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FAQs on Mud/Algal Filtration 2

Related Articles: How to make a simple Algae Turf Scrubber (ATS), By Simon Trippick, Nutrient Control and ExportMarine Substrates, Deep Sand Beds, Live Sand, Biofiltration, Denitrification, Live Sand, Live RockMarine Set-Up, An Introduction to Reef Systems, Refugiums, Reef FiltrationMarine System PlumbingMarine Aquarium Set-UpMoving AquariumsMarine Biotope, Marine Landscaping

Related FAQs: Algal Filtration in General, Mud Filtration 1Mud Filtration 3, & FAQs on Mud Filtration: Rationale/Use, Engineering/Placement, Maintenance/Replacement, Troubles, Products: Miracle Mud/Leng Sy, Other Mud products, DIY & Refugium Substrates/DSBs, Reef Set-Up, Reef Set-Up 2, Reef Set-Up 3, Reef Set-Up 4, Reef Set-Up 5, Reef Maintenance, Sumps/Filters, Sumps/Filters 2, Marine System PlumbingMarine Aquarium Set-UpLive RockLive Sand, Fish-Only Marine Set-ups, Fish-Only Marine Systems 2, FOWLR/Fish and Invertebrate Systems, Reef Systems, Coldwater Systems, Small Systems, Large SystemsBest Marine Set-Up FAQs 1, Best FAQs 2, Marine Set-Up 1

Might stir up the bottom... Antennarius commerson pair pic in N. Sulawesi by DianaF.

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Marine Aquarium Algae Control

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Ecosystem 3612 sump help.   6/13/07 Hi WetWeb Crew, <Hi there> My Name is Mitch, I'm From Australia. <Hello Mitch> I have recently had the ecosystem 3612 installed in my 120g tank. There was a lot of hassles importing the kit here so my local aquarium guy had the sump made here. <I see> This system is very new here so there is not much information around about it. <Mmm, am friends with Leng Sy... We had long discussions re this line... skimming... Some while down diving off Cairns... know this products history quite well...> I Don't think the internal measurements are totally accurate so I am hoping somebody who has the 3612 can give me the internal measurements. <Will cc Leng here re> I have attached a diagram of my system. Any help will be greatly appreciated! Thanks,
<Bob Fenner>

Re: ecosystem 3612 sump help. – 06/14/07 Ok, Hope to hear from someone soon Thanks again, Mitch <Mmm, you did get my initial resp.? Archived here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mudfiltfaq2.htm Please make it known when/if Leng Sy responds to you. Cheers, BobF>

Siphoning Live Marine Sand in an EcoSystem Live Reef or NOT?   5/24/07 <Hi Geno, Mich here.> I have a 5 month old 65g Ecosystem live reef tank with a 25g refuge Ecosystem style. Other then that I have a PhosBan 150 reactor and a UV sterilizer.    <No protein skimmer?  Yikes!  Please read here and the related links in blue:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/proskimrart2.htm > The first few months of ownership I had the very experienced professionals from my shop here in Pompano Beach FL do the first few months’ water change outs & water chem. tests.   <OK.> While I did a ton of research in advance of this major purchase I just wanted professional tutoring before I took on all regular maintenance responsibilities.   <Hopefully was a valuable learning experience.> When I do water change out I use the salt water the LFS brings in directly, at or near, high tide here in Broward County.   <Mmm, some issues re discussed here and related links in blue:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seawater.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seah2onatural.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seah2ofaqs.htm > This practice has been done here for many many years by many marine hobbyists. <History doesn't make it the best option.  Humans have done countless terrible things for many, many, years, i.e. killing, enslaving and stealing from others, that doesn't make it right.> All my research on re siphoning sand when doing a regular change out has me totally perplexed:   <I'm sorry.> Here's my question(s) with a 1.5" thickness on average live sand bed; <Deeper of shallower would be better.  Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dsbdepth.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsubstr.htm > so is it better to: 1.  Siphon the sand on each water change to rid of toxic build up; or, 2.  Leave the live sand bed alone as siphoning can mix up the chemistry in the bed causing it to disperse toxic particles throughout the tank <I'll take option #3 please... vacuuming a small part of the sand bed with each water change would likely be your best option.  More here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water.htm > All my water chem.s are in the ideal range.   <Vague.> Lighting is more then this tank probably need and the bio filter is keeping all water panels in the exact "safe" range. <More vague.> So what have you oh great one?   <Mmm, we have just your Average Joes here dodging wrenches.> Siphon or not? <Siphon, but only a part at a time.  Mich> Geno

Re: Siphoning Live Marine Sand in an EcoSystem Live Reef or NOT?   5/25/07 Thank you so much for the great response Mitch. <Hi Geno!  You're welcome!> Just a response to the <No protein skimmer? Yikes!>; I did a lot of research on the Ecosystem process and the use of their biological filtering process and everything I read from long time users of this system have had nothing but fantastic results without the use of a protein skimmer.  I even called Ecosystem directly and spoke to them twice about this topic and they told me that if the refuge and tank is set up correctly and proper husbandry is conducted (regular water changes, water chem.s, no over feeding, bio loads...) that this system is not dependent on a skimmer. <Can be true with any system, but it makes the constraints quite tight.>   Now all that being said; a protein skimmer to assist in nutrient export is a very good thing (especially if something dies) and in fact there are many who use the Ecosystem method who do run a skimmer as part of their filtering process. <I personally think this is practical and wise.> My only worry about the use of a skimmer (and Ecosystem confirmed this) is that it can export more of the beneficial nutrients that my corals and fish rely on. <Yes, it is possible to "overskim" but it is far more common to have problems as a result of not skimming.>    My coral growth has exceeded my expectations and the color in my fish is fantastic. <This is great to hear!> But, I am looking into a skimmer as I write this Thank You email! <I think it is a good investment.  It is possible to run a well-balanced system without a skimmer, but it is much more of a challenge than running one with a skimmer.>    Cheers Mitch:) <Cheers to you Geno, Mich>

Mud Filter FAQ, no art.?     5/16/07 I'm a bit confused. it seems your page is a wealth of information, as can be found on the google searches of the site.  But when referencing Mud Filters there seems to be a lot pointing to some sort of FAQ or article but all I can find is the thrown together questions with mixed in statements from the crew.  Is there a overarching article about Mud Filter technology, what to do, etc? Thanks so much!~ <No article as of yet... one of hundreds... thousands in time. Thank you for this note, urging. Bob Fenner>

Miracle Mud?...Seeking a Cure for HLLE - 04/05/07 Hi. <<Hello>> I've reviewed all of your FAQ's regarding Mud Filtration, and visited the EcoSystem web-site. <<Ok>> I don't see anything that answers my following question, which makes me wonder if it has an obvious answer that just isn't  obvious to me. <<Well let's take a look...>> Here goes: Can you put Miracle Mud in your display tank? <<Hmm...you could...but I think much of it would get/remain suspended by the water flow in the tank>> I have a  75 gallon FOWLR tank with a 3" DSB and a wet/dry sump. <<Simply increasing the depth of the DSB (even just an inch or two) with sugar-fine aragonite sand would be beneficial in my opinion>> My blue tang that I've had for 6 years is showing signs of HLLE, and I've read that the EcoSystem is the best way to go. <<Maybe. maybe not...  Apart from environmental issues; this tank is too small for the tang, a factor that is likely contributing to its condition, HLLE is often a result of nutritional deficiency>> After seeing how expensive it is, I'm trying to find a  way around it. <<Do consider "beefing up" the nutritional value of the foods you feed this fish.  All can/should be soaked in Selcon (or similar) at least a couple times a week.  Also, adding vitamins (Boyd's VitaChem) directly to the water can help (marine fish "drink" their environment)>> Can I mix MM in with my already existing live sand? <<Would work best if placed "beneath" the live sand...for the reasons stated earlier>> Also, if this isn't a good idea, will having an in-tank refugium with Caulerpa be beneficial to combat the HLLE? <<A refugium is always of benefit, but like the Miracle Mud, is no panacea.  You don't list your water chemistry values which depending could also be a contributor here, but I would start with the fishes diet...and do consider its need for a larger "home">> Thanks in advance! Tracy <<Happy to assist.  EricR>>

Shaving Brush Substrate  2/28/07 <Hi Brandon!  Mich here.> Just a quick question, I am getting ready to add a hang on refugium to my 65 gal reef aquarium.   <Excellent!> I have really been considering using mineral mud (about 4 inches), and livestock being Chaetomorpha algae, live rock, and a shaving brush plant.  This brings me to my question, will the mud substrate suit the brush plant? <Yes.> Am I just better to avoid adding this species all together due to the fact I will have the Chaetomorpha?   <Can try both.> My main goal is to harvest pods for my Mandarin and add biological filtration.   <Chaetomorpha is the most important here.> Your help is greatly appreciated, this site is unbelievable in the amount of knowledge is supplies everyone.   <Thank you for the kind words.> Keep up the fantastic work. <Will try!  -Mich> Brendan

Deep Mud Bed for NNR...Yes   2/25/07 Quick question.  Could a deep mud bed help with NNR as effectively as a DSB.   <Both deep sand beds and deep mud beds can successful reduce nitrates to zero more here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm and here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mudfiltrfaqs.htm also links in blue at top of pages.> If the answer is no, my follow up question is why not.  Thanks a million. <Welcome!  -Mich> Ari

Miracle Mud with Aragonite or Mineral Mud?   1/3/07 I have a 55 gallon main tank that is using an approximately 15 gallon wet/dry/refugium sump.  I have 5 lbs. of miracle mud in the refugium with a live rock and some Chaeto.  I know I should double the amount of miracle mud but it is just so expensive.  I was thinking of using mineral mud or some aragonite.  Which would be preferable? <Mmm...>   Should I layer it or mix it together? <I would mix it> Since the miracle mud has already been in the refugium for a while, will mixing cause an ammonia/nitrite spike when I add the new substrate? <Not likely> Should I turn the pump in the sump off for a little while to allow things to happen in the refugium and not go into the main tank, then do a water change? <A good idea. Bob Fenner>
Re: Miracle Mud with Aragonite or Mineral Mud?   1/3/07
I was wondering which you would recommend as far as the mineral mud or the aragonite to supplement the miracle mud. <Mmm, the best would be more of the one product... Leng Sy's EcoSystem Aquarium mud... but the other two might be mixed in... No preference, by L'Oreal. Bob Fenner>

Re: Sump Setup?  12/13/06 Good Day to you Tim. <And to you!> Well I am not Norwegian by birth I Have only been in the country for 5 years. I live in Horten, which is about an hour and a  half south of Oslo. Well the main reason that I want to get a sump up and going is to work at getting rid of nitrates. I have heard a lot about this miracle mud that people use in a sump, (more horror stories than anything else) is there any other filters, reactors, or such like that I should get? or that you can recommend? <The miracle mud works by encouraging the growth of macro algae in the sump. You can grow macro algae in your tank for nitrate export without the use of miracle mud which, as you note, is the subject of much debate. You should also consider the use of a DSB - much info on this on the website - as a means of reducing your nitrates. Lastly, you could consider purchasing a sulphur (or other type of) denitrator to reduce your nitrate problems. An excellent denitrator is produced by Korallin, though it is by no means cheap. I would suggest you use the tank you previously suggested with a strong 24hr light, have a DSB in this sump and grow macroalgae. This is the most natural and best way of eliminating nitrate problems and, depending on the what is in your main tank, may also act as a beneficial refugium where you can grow food for tangs or copepods for fish such as the mandarin dragonet. Any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. Hilsen, Tim> Tusen Hjertlig takk for hjelpen Tim Clinton

Filters...Wet/Dry To Ecosystem   8/3/06 Greetings and thanks for all of the great info. <You're welcome, Paul.> After an exhaustive search I am unable to find any info on this question. I have a 90 Gallon tank with appropriately sized wet/dry filter (my mistake) with skimmer  and I can not seem to get my nitrates down, currently 20ppm. I am changing 20 percent of the water every two weeks. Inhabitants include Hepatus Tang, 6 Green Chromis, Lawnmower Blenny, Royal Gramma, Cleaner Shrimp and False Perc Clown. Mushrooms, Xenia, Green Starbursts round out the crowd which all seem to be doing well presently. I have 90 lbs live rock and a shallow sand bed. When I started this venture I intended FOWLR but now want to establish a reef. Tell me if this plan sounds ok. I intend to remove the wet/dry using the bioballs from it in the Ecosystem filter in place of the ones that it comes with. <No need to do this.  Would not use any bioballs in the Ecosystem. See comment below.> I will have new water premixed to replace the content of the wet dry taken out at the change. At this point the skimmer will obliviously be gone also. Am I likely to have an ammonia problem with this approach? <Should not.> Am I missing something that will harm my friends? <If you have no live rock, then you should use the old bio-balls until the Ecosystem gets seeded, then I'd remove them.> I have read that an undersized skimmer is appropriate to use with this system and I am considering an Aqua C Remora. <Would be a good choice.  You may also consider one of the Ecosystems with built in protein skimming.> Your hard work on this site is greatly appreciated. <Thank you, James (Salty Dog)> Paul Powell

Algae Control And Miracle Mud - 07/18/2006 Good evening fishy folk. <Good evening, Dave.> I've recently setup sump w/ liverock filtration for my 90 gallon tank. The sump is about 35 gallons and I've had it equipped with a refugium. I have approximately 16x water flow in my tank, I have a blue florescent bulb for lighting 10hrs a day, and I only feed my critters about 4 or 5 times a week, yet I still get hints of Cyanobacteria. My first question.   <Excess nutrients in the tank....> Would Caulerpa in my refugium be the next best step to fight Cyano???  The Caulerpa would take a lot of the algae feeding nutrients out of my main system, correct? <Could help, but could also cause problems.  Better to try Chaetomorpha first, in my opinion.> Second question.  I bought 10lbs of "Ecosystem Miracle Mud" for my refugium and I have been advised that I should have closer to 20lbs for the size of tank I have.  Are you familiar with this product? <Yes.> Am I getting ripped off on this? Is it simply.... dirt?   <I've met Leng Sy, and liked the things he had to say.  Many folks swear by his mud and many say it's nothing great.  I've not used it, so have no firsthand experience.> Is there anything else that doesn't cost $10/lb that would be beneficial with Caulerpa to help reduce nutrients that this Cyano is obviously feeding off of? <Do please read here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeasfriend.htm and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm and all the algae articles listed here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marinvind1.htm .> Last question: if I were to use this Miracle Mud, I'd drain my sump as much as possible, at least the refugium chamber.  I'd put the mud in the chamber and fill the chamber with premixed salt water, scooping away any floaties left over.  When I turn my sump pump back on, I realize there will be a little discoloration in the water.  In your opinion, would there be any risk of drastic water chemistry changes from having the Miracle Mud in my sump?   <Mm, possibly....  best not to make sudden/major changes, if possible.  I'd go with this plan, and just keep a close eye on things.> Would the pH be harmfully affected?   <As long as your tank is of an appropriate pH and hardness to begin with, you should be okay.> I just don't want to lose my two clowns and goby. the shrimp, starfish, and crabs. Your advice?? <Mostly just to read more about algae! :grin: > Thanks a million! Dave <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>
Algae Control And Miracle Mud - II - 07/25/2006
Ya know what makes this hobby so much fun.... ummm... ha... ha.... ha... ha...    Is that you can read 10 different opinions... and get 10 different answers.   <True enough!> It kinda seems like LOOSE GUIDANCE to ensure you don't do anything stupid... but really, it's yourself that's gonna find the answer.   <Ultimately....  yeah.> I find the only way to fight Cyano is water flow, but how can someone possibly hit every angle of their liverock with sufficient water flow without stocking your tank with powerheads.    <Closed loop?> I have a pump that creates 800gph, a MaxiJet 900, and two 1200's.  16X tank flow rate should be sufficient, right?   <Perhaps.  There are other means aside from water flow alone to control this nuisance....  and I think you are (were?  will be?) pursuing them.> My typical water tests are to ensure constant salinity and temperature. Then I do a monthly (or more frequent if needed) pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate test.  Are there any other tests that would be beneficial for me to monitor??   <Phosphate, calcium, carbonate hardness, general hardness.... iodine perhaps....> I am not keeping corals... at least not yet.  Aside from that, I am doing 20% water changes semi-monthly.  Anything noticeably insane in my practices?   <Not particularly.> Any suggested improvements from what I have said?   <Maybe that you test phosphate, and try to ensure that your water is coming from a very pure source....  Preferably from a RO/DI unit http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i4/RO_systems/reverse_osmosis.htm or other such purification means.  This will help tremendously with your algae battles.> I also am using a deep livesand bed (about 4" across the majority of the tank).  I head something about using NO sandbed or at least one under 1" if I am using the Miracle Mud.  I dunno, sounds kinda strange to me.   <Me too.> Any biological reason for disaster if I keep my deep sand bed and the Miracle Mud?   <Nah, not that I can see.> I want the deep sandbed so that I can keep a couple of Jawfish in the near future.  Thanks again for all your help... could you sense the frustration in my first paragraph??   <Having experienced the same frustration myself, yes.  ::grin:: > I'm finally buying Bob's book!  So next time he has a drink, tell him I paid for it... sorta.   <Heh!> Your fishy friend always...   Dave P.S.  Just got back from the French Polynesia scuba diving (well actually it was my honeymoon... but the scuba diving was more exciting... shhh... don't tell). <Um, WOW.  Nope, I won't tell.> Those 12 foot lemon sharks look more cute and cuddly in pictures.  I was going to attach the picture of the one behind me while I was 70ft down... but the brown cloud (wetsuit my @$$) behind me was a little embarrassing JK! <Heh!  Sounds like you had a great time.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>   

Refugium Confusion? Question about Mineral Mud in a refugium  - 04/04/2006 Hello, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> I bought a CPR Small Refugium.  I am going to hang it off the side of my sump.  I have a 56 gallon main tank.  I really liked the section in the book 'Reef Invertebrates' about refugiums.  The main purpose of the refugiums is to harvest food for a Mandarin Goby that I am planning to get.  I would also like to place some Macro Algae in the refugium as well.  I bought some Mineral Mud and was wondering if it is ok to make the bed like 3 inches deep and then top it off with some sand? <I see nothing wrong with that, myself.> Do I need to top it off with the sand?  What are the benefits to that? <You don't have to top it off with sand, but it will help keep the mud from getting back into the display tank due to flow.> What is the ideal depth for the mineral mud in the refugium? Thanks, Jason <I'd shoot for two inches or so, myself. This will be a sufficient depth for many macroalgae to establish themselves. Good luck with your 'fuge! Regards, Scott F.>

Filtration/Ecosystem Mud Filter/Pump Size  3/30/06 Hello,  <Hello Gerardo> First of all, let me say thanks for your website. I am new to the saltwater hobby and your site has been the best for answering from trivial to elaborate questions. <We welcome you.> I have a 60 Gallon FOWLR tank with a wet/dry sump. Overflow box is 600 g/hr, return pump is rated 900g/hr. Last week I bought by accident <How can you buy something by accident?> an Ecosystem Model 100 (24Wx8Hx8l) bare refugium (no pump, plumbing, etc). After reading Ecosystem's site and your Mud filtering section, I am willing to try the Miracle Mud. However, I don't know what kind of pump/circulation I need to buy in order to have it right at the refugium. Do you have any suggestions?  <I'm not aware that they have a Model 100.  I'd contact Ecosystem at (714)543-4100.  Don't bother emailing, you may or may not get an answer and if you do it will be at least two weeks (personal experience).> Thanks in advance for your help. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Gerardo Frias

Bubble trouble... Unhappy Ecosystem customer  3/20/06 Hi, <Howdy> You seem to have deleted my email without even reading it, <Mmm...?> this is still very much in need of a response & I am very disappointed so far in your apparent lack of regard for your customers <We don't have customers. Is this addressed to WWM?> and your apparent unwillingness to help in any way once a sale of your products have been made - I hope this is a misconception on my part which you have an opportunity to address now, however my perception is based on your action or lack thereof to date. PLEASE DO NOT DELETE BUT RESPOND INSTEAD. If I may quote from the front page of your website "We know  that only by working together, we can make a difference. Therefore, our company's goal is to assist each customer in realizing success with their aquatic showpiece." - please feel free to do so. Chris Note for Bob at WWM - For info & if you know of a route direct to Leng please do pass on - I would have thought as a businessman he would be concerned, I would be if this were my business. Cheers   Chris <... Chris, did you write to Leng (Sy) at Ecosystem? We are not messengers for disgruntled purchasers of others products, services. RMF> _____________________________________________ From: Marine [mailto: marine@ecosystemaquarium.com]       

Subject: Bubble trouble       Sent: 09/03/2006 11:29 was deleted without being read on 15/03/2006 19:27. <By whom? Not WWM> Attached below is my original message - deleted unread by you but still in need of a response I feel. I have STILL had no response to my request for help with your system, your help in resolving this issue would be appreciated and you are best placed to do this as the people with the most experience of your design. Please would you pass a copy of this email in its entirety to Mr Leng Sy - I would have thought he would be concerned by your lack of support (or indeed any kind of response) so far. I am VERY disappointed in your service so far, especially after placing my faith in your methodology over others despite the considerably higher cost which I anticipated would at least prompt a response to my emails and an attempt to help me make your methodology/system work. Chris
Subject: Re: Bubble trouble
Hi, I could really do with your help here please. Cheers   Chris Hi, I was wondering if you could help - I have a new system, 24" cube main tank with a miracle mud sump below (made to specifications kindly supplied by you, but 1" shorter than the standard 24" due to space restrictions (as discussed with you)).  The system is now running however I am plagued by huge quantities of micro bubbles throughout the system. These micro bubbles are caused by the crash of water into the sump in the first submerged bio ball chamber and from here flow through the sump to the return pump at the other end of the sump and from here around the loop again.  The system is all rigid (glued) PVC pipe work with a Tunze recirculation pump connected to 25mm return piping (correct size for pump) - air leaks here have been eliminated as a cause by bypassing with flex hose - with no reduction in bubbles.  Overflow from the main tank is 50mm Durso style standpipe which flows down through a tank base bulkhead to a 45 deg angle, into a 45 deg y-piece & finally into the sump.  After calculating head loss etc I estimate about 2000 litres per hour flow through the plumbing which is the recommended 10x tank vol. As stated it is the crash of water exiting into the sump which appears to be the cause of these micro bubbles. What can I do to eliminate this problem? Is this a common problem with such a high flow rate through MM sumps? - this was a concern for me in the planning stage however your assurances alleviated this concern. I have tried filter floss in chamber 3 (above bio balls) to trap bubbles - this has barely impacted & I see this as counter productive to the methodology of MM sumps and have no desire to filter out plankton from the system. If I can provide any further relevant info please do let me know. A speedy response, and, hopefully solution would be appreciated (I currently have 20 Kg of live rock sitting in a trash can which I need to get into the main tank as soon as possible - however I am reluctant to do this until the micro bubble issue is resolved) Currently the new tank - which has been a considerable investment for me is totally unusable & sits in the room bubbling at me & causing depression! Please help me to turn an expensive bubble machine into the natural reef setup I dreamed of. Cheers   Chris <... please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bubtroubfaqs.htm and the linked Files above, elsewhere on WWM re Algal/Mud Filters, Filtration... Bob Fenner>

Ecosystem evaluation  - 2/15/2006 Bob, Thought I'd mention one big negative that will be in my upcoming article on the Ecosystem... customer service. I emailed Ecosystem twice with a couple of questions. It has been a little over two weeks and no response from them. My third email mentioned what I thought of their customer service. Regards, James <I say you/we should report, state our experiences... even if they touch on people, companies we otherwise are friends with. B> Yes, I do plan on stating my experience with Ecosystem in the future article.  I call em' like I see em'.  Too bad as this system is starting to develop into what looks like a good system.  I stop dosing all elements except calcium/buffer.  The "mud" is rich in iodine and others.  My shrooms are starting to extend, something they haven't done before, yellow polyps larger than before... James

Ecosystem   2/22/06 Bob, Sorry I had to send this way but my computer has one leg in the grave and the other on a banana peel.  Got an old laptop you want to sell cheap?  See attachment. <See below> Regards, James Bob, As silly as this may seem, I have to reply to you with the Word program.  My computer is really going to the dogs.  Lately has been disconnecting me from the internet with no warning.  Probably spent 15 minutes on a query the other day and just getting ready to sign off and BAM, bye bye.  I was HOT. <Yikes...> Anyway, I did receive a call from Leng yesterday with full apologies and no excuses.. nice.  In the 15 minute conversation I had with him I was impressed with his knowledge in this aspect of the hobby.  I told Leng the only question I really had in the emails was that the manual stresses the use of Caulerpa species of algae.  I informed him that the Caulerpa would be difficult to get around here, especially since it doesn’t ship well to begin with, yet alone during the winter season.  I told him I was given some Chaeto by a friend of mine and told Leng it was doing quite well in the system and if it was an OK substitute to work with the Mud since the manual does state the Caulerpa must take root while the Chaeto tosses around in the chamber.  He told me that the Chaeto will work better…nice to hear since I can’t get the Caulerpa.  Leng also stressed to me not to use any chemicals/additives.  Told him I am aware of that and was the basis of my evaluation I am conducting on a hobbyist level.  Told Lend I will just add calcium as the manual states and again a change….no calcium is necessary either.  Leng mentioned that all that was necessary was a monthly 10-12% water change and not to feed the corals as there are plenty of nutrients in the Miracle Mud to maintain coral growth.  Shortly before ending the call I said Bob Fenner asked me to tell you hello…”Ahhh, Mr. Fenner, Bob Fenner, yes I know/met him”. Regards, James <Heee! Leng and I have been out diving in quite a few countries together... B>

FORM  - 01/24/06 Hello, I am using the Mark Weiss product called FORM. <Another copy cat Miracle Mud...>   Apparently this adds iodine, strontium and magnesium. <...> Is there no need to add these products singularly, or should I be doing both?  I was using Kent iodine etc. but in South Africa, we are paying 4 x the price you pay in the US. <Look into Lugol's instead... can be bought from the pharmacist for a fraction> As I have a big tank I am hoping the FORM does replace them. <Not IMO> Also, I have just bought a big leather coral.  When I took it out the bag it had a terrible smell.  A day later it smells ok, like the   sea.  He has all his tentacles out and looks fine, but he does have a couple of yellow patches on him.  Does he sound ok to you? <Maybe> Bob's booked just arrived in the post.  Woohoo! <Am sure you will enjoy, gain by its reading> Kind Regards, James Barclay <And to you. Bob Fenner, who would skip the FORM, all of Weiss' line>

Miracle Mud - 12/15/05 Hi guys, I have 90 gal saltwater, was planning on turning existing sump into refugium, have read a lot of your FAQs and could not find answer.  My tank has been up and running for 2 years now fish & corals are doing great, have purchased 15 pounds of Miracle Mud.  Do I add mud, fill with water, let settle, plant Caulerpa, then turn pumps on? <<Pretty much>> Main question: will it shock my main tank? <<?...nope...but do try a keyword search on the net/BBs to see what others have experienced.  EricR>> Thanks, Chuck

Miracle Mud & DSB...Can I Use Both? - 11/10/05 Hello There <<Hello>> I love your forum, your assistance and guidance is an absolute wonder for the Aqua-ciety. <<We're pleased you find it useful.> I have a quick question, I did read your FAQ's and I did not come across any discussion or topic specifically about using a DSB and Eco-System filtration combined. <<ok>> My setup - 120 gal, 6" aragonite DSB, 100/lbs live rock. I am wondering 1 thing.  According to the Eco-System website installation procedures, they specifically instruct the public NOT to use more than 1" sand bed in the main tank along with their filtering system.  I have read your pages on DSB's and I agree for a DSB for main tank filtration but I wanted to add the Eco-System refugium below the tank for extra filtration.  Do you recommend using a DSB 6" inline with the Eco-System/refugium with their product MM (Miracle Mud)? <<No reason you can't do this.  The choice is yours to either follow the Eco-System procedures exactly, or in your case since you already have the DSB in the tank, to use a "modified" version.  I don't think employing both methods together is going to "hurt" anything.>> Any insight would greatly be appreciated.  Also, I was curious to know if I had to read your comments on the web or would you be so kind to email me directly? <<We do both...we post and reply.>> Thanks in advance and thank you for you wonderful efforts in this hobby. Sincerely, Maurice Rousseau Jr.

EcoSystem Or Not...Which Is It Going To Be? - 09/22/05 Hi, <<Hello>> I'm planning to use an EcoSystem style sump on a reef tank, growing primarily soft corals.  Everything I read on these systems is contradicted somewhere else. <<Yes, different methodologies.>> Flow rates go from 3 - 20x.  Use of a skimmer - all the time, none of the time, part of the time.  Suitability for coral growth varies from slowing it down (WWM) to ""The corals in the system also are very healthy; the growth rate is absolutely phenomenal" - (Practical Fishkeeping).  My latest query is to do with the thinning of Caulerpa - which of the following should I do??  Trimming the Caulerpa. When and how often?????? "Caulerpa should be trimmed or thinned as needed by utilizing scissors to cut away thick growth at the surface allowing light to penetrate the base. (Do not pull Caulerpa roots from mud bed.)" - (EcoSystem Website). "Caulerpa really shouldn't be cut or torn back... cutting "bleeds" the colony and too many wounds are impossible to heal. Pulling up entire fronds and thinning out is best to control - (Anthony - WWM)). "Best not to cut it (saps colony, leaches undesirable elements, can cause die off of main colony, etc)... better to pull entire (unbroken if possible) out. Simply thin out the colony of convenient strands" - (Chris WWM). If nothing else I can see one good reason to stick with an established method such as Berlin style filtration.  Trying to adopt this is about the most confusing thing I've undertaken. Thanks in advance David <<Mmm...David, methinks you make this too hard.  As I see it, you've decided to go with a specific system/methodology (EcoSystem)...as such, I would simply follow the instructions provided for this system.  EricR>>

Aquatic Eco Systems pump needs assistance - 9/19/05 This may not be the e mail site for assistance but I know it must be a lead. <Hopefully we can help> I purchased a clean stream 1200 filter UV from Aquatic Eco-Systems Inc <This is the manufacturer correct?> and now need parts. They sent me to "England", calling Tropical Marine Center only to be told parts are purchased in the US. They provided the wrong e mail address and searching now found you. <I went to the Aquatic Ecosystems site: http://www.aquaticeco.com/ and right at the top is a place to enter a part number to search for pricing and availability. I had no problems navigating their site at all. There is an online catalog, phone numbers and email links, retailers sites etc. Seems like it can help actually.> Where can I get parts for this filter. <I would imagine from either the manufacturer or an authorized retailer> Right now I am not filtering because I need one locknut and one gasket and one blue hosetail - no one seems to be able to assist me and my pond is stagnating!! <Hmmmm. Do do some water changes and add an airstone or two for now until you can get what you need but I would certainly lean on the Manufacturer of the pump for parts.> I also want a lead on who can I get more filter material, bags and netting for the future. <Again, I say all this is available on their site.> I will take two of each of the above locknut, gasket and hosetail. <Good luck to you. ~Paul> Help Thanks in Advance Howard Hurst

Re-200L Reef Tank - 09/18/05 Hi Eric, <<Hello David>> Thanks for the quick reply and sound advice.  See quotation below from the support at EcoSystem re: turnover.  I guess I will start it all up and then arrive at the rate that gives the best compromise. "Hi David- Circulation WITHIN the EcoSystem 2nd chamber needs to about at least 10-12x the tank volume. I prefer 15x....so make sure that that is the flow rate going into the EcoSystem.  The high flow rate of the EcoSystem is based on the unique design of the filter boxes that requires high enough flow rate to achieve the unique vortex cycling over the MM bed that determines the high filtering capacity of the MM as a filter substrate.  (note that EcoSystem as a filter does NOT need help from other filter if set up correctly)  The water flow/circulation of your tank truly is determined by your corals.  Some corals need high turbulence which can be achieved with multiple powerheads and of course state of the art wave-makers.  But for the most part a general rule of thumb in the plumbing setup for an Ecosystem is make sure that your return pump is 500 gph greater than the desired flow rate (of again 10-12 or in my opinion 15x the tank volume) to compensate for flow reduction from friction and distance.  Then utilize power heads and other equipment to increase circulation to the noted 20x turnover rate in the tank itself or truly to eliminate any dead/stagnant part. Valerie Tann EcoSystem" You can see why confusion reigns.... <<Ah yes...I didn't realize you were using an EcoSystem sump.  Definitely follow the manufacturer's instructions re, like you say, you can make adjustments later.>> Everything else is fine, a pity about the Mandarin though... <<Agreed...lovely and fascinating creatures.  But for the vast majority of hobbyists, best left in the ocean I'm afraid.>> and no, I don't plan an anemone. <<Excellent to hear my friend.>> I can increase the size of my quarantine tank but if I quarantine corals for such a period would I need to use intense lighting on the quarantine tank too? <<Absolutely not...normal output florescent bulbs will do nicely for this purpose, just be sure to acclimate the corals to the light in the display when the time comes.>> Actually I have the books and they are well thumbed at this stage :) <<G'donya mate...keep reading/learning/enjoying/sharing.>> Thanks for your time, David <<Tis a pleasure, EricR>>

Mud 8/15/05 WWM crew- <Chadd> Thanks for all of the help over the years.  Your last reply to my question about a suffering Pectinia sp. really helped.  It has finished healing and was puffed up really big this morning. <Ah, good> I have read though a lot of pages on Miracle Mud-MM and refugiums.   Currently, I have a 35 gal refugium on a 140gal tank, and around 250lbs of live rock and 4-5in DSB which was set up in the beginning of 2004. Most of the live rock is over five years old from my old tank.   <A good idea to augment, switch a bit of this out annually> There is mix of 10 lbs of "Mineral Mud" (that's right I said Mineral Mud it's by CaribSea, it was cheaper) and 10-15lbs of live sand (to get it started).   There is about an inch of this mix in the refugium, with 20lbs of live rock, Caulerpa, Chaetomorpha, bristle worms, and worms of  'pods and "bugs".  My Caulerpa is from Indo Pacific, it has long 12" feather leaves and it is growing pretty well.  My refugium is not covered in Caulerpa, but I think that is because of the low nutrient levels.  I skim 24/7/365.  My skimmer produces a dark waste about 1-2 cups per week. And I do regular 15 gal water changes each week. My question has to do with adding Miracle Mud.  I would like to add this to my refugium.  A friend runs his tank with no skimmer and Miracle MUD in his refugium.  He does not add any calcium based products (like bio calcium or Kalk) to his system and his tank is flourishing.  He says that the MM provides all the calcium and mineral supplements he needs.   Is this true?  It must be since his tank is incredible. <Mmm, maybe for him... I encourage folks to supplement biominerals and use skimmers with Leng's Mud> How would I go about adding MM from the 20lbs of live sand/mineral mud mix? <Could add it right on top, or mix in...> I read that you recommend live sand or MM, but not both.  Should I just add MM slowly over a period of a week? <Could> I would like to take advantage of MM if it does replace adding Kalkwasser and bio calcium.   <Again... if you have much in the way of biomineralizing life in this system, you should test, will very likely have to supplement...> How can I accomplish this? I was thinking about dividing the bottom of the refugium into two different sections with a piece of Plexiglas.  Moving over the substrate that is establish and adding the Miracle Mud to the newly created spot in the refugium. <Sounds like a good approach>   One of my major concerns is a Cyano outbreak. What do you think about this process? 1)  Remove live rock, algae, as many 'pods as possible into a few buckets. 2)  Shift the sand/mud mix over to one side and  insert the Plexiglas. 3)  Siphon 1/2 the cloudy/detritus water, let things settle and siphon the new bare spot of all remaining detritus down to about one to two inches. 4)  Add Miracle Mud to the new bare spot and slowly add water from the main tank and replenishing new water directly to the main tank. 5)  Let things settle down again and then add rock, algae, and pods back into the refugium. 6)  Do regular water changes over the next few weeks and regular maintenance (clean skimmer, change carbon weekly, and add phosphate remover if necessary). <Okay> As I said, my refugium is teaming with life.  Should I just leave things alone?   <Up to you>   I would like to get about 15lbs of MM added to the refugium.   The main reason for wanting to add MM is for the mineral supplements for my tank, which is mainly SPS.  And because I want to spend my hard earned money on MUD and battle a Cyano/algae outbreak for a month or two (Hopefully not, but I know that it is very possible). Sorry for the long email, but maybe this will help other people with the process of overhauling their refugiums. <I hope so as well> Thanks, Chadd Elliott <Bob Fenner... who generally is of the opinion, "if it ain't broke...">

Converting Mud system to cichlids 7/24/05 Hello , I was wondering how would I go about converting a ecosystem mud filtration saltwater tank in to a low maintenance cichlid tank? It is as follows: 125gl with built in overflow (could I still use it?) <Yes> with return pump, sponge filters built in to the over flow (all glass aquarium style) and the sump is under the tank could I use that for breeding or something I don't want to do a ecosystem aquarium neither. and what would be some good  cichlid to house in a tank that size .   thank you      Big Truck Driver <BTD... have someone or your computer proof your correspondence. Your written English is atrocious. Bob Fenner>

What Goes In The Sump? (Eco System Sump) 7/18/05 Hello <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> I currently have a brand new 4x2x2 tank and an Ecosystem 3612 sump. They are running RO water at the right temp and sg but that is about all right now. I plan to build this over time into a reef system with fish, inverts, soft and hard corals. However, I am in no rush and am happy to take my time getting this right. <Good...Nothing wrong with taking your time! Do consider "specializing" in one type of coral or another- i.e.; SPS, soft corals, LPS, etc. It will be a much more successful (and unique) system if you run it this way.> I have 30lb of mm ready to go into the sump. I can get 80lbs cured LR at a days notice. So, first question is do I opt for Caulerpa or Chaetomorpha? (Does Chaeto have a good track record in MM sumps?) <Good question. "Miracle Mud" is designed to actually be a substrate that serves as a medium for the Caulerpa to actually grow on. Chaetomorpha is a "free-living" macroalgae, and doesn't need to attach to anything. Although I'm not a big fan of Caulerpa, myself, I would use this macroalgae with the Eco System sumps. Do contact the company for their thoughts on this, however. Perhaps it may not be necessary to use Caulerpa, but I think that Leng Sy and his people would be the best source of answers on this one!> Second question what is the sequence of events from here? My guess is: M.Mud in the sump, let it settle and when water is clear add LR in the main tank, followed a week or so later by algae. Test regularly and when ammonia, nitrite and nitrate are 0 add clean up crew of snails and hermit crabs. Chill out, keep measuring and if all is stable after a week or two try a couple of small fish (probable Percs). Thx for your help. Best, John <Sounds fine, but I would try to cycle the system without the fish. Read on the WWM site about the alternatives to using fish when cycling new systems. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Eco-System Filter and Protein Skimmer Hey Folks. I'm brand new to the site and have to compliment you on all of the vast information that I've collected thus far. Right now I am in the process of plumbing my 75 gallon tank as a FOWLR tank. I recently purchased an Ecosystem filtration. I have read that it requires no Protein skimmer.  <Better with> I have read numerous discussions on the WetWeb page and it seems that most of you folks still use/recommend the use of a skimmer, albeit perhaps one that is a little undersized for the task at hand. <Well-stated> I guess I should get to my question at hand. Seeing as how the first chamber of the sump is designed for use of the bio-balls ( a questionable item by some of you folks ), how do I plumb in a skimmer with the first chamber already used? <Could use a hang-on model...> Should I use an external skimmer? <Oh, sure!> I plan on using a AquaC, Precision Marine, or Euro reef. Is there a way that I can drill a hole in the outside wall for a pump for the skimmer? <You could... The skimmer can/could actually go anywhere... even hang on the main tank. Best to be situated in a spot where the water level is constant> I'd just like to hear what you're opinions are on this matter. Sorry if this question has already been answered on your site, but I have sifted for, it seems like forever, but I've never been able to find it. Any help would be greatly appreciated. BTW the tank is an All-Glass with the single overflow. Could I possible tap the down flow (from the tank ) and plumb an inline setup and direct the "exhaust" water directly into the sump proper? <Mmm, not easily done... if there were room for another transit sump...> Like I said before, and help would be greatly appreciated.  Chris Snyder <You know enough to make this decision Chris. Bob Fenner>  

Mud Refugium Bob, <Yes> Hey, I am adding a mud refugium to my established 55gal marine system. The water in the refugium is extremely cloudy and even when it settles it is stirred up again when I turn on the pump. Will it hurt my main tank if a little of that cloudiness gets in there? Thanks for being such a help. Sincerely, Joe Lace <Likely not a big deal... how many volumes flow per hour do you have through this refugium? A handful is about max. Bob Fenner>

Miracle Mud Set-Up Hello everybody, <Dave> Some advice if possible please re-Miracle Mud and adding to an existing system. I wrote a few weeks ago about keeping separately from my main reef system one or two Mantis Shrimps in a 10G tank which was answered no problem by Jim I think it was. But on a recent visit home ( UK ) from China I purchased 10lbs. of Miracle Mud to take back, purely because they do not have this over in China yet and I was just taking anything back that could be useful. So, I am thinking about installing the 10G with Mantis(s) next to my 180G reef to locate the Miracle Mud in, and overflow back to the existing 40G sump. So my questions would be: Is it OK to use Miracle Mud in the base of a 10G, pump in from sump, overflow back to sump? <Yes... as long as the flow isn't too vigorous, likely to swirl the mud up and be transported out> If I transplant existing Caulerpa from sump to 10G with Miracle Mud, can the 10G system be linked in to the system immediately (After settling of MM)? <Likely no problem here> I read that the system needs to cycle first, but assumed that this is only for a new set-up, the MM does not cause a cycle correct? <Can if it is large relative to the rest of the system...> Is it OK to have Mantis(s) in with Miracle Mud with a few pieces of LR for Mantis(s) hideout? <Yes> If all OK, should I pump in to Miracle Mud-10G from final sump section (I.e. this area gets pumped directly back to main system) and also return from 10G to same location in sump, or return to first section of sump where skimmer is? (I know from lots of reading that skimmers are an area of debate with MM, but this is just a small volume of MM for this system I think, just wanting to experiment, so will leave the skimmer running) <Of the two I would do the first> Does the lighting in the MM area HAVE to be 24/7? <Mmm, with Caulerpa this is best... alternatively, do illuminate it during the natural dark/night hours... for the benefits of macroalgae plus subtending it going sexually reproductive> Best regards and presumptuous thanks again Dave <Welcome. Bob Fenner> 

Mud and the refugium Ok I'll pass on the Miracle Mud.. got that. You spoke of Dead Sea Mud as beneficial... What I find is for cosmetic human uses. I am looking for Dead Sea Mud for my refugium. Did I misunderstand the reference?  <Mmm, I do think Red Sea (company) is now marketing such a product> The discussion was about refugium mud?? Where do I find a source to buy some for my refugium? What do you think about the benefit of GARF mud? Thank You, Alya <GARF's products are almost uniformly inferior... some of them outright hoaxes. Look for EcoSystem Aquarium IMO... The various etailers, most larger retailers sell this, other mud products... by CaribSea, Kent... Bob Fenner>

Mud filter Hey reefers, What is the best Mud? <If it were me, I'd go with Ecosystems Miracle Mud.>  I am about to buy a 30 inch Hang-on refugium for my 55 gallon tank. I am going to use Brillo pad algae in it. Do I use all mud to fill it or do I need layers of crushed coral or dolomite?  <Use all mud.> I already use Grape Caulerpa and Mangroves in my 24 hour lighted refugium, down below in a 10 gallon tank. Its then siphoned to a 10 gallon tank, on the Berlin principle with a Euro-Reef rated to 100 gallons. Then returned to the main display tank. This is all made by myself for my 55 gallon. Works well so far. (6 months) I am a really over kill person.  <Overkill doesn't hurt a thing in this hobby. James (Salty Dog)> Thanks guys, Patrick <And gals. You're welcome>

Mixing In Mud (Mud on Top of Aragonite) Hello Bob or Crewmate, <Scott F. at the keyboard tonight!> I have recently set up a reef tank with two refugia. Both the aquarium and refugia have about 4 inches of fine ESV aragonite that I have inoculated with live sand containing invertebrates from 2 different web vendors. I just bought live mud from Reefer's Madness - when they called it "mud", I had no idea they meant "MUD" - and placed it on top of the aragonite in one refugium so that there is about 1 inch of dense, gooey black mud on top of the 4 inches of aragonite. Is there a possibility of creating an oxygen-free or oxygen-depleted zone in the aragonite that will kill the tiny invertebrates in the aragonite? <Always a possibility when you are putting additional substrate on top of existing material. However, if you spread the mud out enough, it may not be too much of a problem at all> I can see tiny red bristleworms in the aragonite and I don't want to kill them. Will the invertebrates in the aragonite avoid the gooey mud? <Some will avoid the mud, others will be happy to mingle into the gooey stuff...Not a really precise answer- but that's the simple truth!> If so, should I make a "mess" and mix the aragonite with the mud? Thank you, Joseph Rouse <Good question. If it were me, I'd be careful about disturbing the sand bed. At this stage of the game, I'd just leave the mud alone and keep an eye on the life in the sandbed for any adverse reactions. Best of luck to you! Regards, Scott F.>

Macroalgae In The Mix! WWM: <Scott F. at the keyboard this evening> I’ve been reading through your FAQs on the Ecosystem Mud filter approach. Since these are not dated, I can’t tell what is the most current line of thinking, but did note that there seems to be mixed feelings on this even among your staff. That’s fine and perfectly understandable. <Good, 'cause we do all have different opinions based upon our own experiences, which gives our fellow hobbyists an honest point of view.> New information comes along all the time. Can you give me an update on the following questions: <Will try!> 1. I see a lot of conflicting info on use of Caulerpa. Toxicity, etc. Is it still recommended? <Caulerpa is a great macroalgae that is prolific, easy to care for, and good at exporting nutrients if carefully harvested on a regular basis. Nothing is new here...It is prone to "go sexual" and release its cellular material into the water under the right circumstances, and some also theorize that it may produce substances which are potentially toxic to some corals. I prefer more "benign" macroalgae, such as Chaetomorpha. In addition, it is actually illegal to keep in some areas, such as Southern California, where it has been released into the wild, to great disdain.> <Editor's note: Under State law (Assembly Bill 1334), the sale, possession, and transport of Caulerpa taxifolia was prohibited throughout California in September 2001. Please see here: http://www.swrcb.ca.gov/rwqcb9/programs/caulerpa/caulerpa.html > 2. Is it okay to use a micron sock and prefilter sponge with this system? Do these remove the desirable critters? <In my opinion, using these filter socks is fine; you just need to clean them very frequently. Yes, it is certainly possible that some desirable organisms will be removed by such mechanical filtration, but I believe that the benefits of these "socks" far outweigh any disadvantages, as long as you pay attention to very frequent maintenance.> 3. Is 24 hour photoperiod still recommended? Noted FAQ that Anthony answered where he pointed out possible sexual crash, but then I also understand this is key to claim of keeping pH and oxygen levels more stable. <I have employed a 24 hour cycle with macroalgae with good results, but a "reverse daylight" (i.e. light the macroalgae when the display is dark). In actuality, the "reverse" daylight technique is a more natural system; I don't think that keeping macroalgae in "stasis" is really  natural> 4. I see a some refugiums that don’t use the ‘Mud’. They sometimes also use live rock in the sump w or w/o the algae. In these cases, is the 24 hour photoperiod detrimental to the live rock? <Well, it could be disruptive to the organisms which inhabit the rock, but the bacterial processes are probably unaffected.> 5. Are the bioballs that ecosystems recommends necessary? Will these become a maintenance issue down the road? <I don't think that they will become problematic. From my understanding, these are actually used to keep debris from the macroalgae from escaping the sump.> If you’ll indulge me on one more issue I’m struggling with: I’m trying to choose my aquarium size and have option of 18”, 24”, or 30” height. I like the look of the 30” height, but understand that it will drive the lighting requirements. I haven’t seen any quantitative numbers on this though. Is there a formula for determining difference in lighting level required to achieve same intensity as a function of water depth? <Good question. I'm sure that there are certainly some highly scientific studies on this, and some applications of the inverse square law and other principles that can apply. However, I am a simple guy and I like to keep things well...simple. Here's my take on it: I tend to favor the 24" high tank, because you can still utilize 175 to 250 watt halides for most corals. In a 30" high tank, conventional wisdom is that you will need 400 watt halides. This is not "scientific"; merely based upon the work of hobbyists and personal experiences. Of course, there are many hardcore reefers who believe that you need such intense lights even in 14" tanks! I guess it all adds up to the fact that there are no right or wrong answers to every situation. You just need to assess the needs of your animals and take it from there!> Thanks for your help. Bob. <Glad to be of service, Bob! Regards, Scott F.>

Ecosystem filter with a mag 350 canister filter <Hi Pete> Dudes!.. small question for you  today.. in the reading stage of buying an ecosystem mud filter for my 10gl nano reef and was wondering if I can continue to run my mag350 canister filter after the waiting period for the ecosystem to get up and running, or will that end up sucking out all the benefits of the ecosystem? or is it overkill with the ecosystem and mag350 together?. Also would it be ok to run the ecosystem without the Caulerpa? and use live rock instead with another type of macro algae?<Running the mag would be overkill and the ecosystem needs the nutrients the mag will remove to function properly.  Any kind of macro should work.  Go to www.premiumaquatics.com.  They sell the unit and have a link to the company site which provides bundles of info.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks Pete
Re: ecosystem filter with a mag 350 canister filter
cool.. thanks for the reply.. think it may be ok to run the mag350 just for circulation? with no carbon/filter media??<Sure, you may want to run some carbon down the road.  Some people have said the ecosystem does not take the yellow tint out of the water, some report blue/white water.  I guess it depends on the parameters of each individual's tank. James (Salty Dog) Pete

Dead Sea Mud Hi, <Hello there> Love your site ! ! ! It has been a great help in finalizing plans for my reef tank upgrade ... <Ah, good> What do you think of adding a pound or two of the Dead Sea Mud to a mud filter refugium? <Worth trying> It is marketed as a cosmetic product, but it seems like it would add a nice mix of minerals. <Have actually visited the plant where this is "made" (western end of the Dead Sea)...> Appreciate your opinion ... Bob Poirier <Please make it known how this appears to affect your water quality. Bob Fenner>

F.O.R.M. opinion dear crew of WWM, I just have a quick question about a product I purchased called F.O.R.M, Funky Old Reef Mud, from www.marcweissco.com and I was just wondering how much would you suggest that I put in my 8 gallon tank, and if it is possible to OD with it.  Thank you very much -Randy >>I wouldn't use it at all. IMO, Marc Weiss products amount to 'snake oil' and usually only part you from money. FORM and other MW products make astounding claims without any data to back them up. Avoid them like the plague. Rich>>

Gracilaria in the sump Greetings Gents! << Blundell today. >> I have a miracle mud system that has been running for about 1.5 years.  Things are doing well, and the sump is filled with Caulerpa.  I am trying to grow SPS and think it is time for a change.  I am going to attempt to replace the Caulerpa with Gracilaria, (Tang Heaven) which I purchased a ? pound from IPSF.com.  Do you think this is a wise choice? << Pricey stuff, but good stuff. >>  Are there any precautions or procedures that I should take when replacing the Caulerpa?  I am thinking that I need to have the Gracilaria grow for a few weeks and slowly remove the Caulerpa in small daily bunches. << Sounds great. Gracilaria is not nearly as easy to grow, so it may be tough getting it established. >> Any advice would be kindly appreciated. <<  Blundell  >>

Skimming a Miracle Mud system Hey guys, <Hey Chris, MacL here to also answer this question>      I have a 6 month old 150 gallon tank.  It is stocked with 5 small fish and 25 different frags.  I have a ecosystem refugium with their "miracle" mud (I had to at least try it). <I have to tell you everyone I know loves their miracle mud system. I personally have a refugium based similarly although I don't have the "mud".>  Everything is going great with the tank.  <Great to hear> All the water parameters are excellent.  I have been pretty proud that I added a bleached white Sebae anemone a few weeks ago and its brownish green color is already coming back. <Definitely a great sign.> Which I have read that they lose all their color when they are stressed and they are very sensitive to water quality and lighting.  I'm hoping this is a good sign that my tank is on the right track.  Anyway I know the guys at Ecosystem say they don't run a skimmer on their systems but I have always run a skimmer and when building the sumps for this tank I made a compartment for my skimmer just in case. <I have gone skimmerless for a very long time myself Chris but I have to tell you, I plan to increase the amount of SPS that I am planning to have in my tank and therefore I am going to start skimming. I think its really about the requirements of what you plan to keep. By its nature the mud system is going to be cleaning the water with the Caulerpa it uses BUT it also puts things back into the water and that makes it perhaps not the absolute most pristine water.> Last night I decided to run the skimmer just to see what was there and by morning it was full of black skimmate.  Which got me to thinking, If there are 0  nitrates, 0 nitrite, and 0 ammonia is this skimmate bad for the tank? <I don't know as its bad for the tank, its probably feeding a lot of the corals and the anemone but it definitely is IN the tank. You have to decide whether you want a totally pristine tank or whether you can live with that.> Should I continue not skimming as long as the parameters stay at 0? <I do know people that split the difference with a mud system and skim part of the time and they seem to be quite happy with the way this works.> I hadn't thought about it really until I saw how much crud the skimmer pulled out.  I didn't think there would be much there honestly.  And either way all the corals seem happy before and after skimming.  Thanks for any answers. <Really it depends on your coral requirements Chris. As I said I personally am going with a new skimmer simply because I want to have pristine water for my SPS'. Let me know what you decide to do, good luck, MacL> Chris Dial

- Skimmer in a Miracle Mud System - Hey guys, I have a 6 month old 150 gallon tank.  It is stocked with 5 small fish and 25 different frags.  I have a ecosystem refugium with their "miracle" mud (I had to at least try it).  Everything is going great with the tank.  All the water parameters are excellent.  I have been pretty proud that I added a bleach white Sebae anemone a few weeks ago and its brownish green color is already coming back.  Which I have read that they lose all their color when they are stressed and they are very sensitive to water quality and lighting.  I'm hoping this is a good sign that my tank is on the right track.  Anyway I know the guys at Ecosystem say they don't run a skimmer on their systems but I have always ran a skimmer and when building the sumps for this tank I made a compartment for my skimmer just in case.  Last night I decided to run the skimmer just to see what was there and by morning it was full of black skimmate.  Which got me to thinking, If there are 0 nitrates, 0 nitrite, and 0 ammonia is this skimmate bad for the tank? <Stuff that comes out in skimmers is only slightly related to nitrogenous wastes... better off removing this stuff.> Should I continue not skimming as long as the parameters stay at 0? <I would skim anyway.> I hadn't thought about it really until I saw how much crud the skimmer pulled out.  I didn't think there would be much there honestly.  And either way all the corals seem happy before and after skimming. <Then by all means, skim away...> Thanks for any answers. Chris <Cheers, J -- >

Re: tank setup question--Ecosystem, DSB, live rock specifics Hello and thanks for the reply.  I have some follow up questions regarding DSB.  You mention that I should read Ronald Shimek's articles--I actually had before I wrote you and his articles actually prompted me to rethink my DSB as it is not fine grain sand.    I corresponded with him on Reef Central and he said that I could go dig up some marine/sand mud along the coast where I live (los Angeles) provided it is in an area with no/little pollution concerns (and to check local laws don't prohibit digging up sand).  What do you think about this?  << I wouldn't do it.  With all the money we spend on our tanks, I wouldn't skip corners on buying sand.  I really like the CaribSea products and would certainly just buy sand. >> He also recommended trying what he will do for his next tank--a blend of silicate sands. << This is common where I live, but I really don't like using silicate sand.  I see no advantages to it. >> The discussion is here: http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&postid=3064537#post3064537 Let me know what you think!  Thanks for all the advice!  << I think you will be much happier with the common crushed coral types of products.  Also, if something does go wrong you'll always be questioning the sand.  So to me, it is worth the piece of mind to just get good crushed coral from the beginning. >> Saskia <<  Adam B.  >>

Re: What filter  <Hi again Barry, MacL here again.> What are your  thoughts on the Ecosystem " miracle mud" filter system better or worse than Berlin system?? <I have to tell you that I personally have a refugium system. Not a true ecosystem but designed along the same lines. I have friends who swear by the system. Unfortunately I also know of one person who quickly comes to mind who had her mud system crash. That being said, I really believe your system type needs to come from what you want to keep in your tank. If you want fish only, if you want fish with live rock, if you want corals and then again what type of coral. What you think your ultimate goal is. Do the fish you want to keep need high oxygenation? Do they need a nitrate free tank? What exactly do the fish you want to keep need and then you use the system that you believe is going to accomplish this for you. I think you are well on the way to doing this by investigating the systems out there but I really want you to think more about the fish, coral, invertebrates etc that you plan to keep. What their needs are and what system or even COMBINATION of systems will help you achieve this.> Regards Barry Edwards  <Good luck Barry, MacL>

Muddy Mess! I recently purchased some live mud to add to a sump/refugium. I am not quite sure how to get this stuff to settle down. It is very fine/ silty mud. I placed it in the sump already. please...any advice. Thanks Yorgos Gregory <Well, unfortunately, Yorgos, your best solution is just the passage of time. I don't really have any magic solution to this one. The stuff will settle down eventually (not soon enough, I'm sure). Hang in there! Regards, Scott F>

- Refugium/Ecosystem - Hello, I have been poring over the site reading about the ecosystem sounds impressive what I'm looking for is some detailed pictures but can't come up with any, on how to set up my own, I currently have a 90gl. reef setup with 25gl. sump and a hang on refug. on it. <Would recommend you visit the Ecosystem web site, www.ecosystemaquarium.com > I plan on moving my sump to basement and plumb backup to main tank, at this time I plan on upsizing the sump to a 55gl. refug/ecosystem but have seen the ecosystem and was wondering how to make my own baffles, as to how large should the supply chamber be to size of middle chamber and finally size of return chamber? <Baffles should ideally be made of the same materials as the sump. For exact sizes and shapes, especially if you want to replicate the Ecosystem method, you can contact them directly - they are happy to answer questions about their designs. On the other hand, there are no hard-set rules about such things so you can also ad-lib to an extent. Also, if I could encourage you to consider upsizing your sump - especially if in your basement, I'd make it at least as large as your main tank, and larger even if you can spare the room - will really work well as most refugiums are undersized.> If you could steer me to some good pictures or sites would greatly appreciate. Thanks Brian <Cheers, J -- >

- Mud Selection - Greetings and salutations WWM crew, I have several tanks (FW and SW) and am doing a little research into setting up a Coral/clam tank. I have decided to use a mud filter. From what I have read, the ecosystem mud is merely dirt with a few additives. I was reading on biosediment and mineral muds and happened to look up and see a bag of Onyx Sand under one of the freshwater tanks. Has anyone ever tried this as a mineral component to a mud filter and what would your thoughts on such an attempt be, if you don't mind sharing them? <To my knowledge, no one has yet used this stuff for a mud sump - I don't know enough about this substrate to say whether or not it would make a suitable substrate for a mud sump.> lee <Cheers, J -- >

I Just Wasted My Money - 'Fuge Question Hello I have a refugium that I want to set up to an existing tank. I bought some Mineral mud and macro media that CaribSea sells as a set. Well it says on the package to let sit for 2 days before turning on pumps and then let tank cycle which tells me I just wasted my money. Can I rinse this?? <Probably not.> Will it hurt the tank to let it cloud up and clear up eventually??. <Don't think it will 'hurt' anything but some portion of your substrate will end up in your filters. I'm guessing the stuff is powder-fine.> And if I am outta luck with this stuff what do you recommend for me to use to add a refugium sump to an existing reef tank?? <Just fill the thing and let it sit, as the instructions suggest. Get it running for real in a couple of days and all will be fine.> Joe <Cheers, J -- >

Mud In His...Sump! Hi, <Hi there! Scott F. with you!> I was wondering about a filter for a 60 gal. reef tank. I wanted to get a mud filter for in the stand. I looked a the Amiracle and the Ecosystem. both are very expensive. Can I make one myself or would it be better to just buy one? If I can make one do you have any info on how to. Thank you, Brian <Well, Brian- it is certainly possible to construct one yourself. It really depends upon your skill level at DIY projects. Personally, I like to purchase my major system components as "off the shelf", but you can certainly make your own! There are lots of cool plans for these systems on the internet. The oft-recommended site ozreef.org is just one potential place to look for more information. Have fun! Regards, Scott F.>

- Thinking about Other Filtration Systems - J, thanks as always.. And just when you thought I was gone, I now have another thought.  I was checking out the Garlic Elixir you recommended on the Ecosystem Aquarium website and I think I want to try the Ecosystem filtration method. <Ok.> I currently have a wet/ dry system, but this sounds so much more natural and healthy for the fish. <Would certainly be better filtration than a wet/dry but certainly not the end-all/be-all of filtration systems.> Any personal thoughts on this method? <It works... I am dubious of some of the more outrageous claims I've heard from some sources - no water changes, etc... but it does work, and work well for many folks. The trick is to follow the directions to the letter - don't improvise.> Before I order the live rock I think I want to look more into making this transition.  Would be recommend it, with my situation meaning HLLE? <Personally, I find the Ecosystem components to be expensive. You can duplicate the basic methodology with a refugium, and it's not going to liven up your live rock by itself, so no matter what you'll still need the live rock. Here's some reading on refugiums: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm > Can it successfully be done with livestock already in place, or is it better for a new set up. <Better if set up from scratch, but can be added to a running system.> Where can I get valid information about this method? <I'd ask around on the forums. It really does work, that much you can believe.> Have you tried it or heard success stories about it. <I've never tried it, although I did just fire-up a CPR hang-on refugium the other day with the Ecosystem Miracle Mud in it. I've actually worked with Leng Sy, owner/creator of Ecosystem and the various products, so I do know a good deal about it just by proxy.> I guess I want to know is it worth the hassle/ does it involve a lot more than the wet/dry method of filtration? <Do read the article on refugiums.> However if I were to try to this method, now would be the time since I am redoing the tank. <Indeed.> Please offer your advise... <Really is up to you - Ecosystem is perfectly viable.> Thanks again Gillian <Cheers, J -- >

Moving Towards Success...  I have a marine 55 gallon setup and have had little success in keeping up with everything.  <Not to worry...It's all part of the fun and frustration.. er- challenge- of reef keeping!>  Essentially I can't seem to keep the Caulerpa alive in my ecosystem 60 without getting a huge green algae bloom. I'm also finding that when I leave the light on it creates more heat causing more evaporation and the final chamber drops down to lower than the Rio powerhead pushing the water back into the tank. That usually happens anywhere between 1 and 3 weeks.  < It sounds like this is more of a problem with the mechanics of your system than with the Caulerpa itself. I'd try to maintain a slightly higher water level to begin with, which might help. Maybe you could also move the light up a bit to try to lower the heat level. I've also read of some people sealing the opening on the sump to encourage C02, but I'd try plan "a" first. And, if Caulerpa doesn't thrive for you- well, not the end of the world, IMO. There a lot of other, more desirable and useful macroalgae to culture, like Chaetomorpha, which are virtually "bulletproof" with regard to propagation, and don't have some of the same drawbacks as this algae.  Could you point me to a good article on the proper way of curing live rock?  <Start with this set of FAQs: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lrcurefaqs.htm You can also find lots of good information about curing live rock in Anthony and Bob's "Reef Invertebrates" book>  I'm thinking of setting up a tank in my office and was hoping to do a reef tank but I'm really gun shy after what little success I've had with my 55 gal. at home. I have what I consider to be a very unhealthy amount of bristle worms and brown algae everywhere. I just want a very healthy, relatively low maintenance setup. Any thoughts.  <Yep- just find some good basic methods, as found in a variety of WWM and other sources, and stick with them. Combine a good technique with fundamental husbandry techniques, such as aggressive nutrient export practices, and you'll be fine. A great book to start with would be John Tullock's "Natural Reef Aquariums", which is loaded with information on simple, sound practices to help establish successful systems!>  Thank you. I've found your help very informative in the past.  Jeff Longmore  <My pleasure, Jeff! Good luck and have fun! Regards, Scott F>

Aquarium Books Mr. Fenner, I received the note below from EcoSystem telling me about your book "Refugium". Can you tell me where can I find your book to buy? Thanks, for your time, Alvaro <Likely you're referring to the large section devoted to this topic in Anthony Calfo and I's latest work. It can be purchased from the folks found here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/dealers_and_distributors.htm Bob Fenner>

Implied benefits of Miracle Mud 10/8/03 I was wondering what your thoughts are regarding the implied benefits of miracle mud as compared to a deep sand bed in a refugium.   It has been stated that among the benefits are reduction or elimination of HLLE in some fish as well as the bleed off of compounds such as iodine.  Is it truly as good as it has been made out to be or just a bunch of hype. Thanks in advance.  Terry <I believe that the fundamental notion of using mud as a nutritive substrate has merit and benefits. However, the long-standing history of fabulous if not incredulous marketing claims for this product line are embarrassing to me for our trade. I can assure you that you will get many benefits from a simple aragonite sand DSB in kind... without claims of it curing  diseases miraculously, sparing you the need to ever do water changes or use a skimmer... or feed a small country. Both simply work at face value and can be employed successfully. Anthony>

- Considering Ecosystem Filtration - Hi, This message is for PF. <Sorry, he's not around at the moment, perhaps I can help...> I see that you maintain a tank using the ecosystem method. <I know that he does... many people do.> I am contemplating doing this but I am not yet totally convinced. please see here: I'm planning a 150 gal. fish only coldwater cowfish tank. I'm just wondering if it will have enough filtration. please tell me what you think or would change. ~ 150 gal tank no sand or rock <Should have something in there for decoration, places to hide/sleep etc.> ~ this flows to the first sump which is an ecosystem. Should I keep the bioballs? <The ones that are included with the Ecosystem are part of the 'system' and should be left in place - they are not wet/dry but constantly wet - not a nitrate factory.> ~ this flows to the 2nd sump a 6" DSB  (since I don't know if ecosystem will handle the load I'm adding this) <Ecosystem is capable of handling tanks of any size - is a factor of how large a sump you put it in. A marine tank of renown, Mr. 4000 had a 4,000 gallon tank running with Ecosystem filters.> ~ this will then flow to a main sump which will house my protein skimmer and pump. As you can see I'm not totally sure how I want to do this so any help would be greatly appreciated. <I think you are on the right track.> Peace Sal <Cheers, J -- >

Cold water marine setup and ecosystem hi bob, <Anthony Calfo in his stead> In a cold water marine setup ( 150 Gal. ) housing a few messy eaters, would an in sump deep sand bed and a separate ecosystem/miracle mud system be capable of providing proper filtration and pod life for fish consumption? (scariest part is no skimmer ) <its tough to say without knowing exactly what your intended bio-load is... but I will say that I have several serious doubts/concerns with your success here. Sand/mud alone for filtration is weak to moderate (better for anoxic faculties and excellent natural nitrate reduction... but not so much for aerobic nitrification). The lack of a skimmer on a system with an admitted heavy bio-load is not sensible at all, unless to plan to compensate with significant extra water changes (weekly minimum). Add to all of this the fact that the collection of most coldwater marines in coastal US waters is protected/banned/limited (excluding legal collections for academic institutions with permits)... you have quite a challenge here.> or would you just use a trickle filter and skimmer and supplement with a DSB and a hang on ( albeit small ) ecosystem refugium? <yes... a much better/safer and reliable choice IMO> Do you know how I could get a hold of Leng Sy? <he is an advertiser here on WWM... I'd suggest you visit his ecosystem website and contact him there via the established channel (see the link on our FAQ page)>                     Peace, Sal <best of luck, Anthony>

Cold water marine setup and ecosystem II 9/22/03 hi Anthony, <cheers> thank you for your advice on the cold water tank. My goal is to make sure I get supplemental pod life to feed the coldwater cowfish I intend to keep. <interesting... large tank needed indeed> so what do you think about this setup working ~ ecosystem/mud/algae system <I personally do not subscribe to this methodology as being a significant benefit. Novel idea though> ~ 4 inch deep sand bed <excellent... be sure to seed with good live source sand> ~ EuroReef skimmer <the best choice IMO> Now since this is a coldwater tank I was told that 10-20 % weekly water changes were needed. this will be part of my regimen. would this be workable? <you will quite possibly need to do much larger water changes in time... a solid 20-25% weekly would be a good habit> thank you very much, Sal <kindly, Anthony>

How miraculous is the mud? 9/22/03 hi Anthony <cheers> I'm sorry but I did not understand one part of your email. in regards to the ecosystem filter did you mean that you doubt it would supply enough pods to benefit the cowfish? <the mud, per se, will not do it... but rather the matrix will (artificial or live as with algae)> or did you mean it would not work well as a supplement to DSB and Euro reef skimmer? <none of the above... just that I believe that its efficacy, or at least advertising claims, are overstated. The premise is good though and of merit. I just would not recommend trying to support a cowfish or any high bio-load on it> (obviously I want to avoid a trickle filter but I'm not totally against it) <I really don't see a need to necessarily avoid a W/D filter. But if you prefer... use more live rock and a very deep sand bed to compensate> By the way thanks for the water change input. I will be doing 25 % water changes weekly. <best of luck, Anthony>

-New tank w/ Miracle Mud filtration- Hi there, <Hi! Kevin here> I am starting my first marine aquarium and I am drawn towards the ecosystem miracle mud filtration. <Seems to work well for those who try it> All I want is a good technique that helps me building a simple not high tech reef aquarium. <Excellent! Less technology more biology!> The size of my aquarium will be 120 cm x 50 cm x 50 cm. I am constructing my own sump. But I do not fully understand anywhere what is the biggest chance of success starting my reef aquarium. I do not want to be a pioneer. Just proven techno at low cost to start a reef aquarium. <I'd recommend a 3.5"+ live sand bed with a pound or so of live rock per gallon when you set the tank up. Construct a sump large enough for your return pump, heaters, etc with a baffle or two sectioning off a large area for mud. Your return pump should pump roughly your tank volume x 10 per hour, you will also need additional circulation pumps inside the aquarium. Make sure that your overflow(s) can handle this flow; if they can't, choose a smaller pump or a larger overflow. That's really it, there isn't much to these systems! Check out: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/reef1.htm> Do I need addition filtration methods? <When you construct the sump, make a no/little bypass area for activated carbon.> Can you tell me if this is a way to do it? <You should be well on your way! I wish you great success! -Kevin> Greetings, Richard

- Ecosystem Filtration Questions - Greetings from muggy Houston. <Good morning from San Diego, JasonC here...> My first shot at asking you guys questions. I've read what seems like volumes from your site; hope these haven't been asked already: Should Caulerpa be propagated before cycling or concurrently? <In relation to the Ecosystem Filter, I do believe that the Caulerpa goes in during the second week of cycling.> Submerged bio-balls are suggested in chamber one to catch large debris and reduce bubble formation. Should they be weighted down or allowed to float at the surface? <Float at the surface - the majority will end up submerged.> Same question re: bio-balls in chamber three to catch Caulerpa overflow. <Same answer.> Can these bio-balls be removed or cleaned and replaced often unlike those in a standard sump? <Sure - they aren't really a part of the biological filter.> Finally, can a large sponge be slit and wedged on the partition between chambers two and three to prevent overflow of Caulerpa and critters without impeding water flow. <I wouldn't... that's what the bioballs are for.> If so, I presume FREQUENT cleaning/rinsing would be in order. <Indeed.> Sorry for so many questions but I've looked high and low and haven't seen them addressed anywhere. <You might consider getting in touch with Ecosystem directly.> Thanks...your site is awesome! Bennett <Cheers, J -- >

DIY Ecosystem sump... I want to build my own ecosystem mud filter utilizing an old sump that is about tie size of a 20g tall aq. Is this to small ? <That should be fine although the larger the 'fuge, the better.>  I am trying to save a few $$$ but if I half to I will build a bigger sump. <Wouldn't hurt, I suppose it would depend on what size tank you're filtering.>  If this is a  sufficient size, how much mud should I use. <Follow Ecosystems recommendations on mud depth> What type of light/bulbs goes on top of this? <Standard output daylight fluorescents should do the trick, PC's will work great also. Good luck w/ this project! -Kevin> Thanks, Kevin V.
Re: Diy ecosystem
Sorry I forgot to tell you that I'm filtering a 75gal.  Will the 20gal refugium still be ok? <Yep, should be fine. -Kevin> Kevin V.

Refugium and skimmer paths - Ecosystem 6/15/03 Hey Anthony, Thanks so much once again for the info & clarifications.  Just one more question and I PROMISE to leave you alone....for a while, anyway!   <no worries :) > With the EcoSystem (Model 3012 [30"x12"x16" High] ) there are 4 chambers; the first being the chamber that the overflow runs to which is 12" high and 4" across & full of bio-balls.   <I would empty this and use it for a skimmer chamber... the best place for raw water to be processed rather than mineralized (as with bio-balls)> It has 2 slots 1/2 way up where the water flows into the second chamber containing the "Miracle Mud" and Caulerpa.   <the miracle to miracle mud, BTW and IMO is that people actually pay that much money for... mud! To be specific, I'm not saying that the mud does not work. On the contrary, I do believe it is nutritive and helpful. I just feel that it is way overvalued considering the alternatives... and in light of some outrageous advertising claims. The founder/creator really is a very nice/interesting chap. To be credited for really helping bring refugium strategies to light where the Adey systems, for example, were slow to prior to him> The water level in this chamber is 1" lower due to the spill-over partition being 11" high going into the 3rd chamber.  From here it spills into the 3rd chamber which is 2" wide (more bio-balls) <they can stay if you like... although I see no significant benefit with them. Hmmm... maybe useful for baffling microbubbles if any come from skimmer> with it's partition going all the way to the top (16") but the bottom  1"  being open returning the water to the 4th and final chamber from where it is pumped back to the tank.  My question is where the skimmer gets plumbed in.   <definitely first chamber> Before entering the first chamber, in the 4th chamber, outside the 4th chamber, before or after the pump, next to the sump or perhaps just a hang on?  Give me this one and once again I pledge to leave 
Refugium and skimmer paths II - Ecosystem 6/16/03
Hi Anthony, Guess who? <hey, bub> I understand and agree with what you said about going with the skimmer in the first chamber. My problem here is that the sump (plexi-glass) has a top (permanent) which covers the first chamber with only an 1 1/2" hole in it where my overflow line (flexible1") dumps in.   <if space allows you could tap a small skimmer box/aquarium inline before this unit to catch all raw water before flowing "downstream". All to avoid a top-mounted display model> I therefore began thinking about  a HOT skimmer vs. the in sump type.  The Aqua C Remora Pro looks to be a decent unit. Just read some comparisons and then some threads from your site about it.  Would it be feasible to remove the bio-balls from the chamber, put in a Maxi-Jet 1200, Rio 1400 or comparable pump and run a line from it up to the hang on (about a 3' run)?   <seems reasonable indeed... be sure to draw water from as close to the surface of the water in that chamber as possible, though> Another concern regarding this approach is the two slots (each 3" across by 1" high) in the bulkhead (6"off the bottom and 6" down from the top of the partition) I mentioned earlier between 1st & 2nd chambers of the sump, and whether the turbulence of the water coming into the first chamber from the overflow would have an adverse effect on skimming from this area.  Would skimming from the top of the chamber & 3' of head still be effective or should I just use the  skimmer as intended, i.e.;  keeping the pump in the aquarium at the skimmer?  Thanks, once again.   <I have no strong preference for either mode... wonder if drilling the top lid wouldn't be a better idea. Heehee... or selling the ecosystem and having a nice, simple and spacious sump instead for $30 <G>> Let me know if I'm abusing the privilege with all these questions.  You have the patience of a saint.  Maybe we can have you canonized some day. <heehee... maybe I can get bronzed too... know anybody in micro-metallurgy?> Greg, a.k.a. Al Bundy, a.k.a. the pest, Binder Berkeley, IL   <ciao, bub. Anthony>

Miracle Mud Ecosystem Hey,  Just came across this Ecosystem with miracle mud and Caulerpa set-up. Seems to be pretty similar to what we were discussing but without a skimmer only some lighting. <Although I've never used them, they are supposed to work pretty good.>  Any thoughts, experience, pros , cons, or stick with the original set up we talked about? <If you're still confused, go with my recommendations from the previous email, with an ecosystems sump.> Maybe I should stay off-line I think it's confusing me more !?#@$! <Hah, sometimes it does!> <From other email...> Sorry, forgot something. I'm using strontium plus, marine iodine, and cycle, twice per week. <Can the cycle, at this point it's useless. The other two are fine to add, although no body's really sure if they actually do anything!> Any other recommendations. <Keep reading! -Kevin> Thanks Again, Louie

Macro Algae choices for the ecosystem? Greetings! <Howdy!> I have just set up an Ecosystem based reef.  The main tank is 135g and the sump is from Leng, and is the largest one they carry (The 3616).  The main tank is on my main floor and the sump is in my basement.  I use the Iwaki 100 as the return pump and it does just fine.   <all good to this point... I especially like the choice of pump ;)> I am curing the live rock in the main tank and skimming to remove the die off.   <Doh! that's not a great idea... rather terrible in my opinion. Pests and predators that survive curing can get established in the display or sand/substrate and be very (!) difficult to remove. Always cure LR on shelves in bare-bottomed tanks so that you can siphon off detritus (which may now be settling in your present sand bed and will make for a nasty algae problem to come)... and to bait predatory shrimp, snails and crabs off bare glass> I do plan on continuing skimmer use even after the mud is added.   <very good to hear... agreed> After about 3 days, the ammonia level was around 5 and today it is undetectable, as is Nitrites.  The Nitrates are around 5, but I believe the rock is cured and ready to have the Mud added.  As for the question, after adding the mud, I was planning on using Caulerpa.  However, after reading some of the FAQ's on Mud based filtration, your crew has suggested that Caulerpa may not be the best Macro Algae for this setup.  Could you please explain why, and then give some alternate options I should consider?  Thanks! <the reasons why are described at great length in the archived FAQs... do search my friend. Much to consider about its noxious qualities and precarious single-celled nature (vegetative events/"going sexual"/tank wipeouts). Also consider our new book (Calfo and Fenner, "Reef Invertebrates"... shipping in a few weeks)... we delicate about 20% of the 400 page reference to plants, algae and refugiums. There are many merits and more than a few demerits to Caulerpa. Too labor intensive to prevent problems. Seek a more stable and less noxious algae instead like Chaetomorpha "spaghetti algae" or Gracilaria "Ogo". Best regards, Anthony>

Miracle Mud And Protein Skimmers? I am so confused! <I can relate to that! Scott F. with you today!> I have been trying to decide which method of filtration is best for my new 175 gallon reef/fish aquarium with live rock and live sand.  I have read lots of article and information concerning the Ecosystem Method using Miracle Mud and Caulerpa algae in the refugium.  I am interested in this approach. <Lots and lots of information on this available on the internet, and on WWM. Many opinions on this approach...> Do I also need a protein skimmer with this set-up?  The Ecosystem people say that I don't. <Personally, I strongly favor a protein skimmer in any marine setup. Even the "Miracle Mud" technique. There is a tremendous amount of nutrient material that still can accumulate in a mud system. Protein skimming is complimentary, in my opinion> I hate to buy more and more equipment or unnecessary items that I don't really need. Thanks, James <I understand, but I believe that the skimmer is indispensable, and not a luxury by any means! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Reef On The Rise (So Are Nitrates!) and light fixture query Hello <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> I am building a new canopy for my 55 gallon tank. It will house 2 175 w MH with Ushios and a 55w actinic power compact. My question is, should I have any glass protecting the bulbs from splash, and how high should the halides be off the water? <Well, lots of opinions on this. The height depends largely on the types of animals that you will be keeping, but as a general rule, I would mount halides anywhere between 8"-16" of the surface of the water. I'd be conservative and go for the cover glass - perhaps compensating by moving the lights lower in the canopy> Also, I am switching over from all fish to a reef, I had 65 lbs of live rock and a tomato clown in this tank, I have a sump with 10 lbs of miracle mud with bio balls in the water. I cannot seem to get nitrates under 40ppm. I do regular water changes, the tank has been set up for about 2 years. Thanks <Well, if you are using the "Miracle Mud", I hope that you're growing some sort of macro algae, which is an integral part of this filtration methodology. Do try some macro algae, if you aren't using any already. Check out your source water - Is it RO/DI, or does it have high nitrates to begin with? Also, I favor protein skimming in every system, even the "Miracle Mud" system..  Do a little reading on the WWM site under "Nutrient Export" and you'll come up with lots of good ideas to get that nitrate down. Good luck! Regards, Scott F

Re: metal halide cover hello, <Hi Eric, PF here tonight> I am building a new canopy for my 55 gallon tank. It will house 2 175 w MH with Ushios and a 55w actinic power compact. My question is should I have any glass protecting the bulbs from splash <I'd say yes, and as UV filters too.>, and how high should the halides be off the water? <10" - 12" is standard from what I've read/done.> Also I am switching over from all fish to a reef, I had 65 lbs of live rock and a Tomatoe clown in this tank, I have a sump with 10 lbs of miracle mud with bio balls in the water. I cannot seem to get nitrates under 40 <Yipes!> I do regular water changes, the tank has been set up for about 2 years, thanks <Well, MM should be used with a nutrient export method: i.e. macroalgae. The official Ecosystem method advises Caulerpa, but I'm not fond of Caulerpa as it causes to many problems. IMO Chaetomorpha is a much better choice. You didn't mention a skimmer on your system, also you might want to look into using a DSB to help reduce your nitrates.>

- Opinions on Ecosystem filtration? - Hello WWM crew: <Good morning, JasonC here...> I have been searching the web just looking for new information about reef keeping and I came across a link to the Ecosystem's website. I have heard of this system before and seen it implemented on tanks around the internet. I'm wondering if you have any opinions or experience with this system. <Plenty of opinions, not much experience.> I have a terrible hair algae problem in my tank right now and I am looking for anything that would help. <I'm not sure that an Ecosystem filter would help your algae problems.> Also, the site gave many comparisons and stated that much of the dosing and high-tech equipment that is commonly used is not really needed for the application. I would love this if it is true. I don't really have the money to invest in all the fancy equipment I see everyone else with. At least right now. <I think some of the material written about this method is marketing hype, but all in all, the system is quite viable and works well. I think additional equipment like calcium reactors and skimmers would only compliment an Ecosystem filter.> They say this system is pretty much self sufficient. <In some respects.> I'm sure that your familiar with Mr4000 and his awesome tank. He uses this system and nothing else. <That's what he says.> He only doses with a Ca supplement as needed. No skimmer, no other reactors, nothing, and his tank is amazing! Your insight is always appreciated and highly valued by myself and others I'm sure. <Just keep in mind that there are no true miracles...> Thanks for the time you put in! Stephen Baker <Cheers, J -- >

7 Is A Crowd, 8 Is Bouillabaisse! The Fish only Questions: Background: I've been keeping my fish-only 75Gal saltwater tank for over 4 yrs now. I've got an Amiracle wet dry (6 gals of bioballs), a large Amiracle Venturi protein skimmer and an Emperor Aquatics 25W UV. The tank is stocked with: A Volitans Lion, Yellow Tang, Naso Tang, Miniatus Grouper, Green Bird Wrasse, Dog Puffer and Clown Trigger (7 fish in all, average fish 4 inches long). I've had no issues with water quality other than a slight struggle to keep my PH levels up, ammonia, nitrate and nitrates have been fine (Nitrates below 40 PPM). <Wow- that's a LOT of potentially very large fish in a relatively modest-sized tank...!> I'd like to put another fish or two into the tank, specifically, a Paddlefin wrasse and a second fish to be determined (maybe 2 small yellows instead of one larger fish). <Yikes...NO! please...enough is enough already! You need to save for a larger tank...> My questions: 1) Am I taking a huge gamble with the fish load or am I OK ? <I really think that you are overstocked already, and the fluctuating pH is one clue here. You've done well to keep this many animals in the tank so far, but it is definitely not a good long-term situation> 2) Will the grouper or lion try to eat the small yellows or should they be OK ? <Hard to say...In a potentially overcrowded tank, all sorts of nasty behaviors are possible with these fishes...I'd assume that they will at least attempt this> 3) Is there any invert that I can add give the fish that I've selected??? I really want to add some interesting invert... an anemone, feather dusters, crab, or something..... <Honestly, I'd hold off on any more bioload in this tank. Perhaps in a larger tank, you could consider a few cleaner shrimp..> Reef Tank Question: I am thinking of setting up a reef. A local pet shop owner tells me that the best approach is a mud filter. Is a mud filter the same as a refugium ? <Nope. A mud filter is designed to create an environment that aids in the growth and propagation of macroalgae. Yes, some creatures will propagate within the mud filter, much as they do in a refugium, but it's a slightly different concept. A refugium is really designed to be an "accessory" for a reef system, and provides delicate animals a place to grow and multiply, free from predators. The refugium provides some nutrient processing, as well as the potential supplementation of natural foods, in the form of plankton and larval animals...> Do you agree with his suggestion? <Well, the "mud" concept is just one of many ways to approach reef tanks. I don't really think that there is one system that's the "best". Really depends on the animals you'll be keeping, your interests, skills, and budget. All of the theories have their relative merits and problems, and many of the nicest reef tanks that I've seen incorporate elements of various "systems"> Do I need a skimmer or other filtration with the mud-filter ? The pet shop owner tells me that I do not.... <I disagree on that point...I believe that a skimmer is a necessity for pretty much every closed marine system...that's my opinion, of course, but I feel that it's valid nonetheless> Finally, I'm thinking of a 39 gallon tank. Is this a reasonable size ? Allen L. Seidman <Sure, it can work, if you adhere to proper stocking levels, and make sure that you keep appropriate animals in this sized aquarium. A smaller tank is less forgiving than a larger tank, as the water volume is not as great, particularly after you factor in displacement caused by rocks, etc. I'd go for the largest tank that you can afford to outfit and maintain...Use the WetWebMedia site for a ton of information on reef set up options...Have fun! Regards, Scott F>

Amiracle Mudd filter  - 2/13/03 Do you know if this makes a good refugium? <Undersized IMO> Do you know if there is room for an in sump style skimmer. <Unlikely for a larger tank> Any other brands you would say work better or has more room. Steve <Homemade is best value and size. They are simple strategies, just a tank with deep sand bed and drilled for an overflow if upstream (the best way). We will be posting refugium diagrams shortly excerpted from our new book. Do peak back in some days/weeks or give us a holler. Much info on the web in the meantime.>

Flow Rate for a Mud Filter - 2/13/03 Hello Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service> I am building my own mud filter similar to the Ecosystem 60 to use on my 55g tank. <cool> I am a little confused about a flow rate. On their web site they say that recommended flow rate for sumps to be used for 55g tanks is 600-800gph. <for the Caulerpa... > Now the filter box I am going to use is 22"long x 4" deep x 12" tall. I bought a Rio 1700 (642gph)pump to use with it. Do you think that this flow rate is too high? <the flow rate will be dictated by the refugium specimens you keep and their needs... no the size of the vessel. There is a trend in the industry away from Caulerpa use in such large quantities for its noxious/toxic nature. I personally would not use it. There are much better macros for nutrient export like Gracilaria and Chaetomorpha (spaghetti algae). See more at Inland aquatics and IPSF.com> What would be an acceptable flow rate for this kind of set up  in your opinion? <for just a ballpark estimate... 10X refugium tank volume> Thanks, Jacob <best regards, Anthony>

Re: Ecosystem Aquarium To the crew, I am going to be setting up a 180gal. reef aquarium and have been looking at the various filtration methods.   I am leaning towards the ecosystem sump with the miracle mud.   What is your opinion on this method? <Very worthwhile. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mudfiltrfaqs.htm and the linked (in blue, at top) files beyond. Bob Fenner>

Re: ecosystem 60 and UV sterilizer I am getting conflicting thoughts from two local pet stores.  A small well run local store says it's ok to run an ecosystem 60 and a UV sterilizer together in series for filtration.  A local chain says that you absolutely never want to run a UV sterilizer period.  Unless there is something wrong in your tank.  He says that unless there is a presence of disease or a problem, a UV sterilizer should not be used.<They're nuts!> I need a professional impartial opinion.<You're about to get one!> I currently have a 55 gallon saltwater tank that I'm looking to setup more professionally to get better filtration.  I'm currently running a "Skilter" which is a mechanical filter and protein skimmer device.  It was relatively have probably 10lbs of live rock and only a few fish presently but before I add more I want to just get a better setup going. It's my understanding the Ecosystem 60 will significantly reduce the need for water changes and provide better overall filtration. Your response will be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Jeff Longmore <Jeff, let me start off saying that a UV sterilizer can be used in a tank no problem.  But don't think it will solve all sickness problems etc. etc. it will help.  I must say though, you should look at updating your skimmer before adding a UV sterilizer!  I've use Skilters and find them "iffy" at best.  A good skimmer would be much better!  A good skimmer should produce dark skimmate almost everyday!  The EcoSystem 60 will help with water changes to a point, but it's still up to you to do monthly or bi-monthly changes!  Go to www.wetwebmedia.com/marphysf.htm for more reading!  Hope this helps!  Phil>
Re: ecosystem 60 and UV sterilizer
Wow!  Thank you for your prompt response!<No problem> I'm about to check out the link but as usual I have more thoughts and questions. Is the UV Sterilizer something that should/could be left on all the time?<You could leave it on all the time!  But it may not be needed> Could you recommend a quality skimmer for my 55 gallon tank.  Does the skimmer run all the time?<I run all my skimmers all the time!  I like Aqua-C, it would be great in a tank your size.> Unfortunately, I'm not terribly familiar with how a better setup like thisshould operate.  I know I want to improve the overall way my tank runs and is filtered to make it as low maintenance as possible.  I figure I'm willing to sink as much as $1K into it.  If there are more natural things I should be doing, like adding more live rock or plants or something I'd like to know so I can enjoy the hobby more. Thank you again, Jeff <Your best bet is to add more live rock, but not too much as this is not a reef tank.  I would say add another 10-15 pounds over the next few months, be sure to qt this rock!!!  Get a skimmer as I said before.  You don't need a UV sterilizer really... if you want one, get it... I don't run them on my tanks.  Only on my pond.  What type of filter are you running, that plays a big factor in water filtration!  What kinda sand bed do you have?  That also plays a part!  E-mail me back w/ more spec's of the tank and what's in it and what will be going in it!  The more I know the better!  And this will not cost $1k if you do it right!!  Phil>  
Re: ecosystem 60 and UV sterilizer
Great!  When you say "qt" the rock.  Do you mean to sit it in some fresh water for a period of time?  Sorry I don't know. <It's ok!  You need to put ALL new rock/livestock in a 4 week  period in a quarantine tank!  This is a 20-30 gallon bare bottom tank.  It contains maybe a few small pieces of PVC pipe for the fishes to hide in/around.  You can find more info about qt on WetWebMedia.  A qt is a saltwater tank though just so you know.  It's kinda like a "hotel" for the fish till they're ready for the main tank!> I'll look into that skimmer.<Very good, it will be a wise investment!!> My substrate is about 2 1/2 inches of crushed coral.  It's not very fine like sand, but it's not in very large pieces either.  I'd say it's crushed into about the size of a small snail shell.<Rule of thumb: substrate should be less than 1 inch or more than 4.  Never in-between!  It becomes a real pain in the backside after about 6 months!> The filtration I hope to run is the ecosystem 60.  I know I can pick up aneco 60 for about $320 and a UV sterilizer for around $200.  But, the one privately owned local hobby store wanted to do this custom setup where I put a 29 gal. tank in the bottom of my stand with all this custom plumbing and a makeshift ecosystem.  I think I'm starting to get it.  Being that the chambers would be larger in a 29 gallon tank, perhaps it would be more beneficial than the plastic container of the ecosystem hanging off the back of my tank.  Unfortunately they want $1000 for the setup which would includeeverything I need to do the setup and a UV Sterilizer.  Personally I thought that was a little high.  I was hoping I could do just as good of a job with just buying an out of the box ecosystem 60. I kind of like the custom plumbing idea, because that way, I suppose, there would not be as much surface area for salt creep.  A problem in my currently running Skilter.  FYI - I'm also running a Quicksand filter but I don't remember the size or brand. Thanks again for the VERY helpful information. Jeff <Jeff.... you don't need to spend $1000 on a custom plumbing sump.  There's nothing custom about them... there all the same idea.. just different sizes for different size tanks!  I'd go with the ecosystem 60.  I'd also SKIP the UV sterilizer.  I really don't think it would be worth it!  If you REALLY want to do this custom thing; try and get a hold of a local marine aquarium club.  I love being in a club... good times, good friends, good ideas!  Plus I'm sure they'd love to help you "custom" build your own 29 gallon sump.  Also clubs are a great way to trade new/used livestock and filters, protein skimmers, heaters, etc. etc.  Also I'd pick up at a LFS a Aqua Clear power filter, it doesn't have to be the biggest model.  Just get one for your size tank which I think is 55 gallons.  It will help with the bioload, plus it's a backup in case of a problem.  If you haven't already you should pick up a copy of Bob Fenner's book.  It's packed with helpful hints to help you become a better aquarist!  Best of luck to you!  Phil>

Re: Is my name mud??? Hi, Guys--Your the best, of the best. I am just a newbie, Been reading a lot, I mean a lot. Have bobs book, sent for Anthony's last week. To add to my collection. Today while surfing the net I came across some articles about Mud of all things. Leng Sy miracle mud system. Sounds very interesting, Does any body on the crew know of people who are using this set up, and is it working. I've read how it works, and the results. I am all most tempted to try it.  Charlie newbie <Yes, please see the chatforum: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/ and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mudfiltrfaqs.htm and the FAQs beyond. Bob Fenner>

Refugium flow rate Dear Mr. Fenner: I'll pose this question to you, seeing as how I believe you are knowledgeable of the EcoSystem type refugium setup. I have a 55 gallon reef aquarium with an ALL-GLASSoverflow, Durso stand pipe leading into two wet dry's beneath the aquarium.  The return is powered by a Mag Drive 500 from the sump back into the aquarium. I have a variety of power heads situated within the tank for circulation. I also constructed a 10 gallon refugium, in the ecosystem design...very similar with baffles and about 3 inches of Miracle Mud Substrate. I've read over and over again how a refugium's water flow should be no more than 3-5x it's capacity per hour.  Is this correct?  So I should be pushing for about 40-50 gallons of flow thru the refugium per hour?? <In general, yes> I'm a bit confused on this issue, and currently have a Maxi Jet 1000 powerhead supplying water to the refugium (which is located about 1 1/2 - 2 feet above the sump in a separate cabinet to the right of the tank.....and is gravity fed back to the sump). If I am correct that I'll only need to pump 40-50 gallons per hour thru the refugium, then can you please explain the following statement by Leng Sy over at Ecosystems: "What struck me right from the start is that when I asked Mr. Leng Sy how much circulation was needed through these system, his answer was a lot. In fact in a 120 gallon system that he has set up, he flows about 1000 gallons per hour through the sump. The sump is the area where the apparently very beneficial filtration occurs. Judging from the results that can be seen on the web site, the filtration is working extremely well indeed, especially since NO skimmer is used. You read that correctly: no skimmer is necessary on this system". http://www.fishdomain.com/article_miraclemud.shtml <Their experience varies from mine. Leng and I have talked over many issues over many hours (we're good friends, and go on dive/photograph vacations together), including this one (rates of turnover in algal/mud filters). There are practical limits and considerations... such as "blowing over" living and non-living elements in the filter, potential trouble with circulation gear, failure... You won't "get" much more from the utilization of these refugiums by circulating them anymore than 3,4 times per hour... Now, if you are looking for just the benefits of the circulation itself (aeration, current, moving sediment about...) more flow (whether it's through the refugium or not may be a good idea. However, you will not get more nutrient uptake, micro-crustacean and worm production, growth of macro-algae... by running more water through the living sump> Thank you for all the help you and your crew have provided me with these past several weeks. Regards, Steve <Thank you for your participation. Bob Fenner>

Mud Filter, Octopus, Skimmer? Hi I'm new to the salt water hobby . <Welcome to our ever-fascinating hobby!> I just set up my 72 gallon bow tank with a ecosystem refugium filter and an 800gph pump I was told with this filter I don't need a skimmer . <Mmm, actually... there's quite a bit of discussion re this issue... and many people do utilize a skimmer with mud filtration> I'm planning on keeping an octopus been doing a lot of research on them everything I read said protein skimmers are the way to go . <Yes> I'm using live sand 60 lbs and 90lbs live rock the tank has been running for two days and I put two damsels in it tested the water ph is 8.0 and ammonia, nitrite and nitrate is 0 .Is that ok , I ordered some stuff that claims it cycles the tank in 48 hours what do you think? Thank You for your time, Manny <Lots to say here... Please visit our site: www.WetWebMedia.com re mud filtration: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mudfiltrfaqs.htm

Aeration in a mud filtration scenario I have a bit of a saga to tell about my quest for the perfect filtration AND a question about aeration.  My story is loaded with mistakes that perhaps others can learn from. <I thank you for sending it along> I have a 53 or so gallon tank set up in an alcove over a fireplace.  For 2-years it has been a very successful fish-only with cc substrate & about 60# of live rock.  For the past 2 months I have been upgrading it to a combo fish/reef tank.  I added 260 watts of power compacts, upgraded to an hang-on-back AMiracle Wet/Dry driven by a protein skimmer (that's never actually produced any foam), kept a Magnum 350 canister, a UV sterilizer and SeaClone protein skimmer and added 3 Rio 800's and a wavemaker.   My parameters have all been fine except those pesky nitrates.  After doing a lot of reading on the subject, I decided last month to change my crushed coral substrate to live sand.  I started with super fine aragonite sand, then added some Fiji Live Sand and some Florida Live Sand and 4 small live rocks fresh from Florida, that were a little too "live".  As you can imagine, my established tank started cycling.  Nitrites were about .5 for 2 weeks.  I did water changes everyday for 1 1/2 weeks, then tapered back to every other day.  The nitrites have been "stable" at .25 for about 4 days now.  I'm sure you're shaking your head and uttering tsk, tsk, tsk right now.  Amazingly none of the fish or newly introduced corals showed any signs of stress during this, but it gets worse.   Last night I decided to take the non-skimming skimmer feeding the wet/dry out of the equation and feed the wet/dry directly from the Rio800 in the tank.  Well, it flooded the bioballs.  So even though the PS isn't working (and collects lots of gunk), it apparently buffers or restricts the flow into the wet/dry so the water "trickles" over the balls.  I've been thinking about getting rid of the whole wet/dry thing in favor of a mud filter, so I just left the darn thing off last night.  I woke up this morning to 2 dead cleaner shrimp, a dead Anthias, a dead Coral Beauty Angel and a panting Copperband Butterfly on the bottom.  I didn't test the Ammonia, but the nitrites were slightly above .5 (no higher than they've been during this whole saga).  My LFS said the fish weren't getting enough oxygen with the wet/dry off and that the trickle over the balls oxygenated the water.  My question is:  If this is true, how do you oxygenate the water using a mud filter?  Isn't that still a major consideration? <A good deal of aeration is accomplished by the process of mixing, moving water about top to bottom, and increasing surface area.> I did a huge water change and the fish that made it ( the Copperband, Yellow Tang, Gobi and Blenny) are starting to stabilize.  Now what do I do?  Should I turn the wet/dry into a mud filter? <If you'd like... I would at least modify the present filter, remove the bioballs, install a real skimmer...>   If so, how would you suggest I go about it?  This all started trying to control nitrates that were in the .30 range and has turned into a major disaster!  Any suggestions, insight, etc., would be very much appreciated. Thank you so much for your time and your wonderful & informative website! Barbera Aimes <Mmm, you're welcome. Do consider either the entire upgrade to a mud filtration mode, or just an intermediary improvement (the two items mentioned) for now. Bob Fenner>
Re: Aeration in a mud filtration scenario
Thank you for such a fast response.  Do you agree with the LFS that the fish died because of a lack of oxygen, or could the Ammonia have built up to deadly proportions in 12 hours? <Much more likely anoxia was the principal cause... on the basis of the information provided... who died, didn't.> Frankly, I'm afraid to change anything about the wet/dry until I figure out which aspect of turning it off caused the tank to crash. <Really... was very likely just the pump, circulation turned off...>   I am getting a "real" skimmer (AquaC Remora) to hang on the tank in about 2 weeks.  Are you suggesting I get a protein skimmer to hang on the wet/dry? <No, not necessary, advised> If so, could I use that second skimmer to drive the mud filter? <Better to have just a low-flow rate pump here> Is there any downside to having 2 skimmers on a system? <Mmm, not much... just more gear, cost...> I'm assuming from your answers to other people's questions that I should remove the bioballs slowly - over a couple of weeks.  If I turn it into a mud filter, doesn't the mud filter have to cycle? <Will cycle almost instantly... but I would leave the bioballs in till the mud is situated, then remove in halves... three installments over as many weeks> If so, then my main tank would have to go for a period without the benefit of the oxygenation from the hang-on filter.  How could I replace that oxygenation in the meantime? <The new skimmer will provide this... but you can add mechanical aeration as well... with an air pump, "stone", air-entraining powerheads... Bob Fenner> Thank you again. Barbera

ICH in Miracle Mud ? Hi WWM crew, Happy Holidays to you all.  Just a quick question for me today.  We are currently battling with ICH in our marine FOWLR tank.  Will ICH infest our Miracle Mud sump?  We are planning a total breakdown of our main tank while we treat the fishes, but we really don't want to do this on our sump too. I have search all over the site for someone with the same dilemma but could not find any close references. <Well, the daughter colonies... can/do "rest" in many types of settings... but I would not be "so concerned" with the mud harboring these that I'd dump the mud. Best to engage a bit of environmental manipulation and leave the system w/o fish hosts for a month or more... and not worry. Bob Fenner> Thanks for the help, Robert

Another couple questions: re Miracle Mud filtration, keeping anemones Concerning the miracle mud sumps, I have been running mine without any sand in the reef tank (as I was told one should) but now that I am moving my tank over I have a chance to add some live sand.  What do you think?   <I f you want to add sand it will be okay. But remember to get sugar-sized sand and keep the bed either 1/2" or less or 4+". Anything else is a detritus trap> I know there is the theory that a sand bed could potentially produce nitrates which is what the miracle mud is supposed to prevent from happening.  But as with the skimmer, can too much filtration really be a bad thing? <Almost impossible> And will Percula's host with Caribbean anemones?   <Do you mean the Condylactis anemone? Not likely...But stranger things have happened>   I've heard it both ways.   Is it a take your chances thing? <Well...unless you have the proper setup for the Condylactis, I would skip on this addition. In all probability the Condy will begin moving around shortly after being introduced to the tank and will settle somewhere that you don't like. This has been my experience thus far with anemones> Also, my understanding from reading you site is that the Condy's don't tend to live very long, even under ideal conditions?  The bubble tip are better? <No anemone is considered hardy by fish standards. But compared to the other very fragile anemones, Condys are hardier. First, study the requirements of whatever anemone that you plan to buy and be sure you can meet those requirements from the beginning. This is not a critter that you can buy and then wait to do tank upgrades to match its needs. You need to meet the anemones basic requirements for day one. If you want a bubble tip (Entacmaea quadricolor) try to buy one that has been aquacultured. This will improve your chances of success> Finally, are there some damsels that will host with Caribbean anemones? <Not many if any will host the Condys. And beware...Even if you painstakingly match fish with the proper host anemone, the fish may not respond. This behavior isn't at all unusual> Thanks for you time. Steve Thornton MD <You're welcome! David Dowless>

Caulerpa Refugium Dear WWM Crew, I've acquired some Caulerpa. I think I've identified it as razor Caulerpa, Caulerpa serrulata. Is this a good algae for my new refugium? <It depends on the intended purpose of the refugium and your tanks needs.> Should I allow any in my display tank? <Again, it depends.> My refugium will be 22" x 24" x 10" high and will have 2" of Miracle Mud. How much shall I start with (I have lots) <You do not need too much.> and will it attach itself to the mud? <It should use its holdfasts to attach/"root".> Any other comments or suggestions would be helpful. <There is a lot of information on refugium types and macroalgae in our FAQ files on www.WetWebMedia.com.> My primary use of the refugium is to help control nitrates in my 180 gallon reef tank. <Caulerpa is excellent for nutrient control, but more and more research is showing it is harmful to corals. You are going to have to strike a fine balance here. I would also pursue some other means of nutrient control (protein skimming, careful feedings, appropriate foods and supplements, clean source water, etc.).> Thanks for your help, Brian <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Here's mud in your eye. No worries... its Miracle mud good morning to all. Anthony if you are there HEY ! We have been conversing lightly through reading trees. <cheers, Peter> Have some confusion here about a mud/algae filter. <join the club.. the marketing of the method is vague if not misleading in my opinion (never do a water change, no need for skimmers, Caulerpa doesn't need harvested and will not harm your coral in time with noxious exudations, etc)> I have read a good number of the FAQs, though I am confused on one aspect, in that I just re read the article in Octobers FAMA, where it states that the "Marketing Director" of Ecosystem suggests a 10-12-times rate for turnover and (Constant Available POD FOOD) <heehee...> However, As per many of your suggestions ( all of you ) I intend to run a algae based sump in parallel to my main sump. <not sure I follow the parallel thing you mention here. A sump by very nature is the lowest point (non-parallel)> The set up will be a joint effort in that it will house my two 30 gallon vats for coral prop /production, and my main 90 or 110g display. I intend on one overflow from the display teed off with a valve to both the mud/algae sump. and main sump. <never tee a drain as such... asking for noise and trouble. You need two lines/drains... or the one line to the sump, and the other feature fed (pumped) from the sump on a loop. But never teed for drains> Also, the overflow from the prop vats will go probably just into the main sump. <OK> The main Sump will be pushed with a mag 9 or 12 or an Iwaki. <even the mag 12 sounds too small for this system. The Iwaki 30 or 40 may be fine at head> The purpose is so that in my main sump, I can intermittently run a skimmer and my UV ( thoughts on the UV will be appreciated) <the skimmer should be run full time most likely and the UV is a waste of money for most folks. Do search the archives (keyword search on Google of our WWM FAQs) fro my recent explanations for why UV is so challenging to apply for so little benefit. If anything.. get yourself an ozonizer for far greater benefits and ease of application> I am separating the two sumps mainly so I do not kill many of the food returning back into the main and prop vats by HAVING to go directly through the UV. <cannot have two sumps easily if at all "in parallel". Again, by definition... a sump is the lowest point of the system. Perhaps the problem here Peter is that we cannot visualize your plan from a generalized description. Do share a sketch of diagram if you like> Of course that water will inevitably meet the UV in one way or another but I felt that running them in parallel so to speak would help increase the available foods from the refugium (Algae filter.) So. How fast or how much turnover do I want or is suggested in the Refugium portion of the setup. <depends on the species cultured in the refugium. True plants (high flow) versus Caulerpa (poisoning your corals in the long run) moderate> As a reminder the display is 90g and two prop vats at approx. 30 g each. I have read that I would be surprised by the amount of food that will make it alive through the pumps, <agreed... most will... and all is still edible <G>> but I have also read that I should look into the Tunze line as it would be more beneficial in keeping those foods intact. <I love Tunze products, they do have plankton friendly pumps, but all is really unnecessary regarding plankton shear> Lastly Would you suggest a mud based substrate, with a thin layer of sand in display, or do any of you prefer, just a deep live sand bed  <I am very content with a static deep sand bed of 5+"> I understand the substrate whatever it is will "become Inoculated" Any reason to buy what I will call Detritivore kits or the like. <helpful but overpriced. Join a local club and swap sand instead> I know there is a lot of debate about the MUD in any name, but I can not argue as to what it was found to contain. I am skeptical myself but I see some hard facts. I would also imagine that one does not want to use fine are maybe any mechanical filtration in a system like this??? <too long to argue here. Experiment if you like. I do not subscribe to the method at all, and I have been out to see Leng Sy's operation in LA> Is that correct. I would like to maybe draw a pic of the system and fax it to one of you, as I have not really figured out how to draw straight good drawings on the pc. <if you like, yes... but chatting it up with local aquarists is even better (conversing with a knowledgeable person at length and in person). Well worth a regional road trip for you to the Brooklyn club, Philly club, Boston, etc> One more please. In another room I will be setting up a fish only with live rock set up, What is the rule of thumb for live rock amounts here? <if primary for filtration... 1 to 2 lbs per gallon> I may supplement this system with bio ball medium of some sort as I want a few stray pieces of rock here. <depends on the size of load/fishes and how much rock you invest in. Be prepared for nitrates if you choose bio-balls or fluidized sand  filters over live rock> But any thoughts again. Thank you again for everything, all of you . I have been most encouraged by all of you and the info you provide. <thanks kindly... great to hear> I understand that with many of this, there is a trial and error aspect, but you help all of us to save our hard earned money, by at least giving us your experienced trial and error reports of your own. It has been a most relieving experience to be able to discuss these topics among avid hobbyists and professionals alike. Perhaps I can help some you someday in relation to what my career specialty is. If curious, ask! Thank you Peter <I'm dreaming that you are the manager of a chorus line of beautiful dancing girls... right? Big thanks! Best regards, Anthony>

Re: mud filter Quickly on the tank and inhabitants. I have a 135gal reef with a gulf stream wet dry converted to a mud algae filter and a 120gal rubber maid horse trough as a refugium slash 3 ft. zebra eel tank. I have some 100lbs of rock in the tank and another 100lbs in the sump. Some 20 hard and soft corals in the main tank which are thriving and 2 purples and a Chevy and a bicolor Foxface, perc pr., flame hawk, flame back, 5 red head gobies and last but not least a five bar wrasse. In the sump is a damsel angel which has never been feed directly, probably out of hatred for him picking to death two open brains before he was caught to place or through in the sump. If I would of known he would thrive there I may not have places him in there. Probably feel the animosity I feel for him. Parameters are 76deg constant,cal350-400 ph8-8.4, nitrate 5-10ppm,salinity 1.024. I took off the 4ft skimmer when the algae had taken off. There is 30lbs of miracle mud and the algae filtering the whole system for over a year. Purples are beautiful and free of LLD. I guess I don't have a lot of questions just praise to Leng for this great set up. Lighting the mud filter is 3 24inch fluorescent with 4000k bulbs. I need to know to lower the electric can I replace these with one pc? <Yes, increase or match lumen output of NO 24's while keeping usage lower or the same. I would be cautious if all is well now....> I have messed with the flow through the mud filter and have had no I mean no algae problems in the main tank since over a year ago I took the skimmer off the set up and routed the 4mdq to the tank. I now have a 3mdqsc and the 4mds as returns to the main tank from the 120 sump. I figure the total out flow is around 1100gph which goes to the mud filter and then to the sump to the tank. I feel that is the key. I slack on water changes to 1 30gal change per 2 months. I get very little detritus on the bottom of the bare bottom tank. I feed these guys twice a week and give them the grape Caulerpa which is a treat to the purples and the bicolor. This system is so easy and maintenance free that it burns me he could not of came up with this before I tried all the others that failed after time and not to mention quite costly. I threw 100 zebra snails and 100 Nassarius snails in the main tank which could be the reason for the lack a detritus in the tank. The eel loves his dark sump. he gets Cray fish in season and shrimp otherwise once a week, two of each. Is this enough for him? I have been feeding him like this for two years so I think it is. <Long term health is proof.> I want to add some more of the fairy wrasses. Would the five bar harass them? <Is he bothering those you have now? If not you could try it but be sure to throw things a bit off for the five bar (move some rock and decor, turn off the lights or isolate him while the fairies make themselves at home). He has been in there for some 7 months. Any way pass along the praise to Leng for me.  What a great way to keep reef  tanks and eel sumps. <Sounds like a lot of fun!  Enjoy.  Craig>

Ecosystem Filtration Hi, I'm reading Mr. Fenner's new book and enjoying it, but it does not cover the Ecosystem Method of filtration. I would  like to here your opinion. <Please see our webpage, www.WetWebMedia.com, and look for the key words Ecosystem, Leng Sy, and Miracle Mud. There should be plenty of information and opinions there. Regards, Boris in Macedonia <Have a nice weekend! -Steven Pro>

Sumps, refugiums, mud filtration, oh my! Hello again, Thanks for all the wonderful info that you provide. It helps to bring order to what sometimes seems a  very difficult hobby. Here goes...... I have a 215 gallon mixed fish and invert and I am in the process of setting up refugium. I currently am using the Berlin method (350 lbs of live rock with lots of skimming). What is an ideal size refugium for me? <Generally, the bigger the better. Anything under 20 gallons is not worth doing.> Should the water in the refugium go all the way to the top? <Like a standard aquarium, overflow and plumbing considerations need to be factored in of course.> How large of a space should the plenum be? <I am going to refer you to the published works of Dr. Jean Jaubert.> It is my understanding that the plenum is simply an empty space underneath the substrate. <Correct> What are the physiological effects of the plenum/why is it necessary? Should the substrate be layered with different grain sizes (why) and separated by additional eggcrate? How should the layering be done? <Again, with the above questions, go to the source of this methodology. Almost all problems with plenum systems have to do with improper installation.> Is a mud type substrate recommended or a larger grain or some combination? <A mud substrate is a completely different methodology by Leng Sy of Ecosystem Aquariums.> What should the grain size be? Where can I find step by step plans/blueprints for the construction? <You should be able to find out all your questions using a simple search engine on the internet.> Should it be lit 24/7 or alternated with the main display tank lighting? <This depends on which methodology you employ.> Does the refugium need to be compartmentalized? <This helps with controlling flow and surface skimming.> Will the pump kill all the critters before they get to the main tank since the refugium will empty into my sump first? <No, not all.> What is a good seeding package to start with? <Livesand and detritivore kits from several sources to increase diversity.> What are the essential macro-algae plants that should be in the refugium? <Again, this depends on your intentions, nutrient export, larger plankton production, nanoplankton, etc.> My space will allow for a refugium that is 48" x 9" x 20". <About 35 gallons.> Will this size be enough to do the job? <You should be some added benefits.> Also, I have heard all the pros and cons of UV's and have decided to use one. It has been running now for 6 months. My display tank has four drains and I plan on using one of the drains for the refugium. The other three returns will drain into the sump where I have a Euro-Reef skimmer and my mechanical filtration. The pump return is Teed off and 1 return flows to chiller and the other though the UV. Both returns go directly into display tank after that. If I have the refugium return directly into the display tank, can I continue to run my UV? <You can but it will negatively effect plankton production.> Any input would be much appreciated. <Please search both our site and the internet at large for refugium ideas.> Thanks, Steve <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Tiny Bubbles.... blowin' in my sump/refugium Hello Mr. Fenner, Rob from Canada again. We communicated over the A. nigripes last week...very pleased with the fish. I have a worry ...I've designed a sump that is close to what Ecosystem Aquarium uses for the miracle mud.....which I am using on my 65 gallon. The last chamber has two pumps 1 mag 9.5 for the return and a Rio 2100 which loops back into the first chamber where water from the overflow box goes .......I did this to add more flow going through the Caulerpa. I also added a MaxiJet 1200 into the chamber containing the Caulerpa and mud. <You don't need, nor want more flow... likely less... 3,4 turns per hour is about ideal> Problem is I have MICROBUBBLES out the ying yang going to the main tank......IS THIS A DETRIMENTAL PROBLEM for the fish or corals? <Possibly... and one commonly put forth here> Or is it just a visual problem? I've tried playing with the plumbing.....and have not been able to resolve the issue. Thanks again for your time and patience :) <Please read through the marine plumbing FAQs starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pbfaqsmar.htm and on to the Refugium, Algal Filters... sections. Bob Fenner>

Ecosystem 40 Hello my Bob: Do you have any information about the Ecosystem 40. I was looking in your section for FAQ for this specific topic but unfortunately I can't find anything related. I just set-up this system on my 29 gal. tank and I am searching for this info. <Yes. See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mudfiltrfaqs.htm and the FAQs file beyond, related articles and the link on the right shared border to Ecosystems, the manufacturer. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Fabian

Mud Filter Systems Hi , I have been keeping a Freshwater tanks for about 20 years now and I have been studying for about 6 months to learn the basics to convert a 55G to a salt base fish/mini reef. I am interested in information on a DIY ecosystem style mud filter. I will be constructing the new stand and light box so I am looking to plan for the sizes and plumbing requirements to be built in to the system. I like the idea of the mud filter but don't want it hanging off the back of the tank. I want it under the tank in the stand. I would like to know if I can modify a 5 or 10 gal tank to emulate an ecosystem mud filter. Is the effectiveness of the ecosystem magic mud filter system dependant on shape or volume (assuming it's large enough)? When I look at a friends unit it seems simple in design and I love to build my own components. Thanks in advance for your time. Keep up the good work Todd Harris <<Hey Todd, I like the DIY approach myself. I would suggest checking out our FAQs on sumps, refugiums, and Mud/Algal filtration. A 5gal tank may be a little small, bigger is usually better. Take a look at the links below and let us know if you have any further questions. -Gage http://wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mudfiltrfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mudfiltfaq2.htm>>

Mud Filter Design Bob - Do you have any designs you can share with me which describe/illustrate the specific Mud filtering elements such as partition layout, water flows, pumps, lighting, etc.., needed to support a 180Gal reef tank. <Mmm, just what's posted on WWM re... and the many sump, refugium sections... Maybe use the Google Search tool on the homepage: WetWebMedia.com or the indices re marine set-up...> Also, is a home built system going approximate the effectiveness of a purchased system (i.e., an EcoSystem filter)? <Sure... esp. considering you can make it much larger easily... Bob Fenner> Mike

Ecosystem Aquarium Hello Bob, I have a 180 gal. reef setup that has been doing well for about 3 months. Shopping around for "the best" filter system around, a local retailer introduced me to the Ecosystem Aquarium system. <<I am not convinced that there is a single, best filtration system but there are many that work very well, Ecosystem Aquarium is one of them.>> I checked out their web site and found that the owner of the pet shop wasn't kidding. There it was in plain English. "It does not require a protein skimmer or activated carbon to purify the water." <<I don't readily agree with this claim... I think pretty much any tank can also benefit from having a skimmer in the filtration chain.>> So I sprung for it and 3 months later can't really complain. <<Many people have had good success with this method.>> They also say that calcium is the only needed supplement with the system. Up until 2 weeks ago I followed their method strictly. However, I still remain skeptical and because of this I am carefully monitoring the element/chemical levels. I have always used Seachem products so I decided to implement the usage of their buffers, iodide, strontium, trace elements, etc. If I discontinue the usage of ecosystems' liquid supplement would you recommend I stay with SeaChem? <<You could, I've really don't have a preference here... but would always test for these things before adding whatever it is haphazardly.>> Also, I fear I need a protein skimmer, I know Anthony believes it's imperative. <<As do I.>> With this system, is it? <<As I said earlier, I think any system can benefit from a skimmer.>> Lastly, and I thank you for your time in answering these long questions, do I need to use carbon? <<It wouldn't hurt to run some every so often, but probably doesn't need to be run constantly.>> Or any other filter media for that matter. <<Well... look to your system to give you clues to whether or not these extra items are necessary. Just because Bob, Anthony, and I all think a skimmer is a good thing, you may [or may not] have enough bioload to warrant such a move, so... I would perhaps pose these questions on our online forum, http://wetwebfotos.com/talk just so could get a range of opinions, and then use those to formulate one of your own.>> Thank you once again Tim Horn <<Cheers, J -- >>

Ecosystem Aquarium  Hello Bob, I have a 180 gal. reef setup that has been doing well for about 3 months.  Shopping around for "the best" filter system around, a local retailer introduced me to the Ecosystem Aquarium system.  I checked out their web site and found that the owner of the pet shop wasn't kidding.  There it was in plain English..."It does not require a protein skimmer or activated carbon to purify the water."  So I sprang for it and 3 months later can't really complain.  They also say that calcium is the only needed supplement with the system.  Up until 2 weeks ago I followed their method strictly. However, I still remain skeptical and because of this I am carefully monitoring the element/chemical levels.  I have always used Seachem products so I decided to implement the usage of their buffers, iodide, strontium, trace elements, etc.   If I discontinue the usage of ecosystems' liquid supplement would you recommend I stay with SeaChem?  Also, I fear I need a protein skimmer,  I know Anthony believes it's imperative.  With this system, is it?  Lastly, and I thank you for your time in answering these long questions, do I need to use carbon?  Or any other filter media for that matter. Thank you once again, Tim Horn <<Hi Tim, Craig here for the WWM gang while they play at MACNA. I don't use the Ecosystem products so I can't comment on them. I can comment however on what I personally would do as far as care for my reef if I were you. It would be fair to say I'm skeptical too. First, your water should be tested regularly for calcium, alkalinity/carbonates, and pH minimum. Strontium and magnesium wouldn't be bad either depending on what you keep and if you use Kalkwasser, which it doesn't look like you do. I use Seachem products and I recommend them highly.  They are reasonably priced and predictable with excellent labeling. I would recommend a skimmer as well.  Feel free to check out WWM for suggestions.  AquaC and Euro-Reef are two efficient and reasonably priced brands. Some people use carbon and some don't.  It depends on what you keep (leathers, softies release terpenes) and if you have water clarity/color issues, etc. Carbon can't hurt and can be quite beneficial as long as it is changed regularly.   Poly-bio filters are also very good. Cheers, Craig>>

Hey (Nitrates... Mud Filtration... Refugiums...) Dear Bob, <Hey, hay?> Hi Bob, I currently have a 100 dollar reef aquarium which has been running fine for quite sometime now. <That long?> but I constantly have to change water since I put coral in. <That often?> Sure it looks great and my angels and blennies and all the critters are happy, but sometimes the burden seems to outweigh the beauty of it. <That much?> I was wonder about how I could fix the nitrate conditions. <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm and the FAQs linked> The problem with me is that my aquarium is completely in the wall with a back area so its hard to change water. Then my LFS showed me something about "the life cycle of the reef". The video explains that in order to have a constant in my aquarium is that I need a sump with "miracle mud" and plants to balance the equilibrium. Do you have an idea of this? Does it work?  <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mudfiltrfaqs.htm> Do you know where I could get plans to build one?  <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm and the FAQs beyond> Thanks, I really appreciate you and your staff. Also I appreciate you helping me if you can. Thanks! LSKB8
<Keep reading. Bob Fenner>

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