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seaaddict
06-30-2009, 03:52 PM
How much live sand should I have in my tank I was told 1 inch is this true??

MonkeyPox
06-30-2009, 05:16 PM
I believe live sand to be a marketing gimmick and say none is really needed. Spend your money on live rock instead.

thatcichlidguy
06-30-2009, 06:46 PM
Agreed , by the time it gets to your tank , anything "live" wouldn't be any longer if your talking commercial live sand products. Really all any substrate does is collect junk, so in reallity your reef or other saltwater tank is better off without it . Live rock is far better than most anything in saltwater tanks for bio-filtration of any sort IMO. Just cant go wrong with it. If you must have a substrate , just use enough crushed coral or argonite to just cover the glass without any real depth. however if this is a reef tank bare bottom is best as it's so much easier to keep clean.

Fishguy2727
06-30-2009, 10:29 PM
Considering most live sands run about the same cost as dry sand (approximately $1 per pound) there is no money saved by not using live. In addition, since the live sand is alreacy wet it settles much faster and is cleaner in the tank. But for true LIVE sand you just need a small bucket and to know someone with an established tank.

MonkeyPox
06-30-2009, 11:00 PM
Considering most live sands run about the same cost as dry sand (approximately $1 per pound) there is no money saved by not using live. In addition, since the live sand is alreacy wet it settles much faster and is cleaner in the tank. But for true LIVE sand you just need a small bucket and to know someone with an established tank.

Dry sand certainly doesn't cost 1$ per pound. Additionally, as you pointed out, you're paying for water and not pure sand volume.

Fishguy2727
07-01-2009, 12:13 AM
If you are getting in to saltwater but can't afford $1 per pound this may not be the best hobby for you.

Yes, dry sands do run about $1 per pound, I am a manager at a fish shop.

Again, one of the biggest benefits of live sand is that it is already wet and therefore MUCH easier to put in the tank. Dry sands eithe rneedp resoaking, a lot of cleaning, and/or much more time to settle.

Also keep in mind that most marine tanks should have a pretty fine sand, averaging about 1mm in diameter. If you use dry sand double check this because there seem to be more dry sands that do not fit this parameter.

MonkeyPox
07-01-2009, 12:49 AM
I don't think anyone said anything about not affording. I find it to be a very poor value and mostly marketing.

Dry out that 25lb bag of live sand and you probably get 18lbs worth of actual substrate. Even bags of Aragonite online run cheaper then that.

By the way, pool filter sand and play sand are ~5$ for a 50lb bag.

Fishguy2727
07-01-2009, 12:55 AM
Both of those sands are silica based, a great way to increase silicates and cause algae problems. And neither is beneficial at all in saltwater. I have never seen anyone recommend that type of sand for a marine tank.

Just don't cheap out and save a few bucks just to cause your self more problems.

If anyone else has any questions please ask or PM me. Otherwise look for yourself and see how pricing and quality runs.

MonkeyPox
07-01-2009, 04:48 AM
Both of those sands are silica based, a great way to increase silicates and cause algae problems. And neither is beneficial at all in saltwater. I have never seen anyone recommend that type of sand for a marine tank.

Are you sure about that? I might recommend some analysis by Dr. Randy Holmes-Farley on the subject.

Fishguy2727
07-01-2009, 05:53 PM
Please provide a link or the information needed to find the book. I would love to find out more if someone is recommending silica sand for a reef aquarium.

MonkeyPox
07-01-2009, 09:16 PM
It was a paper that discussed dosing marine tanks with silica, some of the myths surrounding diatom (which I think you meant instead of algae) production as a result of silica, the slow absorption rate of silica, etc...

An interesting read.

Fishguy2727
07-02-2009, 02:44 AM
Any links to it?

Dosing silicates for some benefit would be different from using a silica substrate. Every book and resource I have ever found recommends calcium based substrates, just like the natural substrate that effectively all species in the saltwater hobby are naturally found in.

Diatoms are a type of algae, unless you want to be scientific (which most hobbyists are not) then you could say that algae are only algae if they are a protist. But at least when it comes to common names there are bacteria that are called algae, like brown/diatom and blue-green algae.

Fishguy2727
07-02-2009, 03:01 AM
I do want to specify that if someone is buying live sand thinking they will somehow be able to 'instantly cycle' their tank, they are mistaken. There is nothing magical about these products. At best think of it as wet sand with some room temperature bacteria product added (similar to Cycle, Stress Zyme, etc.). But for the price it should be a great and easy way to get sand in your tank and settled without any additional work and will only be benficial to the tank's chemistry.

thatcichlidguy
07-02-2009, 05:30 AM
In a fish only tank, substrate is for the most part a matter of asthetics. Live sand is no better and may be worse for a tank intially from all the chemicals and decomposing microbes (provided they were there in the first place) and could foul the water. It was never specified as to whether or not the OPs tank was fish or inverts , in either case substrate is a matter of choice. Algea growth has little to do with substrate in a new tank as Diatoms ,and other similar irritations, will persist untill they are out competed by other micro and macro organisms for food and nutrients. Coral sands are normally recomended because they are a calcium source ,silicate sands do not offer this and are used for decorative puposes . Neither are required for a healthy tank .

Live sand products do not have any significant advantage by being packed wet. Argonite ,which has a very small grain size, becomes sufficiently saturated when it is properly washed. Much the same with crushed coral . Any initial cloudiness is quickly settled , or filtered ,out by the time the tank would be ready for its inhabitants. Paying extra for pre-wet substrate that may be of more harm than good makes no sence. In reef tanks substrate is unwanted as it's just a place for waste to collect .

Fishguy2727
07-02-2009, 11:54 AM
1- most people are using substrate in all marine tanks now, and leaving the sterile, baren look of a bare bottom tank behind.
2-what debris that does settle in the substrate in a reef tank can actually be an invaluable food source for many filter feeders, sometimes being essential.
3-I have never seen a single sliver of evidence that the death of what little microbes may be in these products can have any effect on the tank's chemistry
4-live sand is not significantly more expensive, and in many cases is not more expensive at all
5-many people do not wish to spend extra time and work cleaning sand when there is a product out there that can allow them to simply add the sand.

I hope anyone else reading this has the information they need to make a good decision about what they want to use. Otherwise I am done with this. Anyone with more questions can just PM me. Thanks for the info guys.

Wild Turkey
07-02-2009, 02:24 PM
Just a funny "bet you didnt know", but anyone who has used ec in their fw tanks has used "live" substrate as well.



I will be the first to say FG pays a lot for his sand, BUT I probably wouldnt shop at the hardware store for my SW sand when the time comes. I think this is one instance where the 1$ a pound sounds like its worth it. And yes, typically sand made for aquarium use is gonna be about $1 a pound like any good substrate.

I think Fg likes ESTES, I have no experience with it though

thatcichlidguy
07-02-2009, 05:07 PM
Simply put, "live" substrates aren't live.

An expensive substrate has little if any benefit over a less expensive one.

Live sand has a significant mark up at the LFS vs standard type substrates IME.

The possible time savings using a "prepaired" substrate is countered by the possible introduction of unwanted and potentially harmfull substances. To minimize the risk you'd end up washing the substrate anyway.

A well planned and populated reef tank hardly looks barren or sterile with a bare bottom. The best looking reef tanks I've seen have bare bottoms.

In any case it's obvious that we have differing veiws on this subject. Neither is inherently wrong . The benefits of live sand from a bag are highly questionable except in terms of looks . It is a nice looking product. It's use in fish only tanks is asthetical, as well as its use in reef tanks. Whether you choose to use it is up to the individual .

Personally I've found live rock to be the most beneficial substance for use in any type of SW setup. It is the only actual "live" product on the market. Anything else is pure hype.

Wild Turkey
07-02-2009, 05:29 PM
Anything else is pure hype.

I can only speak for fw applications, but there are plant substrates (like ec) that contain live heterotrophic bacteria that would take months to establish without it being included. I never wash ec, never found any baddies or any ill effects from it yet, nor have I heard any. IMO, its not "hype" but is misleading as some buyers think this bacteria will help them cycle the tank or eliminate chemical fish waste which is not the case, it simply breaks down the physical waste and debris into the "mulm" or "gunk" that is gold for fw plants.

It is also about 1$ a pound

thatcichlidguy
07-02-2009, 06:15 PM
FW tanks are naturally completely different with a whole zoo of different microbes. The hype refers to the misleading of the consumer into thinking that this product is a magic bullet. Whether there is any live bacteria in EC live sand is debatable. I highly doubt it. FW plant substrates are something I have no experience with therefore can not comment on. I'm speaking from a strictly SW view.

My next tank may possibly include plants , so any usefull info on those type substrates would be very interesting . PM me some links on it . I'd really like to read up on it.

Fishguy2727
07-02-2009, 06:16 PM
FYI, I do the markup for all the dry goods in the store, it is not marked up any more than anything else, actually it is marked up slightly less than something else we would pay the same for.

Anyone who has used both live sand and anything else mentioned, please contribute.

Bare bottom tanks are on their way out, I don't think I have talked to anyone who has used one in the last five to ten years. There are many benefits to a substrate, and it is essential for many reef inhabitants.

MonkeyPox
07-02-2009, 06:34 PM
I've seen markups at LFS range from 27%-60% over distributor cost. That's why I recommend big box stores for dry goods on a budget. Anyone curious can check out their websites and perform their own price comparisons.

thatcichlidguy
07-02-2009, 07:54 PM
FYI, I do the markup for all the dry goods in the store, it is not marked up any more than anything else, actually it is marked up slightly less than something else we would pay the same for.

Anyone who has used both live sand and anything else mentioned, please contribute.

Bare bottom tanks are on their way out, I don't think I have talked to anyone who has used one in the last five to ten years. There are many benefits to a substrate, and it is essential for many reef inhabitants . And my observation is that substrates are on the way out, as I have talked to many who have removed their substrates and had much greater success without them.

Whether to use and what type of substrate really comes down to application, and probably a million other factors . Reef tanks can be successfull with or without substrate based on both of our experiences , and fish only tanks can be successfull with or without coral sands. We can all agree on that I think . What's best? Depends on who you ask. Seeing as how I believe we've successfully chased this subject around the tree enough to wear a hole in the ground, I'll end with this : If you must use a substrate (reef or fish or both) use it sparingly.