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Old 07/21/2005, 10:56 PM   #1
algaeguy
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Question Anyone Try a "Rubble Bottom"?

Hi everyone:

I've been working with my new 225 reef, which is being modeled after a "rubble zone" area of a reef. Predominant corals are various Faviids, with a smattering of Pocillopora colonies.

Anyways, the tank has started out more or less barebottom, as I have wicked flow provided by 4 Tunze Streams and a Sequence Dart for the main return. Such flow has made a conventional sandbed a bit of a problem, so I have avoided one altogether. I like the look of sand (at least in a shallow depth), but I do like the ease of maintenance that barebottom affords (thanks to Bomber and others for inspiration!). Have thought of about 1/3-1/2 inch of coarse media, such as Carib-Sea "Aruba Puka" aragonite and perhaps crushed coral.

I have been using moderate-sized pieces (2"-4") and broken- up (1"-2" chunks) of Tonga slab to construct some "rubble piles", and I must say, it's coming out pretty decent...

What I am thinking of doing is to cover the entire bottom with small rubble pieces (with appropriate crevices and nooks). Maybe even some finer (1'2"- 3/4) smashed up pieces...all at a very shallow depth. I realize such a setup may not be for everyone, as much attention needs to be paid to detritus accumulation and overall husbandry...I consider myself a master of aquatic husbandry, so maintenance is not an issue. The areas in the tank where I have done this already are looking great, and the system has been chemically stable for the 4months that the system has been up and running. I'm really interested in my fellow reefer's thoughts on the aesthetics of such a bottom...

Fishes include lots of blennies and gobies, Halichoeres wrasses,a Centropyge angel, and a couple of Zebrasoma sp. tangs. Everyone seems to be doing fine.

Has anyone run, or contemplated running, such a system? If so, I'd love to hear comments and thoughts, or even see some pics if you have them.

As always- thanks to all in advance for your feedback.

Scott


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Old 07/21/2005, 11:28 PM   #2
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I say go for it!

I have wanted to incorporate rubble in my tank like that, but I can't get past the look of sand

I think that a 'rubble-zone' tank is a really cool idea, especially if you pay attention to the stocking so that it is appropriate. It sounds like you have some really good ideas. Most books (like scott michaels') list livestock from the rubble zone, and you could stock from those. As you mentioned, you will need to siphon the substrate.

Do you have pics?

What kind of angel do you have?

jamie


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Old 07/21/2005, 11:52 PM   #3
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Hi Kimo!

Thanks for the encoragement...It's amazing, many of my friends are really supportive about the idea. It may not be for everyone, but I think it can work! I've been studying and working on this for some time, and it seems to be working well so far.

Agreed with you about the need to siphon. What is interesting, though is that the rubble areas are hosting an interesting array of small fauna (pods, etc.). The fishes (particularly the wrasses) spend a lot of time foraging in these areas.

I hav an African Flameback (C. acanthops) in my tank. Being a Pacific "snob", I would have rather tried a C. fisheri, but this wonderful little Flameback became available before I could locate one! He (she?) has been a perfect citizen thus far, happily picking at the rock and avoiding my Faviids and other corals.

You're right...Scott Michael's books have been an excellen source of information for fishes that inhabit this zone. I really think that hobbyists who want to keep multiple Centropyge angels in a tank will have better luck with such as system.

I do have some pics, but I am an incompentent when it comes to posting on RC! If you want some pics of what I've done so far, I'd be happy to send 'em to your personal email.

Anyways- thanks again for the feedback!

Scott


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Old 07/22/2005, 12:13 AM   #4
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It's awesome to see some reef tanks that aren't modeled after the Reef Crests. Good Luck!


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Old 07/22/2005, 12:19 AM   #5
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Thanks Gobydude...

I agree with you. I really wanted to try something different. There are lots of amazing reef crest biotope tanks out there, but some of the more obscure reef zonesseem to never get replicated in our aquaria.

I'd sure like to reefers try to emulate other biotopes....I'll do my best to keep everyone informed as this moves along...

Scott


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Old 07/22/2005, 05:27 AM   #6
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I have tried this twice.
try 1 - had sand in tank - looked great, algal nightmare, lots of deads spots for detritus build up
try 2 - working better , no sand, but have to stir it up, move it round to sop detritus collection.

If like Bomber you have some mighty flow you might do better than me.
It does look good, whether or not a bit of stirring up is a big deal or not is a moot point. I used bits up to 2 inches, maybe 3 in size.
Fish love it.


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Old 07/22/2005, 05:45 AM   #7
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Thanks for the input, wayne!

I agree that the idea of using conventional substrate in this kind of biotope is potentially problematic! I think that the "rubble bottom" is essentially a barebottom system with rubble rock serving (at least from an aesthetic standpoint) as a "substrate". This is why I belive that we are both experiencing some success, with careful and due attention to husbandry procedures.

I've been using the little flat pieces of broken slab rock to construct a "matrix" of sorts, which still leaves some open areas. Sounds similar to yours.

I'd love to see some pics, if you have any!

Thanks!

Scott


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Old 07/22/2005, 07:27 AM   #8
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I'd rather not! - after the original problematic attempt I dumped all my live rock rubble into a 35 litre acrylic tank, accidentally creating a nano en route. The hardware is not beautiful, the rubble is. I do a 10 litre water change one (occasionally twice) a week and make sure I pull out as much gak frm the bottom as I can.

I think the potential is there to produce a spectacular looking display if it was done on a large scale..


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Old 07/22/2005, 08:26 AM   #9
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I tried it. Im with wayne on this one...they rubble becomes a detrious magnet...and its hard to clean. I did it because I didnt want bare bottom any more. Lets face it, even with bare bottom, its near impossible to blow all the detrious out. And now it just sits there decomposing w/o sand to help digest it. And now with rubble that prolbem will become many times worse. FWIW, a medium sand, 2-5mm is the best substrate around. Doesnt get all funky and hard to clean like the sugar aragonite, and just leaving a 1" layer all over is enough to keep everything happy. It almost cleans itself...and what it cant, you can now at least have sand-sifting organisms to help out as well. All that even a 180g needs to keep its sand perfect is one sand-sifting goby...they rock!


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Old 07/22/2005, 12:20 PM   #10
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I just keep a 2 ~ 3 inch medium sand bed. My two horse shoe crabs keep the sand nice and clean.


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Old 07/22/2005, 01:42 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by cduran02
I just keep a 2 ~ 3 inch medium sand bed. My two horse shoe crabs keep the sand nice and clean.
Don't horse shoe crabs solely consume microfauna? I would think that that was bad.


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Old 07/22/2005, 02:41 PM   #12
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Naw....horse shoe crabs eat small crustaceans (pods) and worms. When they get bigger they will eat mussels, clams and snails, but in an aquarium they dont get to the size where they could.


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Old 07/23/2005, 04:46 AM   #13
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Don't they get huge though? I heard they turn into living bull-dozers eventually.


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Old 07/23/2005, 07:33 AM   #14
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yeah, they get about 12" ~ 13" in diameter in the wild. I dont think they will get that big in an aquarium, I guess if they get that big Ill donate them to the Miami Seaquarium....unless I find another way to keep em. Since they can live on land also (by the shore), i could build them a mini beach in my back yard. Though I know they will freak out my wife, she's freaked by them now and they're only about an inch in diameter.


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Old 07/24/2005, 09:24 AM   #15
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If you are doing a rubble bottom, why not place eggcrate (or something similar) under the rubble? Then the detritus can fall past the rocks, and it will be easier to siphon out.

If you can drill, you could even place a drain in the bottom to make that easier.


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Old 07/24/2005, 12:52 PM   #16
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Neat idea, ghotiFL...

A very interesting way to access underneath rockwork....

Scott


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Old 07/24/2005, 02:10 PM   #17
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Had another thought too... take the "filter" part out of an underground filter, and hook up a small(er) powerhead to that... Anything that falls through the cracks would get recirculated.


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Old 07/25/2005, 02:17 PM   #18
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I am a newb so I will not presume to suggest anything to a "master" but I have a 55g with two small islands that are big ol caves, and in between them is rubble. I really love the way it looks, (pic don't do it justice) and haven't had any real detritus problem. I have large CC and a reverse UGF, (but just recently reversed it), when it was running forward for last 7 months, I was vacuaming once a week, but didn't really dig into the rubble pile cause I was trying to get some pods to grow in there...just blew it off with a power head. I also had a hob and skimmer getting stuff up, and filtering small crapola outa the tanks. Only 5 fish, and only 5 snails and a emerald crab for clean up so far. And seems very stable, perams always good, and nitrates about 12-15, (no sump). I just turned the hob into a mini refugium (still have a filter pad at return) to see if I could get the Nitrates lower, might put a coral or two in there if I can achieve this.

I would love to see what others have done with rubble. I am finding no detritus problems, (so far so good).

Since pic taken, (6 wks ago) added surface skimmer box to Remora pro...and reversed the UGF...



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Old 07/25/2005, 05:20 PM   #19
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Hi lillibirdy:

It's neat to see what you're doing in the center of the tank! It would be a neat place for Xeniids or Blastomussa or other corals, such as Sinularia, which can attach to this substrate.


I think that the biggest concern with coarse substrates and rubble, as others have outlined here- is the long-term possible accumulation of detritus., which could lead to long-term deterioration of water quality through nitrate/phosphate accumulation.

I've long been convinced, from both my experience and that of others, that coarse substrates can be problematic if they are too deep. On the other hand, very shallow (less than 1")coarse substrates may actually be easier to clean than fine sand at the same depth, IME. A more conventional siphon can be used, and the detritus is easier to separate from the substrate.

I don't think you'll ever see success in the long term with a "deep" coarse substrate, but I don't know too many folks who have actually tried that!

I think that there is definite accumulation for detritus to accumulate on a bare bottom covered by rubble, but I also think that many of the husbandry techniques and stocking ideas (ie; use of detritivorous fishes and inverts) of the bare-bottom technique can help.

Thanks much for the input!

Scott


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Old 07/26/2005, 01:36 PM   #20
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I basicaly wanted to tag this thread. I have been BB for several years now. I have debated this rubble issue for too long. Today I have 75lbs of rubble coming in from PA. I will be covering my 300g BB with one layer of rubble. We shall see how it goes. I plan on once a week, give or take, siphoning of the rubble into a 50 micron sock and back into the system. I just got tired of the lack of visable mico life in my tank. Figured a rubble zone would support some more diversity.

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Old 07/26/2005, 09:18 PM   #21
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Quite accidentally, I ended up with a good bit of rubble on the bottom of my 20L nano. I have to say it looks ok. Two things to watch out for, however. First, keeping it clean can be a challenge, though a bigger tank might help that. Detritus and some bit of calcium snow are commonly siphoned from the spaces between the rocks. Second thing to watch is that you can't treat the rubble as a typical substrate by setting larger rocks on it. It shifts about quite a bit, particularly during siphoning. My only casualty so far in six months is a shrimp caught on the wrong end of landslide.

I'm using some rubble substrate in my 55. However, I have a pump directed low and the larger rock are seated on the bottom.

Not enough time on either tank in my case to speculate on long term nutrient impact.


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Old 07/26/2005, 09:24 PM   #22
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All of my actual rockwork is sitting on eggcrate approx 1 inch above the tanks bottom. This actualy has a cool effect with the rubble in the tank. Kind of creates a shallow cave for some of my shrimp and such to hide out. I would say that 50% of the tanks bottom has this gap and the reast has rubble directly on the bottom.

As far as cleaning goes.... The rubble I got from PA was all of a pretty good size, leading me to believe that siphoning it should be relatively easy. The eggcrate also allows me the opportunity to place my closed loop back in and have the outputs run along the bottom of the tank. Either way I think it looks sweet.


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Old 07/26/2005, 10:04 PM   #23
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BOTR:

Glad to hear that you're going for it...I think that only actual experimentation and use will give us the final answer as to how well a rubble bottom works. Do keepus posted on this!

I agree about the slightly larger pieces of rubble working better- will definitely assist in access to get at detritus.

artis- I think you brought out a key point: Lots of flow down low! (I think that this will help keep detritus accessable for removal). Again- please update as your tank matures!

Thanks!

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Old 07/26/2005, 11:30 PM   #24
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i have rubble on my sandbed in one area.


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Old 07/27/2005, 06:36 PM   #25
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Youve got plenty of pumping power. I think that will be key. I love the rubble look too, but am fighting hair algae.
I think you need more flow than just going bare bottom!
While Bomber and GregTs tanks look super clean and have awesome flow, I prefer a more natural look than the barren "lab" style bare bottom look. Just my preference....


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