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FAQs about Refugiums 12

Related Articles: Get Thee To A Refugium by Bob Fenner, Refugia: What They're For And How To Build Them by Forest Phillips, Pressure 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: Refugiums 1, Refugiums 2, Refugiums 3Refugiums 4, Refugiums 5, Refugiums 6, Refugiums 7, Refugiums 8, Refugiums 9, Refugiums 10, Refugiums 11, Refugiums 13, Refugiums 14, Refugium Rationale, Design, Construction, Hang-on types, Pumps/Circulation, Lighting, Operation, Algae, Livestock, DSBs, & Caulerpa, Marine System Plumbing Holes & Drilling 1, Holes, Drilling 2, Holes & Drilling 3, Durso Standpipes, Overflow Boxes, Bubble Trouble, Plumbing NoiseMake Up Water Systems, Marine Aquarium Set-Up, Live Rock, Live Sand Micro-Crustaceans, Amphipods, Copepods, MysidsAlgal Filtration in General, Mud Filtration 1

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/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 -- >

- Plumbing a Refugium - Hey guys-I just got the new book and I can't put it down. The refugium and plant/algae section is excellent. Sorry to bother you again, but I was looking at Protein Skimmers from "My Reef Creations" and was wondering if I could plumb the skimmer directly inline between the main tank and refugium at a higher level than the refugium so it gravity feeds into the first stage. The tank is 65 gallons and the refugium is going to be 40 gallons, what size pump should I use and will there be enough flow out of the skimmer to effectively utilize the refugium? Again, thanks  Brian C. <Brian, I'm glad you're enjoying the book and that it sparks some ideas. However, your plan to plumb a skimmer directly from tank to refugium makes me a little nervous. What would work better would be a standard overflow into a sump [which only needs to be a water container] which has the skimmer's pump attached to it, driving the skimmer into your refugium. Going direct from tank to skimmer without any fail-safe limits like an overflow will leave you with your tank siphoned onto the floor one day when the power fails and you're not there to do anything about it. Would encourage you to take a look at our plumbing FAQs as we've been sent a lot of diagrams in the last year and these will help you visualize what you need to do. Cheers, J -- > 

Refugium for Tenecor Simplicity Plus System follow-up Thanks for the response - one follow-up question if you don't mind?<Sure, I hope I can help.>  Reading your site caused me to do some more research on my tank (I wish I would have found your site before ordering my system!!!).  I have just found out that the submersible pump returning water to the main tank of my Simplicity Plus has a flow rate of 150 gallons per hour (it's a Hagen 802).  The tank is 75 gallons so from what I've read this is terribly insufficient.<I would have to agree with that one.>   Am I going to be able to have a successful system with this set-up?<If you increase the water flow you will.  Otherwise, your water quality will always be sub par.>  I am going to try to replace the Hagen 802 with something more powerful, but the area the pump sits in is awfully small so if I can't find anything more powerful that fits in the area what do you recommend I do?<You can install an external pump that would not be inside the refugium.  That is, if you have enough room under your stand for one.  Most local fish stores will drill sumps and install bulk heads for external pumps.  Remember, when you increase the flow you have to be sure the drains can handle the flow rate.  Good Luck. MikeB.> Thanks again. Refugium: To Light or Not To Light? First a sincere thank you for the great resource your website provides.  <Our pleasure! We have a great bunch of people here who are thrilled to bring it to you every day!> After reading through your website, I've decided to remove the bio-balls from my 75 gallon Tenecor Simplicity Plus system (the Simplicity Plus has the filtration in the back of the aquarium). This was precipitated due to a rise in Nitrates (approx. 50 ppm) despite the fact that the tank is relatively new (2 months) and has a protein skimmer (AquaC Remora - collection cup fills up with about a quarter inch of dark green water each day - does that sound like enough?) <Yes- an excellent skimmer for this sized tank, IMO> and a relatively light bio-load - Blue Damsel, two small clowns and a Yellow Tang - along with 80 pounds of live rock and live sand (no DSB yet, although I'm thinking about it). <Removing the bioballs and contemplating a DSB are excellent moves for your tank. Enhanced nutrient export provided by the DSB will really help improve overall water quality.> My plan is to take out the bio-balls (after reading your site I plan to remove them over a period of 2 weeks) and replace with live rock rubble. I would rather not, however, have to add a separate light for the refugium portion of the tank. I've seen some references on your site to a "Cryptic" refugium that requires no light so that's the route I'd like to take.  <Yep. You'll get different types of organisms in such a "cryptic zone". Perhaps sponges and other life forms that will really benefit your tank through biodiversity, natural nutrient export, and production of food sources in the form of planktonic life.> So I guess my primary question is how do I create a cryptic refugium? Is it as simple as replacing the bioballs with smaller live rock pieces over a couple of weeks or is it more involved? <It really is THAT simple...You could also stock the "zone" with carefully selected or "harvested" (from your tank) sponges, tunicates, and other creatures that like this environment> Is a cryptic refugium as effective as a conventional lit refugium? If not, do you recommend that I bite the bullet and figure out a way to light the back part of the tank so the refugium is more effective? <Both types of refugia can perform similar functions. It's really a matter of what you want to keep in there and whether or not you choose to light the refugium. In the end, practicality may dictate that which route you take...You can find some pretty interesting stuff on cryptic zones and the animals that reside in them in the writings of Steve Tyree, who has done a fair amount of research on this topic.> Thanks so much for your time and assistance. Kurt <My pleasure, Kurt! Best of luck with your new 'fuge!>

Refugium design and more Hey Bob, Brian Swogger here, just wanted to drop you a quick note to let you know how impressed I was to see the design of my refugium on your main refugium page, www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm .  Being a newbie to the reef community, it's great to know that there is a world of support and info at your site. Anyways, just wanted to say thanks for making my day. Keep up the great work that helps us out.  Brian <Thank you my friend. Bob Fenner> 

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> 

Materia matica for a refugium Dear WWM Crew, <Jay> I am a colleague of your own Steve Allen,  who directed  me to your very interesting and helpful site. <I see> I have a 90 gal fish/invert reef tank and am about to  add a refugium underneath it. <Ahh!> I am interested in your opinion on the longevity  of a glass or acrylic tank vs. a Rubbermaid  tub to be used as the container for refugium/sump.  It is my impression that the glass (and probably acrylic also) tanks have seals which will eventually leak and the whole thing will need to be replaced (a MAJOR undertaking). <Mmm, both glass and acrylic tanks can expect to last at least ten years... I know of both that have been in use for more than three decades... Acrylic, by and large is "tougher", easier to drill/fit, a better thermal insulator...> Does the salt water have a deleterious effect on the rubber tub and/or its plumbing holes/pipe connecting areas? <Not much> Can  these tubs blow out like a glass tank could? <I have never heard of this... and have witnessed MANY Rubbermaid sump installations> (My see-thru  tank sits in the middle of our very open kitchen/dining/living room area and a big leak would ruin a lot of flooring!) <I'll bet! I would settle on the Acrylic if this will fit... easiest to fit gear, partitions... see through, and very sturdy> Thanks for your time and keep up the good work. JS <Thank you for being part of it. Bob Fenner>

Sump construction Bob, <Jay> Thanks for recent reply regarding material for sump/refugium .( seems you like acrylic over glass or Rubbermaid). <Yes... unless the system/s are quite large... several hundred to thousands of gallons... then I REALLY like the Rubbermaid products> New questions please- <Okay, how do I get a date with Heather Locklear? What's the meaning of life anywho? Oh, wait, you want to ask them> 1)I was planning on upgrading my lighting from 40 w 48" actinics x4 on regular ballast to an icecap 660 with VHOs.  Then I read an article on internet about using this same ballast with just regular 40 watt GE Daylight ultrafluorescent bulbs (putting 80 watts into each 40 wt bulb). Big cost savings, but different spectrum I assume. <Yes> The writer say everything in fish/invert tank is doing well 2 yrs out (may 2000 FAMA) 2) with my current 160 watts of light (2 URI actinic whites, 2 super (blue) actinics) all my live rock is covered with gorgeous purple calcific something -or-other. What will happen to this as I upgrade to the new ballast and perhaps VHO lights? <Change here will alter the mix, preponderance of species> Your thoughts on these?  <I would not be overly concerned regarding this abrupt change... w/o specifics, I would keep a close eye on your livestock, alter (extend or delete) illumination hours per their apparent behavior... (unless, you have interest, access to a PAR meter, light testing gear... want to guesstimate how much different... adjust for these two light regimes/set-ups. Bob Fenner> 

Refugium Algae 18 Jan 2005 I have a question about algae in the refugium, I hear so many people speak of certain type of algae to put in a refugium, indicating one is better than another. <I'm not sure you can say one is better than the other, just that in most peoples experiences some go sexual easier than others do. Or some grow better than others do and absorb the nutrients.> Or you need to keep the lights on 24/7 to prevent them from going active which could harm the tank. The algae that people are speaking of is the good variety (Caulerpa)<Macro algae, I am there with you. But I must say there's a lot of other grasses and algae that you can use as well.> My question is since all algae live of the same thing what's wrong with putting the hair algae and the other type of undesirables in a refugium, I think that would be better because they are not as sensitive and also never really hear about anyone of those going active....what your thoughts on that, and is there any draw backs to that. <I think the reason that most people do not use hair algae in a refugium is that they worry it will spread to a tank and hair algae can destroy corals very quickly. Does that help explain any better? Mac>

Refugium 18 Jan 2005 Hey there Bob and Crew.......<Hi Beth, MacL here with you on her birthday!> No matter how much I think I seem to know about this hobby (that my hubby got me into, his tank became my project and up keep.....his to simply enjoy :) and foot the bill for).  I read your website on a daily basis just for general knowledge as every time I take a look at the aquarium, there always seems to be something else I need to know.  I've asked a couple questions in the last several months ( we started our work of art in Sept 04) all have been answered so well and I'm hoping I can once again bore you with some of my concerns and newbyness.  I've been waiting a little while to write again to try and get a few questions out of the way at a time.  Sorry for the long read.  I'll start off by telling you about my 75 gallon aquarium. All water parameters are normal and we have been doing a 20% water change every 2 weeks.  Lights are Coralife compact with (2) 65 watt 10,000K, (2) 65 watt actinics and 3 moon lamps. (Hopefully adequate lighting for the corals that I have listed below?) Canister filter (pumps 185 GPH), 2 maxi-jet 600 (one on each side of the tank...water flow ok for corals?), and a CPR refugium/skimmer, which we get probably 2 cups of green water out a week (ok?). <I would say your flow would be okay for most of the softies and some of the LPS corals.  And it sounds like your skimmer is producing a lot but my question is, is what it is producing wet skimmate or is it more protein and more a dry mix. You might need to adjust to pull less water and more nasty stuff.> In the refuge I have 3" miracle mud (I know miracle anyone pays that for it) which gets a yucky bubbly stringy looking stuff on the top of it ( do I remove this or leave it?) some LR, some red Gracilaria, some grape Caulerpa and some kind of green that looks like the Gracilaria.  My purpose for the refuge is to grow pods for the corals and fish. I am currently leaving the lights on 24 hrs due to not wanting the Caulerpa to go asexual (doesn't it put off bad toxins when it does? I have been feeding it to my fox face until its gone), but would like the lights to be of the same time as the main lights so the fish can have some dark time. Main tank white lights are on 12 hrs a day with blues coming on and going off 1 hr before and after the whites.  (Sound  OK for the corals?)  Any advice on the refuge and what I am wanting to use it for would be great! Roughly 60-65 lbs of LR.  4" DAB which inhabitants are 1 sand sifting star (which I'm thinking about pulling out, I heard it eats on things that are good for the fish and corals), and about  20 Nassau's snails.  Other invert include 5 or so bumble bees, 12-15 blue leg hermits, 5 Turbos, about 20 Astrea snails, 1 cleaner shrimp and 1 banded coral shrimp (also which I'm concerning removing due to the corals and food competition).  In corals we have 1 hammer, 1 bubble, 1 toadstool mushroom, 1 fox, 1 pumping xenia, 1 long tentacle plate, 1 clove, 1 zoanthids ( which appears to be what I'm hoping is reproducing and good...stopped opening up and there's a ripped opened looking cut if you will spot on it?? , 1 green start polyp, 1 rock with 3 metallic green mushrooms, 1 rock with 2 hairy mushrooms and one sun polyp. I feed them all except the toadstool 3-4 times a week. I have been feeding them Mysis shrimp or Cyclop-eeze. I have also been adding calcium, iodine, strontium and essential elements 2 times a week.  Does this sound correct for the corals that I have?  Is this assortment of corals together ok?  I have each of them at least 6" from the other.  Fish wise I have 1 fox face lo, 1 bi color blenny, 1 dragon goby, 1 PJ cardinal, 2 percula clowns, and 2 damsels (total length in fish is about 12").  All are eating well and seem to be doing great, although first one and now both clowns do a twitching thingy.  They don't dart around or anything just twitch then move on like they are playing.  They have been doing this for a while now so I am assuming its fine?  Am I at my max here as far as fish go?  If not could you recommend a nice brightly colored fish?  I was doing some clean up maintenance today and noticed two little grayish white shrimpy looking things on the LR.  Any ideas?  The only algae problem I seem to be having is green hair algae growing on the LR, so every  few weeks I have been going in with a toothbrush and brushing it off but it does always returns.  Hopefully with time the refuge will help take care of that.  I think for now that is all I can think of, enough I know!  Thank you so much for the time and efforts you put forth on this website, I for one know that if it were not for this website I would have hung this lobby up already!  <Beth your tank sounds quite lovely. I'm a bit concerned it might be close to being overloaded simply because you have a large number of fish and of corals. Obviously you are willing to do the work to keep it up but it doesn't allow for much growing room of all the corals and fish. The white shrimpy things are probably live Mysis or copepods and that's great. The clownfish twitching is something that clowns do and nothing to worry about. The stringy stuff in the refugium sounds like Cyanobacteria and probably should be removed.  Now about the lighting arrangements. I do believe you should give your fish some downtime with lights totally off. You can put the refugium on the same timing but you'll have to prune the refugium much more frequently to prevent it from going sexual. Watch it closely for green Caulerpa that begin turning white and get that out as fast as possible. Thank you for the kind words about the website. It is an honor to work on it. Good luck MacL> Cheers, Beth

Refugium and contents follow-up  18 Jan 2005 Thank you MacL for your speedy response.  Upon further inspecting and reading and looking at photos on the net I have determined these shrimpy things to be amphipods.  I know I have a max load on corals in the set up.  We are planning a 220 gallon reef ready in the summer and most if not all of the corals will be moved into that tank.  I think I would like to put hard corals in this tank or make it a FOWLR.  I will try to get the stuff out of the bottom of the refuge, and will watch for Macro going asexual until I get the rest of it out of there.  What kind of macro do you think is good and I don't have to worry about it going asexual? The only thing I am getting out of the skimmer at this time is green water, how do I go about adjusting it to pull more then just wet skimmate? (more bubbles or less bubbles, is that the adjustment) As far as the zoanthids....do you think what I have described them doing is reproducing?  One more questions for tonight, I have what appears to be white spiral like baby snails everywhere, on the glass, the rocks, power jets.  I have seen a few baby snails in the take but not of the spiral kind.  Again thank you for your support and knowledge!  Beth <Hey Beth, great follow-up. Okay lets do this one thing at a time. Amphipods are for the most part good in the tank. I am assuming you ID'ed them enough to determine they are/were the beneficial ones.  That's wonderful about the tank upgrade. Let me caution you though. I just had a terrible tragedy happen myself.  I had a 120 gallon tank that I've been building up for ten years with fish and corals. Horribly overloaded. I had my 180 and my 220 ready to go and put off moving things over until the weekend. The electricity went off and I lost EVERYTHING. So just be cautious and plan your moving things quickly. Now the skimmer, I think you do need to make a tighter adjustment on it. Usually I believe its more bubbles and lowering the level so the bubbles basically have to "percolate" to a higher level.  So that the bubbles just don't immediately froth over into the skimmer but have to push up into the skimmer if that makes sense. Yes I definitely think your Zoanthus are reproducing and let me caution you about the Zoanthus. Be very careful if you touch them. They can be quite toxic. Different macro's offer you different things. I can only give you my personal experiences. I hate grape Caulerpa because in my experience its the first to go sexual and can be a major pain to work with. My personal favorite is the "feather" Caulerpa. The snails sound amazing Beth. Its hard for them to survive in a tank setting. Just to clarify the spiral snails aren't cone snails? You'll find great pictures on the site of snails. Thanks so much for your questions Beth.  Hope this helped. MacL>

Cheap refugium setup 1/16/05 I have just finished setting up a refugium/sump for my 55 gallon tank and thought others might wan t to know of how cheap it can be to jump start the invert and critter growth in one.  I bought 2.50 worth of live sand and asked for the detritus from the live rock tanks while they were getting my sand, they dredged out a bag full  (around 3 pounds) and gave it to me free as well as some Caulerpa that was in the tank.  This "gunk" is loaded with everything you need and it comes in the correct size substrate as well.  I did some checking as well and most fish stores are not only willing to do this for you they are happy to clear the crap out of their LR tanks as it is generally an eye sore for business.  so don't hesitate to ask, you never know what you might get for free. <an interesting refugium strategy... thanks for you input. Anthony> 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 Ramblings on Refugia! Big hellos to the Crew, <Hey there! Scott F. with you today!> One month ago I placed an Aquafuge on my nano, I put some LR, Chaetomorpha, macro, 4 inches of sand and some Xenia. My question is about the 4 inches of sand. I know it decreases water volume of the AquaFuge but I still have around 20% of refugium to tank volume. Do I need that much sand and will it help with decreasing nitrates? <My opinion is that the sand at that depth will certainly assist with denitrification. I feel that just about any refugium setup will assist with nutrient export if it is set up and maintained appropriately.> How long before the refugium is considered fully operational. <Well, the sandbed is "operational" from the start; whether or not it is contributing in a meaningful way to nitrate reduction and nutrient export will become obvious over time...> My sand is developing small dark spots that I can see through the sides of the refuge, what might that be? <Could be areas of anaerobic activity- could simply be algae seen through the side of the 'fuge...> I placed above the refuge an 24 watt/pc, I have it on a timer with my main tank lights, I've read in your articles to leave the refuge lights on 24/7 but it lights up my main tank and disturbs those inhabitants. If I don't leave it on 24/7, will that throw the balance off in the refuge. <I've done it 24/7, and I've done it "reverse" of the display tank lighting...I think that either way is beneficial. A lot of people feel that there is no advantage to 24/7 lighting in the 'fuge, and they are probably right! I'd go for the "reverse daylight" photoperiod. The stray light will not be too much of a problem, IMO. If it is annoying your fish, perhaps you can block out the light that is straying from the refugium...> Thanks for your help and your site. <A pleasure! Regards, Scott F.>

More Refugium Ramblings! Hi, <Hello! Scott F. with you today!> I have a question about using AMiracle Mud vs. live aragonite in my hang on CPR AquaFuge.  I currently have a 120g FOWLR tank. I have about 40lbs of live rock and about 25lbs of grotto rock.  The tank is stocked with a Purple Tang, Regal Blue Tang, False Eye Puffer, Flagfin Angel, Tomato Clown and Cleaner Goby. <A pretty sizeable population- even for a tank of this size...> I plan on adding a Navarchus angel and possible a Long nose Butterfly. <I'd pass on new additions at this point, especially fishes of this size...> I am currently using a Remora Pro skimmer,  2 Penguin BioWheel 330 filters ( I have removed the BioWheels from one of the filters)  and a power head for water flow.  All the fish are healthy and have been alive for 1 yr..  I recently bought the CPR Aquafuge to help with my nitrates which are running about 30ppm, and to cultivate pods and macro algae. (my ammonia, nitrites and phosphorous levels are 0, I do monthly water changes and feed sparingly). <Good to hear...Perhaps more frequent (like weekly, smaller) water changes will help reduce the nitrate level further...> What substrate do you recommend for the Aquafuge to help best to lower the nitrates? (I have about 4 inches of live aragonite substrate in the main tank).  Would live sand be any better than the mud or live aragonite? <I don't personally see any advantage of one over the other. "Miracle Mud" is rich in minerals, providing nutrients for the macroalgae that inhabit the "fuge". Their subsequent growth and regular harvest will contribute greatly to the nutrient export process..> Do you think adding another skimmer would help with the nitrates or should a remove one of the last of the 2 remaining bio wheels? <Multiple skimmers are cool...A great way to contribute to regular nutrient export, especially if you clean them regularly. I like the idea of ditching the BioWheels, myself...They could be counter-productive to your nitrate reduction efforts. Excellent nitrite removers, but potentially contributing nitrate to the system...> Also, would you leave the lights on the AquaFuge 24/7 or 12hrs during the night? <I've done both- I would go "reverse" of the main tank photoperiod.> Thanks for the help, Always learning and freezing my .... off in Minnesota! Larry <Glad to be here for you, Larry! Keep those tootsies toasty! Regards, Scott F>

CPR Pro Refugium Thanks for your reply, but I guess I was not clear enough. The CPR Pro Refugium is not a hang on the back style, it is a 19 gal sump style with a built in Protein skimmer before the refugium - sorry - assumed you were familiar with this product. << My bad, I know that product but was thinking of something else. >> After more reading, I am leaning towards setting this up with a DSB of 4", using oolite aragonite, getting some live sand (don't know where to go for LS as I don't have any "friends" with SW yet, don't trust LFS's - local reef store doesn't use any substrate - bare bottom tanks only) putting in as much LR as will fit and adding cleaning creatures (can you suggest good ones to use?). << Wow, no salt water fish friends?  If didn't have them, I wouldn't have any friends.  I'll bet there is a local club in your area.  I think the oolitic is okay, but I'd probably use about 4 inches of crushed coral.  Oolitic goes anaerobic fast, within 2 inches, and anoxic in about 4.  Also, I'm not sure why you want to pay the money for a CPR sump?  They are great sumps, but for a lot less you could just make your own 20 gal or use a Rubbermaid tub. >> Does all of the above sound correct?  I am also considering using a 3" DSB (is that enough? - seems to depend on who you ask...) to the main tank, as we are thinking about some fish, lots of LR, moving into corals, etc. as we go. << Yep 3" of deep sand bed is great. And also, as much live rock as you can get. >> Thanks! Anne <<  Blundell  >> Marine Plants/Algae Hello there,             I have a couple quick questions for you regarding some plants. I'm setting up a new custom refugium to filter my 120g tank exclusively.  In this refugium I'm including a partition which will hold some free floating plants <actually algae, not plants> such as Gracilaria and Chaetomorpha.  It'll be built so that a pump low in one corner of the tank will push the plants in a "rolling/tumbling" fashion that I've read about.  Now I was wondering if there are any other good plants that would also do good in this type of filtration style?  I've heard both these plants do great for nutrient export which is my main concern for this section of the tank. <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm and: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/maralgae.htm and the MANY Related FAQs files (linked, in blue, at top)>             There is also another section to this refugium that will hold some turtle weeds and mangroves and such. <This is a BIG such> There will be a 30x30 area with a very deep 6-8" bed of Aragamud with a 1-2" bed of various muds on top of that.  Are there any suggestions on how to set that up? <Uhh, see WWM re Mangroves, the FAQs>   In my design I'm thinking about putting some plastic pots in there surrounded by live rock that will hold the mangroves stacked in the back area of  the fuge. <Stacked?> On the rocks I'll put some other plants and corals that are good for nutrient export.  On the open space in front of the rocks I'll have a seagrass bed with some flowerpot <I'd reconsider Goniopora use> and elegance corals in them.  Is there a certain way to place them in there? <Yes... posted on WWM> I'd just like to know if you have a suggestions on how to set that up or know of any conflicts going on in my plans here.  Thank you guys a million for all your help as well!  I can't get enough of you guys.  I'm looking forward to your guys new book on fishes.  Any due date on that? <None definite... thanks for asking... maybe another six months for the first of the two volumes to hit the street... another year after that for the second>   Keep up the fantastic work, it's good to know there are people out there with some good sound advice.  This coming from someone who's been working in the industry for some time now and have heard some seriously weird stuff on how to do things (male and female mushrooms that need to "mate") phewww!                                Thanks a ton  Chris AKA Fishtank <Keep studying, taking good notes Chris... and make a diagram of all of this planning to share please... and maybe write up! Bob Fenner> - 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> CPR Refugium set up What a great web site!  I just read Bob's book and was ecstatic to find out he will answer questions! << I too am amazed. >>   I am basically new to SW, had some sea horses and a dragonet 15 years ago, but so much is new now.  I have had Fancy Goldfish for years, do well with them as I don't overstock. Even after reading much on the website I am still struggling with the "best" way to set up a new CPR Pro Refugium under my 72 gal bow front tank << Well, I'd put in on the back of the tank, add about 3 inches of crushed coral, a couple pieces of live rock, and add a clump of Caulerpa. Simple as that. >> (used to have Goldfish, moved them to 50 gal) that we are just setting up for SW, fish only at first with LR and LS (not sure exactly how to get good LS), << The best live sand can be found by asking a friend for a handful of sand from their tank. >> but would like to go to more advanced stuff as we learn. Thanks! Anne <<  Blundell  >>

Baffle Noise Dear Sir or Madam: <Sounds like the beginning of "Paperback Writer" by the Beatles!> I am designing a refugium with a partition between the algae and pump chambers.  I am concerned that water flowing over the partition into the pump chamber will produce excessive noise and splashing. <Mmm, not likely, but... can be muted with placement of foam sheeting...> A solution that I am considering is to build two partitions with bio-balls between the partitions. Water will then flow over the 1st partition and strike the bio-balls before reaching the pump chamber.  Will this reduce the noise and splashing enough to justify the added complexity? <Likely so> Are there other solutions that I should consider? <Likely not> Thanks very much. Regards, Paul. <McCartney? Bob Fenner>

Refugium substrate? Dear crew, I hope the holiday season finds you doing well. I am setting up a sump/refugium for my 100 gallon in a 20 gal. long glass aquarium. I have it separated into 3 sections with the middle for a refugium (Macros/live rock rubble).  I have read in great detail all of the options and opinions for creating the best refugium and I am now ready to act. At this point I am leaning toward a 2 -3 inch sugar sand base with a 1 inch crushed coral layer on top (per Blundell threads).  I am concerned that the flow (500-600 gph) <Likely no problem> will continuously disrupt the fine sand base.  Will this be effective for Nitrate reduction or do I really need the DSB for this purpose? <One inch of any size/grade substrate will not do much for denitrification> Can I get an added benefit from added Mud to this type of system? <Yes> Is it even reasonable to consider adding mud with a fine sand base? <Yes... though much more to say... best to assemble all, try out the given arrangement, and see what adding substrates does here... you may well need to adjust water flow to accommodate slow to more brisk flow functions here.> Thanks. You guys are great and very patient. Happy New Year!! Nick <Am hopeful 05 will see improvement. Bob Fenner>

Refugium I have a 20 gallon reef tank set up. I am going to add a refugium in hopes   of getting rid of all  non natural filtration, aside from the  skimmer.  I am wondering what kind of substrate, plants, rock, etc would be  best to accomplish this. The refugium I purchased is a CPR hang on model. Thank you for your assistance. <Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm and the many Related FAQs files (linked, in blue, at top) and/or through the hundred or so pages of the recent Natural Marine Aquariums, Reef Invertebrates book by myself and Anthony Calfo re these valuable tools... There are many options, alternatives with their champions, rationale to consider here. Bob Fenner>

Centrifugal pumps damaging plankton? 12/29/04 Dear WWM crew, First off I would like to say that I have literally spent hours perusing your forums, enough that my wife groans when she sees me on the computer   <glad to hear the former, not the latter... do take care of family first and foremost :)> Thank you for offering a great service. I have heard from a few different places in passing (mostly magazines, and in a couple of places on the WWM pages) that our common centrifugal pumps are limiting our ability to maintain significant zoo and phyto plankton populations in our aquariums, <actually, this is archaic information/belief based on some silly research with brine shrimp that was extrapolated to be applied to marine plankton. In truth, marine plankton act nothing like (salt lake) brine shrimp and suffer very little plankton shear. The point is also ultimately moot as the plankton come out just as edible on the other side :) If you were hungry, would you refuse a hamburger because you wanted a steak instead? <G>> and thinking about it makes sense that the plankton could be damaged by colliding with the volute of the pump.   <you'd be amazed what commonly passes through... I have seen small fish make it numerous times> Since I cannot seem to find anything more than speculation on this subject I was wondering what y'alls opinion is.   <it is only speculation and bunk at that. No worries on plankton shear> Do you think there is any benefit in trying a reciprocating or perhaps rotary pump?  I am thinking that the non-uniform output of the reciprocating pump could have its advantages (more turbulent flow etc.) but more complicated design would lead to more maintenance.  I would love to hear the WWM opinion on this subject. Thanks very much for your input Chad Miltenberger <hamburger 'til it hurts, mate. Anthony> Lights and refugium questions for a 125 gal Paul and the rest of the gang;     Thank you so much for your response, and for all of the other helpful information on your site.  After talking to one of the guys at the LFS, I think I'm going to  go with the Coralife Aqualight Pro.  The 72" version has 3 150 watt HQIs and 4 96 watt PC's. << Sounds good. >> However, the guy at the LFS told me that because of the glass brace that runs across the top in the middle (125 gallon 72x18x23), and the overflow being in the center of the back pane of glass that much of the middle HQIs usefulness would be negated. << Very true.  Many people have that brace removed and replaced with a clear acrylic brace.  Or, just having their lights not centered directly over their tank. >>  He suggested that the 48" (2 150 watt HQIs, 2 96 watt PC's) would be sufficient for the LPS corals I intend to keep. << On a 125 gallon?  I have that much light on my 30 gallon!  That doesn't sound like anywhere near enough light. >> Any thoughts/recommendations you have on the matter would be much welcome and greatly appreciated.  Also, for the sump based refugium that they make and sell there, the protein skimmer is in the last section of the sump, so that the raw tank water first flows through a partition filled with live rock, overflows into the refugium, which then overflows into the section housing the skimmer and is finally pumped back up to the tank.  He said the reason is that it allows for a higher water level in the sump/refugium, which means greater system volume, and that makes sense to me.  However, most of what I've read says that it is best to have all raw tank water pass first through the skimmer. << Yes, I'd go skimmer first, then refugium. >>  The skimmer I am getting is an ASM G2, and my primary goal of the refugium is to generate plankton for the tanks inhabitants.  Your thoughts? << I'd either hook the skimmer up in addition to the refugium (so it doesn't affect water level and volume) or just run it at the beginning.  It doesn't do any good to have a refugium (regardless of size) if you are just pulling out your plankton into your skimmer. >>  Once again, thanks in advance. Adam G. Mesa, AZ <<  Blundell  >>

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> Best algae for refugia Hey Bob, or whomever answers up! << Blundell tonight. >> I'm curious as to your choices for refugium algae.  As in what you feel are the best at nitrate reduction, etc.  I've heard goods and bads about grape, the bad being going sexual, and I've heard bad things about Chaetomorpha releasing is own chemicals into the water.  I do recall removing some Chaeto from the main display and I must say that the underside did seem to be thriving on dead plant tissue which quickly crapped up my water upon lifting. << All Caulerpa is good.  I'd say C. serrulata is the most stable, but slowest growing. I think C. racemosa is the fastest growing, best for nutrient removal. >> So what are your personal preferences for fuge algae and why so? << Even better is Sargassum and Dictyota. >> Thanks <<  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

Populating a refugium + importance of ALK + Calcium testing Hello, <Hi there> I have been reading your Forums for a couple of weeks now and am set aback at the amount of information. <There is... much to know, relate> I used to run a LFS and went out of business because I was too honest (I was not moving the junk/gadgets). <Hee hee! More important (of course) to be yourself... not gain the world and lose your soul...> I consider myself an intermediate level reef keeper - I know a lot but not hardly enough ;) .  OK, on to my questions: About my system: 55 gallon Reef - In wall installation accessible via closet. 75lbs of live rock DSB 3inches 4 in places Tunze Skimmer 3110/2   *Small I know  :(  I may DIY one, I have an old Seaclone I would like to Mod. <Maybe for experimentation... I'd stick with the under-sized Tunze> 2x refugiums, one is sump/fuge combo 20gal - the other is sump/fuge combo 25gal driven by one Mag Drive 350gph. Temp 73 PH 8.3 Ni Am = 0 Na less than 10 ppm Cal? Alk? 2x 802 powerheads CPR overflow Fluval 302 running carbon only Lighting - Giesseman 350watt 10000K Livestock: 2 Domino Damsels - 1 Sailfin Tang <Hard to add more with those Dascyllus present> 20 snails/20 hermit crabs 1 BTA  (MIA) 2 cleaner shrimps 1 peppermint shrimp 1. I hear everyone talking about all the cute little bugs in their refugiums - How does one *populate a refugium?? Does it just happen by itself? How do I get all kinds of critters in there? <Can add directly (as in a "kit", e.g. from IPSF.com, InlandAquatics.com...) or the self-producing LR route> 2. Can I have only micro Algae in the refugium or should there also be live rock?  both refugiums have DSB's. <Better to have LR and macroalgae...> 3. If I am using store bought water form a Winemaking store (completely demineralized)  + instant ocean, and a 10% water change once per week, should I still have to watch my calcium levels or should they even out? <Likely will be okay... is there something "that wrong" with your source water? What? I would get/use test kits for Calcium (though not Magnesium Strontium) and alkalinity if you were/are concerned> *I have good purple coralline growth* <Bingo! I would not worry re the above> 4. What is the importance of checking the Alk levels? <Mmm, another "window" on what's going on, might go on in ones system. Many folks, mainly due to over-crowding, over-feeding, lack of maintenance have shortfalls of alkaline reserve... suffer further troubles in algal proliferation, livestock health as a consequence...> 5. I have been having problems with algae in the display tank (the reasons I recently installed the fuges) I have been told it is red slime algae, but it looks brown - It covers everything in it's path - heck it even grew on my Yellow Cuke. It looks like an old opaque spider's web.  I cannot understand what is causing this... any hints or things to look out for? <Cyanobacteria/BGA can be any color (is it slimy?)... with time, the refugia will clear this up... I would not be concerned> 6. On a side note - I bought a BTA about a week ago and he seems to have disappeared. <Happens... if "unhappy" can scrunch down to a very small zot in size> I thank you in advance for all information/help/pointers/tips you may offer. <Glad to share> PS Where do I see the answer to my questions once you answer them - do I check in the Forum? <We send all back to queriers, and later post to the Dailies, then later to separate FAQs files. Bob Fenner> Robert Martin Vegetable filter in refugium After much reading online and in your excellent Reef Invertebrates (RI) book, <Hi Mark, Matt here answering questions for Bob 'n' Anthony> I'm planning on utilizing Gracilaria in my refugium for nutrient export and some plankton generation (and for my tang to chow on when he's been good). My problem is that I have yet to run across a discussion of how to confine the algae so that it won't run through the sump baffles and into the intake of my main pump or skimmer pump.  In RI, you mention allowing the Gracilaria to "tumble" in the sump's water flow- to my thinking, this requires corralling the algae mat somehow, perhaps with plastic mesh.  Would you be kind enough to direct me to (or post) a description of how best to do this? <Sure!  I think most people put their macroalgae in a separate container connected to the sump, and then use some sort of grating to keep the contents where they're supposed to be.  No reason you can't keep the algae in the sump though!  I would construct a box of plastic egg crate (A pic of it here: http://www.ristandassociates.com/stock/plastic_eggcrate.html)  It looks like a white grid.  Cut out some large squares of this, and connect them together with plastic zip ties.  All this stuff should be available at a Home Depot or good hardware store.  The box will allow flow through, while containing your Gracilaria.  Hope this helps!  Matt> Thanks, -Mark- Refugium flow rate Hello Crew             I have a question regarding the flow rate in my refugium. About 2 months ago I setup a 10 gal refugium upstream from my 30 gal main tank. It has a 3" sand bed. ? of the tank has about a 1" of crushed coral, and I have some razor Caulerpa and Chaetomorpha. I now am getting a good growth of copepods and amphipods in the refugium but with only about 3gal per hour turn over how will the pods get into my main tank. The way I have it plumbed now I cant get any higher flow without getting a lot of air bubbles into my tank unless I have it overflow into my sump. My sump only sits about 4" higher then my main tank so my overflow which I used ?" bulkhead and ?" pipe only drops about 2" before dumping into my main tank. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated Thanks Mark <Not much difference in height... but you could increase the flow here appreciably if you'd like... with a powerhead or small submersible pump... to a good one to three, four volumes per hour. 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  >>

Will pumps kill pods from the refugium? Thanks Adam! I'll pass on the dragonet. I still want to set up a refugium at some point though -it would be nice to have live food so I can leave the tank to take care of feeding the fish for days at a time when I go on trips.... << Yes refugia are wonderful. >> I just hadn't considered under the tank refugiums. Wouldn't the pump kill the pods first before pumping them up to the display? << No, they go right through the pump.  I'd say 90% of refugia are under tanks with pumps pushing the water back up. >> Narayan <<  Blundell  >>

Substrate sand size Hi guys (and/or gals)!     For a 10 gallon inline refugium for my 40 gallon tank, what substrate would you recommend for best species diversity support. << CaribSea crushed coral. >> I have read on your site that certain amphipods prefer larger sized substrate, while copepods, et al. prefer sugar sized. Would I be able to achieve the best of both worlds, by placing a small 2-3 inch high divider in the middle of the refugium across the bottom with fine substrate on one side, and coarse on the other, or would it be better to stay with one or the other? << Better to put a thin layer of fine sand (one inch) then on top of it put a layer of crushed coral (two inches).  This is the new popular way to go. >> Your thoughts? Thanks a ton. Blair Miller <<  Blundell  >> Lamp colors and Refugiums 11/9/04 I have a couple quick questions.  I'd like to know what the difference is between the 7100k lights and the actinics.   <actinics are a single wavelength (around 420 nm for some) and 7100K lamps are a full(er) spectrum akin to daylight. This latter lamp being much better for PAR for corals> I know the actinics are specific to 420nm which I've heard doesn't do much for photosynthesis, however, great for aesthetics.   <Doh!... I should read ahead. Yes> The 7100k lights I've seen out on the market look pretty similar in color to the actinics, but I've been told they're much better for photosynthesis.   <correct... do look at PAR values in charts and analysis... articles by Sanjay Yoshi for example> Another confusing thing is that a 6700k looks yellow and a 10k looks more white but a 7100k which is in the middle of the two looks blue??   <different brands and even interpretations by individuals (we all do not see color the same)> I just would like to know what the deal is with all this. One thing that I've been looking forward to is the next book in the natural aquarium series.  Could you tell me what the schedule of releases are?   <we are getting into layout and pre-press now... hoping for the first of a 2 part-volume on Reef Fishes for early next year> I've learned a ton from just the invert book.  It's inspired me to get a refugium.  I don't have one yet but it's in the works.  BTW have you had any experience with the ecosystems refugium method? <yes, and many refugium styles> Is it really that much better than a standard refugium growing less dangerous algae.   <of its many benefits I would not count that as one. Water flow is more of a factor here> I've also become a firm believer in the quarantine tank as well. <this is a critical lesson... it will take you far> I tell all my customers to quarantine quarantine quarantine!   <all will succeed better for it. Thank you for this effort!> Well this has turned out to be quite long so I'm  going to cut this short.  You guys are great thanks a mill. Chris aka fishtank <best regards, Anthony>

20 gal with a refugium? I have a 20 gallon Nano reef tank with 40 lbs life sand and 35 lbs of live rock. I am currently using an Eheim wet/dry filter. I am looking to get rid of this unit and switch over to a hang on refugium. << Great idea. >> I am wondering if a fluidized bed filter would also be a good choice or would this provide increased nitrates as the wet/dry does? << I think the fluidized bed is unnecessary with the benefits of a refugium. >> If this would not be a good choice of additional filtration, what might be? My tank is fairly heavily stocked with fish and several corals. <<  Blundell  >>

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>

-Refugium & Macroalgae question- Hi, Larry here. <Hello, Kevin here> I have a 120g FOWLR tank with a remora pro skimmer and 2 BioWheel 400 filters and power heads for extra water flow.  I have about 40lbs of live rock as well.  I just purchased a CPR 19" AquaFuge which hangs on the back of the tank to help with nutrient export and help keep my nitrates down which are running around 30ppm. <Remove the bio-wheels, problem solved!> My goal is to lower the nitrates to 15-20ppm. <Why not to undetectable?>  My fish are all healthy and I am not feeding too much.  The tank is stocked with a blue tang, purple tang, flag fin angel, false eye puffer, Heniochus, tomato clown and a cleaner goby so I don't think its over stocked.  My nitrites and ammonia are always 0. My questions are what type of media do you recommend for the refuge- live DSB or mud and what type of macro algae are most efficient at using up the nitrates? <My preference has been to use a DSB, but mud 'fuges work well also. Chaetomorpha is my favorite macro as it is not nearly as much of a pain in the butt as Caulerpa is.> I know that adding more live rock to the tank would help but I don't plan on adding more than another 15-20lbs. Currently I change about 18g of water every 6 weeks and don't plan on changing more often because I have enough work to do maintaining a 75 reef tank.  My tank is 1 year old and all the fish have been doing well.  Thanks, Larry in Minnesota gearing up for the 4 month deep freeze. <Good luck1 -Kevin>

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 problems Dear WWM crew, about three weeks ago I 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 Chaeto macro algae. Since adding this my leather corals are closed more than open & they have shrunk in size. <Possibly nutrient issues related to the addition of the uncured sand...what are your ammonia/nitrite levels?> Before ,everything was doing great with super polyp extension and good color. The refugium went from a white stingy 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. 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, break in problem & will it clear up and how long before. <That's my best guess.  Should clear up fairly soon...are you skimming, running activated carbon, or any other chemical filter media?> 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??? <A 55 is a bit small for a mandarin, even with a refugium, but it will definitely help.  It shouldn't be added in the first year your tank is set up, in any case.> <The initial Cyanobacteria you experienced thrive off of dissolved organics in the water.  Best way to get rid of them is to limit the nutrients available--don't overfeed, use RO/DI water for top off and water changes, skim, use activated carbon, and manually remove as much Cyano and detritus as you can with airline tubing.  With dedication it will go away, I promise.>

Refugium above tank? Dear Crew: I am in the process of plumbing my upstream refugium.  A little info: 55 gal 4' all-glass main display 40 gal clear plastic container refugium on 4' high stand to the right of main display (this brings the entire 'fuge above the display) Iwaki 40RLT on closed loop AquaC Remora Pro with Mag 3 I was thinking I can upgrade skimmer pump, and pump water from my main tank to the skimmer, which I would move to the 'fuge.  I emailed Jason Kim, President of AquaC, and he said with a Mag 7 or 9 this would work. First, IYO, do you think this is feasible? << Sure. >> Secondly, I have two 1" bulkheads drilled in the back of the refugium for overflow back to the display.  Can I run the pipes at 45 degree angles to the main, or do I need to come down at 90, then turn at 90? << 45's are better than 90 degree bends, so do that. >> I have attached a crude diagram of what I am talking about.  Thanks a few million. << This is somewhat common.  No worries, it looks good. >>  Rich <<  Blundell  >> 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  >> Plumbing a refugium Hello WWC, << Blundell tonight. >> Thanks for all the great info!! I have a 90 gallon reef tank that has been set up for 8 months. The tank has a wet/dry trickle filter (24"x 12" One half with protein skimmer the other side unoccupied at the moment) I have just recently taken out all of the Bio balls (Thanks for that advice) Is it possible and would it large enough to make the right side of my wet/dry filter a Refugium (12"x12"x12")? << Sure, why not. >> I was going to close up the bottom portion of the box where the water flows underneath to the other side and cut away a portion of the top so I can fill the bottom with sand and have it flow over the top. << Not a bad idea. >> The two things that concern me most are (1) How I should have the water enter the Refugium right now it goes thru a drip tray with a filter pad. << I still like that idea. >> I wasn't sure if I should do away with that because it does catch a lot of debris. Also would it create too much disturbance for a Refugium? (2) Do u think it would be better to do away with the drip tray and add a bulk head fitting to the side of the filter box and have the water enter that way? Or do u think it would be a better idea to ditch that idea and set up a 10 gallon tank next to the wet/dry? << That sounds good as well. I don't think it will matter much, you may have to just try it out. >> You have no idea how fantastic this site is for someone that is new to this hobby. I have been told and sold so many different things by LFS. It is a shame that advice is driven by selling you a more expensive product!  << Well rest assured I have nothing to sell. >> Thank You in advance!! Jim <<  Blundell  >> - Filtration & Refugium Options - Hi, I'm hoping you can answer a question for me regarding refugium flow rate. <So am I...> I read through the refugium material on your website and about water circulation in a reef tank. Maybe my questions were answered somewhere in there, but with so many entries in the FAQ I've lost track. After a 4 year hiatus, I will set up my 120 tank. This time I will build a reef tank, clams, corals, the whole nine yards. The largest refugium /sump I can install under the tank is about 20 gal. I will use it for bio filtration, skimmer on closed loop, mud filter and Caulerpa. First off what do you think? <Better to have both - a sump and refugium - a decent flow rate of 10x your system volume could be too brisk for a refugium.> Too small? <It would be better if it were larger.> Bound for failure? <Not necessarily... but may not provide the full extent of benefits you hope for.> I do not intend on having powerheads in the tank so as your site has suggested, I will use a hefty pump and a manifold for good water circulation, 1500 to 2000 GPH. But it seems to me this flow rate will be way, way too much for the refugium. <Spot on.> I would actually prefer something like 2x to 5x (40 to 100 gph) the sump capacity per hour. I think this is consistent with others claim to be acceptable. <Yes.> Can I T off of the return line and gate valve over to the sump, with the other line tied directly into the circulation pump? Can I "T" back into the intake of the circulation pump? <Don't think it would work well... plumb the pump directly to the outflow of the tank - typically this flow contains a lot of air that would significantly reduce the efficiency of your pump.> This somehow doesn't seem right to me. I'm guessing that I will have to put a small pump in the sump to return to the tank. <Yes, perhaps use the high volume pump in a closed loop - direct intake from the tank without using the overflow.> As an alternative, I can fit two sumps under the tank (1 refugium, 1 sump). I could then devote the entire 20 gal tank to a refugium / mud filter. <That sounds better.> Should I place the Bio filtration in the sump? <You can go without, provided a sufficient amount of live rock and sand in the tank.> How about the skimmer, closed loop off of the sump or refugium? <Would place in or around the sump.> Many Thanks......Frank <Cheers, J -- > Gracilaria Refugium Hi guys. <Hello! Ryan with you today> I would like to set up a Gracilaria refugium next to and above my 180 gal. reef tank( tank is not running yet). The size is about 35 gal. Could you help in telling me how you would set it up? <Yes, lots of flow to keep the Gracilaria suspended in the water column, moderate light.> Will there be sand at the bottom? <I'd skip it, unless it's enough sand to aid in denitrification, like over 5 inches> What size grain? <Sugar-fine> Where do I purchase the Algae? <Don't buy it, just get a few clippings from a fellow reefer...Reefcentral.com is great for trades.> How does it take foot hold? <It grows in big balls, that roll with the current.> How much lighting? <3 watts/gallon> How many time the water should turn over? <10> Will this refugium produce lots of food for the corals that reside? <Yes, but a still algae, such as Chaeto, may provide more nutrient export and may help develop zooplankton in more volume.> Thanks for all the great advice. <No problem!  Ryan> Stephan G. 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>

Ulva for Refugium Hello Crew, Is Ulva a good macroalgae for nutrient export in the refugium?  I have a bunch growing in my refuge but don't know if I should crop it or not. Thanks for your help. Roy <Ulva and Enteromorpha (Order Ulvales), aka Sea Lettuce are excellent green algae for refugium use... for nutrient export as well as food. Bob Fenner>

Refugium Article Do you happen to recall or have it listed somewhere when your "Get Thee to a Refugium" article ran in FAMA?  I am working on my own refugium piece and would like to add yours to my suggested reading list. <Ran as part of a piece in TFH in 4/98. Bob F> Thanks, Steven Pro

Hang On Refugium In addition to my earlier questions, thanks by the way, <You've got MikeD this time> would a 5 gal hang on the back refugium be too much weight for a 120 gal reef ready all glass aquarium to hold?<I'd be very leery of it myself. While it MAY support the weight initially, long term stress and occasional minor impact of any kind is a potential for disaster on a major scale.> 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  >>

- Refugium & Protein Skimmers - I have a 3 month old 29 gal reef tank, 30 lb live rock, 20 lb. live sand, some small corals, a few inverts, and 3 fish (yellow eye tang, turf mower blenny & mandarin). The filtration is a small refugium and an Emperor 280. I just recently got the tang in trade for the starter fish, but have experienced a bad algae bloom (red slime & green fuzzy stuff) - the red is gone but the fish do not seem to be controlling the green algae. (I did start to scrape it off & siphon it out). <Ahh good, is what's required some times.> I know that too many nutrients cause these problems & want to know if I need a protein skimmer (which one to hang on back?? Aqua C Remora?) and should I take out the tang & get something smaller. <Well... for starters yes, a skimmer of any kind will help your overall filtration, but may not address the algae directly. In general problem algae has a number of causes and you need to address them all - overfeeding is just one. You should also examine your overall circulation, perhaps add powerhead or two.> I also have a 40 gal. that has been up just over a year with a heavy fish & coral load on which I have a 400 Emperor, SeaClone skimmer & 4 watt sterilizer - it is doing great & getting the coralline algae now.  I am just not familiar with the refugium system to be comfortable & wonder if the Emperor is undoing what the refugium does. <Probably not... should be fine, but if all goes well, you should be able to remove the Emperor at some point and just let the refugium take over.> Should I take off the Emperor & just add a protein skimmer (&/or another smaller power filter??). <That wouldn't be a bad deal.> I have 12 inches to work with. <Then perhaps, yes you probably should ditch the Emperor then...> Thanks, I have read lots of your articles & they are great. <Glad you find them useful.> Marilyn <Cheers, J -- >

Surge Refugium Questions 7/20/04 Hi Anthony <cheers Wayne> Sorry to pester you some more.... <no worries mate> OK I have a follow up question.  It  occurred to me that as I'm plumbing the 5 as a refugium above the tank it would be very easy for me to turn it into a Carlson Surge device by drilling one of the outlets to be below the other and then be the siphon inlet bit.  I think you know what I mean.   <I do... but its a dreadful idea in my opinion. Small surge devices are notoriously finicky to run (working better on a much larger scale), they also create a miserable salt creep and salt spray that is corrosive to lights and equipment of course... and most importantly perhaps, they wreak havoc on skimmer performance as they frequently disturb the migration of proteins in the tank to the surface. Surge devices are really only suited for public  aquarium sized tanks> So here's the stats.  The five is approx. 25 * 35 cm. floor, 35 cm. high (metric from now).  According to my math each litre added/withdrawn drops the water column 1.14 cm.  I can then plumb it into the current 30 OR I can plumb it into a larger tank I'm building to replace this with, which 120 cm. * 40 cm. <a refugium would be much better> (incidentally is this enough floor space for a Chaetodon kleinii?).   <alas... I don't think so. But it is a fantastic and hardy species> Put a litre into a tank of this size and it goes up 0.2 cm. So I can push 5 litres into there and it'll go up a centimetre, or 10 litres and it will go up 2. My questions are...... a) Is a surge of this volume significant, worth the bother.  I can maybe move closer to 15 litres I suppose, it's no more difficult to plumb. <difficult to plumb and totally not worth the effort> b) I intend to run, as I said a thin layer of sand  with a thick layer of rock chippings above (my LFS says I can have all the debris from the next few live rock shipments).  If I start crashing 15 litres in and out and I am likely to suck everything living out? That would pull the water column up down 16 cm. in a total depth of say 30. c) I will likely end up  with two tanks (don't tell the wife).  The current 30 'semi reef' plus this larger 50 ish (120 *40*40 cm.) in which I would like to keep my Centropyge bicolor, 6 line wrasse, Chaetodon kleinii (currently in 20 long QT in basement),  a couple other things (Inc. the errant bicolor).  Which should I lash the 5 onto?   <a refugium on the fish tank display> What will get the best value for money feeding wise, inverts in 30, fish in 50?  Should I return the kleinii - it eats like a shark!   <heehee... yes, a great fish but needs more room> Incidentally what might survive in a tank lit by 4 NO fluors. + survive the attentions of the kleinii and bicolor? <not too much... they are quite nippy. Photosynthetic gorgonians are noxious and a good candidate here> d) Flow rate.  Being a tight arse I have a currently unused but nice Rena water pump I intend to use that will shift about 200 litres an hour with 50 cm. head.  That means by my calculations it should flush about 13 times an hour, ever 4 or 5 minutes.  I am in fear of it reaching a stasis with this inflow and the inch outflow siphon where the siphon never quite clears enough water to break as the pump pushes it in?  Will this happen? <I'm not following your question here my friend> Basically it's a physics question.  In a siphon, is flow rate determined by the amount of drop, or drop plus water depth in upper container. <yikes... please tell me you are not using a siphon overflow under any circumstance? They will fail in time. I'd rather see you live without a downstream sump or refugium than take this chance> Do many people build this sort of thing on a small scale? <too tiny> Regards from Norway.   I only have the room for small tanks in my office, and am losing my remain freshwater as they're just too much maintenance compared to salt (yes you read that right) cheers, Wayne <very cool :) Anthony>

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>

Refugium "Dust" Hi. <Morning! Ryan with you> Thanks for your site, it is a tremendous help. <Surely> I tried a few different attempts to search for the answer to my question, but I could not find it. I recently purchased an external CPR HOB refugium. I got it up and running, and everything is fine with it, but I have noticed that a thin layer of sediment has settled onto the bottom of it. I assume this is from the main tank. I have not put any substrate into the refugium yet. So my question is, is there any way to prevent this from happening? <prevent?  Not really, but you could use a sponge on the input for the refugium.>  Is this just part of the refugium? <Natural occurrence, yes.>  Can I place some sort of filter over the intake portion of the refugium? <ha!  You're on my level.  You would also see less of this if you increased skimming.>   Should I just vacuum the refugium like I do the main tank?  <If it bugs you.  It's actually like a breeding ground for pods, so it has benefit as well.>  Sorry about that long string of questions, especially since they all probably lead to the same answer. <Not at all, glad to see you in research mode.> Thank you very much for your assistance.  <Good luck, Ryan> Brian

REFUGIUM FILM Hello, <Hi Brent, MacL here>      I've been doing a lot of reading on your website and wanted to confirm some of my findings.  First I have a refugium with an Eheim 1048 pumping 158 gallons per hour. <Nice lil pump.>  Additionally I have a 50 watt power compact in reverse photoperiod.  When I lift the lid of the refugium there is a very thick film on the top of the water. Is this the sign of a working refugium or one that isn't working. <My refugium doesn't have any type of gunk at the top.  It has enough of a flow so the water goes through the Caulerpa.>Should I place a protein skimmer on the refugium to get rid of this gunk? <I do believe you need more flow of some type.> Should the flow rate be increased? <Yes or perhaps its where the flow is, maybe you need to somehow point it differently?> Also what kind of maintenance should be performed on the refugium? <I prune my Caulerpa, and clean the sides.> Based on the FAQ's everything seems fine with the setup but wanted to confirm. <Sounds like you are doing great, I personally would suggest just a bit more flow or change of direction of the current flow.> Thanks in advance   -Brent <Good luck, Brent, MacL>

- Hang-on Refugium - hey I got a question for you guys I have a 65 gallon reef tank I was wondering do you recommend a hang on refugium for my tank if so what is the decent size for this please help thanks <I am only aware of the CPR hang-on refugiums, and I would recommend you use the largest one that will fit on your tank, leaving room for whatever else you have hanging on. Cheers, J -- >

REFUGIUM FLOW & OTHER QUESTIONS Crew, <Hi John> Definitely appreciate the support you guys do for the hobby every day! <As the newest member on here, I'm continually amazed at the people I am honored to work with>  I read your site pretty continuously to keep up to date & learn as much as I can. <Very nice.> I have a few, somewhat unrelated questions that I've spooled up that I couldn't find direct answers to on your site (or are specific to my setup). My setup is a 120 gal (4'x2'x2') FOWLR with 180# LR.  The tank's been established 6 years with improvements made over time (upgrade to 520W of PC lights, LR addition, added refugium, upgraded skimmer, etc.).  Water params are 1.024 salinity, 8.4 PH, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, 10-20 nitrates, 4.0 alk, 450 calcium. Stocked w/ Emperor Angel (5yrs in tank), Regal Blue tang, Foxface, flame angel, lawnmower blenny, cleaner shrimp & numerous snails/hermits. Here's my questions: - Refugium GPH?  I've got a 15gal refugium with Miracle Mud, a couple different types of Caulerpa, hermits, snails & some small frags of LR in-line via 2" pvc with my wet/dry sump.  Skimmer & UV pull from the sump & empty in the front chamber of the fuge.  Due to room constraints, my Iwaki pump (a little over 2000gph) is at the end of the refugium returning to the display tank.  Yes, the water is seriously flowing through the fuge, but everything looks great in there & water params have improved over the months since it's introduction. <Nice to hear.> We are moving to a new house & I'll have a room dedicated to my sump/filters, so I have the opportunity to optimally adjust plumbing. <Wonderful, I am jealous.> I'm thinking of changing the setup to have my Iwaki return pull from the sump, skimmer pull & dump back into the sump, and have my UV pump (250 gph) pull from the last chamber of my fuge & return to the sump. This would lower my fuge gph more in line with what I think most would recommend? <It would definitely take the flow amount down.> I'm struggling having my UV pull from the sump due to killing off some of the "beneficials" exiting the fuge vs. a separate/dedicated pump. <I have to say honestly I think you would loose a lot of the benefit that you are gaining from the refugium. Personally I would consider going with a dedicated pump.> The dedicated pump drawback is that in the summer, my temps are 81-82 & adding another pump would probably increase the heat. <I see what your concern is but I think it might be worth the addition of a small fan or two to take care of the additional heat problem.>  Your thoughts?  FYI - the 15gal has made such a difference that in the new setup, I'm going to eventually add another 30 gal refugium to increase the overall health of the system (either extended off the 15gal or on the other side of the sump). <I'm a major proponent of refugiums. I have seen them make a huge difference on many peoples tanks.> -Reducing Caulerpa in refugium?  My Caulerpa is going gang busters & I need to cut it down. <Ah a common problem. Let me just caution you, if your Caulerpa is going gangbusters there's more to the story than that. There's LOTS feeding the Caulerpa, usually phosphates and that can be a problem.>  What's the best way? <I can tell you my method. Every couple of weeks I climb up on a step ladder and just pull out Caulerpa. I don't take scissors, I just pull it out. Usually it comes out in specific bunches at a time, and I'm lucky I have a distributor who I sell it to and he sells it to stores.>  Actually remove several of the plants or prune the excess? <When I pull sometimes it does take out whole plants but usually it takes bits and pieces of the plants and it seems to be natural places it is ready to split. Let me warn you if you see anything in the Caulerpa turning white pull the entire plant.>  I think pruning would be easier, but I think I remember hearing that cutting Caulerpa can sometimes cause degradation of the whole plant?  Also, when removing it, should I place some in the display for food or flush it to eliminate the extra nutrients/nitrates in the whole system? <I always put some in my tank for the tangs to eat and they devour it. But it does release some of the nutrients and yes nitrates back into the tank. Lots of people just toss the entire plant.  One thing I always try to do is make sure I have at least some of each type of grass or Caulerpa I have in my refugium still there.> -Refugium lighting?  What's better ... alternate lighting with display or 24/7? <Lots of people use the 24/7 because it keeps the ph higher and prevents the Caulerpa from going sexual.> I've heard arguments for both. 24/7 is what I'm doing, but it is probably not the best for the snails/hermits. With alternate lighting I run the risk of the Caulerpa going sexual, right? <If you do proper culling you won't have problems with it going sexual but both methods work.> Any preference?  Probably don't use Caulerpa & go alternate, right? <I know lots of people who use grasses instead of Caulerpa. Personally my refugium has a mix of both the grasses and the Caulerpas.> -Clown for BTA?  Probably my last fish to this tank will be a clown.  I know the maroon is the natural fit for BTA's, but I really prefer true Perc's (looks & less aggressive).  I've always known true Percs to inhabit a lot of anemones outside of the natural selections.  However, I just personally have never seen true Percs in a tank with BTA's.  What's your thoughts on the pairing/selection? <I have not seen true Percs take to a  BTA but others have. I know my black perculas from Australia totally ignore it.> BTW - I've only had the BTA 6 months and it's almost doubled in size from the LFS, only wandered the first night & I believe has increased it's color intensity.  The only set back was a 6 hour power outage last week that resulted in a 25 gal water loss (painful lesson - unclean check valve<OUCH>) that I had to replace with hastily made up salt mix (RO water already made, but not salt). Better of 2 evils I thought - quick mix water vs. airstones/powerheads dropped in display. The BTA did shrink after the outage & only recently has made it to close to pre-outage size. <Lately the skunk clowns appeal to me and I know they will go to a BTA. Just a different idea.> Not a question, but interesting comment.  I just introduced my Flame angel & cleaner shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis) to my display after a month in quarantine.  The cleaner never touched the flame in QT - probably due to the fact that they're almost the same size.  However, I was really worried about my Emperor having a $40 cleaner snack. The Emperor knocks around any new snails/hermits that are introduced & hasn't seen a cleaner shrimp for at least 5 years (had her that long). <Wonderful> I killed the lights upon introduction & got the shrimp to go into a nice crevice.  The Emperor showed immediate interest, despite the lights not being on. Tapping on the tank didn't push her away. I decided to intervene with my hand (algae scrapper didn't work) to make sure the cleaner was deep enough in the crevice that if the Emperor bite it would only get the antennae.  Well, the Emperor moved up close (mouth first), the shrimp stepped right out (I thought it was it's last move) and it climbed right on the Emperor's head with no altercation.  The Emperor was cleaned for an entire hour right there only 5 minutes after the shrimp was introduced! Today she has spent more time being cleaned (no lie - 6+ hours) than her usual free swimming.  She's actually hounding the shrimp & keeping the tang & Foxface away - which both keep swimming in sideways into the area.  The introduction of a 1.5" shrimp has completely changed the entire behavior of my whole tank.  Really amazing hobby & animals! <Such a wonderful experience, thank you for sharing.> Sorry for the long mail. <Wonderful email and thank you so much for sharing all of this. Good luck, Mac> Thanks, John

Risky plumbing to a refugium Just recently found your site it has a lot of info, I am setting a refugium now in planning stage. I cannot drill my tank and don't trust overflows. My question is could you use a loop with a T at the intake of the ref a ball valve on both outlets of t to control water flo to ref and intake of pump. Also a Tat pump for intake from ref and tank maybe a ball valve to control intake from ref. I hope this makes sense I do not this took about 10 min.                        thanks Larry <Mmm, if I understand you here, you want to rely on gravity and the constant power/flow of your pump to return water in a sort of balance? Not a good idea. Gravity won't "let you down", but one cannot rely on a pump or the electric co.. Alternatively however, you could have your refugium above the tank, and rely on the water overflowing it, back into the main tank. Bob Fenner>

Overflow plumbing for refugium Bob thank you for your reply, I don't believe my wife will go for the refugium above the tank can you recommend a good overflow. thank you for your quick reply and the great website, Larry. <I do like the CPR products... and if it's a real concern (overflowing from the main tank on to the floor), you might consider getting/using two of these (teed together or not) to service the below tank refugium. Bob Fenner>

Refugium surface gunk Hello,      I have a 20 gallon refugium setup on reverse photoperiod for a 50 gallon main display. << I like this idea. >> I have an Eheim 1048 pumping water into the refugium and then it is flowing back into the sump which pumps water into the main display.  When I take the top off of the refugium and look inside the walls are coated with green gunk and there is a distinct film of gunk at the top of the water.  Is this normal? << I is common, and I wouldn't say it is bad. >> Is there something I should be doing to fix this like more flow, a powerhead inside or something?  Could this cause problems in the main display? << It only grows where there is nutrients, light, and water motion.  The easiest way to get rid of it, are to have other macro algae competing with it for nutrients.  However, it may not be bad to grow.  Look at it this way, you can open that lid, and scrape that stuff out every few days.  That is almost like having a protein skimmer (which is something you may want to add).  Remember what goes in, must come out.  This "filmy gunk" may be a good way to remove excess nutrients. >> Thanks, -Brent <<  Adam Blundell  >>

Refugium Hello, <How goes it?> just a quick question on the refuge I recently installed on my 72G bowfront. It's one of those small CPR hang on type refugium units w/ compact lighting.. I have about 4 inches of fine sand and a small piece of liverock on the bottom. I have some red Gracilaria and a few dozen pods or so in now. I have had it on my tank for about 3-4 weeks now, and have just recently started to see red slime algae building up on the insides of the refuge. I don't have this in my main tank now. What would be the normal cause of this in my refuge? Possibly not enough water movement? The refuge comes with a very small RIO pump, something like a 2, 3, or 400- cant recall what size. The refuge looks like there's no water flow through it, although the pump is doing it's job, and the water is re-entering my main tank fine. Any ideas? Thanks in advance.  <Heavy water flow isn't necessary in a refugium, so that shouldn't be the problem.  What is the light cycle on your refugium?  Are you keeping it lit 24 hours?  If so, the light + excess dissolved organics could be allowing the red slime to grow more readily.  Let me know your water parameters, light cycles, and filtration\skimmer info and I'll try to give you a better answer> p.s. Have you guy's fixed your system not being able to receive pics yet?  I still can't submit pics.   <Not sure I'll have to ask Bob.  M. Maddox> <<Some are coming through... don't know what's the dealie-oh. Bob F.>>

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