FAQs about Refugium Designs
Related Articles: Get Thee To A Refugium by Bob
What They're For And How To Build Them by Forrest
Phillips, Pressure Locking Sump
Baffles; Welcome to the World of Versatility! By Joshua
Systems, Reef Set-Up, Refugiums, Reef
Filtration, Marine System
Plumbing, Fish-Only Marine
Set-up, FOWLR/Fish and
Invertebrate Systems, Reef
Systems, Coldwater Systems, Small Systems, Large
Related FAQs: Refugium Designs 1, Refugium Designs 2, Refugium Designs 3, Refugium Designs 4, Refugium Design 5, Refugium Design 6, Refugium Design 7, Refugium Design 8, Refugium Design 9, Refugiums 10, Refugium Design 11, Refugium Design 12, Refugium Design 13, Refugium Design 14, Refugium Design 16, & Refugiums 1, Refugiums 2, Refugiums 3, Refugiums 4, Refugiums 5, Refugiums 6, Refugiums 7, Refugiums 8, Refugiums 9, Refugiums 10, Refugiums 11, Refugiums 12, Refugiums 13, Refugiums 14, Refugium
Rationale, Construction, Hang-on types, Pumps/Circulation, Lighting, Operation, Algae, Livestock, DSBs, & Caulerpa, Marine System Plumbing, Holes & Drilling 1,
Durso Standpipes, Overflow Boxes, Bubble Trouble, Plumbing Noise, Make Up Water Systems,
Set-Up, Micro-Crustaceans, Amphipods, Copepods, Mysids, Algal
Filtration in General, Mud
Refugium help, set-up
Dear Bob Fenner et al ,
<Hello Art, Scott V. with you today.>
I have a 45gl. reef aquarium with what was a Pro Aquatics Wet/Dry
The filter is 19 1/2L"x15 1/2"deep x8"w and all plastic
balls were removed as soon as I found out that it was a nitrate
factory. I was sold a system that was a bit outdated. I use this small
sump as a filter. The left side of this sump has a 350gph Mag3 pump and
a small pump for an Aqua pure Denitrator (med). The middle section has
a rectangular filter sponge that separates the lower middle section
from the left section that is the return flow to the tank. The top of
the mid-section has the standard thin blue filter pad and under this I
have a carbon pad or phosphate pad that is in a plastic tray. The
middle of the mid-section used to contain the bioballs .
The right side contains a 200 micron filter sock with a bag of
Chemipure Elite filter bag to remove phosphates and silicates, a small
bag of carbon, and a bag of Al-Gone.
I would like some recommendations for a refugium . I do not have room
for a hang on refugium . I am looking for a separate appropriately
sized glass or acrylic tank or refugium . Any help you could give me
would be appreciated.
<Well, the first criteria in my mind is how big can you fit?>
I would like to keep the plumbing and pumps simple. I do not want to go
to a double over flow box.
<You can simply split your existing overflow line in two and run one
to the refugium, then have the refugium overflow (drill, glass or
acrylic) back into the sump return pump section.>
<Welcome, Scott V.>
Diy refugium 5/10/09
<Service to you!>
Please pardon my ignorance and point me in the right direction. I have
someone who will build me a sump/refugium and I need your help.
Here's the deal:
I have a 90 gallon FOWLR tank and want to add a 30 gallon
The tank is not drilled and the sump will need to sit next to it (the
90 gallon is on a retaining wall, not a stand..long story there..).
Anyway, I am interested in doing a closed loop system at the same time.
Your site is awesome in its content, but I am a bit overwhelmed now. I
just would like a simple diagram and parts list to accomplish my goal.
As I learn more about fish keeping, I would like to expand.
But, for now, just having a decent set up will take me far.
Is it possible to do what I want, within the confines of my space?
<Yes... to have a 30 gal. sump/refugium adjacent to a 90...>
There is no way to put the sump under the tank, so I'm assuming the
gravity fed thing is out of the question.
<Mmm, no, not at all... the thirty is lower than the 90... and
pumping water out of the 30 will make the water levels more different
still... you just need sufficient diameter/sized overflows on the
Do you have such a diagram?
<Perhaps others have supplied such... I don't have the time,
inclination to look for you. Please peruse the files on plumbing sumps,
refugiums... the second tray here:
And likely a bit further down, the articles and FAQs files on plumbing,
I am only keeping fish at this point. (BTW, I used your suggestions and
successfully moved 5 Chromis, 1 Cardinal, 1 Gramma, 1 Yellow Tang, 1
Ocellaris Clown and 2 Yellow tailed Damsel, 900 miles in a 30 gallon
Coleman cooler! Thanks)
(formerly in AZ, now in N CA)
<Much cooler... and hilly! Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Refugium Configuration - Simple Setup vs.
Combining Approaches 4/11/09
I've read through all the refugium articles and FAQ's, but I
wanted your opinion on my future sump/refugium configuration in regards
to combining or separating macro algae, live rock, DSB & plenum.
Most of the info is discussed in isolation and not really as an
implemented, mixed or combined solution.
You have excellent information on the topic, I'm just explaining
why I'm asking my question and that I
explored all the published info before writing you.
My current setup consists of a well established 120 gallon marine tank
with 180 lbs of live rock (setup about 8 years). No corals -- just fish
(small hippo tang, flame angel, pair of true Percs, lawnmower blenny
& 3 blue/green chromis) and one rose BTA. My current sump &
refugiums are in the mechanical room underneath my aquarium room. I
have a 20 gal sump, a 30 gal refugium & a 20 gal refugium all tied
together. The 30 gal refugium has Chaeto and a handful of LR chunks on
top of a 6' DSB with plenum. The 20 gal refugium just has Chaeto
with no sand or LR at all -- bare bottom. Circulation to main tank is
an Iwaki 100. I have an Aqua C EV120 powered by an Iwaki 40. I also
have a Korallin calcium reactor, UV sterilizer and run ozone through
Now that I hope I gave you the important background info '¦ on
to my question. The current sump/refugium configuration is old, I have
a crack in one refugium and the flow is not optimal due to some
plumbing configurations. I'm having a new sump/refugium constructed
that is 72'x21'x21'.
It will be split in the middle length wise -- leaving half for a
refugium and half for all the sump baffles and equipment.
Sump details aside, the new refugium will be
The main goal of my refugium is to help maintain ideal water quality
(added benefits of pods, etc. are secondary). The big question I have
is how should I stock the refugium '¦ mix of materials or keep
Chaeto -- continue with the Chaeto to export nutrients and help balance
water chemistry? I see no drawbacks of the Chaeto. Overrated?
'¦ Is LR better?
<I would stick with the Chaetomorpha. Read here:
DSB -- should I run a DSB?
<Yes... I would>
It will take away from my total water volume and makes maintenance a
little more difficult, but will the
benefits outweigh those concerns? I guess I still have some of the past
'nutrient sink' fears/myths in my subconscious too.
<These are minimal given good maintenance>
Reuse material from current DSB -- if you recommend DSB, is it OK to
reuse the sand from my current setup?
<I'd be adding, replacing maybe half>
If it is OK to reuse, I will still need more sand. Should the old sand
go on the top or the bottom of the new refugium?
Plenum -- any proven benefits or just don't mess with it?
<I'd leave out... See WWM re. Some here are fans... I am
LR in Refugium -- considering I've already got 180lbs in my main
tank, should I still have it in my refugium?
<If you have room, I would>
If so, should the size be big chunks or just rubble.
<Either one, but at eight years old, you need to be renewing at
least some... Again, see WWM re>
With the Chaeto, I know it blocks light on some of my current LR in the
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Sump Based Refugium for SPS System
You guys and gals are the best! Thanks for everything you do!
<Thank you, I am glad we are able to help out.>
I have officially kicked my canister filter to the curb and by your
recommendation, am replacing it with a sump/refugium on my 75 gallon
soon to be reef tank. I would like to house mostly Montipora species in
Now the dilemma: I have been given a CPR Aquafuge Pro by a friend who
is getting out of the hobby. One of the features that I like about it
is the relatively large 15 gallon refugium chamber (large in comparison
to other sump based fuges). This seems to be a great unit but upon
doing some research, it does not appear to be ideal. All of my system
water will be traveling through the unit and from what I gather,
refugiums usually do better with less flow. For SPS systems, a high
turnover rate would probably be good but for this situation, it may not
<Well, you will want your tank turnover to be on the high end, but
there is no need to speed water through the sump.>
The pumps that I'm looking at are the Eheim 1262 (900 GPH) and the
1260 (635 GPH). I believe that the 1262 would be more appropriate for
the tank volume (providing a turnover rate of 12 times as opposed to 8)
however, I envision problems arising from this set up. For example,
I'm almost sure that micro bubbles will be an issue with this much
<Possibly...the first thing to look at though is your overflow setup
to be sure it can safely handle the flow with some redundancy
In addition, I believe the DSB that I plan to use may be disrupted from
so much flow.
<Not really, in this situation it is more about how the flow is
applied. If you have 700 gph blowing out a single pipe into the bed it
would be an issue. But if you have it go into say a skimmer chamber and
then it flows over the width of the sump it will be diffused enough to
keep the sand in place.>
Finally, the question: IYO, would this unit work for the sump of an SPS
Would the 635 GPH flow rate be acceptable provided large amounts of
supplemental display circulation (e.g. Tunze or Vortech pumps)?
<It is plenty through the sump.>
<Welcome, Scott V.>
My Reef Tank is Snowing
My tank is snowing every time I start it up the pump after
stopping it for whatever. I searched your FAQ and did not come
across anything similar.
I have a 175 gallon reef tank that totals 210 gallons with sump
and refugium. Here is a schematic of the setup.
<Very nice diagram>
28-32 is an overhead distribution to place jets distributed
around the top surface of the tank. The distribution pipes are
18ï¿½ above the water surface.
The water specs are: pH 8.17, alkalinity 7-9 dKH, Ca 380-440ppm,
NO3 20-40, SG 1.023.
<I'd allow your Ca conc. to dip to the lower limit, and
raise your spg...>
My system has been running 19 months now. For the last 6 months,
every time I start up the pump after it was turned off, there are
white particles shooting out the all the jets for the first
Â½ minute. These particles are larger than my sand in
the bottom and they are completely white.
<I see them... do appear to be calcium bits of various
They settle to cover all over the rocks and corals. I have to
manually blow them off each time. Here is a shot of the stuff
settling onto my coral.
I am guessing that these are calcium deposits. But I fail to see
why they are settling out in such large quantities and such a
large size. Also, why does it only come out after I stop the
<Is strange... perhaps this precipitate is "falling off
the walls" in the pump plumbing with the loss of
I don't see it normally. The water in the overhead
distribution do drain out after the pumps are stopped
since the water level in the tank drains to below the jets.
Nothing comes out at that time. Any idea what I should be looking
<Yes... oh, I see this below>
I dose my system 1-2 times a week with Kent Marine Coral Builder
if alkalinity falls below 7.5 dKH. I add Kent Marine Turbo
Calcium if Ca is lower than 380ppm.
<Stop this last... Only add the Calcium if this drops below
325... and stop at 380 ppm>
I also routinely add Iodine and Strontium/Magnesium 1-2 times a
week per dosage on label.
<How is this added? Should be with/in the newly mixed water
only... and not mixed together... in the same batch, at the same
I have a nitrate reactor, but it is only keeping nitrates around
<I would look to other means... Please read here:
and the linked files above>
The reactor is running normally since the discharge is at 0ppm
<Mmm, yes... but with other possible affects... the
I have been changing water 10% every 4 weeks and clean the socks
once weekly or bi-weekly. I probably should increase the
frequency, but just been too busy. The chiller has been removed
since it tends to overheat as well as lose prime in that
<Try the above and please report back. Bob Fenner>
|Re: More: re: My Reef Tank is
Thank you so much for the quick response and the thoughtful
I have been adding the iodine and strontium/magnesium liquid
directly to the refugium near the outlet. Is that not a good
<Not... again, better by far to "pre-mix" in your
already made up and stored "new" water for change outs...
add through there>
If I add it to the newly mixed water, then it gets added only once
per water change cycle which is 4 weeks in my case. I have been
adding in the recommended amount per the recommend interval which
is ~4 days. Should I drip it in over a period of time instead?
<Yes. Much better>
I don't have an iodine test kit. But the LFS says sticking with
the recommended amount should be fine.
I think I found the puzzle to the snowing problem. My refugium has
a separate compartment for the pump inlet port. There is a hole 3
inches off the bottom that links the refugium compartment to this
pump inlet compartment. I have a plate that can be used to close
off this portal during maintenance. I had 2 blue tangs that grew up
together fine and after a year and a half, the larger one started
to really beat up the smaller one. I moved the battered tang to the
refugium while I am looking for a new home of it. To prevent the
tang from going through this portal, I placed the plate over the
portal leaving a 1/4 inch gap. So, now every time I stop the pump,
the refugium fills up. When I start the pump, the water level in
the pump inlet compartment gets much lower than the refugium
compartment and the water rushes through the narrow gap between the
plate and the portal. This causes the sand in the refugium to get
sucked into the pump until the water level in the refugium
normalize with the pump inlet compartment. Somehow, all the sand
that got sucked over are the largest particles which is why I kept
thinking that they are not sand.
<Ahh! Rearranging the baffles... making a larger gap between the
over-unders... would likely solve this issue. BobF>
Water level in Refugium, algae and Coral lighting
First off I would like to say that your site is the best, it makes it
easy for me to teach my two sons on how to do research on the types of
fish they want in their tank.
<Good, thank you!>
Now its when are we getting a Refugium on out 10 gallon tank. I believe
it is better to show then tell. I have a question about the water level
in my Refugium, Algae and Coral lighting?
I have a 15 gallon Rubbermaid container that I am using for my refugium
which is being feed "raw" water by a Maxi-Jet 1200 that is
Teed off to go into my sump there are two ball valves on this line, one
is to regulate how much water is going to the refugium and the second
ball valve regulates how much water goes into the sump. The refugium
has a 3" sandbed and the water level is about 2-3" above the
sand, so I wanted to know if I need to raise the water level higher to
grow algae or can I keep it at this level and just run the lights and
grow whatever the tank makes?
<You could, but I would raise this level 6" or so to grow much
I have a 29 gallon tank with 2 1/2" sandbed(will increase another
2 1/2"), 40lbs of LR, HOB whisper filter with TopFin (bio 3 filter
cartridge). A 18 gallon sump that is halfway filled with water coming
from the main tank and teed off going into a micron sock with Purigen
bag. It also has about 20lbs of base rock and a skimmer, a heater, and
a Maxi-Jet 1200 that flow the water back into the main tank. The 29
maintains an 80 temp the lighting is two 10k(39w) and two actinics
(39w) is this enough light to keep any type of coral that would thrive
and stay healthy? or the ones I need to stay away from?
<Well, you will definitely be on the lower end of the lighting
intensity spectrum. Lower light corals such as zoos will do ok here.
See http://www.asira.org/caresheets for quick lighting guides for each
I also change the water 2 times a week to minimize stress to my fish.
About 4 1/2 gallons. My bioload is small 1 Royal Gramma, 1 Lawnmower
Blenny, 1 Clown Goby and 2 Peppermint Shrimp. I add Purple Tech (1
Tsp), Tech I (1Tsp) and Strontium and Molybdenum (1 Tsp) once a week at
<Hmmm, I really would not add any of these supplements to my tanks.
I am an advocate of not adding what is not tested for'¦.in
your case there are no corals as of yet. Just test your basics, KH, Ca,
PH, Salinity and perhaps Mg and add those accordingly. The water
changes you are doing will provide all the 'trace' elements you
Thank you and keep up the good work,
Ramon and Sons
<Welcome, will do, have fun. Scott V.>
Re: Water level in Refugium, algae and Coral
Thanks for the reply and also the website,
<Welcome, thank you.>
it will help me pick out the best coral for my tank and I will also
raise the level in my refugium.
I will stop adding all the extra supplements and just keep up with my
<Have fun, Scott V.>
Re: Water level in Refugium, algae and Coral
I also wanted to know, to make up the difference on the level going
into the refugium do I just add RO water or just fill it up with
saltwater when I make a water change?
<To raise the level initially you will want to add saltwater, to top
off for evaporation RO is what you want.>
<Welcome, Scott V.>