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FAQs about Refugium Construction

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

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

Please Help/DIY/Acrylic Refugium 1/25/12
<Hello Scott>
I got your site from a friend of mine. I am building a 35gal refugium for my 75gal reef tank out of 1/4" lexan (polycarbonate). The only thing I need to know what glue or cement to use to assemble it ? I have asked so many people but nobody can say for sure about it and don't want any toxins in the water. This is probably a stupid question to you guys but if you can help that would be great !
<The Weld On brand of acrylic cement is what you need.  It's available in different viscosities depending on how fast you want it to set up.  Marc Levenson has a tremendous amount of information on his site as to working with acrylic.
Thank you for your time
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>
Scott Early

DIY Sump/Refugium 1/30/08 Hello, <Hi Jess.> I have a 65g glass aquarium and am planning on adding a sump/refugium so I don't have to mount my skimmer on the back of my tank and can grow some food for my corals. <Good move.> I plan on using a 20T tank (24x12x16) as it is the largest tank that will fit in my stand and still allow space for my Eheim 2217 canister filter (do I even need this filter with adequate rock and skimming?). <No, not with sufficient live rock. A good skimmer is much more valuable.> I plan on a Mag 7 return pump in the sump, can you recommend which siphon overflow is better, Lifereef or Tom Aquatics? <I am more partial towards the Lifereef type of siphon boxes. They will have a higher velocity of water through the over the top portion, clearing out air bubbles and obstructions better.> My tank is tempered glass and can't be drilled so I have been told. <Not if it is tempered, do contact the manufacturer to be sure if you are at all interested in drilling it. The likelihood is only the bottom is tempered, you may be able to drill the back for an overflow.> For the refuge, I was planning on two baffles with 1/8" slots cut in them to allow flow from the siphon to the return pump with the space between housing a deep sand bed and perhaps 5lbs live rock. <I would cut ¼' slots in the baffles if you have the tooling, otherwise just run it over the top of the baffle, slots are not mandatory.> (I was told that a refugium this small would have negligible value to my system at my LFS, is this true?) <Larger is better, but anything is better than nothing. If you have enough space to grow some macroalgae, which can be done in fairly small volumes of water, your system will benefit even more.> How high should the baffles be? <Depends on the water height you will run. You will want your lower baffles to be below this level. Baffles spaced off the bottom of the tank can run all the way to the top if you wish.> How much space should I allow for overflow in the sump in case of a power outage? <This depends greatly on how you plumb the return. If you plumb it near the surface of your tank and/or include a siphon break you will need to account for a minimal volume of water here, a few inches in the 20 gal. You just need to leave enough room for the amount of water siphoned back into your sump and what is in the plumbing lines. You will also need to consider recommended water heights for your skimmer model when you go to determine water height. Set up your sump, overflow and return and play with varying water levels before you put any baffles in. You can also make movable baffles, allowing adjustment, see the link below.> Thanks so much for your time in answering my question. <Welcome, a worthwhile project.> P.S. Can you recommend a good site with diagrams of DIY sumps/refugiums Thanks again. Jess <Sure, a few are included below for basic sump configuration ideas, as well as movable baffles. Have fun, Scott V.> http://wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_3/cav3i1/Baffles/baffles.htm http://www.melevsreef.com/allmysumps.html http://ozreef.org/diy_plans/tank/

Established Acrylic Tank Modification 10/6/07 Hi Crew, <Hi Wes> I have a 50g Uniquarium (an 'all in one' setup). It has 40 lbs of live sand and about 60 lbs of live rock in it. After reading around on the site, I've decided to take out the bioballs in the back and turn the compartment into a refugium (which, in addition to a protein skimmer, will be all the filtration I have, should be enough?). <With your live rock and skimmer, you have enough now.> It looks like one strip of acrylic to split the compartment is all I need to add. My main concern is contaminating the water with whatever sealant is used. What adhesive should I use? How long does it generally take to dry? I'll have to drain the compartment to adhere the acrylic, but this means there will be no water circulation for that time (other than one power head in the display). Is this something I can do safely? <You know Wes, for the size of the refugium you are going to end up with, it isn't worth the risk. I rather see this compartment available for a bag of Chemi-Pure or similar media. Why take something functional/nice and butcher it up.> Thanks for your help. <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Wesley

DIY refugium question  - 1/18/07 Hey guys, I'm helping a friend built a refugium for his 60 gallon. How long  do we have to wait before we can add water and live rock and connect it to the main tank? Thanks again for helping us. <...? What Material are you using here? Glass or acrylic? What kind of sealant was used? Assuming glass and silicon -- I would wait 24 to 48 hours, as long as 72 hours for Acrylic. Hope this helps! -JustinN>

DIY Refugium setup Q -- A follow-up - 1/19/07 Hey Justin, Thanks for the reply, I am using glass and silicone. I have one more quick question. Do I have to use a special solution to clean the refugium after the silicone has cured. Doesn't silicone have a chemical that will leak into the water if not well cured/cleaned before adding water? <No, the only concern here is that you got a silicone without an anti-mildew additive in it. This additive is what is toxic, and if your silicon does not contain it (it is usually packaged as "Kitchen and Bath") then the cure time is all that is necessary. Cheers! -JustinN> Silicone Toxicity/Refugium Lighting - 09/02/06 Hello crew... <<Howdy Mike>> Ok I built a refugium using a used 20 gallon tank. <<Cool!>> I welded acrylic to create: an intake compartment where the skimmer will sit, under-flow to the refugium compartment, over-flow to an activated carbon compartment, overflow to an empty compartment, overflow to last compartment with lower water level (waterfall for gas exchange) where water is heated and returned to main tank.  The tank is divided lengthwise so that the intake/skimming, carbon, empty, and heating compartments sit in the back and the entire front of the tank is the refugium, which once established will conceal the other compartments from view and hopefully make the tank pleasing to the eyes.  The acrylic dividers were welded together with solvent and then siliconed to the glass tank. <<Ok>> Is there a problem with using silicone to join acrylic to glass? <<It's not recommended for structural applications, but in this instance/for this application it's no problem at all>> The tank is working perfectly in my fresh water test runs, but I had heard that this may be a future problem. <<...?>> Also, I ordered live rock and it should get in tomorrow (9/1).  The silicone has been cured for about 48 hours.  Can I use the refugium to cure my rock or will the silicone damage the organisms on the rock? <<It will be fine to use the refugium>> Someone told me I had to wait several days. <<Nope...give the silicone 24-hours and you're good to go>> Do I need to provide light for the rock while curing? <<Is not a necessity...please see here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lrcurefaqs.htm >> My main tank has excellent lighting, but I just have a 38 watt full spectrum florescent for the fuge. <<Depending on what you plan, this will likely be fine...see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugltgfaqs.htm >>>> Thanks, Mike <<Welcome.  EricR>>

Refugiums/DIY  4/6/06 Greetings from Cornwall, England to the WWM crew. <And from Michigan, USA> Your website is truly educational.  <Intended to be and thank you.>    I have read through the FAQs, but not been able to find a definitive answer to my problem, so can you help me please?  <Sure!> I have just purchased a 36lx12wx15h(inches) aquarium, which I am going  to use as a refugium/mud filter for my 48lx15wx18h(water depth 18) display tank.   What I am trying to find out is, if I can use Ariel (trade name) clear polystyrene sheeting to make baffles for the aforementioned filter. I asked the   manufacturers themselves and they replied that it would be OK.  The  material is described as for interior use only as UV will cause the polystyrene  to discolour (i.e. yellow). I queried this as to the possibility of any chemical leach into the water and was told no. Should I proceed - can you  please give any advice/confirmation as to the safety of polystyrene clear  sheet? Thanking you in anticipation,  <Will be fine, Peter.  Just wash plastic with soapy water and rinse good before installing in the refugium.  James (Salty Dog)> Regards Peter Add A Baffle To A Running Sump?  Mmm...No - 02/24/06 Hi there, <<Hello>> I bought a used 180G aquarium with a 70G sump. <<cool>> I am incorporating a refugium in the sump, but due to the original design I need to add a baffle in between the refugium and the return pump chambers to keep the sand in the refugium and out of the return pump area. (In the current setup water flows under a baffle between the two chambers). <<I see>> This tank/sump is up and running.  Is there anyway that you can think of that I can add this baffle with out having to empty out the sump? <<Hmmm....magic <grin>.>> Any suggestions would be very much appreciated. Thanks, Robb <<Well Robb, I'm afraid you're gonna have to bite the bullet here and take the sump off line for about 24hrs while you silicone a baffle in place.  Regards, EricR>>

Installing A Baffle In A Wet Sump - 02/26/06 Hello Crew!! <<Hello>> I've been really enjoying your site since I discovered it about a month ago.  Truly a vast array of information. Thank you for all of the work put into it. <<Very welcome>> I was reading the daily FAQ's today and saw the question from the guy wanting to add a baffle to a running sump.  I just wanted to point out that the solution is in the current edition of Conscientious Aquarist.  There is a fine DIY article there on just how to add a baffle. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_3/cav3i1/Baffles/baffles.htm <<Ah, indeed there is.>> In fact, I just used that article yesterday to add a refugium area to my sump.  I was even able to do it without shutting the sump down. (240gal Freshwater Tank, 55gal Sump) Thanks, Chuck <<Thanks for pointing this out Chuck...will post for all to see.  EricR>>

Refugium construction  2/14/06 I was thinking of making a refugium to sit along side my sump (which I have taken all of my bio-balls out of).  Can I drill holes into an Eclipse aquarium???   <Can be done> They are acrylic and I wasn't sure if it was safe to drill into these systems.  I found this store that was having a sale on the 12 gallon Eclipse system for around $70, and these tanks already have lights on them for the macroalgae, so I thought this might be the perfect time to start up a refugium.  Thanks.  Jeff. <Is a very nice unit to begin with, modify. Please see WWM re holes, acrylic... Start here: http://wetwebmedia.com/pbholesfaqs.htm and here: http://wetwebmedia.com/acrylicaqrepair.htm This will be very illuminating... as well as very time-consuming... Bob Fenner> Silicone and acrylic - 1/18/06 Hello and thank you for your support again. <Hello and you're welcome! John here from the freezing wet hinterland.> I just completed a 20 Long glass refugium that will go under my tank that will house a Mag 5 for my EV-120, 18" Inches of "Fuge" and a return pump. The baffles are only 12" High. The tank is glass. I used Lucite/Acrylic for the baffles and  DAP 100% silicone rubber.  I am noticing that it does stick to the Acrylic but not as good as it does to the Glass. <Yes, silicone does not adhere well to glass.> This is not a LARGE fuge at all. Will the Silicone work fine to hold the baffles in place for this application? <Generally, acrylic cannot be bonded reliably to glass. However, for baffles, the acrylic should work out fine, provided the water levels on each side of the baffles are not too dissimilar. If you ever empty the fuge, try to empty from both sides of the baffles so they are never "holding back" a significant body of water, which might cause them to flex. For long-term reliability, glass baffles are best -- or you could fashion "holders" for the acrylic out of off-cuts of glass, or even troughs made out of generous amounts of silicone.> Acrylic vs. glass sump/refugium  12/8/05 Hello Crew,  <Hello John> I know you are swamped with questions so I will keep this short. In your opinion and experience, are there any advantages to acrylic sumps/refugiums versus just using a glass tank and installing baffles?  <I personally prefer acrylic. Its easier to drill for installing bulkheads without having to take the tank to a glass shop. The advantage to glass is cost. A 20 gallon glass tank can be had for a fraction of what an acrylic sump would cost. Then it is just a matter of installing baffles, getting holes drilled, etc.> Thank you, John H.  <You're welcome and Happy Holidays to you. James (Salty Dog)>

DIY Refugium and Mixing Materials - 12/07/2005 I have been pouring over the DIY forums for hours but can't find a definitive answer on the best way to glue acrylic sheets as baffles inside a glass aquarium.  <Well, you really should stick to one or the other. Acrylic doesn't stick to glass well and there's a significant chance (more likelihood) that they will eventually separate.> I see several posts that say 100% silicone, and then some that say only use silicone to attach glass to glass. <Yes, 100% silicone, but I recommend using all one type of material.> What would you recommend? <Just what is stated.> Thanks much, Scott <You're welcome. - Josh> 

- Refugium Construction - Hi, I would like to thank all of the crew members at WWM for all of their quick and helpful responses they given me. I tried to search for a question similar to mine, but I couldn't find what I was looking for.  <Seems odd... I answered a similar question not three days ago.>  I am working on a 15 gal. sump, actually it is running, but I do not have it chambered so I can make it a refugium. I think to convert this I would just need to seal two panels, one on each side, so that the center would have most of the flow going over the top and not affecting the middle chamber. My first question is, what would the best material to use as panels?  <Glass or acrylic - either will do, would use the one that's easiest to get your hands on.>  I was thinking Plexiglas from Home Depot.  <Sure.>  Secondly, is there a silicone sealant that can be used underwater without adding any pollutants to the tank?  <None that I would suggest - you should really plan on doing this work in a dry tank.>  Or am I just going to have to drain the tank and use the sealant?  <Yes... this is your best bet.>  I know that your site recommends using 100% silicone sealants without additives, will the silicone package say that it is aquarium safe or am I just to assume that it is?  <If you pick up the silicone from a local fish store, you should be all set... even though Home Depot does carry silicone that will do the job, they have too many tubes of the wrong kind that would be too easy to grab. There is such a thing as "aquarium sealant" that can be obtained at your LFS.>  Thank you again for your help. <Cheers, J -- >

Plumbing a refugium Hello WWC, << Blundell tonight. >> Thanks for all the great info!! I have a 90 gallon reef tank that has been set up for 8 months. The tank has a wet/dry trickle filter (24"x 12" One half with protein skimmer the other side unoccupied at the moment) I have just recently taken out all of the Bio balls (Thanks for that advice) Is it possible and would it large enough to make the right side of my wet/dry filter a Refugium (12"x12"x12")? << Sure, why not. >> I was going to close up the bottom portion of the box where the water flows underneath to the other side and cut away a portion of the top so I can fill the bottom with sand and have it flow over the top. << Not a bad idea. >> The two things that concern me most are (1) How I should have the water enter the Refugium right now it goes thru a drip tray with a filter pad. << I still like that idea. >> I wasn't sure if I should do away with that because it does catch a lot of debris. Also would it create too much disturbance for a Refugium? (2) Do u think it would be better to do away with the drip tray and add a bulk head fitting to the side of the filter box and have the water enter that way? Or do u think it would be a better idea to ditch that idea and set up a 10 gallon tank next to the wet/dry? << That sounds good as well. I don't think it will matter much, you may have to just try it out. >> You have no idea how fantastic this site is for someone that is new to this hobby. I have been told and sold so many different things by LFS. It is a shame that advice is driven by selling you a more expensive product!  << Well rest assured I have nothing to sell. >> Thank You in advance!! Jim <<  Blundell  >> - Filtration & Refugium Options - Hi, I'm hoping you can answer a question for me regarding refugium flow rate. <So am I...> I read through the refugium material on your website and about water circulation in a reef tank. Maybe my questions were answered somewhere in there, but with so many entries in the FAQ I've lost track. After a 4 year hiatus, I will set up my 120 tank. This time I will build a reef tank, clams, corals, the whole nine yards. The largest refugium /sump I can install under the tank is about 20 gal. I will use it for bio filtration, skimmer on closed loop, mud filter and Caulerpa. First off what do you think? <Better to have both - a sump and refugium - a decent flow rate of 10x your system volume could be too brisk for a refugium.> Too small? <It would be better if it were larger.> Bound for failure? <Not necessarily... but may not provide the full extent of benefits you hope for.> I do not intend on having powerheads in the tank so as your site has suggested, I will use a hefty pump and a manifold for good water circulation, 1500 to 2000 GPH. But it seems to me this flow rate will be way, way too much for the refugium. <Spot on.> I would actually prefer something like 2x to 5x (40 to 100 gph) the sump capacity per hour. I think this is consistent with others claim to be acceptable. <Yes.> Can I T off of the return line and gate valve over to the sump, with the other line tied directly into the circulation pump? Can I "T" back into the intake of the circulation pump? <Don't think it would work well... plumb the pump directly to the outflow of the tank - typically this flow contains a lot of air that would significantly reduce the efficiency of your pump.> This somehow doesn't seem right to me. I'm guessing that I will have to put a small pump in the sump to return to the tank. <Yes, perhaps use the high volume pump in a closed loop - direct intake from the tank without using the overflow.> As an alternative, I can fit two sumps under the tank (1 refugium, 1 sump). I could then devote the entire 20 gal tank to a refugium / mud filter. <That sounds better.> Should I place the Bio filtration in the sump? <You can go without, provided a sufficient amount of live rock and sand in the tank.> How about the skimmer, closed loop off of the sump or refugium? <Would place in or around the sump.> Many Thanks......Frank <Cheers, J -- > Materia matica for a refugium Dear WWM Crew, <Jay> I am a colleague of your own Steve Allen,  who directed  me to your very interesting and helpful site. <I see> I have a 90 gal fish/invert reef tank and am about to  add a refugium underneath it. <Ahh!> I am interested in your opinion on the longevity  of a glass or acrylic tank vs. a Rubbermaid  tub to be used as the container for refugium/sump.  It is my impression that the glass (and probably acrylic also) tanks have seals which will eventually leak and the whole thing will need to be replaced (a MAJOR undertaking). <Mmm, both glass and acrylic tanks can expect to last at least ten years... I know of both that have been in use for more than three decades... Acrylic, by and large is "tougher", easier to drill/fit, a better thermal insulator...> Does the salt water have a deleterious effect on the rubber tub and/or its plumbing holes/pipe connecting areas? <Not much> Can  these tubs blow out like a glass tank could? <I have never heard of this... and have witnessed MANY Rubbermaid sump installations> (My see-thru  tank sits in the middle of our very open kitchen/dining/living room area and a big leak would ruin a lot of flooring!) <I'll bet! I would settle on the Acrylic if this will fit... easiest to fit gear, partitions... see through, and very sturdy> Thanks for your time and keep up the good work. JS <Thank you for being part of it. Bob Fenner>

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

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

Refugium for Tenecor Simplicity Plus System follow-up Thanks for the response - one follow-up question if you don't mind?<Sure, I hope I can help.>  Reading your site caused me to do some more research on my tank (I wish I would have found your site before ordering my system!!!).  I have just found out that the submersible pump returning water to the main tank of my Simplicity Plus has a flow rate of 150 gallons per hour (it's a Hagen 802).  The tank is 75 gallons so from what I've read this is terribly insufficient.<I would have to agree with that one.>   Am I going to be able to have a successful system with this set-up?<If you increase the water flow you will.  Otherwise, your water quality will always be sub par.>  I am going to try to replace the Hagen 802 with something more powerful, but the area the pump sits in is awfully small so if I can't find anything more powerful that fits in the area what do you recommend I do?<You can install an external pump that would not be inside the refugium.  That is, if you have enough room under your stand for one.  Most local fish stores will drill sumps and install bulk heads for external pumps.  Remember, when you increase the flow you have to be sure the drains can handle the flow rate.  Good Luck. MikeB.> Thanks again.  

Refugium Plumbing Hello crew, <Hi! Ryan with you today> Let me give you some background  on my system. I have a 75 G FOWLR tank with a hang-on Bak-pak protein skimmer, 50-60 lbs of Fiji live rock, Eheim canister filter (2213 or 2217 not sure which one but rated for 90 gallons) 2 MaxiJet powerheads, emperor power filter and 1.5 inches of crushed coral substrate. I have a blue-spotted jaw fish, a purple Firefish, a Sailfin tang, and two blue-green Chromis. Except for the Chromis I have had all the fish for a least a year.  I also have a cleaner shrimp, some hermits, and turbo snails.  I do a 15-20% water change weekly and clean the Eheim monthly (Is this enough or should I clean it more often). <Sounds about right>  I feed once a day (enough food so it is all eaten in 3 minutes or less) with a mixture of frozen formula I and II and prime reef supplemented with Selcon and VitaChem.  Nonetheless I still have high nitrates (usually 20-40 ppm).  To this end I have considered adding a refugium to cultivate macro algae and pods.  <Always helpful> Until recently I of course have known nothing about sumps or refugiums (irresponsible on my part, but always trying to learn)<And so you will succeed>.  So I have been reading your site and others trying to gather as much information as I can.  I am trying to make it as simple as possible and this is what I have come up with so far. Please let me know if I am on the right track or not? <Yes> First since I don't have a predrilled aquarium, I am going to purchase an overflow box. I am leaning towards a LifeReef pre-filter siphon box or a CPR overflow (not sure which is better. Have heard good things about both, although the LifeReef system seems to be less problem prone and better design iMO)<Little difference>.  Next I was going drain into a 20 gallon tank down below with a return pump to act as my sump/refugium.  Into this sump I was thinking of placing a live sand bed (4-6 inches?) and some macro algae with some lighting over head on a timer opposite the display.  Is it that simple or am I missing something? <It can be this simple and still work wonders> Do I need baffles? <Need? No> If so, can I just silicon a glass plate into the tank for the return pump and maybe skimmer or is this unnecessary? <It can help reduce bubbles, but isn't required.> Also, If I do this I was planning on removing the media from the Eheim and replacing it with course and fine filter material as well as Polyfilter and carbon. Finally, I would totally remove the Emperor power filter. How does all of this sound? <Sounds great, removing the emperor is a good idea.  Not ideal in combination with live rock.  This plan sounds simple and beneficial- Good luck, Ryan> Thanks for the help and the awesome web-site. Jeff J

Refugium builder required 12/16/03 Hello Bob and the ever growing email pioneers , I am looking for a company or individual that can build a sump/refugium that I designed . I live in the North East , RI/ Mass , Please let me know if you can help . Richard <Cheers Richard. I believe we can help you here. Do seek the advice of your local (and excellent!) reef club, the Boston Reefers. They have a website and forum on Reef Central. I am certain they can advise you of your local options. They are also the host of next years national marine conference to be held in Boston in September. Outstanding... looking forward to it. Anthony>  

Re: Refugium builder required Hello Bob and Anthony , I am also interested in patenting this refugium and then marketing this item . Seeing this is my first attempt at this I have no idea where to start . I did some research and found a plastics company that is interested in providing material and they also have a company that could mass produce . Knowing somewhat about Bob's history I have the felling he has been through this before with other products. Hopefully he can be a wealth of information . I will also need a place to sell these items and I can not think of a better home than WWM . <Me neither... do try making and running a "demo" unit... once you have most all the bugs out function-wise, have developed ideas on how to mass-produce (jigs, frame boxes...), make a few and set them up at local fish stores... see what the public thinks, hopefully will pay... and we'll be talking. I would contact the Chuas at All Seas re pumps for your units... re-sale possibilities... do NOT give anyone exclusives in space or time... Bob Fenner>                      Looking forward to your response, Richard

Addition of a refugium and sump 9/13/03 Hi crew at WWM...I was hoping I'd be able to figure this out on my own but the more research I'm doing ( have read every refugium/sump faq, have both CMA and RI books) the more confused I'm getting. <no worries... easy to resolve> What I'm hoping to do is to add a refugium and a separate sump to my 55 gallon saltwater aquarium.  (I'm only 3 months into the hobby...I'm actually the lady who got M. marinum (Doh) from my tank last month and got some advice from Anthony about it- which is not a bunch better by the way lol but I do have a great pair of arm length gloves now that my kids and myself find hilarious whenever I wear them)   <Yikes! Do ask the doc to reconsider the med-pak if necessary> Anyhoo here is basically what I'd like to accomplish; I'd like to put a refugium possibly under my display tanks stand...I could probably fit a 20 gallon glass tank there.  (or if you suggest, place in basement beside sump?) <either would be fine> This refugium would have a DSB, LR and algae for the purpose of NNR and to EVENTUALLY feed the main tank.  Then in my basement, roughly a 15 foot straight drop down,  I'd like to place the sump....plenty of room so I am not too limited by tank size, what size would you recommend?   <there is no minimum for sump size... the larger the better> This would house all the loud equipment and heaters etc..  I've also been looking at a "Berlin" sump premade from MarineDepot, I think, for like $150.00 - would I be better off to just buy this premade- they seem small tho- or try to use acrylic and separate the chamber in a glass aquarium myself? <agreed... a simple large plastic or glass vessel for a sump reservoir is all that is needed> - I feel like a Mcguyver wannabe lol - hold on what was I thinking? I have a book of matches, a stick of juicy fruit and a bottle cap,  I can build this tank!  ;-) <heehee...!> I think in the sump I would have my (ordering a Precision Marine bullet 1 later this week...u like or AquaC or Euroreef better?) <yes... much better. Euroreef for easiest tuning> protein skimmer in 1st chamber, and then maybe another DSB, or possibly MUD with LR etc.. in 2nd chamber then another area to hold filter media if needed, like carbon before going into the 3d "clean" chamber which would pump back up to main tank.  Is it overkill to have 2 DSB's, one in the refugium and then another in the sump?   <perhaps... does sound more complicated than need be. An empty sump would act nicely as a settling chamber> I was thinking this 2nd refugium area in addition to the separate refugium would come in handy to maybe grow  different macro-algae or whatever?  I don't know......  I guess my area of confusion (well, lol, pertaining to SW tanks that is ;->) is: <again... perhaps making this harder than it needs to be> 1. Would I overflow from the main display down into the refugium then overflow that into the sump, then pump that back up to the main display (using Anthony's drawing of a closed loop {think its called that,  the pvc goes around the entire edge of the tank with openings for water to flow out} for lots of water circulation in the display)?  Or should I overflow the display down to the sump, then up to the refugium then to display. this way would seem logical to me to have "clean" water going into the refugium but have seen different advice on this. <either will work... depends on how heavy the bio-load is (need to skim more... or need to feed the refugium more)> 2.  In the refugium where the water comes "in" to the tank should I have that separated with a piece of acrylic with no sand on bottom to keep the water from disturbing/blowing the sandbed around?  Is that something I should be worried about? <adjust on the fly if necessary... little to worry about here> 3.  The pumps/overflow gph and size of pvc piping.....huge area that is  actually holding me up...I know I want the Iwaki brand pumps but have no idea on sizes that I will need for this type of set up.  I was looking at the LifeReef overflow boxes.  What gph should I get, the 600gph or larger?  Then would the PVC would be 1" running from that,  how large should the return lines be...I've seen 3/4" mostly used but should I go with 1" returns as well? should ALL the Iwaki pumps be rated for 600gph to match this overflow rate (I know I'll have to accommodate the head on the distance for the sump coming back up to display) I'm confused because the flow to the refugium I've read should not be so strong but wouldn't that empty or fill the tank before it if its not even?  Errgh.... cross-eyed again! <you are confused because you are trying to put the cart before the horse so to speak...  your aquarium size and its inhabitants (must pick them first in mind) will determine the flow needed (around 20X or 1000gph in this case)... the flow rate will dictate how many holes are needed... it will also dictate the pump needed (with regard for head from elbows, tees, etc)... once you pick the pump, the mfg specs say clearly what kind of plumbing you will need for that model, etc> Any advice would be greatly appreciated.  I know this has been covered a zillion times on WWM archived FAQs but I just can't seem to put this together mentally and I'm afraid to buy anything for fear of getting the wrong size or setting up backwards.  I have been reading and researching patiently, hoping to not bother u guys, but It's not helping me and I'd really like to start purchasing some things to get the tank set up.  I got up at 6 this am and have been reading this site (or Rereading I should say) to hopefully clarify things but....nope, it ain't sinking in. <you really are at risk of not enjoying this beautiful hobby for worrying about minutia> So, there it is, my setup dilemma in a nutshell.  I don't know why this seems like such a big deal to me, I've read it shouldn't be this difficult to do.   <correct... do relax dear!> Can you guys help at all or did I cram way too many questions in here? <Yes <G>> Thanks once again, I totally appreciate all you/this site does for all involved with this hobby/obsession.  Thanks a million!! Jan <aim for more hobby... less obsession :) Anthony>

Refugium considerations 10/3/03 In follow up to your suggestion to add a refugium. I have decided my best option would be to convert a portion of the current sump I am using to a refugium. I basically added a divider to the rear portion of my sump to create a Downstream refugium. My sump is 15 inches high by 12 inches wide and I used AllGlass silicone to add a 12x12 piece of Plexiglas to the rear section of my sump.  I could only let it dry for about six hours since I am currently using my sump and I needed to get my system running again. <likely not a problem> The silicone seemed to solid up pretty good. So when it came time to restart my system, I decided I wasn't going fill the refugium portion with water just yet because I don't have the live sand yet or the tee/splitter that will direct a portion of the inflow water to both the refugium section & the regular sump area. So for the time being I let the inflow water fill the portion of the sump that is not being used for the refugium. The silicone held except for two pin holes in an area where I had to cut two 1/2 inch notches in the 12x12 Plexiglas to accommodate two lips manufactures design) on the sides of my sump. I wasn't sure if this was a major problem? <hmmm... not sure... doesn't sound like it if the sump is large enough (concerns for backflow during power interruptions)> When I looked at it this morning the water filled up in the refugium section enough to level off with the water level in the sump area. <ahhh... I see... no worries> Which I figured would happen. Finally to get to my question: Do you think I need to fix the two pin hole leaks in my refugium divider or when do think it won't make much of a difference when I start divert/split my inflow water between my refugium & my reg sump area? <seems like a small matter> My concern was the stress to my system of having to shut it down for another 6 hours plus while I fix the pin hole leaks. <really not a concern at all... do make such corrections/improvements in the future in due time without fear. The water flow in the main display with all of the live rock and live sand is all that was/is needed. The sump not running for hours/days (!) is no big deal. Do consider>  Please let me know if you think the refugium will still flow "downstream" with those pin whole leaks. Thanks for you time -Ron <without a pic or diagram... I/we have no way of knowing my friend. At face value... all sounds 'bout right. Best regards, Anthony>

- Refugium Questions - Hi I want to start a refugium. <Ok.> I have a wet dry in place and I want to replace it.  Does a refugium need time to "cure"??  I will put live rock and plants in it at start up with the sand bed. Am I in danger of any type ammonia spike at startup?? <I'd say only if the live rock is uncured, but for certain it will not be ready to go on the first day. You should replace the wet/dry very carefully as you will be likely removing your source of biological filtration. I would run both in place for at least a month to two months before removing the wet/dry.> I have an existing wet dry that is 13.5 gal total. Is it to small to be an effective refugium?? <Most wet/dry filters are designed for exactly that, and don't really make for effective refugiums. You're much better off acquiring a sump made specifically for this purpose.> Joe <Cheers, J -- >

-Wet/dry to refugium- Hi, I'm thinking of making my turning my sea life wet dry to a refugium. <I did this once...> It is set the usual way with a bioball divider, a little slot where a prefilter sponge goes. It is a 90 gal overflow set up with about an 8 gal wet dry.. would putting the sand and rock and bioball chamber along with other goodies and leaving the last 1/3 of the sump for the skimming. <I took out the balls, and on top of the eggcrate that supports the balls, I put a few layers of really dense filter pad (felt-like). On top of that I put a few inches of sand and a few small pieces of live rock. The problems w/ this setup are as follows: My sump had a few holes on the side of the bio-chamber right under the drip plate, these had to be drastically widened so the 'fuge wouldn't overflow. The other, and much larger problem is that the other half of the sump could no longer accommodate all the water that would drain from the display in a power outage.> Is that enough room. The total area is 13.5 gal availability <It might work, but I'd calculate out how much water will be drained down and how much you'll have to spare. Good luck! -Kevin> Joe Culler, Asst Mgr, Lakeland

Plumbing design, skimmer first? Regarding the email titled "Plumbing Designs"...the proposed setup that I emailed you about previously is very similar to this. However, I'm curious as to why the skimmer is plumbed after the Miracle Mud/Algae section. You replied that the setup "looks good," but wouldn't it be better to have the skimmer first? <By and large, yes... there is some advantage in having the skimmer later in that the water level in its chamber is easier to keep stable, but some disadvantage in the removal of life that might otherwise be transported to the main/display system> I know that Ecosystem doesn't recommend that use of a skimmer, but I'd probably use one too, so I'm interested in your thoughts on the correct order (if any) of the plumbing of the skimmer. Regards, Walt <In actual practice, the order/arrangement of the skimmer usually is not of major consequence between these two alternatives. Bob Fenner>

Refugium  Hi, I bought a 15 Gallon refugium off EBay for 60 bucks for a 38 Gallon tank. The tank is cycling right now. Can I use the same aragonite in the refugium that I used in the tank or should I use mud or rock?  <I would use the sand you are using now if you can get little bit of different sized sands would be better.>  If I use rock (this would be pricey, can I use dead rock  that will eventually become live?), how do I do it.  <yes you can place dead rock in tank add a few pieces of fresh live rock and in a couple of months the critters will transfer into the dead rock>  Does the Caulerpa grow on the rock?  <yes>  Are Mangroves good or is Caulerpa and Halimeda good enough?  <Caulerpa and Halimeda is good enough but mangroves are cool to just add one for the effect>  I plan on having my Fluval 203 feed the refugium and then having a ViaAqua return the water to the tank. Is this OK? If I do gravity feed I am worrying about flooding the house if I lose power.  < gravity feed much idea if one of your pumps would shut off it would either keep pumping water from the tank to the refugium or drain the refugium I have plumbed many tank and trust me drilling a hole and putting an intake screen over the bulkhead is a way better idea Use a big bulkhead and it will not overflow >  better With my system if I lose power the both the Fluval and water pump shut off together and when power comes back on they should both re-fire.  The refugium will be under the tank in the stand. I am going to try something weird. My refugium has three compartments. In the first one, I plan on the Fluval feeding a tiny 12X3X6 reverse flow undergravel system with Matrix and Eheim Lava rock and maybe a few bio-balls. I think this will give me massive filtration. What do you think?  < don't think it is needed>  I will stir this up a couple times a month with a stick. The water then goes through two holes in a divider and across the Caulerpa.  The water then tumbles over a divider. The guy selling them has a sponge here. Is this a good idea? I read where big sponges are great to reduce nitrates and will keep things clean, but the sponge here will prevent organisms from being returned to the tank, right? I can squeeze in more bio-balls or Matrix on top of the sponge. The next compartment is for the water pump to pump the water back up to the tank. Is a ViaAqua 1300 powerful enough. I bought tubing and a ball valve from HD to control the flow rate. I can buy another ball valve for the Fluval if needed. Any advice will be appreciated and if there are any web-sights or books devoted to refugiums let me know. Thanks  <Hope this helps Mike H.>

- Setting Up a Refugium - Hi guys, I have read numerous articles on your website in regards to refugiums, however am still trying to figure out the easiest way to set one up for my tank. Currently I have a wet dry sump with a skimmer that sits inside of it. I have a prefilter that hangs on the back of my tank with 2 tubes feeding the sump. Can you give me the step by step to set it up. I can have one of my outputs of my prefilter pour into the designated refugium but how would I minimize the force that it would coming in at. <With a valve, or perhaps baffles in the tank/sump you will be using for your refugium. The baffles would buffer the turbulence but still allow good water flow through the refugium.> It also mentions that I should use gravity to transfer the water to my sump... can I use a filter to do this... <No - not without many hazards, siphoning your tank onto the floor being the primary one.> My reasons are that the space underneath my tank is limited so do not have the ability to raise it up to clean @ maintain etc. The LFS indicated that I would need to drill holes... I am guessing that this is the reason why... I believe I need a empty tank 20 - 30 gallons with a light running reverse sunlight... <That's a good start.> Should I use normal glow bulbs that are used for growing freshwater plants... <Those will work fine.> I believe I need a substrate such as miracle mud or plays and... will aggregate work as well. <Probably so, although the smaller the particle size, the better it will perform.> I know I need a bunch of living rock not an issue besides cost... can you give me the minimum requirement <Really, the live rock should be in your main tank, although you can put some in the refugium you're better off concentrating the quantities in your main tank - to the tune of one pound per gallon.> The cause of this discussion is that my trickle is causing significant nitrate levels in my FO tank and I need to get them down. All suggestions are greatly appreciated. <The refugium is a good start, but you might want to consider replacing your sump/filter entirely and replacing it with a larger refugium.> Chris <Cheers, J -- >

Sump to 'fuge Hi, <hello> I have a 110 gal reef using a sump with only live rock and a skimmer in it with about 80-90 lbs. of live rock in the tank itself.  I have not always had the best luck keeping the corals alive and well and have been doing a lot of reading on your phenomenal site.  I have been using A&B with other weekly additives like Trace Elements, Lugol's, Magnesium and a few other things in the recipe.  The direction that I would like to go is to convert from a sump to 'fuge and add a Korallin c1502 reactor.  My plan is to possible make a 'fuge out of a good old Rubbermaid tub and plumb it through the back wall of the tank like my chiller is.  So if I do this, change to a 'fuge and reactor, will life be easier for both myself and my tank mates? <YES>   Also, what would an ideal 'fuge consist of for a 110 gal tank?  My thoughts have been a 30 gallon tub with a DSB, algae and a few bio balls. <30 gallon sounds good (always go bigger if you have the room) no need for bioballs>   I obviously plan to make it myself and it doesn't need to be pretty just keep the tank pretty.  So, have I done my homework? <yes>   Also, what is the switch over strategy from a sump to a 'fuge?  Do you run both simultaneously to acclimate or what? < I would plumb in the refugium first .Then fill it up. let it run for a couple of days then add sand and last what ever else you wanted. let sump and refugium  run for a couple months and then if you want to remove the sump you can, but I would let them both run more water volume. good luck MikeH> Thanks so much Sean

BUILDING A REFUGIUM 6/19/03 I am building a "hang-on" Refugium, as I have no sump. What size should I make it? <20% of tanks volume minimum... towards 40% is it is to be a primary means of food production (as for corals, seahorses, gobies, etc)> Keep in mind I only have 6" clearance from the back of the tank to the wall. <do consider the slim profile of the commercial CPR brand BakPak refugium>   50 gallon tank   75 lbs LR   Sand/Arag bottom   2x96 powercompacts   Few items of fish and coral (starting over)   Basic design: Powerhead pumps to skimmer - which dumps into   Refugium - which overflows back into tank. Also, can you give a quick list of what should go in it? <that depends on what you want it to accomplish... deep sand for natural nitrate reduction... Chaetomorpha algae for nutrient export and zooplankton production... Gracilaria algae for growing food (algae) to feed herbivorous fishes, etc>   Thank you very much Stacey <Also... do check out our coverage on this topic in our new book, Reef Invertebrates... almost 100 pages dedicated to live sand, refugiums, plants and algae. Best regards, Anthony Calfo>  

DIY: Acrylic thickness for 'fuge. Would 1/4" acrylic be suitable to build a 32l x 11w x 14h refugium/sump. <Should be fine, just use top bracing as well.> Manufacturers sites only consider tanks fully filled in their calculators, in which case this would call for 3/8. But The sump is essentially 3 smaller tanks( 2 dividers) plus baffles and a lid. <The dividers and baffles will help keep the tank from bowing, but you'll still get more bow than if you used 3/8. No biggie since it's going to be a 'fuge.> Just wanted your 3cents worth before I started gluing. <Good luck with the 'fuge! -Kevin> Thanks, Ken

In-Sump Refugium - 8/18/03 Hello!  Great site!  Great advice! <thanks kindly> My question concerns the feasibility of an in-sump refugium considering the flow requirements of a large reef system.  I'm setting up a 375 gal. reef with a 75 gal. sump and was considering using part of the sump as a refugium.   <it would be better to have a small vessel sitting next to or above the sump on a separate dedicated water circuit> The sump is a 75 gal. glass tank I will be modifying for this purpose.  With the flow rate required for this setup I would think rock rubble rather than sand would do better but can I sufficiently baffle the flow, or do I have to consider a separate refugium?   <the latter as you have suspected> Also, after reading through many of your FAQs I'm turning away from adding Caulerpa, but will a refugium with only rock and light still afford PH stabilization?   <not likely... simply look to any of a number of other/better macroalgae like Chaetomorpha or Gracilaria. We give about 100 of 400 pages of coverage in our new book Reef Invertebrates (Calfo and Fenner) to refugiums, plants and algae. Do consider> Back to flow.  Can you recommend a brand/size of external pump/pumps for this system that is quiet and "relatively" inexpensive (i.e. - not Iwaki).   <sorry... you get what you pay for here. Iwaki is your best investment in the long run IMO. A first choice and far away leader> I've been eyeing the Dolphin Ampmaster pumps but I'm a little concerned about noise once you get above the 3000 series. <understood and agreed> Thank you and much appreciation for the advice and opinions. Eric <if you need cheap and quiet and can deal with the heat imparted... do consider 2 large Mag drives. Anthony>

Refugium Conversions - 8/14/03 To the gang, <cheers> I have a rather large, working sump with bio-balls underneath my 75 gallon tank. Also, an old trickle filter. Is it possible to convert either of these to a refugium to help feed my corals? <indeed... rather easy> If so, how? <starting with a sealed divider that retains a high water region. Many DIY plans across the 'Net on various message boards and web sites.> What do I have to add?   Marion <that depends on what you are trying to specifically achieve if/in addition to plankton production. Alas, it's such an enormous topic that it cannot be answered in a brief e-mail. In our new book "Reef Invertebrates" ( https://secure.wetwebmedia.com/order_form.jsp http://wetwebfotos.com/store/nma-ri.html ) we dedicate ~100 pages of 400 just to refugiums, plants & algae and live sand/rock natural filtration methodologies. You need do some more research at large here, my friend> <kind regards, Anthony>

Refugium Q I currently have a:  45Gallon, 35Lbs LS, 45Lbs LR, 2 False Perculas, 2 Chocolate Chip Stars, 1Peppermint Shrimp, ~15 blue and scarlet leg crabs, 3 Bumble Bee snails, 1 Nassarius snail, ~2 Queen Conchs, Equip: AquaC Remora Skimmer w/ MaxiJet 1200, Magnum 350 Canister, ZooMed PowerSweep powerhead, Coralife 96W 36" 50/50 10,000 Kelvin/Actinic Blue VHO lights.  In the next few weeks, I am planning on setting up a refugium...so that I can just use the Magnum on a very occasional basis to clean the particulate stuff in the tank, set up MH lighting in the main tank, move the stars and current lighting to the to the refugium so I can place some corals in the main tank.  My question is this...space is very very limited, and I was wondering what the smallest size of a refugium I could setup...and still get all it's benefits, and how much LR, and LS should be in it? <I would use a 10-15G tank with 4-6" of sugar fine sand and a mixture of macro algae. You might consider an inoculate kit from inland aquatics or indo pacific sea farms. I would not put an predators in the refuge. See here for more http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm. Don> Thanks in advance!! Cheers! Steve

- Under-Tank Refugium - Hi all, I want to add a refugium to my nine month old system for food production primarily. <An excellent idea>  I am pretty much regulated to placing the refugium underneath my main tank which is a 65 gallon FOWLR with a built in sump in the back (IFS). Does this built in sump present additional problems in design?  <There are only two main problems with sectioning off part of a sump for a 'fuge. The big one is if you raise the water level in the 'fuge part; will you still have enough overflow capacity in the event of a power failure? The other potential problem is space, so just make sure everything fits before gluing!>  My  plan is to drain the tank down and drill one hole (how big?) straight through into the sump and out the back of the aquarium.  <Out the back of the sump, right?>  Then using what I think is called a standpipe in the first sump section, where the tank water drains into it, to drain into the refugium and then a return pump pumping the water back into the main tank through the hole that was drilled into the sump.  <Alright, so the sump will stay intact for the most part with two holes on the back (one to drain into the 'fuge, and another to get pumped back in?)>  With my built in overflow will I need regulate the pump flow or will it equalize itself as long as I pump more water back into the main tank than I drain out of the sump?  <The overflow can only drain as much as is it is being supplied.>  Or will I still have to worry about pumping the refugium empty?  <You need to clarify what you want to do here, as I'm a bit confused. I think I understand, but you may want to sketch something out in MS paint and shoot it over>  I am shooting for a 38 gallon refugium (30 gallons water/8 gallon overflow capacity) which I want to build myself.  Would I be an idiot if I built it inside the stand (and could never get it out)?  <Haha, only if you ever needed to remove it. It would be best to build one that is removable, but then again, how would you get it in if the tank is full?>  Would I need to upgrade my protein skimmer?  <Probably not, unless the one you have is already inadequate.>  I found an equation to determine the flow of water. Do I need to use this?  <An equation? It's simple, just don't exceed your overflow capacity.>  I think I am  trying to make it too complicated but just wanted to hear some expert advice before I start cutting and drilling.  <Hehe, I hear ya. Why don't you send over a sketch so I can help you a little better.>   I don't want to have homeless fish!  Thanks so much,  Andrew <Good luck! -Kevin> 30 gallon tank glass refugium question? I'm currently running a 72 gallon tank. I'm building a stand for it and I want to place an older 30 gallon tank Above it to use as a refugium which will house live sand , live rock, and Caulerpa.    I'm looking to drill a hole into this tank about 1 inch in dia. to use a Gravity feed overflow to the main tank to feed this tank with the live copepods and so on.  Now I do not have any glass drilling diamond bits or anything like that.  What I'm looking to find out is,  would it be a better deal to strip down this tank and replace the back glass pain with a Acrylic panel and reseal the tank?  This way I could easily drill the hole into it?  Or could I use a cheaper drill bit to do the hole drilling,  the glass is not tempered.. Thanks  Michael <I would take the tank to someone experienced who can drill the hole with the proper diamond bit or sandblast the hole. There is no shortcut here......  Craig>

Re: converting wet/dry to a refugium/mud filter Hi all!      I was finally able to pick up a 75g tank, complete with corner overflow and a 20g wet/dry filter system. Any advice on converting it over to a refugium/mud filter? Or would I just be better off removing the bioballs and replacing them with LR? <I would set this system up as either from the get-go... that is, never place the bioballs... and instead (your choice) go with the refugium with either/ and/or both the mud and LR. Bob Fenner who would use both.> (currently the tank is high and dry). Thanks again for all your advice, PF

Re: protein skimmer I would like to know if I should redesign my refugium? It is a converted wet/dry system with a 6" sand bend, 25 pounds of live rock, and hand full of Caulerpa algae with a separate pump chamber, lit with a 96 watt power quad CF. I would like to include a skimmer in my filtration design but the refugium does not have enough space for the skimmer and the tank return pump. <Perhaps try a hang-on unit affixed to the refugium?> I think I can convert the Berlin Red Sea to stand beside but you guys seem to really gun for the Euro Reef skimmer. <The Aqua-C models are excellent, too.> Can this be modified to stand beside? <I believe Euro-Reef has come out with an modification for external use of their skimmers. Do check their webpage, http://www.euro-reef.com/> Should the refugium be larger? <Hard to quantify, generally larger is better, but almost anything is better than nothing.> My tank is a 75 gallon with a plenum sand bed and 40 pounds of live rock. I have five fish, two peppermint shrimp, and an assortment of snails and crabs. I would like to balance the system out between corals and fish when the project is complete. <A difficult line to walk. The more fish, the more waste, the more potential for nuisance algae.> Is the presence of Caulerpa, live rock, and lighting all that defines a refugium? <No, a refugium can be many things. Caulerpa is just the most mass marketed version, but there are many other possibilities. Do search through www.WetWebMedia.com regarding for additional information.> Is there more to the pie that I am not aware of? <Much more> Could you direct me to a site that has some good designs? < http://www.ozreef.org/ is one of the best DIY websites.> Sorry, I just started this hobby four months ago. <No worries> Thanks in advance for your help, Scott <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: 10g Refugium Greetings! I have been looking into setting up a  10g refugium to my 45g SW tank. The only practical place I have to place this is to place it almost at the same level about a foot away... <This is fine... in fact, could be better if a few inches higher... to allow for a gravity return to your main system> Do I understand I only need to add a few inches of sand? <This is one approach> The tank is 12 in high... The total wattage should be about 30-40 watts? <Again, this is one way... there are other techniques with more light, for different purposes... but 3,4 watts per gallon will support most types of macro-algae> I have read the lights can stay on all the time or just be on at night-which is best in your opinion? <Either regimen will work. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algfiltfaq2.htm and the linked pages (in blue, above)> I plan on using a small power head to deliver the water to and from the refugium, gravity feed  is not an option right now. Other than that, just add a few crab, snail and some LR to seed it? <I wouldn't use crabs... can use LR or LS...> What is done for maintenance just trimming some macroalgae or something? Sounds too simple, I  must be missing something!   Thanks for the info Denise <Take the time to read over these issues on WWM. You have many good questions, but there may well be some other elements to consider. Bob Fenner>

- Sump/Refugium Construction & Lighting - Hi guys! <Greetings, JasonC here...> I sent this last week but haven't heard back so am assuming it may have gotten lost when I had some mail problems. I also have some questions on lighting so thought I'd add them here. SUMP/REFUGIUM: I am interested in setting up a sump/refugium for my 72g bowfront tank that I will be converting to FOWLR later this week. I have a 29g All-Glass that is not being used and would like to use this as the sump/refugium. I would like to do this without drilling the tank and have some ideas but I'm not 100% positive that they'll work and am still at a loss on a couple of things. I've checked out all of your sump FAQ's and have also checked http://www.ozreef.org/diy/index.html but none of the designs there look like they'll work for me and they don't address my concerns. I've attached a drawing of my basic design, this is a front view w/ approx measurement of a 29g. I'm figuring on just using a tube with gravity siphon to get the water from my tank to the sump which will be located in the stand below my 72g. This way the siphon can be set so that if the water in the tank gets too low it would drop below the end of the tube and would stop the siphon. The first section would be 6" wide and is where the water would enter the sump. It is also where I would place the heater and possibly the skimmer but I ordered a HOT type skimmer so am not sure if it will work here. The first divider would be glass or plexi positioned 3" from the top (this is to provide an overflow in case the water level gets too high) and 3" from the bottom of the tank. The second section would be 3" wide and would be a place for filter floss/carbon/etc and would have a plastic mesh top at a height of 8-9" to prevent the filter media from overflowing into the refugium part. The second divider would again be glass or plexi but positioned flush with the bottom (sealed) and 9" from the top of the tank. The third section would be 15" wide and would have a sand bed with live rocks and Caulerpa. The third divider would be the same as the second in position and composition. The fourth section would be 6" wide and would be the area for the return pump. So far, does this sound like it would work? <Yes.> Are there any things I should change? <Consider seriously drilling your main tank - siphon overflows are destined to fail, and if Murphy has anything to do with it, you won't be home at the time.> My major stumbling block is what to do about a return pump. I'm not sure how to do this without risking the pump pumping too fast and overflowing the main tank. <Part of the problem with using siphons - in a gravity overflow, the tank will only overflow as fast as you pump water in.> Any suggestions? <Use a valve on the output side of the pump to regulate it.> Are there any pumps on the market that have an auto shut-off so that it would shut itself off if the water in the return area dropped below a certain point? <Not that I know of, but there are water sensing devices that could probably be adapted.> LIGHTING: This 72g tank currently has the original strip light on it. It's a 48" 40w and I know I'm going to have to upgrade this. I'm not able to spend more than about $150-$200, is there anything decent I can get in this price range? <I'm sure there is, but I'm not familiar with prices, so it's hard for me to make a recommendation based on price.> I've looked at/considered several options but just can't make up my mind. One thought was to get a Helios 4 bulb/220w strip. This will run about $156. Another was to get an extra strip light that would house 2 40w bulbs and run it along with the current strip light that's on the tank. By the time I replace my current bulb this would cost about $110 (I really dislike the idea of running 2 strips on there!). And the final was to get a PC SmartLite with 2 65w bulbs which would be about $170. If necessary the SmartLight could be run along with my current strip but again I'd like to avoid 2 fixtures if at all possible. Do any of these sound sufficient or am I overlooking a better option that would work for me? <I would work the problem backwards - what is it that you want to keep, and what are its light requirements - that will necessarily move you in one direction or another.> The tank measures 48.5x18x23. Thanks for all the help! I look forward to hearing/reading your thoughts on these items. Ronni <Cheers, J -- >

Refugium Question <cheerio> Hello folks, A quick question regarding the stocking of a planned refugium. I replaced a 75gal tank with a 150gal tank, set up primarily for SPS corals and clams (MH's, strong flow, DSB, etc.). I want to use the 75 for a refugium, with significantly less light and circulation.  <neither less light nor less water flow is necessary or even recommended for refugiums. It depends on what you are growing in refugia. For a seagrass refugium, they will require more light and water flow than a typical reef for example (but has MANY benefits)> Along with a DSB and 75lbs of live rock, I planned to have mushrooms and leather corals in this tank, as both should thrive under these conditions.  <hmmm.... corals in refugiums are predators on natural plankton. The refugium in effect ceases to become a place of refuge. This tank will simply be another inline coral system. No harm here... but don't be surprised with mediocre plankton culture. Such refugia should be fishless and essentially predator-less. Heavy rubble or grasses for vegetable filtration and denitrification respectively, pod culture, etc> However, I know that these type of corals should not be housed in the same tank as one dedicated to hard corals such as SPS.  <ideally> Is the planned addition of these soft corals and mushrooms in the refugium feeding the SPS tank going to be detrimental to the health of the SPS's?  <many problems here yes... allelopathy fro the terpenoids and other noxious compounds produced by the soft coral... not top mention the reduced plankton generation for your SPS because planktivorous corals reside in the refugium> And would the use of charcoal and other chemical filters lessen the impact that the soft corals (primarily the mushrooms ?) may have on the SPS corals?  <yes... very helpful. Weekly water changes too in addition to aggressive skimming> A slow moving and lower lighted display can be beautiful, as the mushrooms and leathers (like toadstools) really shine. <agreed... a separate tank is needed here for this> Having the 75gal set up this way, along with the SPS tank would provide the best of both worlds. <alas... not compatible to long term health and growth of both groups> Thanks, Steve <best regards, Anthony>

Refugium I have just finished reading all of the Refugium & FAQ sections and although I have a much better understanding of them, I still have some questions on adding refugiums to smaller tanks. My conclusion is that the "ideal" setup for a refugium would be drilled and placed above the tank to be gravity fed down into the tank. <Correct> Unfortunately for my 30 gallon reef, I don't think either is possible. The only place the refugium can go is below the tank (space and decor restrictions), which would also limit me to a 16 gallon high, undrilled (and I have no idea how to). I would have to use an overflow on the main tank and am a little hesitant as to the reliability of them and if this would just complicate the tank for little gain. <I hate siphon overflow systems.> I wanted the benefit of having extra water volume and a place to grow Caulerpa or seagrass, but don't know if cluttering up the tank with an overflow for a 16 gallon refugium would be worth it, any thoughts? <I would choose not to have a refugium if my only option was a siphon overflow system. On the other hand, this is not your only option. You maybe able to incorporate a hang-on refugium. CPR makes several models. See if any of these cannot fit onto your tank.> Thanks in advance, Ryan Achenbach <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Quick plumbing question Hi guys, Sorry to bother you, but I wanted to get a second-opinion on what I'd done when I plumbed my refugium into my sump.  I have a pump that pushes water from my sump into the refugium and then it overflows back into my sump.  I've pulled power on this and it presented no problems.  I did have the refugium return just pouring into my sump from about 8" above. This was noisy and REALLY increased the humidity level inside my aquarium stand.  So to counter this, I added a piece of PVC tubing that extends down below the water level of my sump.  There is probably 12"+ height difference between the two water levels (the refugium being  higher).  I figured that the bulkhead overflow would provide air to prevent the tubing from acting as a reverse siphon or anything.  Does all of this sound safe to you?  As I write this, I'm thinking that I should just temporarily cut the power to everything to make sure.  All the same, please affirm/warn me of what I've done.  Thanks! John <I am trying to picture this, I think I've got it.  The refugium overflows into the sump, and there is a pump in the sump returning water to the refugium?  Sounds good to me as long as the return is either higher than the overflow, or has a small hole drilled in it at the same level as the overflow to break the siphon in the chance of a power failure.  -Gage>

Refugium Hello, how are you doing today? <<I am well, and you?>> Okay, we are building a refugium, and we have read numerous times on wetweb that 100% silicon is what should be used as an adhesive. <<OK.>> We have gone to Home Depot, and they have told us not to use any of the silicone products if they are going to be used with an aquarium. Would you be able to tell us a name or brand of adhesive that we could buy? <<Hmmm... they should have at least one. The key word you are looking for is "100% silicone" or "pure silicone". Check the product blurb on the container. If there is mention of algaecides or mildewcides, put it back on the shelf. If all else fails, All Glass, the company that makes many of the glass tanks in the US also sells the silicone they use on their tanks. It's available in toothpaste tubes as well as caulking tubes. You will likely need to contact your LFS or All Glass to get this stuff in bulk.>> Also, do you have any tips on cutting plexi glass?  <<Make sure you get blades specifically for cutting plastics. This will give you a nice, chip-free edge on all your cuts without burning or melting. Also, take your time. Or what is that Norm says, "Measure twice, cut once.">> Thank you for any information that you can provide. Marci =*) <<You are quite welcome. Cheers, J -- >>

Refugium Steven : Thank you for the fast reply! I believe I can make a support out of 1/4" glass to support the refugium so it won't be sitting on top of the sump. I will use 4 pieces of glass the width of the refugium and run them vertically under the refugium to the sump bottom and glue them to 2 pieces of 1/4 glass one under the vertical pieces and one on top, this will sit in the sump and the refugium will sit on this. What do you think? <Frankly, it still makes me nervous. I would build something out of wood before using glass.> Also, tonight I had LFS double check my nitrates, they also said they were 0! They seemed very surprised too. I have a few more questions, what kind and size of sand should I use in the refugium? Is CaribSea Seaflor Special Grade reef sand good or should I use Agar-alive Special Grade reef sand? <I prefer the sugar size grain sand.> I have one nice feather duster that just came out of one of the new rocks that is waiting to go into display tank should I add DT's live marine phytoplankton to the tank or anything else for this to eat? <You may want to experiment with this, but most of the small hitchhiker feather dusters seem to grow well with no direct feedings.> Also it still is a good idea to remove bio balls? <Yes> Thank you very much: Pat <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Sump/Refugium Hi Bob: Thanks a lot for all your help over the past several months, this is one of the few sites I visit anymore. I have several questions on sumps with a refugium above that I am planning on building. I have a 125 gallon FOWLR tank, a 30 gallon sump with bio balls, a Eheim 1060 and a Hagen 402 powerhead to return water to the tank. <I would strongly suggest something larger as your return pump. Something in the neighborhood of 1200 gph at your head/height.> Also hanging on the sump a Turboflotor multi skimmer. I have about 60 lbs of coral rock, 50 lbs of Tonga live rock, another 80 lbs of Fiji live rock from FFE bought cured but curing in a separate tank for about 2 weeks know. Ammonia in this curing tank went off the chart for 2 to 3 days after adding rock, but was back to 0 in 6 days! I am waiting to add to display until I get a new sump and refugium built. I should say all water parameters are good. pH 8.3 - 8.4 Ammonia - 0 Nitrites-0 Nitrates are 0 or so low you can't see any color change in the test. Cal. 390 - 430, KH 11-14, phosphates .25 to .50. I use C-Balance almost daily for cal. and kH. and a little raises iodide by Seachem twice weekly and Tech-M by Kent Marine once weekly. Fish are 1 purple tang 3"-4", 1 flame angel, 2 Firefish, 1 cleaner goby, 1 bluesided fairy wrasse 3 1/2," 1 blue damsel, 1 tomato clown, 1 royal Gramma, 1 cleaner shrimp, 2 peppermint shrimp, 25 or so snails, 20 hermits (some red legs, some blue legs, a few black and white striped legs). I change 30 gallons of water a month, 15 gallons every two weeks. Reasons to build new sump. 1 Increase water flow, Eheim is rated at 600 gph. I should say I have 3 power heads in the tank I would like to remove. <Yes, agreed.> 2. Remove Bio Balls. Everything I read on your site and others say bio balls will cause high nitrates, mine are 0 or very low. How long will that take. My tank is up since November 01. <Should be showing up now. Just to be safe, have your LFS double check the nitrates for you.> 3. Want to get a constant water level for skimmer! <This should vastly improve performance.> 4. Also maybe grow some macro for the tang. <Another good idea.> Here is my ideas. New sump 31 gallon Rubbermaid container 32" L x 20" W x 17" H water flows into filter sock, in area 10.5" W x 6" L then flow into skimmer area which is 10.5" W x 12" L then flow into the other part of the sump which will have a few baffles 2"-3" H for carbon, also 2 heaters then before water gets pumped back to the tank under a high baffle through a sponge. Thinking of using a Gorman Rupp pump # 518 @ 1100 gph for return. Now my idea for refugium a 12 gallon tub 20" L x 14" W x 12" H sitting width wise on top of the sump. <I do not know if the Rubbermaid totes are strong enough to support the weight of another filled with water. I think it would buckle out from the weight.> Water enters back 1/2 by a separate overflow with a ball valve to regulate how much water enters the refugium. Water exits front 1/2 through 1" bulk head at the top. Now the questions. 1. Should the water out of the refugium flow back to the skimmer section or anywhere in the sump before the sponge filter? <Actually, best to flow back after the sponge filter.> Is it all right to flow back to the skimmer section? <You want to minimize the removal or destruction of plankton.> 2. In the refugium would it be better to put a 1" plenum with sand bed or just 4" of live sand? <I just use the livesand, no plenum.> Any difference? Also, live rock and macro algae. I'm a little leery about Macro algae because of the information on your site about it going asexual. <Supposedly, lighting 24/7 will prevent that.> Also, pruning back can this happen by just putting a rock in the main tank for the tang to eat some off, then put back in the refugium? <Yes, that should be fine.> Is there anything that I am missing or doing wrong? <I am leery of using the Rubbermaid tubs the way you described.> Thank you very much, Pat P.S. Did I tell you your book is the best I have every read. I recommend it to any one I talk to at the local fish store. Sorry for the long e-mail! <Have a nice day. -Steven Pro>

More Questions My wife informed me last night that my larger tank and refugium plans are going to be delayed a little while. My wife thinks that since my daughter starts college next week and the big check needs to be in the mail, my plans can wait, reluctantly, I must agree.  <as I do too... a better cause :)> Sigh . . . Anyway, I can still add the second smaller refugium and I think I will go with the sea grass version and miracle mud that you recommended. However, I have a couple of questions/concerns.  <there are many other refugium styles too... do experiment> First, I do not have a large area to place the refugium in, but I can go higher. Do you see any problems with a 20 gallon high, 20 gallon hex, or a 35 hex aquarium for a refugium?  <taller the better for seagrasses!> The LFS told me that I will have circulation problems in the taller, narrower tank.  <that's ridiculous... any vessel can have proper flow applied with due diligence and experimentation... what kind of capitalists are they?!?! They should have sold you a bigger pump ...heehee> The LFS also said that he was not sure that two 13 watt 65k PC bulbs would provide enough lighting for the sea grass on the bottom of the tank because of the depth. Do you agree?  <on that I strongly agree... a single halide would be nice (can be daylight colored and cheap construction DIY kit> Please note that the refugium will be next to a window and I do not think lighting will be the problem, but I do want your opinion.  <the natural sunlight will be a GREAT help especially if it is South or East facing> the second question; Should I drain the new refugium into the sump of my main tank and use a return pump from the sump back? Or should I use a small powerhead mounted in the 75 to push water into the refugium and drain it back to the sump or the main tank? The new refugium will set about 4"-6" from the main tank. Wouldn't it be better if the refugium drained into the main tank so that small critters would have less pump action to deal with?  <yes... this latter placement is my favorite> I do not know how to best accomplish this without a bunch of ugly powerheads in my main tank.  <sump feeds refugium which overflows to display which overflows to sump> I am also fed up with killer powerheads. I have killed more critters with powerheads than all the disease and other problems I have had combined (I am smarting a little bit, last night a powerhead killed one of my favorite clowns).  <bio-balls or pvc tees on the intakes prevent snail/fish deaths but don't become biological> I am looking for a better way to return water from my sump.  <a single large pump and a proper overflow (large) is the best overall... see here for the many ancillary possibilities: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/plumbingmarart.htm> I do not want to drill my current sump since I am planning an upgrade and have plans for it. Do you know of an external pump or pump design that would work by starting or maintaining a siphon over the top of the sump wall?  <that is honestly a dangerous and flawed design that I would not recommend under any circumstance... I wouldn't want to sleep in that house: fire/flood hazard :)> If I could do this, I would never use a powerhead again except mixing salt.  <agreed for so many other reasons. Powerheads are generally junk> Sorry I switched subjects on you but both are a concern. Thanks again for all your help, I read your comments every day. <best regards, Anthony>

Tank Expansion I would like to expand my system while maintaining my existing reef tank as is. What I would like to do is add a 55 gallon sump and a second 75 gallon or larger tank to my existing 75 gallon and 29 gallon refugium/sump. What I would like to do is drill two holes through the floor into the basement, then locate the two new tanks downstairs with the larger tank above the 55 with an external pump returning water to the upstairs 75 and the refugium (also located upstairs).  <as in two separate return feeds? tricky, but possible. It would be much better to have one slightly higher than the other and have a continuous gravity feed through all display (upstairs and down) straight down to the sump> The head would be around 14' (plus (5) 90 degree elbows) with a horizontal run of about 23'.  <that adds up to at least 22' of head for you to consider> What kind of pump would you recommend? Would you use more than one?  <for tried and true: a single large Iwaki with a plumbed backup waiting inline (but shutoff). Ampmasters are another brand that have nice specs on paper> I was thinking I could use 1 1/4" PVC pipe from upstairs as a return to the 55 sump. I could then use a 1" discharge for a return. I would use a submersible pump for the return to the larger tank mounted above the sump (downstairs). Does this sound like it would work to you?  <nope... beyond the logistical complication of a two-return system, a submersible pump large enough to handle that kind of head will add a scary amount of heat to the water> I would also like to make part of the 55 into a refugium similar to what I did with the 29 I have now. What are your thoughts on this?  <Syringodium manatee seagrass would be awesome here... many benefits to it as a refugium. Whatever you choose, though, PLEASE do not use Caulerpa... an awful thing to do to a coral system on a larger scale> I would install acrylic baffles inside the 55 to make the refugium. Would you add any live rock to the sump (if so how much?)  <optional... may not be necessary> or just use Home Depot sand or Aragonite sand with maybe a little live sand added?  <probably also unnecessary with two upstream refugiums planned. Leave it empty to act as a sediment/settling chamber (siphon detritus periodically)> Another concern is during the winter it can get very cold where I live (Wyoming). Sometimes during the winter my basement can cool off into the low 60's and stay there for weeks. Other than several heaters installed in the sump how would you recommend I heat the tanks during the cooler months?  <insulate where possible and add a titanium drop in or a flow through heater> I also plan on using metal halide lighting which I know will help. Also, 150 gallons of warm water should help my basement temperature stay up a little. My wife looks at me like I am crazy but I think this will work. Thanks in advance for all your help. <it sounds awesome my friend. Go slow, but go for it! Kind regards, Anthony Calfo>

Need Plumbing advice for refugium, will this work? Hi Bob, <<Greetings Gary, I'm not Bob, but JasonC here visiting with Bob.>> While cycling my 125 FOWLR tank, I got interested in adding a refugium. I remembered that I have a 38 high tank in storage that pretty much matches up with the height of the 125. I'm planning on putting it next to the 125,and enjoying the expanded display. I have 3 different pumps going out from my 125,so I figure the return from one of them would be perfect for transferring water to the refugium. <<Mmm, without reading on, I can tell you quickly this plan is flawed. You should always rely on gravity to move water from one system to the next, rather than using pumps. If one of the two pumps were to fail, you would end up emptying the one system into the other and then on to the floor.>> My main question is how to flow the water back into the 125. I was looking at overflow boxes, but they seem to be designed mainly for sending water down to a sump, so they don't seem like a viable solution for returning water to an adjacent tank. <<and for the design you've laid out, they would mean certain disaster.>> Then I started thinking that an overflow is nothing more than 2 boxes with a siphon tube between them. Would I be able to just put a couple of U tubes between the tanks and have the tanks equalize the water, and return the pumped water back into the original tank? <<Siphons rely on gravity, so with the two tanks side-by-side, this wouldn't work so well, you would need to maintain a lower-than-normal water level in the second tank to keep the siphon running.>> If this works, should the tanks be the same height or should the refugium be slightly higher? <<the refugium should be on the floor, and you should rely on gravity to fill it.>> If this won't work, can you suggest an alternative method? <<it's already in there.>> Also, what is the ideal turnover rate for a refugium. <<most often the flow through would be the same for the system, but the design of the refugium would allow a settling area for detritus to fall out of suspension.>> I'm all pumped about the refugium, but get a little confused with siphoning setups. <<Well, I hope I've helped.>> TIA for any help! Gary Nesmith <<You are quite welcome. Cheers, J -- >>

More on Refugium Anthony I thank you for the great info.  <quite welcome> Bryan here and sorry to keep bothering you. Clearing up on the proper glue for the acrylic baffles to the glass tank, you said silicone may not be the best.. do you have any input on what is a good product to use?  <buy acrylic glue wherever you buy your stock acrylic, and use silicone for glass on glass only> Back to the refugium.. w/ it I want to help w/ denitrification and increase the overall health of the tank by having the LR and algae and DSB. <LR does little for this in small refugia...algae is problematic for this dedicated purpose... DSB is best for denitrification> W/ this in mind I'm assuming just the two chambers are needed in the refugium? If I raise the refugium slightly higher than the sump, I can run a small submersible pump up to the refugium into chamber #1 containing DSB, LR and Algae, flow over a baffle into chamber # 2 where an overflow hole is located and allowing gravity to pull water back into the sump. Does this sound right or am I still off.  <would work fine> W/ the overflow hole, what dimensions should it be ( 1")?  <depends on pump desired/needed and purpose of refugium... it sounds like you are making this watt too complicated, bud> and what to use to gravity pull into the sump from the overflow.. (pvc or flex line tubing)  <little difference...depends on needs of application, nothing I can answer remotely> <as high as safely can be drilled> in a 16" 20 gal tank how high should the overflow hole be located. I was thinking of putting the baffle at about10-12" (is this to high).  <not high enough... wasted space, and I wouldn't have two chambers... just too complicated for little or no gain> Should 150-200 gph in the refugium be enough?  <sounds close...perhaps a bit modest if you want plants/grasses> Sorry for so many questions, getting excited to get the project under way and don't want to screw it up to bad. Thanks again Bryan <again...keep it simple. It sounds like you are thinking too hard and complicated about it all... do enjoy the journey. Anthony>

Sump filter hi sorry to bother u again my questions about a sump filter I've designed one and hopefully will work it a tank 36x18x15 its has 1 chamber with filter floss/sponge for physical filtration it then drops in to tank and is pumped up through beast skimmer which outputs in to drip tray on trickle tower which is 12x10x15 and I want to fill it half with Eheim substrat and bio balls, is this ok <Should be. I would leave off with the bio-balls, just use the Eheim Substrat> chamber 3 is a 15x4 bed of coral gravel chamber 4 is a mix of poly filter and clear water then it goes to chamber 5 heated passed through Quiksand qsa-1 filter its then pumped up via eheim1060 pump I will have 1060 pump powering beast will this set up work ok or can u suggest a better media set up my tank is 100gal and the sump will be feed by auto siphon boxes as well as the sump I will also use a Eheim 2217 and a Fluval 304 pump .I've seen a ozonizer with a uplift tube its meant to be safe to use do u recommend its usage <Not at this point. Set up the rest and see what you get> also I will be using a 25watt U.V on this system. thank you for the advice its most appreciated. Craig brown <Lots of gear here and maintenance to go with it. Do try this out for now... perhaps a few to several months from now you'll try out a more "biological" approach (live rock, lighting, macro-algae...). Please read over the "Sump" and "Refugium" sections on WetWebMedia.com for more background, input. Bob Fenner>

Sump & Refugium combination Design I have a 125 gallon reef tank with 20 gallon sump which I set up from scratch 6 mos. ago. I had encountered a lot of problems, and found a lot of solutions by reading your Wet Web Media Daily Questions & Answers. <Mmm, no need to just read the dailies, please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sumprffiltfaqs.htm and the Refugium FAQs linked beyond> I am planning set up a sump & refugium combination due to limited cabinet space of my aquarium. My supplier, Custom Aquatic, do customize orders, but I need your help to figure out the proper design to provide a good water flow. <Lots of possibilities here> I hope you can spare some time and share your expert idea. <Yes, there is time> Thank you for your kind assistance. Ferdinand Santos <Be chatting, and reading my friend. Bob Fenner>

Comments/questions (mainly re marine refugium) Well Bob. . . about two weeks ago my computer crashed and the following day I noticed my fish (saltwater) were hiding a little too much. I decided the problem was Amyloodinium (velvet) because the fish were breathing hard, lethargic, and looked a little furry.  <Does sound like it> To make a long painful story short, I lowered the spg, raised the temp to 85 degrees, removed the live rock and began a copper treatment (concentration .003). The following morning the new yellow tang was dead. The next day all fish died. Most of which were at least 2.5 years old. I had never lost a fish since setting up the tank but one new addition, the tang, destroyed my aquarium. NOW I HAVE A QUARANTINE TANK!! I hope this will inspire others to spend $30 and get a quarantine tank. <Yes my friend. Sorry to read of your losses.> That tank (a 36 gallon) has been converted to a fancy goldfish tank. <Ah! Actually a huge evolutionary step for you! I do believe that most aquarists start and after going through oddballs, saltwater in its various manifestations... and if they're lucky, smart, true enough... back to (fancier) goldfish...> However, the custom tank that I had drilled (100 gallon acrylic) came back from the shop during this time. The dimensions are 60''x18''x20'' and includes two built-in overflows that I need to install. Question: 1) Is Teflon tape really enough sealant for the plumbing? I was thinking of using Teflon and maybe aquarium silicon. The bulkheads are threaded. <Skip the Teflon and go with a smear of 100% silicone on the inner threads, and maybe a swipe on gaskets on both sides... if any are being used> 2) This will be a reef tank with a macroalgae sump. I am going to build a sump from a Rubbermaid container and partition it into 3 sections. The first containing the skimmer, then the macroalgae and then the return and heaters. How much water movement do I need?  <In the middle part about one turn over per hour... two, three at most, really... the whole bit though, could use 8-10 turns... some of the reasoning behind utilizing separate sumps> I'm thinking of teeing the two overflows and teeing the two returns and using one system pump that will move about 1200 gph with powerheads inside the tank. The guy at the fish store says my sump will be like a Jacuzzi with that much flow! <Yes... you could run some/much of the return water twixt the tank and last part of the sump... maybe move the skimmer to that part or the middle (moving the refugium to slot one... and only dripping water into the first third> 3) When partitioning the sump, should I a graduate each partition? You know . . the first partition the highest, the second partition lower than the first. <Yes, especially if a given depth is necessary for the skimmer function, and to optimize volume for the refugium> 4) What material should I use to partition the sump with? I'm thinking about egg crate without the holes but I don't think it's strong enough to keep water from bending it. <How much will the tub bend... fill and see. I'd use silicone and either acrylic sheet pieces or PVC sheet...> 5) Eheim doesn't make a pump that provides more than 600 gph. What other pump would you suggest? In-line or submersible is ok but it must be quiet, energy efficient and run cool. <Look at the new Dolphin submersible series if going under... or their emersed ones are what I'd use.> Thanks Bob. David Dowless <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Refugium Hi Mr. Fenner, 1 2-parted question today concerning refugiums; first, I am changing my entire filter system to an eco system with miracle mud style refugium. Tank is 100 gallons, my refugium sump will be 30" x 12" x 18", which is the size recommended in the eco system brochure at my supplier. The problem is he is trying to get me to spend what I think is over the hill to light this sump. How much wattage would you recommend for lighting. <Just a few watts... of even just normal output, "regular" fluorescents... 1,2,3 watts per gallon is fine... either on all the time (best), alternating with main/display system lighting...> The sump will have 20lbs. of Miracle Mud, and Caulerpa. Second; tell me how this plumbing setup sounds; the overflow will drain via a pipe down into the basement to my main sump to handle the flow at full pressure, and as a catch place incase of power failure, but on the way down this pipe will branch of with a smaller dia. tube into my miracle mud refugium above the main sump, controlled by a valve for flow rate, <Good idea to have the valve> to do the filtering, then exit, and continue down to mix back into the main flow in the main sump, all to be returned to the main display tank together. In other words, 1 big loop, with my refugium being a little loop hooked up in parallel to the main loop. <Well-stated> Also would it be good to add LR to this eco system style refugium, or maybe throw some in the main sump?, <I would place some in both> or it's not needed with this type of setup. The store guy says I don't need anything else except the Caulerpa. I think I should trust him, his store is dedicated to saltwater reef tanks, and he has many big tanks setup with only the mud, and macroalgae filtering, and the tanks look great, and healthy. Talk to ya soon, Greg N. <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Convert a wet/dry to a Sump/Refugium I have a 72 gallon tank w overflow on one side. The tank has 2 holes cut out on the bottom - 1 that goes into the wet dry (Amiracle) and the other is a return hooked up to my Rio powerhead. I am going to silicon a piece of plastic to separate the power head from where the bio balls used to be. I am going to add Aragamax Oolithic Select Sand:0.5-1.02 mm live sand or Aragamax Sugar-Sized Sand: 0.2 - 1.2mm diameter to the bottom of the wet dry about 2 inches. On top of that I will add some live rock and some algae. <Sounds like you've been thinking, investigating here for a while> The Rio powerhead is a 2500 and it about 4 feet below the tank. Please see attached word doc for full pic and pic of actual wetdry (except mine does not have the extra plastic separator - that is what I am going to add and it does not have the external overflow.) The red indicates = what I plan to do Blue indicates water. Please answer these 2 questions and any other insight you have. 1-Will this setup slow down the flow of water too much. If so what should I change? <No to slowing down water flow too much... should be fine with the arrangement, pump you have> 2-Is the sand choice ok? <Yes... might want to build a series of "baffles" along with the plastic separator and silicone you already plan... to aid the sand staying in place...> Thanks a million. Brad <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Re: Convert a wet/dry to a Sump/Refugium Thanks - you're the 'fish'. Sorry to bother you again :( Re. Silicone/Plastic separator - What is the minimum I can wait before I add water?? <A day, 24 hours> What is you're recommended - I want a second opinion from the manufactures. The smaller the sand the better in a Sump/Refugium?? <Not necessarily... depends on what is "elsewhere", your desires... like is the substrate to help add alkalinity, biominerals? Maybe to act in part as a denitrator? Or is this all to be "done" somehow else> What critters should I put in sump?? <I would just place a few small pieces of live rock...> What is the minimum number of inches I should fill it with sand??? <Minimum? A couple> Is it better to have many small pieces of LR or a few big ones in my sump??? <Smaller> Sorry to have so many follow-up questions :( Thanks :) Brad <Read the WWM site over on these topics. Bob Fenner>

Refugiums Hi Bob, I am interested in setting up a 20 gallon live rock/plant refugium for my 75 gallon FO tank. From your book, I understand the refugium is to be pretty much left alone for the most benefit. I have a 5-gallon sump with built-in skimmer, filter pad and Siporax beads. I also have a UV sterilizer hanging on the sump. My question is, how do I plumb the refugium to my tank and existing sump?  <You can, but...> I want to make sure there are no floods.  <I agree... so something in the way of "equalizing boxes" like are used to convey water from systems to filter sumps are called for... if using more than one sump/refugium... at different heights/levels...> Also, is vigorous water movement to be avoided in the refugium?  <By and large, yes> Also, can I keep a few small fish in the refugium?  <Generally not desirable... as even a very small fish will eat much, most of the small crustaceans, worms... that you want to foster there> Thanks so much for your help. I have written to you before and your advice has always been right-on. J. Turco >> <Thank you for writing... Maybe take a look over the "Get thee to a refugium" piece I have stored: Home Page for a bit more on the topic. Bob Fenner> 

Refugium Stuff Bob, Thanks for the great advice! A couple of follow-ups: What is the purpose of moving the sand to the sump?  <A few things... in terms of utility, just ease of manipulation... much easier on you and your livestock to have it there rather than the main/display system> If it's not in the tank why do I need to have it at all? Is it to help in buffering? Filtration? As a place to anchor the Caulerpa? All of the above? <You got it> If I use a Rubbermaid container as a sump (as you recommend) would you recommend putting the sand in a separate container and have it sitting in the sump (to keep it clear of any live rock, the protein skimmer, or additional filtration)?  <Yes, ideally... a tray sort of arrangement... set up as a plenum within.> How would you light the sump for good Caulerpa growth and would you leave the lights on 24/7?  <An inexpensive compact fluorescent... check around the large Hardware Stores... and yes, either reverse photoperiod with your main tank, or continuously lit> Finally, which canister filter (brand/size) would you recommend to put in the sump for the Siporax, PolyFilter, etc.? <My choice? Hands down an Eheim product... the larger the better... 2100, 2200 series... a very good investment... mail order... low power consumption, very reliable, quiet...> Thanks again for all of your help! Michael Krogman >> <You're welcome. Bob Fenner>

Do you have any good instructions on building a sump I really don't even know what one is.  <Hmm, no... most any chemically inert container that is easy to cut/drill, modify... larger, flatter vs. tall is fine> Also I have read this on your site but would like a little more info on it....my feather duster lost his head. In addition upon releasing it, the head floated over and landed on my open brain coral, I was gonna remove it but the open brain started devouring it! I have some pics kewl pics of it!). The feather duster now hangs all the way out of the tube like he's gonna fall out but then pulls back in. How long do you think it will be before he regrows the duster. Again, thanks again for your timely response. <Maybe a few weeks...> btw- I spread the knowledge you provide with friends. Joe >> <Ah, great to hear of it. Bob Fenner>

Goby from Canada again ... (refugium) Hello again from Canada Bob... <Hi Bob-in-Canada, Lorenzo Gonzalez here, still standing in for Bob-in-Indonesia, 'til he becomes Bob-in-California again...> Actually I might as well tell you what I was thinking could be a refugium.... Simply a sump with lights and life? <Pretty much. If cost is no object, a refugium can be as beautiful as your main tank... of course if it's hidden in cabinetry, there's little point.> That being said I was thinking... A container say... 20 to 30 gallons (min?)... more if you say, for the 108 gallon. With 8 inches of crushed coral in the bottom (anything beneath the coral?) and just a few pounds (say 20) of live rock. <29 to 55 gallons would be fine - one can purchase a 55 gallon glass tank for less than $USD60 here in Michigan... 8 inches of substrate is definitely overkill. Remember the water level in the refugium will be relatively low compared to the show tank, to compensate for overflow/balance. And consider adding a plenum. > Covered with lights. A simple pump to move the water to and from the sump? Maybe a stop switch? <No to the 'to-the-sump' pump, overflow must handle this task. You only use a 'return-to-the-main-tank' pump. Yes to the lights, but not necessarily as much as your main system. A rack of standard outputs, or a medium-sized/output power compact... You won't be growing corals or clams in there...> Now where and how do I get these life forms? How do I know if I am growing the right algae? <You want a bunch of different Caulerpas and/or Halimedas growing in there. Some snails, a handful of small scarlet or blue-leg hermits, bunch of live rock, and no fish. If you can't find them at your LFS, try mail/internet order.> How long will it take before the Goby will get live food from this source? <Uhh. Hate to say it. Unless you start with some seriously nice live rock, and gobs of healthy algae, it'll be weeks before that fish has much in the way of live food. I never recommend these fish for a tank less than a year old...> I am new to Salt water setups (kinda) but have had fresh water for 10 years now. <Welcome to the Marine world! Many others eventually make the same transition. Eventually, with some patience and perseverance, you'll discover that a big balanced reef system is less work than most freshwater aquariums, due to bio-diversity and internal eco-balances.> Oh ya... I fresh water dipped the Goby and did not quarantine him since I have no other fish. Do Goby's need a Cleaner Wrasse? <Cleaner Wrasses are a big no-no in Bob's book, read about them on the site. Go with shrimp or cleaner Gobies instead. For food, do try to get the Mandarin to eat some frozen mix, like 'Formula One' or 'Brine Shrimp Plus' - barring that, you can resort to live brine, which has many drawbacks, but many of these pretty little guys will eat. Better than starving to death, which is what happens to probably 90% of the Mandarins purchased by 'impatient' hobbyists...> Ok I think I have asked enough for tonight :) <What part of Canada do you live in? Regards, Lorenzo>

Re: Goby from Canada again ... I live in Montreal.... Kinda... I just got back from The Netherlands and since I had to moving figured I would restart my aquarium as Salt this time... as is the case with most freshwater aquarists I always wanted Saltwater. I have not seen Goby for a few days now. I think he might have gotten eaten. You will never believe this but... We found a 3 inch crab that managed to come with the Live rock. Some of the pieces were over 20 pounds each so I guess he was hiding in there some where. We were going to keep him but until we see goby if that crab shows his face again he is out. I will put him into the quarantine tank I just setup. Do you think that an ocean crab like that would pose a danger to the fish that currently inhabit the tank? <Yes. A crab this large will catch and eat almost any small fish that is likely to swim right past... get rid of him.> Now that I am finding all this great info on the net I wish I could start over. I would get a bigger tank and stand... so that I could incorporate a better refugium. <That's how that always works out, isn't it? :-) > Thanks for your info. Oh ya.... So eight inches is too much... how many then? 3 like my main tank? should I incorporate a skimmer in the refugium? I don't know if I have enough space.  <3-4 inches is fine. Then a pile of live rock over that... adding a skimmer to the sump is a good way to augment a smaller hang-on-tank skimmer already on the main system, if that's the case.> I have determined (without a custom tank) I can fit a 27 gallon tank under the left side of the stand. The right side has 2 shelves if I really need a little more space I could drill a hole. On the top shelf the ballast and heat sink is currently there. <Sounds good. Check out maybe the Urchin skimmer from AquaC, small, in-sump skimmer, easy to find space for. -regards, Lorenzo.> Catch you later, Robert Jackson

Refugium set up <Hi Brad, Lorenzo Gonzalez playing-Bob, while he's underwater somewhere in Asia 'til mid-June> Hi Bob, hope you are enjoying your extended weekend, so I will try to be brief. I am setting up a new refugium for my 90 gal. reef. I am using an old 70 gal tank as my refugium and dividing the tanks as follows: 3/4 of the tank will be refugium, the other 1/4 filter equipment, etc. But my question is in regards to excess bubbles. My display tank is on the main floor of the house and I am drilling holes in the floor to the basement were the refugium/sump is to be placed along with the skimmer, pumps, heaters, etc. The drop is about 8-9 feet from the over flow of the display tank to the bottom of the refugium/sump. Is this going to produce enough bubbles to become problematic?  <You might build a bubble trap of large PVC pipe or acrylic walls, down in your sump, if this proves to be a real issue. Look at www.ozreef.org to see how DIY skimmers are put together, you'll likely be constructing a similar contraption.> Will this cause all the CO2 to be driven off? I have been reading that too many bubbles is to be avoided in the refugium.  <Yeah, nobody likes too many bubbles. Don't worry too much about the C02, though.> Also, I am using two return pumps a Rio 2500 and a MagDrive 5 trying to avoid purchasing a new one. Is the PSI factor for the return height going to be too high for the return pumps to handle? <I SERIOUSLY doubt the Rio will last long at that head, if it pushes it at all. Not sure about the Mag. I'd start looking at a new Eheim or similar (though Bob will strongly champion the Eheim!)> Keep up the GREAT information on WetWebMedia.com! I have referred to  this site almost as much as your book! <He'll be glad to hear that. (I keep all the emails I'm answering for him to audit when he can)><<No need Zo... they're more than fine... Good solid information, delivered with grace and a wry sense of wit, reason and com/passion... very glad to say/see we agree so often/much. Bob Fenner>>

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