob Fenner>
Re: Moving my 24g reef     12/4/14

Great!! Thank you very much.
<Bon voyage Nick! BobF>

Dear Bob,

I was after some advice please: The sand in my aquarium has lost some of its lustre. I have a blue cheek goby which sifts the sand and I also clean the sand with a gravel cleaner but everything still looks a bit tired. I remember reading that it is a good idea to swap out live rock after a while to rejuvenate it... should I do the same with my sand, or would that be removing too much good stuff too? My sand bed is of fine grain, and is around two inches in thickness. If I was to replace all or part of the sand, what would be the best way to go about it? Using a gravel filter makes enough mess at the best of times so I image this would be a bit of a nightmare. The health of my livestock comes first, so any advice will be adhered to!  Your thoughts on this would be appreciated,



Hello Alex and thank you for your throughtful question. It is indeed a good idea to periodically either add to, or replace part of all hard substrates in our systems, including both live and base rock, as well as substrates. The rationale here is that in our over-crowded, over-fed systems, reductive (i.e. acidic) reactions predominate, dissolving out more easily soluble and necessary materials, most celebratedly the alkaline earth elements Calcium and Magnesium and alkalinity in the way of mainly carbonate, bi-carbonate. Of a certainty, folks could dispense with the change out/additions of hard matter, utilizing supplements, calcium reactors and more'¦ but I warrant that the change out/addition route is superior by far, granting triturating and small to large burrowing livestock a more natural base, and providing a reserve of the aforementioned chemicals.             Replacing sand can be done in a few ways'¦ The better involve removing some of the existing in a systematic fashion; usually one side of the tank or the other. My favorite method is using a siphon of large diameter to pull out along with water during changes therein, though a slow and steady 'scoop' method, utilizing a plastic food container works fine'¦ though more cloudy water is to be expected. Adding new to the old is best done by pre-rinsing the new, spreading it finely, over a period of days, onto the existing, so as not to 'drown' the life (interstitial fauna) present within.Some life is lost with both processes, but this is very quickly replaced and improved with the new substrate material being populated by existing populations of organisms on the live rock and in the sand.

Dry rock and Liverock    12/27/13
Hello Crew,
<Hey Ed>
Well after a year or two of research and acquiring all my equipment
I am ready to go from my 30 gallon tank to a 125 gallon tank. I had a question regarding the curing and cycling of dry rock with the addition of adding 40 lbs of established live rock from my 30 gallon that I have had going for three years now.  What are your thoughts on adding 100 lbs of dry rock with the 40lbs of established rock directly to the new tank with live sand?
<Put the olde/live rock and sand on top of the new/dead>
 or would it be better to add all to a large Brute trash can, go through the curing and cycle process and add to the new tank?
<Just rinse the new and install. Bob Fenner>

Sand bed top layer sticky/lumpy??      11/12/13
Hello WWM
I have a question regarding the sand bed in my 220 gallon reef. I was moving a rock today and noticed that the top layer of sand in areas seems to be lumpy/sticking together... almost gooey looking. This gooey top layer is around a cm deep, under that top layer, it seems to be normal.  I was doing a light siphon to pick up some visible detritus, and I was dragging up these sort of strings/clumps of sand.
Any ideas??
Thanks so much
<Could be... either biological... organisms making the goo... or simply supplements glomming together... Do you have a microscope of let's say four hundred magnification? Bob Fenner>
Re: Sand bed top layer sticky/lumpy??      11/13/13

Thanks for the quick reply Bob!
<Welcome Alex>
Unfortunately, I do not have a microscope handy. I have read that bacteria can do this sort of thing, worms I'm the LS, or even snail eggs....
<Yes! These and more>
Do you feel that there is any danger to my aquarium regarding this?
<Mmm, not much; no. As long as a good part of the bed is patent, not stuck together, you/they should be fine. This stated, I would break up the mass/es, with a wooden or plastic dowel... while executing your regular water changes>
 I have a couple of sleeper gobies on my wish list, maybe these guys could help.
<Ah yes>
I have read that you enjoy goatfishes; any of those in particular that would work in a 220 with a few tangs and a fox face?
<The smaller species are good choices here>
Regarding the sand bed, I was looking to add a couple more inches of sand, would you recommend siphoning out this top layer beforehand?
<Mmm, no; not necessary, nor advised. I would keep it in place, stir, vacuum and place the new on top>
And will I potentially wipe out some of the life in the sand bed if I were to put two additional inches of LS on top of the pre-existing LS?
<Maybe "some"; but not appreciably much... you, we could write/do a thesis on the changes here>
What is method you recommend for taking a 2" sand bed to 4"?
<Please peruse these files:
and the linked series, above>
Thanks so much
<Ah, welcome. Bob Fenner>

DSBed move     10/4/13
Hey guys, I hope all is well. Quick question. I'm moving/upgrading in a couple days, and I want to transfer my sump with a 16x14 inch deep sand bed to the new tank. It's only been used for about 4 months. If I'm careful not to disturb it much and keep it wet, will I run into any big problems? The total time for the move is estimated to be 2-3 hours. Thank you for the help. P.s. it is about 4 1/2 inches deep. Take care.
<Due to its new-ness and the short duration in transit you should be okay here John. I would keep just enough water in the sump to be over the substrate. Bob Fenner>

Moving live sand; synthetic salt mix, stored water f's as well    7/1/13
Hello WWM Crew,
  First off, a big Thank-You for all the experience you share on this labour of love website. I have learned so much in the last few years reading FAQ’s on this site and R. Fenner’s book (which I have an autographed copy). It’s amazing how much is on this site. I search for an answer for one question and then I just get lost in reading all the info on my question. I have a couple of questions, one I know I have read on this site before but for the life of me I can’t remember the response and I just can’t find it again. When I take the cover off of my 20g trash can of new salt water that has been aerating for a week I get a faint smell of ammonia (like a cat litter box) but just for a split second. I test the water for ammonia and of course I get a 0. What is the cause of this?
<I suspect (don't know) that you are actually detecting "faint ammonia" from the small bit of organic material that is part of most commercial salt mixes... being liberated as a gas by mainly chemical decomposition. Not to be mysterious, the most common salt in synthetics (NaCl) is to degrees simple "sea salt" collected from insolation ponds...>
 My next question is about mixing salt brands. I always use Tropic Marin salt and I received a bucket of Red Sea Coral Pro for free. Would I see any negative effects on my system if I were to mix 80% Tropic Marin and 20% Red Sea when I mix up my ro/di water in my 20g trash can?
<Perhaps a little; not dangerous>
Now for my dilemma(it’s going to be long). I am going to be moving to a new house and I am reading quite a few articles on moving and disturbing live sand. Most opinions are that it is not worth the trouble using the same live sand as most everything will die off and cause more pollution and re cycling of the new set up. I also read that it is a good idea to change the sand every few years as the sand loses buffering capacity over the years. The sand I have now is about 6 years old. Would you give me your thoughts on my moving plan?
<I might save, use a "bit" of the old sand (transported in an insulated container... an inch or two water over it) on top of the new substrate. I'd likely rinse, keep the remainder of the olde sand for possible future "other" use/s>
First I have the luxury of time on my side. The new house is only 20 minutes away and will be empty on August, 1st and I will be in the old house till September, 1st. So you see I want to plan it properly. Here is my idea. First I will take 20g of water from the DT(90g)and set it up in my 20g long with about 20lbs of LR and some sand. The 20g long will also have a canister filter running with a Polyfilter, Purigen and some filter floss. I will put my Aqua C Remora on it as well as a power head and a T5 strip light. Then I plan to put my live stock in the 20g long which consists of 1 Percula, 1 Royal Gramma, 1 Pajama Cardinal, 1 Brittle star, 1 Cleaner Shrimp and various snails. The rest of the LR and LS(about 80 lbs each)I will put in a Rubbermaid tub with a heater, power head and my Vertex 100 skimmer. I will also take all of my water from the 90g to the new house. Now that the 90g is empty I will take the opportunity to have it drilled as I have been using a CPR siphon overflow for the last 6 years and I have to say, believe or not, I have had absolutely no problems with it. When I get the tank to the new house I will add the water and LR from the old house and start up the system. If I move the LR to the new house in the Rubbermaid tub do you think there will be any die off?
<Not much>
Now comes the part about the sand. Would it be better just to use new LS about 1” depth and add some of the old LS to seed?
<Yes; but more of the new>
 After all that I will run the tank for August and bring the live stock when parameters are all good. How long would it be safe to keep the live stock in the 20g long set up?
<As long as they get along; indefinitely>
 Well I think that is my whole plan. Any thoughts or ideas would be welcome as I would like this move to go as smooth as possible, I know you understand that. I am sorry for this long letter but this is the first time I am doing a move with an aquarium and I would like to avoid any disasters if I can. Thanks in advance for your expertise.
<I might speed up the transit, resetting up time frame myself. But what you've stated will work. Bob Fenner>

Re: Upgrading tank and corals losing color    11/23/12
Thank you Mr. Fenner!  I do have another question.  I am doing the conversion on Sunday and have begun rinsing the sand. I've read some FAQs advising not to rinse. 
<I would>
None the less I'm still doing it. I am a little concerned on how the cloudiness will affect the fish and corals.  They will be in holding tanks while the tank stand modification and plumbing are done. I know the water will take a day or two to clear up but I want to keep their time in the holding tanks as short as possible. Also will the new substrate have drastic and immediate effects on the pH or alkalinity in such a way to adversely affect the fish/corals?  Thank you again!! Jennifer
<Not to worry. Rinse. BobF>

Re: Substrate   6/27/12
Ok, lemme get this straight...over the last 6-7 years I should have been removing rock & sandbed for newer & more beneficial?
<Yes; posted over and over on WWM: renews (increases) soluble portions of use (alkalinity, alkaline earth materials, and much more), re-inoculates the system w/ a wide mix of organisms (first law of ecology), helps lower precipitated materials (organic and not)...>
 (Yikes) I also have a 100 or so pd.s of rubble rock(broken up coral bases)
Which I thought helped with the calcium levels, as it broke down?
<Mmm, not so much as time goes by...>
 Take that out to? So adding the ozonizer is just another means of benefitting water quality?
<... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/redox.htm
and the linked files above>
 Which  I've been researching, but I've got 2 protein skimmers in the sump. Also gonna add a refugium to sump.
<Ah good>
Now my dilemma, what to do with the sand & rock? Can I dry it out? Cycle it again?
<Some can be re-used (as base... after drying, cleaning...)>
 I can't pass it on too anyone else? Would I be bad take'n it back  to the ocean?
<VERY bad. Do NOT release anything into the wild, please>
I  would like to recycle what I can, but be responsible too. What do you do with your left over rock  & sand?
<Garden/ing. Bob Fenner>
Re: Substrate   6/27/12

Got it, I don't get on your website; obviously as often as I should!
<Seems I'm on it all the ding-dang time!>
 I WILL make that a priority. To much convoluted info. Elsewhere. Thanks for all your input. Looks like I've got a lot of gardening on the horizon
for me. Renee Jones
<Ah good. BobF>
Re: Substrate   6/28/12

Hahaha,....I'm sorry. I can just imagine how much nonsense you put up with daily?
<Just (largely) human nature... a lack of discipline; simple following of directions. "Comes w/ the territory">
 But that's why you get the " big bucks" for?   LOL My problems are on a very small scale, I'm sure. Last question, what brand of ozonizer do you use/ recommend?
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/redoxsyssel.htm  .... B>
Re: Substrate   6/28/12

Thanks again : )
<As many times welcome. B>

Substrate Troubles   6/10/12
<Hello Bob>
I have a question about substrates.
I have a 55g fish/rock/some corals tank. I have been reading about different substrates, crushed coral, sand, mud and such. Mine is a crushed coral/sand mix. I recently found a few pounds of sugar fine sand my wife brought back from California a few years back. I decided to add it, so I rinsed it thoroughly and spread it across my bed.
Now I am worried that I should not have. It is like a blanket sealing off the coarser substrate from the tank. I am worried that my pod population will suffer and lack of circulation might lead to nitrate problems.
What do you suggest? I can leave as is and it will eventually blend itself, I can siphon off the majority and mix the rest, or I can mix it all in with the coarser stuff.
I hope I did not just make a big mistake.
<You may have made a mistake.  Although the fine sand you added will eventually find it's way through the coarser sand, the make up of the new sand may be detrimental to your system.  The most common constituent of sand in non-tropical coastal settings is silica, usually in the form of quartz.  Silica sand can lead to diatom blooms in your system and offers no buffering capabilities like calcium carbonate or aragonite sand.  A good test to determine the constituent of the sand is to place some of this sand in a small container and cover it with vinegar.  If it is silica sand it will begin to fizz and slowly dissolve.>
Thanks for your help and thanks for all you do. Fantastic wealth of information you provide.
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>
Bob in Colorado
Re Substrate Troubles 6/11/12

<Hi Bob>
Incredible response, even on a Sunday! Thank you!
<Bob pays double time on Sundays so why not. :-)  Actually no pay involved, we are all volunteers including Mr. Fenner.>
I have removed 98% of the sand, the rest will get mixed. At least being as fine as it was it separated easily and quickly.
I will ask first next time.
<Good idea.>
As long as I have you reading this, one more question.
I am interested in adding a Xenia coral to my tank. I practice good husbandry, weekly water changes, constant monitoring of temp and chemistry.
The only question I have at this point would be regarding lighting. As said, standard 55 gallon tank. 2 t5 ho (1 10,000k, 1 420/460), 2 t8 ( 1 full spectrum Coralife, 1 Home Depot plant grow light), spot use of a 1050 lumen led lamp.
<I'd get rid of the plant light, can lead to nuisance algae growth.  Other than that you should be fine with your lighting for Xenia.>
Will this be enough, and how difficult are Xenia to properly keep?
<Read here.  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/xeniidarts.htm>
Thanks again,
A daily reader.
<You're welcome and thank you for frequenting our site.  James (Salty Dog)>
Bob in Colorado

Saltwater chemistry and sand beds 5/29/12
Hi crew!
<Hi Jen>
I've got a couple of questions for you.  I mixed up a new batch of saltwater yesterday and tested it this morning.  I tested: pH 7.97 (using a Hanna meter), calcium 520 (using new kit bottle says it expires 2014) and alkalinity 9 dKH.  Notes of interest: made the RO/DI water last Thursday. 
It has been aerating for 3 days in a 32 gal Rubbermaid container. I added the Coralife salt directly to the water while mixing it and continuing aeration (using powerhead and airstone) to a salinity of 1.025.  I would like to increase the pH and the alkalinity using SeaChem Reef Buffer. Will that help to drive down the calcium?
<Most reef blend salts do have elevated calcium levels which should drop within a few days as long as calcium loving animals are present.  Reef Buffer is not going to drive the calcium level down.
As to raising your pH, yes, Reef Buffer should raise it to 8.3 when properly dosed.>
I read water makeup FAQs and I saw where other people have had the same problem with Coralife.  Also I was thinking about adding more sand to my 55 gallon. The tank has been running for 6 years and some of the sand has been lost to cleaning.
<And also will slowly dissolve.>
 I thought I read somewhere on your website that the benefits the sand provides diminishes significantly after 2 years.
<For reasons above and in six years, quite a bit of detritus will accumulate in the sand bed which diminishes the buffering effects of the sand due to the acids present.>
Thank you for all of your expert advice!  It is truly appreciated!
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>
Re Saltwater Chemistry and Sand Beds 5/30/12

Hi James! Thanks for getting back to me.
I do vacuum the sandbed when I do water changes.
The current sandbed is really shallow, in some places I can see glass so I want to add/change over to Aragonite. I read where you can't add it on top but it can be slowly added and combined with the current substrate. Is it possible to do that and slowly increase the amount of Aragonite to make a DSB?
<Yes, providing the grain size is the same.>
Currently I have, at the most, 2 inches of substrate. Thanks James!
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>
Re Saltwater Chemistry and Sand Beds 5/30/12

Hi James!
<Hello Jennifer>
My current substrate is a little bigger than aragonite oolite but not as big as crushed coral. I tried to find out what I have (via web, etc) and can't find it. Anyway I want to change over to aragonite oolite. Do I need to take out what little sand I have now in order to add/change over to oolite even if I mix the oolite in with current?  I have oolite in my refugium and I like it.
<You don't have to take it out but the finer sand will likely find it's way to the bottom and you may not like the appearance.  If it were me, I'd siphon out sections of the old sand during a water change and replace that section with the new sand.>
<James (Salty Dog)>
Re Saltwater Chemistry and Sand Beds 6/1/12

Thanks James!!
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)
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