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 15, & 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
Chaetomorpha Strands clogging the outlet drain pipe. Sump/fuge design
Love to connect with you'll. Your advices are not only practical but also very
<Glad to aid your efforts; though I would/do advise you to seek other input:
books, magazines, websites...>
Am currently facing issues with Chaetomorpha (referred to as Chaeto in some
parts of my mail) in my 15 gallon sump arrangement.
<And difficult (compared w/ larger) to maintain such small biological marine
I have a four chamber sump with Chaetomorpha in the second chamber where it
receives water from the skimmer chamber. The glass barriers in the sump are
drilled and the water is passed on to the other chamber (DSB) through a bulkhead
attached. Have a fine mesh on the bulkhead to block any big
particles to enter the next chamber hosting the DSB. I also have a small pump in
the chamber to keep the Chaetomorpha moving/tumbling.
<Okay thus far. I understand your set up>
Am facing issues with the sump drain where I keep the Chaetomorpha algae.
It was all entwined when I got it from a fellow aquarist. Now it's in bits
strands are floating independently.
1. The Chaeto strands clogs the drain pipe leading to overflow of the chamber to
<Hopefully you can fashion a large chemically inert screen to expand the period
of time between having to address the algae clogging>
2. The Chaeto also gets stuck in the inlet of the pump used for circulation and
is blown all over the chamber in small pieces/strands which then leads to
clogging of the outlet drain
<Mmm, can the pump be better located; perhaps...?>
I tried attaching an elbow to the bulkhead (like a dorso setting) to avoid the
Chaeto fragments to directly flow to the open bulkhead. The Chaeto still gets
stuck under the elbow and clogs the bulkhead drain mesh.
Please advise how this can be avoided
<I might (even) consider relocating the Chaeto/macro algae to the DSB chamber...
Re: Chaetomorpha Strands clogging the outlet drain pipe
Thanks for the quick response Bob
It’s a small set up and hence am struggling.
<Ah yes; as stated>
My earlier setup (240 gallons) before my relocation was much stable and gave me
better scope to work things around
Referring to your suggestion, Would like to state that reason I moved the
Chaetomorpha away from the DSB to the chamber prior to it The DSB chamber has a.
Lower water level
<Ahh... anyway to adjust? Move it, and/or the pump to another section?>
All other factors being common, I would face the same problem in the DSB chamber
as well as It has a similar drainage arrangement.
I would still like to try that. Is there any added benefit of having the
microalgae in the DSB chamber?
<Macro; and yes... organisms coming out, into the sand/substrate can/do make use
of the algae as space, food. B>
Re: refugium change?? 2/7/16
thanks for your response. I did some more reading on refugiums.
Since mine I on the small side - 12 " x 24 " for a 90 gallon tank, I get the
feeling it will be mainly for growing macro and copepods.
In my reading I found much about setting up a NEW refugium but did not find the
answer to my main original question -
Is there ever a reason to take down an old refugium which has been up for 5-10
<Lots of reasons; to re-fit, re-new the substrate... B>
thanks again for all your help.
Puffer refugium; design reading
Refugium size 1/29/16
Mr. Bob and crew, I decided to go with a puffer since my tank was too small for
the trigger I wanted. Tank is 150g. I am deciding between a dog face or
porcupine. So far the research I have done my tank size will be ok. I am
installing a refugium and other upgrades. I will be able to add a 29g refugium
after hubs does a plumbing fix. I planned on pumping water up from the sump and
gravity feed back into the sump. I remember reading if there is any critters in
a fuge then it ain't a fuge.
>Mmm; not so in my book<
I currently have a dsb in dt. After seeing some videos of puffers eating I have
a question. Wow! Messy eaters!!I know my water changes will have to increase. I
currently run a sock but change it every couple of days.
Instead of pumping water from the sump, should I tee off my down spout into fuge
with ball valve and add clean up crew in there.
<Not much diff>
I had intended on dsb, some rock and Chaeto and nothing else. . But can change
plans to what you think best for a puffer.
<Posted on WWM... a DSB, RDP...>
Thank you very much.
<Welcome as much. B>
Re: Puffer refugium 2/5/16
I am so sorry for the confusion! I will go back and reread the book again. it
has been a while and I am so forgetful!
<Hate to state; but gets worse as time ticks to races along>
I got confused from posts stating stuff like they have corals, fish etc in fuge
then it ain't a fuge. I will dust my book off and re-read before plumbing. Sorry
for wasting your time :)
<Never a waste of time. Am glad, indeed desirous of making these ideas clear.
Helps me as well.
Re: Puffer refugium 2/5/16
Hi Mr. Bob again, I finally found my book! Last year we thought hubs was being
transferred and some stuff has yet to be unpacked. I was up to 4 am
going through TONS of boxes (with a 102 f fever due to flue)
<Yikes! Stay away from the fireplace!>
But now I am all comfy nursing my illness and reading. I plan on staying in bed
for the next several days and read. So hopefully that will cut down on my stupid
questions, lolThanks for your patience the past two weeks. I should be set now
<Do take care. BobF>
Hi Mr. Bob, (or whoever gets this )Its me again with the huge attachment to a 10
year old brittle star...lolI want to add a fuge to my 150 gallon. It is
Fowlr ( no triggers) *grin*I am wanting to keep it simple. Is a 10 gallon big
<Bigger the better; but ten better than zip>
I don't have much room. Going to feed it from the sump and gravity feed back to
sump. I am thinking just a dsb with some Chaeto and a light to come on at night.
Is this ok? I can either do a 10g aquarium or a RubberMaid 20 g tub.
<Go w/ the latter>
Hubs is making me ask before he has to start working, :p The 10 g would be much
safer in my head as the plumbing wouldn't be as risky on a flexible plastic.
<The RM tubs are fab, and very easy to drill, fit w/ thru-hulls>
Have a HaPpY dAY :)
<And you, Bob Fenner>
Re: Refugium size; CMA reminiscing 1/29/16
Mr. Bob Thank you for the reply on this. I have your book, I think it is the
<Whoa! The year CMA came out... I finished the first draft the end of 95...
twenty years back. Tempus fugit!>
I got it when I first decided to keep marine fishes. I am very pleased with my
book and it has helped me greatly over the years. I note on Amazon you have a
newer edition available.
<Ah yes; the only work I've done that went through more than one edition>
As a thank you and as a tip to future marine aquarists I gave the book a good
It is the least I could do for the happiness my fish have given me. I am not a
good writer but hope my review gets my point across to new hobbies.
But the book! Thank you again
<Thank you Stace. BobF>
LA Fishguys 6/25/15
<Thank you Jim. BobF>
Hi There, I uploaded last week Episode 143 A Bigger Refugium
Your promotion is in Part Two
Part One https://youtu.be/bwn9fNB4fFo
Part Two https://youtu.be/bLuLviWfLkI
Part Three https://youtu.be/j9KNVPYuMiU
Part Four https://youtu.be/QsqXe04Y2fg
Jim Stime, Jr
Aquarium Design - Installation and Maintenance
Midwater Systems - JELLIQUARIUM Jellyfish Display Systems
MyFishTank.com - Acrylic Aquariums, Stands and Canopies
LA Fishguys - Aquarium Reality Television
New Reef and Sump Refugium Design Questions
A little background information...110 gallon Reef Ready Display
Tank, new setup. Planning on SPS corals and the transfer of my
current stock from my 55 gallon FOWLR;
2 Ocellaris Clowns (possibly mated)
2 Yellowtail Damsels
1 Yellow Damsel
1 Blue Tang
1 Yellow Tang
1 Scarlet Skunk Cleaner Shrimp
1 Chocolate Chip Starfish
Various snails and hermits
Haitian Pink Tipped Anemone (not doing well and of course the Clowns
Finally, I've taken a leap and put down on paper my Sump/Refugium plan.
I'm needing some reassurance that this will work, as well as a few
specific questions regarding both the main display tank and the sump.
1) The refugium; live sand approximately 2-4" deep,
<As deep as possible... the 4">
3-5 pieces of live rock, and Chaetomorpha. Too much?
<Not too much; but I'd make this sump bigger... 12" isn't much>
Should I just use live rock only or some other combination?
<I'd use all>
1a) Lighting. Depending on your suggestions for the above, what and how
much (if any) lighting would be required?
<... see WWM re:
scroll down to the second tray>
2) Filter media in the baffles. I have no clue what to do here. I know I
need to use something, but I don't have the first clue what.
<The same area, reading... I wouldn't use any in the baffles, but would
use socks... see CPR's site re or Emperor Aquatics>
3) Outflow from the Skimmer...as you can see, I'm planning on directing
it into the Refugium. That okay?
4) Overflow and Return to/from sump. Planning on gravity for the
overflow via a Durso's Stand Pipe in the DT. Should I have 2 stand pipes
(one 1", one 3/4" for the 2 pre-drilled holes in the DT) to feed the
sump? Or should I have just one stand pipe and cap off the other hole.
<Two and larger diameter... Learn to/use the search tool, indices on
WWM; your answers and MUCH MORE of use to you are archived there>
4a) Basically the same question for the return. Pump the water back to
the DT via one 1" (and cap off the other) return or T-off the return
from the sump to feed the DT with 2 pipes?
Display Tank Questions;
1) Planning on 3-4" Aragamax or CaribSea Aragonite Aquarium Sand on the
bottom, 1-2" SeaFlor or CaribSea Arag-Alive Hawaiian Black Aquarium
Gravel on top of that with approximately 75 lbs. Live rock (a mix of
Fiji, Tonga and Caribbean) first placed directly on the bottom of the
tank for stability. Good?
<See WWM re these matters as well... am not a fan of black sands for
reasons, nor mixing of LR from various areas>
2) Circulation: Besides the 800-2500 GPH flow through the tank, (I
really don't know what the turnover rate is) due to the return
pumps capability of 3250 GPH.
<... don't run all the circ. through the sump... Keep reading>
And the two gravity driven drain pipes. I'm reading that I will need to
have some type of circulation in the tank for the health of my corals.
I've got a RIO 1400 powerhead
<I'd ditch this; not use this brand... Where to read?>
and 2 AquaCulture 1504 & 1501 powerheads that I inherited with the Sump
Tank that I hoped to be able to use. Previous owner had air stones also
don't believe I should use those. Or should I just invest in a good
I think that's all my questions for now. I've attached a picture of my
sump design. Please let me know if there is anything I should do
Thanks again for your wisdom. Love your website!
looking for filter
I am in need of a specific type of filter( pic 1&2.) When I set up my
tank, the store set up my refugium with a rigid filter. They went out of
business a number of years ago and I have not found another filter like
Needless to say, I am in dire need for new ones and was hoping someone
there would know where I can get them. Otherwise, I am forced to use the
cloth tubes(third pic.)
Sorry it is so disgusting, but it is the only one I have and I am trying
to preserve it for as long as possible. As you can see, it is in truly
in deplorable condition. Any help would be appreciated.
6" tall 4.5" across
This one is the only substitute I can find. I do not like these.
<Mmm; I would contact CPR re... a link to something like this:
I think the product you show is Albert Thiel's old platinum line... the
folks at Emperor Aquatics may have some of their filter socks still
about... Bob Fenner>
Re: looking for filter
I am hopeful that I can find them.
<Me too... there are a few other places to look for such Dacron/polyester
bags (of quality)... If push comes to shove, you might consider the yardage
store... for material; and making your own. BobF>
Refugium setup 10/26/13
hello Mr. F.
you for the last response. I am sending you the photo attached of
my refugium . I am using this email because is the only way I can send
compressed photos. So this is my refugium. What do you think about the
The mix of DSB, live rock and Chaetomorpha is all right?
Should I use more flow over the DSB?
<More? Two-three times volume per hour is sufficient; more won't improve
the DSB functions>
Should I separate the liverock from the DSB?
Andrei from Romania
<BobF from Rhode Island originally, CA now>
the time has come for a refugium; design
Hello again Mr. F,
Always an honour to be able to " talk " to you ( and I`m not just saying
that !! )
I have changed my MH bulbs and installed 3 X 250 W CoralVue ReefLux
12.000 K ( as you suggested I downgraded the temperature from 20.000 K )
and I am more than happy with the results. My SPS colors are simply
Now the time has come for a refugium. But I have some technical
questions there, if you are so kind to help me out: now, I have a 3500
l/hour pump that pumps the water out of the sump into my 1/5 hp chiller,
and then it comes back into the sump.
The only space available to install the refugium would be in the
basement witch is somewhat located under the room where the DT lives.
And I also was thinking to move the chiller in the basement to eliminate
<Can/should be done>
So, I was considering using the same pump to get the water out of the
sump and plumb the descend to the basement.
<Pump? Don't do this... I see your comment/s below, but I WOULD
rely on gravity, overflow, NOT pump>
I don`t like the idea of gravitational feeding of the water, because
drilling the sump would be difficult, there is also a flat portion along
the way before it will descend, and I am afraid of what will happened in
case of a electricity shutdown. So, the same pump will send water
towards the chiller installed in the basement, and the outlet will
arrive in a 120 liter 30 cm high glass aquarium that would contain both
a RDSB and macroalgae. ( more on that later). Here is the tricky part:
what about the flow rates?
<Not much is needed or advised... 3 to 5 turnovers per hour is enough...
MORE circulation should be employed via pumps INSIDE the DT. See WWM re>
Maybe I should split the outlet of the chiller in 2: one part of the water
going in this refugium, and another part
should go in another 100 liter tank that would contain live rock, so
there will not be too much flow in the refugium. The refugium and the
live rock tank should be connected together, so in the latter I would
install a pump ( what capacity ?) that would bring the water back
into the sump.
What do you think?
<As stated above>
And also, I should split the refugium in 2 parts, the deep sand bed and
the macroalgae chamber because of the different flow they need, and feed
the DSB with a separate small pump from the macroalgae chamber and drill
a separate drain from here in the live rock tank, as well as one from
the macroalgae chamber?
<Could; though all could be run in one undivided area>
My system now has 250 gallons of water. Will the 2 extra 120 liter tanks
will be enough for the purpose reducing nutrients ?
<They'll help; but more volume would be better. In practical terms, they
can't be too large>
Is there a simpler way to do this that I don`t see? ( I don`t have any
experience in this area, and I want to get it right from the beginning).
thank you very much,
Andrei from Romania
<I would build in redundant (extra) drains to the mid-sump, have just
one good sized pump at the refugium (lower/basement sump); run the
return water through the chiller in the basement, HAVE valves, with true
unions at the very front and back (intake and discharge) of the pump/s,
perhaps extra plumbing (and valves, unions) to take the chiller off
Re: the time has come for a refugium 10/1/13
While waiting for your answer to the letter I have written this morning,
I convinced myself that I cannot take the water out of my mid sump with
But I also don`t want to drill the mid sump as explained earlier.
<Do study this a bit more... NOT hard to do; and the BEST choice of
means of conveyance>
But another idea sparkled: what if I take the return from the DT that
normally goes in the sump and direct it in the lower sump / refugium in
the basement where it will flow through a plastic canister filled with
live rock and maybe other media for bacterias, then into a macroalgae
refugium with a RDSB and then up again, but in the mid sump where my
existing pump will transport it to the DT. How does it sounds?
<So, only the one sump... in the basement? Sure>
Once again sorry for insisting, but I really think that this will
improve the lives of my tank inhabitants and I don`t have enough
experience to figure it out by myself.
Re: the time has come for a refugium, Glass-holes, cc to ScottV
Thank you for your response Mr. F.
I was expecting your answer regarding drilling the mid sump, and I am
convinced that is the right solution.
<Indeed it is... two through-puts; one slightly above the other... of
good diameter... 2" if it were me/mine... screened>
For me personally is difficult because I don`t have access to people that
normally do this kind of plumbing so drilling a glass sump
<Have the panel drilled, cut before assembly... much easier>
that is in function and securely connecting the pipes to the holes having
never done this before is more difficult than it seems.
<Not hard to do... you can even do it yourself if you have a good
drill/motor. Perhaps friends here can/will sell and send you a kit: See
And also, if the main return pump to the DT stops ( I have it on a big
UPS but you never know..) there is a fair amount of water that will be
drained in my mid sump.
<Yes; you NEED to test, make allowance (space) in the sump for the
"transit volume"... MARK the highest level that the sump can be filled;
don't fill it beyond this point for this eventuality. Is this clear to
I have tested it and is ok as it is now, but if I will have holes drilled
that lead to the basement sump all this water will have to be held
somewhere there.. which may not be such a big problem, I was just
considering every aspect.
But, as I stated before I want to do this right from the beginning, so I
will give it serious thought. For my information, you advise against the
pump out of the mid sump because it should be very difficult to match
this pump with the one getting the water up again ? Or is there another
<Relying on multiple pumps, solenoids, alarms... is a nightmare. Even
the friends who are engineers; Sanjay Joshi comes to mind, have
Search his name, recent experiences, on the Net>
About the volume of the basement refugium, the 2 tanks I was talking
about I already have, but if more is better I could also use a 200 liter
plastic container that I could include in the cycle and fill it
gradually with live rock and/or bacteria growing media ( like Seachem
Matrix ), and leave the 2x 120 liters tanks for the RDSB and growing
macroalgae. What do you think?
Sorry for insisting , and thank you for your help,
<Glad to assist you. BobF>
<Not a worry. Bob>
Refugium add on, recycle? 12/4/12
Hey guys, how is everyone doing? Good I hope. So I have a 240 gallon
fowlr with a 75 gallon sump that has been going for a month and cycled (
Dr. Tim's helped out )
<Tried and true>
all the LR and live sand was dry or "dead". My plan has been to add
on a 75 gallon refugium next to the display and just plumb it up from
sump and overflow back in. My question is if I use all dry Rock and sand
again will it cause any kind of cycle to my system?
<Mmm, not likely... unless the materials there "seriously" affect water
quality, you should see no change>
I have another bottle of Dr. Tim's, should I just pop that in as well?
<If you have a concern, yes. Won't hurt anything>
Hopefully this will be as easy as I think. Thank you so much for the help.
<And to you and yours John. Bob Fenner>
Refugium Help (setup) – 11/08/12
After reading and watching videos on the subject (info overload), I am
hoping you can help.
<<I shall try>>
I just purchased a 125 gal tank used that came with some equipment (a
Sealifesystems AquaPro 125 wet/ dry filter with overflow and a Danner
Mag Drive Supreme 5 500GPH). I won’t be setting that system up for about
8 more months, but I’d like to use the equipment on my current system (4
year-old 50 gal reef). I am hoping to convert the wet/ dry filter into a
sump with a refugium.
<<Ah, okay…and a better use of it here>>
This is where I need help. Any recommendations on how to arrange the
chambers or even if I really need 3 chambers?
<<You don’t “need” them…but some type of partition will help with
keeping the refugium separate from the sump gear…especially if you plan
to utilize sand and/or macro algae>>
I included a picture of the filter.
<<Hmm, I don’t see an attachment…but no matter, I think we can get by
I purchased a Red Sea Berlin Airlift internal protein skimmer (I’d never
had one before) to hopefully combat my hair algae problem (also hoping a
refugium could help too).
<<Both should help, yes…but I would go with a better skimmer (My
preference would be a good ‘needle wheel’ model). To save money you
could even get and use one suitable to be used later with the 125>>
I know the skimmer was inexpensive, but it surprisingly got good
reviews, seems to be doing a good job (1/2 cup 1-2 days), and I thought
it was a good place to start.
I don’t need LR in here because my DT has so much I hardly have room at
this point. I think the easiest set-up would be to have the refugium
first, and then put the return and skimmer last.
<<Any configuration can work, but I would suggest skimmer first (to
maximize processing of “raw” water and to minimize the removal of
beneficial fauna from the refugium), refugium next (see comment re
skimmer placement), and return pump last>>
I read that might kill all the pods, but looking at how my skimmer works
I’m not sure I’d agree.
<<Likely less risk with the airlift style skimmer, yes…but why not try
to maximize what you have>>
I learn so much from this site.
<<Good to know>>
I really hope you can help me.
<<I hope I have!>>
<<Happy to share… EricR>>
New fuge concept.... design f' 11/5/12
James Plath here, and thanks for your quick post and very helpful
I have decided to follow your instructions and put the fuge a good 2
feet lower than the display tank on a stand. After reading up on
refugium care more, as well as their design, I have a new plan for the
layout and design of the tank, and I was wondering if you could help
critique it. The tank is a standard ten gallon aquarium.
<Large if possible if you can fit it>
I plan to attach a strip-light or pendant to the aquarium, and grow a
large clump of Chaetomorpha in the left hand side, held in place by
algae clips. Is this placement ideal, or should it be in the middle?
<In this size (small/volume) the one side is fine>
I will have a sort of live rock cave configuration below it, atop a 5
inch deep sand bed, constructed out of large pieces of rubble, with an
overhang towards the front of the tank, and extending to the back as
The cave will span the entire length of the tank, and leave about 6
inches of space front to back. A 260 gph powerhead will be positioned on
the right side of the overhang, directed at the cave. There will also be
some assorted rubble atop it. The top of the cave will house Halimeda,
Chlorodesmis, Gracilaria, and some Caulerpa Mexicana,
<Mmm, just one of these... likely all that will fit, grow. I'd go for
the Gracilaria/Ogo sp.>
which will be isolated on a rock away from the others. Will this space
allow group for the macro to grow, or should I cut down to just one of
<Ahh, the one>
Also present on the overhang, will be some Xenia, as I have heard they
absorb nitrates and nutrients directly from the water. Is this true?
<Yes; to a limited extent, compared w/ the macro-algae>
In the six inches in front of the overhang, I plan to grow some
Mermaid's fan plants, and some shaving brush plants.
Underneath the overhang, in a sort of cryptic zone, I will have fan
worms, sponges, and other filter feeding detritivores, to filter out
large particles. Will the cryptic zone formed by the cave give them
enough shelter from light?
<And current? You'll have to try and see>
Lastly, can you recommend any slower flowing but efficient pumps?
<The smaller Eheim... are faves>
I want to maximize my filtration from this fuge. Thanks, and sorry about
the multitude of questions.
<Glad to share, help you plan. Bob Fenner>
RDSM Refugium Question, design f'
Hello again Crew,
It has been awhile since I've needed your expert advise but I find
myself, again, at a loss on the best way to approach the addition of a
refugium to my system. My tank is a 125 gallon with a 20 gallon
wet/dry sump. I took the media out of the sump a couple of years
ago so it's really just a sump with a filter and live rock rubble.
I would like to add a RDSB/Refugium to my tank. I will be going
possible 30/40 gallons more and the refugium will be midway between my
sump and my tank. Pumped from the main display then gravity fed to
the sump. I would like to split the refugium to have one area a
I do tend to have high nitrates, and another area to grow some
<Both can be done in the same area>
My question is two-fold really. The live sand in my tank at this
point is teaming with all sorts of critters, it's just a critterfest at
lights off however the sand is in the danger zone...1 1/2 " to roughly 2
1/2 " deep now. When I incorporate the RDSB do I still need to
worry about building the sand up inside the main display as well or
leave it be?
<I'd remove the present substrate when you are going to switch to the
larger sump/fuge and place the olde on top of the new>
I would like to have the lights on the macroalgae area of my refugium be
on opposite of my main display to help with the nightly Ph drop.
I'm concerned the ambient room light will hurt the DSB and deter the Ph
<The lighting won't do this... both will be fine>
Any thoughts? Thank you again. Jill
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Refugium plan - Any feedback? 7/12/12
Crew, can I request a review of my refugium plan?
This is a 55G Aqueon tank. Based on calculating gallonage, this gives me
room for the overflow that I will need from the 200G main tank (15
<This isn't much for transit volume... DO practice re how far to
fill the tank by turning off the sump circulation pump after all is running
a few minutes>
That said, I'm not entirely sure how to estimate the water level for the
return pump area. Can you advise?
<See above or the term: "transit volume" on WWM... the search tools on every
I have a Marineland Pump 5500 submersible, max flow 1385gph but looks like
it will only be 600gph at 5' head. This is probably way too low?
<No... see WWM re Refugium Pumps... >
This is for a messy eating FOWLR tank build.
Thank you, Dave
<Lets see, intake to out: I'd make the Skimmer area smaller as well as the
return pump area to allow more space for the LR, DSB area. I'd make sure and
allow space around the GAC and GFO for water to get around... i.e. not fill
the entire space with these media. You don't need, nor will you want a
powerhead to tumble the algae area. I'd take a long read here:
Re: Refugium plan - Any feedback?
Bob, wow, thank you. More research done and still in process at WWM...on
the return pump and your response that it likely isn't too low - I did
more reading on WWM and wonder if I am missing the inline pump
<There are quite a few variations on themes here>
The plan would be to have water enter the sump through the overflow,
<More than one I hope/trust>
then only place a single return pump in the sump, after the refugium.
It seems a 600gpm pump would only generate 2-3x/hour turnover - is this
<... why aren't you searching, reading ahead of writing Dave? This is
all gone over and over>
I see that your and Anthony's articles suggest much higher?
<Olde idea/s. Better by far to have most circulation in the tank>
I would prefer to not use any powerheads/wavemakers/etc in the main
tank and achieve water movement objectives purely through the return
pump. Sorry if I'm missing key details on WWM or that are obvious
plumbing questions about what to do (I probably couldn't have plumbed a
bucket before last week, and my late night WWM reads since)
Re: Refugium plan - Any feedback? skimmer choice/FOWLR
Bob, regarding the skimmer chamber and your suggestion that I reduce it.
I thought I should target an ASM G4+ as my final system skimmer.
In recently acquiring this system, my biggest disappointment was that
the stand would not be large enough for an AquaC EV 400 (32"). So I
figured it may be best to plan for the ASM (rated for 400G), since the
next-largest AquaC is only for 240 gallons. The ASM G4+ has a footprint
listed online as 12" x 16", which is why my sump chamber is so large.
What do you think is best? Lower-rated skimmer (in gallons) with larger
refugium or vice versa?
<... the AquaC... keep reading for now. B>
Re: Refugium plan - Any feedback? 7/12/12
Bob, sorry and shame on me for wasting your time.
<Not a waste, and never a bother Dave... just that there's so much more
(and better, complete) info. stored on the site than I/we can deliver in
the minutes available>
For the hundreds of hours I've spent reading/searching WWM, obviously
this detail has slipped me. Maybe plumbing is my greatest weakness and
what I have read on this did not register. Back to research...
<Yes my friend. DO write in re specific questions, concerns. B>
Re: Refugium plan - Any feedback? 7/12/12
Bob, as always, a thousand thank yous to you and team.
<Ahh, as many welcomes.>
Re: Refugium plan - Any feedback? REVISED!
Can I request your review of draft 2 of my sump plan?
<Sure; you just have>
Updates based on your feedback (well, hopefully!). I have increased the
refugium volume by 50% and shuffled things around a bit. My overflow
will drop right into the DSB/LR chamber (with diatom sock). A few
(1) I have planned to accommodate the AquaC EV 240 within the sump, on
account of my 30" high stand, and therefore need to drop the water line
to about 11" (then use eggcrate to raise the skimmer).
(1) Transit volume - I calculated as you suggested, and found it to be
roughly 8 gallons without Durso and 13 gallons with Durso. I am planning
for the 13 gallons, which assumes a full drain of the overflow (i.e.,
power fails, back siphon/overflow drains, water left after Durso fully
trickles into sump). The tank only has one overflow.
This is my biggest worry, I sacrificed this requirement on account of
this used tank's other features (200G tank, with 3/4" acrylic thickness,
fits like a glove in my space, price etc). I will make a custom piece to
place over the Durso drain intake to mitigate clogging, and otherwise
think (well, hope) that clog risk is low for my planned system (i.e.,
FOWLR predator with no inverts, overflow teeth fused to the top acrylic
Anyway...can you please let me know your thoughts on this updated plan
(and also, whether you believe my overflow risk opinion is delusional!).
<Just need to add a light over the algal culture area... the
calculated transit volume reads as low... but the only real assay is to
fill, fire all up, turn off the sump recirc. pump and see.
55G Sump (not drilled)
|Re: Refugium plan - Any feedback?
Bob, Thanks for review. After seeing my overflow risk denial in print (my
last email to you), I decided to instead pursue a bean animal overflow
<Much better here>
so while the sump is good to go, it's back to the drawing board on
<Real good. B>
First of all I have been using your site for years, thank you for committing
your time to provide everyone with solid advice in a very easy to understand
format. My question is this, Can a 90 gallon all glass reef ready aquarium be
converted to a refugium without drilling any additional holes? ( current
configuration left corner over flow). I think it can but my concerns are two
1) The tank would have to be elevated with flexible tubing under a strong frame
with wheels to support weight and I figured this would make it easy for cleaning
and maintenance seeming my 210 gallon perfecto tank is built into the wall with
cabinetry at ground level (pics to follow).
Actually, if enough room can be engineered to get into the refugium 90, or it
can be situated elsewhere than under the main tank...
Currently I have 55 gallon refugium on the 210 system, skimmer 4" sand
-aragonite center designed refugium. My second part of this question can I use
the 90 on two systems. I currently constructing a second custom made reef tank
along side my fwlr. Cool convergence of reef meets predators side by side. I
currently have a 30 gallon refugium on the 90 gallon reef that I am proposing to
convert, the aforementioned 55 on the 210 aggressive/predator tank. The 90
gallon reef ready tank has a well established 8" sand/mud bed that I would hate
you can use a sump on two or more systems, but do be aware, take care to have
enough redundant overflow/s capacity should one tank or the other overflow
should the mechanisms for conveying water down to the sump/refugium get
I know pics will help will do so.
Thanks -- Best Regards,
Welcome. Bob Fenner
Fuge designs and plumbing 2/2/12
Hello again Crew,
Hi from the wild world of Super Bowl country. My quiet city is a
mad house this week. I have been in a drawn out design phase of a
75 gallon reef tank. I have been running a FOWLR for over a
I am moving and decided there is no better time to add a sump and
fuge to my tank and be done with the HOB equipment. I am going to
set everything else up at the new place and then move the fish
and rock in one day. I currently have 80 lbs of rock and a
4" sugar fine sand bed, and I will be culturing new sand and
some more rock in a separate tub prior to the move.
The old sand will be going into the refugium while the new will
hopefully be mostly live and placed in the display.
However, my main question for today is about the plumbing and
sump design. I have attached a rough drawing of what I have and
would like some opinions on which design you think would be
The majority of the water will flow to the skimmer chamber with a
valve down to the fuge to control flow while still feeding it raw
system water. I had originally planned to just do one big fuge
area taking up half of the 38 gallon tank. After reading an
article in Tropical Fish Magazine about the benefits of different
kinds of refugiums, I wondered if I couldn't get the best of
both worlds. I broke the fuge into two compartments, each with a
valve running to them. The first would be a simple DSB and rock.
The other would Chaeto, rock, and a shallow courser sand. This
would give me the benefit of a wider variety of organisms. I
think the biggest benefit of this design is that if something
went wrong in the DSB, it could be isolated without shutting the
whole refugium down. My concern is that I wouldn't be getting
enough surface area for the DSB to be beneficial. Which design do
you think will work better?
<The first one... the combined area. No real advantage in
Also, would you see any problem in using my remora pro hanging on
the back of the fuge in addition to running my Eshoppes
<Mmm, not much advantage...>
I didn't see how the extra skimming could hurt. As for the
return flow, I am thinking of something with about 700gph after
head loss flowing through an SCWD over the top on each side to
get a little surge movement. The rest of the flow will be
achieved with either power heads or a closed loop,
<The former... closed loops are not really advantageous at
but I haven't gotten that far in my reading yet. Thanks in
advance for this help and thanks again for all the advice
I've gotten in the past.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
RMF can't figure out how to convert .docx
to view here, re-size...
Sump/Refugium Question. Upgrading/moving
I have a question that I hope you can solve the confusion due to
different advices I got from various people. I know your answer will
put me completely at rest. I have a 130 gallon reef tank with the
sump/refugium (S/R) and tomorrow it is going to be replaced with a 210
gallon tank. My question is:
1. Must I need to upgrade to a larger S/R to accommodate a larger
<Not necessarily, no... Larger is better, but if yours can at least
handle the greater transit volume (the water in play while the pump is
running), you will likely be fine w/ the existing S/R>
Some people had told me No because the increased volume is not enough
to cause an overflow should the power is disrupted and some had said
that a bigger S/R is needed to accommodate a larger tank.
<Mmm, well... I would not trust this statement w/o testing it
yourself... DO fill the tank up, with the S/R about half full... turn
the pump on... fill the S/R a bit as the water is drained down... and
turn off the pump... see how far it refills from the tank above. MARK
the level in the S/R as to maximum operational depth of water>
A person told me to use what I have in the mean time and in the future,
a bigger S/R can be installed.
2. If I use the current S/R that I have. How difficult is it to install
a new S/R in the future without dismantling the tank?
<Not hard at all usually... unless the S/R is built into the stand,
otherwise hard to reach, one can just drain down the main/display tank,
empty the present S/R, remove, and fit the new one>
One person said that I need to drain off most of the water
<... no, just below the overflow mechanism/s>
but leave enough for the fish, then slide the tank from the stand then
insert the new sump. He said this could be done without removing the
sand and live rocks.
<If you have help perhaps... better to remove most all>
But then another one said this approach is impossible because it will
be too heavy!
I eagerly await your replies.
Dai Chinh Phan
<There you are. Bob Fenner>
Re: Sump/Refugium, and now skimmer as well Question. Upgrading
Thank you for your thoughtful and expert answer. I am forever grateful
to you. This one is confusing me and please enlighten me. With the
refugium that I have now, I am able to have zero nitrate and I think
the Caulerpa in the refugium is doing a good job of nitrate removal in
addition to my skimmer. Now, if I use the current S/R with almost
doubling the water volume in a new tank, will I be at risk to have
nitrate reading as the Caulerpa will not be able to cope with increased
bio load (more fish, more corals)?
<Only practice, time can/will tell. I would not be surprised if this
were so... You'll have to harvest the noxious Green algae more
And lastly, do I need to get a new skimmer because the one now is rated
for 150 gallon.
<This too can only be found out through actual practice. T'were
it my system, I would hold off on upgrading the skimmer>
With the current
set up, it does not accumulate anything much in the skimmer at all.
Thanks Dai Phan
<Exactly. Cheers, BobF>
Refugium along with a RP3 filtration system?
Dear WWM -
First off, thank you so much for such a wonderful and rich website!
I started my 55 Gallon FOWLR tank over 4 years ago (just about when my
son was born and he loves it today!). I started the tank with live sand
(about 2 inches deep) and about 50 lbs of live rock. Everything is as
clean as can be and Nitrates have always been 0 and holding after the
cycle period of about 3 months.
A couple years ago, I started adding Coral to the tank and soon I will
have to start fragging to keep the growth in check.
Overall a very successful enterprise so far (thanks in large part to
your web site and a ton of luck).
<Plus your efforts>
I always wanted to add a refugium, but could not for a long time
because of time commitments and obviously cost. I have a 30 gallon DIY
refugium built and water tested for the past 3 weeks and everything is
good! I have incorporated a flow valve to it - the type that usually is
used to auto top off but in this case will work to stop the water into
the fuge. I thought it would add an extra layer of protection along
with the overflow placed in the main tank so that not more than 15
gallons will flow in to the fuge.
The question is this: I have slowly over time upgraded everything on
the system including adding a RP3 to the system,
<Tom product; a wet-dry>
I would definitely want to keep that running along with the newly added
refugium. Is it ok to have extra filtration running as well as the
Lighting is a Wavepoint high output with T5s, upgraded when I started
thinking about Coral (change bulbs every 9 months or so).
Also, since I saved money on the fuge, I was wondering if I should
"splurge" on Fiji Mud for the fuge along with Chaeto? Or can
I just more LS? Will Chaeto be ok on the sand.
<All these choices are possible; can be done, mixed>
I saw that you mention that either the mud or the sand is ok depending
on who you ask, but since this fuge is going to be an additional layer
of filtration along with hopefully growing pods for food, I was
wondering if one or the other is better.
<"It depends" on the rest of the make-up of the system,
the flow rate through the area... Fine to experiment, see what works
best for you here>
Sorry for the long email and thanks so much for everything you do.
<Again, welcome. Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Here are the critters in the tank:
1 Percula Clown
2 Green Chromis
1 Yellow Tang
1 Coral Beauty
1 Yellow faced Sand sifting goby
1 mini carpet anemone
Pink Zoos (started as an inch frag, now completely enveloped a
Orange Zoos (don't know what I will do with so many of them,
luckily there is still a lot of space)
Green Mushrooms (started with 3, now about 20)
Orange bubble coral
a few blue legged hermits
4 red legged hermits
a few Astrea snails
a couple turbo snails (see their egg lines on the tank a bunch of
hang-on or in sump refugium?
Good morning, Crew.
After finally acquiring my first drilled tank (40
gallon breeder), I'm in the exciting planning stages. This
build will take a bit, simply because the lights I want will set me
back a little, so I'm working on gathering some scrap and used
equipment to build the stand, sump, internal overflow, etc.
I've already decided on a few things: the overflow (corner) will
empty through a filter sock into the first sump chamber with my
skimmer. Baffles will be built to reduce micro-bubbles and create a
second chamber. And it's here that I got a little stuck. You see,
with only a 36" long cabinet, I'm trying to figure out if I
adequate space to really use a refugium sizeable enough to benefit the
tank. What size for the refugium itself would you recommend to use on a
<Any size is of benefit; the larger the better>
I'm hosting a couple of SPS, a Trachyphyllia, a BTA (moving from
its 29 Biocube...I know, I know, too small, but this was a little
earlier in my involvement in the hobby),
<... not a good idea to mix anemones w/ stony corals...>
and various cleaners (at your suggestion, I'm selling the Zoas I
have to reduce complications from allelopathy). I'm
debating on whether or not to do a hang-on or in sump refugium. The
overflow is only a one inch bulkhead, so I was curious if it would
produce enough turbulent flow to grow a macro like Chaetomorpha in the
<Would be fine; will be fine given either choice>
On a side note and the subject of allelopathy, where do green star
polyps, Kenya trees, and Trachyphyllia rate on that scale?
<In the order you've presented; more to less>
My understanding was
that LPS typically pose a threat of proximity to sweeper tentacles, but
not so much toxins. Is it the same with the two aforementioned
<Please see WWM re... are you familiar w/ the search tool, indices?
The various "Compatibility FAQs" files by group>
If so, could you direct me to the link that lists (if any) soft
corallimorphs that won't chemically offend?
and the Cnid. 1 page of the index>
I can't wait to get this project underway, and hopefully sooner
rather than later, I'll have some updates.
<And you, BobF>
re: hang-on or in sump refugium? also, allelopathy 9/14/11
Much obliged, Bob! I had searched for the compatibility FAQs, but my
browser wouldn't open the link once it was pulled up in your search
engine (I wasn't sure if it was my browser, or the WWM site, so I
didn't want to alarm any of you). The link you provided in the
response worked, though, so now I have something new to read while
pretending to work!
The more I read, the more I'm realizing that without a
significantly larger system, enjoying a wide variety of corals will
require multiple displays...an acceptable compromise! What do you call
a dilemma when both options seem desirable?
<A good life indeed>
Ah, and one last question to bug you: to remove the threat of
overgrowing from a green star colony, will placing its home rock away
from others only on substrate (not near walls or glass) suffice to keep
it from spreading?
<For a good period of time likely yes. IF you perceive trouble/s,
simply fragging... breaking it in half... selling, giving it to the
store, other hobbyists>
My colony has grown so large that it is actually laying down more
"mat" on top of itself and out into the surrounding
Hope you're not working too hard in paradise.
<It is very exhausting... but now we're out for Taki (beers in
small glasses), and a soak in the pool. BobF>
minimum distance refugium needs to be
lower than display tank 8/10/11
Love your site!! We're setting up our reef tanks with refugiums,
and in one of our setups, I have a refugium that is only 2" lower
than my display tank. It's a side by side setup, and I wanted to
keep the stand the refugium sits on. Is this enough space for my
overflow box to work?
<I don't know, have you tried?>
Probably a stupid question, and I didn't see the answer as to how
much lower the fuge needs to be when I searched the site.
<There are no rules as to where it needs to be, it can be anywhere
even (and preferably actually) above the tank. What you need to ensure
is that you are able to get the water in and out of it somehow, by
using a pump and a drain>
Plus, there was a simple diagram and no instructions on this with my
overflow box so I thought I'd check before we plumb it. Thanks for
<For help with overflow boxes please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/overfloboxfaqs.htm?h=>
Re: minimum distance refugium needs to be lower than display tank
We're going to try and see what happens. My husband is of the
opinion that as long as the water level of the display is above the
water level of the refugium that the law of gravity would ensure it
We will see. If not, it's not a big deal we'll just lower it
until it works.
<As long as you can get the plumbing in, then it will work>
Thanks for getting back to me. We are finding the site very informative
<That's great news!>
Re: re: minimum distance refugium needs to be lower than display tank
Just wanted to get back to you on results of the below
It worked perfectly.
We installed a check valve in the return line to the display so that if
the power goes out, only the water in the overflow box drains into the
<Mmm, these are prone to failure. If it was me/ mine I would not be
relying on a check valve of any kind to prevent a back siphon. I would
instead, ensure that the end of the return from the sump is at or above
the water line in the display>
We had tested it, and the power actually went out this past weekend,
and we were so happy we put in the valve as it worked like a charm.
<They usually do to start with, until a grain of sand or such gets
No floods here.
<I'm crossing all my fingers and toes here;)>
Re: minimum distance refugium needs to be lower than display tank
We did that as well.
Thank you and the whole WetWeb crew for all the great advice. I'm
enjoying the journey of knowledge. Have a great week.
<Thank you Jenny, you too. Simon>
Sump/Refugium (Configuration, Drains,
Etc.) -- 07/02/11
I've been reading here for the 6 months that I have had my
tank and have a few questions before I start cutting and gluing
my pipes and fittings.
I have a 110 gallon Marineland aquarium that I am attempting to
convert from Biowheel filtration to a sump setup.
I have drilled and installed two 1.5" bulkhead drains on the
upper back corners and a single central 1" return
The drains will have street ells and strainers turned up to
adjust the water level in the display as high as I can get
<<Mmm, this can work and is similar to my own
setup'¦but rather than using strainers which will
greatly reduce the capacity of the drains, I chose to
'notch' the ells and use them like mini overflow boxes.
If you have placed the ells to allow for the height of the
strainers you can simply add a short length of pipe to allow for
maximum water height. At any rate, I do not recommend utilizing
the 'strainers' unless you plan on a greatly reduced flow
rate'¦which in itself is not necessarily a bad thing
when it comes to dealing with noise, bubbles, et
al'¦and if you have other means of providing water
movement within the tank (which you should anyways)>>
I have purchased but not installed yet a wmd40rlxt Iwaki pump
that is supposed to do around 1200 gph.
<<Even with the associated headloss, this pump will likely
overpower the drains if you use the bulkhead strainers on them as
you have mentioned. Do plumb a 'gate-valve' on the output
side of the pump to allow for tempering flow as
I've just installed 6" of a fine aragonite DSB and
suspended my current rock on a pvc frame 1/2" above the
sand. (All this came from you guys, if correct, that is).
<<A wealth of opinions here'¦ I prefer to place
rock on the tank bottom and then add sand'¦but what
you have done can also work>>
Hopefully I will be able to have a selection of fish, inverts and
<<I don't see why not>>
I'm planning on attaching a 3/4" pvc closed manifold
return system around the perimeter of the tank to the 1"
return line after it comes through the glass and using 4,
half-inch loc-line segments on reducing tees to direct the flows.
Will this work or does the manifold need to be 1" also?
<<Ideally the manifold would match the diameter of the
return line for maximum flow. But more importantly I
think'¦ You will be disappointed with the performance
of this closed-loop. Even with only four half-inch nozzles, you
need at least twice the flow this pump will provide to get any
real benefit re any forceful water flow. Half-inch nozzles on a
closed-loop system needs a 'minimum' of 350 gph per
nozzle'¦and even then the flow is meager by
comparison. Considering the size of this system a bigger pump is
not an option, in my opinion. I do suggest you consider some the
propeller pumps available, for creating water movement within the
I have room for an old 42 gallon aquarium to use as a
sump/refugium under the display.
<<Excellent'¦bigger the better as you will be
flushing a lot of water through it with your chosen return
With the external pump on the left side of the sump, I was
planning on dumping the raw water from the right drain of the
display and splitting it into a front Chaeto refugium compartment
and a live rock compartment behind it, each 15 gals and the
remaining to feed the external skimmer. Should I valve one of
those to reduce the flow and which one?
<<I 'would not' place any type of valve/restriction
on the drain lines. Depending on your final plumbing
configuration, they are likely to be taxed as it is>>
From there the water would drain into another narrow chamber that
the left side of the tank drains into, before a couple of
bubble/sedimentation traps and the final compartment with my
heater and pump uptake. Does this appear workable?
<<Is workable, but (yeah, here I go again)'¦ If
you have not built this yet'¦ 'Ideally' the
drains from the tank would flow to a compartment on one end from
which the skimmer would draw'¦water would then flow
through the refugium compartments and in to the chamber where it
is returned to the tank via the pump. This type configuration
allows the skimmer to process raw tank water with a minimum
impact on the biota in the refugium compartments (due to the flow
of water coming 'from' the skimmer compartment to the
refugium), and also allows said biota to be washed to the return
pump compartment to be carried to the tank for the benefit of
your livestock in the display tank>>
I would like to maximize the size of the refugium/live rock
compartments and minimize the remaining ones.
Without knowing how much will drain down during a power
<<You 'need to know this''¦ Run some
tests and adjust the height of the drain intakes as needed to
keep from overflowing the sump. Watch the water as it drains when
the pump is off (turning it back on if needed to keep from
overflowing on to the floor) and then mark this maximum water
height on the outside of the sump>>
how do I go about setting the top height of the panel between the
<<This is determined by the 'working height' of the
water in the sump (i.e. - when the pump is running)>>
If I use up 30 gallons in the refugium sections, is 12 gallons
enough for the pump and overflow insurance?
<<Maybe'¦maybe not'¦ You need to do
some tests and adjust your plumbing as required>>
I'm planning on the bottom edge of the bubble traps 1"
off the bottom and the top edges up near the top of the
<<Likely fine'¦ But do some
I've attached a drawing of my plans and also in which I
assume any evaporation will show up in the left-most compartment.
Lastly, if one of my drains gets clogged, I assume the display
will overflow, any ideas on mitigating that disaster with my
<<Indeed I do'¦ Determine the maximum gravity
flow of the drains (usually an 'average' of around
700-750 gph per 1.5' drain'¦but ultimately
dependent on the plumbing configuration), and utilize a return
pump that will only push as much water to the tank as
'one' of the drains can handle. VoilÃ ! Built-in
Thanks in Advance,
<<Happy to share'¦ Good luck with your build.
|Re: Sump/Refugium (Configuration,
Drains, Etc.) -- 07/03/11
<<Quite welcome Walid>>
So timely a response and on a holiday weekend!
<<Yeah, that Bobster is a real slave-driver!>>
I'll implement your suggestions.
<<Always happy to share my friend'¦ Eric
Sump/Refugium Construction 1/9/11
Hello all and sundry,
Hope all is well where ever in the world you are. We just enjoyed
about 8cm of snow here in Toronto, quite nice really. Anyways,
I've been planning, and thinking, and reading and replanning
how I'm going to go about building my Sump/Refugium combo,
for my 65g reef tank. I've attached a .gif of my current
drawing, and my questions will be based on this. I'm probably
not going to be building this until we're swimming in the
lake again, so I've got a lot of time for revisions.
<Haha, there are nuts that wait until weather like that to
The basic idea is, it will be all acrylic construction, exact
dimensions are not yet set. Water will leave my tank via an
over-flow box (yes I know, due warnings heard, and mostly
accounted for in the plan), and enter the sump into chamber 1.
This is where my skimmer will be (Red Sea Berlin Triple Pass).
From chamber one, water will be removed into my Eheim classic,
and returned via a spray-bar into the refugium (green box, I left
water out of it for the sake of cleaner lines in the drawing),
above chamber 4, where it will pass along happily and back out
the bulkhead back into chamber 1.
The refugium will sit on top of the dividers between chambers
2-4, and lifts out. It will contain a DSB, macro-algae, and maybe
even some mangroves, if I can get them. The whole thing will be
lighted with a 6500k PC on a reverse lighting schedule.
<I would be very hesitant to have the refugium resting on the
Chamber 1 overflows into 2, which overflows into 3, which
overflows into 4, which (finally) overflows into 5. Chamber 5 is
where my return pump is, and is also where I will top-up and dose
. With 4-5 gallons of water in chamber 5, there will be enough
space in my display tank in case the siphon breaks in the
over-flow box, and the worst that will happen is I will loose my
return pump. Yes, I would rather not, but replacing a pump is
significantly cheaper then repairing the potential water
So now the questions:
In this drawing, I've made chambers 2-4, three separate
chambers, which would allow for three different
"things", is this a positive/beneficial idea, or should
I just drill holes between the low dividers (the ones supporting
the refugium) to allow for through-flow of the water, effectively
combining them into a single partitioned chamber?
<I would just make it one chamber. Access will be a hassle
with the refugium on top and constantly moving it is not the
If not, what could I use these chambers for? I had assumed just
lots more live rock, but is there any benefit in using, say,
different sizes in different chambers (crumbles, chunky etc)?, or
something like crushed coral in one, LR in another, and, I
don't know, Oyster shells in the third?
<Either can work fine. Some do this to try and increase pod
production. I vote and use just a dedicated refugium.>
Would I do better to move the over-flow holes in the partition
between 1 and 2 to the bottom of the partition, so that they are
the same water-depth, then fill chamber 2 with something the
water would then have to fully flow through? (this is assuming I
don't make 2-4 a single partitioned chamber)
Would it make sense to add extra support for the refugium, and
add partitions like the drawing Sump-Fuge-drawing2.gif, creating
this forced flow-through in all three centre chambers?
<I would do as in figure 2. Not only is the extra support a
good idea, but having over/under baffles will help you with
microbubbles. Having just over baffles can splash into the next
chamber and make microbubbles a problem.>
What do you like/want to see/want to see changed? Have I missed
<Looks and sounds fine. For my time and money I would simply
make the middle chambers one larger chamber and put the refugium
Thanks very much,
<Welcome, Scott V.>
Sump Question (not so simple) --
I just bought a used 240g acrylic tank set up that needs a sump and
I would like a refugium also.
<<An excellent addition>>
What good brands are there with this combination for this size
<<For a sump and refugium'¦MyReefCreations.com,
Glasscages.com, and others to be found by searching the Net. But if you
are handy at all, it is much cheaper to DIY your own. A simple search
of the Net will find plans for such. For skimmers'¦my first
choice would be one from Reef Dynamics (formerly Euro-Reef), but other
good choices are the offerings from AquaC, H&S, Tunze, Deltec,
Bubble King, Octopus, and others. I do suggest you research all well,
and buy the best you can afford>>
Also my return outlets are 5 inches below the water line, so in case of
a power outage it would drop to this point.
<<This tank has no overflow skimmer to control the water height?
I suggest you don't run the tank at 5-inches above plain open drain
bulkheads. Any misbalance between pump and drains will result in water
on your floor as the drains will certainly be maxed-out (likely running
at "siphon" rate) leaving you no room for error -- plus you
lose the advantage of skimming the accumulated "film" from
the surface of the water. You will need to either add a horizontal
overflow (assuming you are handy enough/can find someone to help with
this), or use something like PVC 90-degree ells to raise the point at
which water enters the drains. If you have an LFS that provides custom
setups/maintains service accounts they should be able to help you with
this -- though fitting 90-degree PVC ells to your drain bulkheads (with
bushings if necessary) is really quite simple to accomplish>>
The tanks dimensions are 8' x 2' x 2'. I need to know how
big I should go with the sump to prevent flooding of the floor.
<<That depends much on what you do re a skimmer (box or ells) for
your drains and the resulting water height above them, along with the
volume of water "running" through your plumbing -- and also
whether or not the refugium will drain down in to the sump as well.
But'¦ Using your original assumption of the water height
being 5-inches above the drains (and still not recommended), and adding
another 10-gallons for plumbing volume (likely more than necessary),
you will need a sump configured to handle a minimum of 60-gallons of
"transient" water volume should the power go off. If we
assume the "working" volume of the sump will be roughly half
of the sump's capacity that means you would need a sump with a
minimum 120-gallon total capacity. Now having a large sump (and
refugium) is great if you have the space, but if this is too large keep
in mind you will be able to go smaller once you work out your drain
skimmer issue. If you decide to go with a manufactured sump versus DIY,
discuss your system with the company and let them help you with
finalizing a size and configuration to suit>>
<<Happy to share'¦ EricR>>
Sump... refugium design 9/8/10
Thanks for your advice last time. Unfortunately the Tang
deteriorated and developed a fairly severe case of white spot
(Ich) and his eye clouded over. I opted for the Easy Life Halt
parasite treatment over removal of the fish (sorry) and I am
pleased to say that he is almost fully recovered with no other
side effects that I can see. Phew...
I have started with my fuge plan and upgraded my skimmer, but my
sump isn't really ideal in its current setup. My idea was to
start with Chaetomorpha in the middle compartment, but as soon as
I added it it fell apart and got sucked though to feed the fish
and the remaining bits seem to have died.
My new idea is to move my Seachem Matrix (which is a man made
live rock, which supports both of nitrifying and denitrifying
bacteria) into the bottom of this compartment to stop the algae
being sucked through to the pumps and it should increase the
water that travels through the Matrix media. This I am hoping is
a reasonable substitute for live sand or
Miracle mud, which I don't think would stay in this
<Not with much water flow, no>
and would risk being sucked into the pumps in compartment 3. As I
hope you can see from the baffles/bubble traps in my picture, it
isn't easy to get a sand bed down, light it and stop the
Sorry it has taken until now but my questions are
1) Does the setup look acceptable to you, I hope I haven't
made a complete mistake. I can't find anything that would
suggest that the Matrix won't be a suitable(ish) replacement
for sand, but equally I haven't found anything to support my
<Mmm, I'd place the skimmer in the last compartment, move
the pump out if there's not enough room... Have you read
the second tray down... Designs...>
2) What critters should I add? Some turbo snails and hermit
<Also in the above cited area>
2) Could I add sand to the empty 1st compartment or would it just
collect detritus and without light struggle to sustain beneficial
life or get sucked into the second compartment.
3) any other ideas
I would guess that the sump holds approx 50 liters of water and
returns c. 3500 - 4000 liters (Eheim 5000 lifting c. 2M) back to
the 600 ltr tank every hour.
Ph - 8.2
SG - 1.026
Calcium - 450
KH - 11
Ammonia - 0
Nitrite - 0
Nitrate - 25 - 40
Phosphates - 0.008 (this is coming down, needed to change
Temp - 80 F
<Keep reading. BobF>
Fuge modification? 7/12/10
First, awesome site! I have spent more hours than I'd care to
admit browsing the site...I do hope you don't mind fielding
<Not at all>
I've looked extensively through the fuse setup/design area
and learned tons, but I think my question is a little too
specific to find an answer to. I recently purchased an acrylic
sump from a LFS (not confident enough in my acrylic skills yet)
for use as a sump, but I think it needs modifying to be effective
(see picture as it is currently).
1) The sump seems to have an over/under water flow to it, while
most fuges seem to be 3 overflowing chambers. Would it be
effective enough to just raise the middle baffle to increase the
water capacity of the sump?
<I would not do this... the volume of water in play to
"make it over" the second overflow to the return water
area will be dangerously small, likely to overflow your system
should the pump fail, or you lose power to it>
Or should I dam up the two underflows (#1) and cut the two
dividers to make a larger middle section?
<You could do this... if you thought having more
substrate/sand in the mid-area was useful... otherwise, rock,
macroalgae can occupy the "water area" here>
2) I saw several suggestions to remove the sponge to eliminate
nitrate build-up. Should I remove the filter sock on the input
for the same reason?
<If you have sufficient mechanical filtration elsewhere, or
the perception that you don't need this screening... Try it
and see... or get in the practice of frequently cleaning this
sock and sponge (at least weekly)>
3) I'd planned on putting sand/LR/Chaeto in the middle
section. Is there any need to have anything in the return area
other than heater and ATO float? Seems like a large space to
<If you use chemical filtrants, contactors, this would be a
good area to place them>
Thanks so much for the feedback!
<Welcome Kelvin, Bob Fenner>
|Re: Fuge modification?
Wow! Thanks for the quick reply!
For clarification, then, should I just use the sump as is w/o
<This is very likely what I would do>
I was worried that the area occupied by the macro/LR/sand was too
small to be effective, since the overall depth of the sump would
only be @ 6 inches or so (area @ 12"x10"x6", I'd
<Anything helps... perhaps another sump added, or space in the
main/display could be utilized... B>
Another refugium question... flow rate, subst.,
ltg.... reading 3/11/10
Hello all at WWM, thanks for being there for those of us who care
enough to not want to make dumb mistakes. Just a couple quick questions
about a refugium before I make any more mistakes. It sure is hard
fixing problems after you have added fish, water, sand, rock etc.. to
your tank. I am in the process of converting a wet/dry that I have been
using as a sump since I started my 75g. tank 2 years ago. The sump is
approx. 24l x14w x 14h half of which will be available for the
refugium. I will have approx. 14x12x10"h water level. Water will
drain from the tank overflows to the refugium section to another
section containing the skimmer pump piped to an external skimmer (Aqua
C 120) that drains back to the 3rd and final section containing the
return pump (mag 5). I figure it is probably close to 300gph from the
tank overflows to the refugium and back to the tank based on head loss
etc.. I am guessing that this size refugium is probably not large
enough to make much of a difference on a 75g. tank but it can't
<Would be better to not have this much flow through the actual
refugium section... Either use a smaller (Mag or otherwise) pump,
divert just some of the flow through the 'fuge area itself, or
best, have the bulk of circulation provided by internal pump/s and not
through this sump period.
Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/refugpumpfaqs.htm
and the linked files above...>
I am writing you for answers and suggestions for maximizing this space
for nutrient removal. I plan on keeping Chaetomorpha in it but am
wondering how deep of substrate considering a 10" water depth.
<See the linked files above...>
obviously a 4-6" sand bed isn't going to cut it. I also have
tons of live rock rubble to go on top of the sand. Next subject is
lighting, how much?
Home depot carries a LOA 27w PC security light fixture here-
seems good as it is designed as an outdoor light and should resist some
corrosion. Will this be enough or will I need a higher wattage PC
Any other advice you can give would be highly appreciated, it could
help avoid the "I wish I would have......". Thanks much in
advance, John P
<Keep reading for now. Bob Fenner>
Skimmer Selection 2/13/10
OK guys, thanks to your wonderful website and great assistance, I
have designed my sump/refugium and I'm now ready to build it.
Would you mind reviewing the drawing (attached) to make sure
I'm headed in the right direction
and would you also mind answering a few bio-filtration questions
about the refugium.
Thanks, you and webmedia.com have been a tremendous help.
PS: As per your advise. I sent an inquiry to EuroReef about
"Which skimmer to buy-RS180 or RSA180," they obviously
sent my inquiry to Reef Dynamics, who said they were now handling
all Euroreefs customer support?
<Yep, just spoke with Jeff yesterday, they basically are
taking over EuroReef now.>
They suggested I buy their INS180 or INS250. I'm confused
about the referral, what happened to EuroReef. Is the INS180 as
good (same as) as the RS180?
<Though I have not personally used one yet, I am comfortable
saying yes, if not better considering the source. They are quite
similar skimmers, the INS series does use a different pump. My
understanding is the RS180 is ceasing to exist.>
Questions (After reviewing drawing):
1. How much LR should be put in Refugium? (There is none in 170g
<As much as you can fit, while leaving some room (perhaps half
the volume) for the macroalgae.
You should be able to fit 12-15 lbs or so of smaller sized rock
2. Should I also put LR in Return section?
<With none in the display I would fit as much as you can in
3. How much Macroalgae in refugium?
<Just a bit, whatever you can buy or trade for. It will grow
<Chaetomorpha is the standard today, is what I would
Will it impact the LR in refugium?
<Yes, the macro will need room to grow, this will limit the
amount of rock you can fit in the refugium.>
4. Should I include DSB in refugium. Mud or Sand? (There is only
aggregate in display)
<I would include a DSB wherever you can. Beware of larger
and the linked files above.>
5. Is my return of 1200gph sufficient for the 170g FO.
<Not as the sole flow. See:
6. Is the 400gph flow through the refugium about right.
<I would honestly go more considering you will have live rock
You do not want to make this a detritus settling ground. Just
letting each overflow line run free would do the trick.>
7. Do you think I will need any additional filtration?
<Not so long as you are able to fit a bit of live rock in the
sump. My only concern looking at your diagram is diverting the
flow from one overflow into the other. This will leave you with
too much flow for a line that size, I would step it up to a
2" line, likely step both up to that while you are at it for
some redundancy in flow capacity. Scott V.>
A Possible Use For A SeaClone/Refugium DIY
I was looking for refugium options for a 30 gallon tank in a
rather tight spot and a light went on in my head... what about
that borderline useless SeaClone 100 that someone gave me?
What I plan is to remove the center tube and fill the reaction
chamber with sand so that the water coming from the initial
chamber enters just above the substrate. Depending on how much
centrifugal motion there is, I might add
a bioball or rubble layer that the water enters into to diffuse
the flow. I plan to illuminate it from the side (through the
plastic) with one of those cheap clip-on 120v sockets with an
aluminum reflector and a 6500k PC.
I have included my hilarious MS Paint rendition of it to aid my
poor description, but it shows the light at the top...first draft
and all that...
<A good enough graphic to visualize your idea.>
My concerns are the upwelling nature of the current and the algal
film that would probably form and reduce light input since it
would be illuminated from the side.
I searched far and wide for some forum with an account of another
person re-purposing their SeaClone, but alas, I have to resort to
pestering the masters. Since I came across your rather large
SeaClone FAQ, I thought perhaps you had stumbled across the
concept in the past. Think I'd be able to grow some Chaeto
and 'pods in it?
<I believe this is possible but experimentation will be needed
on your part for proper water flow/diffusion. Do report back with
your results when you get this tuned in, we can post in our DIY
section for others to benefit.>
Thanks for all the help,
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
DIY Refugium idea 1/27/10
Hey WWM Crew,
I'm in the planning process of a new 180 gal setup.
<I can see>
I have keep marine aquariums for the past several years, with the
biggest being 75 gal. I have always used manufactured equipment,
but with this tank I want to build my own sump/refugium.
<Yes, it's a great project to do!>
I have attached some pics of my plan and was hoping for your
input on whether it is a good idea or not, and any advice on this
<First of all Bryan, I have to congratulate you on your
diagrams they are excellent!>
I have a 40gal breeder that I plan on using for the refugium. In
the first chamber, my plan is to have the initial water flow
through some bio media then overflowing to the pump, skimmer,
& heater chamber (2nd).
<Hmmm, why are you using bio media? With live rock and sand in
your system there is no need to use this at all>
The second chamber is split into two section over half used as a
6" DSB with some vegetable filtration, maybe even a few
critters, lighted by two 65w PC 10,000K. My thought is by having
the DSB on the far side the water can still be pumped through
fairly fast, yet not creating much current in the DSB area.
<Yes, a well thought out plan, and one of a few ways to do
this, but you will have to find a way to move the water in this
Since I have two MagDrive 9.5 laying around, I plan on using
those to return the water to the display by using a closed
<No, will not be a closed loop as such because the sump part
is 'open'. A closed loop has the water entering and
exiting just the pump in a 'closed loop'>.
As for water level height, correct me if I'm wrong but
doesn't the water level equalize to the highest baffle
<Use the baffles to keep the water level correct in the DSB
and the first section. The middle section will lower with
evaporation here. Make sure that your baffles do not go all of
the way to the top of the sump tank, because you will lose space
for 'overflow' should you have a power cut or the pump
Also, because of space available to work with, my main source of
will be live rock (approx: 100lb) in the display and the
overflows lightly pack with bio media and guarded from the stand
<As stated, no need for bio media here. I would place the
skimmer by itself in the first section instead of the bio media,
have the pump etc. in the middle section as planned with the DSB
at the end. Another way to do this is here:
The rest of the tank is fairly standard, 2-3" substrate,
lighted by three 250w MH and four 96w PC actinic, water flow
provided by the closed loop powered by two MagDrive 9.5, and a
couple power heads behind the rock (zip tied to pvc & egg
crate and off the sand and glass) <yes, I see -- and very well
done> with easy access for maintenance. I don't have huge
plans for a big bio load, just a few tangs
<not the monster ones I hope -- some of these get too big for
a 180> and wrasses, and several SPS's. So lay it on me,
will this sump/refugium work, or do I need to rethink this?
<Yes, this will work, I would just make the one change w/ the
I have time, the tank will not arrive until March. Besides, going
slow never hurt me in the past.
<A good philosophy to have!>
<Good luck with your project Brian, Simon>
Re: 22/01/2010 DIY Refugium
Thanks for getting back to me.
I made a few changes to the refugium that I think should
solve the water flow.
<A better arrangement I think, but beware the two
baffles you have either side of the sand bed. These are low
and could easily get clogged with sand. Also these baffles
will dictate the water level inside, and it will not keep
the correct height. I would raise these to the water level
that you want to keep constant over the sand>.
Also, removed the bio balls and replaced with active
<Good move. Keep this inside 'bags', or in a
tray for ease of removal>.
I think I used the wrong words when referring to the return
plumbing, by "closed" I simply meant that the
both returns would join together in the tank in the closed
loop, check out the pic.
<Hmm, I would be keeping these two separate, allows more
flexibility to change things around in future, at least
have an in-line tap between the two so that one can be
Since it is returned by two MagDrive 9.5, I plan on
starting with 3/4" from the sump back to the overflow,
then from there reduce it to 1/2" inside the tank.
<Ok, this will reduce the flow coming from the
One more question, as for leveling this semi-large tank,
due to some tiny imperfections in the wood used to build
the stand, I have a corner that is 1/32" to 1/64"
low. Is it possible to use 1/2" rigid foam insulation
between the tank and stand to solve this?
<I would use polystyrene here, 1/2 - 3/4 inch>.
Again, thanks for your time.
<No problem Bryan, I do think this set-up will work
better than the previous. I am more a fan however of
putting less flow through the sump and having more
'in-tank' circulation, but this is one of the
choices you have to make. When trying to push 1800 gph or
so through two holes you might come across problems. Have
you read here re: hole sizes and flow rates:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BulkheadFloRateArt.htm. You have
not mentioned how large your drain holes are, but you will
need 2 x 2inch holes for this amount of flow to leave some
room for redundancy. I would be tempted to reduce the
amount going through the sump and to consider adding a
propeller pump or two to this 180 for in-tank circulation -
if you have the money perhaps one or two Vortech MP40's
- pricey but worth it IMO - the flow 'range' will
make a huge difference here>.
Thanks Bob and one question. Refugium design/operation
Just got back from the SDMAS that you spoke at!! Loved the
presentation and would love to go dive some time.
<Ahh, do stay in contact>
Now to the nitty gritty. How do you think this sump works?
<I really like the (I think this is what it is) heater
holder... or maybe the angled bit with a hole is for supporting a
The overflow side had miracle mud in it and I think a piece of
egg crate to hold back Chaeto from the return side. I guessing
they didn't run a sock, but have never seen this set up and
am a little confused on the lack of baffles and the high rate of
flow that would be going through this sump/refuge with it being
under a 270 tall.
<I would only run "some" water through such a size,
configuration... tens of gallons an hour... not hundreds. As you
state, more flow will "dump over" any media>
The tank/sump are both custom and ran in concert for years as the
story goes. Do you see any improvements I could make? Should I go
with it as is with the mud, Chaeto, etc and let this puppy run?
THANKS BOB! Josh
Sump is 60 gallons and baffle is 6 inches high.
<Mmm, well, it's a shame the shape isn't more long and
flat vs. tall... I'd use this sump as the prev.
owner/operator likely... but have most of the circulation located
in the display tank itself (recirculating pumps, powerheads...);
maybe add another new sump/refugium in addition... with only
"some" of the recirculated water parsed out to both.
Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm
the second tray... re Sump, Refugium Designs... and let's
chat further re diving and your ideas here. Bob Fenner>
Re: Thanks Bob and one question,
'Fuge design, circulation 1/15/10
Thanks Bob. Much help. Let me tell you what I'm thinking and
see if we're on the same page.
I have 2 K4s circulating the tank
a Gen x 40 pump 1100 gph. would be bumping down from a Coralife
a ASM G4 skimmer
40 Watt UV
Chiller etc etc etc........
Would that be enough of a reduction of flow to run this
refuge/sump as is with the mud ,algae, or should I go down in
<I would divert the greater half or more of flow to just
recirculating... with valves, so you'll be able to adjust,
only running a portion of the flow here through the refugium. I
think all would prove to be too much, washing whatever media,
algae "over the baffle">
P.S. have about ten feet of head and going to plumb chiller/ UV
inline of main discharge. Give you an idea of the friction loss
<Yes... again only part of the water draining through the
refugium, the bulk (through valving) going back to the pump ala a
closed-loop recirculating system. Understanzee? BobF>