NANFA-- a little more sandbed schtuff....

Todd Crail (
Sat, 22 Mar 2003 22:44:14 -0500

Greetings all...

For those interested... Here's a few more thoughts on sandbeds in planted
freshwater aquaria. Again, the Rainbowfish tank is my flagship tank, but I
will be making the same application in another 75 and hopefully a 65 gallon
in the near future for native fish (3 tank rule ;). I'll also get the
experience of moving a developed sandbed, because all systems are going to
go into the basement so we don't have to run the A/C this summer. I guess
if I'm going to be a destitute nature worker, I'd better start planning now
;) I've moved marine sandbeds before... It's a job, but if everything stays
wet, any algaes within stay intact and there's zippo consequence, in my
experience. Let them dry, the algae crashes and you have some <ahem>
detritus "issues".

If you're not familiar with what I'm discussing here, this will bring you up
to speed:

The 75 gal system is basically on autopilot at this point. I dump in gobs
of food, add Sera Florena twice a week, harvest plants. I didn't have to
scrub the glass at all this month. And one month will now be my new time
segement between servicing....

1 month seems to be how long it takes for the water to yellow with tannins
from food and pooh. I like crystal clear water, so I'm invariably okay with
a single water change per system per month. Especially since I've met my
goal, and that's to be able to dump in schloads of food with little
immediate consequence besides nice fat, colorful fish.

1 month also seems to be the threshold at which the plants start looking a
bit goofy. I kept out the Potash (Potassium, Sulfur) and Epsom Salts
(Magnesium) to see what would happen with the nitrate. Nothing really
happened with the nitrate (stayed locked right into 25mg/L), I was kind of
disappointed it didn't shoot up. So really the only thing that happened
was... The plants got a little bit yellow and stopped producing new leaves.
So as the saying goes... If it ain't broke...

The nitrate issue perplexes me still... It's probably a resident of my
unwillingness to rid myself of the canister filter and backfilter to rely on
the sandbed and plants for filtration, but we'll do another system to play
that whole game. Probably the second 75 gallon.

Ah! And before I forget. I don't think I'm going to remove the thick layer
of Flourite from the surface of the sandbed. I am going to get another
gravel from Jonah's Aquarium that is similar in size and color to cut
expenses (straight Flourite again, does not fit in the Nature Dude's
Budget)... But this thick layer turned out to be a serious blessing. The
small gravel particles seem to add a whole element of pre-filtering in an
aerobic situation using bacteria to really break down waste materials before
they're subdued by the bed and transformed into plant food.

I sweep the gravel, nothing. There's nothing there to sweep! I have
minimal large grain substrates in other systems and there's a TON of crud in
them. So I guess I'm a proponent of a 1"-2" bed of small sized gravel on
top of the 3" sandbed. Neato cheato.

Okay, so that's about it from the farm tonight. I may be posting less
frequently (yeah right lol), as I'm joining the work force on Monday. I'll
be working with Fed Endangered Karner Blue Butterflies as a seasonal field
lackey, sitting in a polypropylene greenhouse counting eggs and larvae,
trouncing thru green briar to make transects in afternoon July sun and so on
for minimal pay... But man that beats the heck out of wasting away in a
cubicle, which was *so not good* for my soul, even with some native fish
swimming near by :) I'll be unwired and such, so if you experience delays
in responses to email... My appologies in advance....


I hope you know that this will go down on your permenant record.
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