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FAQs about Refugium Designs 3

Related Articles: Get Thee To A Refugium by Bob Fenner, Refugia: What They're For And How To Build Them by Forrest Phillips, RefugiumsPressure Locking Sump Baffles; Welcome to the World of Versatility! By Joshua McMillen, Reef Systems, Reef Set-Up, Refugiums, Reef Filtration, Marine System PlumbingFish-Only Marine Set-up, FOWLR/Fish and Invertebrate Systems, Reef Systems, Coldwater Systems, Small Systems, Large Systems, Macroalgae

Related FAQs: Refugium Designs 1, Refugium Designs 2, Refugium Designs 4Refugium Designs 5, Refugium Design 6, Refugium Design 7, Refugium Design 8, Refugium Design 9, Refugium Design 10Refugium Design 11, Refugium Design 12, Refugium Design 13 & Refugiums 1, Refugiums 2, Refugiums 3, Refugiums 4, Refugiums 5, Refugiums 6, Refugiums 7Refugiums 8, Refugiums 9, Refugiums 10, Refugiums 11, Refugiums 12, Refugiums 13, Refugiums 14, Refugium Rationale, Construction, Hang-on types, Pumps/Circulation, Lighting, Operation, Algae, Livestock, DSBs, & Caulerpa, Marine System Plumbing, Holes & Drilling 1, Durso Standpipes, Overflow Boxes, Bubble Trouble, Plumbing NoiseMake Up Water Systems, Marine Aquarium Set-Up, Micro-Crustaceans, Amphipods, Copepods, MysidsAlgal Filtration in General, Mud Filtration 1

Refugium Scheme They say there is no such thing as a stupid question; let's see if we can't find at least one of them here. <I'll bet that I don't! Scott F. with you today!> My plan to set up my 30 gallon refugium goes something like this. I was going to get a 20 pound bag of AragAlive and use that as my base, piling it up a little higher around the edge of the refugium, and sloping down towards the middle. Then, I was going to cover this with "sugar size" sand. I was thinking to add about a half inch of this every three days (to allow for the reproduction of bacteria, without killing anything off by going too fast) until I got to a depth of around four or five inches. <Okay.> Then, add a few good size pieces of live rock, and then add another half inch (or so) of sand (over the course of a few days), then add a few zones of "reef rubble". Then let this cycle for a couple of weeks, with a Penguin 330 Bio Wheel filter (possibly with the wheels removed, and just the mechanical filtering and carbon media) and occasionally introducing some water from the main tank, before adding it into my system. <Not a bad scheme, but I have also done it where you add the rock first, then add the sand. Sometimes this creates a more stable structure.> Now for the dumb questions. Does this sound like a reasonable plan, or am I dragging this out far too long? <I don't think so. There is nothing wrong with taking it slow. On the other hand, you can certainly add all of the sand at once, too.> Would I be farther ahead to just get my sand bed up to 5 - 6 inches in one (or two) fell swoop, and throw the rock on top, and let it run for a few days to let the cloudiness settle out? <Again- your call...but I'd be likely to do it that way, myself.> Is cycling the refugium before adding flora/fauna and introducing it into the main system a good idea, or just more of an unnecessary delay? <Personally, I'd cycle it with the rest of the system.> I was planning on having a combination of Chaetomorpha and Gracilaria for the macro algae; <My two favorites!> Would forty watts of fluorescent lighting, on a reverse photoperiod from the main tank, be adequate (if it makes any difference, I'm using a cooler for this, and the white interior should reflect most of the light, instead of letting most of the light escape through the glass walls, and the lights will be mounted just a couple inches above the maximum water line)? <Sounds pretty good to me.> Should I slowly ramp up the photoperiod, or just run with 12 hours right out of the gate? <I'd run it right out of the gate at 12 hours.> Besides the bugs, do you recommend other critters, like snails, sand sifting stars, etc.? <Your call. I'm a big one for lots of snails, and maybe a Serpent Star.> Other sources suggest that stirring up a DSB is not always a good idea. <I agree...I don't really like the idea of disturbing a sand bed. I would not disturb the sandbed deeper than the top 1/2" or so.> Are there any general rules of thumb regarding the harvesting of the macro algae, or do you just know it's time by looking at it? <When it starts overcrowding the refugium, you'll know!> Any advice, comments, or concerns greatly appreciated (I'd rather get the info up front, instead of doing a post-mortem). Feel free to add any insights that I could use for "food for thought". Mark A. Kaczynski <Actually, Mark- sounds like you really thought this through. It's really a matter of executing the plan! I would certainly take things slow, and allow for possible delays along the way. If you gradually build up the population of animals in the refugium, you'll have developed a tremendous asset for your system. Good luck and enjoy! Regards, Scott F.> 

More volume! Dear Crew, With your guidance, my 16 gal reef has been going for about 9 months now with good success.  It is beginning to get a little crowded, however, with button polyps, various mushrooms, yellow leather, xenia, green star polyps and a hitchhiked Pocillopora.  I also have a clean up crew of various snails, hermits and a pistol shrimp (aggressive little booger)>  I have only an orchid Dottyback and in the future would like a cherub pygmy angel.  My question is: should I get a ten gallon tank and make it a sump or refugium? <A good idea... even better to have bigger, larger sizes of both!>   Can you do both? <Yes> How do you plumb it as I have no tools to start drilling holes. <Perhaps using overflow box/es, maybe situating the refugium/sump higher up than the main tank... pumping to it and having the water overflow back into the main... All covered on WWM. Bob Fenner> Susan Cestaro-Smith

Refugium Hello and thank you for all your help. After reading your site for weeks (and thank you for the site) and Anthony's books I have decide on how I want to set up my refugium, and would really like your input. Just a bit about my set up. I have a new 150 gallon and a 55 gallon that has been going for 15 years.  I want to set up a 55 gallon refugium. I like the advantages of a deep sand bed of around six inches I am also going to light the refugium the opposite times of my tanks. I want some plankton generation for feeding corals and inverts so I was going to add some live rock and was wondering about lava to give them a place to hide. <I would not use lava rock here> I was also thinking of doing something with inter tidal inputs, by pumping onto the rocks. I was also going to put the input on a timer so I can have it off for a couple of hours at a time to mimic tides. I was also wondering about putting a divider on the bottom so I could have a partial mud bottom. At this point I guess I will have to manually switch to the 55 when the 150 is in an off mode.  I was hoping to have the tank alternate between the 55 and the 150 but I am concerned about the switching of the valves so I don't flood my house. :) If you have any thoughts about this I would love to hear them.  Thank you, thank you, thank you, David <Do consider what can indeed happen should a pump or all power fail... design/engineer gravity overflows... redundant... to provide for possible transit volume issues. Bob Fenner> 

Adding A 'Fuge - 05/01/05 Hello Guys, < Howdy James! > I have a 300G main tank and a 100 gallon sump with bioballs, coral chips, and Caulerpa. Up top there is 150lbs of live rock and 8 x 5 inch fish - angels, tangs, triggers, wrasse, oh and 1 x 20 inch snowflake eel. < Kewl! > I have a Aquamedic baby skimmer rated for 500 gallons I think. I do a 10% water change with seawater once a week. We have a marine lab here in Cape Town who have a pipe going 5 miles out to sea, they then filter the water. It's free to us fishy folk. So, for over a year my nitrates were always 0. I hadn't checked in 3 weeks, but bam, up to 50+ I have no new fish and my feeding regime is the same. Ammonia is 0 and nitrite is 0. I did remove some ceramic rings?? Can't be that can it? < Wouldn't think so. The bacteria on the rings would do little to reduce nitrates, thus would have little impact on increasing same if removed. > Anyway, I've decided to build a refugium for NNR in a 60 gallon tank with 6 inches of aragonite and another 50\60 pounds of live rock. Does this sound ok to you? < Excellent to hear, I'm a big fan of refugium and DSB methodologies. > Do I plumb the refugium to and back from the sump? < I would bleed raw tank water from a return line to the 'fuge, and then gravity drain from the 'fuge to the sump. Do have a read here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium1.htm  and at the related links at the top of the page. > Should I also add Caulerpa or anything else? < Can do...my suggestion would be to exclude the live rock from the 'fuge and use the space to culture Chaetomorpha rather than Caulerpa, if available. > And what kind of water flow would it need? < 5x - 10x tank (refugium) volume should suffice. > My bioballs are in the first chamber in the sump, but completely covered in water. Does this mean they won't be working properly? < Working properly, maybe just not to their full potential as in a "wet-dry" application. > I intend to start taking them out with the addition of the live rock. < Would not just remove, but would replace with more live rock. > In the main tank I have around 4 inches of aragonite. I have not siphoned it for a year as it looks very clean. < Unless this is sugar-fine sand, you'll be surprised at the amount of detritus that will accumulate. This may well be the source of your nitrates. With the addition of the refugium, my recommendation would be to reduce the substrate in the main tank to 1" or less of fine aragonite gravel. This will prove much less problematic considering the large (potentially) messy feeders you have. On the other hand...if you need a deep substrate for the wrasses, or wish to employ a DSB in the main tank, then increase the substrate to 6 or more inches of sugar-fine aragonite sand. > Does this mean my circulation is working well? I only have the 2 return pipes coming in at the top, each rated at 1500 gallons an hour. < For a FOWLER this should be enough flow in this tank, though there is no harm in adding more...your fish will appreciate it. Sorry for all the probably obvious questions, the LFS people are no help. < Happy to assist <G>. > Many Thanks James. < Regards, Eric R. >

Refugium Design Choice - 05/03/05 Hello: <Howdy!>  First I'd like to say thanks for the website, outstanding job, it has really had a positive impact on the success of my aquarium. <Glad to help.> My question is about refugiums, I have a 120 gallon tall tank FOWLR with aprox. 230lbs of live rock. <Wow!...where do the fish swim? <G> > It has a Berlin style sump with SK-300 skimmer (which I'm not to happy with). I have 4 med size triggers a small flounder and three small damsels. <You do realize your tank is too small for all these fish in the long term?> I have somewhat elevated nitrates. I change out 30 gallons of water every two weeks. <Excellent!> I feed my fish once a day about 2-3 square inches of frozen flat pack foods squid, Mysis, krill etc.. <I believe in feeding fish well...but two smaller meals (if/when possible) will serve you/them better.> I would like to switch to a refugium with a skimmer (trade up to a TurboFlotor 1000). The problem is I don't know which designs would work best for me attached is a pic of what I had in mind. <I'm afraid the pic didn't make it.> I'm planning on having this custom made 30X18X16 (that's my space limit). Also, I don't really know how big the baffles should be, you know how wide or how far from the bottom. Should I use foam or bio balls. And what size pump should I use I was thinking a Mag 9. My LFS is helpful but he's not sure either. < Okay Bob, you say refugium, but I think you're talking about a sump (skimmer, bioballs) with a refugium integrated in to the design. Have a look here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sumprffiltfaqs.htm, and here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm, along with the related links at the top of the pages. But generally speaking, I use two baffles to separate each component of the sump. The first is positioned an inch off the bottom, the second (spaced a couple inches apart) is on the bottom and is an inch below the first baffle. The first baffle sets the water height in the compartment. This design usually provides an effective bubble trap. Do have a read of the links I indicated, and feel free to write back for further clarification if need be.> Any way thanks for the help. Bob Davis <Regards, Eric R.> PS: how do I read the reply? <Hmm...try left to right and top to bottom <BG>.> <PS: Sorry Bob...couldn't resist.>

Building a refugium 7/6/04 I really like your website.  As a beginner, it has been extremely helpful. <it's our pride and purpose... good to hear> I have a 20 gallon reef tank and just built a refuge to add to the system. I used a 10 gallon tank and separated the center of the tank for the refuge. I have few questions: 1. I added 16 pounds of live sand, which gave me about 4 inches.  This was not my design, but I did not calculate the correct size for the sand and ended up with more then I thought.  Will this be a problem?   <on the contrary... this is a great benefit. having 3-4 inches minimum provides natural nitrate reduction (NNR) in this "deep sand bed" (DSB)> I will be placing rubble rock on top of the sand next week. <this is optional... depending on what you are trying to grow (or not) in the refugium. Do consider our extensive coverage and instructions on refugium building/keeping in our "Reef Invertebrates" book by Calfo and Fenner. See reviews of it on Amazon.com and other sites>   2.The water flows form my tank through a CPR over flow down to the refuge.  It then flows under a baffle and up to the center area where the sand is.  Here I have my HOB filter with a protein skimmer and 5 watt UV light.   <the skimmer should really draw raw water only from the first compartment (or directly from the overflow when possible)... and the UV is not necessary or effective for disease control much (needs extremely polished water - ozonated or weekly carbon changes plus micron pre-filters). They are best run instead on bare-bottomed aquariums like your quarantine tank ( a must have for new aquarists) and for commercial installations. They will also kill some of your refugium plankton here> I also put my heater in here as well.   <very fine> The water then flows over another baffle to where the pump returns the water to the tank.  My problem is that the pump picks up small bubbles and pushes them up to my main tank. I have placed some filter media in this area to try and catch the bubbles, but they slowly come back.  Any ideas on how to prevent this. <a coarse foam block on the intake may work (like an AquaClear filter insert). But I'm not sure your bubbles are coming from to say how to correct them. I suspect the skimmer. Please do consider moving that skimmer to the first compartment for it to work much better and perhaps avoid these bubbles> 3.I do not have any lights on the refuge right now.  Can I wait on the lights until I buy some plants? <yes... in fact, no light is needed on the refugium without such plants, algae, etc. There are some distinct benefits to an unlit refugium... many different life forms will grow> 4.I currently have 3 inches of sand in my main tank with a nice cleanup crew.  Do I need to do anything with the live sand to clean it, or does my cleanup crew do this for me?  I just want to be proactive if possible. <be careful about using such "cleaners"... things like hermit crabs and burrowing starfish (Acanthaster) decimate more of the good stuff in your live sand than they are worth, frankly. If you don't care about the quality of your live sand (ability to produce worms, crustaceans, etc), then no worries. Else avoid such critters. Use less imposing creatures instead like serpent starfish or simply have good water flow to prevent the buildup of nuisance algae> Thank you for your time, Bryan <best regards, Anthony>

Can I fit a refugium on my 29 gal? Hello-     I could not find an answer to this question in my archive search, so I would appreciate any thoughts.  I have a 29 gal reef setup ( I know, bigger is better, but I live in a second floor apartment and my lease limits the amount of weight I can place in a given floor area) << I have the same size tank. >> with approx. 32 lbs. quality live rock.  I have a bed of  about 1 inch aragonite that was seeded with 7lbs of Garf grunge when the tank was set up.  The system has a Bak-Pak Reef skimmer, a whisper 30 power filter for mechanical filtration, a 900 maxi-jet powerhead for additional water movement, and an appropriate heater. Lighting is a Current Orbit w/ 2 x 65 PC fluorescent ( actinic blue and daylight combo) + moonlight. << Good for FOWLR, but not that much light for a reef tank. >>  The light sits up off the tank but the tank surface is covered with a glass canopy( I have 3 cats so this is a necessity or the aquarium would be cat hair city).  I have read a lot about refugiums, and find myself interested in one from the point of view of more system stability.  I have looked at the Aquafuge 12".  The problem is the space limitation. Between the skimmer w/ preskimmer box, powerhead, heater, and mechanical filter, there is only about 10 inches left on the back.  I considered placing a refugium on the side, but am afraid of the effect of removing the canopy on water quality ( cat hair slick--or even cat scuba from my boldest)  My reading suggests so far that for a small system it is better to keep the mechanical filtration and forego the refugium.  << I have this exact same debate with my tank. >> What are your thoughts?  Is there any way to link any of the system components to make a refugium possible? << Definitely.  I would consider using an overflow box to a refugium, and then adding your mechanical filtration (if you think you need it) to the refugium tank.  Or here is another idea I like to use on my small aquariums.  I have a powerhead in my tank pumping to my refugium, and my refugium is ABOVE my tank.  Then, the water just runs from the refugium down a hose to my main tank.  It takes up no space in on the back of the main tank. >> The tank is glass and I am not a mechanic so drilling , etc. seems a little much for me-but I might be willing to try a not-too -difficult DIY project.  BTW, the system hasn't been set up that long and is almost finished cycling. Right now I have some feather dusters, assorted other worms, some polyp corals( mushrooms, zooxanthellae, etc.), hermits, snails, Caulerpa algae, and some other micro-critters of undetermined type-most of these came along with the live rock. .Everyone seems happy: corals, dusters, etc. are growing rapidly. I do a 10-15% water change and sand-bed stir weekly( I use reef crystals and supplement with 5 ml.s. Combisan once/week)-calcium is 480 ppm, alkalinity 4.8 meq/L, specific gravity at 1.024, there is still a trace of nitrate and ammonia..   Plans include a pair Percula clowns, a firefish, a yellow watchman goby, maybe some cleaner shrimp, more polyp/soft corals, and maybe a BTA if all goes well and I have success with the fish/corals.  Four is probably the upper limit I will go on fish , since I don't want to crowd them. I'd appreciate any help/comments on 1) whether a refugium is really necessary and 2) since I would like one--is there anyway to rearrange things to accommodate it. . Thanks! << Try looking at other tanks of that size, to see what your friends have done, and what works for them. >> Denise <<  Blundell  >>

100g with refug Hi, <Hi Mike, MacL here with you today.  How's it going?> I currently have a 55 gallon with 80lbs of LR, running a Fluval 304. I just got a steal on this all glass 100g tank. <Wow nice!> I would love to do a refugium/sump out of a 45 gallon tank and put it under the display. I have been looking through all the articles on plumbing and cannot find an answer. Do I have to have an overflow box? <You don't but you have to have some way to get the water from the top tank to the bottom one.  Most find an overflow to be a good way to do this.>  I plan on doing 2 pumps, a return and a feed pump. <That works!>  And another question, someone told me about float valve shutoffs so I don't flood the tank. How would that work?  Would I put one in the sump to turn off the feed pump, and one in the tank to turn off the return pump? <Yes> Please help me.....thank you for your time!  <yo and good luck> Mike

A doubt from a very far aquarist (Brazil)! Mr. Fenner <Paulo> I'm a reef aquarist and I found a lot of information on Calcium Reactors in the wetwebmedia.com site. I went there via google and I could not find a way to ask my doubt there, except using your email address. Maybe you can blame it on my native language, which is not English, but the fact is that I couldn't find a traditional forum where to ask my doubt. <No worries> What I am trying to find out is if there are any problems if I put the output of my reactor (a DIY similar to Knop C) dropping in the refugium. My idea is to use the co2, which usually puts my PH down, mainly at night, for my Caulerpa. <Better to run the reactor during the day... your algae will not use the CO2 unless light is applied> As my refugium has a low flow, its pH will be a little lower than the sump's and the display's PH. And the Caulerpas will be able to use more co2 and eliminate a bigger part of it. <If they are illuminated> Does my thinking make sense? Have you seen this before? (if yes) Was the result good? Is there any collateral effect or counter indication for it? Sorry for my English, and thanks a lot for your attention, Paulo Certain <You are clear here my friend. If you have the refugium lighted during the night your plan is sound/good. Bob Fenner>

Hybrid with Mud Bob, <Paul> A question all the way from the United Kingdom. I'm currently setting a 218gal (197gal less displacement) Marine Aquarium. I shall be using copious amounts of live rock and a refugium.  The system is off the shelf very similar to a Deltec System. I have the opportunity to tailor the system and would like to include a chamber containing 'Miracle Mud'( in addition to the existing bed) but no Caulerpa. My main attraction being the slow release of beneficial material from the mud. Question:-  Is water depth a major concern over the mud and secondly does the mud on it's own require lighting. Eco Systems are not a popular method here in the UK as yet. <Water depth is not really a concern other than as it relates to water flow over it... that the depth be sufficient such that the water flow doesn't stir up, displace the "mud". And lighting not required if you'll be passing on placing photosynthetic life in your refugium, though a small "service light" nearby may come in handy. Do agree with your approach here. Cheers, Bob Fenner in Hawai'i>

Refugium Hi Bob, <Jacob> First of all, great site... very informative.  I have a question regarding adding a refugium to my 20 gal. hex tank.  The breakdown of the system is as follows: Filtration, etc: 3 inch DSB 10 Lbs. live rock (give or take...) Excalibur protein skimmer Fluval canister filter (202 I think, with activated charcoal and bio media) One additional powerhead to cover dead-spots in the current generated by the Fluval. Lighting: 35 watt ultra actinic PC 35 watt 10,000K daylight PC Stock: 1 yellow Watchman goby 1 small Green Chromis 1 emerald crab 2 peppermint shrimp 5-6 blue leg hermits 2 turbo snails minor amount of polyps, etc... I've had this system running for over a year now and, as you can imagine, I am having a VERY difficult time keeping the water balanced due to the small volume of this tank. <Yes> I'm really more interested in putting a variety of soft corals in the tank and keeping the fish load light, but I'm plagued by algae problems.  I have been able to fix much of this simply by using aged and DI water (yeah, I'm an idiot and at first I didn't realize that my tap water was creating such a problem), but the problem is still there, only to a lesser extent.   I was thinking of adding a 10 gal. refugium to the system to increase the water volume and help eliminate nuisance algae in the main tank. <This is a very good idea... the only one I can think to rival it would be to find space, resources for a larger system period> My question is specific to the protein skimmer.  Could I move the skimmer from the main tank and place it on the refugium? <Yes... though I do suggest you build a constant level area to service it... a piece of glass (or two) to have the water flow first into from your main tank... where it can/will overflow into the rest, remaining area of the sump/refugium. Does this make sense? Any suggestions you have on this would be very helpful. Thanks! Jake <Do take a long read over the many Refugium and Sump FAQs files archived on WWM as well my friend. Bob Fenner>

Drip tray or bulkhead for a refugium I'm sorry. I'm not sure if it got cut off. Do u think I should do away with the drip tray? (because it would cause too much disturbance in the Refugium? or should I drill a bulkhead fitting into the side?  << I don't think it matters, but given the choice, I'd keep the drip tray. >> Thanks Again <<  Blundell  >>

Setting Up A Refugium Hi. Ocean of information, folks <Several oceans, actually! Scott F. with you today> I have some more questions regarding my new reef set-up if I may. My system consist of a 180 gal. acrylic main display(50x30x30"). Water overflow falls into my 75 gal. sump/refugium. Water is then pump back to the tank with two Dolphin Pumps 2100 and 3000 gal/hour thru two independent manifolds. There is a third pump 400 gal./hour going to a 45 gal. upstream refugium. ....and for my questions: I've read Reef Invertebrates and the section about refugium and I am still undecided weather or not to put a DSB or a thin layer in the main display. For the 75 gal. refugium I thought I would do a no-light DSB with sugar fine aragonite (0.8 -1.2). Is the sand good alone or should I add live rocks to seed it with micro invert? <Personally, I feel that if you "seed" the sand with some sand from an established healthy tank or a "starter kit" from e-tailers like Indo-Pacific Sea Farms or Inland Aquatics, that should do the trick!> Will it need to buy additional pre-assembled package of micro-invert to stir the upper layer? <It's never a bad idea to have a few sea cucumbers or other inverts to help a bit...> On the upstream refugium I thought It could be lit, with Chaetomorpha algae.  Will it need live rocks (how much) for the algae to take foot hold? <Ahh...the beauty of Chaetomorpha is that it is a "free-living" algae, which does not require a substrate on which to attach. It simply floats in the water column in a very tight "ball". A great macroalgae that is prolific, easy to grow, and easy to harvest for nutrient export!> Can It have sand? What size? <Sand is a desirable feature in a refugium, IMO. How coarse or how fine depends really on the goals that you have. For denitrification, a "sugar fine" bed is appropriate. For cultivation of creatures like mysids and copepods, a more coarse substrate is advised. Do check into Anthony Calfo's "Book of Coral Propagation", or Anthony and Bob's "Reef Invertebrates" for excellent sections on refugia!> And finally water turnover and how much light? <I like a brisk flow throughout the system, including the refugium.> I have two 27w PC with a blue and a white. Will that suffice? If two DSB refugiums are used can I use two different grain size and what size do would you recommend? <You can use a few different sizes in a given sand bed, but a very fine grade is recommended for denitrification.> Considering the two refugium described Is a thin layer of sand in the main display all I need? What grain size? <If you want a thin layer in the display, a half an inch of CaribSea "Aragamax" sugar-fine oolithic sand would do the trick.> Thanks a zillion. Stephan Gaudreau. <My pleasure, Steve! Hope your project goes well! Regards, Scott F>

Basic refugium ideas Adam, thanks again for your input, have a couple of new thoughts I wanted to run by you.  Regarding the tank we have been discussing:  let me see if I have it correct---Steve Lopez's tank does not utilize any filter other than the Emperor and had a protein skimmer in the beginning, he also states that he uses 2 power heads and a plenum, (not a sump or refugium). << Correct!  Can you believe that?  So simple, I just don't get it. >> New term here, what is a plenum? << Well it is a water space below a deep sand bed.  I'd just go with a deep sand bed and not worry about a plenum underneath it. >> Please correct me if I'm wrong; the refugium you suggest is a sump, (or container or some sort), with just a deep sand bed, (no mechanical or chemical filtration?). << Yep, with lots of live rock and algae. >> If this is correct than the water from the main tank gets pumped or filtered through the refugium and back into the main tank?  << Yep. >> It appears that the refugium is a supplement to the sand and rock in the main tank.  Do you need lighting in the refugium? << Yeah a good idea.  Then you can grow all sorts of algae in there and then the refugium becomes very beneficial.  There is a lot of info on this in the new Inverts book by Calfo and Fenner. >> What would you recommend the plenum or the refugium? << Refugium without a doubt. >> Is there an email address to contact Steve Lopez?  Questions, questions!!!! < < Yeah I think this one will work and tell him Blundell sent you.>> Thanks again, Frank G. <<  Blundell  >>

Converting a wet/dry into a refugium Hello, Excuse me if the following seems to be as though I don't know what I am talking about.  I currently have a 55 gallon fish only tank that contains 2 filters that hang off the back.  I also have a 75 gallon tank.  This is where my questions are coming in. This tank is a standard 75 gallon with 1 corner built in overflow box.  Under the tank  (in the stand) is a filter. This is where I may sound as though I don't know what I am talking about. The overflow tank uses gravity to bring water into this clear rectangular filter.  It drains into the first part of the filter, into a drip tray. This then drips onto bio balls.  This then flows into another portion of the tank which fills with the water, and is then pumped into the tank.  My question are as follows.  What type of system is this. << It is a sump, and this type is a wet/dry filter, getting its name from the bioballs which are wet and dry. >> Is this a refugium, is it a sump?  Is this a practical set up? << I don't really think so.  I think they are quite outdated.  I would take out the bioballs and fill that area with sand and algae, making it into a refugium. >> If I am to connect a skimmer where would it go? << Probably right where the water is coming into this filter, before the sand and algae, and before it gets pumped back up. >> I am looking into making this a reef tank and would like to know what I need to get this started.  Thank you in advance for your help. << There is a ton of info on refugiums in the Invert book by Calfo and Fenner.  Also, try searching for refugiums online and I'm sure you can see lots of pics of people doing this exact thing. Good luck! >> Best Regards, Jason <<  Blundell   >>

Refugium Confusion! Dear WWM crew, <Scott F. your Crew member tonight> About three weeks ago, after a Cyano problem, I decided to add a CPR Aquafuge to my 55 gal (mostly softy) reef. In the 'fuge, I put about 2" CaribSea Aragalive sand, a couple small pieces of  live rock from my tank, and a couple handfuls of Chaetomorpha macro algae. Since adding this, my leather corals are closed more than open & they have shrunk in size. Before, everything was doing great with super polyp extension and good color. The refugium went from a white stringy mucus inside to (now) a brown algae (diatoms) & the sand bed is covered with dirt & debris. It seems to be working correctly as far as flow goes. <Sounds like lots of nutrients are accumulating somewhere in the system...> Today I pulled the inside output tube off and threw in a couple snails. Oh yea, there is also a film now on the surface of my main tank that never has been there before. My question is all this a cycle or break-in problem, and will it clear up? And how long before it does. I am about ready to pull this problem off my tank before more problems begin in my main tank, but have heard many good benefits about refugiums, & would some day like to add a Mandarin. Should I wait it out or what??? <This is somewhat unusual, but it should eventually pass, if other aspects of husbandry are maintained. The nuisance algae that you describe are caused by source water issues and nutrient accumulations in the system. If you are not using a purified water source (RO/DI), now is a good time to try. The refugium will eventually help export some of the nutrients that are accumulating there. Do review maintenance procedures and the quality of your source water. Keep performing regular water changes (with quality source water), make sure that your protein skimmer is performing optimally, yanking out several cups of dark, yucky skimmate per week, and consider using some activated carbon and/or Poly Filter to assist with nutrient export. Given time and patience on your part (in addition to a few minor husbandry adjustments, if required), things should settle down, and the refugium will become a valuable adjunct to your system. Hang in there! Regards, Scott F>  

Refugium options 11/8/04 I'm doing my final touches on my 175 gal. reef. I have read Reef  Invertebrates' refugium section a few times and I think I've got a handle on how it all going to work.  I'll just have to repeat my hardware list yet again. Tank: 175gal (50"x30"x30"). Two corner overflow with 2" standpipe plus 5-1" bulkheads on the back wall. This system will employ two refugiums. One is below the tank (34"x28"x14"=75 gal.) is a sump too. The second (28x24x12)is above the tank. Still my dilemma is what style I am going to settle with. I want both a NNR, Chaetomorpha refugium in the same system. <this is possible indeed. No trouble at all. DO employ the DSB and the rolling/tumbling Chaeto... but be sure to keep the tank and sand bed free of any obstructions that would prevent the Chaeto from tumbling> My hope for both to produce a copious amount of Zooplankton and Copepod. I thought I would create a non-lighted NNR in the sump with 5" of sugar fine aragonite or larger grain to produce larger plankton without any lights. <good> I will also add a pack of detritivores to both. <OK> Because of the tremendous amount of flow coming from all the overflow to the non-lighted refugium I am concern about things get stirred up too much. <yes... possible indeed. I am not a fan of sump refugiums for this purpose. I'd rather see the downstream refugium next to the sump and not actually in it> Can all the fauna still flourish and reproduce?    <yes, either way. Some finesse needed to keep the sand down if in-sump> In the upstream refugium I want to grow Chaetomorpha. Here I am not sure a NNR is necessary with the use of sand. I was hoping to produce larger plankton in there. Is there a point in putting let's say a coarse grade gravel (2.0-4.0mm). <I would not... amphipods will grow just fine in the Chaeto itself without substrate int he tank. Coarse sand could snare the rolling Chaeto> If so what depth and will it need maintenance? <bare-bottomed is better here, if not fine sand> As far as the main display I am not sure what I want but I am leaning toward a DSB of 4" with sugar fine sand. OK?   <OK... but 4" is minimum and will need to have sand added to it after it dissolves in a year or two> I was hoping not to have to vacuum this bed and leave it to detritivores. What do you think? <possible yes... do employ hardy detritivores like Serpent starfish> From what I've told you, are the three tanks going to compete especially the Chaetomorpha refugium) for nutrient i.e. nitrate will there be enough food for the Chaetomorpha? <pending nutrient bio-load. All good if medium to heavy> Will I have to populate the tank with fish and or feed the refugium? <the former at least> The will be two skimmer running on the system. Should I eliminate one? <heavens no! Keep two and clean alternately to insure better/uninterrupted skimmate production> Thanks a million Sincerely, Stephan Gaudreau <best regards, Anthony> Refugium for a 7 gal nano tank I just finished fabricating a fuge for a 7gal nano-reef and wanted to know if it's worth my while to put a 6in deep sand bed in it. It's 17" long, 5" wide, and 14" deep. << Six inches is pretty deep.  I'd say four inches is great. >> With a small surface area I know that a DSB won't do much but the tank is only 7gal. Would it have any benefit or should I just stick with some LR rubble and macro? << Oh I'd have a deep sand bed.  I think it could really help out.  It certainly wouldn't hurt (at least I don't see how). >> <<  Blundell  >>

Converting a wet dry filter into a refugium I am in the process of planning out a 75 gallon tank for a reef set-up.  I had it set up at one point, but moved and never got to completing the stocking.  Here I am starting from the beginning again.  my question is as follows.  I have a 25 gallon wet-dry trickle filter system with bio-balls. The system is split into 2 partitions.  The overflow from the tank goes to the filter into a drip tray with pre-filter media.  Then drips into bio-ball chamber.  Then flows into 2nd partition to be pumped back into tank.  What I wanted to do was remove the bio balls.  Replace the bio balls with live bio-rock and make the first chamber into a mini refugium.  Does this make sense. << Yes, this is very common, and I encourage you to do it. >>  In doing this do I keep the drip tray to drip directly onto rock? << Either way. >> Do I keep the pre-filter media? << I would probably take it out, since I don't know what it is. >> I would keep the 2nd partition for the return piece to place the skimmer.  Any help is greatly appreciated. << Removing the drip tray helps because then you can put lights on your refugium for macro algae.  Good luck. >> Thank You <<  Blundell  >>

Wet Dry Filter Conversion (Bob's go) I am in the process of planning out a 75 gallon tank for a reef set-up.  I had it set up at one point, but moved and never got to completing the stocking.  Here I am starting from the beginning again.  my question is as follows.  I have a 25 gallon wet-dry trickle filter system with bio-balls. The system is split into 2 partitions.  The overflow from the tank goes to the filter into a drip tray with pre-filter media.  Then drips into bio-ball chamber.  Then flows into 2nd partition to be pumped back into tank.  What I wanted to do was remove the bio balls.  Replace the bio balls with live bio-rock and make the first chamber into a mini refugium.  Does this make sense.  In doing this do I keep the drip tray to drip directly onto rock? <Keep the rock submersed, that is, underwater. Using the drip tray is fine otherwise> Do I keep the pre-filter media? <No, give it the heave-ho> I would keep the 2nd partition for the return piece to place the skimmer.  Any help is greatly appreciated. Thank You <Glad to proffer my opinion. Bob Fenner>

Converting a wet/dry into a refugium I need to get some fast advice on my current situation/problem.  I have a 75-US gal FOWLR (only 40 lbs of live rock, currently) and wanted to add a sump/refugium to the system.  My current system is a drilled tank with an overflow to a Tidepool wet/dry w/ BioWheel.  I was planning to overflow the wet/dry to a 10-gal sump w/ refugium and miracle mud (that's the biggest that will fit under the tank and it does have to go under, can't go over) and then use the existing pump that is in the wet/dry to get the water back up to the main tank just by simply moving the pump into the end chamber of the 10-gal sump.  Well, after looking at the diagrams of how my overflow box works that I purchased to bridge the wet/dry to the sump, I realized that the one that I bought won't work b/c it won't reach to the operating water line of the wet/dry.  So, how do I get water from my wet/dry to the sump tank?  Or can I convert the wet/dry open area into a refugium? << Yes, it is very common.  Many people remove the bioballs and just fill that area with live rock and macro algae.  Then add a light on top of it, and you are done. >> I would rather have the 10-gal sump b/c it has more volume of water than the wet/dry (which only has about 5 gal in the open area at operating level).  If I can't use the 10-gal sump, then do I need to put dividers into the wet/dry? << Most wet dry have dividers in them already, but if not, then yes you would want to do so to prevent sand and debris from getting into the pump. >>  I would think that if it was used open without any dividers, the miracle mud would be stirred up too much.  Any help on this would be a tremendous help! << Well with live rock in there I wouldn't worry about the mud stirring up.  You can always use a drip plate, which I think most wet/dry's come with. >> <<  Blundell  >>

Refugiums Hi, I am new to saltwater aquariums, I have a 29 gallon tank, with a HOT MAGNUM Marineland canister filter, a 50gal protein skimmer, smallish powerhead in bottom of tank, 2 10lb chunks of cycled live rock, and about 10lb of small shells for substrate.  tanks been up for about 6 months, with a clown percula, a 6in brittle star and some blue leg hermit crabs.  I recently added a green mandarin goby to tank.  I thought he would probably be able to find sufficient food in my live rock, but I haven't seen him grazing as much as I expected. <You have read our postings re this issue? Takes about four square feet of LR, LS bottom to supply sufficient infaunal food... and/or a refugium... oh!> So in order to remedy this I planned on getting a refugium, as of now, I have no plant life in the tank, as I just got a power compact/VHO lighting system, and the goby and am letting tank even out again with goby before adding and soft corals etc. I had planned on routing the skimmer return into the top of the refugium and allowing it to overflow back to the tank, as the skimmer is HOT as well.  My question is what brand of refugium would be suitable, <A DIY is best due to size, though some of the pre-made units, like CPR's AquaFuge are very nice, convenient to add> i.e. me able to turn my skimmer return to the side and into the refugium, and what kinds of stuff should I stock the refugium with? <Newish LR, some macroalgae (species your selection), perhaps a starter kit of crustaceans, worms... though will come about from the LR in time> as of now, I really enjoy a relatively low maintenance tank, and am not looking into getting something that I have to regularly feed or maintain. <Mmm, actually, refugiums are almost maintenance free> I wouldn't mind like pruning back some growth in refuge every now and then, but part of my joy from the tank is not having to constantly work at it. <Not to worry... this addition will actually reduce the amount of overall upkeep on your entire system... You'll see. Bob Fenner> Cryptic refugia I am setting up a cryptic refugium. It will be part of the sump. The sump itself without the dividers is 28"x28"x14"H. I want to put 5-6 min. of seafloor aragonite 1-2mm plus some live rock. For lighting I have a standard NO fluorescent (blue). My thinking for this is to create a DSB and NNR. I Hope the live rock will inoculate the sand with worms and copepods and the likes. On a chance that any sponges survived of the rock it could grow and help in filtering the water. Plus since it is a low light refugium it might be what they need. Is this a good plan? What kind a flow will be needed and what do the sponge eat? DOC? This is for a 175 gal. reef. <Sounds fine, sponges can utilize dissolved non-biological nutrients, but mainly feed on plankton of various sorts... likely don't require "extra" feeding. 2,3,4 volumes per hour for flow rate is about right. Bob Fenner> I am eternally grateful. Stephan

New tank w/ refugium Hello WWM,<Hello, MikeB here.> Love your website, very helpful...I just set up a new tank (55g) w/ a refugium (29g) underneath.  The tank is cycling at the moment.  Set-up...about 50-60lbs of base rock, 5lbs of live rock, and a 5-6" DSB of very fine sugar aragonite sand in both tanks seeded w/ a cup of live sand in each tank.  I was wondering when do I put in my macro algae?<You could put it in the tank now if you want.  There is no set time as to when you put it in.  I usually do it once fish or live rock have been in the tank for at least a week.>  I have Chaetomorpha (very little about 1/4 cup) and razor Caulerpa (about a cup) in my quarantine tank that I'm waiting to put in the refugium.  Do I have to wait until the tank is cycled? <No, the algae will help with the cycling actually.> If not, how long should I leave the lights (standard 18" fluorescent) on for the macro algae? <I leave them on 24 hours a day but if you want to save on your electric bill leave them on opposite of the display tank.  Good luck MikeB> Thanks in advance. Ronald

Refugium Filter I have build a refugium for my tank. <Good> 3 chambers, the first chamber is overflow water from my tank, acts like a sump with a  euro-reef skimmer in it, <Fine> It then pours over into my refugium then pours over into the 3rd chamber which in turns pumps out to the main tank. <Okay> Question : I want to use this setup to filter as well, I have stuck some Eheim filter pads between chambers for the water to flow through it. <All right> It really cleans up the water, but my thought was, one of the reasons for having the refugium is to get pods and stuff in there, now wont the filter pads trap these critter from entering the refugium, also, wont the filter pads keep some of these critters from entering my main tank for feeding? <Mmm, not really... the Eheim media will very much act as "substrate", space for their proliferation... and some will make it past here... be blown into your tank>   I just think that a refugium should have non skimmer/filtered water entering it and exiting it. <Ideally, perhaps... but where to put ones skimmer, other gear? Hang-ons? Another sump, perhaps on the main tank itself? All possibilities> What would you suggest In my current setup (I ain't building another one) is it ok to use this filter media? <Yes>   Pods will grow on their own due to the live rock/Gracilaria that is in the refugium, so maybe just filter in not out?  Let me have some ideas!  Since I added the refugium/sump it is AMAZING how much the water cleared up and chemistry levels improved! <Yep. Very useful devices... our latest book has some 80-100 pages dedicated to convincing folks of their utility. Bob Fenner> Mark Halatin

Refugium Container Will it be ok to use Rubbermaid container for sump on 75 gallon tank, <Yes, a decent way of doing this.> and   for refugium would a single light be enough to support this refugia, one other   thing, would a couple of power compact 55 watts be enough to support a 75 gallon  tank with live rock in it this is a fish only tank. <Yes, but you'll notice a nice difference if you ever decide to upgrade.> thanks once again  Ron. <Sure, Ryan>

Refugiums and Setup Questions Hi, I'm new to saltwater, <We all were at one time...you should have seen my first tank!> but old to freshwater, <Exact opposite for me...I went from bettas to a marine tank> and I just had some simple questions about refugiums.  You guys have so many specific questions up on the FAQ, that it makes a somewhat newbie confused.  Anyways, I'm a big DIYer and just built myself a wet/dry filter in sump setup.  I just was looking for some opinions to tweak the setup.  I'm building a new aquarium stand for my 55 gallon tank.  Right now it's fish only.  When I get the money it will be FOWLR and then in the future when I can afford lighting, it will be reef.  <Know how you feel, poor student here ;)>  Anyways, I figure a cheaper method of getting something to watch and grow other than the few fish I have swimming around is by incorporating a refugium. <Quite so, I love refugiums, and have spent a good bit of time watching it>  I have a lot of questions but before I ask the refugium questions, I have a few questions for the main tank.  I have a regular 3 inch sand bed, not live or anything.  I kinda rushed into starting up the system, but took a long time to cycle it before I added fish.  Didn't realize the importance of live sand and such as I have read on the web.  I am thinking about adding live sand actuator from IPSF.  Good or bad idea, or would it just be a better idea to replace the sand completely? <Seeding it should do fine, and while you're at it, raise the level to about six inches for a denitrifying deep sand bed, then add about 10 lbs of live sand to activate it, and stir once a day for a bit> Also, I have heard pro's and cons of the use of a plenum, thoughts on this? <Jaubert and Sprung recommend it saying it works a bit better than not using a plenum (Advanced Aquarist July 2003 I THINK but I'm probably wrong) but it isn't necessary> Perhaps adding lives and actuator and then adding aragonite sand or crushed coral on top? <No crushed coral, grain size is too large...aragonite or sand is fine> Live rock issue... When adding live rock, some people say it is best to keep it off the substrate so to use pvc or similar material to lift it off the substrate?  Yes, no, maybe so? <I don't worry about it, if your sand is live enough you shouldn't have to> Some say cement the rocks together to keep a catastrophe from occurring?  What kind of cement or just avoid this idea completely? <liquid epoxy...you can if you want the added stability> Okay, on to refugium questions, sorry too much information on the web that is controversial. <Yep, not a problem>  Here is the idea, Overflow box from the main tank to a refugium that is built into the cabinet.  Not a carpenter but like I said before, I like building stuff so it should come out pretty nice. <Nice, build be one too! :P>  From the refugium, then it will flow down further to a Berlin Classic Protein Skimmer, and then into the wet/dry filter with a PolyFilter mechanical filter that I already have built. <no need at all for a wet\dry in a reef, in fact, they aren't recommended.  Use good circulation\live rock, and turn your wet dry into a sump\refugium\chemical media area.  Wet\dry filters are actually "too" efficient, and will result in excess nitrates...trust me, you'll hate it if you use it>   Then from that, the return pipe back into the main tank via a 500 gph pump. <Excellent, flow is good - just make sure you break it up a bit and don't use it as a straight 500gph nozzle> The refugium will be a custom built tank I have going with a volume of 18 gallons.  The sump I have below is a 20L aquarium I got for cheap at an LFS that will probably be filled about with about 10 gallons.  I have a submersible 300w heater in the sump.  E-mail is getting pretty long, sorry guys, but here's the questions.  What kind of substrate should I use in the refugium?  Crushed coral, aragonite sand, what?  Plenum or no? <Aragonite\sand, never crushed coral.  Don't worry about a plenum, but you may as well have a DSB in there about 5-6 inches thick>  Also, how easy is it to grow that Tang Heaven stuff off IPSF because I might order some of that to feed to my yellow tang. <Not sure what this is, what species is it listed as?  I highly recommend Chaetomorpha algae, easily acquired from hobbyists on www.reefcentral.com for ~$10 for a ball of the stuff> Will it be easy to grow in the refugium?  What color is best?  Is this stuff even good? <Contact them for species information and let me know what it is>  All the LFS around me don't really carry marine plants and for the most part the stores are way overpriced compared to the net.  A Berlin class protein skimmer was like 300 in the store. <As always, they must pay overhead costs>   What else should I put in the refugium and where can I get it from? <see above>  A lot of the online sites have fish and invertebrates but I haven't found a whole lot of places that sell macroalgae and other stuff to put in the refugium. <I'd get some GARF "grunge" from www.garf.org, and their refugium starter kit as well>  What do you think of the setup I described earlier? <Sounds good as long as you take out the bio media from the wet\dry and add 40-60 lbs of live rock as the first thing>  Anything to add or tweak?  Also, what really are the benefits of using activated carbon and should I incorporate this into my design? <Small amounts of quality carbon are most definitely recommended...half a cup or so changed once a week should do it>  Any information you can provide me with will be appreciated, and I thank you in advance.  <Not a problem, wish I had found me ten years ago! :P  M. Maddox> - Refugium Question - Dear WWM Crew, I have a question regarding refugium sizing. I've noticed that people state the size of their refugium in gallons, but isn't it the area of the substrate that really counts? <To some extent, sure.> I am in the process of setting up a refugium for my 72G display to feed a Hector's goby and want to maximize its effect. Being a bowfront tank, a 20 Long tank wouldn't fit in the cabinet, so I got a 20H tank. Unfortunately that doesn't fit either. I'm now considering a 15H, with a 20"X10" footprint -basically a 10G, only higher... Will this actually be any more beneficial than a regular 10G as far as pod production goes? <If you put a really deep sand bed in that tank, you could provide other benefits such as natural nitrate reduction. Either tank would likely produce cope/amphi-pods in equal amounts, but you should know your goby primarily eats filamentous algae, so you should make certain you're promoting the growth of that too. More here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/amblygobius.htm > Thank You, Narayan <Cheers, J -- >

Fun with Filtration, experimental modeling of refugium, plenum technology Hello Bob and crew. I hope you are all well. So I'm setting up a new tank and I have a few quick questions I hope you can answer. I intend to build in a bunch of small refugiums primarily for experimentation. I want to try different filtration methods with the same water and see what works best for removing this or that, how well, and so forth. <Great. Hope you will share your findings... in print, on the Net> Anyways, any idea on how I can measure each filters effectiveness? I mean, lets say the return from my tank splits before ultimately draining into the sump. If one fork goes through filter A and one through filter B, but they both drain into the same sump before the water is pumped back up to the tank, how do I go about determining which filter is actually effecting the water parameter I'm interested in, which is doing more work, and the like? <Mmm, you will need to have separate sumps... and tanks... there is not enough measurable difference in one pass to detect differences here.> I mean, most filters work on the order of days, not instantly, so a single pass through the filter probably won't show up on a standard test kit, right? <Correct> Are there really really precise test kits and if so, where do I find them? <Not test kits, but better gear... colorimeters, spectrophotometric gear... try looking at the Hach website...> How do they go about this sort of thing in lab testing? Secondly, I want to try, amongst other things, a deep sand bed (NNR) filter and am not sure exactly how to plumb it. Do I want the water to enter beneath the sand and drain above it, or should it enter above the sand and simply pass over it? As always, I am grateful for your input. -Dekon <A bit of studying here... and you will find some data from Charles Delbeek, while he was (and is) at the Waikiki Aquarium... NNR are gravity fed by and large, but you do want a handy valve located to/through the bottom to collect water samples. Bob Fenner> Refugium set-up question Hello for a second time and thanks in advance, <Welcome in kind> I spend huge amounts of time reading your website FAQs and other sources as I crawl my way into the advancement of this hobby. <I as well> My original plan was a FO tank with minimal whatever, but of course now I have much grander visions of what could be. <Okay> My goal really is to learn as much as I can with what I have over the next year or so, and if I still enjoy the hobby and feel successful, I will upgrade to a much larger Reef tank etc. I currently have two 30 gal tanks- one is the display tank (6 months young, close to 3 inches sand, 50# live rock, clownfish, coral beauty fish, peppermint shrimp, various hermits and snails), one is my "sump". They are connected with an overflow box and return pump.  The sump is on the floor, the display tank on a typical stand. The sump houses a hang on protein skimmer but really nothing else at this point.   I have been perusing the options about the best way to set up a refugium, etc.   I have removed a wet/dry filter that is (I'm guessing) 8-10 gal size if full of water.  Do you think that if I left my display tank and sump as they are, except for adding a bunch of live rock to the sump. could I then connect my old wet/dry filter to the sump via this thing called an aqua-bridge. which is basically a large acrylic tube that allows the tanks to share water without needing to be pumped, etc.  (web site is http://www.aqua-bridge.com < http://www.aqua-bridge.com/> ).  The old filter would then become my refugium.  What do you think of this idea? Thanks for listening, Lynn <Could be done... if, obviously, the two tanks were next to each other, at the same level. Bob Fenner> Adding a refugium to a display tank Hi Adam, < Hi Narayan. >   Hope all is well at your end... My 15 gallon refugium is up and running in the cabinet under the display tank. I was actually able to fit a 15 gallon regular tank. It currently has 60 lbs of 1-2mm sand and I seeded it with 10 lbs of sugar fine live sand for a total of 4.5 inches in a tank that is only 12 inches high!!! It has 5 lbs of live rock and I plan on getting 10 more. < Sounds great. >    First, is the live rock enough or do I need to get pod cultures to seed the refugium? < Live rock is fine.  It would help to get a couple cups of sand from a friend or store. > My Hector's goby is starting to deplete pods from the 72G display, even though he is only a little over an inch and all alone in that tank! I don't feed my 2 Lysmata shrimp over weekends and I suspect they feed on amphipods when they get a chance. Last night I used a small flashlight and observed a lot less amphipods, and a lot more peanut worms. Bristle worms and tiny snails and pinhead sized tiny pods are actually just as abundant as before. Most of the amphipods I see are younger! The big ones were really too big to fit in the goby's mouth. That is why I suspect the shrimp. Does this make sense? < This all sounds great.  Amazing to see what is alive in the tank during the night. >   Second should I run the refugium as a stand alone tank for a month with a powerhead for circulation or should I just connect it to the display now? < I would just connect it, as long as the water isn't cloudy and it appears to have settled. > Thank you for all you help... past and future... < No problem, that's why we're here. > Narayan <  Blundell  > Sump/Refugium Option Hi Bob, Anthony, et al <Hello Derek> I love the site and all of your work; I wouldn't know what to do with out it!  I'm in the process of redesigning my 60G setup and I would love your advice on a topic or two.  First off, my tank has dual corner overflows that feed into a 36GL chambered sump (with reversed lighting schedule) as well as a closed loop system that en total will put tank circulation near 20x.  The main tank will have approximately 60-80lbs LR with less than a half inch of aragonite substrate.  I plan to keep a few small fish (royal Gramma, flasher wrasse, Banggai cardinal, and maybe a long nose hawk) and some LPS and compatible softies.   I need a little advice on the center section of my sump.  The first chamber contains my Euro-reef skimmer and two heaters and the last chamber, after a few baffles, contains my return pump (all pretty standard so far).  My center section is about 18G and I'm not exactly sure what the best option is to put in here.  I've searched through many, many pages of your FAQs and have found answers to individual scenarios, but not in a comparison in which I am seeking.  My intentions with this area are for nitrate reduction and overall nutrient export.  What, of the three options below, do you think would best serve my tank keeping in mind efficiency, ease of maintenance, and long-term success? 1.)    5" DSB of sugar-sized aragonite with floating Chaetomorpha 2.)    DSB with LR on top as well as Chaetomorpha or Gracilaria <I like this idea the best> 3.)    Bare bottom with elevated LR and Chaetomorpha or Gracilaria My other question pertains to water changes/husbandry.  Subscribing to the school of thought that smaller frequent water changes are more beneficial than larger less frequent changes, what are your thoughts on changing out 1G every night?  This will turn out to be about 10% of my water per week.  Do you think this would be better than say 5% twice a week?  Thanks in advance for your advice and time! <I don't think for the trouble that changing one gallon a day is going to show any beneficial results.  Ten percent a week is fine.  James (Salty Dog) Derek Refugium  Dear Bob, Anthony & Staff, I have a quick question. I have been reading past Q & A on refugiums and I think it might be some thing that would benefit my system. My only concern is I don't have much room under my 90 gallon. I do have a 6 gallon tank that would fit. Do you think it would be worth using that as a refugium or is it just too small?<I'm not so sure a six gallon would have the necessary capacity to fully function as a refugium for that size tank. If it is just a place you want to raise critters, it should be fine. If the idea is to combat algae with higher forms of algae residing in the refugium, then I think it may be a tad small.> Thanks to you and your staff on all the valuable advise! My LFS is starting to ask me questions. : )) P.S. How about some how to videos.<I don't believe videos would really make setting up any clearer than having a good book such as "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist", but that is not my department. I will forward a copy of this to Mr. Fenner for his input on the videos.> Could be a whole series on set up to maintenance. I should would buy them.  Thanks Again Jim <Thank you, James (Salty Dog)> 

Re: Was Refugium, Videos Bob, can you look at the sent mail. I've sent a reply to Jim Aufiero, but also in his query he asks about producing "how to" videos. Thought you might want to read it and add your input if necessary.  James <Will do. Bob><<Thanks James... I feel about the same way as you do re the instructiveness of videos... the reason why I rarely invest time in "watching" the news... too passive, non-instructive... perhaps (for me) too sensory indiscriminate. There are some videos detailing aspects of the hobby... some very boring... George Smit sitting in a chair for hours drolling on re the "Mini Riff/Reef" in the mid eighties... to each their own. The better of these videos is offered by Dr.s Foster and Smith (.com). Bob Fenner> 

- Refugium/Plumbing Problems - Greetings to all the fine folks of WWM.  <Greetings from one of them.>  I have a plumbing/refugium design problem that I haven't been able to find an answer to on the site or in Bob and Anthony's Reef Invertebrates . Sorry to have to email directly. I really try to find the answers first (and usually do!). I'd love some guidance if you don't mind. I'm rather terrible when it comes to plumbing. Although, I did change the faucet fixture in my kitchen sink a couple years ago and it still works (only leaks a little!). My opus of handiwork I'm afraid.  I am in the process of adding a 50 gallon refugium to my 110 gallon display. I know there are many choices/designs depending on what results I seek. My main goal is nitrate reduction and maybe a zooplankton haven.  My biggest problem with the set up is hampered by aesthetics. The display tank is in my living room. My wife is gracious enough to let me add this refugium as long as it is not an eyesore. It's going to be on the floor against the wall next to the tank. I plan on constructing (more likely having it built for me) a faux cabinet with no floor or backing. This way I can easily remove it when I want to tinker with the fuge.  <Hmm... this might be the first flaw in your plan... refugiums really aren't meant to be tinkered with - they can be observed, but shouldn't be disturbed on even a semi-regular basis; should be set up and left alone. Having a cabinet just for the refugium is a good idea however.>  She can keep photos and knickknacks on top of it so it actually serves another purpose. Right now I only have a 20 gallon sump (wish I knew better and bought a large one in the beginning) which holds my skimmer and heater. I can't upgrade it because the sump tank is trapped inside the stand unless I take down the main tank (which is not happening: water + rock + livestock removal + mess = imminent death at hands of wife). I would still like to use the sump though as part of my overall design but think there will be problems with a safe/useful set up as you will see.  There is only one overflow box (another lament) in my main tank which will now divert the water to the refuge. My plan is to have the first and largest chamber be a DSB. The water would then overflow into the next compartment which would hold my skimmer. Most designs seem to have the skimmer in the first chamber but Euroreef recommends the skimmer sit in only 6-8" of water. Wouldn't that mean the second compartment's water level would be even lower?  <Yep.>  I plan on making the sand bed 6-8". I can't really prop the skimmer up on anything inside the fuge since it has to hide inside the cabinet. The skimmer is 24" high and the cabinet will probably be about 28".  <Well... if you're having the cabinet built for you, why not adjust these dimensions?> Now I believe my plans run into the real roadblocks that I think the laws of Physics will keep me from completing. I would like to feed the water from the refugium into my old sump (which I would fill with some crushed coral to get more zooplankton growth). From here the return pump would be plumbed back into my display. Since the refugium is not going to be higher (maybe an inch) than the sump, gravity won't carry it into the sump. I don't want to put a siphon box on my tank dedicated to the sump. Anthony has scared me away from that idea. Is there anything else I can do?  <No... having a two pump system will really cause your wife to throttle you the day one of the pumps slows down. Would really reconsider the cabinet design you've proposed and perhaps have the refugium at a higher level so it can gravity feed into the main sump and be returned from there.>  Reading all the FAQ's it doesn't seem that pumping it from the fuge to the sump will work properly either.  <Nope, an ill-conceived idea that many have tried only to eventually pump their tanks onto the floor.>  I know I could always nix the use of the sump and just have water return from my fuge to the display but I'd like to take advantage of the sump space too.  <And would be better to leave the skimmer in the main sump, try to dedicate as much space/surface area as possible to a true refugium.>  Anything else I could do to achieve this that doesn't take an engineering degree?  <Consider a change to your cabinet design... you're not out of options yet.>  I'd appreciate any help. On a side note I'd like to thank all the WWM crew for all the help you wonderful people selflessly give. In this day and age where everything requires passwords or a paid subscription, your site gives out an unlimited source of knowledge for FREE! You are truly a life preserver in this fantastic hobby that is amazing, unpredictable, and at times downright infuriating! I sincerely thank you for all the help and encouragement I've received just from reading your articles and FAQ's. You do this hobby an unbelievable service which can't be measured. Thanks for always being there to help and I look forward to the next volume of The Natural Marine Aquarium Series.  <Me too.> Much success, Bobby B. <Cheers, J -- >

Mini refugium Hi Anthony I need your good advice again I have a 55 reef tank I set up a refugium which is 11 x 11 x 13 with 1 13 watt 6500 do you think it will work as a refugium? Thanks Genaro <this can work very fine my friend... good daylight lamp color for macroalgae of many types. Perhaps try Chaetomorpha for a hardy choice. Anthony> 

- Refugium Suggestion - Hi <Hi.> Thanks for your help in the past but now I have a new question I would like you to answer if you would be so kind.  <I will do my best.>  I keep reading and hearing about refugiums and would like to have one for my 4ft tank(60gl) tank but I don't have much space for it to go is having a small one worth it (I know its bigger the better) but just want to know if it would be better for my tank to have one or not at all,  <Yes, something is better than nothing in this case.>   I've got a space for something 10inch's deep and about 18 long don't know if I can get a tank this shape but I do have an old goldfish tank that's 10 by 12 so it would fit is this a pointless idea or should I give it a go?  <Why not one of the CPR hang-on refugiums?>  Thanks for taking the time to read this. Andy <Cheers, J -- > 

- Second Refugium Options - Hi! I was hoping to get input from you all about my setup. I'm upgrading my sump from a Tidepool to a DIY 30X12X14 custom acrylic model I just bought off EBay. I wanted to have a skimmer box with a constant level, which the Tidepool didn't have. So now I have a skimmer section that gets fresh tank water to my EV-180 and then overflows to a 15"L refugium, which then flows through another baffle and is fed by gravity to my already established 50g refugium. Water is pumped back to the main 120g display tank from the 50g. Currently, the 50g refugium, which has it's own viewing area in the base of the stand, has a 96w light, Chaeto and Caulerpa, a DSB (5-6"), and a bunch of LR, snails, and hermits. I was wondering If you folks had any particular ideas for the extra refugium.  <Hmm... not sure what kind of ideas you're looking for...>  I was actually thinking of taking all the algae out of the 50g, putting that and some sand in the new refugium, and turning the 50g into a DSB w/ LR and growing mushrooms and other lower light but SPS-safe corallimorphs, etc down there since it's on display.  <Sounds like a good idea.>  Another thought was to put miracle mud in the new refugium--does anyone have thoughts about this product, or others like it?  <Know Miracle Mud works very well, have worked with Leng Sy before and feel strongly that if you want to follow his methods, do so to the letter... don't improvise.>  Would it shock the tank to suddenly add it?  <No.>  I'd appreciate everyone's ideas!  <Your ideas sound fine to me.> Some other info on the system: --120g Oceanic display w/ 2X250W halides and 2X96W PCs and 2 4" fans --Dual corner overflows--one goes to sump/skimmer in the closet, and the other goes directly to the 50g refugium. the sump overflows (plumbed through the wall) to the 50g, and all water is pumped from there via a 1200gph pump back to the tank via 2 returns. --AquaC EV-180 Skimmer --CR3 calcium reactor (my reef creations) --Tunze stream 6060 --New 30X12X14 sump/refugium w/ 32W pc--not hooked up yet Fish: Two Stripe Rabbits Pair of maroon clowns Lawnmower Blenny Red Scooter Blenny Blue Damsel Fancy Damsel Corals: Frogspawn Branching Hammer Monti digi Yellow Turbinaria zoo's and shrooms tricolor Pocillopora green slimer Fox pink Hydnophora pulsing xenia Other: Cleaner shrimp T. Maxima Snails hermits Params: NH3/NH4=0 NO2=0 NO3=0 Temp: 78.5 to 81 (sometimes 82 for a few hours) Alk: 11 deg Ca: 500ppm Thanks! --Jesse <Cheers, J -- >

- Sump Design Questions, Follow-up - Hey J-- <Hey!> Thanks for the time/input.  <My pleasure.> The reason I was looking at using a 55 gal sump is that I will have an extra 55 Gal not in use (will be empty this spring after I redo the wife's pond so her Koi can overwinter outside).  <Understood.> But I must admit, I was thinking bigger also. What would you recommend?  <Many options... too many to count.>  I have heard of people using Horse Troughs but what would you use to hold/glue the baffles in place?  <Oh, that is the problem... you think getting silicone to stick to acrylic is a pain, it's actually a walk in the park compared to getting silicone to adhere to that plastics used in those vats.> Also, along that note, if I use the aquarium, it is glass and I haven't found a glass shop around willing to cut small pieces for me for the sump, and I have recently found out (the hard way) that silicone and acrylic aren't really that "attracted to each other" :-)  <Actually, you can get this to work and should do just fine in an acrylic to glass join, you just need to really surround it well on both sides of the joint.>  I have cut glass myself before, but it is not always very straight (as you can imagine). Any other ideas?  <You could use a drywall square to get a nice straight cut on glass, but if I were you I'd practice on the 55 using acrylic baffles. You'll get it down.> Sorry to keep bugging you, just trying to get EVERY aspect of this thing down before I make any purchases. (Been researching it (and bugging you fine folks off and on) for the past 3 YEARS! Honestly!)  <No worries.> Anyway, thank you for your time and patience. Tom (The Tool Man) <Cheers, J -- > 

Refugium Planning Hello, <Hey there! Scott F. here today!> Hope you are having/had a great day. <And you the same!> I have some questions concerning refugiums.  I have looked on the FAQ's but I have a few specific questions if you don't mind.  I will have a 150 gallon tank with a 40 gallon sump/refugium (combined).  Do I place the skimmer in the first overflow chamber where all the raw water goes, or the last chamber before it returns to the tank?  ( I have read different thoughts on this from Fenner and Calfo). <I like the first chamber, as Anthony advocates, as the skimmer can receive a consistent flow of "raw" water from the system, thus providing maximum operating efficiency> My main goal for the refugium is plankton and pod production for live feedings of future fish/corals.  With that said, I would like to have Gracilaria in the refugium.  (Also for additional tang food).  RI by Calfo and Fenner (great source of info) states Gracilaria needs bright light and brisk flow.  Will 7 times my tank circulation be brisk enough?  Too much?  Will it be too much for the plankton production? <This will not be too much for plankton production, IMO. However, the motion that Gracilaria needs is a gentle and continuous "tumbling" motion. which keeps it suspended in the water column without being ripped apart. You could try one of my techniques that has worked in high flow sumps before: Place the Gracilaria in a small plastic pasta strainer, floating in the sump. The macroalgae will get the benefit of the motion without being turned into Poke garnish in the process!> Also, should I put filters/pads in the refugium to supplement plankton production?  Any specific types of pads/sponges? <You could use some of the larger "pore" filter pads, or sponges. My favorite e-tailer, Indo-Pacific Sea Farms (www.ipsf.com), offers an "amphipod kit" that features a small "mat" of macroalgae for the 'pods to inhabit...It works well>   And for lighting, could I get away with a PC?  Maybe 96 watts.  (times 2???)  I am pretty lost with the lighting requirements.  So could you spell it out for a dummy (me) to understand.  I plan on having the lights on reverse daylight period.   <You're right on, IMO. 2 X 96watt PC's should work fine> Last question (ya right)  My LFS said that I don't need any sand/mud in the refugium.  Just LR.  Does this sound correct?  Everywhere I read, LS or mud is used.  What would you suggest? I am new to the fish world (If you couldn't tell) and would really be grateful for some suggestions. <For a newcomer to the hobby, you certainly sound like you've done your homework! I'm sure you'll be successful! As far as a substrate it concerned, it's really personal preference. Different substrates (or a lack thereof) will result in the proliferation of different fauna. I've done it with and without substrates. Coarse substrates tend to "produce" amphipods. You could compromise with a shallow layer of coarse material and some small pieces of live rock. There really is no "right" or "Wrong" here. Part of the fun of refugia is the experimentation. The field is wide open! Have fun! Pick up a copy of Anthony's "Book of Coral Propagation" and Anthony and Bob's "Reef Invertebrates" for lots of great, up-to-date information on refugia setups and animals. Good luck!> Thanks in advance.  PS.  Thank you, thank you, thank you... <You're welcome, you're welcome, you're welcome! Regards, Scott F>

Refugium Scheme Have a 180gal reef tank and would like to build a cryptic refugium with a DSB for NNR and a zooplankton reactor in the pump room behind it.  Can these be done together, or should they be handled separately. <Your call on that one. No real right or wrong on this, in my opinion. I like your idea, however.> What would the ultimate setup be for these two functions? Thanks, Rich <If it were me, Rich, I'd do it kind of like you envision. Locate the reactor adjacent to the refugium, where it can compliment. Anthony's "Book of Coral Propagation" has some good information on refugium and system design. You could also check out the excellent DIY site ozreef.org for more. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Sump size for 225 gallon tank Hi i was wondering what size sump would be sufficient for my tank which is 225 gal and houses three triggers niger, undulate, and clown all about 5 to 5 1/2 inches?                                                                                I currently have a 30 gal just temporary with diy protein skimmer  here is a pic of my display.    <As LARGE as possible... particularly with those triggers. At least sixty gallons... a hundred would be better. Bob Fenner>    

Refugium 3/18/04 I had a question I have been thinking about for a while. I am about to set up my first refugium.  The main goal of my refugium is to create as many copepods, amphipods as possible... <these creatures eat different things and need different refugiums to be optimized: amphipods are carnivorous and need coarse matrices to thrive (Chaetomorpha algae, rocky sand or other such media... even polyester filter media)... while copepods need fine silty/muddy substrates and are phytoplankton feeders.> and to also grow algae to eliminate any algae that may grow in the show tank....so  here is my question... <sounds like a Chaetomorpha spaghetti algae tank will satisfy 2 of 3 goals here> I just recently got an overflow put in my tank....and at first the water was so loud falling to the bottom... <this is form the drains being undersized/under numbered or the holes being overdriven> so I made a DIY Durso standpipe... it totally silenced the noise, but I was thinking...what if i just put bios balls in the overflow... <bad idea... acts mechanical, needs cleaning, suffers from raw water (needs pre-filtered) and causes nitrates in time> a lot of people told me it would create more nitrates in the long run, but if i have a refugium, wouldn't that eliminate the nitrates and in fact create more algae to feed some of my fish?   <bad science even if it works. By that line of logic, you won't mind if I pee in your pool if you have a really good filter? <G>> is there any bad side to filling it with bios balls... <more than a few as per above> i would get even more filtration....btw...i have a 90 gallon with 120 pounds of live rock... also, is there any correlation between the amount of algae in a refugium and the number of pods? <yes... surface area/real estate for them to grow. Do consider reading our extensive coverage on refugiums, plants and algae in the new "Reef Invertebrates" book by Calfo/Fenner. Kindly, Anthony Calfo>

New to refugium 3/22/04 Hello crew, <howdy> Let me give you some background on my system. I have a 75 G FOWLR tank with a hang-on Bak-pak protein skimmer, 50-60 lbs of Fiji live rock, Eheim canister filter (2213 or 2217 not sure which one but rated for 90 gallons) 2 MaxiJet powerheads, emperor power filter and 1.5 inches of crushed coral substrate. I have a blue-spotted jaw fish, a purple Firefish, a Sailfin tang, and two blue-green Chromis. <yikes... and odd and inappropriate species mix, my friend: the Sailfin tang is/will be too aggressive for the passive Firefish, Chromis and Jawfish... at best will outcompete them for food over time... and more importantly, will outgrow this 4' aquarium or stunt and die prematurely (they need large aquaria to be sure)> Except for the Chromis I have had all the fish for a least a year.  I also have a cleaner shrimp, some hermits, and turbo snails.  I do a 15-20% water change weekly and clean the Eheim monthly (Is this enough or should I clean it more often).   <good maintenance here... no worries> I feed once a day (enough food so it is all eaten in 3 minutes or less) with a mixture of frozen formula I and II and prime reef supplemented with Selcon and VitaChem.  Nonetheless I still have high nitrates (usually 20-40 ppm).  To this end I have considered adding a refugium to cultivate macro algae and copepods, amphipods, etc.   <consider deep sand too in here for both natural nitrate reduction and better plankton growth. 4-6" of sugar fine sand> Until recently I of course have known nothing about sumps or refugiums (irresponsible on my part, but always trying to learn).  So I have been reading your site and others trying to gather as much information as I can.   <please do consider our new "Reef Invertebrates" book by Calfo and Fenner. It has the most current and comprehensive (~100 of 400 pages) coverage on these topics> I am trying to make it as simple as possible and this is what I have come up with so far. Please let me know if I am on the right track or not?  First since I don't have a predrilled aquarium, I am going to purchase an overflow box. <can work... but I am adamantly outspoken against using this flawed technology (see archives). They can/will overflow or fail in time> I am leaning towards a LifeReef pre-filter siphon box or a CPR overflow (not sure which is better. Have heard good things about both, although the LifeReef system seems to be less problem prone and better design iMO).   <I have always said/joked that I will not sleep in a house with a siphon overflow <G>.> Next I was going drain into a 20 gallon tank down below with a return pump to act as my sump/refugium.   <better to have a dedicated refugium... else too small. complicated to share with a sump IMO> Into this sump I was thinking of placing a live sand bed (4-6 inches?) <excellent> and some macro algae with some lighting over head on a timer opposite the display.   <seek Chaetomorpha or Gracilaria algae here> Is it that simple or am I missing something?   <much to say> Do I need baffles? <nope... not likely, too complicated> If so, can I just silicon a glass plate into the tank for the return pump and maybe skimmer or is this unnecessary? <the latter unless the flow is very high> Also, If I do this I was planning on removing the media from the Eheim and replacing it with course and fine filter material as well as Polyfilter and carbon. Finally, I would totally remove the Emperor power filter. How does all of this sound? <you are on the right track for sure... but should take the time to see other aquarists running refugiums. Do look up a local or regional aquarium society for this... great resource and fellowship, and please do consider finding/reading our book> Thanks for the help and the awesome web-site. Jeff <best regards, Anthony>

Requisite Reading in Refugium Religion Hi Anthony: Pardon the alliteration, but I was feeling somewhat creative today. <no worries, I was positively pleased to peruse your pre-conceived placement of a perky phrase> My blue hippo tang has been barking up a storm and chasing everyone in the tank as of late. Now I know why... the Steelers let Mark Bruener get away! Boy, is the tang upset! <weeping, yes> Now, on to the refugium. After many hours of reading the plethora of refugium lore, in addition to looking at my under tank space constraints from every conceivable angle, I will only be able to install a 10G refugium, the primary intent of which will be for nitrate reduction. I have a 125G, FOwithoutLR LR, with a sump below. I will try and phrase my questions as lucidly as possible to avoid any unnecessary ambiguity. * Do you think that the 10G will be at all beneficial considering the size of my display tank, or should I scrap the project? <no... it can be useful. But to actually get effective NNR (natural Nitrate reduction), this 10 gallon tank will need to be mostly filled with fine sand to work (I'm thinking at least 8" deep here to work in such a small vessel> * Assuming the answer to above is yes, then here is my plan. The refugium will be 23"H x 17"W x 6". The top of the fuge will be roughly 6 inches higher than the top of the sump. The fuge will require roughly two feet of line from the sump. I was planning on using a Rio 600 to move raw water (prefiltered and pre protein simmered) from the sump to the fuge. I would let gravity return the water from the fuge to the same place in the sump. I would use a ball valve on the line from the sump to the fuge to control the water level in the fuge. <I fear this fuge is not deep enough to adequately accomplish NNR> * If the above sounds good, what size tubing would you use for both the input and output lines of the fuge? <a single 1" might do the trick, but do confirm the flow of your pump at the given head and compare tot he 300-600 gall capacity (overflow vs. siphon) of a 1" bulkhead> * Would you use only a DSB, or would some plants and/or live rock be also beneficial? <in a refugium this small... pick one goal/benefit and stick with it. In this case - NNR via DSB= deep sand only> * I would opt for lighting in a reverse cycle to my display tank. I believe that I read that 3 or 4 watts per gallon is a good gauge. Is that correct? <yes> * I have been quoted a price of $78 for this fuge (not including shipping), with all necessary fittings, from a company found on the Web called Texas Corals. Are you familiar with this outfit? <have not heard of them... but the price sounds very fair> Their pricing seems to be very favorable compared to others. <agreed> Thanks for your time, Andrew. The blue hippo says hello! <I grunt my regards in return to him> Regards, Mitch <kindly, Anthony>

- Refugium - Thanks for the fast response!  This has to be the greatest site I've come across in years on the net.  As for the overstocking I'm certainly aware that the fish will soon be too large to inhabit my 75.  I won't tell you how many or what kind of fish I've had in this tank at once or how many have "disappeared" over night with no body to be found (Mr. Moray).  I'm trying to find a home for the puffer right now and I have a friend who is willing to take it, but his tank is overstocked at the moment as well.  I should have stated in my previous email that I'm planning on converting to a reef set up ASAP.  I thought I could keep the eel and the hawkfish safely with most sessile inverts. <Ahh... no, the hawkfish will enjoy the snack.> The puffer will hopefully have a home soon and the Picasso I'm unsure of. <Also not to be trusted in a reef tank.> The Picasso is my absolute favorite saltwater fish (to look at least) but he's constantly scooping up mouthfuls of sand and spitting it on my live rock which I assume isn't good for the rock. <It's not bad for the rock...> I've been "brushing" the sand off by waving a thin fanhead paintbrush back and firth above the surface of the rock to remove what I can about every two or three days.  Is this o.k.? <It's fine.> I'll probably wait until the Picasso dies to do the reef set up (or when my last three inhabitants are too large). <You may be waiting 20 years or more unless you do something intentionally (or unintentionally) to kill it.> My next question is about the refugium.  I do want to add macro alga or sea grass to the tank as well as a large piece of live rock currently in my main tank about 18lbs) on top of the live sand bed to produce food for reef inhabitants.  Will I need to add baffles with plants in the refugium, and do you think miracle mud would be better with the rock and plants than a sand bed? <There are no hard-set rules about baffling in a sump - most times it makes sense to have these to control excess flow that might disrupt any substrate in the refugium. As for mud vs. sand... I have no opinion about this... do what you feel should be done.> 2 more questions then I promise I won't bother you again (soon anyway!) Should I split the canister outtake into 2 or more outputs with only 1 going to the refugium (it pumps 330 gph and I thought this might be too much for the refugium) and will I need to drill a hole in the tank to set up an overflow system? <Uhh... I wouldn't put a canister filter in front of a refugium because in most cases the water will be too clean for any constructive use in a refugium. As for overflows... there are external devices which will work without drilling holes, but that being said, having holes drilled in a tank is the best way to go.> Once again thanks in advance for the expert advice.   Sincerely, Troy <Cheers, J -- >

Rubbermaid Sump (4/2/04) With each page I read, I am more impressed with the vast content of your site.  It may be the most useful website of any kind, not just aquatic.  <Thanks. A lot of people have put plenty of work into it over the years. I learn something everyday here too.> I just bought an All-Glass 125 with dual built-in overflows.  They claim a capacity of 600 gph per overflow, so at max rate it is almost 10X. Tank will be FOWLR with 120lbs live rock (everything transferred from existing 60 gal).    I'm new to sumps and I want to keep it simple. For the sump, I thought of using a 24 gal Rubbermaid tub that fits nicely in the cabinet.  The overflow bulkheads will each have 1" inside diameter vinyl hose that will just sit in the tub (no drilling of the sump).  The sump will also house the skimmer (will AquaC Urchin be ok for this?). <Get the Pro, or consider a Euro-Reef. I love mine.>   The sump will also house the return, a Mag 18 with 3/4" vinyl tubing, teed to feed both returns included in the All-Glass overflow kits.    This setup as described would require just the Rubbermaid tub with no baffles, bulkheads, etc.  Is there anything wrong here? <Sounds OK.> Can the overflow hoses just sit in the sump without any fancy connections? <Yes. I like flexible PVC. You also want ball valves to be able to shut off flow or regulate it a bit.> Does the skimmer and/or pump need to be in its own "compartment" or can the whole thing be one large tub? <Fine together if no refugium planned.> Is there an easy way to add some mechanical filtration? <Floss bags for the overflow water to pass through as it enters the sump.> What would you recommend to filter detritus and prevent skimmer bubbles from going to main tank? <If you have the skimmer on the opposite end of the sump from the pump, you will not likely have a bubble problem. If there are bubbles getting to the pump, then you can make sure the water coming out of the skimmer passes through a filter sponge. Do read more about sumps/plumbing on WWM to learn more. Steve Allen>

Refugiums (4/2/2004)  Hello fellow aquarist, <Michael here today> I have some questions regarding the possible set up of a refugium for my 75g saltwater tank (nine months old). <Always a good addition> I currently have a 3 inch sand bed with about 65p of live rock, a purple Linckia, an electric blue hermit crab, a few blue leg, red leg, and Cortez red leg hermit crabs, some Caulerpa, Halimeda, paint brush, and some other macro algae that I'm unsure of, a 3 inch Picasso trigger, a 5 inch porcupine puffer, an 18 inch snowflake moray and a 3 inch red spotted hawkfish. <A heavily overstocked tank, I'm afraid. Your moray will attain 40", your porky nearly 24", and your Picasso trigger 12". I highly suggest a 300+ gallon system for your current inhabitants, or find new homes for them. As a side note, I'm very surprised any of your inverts are still alive seeing as they're a favorite snack for almost every fish in your tank> For filtration I use a Fluval 404 canister filter (three baskets of bio rings and one basket of carbon, a sea clone protein skimmer 100 gallon, a penguin dual bio wheel hang on filter (both baskets are bio rings) <May actually want to use the cartridges, the current bioload will be producing massive amounts of waste, the extra mechanical filtration might be necessary> and the heater in the main tank. I have an extra 29 gallon tank that I'd like to turn into a refugium that I'd display next to the main tank. The 29 stands 2 1/2 inches shorter than the main tank so I'm guessing I'll have to level out the tops. How can I get the water back and forth from the two tanks and how should I set up the baffle system? <The tanks don't need to be level to set up a working refugium, unless you want the refugium to overflow into the main tank. You could use the canister filter returns to pump water into the refugium, then have a the water overflow into the main tank if raise the refugium above your display tank. If not, you could install an overflow box into your main tank to drain into the refugium, then pump it back out again with a powerhead or external pump. A baffle system isn't strictly necessary, it's mostly used to direct water through a certain course of macro alga, or some sort of plants (mangroves, manatee grass, etc)> I want to add a plenum to the refugium with a four inch bed of live sand with macro algae. I was going to use an undergravel filter as the plenum. What are your recommendations? <I'd avoid the plenum system and just go with a DSB of 6" or so. Use fine aragonite sand, no crushed coral and the like> I'm having problems with my nitrates (the fish explain much of this), <as does the overstocking I'm afraid> they're around 30ppm. <A bit high, shoot for lowering that to 10-20 soon> I do 5 gallon water changes weekly to try and keep up. <I'd advise 10+ gallons weekly> Also could I use the 20w bulb fixture over the 29 gallon refugium (16 inches deep at full) or will this be insufficient? <Depends on your wants. For your refugium to act as an Nitrate reducing DSB, you don't need any light. For macroalgae and/or coralline algae, you'll probably want about 100 watts of 50\50 florescent> Thanks in advance. <No problems. Be sure to address the overstocking issues, as your fish will grow quickly!>  Troy Bowers - 1st Year Novice  <We definitely all were at one time, but you've found the right place for answers. Hope I've helped - M. Maddox>

Refugium set up 4/1/04 Hello Crew,  Your website is GREAT!  I have been an avid reader for over a year now and learn something new every day. <Glad you have benefited!> Just a quick question about setting up a 'fuge.  I have been planning and reading up for about a year now and am ready to start putting together my first saltwater tank.  I would like to convert my  55 gallon and use an existing 20 gal I have on hand as an upstream refugium with DSB. <Sounds great!> Only problem is, around 1.5 years ago it (20 gal) was my hospital tank and I had used it to treat ich on a couple of occasions. It has had CLOUT and CURE-ICK (both made by Aquarium Products) used in it over a year ago. (Neither of the products lists copper in the ingredients, but...)  Then was cleaned and refitted to house my Blue Gourami and 2 White Spotted Rafael's for a few months.  Since then I have striped out all the substrate and filter media and thrown it away and cleaned it with a bleach solution and stored it in the closet for the past 3 months. Will this still be usable as a refugium since neither of the products list copper or is it only good for a hospital tank from now on? <I don't see any cause for concern in using this tank.> Thanks SOOOO much for your time and effort and rest assured that we newbies are listening/reading and you are saving MANY fishy lives!  You make a difference! Sincerely, Tom <Thanks for the very kind words!> PS:  Wife wants to know if there is a support group or some pill I can take  for this addiction (GEEZ, I only have 6 tanks and a Koi pond...)HAHA. <6 tanks and a Koi pond, huh?  Lightweight! <g>.  Just tell her you could be spending your time and money at a strip joint!  Best Regards.  Adam> Super set-up Hello again!! <Hello! Ryan with you today.> I've written you guys many of times and found your advice very helpful!! Thanx a bunch!!! <No problem> However, the time has come again where I am stumped and need some advising.  I would like to start off by saying my goal is to create the simplest most natural reef system I can. <I share your goal> I have a great interest in natural filtration types such as refugiums and such.  I have a 70g tall tank (36x18x24) and a 50 gallon trashcan refugium that I'm stocking with various plants and such.  It's got about 2in of crushed live rock in the bottom with about 2-3 inches of CaribSea special grade on top of that.  With the addition of some very rich "mud" (1-2) inches and some more crushed live rock I'm hoping that I'll have quite the live food generator for my corals and fish that refugiums are known for.  Just the other day I bought Mike Paletta's infamous Ultimate Marine Aquariums which has kept me chalk full of ideas for my system.  One tank setup that caught my eye was the system with a make shift chiller that uses sea water for cooling.  There was a huge 250g tank dug into the ground where the water table is high (system was built by an ocean).  This natural system inspired me to come up with a similar plan.  I have a 1-3 ft crawl space under my house which seems to stay much cooler.  I'm going to be getting a thermometer soon and ill find out exactly how much cooler it is down there.  Either way,  I was think of putting a large 100-200 gallon tank down there to house my naturally cooled water.  Have you ever heard of systems like this? <Absolutely! It's an ideal solution.  Geothermal heating/cooling solutions are wonderful.>  In theory this would work I'd just have to send a water return down through the floor and one back into the tank.  Now with all that said I was thinking I could also make this "chiller" an awesome refuge for some very low light/highly nutrient dependant sponges down inside the tank.  I'd place a large volume of sand in the tank with some rubble and rocks for the sponges to attach to.  I'd plan on buying a new very high flow pump to power the system.  I could dedicate one portion of the return from the pump as a closed system loop which would circulate water inside the sponge refuge (sponges need water flow).  The other return from the pump could go to my tank and its various wave making attachments. <Potentially great idea.  There are, however, some obstacles that may arise.  You'll need to make sure it's accessible to maintain.>  Eventually I could foresee this system working very well.  With a large population of dissolved organics from my refugium and tank waste the sponge refuge would have lots of food.  Consequently it would filter my water of these organics and there would be no need for a skimmer. <Hmmm....I don't agree> This is something that I've come up with and would like to know if you guys would think it would work.  If you don't quite get the whole system I could explain further, but you guys are pretty sharp. <I like the entire idea- Big thinkers do big things.  But I encourage you to get it on paper- plan, plan and plan some more.  Every problem you have while you're actually constructing is going to hinder your design- The more little "glitches" you can work out in the planning stages the less thinking on the fly will need to be done.> PLEASE let me know of anything I might be overlooking and such.  Or if you have any questions. <I would still add a skimmer, I'm biased.  I love the amount of oxygen that a skimmer puts into the water, and I think that removing organic debris before it is processed into waste is a wonderful way to keep water crystal clear.  However, many others scoff at skimmers!  I would certainly want a skimmer on hand in case my sponges took a dive.> Chris aka "fishtank" I'll be eagerly checking my mail for a response!!! once again thanks to all of you guys and gals I really appreciate it!!!!!!!! <No problem!  And boy, if you actually get this thing built, we want some pictures.  Good luck, Ryan>

Dwarf Seahorses, Refugiums and Macro Algae 5/2/04 Hey gang! Good morning from New Jersey! <Good afternoon from the other side of the country> First off, I'd like to thank you for the wonderful service you do for us fish geeks. It is greatly appreciated. < You're most welcome from  another fish geek!> Now, I wanted to run this past you guys before I end up bashing my head against the wall later. <Yikes......Please refrain from head bashing. Then the seahorses will really have a problem and you will have a headache.> I currently have several dwarf seahorses in a five gallon but the brine shrimp is really taking its toll on the nitrate levels. <Hmmmm I assume you are feeding live.  My first thought is perhaps you are over feeding a bit. You might want to cut back a bit and do more frequent water changes. If you are not keeping any clean up critters you might want to consider a few Nassarius snails, which will quickly consume detritus, uneaten food, decaying organics, and fish waste. In addition  a few of the Hawaiian red shrimp Halocaridina rubra would feed on excess brine shrimp> So I plan on upgrading to a 10 gallon for increased water volume. I would like to partition off half of the tank for a refugium.  The side that the seahorses are on would be bare bottom for easy cleaning and the fuge side would contain a DSB with some rock and macroalgae. The hang on filter would uptake from the seahorse side, spill out through the fuge and flow back into the display area. <It's not the typical dwarf set up but sounds very good actually. I have a friend who kept her dwarfs very successfully in the 40g refugium connected to her 125g reef.  Be sure to provide some sort of barrier to the intake to protect them from getting sucked against the intake......perhaps a sponge. I would probably be tempted to go with at least a little bit of sand and some of the macros on their on their side for a more natural environment. Unless of course you are keeping captive bred dwarfs which might be used to a more barren tank with a glass bottom. I have one concern .......live rock and the macros combined with live Artemia is the perfect breeding ground for hydroids which as you probably know can wipe out an entire tank of dwarfs. You can avoid this by treating the rock and macro algae with Panacur for 3 days There is more information on dwarf seahorses and their care on www.syngnathid.org  in the Tiny Tots forum and specifically hydroids and this treatment regimen in this thread..... http://www.syngnathid.org/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=&Board=Dwarfs&Number=11739&page=&view=&sb=5&o=&fpart=all&vc=1 > So my question is concerning the macro.  I have access to several types but I'm not sure which would be best for this application and I know that mixing too many species, especially in this size tank isn't good.  Keep in mind that dwarves fair best in 1.019 - 1.021 SG. <Yes I am familiar with that.> I have access to the following: feathery Caulerpa , grape Caulerpa (...would prefer however not to use these), Halimeda ,Penicillus ,Udotea ,Ulva, red Gracilaria, green Gracilaria, and Bryopsis (haha! want some?) < I think I will pass on the Bryopsis but thanks so much for the generous offer <G> anyway . You are limited here by the optimal specific gravity range of the Dwarfs, with the exception of the Penicillus which can be kept at 1.020. The rest of these species have an optimal specific gravity range of 1.023 to 1.025.> Depending on which macroalgae you think is best, do you think I could get away with a 15watt NO 9325 Kelvin bulb on a 10 gal? (I'm thinking probably not!    hehe) How about 2x13 watt PCs 50/50?..or would you suggest a different Kelvin since the only thing in the tank that would benefit from a specific spectrum would be the algae? <You can find the answers to this in this article Macro-Algae Use in Marine Aquariums http://www.wetwebmedia.com/maralgae.htm . > thanks, chickie moomoo <You're most welcome, Leslie>

-Multiple 'fuges!- Hi Crew, Good day to you. You have been a constant source of help & I am introducing some of the many ideas you have given me through WWM. <Great!> First up I am building a refugium for NNR, & I would like to ask if this seems ok to you? I have a 6x2x2 display. In a closet behind the display I wish to house 1) The sump.......50 UK gallons ( for all the paraphernalia pumps & such) 2) NNR refugium. This it what the question is all about. This will be gravity fed from the display tank and gravity fed into the sump. Does this sound ok to you? This will have live rock and a DSB in it. <Sounds fine> 3) I will have another refugium above the first one for pod production. (pump fed from tank. Gravity back to main display tank) .....Does this sound ok? <You've got the right idea, it's going to be raining pods!!!> The skimmers etc I still need where to put them so any advice will be very much appreciated. <The skimmer, heaters, etc, should be housed in your sump as planned. Let's see some pictures once everything's rolling! No help needed here, you've got it all figured out already! -Kevin> Thank you crew.......For so much!......I mean it......... Cheers, Simon

Refugia 5/4/04 Hello again from New Zealand, and further gratitude for the great site. I really lose many hours browsing the FAQ that should be spent sleeping haha!  Its all for the cause I guess! <Ha!  You're hooked!  There should be a 12 step program for reefkeeping!> Anyway, my sump (about 50 gallons on a 300G tank) currently has only my skimmer, return pump, and other gear like heaters and carbon bags in it.  Though they are hardly detectable, to keep nitrates down and improve conditions for the little guys (pods etc) could I put a container with a DSB into the sump or am I better off creating another form of refugium/DSB separately from the sump? Does this make sense? <Perfect sense.  This decision is largely a subjective one based on your particular circumstances.  I have seen refugia and sandbeds contained in vessels as simple as a food storage container or an empty salt bucket all the way to the most elaborate custom sumps.  I would aim to have a 4" minimum sand bed (6" is a better target) that is at least 1/3-1/2 the area of the bottom of the display (this is simply a quick rule of thumb).> I should/could probably put some live rock into the sump also to aid biological activity/filtration right? <Yes, but consider habitat diversity as your primary goal.  Any amount of rock you put in your refugium will probably be small relative to the display.> I know creating a separate refugium would increase water volume, and I could do loads more with it, but for simplicities sake and space saving is this an option?? <IMO, some refugium is better than no refugium, so if your best/only option is to incorporate it into your existing sump, that is perfectly fine.  Just be cautious to protect pump inlets from sand particles, macro algae, etc.> And am I correct in assuming that you do not have to light refugia, unless you are growing algae, or do pods etc optimally need light also?? <This is correct, however, in my experience, you will get much more benefit from a refugium that is lit on a schedule opposite your display.  Macroalgae produce fantastic habitat, nutrient uptake, and when lit opposite the display, they will help stabilize pH, O2 and Redox.> Thanks for all the great information and help! Ivan <Glad to!  Best regards, Adam> Refugium questions 5/27/04 Hi Crew, <howdy> Have been reading as much as I can on WWM, it has been very helpful. Also, CMA is a great book. I have a 45g rectangular (small I know) w/ 70# LR, 40# CaribSea aragonite mixed w/ 10# LS. Emperor 400 Filter, Prizm Skimmer & 2 AquaClear 802 Powerheads for circ., & 112 watt Coralife light. <the skimmer I suspect does not yield consistent skimmate (daily or near daily? Else do consider an upgrade. You will find a lot of criticism for this skimmer abroad). Also, the lighting is modest if you intend to keep any corals. Try to get around 4-5 watts per gallon of daylight (don't count the actinic blues here) for best results> The system has been running for 2 months and I just added 8 hermit crabs and 4 snails. In 2 days they wiped the tank clean of all the brown hair algae that had begun to grow. My first question: Do I need to provide the crabs and snails with a source of nourishment until I get other livestock in the tank? <perhaps a little bit. The hermits will be easy... they eat most anything (be careful... they really aren't reef safe)> It looks so clean I don't know if there is anything for them to munch on. Eventually, I want to add a couple clowns, some invertebrates, a tang down the road <this tank is not big enough for any tang species (aggression and adult sizes). Please resist until you get a longer tank> and maybe a couple mushroom corals up towards the top. <yes, mushroom corallimorphs would be a great choice to start with> After all the research I have done I want to get a refugium started, as much for the 45g as for a display for myself. <excellent> I have attached the design using equipment I already have.  I would like to drill a hole for the overflow from the 45g, instead of using an overflow container. But this may be difficult, since I already have the tank running. <the tank would indeed have to be drained dry to drill it, then refill> Can I safely transfer the LR, LS & snails & crabs to another container for a day while I have a hole drilled, or would it not be a good idea to disturb things? <very little trouble at all... I agree. And do firmly believe it would be well worth the effort. Be sure to drill a large enough (size/number of holes) overflow... consult the bulkhead manufacturer to see about flow ratings. Drill enough to run 800-1000 gph through safely (the equivalent of three 1" holes or one or two larger holes)> Do you see any flaws in the current design? <the image did not come through for me, my friend... alas> When I have it up and running, do I remove the Emperor filter? <little matter either way. Do continue to use it if you select large or messy feeding fishes> And one last question on my current setup. I only get about a cup out of the skimmer per week, not per day. I've played with the settings, but any faster skimming seems to be wasting water. Is this because of the light load? <not really, my friend. This is one of several skimmers on the market that have a staggeringly poor reputation. Remarkable really. Some folks have been quoted as saying they would not take one for free. Ouch! I would encourage you to investigate a much better skimmer for the long run. Do check out the recent article on skimmers in our first edition of CA magazine: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/HomeCA.htm > Thanks in advance, you have provided such a wealth of information, especially for someone new to the hobby. Pete! <please also consider reading our new book "Reef Invertebrates" (Calfo and Fenner)... it has the newest and most comprehensive coverage of refugiums and so much more (400 pages total). See the reviews of it at Amazon.com and elsewhere in the Net. Kindly, Anthony> 

In Tank Refugium Question Bob, I have a 140 gal. salt tank that is 4ft wide, 30inches tall and 2ft from front to back. I have 200lbs of live rock and a few fish. My idea was to have a refugium behind the live rock. I would make it out of plexi-glass, two trays , which would sit on top of one another, the dimensions of the trays would be 7inches deep by 36 inches across and 4 inches tall, the bottom tray being kept off the tank sand bed by 3inch tall eggcrate. The top tray would be the sand mud shell mixture with Caulerpa growing, the bottom tray would contain the water pump. Holes would be drilled on the plate separating the top and bottom trays, and on each far side of the bottom tray. The outflow water from the pump would be pumped back into the tank from the sides. I was thinking this set up would act as sort of a reverse undergravel filter, What is your opinion? I also have an overflow to the wet dry protein skimmer under the  tank. Will this work? Thank you, Michael Quereau <Sounds like a good plan to me... not easy to get into, manipulate once installed though. I'm a bigger fan of remoted, sump type refugiums. Bob Fenner>

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