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Dilemma - replace sand in newish tank? (1 Viewer)

smootie

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When I started my tank, I used CaribSea Ocean Direct Live Sand in original grade because I liked the way it looked with the mix of grain sizes (and even shells!) mixed in. It's been horrible and I don't know what to do.

Upon adding it (unrinsed, as the bag instructed) it immediately filled the tank and sump with brown foam and made the water a milk tea color. I added the clarifier as instructed, which didn't seem to help. I should have cut my losses back then but it seemed like lots of other people had the same experience and it turned out okay after they gave it some time. The water eventually cleared up with diligent use of filter floss and vacuuming but every surface was covered in powder (this stuff is finer than the finest sand, almost like flour).

Fast forward to adding macros: any movement of the substrate kicks up powder from the sand that gets on everything (rocks, pumps, overflow, etc.). My macros are covered in fine layer of this powder. Still I persevered and diligently "dusted" off my macroalgae and waited. Fast forward to today: I added a sand sifting goby to the tank to keep the sand tidy and every time he sifts he kicks up a plume of powder. I'm worried that once there are corals in the tank, the powder will cover and kill the corals. I can see the stuff already affecting the macros.

Should I replace my sand? This option is a royal PITA in terms of time, expense, and messing up my nitrogen cycle but I would rather do it now while there is relatively little livestock in there. If I wait (maybe until there is more biofilm?) will the sand settle down eventually?
 

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I doubt the sand will "settle down". One option would be to agitate the sand and then filter the water through a low micron sock (pump it out of the display and into the sock).
Another option would be to agitate the sand and add a power filter to the tank... same principle as the idea above.
As for replacing the sand entirely, I doubt you'd cause more than a mini cycle. How much rock is in your tank? And how much other surface area is there for bacteria (i.e. filter media, etc)? You might be fine, in terms of a cycle, if you have enough other places for bacteria to live.
 

Erin

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You could also try adding a different clarifyer in hopes that it will bind the small particles and keep them from being kicked up...
 
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smootie

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I doubt the sand will "settle down". One option would be to agitate the sand and then filter the water through a low micron sock (pump it out of the display and into the sock).
Another option would be to agitate the sand and add a power filter to the tank... same principle as the idea above.
As for replacing the sand entirely, I doubt you'd cause more than a mini cycle. How much rock is in your tank? And how much other surface area is there for bacteria (i.e. filter media, etc)? You might be fine, in terms of a cycle, if you have enough other places for bacteria to live.

You could also try adding a different clarifyer in hopes that it will bind the small particles and keep them from being kicked up...

Thanks for the ideas. I don't have much rockwork in my tank (I'm going for a lagoon-y look) but I also don't have much of a bioload: four small fish (all under 2") and two shrimp.

Maybe I'll try a clarifier first to see if that helps before committing to full sand transplant!
 

Reefahholic

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When I started my tank, I used CaribSea Ocean Direct Live Sand in original grade because I liked the way it looked with the mix of grain sizes (and even shells!) mixed in. It's been horrible and I don't know what to do.

Upon adding it (unrinsed, as the bag instructed) it immediately filled the tank and sump with brown foam and made the water a milk tea color. I added the clarifier as instructed, which didn't seem to help. I should have cut my losses back then but it seemed like lots of other people had the same experience and it turned out okay after they gave it some time. The water eventually cleared up with diligent use of filter floss and vacuuming but every surface was covered in powder (this stuff is finer than the finest sand, almost like flour).

Fast forward to adding macros: any movement of the substrate kicks up powder from the sand that gets on everything (rocks, pumps, overflow, etc.). My macros are covered in fine layer of this powder. Still I persevered and diligently "dusted" off my macroalgae and waited. Fast forward to today: I added a sand sifting goby to the tank to keep the sand tidy and every time he sifts he kicks up a plume of powder. I'm worried that once there are corals in the tank, the powder will cover and kill the corals. I can see the stuff already affecting the macros.

Should I replace my sand? This option is a royal PITA in terms of time, expense, and messing up my nitrogen cycle but I would rather do it now while there is relatively little livestock in there. If I wait (maybe until there is more biofilm?) will the sand settle down eventually?
Replace it now or you’ll regret it later.

Two options you’ll love, but always rinse your sand and run a magnet through it. Both are available now but won’t be for long! I waited for months to get this sand.

1. Tropic Eden ReefFlakes 3.5mm
2. Tropic Eden Mesoflakes 2.7mm

What you have now sounds like 0.5mm
How big is your tank?



7FC02D69-6024-40C6-AFE5-CE5AB580F3CF.jpeg 1D6AF63F-02BE-4CAA-978E-271FFDB85120.jpeg 2F476725-D211-40E2-B61B-690020DF1083.jpeg 2398728F-2E73-4924-98AD-9F1362FC3157.jpeg
 

Reefahholic

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Thanks for the ideas. I don't have much rockwork in my tank (I'm going for a lagoon-y look) but I also don't have much of a bioload: four small fish (all under 2") and two shrimp.

Maybe I'll try a clarifier first to see if that helps before committing to full sand transplant!
if you can’t get new sand….

You can use a flocking agent. Dr Tim sells one called Clear-Up. It will cause the smaller particles to attach to each other and become larger so they can be filtered out.

If it’s a Heterotrophic bacterial bloom you’ll need 1-5 micron filter socks
 
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Replace it now or you’ll regret it later.

Two options you’ll love, but always rinse your sand and run a magnet through it. Both are available now but won’t be for long! I waited for months to get this sand.

1. Tropic Eden ReefFlakes 3.5mm
2. Tropic Eden Mesoflakes 2.7mm

What you have now sounds like 0.5mm
How big is your tank?

It's 75 gallons. What I have now is a mix of particle sizes ranging from fine sand to chunks of seashells (and whole lot of dust, apparently).

Wow, those Tropic Eden flakes must be popular. A lot of them are sold out already on Premium Aquatics!
 

Reefahholic

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It's 75 gallons. What I have now is a mix of particle sizes ranging from fine sand to chunks of seashells (and whole lot of dust, apparently).

Wow, those Tropic Eden flakes must be popular. A lot of them are sold out already on Premium Aquatics!
If I were you, I’d go for it quick. You’ll be glad you did. The Meso flakes are super nice. ReefFlakes are bigger and can handle a lot of flow. I’ve had it in several tanks. Great sand.
 

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What’s currently in your tank as far as fish, inverts, corals, etc?

Is the tank cycled?
 

Cody

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Four small fish (2 clowns, bicolor blenny, sleeper blue dot goby) and two shrimp (fire and cleaner), three nass snails. Yes, tank is cycled.
Get a tub that’s at least half your display tank water volume, turn off the return pump, drain enough tank water to fill the tub maybe half way, put the live rock from the display, a heater, and a power head in it, add some more tank water until about half the display volume is in the tub, put the fish in the tub, drain the display until it’s basically just the sand, get the sand out (a dust pan is your friend), empty out the remaining nasty stuff, rinse the new sand thoroughly in , fill the display about halfway up using new saltwater, use the bottle method to put in new sand, then add everything from the tub back in.

Always use the bottle method when adding sand. The only difference I would suggest from this video is that once you rinse your sand in a large bowl in the sink, put it in the bottle wet. Don’t worry about the tap water. You will actually need to use a little water from the tap to get the wet sand into the bottle. Also, don’t use the lid, use your hand to cap it off. When you uncap the submerged upside down bottle, the sand will fall out of the bottle creating a vacuum inside and keep all the tap water inside the bottle. Once it’s almost empty, cap it with your hand again, and repeats until you’re happy.

 

PorpoiseHork

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Carib-Sea sand is decent stuff and have used it for years on all my tanks, but it can/will have a fair bit of fine silt mixed in. I was going to suggest working in stages and methodically clean the existing sand bed with a suction vacuum. Pull out all the fine silt with the vacuum over the course of 4-6 water changes. Once you get all the silt sucked up and out the existing sand shouldn't be much of an issue. This is something I usually do on new tanks when they are finished cycling before I start adding fish. Just be sure to dose with Seachem Stability or other bacteria culture to offset any potential ammonia spikes with such a large disturbance to the sand bed.

As for water clarity till this is done, keep a largish supply of 50 micron filter socks on hand to quickly clear the water up.
 

Reefahholic

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Get a tub that’s at least half your display tank water volume, turn off the return pump, drain enough tank water to fill the tub maybe half way, put the live rock from the display, a heater, and a power head in it, add some more tank water until about half the display volume is in the tub, put the fish in the tub, drain the display until it’s basically just the sand, get the sand out (a dust pan is your friend), empty out the remaining nasty stuff, rinse the new sand thoroughly in , fill the display about halfway up using new saltwater, use the bottle method to put in new sand, then add everything from the tub back in.

Always use the bottle method when adding sand. The only difference I would suggest from this video is that once you rinse your sand in a large bowl in the sink, put it in the bottle wet. Don’t worry about the tap water. You will actually need to use a little water from the tap to get the wet sand into the bottle. Also, don’t use the lid, use your hand to cap it off. When you uncap the submerged upside down bottle, the sand will fall out of the bottle creating a vacuum inside and keep all the tap water inside the bottle. Once it’s almost empty, cap it with your hand again, and repeats until you’re happy.

A 2/L would be great for that. Or a Jack Daniels bottle.
 

RR-MAN

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When I started my tank, I used CaribSea Ocean Direct Live Sand in original grade because I liked the way it looked with the mix of grain sizes (and even shells!) mixed in. It's been horrible and I don't know what to do.

Upon adding it (unrinsed, as the bag instructed) it immediately filled the tank and sump with brown foam and made the water a milk tea color. I added the clarifier as instructed, which didn't seem to help. I should have cut my losses back then but it seemed like lots of other people had the same experience and it turned out okay after they gave it some time. The water eventually cleared up with diligent use of filter floss and vacuuming but every surface was covered in powder (this stuff is finer than the finest sand, almost like flour).

Fast forward to adding macros: any movement of the substrate kicks up powder from the sand that gets on everything (rocks, pumps, overflow, etc.). My macros are covered in fine layer of this powder. Still I persevered and diligently "dusted" off my macroalgae and waited. Fast forward to today: I added a sand sifting goby to the tank to keep the sand tidy and every time he sifts he kicks up a plume of powder. I'm worried that once there are corals in the tank, the powder will cover and kill the corals. I can see the stuff already affecting the macros.

Should I replace my sand? This option is a royal PITA in terms of time, expense, and messing up my nitrogen cycle but I would rather do it now while there is relatively little livestock in there. If I wait (maybe until there is more biofilm?) will the sand settle down eventually?

That’s very normal when you add new sand there will be a sand storm dust all over rock/glass. The skimmer and few filter socks really help. It should clear in a few days.

your issue is not the sand but the sand sifting goby. You will always have sand flying in the water columns with the goby. In my opinion - get the goby out. Instead add some CUC to maintain a clean/healthy sand bed.
 

SCUBAFreaky

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One option would be to agitate the sand and then filter the water through a low micron sock (pump it out of the display and into the sock).
Another option would be to agitate the sand and add a power filter to the tank... same principle as the idea above.
I know I'm a little late to the party, but why not try removing the silt BEFORE replacing the entire sand bed as Erin suggested? Seems like replacing the sand bed is a little extreme for the problem you are trying to solve. For an option to what Erin suggested, you could install a micron filter (temporary) on your tank. I built this DIY micron filter assembly to remove green hair algae. Something like this would work perfect for removing the silt from your tank if you use a 5 or 10 micron filter.
20200923_124642.jpg

For the build, I used a filter housing similar to what you would use in a RODI system with 1/2" connections. I connected a Sicce Syncra Silent 1.5 pump to the housing with a 50 micron sediment filter. The PVC pipe on the suction wand is not glued so I can use different lengths of pipe on the suction wand. The DIY filter just hangs off the side of my tank.
20200923_124006.jpg

I bought a 6 pack of sediment filter cartridges off of amazon and the first time I used the filter to get the bulk of the GHA out of the tank I ended up using 3 of the cartridges. They're pretty cheap so I didn't mind. I also use this filter to remove detritus from the rock work as well. I use either a 5 or 10 micron filter cartridge for that activity. And lastly I remove the cartridge from the filter housing and I use this setup to pump fresh saltwater from a brute trash can back up to the tank during my water changes. I use this thing a lot!

To remove the silt you could place the suction wand in your hand near the sand bed and use your fingers to still up the silt into the wand. You're very likely going to have to use more than one filter cartridge but as stated before, they're super cheap. At the end of a cleaning session you can just leave the filter running by placing the suction wand in a safe place where it won't suck up fish or sand. Letting the filter run an hour or two will definitely polish up your water column.

I know you bought the sand already, but using something like this might worth a try for sure before pursing the daunting task of replacing the entire sand bed. Just food for thought.
 

Reefahholic

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That’s very normal when you add new sand there will be a sand storm dust all over rock/glass. The skimmer and few filter socks really help. It should clear in a few days.

your issue is not the sand but the sand sifting goby. You will always have sand flying in the water columns with the goby. In my opinion - get the goby out. Instead add some CUC to maintain a clean/healthy sand bed.
A 10 micron sock will demolish a sand storm within hours and produce crystal clear water. :)
 

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