Pros and cons of sand sifters

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  • Graeme
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Been wondering about getting a sand-sifting goby to clean up my sand - it's looking grubby.  Really not sure what to do, as I know it will eat a lot if not all of the fauna in the sand (same goes with a lot of sand sifters), which makes up a big part of the ecosystem.  I have a load of nassarius vibex snails and a couple of conch that move through the sand and only eat detritus, so leave the little worms and other critters that live in the sand and eat detritus, alone.  As I understand it, the fauna that lives in the sand plays a critical role in breaking down waste.

I did once get a twin spot goby, as I thought it was very small, so might not get around too much of the tank at a time, and leave enough fauna to reproduce and recover.  It did seem to do quite a bit of sifting though, so not sure about that now.  I lost it in my white spot outbreak, so I don't know if it would have moved much further away from it's main burrow or not.

The other thing I want to throw in at this point, is that I have only done one 50lt water change on my 450lt tank in almost 2 years now...and that was only because of the whitespot outbreak where I took 50lt from the DT to set up the Hospital Tank, then replaced it with new.  My levels for nitrate are always zero (checked several times with lfs at the beginning as I didn't believe my test results), so I'm convinced that my ecosystem is running perfectly, and I don't want to overbalance it to the point I have rising nitrates.

Thoughts?
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Steveanem

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Reply #1

Well I must admit, like you, I haven't kept up with regular water changes since moving house. We moved in here in May and around 50% got replaced then. Since that I have only done one 10% change and one 15% change (today).
Like you, my parameters have been perfectly fine, my nitrate always reading zero also. I also never seem to have a trace of phosphate even though I had the previous GHA problem. That has now all gone and still my cheato does not grow.
However, more recently I did notice my PH level had taken a nosedive, from 8.2 to 7.4. I read that this could be due to a build up of decaying detritus and lack of water changes. I added a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda weekly and it is presently about 8.0
I actually think that this happened SINCE I got the sand sifting goby and you wouldn't believe the amount of crap The filter socks have been pulling out of the water column. I believe had I not got the goby that, due to the lack of water changes, this could have been a ticking time bomb which would sooner or later have caused a sudden tank crash. I am now going to do regular water changes regardless of my parameters.

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Mike

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Reply #2

A sand sifting goby will turn the sand white, as for how much microfauna it's going to eliminate it's hard to tell. It'll also kick up a dust storm when it's sifting actively, depending on the size of goby obviously. My Diamond Watchman is adult size, over 6 inches, so he's a brute, biggest I've ever seen, so maybe my example of a blizzard is extreme. It did reduce over months of using 100 micron filter socks. I don't run the socks any more as it's reduced the dust level so I get a lot less kick up.

I suppose they sift around the back when not in view too, so that could stop detritus and the substrate generally becoming stagnant.

If it does kick up a lot of dust though, could that irritate SPS?

This is my goby: http://www.liveaquaria.com/product/prod_display.cfm?c=15+31+220&pcatid=220
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HK_Fuey

  • Graeme
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Reply #3

Well I must admit, like you, I haven't kept up with regular water changes since moving house. We moved in here in May and around 50% got replaced then. Since that I have only done one 10% change and one 15% change (today).
Like you, my parameters have been perfectly fine, my nitrate always reading zero also. I also never seem to have a trace of phosphate even though I had the previous GHA problem. That has now all gone and still my cheato does not grow.
When I had cheato it grew, but I also had a cyano bloom which I got rid of with RowaPhos in a reactor, and now have virtually not phosphate.
However, more recently I did notice my PH level had taken a nosedive, from 8.2 to 7.4. I read that this could be due to a build up of decaying detritus and lack of water changes. I added a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda weekly and it is presently about 8.0
I actually think that this happened SINCE I got the sand sifting goby and you wouldn't believe the amount of crap The filter socks have been pulling out of the water column. I believe had I not got the goby that, due to the lack of water changes, this could have been a ticking time bomb which would sooner or later have caused a sudden tank crash. I am now going to do regular water changes regardless of my parameters.
Have a read of this re. pH problems and how to solve them.  Do you have low Alk?
Low pH: Causes and Cures by Randy Holmes-Farley - Reefkeeping.com
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HK_Fuey

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Reply #4

It'll also kick up a dust storm when it's sifting actively, depending on the size of goby obviously. My Diamond Watchman is adult size, over 6 inches, so he's a brute, biggest I've ever seen, so maybe my example of a blizzard is extreme. It did reduce over months of using 100 micron filter socks. I don't run the socks any more as it's reduced the dust level so I get a lot less kick up.
Seems a common theme here.  Any pH issues?
I suppose they sift around the back when not in view too, so that could stop detritus and the substrate generally becoming stagnant.
Yes, I bet it would do.  My tank has most of the rock down the middle, so there is sand open front and behind, and under several arches - all easy for a goby and snails to get at.
If it does kick up a lot of dust though, could that irritate SPS?
SPS is a mystery to me.  It seems so temperamental, so I've stayed away, but I am after some pink hystrix to give it a try now.  Maybe the smaller polyps get blocked more easily?
This is my goby: http://www.liveaquaria.com/product/prod_display.cfm?c=15+31+220&pcatid=220
I love the look of these sorts of fish, and the character and activity really attracts me  :undecided:
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Mike

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Reply #5

No PH issues, maybe initially when I got the goby but he sifts in small areas, and so it's a gradual thing, so any PH lowering effect of him sifting would be smoothed out as it's only small areas at a time.

I read on reefkeeping.com somewhere about dust irritating SPS, there's a thread here mentioning it I think.

Yeah he's characterful. He's only out around 30~40% of the time though.

Oh, it'll pile sand up in areas, exposing the bottom and burying corals, worth thinking about how much that'd bother you.  :O
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Steveanem

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Reply #6

Thanks @HK_Fuey . I will check my KH level too.




It's 3.99 meq/L (11.2dKH)
Last Edit: Nov 29, 2014 10:47:37 pm by Steveanem

HK_Fuey

  • Graeme
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Reply #7

Good to hear the diamond goby sifts in areas, although I think I would want to go with something smaller.  Maybe a twin spot again...any other suggestions.
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Mike

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Reply #8

My two nearest LFSs (Oasis and Abyss) both usually have them in, but about 3 to 4 inches. I got mine from Oasis and it dwarfed the size of the others.

He'll dive in, in an area, then sit there filtering it through his gills, then move forward an inch, dive in, repeat - but only in an area about the size of your hand, then he'll get bored and stop, usually vanishing for another few hours.
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Hai

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Reply #9

I have a very large Sand shifting starfish (probably 6"-8"), should I take it back to my LFS? :(

Mike

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Reply #10

How long have you had it? If the tank isn't big enough it'll slowly go thin over months, and eventually die. Although the LFS is a bad place for it, as there'll certainly be no food for it there, and the next person to buy it will unlikely have a tank big enough for it.

If you want to move it on, I'd try to find someone with a big tank and offer it to them.
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Hai

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Reply #11

I have had it for about 2 weeks. The tank is 5 x 2 x 2.5 and a SSB. Would I be able to keep it in my system?

Mike

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Reply #12

One that big I still think will decline over many months, but it should live for years. It's unlikely to find a tank suitable, and yours is reasonably big. I'd keep it.

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carlcall

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Reply #13

Now when I started off in this hobby I didn't really know a lot, but I did read quite a lot of forums about general things I needed to know blah blah blah!

But long story short I have a friend that has a Rio240 so it's not that big a tank. And he had/has a SSF and when I first saw it, it only had 3 1/2 legs and when I asked why he said it was sulking. Sounded a little weird as I'd heard about them doing this to conserve energy when they are starving and on the verge of death.

After reading about this a few people said that they syringed pods into the sand and the SSF would make it's way over there and eat them, which I found odd yet plausible at the same time as no one seems to know what they really eat in their diets.

I told my friend this and he said the SSF had always done it, but I also noticed that for a well established tank the SB wasn't really that live, whereas my first tank took around 3-4 days to show signs of life but that was due to wasting money on live sand  :cry:

Anyway I gave him a cupful of my sand and told him to add it to his tank....preferably bury my sand under his and low and behold 3 weeks later his sand was really lively and his SSF had grown it's legs back. Not thrown one since either.

When I set up my new 4x2x2 I decided on a slightly bigger grain of sand and renewed the whole lot yet only added a cup of my old sand in the centre of the tank so it worked outwards.

Now I know some people say they never see their SSF but mine used to be moving here there and everywhere on the surface, bury itself and then be on the move again. it never once went up and onto the glass and off the sand bed ever until it went into the new tank with no life in the sand.....so I thought the worst.

He did this for a couple of weeks until he stopped where I had put the old LS. I can now confirm my tanks sand is streaming with life and my SSF has near enough doubled in size since the upgrade. So I know he's eating whatever is in the sand and I also know that he is eating my tangs poo as they seem to have made one corner of the tank their toilet. It doesn't matter where they are in the tank......if they need a shat they will always swim to this corner. And SSF has stopped in this spot also and buried himself in their scat.

So much for a long story short....I've probably missed bits out and gone over the same bit twice, but what the hell!

T-Bone Tyrone

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Reply #14

The biggest problem you'll have with a goby (I don't think this has been mentioned yet) is burrowing, this will give you the biggest dust cloud, so hopefully the goby finds a spot quickly!

My tiger goby is a bit of a slag when it comes sifting, and defo spreads the sand about, but only ever seems to cover my favia! I don't get dust clouds, but there is definitely particles in suspension because of it, but it does a great job.
I've have had a yellow watchman previously and that didn't burrow,  but hid amongst to rocks, it would make mounds of substrate as it took a mouthful and went back to the same spot every time and the mound increasing.
I might be back....

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