Week 12: Proof: Live Sand isn't as dull as you thought! | 52 Weeks of Reefing #BRS160
In the reef tank sand provides surface area for beneficial bacteria to populate and filter your tank. However, If you have enough live rock or filtration media in the sump it's not required for that purpose. The main reason reefers use sand is purely for aesthetic appeal. Everyone has a different idea of what looks nice, but most of us prefer the tank to have sand of some type. The biggest difference between the different sands is size of the grains and to some degree the color.
So how much sand should you use, and at what depth? To be honest this depends on personal preference, but the most common range is anywhere from a half inch to two inches. For the most part this is really just a balance between aesthetics and trying to prevent the sand bed becoming a nutrient sink. Shallow sand beds a low as half an inch are popular because it is really easy to maintain the sand and keep it clean. A couple of sand sifting fish like diamond gobies might even be enough. However, it’s a lot easier for bare spots to appear in these shallow sand beds from flow. Sand beds as deep as two inches sometimes look nicer and are much more difficult to create bare spots from strong flow, however most reefers find sand to be a huge nutrient sink and the reason most would never go beyond two inches.
Personally, I think a one inch sand bed is a pretty good compromise. It’s fairly easy to keep clean and will likely keep the bottom of the tank covered. If not you can always adjust the flow or add more sand later.
On the BRS160 we narrowed it down to two options. We like the oceans direct original grade because I can appreciate the concept of natural ocean bacteria, but we ultimately selected the Caribsea Special Grade reef because I like the more uniform grain sizes and lack of huge six millimeter particles.
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