Cleaned, at least. Doesn't have to be sterile--I've used QuickCrete brand sand and had no problems. The variety of grain size is what you're aiming for, though composition should at least be known. Silica is fine, too.
Wow this is such an awesome thread! I've learned so much!
Question: I want to change my FW planted tank into a marine tank. I have playsand in the tank right now as substrate. Would it be safe to keep the old playsand and mix with live sand, or should I get all new playsand? The sand bed is about 2" deep.
I had a lot of fun making caves and ziti rock. It's a bit messy and It takes about a month to cure, unless you use the short cuts and I didn't. To answer your question. I would just follow the guide at the site I gave you. I would say Cement is way to high in ph to let anything live it would be mixed with.
OK...a quick question from someone who had SW years ago, and is going back into it now.
The original poster started cycling the tank with shrimp. Here's my question: was his live rock the only thing he was using for filtration?? What about mechanical filtration? Back when I did it, I was taught to have 2 major forms of filtration (biological and mechanical)...which I achieved with a wet/dry sump. What is Jason using for mechanical filtration? What is he using for biological fiiltration? Just the live rock?
In most reefs and many FOWLR, organisms like copopods, bristleworms, starfish, snails, crabs, and shrimp are the mechanical filters. They consume wastes and uneaten food, further breaking it down and removing some of the nutrients from the system (well, not removing but binding them in the form of more worm, star, snails, crab or shrimp). Since these animals come in a variety of sizes and food preferences, a diverse mix will result in very little waste that decays in the system. Mechanical filters can be used as well, as long as they do not trap detritus where the critters can't get to it--one reason why wet-dry setups can cause nitrate spikes in systems is that the bio-ball media doesn't provide great access to the detrivores. Sponges prefiltering water in advance of a wet-dry resolve this concern, but still require monitoring.
The live rock and sand are the media for the biological filtration, often supplemented with algaes--macros like chaeto, and coralline algae as well. I usually leave the entire back and one side of my tank uncleaned--allowing the hair algaes to grow, which helps reduce nitrates, as well as providing good grazing ground for the herbivores, and improving pod reproduction.
It has captivated me and made me sure that I want in on a peice of the action here... I am a tech geek and I love electronical things of all kinds. But something about the serenity of fish and their habitats calms me in a way that others can't. I have alot of "" Free "" time can be used towards this exciting new hobby. Thanks for all the inciteful info, I will soon be on my way to SW Heaven
BTW... My brother recently started a SW tank and did it in a frighteningly fast and unstable but managable way. After reading all of these great Ideas made me not want to take the same path my brother did even though his worked fine (Luckily)
All he did was got the tank (55g) set it up on a coffee table then added crushed coral and the salt water mix he then test his levels and within hours added the live rock... after 2 days of balance (the pet store was amazed of his acheived balance) he then added his fish etc... He later found that his live rock came with many extra goodies like a 5inch (Aprox.) Crab and other things living in its little cave... After about 5 days he said he got really worried because all the living stuff shrank dramatically (im asuming that was the burn you guys were talking about) then after a day or two it came back...
He simply did'nt take the time to set anything up and still managed to get his tank going. and now its thriving...
anyway just thought I'd add this to point out that I think there are many different ways that work but not all of them are best for everyone...
I know I've learned alot from this one section and I definitely look forward to sharing my tales from the SW Newbyizm...