View Full Version : Feedback/Insight on dealing with solidified sandbed

07/08/2016, 10:02 AM
I have a client that was inappropriately dosing his buffer early last year. I noticed the sand was starting to clump. I broke up what I could, of the areas that I could reach. All seemed "fine".

I corrected his dosing and informed him on how important it was to not do it the way he was

About 6 months ago, he developed an algae issue that I can not beat. I feel confident that the causative factor is not light, excessive nutrients, temperature, complacency, etc.

I am convinced that the root issue is the clumped sandbed in the areas that I can not reach.

So, last month I removed all the rock and corals that I could, to get down to the base. When I tugged at the rocks, in the sand, they were SOLID! I literally pulled myself towards the inside of the tank, as there was 0 give. It really scared me for a split second, cause he has a glass tank...thinking, "Holy ****, I could've just cracked his tank". Luckily, I didn't!

So, after a lot of thinking, I came up with this:

1. take everything out, again.
2. Dump 10 - 15 gallons of white vinegar into the tank.
3. try to cover and seal the top, so his house doesn't stink.
4. let sit for a couple of weeks
5. and, then hopefully, easily be able to remove the remaining sand and rock.

The tank is a custom sized leemar, drilled with holes for closed loops, overflow, etc. It is appx. 200 gallons. It is built into a wall, as a room divider. (ie. Not cheap to just replace, and cannot be taken outside.)

Has anyone else dealt with this severe of a sand bed clumping?

Do you think this plan will work?

Thank you for any insight, or feedback!

07/08/2016, 12:53 PM
I have had minor clumping, but what you have is a solidified cement made of sand and calcium precipitate, in my opinion. Don't fool with vinegar, but try acid. It will cause fumes and you may need to do it outside, but it will eventually do the trick.

07/09/2016, 11:22 AM
Never having to deal with anything like this I would not try to break it all up rather I would try break it into removable sections. Maybe you can get a dremel and cut it into more manageable sections. Maybe if you can only get a small trench cut you could then add the acid there and get some sections to weaken and break apart.

Best of luck with it.

07/09/2016, 12:08 PM
Thanks guys!

I tried to break the sand up incrementally, starting at the edge of the solidification. There was no progress with that.

The tank is built into the wall. It sits appx. 45 inches up, and is only accessible from one side. The tank depth itself is 30 inches deep. So, I can not safely or semi- comfortably reach down and get the kind of angle that would be needed to cut into the sand bed with a dremel.

To remove the tank and take it outside, would require some demolition. And, then some reconstruction. This is not something that the owner even wants to think about, as the tank is just one part of a total house makeover that went on for a year and a half...when it was supposed to take 4-6 months. The thought of dealing with another contractor, right now, is not an option for him, period! Being a witness to this process, I can't blame him...

So, that is where we are at, and what led me to the idea of the vinegar.

I am going to go ahead with my idea, as I have to do something. Working on a tank that does not respond to the kind of care and attention to detail that I give, in the way that I know it should, is something that I can't/won't do anymore.

Thanks again for the responses...!

07/09/2016, 01:36 PM
What was the dosing that caused this?

07/09/2016, 04:35 PM
A weeks worth of buffer in 5 gallons of RO/DI poured right into the sump, in one fell swoop...which at the time, was a respectable amount. The tank was progressing wonderfully. And the demand had risen accordingly. This scenario was just one tangent of his house remodel...😞

07/09/2016, 04:37 PM
...and I should've also mentioned that this was happening for a period of time...not just one occurrence.

07/10/2016, 04:42 AM
I just quit my job working on marine tanks. I had one tank that had been up for who knows how long. I couldn't defeat the algae. I'd suck it out and after a week it would be back on the live rock and substrate. I'd suck it out, scrub the rock, turn down the lights and cut back the feedings to no avail. I finally decided to remove the substrate. Unfortunately it had become hardened. I took out what I could and buried what I couldn't with an inch of new substrate. The algae stopped immediately and it was perfect every week until I quit.
FYI Sand sifting seastars are a godsend after you replace the substrate. They're great for cleaning the substrate.

07/11/2016, 06:21 AM
FYI Sand sifting seastars are a godsend after you replace the substrate. They're great for cleaning the substrate.

Sand-sifting goby is the answer!!

07/11/2016, 06:51 AM
Sand-sifting goby is the answer!!

I wish there was a like button.
Those goby's are awesome. I want to get one for my 220, but I worry he won't get along with my sailfin Benny. Sailfins are great for live rock algae and live MUCH longer than snails.