In the reef keeping hobby the word ‘detritus’ is a dirty word, literally. Detritus is dead organic matter such as fragments of dead organisms or fish waste that can collect on the bottom of a tank. If left alone, the accumulation of these elements can cause nitrates and phosphates to rise, leading to algae outbreaks.
Perhaps the best way to prevent the build-up of detritus is to have strong water circulation. Re-circulating pumps such as the Vortech MP40 from Ecotech can prevent dead spots and elevate waste in the water column. This allows it to be exported via mechanical filtration.
When detritus does make it to the bottom of a tank it is important to remove it manually by siphoning it out. For tanks with sand beds it is important to just siphon the top layer of sand. Why? Well, toxic substances, such as hydrogen sulfide that lie at the bottom could leach out and cause harm to the tank’s inhabitants. Instead of vacuuming a sand bed, you can remove detritus with a good clean-up crew. Conches, hermit crabs, sea cucumbers, crabs, Gobies and snails will all help to aerate a sand bed and consume detritus. I have a a few Tiger Tail Sea Cucumbers in my 187 gallon tank and they do a fantastic job. MORE