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FAQs on Reef Filtration 2

Related Articles: Reef Filtration, The ZEOvit System: A New Concept in Reefkeeping by Alexander Girz, Marine Filtration: Mechanical, Physical, Use of/ Plenums, Reef Systems, Reef Set-Up, Refugiums, Nutrient Control and ExportCentral Filtration Systems, Technology: Putting on the Brakes:  How much is too much? By Tommy Dornhoffer,

Related FAQs: Reef Filtration 1, & FAQS on Reef Filtration: Designs, Installation, Maintenance, Brands/Manufacturers, DIY, Troubleshooting/Repair,& By Type of  System: Small Tank Setups, Large System Filtration/Circulation/Aeration, & By Aspect and Gear: Biol.: Biological Filtration, Denitrification/Denitrifiers, Fluidized Beds, DSBs, Plenums, Algal Filtration, Mech.: Marine Mechanical Filtration, Power Filters, Outside Power Filters, Canister, Cartridge Filters, Undergravel FiltersWet-Dry Filters, Phys.: Ultraviolet Sterilizers,   Ozone, To Skim or Not to SkimBest Skimmer FAQs, Chem.: Nutrient Control and Export Chemical Filtrants (e.g. Polyfilter, Chemipure, Purigen), Carbon, Mud/Algal Filtration Phony: Magnetic Field Filtration, & Troubles: Bubbles, Noise, & Reef Systems 1, Reef Systems 2, Reef Set-Up 1, Reef Set-Up 2, Reef Set-Up 3, Reef Set-Up 4, Reef Set-Up 5, Reef Set-Up 6,

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Chemical Filtrants: Too clean the cause of problems?
Hi Crew!
<Hey Dani>
My 28g is about 3 years old but I rebooted it in May—so it’s trying to mature out still. Stats to start: -LED 89w par intensity up to 700, lights on for 7 hours
<Aim for a longer period,10 hrs. will be far better>
-2 returns @ 266 gal each -1k icecap gyre at 700 gph peak -SG 1.025 -Am 0 -Nitrite 0 -Nitrate <10 -Alk 10 -Calcium 475 -Mag 1400 -Test bi weekly with Salifert & dose Seachem reef builder, calcium, & magnesium. -10% weekly water change with Red Sea -I only feed frozen twice a week (half cube typically) with a small broadcast of zooplankton (1-2ml), pellets 4 days, and no food on water change day. -skim aggressively with a Aquamaxx HOB 1.5
<Sounds good so far>
I am wondering about your thoughts on if I actually remove my chemical filtrants...carbon media and/or Polyfilter?
<Better to use more natural means>
My theory is that perhaps these chemical filtrants are removing essential elements for my livestock and possibly inhibiting my beneficial bacteria from settling in.
<Couldn´t agree more here, I would use carbon just a few days per month just to “polish” the water.>
I’ve read in forums where “too clean” water is actually suspect causes of Cyano or corals struggling. I remember years ago when I ran tanks on just liverock rubble in the chamber and skimming alone with much success. I seem to have difficulty getting my tank to stabilize completely. The tank will look great but as I approach water change day, it’ll start to get nuisance algae like Cyano, my corals have growth stunts, or my shrimp have bad molts.
<Phosphates may be above safety levels, keep them at 0.13 ppm tops>
I posit the chemical filtrants are possibly interfering with the beneficial bacteria somehow, moreover stripping trace elements out of the water. My fear is removing the chemical filtrants and sticking new LR rubble in the media basket could also go another route and allow the nuisance algae to take off.
I do keep a variety of macro algae in the tank to help compete against the nuisance algae.
<This is a good idea but will work much better in an inverted light cycle>
Also, once every other month I am sand rinsing some part of my substrate, as vacuuming it doesn’t seem to get the detritus really out, but it seems excessive that I would need to do this.
<You don’t need to; I would use a DSB. Add more sand, about 3” and just vacuum the layer on top every time you do maintenance chores, this way you would let anaerobic bacteria to grow naturally and keep nitrate levels at safe levels.>
In summary, I have a very intense cleaning regimen—sand rinses, weekly vacuuming, turkey basting rocks, scrubbing little rocks of green hair algae, chemical filtrants—to try to rid the tank of any latent nitrate sources but not sure if that in itself is impacting my livestock negatively.
<You are certainly stressing over your livestock (beneficial bacteria included).>
I appreciate any words of wisdom!
Dani Conner

Re: Chemical Filtrants: Too clean the cause of problems?
Sorry one more thing. Would it be ok to add liverock rubble to my soon to be empty media baskets? I’ll have regular filter floss on top that I’ll rinse out daily.
<That´s a pretty good idea, just remember that nitrifying bacteria will grow better if the live rock rubble is fully submerged.>
Re: Chemical Filtrants: Too clean the cause of problems?

Hi Wilberth!
<Hi Dani>
Thank you for the feedback.
<You´re welcome>
I’d love to run my lights longer, but I do not have a chiller so my tank can’t handle anything longer than the 7 hours. It peaks at 82-84 F by hour 7. I’m from Florida, so I switched my lights to turn on at night and run the AC significantly cooler to help me run the lights especially during our summer.
<Ok, I get it, If possible give Led´s a try, these produce zero heat.>
My old photoperiod was 5.5 hours before the reboot so this is at least an improvement although slight. Follow up questions if you’d be so kind:
If I do have phosphates, would removing the chemical filtrants possibly exacerbate the issue?
<No, just increase a bit the amount of water changed every week and you´ll be fine here. You may also export them by other means. Try growing macro algae in a remote unit like a reactor, there are units lighted by Led strips, a HOB filter will also work for this purpose.>
Also, if I do see Cyano or nuisance algae start to return, do I grit my teeth, contain my OCD, and just let my system attempt to balance it out then and wait till water change day to try to siphon out?
<If you reduce the phosphates to the recommended levels you won´t have to worry>
I only do a 10% change under the advisement here to try to “age” as much water as possible, but doesn’t give me much time to siphon before I have to cut it off.
<Try a bit more, maybe 15% and restrict the water flow by squeezing the hose with your fingers while siphoning out.>
I did slope my substrate towards the back during my last water change, allowing my Caulerpa prolifera to take hold over it there, whereas the front half is merely a thin aesthetic layer now. I have burrowing livestock and don’t want them possibly stirring up noxious chemicals into my nano, as I don’t think it could handle it.
<Don´t worry about this, your burrowing livestock will not disturb the sand that much, actually it is beneficial to the substrate the mild stirring that they do.>
Do you think the sloping should be sufficient and I’ll just vacuum the front? I don’t plan to really mess with the area the prolifera is in which is the entire back.
<Try the DSB in the whole bottom and you´ll be very pleased with the results, just give it time to establish (about a month or so.)
I’m very excited to try this more natural approach, already removed the Polyfilter,<Good> and plan to remove carbon on next week’s change, trying to go slow. Thank you for your support!
<Anytime Dani>

Re: Chemical Filtrants: Too clean the cause of problems?      9/17/18
Hi there!
<Hey Dani>
I still have undetectable phosphates or nitrates in my 28g. I now have 7 fish, feed pellets 4x a week during day, fresh 2x a week, and broadcast 6x week 1 ml of zoo and oyster feast combo. I don’t feed on water change day. I removed the chem filtrants over a month ago and added more sand to my sand bed. My water changes were reduced to 10% a month ago too.
Do you think I should just broadcast more at night maybe? Or should I possibly try a bi weekly water change schedule?
<I advise you to change no more than 10% weekly>
My SPS are surviving but they are definitely not in any hurry to grow. Any advice would be appreciated.
<My guess here is that lighting may be a limiting growing factor too.>
Right now tank param.s are:
9 dkh
450 cal
1350 Mag
0 phos
0 nitrates
1.025 spg
<Have you try another test kit? readings are probably inaccurate with the ones you are currently using. I have not seen yet phosphate and nitrate levels that low with the stock and feeding regime you describe.>

New Tank/ Skimmer/Sump Set Up/Marine Set Up 9/22/11
<Hello Kristy>
Ok, I have read over your site a several times, and seem to still be a little confused <and> was looking for some clarification if you don't mind.
<Not at all.>
We are setting up a 48x24x30 tank drilled with one over flow. We plan to make this a reef tank with live rock, fish, and corals. I am probably going to have about 200lbs plus of live rock in the display.
First could you make pluming <plumbing> size and valve connections,
<Can I make them??>
I know this is all up for opinion, but I am sure you are wise having many years in the hobby. I would like for this set up to be easy for water changes, and quick shut offs if necessary.
<Always a good idea to use ball or gate valves on drains and returns.>
Furthermore, From my understanding Wet Web Media says you should skim the raw water from tank first, meaning that the first compartment in my sump should have the skimmer only?
<Is a good idea.>
Then I should move on to rubble, then a refugium, then return pump? Do you need to use a sock filter or anything before the water hits the protein skimmer?
<Some folks use sock filters but they need to be cleaned weekly.>
We were always taught bio balls first then skim, please clarify.
<Bio balls won't be needed with all the live rock you plan on using. The rock will take care of denitrification.>
It is also my understanding that bio balls are a nitrate factory and a think of the past, what should we use in place of them anything?
Next would you make a recommendation for a skimmer and pump and also a return pump for this style of system.
<I would need to know the drain size before I can recommend a pump size.
I would like to believe the drain is for a 1 1/2 inch pipe size. In a 150 gallon tank, a one inch drain is almost useless as it's only capable of draining about 350 gallons/hour depending on any plumbing restrictions.>
We need these items to produce little heat, be efficient, reliable and quite. One last question what should my refugium consist of, and can I avoid sand and mud in there?
<Personally, I would use either Walt Smith's Fiji Mud or Ecosystem's Miracle Mud. They are both beneficial to a refugium and to the system itself.>
Thanks for you help
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Kristy McCabe
Re New Tank/ Skimmer/Sump Set Up/Marine Set Up 9/22/11- 9/23/11

I am sorry, I forgot to include this in the first email but the plumbing holes are 1 1/2 inches for drain and return.
<If that is the actual hole size in the glass, that will only accommodate a bulkhead fitting for one inch pipe. This will not allow you to pump 1500gph which is what you should be striving for.
Your tank should have been set up for two 1 1/2" PVC pipe size bulkhead fittings for the drains and
two 1/2" PVC pipe size returns. This would allow you to use a pump with an 3/4" outlet and tee off/reduce to ball valves to control the flow in each return line.
You will need to add powerheads to increase the flow rate in the system.
With your present set-up, I'd be looking at a pump somewhere in the 500gph range. I don't know if you have a budget for the pump, but if so, the Mag Drive pumps are affordable, reasonably quiet, and can be used externally or internally. If you have a drilled sump with a bulkhead fitting for the return pump, I'd go with an external pump which transfers very little heat into the system and frees up your sump space for other components. James (Salty Dog)>
Re New Tank/ Skimmer/Sump Set Up/Marine Set Up 9/22/11- 9/23/11

Ok, thanks again!
<You're welcome.>
One last question, I have purchased 3 Hydor Koralia 550gph power heads to increase flow. If budget is not a factor is there a better pump to purchase other than the Mag Drive, I have heard they are a bit noisy.
<The Eheim pumps are pretty quiet and efficient.>
Could you also make a protein skimmer recommendation.
<The AquaC, Vertex, Bubble King, Octopus, ASM, Deltec, and Tunze are all pretty good skimmers.
James (Salty Dog)>
Re New Tank/ Skimmer/Sump Set Up/Marine Set Up 9/22/11- 9/23/11

<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Great, Thank you!

Best Filter 2/15/11
<Hello Angela.>
I am getting ready to set up a 72 gallon saltwater aquarium, I have not bought the aquarium yet because I am deciding what filter to go with a wet dry or a canister. I am going to have corals at some time. I use to have a 155 gallon reef tank with a wet dry filter with no bio balls. I had the system for about six years, I moved and didn't have a place large enough for it, I did not really like the wet dry I thought it was a pain to mess with. Could you suggest a brand and type of filter I like to use about top of the line within reason type equipment, also could you suggest a really good skimmer. I also usually use filters and skimmers suggested for a much larger tank, I don't know but I always felt like it would do the job better.
I had to give up my system about two years ago so I feel like I have been out of the loop or something because it has been so long that there might be something way better out there now. I think if going with a canister I would like the kind that you can pick and layer your own media. I also would like an opinion about reef LED lights anyone I ask says there is not enough known about them to know if they will have long term success. I hate to write you such a long note, but I can't get any good advice elsewhere.
<I'm going to guess your problem in using a wet/dry was not with the filter itself, but with the hang on back overflow which can be troublesome. Using a sump would be the best way to go as they are very efficient oxygenators and provide a place for your heater, skimmer, and other components which makes your display more appealing. Buy a tank with a built in overflow/return and you will have no problems.
The use of live rock is necessary when using a sump as the rock provides denitrification rather than the bio balls. A canister filter isn't absolutely necessary for mechanical/chemical filtration. Many sumps come with filter socks for removing waste from the water and an inexpensive in sump chemical reactor can be used for chemical filtration.
If you do prefer a canister filter, the Eheim line is likely the best but also the most expensive. Other tray type canister filters are available for a much better price. The Rena FilStar XP series canister filters perform very well for about half the cost of a comparable Eheim Filter.
LED lighting is rapidly replacing other forms of lighting. They are very efficient, produce virtually no heat, and best of all, no lamps to replace.
Most reputable LED fixtures have a lamp life of nearly 50,000 hours and the cost of these systems are gradually coming down as well. I am planning on replacing my existing metal halide system with LED lighting in the very near future. For protein skimming you might want to look at the Aqua C and Vertex line, but there are many other equally performing brands available as well.
I will also provide you with a link to our marine index. 
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re Best Filter, reef, no reading or referrals...  2/15/11- 2/16/11

Hello again,
<Hello Angela>
sorry to keep bugging you but you give the best answers, so a sump is the best way to go,
my 155 gallon I had a sump and the tank had overflows, it was the old ones from like nine years ago with the bulb looking float things, I know they are different now, but they would sometimes let the water go up all the way to the top and I would have to turn off the pump and mess around with them and fish and starfish would somehow end up in there sometimes. With the 155 the overflows were on the sides so you could see what was going on, it kind of freaks me out the overflow on the 72 is in the middle on the back, do you know if the overflows now are better, both the old tank and the one I am going to get were by All glass.
<Much better now, haven't heard any complaints other than water noise which most folks correct by using a Durso Standpipe.>
My old sump was by a company called Pro Clear Aquatics it had a built in skimmer. I liked that do you know if sumps with a built in skimmer are good enough and should I remove the bio balls in a sump like I did before?
<I'd much prefer to choose my own skimmer and not rely on a built in skimmer which are marginal at best in my opinion.>
I had what I think was a top of the line reactor called a Via Aqua poly-reactor I was a pain the water would like start flowing through just one spot not through all the media I still have it. Do you think that is a good one I used it for phosphate problems that I never could get under control I did anything anyone would tell me to fix that, I also had high nitrates. I know that causes phosphates
<Nitrates and phosphates are two different animals.>
I tried everything I knew to fix both problems, I don't want to have all this again so I am trying to get everything in order before setting up a new system. Can you suggest a good sump that I could use socks or do you think they would work as good as a reactor.
<The socks are strictly for mechanical filtration, does not replace a chemical reactor.
You do not necessarily have to buy a sump that has a built in sock holder.
There are aftermarket sock holders that clip right on the sump itself. See here.
Oh, yeah I have a RO water unit now that I did
not have before, I now know that causes nitrates and phosphates.
<May want to search our site re nitrates and phosphates and read. I'm not so sure you fully understand
the causes of both.>
Thank you so much,
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Selecting a Sub-$400 Protein Skimmer for a 125 Gallon Mixed Reef -- 06/08/10
Hello WWM,
I'm looking to do a moderately stocked 125g mixed reef and want to replace the Red Sea Berlin Classic skimmer that I have now.
<<A positive upgrade>>
Unfortunately, I have limited available space in the sump
<<A common issue (ah but to only have an accessible 'equipment room' for our systems, eh)>>
(Approx. 9.5' x 11.5', plus around 24' height for comfortable waste cup removal). Some of the skimmer models I'm considering have the proper dimensions and are listed to be good for my size tank or slightly bigger.
<<Okay'¦my vote would be for a quality 'needle wheel' model>>
However, I've read here on WWM that many manufacturers don't rate their skimmers accurately.
<<Tis true'¦as with most any advertising, the hobby also suffers from those who either think a whole lot more of their goods than anyone else, or just out and out lie about 'em>>
Euro-Reef and AquaC were noted as exceptions.
<<Also true'¦and maybe even slightly 'under' rated as to their efficacy>>
I'm looking at Reef Octopus (3 models: NWB150, EXT160, or SRO1000INT/2000INT); Reef Dynamics (formerly Euro-Reef) INS135; and maybe also the ASM G1-X or the Aqua Euro USA Classic 135. Do those manufacturers rate their skimmers correctly?
<<I think in this case it is 'close enough''¦especially considering you are going 'slightly larger' with your selected models>>
I read that the Reef Dynamics INS135 is conservatively rated like Euro Reef,
<<I would expect it to be the same, comparably>>
but it might be a tight fit (10' x 12' according to their website) for me.
The others fit the size profile, but are they underpowered for my potential use? Any other brand you might recommend?
<<AquaC and Tunze>>
I see a lot of support for the AquaC EV180 here, but I can't afford to go much over $300,
and the EV180 plus pump (not included) appears to be pushing $400.
<<Then assuming it fits the space, I would go with one of the Reef Octopus models you list (looking at the SRO models first). I use/prefer Euro-Reef (Reef Dynamics) skimmers, but I have seen and heard good things about these Reef Octopus skimmers from CoralVue. Cheers, Eric Russell>>

UV On A Reef Tank? -- 04/12/10
Can you use a UV light on a reef tank?
<<As in an Ultraviolet Sterilizer unit, yes you can (read here and among the associated links: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/UVFAQs.htm ), though I consider these units to be too cumbersome re their maintenance (the sleeves need to be kept 'spotless'), and maybe even detrimental on a reef tank due to some loss of microscopic planktonic life>>
Would it be better or worse?
<<In reality'¦it's likely of small consequence either way. EricR>>

125l Marine Filtration 2/22/10
<Hello Alan>
Thanks for all of your help so far with my first tank, it seems to be coming on brilliantly and wouldn't have lasted more than a few weeks without these pages.
<You're welcome.>
I'm currently running a 125 litre marine tank, which has 12kg of live rock and around 3-4 inches of live Fiji pink sand. Filtration is currently via an Aquamedic Nano Skim 120 with two Hydor Koralia 1s, as well as a Fluval 205 external.
Stocking is currently two Scarlet Cleaner Shrimp, one Pistol Shrimp with a Pink Spotted Watchman Goby, a small pyjama <Pajama> Cardinal and a black long spined sea urchin (along with numerous tiny clams which amazingly are still alive, crabs, starfish and snails that came as hitchikers <hitchhikers>).
The tank is now four months old and I have had no issues with water quality so far.
There are a few small spores of purple algea <algae> growing and some small white spots that your site has helped to identify as tiny feather dusters. Some of them are even showing red tips.
My intention at the moment is to keep it running as fish only for another couple of months. The last fish I wish to put in there is a Flame Angel (unsure if it will fit though....) but everywhere I've read suggests a mature tank.
<Your tank is too small for a Flame Angel.>
Once that has settled I intend on turning it into a reef tank and adding plenty of hardy corals.
The Fluval external has just the foam pads and a bag of carbon and I have the pads on a rotation cycle so that one of the four gets replaced every other week, so each pad gets changed every other month.
<Much too long a span here, every other week is much better and will reduce dissolved nutrients which lead to high nitrate levels.>
I change 14 litres (one bucket) each week, which is just over 10%.
Having read on your pages that the rock, sand and skimmer should be sufficient, how would I go about removing the external with still keeping the carbon? It seems like a big bit of kit to have running just for a small bag of carbon, or should I just switch it on and off when I want the carbon to be used? Or should I just ditch the carbon for the time being and install the filter on an ad hoc basis when needed?
<I suggest using one pad cleaned/changed weekly and continue the use of carbon.
The pad isn't really needed but will prolong the effectiveness of the carbon. You could also use a filter pad and discard weekly.
The use of the Fluval will also add additional water flow in the system reducing stagnant areas.>
Your advice would be greatly appreciated
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

I am currently in the planning stages of a 65 gallon reef, filtr. mainly  -- 01/13/2010
Hi, guys <Hi Jason> huge fan of the site. I'm semi new to fishkeeping so you guys help a lot. I am currently in the planning stages of a 65 gallon reef <Is an exciting time indeed, the planning stages. All those diagrams you draw when you should be getting on with your work!>. I had originally intended on just using a HOB skimmer, the Aqua C Remora. Now I have drilled my tank and want to put the Remora in the sump <Good move>. I know most of
the guys who have input on this site are familiar with this product so hopefully you can help me<I think I can help>. What is the best way to do this? Just hang it on the side? Or just place it on the bottom inside of the sump? <Most would place the skimmer actually inside the sump, but it can work just as well hanging on the side of the sump. It really depends on what sort of space you have for the skimmer and how it fits in with everything else. I believe the Remora is designed as a hang on, but it should work fine in-sump. Have you purchased this skimmer already? If not, then I would decide how you want your sump set up first and then find a decent skimmer that fits in with your design. Have you looked here?
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm .This is probably my all-time favorite article! And there is plenty on Aqua C skimmers here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/aquacskimrfaqs.htm> Thank you and keep up the good work.<Thanks, Simon>

Instruction Manual, Reef Ready set up sans directions in print... Pb and... Mmmm...    12/13/09
Hey crew,
<Hello Ryan.>
I am a bit bummed out. I did all my homework and thought I had a great thing going. Picked out a tank size based on the livestock I wanted to house to ensure I could be a good provider and put in A LOT of hours on WWM. I found the tank size I wanted to upgrade to. I wanted to do a sump and fuge and really do the whole thing right. I shopped and shopped and read and read on WWM and waited. Finally I found one. Here is how much I paid $1260. Here is what I got. A 120g Oceanic Systems Tech series, 30g sump, stand, and Coralife light fixture with 2 true blue actinic, 2 metal h, and 4 moon glow LED. I know it sounds too good to be true. And it's not what you are thinking, everything is fine for the most part. The stand is in good order, no dings in the tank, it holds water, (I made sure prior to purchase) the light works fine, and it all looks amazing. It was marketed as a "reef ready" set up which didn't really matter to me.
<Theses tanks are more reef ready than most called that.>
I was just happy I found a package deal at a great price that had everything I wanted. The tank has an overflow/pre drilled sump, all PVC and plumbing was included.
Here is the problem. I didn't think to make sure there was an instruction manual. Who would really? It is just one of those things we assume. I tried oceanicsystems.com but they don't have any online. I tried every search engine I could. I put in a call but got nothing back. Now I have this awesome tank and sump with all of these pre drilled holes and plumbing and nothing to go by as to how to set it up. I feel like I have exhausted every resource. So WWM, any ideas?
<Well, these do not have a manual to speak of that I know about. Basically you are going to use the drilled holes as sump drains or pump returns.>
Thanks for everything you do. If you folks don't have any more ideas above what I tried you don't have to worry about getting back to me. I know you are all super busy.
<Ah, just look through the net for setup examples...the offerings on YouTube can give you many ideas on how to plumb this. There is no one correct way, a lot of it is personal choice and preference based on your equipment.>
Happy Fish Keeping,
<You too, Scott V.>

Refugium   12/13/09
Hello Crew,
<Hello again Ryan.>
The information on this site is unbelievable. They have problems in the workplace these days with Facebook and MySpace. Not here my friends, I have to make a real effort to stay off this site at work or I would accomplish nothing at all.
<Ha, been there too!>
I e-mailed in the other day regarding a new purchase of a 120g Oceanic Tech Series with a 30g Oceanic Sump (pre-drilled) with no instructions for anything (plumbing from the overflow/pump installation/return/etc. I was upset at first but then I had a radical idea... I have a brain of my own and can set this up any way I want!!
<Ohhh yeah!>
Here is what I am planning. All of this is preliminary in the sketch/diagram phase: I have a gravity feed into the sump via overflow and Durso Standpipe from the main tank. The water hits the skimmer in the first compartment then through a set of baffles that house a few tablespoons of carbon in a media bag into compartment two that features 4-5 inches of live sand, live rock, and some Chaetomorpha. The water free flows over the refugium into compartment three, however I plan on a small rio pump inside the fuge to give the Chaetomorpha the water movement it needs to thrive. I plan on a light, maybe a compact T5 as a grow light on a reverse daylight schedule from the display tank to help stabilize pH fluctuations. Compartment 3 houses the heater and return pump. I am thinking about a Mag 9 5. I am confused though as to where I can put in some minor mechanical filtration.
If I have a foam pad or fiber aft the refugium as far as linear flow is concerned, will that allow the benefits of the fuge to reach the main tank?
<It should unless it is a very fine pad. If you can I would incorporate this first, before
all else.>
(pods and etc for animals in the main tank to feast on) Also, are my appliances in the correct order. (skimmer prior to fuge)
I read a lot of posts on WWM that people prefer to skim prior to the fuge.
This is my first sump/refugium set up and I really want to take my time and do it right. I am living by the measure twice cut once theory. I am also pluming in a drain for easy water changes. When I put in the baffles and plumbing as per my measurements, what kind of caulk/PVC cement do you recommend.
<Any PVC cement will work fine, just give it 24 hours to fully cure before adding water. As for the baffles, what materials are you using? If you are going glass to glass just use pure silicone. Be sure it does not have biocides/mildewcides in it. If you are going glass with acrylic baffles, take a look here:
I don't want to poison the tank before I even get water in it due to my structural components leaching bad stuff into the tank.
Thanks for everything!
<Welcome, have fun, Scott V.>

Re: Bioactive sand turning brown, New Tank 9/3/09
Gosh - every time you turn around its a question from me!
<Hello again.>
A friend of my husbands needed some work done on his truck and could not pay for it - so the guy knew I liked and had salt water fish tanks, so he gave my hubby a 100 gal tank set up in return for the work.
It's in Houston and on the way here to me and I was wondering what it was - my husband said that it had a weird filtration system it comes up thru the bottom and it has balls in it - of course I can't wait to see what it is - but wanted to know if you knew what type this was so I could look it up on line. No patience at all - that's me!
<Sounds like a wet dry sump to me, this can be problematic for salt water aquariums due to nitrate build-up.>
Also - if I set this tank up - and wanted to do a live reef - what do I buy to start this and can I have fish with a reef?
<Yes you can have fish, although you need to be careful in what you pick to avoid coral eaters. As for what you need, it starts out like any other tank, live rock, filters/skimmers, water movement, lights to name a few things.>
We only have a Petco in our small town so I am limited on what I can do and if I order online I want to make sure I get the right stuff. As always thanks you guys are great and I have shared this site with many people.
Cecilia Lester
Paris Texas

Refugium    7/10/09
As I am now in the process of learning about refugiums(to the extent of animal vs. vegetative filtration) I find myself sifting through pages upon pages of FAQs. In a manner similar to that of the Cardinal fish FAQs of seemingly forever ago now. I offer to compile what info I can find from these into a coherent article while working on my research into the animal filtration/ Xeniid filtration.
<Gosh Forrest, please do! Will gladly supplant, post your consolidation/syncretization in place or in addition to what we have on WWM presently. Thank you, Bob Fenner>

"Filter Feeding Animals As Filters (SW) - 07/08/09"/7/10/09
Hi Crew,
<Hi Simon>
Reading the dailies today I noticed this poster (Forrest), and I have a couple of book suggestions for him if that is ok! 'Dynamic Aquaria' by Adey and Loveland, and 'Reef Invertebrates' by Mr Fenner and Calfo. Thank you for your input. I have owned the Dynamic Aquaria book and have only found about 50 really useful pages out of 600 as far as my needs and wants were concerned. The book is geared more toward building ecosystems. Although an informative book on ecosystems, it would not be one of my first choices to recommend. I agree with your suggestion of Reef Invertebrates, another book I recently bought. It is very well written and laid out, and contains
loads of useful information and plenty of great photos.>
Cheers all!
<Ditto. James (Salty Dog)>
Simon Trippick

Filtration For Changing From FOWLR To Reef Tank -- 06/23/09
Hi there,
I've been reading your site and am unsure what to do with our current filtration system.
About 6 months ago we bought a FOWLR 300gallon system from a lady who kept her nitrates way too high (just over 100ppm)
and I've been struggling with lowering them ever since.
<<Lots of big water changes, to start>>
We want to eventually convert it to a reef system but of course can't do that until we get the nitrates under control
<<Indeed'¦though best to do this for ANY system>>
(currently around 60-70ppm) and seems like a lot of advise is either for Fish Only Systems or Reef Systems.
The tank has built-in overflows that go into one of two wet/dry filters currently.
<<Mmm'¦ These are likely problematic re your Nitrate issue>>
Both have bioballs in them (which I'm thinking need to be removed?)
<<I would begin replacing the bioballs with live rock/live rock rubble'¦or if the current bioload is low enough'¦remove one or both completely. Or better yet!!! Convert one to a sump and the other to a refugium>>
and one has a protein skimmer in the wet compartment.
<<Ah, but what type/model/maker? And is it efficient/doing the job?>>
The overflow itself is also filled with bioballs and then we also have a canister filter running. Canister is cleaned about every-other week and has bioballs, ceramic rings and carbon in it.
<<Why all the plastic media I wonder (do wish you had stated the current stocking of this system)'¦ I would utilize just Poly-Filter and/or carbon in the canister filter>>
Until last week we didn't rinse anything in the wet/dry besides the filter pads, but have just started rising the dirtier looking balls.
<<Mmm, I think a good cleaning is in order'¦there is likely a significant detritus buildup in these filters that is also contributing to the high Nitrate level>>
We already got rid of about 1/3 of the fish she had, added more LR (about 400lbs now) and added more live sand to make it a DSB.
<<All good moves>>
Also, do two 10% water changes a week with an RO filter.
<<I would do a single larger weekly 25% change'¦along with added chemical filtration and a good cleanup/removal of detritus from the system until that Nitrate level falls below 20ppm>>
Since I have two sumps, would it be better to convert both to refugiums, leave one a wet/dry or both wet/dries?
<<A separate sump (for skimmer/other ancillary filtration equipment) and refugium would be my choice>>
Do the bioballs need to come out of the overflow?
<<No'¦helps reduce noise from the fall of water. And this small amount of plastic media should not be problematic>>
If so is there something else I can put there to dampen the noise?
<<Small pieces of live rock'¦but again, not necessary>>
I've also been hearing Chaetomorpha in the sump is great for reef tanks to lower nitrates,
<<Better in the refugium (with necessary lighting), but less'¦ This macroalgae can help with nutrient export, as well as provide an excellent matrix for the housing and propagation of a myriad of beneficial organisms>>
is it good with Fish Only tanks too?
<<Indeed it is>>
Is there a certain order to do things in or can it all be done at once?
<<You have already added more sand rock (and subsequent bio-filtration) to the system. I would reduce the fish load as much as possible and go ahead and cleanup and convert the wet/dry filters to a sump and refugium. Also, take a closer look at that skimmer'¦a correctly sized quality unit can do much good. I also suspect you need more water flow within the display. Read up on both and feel free to come back for further discussion>>
<<Good luck with your new system. EricR>>

Filtration: Addition of mechanical filtration to reef setup. 5/26/2009
Hello and thank you for taking these questions.
<Hi Jake, Mike here.>
I have read many topics on your web site and I am a tad confused when it comes to filtration. I have a 200 gallon reef that I have changed up over the years looking for the 'best method' of filtration. In my opinion I have too much particulate in the water column and would like to remove it. Before I do something stupid with a mechanical inline filter (yes, its in my basement waiting for me to pull the trigger)
<Wow, you are serious....>
I thought I would ask for guidance -- after 18 years in the hobby I am still looking for guidance !
<Heee... me too!>
Ok the current set up: corner overflows drop into sump (45 gallon tank), one down pipe into bio-ball chamber, the other simply crashes in the sump. I use a few inline Pentair canister filters for carbon, Chemi Clean and Purigen. I have a refugium with macro algae and a deep sand bed. With that in mind, my tank tests well but I have difficulties with hard corals. My softies do well, but are often associated with a dirty tank (umbrella, toadstool, hairy mushrooms, elephant ear etc.)
<That is a clue that perhaps something is amiss. How often are you cleaning the canisters and changing the carbon?>
Lighting; three 250 watt HQI MH & four 96 watt PC (50/50) swapped out every 6 months. 15% water change every 2 weeks.
My thought is to add a Pentair inline mechanical filter or perhaps a sponge on top of the bio balls to rid some of the particulate and perhaps clean the water. Just not sure, would like some opinions before I change things up.
<Well, before pulling the trigger on an in-line filter, I would simply add filtration pads over your bio-balls and some in the canister filters, and then change them out every two weeks or so. You can get bulk filter pad at most pet stores for less than $10 USD. I run a similar setup in mine and the water is quite clear. I do change out the pads every two weeks at the most though.>
Many thanks !
<My pleasure>
Re: Filtration: Addition of mechanical filtration to reef setup. 5/27/2009

Hi Mike,
<Hi Jake.>
Thanks for getting back to me. I change out the Carbon, Purigen, Chemi Clean and Rowa-phos every 2 months.
<Not too bad. You may want to step it up to once a month.>
I'll try the filter pads, that should take care of the particulate.
<They will.>
I'll need to research more on the general tank health.

Further speculations, introspections re SW filtration  -- 4/30/09
Hi crew,
I have a question about my filtration. I read through many of the FAQs on marine filtration, but obviously every system is different, and it seems to be more of a matter or opinion than anything else. So here goes, I have a Remora Pro and an Emperor 400 running with just charcoal. I came home today and notice a good amount of algae on the glass, so I pulled out the charcoal bags out of the Emperor, and there was quite a bit of debris that came out of the Emperor. So now, i would like to take the Emperor off of the tank.
<Ok... could run it w/o media period (for circ.), or be more diligent re periodic cleaning...>
For a set up I have a 75 gallon tank, with about 80 lbs of live rock. For livestock I have three Green Chromis, a Yellow Tang, a Chalk Bass, a Lawnmower Blenny, a Royal Gramma, Serpent Starfish and various hermit crabs and snails. For corals I have a Frogspawn, a Torch and a Hammer. I also have several mushrooms. I do also have two Hydor 4's for circulation. I do a 15% water change once a week. I'm looking to add a few more LPSs and one more fish, probably a wrasse.
Do you think I would be alright to take the Emperor filter off?
<Could be>
Or should I have some sort of chemical filtration?
<I would...>
I would rather not, but if it will make a big difference, than I would rather just deal with cleaning it once a month.
<Mmm, not frequent enough for such to work in part as a mechanical filter... Needs attn. at least once a week>
Also, if you would suggest chemical filtration, is there a power filter you would recommend for me to run charcoal in?
<Activated carbon>
The Emperor is not very efficient for just running charcoal. I love it for my African Cichlid tank, but haven't been very impressed it on my reef tank.
My LFS is selling a used 24" CPR HOB refugium with light for $120. It seems to be a good price, it's off one of their tanks. I'm considering purchasing it, but do you think it will do a better job of nutrient
exportation than a power filter running charcoal?
<Will, undoubtedly>
I do understand the other benefits of a refugium, I'm more concerned about nutrient export.
I appreciate your help.
<Divert part of the energy in your curiosity to further reading Marc...
Bob Fenner>

Caribbean Biotope, stocking, new tank media replacement and substrate for Jaw Fish 4/25/09
Hello all,
<Hello, sorry for the slow response here.>
Thanks in advance for answering my questions and for being (at least for me) one of the best online sources of information.
My question is this I read you FAQ on Caribbean Biotope and I wanted to start my own but with some slight differences. I was going to add LR to both sides and leave the center open or maybe just on one side and leave the rest an open area would the latter be better for everybody?
<Either can work fine, tis more of a personal aquascaping choice.>
I have 3 fish now a Royal Gramma, a Lawnmower Blenny, and a Yellow Clown Goby and 2 Peppermint Shrimp that I want to add to my new system.
My new system is a Red Sea Max 65 Gallon all in one and because it is a new system I will leave it fallow for 2-3 months or more so it can get established or my wife makes me.
<LOL! NO reason to wait so long unless you are curing new rock...even then you can accomplish the swap once it is "cured". See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i3/Live_Rock/live_rock.htm>
For stocking I was going to add some more fish but I don't know what else to put in there and my wife want to put fish that are seen and not hidden and I don't want to push my bio load because I want to make a reef safe tank with some species of coral that will go with my lighting.
<Okay, again a very personal choice of taste. Research re suitability and compatibility will show you the way.>
My next question is should I replace my foam media with a different type of foam? Also should I replace my ceramic pieces for LR rubble?
<What, where? Do you have LR in the main system?>
My last question is the substrate for the Jaw Fish, I read your FAQ on Jaw Fish systems and I want to make sure that I have my 'ducks in a row' before I start. Can I add 30lbs of Aragonite Aragamax sugar sand, (1st layer) 40lbs of Ocean Direct Caribbean Live Sand (2nd layer) and 10lbs of Florida Crushed Coral sand (3rd layer) or would I have to add more to make my new Jaw Fish happy?
<This will put you at about the bare minimum IMO. I would include some more CC or even some larger shell type pieces.>
Thank You,
Ramon and Sons
<Welcome, Scott V.>
Re: Caribbean Biotope, stocking, new tank media replacement and substrate for Jaw Fish 4/26/09

Thank you for answering my question,
<My pleasure.>
The tank has been set-up for about a week and it has some base rock and a piece of LR, I will be transferring some of my LR from my 29 Gallon that is already running but I have BGA on the rocks and I'm in the process of trying to get rid of it via a 10 gallon tank with a skimmer and water changes.
<Ah, good, steady with the battle.>
The tank it self has a compartment in the back of the tank that has a foam block (black) that keep air bubbles from going into the pump and back into the tank, it also has and area that houses 1 bags of ceramic media( rings) and a platform that holds 2 bags of carbon.
I was thinking about changing the carbon for a bag Chem-Pure Elite and adding a bag of Purigen while removing the foam because of the build up it might cause but I wanted to know should I do it during the cycle process?
<You can leave it be, but be sure to rinse it frequently. The other medias are fine, but of little value over just carbon in most cases.>
My other half wanted the water changes to be at least once a month so I don't know what I should do to keep her happy and not put me in the outs with he as far as spending all the money.
<Well, no way around it, smaller more frequent water changes are just better.>
She also said that I can have a Refugium but no more DIY's.
<Dang! DIY is fun!>
I also will be adding another 20 lbs of substrate to the tank, it is by RedSea (Reef Base) would this be good to add or another type.
<Sure, sounds good, Scott V.>

New Reef Tank Setup: Filtration choices 4/14/2009
Hi there,
<Hi David.>
Thanks for a great site, its always good to read expert advice and know its from the best sources!
<Thank you for the kind words.>
This may be a bit of a lengthy question, I'm afraid, so I'll try and keep it to the point. I have kept marine fish and invertebrates for years, both mixed and separately. However, I have had a break of about 6 years (due to going back to college late in life). Now I'm in a more financially secure place, I want to start a marine invertebrate only tank again. I already have a 4 foot x 18" x 24" tank, and a unit with x2 250 watt metal halides and an actinic blue tube.
<Welcome back to the hobby.>
In my past I have always used undergravel filtration for my marines, but I know there are loads of other different filtration systems available these days.
What would you recommend for an invertebrate only tank?
<For a pure reef or invertebrate tank, I would use live rock, a large
protein skimmer, and a refugium - essentially a Berlin style filtration.>.
Would it be wise to try something different?
<Oh yes, there are much better filtration methods available than undergravel>
If so, what? (I'm in the UK if that makes availability different).
Much has been written on this subject. Do read the following articles and the linked pages at the top of every page.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/reefsysi.htm >
Many thanks in advance, and have a good day!
<My pleasure.>

Reef Tank, mainly filtration concerns  04/03/09
Hi, great site I read for hours every time I visit. I'm currently in the middle of a major tank overhaul. What I have is a 55gal tank with a 29gal-3 chamber sump/fuge. I drilled the 55 to put in a 1 3/8" bulkhead.
<Mmm... likely need more than one and larger diameter>
I only get about 100 gph thru that bulkhead and down to the sump. Do you think that's enough?
<Enough for? Not all the filtration... oh, I see below>
In the tank I have two Aquaclear 70's on each side plus the return and drain to and from the sump. In the first chamber of the sump I have the water from the tank draining into there and a CPR Bak Pak skimmer. Then the water gently flows into the second chamber where I have a 5 inch DSB of sugar size aragonite and a smaller powerhead to keep the water moving. The third chamber is of course the return pump area, I think it's a RIO 1700+.
<Mmm, do keep your eye on this pump... Too subject to failure as a brand>
I had to put a tee on the return line because my display tank was going to overflow.
I just let the excess water from the tee circulate in the return chamber.
<Good diversion>
I have my live rock (60 lbs) in a plastic tub with a powerhead.
<? Why not in the tank? Oh, the overhaul... not quite awake yet this AM>
The fish are in there too, a watchman goby with a pistol shrimp, false percula clown, yellow tail damsel, sergeant major damsel, striped damsel, about 25 blue legged hermit crabs, only few snails(finding a lot of empty shells), peppermint shrimp, zoa's-2 small colonies, a little green mushroom, and your not gunna like this one... a Scopas tang. The guy at the LFS knew what size tank I had and he really pushed the Scopas tang on me until I said okay. I now read as much as I can about livestock before buying. For lighting I have a Coralife 4x65w power compact with two 10,000k bulbs and two actinics. I also have a Hagen T-5 HO with a 6500k and a actinic blue. If I can get the T-5 to fit in the hood I'll use that to but change the 6500k to something higher. I guess my main question was about the 100gph to sump. My total water volume right now with sand and no live rock is 65 gallons, with the live rock I guess that it will be about 60gal. I'd really like to hear form you and thanks for your time.
<I would either "beef up" other (e.g. outside power) filtration, or revisit, either re-drill (your best option) or use a hang-on overflow...
You likely have read our archives re:
Bob Fenner>

New year, new reef! Reef Tank/Filtration 12/31/08 Hi, <Hello and Happy New Year> First of all, let me tell you that if not for your advice in 2007, I'd have had a terrible experience with my FOWLR. It was a 29 gallon, but I managed to keep everything thriving thanks to your advice except for one casualty that died during quarantine. Your comments, suggestions and "watch-outs" were invaluable. Thanks so much. <You're welcome.> My tank has a Rena XP2 canister filter, a SeaClone skimmer (which I plan to replace), and 2X65 watt CF lights. I never had any problems (twice weekly testing) AND would change 15% of water weekly whether test parameters dictated it or not. You could say I was paranoid. <I wouldn't say that, I change water weekly unless I am paranoid also.> I buy premixed salt water because my LFS is really reliable, but top off with RO/DI water. My Bioload was reasonable, I think. I checked it with you ;)= one False Percula, one Pseudochromis, and one Green Clown Goby (who is not visible for the most part). The only corals I had were Zoanthids which took off like tribbles and other easy to keep stuff like yellow polyps and one mushroom colony. (Discosoma sp.). I have a crab free janitorial crew of snails and one cleaner shrimp only. (10 in total). The Nano was almost TOO easy to maintain - perhaps because I loved the grunt work. It was hard labor plus Zen with a touch of high school chemistry lab. But things have changed. I have transferred the fish into a larger aquarium with normal output lighting but equipment better suited for its size (75) gallon. Not having to change water weekly is starting to feel both liberating and making me feel like a slack off! <Once the tank is established, water changes should still be carried out. Every other week would be fine.> However, I still have the 29 gallon left with decent lighting and was thinking maybe, just maybe, I could convert it into a reef. No fish. <I don't see why not.> just coral and janitors. I have proven to myself that I can be pretty diligent so I believe I can handle the greater demands. Of course, I wouldn't start anything reef related without talking to my gurus at WetWebMedia, so here are my specific concerns. 1. Filtration: I never had nitrite, or ammonia problems, and have always had excellent water parameters. I think it was because of my very aggressive water changes, respectable bioload and extreme filtration. I am hoping that if I chose a filtration system to assist me, I might be more efficient. I am seeding base rock from my previous tank, and my filtration equipment is as above. I was researching both Plenum and DSB based systems and the conflicting information is driving me steadily insane. I am thinking a DSB may be a bit too overwhelming for my small aquarium, but plenum based systems as outlined in the inappropriately named "bullet proof" reef (I don't think anything can be bullet proof, sorry!) seems doable in my tank. Would that work? I know the advantages and disadvantages, but don't know the likelihood of either. Nitrate reduction sounds good, release of poisonous gasses because of the dead zone is scary. I have not found any information that could help me understand how to minimize the disadvantages. Any resources that you can point me towards? Any advice you could give me? <If it were me, I'd go with a hang on refugium. Much easier to maintain and will definitely help reduce nitrate/phosphate levels. I personally believe DSB's and plenums have taken a backseat with the advent of refugiums.> 2. Given that it will be a smaller tank, I am lost when it comes to corals. I have stuck to the safer ones simply because I am lost. I have read on coral advice for nano tanks but those corals are too small. I have read about corals for my moderate light conditions, but I don't know how big they get. <Can be pruned back, divided, etc. and resold or traded to the LFS for other needed items.> I have kept mushrooms and polyps without any problems and with weekly supplemental feedings but there are so many corals out there and I don't even your website is so full of information, I am having a brain freeze. I have killed only one coral in 3 years- a freebie that I didn't even notice had been packed with the others but something I'd have never managed to keep alive because I couldn't even identify the bugger. Any advice you can give me given my lighting conditions and size would be helpful. <Read here and related articles/FAQ's. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm> 3. Yes, I have bought tests for calcium in addition to the myriad of test kits I have (ph, hardness, sp. gravity, salinity, ammonia, nitrates, nitrite, phosphates). Can't test for calcium before I set up the tank though and filtration will dictate that. <Also very important to test and maintain magnesium. Available calcium is dictated by proper magnesium levels (1200-1300ppm).> I am sure everyone at WetWebMedia is having a well deserved holiday so I wanted to point out that my concerns and questions are not pressing. What is urgent however is this: Have a great holiday! <And the same to you my friend. James (Salty Dog)>
Re: New Year, New Reef, Reef Tank/Filtration  1/2/09
WOW James! You guys never take a break! I am astonished and grateful you took the time to answer my questions on a holiday! <You're welcome. We have no set hours/days, just do the work when time permits.> Thanks so much for your suggestions. My hope is to start my corals in the smaller tank and eventually shift them into the larger 75 gallon once I have acquired proper lighting for it. <Sounds good.> After that, my 29 gallon will serve as a QT tank instead of my current 20 gallon which can become a refugium/sump. <Great.> Ah I blame all you guys for my reef madness. :) If not for you, I have had a disaster and given up but noo.... My other question was this: I have 2X65 gallon <gallon? CF maybe> (1x daylight 1x50:50). I would think this would be moderate light for my standard 29 gal? (18" high) It is very important to me that I don't fall prey to the "garden reef" syndrome and I wish to avoid it. <I've used a similar set-up for softies and some species of LFS and it worked well.> I have tried to research corals in terms of them being found in similar areas, or similar conditions so that I can have a more compatible group of corals instead of "all-out" chemical warfare in my tank (I understand there will always be *some* but I'd prefer it to be the most minimal I can manage). But I cannot find such info clearly. I have pored through your FAQs and I know some species that I should not mix, but not much info on what species I *can* mix. I know you guys have so much on your hands answering the many queries that come your way and most come from people needing the most urgent advice because they already may have incompatible species, but any advice you could offer me would be invaluable. <You may want to invest in a couple of good books on corals. I might suggest Book Of Coral Propagation by Anthony Calfo, The Super Simple Guide To Corals by James Fatherree, and Aquarium Corals by Eric Borneman. I am not ambitious enough for SPS, I'd never keep an anemone, <can become a problem> and wish to limit my tank to more reasonable (given the small size and modest lighting) species like Zoanthids, mushroom (Ricordea or Actinodiscus) and any softies that may be compatible with them. Zoanthids are probably my must have, simply because my LFS has an incredible selection of frags and I feel better about getting them than getting corals harvested from the wild. He also frags xenias but I think they'd not be compatible with Zoanthids in a 29 gallon space? <Xenia does not possess any apparent stinging capability but can spread quickly if conditions are right.> I would hope I am not limited to a Zoanthid only tank but if that is to be, I can live with it. I would like to know if a Zoanthid only tank is my only option, can I mix different types of corals "broadly" referred to in layman's terms as Zoanthids? (Palythoa, polyps and others). <Mmm no, not limited, but I have seen some pretty colorful displays with just Zo's and mushroom anemones. Do look here and read related articles/FAQ's including articles on Zoanthids and mushroom corals. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/growingcorals.htm> P.S: In my larger tank- I do 15% changes every alternate Sunday as you recommend. I just don't do it weekly. Changing the water in my 75 gallon has already given me muscles a man would envy. I do it the old fashioned way- with buckets! <Should keep you in good shape. James (Salty Dog)>

Saltwater setups for coral, reef filtr.,    12/29/08 <Hello Melissa, Minh at your service.> I have a 125 gallon saltwater tank. We just recently started adding coral, the coral is not doing well at all. <What type of corals have you added?> We have put on a t5 H.O. lighting system. My nitrate level is around was 80 and but is now to 40. <Obviously, the nitrate reading is a cause for concern. What are your other water parameters?> We have a Fluval FX5 filtration system, but was just told not to run it because it is not good for saltwater tanks, because it does not create enough oxygen. <There are many successful saltwater systems utilizing canister filters, like the Fluval FX5. While the majority of these systems are "fish only" without more sensitive corals and invertebrates, the reason for this is not due to lack of oxygenation but rather efficiency.> I was told to either put in a wet/dry filter, refugium filter or none at all and to run my skimmer all the time. I have been pulled in so many directions by different people.....What filtration should I use? How can I keep my nitrate level down all the time? Is the canister filter that bad for saltwater tanks? <Water changes, live rock, live sand, chemical, granular activated carbon (GAC), mechanical (canister filters like the FX5), protein skimming and algae growing refugium are all viable filtration solutions in a reef tank. Most modern reef systems do no use just one but a combination of these methods to maintain water quality. I would strongly suggest for you to review some of the following articles to familiarize yourself with these methods and then ultimately decide which method(s) would be most practical for your situation: -Filtration Basics (http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2002-06/dw/index.php) -Reef Keeping 101 - Initial Set Up  (http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2008-02/newbie/index.php)  -Natural Filtration  (http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2008-04/newbie/index.php) -Sump Filtration (http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2008-01/newbie/index.php) -WWM Set Up (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/marsetupindex1.htm) -WWM Set Up 2 (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm)> Thanks, Melissa Brown <You're welcome. Cheers, Minh Huynh>

Reef Mechanical Filtration 12/21/08 Hello WWM crew! <Hey there Jack!> I have a 150 gal FOWLR with a 55 gal sump/fuge, & 175 lbs. of live rock. Currently I have 4 fish (ocellaris clown, Sailfin tang, flame angel, and royal gramma), many small snails and several hermits). <Do plan on larger quarters for the tang.> In the near future I plan on adding some corals. My tank has been running for 10 months. I recently purchased a Vertex IN 250 skimmer (a good choice?). <My current fave, no real performance lost IMO for the cost! The construction of these is second to none too.> I have an in-tank overflow (from glass-holes.com) with two return pipes which bring 75% water to skimmer and 25% to refugium. Before I had the skimmer I would put pieces of foam in the overflow to catch detritus and other wastes. I would change this stuff out every day and it did a good job of collecting and containing the bad stuff before it got down to my sump. Is it a good thing to keep using the foam in the overflow or should I let the new skimmer do the work? <There is nothing wrong with using some mechanical filtration so long as it is changed/cleaned frequently, as you have done. There is a problem with using it in the overflow box, particularly these (I did design these, do sell them through Glass-Holes.com). These boxes use an internal baffle system that keeps the size to the bare minimum needed to provide the flow. With the foam in the box the slightest constriction/plugging up will keep this box from flowing down to the bulkheads. If you wish to use some sort of mechanical prefilter here I would use a filter sock. Some examples here: http://www.marinedepot.com/ps_searchItem.aspx?IdCategory=
&SearchText=filter+sock&parsed=1. Buying several socks (they are fairly cheap) allows you to change them frequently and wash a bunch of them at one time.> Thanks & Happy Holidays! <Welcome, Scott V.>

Is additional filtration necessary? Reef tank 9/6/08 I have a question regarding and established 47 gallon reef tank that I have only had for a couple of months. The tank is testing, and running exquisitely. Let me first explain its makeup: <Ok> 47 gallon column (20w x 18d x 30h) difficult to work on the bottom, but very nicely shaped in my bedroom. <Be aware that this tank has very low bioload capabilities due to it's height.> 50 pounds live rock 1 175 w 10,000 K. halide with two power compact 50/50 Prizm Pro Skimmer (recently changed this from the regular Prizm that it came with as I have more livestock than the previous owner. Fluval 205 canister filter (just loaded with carbon) <Needs to be cleaned weekly at least.> 1 pair Maroon Clown Fish 2 PJ Cardinals <The clowns may eventually harass these, be prepared to remove one pair of fish.> 1 Six Banded Wrasse <Can also be aggressive, and with a tank of this small of a footprint will likely be a problem in the future.> 1 Flame Angel <Needs more room.> 1 Blue Damsel <AKA a blue devil, lives up to its name.> Frogspawn Devil's Hands A few other assorted corals that (ashamedly) I do not know the names of yet. My question is, can I, should I, do away with the Fluval 205. <Could, needs lots of maintenance if you decide to keep it. However this tank needs lots of water flow due to its height, so the Fluval may help there.> Contrary to what I have read, the Prizm is doing a wonderful job on this sized tank. <As long as it is producing.> No, I would not entrust a much larger tank to it, but for the money (on sale), it is working quite well. <Good> When I first got the tank, the guy was running not only the Fluval 205, but another larger canister Odyssea, and inexpensive canister available on eBay (which I did away with rather quickly because mine leaked as they are notorious for). <And a lot to clean.> All I have in the Fluval 205 is carbon, but the Prizm Pro has a container where I am able to, and have, filled with carbon, etc. . Eventually, I will probably mix phosphate sponge and carbon into this container. <Would probably work.> Thank you for your advice. Best regards, Jeffrey <If you are willing to put in the work a canister can work, but if they are not cleaned often they can become nitrate factories.> <Chris>
Re: Is additional filtration necessary? Reef tank 9/6/08
I have one power head in this tank, and would consider another. <Yes definitely, since this tank has such small surface area compared to it's total size water movement is paramount.> In regards to the Maroon Clowns, is it possible/advisable to separate them as I have another 120 gallon tank almost ready for habitation. I could also put the Flame Angel there if necessary. <I think both would find a 120 a much more suitable home.> <Chris>

Filtration system - 7/7/08 Hi. <Hello> I am 3yrs into salt water. I currently have a 55 gal fish only and a 26gal nano reef tank. I am going to be buying a 150gal tank from Tenecor. It will have an overflow box centered in the R. side panel as all other sides will be viewable. It will also have some sort of closed loop circulation system built into it. My tank will be a mix of coral and fish with live rock and sand. I plan on having at least 150lbs of live rock. My problem is that with so many opinions on filtration I am confused. Should I get a wet/dry filter or should I just put live rock in a sump? <As you've said, there are many opinions. With as much live rock as you plan to put in your tank, I don't know if I'd use either- maybe some nice Chaetomorpha and a small light?> If so do I need to provide the rock with light? <No> And should I use a protein skimmer as well. <I (and many others) consider this an uncompromisable component of a reef aquarium. Look for a skimmer from a reputable maker (read reviews...) and buy one rated higher than your own aquarium volume> You guys seam to really know your stuff so I value your opinion. <Thanks for the support. Benjamin>

Water Circulation (Flow) For a 180g Marine "Softie" Tank …In Malta!- 07/05/08 Hi, <<Hello>> I am Anthony from Malta. <<Greetings Anthony…Eric from South Carolina here (though currently visiting in Nebraska)>> I have a 700 l marine reef tank with mainly soft corals and polyps and I wish to upgrade the tank's circulation as it is a bit sluggish. <<Common to most hobbyists' tanks I feel… I am a big proponent for heavy and vigorous water circulation in most marine systems. It does so much good, yet is seemingly often overlooked…or maybe just underestimated>> The rocks in my tank are forming a slope from the bottom to the top. Can you please guide me on how many powerheads I have to use, the positioning and the model? I wish to use the Hydor Koralia. <<These are a good choice… For this size tank I would recommend the largest model, the Koralia 4. I would use as minimum of four units (more smaller units may be needed depending on the rockwork, to avoid areas of very low flow), positioning two at each end and facing the units opposite to create some random turbulent flow>> Thanks in advance for your help and for your great website, Anthony <<Happy to share. Eric Russell>> P.S. Sorry to write this e-mail again but I forgot to enter the tank's dimension. It is 6 feet by 2feet by 2feet. Thanks again. <<Ah yes… in this country this is a standard and popular offering of 180gal U.S.…a very nice size for such displays. Regards, EricR>>

Protein Skimmer Question 06/02/2008 Good afternoon guys, <<And Gals i hope... Andrew with you today>> First let me say your site is amazing, this is my first question to you b/c I have always been able to find the answers I needed by searching. <<Thanks for the kind words>> However for this one I seem to be having a little trouble (although I'm sure it's here somewhere.) First my set up which has been running for 7 months now and has consistently had the numbers to follow: 45 Gal. (high), custom show tank (reef), 55 lbs of live rock making pinnacles and caves modeled on a site/reef I dived and photographed in the Lembeh Strait, Sulawesi (avid underwater phtog here), 3 - 5 inches of live sand sloping back. My numbers Ammonia, Trite & Trates all 0, Ph 8.3, Calcium 423, Mag 1270, DKH 10.5, Phosphates 0 and strontium 15. Aqua C Remora Pro skimmer and 1 - 150 watt Metal Halide with 14 K bulb and 1 PC dual compact 80 w (1 pure daylight & 1 pure actinic) all in all ~ 6 watts per gallon. Inhabitants are 1 true percula, 2 cardinal fish, a mated pair of Coral Banded Shrimp (she's constantly carrying and laying eggs which are a nice supplemental feedings for the tank and both are gentle with the tank mates - coral not so much), btwn 5 - 10 (of each) blue legged hermits, Nassarius, cone head and margarita snails. Corals are 6 different types of mushroom (orange, blue, red and green, 1 Palythoa polyp, 1 open brain coral (red) and after much reading prior to buying I now have a gorgeous Goniopora sp. (green) the size of a child's basketball (the ones pizza hut used to give away at the final four) and that's just when he does not feel like coming all the way out - he usually does and he's bigger at times and is always out when the lights are on from day 1 (even in the acclimating container.. =). <<Sounds like a wonderful setup you have there>> Well needless to say I love him and have taken it upon myself to read everything I can get my hands on on their care and difficulty of care. Spot feedings of Cyclops-eeze mixed with zoo, brine shrimp shavings and DT's oyster eggs several times per week. OK enough about my tank and on to the real question: <<Ok>> I have always been running the protein skimmer constantly 24 hrs. per day except while feeding when it is off and timed for 1 1/2 hrs. when I first started in reefing I didn't even think about how long may be good or not good to run the skimmer. So I started to do a little research and found out others only run theirs for several hours per day. What would you (the pro's) advise for my situation and tank? <<To be honest, personal preference. I would have to say its about a split 50 / 50 of people i know who run all the time, a nd some on timers. Personally, i don't run one at all. If you can run 24/7, then i don't see any harm in it, this is usually the common advise to give. Some of the people i know who run their skimmer for only part of the day, actually only do this to cut down their electric consumption>> I'm thinking a timer kicking it on during the night-time & off ___________? would be nice so I don't have to see all the micro-bubbles = ), but you...? <<If you have a micro bubble issue with the skimmer, then i would attempt all avenues possible to rectify this. I do know that sometimes, no matter what is done, it cannot be stopped. So, if you do only want to run it for part of the day, then yes, run it through the night while tank viewing is not being done>> Can you advise a time estimate for my skimmer? Or anything I could read upon for the Goni, I have all the common books, but maybe I'm missing one or two. Thanks so much for your time and all you do to help us little guys out. Alex - Manhattan, NYC where I can't SCUBA dive without a shot... <<Please do read more on the Goniopora here including linked articles and FAQ's http://wetwebmedia.com/poritidae.htm >> <<Thanks for the questions, hope this helps. A Nixon>>

New filtration for a reef tank 05/29/2008 Hello WWM crew, <<Hello, Andrew here, blowing the dust off his keyboard>> I want to tell you that I have found your site absolutely enlightening. <<Thank you for the kind words>> Let me tell you a little about my tank. I bought it used and working from someone who was getting rid of their tank (5 months ago). It was a 75 gallon FO glass tank with 2 catfish which I quickly traded for a clownfish and 5 green chromis from the LFS. It had a fluval 404 canister filter and a Remora Pro Skimmer. 2 powerheads, a Rio 1400 and a MaxiJet 1200 and a 300w heater. I bought Bob's book "The Cons. Mar. Acq." and am learning so much, thank you. <<Sounds wonderful>> I bought about 35 lbs of live rock, and added 40 lbs of live sand (sugar grain size) to the sand that was already in the tank (which was coarser than the sand I added), is this OK or should I separate the finer sand from the gravel?. <<Under normal circumstances, I would of suggested swapping the existing sand, and using just the fine aragonite sand. However, as its already in there, it should be fine>> My tank then became a FOWLR, I added a Yellow tang, pajama + flame cardinal, and an engineer goby. I learned it was good to test the water and do water changes, which I have been doing about every 2-3 weeks (about 10 gallons). <<I would suggest going for 10% water change per week, to keep on top of the trace elements available to the inhabitants>> My tests had been AMM, Nitrites, Nitrates=0, but PH has been 7.8 all along. Then about 3 weeks ago I tested the Nitrates and they were 160!!! <<This could be due to the mixing of the sandbed. Large water changes would bring this down>> I became alarmed, I started to read and re-read about Nitrates, and that is when I found your web site. What an eye opener. : ) I saw your article on nitrates and learned that I needed to correct the situation, SLOWLY, so that calmed me a little. Then, yesterday my fluval 404 canister went out on me. So this brings me to you, and why I am writing. <<Ok>> I've searched through the FAQ's and the articles, once again, very helpful, but I would still like to ask you if what I am thinking to do is OK or if you have a better suggestion. My goal is to transition to a reef tank. From what I've read, I believe the canister filter is not a good choice for a reef tank, so it's OK that it broke. <<Agreed>> I've been reading on WWM about DSB and I have about 2.5 inches, I was thinking of adding more to make it 4 inches, would this be enough for denitrification? <<To a certain degree, yes, however, I deem a DSB at least 6 inches. Hence why most people will utilize a DSB in a sump tank>> Also, my engineer goby moves the sand around like crazy, would this affect the DSB? <<Not really, should be fine>> I am planning on buying about 40 more pounds of live rock, which I believe will also help to denitrify. Will this be enough for my tank without a chemical filter? <<Yes, that will give you about 75lbs of live rock, which will happily carry out filtration for you>> Do you recommend a refugium? It would have to be a HOB because my tank is not drilled so I cannot add a sump. If so, which one would you recommend. <<I would certainly recommend a refugium, as these are great for nutrient export and for cultivating copepod growth. Which to recommend? Well, there are quite a few on sites like Drs Foster and Smith, Marinedepot.com or ebay.com which are all basically the same and do the same job. Just ensure you buy a good sized refugium>> Someone in my LFS said he did not like refugiums, but I'm not sure why. <<I am unsure why as well, as these can only benefit an aquarium>> Please advice on what I should do. I am also learning that in this hobby there are many contradicting opinions, so I'm sticking pretty much to what you guys are recommending because you give pretty good advice, backed up with experience and knowledge. <<Yes, you can go to 10 sites, and get 10 different opinions. However, sticking to one good opinion and following it through is a good idea>> Thank you in advance, I really appreciate your help. I love this whole saltwater marine ecosystem thing, it absolutely fascinates me. Thanks again, Sincerely, Erika <<Thanks for the questions Erika, I hope this helps. A Nixon>>

Airstone Only, in a Reef Tank? 5/27/2008Howdy, <Hi David, Pufferpunk here. For future reference, when you send us a query, you need to use proper capitalization, spelling & punctuation, as this has to be fixed by us before posted in our FAQs & is very time consuming.> I have a 55 gallon with 115 lbs of good cured live rock. It's only been up for a month now and the only residents are a coral banded shrimp a 3 stripe damsel and a few snails/feather dusters that came on the rock. The ammonia spiked a week and a half in and now I'm getting 0 ammonia 0 nitrite and <10 ppm for nitrate. I have cp <Power compact?> lighting, 4 65 watt bulbs and led moonlights (so pretty!). I intend to cover this tank with mushroom polyps, Zoanthids and either 3 3-4inch fish or 8 1-2 inch fish and many more shrimps and snails. Ok, here are the questions: 1. I am running filter less. I have a pretty big air pump running to three lime wood "air stones" spaced one at each end and one in the middle, think this will work out for me? <I do not believe you have enough flow in this tank. Water flow is even more important than light. See: http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2007/1/aafeature IMO, a skimmer is important too & if you saw the nasty gunk a skimmer removed from your water, you'd never go without one again.> 2. I have a few extra bulbs and am curious what you think would be better for this tank. 2 actinic and two 50/50 (that's what I have running now) or two 10k and two actinic or two 10k's and 2 50/50's or some other combination? Ok, I reread that and just to make sure there's no confusion, I have 3 10k, 2 50/50 & 3 actinic bulbs and need the best combo of 4 for mushrooms/Zoanthids. <I think you'll be happiest with the color & growth you get from 2 10k and 2 actinic. I put the white bulbs in the back.> Thanks in advance and thank you even more for the site. You wouldn't believe what a huge help it's been in my research! <Thank you for the kind words. Please be a help to us & read your letter carefully & correct before sending. This took more time to respond to than necessary. ~ PP> Cheers, David

Skimmer Selection for New Reef Tank  3/30/08 Hello there Bob & Crew, <<Hey Mike, Adam J here.>> I trust this latest inquiry finds you all well. <<Yes, thanks.>> Thank you for the help to date as I continue my upgrade (from my 72gal) project. <<Hope it's going well.>> Well, I finally received my Oceanic Model 3 sump to go with my new, but still dry, Oceanic 72" 215 gal reef ready tank. <<Has potential.>> It will include approx. 175-200lbs LR with 3-4" sand base, will be lit by the Coralife Pro 3 x 250 MH & PC setup (approx. 1150W) and will house 2 Zebrasomas, a Maroon Clown, a Six Line, a Falco Hawkfish, a Coral Beauty, a Copperband and a Heniochus (plus the usual Brittlestars, Snails, Crabs, etc.) and a variety of LPS and some softies. <<Do keep in mind the butterflies may be of some risk in a mixed reef tank.>> Now, it's skimmer time. <<As opposed to hammer time…>> I am at the point where I am trying to decide between two Turboflotor 1000s or one Turboflotor 5000 Shorty Compact (at about 24" in height). There is the redundancy of two 1000s and the huge cup capacity of the 5000. There are just enough pros and cons back and forth that I look to you for some last minute advice. I suppose, at this point, the question should be as simple as would you recommend either of these options and if so, which option do you think would be better. <<Well honestly, the 5000 would probably be the best choice out of the two, however as far as the brand goes…I have found them to not be as consistent as I would like. For the price there are some other choices I would make.>> If not, is there some other skimmer option that you think I'm missing and/or should be considering. <<Take a look at a multitude of brands, it doesn't hurt to look around and see which can be adapted to your system...look at Aqua-C, EuroReef, ASM, MRC, Deltec, Tunze, those are some the common selections . . .see other crew-members recommendations here; http://www.wetwebmedia.com/proskimrart2.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i1/protein_skimmer_impressions.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/skimbestof.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/skimselfaqs.htm .>> I'm looking primarily for "in cabinet" (approx. 29") quality and reliability here. Plus or minus a few bucks here will not be the determining factor. <<See above.>> As always, your time and consideration are appreciated. <<Let me know should you need any more direction.>> Thank you, <<Anytime.>> Mike from Canada, eh. <<Adam J. for SoCal, dude.>>

Moving up to a 110 gallon system... reading re stkg., canister filters/reef   3/15/08 Hello Crew, <Cinnamon, let me in!> I have been a fan of your site since I found it. Great advice. <Thanks> Here in my question. I currently have a 60 gallon reef system. I am running a Marineland Emperor Bio-Wheel 400 Power Filter, a Aqua C Remora Protein Skimmer with Maxijet 1200 Pump and a Current Orbit(2) 65w Dual Daylight and (2) 65w Dual Actinic lighting system. Two MaxiJet 1200 powerheads and One 200 watt heater. I also have about 60 to 80 lbs of live rock and a 2 to 3 inch sand bed. The current residents of the 60 gallon, (listed below) will be relocating to the 110 gallon mentioned below. Except for the tomato clowns and the Yellow Belly Blue Damsel. They will be going back to the LFS. 1 yellow tang 4in 2 tomato clowns 1 Lyretail Anthias 3" 1 Yellow Belly Blue Damsel 1 Coral Beauty Angelfish 4" 2 Scarlet Cleaner Shrimp 1 Fire Shrimp 2 Serpent Starfish 1 Hawaiian Feather Duster 15 assorted snails 1 Long tentacle anemone and 1 short tentacle Several different types of mushrooms, polyps and Zoanthids. I purchased the 110 gallon tank, (48 x 30 x 18) with no overflow, to be my new reef system. My plan is to run a Eheim 2028 Professionel II Canister Filter, <Mmm, good product... I use them on my FW tanks... but am not such a fan for marine... part. reef set-ups. Please see WWM re: http://wetwebmedia.com/marcanfiltuse.htm> two Hydor Koralia 3 - 850GPH powerheads, Aqua C Remora Pro Protein Skimmer with Mag 3 Pump, two Aquarium Systems Visi-Therm 200 Watt Heater and the Current Orbit(2) 65w Dual Daylight and (2) 65w Dual Actinic lighting system which is on my current system. I know my current lighting system will need to be upgraded at some point, but do you think I will be able to go with this one for now? <If you can arrange your stinging-celled life to be about the same depth of water as currently> I will also have about 75 to 100 lbs of live rock and a 2 to 3 inch sand bed. Any recommendations would be helpful? <Deeper, finer substrate is better... also posted: http://wetwebmedia.com/marsubstr.htm and the linked files above.> I would also like to add the following resident to the new system, if you approve? I do not want to overload my system. 2 Maroon Clownfish 1 Blonde Naso Tang. I know he will need to be in a larger system in a couple of years. <Mmm, no... immediately. I would not keep a Naso species in anything less than six feet long/wide... See... WWM... re...> Already planning on a 180 system. 1 Full size angel? <... Not a good idea> Hardy and reef safe any suggestions? <Posted...> I know there is no guarantee on it being reef safe. 1 Blue Jaw Trigger or Niger Trigger? A group of schooling fish. Any suggestions? <Reading. Bob Fenner>

No Questions, Just Thanks 2/19/08 Hi Crew <Hi Garry> Having been away from the hobby for over ten years (major family illness meant no time) I am now approaching that time when the reef bug has caught hold and gone from being latent to rampant again. <Ah, the bug has bit.> Much has changed, although I seem to have done much of what is current anyway, refugia, big skimmers, live rock filtration methods, etc etc (more by accident than design I might add), and finding your site has allowed the dream and adventure to begin on a much more solid foundation than before. I know my stocking rates have always been light and my filtration heavy but it always worked for me and I only ever seemed to lose a fish shrimp or whatever through old age or accident. It is good to know that what I did in the past is advised as being the way to go today. <Not much has changed but technology.> So this is just a big thank you to everyone from Bob to Steve to anyone who replies to the thousands of questions people come up with. Your site has replaced a lot of faith I have lost with the industry (hobby) what with shops who don't have a clue (keeping a few small wrasse with an Anglerfish is just one example), and staff about as knowledgeable (sorry if that's spelt wrong) as a garbage man in a hospital. <Thank you for your kind words. James (Salty Dog)> Regards Garry Holter (in the UK) Oh I'm an ecologist by training and understand community structure very well (it formed my D.Phil research for 4 years) and boy does that help in structuring a reef aquarium. <<Would very much encourage your writing... re the many useful tie-ins here. Bob Fenner>> <Mmmm>

Filtration Recommendations, Protein Skimmers, Refugium - 1/2/08 Brenda et al, <Art> Thanks for responding to my fishy questions! <You're welcome!> I have a 45 gallon saltwater aquarium FOWLR and will gradually change to a beginning reef fish tank with your help and LFS. Currently I have a wet/dry filter and typically a nitrate factory. I invested in this when I started my aquarium 8/30/07. I regret my newbie choice in the filtration. <You're not alone in the regrets of a newbie. We've all been there.> Could you provide specific brand and type of filtration that I might replace it with this New Year 08? I have 5 small damsels, 2 gobies, 1 small clown fish, 12 assorted hermit crabs, 1 black urchin, 1 brown crab and several small/med snails. I have 40 #s of LR. <A good protein skimmer is your best option here. I recommend a lot of research on protein skimmers before you purchase. There are a lot of poor choices that can be made. I personally use the Aqua C skimmers for my reef tanks. More information here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i1/protein_skimmer_impressions.htm and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/proskimrart2.htm . Read through the FAQ's regarding skimmers. I also use and recommend a refugium. More information found here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm . You will want to read all the articles and FAQ's associated with refugiums. Thanks, Art <You're welcome! Hope this helps! Brenda>

Filtering materials in reef tank - 1/2/08 Hi CREW Wish you all a very HAPPY NEW YEAR. Now here is my NEW YEAR question. What kind of filtering materials can be used in a reef tank sump? I have a 75g reef tank and was thinking of making a sump for it. Thanking you <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm the second tray down. Bob Fenner>

Should I Use A Canister Filter? - 12/31/07 Hi Eric or whoever is on duty this evening, <<Hiya Ken...Eric here>> My 90 gallon SPS tank is doing great. <<Excellent>> I recently set up a second tank primarily for a RBTA and a pair of Clarkii clown fish. <<Neat!>> I will probably add another 4 small fish and some star polyps and mushrooms at some point. <<Mmm, too bad...the tank/anemone would fare much better in the long term without the polyps and mushrooms trying to constantly poison it>> The tank is a 46 gallon bow (3 foot length) with about 65 pounds of live rock, TEK 5 T5 lighting, two Tunze 6025 Nano Stream powerheads, and a Deltec hang on back skimmer. I am not using a sump. Even though I can make a large % water change with a couple of buckets of new water, or water from my SPS tank with this size tank if I ever run into trouble, I was wondering if I should add a canister filter to my set up? <<I would...for chemical filtration (carbon/Poly-Filter)>> If I did this, I would not use the bio media or noodles, and just use the sponge for mechanical filtration to trap debris. <<If you do...be sure to clean the filter sponge of detritus one or more times a week, else the canister filter will become more of a "problem" than a "solution">> I could also use it for PhosBan etc if needed. <<Indeed>> I have no mechanical filtration in my SPS tank, but the debris eventually will end up in my sump which I can then clean out. <<Agreed... And with good strong water flow, the suspended detritus (or marine snow, if you like) is actually quite good "food" for your corals>> This tank has no sump. I of course will have a clean up crew for the tank. Do you think the canister filter is a good idea or a waste of money? <<Can be quite useful, as described/when maintained properly>> If it is a good idea, is Eheim still the way to go? <<Many choices available these days...but you won't go wrong with the Eheim product>> Thanks, Ken <<Happy to help. EricR>>

Filtration question, SW... Reef maint.  12/30/07 Howdy, Crew! <Hello!!> I have my 125 display tank in the living room, and 100 stock tank sump in the basement. I currently run an Iwaki MD-100 from the basement to pump +/- 2000 gph upstairs. The tank upstairs has about 150 lbs of live rock, a heater, and my livestock. There was no filtration physically in the tank until I started this project. The sump downstairs has one of the two system heaters in it, about 40 lbs of live rock, and the protein skimmer. I am now turning off my MD-100 at 9pm at night, from the sump to the display, turning on a Rio 2500 in the tank, and the skimmer in the sump. I go from about 2000 gph to about 800 gph. Would the lighter circulation be all right for the fish at night? <Should be.> I have a 1"-2" crushed coral bed. Flow is still decent with the small pump running. I aimed it at the front glass, so the flow splits and goes both ways. Even my anemone still has movement. Candy canes have feeding tentacles out further than I've ever seen them before. When the MD-100 is off, the sump in the basement catches all the overflow water (as during a power outage.) That being said, since the water level rises in the sump at night, I turn on the skimmer at night. If I left it on during the day, the water level is low enough, it doesn't skim at all anyway. I turn the main pump back on at 9am, and the skimmer back off. What I have considered so far: -Water temperatures being different, so I have heaters in tank and sump. <Good.> -Aeration, so I have the display tank pump aimed toward the surface to facilitate good gas exchange, and the sump has the protein skimmer to move water and aerate. <This will help.> I haven't checked the pH upstairs and downstairs to see if it differs much. <I bet it will.> Can you foresee see any ill effects of me doing this? I don't see any problem so far. It's been 3 days, and everyone appears happy. Even my hippo tang shows no signs of stress or ich. Some guys from my club said I would lose filtration, but I know some people don't even use a sump The water still moves, just not up-down. <The real downside hear is stability. You are creating two systems every twelve hours, then recombining them. I have personally seen systems that do exactly this with good success, mainly for the power savings. I personally wouldn't, just for stability sake.> Any insight would be appreciated! <I would at least try to get the skimmer running during the day. You may need to add a little sump next to your big sump (such as a 20 gal tank) to get the water height to run your skimmer in. Skimming with the setup now is only skimming less than half the water half the time.> Thanks and have a safe and happy New Year! Eric Z. <Sure will Eric, same to you and yours. Good luck and happy reefing, Scott V.>

Filtration on 80gal Bowfront 12/29/07 Hello Crew, <Hello, Scott V. with you.> Thank you for the time and experience you share with all of us. I've always been interested in keeping a saltwater and tank and was encouraged to pursue my interest last year when given a 20gal tank. I started up the tank in September last year with a basic filter, powerhead, heater and live rock. In October I added a couple yellow-tail damsels and then added a couple of False Ocellaris Clownfish in November. I was able to maintain good levels and healthy fish and I had a nice growth of coralline algae. In the spring of this year, I added a mushroom and then during this last summer, I added a Xenia, which I unfortunately watched suffer. It was only at its demise that I became more aware of the need to test for calcium. <And alkalinity?> During the summer I also noticed an outbreak of red slime algae and decided it was time to invest in a skimmer (AquaC Remora). <Good move.> Now that the skimmer is running and I've kept up on water changes, I have been able to maintain a healthy Kenyi tree that is spreading all over the tank, a leather finger and a leather coral. All this said to say that I am fascinated with the craft decided I have to expand .I now have an 80 gal. bowfront awaiting decisions on a filtration system. Since all I have known is hang-ons, I've been reading up and am leaning toward a sump and a separate refugium. <Yes, if you are going to upgrade, this is the way to go.> Please review and let me know your thoughts on the current design. I would like to house a reef tank with a medium load of fish, and LR. In terms of corals, I would like to consider clams, anemone, brain coral, leathers, Acropora, torch coral, xenia. This is just a sampling of what I am interested in and want to design for. <I would skip the anemone and limit mixing the soft corals with hard.> Since my stand is a bowfront, I am somewhat limited in space. The opening on the back is 27.5" wide and 30.5" tall and the interior space is 32" wide x 12" deep by 30.5" tall 1) Sump - Reef Devil Reef Sump by AE Tech (28 x 11x 16) Compartment 1 - micron bag, skimmer, skimmer pump Compartment 2 - will use mechanical or chemical filtration as appropriate Compartment 3 - pump back to tank <OK> 2) Skimmer - AquaC EV120 or Euro-Reef RS100 (not sure if I should be considering the EV180). Should I consider anyone of these more than the other. I would like the quietest if there is a difference as this tank will be in the family room. <The EuroReef in my opinion.> 3) Pumps - I have not even looked at pumps yet (will once again be interested in quiet operating pumps) <Considering space limitations, a submersible, Eheim hands down.> 4) Lighting - 48" Corallife Aqualight Pro (2x150W HQI MH (10,000K) + 2 96W PC + 3 LED) <Will be fine.> 5) Water Flow - for additional water movement, I am installing a closed loop system of 1" pvc pipes buried in the base sand (3" bed) with 8-45 degree angles forcing water into the tank from all sides. I will also have 2 outlets in the top rear corners. Both the lower and upper system will be run off pumps located under the tank. These are in addition to the outflow from the sump. <How much flow do you plan to run through these? Given the size of the tank, eight outputs low and two above is just too many. If your pump is sized to your tank this will provide very little dynamic flow. If your pump is sized to your outputs, this will be way too much flow. Also, I assume you plan to drill this tank. If you do please check to see if the bottom is tempered, it likely is. If so, you will not be able to safely drill it. > 6) UV Sterilizer (to be added in the future) <I would skip this.> 7) Refugium - Ecosystem Refugium 100M (24 x 8 x 8) - considering adding this in the future on top of the sump <I suppose this could work. For the money spent on both the refugium and sump, I would consider having one made that simply incorporates both into one design, or possibly fabricating yourself.> Sorry for the lengthy post. I'm just really wanting to do this as right as possible the first time. <No problem.> Thank in advance. Jason <Welcome, good luck, Scott V.>

Marine Filtration 9/27/07 - 9/27/07 Hello all (esp. Scott F.). <Hi Stan, James with you today.> After avoiding a mistake (putting too many or too big a fish in my 75 gallon tank), I am now focusing on filter design and set-up, and committing to wait at least a month before adding any livestock. I now have my kids doing research with me, so they understand proper husbandry and care requirements (okay, they are 3 and 6, but they are at least involved). <Ah, no better time to get them started.> It looks like I am going to set up a fish only tank (with small fish!) then converting over to a reef set up later on, so I want to make sure that my sump design is on target. I am looking at a 29 gallon sump, which will hold about 12 gallons or so in the lower portion, with a separate refugium chamber fed by a powerhead (expect about 150 gph) which will flow back into the main sump. I'll use the refugium chamber as a bubble trap, along with a filter pad on each end. For skimming, I'll have an Aqua-C Remora on the main tank. Flow through the sump itself should be about 450 gph. The display will have 80 lbs of base rock, along with a 1" bed of live sand, and about 10 lbs of Tonga live rock to seed the base rock and add some variation to the look. In the refugium, I plan on placing a 5" DSB along with 5-10 lbs of live rock rubble. <I'd go no more than 3"> I hope to order some benthic organisms and macroalgae online, as my LFS doesn't have them. Question...will this set up work for a reef tank (I'll add more circulation via a closed loop at that point) as well as for my small fish only system? <Should be no problem but I'd go with more live rock before you convert it to reef. It would take quite some time for the 10 pounds on Tonga to seed the 80 pounds of base rock.> I keep searching and reading, and I am especially grateful (and impressed) that there is a common thread with all your responses, and no real contradiction of information. <Why thank you.> Thanks again for all you guys do! <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Stan

Confusion; Sumps, Refugiums, Wet/Dry Trickle Filters, Flow Rates, and Wavemakers - 09/21/07 Dear Sirs, <<Greetings Carl...and BTW, very capable ladies here as well>> I love your site. <<We thank you>> I am still fairly new to this hobby and am pulling my hair out at the variety of information available. <<Mmm, yes...much info with varying opinions...but do keep reading/absorbing>> I have made some progress, but have recently decided to take a step forward and it just so happens that this next step seems exceedingly baffling. <<Indeed, many hobbyists are intimidated by the plumbing/flow/circulation aspects of tank setup...let's see if I can help with your understanding re>> Currently I have a 46-gallon bowfront with a wet/dry which returns via an Aquaclear 70 powerhead. I have ordered a refugium and plan on turning the wet/dry into a sump (I will then use both the sump and the refugium), but I really can't figure out the plumbing for this. <<Quite elementary really... The tank drains to the skimmer chamber of the sump...a T-fitting is installed on the drain line with a gate-valve on the output, and leading to the refugium...the refugium then "gravity drains" to the pump chamber of the sump. Plumbing the vessels in this manner lets you adjust/maintain a different flow rate in the refugium if you wish>> In my setup, both the sump and 'fuge must be below the aquarium. <<Very common...and is how my system is configured. Depending on the height of the individual vessels, you may find you will need to elevate the refugium slightly to allow it to gravity drain to the sump>> Besides plumbing, I am also confused by flow rates. <<Okay>> I understand that the aquarium flow rate should be higher than that of the refugium, but how much exactly should I be aiming for...i.e. aquarium 8xhr? refugium 2xhr? <<Is variable...often dictated by the animals/species kept. But as a general starting point this would be fine...could even add a couple more "volumes per hour" if you wish>> Is my Aquaclear 70 adequate? <<As a means for circulating water through the sump/refugium, maybe...depends on how much head-loss you experience with this pump...but is likely inadequate on its own re water movement within the display>> Wavemakers: I ordered a Wave2k before I read your opinion on them. Should I return it? <<Mmm, I've not used one of these devices...but I think it will overpower your 46g tank with both its size and performance. The Koralia or smaller Tunze Stream pumps would be a better choice here...in my opinion>> I was planning on keeping it and augmenting in tank water flow with a Koralia #1, a Koralia nano for bottom of the tank water movement, and the return from the Aquaclear 70 of course. <<Ah well...you don't need (or want!) the Wave2K then>> Thanks, Carl <<Here's some links to more useful info (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/plumbingmarart.htm ) and (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/circmarart.htm ) and (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i5/wavemakers/Wavemakers.htm ). Do also follow the links in blue at the tops/in the margins of the pages. Regards, EricR>>

Filtration Sequencing... What Is The Best Filtration Sequence For A Reef Tank? - 09/19/07 - Biological, chemical, mechanical. - Biological, mechanical, chemical. - Chemical, mechanical, biological. - Chemical, biological, mechanical. - Mechanical, chemical, biological. - Mechanical, biological, chemical. <<Mmm, well...biological filtration is going on most "everywhere" in the system...but if setting up/arranging sequential filtration modules, it is my opinion the last sequence listed (mechanical, biological, chemical) is the best, for "any" marine system. Mechanical filtration first (changed or cleaned frequently) to trap and remove detritus/organic material to reduce the load on the bio-filter (I consider a protein skimmer such a device)...biological filtration next, to process "dissolved" organic compounds...and lastly, chemical filtration to augment these processes and help reduce toxic levels of those elements not handled by the previous two methods>> Thank you for your help. <<Happy to assist>> Your website is very informative. <<Hope you find it useful>> Sincerely, Tara Price <<Regards, Eric Russell>>

Re: I am going crazy!!! (revised, I hope this is better!!)... Reef tank filtr. mainly  4/25/07  Hello Mr. Fenner and crew, <Jerry> After all the late night reading and studying, I find the more I read and learn, the crazier I feel I am getting. Here is my dilemma, I wish I can say I was one of the ones that studied first and purchased second, but I wasn't.  Put that together with impatience and you have a disaster waiting to happen. I have a 75 gallon LR/LS reef tank, stocked with everything the LFS could sell me, (huge amounts of corals). I have a small 17 gallon wet dry (18"x10"x16") and a 405 Fluval (contains bios and Purigen).  I have an Aqua C Urchin/Mag sitting in my sump and next to that is a Rio 1250 gph.  The Rio returns directly into the left side of my tank. Since I was out of room in the sump, I put a Pondmaster 2400gph outside. The Pondmaster is pumping water to a JBJ chiller through a wall into the next room (it took weeks to convince my wife!!). This returns to the right side of my tank making a travel of 5' each way. I had perfect water for months and now it seems the water changes are not keeping up with the production of nitrates. <... You have read re Wet-Dries on WWM: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bioballfaqs.htm and the linked files above?> I was past 240 and did a 30 gallon water change, and now it's down to 100. I plan on doing another big change in a couple of days. (yet my corals/fish seem fine?) I read from your site to remove bio-balls, I did that and replaced it with 4" of live sand and 16lb of broken live rock. I have also added 2 full bags of Chaetomorpha to the sump/refugium. I am still going through the drip plate and PolyPads dropping down on top of the Chaetomorpha and LR/LS. Is this okay? <Yes> I started to feel that this refugium is not enough (always my problem), it is currently 8"x10". I have read that any refugium is better than no refugium. <This is so> Now I have so much water in the sump/refugium that if I had a power outage, I would have about 5 gallons or more on the floor and a divorce!! <Trouble... need to reduce the amount of water in the tank/system...> Recently I bought a new tank 24"x12"x16" for a separate refugium. I would go bigger but I have space constraints. I have just recently read about this miracle mud. So now my brain takes me to another direction. Tank water through the drip plate/poly pads into the miracle mud compartment. Flow through to the skimmer side, Rio 1250 taking it through the wall 5' to the refugium. Pondmaster 2400 will take it from the refugium to the chiller (too much flow into chiller?) <No> and back another 5' to then split to both sides of the tank. Is this crazy or should I just keep it simple? <Simple is better... Do read re how much flow to send through/over the Mud... not much. Best to restrict flow or bypass through this compartment> Either keep things as they are and purchase a Sulphur Denitrator. Pull the sump/refugium out; replace it with the new tank/refugium and put it under the display and call it a day?? <I would do the latter> PLEASE HHEELLLPPP!! I don't want to hurt anything in my tank with my constant changes. Ps I have a red Caulerpa in my tank and it has grown large dark purple almost black grapes on them is this normal? <Possibly... better to remove this material if it starts to decompose. Bob Fenner> Jerry

Here comes another addiction... going to reef! Mainly filtr.   - 4/7/07 Thank you guys so much for putting real and honest info on the web for all to use free.... You have no doubt saved countless marine lives... After making it a point to read info on your site ever day when I get home from work for a couple hours, you might get some mail from the woman that's not so pleasant.. j/k) <Heeee! Say it isn't so!> Anyway after all the info from you guys I am going to ditch  my wet/dry system and build a custom 55 Gallon sump.  Finally here comes  the question... I have a 180 gallon aquarium, 15 fish, some inverts and a button  polyp, all medium size, finally ready to get bit by the coral bug. 225 pds LR,  220 pds Fiji pink sand, 2 Mag drive 12 pumps, one going to a large lifeguard  chemical module with a little reef carbon, and one going to a large lifeguard mechanical module, <Mmm... not such a fan of this sort of filtration for this application... Do plan on switching out the cartridge every week (have at least two... with the one being cleaned in-between...> 2 Coralife 220 skimmers, and an 18 W UV, a hang on  refuge (which will be replaced in the new sump. <No room to squeeze in one of larger volume?> Should I just remove the  modules and use the mag's for return only due to all the live rock and sand, as  well as a future large refuge in the sump with Chaeto? <Yes... a better plan> I figure I would  take them off and utilize the extra flow potential from the pumps..  Thanx  again! <Ah yes... we're in agreement here. Bob Fenner>

If it's not broken don't fix it; too much filtration on a reef tank?  4/6/07 Hi guy's, love the site, <Thank you.> have been reading it for a  while and am wondering if I am using to much filtration... <Hard to do...generally speaking. but let's see what we have.> I have a 180 gallon  reef tank about 12 fish, <Small? Big?> 5 inverts, and 1 star button polyp.  Here is what  I have on the tank..  225 pds LR, Overflow to a large sump with about 100  bioballs. A mag drive 12 running to a lifeguard {large) mechanical module. A  mag12 running to a lifeguard (large) chemical module, about 1/2 full of reef  carbon.  A Coralife 220 skimmer, ORP monitor going to a small ozone  generator, 200 pounds of Fiji pink sand, a CPR large refugium with Chaeto lit  24/7.  I feel as though I might be wasting a lot with having all this...Any  suggestions? <I think the plastic bio-media is a unnecessary, but the refugium probably refutes most ill effects it creates. From the sounds of it you have a functional, stable captive environment. It it's not broken don't fix it. The carbon, unless you have a lot of encroaching cnidaria life is probably not necessary on a continual basis either...but won't hurt anything either.>   My fish are great, water chem great, and water crystal  clear....Thanx in advance <Welcome, Adam J.>

Upgrading tank help! Using WWM   3/1/07 I want to upgrade my current tank that is 75 gallons with shells for substrate, 2 Eheim 2026 canister filters, aqua c pro skimmer, live rock and heavy bio-load due to a lot of live stock. All tests are ok, but the nitrates. <The canisters... need to be cleaned frequently... at least weekly> The new tank is a 150 gallon with 4 1" bulkheads drilled in the back. <I wish two were 1.5"... for drains...> I have a sea life model 150 wet/dry filter that measures 28x16x9 1/2. The sump area is 16 1/2 and the bio-ball area is 11 1/2.  It also has a Rio 2500 return pump. About 1" of sand and then the pre-existing shells and live rock. Here are my questions. Will this wet/dry be sufficient for this size tank? <Mmm, can be, yes> Since I don't have a ton of live rock, should I use the bio-balls or leave them out? <I would leave out> (I plan to increase the amount of live rock when the $$ increases ) Would I benefit from leaving out the bio-balls and adding LR to the sump area? <Yes... posted>   Would the use of the Eheim be any benefit? <Not IMO> Is the 1" of sand ok, or would more be beneficial? <Posted> I have also read your skimmer should be placed in the rawest water. Should the skimmer be placed in the bio area? is the sump area ok? <Ditto> Should I add a bag of Chemi-pure before the sump area? Could you tell me which is the better-Chemi-pure or black diamond activated carbon? <The former> Would this set-up be ok to get up and running then modify with time? Thanks for your valuable time and responses. dawn <These questions are all answered over and over, with the rationale presented... on WWM. Please learn to/use the search tool, indices. Bob Fenner>

Choices in Reef Filtration  2/27/07 Hi <<Hello.>> I'm new and was wondering what to buy to set up a 125gal or 150gal reef tank. I was looking at some sites and these two sites interested me .What do you think. Open at all suggestions and help. Here are the sites A href="http://www.aqua-medic.com/products/products.php?category=Filter%20Systems&product
=Marin%201000"> http://www.aqua-medic.com/products/products.php?category=Filter%20Systems&product=Marin%201000Check in the products list here is more and the other one is:
</FONT><A href=" http://www.ecosystemaquarium.com/html/marineProducts.html">
<FONT face=Arial size=2> http://www.ecosystemaquarium.com/html/marineProducts.html>
</STRONG></A>Thank you your help is appreciated , Peppi <<If I had to choose between one and the other it would definitely be the latter, the eco-system, the first one with all the plastic bio-media doesn't tickle my fancy. **AJ.>>

Experimental staging tank - 02/09/2007 Hi Bob/Crew, If you would allow me to prevail upon your collective wisdom... <Well, just my small part> I have reached a point where I need a sanity check in designing an Experimental 4 Ft tank that will currently serve as a pre-staging area for a larger 600 litre reef tank which will not be filled for another 6 months or more,  as I wish to plan it very carefully (oh YES.......... there will be questions!...., but still researching for now). When the Main tank is completed this Experimental tank will become a fragging/quarantine tank. (Ever had a wood grain 600 litre tank in your living room that you must resist filling...... <You HAVE got discipline!> yes,  I have nerves of steel, and laugh in the face of the spindly killer fish) Please be tolerant (cover you mouth when you laugh) , some of my notions may not be practical , but I have devoted many hours of research and planning, and literally hundreds of hours on your website over the last couple of years (no joke). I am attempting to build a small sump/refugium which will take care of wet/dry nitrate production, skimming and denitrification ,.... in that order actually. Have attached a pic, tried very hard to make it clear and understandable, hopefully succeeded. I am aware that this is a fairly small sump and refugium, but I am struggling for space. The basic concept is : Partition one : Loose floating bioballs under the dump pipe with 2000 LPH Air/Water Pump <Mmm, why this here? I'd rely on gravity> to skimmer and overflow to partition two (skimmer). Hopefully being agitated by water flow will help prevent debris trapping and will nitrify my ammonia/nitrite for me without becoming too much of a debris trap. <Shouldn't be an issue> Partition two: Aqua-One SK388 Skimmer (took your advice and got one at last) with enclosed, perforated plastic boxes full of ceramic noodles beside it, overflowing to Refugium. OK here's the part where I want you to try not to laugh...... The idea being to encourage an anaerobic environment in the boxes for Denitrification whilst still maintaining the 1ppm O2 plus requirement to prevent Sulfide production, I may "feed" these suckers carbon, or I may not, do you think I should? <I would> Do you know how I can tell if these become Sulfur factories? . <Likely won't... but might smell it if so> On the bright side, if they don't work, I can just pull them out since they're boxed. <Yes> Partition/Box three: Refugium with Live Rock (a little) , Ulva as Macro algae (readily available to me from sea) <Mmm... Ulvales are not the easiest macros to culture...> and either a DSB or whatever brand of Mud I can get here in Australia if any (we really lag a long way behind you guys in marine technology, half the stuff you guys talk about we just can't get here. Even something as simple as Aragonite is not easy to find, in Melbourne anyway!) 2000 LPH Water  pump (will probably enclose) returning to Spray bar. <Mmm, do look into Loc-line... other distribution here> should I tee this back to the refugium now , or just wait and see what the flow is like? Do you think I would be pushing it to try for a DSB in this tiny and short refugium? <I'd arrange bypass of some of the flow here... with adjustable weirs perhaps> Only have 2mm Coral sand at the moment and feel I would probably have to go about 4-5  inches plus to make it anaerobic, don't think it will fit?? How deep does miracle mud etc need to be? <An inch or more... you might be able to collect your own...> Well , what do you think?,  have I gone mad at last? I really hope so, would explain so much..... I feel constantly nagged by the concept of a wet/dry being so good at Nitrate production and yet not being able to find anything stable other than live rock or DSB's to deal with the Nitrates, not interested in chemical treatments , not an elegant solution. I realize water changes will still be necessary , but am trying to build as stable an ecosystem as I can manage. <You have many good ideas here... But I would add another intake drain of about the stated 1 1/2" size, and do away with the valve illustrated... not necessary> In the same vein of questioning, have seen Anthony and others comment that submerged bioballs are a bad idea, but I can't work out why? <Inherent design... much more useful in oxygen rich environments... not sat. (7,8 ppm.) vs. 210,000 ppm...> seems to me that if you had a coarse prefilter, flowing to some wet/dry bioballs followed closely by some submerged bioballs in an area of low O2,(ie Debris filter->Nitrification->Denitrification) this should be good, .. no? <Mmm, no... presence, even hypoxia negates anaerobic microbe metabolism, presence> Is it because the balls are just not porous enough to foster anaerobic conditions? <This and a lack of surface area per volume> The reason I ask is because , in a misguided moment (listened to LFS. Ho Ho..)  I purchased a 2600 LPH Minjiang Canister filter with 5W UV for the 600 litre tank when I bought it ( as they said the glass was probably tempered and couldn't be drilled) then I went one worse and bought a stack of bioballs to put in it. The thing is... when I watch the hoses with the air valves shut completely, I see no air going in and none coming out, does this mean I can assume it's at least partly anaerobic in there, or is there so much dissolved O2 that this is never possible while it's flowing. <Bingo> I just want to know if I'm doomed to high nitrates and frequent water changes in the 600 litre display , or if there is some way I can still use the canister for bio - filtration but avoid this. <Canisters... not really useful for denitrification... too much flow, too little media volume... though use of sintered glass, ceramic media...> Do you know of any other way I could filter a system that can't be drilled besides a canister? (Oops , there I go.. said I wasn't going to discuss the 600 litre now.... sorry ). I can leave the canister doing just mechanical and chemical and circulation , but I really think this is a waste, although I will have a Weipro 2014 Hang on skimmer and Live rock as well. <Do look into having this tank drilled... yes, though tempered, can be done... the larger LFS, glass shops...> By the way CMA and Reef Inverts are very difficult books to get in Oz, <See Readingtrees.com for Antoine's distributors there> everyone I've asked says 3- 4 months wait , do you have a distributor here, or will I have to get them online? Which book do you think I would benefit more from with respect to reef keeping? <Modern Coral Reef Aquarium series by Fossa and Nilsen> Are you tired of seeing question marks?? <Not yet> Apologies for the essay, but it did say in the FAQs that you prefer all your questions at once, hope it's not too laborious to get through. Thanks for your time  -Rama
<Welcome, BobF>

Experimental staging tank, Continued - 02/11/2007 Bob, thanks very much for taking a look at my plans, But of course one answer generates ten questions............ . <Ah, yes> I am attempting to build a small sump/refugium which will take care of wet/dry nitrate production, skimming and denitrification ,.... in that order actually. Have attached a pic, tried very hard to make it clear and understandable, hopefully succeeded. I am aware that this is a fairly small sump and refugium, but I am struggling for space. The basic concept is : Partition one : Loose floating bioballs under the dump pipe with 2000 LPH Air/Water Pump <Mmm, why this here? I'd rely on gravity> <<The venturi? (probably not correct term for this) that came with the skimmer is designed to sit on the front of a specific pump intake and is very effective, I'm not sure of a good way of getting it inline with the down pipe like a normal venturi, hence decided to stick with pump, plus wasn't sure what force was going to be generated.. >> >Ahh, sorry for this... Yes, the skimmer will need this pump... and/but the skimmer needs to be in a "partition" entirely, or there to be an overflow of incoming water... not possible to balance the overflow from the main tank...< to skimmer and overflow to Partition two (skimmer). Hopefully being agitated by water flow will help prevent debris trapping and will nitrify my ammonia/nitrite for me without becoming too much of a debris trap. <Shouldn't be an issue> Partition/Box three: Refugium with Live Rock (a little) , Ulva as Macro algae (readily available to me from sea) <Mmm... Ulvales are not the easiest macros to culture...> <<Hmm... this is true... have tried before with Ulva in display tank which gradually diminished to nothing, but had the feeling someone was munching on it ,(maybe Pseudochromis bicolor?), >Not likely to its exclusion< will see if Chaetomorpha (prolifera?) is available, but doubt it.>> >Ask around... other national hobbyists...< ..2000 LPH Water  pump (will probably enclose) returning to Spray bar. <Mmm, do look into Loc-line... other distribution here> <<What's wrong with the Spray bar?, not enough movement?>> >That... from restriction and the loss of ability to direct, re-direct flow direction< should I tee this back to the refugium now , or just wait and see what the flow is like? Do you think I would be pushing it to try for a DSB in this tiny and short refugium? <I'd arrange bypass of some of the flow here... with adjustable weirs perhaps> <<Don't think I have enough space  to employ adjustable weirs (only about 30cm X 30cm),  maybe the tee from return going back to refugium , with just pump in a weir?>> >A good idea, yes< Only have 2mm Coral sand at the moment and feel I would probably have to go about 4-5  inches plus to make it anaerobic, don't think it will fit?? <<would the inches here be right?>> >Yes< How deep does miracle mud etc need to be? <An inch or more... you might be able to collect your own...> <<Don't think I'm brave enough, any clues on how to tell what sort?, have ordered some CaribSea Aragamax online in any case, managed to find some.... Whew, not cheap!, do you think 3 inches of sugar-fine will do, or am I being stingy to my detriment !>> >Should be fine< <You have many good ideas here... But I would add another intake drain of about the stated 1 1/2" size, and do away with the valve illustrated... not necessary> <<Valve/Tap is mainly just so I can turn off flow to work/clean in sump>> >Do please check, make sure that in the event of a power or pump failure the water will not overwhelm the sump< In the same vein of questioning, have seen Anthony and others comment that submerged bioballs are a bad idea, but I can't work out why? , <Inherent design... much more useful in oxygen rich environments... not sat. (7,8 ppm.) vs. 210,000 ppm...> << Do you mean that 7-8ppm would be submerged...vs. Wet/Dry at 210,000ppm? >Yes< I realize this is better for Nitrification, just wanted to know if you can use them in more anaerobic conditions for Denitrification?>> >No, cannot be used for such< seems to me that if you had a coarse prefilter, flowing to some wet/dry bioballs followed closely by some submerged bioballs in an area of low O2,(ie Debris filter->Nitrification->Denitrification) this should be good, .. no? <Mmm, no... presence, even hypoxia negates anaerobic microbe metabolism, presence> <<Whoa!.. sorry, lost you here ,....presence of what?, >Of any measurable dissolved oxygen< are you saying that Anaerobes don't likely completely hypoxic conditions?>> Is it because the balls are just not porous enough to foster anaerobic conditions? >Correct< <This and a lack of surface area per volume> .....<Canisters... not really useful for denitrification... too much flow, too little media volume... though use of sintered glass, ceramic media...> << Does this mean if I use something like Aqua-one CeramiSub (looks a bit like ceramic live rock rubble) that I just bought, I might foster some small anaerobic pockets in this canister of mine, otherwise I may have to try for a hang-on 'fuge, not likely to get past management though (yes ... married)>> >I would use such material... though, you are correct that it is of little use in such a setting (canister)< Do you know of any other way I could filter a system that can't be drilled besides a canister? (Oops , there I go.. said I wasn't going to discuss the 600 litre now.... sorry ). I can leave the canister doing just mechanical and chemical and circulation , but I really think this is a waste, although I will have a Weipro 2014 Hang on skimmer and Live rock as well. <Do look into having this tank drilled... yes, though tempered, can be done... the larger LFS, glass shops...> << Can't seem to find anyone prepared to do it  ( even had to drill my own hole on the experimental tank ... 1 hour with a Dremel and a diamond engraving bit/water.... whew!!), >Nerves... and patience for sure< and I understand that if I do find someone to do it, they won't take responsibility. Blew the budget with this tank , if they break it it's over., can't afford to replace.... : - ( Actually,  I originally spent over a week designing (copying.. ) and building a beautiful hang on overflow siphon box, only to throw it in the bin after reading more negative opinions on WetWeb and thinking long and hard about the anxiety factor at 4 am, ah well..>> Which book do you think I would benefit more from with respect to reef keeping? <Modern Coral Reef Aquarium series by Fossa and Nilsen> << Are you just being modest here, I was referring to CMA vs. Reef Inverts., was hoping to buy one of these to support your hard work. If you truly think the Fossa book will be better for me I will get it, but would still like a copy of Reef Inverts.>> Thanks again Rama >Ahh... Your writing presents itself as you being a bit beyond CMA, yet, yes to the RI book... I do believe you would gain by its perusal... enjoyably even! Cheers, BobF>

Marine Tank Set-Up Mucho Research needed. Reef filtr.   2/4/07 WWM Crew, <Hi.> I am making the switch from Fresh to salt water aquariums. <Cool....> I have a  75 gallon tank, and since my freshwater tank was really overstocked I have a lot  of filtration. <Ok.> I have an Eheim Classic, and two Penguin 7000s hang on filters. I  was wondering besides a protein skimmer if there was any other filtration I  would need. <Well I don't think that you have is appropriate for a reef tank, personally I prefer to utilize live rock as a means of bio-filtration....look into a skimmer + macro algae refugium combo.> I want it to be a reef tank, and I will be stocking it with tangs and maybe a butterfly fish or two. <Mmm...you may want to research this stocking list...thoroughly before materializing this tank so to speak..."hint + hint."> What will be the best protein skimmer  to use for my 75 gallon tank? <What type of set-up are you using (sump/hang on...) how much you willing to spend? AdamJ.>

Marine Tank Upgrades, filtration options   2/1/07 Hi guys, <Hi Matt.> Thanks again for the job you do. <Thank-you for the compliment.> I have a 55 gal setup with around 55 lbs of live rock, 2 MaxiJet 1200's, emperor 400, and a Coralife SuperSkimmer.   Livestock includes a flame angel, 5 chromis, very large coral banded shrimp, 5 peppermint shrimp, and lots of snails and hermits.  The tank mostly stays clean and clear and the coralline growth has really taken over (tank is 8-9 months old).  However,  I know the emperor isn't really appropriate; especially if I want to switch to a reef tank.   <No, not my first choice.> Also, the SuperSkimmer doesn't seem particularly effective. <It's "ok"...again not my first choice, though a lot of people like it...for the price.>   It pulls out some gunk, but I could probably go for a month without emptying it. <That's no good....is it tuned properly?>   I'm trying to upgrade the filtration on a budget. <I understand.> A dedicated sump is not practical right now. <ok.> I'm considering either a skimmer upgrade (possibly a remora or remora pro) <Good brand of skimmer.> or removing the emperor and adding a hang on refugium. <Awesome.>   Eventually, I'd like to do both. <Even better.> In your opinion, would a better skimmer make a big difference? <I would rather the remora than the Coralife if we are being honest...though I think the refugium replacing the emperor will make the largest difference.>   Also, would I be making a mistake by taking away the mechanical and carbon filtration that the emperor provides? <I don't think so...no...keep it on hand (in a closet) if you need a means of running carbon or something like that, down the road.> Things are OK now, but I want water conditions to stay as pristine as possible. <Sounds good.>       On a separate tangent, my current fish are healthy and happy.   However, I have had bad luck trying to add gobies and blennies.  They seem to disappear when I'm gone for a few days and the coral banded shrimp ends up molting within the week.  Could he be capable of devouring a smaller goby or blenny in just a few days with no signs of the carcass?   <In a tank of this size....easily...food does not go to waste in the ocean.> Thanks, in advance. <Welcome.> Matt <Adam_J.>

Two Questions... re... reef set-up... can. filtr., top-off water prep.     1/27/07 Hello, <Hey Joe, JustinN with you today.> First and foremost I would like to thank you for all the resources you provide. <Thank you for this.> I bought and read Bob's book and am constantly looking through these pages while I slowly put together my 65g FOWLR. <Ah, yes, is quite an excellent book... hard to put down!> I have a couple of questions that are a little confusing to me and would like to have your point of view or answer: <Alright, I'll give it a go> 1)    I will be using roughly 75 pounds of LR, a Remora Pro with Mag 3 skimmer (which I gather from many sources is excellent), and I also bought a canister filter (Eheim Classic 2215). The last point is where I am a little confused. My LFS tells me that I could either use a few blue coarse filter pads, with the white fine pad, and the carbon pad, or the second option would be to run it on empty just for the extra movement (Please note that I will be using a Maxi-Jet 1200 for extra movement as well). Based on your understanding and the setting that I have, would it make sense to run it on empty instead of using the media? If I use the media are there types I should not be putting? If I run it on empty, what potential problems could arise and should I be looking for? <I don't think you'll see any detrimental effects from running this canister filter empty, but I don't think the biological media is really necessary. I would utilize this for chemical media, such as a bag of ChemiPure or activated carbon, whatever your choice here may be. When the chemical filtrant is not needed, you could run the canister empty with no deleterious effects.> 2)    I will follow the books advice and do weekly water changes and at the same time, prepare the water in a trash can to age in my garage for a week with a heater and a pump to use the following week. I am a little uncertain about how the freshwater top-offs should work. I think I understand that the best way is to use our judgment and replace the water as we see necessary (a couple of times a week), but how to do it is the question mark for me. Does top-off water need to be aged? If so, how long and how (airstone, small powerhead...)? If you could just briefly explain how I could prepare the top-off water or point me to the right link I would greatly appreciate it. <You've pretty much got it, dead on already. The freshwater should be aerated beforehand, to help drive out excess CO2 levels and stabilize the water's pH readings. As you suspect, the top off is simply to refill the excess that has evaporated; that is, wherever your running level of water was to begin with, will be where you refill to. This is to help keep the salinity stable, without fluctuations. Either an airstone or powerhead will be more than sufficient here.> I'm a very enthusiastic newbie and want to make sure that I get it right, so forgive me if these seem like "easy" or "obvious" questions. <Not at all, my friend. They are refinements of specific situations, which shows signs of you reading and investigating answers on your own. The 'easy' questions that that could be considered troublesome, for lack of a better term, are those that come to us with absolutely no research behind them, and furthermore, that respond back to us asking the same question again, without really reading our responses.> Thank you very much and please keep up the good work!! Joe <Thank you for the kind words, Joe. Hope I've helped you here! -JustinN>

Marine filtration question   3/22/07 Thank you for the response JustinN.   <No problem, Theron, sorry for the delay on this one! *grin*> San Antonio huh?  I have to say lucky you.  San Antonio is a wonderful place, with wonderful people.   <It's got its moments, but personally, I'm from the coastal bend -- Corpus Christi to be exact -- and I never feel right away from the coast, even after 16 years of living in San Antonio..> We will be at Sea World for spring break in a couple of weeks.   <This was just recently, hope you had fun!> Thank you for the suggestions.  I have no live rock in this system.  Just a nice structure of the "holey" rock The one with the holes, hasn't been blessed as far as I know) so my fish can sleep and swim around in there.  They seem to love it. Would just the bio wheel be enough anyway?   <Should be sufficient, though I always like to have some live rock in a system for its aesthetics as well as natural filtration. Not necessary, but certainly helps.> I am feeling pretty good about the progress of this system, even though it has been running for over six years now, I do think it is a healthy system.   <I would think you are correct here.> I have had this cell pore cartridge since start-up so I have really been reluctant to stop using it. <Ok> I brush it off in my bucket of siphoned off saltwater during water changes from time to time, but it does get caked up a little by nature.  Could this in and of itself be one of my Cyano concerns?  Just trying to get a handle on this stuff once and for all. <Probably not the source, per se, but a contributing factor. You should try to clean this as you state, more thoroughly and more often. The waste accumulation can lead to excess nitrates in your system, which in turn could be helping fuel the Cyano.> Thanks again, and might see ya around your hometown. <Anytime, my friend.. Hope you had fun here! -JustinN> TW Just up I-10

Filtration Methods, reef     1/14/07 Hey guys currently I have a 30 gallon reef aquarium which I admit is overstocked, and I am in the process of making home for a couple of my fish. <fishes>  and my Nitrates are extremely high about 160ppm, then after a 25% water change dropped to about 80ppm.   <Still unacceptably high.. More water changes, please! *grin*> I have started feeding them less, as I was over feeding them no doubt.  However this question mostly refers to filtration.   <Ok> I have currently a Penguin (bio wheel removed) so carbon filter only, and a CPR wet dry with poly pad, and ROWAphos.   <How often are you thoroughly rinsing (in throwaway tank water after a water change!) the Poly Pad? You should make this a regular part of maintenance if it is not, it will help with your nitrate issue.> I plan on getting super activated carbon and throwing it in my wet-dry, along with Purigen, would I still need to keep on the mechanical filter or what would you recommend I do?   <? ...I'm not completely clear what you're asking here.. Are you asking that after adding carbon and Purigen to your wet/dry, if you can remove your hang-on-back filter? If so, you certainly could.> I also have a CPR protein skimmer.  Every filtration device on the tank is rated to 55gal or 60gal max, so I am getting a lot of filtration right now, I am just not sure if it is hurting me.   <? Why would it be hurting you? The only possible problem I see is the utilization of the wet/dry in a reef setting. This is typically not done, for the reason of the possibility of higher nitrate accumulation. One option here could be to remove the wet/dry portion in your sump and replace with submersed live rock rubble, which will likewise act as a biological filter.> Also, my protein skimmer, after I clean it will up to 2 cups overnight, but after that I keep the collection cup clean and it just fills maybe a 1/4" per day... any ideas? <Perhaps just needs to be fine tuned.> Thanks for all of your help, Jason <Hope my responses serve you well! -JustinN>
Re: Filtration Methods, reef
    1/14/07 Hello Again, So if I understand correctly, I should remove the "BioBale" currently in my wet/dry and replace it with live rock particulate?... Also, would I then need a light over my wet/dry?  Also, do you know of anyone that might happen to sell live rock particulate that is large enough not to slip through egg crate? or is my LFS a best option? Thanks Again, Jason <Mmm, not particulate, then you'd just have a crushed coral-like substrate. Live rock rubble is the term usually used to describe a collection of smaller broken bits of live rock, often found at the bottom of shipping boxes from overseas shippers. A LFS would likely be your best bet, unless you have enough live rock that you can spare to break some up into smaller pieces with a chisel and hammer. The idea here is to keep the live rock submersed, and the biota on and in the rock will act as your nitrifying filtration. Cheers! -JustinN>
Re: Filtration Methods, reef
    1/14/07 Hello Again, So if I understand correctly, I should remove the "BioBale" currently in my wet/dry and replace it with live rock particulate?... Also, would I then need a light over my wet/dry?  Also, do you know of anyone that might happen to sell live rock particulate that is large enough not to slip through egg crate? or is my LFS a best option? Thanks Again, Jason <Sorry for the second follow-up here, Jason, but I realized that I missed your question about lighting. No, lighting is not necessary for live rock rubble alone. Lighting over your sump would only become necessary if you were to add macroalgae into the mix. Cheers! -JustinN>
Re: Filtration Methods, reef
    1/14/07 Hello again, Would this be a suitable wet/dry to refugium conversion for my 30 gal reef tank?,  Only problem is the entire refugium area would only be aprox. 1.4 gallons, as my wet dry is only 8" wide.   <It would not necessarily be a refugium conversion, if all you add is the live rock rubble. The submersed live rock alone will work as your nitrifying biological filtration, and likely be more effective than the wet/dry was at this job. Running volume is not as much a concern here.> I also have a 10 gal aquarium that I could convert, do you know of anywhere I could get a dimensioned sketch of such thing? <This may be a better solution, as it will provide more water stability to the system. Baffling information is posted, available here on WWM, see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_3/cav3i1/Baffles/baffles.htm and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm for more information on refugium utilization and baffling.> Thanks, Jason PS: I currently have a hang on back CPR skimmer, so I don't plan on relocating it. <No problems here, Jason. Most people only move such things for preference to see less equipment and more nature. All in personal preference! -JustinN>

Reef Mech. Filtration   12/18/06 Hello, I'm hoping you can guide me in the right direction here concerning mechanical filtration. My name is Chris and I have a 125g reef ready  aggressive FOWLR. the setup is about 120 lbs of live rock a 30 gallon sump/fuge with 100 micron filter socks, a Berlin turbo protein skimmer and two quiet one 3000 return pumps. My Problem is with tiny floating particulate matter (definitely not micro bubbles) ,I have two puffers and two triggers <What species?... too much...> that chew up the sand and rocks and spit them out, so the tank always looks cloudy. I was thinking of running a magnum canister filter or a Lifegard modular filter with the pleated cartridge to remove the suspended particles. which would be the best choice here? <This, these would definitely help here> or do you have any better suggestions? <A bigger system...> any advice you have for me here would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for you time and a great web site. Chris <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marmechf.htm and the linked files at top. Bob Fenner>

Mechanical Filtration for a Reef System? - 10/23/06 Hi Bob, <<Eric with you today...Bob is off on another exciting adventure abroad>> I have been looking for quite a while to upgrade my 55 gallon saltwater tank to a 125 reef ready tank. <<Neat>> I am looking at one now, All-Glass Aquarium 125 gallon reef ready, with a 29 gallon tank for a sump, with a bio-rocker, and an Angstrom UV. <<Mmm, maintenance hassles aside, I don't personally see the "want" for UV filtration in a reef tank>> He said he bought everything at a Local Fish Store, and they sold him everything that he needed, but shouldn't there be some kind of mechanical filter system with that setup. <<Not necessarily...many hobbyists (me included) forgo any "real" mechanical filtration in reef systems for reasons of detritus buildup (can easily become problematic) and/or removal of desirable planktonic life>> He said he didn't have any and never had any problems.  Does that sound right? <<Sounds fine to me>> If there should be what could I do with that in the sump. <<If you want you can add a filter sock to the end of the drain line in the sump...just be sure to clean/exchange this a couple times a week to keep decomposing organic matter from causing problems with water quality>> Thanks <<Regards, EricR>>

Reef Bio Filtration...Keep the Bio-Balls? - 05/15/06 Thanks for all of your help thus far! <<You're welcome>> I have one more question. <<Okay>> I have a 72 gal reef tank with a new wet/dry filter setup on it.  Right now it has bio balls in it.  Do I keep them or remove them? <<In a reef system with plentiful live rock the bio-balls are unnecessary, and maybe even to be avoided due to the fact they produce nitrate very quickly/efficiently but with out the capacity to take the process to the next level as the live rock is able to do...thus creating an excess of nitrate for the system to deal with.  Best to use live rock/live sand beds for biological filtration in a nitrate sensitive system like a reef tank...in my opinion>> Will eliminating them cause a problem or should the live rock take over or should I keep it the way it is? <<The live rock will take over.  If your system is lightly stocked you can take the bio-balls away at any time...otherwise, remove half now and half in a bout a week's time>> Along with it I am running a Sea Storm 100. <<This is great for a FOWLR or FO system...but functions much like the bio-balls in a reef system>> Do I remove this also? <<Would be better to convert it to a carbon reactor or similar>> I do have 5 medium fish in the tank.  What do you recommend? <<As already stated>> Thanks! Chris <<Quite welcome, EricR>>

Reef Filtration/Selection    4/9/06 G'Day from Australia  <And from the USA> Your web site is exhausting and brilliant, thanks for so much info.  <You're welcome.> My question to you is; there is so much contradicting advise everywhere from shops to website's, and I'm a little confused on what type of filtration I want to use. I know there's all different ways to filter my tank but I just want the best way, should I go Berlin style or wet-dry with other means of filtration like canister for my fully blown reef set up.  And why do you say wet- dry are good for fish only reef systems but not so good for reef systems. <Wet/dry sumps are great for reef systems minus the bio balls.  They offer excellent gas exchange and aeration.> I maybe am asking to much but I just want a so called turn key system that will work the best. One more thing, DSB should or should not be siphoned, very contradicting advise from every one. <Providing there is a healthy growth of micro inverts to keep the sand churned, vacuuming shouldn't be necessary.  Problem here is that if the population declines, you then have a nitrate factory and a hydrogen sulphide producer.  Very important to keep sand sifting inverts in systems like this and monitor population levels.  As far as filters, I favor the wet/dry sump (no bio balls), a good protein skimmer and a wave making system. Thank you for your time.  <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Regards, Sydney Australia

Reef Plumbing/Filtration - 04/09/06 Hello, <<Howdy>> I have just switched from a 55 gallon tank to a 90 gallon tank with a 30 gallon sump. <<Cool!>> I have four 1-inch bulkheads in my tank and a Mag-Drive 9.5 in my sump.  The guy where I purchased this tank from (Steve, from Elmer's Aquarium in Monroeville, PA) said this would circulate 1000 GPH. <<Would be close, yes...assuming no backpressure for the pump to work against.  In reality your flow will be somewhat lessened, determined in large part by your plumbing configuration.>> One of my questions is that I only have one bulkhead open because that is all the pump can handle. <<Likely your plumbing/head height (all creates backpressure) are severely restricting output.>> So this would be 250 gallons GPH, correct? <<Mmm, not necessarily...but if the single 1" return is handling the flow without excessive noise, surge, etc., then you are likely pumping 350 gph or less.>> Is that enough circulation that I can just leave it alone? <<Through the sump?...yes...for the tank as a whole?...no.  Do supplement flow in the tank with other methods...perhaps a closed-loop utilizing one or more of the other bulkheads.>> Only thing I noticed wrong was one of my elbows coming out of the sump is dripping once about every 1 to 2 minutes.  And it is dripping back into the sump tank so I am not really worried about it. <<Ah, okay.>> The micro bubbles are very minimal.  What am I doing wrong? <<I don't know that you are (doing anything wrong)...I would need more information about your plumbing configuration to say.>> My next question is do I need to run a canister filter for this setup? <<Likely the canister filter isn't 'necessary,' but one could be beneficial for using chemical media (carbon/Poly-Filter)...if 'maintained/serviced' properly.>> I currently have about 50 lbs. of live rock, some corals, 2 yellow tailed damsels, 1 yellow tang, 1 goby, 2 clown fish, 1 royal Gramma, 1 flame angel, 1 coral beauty, 1 cleaner shrimp along with a cleanup crew.  I have read on this site that canister filters are often misused with tanks running a sump. <<And also those without...is a maintenance (or neglect of) issue.>> Would a canister filter help me or hurt me? <<If you clean/rinse all on a weekly/bi-weekly basis, and change out media as it becomes exhausted, then it will help you.  Regards, EricR>>
Reef Plumbing/Filtration II - 04/10/06
Hello again, <<Hello>> Thanks for the speedy reply. <<You're welcome>> I still have a few questions about your answers. <<Ok>> You talk about back pressure.  It is about 4 feet from my pump to the top of my tank. <<According to the manufacturer that alone would reduce the output to about 800 gph.  Then you have to consider elbows, tees, friction from the pipe itself, etc., etc..>> My plumbing comes out of the pump to the top of the sump tank and goes diagonally to the middle of my stand where it then T's off and one goes up one side of the tank and the other side of the T goes up the other side of the tank.  So I have 2 3/4-inch pipes going into my tank from the T. <<And all adds to head pressure (back pressure to the pump).>> And I am using 1" flex-pipe coming out of my bulkheads.  You also talk about noise.  What kind of noise? <<Plumbing/water noise...the kind of noise you get from trying to drain too much water through too small of  a throughput (your drains).  This typically will manifest itself as excessive gurgling/surging noises (some folks describe it as akin to a toilet flushing) and excessive turbulence/bubbles in your sump.>> The pump seems to be running fine. <<And it probably is.>> Only noise I hear is when I shut the pump off the pipes rattle for about 10 seconds and stop. <<!?>> I also have a check-valve and shutoff-valve coming out of the pump. <<Aha!  The check-valve is your problem.  Is best to not use these as they will restrict flow greatly on most non pressure-rated pumps...and the valve will likely fail on you at some point as well.  You should remove the check-valve and position all inlets/outlets such that your sump will hold the transient water volume in the event of a power outage.>> So my last question would be do I need a bigger pump and if so how big do I need to handle this? <<If you truly want 1000 gph then yes, you need a bigger pump (how big depends on whether or not you remove the valve).  But if you heed my advice to remove the check-valve, do that first and then see how your existing pump performs.  Regards, EricR>>
Reef Plumbing/Filtration III - 04/10/06
Once more, Hello! <<Back at ya!>> I feel like an idiot asking all these questions but in regards to your latest remarks about the gargling. <<No worries mate...am happy to elucidate>> Yes, I do get that when the water level gets low, is there a way to stop that? <<Low where?...the sump?  Perhaps you need to extend your drain pipes, or add 45 or 90 degree ells.  Do have a look here for more info on noise abatement:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pbnoisefaqs.htm >> Next, how many gallons an hour through the sump is suitable for a 90 gallon aquarium? <<It's not so much a matter of what's a suitable flow rate for the tank, but more what's a suitable flow rate for the plumbing/throughputs, as well as consideration for the size of the sump, and maybe most important of all...the location of the sump (in other words, do you want to be able to talk/hear the television over the sounds of the aquarium?).  I don't think you've mentioned the size of your sump in our previous exchanges, but with four 1" bulkheads for drains you should be able to easily handle the output from the Mag9.5 (sans check-valve) without undue noise/difficulty.  Open up all the drains and see what happens/how things perform.  If you don't wish to use them all, plug one at a time until you reach that point where the water starts to overcome the drains.>> Hopefully this will be the last time I bother you and again, you have been a great help with your answers. <<Not a bother my friend.  We have a plethora of information about this subject (and so many others!) on our site...do some keyword searches re and you'll likely find what you seek and more.  But if you don't, please feel free to ask a question.  Regards, EricR>>

Reef Stocking/Filtration - 04/08/06 Hello, <<Howdy>> I have a few questions and would appreciate any suggestions you can offer. <<Alrighty>> I currently have a 55 gal. reef tank that has been up and running for over 6 months now.  I have only 2 fish, a yellow tail damsel and a firefish with plans for more peaceful fish in the future.  I have a 1-inch aragonite bed, 80lbs. of LR, 1 Crocea clam, 1 feather duster, a colt coral, mushrooms, brown colonial polyps, green star polyps, and a pipe organ coral colony, plus a number of snails and hermits. I bought all of the corals as frags and all are growing and appear to be extremely healthy. <<Ok>> I know that you aren't supposed to mix hard and soft corals but I have them all spread far apart (at least 12" each). <<Very good...but do employ some carbon/Poly-Filter to help with the chemical aggression.>> My first question would be, what is your opinion of my mix. Do you think it is likely that everyone will be able to live happily in this set up? <<With proper husbandry/setup/attention to water changes you will likely be fine.>> If not, what would you recommend changing or taking out? <<The clam is probably most at risk here...but with adequate lighting/placement, good chemical filtration, and frequent water changes you can make this mix work.>> For filtration I have LR, a protein skimmer, 3 powerheads, and an emperor 400 hang on power filter which I clean and change carbon on once every week or two (I don't know if this filter is a good idea or not for a reef tank, I've gotten mixed reactions). <<The filter will serve fine with your maintenance schedule...though a small canister filter (cleaned just as often) would be more efficient/effective.>> I also do biweekly water changes of about 10% and all of my levels seem to be well within the parameters. After a lot of research, I still have questions on filtration. Is my tank poorly set up in this dept.? <<Poorly?...no>> I have been thinking of setting up a refugium but am still a little hesitant. <<Don't be...can be of great benefit.>> Do you think that it is absolutely necessary to have one of these or at least some sort of sump? <<Not absolute...but again, very helpful.>> What do you recommend? <<If you have the capacity...both...else you can 'make do' without.>> Finally, I was thinking about getting a frogspawn because I want to get a clown or two and I know that some will host this coral. Given my current set up is this a terrible idea?  If so do you know of any corals that would blend well with mine that a clown might also host? <<The clowns don't need a "host," but you can try the frogspawn if you wish.>> Thank you so much for any suggestions and advice you can offer. Nick <<Quite welcome Nick.  Regards, EricR>>

Reef Filtration, Options Galore - 03/17/2006 Great website! <Thanks Jim. Glad you like it.> I want to set up a new 65 gallon reef tank. My LFS suggests that all I need for filtration is an Aquafuge Pro with built-in CPR skimmer for filtration. In searching the internet I found a CPR Tech page FAQ that indicated that the Aquafuge PRO was not intended to be the sole filtration system only a supplement. \ <I agree. Better to have a good skimmer as well that can handle the tank volume. Look into the AquaC line.> I am getting ready to make my purchases and want to do everything right the FIRST time. <Well that just takes all the "adventure" out of it;)> Is the Aquafuge set up the way to go? <A good addition.> Do I need more filtration and if so what? <Many options for you but a dedicated skimmer, the fuge (with additional skimming), and a good bit of LR/LS is all you really need. Here's a good link to start on http://www.wetwebmedia.com/reeffilt.htm .> Thanks in advance! Jim McDonald <You're welcome. - Josh>
Re: Reef Filtration, Options Galore - 03/17/2006
One follow up...if the refugium is large enough to support a 100 gallon tank would I still need the second skimmer? <I would.> I only ask because your response mentioned handling of tank volume. <I like to keep things "function specific". I would plan on the fuge doing the fuge's job (added benefit of skimmer a bonus), and have a skimmer for the sole purpose of skimming. Likely much more efficient than a built in skimmer.> Thanks again. Jim McDonald <Welcome. - Josh>

Reef Set-Up/Filtration   12/28/05 Happy holidays! <Same to you Ed.> OK, so the wife and I went into the LFS and were astounded by the coral. <Amazing isn't it?> We thought about a nanocube and did some research and decided that  it was not the way to go.   <Yes they are nice "novelty" items but I find it hard to take them seriously when they recommend it for marine use without installing a protein skimmer. It is definitely not for beginners.> There are only 3 LFS stores in the city selling  salt water/marine.  In two the tanks are filthy and in the third we get  different advice depending on who we ask. <Differing advice in the marine aquarium, no couldn't be….Seriously though this is why WWM and other information exists so you can research for yourself and come to your own logical conclusion.> We have now spent several hundred dollars on reference books and maybe its too much information but we're confused. <Can never have too much.> We are looking at a 55 g Tenecor marine ready or a 70 g Oceanic reef ready Tech. <Both are good sizes and reputable companies.> We would like to keep the tank to 36 inches. We plan to use about  100 lb. of LR and do a 3 inch live sand bed.  We plan to do the closed  loop manifold system you recommend. <Good.> We'd like to add a sump to hide the heaters, chiller (we are planning MH), and skimmer and to increase the amount of water.   <Very good.> Both Tenecor and Oceanic have recommended sumps including wet/dry filtration. We have been reading forums  in which writers stated that with LR/LS filtration additional filtration may   actually be detrimental. What is your opinion? <Bio-media after a period of time tend to accumulate nutrients and it's just not as efficient as a breeding grounds for nitrifying bacteria, in either words except in certain applications…they are becoming less favorable.  The surface area on live rock is more than ample at providing a breeding grounds for nitrifying bacteria and the bio-media is not necessary.  Bio-media is great at breaking down ammonia and nitrite but not so great with nitrite. Also macro-algae/microfauna refugiums are of much more benefit to the reef tank. I would look into these.> One of the manufacturers recommends an in sump pump.  It is my  understanding that we would be better off if the pump were outside the sump.  What is your opinion? <I prefer "dry" pumps as opposed to wet pumps, they tend not to transfer as much heat to the water and give you more room in your sump for the equipment and refugia mentioned above.> Thanks, Ed <Quite welcome, Adam J.>

Major Remodeling (Tank Reconfiguration)  11/16/05 Hey guys great site! <Thanks for the kind words! Scott F. here today!> I know you are busy so I will get right to it. I have been running an undergravel system (powered by two power heads) in my 75 g marine tank for years. I also run two (for lack of knowing what to call them) "hang on" filters on the back of the tank that cycle the water through carbon filtration. All has been well until I began to finally get into corals. <Ahh...the coral bug has bitten...> I currently have a colony of Xenia, a Pink Bubble Coral, Frogspawn, a couple of Ricordea, and some Green Star Polyps. I also have live rock in my tank as well as some Clownfish, Tangs, a Koran Angel, Large Green Chromis, Cleaner Shrimp, Hermits, and snails etc. .  My question is this: can I phase out the undergravel system and update to a more "reef friendly" set up. I hate the crushed coral bottom and would love to go to live sand as well as do whatever necessary to give my corals the ideal conditions to grow and spread. Is it possible? <Well, I would be inclined not to remove the UG filter plate after you stop using it, unless you do plan on removing the substrate as well (Sounds like you do want to switch substrate, however). I am in favor of setups utilizing sumps for water processing. If it were me, I'd view this as a complete "re-start" of the system, if your intent is to switch over substrate and filtration methodology. The tank will have to go through a new cycling process, just as if it were brand new (which it essentially will be!). BTW, the Koran will get pretty large, and cannot be considered a "coral safe" fish for an indefinite period of time.> What do I replace it with? How fast should I make the transition? <Sump-based systems are the way to go, IMO. You'd be wise to set up temporary quarters for your animals as you "remodel" the system. Proceed slowly, and study these types of systems before you make the move. Don't skimp on the equipment, particularly lighting and protein skimming. These items will make a huge difference for you down the line. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

It's All On The Site - 11/11/2005 I'm sorry if I'm repeating a question, <Many, actually.> but I've looked on the site and I'm still a little confused.  <Much that you find confusing now can be alleviated with time, patience, and research. No worries.> I'm new at the whole saltwater reef tank thing. I have a freshwater 90 gallon right now that I want to convert to a reef tank soon. But I'm not sure what kind of filtration to use....  <Much, much to learn, here....> I've heard refugium is the best way to go but.... I'm not really sure how that works... do I need a wet dry to run a refugium??  <No, not necessarily.... start reading.> <<Not at all.  Do what the nice lady says, please.  MH>> Also.. I know I'll need a protein skimmer but.... what exactly does a protein skimmer do? What is it?  <Removes dissolved organics from the water; again, read.... http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm . Much on skimmers here, also on other filtration methods including refugiums.> <<Foam fractionation is actually a rather old form of "chemical" filtration, and has many, many uses, including in some food production and refinement of certain products.  Google "foam fractionation".  MH>> Also, if I go with the refugium setup, what all do I need to buy to get it up and running? <Too many possibilities, too much information to impart in a mere email. Start with that link, and get crackin'.... you'll need to form your own opinions on these very subjective questions.> Thank you for your time. -Kurt <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Are Refugiums and Sumps Mandatory? 11/3/05 Greetings, <Hi Brad!> Brad B. here. I've been reading a lot on your web site to try an educate myself, answer questions and get ideas. I'm trying to be a good steward and have a basic question. First, here's my scoop: 46 g bow front marine aquarium / 60 lbs of live reef sand / mix of rock and live rock - a good coverage of LR but not all that much weight as I chose specimens with good color and surface area but light (save $$) / two Emperor 280s (fiber media plus activated carbon cartridges) / AquaC Remora skimmer with MaxiJet 1200 / two AquaClear 50s and two AquaClear 30s for circulation / Coralife 36" with a 96W Actinic, 96W 10,000K white, and two lunar LEDs on a timer - Actinic = 12 hrs and White 10,000K 8 hrs... okay...  Can I expect good success (such as getting/keeping nitrates near zero) with a low fish load - inverts - corals given the above stated setup without adding a sump or refugium? <Brad of course it is possible to get away without a refugium or a sump. Though I will say a refugium is in my opinion a great asset to any marine tank, not only as a nutrient export device as a breeding ground for detritivores and micro-fauna. The sump is a great place to hide equipment and improve the aesthetics of the display. And both the refugium and the sump increase your water volume and thus your margin of error. Having said that yes, as I stated above these are not mandatory. However the heavier maintenance because of the lack of these devices will fall on you. You may need to perform extra water changes; and yes I would understock your tank as far as fish.> I want to/did invest in good stuff but want to keep it simple as possible. Many thanks! <Welcome Adam J.> 
Re: Refugium or Sump Mandatory? 11/4/05
Thanks for the reply.  <You are welcome.>  If I were to add one of these products which would you recommend and how?  <For your set-up a hang on variety could work, they are pretty much plug and play.>  I'm having a hard time finding setup instructions. I found hang-on type refugiums online but my tank's back rim real estate is pretty much maxed out between my two Emperor filters <I would rather remove one or both Emperor filters if I had to choose between them and the 'fuge. The 'fuge is of much more benefit in my opinion.> <<Not just your opinion, definitely would be of better utility here.  MH>> and AquaC Remora hang-on skimmer. Again, I'm looking for the best simple/effective installation that is appropriate for my setup. <The skimmer/refugium combo is about s simple and efficient s it gets.> Also, my 46 gal bow front tank stand does not provide a lot of floor space to put things.  <I thin the hang-on is the best option for you.> Thanks again for your help. <Welcome, Adam J.> 
Refugium/Sump Round III - 11/4/05
I just ran across an Aqua Clear Aquatics Mud 90 Sump Filter. Good unit? <AquaClear is a reputable company but I am not familiar with this product.> If so, any recommendation on the "mud" or substrate? I guess I'm not exactly sure how they work just yet but I've heard of using DSBs and then the website sells "mud". <The mud and the DSB are supposed to serve the same purpose (nitrification/micro-fauna breeding grounds) For more on what a refugium does and what a DSB/Mud filter does search WWM. Adam J.>  <<Or buy "The Natural Marine Aquarium - Reef Invertebrates".  MH>>

What type Mechanical Filtration for 75 reef?  08/08/2005 Hello and Thank you again for being here to support this wonderful hobby. <Welcome> My question regards what type of mechanical filtration you would recommend for my 75 gallon (not reef ready) Reef Tank which will soon be complete and set up once I get a Mechanical Filter. I will be cycling it using at least 40 lbs of Live Rock. --Note-- I already have 3 emperor 280's but I would like to eliminate as many H.O.B. items as possible. And are 2 Seio 620's enough or should I consider moving up to the 820's? Or what would you consider for Circulation for around $100 in a 75 gallon tank? Equipment: 260 watt Current USA PC AquaC Remora with Maxijet 1200 and Pre Skimmer Box 2 Seio 625 gph power heads 120 lbs CaribSea Seaflor Aragonite 1 Eco Aqualizer <And a magic pyramid hat? Heee!> :p   <I would read over these issues... mechanical filtration and reef filtration... and circulation on WWM... and make-up your own mind. Bob Fenner>  

Skimmer options for Reef tank 8/3/05 Hi crew, I have been reading over your articles for the past few days on skimmers and I feel even more confused then before!! <Sometimes it is hard to wade through the sea of info!  No pun intended <g>.> I recently converted my 75 gallon freshwater tank to a reef setup and before I start to stock it with corals and some fish I am trying to get a good skimmer squared away.  I'm currently using a sea clone 150 (I know bad call) and I am noticing that it does not seem to skim......at all.  <This skimmer really does perform poorly.  Many aquarists have modified them to perform better, but such tinkering shouldn't be required and still results in mediocre performance.> I have algae forming which the crabs I got are taking care of, and my tank has just recently finished cycling with 30 lbs of live rock, live sand, and 2 (started with 5) blue/green gobies. <All good, although it was not necessary to sacrifice the gobies for the cycle.  Live rock die off produces plenty of ammonia to cycle on it's own.> Ph is 8.2, Salinity is just slightly high past 32, and 0 nitrite and about 10ppm nitrate.  Don't have calcium measure yet as I'm awaiting the test kit for it. <Please also get an alkalinity test kit and maintain proper alkalinity.  IMO, this is the most important thing to measure besides pH and salinity and may be the most under appreciated water parameter in reef tanks!> Back to my question though....a sump is out of the question for me at the moment as I don't feel I understand them enough, and I don't feel I have the room.  I feel this is limiting my options in skimmers, but that's the situation at the moment.  <There isn't much to understand.  The water drains from the tank to the sump and is pumped back.  There are many benefits, and in most cases a perfectly adequate sump will fit nicely right under the tank.  Nothing special is required either, a plain standard glass aquarium or even a plastic storage container can work well.  Having the display drilled for drains is helpful, but hang on overflow units work fine too.  A sump is by no means necessary, but do at least consider looking into it!> I'm not sure which type of skimmer/pump combo would work good.  I'm really not wanting to spend more than about 200-300 dollars on a skimmer/pump combo.  Any recommendations?  <Aqua-C Remora pro would be my first choice and a CPR BakPak II would be distant second.  Both of these skimmers have a low profile and don't require a lot of clearance.  Deltec's are outstanding, but very expensive.  Most other models cannot be recommended.> I sent the original note before and forgot to include another question I had!  For mechanical filtration I am using two emperor 400's, one of the reasons I went with the sea clone was a space constraint on the back of the tank.  After looking at some other skimmers, I was wondering if it would be viable to take down one of the emperor 400's and replace wit with a CPR BAK-PAK2?  Would I be giving up too much mechanical filtration?  Thanks again! <Many reef keepers forgo all mechanical filtration, especially if the tank and/or sump contain a sand bed where living organisms can process particulate waste.  Also, the highly aerobic conditions in power filters tend to cause nitrate accumulation by out competing live rock for ammonia and nitrite processing.> Thanks for the help!  John <Glad to!  Best Regards.  AdamC.>

Skimmer and Pump for Reef part 2 8/9/05 Ok, I have been doing some reading and a sump does seem like it may be an option now.  I found an old 30 gallon aquarium I'm going to use. <This will work very well!> Would you still recommend the same skimmers? <Probably not.  Although the hang on units have in-sump counterparts, I would choose a model designed for in-sump use.  IMO, Aqua-C and Euroreef are top notch in ease of use and performance and have realistic ratings.  Again, Deltec is top of the line, but quite expensive.> If I have it right I need to put live sand in the sump as well as the skimmer.  Add in a pump to pull and return the water from the display into the sump.  I think that's right. <The sump can be as simple as an empty box, but is useful for holding a skimmer, heaters and other equipment that is inconvenient or unsightly to keep in the display.  No live sand is required, but some folks do choose to also use their sump as a refugium, in which case, various sand, rock and algae may be kept.  Water drains passively from the display tank to the sump and then actively pumped from the sump back to the display.> Also, lighting, what type of lighting do I have to have for the sump if its under the main tanks display stand?  I'm assuming it needs to have some. <If it is only to function as a sump, then no light is required.  If you would like to also use the sump as a refugium, then lights may be required.> Thanks a lot Adam I really appreciate your help.  The people at the LFS have great fish, but are always just trying to sell me something that I may not always need! <Glad to help out!  Best Regards.  AdamC.>

Skimmer and Pump for reef part 3 8/12/05 Thanks for the reply Adam.  Just figured I would send you an update.  I found a local shop that does custom marine setups.  All from fabricating stands and drilling tanks to stocking them.  The owner was very nice and loved supporting the local people as well as businesses wanting to setup tanks. <Outstanding!  A local place that provides good products and knowledgeable service is well worth supporting!> I brought in my 29 gallon tank I had and we are adding partitions to make it a refugium.  I also ended up purchasing an AquaC Urchin Pro they had to install in it.  Should be done by the weekend or so for me to pick up. Thanks again for your advice Adam, much appreciated.  <I am sure you will be very pleased with your new system!  Glad to have been of assistance.  AdamC.>

Reef Filtration 7/7/05 Dear WWM Crew, First I'd like to say that your oasis of information is the best I've found on or off the web.  Also, I apologize before hand for the lengthy message. But, I have kind of  a custom question.  I just "re-setup" my marine aquarium to be a reef system. (removed my lovely under gravel filter)  I have no fish in the aquarium and never did.  What it now has is as follows:  30g all glass aquarium, 42 lbs. Caribbean LR, 10 lbs. Fiji LR, 10g plenum sump,  192 watt Coralife Compact Fluorescent light (96 watt actinic, 96 watt 10000K), SeaClone 100 skimmer, a Penguin 350 Bio-wheel, and 2 AquaClear 301 powerheads. ( I think that's every thing). My question; Is this enough filtration? <For a light bio-load, yes> Should I take something out?   <Mmm, no> Add something? <Depends...> I only use RO water.  I don't plan on adding a large bio load, only 2 True Perc's, a Royal Gramma and some LPS corals. Will this system be able to take care of the nitrates? <With light feeding, regular water changes...>     I've been keeping marine aquariums for a while but can never find a straight answer about chemical and mechanical filtration for reefs. Just tell me what your personal opinion is.  Any advice would be welcome. Thanks in advance for your help, Andrew Schreiner <Try it out... and do keep reading. Bob Fenner>

Nutrient Export vs. Recycling (5/9/05) Hi, I have a question which I actually came up with by reading the FAQ's on your site. I have just started up a 2 phase refuge system. One aquarium houses primarily sand, live rock, and a very small amount of macroalgae. This one is for copepod, amphipods, etc.. to grow in.  <sounds good>  The second on is filled with just macroalgae in an attempt to remove any excess nutrients. I came up with this idea from one of Dr. Shimek's articles (Food production by Design, Using a Refugium to Produce Food for Reef Inhabitants). I have read in areas on your page and some other web sites that when you trim back your macroalgae, you can feed it to your tangs. However, I recently read an article in Coral magazine (forgive me I do not remember the issue date...I just remember the main focus of that magazine was Nudibranchs) where an aquarist did not recommend feeding this algae to your tangs because it would simply put the removed nutrients back into the water column through the fish's feces and urine. Is this true and what do you recommend. Thanks for all of your time. Jonathan <Steve Allen with you tonight Jonathan. Some simple logical thought reveals the error in the thinking behind the author's statement. If you don't feed some of this algae to your Tangs, you have to feed them something else, right? So the nutrients you are "removing" by not feeding any algae are simply replaced by whatever food you buy and feed. The algae in the refugium is "free." I use quotes because you paid for the other food that became nutrients for the algae and for the electricity that became the light needed for photosynthesis.  Anyway, the key to nutrient export is to discard a portion of the algae, but not necessarily all of it. Discarding algae removes nutrients, while feeding it to your Tangs recycles them. The algae makes great food. Do bear in mind that your Tangs are very unlikely to eat Chaetomorpha and many not go for Caulerpa either. The best Tang food is Gracilaria (hard to grow--search WWM). Ulva is another possible choice.  Bottom line: the fish need a certain amount of food each day to grow and thrive. You can put it all into the system new as purchased food, or you can make some of it recycled by feeding some of the algae from your refugium to them. The fish produce various wastes, some of which are "fertilizer" that can be bound up in algae. The rest consists of chemicals that must be removed by other means, as in water changes and possibly carbon as well. Go ahead and feed some of your harvest to your Tangs and discard the rest.> 

Reef/Filtration Hello, I'm converting my 55 gallon freshwater planted tank to a saltwater tank eventually a reef. And I would like to have no mechanical filtration, is it possible to use live rock and frequent water changes as sole filtration? If this is not possible, what are my options in filtration that requires few mechanical devices.  <Yes, the live rock filtration seems to be the trend right now. I would also suggest using a protein skimmer, well worth the cost. James (Salty Dog)> Thanks for any help! <You're welcome> -Stephen

- Reef Filtration Change -  Setup: 100 gallon tank, 50 gallon rubber maid (sump) 2 inches crushed coral in main tank, 300 lbs cured Fiji live rock in main tank ( full of color, sponges, coralline, very colorful.. no algae). 260 watts pc lighting, venturi protein skimmer designed for up to a 200 g tank. Coralife 18watt U.V filter.... oh and 2 750g/hr pumps in sump for pumping water back into tank. + 2 small Rio pumps in display tank for circulation.  Water enters sump through overflow through filter pad then pumped back in to display tank. Skimmer is in sump. U.V as well. My question is: With this setup, can I eliminate the filter pad and add some kind of filter sock (ex: those small ones sold for holding media)? <Sure.>  I have access to more cured live rock. Having 300+ lbs already, would I benefit from adding more (in refugium within the sump lets say)?  <No... you probably have enough. By adding any more than the large amount you already have, you are affecting the actual water volume of the system. You still need water in there.> I recently learned about DSB effects/benefits. Having all this live rock, would I benefit from adding a DSB in a refugium(20 g Rubbermaid) within the sump or from adding more live rock?  <A deep sand bed is almost always useful, but recall what I just said, what's most important in this system is water... if you add much more material that displaces water, you'll have a 100 gallon tank with 20 gallons of water.>  Tank has been established for about 3 yrs. Some small soft corals...about 7 total, plus blue tang, 2 percula clowns and rose anemone, mandarin goby, tiny snowflake eel and orange-shoulder tang. They have always gotten along fine... no bullies... all fish fed once a day (except eel which is fed 1 to twice a week). Also have clean up crew (about 50 blue and red hermits, turbo snails, etc.) 0 nitrites and ammonia, but nitrates have always been an issue until I recently got rid of all the bioballs, SLOWLY of course. Is a DSB just a cheap alternative to live rock?  <They provide different functions. Would encourage you to read the articles on deep sand beds on Wet Web Media.> Thanks for all your help!  Rico <Cheers, J -- >

100g reef filtration change de James! Setup: 100 gallon tank, 50 gallon Rubbermaid (sump) 2 inches crushed coral in main tank, 300 lbs cured Fiji live rock in main tank ( full of color, sponges, coralline, very colorful.. no algae). 260 watts pc lighting, venturi protein skimmer designed for up to a 200 g tank. Coralife 18watt U.V filter.... oh and 2 750g/hr pumps in sump for pumping water back into tank. + 2 small Rio pumps in display tank for circulation.  Water enters sump through overflow through filter pad then pumped back in to display tank. Skimmer is in sump. U.V as well. My question is: With this setup, can I eliminate the filter pad and add some kind of filter sock (ex: those small ones sold for holding media)? <Yes you can but the pad will filter finer particles. I am assuming the pad is changed weekly>  I have access to more cured live rock. Having 300+ lbs already, would I benefit from adding more (in refugium within the sump lets say)? <Can't hurt> I recently learned about DSB effects/benefits. Having all this live rock, would I benefit from adding a DSB in a refugium (20 g Rubbermaid) within the sump or from adding more live rock? Tank has been established for about 3 yrs. Some small soft corals...about 7 total, plus blue tang, 2 percula clowns and rose anemone, mandarin goby, tiny snowflake eel and orange-shoulder tang. They have always gotten along fine...no bullies...all fish fed once a day (except eel which is fed 1 to twice a week). Also have clean up crew (about 50 blue and red hermits, turbo snails, etc.) 0 nitrites and ammonia, but nitrates have always been an issue until I recently got rid of all the bioballs, SLOWLY of course.  Is a DSB just a cheap alternative to live rock? Thanks for all your help! <Sounds like you have a healthy system, no nuisance algae, it really isn't necessary to do anymore. Nitrates are always an issue. As long as the tank is not overloaded, weekly 10% water changes, good skimmer, the nitrates should stay at a low level. In a closed system we import waste and export waste through denitrification, and as long as the imported waste is not larger than the system can handle we then have a balanced system. When the import exceeds the export, our system is now out of balance and bad things begin to happen. Nitrates are in part released from the system in the nitrogen gas form so good water flow and super saturation of air with water does help in this process. James (Salty Dog)> 

- Reef Filtration - I have a question I am going to buy a 155 gal all glass aquarium they are telling me in the store to use Caulerpa and miracle mud with a skimmer I want to have a mini reef with some anemones and sponges and soft corals, can I use a wet dry they are telling me no but what do you recommend. <Think the store is steering you in the right direction.> In the sump they are adding a light for the Caulerpa but I have no idea in this, I had a 75 gallon tank with live rock but it had a leakage and I lost it so now I am between a 72 or this 155 what do you recommend. <The larger the better if affording all the attendant accessories is not a problem.> I had ordered for my previous tank a fixture 4 foot long with 2 175 MH 10 k Ushios and 2 40 watt actinics they say if I raise it it could be used on top of the 155 gal I receive this lights tomorrow and don't wan t to lose them what can I do? <They are correct - it could be suspended from the ceiling and work just fine.> Can I use a wet dry filter with a skimmer and only that for a reef? <Wet/dry filters and reef tanks are not good combinations.> thank you very much Alejandro <Cheers, J -- > 

Filtration for a 30 gal Hello - I purchased an Oceanic Systems 30 gal cube aquarium, which I am going to make into a reef tank w/ live rock, some soft corals, six/seven fish, and maybe clam later on. << Maybe not that many fish, depending on what you buy. >> I have a Sea Star prism pendant w/ (1) 175 watt metal halide, (2) 32 watt blue actinics, and (1) LED blue moon light. I purchased the CPR Cyclone bio-filter system (CY192) and a continuous siphon overflow box (CS50) because I want to keep the water moving and clean/clear as possible.  I would like to know your opinion on using this combo filter/protein skimmer system for my reef set-up, and your advice for alternative system if you don't think this is the best set-up. << That sounds great.  However, the real question and best item for filtration is the amount of live rock.  I'd be sure to have much live rock and deep sand in that system. >>   Thank you, Karen <<  Blundell  >>

Reef Aquarium Filters 10/25/04 Hello to WWM Crew and thanks for all you do for this hobby. I have read over the aquarium filter section of your site and still am sooooo confused. I have a 55 gallon aquarium with approx. 60 lbs live rock, Remora C skimmer, 2 280 Emperor filters and am having tons of trouble with microbubbles coming from my Emperor filters. <One of many reasons to remove them, IMO.> I have taken them apart to check for cracks and cleaned, etc. It did not help. I have a Fluval canister which I don't use because of all the trouble people have had with them. I am so tired of messing with these stupid filters, I have made a decision to purchase the Eheim filter but am unsure which one to go with. <I would say none of the above.  Power filters and canister filters aren't very useful for reef tanks and are maintenance headaches.> I have several soft corals, yellow tang, maroon clown and a coral beauty along with various snails, red legged crabs and 2 cleaner shrimp. I wrote the company about the Emperor bubble problem but got no response. Bottom line, what Eheim filter would you recommend and what filter media should I use. I don't mind spending the money for excellent quality so that is not really an issue.  Do I need another type of filter as well? <Live rock and a skimmer will take care of all of your filtration needs.  They are best reserved for when you occasionally want to use power filters to run carbon or to polish the water after things have gotten stirred up.> Thanks for helping all of us who love this hobby but are so confused with the conflicting information and differing opinions, we keep coming back to WW Media for the sound advice you so kindly offer. I loved Mr. Fenner's book by the way. A devoted hobbyist and reader of WW Media, J. D.   <Thanks for the kind words!  A lot of those differing opinions are perfectly valid, it is a matter of deciding what makes the most sense to you.  Personally, I almost always choose the option that is the most simple and relies on the least equipment.  That way there is less to go wrong or to break.  Best Regards!  AdamC.>

- Reef Filtration - Hi, I have a 55 gallon saltwater aquarium. I have a penguin dual BioWheel 330 and a 125 hang-on filter on it and a Seaclone protein skimmer rated for 100 gallons. I am about to increase the live rock to 70-80 lbs. <That's a lot of rock for a 55 gallon aquarium.> I am purchasing a 220W power compact lights for the aquarium. I have 4 fish in it. However I want to know if you think this setup would be adequate for keeping most corals and anemones. <It's not ideal.> If you could include a detailed answer I would really appreciate it since I am a bit hesitant to start over and buy a wet/dry filter now. <Likewise, a wet/dry filter is not ideal for a reef system - would advise you go through the pages in the Wet Web Media site as the details you seek will be found there.> Thank you Farhan <Cheers, J -- >

Tweaking! (Minor System Adjustments) Well thank you again my friends. <Scott F. here to help today!> Without you, I would be up s*it creek w/out a paddle.......As it goes I feel I am anyway! <Been up that creek, and it stinks! LOL> I think I have made a major mistake. As explained, I have two refugiums or sumps and at the moment they are running and cycled as follows:- Sump or bottom tank at the moment, just has bioballs in it. These were to be replaced with live rock as soon as I can afford to do this. 4ft above this sump I have another tank with a 5" DSB of CaribSea Sugar fine sand (which is now very live indeed) and this is where I feel I have made my mistake. This upper tank is lit 24/7 with 120 watts of lighting and the macroalgae (yes I know) Caulerpa racemosa is growing like wild-fire. <Not a "mistake"; it's just that Caulerpa have some potential downfalls that must be recognized and accepted if you intend to use them for nutrient export> I have two other very quickly growing algae in this upper tank. One is red, like pipe coral and one is one of the Halimeda species. Can I just tear out the Caulerpa Racemosa?......or even should I ? <"Tearing" out of Caulerpa species is potentially problematic, as the ripped-up fronds can leach some noxious materials into the water that could be detrimental to some corals. Best to carefully remove as much as you can. If you are determined not to use Caulerpa, then the other macroalgae that you describe are very nice. Gracilaria and Chaetomorpha are my two favorites, but there are many others. Halimeda is less effective as a nutrient export mechanism, but this algae is a great indicator of your calcium level in the system.> .....I have heard, that to put it mildly this is not maybe the best Algae to have in a refugium designed for NNR. (with a DSB) (and maybe I should stick with just one species of macroalgae?) <Nothing wrong with diversity. Just do consider that some species are more prolific than others.> If I have don't have to take out the Racemosa should I move it (or can I move it to the bottom sump tank, where at the moment there is no sand?) <Might be easier to remove that way, but it's really your call. The macroalgae will not interrupt denitrification, FYI. If it does "go sexual", releasing its gametes into the water, then it could put a burden on biological filtration, but that's entirely controllable with effective protein skimming and water changes.> To cut a long story short. I had to move my main display tank (to have a carpet fitted due to a flood....Ahhhh, anyway.)  I took this opportunity to do away with all the mechanical filters, power filters etc, so I did away with my Aqua Medic Reef 500, with Turboflotor skimmer, my big Eheim power filter and my rainbow lifeguard fluidized bed filter, filled with Rowa-Phos. <An excellent product, and "fluidizing" it is the best way to utilize it.> I moved all the fish, the BTA Anemone (yup I know) , the mushrooms and the pulsing Xenia which is all I have in the 6X2X2 main display into a 40 gallon with just one trickle filter and I know they cannot stay there for very long. The main tank is empty and although I have saved the seawater, it is now three days old (should I use this old water or mix up new?) <If the parameters test out okay, I see no reason why you couldn't> I hope you can help..... Cheers for now I need to go and cut some more bits of pipe........... Many, Many thanks. Simon. <Simon- really sounds like you're doing okay. You are taking great steps by removing mechanical filtration media, implementing a refugium, etc. Keep up the good work! These are just minor adjustments and "tweaks" to your system-and we never seem to stop this process! All part of the learning curve (and the FUN!) of the hobby! Keep smiling! Regards, Scott F>

Reef Filtration Rich, I read through Bob Fenner's book. In fact, that's why I'm emailing you guys! I love the book, it just has so much information that I'm having a hard time figuring out what's best for my reef tank. >>Gotcha Laura!<< I'm using a couple boxes of Eheim Substrat pro filter medium. Is that good to use in the sump above a carbon filter? >>If I remember correctly, the Eheim stuff is a biological medium, and you don't really need it if you have a bunch of 'live' rock or sand. Should I just stay with the sump, Substrat and modify the overflow to quiet it down? >>That sounds easiest, just remove the bio media. Remember the sump really is just a container of water that you can also keep stuff in. So if you can just find a tank that will fit under your main tank that is cheaper then the wet dry system, I say go for it. Or you can find a sump that isn't made as a wet try. The only way to quiet down the overflow is to modify yourself, or find someone to do it for you.<< What do you recommend I get for a really quiet skimmer? >>If you are going in sump, I like the Euro Reefs. They all will make some noise though.<< Also, I may not have enough room for the skimmer in the sump - should I modify things so that the pump is on the outside so that I can put the skimmer in the sump? >>That's a personal call. If it were me, and by moving the return pump I could then put the skimmer inside the sump I would - if my alternative were a hang on back. HOB skimmers are fine, but they tend not to be as strong as the other models.<< Laura WWM FAQ Crew, I forgot to thank you very much for your quick response and helpful information! >> Thanks! I forgot to mention that the guy who sold me the wet/dry suggested I go with a canister for my reef tank. I'm looking forward to your response on the best system to go with my 55 gallon tank that is also the quietest! Laura >> Canisters and bio balls in the wet dry suffer from the same condition - they are a place for any kind of detritus to settle and rot. So, unless you can clean them often (and you don't really want to clean bio balls at all because you can wash of the beneficial bacteria) the become 'nitrate factories'. You can use the canister as circulation or as an occasional place to put carbon, but other than that you really don't want any media in there. >>As for the 'best' system, ummm, errrg, its not that simple. Virtually every system is custom for one reason or another as you are learning with wanting to quiet it down. If you don't already have a good reef book I suggest Bob Fenner's "Conscientious Marine Aquarist" or Delbeek and Sprung's "The Reef Aquarium Vol 1". Either will give you a good overview of all your options. Then if you have questions >>Rich >>The sump itself is fine, what you don't want is to have it stuffed with bio balls or other media. I still have time to return the wet dry sump. What do you recommend I replace it with? > Hi!  I had a tank set up for me and the sound that the overflow is making is so bad that I'm just about to through in the towel on marine aquaria (no pun intended).  If I can't make the sound more tolerable I might have to change my mind about having a big tank. I would really like to have a full blown reef eventually but I haven't even added the skimmer yet which will make even more noise.  Are there any REALLY quiet filter systems and hang-on skimmers? What should I do? Have the glass tank drilled? Switch from my wet/dry sump to something else?  Everything is set-up and running so I'm afraid to tear everything down and get everything drilled and re-set-up and not have it meet the standards of peacefulness.  Are there any other relatively simple options we could work on putting together to make for a virtually noise-free system? > Thank you! > Laura > >>Hi Laura, don't worry! There are options! It sound like you have a hang on back, external overflow and that is where the noise is coming from. Go to www.dursostandpipes.com, click on popular modifications, and click on external overflow. It is a simple mod that makes a big difference. If I misunderstood, please let me know. > If you want a full blown reef, you might want to look into the whole wet dry thing, as they aren't really recommended for reefs anymore - regardless of what the people who sold it to you may have said. > There are quiet in sump skimmers, and ways to quiet them even further, as well as quiet hang on back skimmers. When you get to that point let us know! > Rich

Re: Filtration for large waste producing fish In theory, if you have a reef tank with large waste producing fish, obviously a paradigm shift, would it be appropriate to use bioballs with your live rock because of the amount of waste being produced, and the need for more Biological filtration? << Sounds a little contradictory.  Yes, you would need more filtration.  Yes I believe you would need more biological filtration.  But bioballs aren't biological filtration.  <Another Blundell blunder.... RMF>  I think you would be better with a much bigger skimmer and more live rock. >> <<  Blundell  >>

-Mechanical Filtration- There appears to be little consensus regarding the need for mechanical filtration in a reef tank. <How very true> Much of the dialogue on web suggests that mechanical filtration is unnecessary, except perhaps when blowing detritus off the LR every few months. Other sources, including the articles and FAQs on WetWebMedia, are generally proponents of mechanical filtration. As I am considering the merits of adding a canister filter (probably an Eheim) to my system, I would appreciate your thoughts on the subject. <I believe mechanical filtration can be a good thing if maintained properly. That said, I doubt many of us would actually have the drive to do it. Without frequent cleaning (daily or MORE is best) these filter sponges and socks become detritus traps, now isolated from being processed by LR and LS critters and other tank dwelling organisms, are acted on by bacteria releasing all sorts of organic goodies into the water column. It is generally regarded as a better idea to let the system deal w/ this 'stuff' by assimilating much of it into biomass or becoming waste again in the form of fecal pellets easily removed by protein skimming.> My system consists of a 40 gal breeder, 40 lbs LR, Aqua C Remora w/ MaxiJet 1200, and 2 MaxiJet 600s for circulation. If a canister filter would be beneficial, what capacity or turn over rate would be appropriate? <I would not suggest a canister filter for this setup unless you are prepared to clean it out constantly (not a pleasurable experience with most canister filters). If you wanted to experiment with mechanical filtration, I'd suggest using something more easily accessible, like a pre-filter on one of the MJ-600's which could be cleaned daily. I think a canister filter would be a good idea for clean-up after stirring things up to displace built-up detritus, but not for long term, constant use. I hope this helps! -Kevin> Thanks, Stew

Filtration of the Filtration Kind, Or Bing Bang BOOM! Greetings to the WetWebMedia Crew,  <Thanks! Welcome>  I am questioning my filtration. I have two bow front 46 gallon tanks. <Great>  One was a changeover from a 29 established thank that was 5 years old. Well, then, you are looking at an off balance of the entertainment center in the den and I had to have another one. This is a living piece of furniture. <Very cool>  A friend was dismantling a 120 gallon tank and I got free live rock, coral. How could I not do this? <Yeah!>  I have about 65lbs of live rock in one and 50lbs in the other. I have an AquaVia multi skimmer (protein skimmer, U.V light, etc.) and a 301 AquaClear, along with 3 power heads, staggered in position on each tank. I have good water movement on the top of the tank. It appears that the current overall in the tank if good. My test results are: Salinity= 1.023, PH - 8.3-4 whenever I test, ammonia -=0, nitrates - 5-10 and nitrites=0, calcium=450-460, phosphates=0. Caulerpa is waving (planted in the sand and in small stands). <You may want to keep a close eye- This macro-algae has a tendency to suffocate corals.>  I have not lost any fish or coral, however, from all I read, I may not have enough filtration. <I would increase circulation, that's it>  I read this site every day!. Do I absolutely have to have a wet/dry filter and a sump and a refugium? <Not at all>  I have a LOT of copepods and 96 watt (double) Aqualights w/moonlight on each tank. <Killer!>  My corals are low to medium light softies. <Best place to start>  To me, and everyone who has seen them they are gorgeous. I want to keep them that way and now I am becoming paranoid. I change water, if not 5-10% twice a week, 15-25% once a week. But looking at all the filtration that is recommended, I hope I am not looking at disaster. <Nope- You have the routine down>  I guess I just want some reassurance from the experts! The newest tank was set up in January. I never had an ammonia spike or nitrite/nitrate spike because the rock was from an established tank and move in warp speed to the new tank which was already set up and running with just sand. I seeded the water from the established tank to the new tank and can't believe how well it worked. I guess I just want assurance that I did everything right? With the utmost admiration for all of the WetWeb crew! Your unselfish dedication to this hobby is astounding and it is an honor to have access to your collective knowledge! <We love to hear success stories- Sounds like you're doing a bang-up job. Cheers, Ryan>

Sand Clouds (3/7/04) Hello, <Hi! Steve Allen tonight.>   I have found a lot of useful Information on your web site and It has been a great resource as I delve into the world of saltwater. <For me as well.>   My question is about the use of aragonite, I have read it is one of the best to use for starting a tank but I am unsure on how to prepare it for the tank?? Do you need to wash it to run clear as my  first attempt on a small tank left the water milky for a few days, or is that normal.. <You'll never get it to run clear, but gently rinsing away debris before adding it to the tank is useful. All of that cloudiness is useful buffer. It will settle over time. If it settles on your rock, gently puff it away with a baster.>   Also I am in the process of setting up a 130 Gallon saltwater fish only tank and as budget permits move to a reef setup. Any suggestion on filtration? <Live rock, deep sand bed, skimmer, sump/refugium.> Can I use a Fluval 404 to start or should I spend the money and go with a trickle filter and sump setup? <You can use the Fluval for mechanical/chemical filtration, but will need to open & clean it at least weekly. I gave u on mine very quickly. Rather than trickle/sump, look into a sump/refugium.> Thanks in advance, Drew Forbister <Hope this helps.>

The Bug Has Bitten - Filtration for Future Reef >I recently got the saltwater bug and set up a 55 gallon marine tank.   >>Uh oh! >So far, there are about 60# of live rock, various fish and invertebrates, a protein skimmer, a fair-sized  external hang-on filter, and an undergravel filter with 3" of crushed oyster shell substrate and 2 power heads.  The system is thriving, and is a centerpiece in our home. >>Sounds nice. >I now have the bug, and I'm ready for bigger things.  I bought a 180 gallon (2 x 2 x 6) tank, which I plan to eventually set up in my living room directly over a section of foundation wall (since I'm not sure joists could support the weight of a 1-ton tank).  The tank comes with an undergravel filter and 150# of crushed coral substrate.   >>Ok. >My question has to do with filtration of the new tank.  I would like to set it up as a fish/live rock/invertebrate/coral reef tank.  I hear some people like undergravel, and others are sump enthusiasts.  What would be the advantages/disadvantages of using the undergravel filter with the type of tank inhabitants I want?  Would it be better to use a bio/sump-type setup instead? >>For a reef, I, personally, would NOT recommend an undergravel filter, especially for a novice.  They require the kind of maintenance that is problematic in an established reef.  What I would MOST strongly recommend is to spend some money on books - "The Natural Marine Aquarium-Reef Invertebrates" will prove an invaluable tool with regards to setups, ESPECIALLY if designing a refugium and/or algal filter.  My own recommendation would be to set up the 55 as a refugium, with a deep sand bed, either in the tank, in the 'fuge, or both.  They will not be maintenance free (nothing really is), but they will make your chores much easier as nutrients will be recycled rather neatly, leaving a biomineral replacement as your biggest issue.  Then, foam fractionation to start, and once the 'fuge really kicks in, you can remove that entirely (yes, it really can work!).  All of this will require a great deal of research on your part, though. >I don't have a lot of money to spend, nor a lot of time to spend maintaining, so I would like to get an effective system or combination of components that will handle my needs fairly well, to include using plants in a sump or other means to help filter nitrates.  I would even be willing to adapt my old 55 gallon tank and filtration as part of an overall filtration system (can I use the 55 gallon and its undergravel filter as part of the filter for the 180?).   >>The undergravel will simply grab more detritus without allowing an anaerobic areas to properly develop through which basic denitrification would occur.  This would also mean that you would EITHER need to add sand (or sufficiently small) to the substrate, or make it very deep.  Honestly, you'll find your best information within the book, and some of it on the site.  While most folks insist you must use calcareous sand, do know that it is not necessarily a "must", but that it does make certain issues much easier to deal with.  Silica-type sands are also theorized to be too sharp-edged for many of the creatures we hope to propagate within deep sand beds (DSB). >If you had just $200-300 to spend on filtration, my existing 55 gallon tank and filtration resources, and some mechanical/craftsman/fabrication abilities, what would you use? >>I'd spend my money on the sand, a "starter" of algae for the 'fuge, the cheapest lighting possible (shop lights, my friend, they can be set up just fine, though some folks have found power compact fluoros for relatively cheap prices), and do NOT skimp on the pump!  I would actually forego a protein skimmer altogether, too.  But, I'm not like most people.. <giggle> Beyond that, spend your time and money on books and you'll find them to be invaluable in both the long and short term.  On the following site you'll find a listing of good books based on needs (beginners, reefkeepers, breeders, DIYers, et al) - http://www.reefs.org/library  -  And DO search our site extensively.  What is contained within our FAQs can be confusing, mostly because we have differing viewpoints, but I will tell you that the words of Anthony, Steven Pro, and Scott F are based on MANY years of very good experience.  Steven is the only one who does not regularly contribute here, but he does use the sister site forums ( http://www.wetwebfotos.com/talk ).  Best of luck!  Marina

Animal Filter - 12/22/03 Hey there Anthony!   <howdy Eric> I have a question regarding the use of an animal filter, which I recall you discussing in your book.   <yes...> I'm using a 55gal. AGA for a 'fuge which has a 6" sugar-fine sand bed and Chaetomorpha algae.   <excellent start> I had planned to install a second 'fuge as an animal filter with Anthelia and Xenia as the "living filters".  As luck would have it; no room for the second 'fuge so I wanted to get your take on utilizing both methodology in the same container? <its never a good idea. Mixing plants and animals in culture in any combination will not allow both to thrive optimally. In this case... soft corals and plants more than most any other critters on a reef are competitive and can be very noxious to each other> As long as I provide a partition for physical separation, are these species (Xeniids and Chaetomorpha) low enough on the "noxious scale" to effectively work together without battling each other to the detriment of the system?  Happy Holidays.  Eric <there is not scale of measure that I am aware of between animals. Just studies on relative toxicity and noxious exudations by individual. Regardless... the practice of mixing the two is generally a bad idea. IN this case, with the partition and considering the nice size of this fuge... I'd be willing to see you try it. Neither organism individually is known to be especially bad (they are generally regarded as weakly noxious). DO let us know how it works out. Best of luck, Anthony.>

Turnovers.. Not Popovers >Greetings WWM Crew! >>Greetings querier! >I just found your site this morning and I've been quite unproductive today in all other endeavors -- GREAT job!!!  I'm moving onto the nebulous but wonderful world of inverts. Here's my setup: 55g, 15 W/D sump with (a seemingly very effective) integral skimmer, 2" crushed coral substrate, ~50lb. LR, 2X75w VHO (1 50/50, 1 Blue) 2X54w T-5 (1 50/50, 1 Blue), 3 decent powerheads mounted rear & center facing toward the ends of the tank. >>Ok. >Here are the questions: I'm getting only 225 net gph out of my sump return, turning over the water roughly 4X/ hr.. is this sufficient with the additional movement gained from the powerheads? >>No.  We look for turnover THROUGH the filtration, which really should be at LEAST double what you have.  However, what's BEST is to observe your animals.  If they're doing well (thriving) without such a turnover, I would leave it be. >The sump return pump is a Gen-X2400 rated at ~600 gph, pushing through 1/2" id tubing and a diffuser (fan?) nozzle w/ just around 5' of head..... can I expect this real-world performance given these parameters? (and the broader question, should I buck up and by a bigger pump?) >>5' head is rather a bit to push through.  I'm assuming the tubing diameter is somewhat fixed.  I would consider buying either a bigger or an additional pump.  (Bigger, in this case, is probably better - keep this one as backup.) >The substrate is upon an U/G filter, should I tie back into it with the powerheads and use the C/C as a supplemental bio-filter?  (or reverse flow through the substrate?) >>Well, eventually having just the filter plates in situ means that detritus will eventually build up.  In my own opinion, I think it would actually be better to remove them altogether, and possibly add some finer-grained substrate.  Couple that with detritivorous animals (such as Archaster typicus), and you'd have less worry of detritus build-up and out-of-control nitrate readings.  There are those who will say that you're on your way to such with the wet/dry filter, as well, but I think that a deep sand bed would handle that just fine. >Reading through your "latest & greatest" section in the Reef Filtration section I'd very much like to come up with an amalgamation of filtration systems, but am leery of "overkill" (no pun).  TIA for your response, I'm off to explain to the wife why the dishes aren't done..... :)  Jeff Hamilton >>Hhmm.. filtration "overkill".. Urge Overkill!  Refugium = good, not overkill.  DSB = pretty good, but can be over killed, especially if ignored/not maintained.  Get those dishes done pronto!  Marina Filtration and Algae Problems Hello crew, <Hello! Ryan here> I really appreciate the wealth of information you guys provide the aquarium community. I've decided to try to improve the quality of my tank water to try to alleviate several problems. <Water quality truly is the biggest challenge in the hobby> My Setup: For 2 years, I've been running a 50g tank with a Bak pak 2R skimmer, 2.5-3" DSB, LR, and 2 maxi-jet 600 powerheads. 2 96w power compacts on 10hrs/day. My tank is located about 10 ft away from a brightly lit, but diffused window. <OK> I have 1 yellow tang, 1 royal Gramma, 1 Banggai cardinal, 1 percula clown, snails, crabs, and a banded coral shrimp. Corals: 1 branching hammerhead, mushrooms, green star polyp, red kelp, and a finger coral. Personally, I don't think my tank is biologically overloaded. tank water chemistry: ammonia=0, nitrates=5ppm, spGravity=1.025, temp=80F, pH=8, Alk=Normal, calcium=450ppm. Replacement tap water: phosphate=45ppb, silica=3.5ppm. I do a 5% water change every 2 weeks, dose the tank with calcium and phyto/zooplankton weekly, replace evaporated water every few days. Also, I feed my fish lightly once a day. <Nice> My Problems: I am plagued by micro algae growing on the viewing panes and blue/green growing where the sand meets the viewing panes. <Not surprised> Also, my water is a slight green tint to it. The algae appears every few days. Is this unusual? <Not when you use tap water in your reef> All my corals seem to be flourishing except my finger coral. I can't seem to get it to open up or grow. It has been slowly (talking at least a year) shrinking in size. <It can be finicky-and demands a higher water quality than it's tankmates.> My Proposed Solutions (please let me know what you think): To fix the green tint to the water, I am planning on using activated carbon. <YES> However, I am not to sure what would be the best method to administer this. Since my tank doesn't have a overflow (so, I can't seem to reliably use a sump), I was thinking about purchasing a Marineland 125 bio wheel power filter. <You'll be setting yourself up for problems with nitrate later on.  For versatility, running carbon and water polishing I would go with a magnum canister filter.>  Does this house enough carbon to effectively filter my tank? It's rated for a 30g tank, but the 50g version won't fit on my tank with the skimmer. <You've got to overshoot here> For the algae and general cleanliness of the water I'm planning on adding more fine sand to the DSB (this is the first time I am adding more to it after 2 years, I know, I goofed) to a minimum of 3".<4-6 is generally considered a DSB> Also I was thinking about purchasing a RO/DI unit for makeup water but not sure if I need it. <Yes, this will help with MANY of the problems you are having.> In summary, my filtration system is: Bak pak 2R Skimmer, power filter for mechanical/chemical filtration, LR, and DSB. Should this filtration system be sufficient? <You didn't mention how much live rock.  If you're up around 1+ pound/gallon, I'd say filtration is adequate.  In my 55, I keep 120 pounds of live rock, and rely primarily on my skimmer and regular water changes with RO/DI for nearly all my water quality issues.  Best of luck! Ryan> Thanks!  Jason

-Wet dries and Fluvals and Eheim's: oh my!- I am looking for some help with an Idea for my 40 gal salt water tank (starting a reef) I have an Arctica chiller because it gets rather warm where I have my tank and I started by having a RIO pump circulate the water through the chiller. I also use a wheel type wet/dry hang-on-tank filter. I want to replace the to filter and the big ugly Rio pump and all the mess with a canister filter that drains out of the tank, through the canister, through the chiller and back into the tank. I have it mostly figured out, but I am not sure if I should go with the Eheim 2227 wet/dry or a Fluval 404 as the canister. Any thoughts? <Plenty! I'd suggest against using a canister filter as means your means of central filtration. A more ideal setup would be to install a sump underneath your display aquarium where you would house your heaters, return pump, chiller feed pump, and protein skimmer (didn't hear mention of one of those, they're pretty important if you're not removing organics any other way). Check out these links so all that mumbo-jumbo makes some sense: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/reeffilt.htm  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/reefsysi.htm>  People seem to not like the Eheim, but do I need some sort of wet/filtration? <Not if you plan on using ample quantities of live rock and live sand. I'm going to shamelessly plug Bob and Anthony's book here (Reef Invertebrates - check out the front page of wetwebmedia.com; can't miss it!) because it would explain all you could ever want to know about the dynamics of live rock and sand and why you would want your system based around then. Good luck! -Kevin> Thank You,  Nathan Tableman ? www.trephination.com ? gatecrasher73

Random Turbulent Flow Hello Gang! Would like some advice on water movement.  I've always used "in-tank" (and admittedly anemic) devices in the past but with a new 375 gal. reef system I want to employ external means.  I understand a surge device would be ideal but don't think it's going to be a possibility (still exploring the idea though!) so I'll probably employ random turbulent flow. <Reefs do not experience random flow in the wild, but laminar currents dictated by seasons, winds, weather, latitude and tide phase> My question pertains to alternating the currents; I plan to use Dolphin Amp-master pumps to obtain a reasonable volume (two 3000s) but I am undecided on the use of switching devices to alternate flow.  I've used electronic "wave makers" in the past but plan to exclude them from this setup.  What do you think about the SCWD? <I don't have any first hand experience with it> Considering the output size on the amp-master (1 1/2") I think I might lose too much flow when I throttle it down to 3/4" to fit the SCWD (am I wrong?).  If I forgo wave makers altogether, and plumb a closed loop to use as a manifold, <this is what I would do> would I need to plumb 1 1/2" throughout to maintain flow? <yes, any restriction reduces flow rate and increases velocity> If not, where could I step down? At the manifold? nozzles? <Whichever is more convenient for you. However, the more of the narrower pipe diameter you have, the more the flow will be restricted via friction.> Thank you for your time.  Eric <best, Chris>

A New Way of Thinking <Hello! Ryan with you today> Hi, Thanks in advance for your help.  <Whoa! Prepaid compliments ;) > Short history of tank: 45 gals 75lbs live rock 20 lbs live sand 2 powerheads 201 & 301 Tank's been up for 2 1/2months, after 7 weeks added 1 Hippo tang, 2 feather dusters, star polyp, 10 hermit crabs, (a sally light foot crab was in the live rock). 1 week later added a clown , 9th week added spaghetti coral, 10th green hammer; all livestock doing fine, water chemistry good.  <Any tang is seriously oversized for your tank, I'm afraid.  Everything else seems in order.> When I purchased the tank the LFS sold me a Amiracle SL-5 hang on filter, after researching your web- site I now know that external bio filtration is not necessary with my set-up, also the bio- balls can raise the nitrates in the tank.  <Yes>  Is it possible or beneficial to remove the bio balls and replace them with some small pieces of live rock?  <Yes, but very slowly to avoid drastic change.  Remove 1 bioball per day out of this size filter.>  I am just learning so if this is a dumb question I apologize. Would this be like setting up a small sump?   Thanks,  Randy <Yes, a place to process your water.  May be able to stick your heaters, thermometer in there and get them out of the main display.  Letting the live rock do the work for you is much more enjoyable!  Good Luck! Ryan>

Changing filtration Hi, How are you!!   <Fan-gorama-tastic!> So glad to have your website for references!!   <Thank you, I am very happy to be a small part of this.> I have an Eclipse System 12 and plan to run a nano reef in a few months.  I am going to upgrade the lights and replace the filter with an AquaClear150 and add an AquaClear Surface Skimmer.  I was wondering if I would have to re-cycle the tank when I take the old filtration system out and put a new one in.  <You don't mention what type of filter is in place. Could you use the media from the old filter to help seed the new sponge in the new filter?? If so then cycle will be minimal. If not, then have 10-20G of aged/aerated change water on hand so that you can do frequent water changes just in case. I really don't see you having too much of a cycle>   Appreciate all your help!!  Angel <As always, my pleasure, Don>

Filtration <Morning, Ryan here> can you tell me what filter to buy for a 125 gallon tank, I have 2 hang on filters now.  I'm ready to upgrade to the best. I want to have some fish and corals, I've had a Fluval before. it was awful. would a wet/dry system be good?  what about flooding? I have a protein skimmer already.  thanks Lenise <Lenise, I'm sorry to inform you that it's not so simple.  There are SO many choices with filtration, you've got to research it specific to your livestock.  You mentioned fish and corals- not the easiest task!  Start here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/filtration/marineFiltr.htm Search the FAQs for others who keep what you're interested in, and note what equipment they have been successful with.  I would highly recommend the use of some sort of refugia in this setup, as well as a deep sand bed.  Good luck!  Ryan>

Why change a good thing? Hello helpful friends. <Hi Jeff, Don today> I have two relatively simple questions about my  marine reef system.   <Actually, Jeff, there are three, but since this is Friday, I'll give you one for free <G> > First let me describe it: I have a 90g reef tank with a 20g refugium and a 10g sump.   About 115lb live rock, 1/2" aragonite in the display tank and 4" in the refugium (which has grape Caulerpa and a sea cucumber to keep the substrate surface stirred).  At least reading a ammonia, nitrite, nitrate are zero, Ph is 8.5, KH is 9.5 -10, calcium is 300 -350, phosphate is .1, SG is 1.023 - 1.024.  (I admittedly haven't done water readings in a few months because the system is so obviously thriving and balanced)  I squirt in some b-ionic daily; weekly regimen is 1tsp Kalkwasser/1g freshwater to top off evaporation, 1 tsp Kent SuperBuffer dKH and a 5g water change. Lights are 270 watts power compacts, tank has 2 strong powerheads; Berlin skimmer runs 24/7, HOT magnum sometimes used to polish water or treat with carbon once in a while. Purple/pink coralline algae is everywhere! <All sounds good> Fish are one each royal Gramma, percula clown, hippo tang, yellow tang, mandarin, flame angel, Anthias, red spotted goby and 2 scissor gobies.  Food is mostly frozen and fresh Caulerpa (from the refugium) daily, flakes on occasion.  Invertebrates are 12 corals and polyps, 1 anemone, 2 brittle stars, 2 cleaner shrimp, a banded shrimp and a feather duster.  Fish and invertebrates without exception are thriving!   <Excellent> Question one:  My coralline algae is growing so fast it is a nuisance.  I presume this is good, not bad, but it is a pain to have to razorblade the front glass 2 or 3 times a week to keep the purple dots from spreading.   Any way I can slow the growth of this algae, or just keep the front glass clean? <A necessary evil I am afraid. You might check into a metal blade scraper (I use the Kent) and it works well and is easier to wield in the tank> Question two:  My Berlin skimmer for months pumped out half inch a gunk a week into my container.  In the last two months it has stopped producing anything.  Any need to be alarmed, or any investigation I should do? <Hmmmm, maybe a good teardown and cleaning. I would check the pump and make sure it is functioning correctly. Tweak the adjustments to get some production again.> Question three: Can I reduce the 10% water change weekly? ( since it is thriving so well and seems to have hit an equilibrium) <I would say that the 10% water change is one of the major factors for the balance you see. I would not stop or reduce> Thanks very very much, Jeff <Keep up the good work and share you experience with others when you can! Don>

Reef Filtration Anthony, I have another question.  I found this website after diving into my new setup and want to make sure I am heading in the right direction (this site is amazing by the way).   <thanks kindly... the free part is especially cool to me <G>> I am setting up a reef/fish system.  The tank is a 120 long (60"x18"x26").  The local shop that sold it to me said all I needed for filtration was a 30 gallon sump with live rock and a skimmer.   <agreed> There is nothing else, just the tank, rock, skimmer, and pump (still trying to resolve the flow problem issue).   <as it should be IMO> All told, I have around 170 lbs. of live rock with a 4" sand (not live though) base.   <very good> Fish density could be around a dozen including gobies, clowns, tangs, and a flame angel.   <quite reasonable> After reading all the FAQ's, I am getting worried about being under-gunned on the filtration side and may need to add a canister or other alternative.  What are your thoughts?   <good heavens, no. With 170 lbs of rock, 4" of sand and a good skimmer... the system is very sound> Would the Emperor 400 that I have on my 55 provide the necessary extra filtration (chemical and mechanical)?   <a nice add-on, but not significant. Really just a convenient place for carbon to change weekly or monthly> I thought it would help out by not over filtering the system, yet still provide some benefit to help with the fish load.   <nope... the changed/rinsed cartridges make this method unreliable for biological filtration. I'm not a big fan of them> I get worried about the canister taking too many good elements out.   <no worries... a better unit. Especially with a coarse foam block on the intake> Can they be put on timers so they only work part time? <absolutely not... will cause serious problems with anaerobic faculties> Next question deals with live sand.  My uncle lives near the beach in Florida and is in the process of revamping his tank totally.  Are there any reasons it would be a bad idea for him to just go to the beach and scoop sand out of the ocean (not on the beach, but out of the water) for his base? <some concern for disease and pollution with near shore collections... still disease with offshore collections. Any amount must be quarantined for 4 weeks before use in the display aquarium. Just like curing live rock> He already uses that water for his water changes and has no problems so I would think that the sand would be okay.  May sound like a dumb question, but you never know.   <natural seawater is ultimately dangerous and always variable. I would not recommend it without proper treatment (too much work BTW). Synthetic seawater is safe and reliable> I live in the 'burgh' so I don't have that option.   <good!> I plan to rejoin PMAS soon as well.  I also contacted your friend Steve and plan to set up some consultation time once I get my noisy bulkhead problem fixed.  I haven't heard from Keith yet, but he said he was going to talk to you about the suggestion you made in a previous question. Thanks again, I really appreciate the help.  Like everyone else, I want to do it right.  Mistakes are costly in this business. Andy <wishing you the best of luck, Anthony>

Small Marine Aquariums
Book 1: Invertebrates, Algae
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by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Small Marine Aquariums
ook 2: Fishes
New Print and eBook on Amazon: by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Small Marine Aquariums Book 3: Systems
New Print and eBook on Amazon:
by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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