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FAQs about In-Tank Refugiums

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Beneficial to all. Cypraea tigris

Setting Up A Small In-Tank Refugium'¦For Critter Culture -- 12/03/11
I spent this morning reading most of the refugium material here and in Anthony Calfo's book, but I have a fairly special situation and I hope that one of you fabulously kind experts can help out a beginner by answering a few specific questions.  Thanks in advance!
<<Let's see what I can do>>
I just put a small (6x8x12 inch) refugium inside my 65 gallon FOWLR tank.  I know it's small, but I only want a place to culture interesting critters, such as assorted worms, mini brittle stars, amphipods, and etcetera.
These won't survive in my tank (I assume) because I have a huge number of hermit crabs, which keep the substrate practically sterile.
<<Indeed'¦  The hermits will certainly decimate those critters they can reach in the upper level of the substrate>>
But I love hermits, so I am resorting to a refugium.
Unfortunately, my situation precludes any sort of external refugium, so I am limited to a small in-tank setup.
<<I see>>
Because my nitrate and phosphate are un-measurable and I have no significant algae problem, I do not care about denitrification or nutrient reduction.  My only goal is culturing worms, mini-stars, and amphipods for fun.
<<Should work>>
With this in mind...
1) Is my little in-tank refugium too small for what I want to do?
Will these little critters just keep dying off?
<<The 'populations' will balance to the space/availability of food.  I would suggest feeding the refugium for maximum benefit re'¦a few shrimp pellets every few days should suffice>>
If this is the case, do you have a suggestion for a fun thing I can do with this little in-tank refugium?
<<I would do just what you plan>>
2) What, if anything, should I use for a substrate?
<<Sugar fine aragonite, IMO>>
Shallow or deep sand bed?
<<2-3 inches>>
Rock rubble only?
<<Maybe a couple small pieces>>
<<As indicated>>
3)  Indo-Pacific Sea Farms sells an Ulva pod mat.  Is Ulva the best algae for my critters' refugium?
<<I prefer Chaetomorpha'¦provides an excellent matrix for many critters.  But get what you want as most any macro-alga will suffice here>>
Or should I use red Gracilaria instead, which is popular?
<<Up to you>>
Chaeto is also popular.
I know that I have to pick just one, so I want to pick intelligently and get it right the first time, if possible.
4) The refugium gets moderate light from the tank's lighting, actinic and 10K T5 bulbs.  I bought a small reef-type LED fixture to mount on the side glass of the tank facing in to the refugium, but it is shockingly bright.  Maybe I should not use it because the tank's light will be perfect?
<<Whatever macro-alga you choose will appreciate the bright lighting>>
Thank you very, very much for any guidance you can give me in this little venture.
<<Happy to share'¦  EricR>>
Re: Setting Up A Small In-Tank Refugium'¦For Critter Culture -- 12/05/11

Eric - Thank you for your fast and inspiring response.
<<Quite welcome Tim>>
You guys are so valuable to us beginners!
<<We are happy to assist>>
Because Indo-Pacific sells their pod cultures on Ulva mats, I guess I'll go with Ulva as the substrate.
<<Okay'¦IPSF has some really nice stuff, but you should also check out the cultures/kits offered by Inland Aquatics (http://www.inlandaquatics.com/)>>
I do know from reading WWM that I dare not mix algae due to chemical warfare.
<<Is best not to, agreed>>
I'll put in the aragonite and a little rock rubble today and order the pod cultures in a week or so, as soon as things stabilize.  This is so exciting!
<<I think you will likely find the refugium as interesting to observe as the main display.  Eric Russell>>

Refugium, in tank design 12/4/08 Hi again guys. <and gals, hello Si!> I'm back with another dilemma I'm hoping you can help me with, I've looked in loads of places and can't come up with the perfect solution for me. Right to the nitty gritty. I have a 90gallon bullnosed (bullet tank) room divider, I have to put all wiring at the one end of the tank to keep it all hidden, the thing is I only have four inlet/outlet holes built in to the hood to allow all wiring/plumbing etc. The back of the tank is 18'' wide x 21'' height. (hope you get the picture so far). <Yes, so far.> I wanted to add a hang on refugium to the tank, but was toying with the idea of putting it inside the tank, and also using my red sea Prizm as a inlet cascading into the refugium to save having a pump in the tank. Do you think this would work and be beneficial, <It could work, would be beneficial.> with miracle mud and Caulerpa in, if so what size refugium would you go for <As large as you are able and comfortable fitting in the tank.> and have you seen any ideas anywhere that someone else has done this, so I can get some inspiration? <Not this per se, but easy enough to do with the refugium hanging on the tank. Just leave a cut out on one side of the hanging support for the skimmer output to hang over. The mechanics are easy enough, but I just would not do this for two reasons. First, you will likely end up wanting a better skimmer down the road, look at the AquaC HOB line, the Prizm is just a poor skimmer for this size tank. I would hate to see you design this piece around something that you will in all likelihood replace down the road. Second, you will ideally want to feed the refugium raw tank water. One of the problems with feeding it water cascading out of a skimmer is CO2 out gassing; you do not want this to be the limiting factor in your macro growth.> I think personally it could be a good idea but just trying to work out a way of putting it all together. I know a great bloke who can design and build the refugium for me however I choose. Cheers guys and keep up this great site, it truly is helpful and a great resource for me and many others. <Thank you.> All the best Si <To you too! Scott V.>

Tube Fuge on TalkingReef.com 8/1/07 Hi Crew, <Hi Brian, Mich here.> What do you think about this: http://www.talkingreef.com/forums/podcast-episodes/3413-diy-cryptic-tube-fuge-video-podcast-episode-88-a.html It's basically a PVC pipe stuffed with live rock rubble. There is a low powered power head in the display tank pumping water into the vertical standing PVC pipe beside or behind the display tank. The water rises and just overflows over the edge of the display tank. It's a 3-gallon cryptic refugium with lots of surface area for sponges to grow on. I am just wondering how effective a 3 gallon cryptic refugium could be. <Interesting idea. Anything helps...> I guess if there are many sponges in it, the effect could be a decent amount of nutrient uptake and secondarily, a small population of pods. <He reports lower Nitrates...> Any opinions? <Got lots! Though I doubt you care to hear most of them... maybe these... Pods are good...the video was long...Samuel reminds me of Alton Brown... Mich> Brian Jenkins

In Tank Refugium?    5/15/07 Hey all! Thank you so much for creating such a wonderful site. In my eyes it is the end all be all of aquatic information. Anywho, I had contacted you guys a while back about a mysterious string of Lionfish deaths and am happy to report all is well now. After a 100% water change I have been able to keep an Arrow Crab, Scooter Blenny, and a Dartfish (who is due for another mate as soon as my LFS gets one). Allow me to redescribe my set-up: 25g FOWLR, Eclipse lighting/filtration (carbon/Purigen/PolyFilter-in lieu of a skimmer), 35lb LR, 40lb 2" Arag bed, <Heeeee! Not much room for the water!> 160gph powerhead, 3 red-legged, 4 blue-legged hermits, 3 snails. So, to the matter at hand. I may be crazy for keeping a Dragonet in such a small tank (which you no doubt have already determined), but this is my goal; to not only keep the Scooter but some Mandarins as well. <Mmm, don't mix well... behaviorally or micro-niche habitat, resource partitioning wise...> In order to feed the little guys I plan on breeding Amphipods, Copepods, etc (I know I shouldn't nor do I want to mess with live brine shrimp and Selcon). I have no overflow and therefore no economical or feasible means for a sump or external refugium, so I was looking into an in-tank refugium (which I could easily manage). There are premade ones on Amazon that look incredibly simple. What is you're experience with these and are there any serious drawbacks compared with a conventional design? <Yes> The dimensions are 7.5"X7.5"X4". It's small but so is my tank and fish population. Please tell me as much as you can (in layman's terms) considering I have absolutely no experience with this level of fish-keeping and it's my first marine tank. Would the regular lighting/cycle (30W, not sure of how many Kelvins; 10-11hrs/day) from my DT be suitable? <Yes, but...> I know I should add live rock, sand and all that good stuff, but what type of algae should I add? <Likely either Chaetomorpha or Gracilaria...> If you could just run down everything else I need to know I would be forever in your debt. Again, thank you so much for everything and I hope to hear from you soon.      -John <Well... I do wish you had a larger system period, or that you'd get one... Or that you'd add another larger volume to the side of the present one and make one or t'other a/the refugium... Please give this area another read re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm Below the bright blue line... Cheers, Bob Fenner>

In tank refugiums   10/27/06 Hi, I have a 24g AquaPod reef tank. Aqua C remora protein skimmer and various corals. I would like a refugium but I do not have the space, so would an in-tank refugium work? <Mmm, yes... but you don't have much room/volume to start with here...> I would separate the macroalgae from the predators with a rock formation. <Okay> I was wondering if it did work, would it be not a beneficial use of space because of the small tank. And if you think I should do it, any suggestions on how to do it and what macroalgae would work best? <Is posted on WWM...> I tried the links before I asked the question and could not find an answer. Thanx, Chris <Mmm here: http://wetwebmedia.com/refugalgfaqs.htm and the linked files

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