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Takayuki Shirakura - Information and analyses on Red Bee Sand



• Red Bee Sand

Red Bee Sand by Takayuki Shirakura is produced by the Japanese company » Hirose Ltd.

Since 1994, this manufacturer, Hirose Ltd., well-known and renowned throughout Asia, has been producing soil substrates, and is among the pioneers who have made these substrates a household word for tankkeepers.

Red Bee Sand consists of 100% natural ingredients, and its characteristical granular appearance is formed during a special firing, the method has been patented by Hirose Ltd. This process also gives the soil a porous structure, a coveted characteristic. Neither resins nor other binding agents are used. Hirose's long-term experience and the high standards they apply to their products guarantee you high-grade substrates of a constantly great quality.



• The structures under a scanning electron microscope

50x
magnification






please click the
picture to see a
larger version

2500x
magnification






please click the
picture to see a
larger version
Source: Hirose Ltd. Source: Hirose Ltd.

These highly porous structures provide important bacteria with a large substrate to grow on.
One liter of Red Bee Sand has a total surface of about 21,476 m²

Research conducted by the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences Tokyo on behalf of Hirose Ltd., showed that after some time over 200 different bacteria species can be found in this substrate, some of them denitrifying (anaerobic) bacteria. (Chief Scientist, Environmental Microbiology, Dr. Jung Rin Ken).



• pH value development over 217 days with weekly water changes of 95%

By the interaction of acidic and alkaline components, Red Bee Sand does not "just" lower the pH, but adjusts it within a range of about 6.5 +/- 0.3. If you use water with a higher pH, it is lowered by the acidic components, if you use water with a lower pH, it is raised by the alkaline ingredients. Both components are fine-tuned to each other, thus allowing the pH to level off at the desired range.

Original water, also used for water changes, with a pH value of 7.5 to 8.0

Source: Hirose Ltd.

Original water, also used for water changes, with a pH value of 5.0 to 5.5

Source: Hirose Ltd.
The red graph shows the chronological sequence of the pH measured in the tank.
The "peaks" (after water change) show the pH immediately after the new water was added, and (in the form of a curve) the lag until the pH has adapted again.
The average pH during the testing phase was at 6.6 in the upper and at 6.3 in the lower chart.



• Examination by an independent lab (test reports regarding substrate analyses)

Two samples of Red Bee Sand by Shirakura from different packages were sent to the Institut für Boden und Umwelt der Landwirtschaftskammer Niedersachsen (Institute for Soil and Environment of the Chamber of Agriculture Lower Saxony » LUFA Nord-West) for examination. According to the test reports from August 2009, the following parameters were measured:

Test reports, no. 363012 and 363080
Nitrite
NO2 in mg/kg
Nitrate
NO3-N in mg/kg
Ammonium
NH4-N in mg/kg
pH value
Sample I < 0.190 7.25 2.48 5.4
Sample II < 0.190 7.62 3.21 5.4
Source: LUFA Nord-West - (NO2 according to ISO 13395, NO3-N according to ISO 13395, NH4-N according to ISO 11732, pH value according to ISO 10390)

Test reports, no. 363013
Phosphor
P in mg/100 g
Potassium
K in mg/100 g
Magnesium
Mg in mg/100 g
Manganese
Mn in mg/kg
Humus
in %
Iron, EDTA-soluble
Fe in mg/kg
Sample I 1 8 16 6.7 6.7 120
Sample II 0 9 17 7.5 7.5 121
Source: LUFA Nord-West - (P and K according to VDLUFA method book vol. I, Mg according to VDLUFA I)

All in all, the soil analyses show that Red Bee Sand isn't only ideally suited for shrimpkeeping, but that it is also a great substrate for planted tanks due to its high content of natural nutrients.
Organic components in the soils used to produce Red Bee Sand are responsible for ammonium readings of about 0.10 to 0.35 mg/l. These levels are not harmful for shrimp and are completely decomposed by the bacteria populations developing during this time.



• Own tests and experiments

Test series I

Tank I with
air-driven
undergravel filter





please click the
graph to see a
larger version

Tank II with
air-driven
sponge filter





please click the
graph to see a
larger version
Source: Frank and Carsten Logemann Source: Frank and Carsten Logemann

We set up two test tanks with a volume of 54 l each, one of them equipped with an air-driven undergravel filter, the other with an air-driven sponge filter. The tanks were decorated with two pieces of driftwood (mangrove) with Java moss bound onto them. The shrimp (15 animals in each tank) were put in 24 h after setting up, and we fed every other day. The respective water changes of about 30% were performed weekly.

Water parameters were taken with customary drop tests and thus do not make any claim to being scientifically exact. They merely give us a comprehensible tendency; this also applies to the graphs in both the charts.



Test series II

Due to its special characteristics, Red Bee Sand acts as ion exchanger. Thus we tested whether ammonium or nitrate are absorbed and possibly given off again suddenly under certain circumstances.
For the following test, we used one new portion of Red Bee Sand, three portions of used RBS (about 1, 2 and 3 months in use in heavily stocked tanks) and one portion originating from a customer who had measured high levels of nitrate in the tank.

Test duration: 7 days, respectively

Test-No. Descripion of test set-up Result
I Using our tap water, we tested the soil samples whether they give off ammonium or nitrate negative
II Using R/O water, we tested the soil samples whether they give off ammonium or nitrate negative
III Using a sodium chloride solution, we tested the soil samples whether they give off ammonium or nitrate negative
IV Using a calcium chloride solution, we tested the soil samples whether they give off ammonium or nitrate negative

All four tests were carried out using samples of all 5 different portions of soil and resulted in very similar findings.

Upshot:
This soil does obviously not have the ability of storing and suddenly giving off relevant amounts of ammonium.



Test serie III

For three weeks, we kept Red Bee Sand in a nitrate solution of 100 mg/l from a laboratory in order to see whether or not this soils is capable of absorbing nitrate and giving it off again.

Upshot:
It isn't. The test readings for the nitrate solution still showed a level of at least 100 mg/l after three weeks, and the soil did not give off any nitrate either after a short rinse.

Different specialists as well as the producer have confirmed that Red Bee Sand does not even have the physical properties of absorbing nitrate.



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