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interesting setup would anyone do this?

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I've have read this on the internet and was wondering if it would be dangerous to setup a tank this way. If the substrate is disturbed would it release ALOT of sulfuric gas? 8O is this basically using your entire substrate as a DSB?

To achieve total waste disposal in your reef tank using anaerobic bacteria, your tank should be prepared with a static cavity of water below the

substrate. This is best prepared using undergravel filter plates to create an anaerobic environment in the cavity under the coral sand. There is no

water movement through the cavity just motionless water, so don’t use the uplifts.

Place your undergravel plates on the bottom of the aquarium and add enough saltwater to cover the plates well. Above the filter plates place

three centimetres of course and medium coral rubble. A layer of fly screen should be placed above next to prevent fish and inverts burrowing

down into the anaerobic layer.

Finally on top of the fly screen lay a two to three centimetre layer

of fine and medium coral sand. This completes the preparation of the substrate allowing the development of anaerobic bacteria, in the lower layer

of coral rubble, which convert nitrates back to gaseous nitrogen. Excessive nitrates are the most common cause for failure in marine systems

and can be avoided with this system. Water naturally exchanges between the static cavity and the upper tank, creating an equilibrium with

virtually no nitrates.

Comments or experiences?

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Ive seen it done in sumps (not just a deep sand bed but actually using the plates) but from what limited research i stumbled through; it appears to be an older technology and not common at all. Not saying there is anything wrong with it, just un common.

Try searching the MASA threads and if you cant find anything, post a thread :)


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A DSB is supposed to be 10cm of fine sand no larger in grain than 1.7mm.

My understanding of it is that the top third to a half of sand is populated with worms and critters that constantly turn that fine sand over daily in their search for debris to eat.

This halts most of the debis from even getting to the bottom layers as there is not much left to even create the nitrates.

In the bottom part the anerobic bacteria live. These amazing creatures need very little oxygen to survive which is why they choose to live down there.

Their job is to consume any stray nitrates and the byproduct of the critters is sulphuric gas. I think its sulphuric, if not its some sort of gas anyway.

Its not meant to be released into the tank in large quantities but as it works its way up through the layers in minute quanties it will be steadily released in the top layer by the burrowing activity of the top critters.

This works well for a while but the top critters need to have variety and not just one sort. With time a dominant sort will prevail and that starts the beginning of the end for a DSB as evenually the gas will not be released in small quantities and will build up.

To counteract this, you need to reintroduce the critter diversity by adding them in a new bit of liverock, or a handful of sand from another established tank every 6mths to a year. Then your DSB can continue saftely.

The water, plate, gravel, screen, sand idea sounds like a lot of trouble to do pretty much the same thing a normal DSB will do (not to mention the DSB looks much more attractive from the front). The anerobic bacteria can still live in the water at the bottom and the gravel.

It probably holds more oxygen though and I am not sure if the anerobic bacteria would flourish as well as it does in a DSB or would it do even better in that water/mesh environment?

Probably not as in a freshwater tank with gravel the anerobic bacteria don't do that well and all you get is rising nitrates which you have to clear with a gravel vac and a water change.

Salt water can do one step further with a deep sand bed in that the anerobic bacteria can eat the nitrates.

Its the bacteria farting gas is the problem unless you have critters up top in the sand to free it in small quantities. :lol:

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