Can You Add A Deep Sand Bed To An Existing Setup?

Every week I like to pop into my local fish shop, even if it is not to purchase something just to have a look about and have a chat with the owner.

Over the years we have built up a bit of a friendship and over a cup of coffee we tend to sort the world out – both aquatic and non aquatic related!

Anyway whilst I am in there other people of course come in and ask various questions, purchase things and I like to keep out of the way whilst this is happening. I normally go and look at the corals and fish with my cup of coffee in hand.

Yesterday whilst I was there I overheard a conversation between a customer and the owner of the store entailing deep sand beds.

It is probably obvious by now that I am a huge fan of deep sand beds.

Basically the customer had heard that you cannot add a deep sand bed to an aquarium system which is already setup and the owner of the store was patiently attempting to explain to him that it was possible to do so.

The conversation did not get heated but to cut a long story short the customer would not take any advice from the store owner (the expert if you will) and left the store. As far as he was concerned this is what he had been told so it must be right!

It must be very hard for owners of shops, not just fish shops but any shop for that matter to deal with situations like these.

We chatted about it afterwards and he said that although it is hard he will not tell anyone incorrect information even if it means losing their business. It is not just about the money he earns but the love for aquatic life which he sells.

To be honest what he was discussing with the customer was correct and I thought that I would cover it here in case any readers of Aquarists Online have been wondering about this as well.

If you are interested in understanding more about deep sand beds then click the link below :

The above article covers how a deep sand bed works, the importance of grain size etc etc.

What we will cover in the remainder of this article is the introduction of a deep sand bed into an existing aquarium system.

It is presumed that you have purchased sand which is of the correct particle size.

I would advise that any sand purchased is cleaned thoroughly in saltwater. The saltwater removed from the aquarium when you do a water change would be fine for this use. An even better way than just washing the sand is to leave the sand covered in saltwater for a period of a couple of weeks.

Some aquarists even run a magnet over the surface of the sand just in case there are any metals in there but this is not a definite requirement.

Once the sand has been prepared you are now in a position to be able to add it to your aquarium.

If you have any sand in your aquarium and it is not of the correct granular size then it will need to be removed from the aquarium. Do not discard it though as you can use some of it to ‘seed’ the new sand bed.

If you have any sand in your aquarium and it is the correct size then it can be left in the aquarium, however do not be tempted to add all of your new sand in one go – add it slowly over time. The reason for this is that when you add new sand the life which lives in the existing sand needs to move higher up in the sand bed and if you put to much in at one go then you may kill them.

Due to displacement some water will also need to be removed from the aquarium.

Turn the pumps/powerheads off in the aquarium and slowly add the sand to the bottom of the aquarium.

Do not be tempted to lift any of your rocks off the base of the aquarium simply add the sand around the rocks.

If you did lift the rocks off the base of the aquarium and then place them back on top of the sand then this would cause compaction in the sand and the bed will not function.

With you adding the sand around the base of the rocks compaction can occur and more importantly the little beasties can migrate from the rock into the sand. It is important to have a huge diversity of life within the sand bed as they consume the detritus in the bed as well as ‘turning over’ the sand.

The pumps/powerhead can now all be turned back on again.

With you having a running aquarium system then you will no doubt get a sand storm in the aquarium. This will clear quite quickly.

Once the bed is in place if you removed and old sand from the aquarium then some of this can be placed on top of the new sand bed as this will help introduce the valuable little creatures into the bed.

Your job now is to feed the bed to ensure that the population grows and grows. Regular feeding will be required and can be achieved by simply placing a cube of frozen food daily on top of the sand bed. The food can be held in place by a stone, shell of something similar. Vary where you feed the bed and over time the population will increase and before long you will an exceptionally powerful filtration device – especially if you combine it with live rock.

I suppose that there is also a moral to this article as well as some information being provided in relation to the introduction of a deep sand bed.

The moral is that you are not always right. Listen to what other people have to say, take their advice and then make your own decision.

  1. I used this method when going from BB back to a DSB…

  2. to bad some people are so stubborn that they have to learn for themselves by their own mistakes. My guess would be he didn’t do well in school. J/K

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