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FAQs about Refugium Designs 4

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

Related FAQs: Refugium Designs 1, Refugium Designs 2, Refugium Designs 3, Refugium Designs 5, Refugium Design 6, Refugium Design 7, Refugium Design 8, Refugium Design 9, Refugium Design 10Refugium Design 11, Refugium Design 12, Refugium Design 13 & Refugiums 1, Refugiums 2, Refugiums 3, Refugiums 4, Refugiums 5, Refugiums 6, Refugiums 7Refugiums 8, Refugiums 9, Refugiums 10, Refugiums 11, Refugiums 12, Refugiums 13, Refugiums 14, Refugium Rationale, 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 NoiseMake Up Water Systems, Marine Aquarium Set-Up, Micro-Crustaceans, Amphipods, Copepods, MysidsAlgal Filtration in General, Mud Filtration 1

Refugium of sorts I have a Clear for Life Uniquarium 50g http://www.clearforlife.com/uniqrectangle.html. I have about 40 lbs of LR in the tank and have heard the bio balls can be a nitrate factory. <Yes> I can't seem to get my nitrates below 20 no matter what I try.  I am doing 10% water changes weekly and did two this week.  I suspect I am over feeding and have some food rotting. <Other direct causes...> Never the less I would like to dump the bio balls and turn the two compartments holding the balls into something more useful. <Okay> I would like to keep macro algae back there.  Will that help? <Yes> What Algae's are best? <Listed on WWM: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugalgfaqs.htm> Once I remove the balls, should I keep the back chamber completely full of water as apposed to half full now? <... also posted...>   Should I remove the top black piece of plastic that rests on top of the wet/dry chamber that the water flows over and falls through? <Mmm, I would likely leave on... to reduce evaporation, keep stuff from falling, getting in...> I can't add any mud or sand, etc. can I as I presume those areas are not entirely self contained and so the sand would end up going to the pump in the next chamber over?   <Mmm, if water flow could be reduced, a baffle installed to contain these more dense (than water) materials...> I'm not positive though and can't really get behind the tank to really see.   <One of the reasons I don't like such integral units> I have a skimmer and pump in the chambers in the flow before the wet/dry chambers. <Yes...> Thanks David <Do you have room below, to the side, above where you might add another container... make this into your (new) sump/refugium? Bob Fenner>

Re: refugium of sorts Quick follow up question... <Okay> Should I remove the top black piece of plastic that rests on top of the wet/dry chamber that the water flows over and falls through? <Mmm, I would likely leave on... to reduce evaporation, keep stuff from falling, getting in...> I'm planning on the lighting in the canopy to be adequate lighting for the macro algae.  I have 2X92 PC (one white 1 actinic) on for 8 hours a day. That light would be indirect for the algae, but I'm hoping adequate.  With that, the drip tray would prevent any lighting wouldn't it and the back of the tank is black? <<Yes... in this case, I would remove the cover>>   Does the Macro not really need light? <<It does need light>> I would like to leave the drip tray if that does not pose an issue with lack of light. <Do you have room below, to the side, above where you might add another container... make this into your (new) sump/refugium? Bob Fenner> I do have room underneath in the stand.  I just have a small voice inside saying dump the bio balls and so I want to make positive use of that space that will be void of balls. <<I would try this first then>>   I was planning on creating a bottom filter with foam blocks, but now I'm thinking smaller pieces of LR would be best for the bottom and Macro in the chamber. <<Yes, don't use foam>> One type of Macro in each chamber...  The foam without egg crate or spacers of some sort could sink to the bottom and then create blockage. This is my first tank and only 2 months old.  Knowing what I know now, I would do many things differently.  One of which would be to not get a "UniQuarium".     <<Ahh! You are very new!>> Lastly, I have little on this but discovered reading on your site Xenia can be used to export nitrates.  Would Xenia do well back there or is that silly and I should just go with Macro? <<The macro is vastly superior here>> I'm still trying to figure out why so many hate it so...is it because it can kill fish if they eat it or if it gets hurt and releases toxins or is it just the aggressive growth of it? <<Some can cause troubles>> Thanks Bob for the incredible resource you provide!  I do try to keep my questions short and few and far between.  I have gotten lengthy here and consider my quota exceeded.  ;) <<Heee! Be chatting, Bob Fenner>> Refugium Types/Sizes  12/24/05 Hello, <Hi Mike.> I have been looking through the vast info on refugiums but still have not found a answer to my question. <Okay, I'll do my best to help you out.> I want to set up a 90 gallon refugium but have limited space (horizontally) so my question is: does it make a huge difference to have a taller tank rather than a longer one. I want to set it up to have 5 inches of live sand , live rock and Chaeto algae, but if surface area is important in a refugium I will need to rethink this approach. If I need to have more surface area the biggest tank I can fit is 40 gallons, would this be enough to support a 180 mixed reef. <I would go with the 90 gallon tall option, even though it may lack a little in surface are it will do wonders for your system.  And since I presume there will be no fish in it, the surface are should not matter to much. In any event any type of refugium is better than no refugium, and the bigger it is the better.  Adding this much water volume to an already large system will make it much more stable and the benefits of a  fishless refugium as I'm sure you know are just really GRAND in my experience. The taller alignment will allow you to put a nice DSB in there, I would go with more than 5', maybe 6+ (but no more than 10'). The only drawback I can see is the lighting, if you plan on growing 'rooting' algaes or placing photosynthetic animals on the bottom you may have to purchase more intense lighting. If you have a tumbling/floating algae like Gracilaria or Chaetomorpha'¦then it should not be an issue. Good luck, this is a very worthy project.> Thanks <Quite welcome.> Mike Winston <Adam Jackson.>

Refugium  12/15/05 Hello, <Hi there> I have a 75g saltwater that has been running nicely since I started it about two years ago.  I've been toying with the idea of creating/purchasing a refugium similar to the CPR Aquafuge PRO refugium.  I currently have the Oceanic sump that was intended for use with the tank above.  It functions well, but does not seem to allow much flexibility due to the fact that it must use a submerged return pump and the skimmer (Agua-C Urchin) takes up any leftover "refugium" space there might have been.   <Yes> I would like to use a much larger sump/refugium, but space is at a premium and I must make do with the cabinet space below the tank.  How are the Aquafuge PRO refugium units? <Very nice... for what they are. Sturdy, functional>    I realize I would most likely be downgrading in skimmer quality, but I believe having a lit refugium would benefit all inhabitants of the tank (yellow tang, once. clown, scooter blenny, 2 green Chromis, 100 lbs live rock, various hardy mushrooms/polyps, numerous snails) for varying reasons.  I have read many of the FAQ's and I like the idea of having the DSB, live rock and growth of macro algae.   <Me too> The Aquafuge PRO seems to have much of what I am looking for with the space I am allowed, but if there is a better alternative then I am all ears.  I'll be moving within the next month so I would like to make some general adjustments/improvements while I am at it.   Thanks for your time, Brian   <Mmm, all is posted re on WWM... "bigger is better", there are upstream possibilities if there is room elsewhere/above... Bob Fenner>

Upstream vs. Downstream: Refugiums  12/04/05 What would I need and how exactly do you set up an above the tank refugium <Depends on your individual system needs but at the least you need a pump feeding the refugium from the display or sump (preferably the feed is from raw overflow water) and the refugium will then overflow back into the display or sump. In your case you seemed to be concerned of microfauna passing through the pump so you will probably opt. to have the refugium overflow directly into the display. A mentioned before there are tons and tons of ideas available both here on wetwebmedia and the net in general and I also feel the need to plug the book "Reef Invertebrates" again. There is a great diagram on upstream and down stream refugiums within. Plus tons of other useful info!> --Sbatiste <Adam J.> 

Upstream or Downstream: Marine Refugiums  12/03/05 Hey there, <Hello.> I'm relatively new at the marine aquarium hobby and started with a 20 gallon tank <About half the size I recommend for marine newbies but is 'do-able' with discipline and proper planning/care.> I had when I was kid that held, hermit crabs, gerbils, crawfish <Not all at the same time I imagine, hehe.> <<I don't know.. sounds like the start of a good gumbo!  MH>> and any other animal my mother insisted I didn't bring home from elementary school. Moving on, present day, I started it off as a sort of quarantine tank in hopes that I could keep this and move to a bigger tank eventually. Well its has been about 8 months and no problems, live rock, two Amphiprion ocellaris, Gramma loreto, a couple Turbo fluctuosa and a few Paguristes cadenati. Which is the set up recommended by Paletta's book about a simple desktop tank (sorry I purchased his book first, <No apology necessary, this is a great book for first-timers.> but I got more of the meat out of your book). <<Is that what happened to my bookmeat?  I'd like it back, please, we were planning on having some for dinner.  Marina>> I would like to move to a 150 gallon tank and use this tank as a refugium since everything is going good.  <I always say, 'No matter what size tank you start with you always want a bigger one. Using the 20, gal as a refugium is a great idea.> I've been reading a lot of articles about such things and I was wondering what's better to do. Place the refugium under the tank and hide it. Having the overflows from the main tank go down and then pumping it back up. Or, putting the refugium higher and letting gravity feed back to the main tank. <Either way has its own benefits/drawback but both are acceptable ways of going about it, depends on your wants aesthetically and your needs space wise.> In this perspective I could build I nice cabinet of some sort and sort of display it rather then hide it, which I like. <Yes if you plant o clean it so its aesthetically pleasing this would be a worthy project, personally mine, while it is diligently taken care of, looks like a mess so I choose not to display it.> Also, I think it might be better for organisms to fall to the main tank rather then being harshly pumped to the main tank. <The latter statement of the microfauna being killed by the pump is rather over-hyped in my experience, pods and such still make there way into the display even with his set-up.> The only other filter media I was thinking of using was a Eheim canister filter for the big tank. What do you think? <Would rather see the refugium, teamed up with a large protein skimmer.> Any other insights since your refugium article on your website or should I just do the experiments and write my own article as you suggested to the other bloke?  <Not sure what you are referring to.> Thanks,  <Welcome.> PJ <Adam J.>  

Refugium Too Small? - 11/22/05 Dear Bob, <<EricR here tonight while Bob readies himself for another adventure.>> I greatly appreciate all of the help that WWM has provided over the past few months. I especially credit the crew for "redirecting" and referring the many readers to sources of info rather than giving "an answer". <<Hee! Much to be "discovered" on the site.>> I have a bit of an opinion question here. <<I'm pretty good at giving my opinion. <G> >> I have a 180g FOWLR 150-200 lbs LR. Two wet/dries, circulation ~ 1500g hr w/two Little Giant 4MDQXSC pumps. I have a Turboflotor Multi-Skimmer. I modified one of the wet/dry filters to have a refugium that is approx 10 gallons, which I know is pretty wimpy for the 180. <<Agreed>> The refugium was intended to serve as a nutrient export. The fuge is growing two healthy softball size tufts of Gracilaria that is doing well and growing SLOWLY, but over the past two months not enough growth to require thinning. <<Mmm...maybe a testament to your water quality...or maybe to the way the water gets to the 'fuge (i.e. - not the nutrient rich surface extractant?).>> Is it worth keeping the fuge? Or would it be better to scrap the fuge and add another skimmer (which I already own)? <<With all things considered (FOWLR tank, refugium size), I'm leaning toward the second skimmer...or maybe even a fluidized-bed filter.>> I have noticed some small snail like creatures in the fuge that look like tiny white slugs that cling to the glass like snails. Are these most likely flatworms? <<Maybe...tis possible.>> Will they do any harm in a FOWLR ? <<Not likely.>> Thanks, Jimmy <<Welcome, EricR>>

Refugium -   11/16/05 Thanks for responses. <<Welcome>> Another question or two, system = 72 gallon tank, definites are AquaC skimmer and large CPR Aquafuge refugium. FOWLR system, question - limited space in cabinet- have these 2 choices, either a CPR wet/dry filter or an Amiracle mud filter which could be used as a refugium. Which would be better for a FOWLR system, knowing emphasis is on fish? Thanks in advance, Paul <<Probably either system could employed successfully. But with most folks tendency to overstock or house big, messy feeders in a FOWLR, and the general acceptance that a small bit of nitrate buildup in these systems is allowable, I would go with the wet/dry for its increased bio capacity and ability to more quickly adjust to shifting bio loads. EricR>> 

Refugium For Nutrient Export & Pod Growth - 11/14/05 Hi Guys, <<Some pretty sharp gals around here too!>> It's been awhile since I asked anything so here goes... :) <<ok>> Mine is a 55G softies with LPS reef and I intend to add a Refugium for Nutrient Export & Pod growth. <<Excellent!>> I'm thinking of going with a Refugium above the Tank with returns fed by gravity to the main tank. <<A good plan.>> My tank isn't drilled or reef-ready. <<I see>> My main aim is to bring Phosphates & Nitrates down (from 25ppm to under 10ppm for NO3). <<Mmm...maybe closer to 5ppm or less...>> I am feeding carefully and changing 20% of the water every 2 weeks. <<Very good>> What is the minimum size 'Fuge I will need for it to work. <<As big as possible, but a 29g is a good place to start.>> Do I put in a layer of sand, rocks n Macro, or just Macro and LR rubble ? <<For nitrate reduction, general nutrient export, and "pod" habitat I would go with a 5" DSB and Chaetomorpha algae...is what I use. EricR>>

Re: Refugium For Nutrient Export & Pod Growth - 11/15/05 Hi Eric/Whoever else responds. <<Howdy, EricR again>> Since the Refugium will sit atop my canopy, will 29 gallons with a 5" DSB be a little too heavy? <<Ah, yes...your previous email did not mention setting the refugium on the canopy...I would not do this. You will need to contrive some other way of supporting/suspending the refugium above the tank. It is my opinion that anything small enough to set safely upon the canopy will be of little practical use.>> What about flow...do I keep it low or high flow? <<Five to ten times the tank volume should be sufficient.>> Thanks, L <<Regards, EricR>>

Refugium Confugium!! 10/25/05 Hi Bob, <Scott F. here tonight!.> I am interested in converting my wet dry filter into a sump that utilizes Live Rock and Live Sand, I have a 75 gallon tank with a SeaLife Systems wet dry. If you take a look at these models, perhaps you could help me in my conversion. In the section of the wet dry that has no bio balls, I have the protein skimmer, so I am guessing this is not the place I will be converting, but rather taking out the bioballs and replacing them with a sand bed (DSB?) and live rock. <You could...> Will the sump need a light over it, and if so could I just put a lamp underneath my tank (have a stand where all of these filters are) to light the sump? <That's exactly what I'd do. You could use a compact fluorescent or T5 fixture.> For other forms of filtration, my tank has 79 lbs. of live rock, and I am about to get an Aquafuge PS Refugium with another small skimmer that comes with the package, with a 6" Fine sand bed, Live Rock Rubble, and Chaeto', how does this fuge' sound? <It sounds just fine, really. Using these types of adjuncts is a great way to help your system. Chaetomorpha is an excellent macroalgae to assist in nutrient control and export.> I am kind of wondering how I am going to light the refugium because it needs lights even though it is HOT right? (hang on tank). <Typically, extra light is desired.> Could I just clamp a normal light on to the back of my tank and shine it into the refugium? <That would work just fine. There are a lot of cool "clip-on" style lights out there now.> P.S. I really want to convert the wet dry before the nitrates start building up too crazy, so if you could give me a direct answer and not a web page I have already looked at, it would be so greatly appreciated :) (checked all of the links on sumps and refugiums) <It's really not too complicated. You are absolutely on the right track-stock the sump and light as you see fit! No real "rules", per se.> An off topic question, do you think I could put two small damsels, and 3 small green chromis into an Eclipse 12? <I would be inclined to use smaller, less active fishes, such as gobies or blennies, in such a system.>  Thanks, Clare

Refugium 10/13/05 Guys and Gals, A bit of advice please. I am in the process (which your advice has helped me with) of converting the wet/dry filter in my 55G Uniquarium to something more reef-friendly. part of my goal is to keep the tank as silent as possible due to location, which is going very well. It's almost silent except for the hum of the pumps.  The attached file shows the configuration of the filter chambers today.  <<No file found.>> Tank has about 60-70lbs ( a guess, tank is 3rd in a long-line of reef tanks and rock has built up over many years) of live rock configured to have many semi-cryptic (semi-dark, high flow and low-flow areas), and deep sand bed. Skimmer will be Tunze 9002 (when they actually manage to get to the states). Questions are these; the chamber marked refugium is only appx 2.5-3G. I would like to either a) put a few of those loose-weave sponges in there to grow pods or b) pack it full of small live rock pieces and seed it to create a small cryptic zone (only because I'm fascinated by that concept) or c) light it, and add some macro algae to give pods a place to play and for nutrient export.  Questions are these; is this area large enough to be effective at all at any of the 3 options?  <I believe it would be effective by using a combination of (b) and (c)> How does one clean detritus out of a cryptic zone, or are the inhabitants supposed to do that?  <Incorporate detritus eating critters. I suggest a 1 1/2 to 2" layer of live sand in the refugium area, this should provide the critters to do the job.>  And a totally unrelated question; does anyone have any idea how much noise (Db) a typical Euroreef CS6-2-RC makes or a resource to find out?  <I have no idea as to db level, you may find something is the FAQ's here. http://www.google.com/custom?q=Euroreef+skimmer&sa=Google+Search&sitesearch=wetwebmedia.com.   If not, I'd contact Marine Depot or another on line store that sells Euroreef Skimmers. James (Salty Dog)> Thanks - TJ  <You're welcome>

Above Display Refugium  10/6/05 Hi and hope all the crew is well.<Good morning.  All is well, haven't been up long enough for something to happen.> I am planning an above display refugium for my 37 gallon SPS and Clam tank, and I was planning on using this tub. ( http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/product.asp?catalog%5Fname=USPlastic&category%5Fname=97&product%5Fid=15206) I was planning on drilling a hole sufficient to use a 1" bulkhead near the top of the tub so that the water could gravity drain into my display. I was wondering if that hole would comprise the structural integrity of the tub and might eventually lead to some problems if not immediately.<Bulkheads generally have a large flange which would reinforce the area in question. I'd give it a try.>  Also, this tub would only hold Chaetomorpha, no sand or live rock. Is not using sand OK because I was under the impression that amphipods and copepods would be able to reproduce successfully in the algae itself without requiring rock or sand. <Better to have a little live sand in the ref for cultivating pods.> My second question is concerning my return pump. I plan on using a Mag 9.5 to supply a 3/4" Sea Swirl for my display and the above display refugium that is approximately 63" above the pump. I propose to split my return, one going to the display (approximately 48" above pump) and the other going to the refugium. After the tee, I would have a gate valve controlling the flow to the refugium and the display. Is the Mag 9.5 powerful enough to run this configuration keeping in mind of my intended livestock? <I think you've got a little overkill here.  I'm thinking the Mag 9.5 puts out around 950gph.  Tank and ref shouldn't require more than 600gph.  I based the 600gph figure on flow loss you will have with the Sea Swirl.  James (Salty Dog)> Feel free to be very critical in my proposed design. Gratefully, Nick Refugiums-Does Size Matter?  10/5/05 First of all, let me lead the crusade to outlaw in-tank overflow boxes that use a J-tube or U-Tube siphon. They are an accident waiting to happen. They can go bad at anytime - lose siphon for no particular reason, slow up their flow rate so pump not getting enough water in sump, etc etc. Either get a pre-drilled tank or use a refugium/sump above your tank you can pump into and gravity feed out of back to tank. <A big "amen" to that one!> After several weeks of trying to get a below tank sump/refugium to work with 4 different overflow boxes on an undrilled tank, I gave up. I went out and bought a CPR hang-on 18" refugium and moved the EcoSystem Miracle Mud and macro algae into this unit and abandoned my attempts to get the sump to work. <Sorry to hear of your troubles...> My question - do you think the 18" CPR unit with about 1"-2" of Miracle Mud and a good growth of Chaetomorpha will be sufficient for my 29 gallon aquarium? <In my humble opinion, almost any sized refugium can benefit your system. The increased biological diversity, addition of natural food sources, and nutrient export capability offered by a well-thought-out refugium makes the effort worthwhile. Sure, bigger is better, but your idea sounds just fine to me!> It's a reef only with about 50 pounds of well cured live rock. No corals yet - when I do buy them it will just be some Button Polyps and maybe a rock full ox Xenia and a Leather or two. This weekend I'll plumb in a skimmer ((maybe a hang-on unit). So far, after two weeks, ammonia/nitrites/nitrates all at 0 with only bio load the live rock. Will the 18" CPR refugium, the Miracle Mud and macro algae, and a skimmer be sufficient and allow the corals to thrive? - Mark (SnorkelMark) <Well, Mark- this combination will work just fine, provided that you couple them with solid husbandry techniques (routine small water changes, good feeding habits, use of activated carbon/Poly Filter or other chemical filtration media, and careful stocking). Take it slow, monitor your tank carefully, and add animals slowly. Good luck to you! Regards, Scott F.>

Mud/DSB/Refugium - 09/30/05 Hello and thanks for the great site and forums. <<Glad you like 'em.>> I could not link to the forums page to post there, so I thought I would send an email.  Thanks in advance for your help. <<Email is fine.>> I am setting up a built-in system intended to house a live-rock based reef.  My 90G show tank overflows via a custom tank top into a 55G tank converted to a three-chamber sump and returns to the main tank via a pump running at probably 1100gph (Supreme Mag Drive 12). <<Mmm...pretty good pump...but with head height, probably returning a bit less than you think.>> This custom setup was originally intended to house an ecosystem (mud) filter in the central chamber (about 20" x 12").  Over time and having read various apparently conflicting information, I wound up investing in some Aragamud from CaribSea instead of Miracle Mud.  Do you know this product, and is it intended to be an alternate to MM or have I been steered in the wrong direction. <<Honestly, no...I'm not a user/familiar with either product.  Though I think for the application you describe either will suffice.>> I may be confusing the functions of a DSB with a mud tank with a refugium, and what I really want to do is set it up right in the first place. <<Either will do what you desire.  The finer grades of substrate just require less depth to get the job done.>> My goal is to create a system that allows relatively low maintenance - i.e., it provides filtration (denitrification and nutrient export) , it can provide planktonic food, it can reduce the amount of artificially added supplements needed. <<Oh... so you are seeking Utopia! <G> >> So is this ideal system a mud tank with just a thin layer of mud and macroalgae, a DSB with live sand live rock rubble and macroalgae, or something else? <<My preference is a 6" DSB of sugar-fine aragonite with Chaetomorpha algae.  Though you could add a layer of "mud" on top of the DSB if you want.>> I have read through many of your excellent forums, but am still confused.  Does a mud system accomplish denitrification? <<If deep enough, yes.>> Can a mud system support creatures that could produce the planktonic food a "refugium" can? <<I think a vegetable refugium excels here.>> Does a DSB have to be "partially changed out" like Ecosystems recommends mud systems do?   <<Not so much changed out as added to.  Aragonite has a half-life of about 18 mos. so you'll need to add more every so often.>> Sorry for the disorganized questions.  Your advice is greatly appreciated.  I have already invested $$$ in the system, if I have to invest more to set it up right in the first place, I am ok with that. <<<<Very good my friend, starting right is key... EricR>>

Re: Mud/DSB/Refugium - 10/01/05 Thank you Eric. <<Welcome>> The 55G sump is only a 8" or so lower than the show tank, so there isn't a lot of head loss on the pump.  I designed and had built acrylic parts that allow the water in the 90G to rise above the rim, and literally overflow down a spillway (ramp) into the 55G, so the 55G is right next to and nearly the same level as the show tank. <<Ah!... Sounds like a very interesting design.  Would imagine this allows you to move much more water (and quietly too!) than a traditional overflow does.>> In reading your posts that address DSB's, as well as the offerings from IPSF etc., I am again confused as to fauna.  IPSF sells kits that contain sand sifting creatures like ministars, yet I see advice in your forums saying you DON'T want such creatures in your sand.  Can you clarify? <<The purpose of the refugium is to allow desirable biota to flourish and reproduce...thus...you want to limit/prevent introducing organisms which will feed on this biota...which "sand sifting" stars do VERY efficiently.  But if these are mini-brittle stars, they can be desirable as detritus feeders.>> And how to prevent H2S problems like I see in at least a couple frantic posts? <<While it is a possibility, it's not your "destiny" to have H2S problems because you have a DSB.  Good maintenance/husbandry practices and (this is very important)...STRONG water flow will prevent any calamities.  I've kept deep sand beds for years, and still do, with no such (H2S) problems.>> Once again, thank you! <<Very welcome, EricR>>

Re: Mud/DSB/Refugium III - 10/02/05 I don't know how it compares noise-wise with regular overflows.  I suspect it would be quieter if I had designed the spillway to come all the way to the water level in the 55.  As it is, there is a short waterfall off the end of the chute into the 55. <<Ah yes, not having the water "fall" in to the 'fuge would make a difference.>> The main reason I designed this was a) I wanted a refugium/DSB sump at a level more workable than on the floor, so a drilled tank was not feasible, and b) I wanted to eliminate the potential for pumped overflow that siphon tubes present. <<I see...much more enjoyable to work/observe when you don't have to crouch/lay on the floor <G>.>> There is no way to overflow this setup.  If anyone else wants to try it, I sure can give them a lot of advice on how to do it, since I have been struggling with it for a year now.  But my final technique seems to work great.  The stars from IPSF say "Introducing MiniStars tm, our 100% Captive-Bred Hawaiian Reef Brittle Stars. MiniStars are small, incredibly industrious sand stirrers and cleaners ".  I keyed off the word "sand stirrers", but that is not the same as the harmful "sand-stirring stars" we are talking about? <<Nope...these sound like they would be fine...though I would limit their numbers all the same.>> When you refer to "strong water flow", you are talking about within the refugium, yes? <<Over the DSB, yes.>> As stated, I have 1000+ GPH through a DSB chamber 20"x12"- enough, or should I add powerheads within the chamber? <<From your description, this sounds like it will be sufficient.>> Thanks again for your responses. <<Always welcome... EricR>>

Refugium Methodology/Design - 09/27/05 Guys, <<Some very knowledgeable "Gals" here as well...EricR with you tonight.>> I ran across an interesting article by Anthony Calfo on http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2005-04/ac/index.php that talks about creating a breeding ground for plankton by having what sounds essentially like an unlighted box in the tank flow with hanging media slightly smaller than the height/width of box.  He even calls out an example of pond master rigid prefilter inserts.  This is the first I've seen something like this described.  Curious as to your comments. <<As with many of Antoine's ideas, I think this too is a good one.  I've employed this type of "pod farm", though utilizing a different application of the filter pads, and can vouch for their effectiveness as a suitable "habitat".>> Here is text.  Seems to me like the pads would become a source of nutrition for nuisance algae no? <<No more than a pile of live rock rubble.  A healthy population of amphipods, mysis shrimp, etc., will keep decaying detritus to a minimum...in fact...you'll probably find you have to provide supplemental feedings to keep the critters from cannibalizing their young.  And with Anthony's design, you can always siphon out the build-up of mulm from the bottom (with the loss of a few "pods" of course) without greatly impacting the resident populations.>> "Plainly stated, though, a staggeringly simple plankton-generating refugium can be constructed as follows. Take an empty aquarium or water-holding vessel (plastic shoebox, food storage container... whatever!) and tap it inline to the system. It can be upstream from the display (fed with pumped water that overflows back down), or downstream from the display (catching water before or after the sump pump, and before the topside display return). In this empty, water-filled vessel, string a series of coarse filter pads (such as Supreme brand "Pond Master" rigid prefilter inserts, cut to size) like clothes drying on a line. A bit of strong fishing line will do well here. The thick pads are to be slightly smaller than the height and width of the water column in the tank. And, they should be given space between each pad. This will allow strong water flow through the aquarium and all around the pads. That's all! No substrate; no lights needed. You simply have a dim or dark refugium filled with coarse media suspended off the bare bottom on a string, being given a strong water flow and a food source (raw overflow water and/or supplemental feeding). It's not rocket surgery...errrr, rocket science, I mean. It's just a dense matrix with good water flow and a food source for amphipods and other microcrustaceans to grow free from predation. A verifiable pod disco! Many will overflow each day and be an incomparable natural food source (and this productive refugium cost only a few tens of dollars, at most, to build)." Rotating Refugia?  9/2/05 Hello to all, <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> First, I would like to thank all of you for your noble efforts here,the wealth of knowledge is truly awe inspiring (and money saving). <Thanks for the kudos! We're happy to be hear for our fellow hobbyists> Now, I must admit that I've "got it bad" for difficult fishes, Mandarins and Seahorses, really.  I've not made any purchases as I know that I'm not capable of them yet. <Commendable restraint on your part, for sure!> My question today has to do with the Mandarins, more specifically, keeping them fed.  I've heard many accounts of their ability to decimate pod populations even in tanks with refugiums and I would be remiss to ignore them.  I doubt my idea is original, so I would like your opinions here please.  I would like to set up a three 'fuge, two sump system for food culturing. All of the 'fuges would be for pod generation but only one would feed the tank at a time, leaving the other two growing.  My rationale for this is from crop rotation, really.  If one feeds, and two grow in say two or three month intervals, then it should give each 'fuge a six month growth period before it had to feed the tank.  I know it would take some creative plumbing but that's part of the fun right? <It would- and it can be pretty fun to play with, if you're into the whole plumbing thing!> I hope this made sense enough to you all (and that I don't sound like an idiot).  So am I way off base here or headed for an extravagant failure?  I'm not afraid of complexity but if it's not more effective than a single large refugium then I'd rather forget it. Any experience with this?  Please send your response to my personal email XXXX@hotmail.com, not really sure where it would go otherwise. Thank you for your time. Josh <Well, Josh- your idea is actually pretty cool! I suppose you could also use separate refugia to cultivate different species of mysids as well.. perhaps, just isolating mysids in one 'fuge, amphipods in another, etc. Interesting. Of course, there will be a lot of plumbing realities, but it certainly is a cool idea, conceptually! I'd go for it! In fact- go for it- then write about it and submit it to Adam and I for possible publication in Conscientious Aquarist online magazine, right here on the WWM site! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Refugium Skimmer Clarification - 08/30/05 Gule-gule Crew... <<Mmm...are you coming or going <G>?  EricR here again.>> I had a system start-up question EricR was kind enough to respond to yesterday, but some clarification (please type s-l-o-w-l-y so I can understand) might now be needed. <<ready to c-l-a-r-i-f-y>> In reading his well-reasoned response where he pointed out: "The refugium is 30 x 18 x 20 also with a six inch DSB. <<Very good!>> Intend to use an AquaC Remora protein skimmer on the back of the refugium along with Chaeto for nutrient export. <<Mmm, a few things come to mind here.  Firstly, Kudos on the Chaeto!...second, great choice on the skimmer manufacturer, but I think you need to look in to a larger model (AquaC EV180)...third, you don't mention a sump so I'm guessing the 'fuge is serving as both (not ideal, but can be done).  Be sure to section off with the tank return/skimmer compartment first, refugium second, and return pump compartment last.>> " It soon became apparent I had "posted in haste, repented in leisure".  One of my design criteria for my Fiji biotope is to minimize the plumbing wherever possible.  Thusly, my choice of the AquaC Remora Pro (left out that Pro bit, my bad) protein skimmer. <<Yes...but still too small for this system.>> The over-arching criterion which that particular design meets is it utilizes a submerged pump to perform the skimming function, thusly eliminating a *bunch* of PVC plumbing. <<A "submerged pump" is a criterion easily met with a quality "in-sump" model skimmer.  This can be done with the larger AquaC model I recommended (can be external OR internal)...or look in to the Euro-Reef and ASM in-sump skimmers if you like.>> The refugium itself receives surface layer overflow from the display tank (via a weir) leading to a triple-baffle area encompassing the leftmost five inches of the 'fuge.  The next section is a 6 inch DSB twenty inches long which is baffled off from a five inch wide 'sump' with a submerged 300 gph pump to return water to the display. <<Ahh...excellent!>> I had intended to mount the AquaC skimmer on the 'fuge section...should I relocate it to the baffled inlet area instead ? <<I would.  You want your critters/epiphytic-matter to wash from the 'fuge to the return pump without being sucked up by a skimmer.  Not that having the skimmer in the first chamber means critters/matter won't get to it...but the "flow" through the sump/refugium will carry most away to be better "utilized".>> Display circulation comes from a pair of submerged 1200 gph pumps which utilize a closed-loop PVC arrangement 'ala Anthony' to provide random circulation fluctuations. <<Antoine do have a nice design <G>.>> In Navy speak: take suction from inside the display, return discharge directly to the display :-).  No siphons, Durso pipes etc...sweet! <<More simple to plumb...but what about hiding/servicing those pumps in the display?>> Built thusly (and it is looking great) my setup has but one 1 1/2 inch down line from the weir and one 1 1/4 inch return line from the refugium pump.  Everything else (skimming and circulation) is accomplished with closed-loop, self-contained flow paths. <<Sounds like a very "clean" look.>> Now (thanks for having read so much tripe) a question arises over skimmer sizing.  The AquaC Remora Pro sitting in its box beside the stand is rated for a system up to 120 gallons.  However the EV180 recommended is sized for up to 200 gallons.  When selecting components I have been using a rough rule of thumb that my system will be 60% water / 40% displacing solids which means I will only have ~130 or so gallons of actual sea water.  And, I have been using the 130 gallon figure as an upper bound in determining the final bioload carrying capacity for livestock.  Should the skimmer be sized for the 195 gallon empty capacity or the ~130 gallon actual water volume? <<Mmm, probably going to come down to opinions here.  Many manufacturers "size" their equipment to a given tank size (i.e. - 120 gallons means 120 gallon "tank").  When it comes to skimmers (and most anything else in the reef hobby), I feel bigger is ALWAYS better (I have a ER CS12-3).  I'm not going to tell you you can't/won't be successful with the skimmer you've chosen...and to be quite honest...since you already have it, you can start with that and always add a second if need be.>> Using the dictum that "dilution is the solution of pollution" I think I should stick with the lower (130 gallon) figure when selecting the (hopefully happy and healthy) occupants...wouldn't a 200 gallon capacity skimmer be overkill ? <<Nope...not possible in my opinion.>> What say ye, yea or nay ? <<Give the Remora a try...if that doesn't provide enough skimmer punch, add another.>> Thanks again for being such a *great* resource! John <<Happy to help my friend.  EricR>>

DSB Refugium vs. Macroalgae Refugium (Why Not Both?) - 08/28/05 Dear Crew, <<Evening>> In my 75-gallon reef aquarium, the ammonia and nitrite levels are always near zero.  Yet, despite a prodigious amount of live rock (LR) and a deep sand bed (DSB), the nitrate levels must be controlled by frequent water changes.  After 4 weeks of no water changes, the nitrate level will rise to 25-50 ppm per the Salifert Nitrate Test. <<Mmm, not good.  Is it possible you have this tank overstocked?>> My inline refugium sump is empty and I want to engage it for natural nitrate reduction (NNR). <<A good idea, but you also need to address the cause of the high nitrates.>> According to Bob Fenner, LR is not very effective for NNR so I am considering either a DSB or macroalgae for my refugium. <<Why not both?>> (1) In a 15-gallon refugium compartment, what is more effective for NNR:  an un-illuminated DSB or a reverse-daylight Chaetomorpha filter? <<I employ both...I have Chaetomorpha on a RDP over a 6" DSB.  But if I were to use only one, the DSB would win out for simple but effective NNR.>> (2) Is there any published research comparing the effectiveness of DSB and algal filters for NNR? <<Probably...perhaps a few keyword searches will find out.  EricR>> Thanks very much. Regards, Paul. Sump/Refugium Design - 08/12/05 WWM Semi-geniuses, <<Mmm...I "think" that was a compliment...>> I am lost and I want to do it right this time. <<Sounds like you've had some trouble?>> I have spent many hours staring at the LCD screen here at Lab (I should be careful), I mean at home.  Like most but not all other hobbyist, we start small and want to go bigger (Like I say in Euchre or skiing, go big or go home). <<Mmm, yes...I've been at this for more than 30 years...my current tank is 37 times larger than my first...>> I have a 55g FOWLR, a few mushroom polyps, anemones <<sorry to hear this>>, cleaning crew.  It has a hang on overflow (Yes, I know how bad that is or should I say annoying when it loses suction) <<indeed>>, skimmer, and wet/dry filtration.  This will all change with my future tank up-grade.  I am going to get a 90g with built in overflow, probably the All-Glass 90, It is rated for 600gph. <<Likely a bit optimistic.>> I am thinking my new tank will be reef (mostly LPS, some SPS, few reef safe fish).  I will have to do more research on the mixture and compatibility of the inhabitants. <<Ahh...very good!>> Do you think this will have enough flow? <<Not without supplementation...powerheads/closed loop...shoot for 1,000 gph total, or more.>> The tank has two pre-drilled holes in the overflow (~1 1/2" and 3/4") the smaller being the return line.  But, should or could I turn that smaller return line into a overflow line instead so then I will have two lines going to my sump/refugium? <<Could...still won't be enough flow.>> Which leads me to my next question.  I am planning on building a sump/refugium, probably out of a 29 gallon tank.  Let me make sure I have most of the fully controversial facts halfway straight (what a oxymoron). <<What did you just call me?  <G>  >> The sump (which houses the protein skimmer) gets all the raw water from the tank.  But I have read that raw water should go to the refugium too. <<Is preferable in my opinion as well.>> What if the raw water goes through the refugium then to the protein skimmer?  Will this hurt all the little critters (food for the corals) coming from the refugium up to the display or just give them one hell of a ride? <<Hmm...given these choices, I would have the water go through the skimmer then the refugium, rather than the other way 'round.>> I have attached a plan I found for a sump/refugium.  The only thing I would want to change is not to have the little Maxi-Jet 400, instead have a T coming off of the raw water line with a valve to adjust flow into the refugium. <<A workable design.>> Another option would be to use the 3/4" return hole for the overflow into the refugium (with a valve on it to control flow). <<This might well be the better option.>> Plus the skimmer would probably be in the sump (depending on what model, Euroreef or Aqua C)? <<Either one are good choices/will serve you fine.>> Would this be optimal or do you have another suggestion on where to find more designs and setups (I love diagrams)? <<If you can't manage a separate 'fuge and sump this is a fine design.  You should be able to do some keyword searches on the NET for more design options.>> I like this setup due to the fact that I only need one return pump back to the tank...I think this will eliminate a lot of headaches in the future.  Sometimes the simplest things are the best. <<And the most reliable...>>   Thank you and hope all is well on your end. Todd <<Very well...thank you.  Regards, EricR>>

Re: Sump/LR/Refugium 8/15/05 Although I did forget a question about my refugium.  Since my pump pumps so much water, obviously I cant turn my sump into a refugium.  Should I be able to convert it into a Berlin style sump and run my refugium in tandem-parallel for nitrate reduction??? Thanks Fargo <Could. Bob Fenner>

Refugium Sump - 07/15/05 Hello Crew, <<Evening>> I'm am in need of your advice. <<I shall try to assist.>> I am new to the hobby but I must say I'm already addicted. <<Does happen fast...>> I have a 29 gallon (fish with live rock) and I am now ready to move to a bigger tank. <<Yep...you're addicted...>> I purchased a used 75 gallon tank (7 years old).  I am currently in the process of resealing the tank, just to be on the safe side. <<OK>> I am planning on using a sump/refugium.  This, as you know, can be a very expensive piece of equipment. <<Yes...insanely so I agree.>> I did quite a bit of research on making my own. <<So did I>> I have a 20 gallon long glass tank and would like to turn this into a sump/refuge.  I attached a picture of the design I came up with. <<Excellent design...just like mine on a smaller scale.>> Could you please let me know if a 20 gallon SR is sufficient and if the design of the tank will work? <<Bigger is always better but yes, this will work.>> Thanks a bunch! <<Regards, Eric R.>>

Refugium Design Choice - Is It Big Enough? - 05/10/05 Hello again: and also thanks again for the invaluable service you provide for this hobby. Hello again to you Bob!  And you're quite welcome...'tis a pleasure.> I read up on refugiums via the links you sent me, it helps a lot. <Excellent!...much more info to be found in the FAQs than I could ever pass on here.  I do encourage you to keep "Googling" on topics here of import/interest to you.> The plans/design was exactly what I have in mind for my cramped space of 30"X18". I modified the size to fit my needs, which left me with a refugium size of about 12"X18". What I was wondering was, will this size refugium be big enough to help improve my water quality noticeably? <Depends on what you define as "noticeably."  Will it provide nutrient export/nitrate reduction to assist your good husbandry practices?...yes.  Will it be a panacea?...no.  Bigger is always better, but if you put a minimum 6" of sugar-fine sand in this 'fuge, and cultivate/harvest a soccer ball size clump of macro algae as well (Chaetomorpha is my fave), you will reap benefit rest assured.> Now, I know my tank is too small for the fish load I have in my 120 gal(4 med size triggers 1 small flounder and 3 small Damsels), I will be removing 2 triggers for anger management problems (as soon as I figure a way how), <As strange as it may sound, some fishing line and a "barbless" hook can be a wonderful tank extraction tool for active, aggressive fish.  Can be much less harmful/stressful than chasing them for hours with a net.  Do use care and handle carefully.> but do you think I should remove the flounder as well?  Is he a high output fish?  He's really cool.  He's kinda like having a puppy in the tank, very alert and looking for treats every time I walk by (I resist though). <Not "high output" in the sense that he is active like the triggers, but still a heavy/messy feeder.  If it's not picked on by the other fish and you like it, then keep it, for now.  But be aware as it grows it will start to consume its smaller tank mates.> Any way, thanks again for outstanding dedication, must really take up your time to answer so many emails. I would go nuts man! Bob <If it helps you/anyone, then it's time well spent IMO.  Regards, Eric R.>

Design of Sump/Refugium for FOWLR - Please review Dear WWM Crew, I am trying to design the best sump and refugium setup that will work for me, i.e., allow me to properly maintain it without growing crazy. I will have a FOWLR with a DSB about 4 ins I wish I could have sent a drawing but please tell me if this will work. I have a 60 gallon. 1) I am converting my new AMiracle wet/dry Sea Reef 200into a sump/refugium (I could have got away by just using a 20 gallon Long tank but..) I will be removing all the bio balls. 2) My Euroreef and its pump will be in the sump area of the wet/dry (along with any needed chemicals e.g. Carbon ) and I plan to have a bulk head on the side of the sump . 3) My intake will be through an overflow box using siphon i.e. gravity and an external pump will be connected to the bulkhead and this will return water to the main tank. The intake water will pass through a drip plate with filter material. The overflow box will also have a filtering sponge. 4) I want to create a refugium in the area where the bio balls were originally (this is where I especially need help). I would like to place some live rock and some miracle mud in this area (I could also use some live sand but I have that in my tank) A sponge will help separate the "refugium" from the sump and filter particles before going to the skimmer. Heater could be in the sump I know its a little small but would I have created an effective refugium? Are they any flaws to this approach.  I will say it again - I thank you and my future fish thank you ( I used to be a "murderer" of many fish in a previous "life"). Thanks again <Mmm, this plan should work. I do hope the skimmer will fit, and I would do your best to limit the amount of filter pads... maybe switch to coarse plastic media, like Ehfi-grob by Eheim. Bob Fenner>

You Guys Have Convinced Me About Refugiums  - 05/16/05 Hey Guys, I was a bit skeptical on the value of a refugium on FOWLR with lots of flirtation  <Oh!...so that's how you're suppose to do it <G>. Sorry mate, I think you meant to say "filtration.">  e.g. Euro Reef, canister and wet dry, but after reading the FAQs and doing additional research I am convinced of its great value. <Aha! Is it a necessity?...no...is it of great value?...YES!> Got a question on the setup. I am setting my old wet dry to be a refugium - it has a bulkhead on the side. It will be on the floor on the same level as my NEW wet dry. I have the following options a) Getting water from the sump of my new wet dry as the intake for my refugium and having the outtake go back into the sump. <This will work, though I prefer to have "raw" tank water flow in to my refugium.> b) Getting water from my tank into the refugium and returning it back to the main tank. <Also doable.> c) Getting water from the main tank into the refugium and returning it back to the sump of the wet dry. <I like this one the best (is what I do).> The refugium and the wet dry are on the same level beneath the tank but I could raise one a bit for siphoning purposes. <Highly recommended. Try to establish a height where you can utilize a "gravity" overflow method.> Which is the better method? <See previous remarks.> Which method is also safer in regards to spills caused by overflowing? <As stated, gravity overflow is the safest method. You will need to arrange/adjust overflow/bulkhead heights (on the containers themselves) so that when the power is off, the water will drain down without overflowing the vessel in to which it is draining.> Finally, my intake from my tank to my wet dry is via an overflow box/siphon. In order to get the intake from the main tank to the refugium should I use another overflow box, use a pump or buy a dual overflow box which will feed both the wet dry and refugium (I am slightly worried about too much flow in the refugium) <You don't state what type of refugium you plan to employ (cryptic, vegetable, DSB/live rock, a combination?), but either way there is little worry of "too much flow", though it can be fine-tuned for the particular method you decide to use. As for your overflow...you can "bleed-off" water from the existing overflow to feed the 'fuge. Adding a second siphon-overflow (but not "dedicated" to the refugium) is a good idea for redundancy just because of the nature of this type overflow to sooner or later fail (usually while you are away!).> Once again. Many Thanks. My future fish also thank you. <You, and your fish to be, are very welcome. Regards, Eric R.>

150 Gallon Fish Only Tank...Adding A 'Fuge - 06/19/05 Thanks for the info. <<My pleasure.>> On another note, I am looking for a way to bring down my nitrates and I am going to add a small refugium system in my sump.  My main goal is to bring down nitrates, would Miracle Mud be the best option as the substrate for this goal or will live sand with live rock work just as well.  Along with the Caulerpa of course. <<Do research the Caulerpa for proper lighting/harvesting technique to avoid the pitfalls associated with this macroalgae.  For simple nitrate reduction a refugium with 6" sugar-fine sand bed and Chaetomorpha algae is hard to beat.  The Miracle-Mud and rock/Caulerpa can work as well...but my vote goes to the sand bed and Chaetomorpha for reasons of expense, simplicity, and ease of care/maintenance.  But either way you go..."good on ya!" for using a refugium, so many benefits to doing so.>> Thanks for your time <<Regards, Eric R.>> Bigger Skimmer/Smaller Refugium? (A Trade Off!) I have learned a great deal from your website and thank you so much for offering your invaluable experience and expertise to aquarium hobbyists everywhere.  You also have more patience that anyone should judging by the repeat questions you get and happily answer. <Thanks much for the kind words. we really love doing this and hope that it is of use to our fellow hobbyists! Scott F. here today!> I have looked in the forums and hopefully my question is specific enough to not classify as a repeat. This is my first post so be gentle. Whew, apologizing upfront JIC... <No need to do that, I assure you!> Anyway, I have a 65 Gallon show tank (not good) because it is tall and only 36" long. I have 80 lbs of live rock, 40# live sand, a Sea Clone 100 skimmer in the sump, a 200W heater, Coralife power compacts with 2 96 watt bulbs and Lunar lights, 2 Maxi jet 1200s pushing water around inside the tank, and a Mag 5 through a SQWD returning water from the sump to the main tank. Livestock consists of 2 Black Percula clowns, several Mushroom Corals, a Toadstool Mushroom, several Ricordea, a polyp colony, a feather duster, and a cleanup crew. <Sounds like an interesting mix. Your setup sounds pretty cool!> Okay, there is the background. I plan to replace my sump (made from my old trickle filter) with a refugium. Due to the limited size of my cabinet, I am getting a 24L X 12W X 14 H refugium that I will have the option of where to put the dividers. I apologize for being so long winded but I want to provide you with as much information as I could. <No problem, thanks> Okay, finally to my questions- another skimmer question for you. I like the Euro Reef based on the chatter I have seen here and was planning to get the ASM G-1X but am worried about the footprint (8 ½ X 11) and how much room it will take up in my small refugium. With the skimmer box and return pump box dividers installed, I will only have about 10 or 11 inches left for the refugium. Based on your superior intellect and knowledge of the game (sucking up here) <You talkin' about me? I didn't think so! :) > Will there be sufficient room for an effective refugium or should I go with an Aqua Urchin Pro (footprint of 8 " x 3.25") and gain 5 more inches of refugium space. <Hmm...sounds about right. I'm wondering, however, if the extra 5 inches of "floor space" is really going to result in a net advantage over using the larger skimmer in there. I think that these are both outstanding skimmers, but the ASM is a remarkably productive skimmer for the cost. If it were me, I'd accept the larger footprint of the ASM as a trade off.> Also, based on my setup, are there any other changes you would recommend? <Actually, the whole thing sounds pretty nice. I like the use of the SCWD to get some random current in there. Really sounds like a nice tank with neat coral that will really spread wonderfully given time, care and enough space.> Water parameters are good with the exception of the nitrates which I have not been able to get down below 10ppm yet (hence the refugium). <A refugium can help process excess nutrients if you utilize some macroalgae and harvest it regularly, thus removing it from the system altogether.> I follow your advice and do 5% water changes twice a week but only started doing those 2 weeks ago when I read the post where you advised this. <It's a really good habit to develop, IMO. It is relatively painless (I mean 3.25 gallons twice a week in your tank is easy!), and can help dilute some of the nutrients in your system before they have a chance to accumulate. It's easy on your tank's inhabitants, too. With good skimming, regular small water changes, and perhaps a deeper sand bed, you will hopefully see the nitrate trend down over the coming weeks and months. Keep at it!> Thanks in advance, Mike Henry <A pleasure, Mike! Sounds like you're doing great there, and the future looks bright for your system! Enjoy! Regards, Scott F.> Another DSB-LR-macroalgae-refugium question... Hi there! I have been reading through the WWM extensively for my project of starting a 90 gal reef tank. I have come a long way since I'm a beginner and am now fine-tuning my future set-up. Your feedback and answers are very important to me and I will not bypass any of your recommendations. Thanks in advance!  My questions and hesitations regard the refugium and the display tank DSB.  I'll start by explaining what I'm leaning to.   There would be a 4" DSB of aragonite (CaribSea Aragamax Grand Bahama Reef Sand: 0.2-1.2mm with some shells and bigger bits) in the display tank. I'm planning to put a small LR rubble zone as well as a cup or two of Chaeto in the display tank to help keeping the display tank's DSB alive. I guess I'll put around 90 lbs of LR in the display. Now the fuge would be about 30 gal with a 6" DSB of sugar-fine aragonite, a 20lbs rubble of LR and some macro-algae (I'm interested in Chaeto or Thalassia or Gracilaria or Ulvales). There will be a Wave2K device in the display tank and there would be a 600 gal/hour of flow from/to sump-refugium (a Quiet-One pump). <Mmm, a few things... if you can make the sump larger... I would... and do think about arranging the flow through the actual refugium part... to be less... what you have in mind pump, actual gallonage in flow, sump... will result in some thirty or so times turnover per hour... too much for the Chaeto, DSB> The fuge will be on reverse schedule and I'm planning to skim only at night when the fuge's light is on and the display tank is dark. I think it's important to mention that I would eventually (after min. 6 months of waiting) get a mandarin in there (display tank, of course). I want to produce a lot of plankton in quantity and diversity.  <It's obvious you've been doing your homework...> Here are my too numerous questions (sorry...): -After reading Dr. Shimek's article on setting up a DSB, I figured that the 0.2-1.2mm aragonite sand is lacking something. According to him, the DSB should include 40% of finer sand, that is between 0,06 and 0,12mm. Maybe it's not important enough to bother about it. Is it worth it or even useful to mix finer sand with the previously stated aragonite sand to get a better DSB? <Is of greater utility, yes... in the longer haul, a year or more, of minimal consideration... finer sand will be made otherwise> -For that matter should/could I mix some Biosediment from Kent of Mineral mud from CaribSea with the 0.2-1.2mm aragonite? If yes, do you have a preference for one of the two brands for the purpose of mixing it with aragonite sand? <You could use this material... I wouldn't... in the present circumstance (flow rates) this material is going to be "blasted" all over the place... If you can arrange to segment off the refugium part of the sump for lower flow, or better, place another sump/refugium in parallel... this "mud" matter can be placed... again, something very much like it will accumulate in time... from your LR... mulm...> -Regarding the macroalgae, I have eliminated the Halimeda because of competition with the corals for calcium and the Caulerpa for obvious reasons.  Now I'm hesitating between Chaeto, Thalassia, Gracilaria and Ulvales. Which one do you recommend best for my refugium? <Actually, all... If you had to choose just one? The Chaetomorpha... but if you could combine them, I would do so> Can I mix some of these? If not, can I mix them if there is one species in the display tank (let's say Chaeto) and another one in the fuge (maybe Thalassia or Ulva)?  <Yes> Maybe there is still a risk of chemical aggression and competition between the species when likewise "separated". <Yes, definitely... it's "in the water"> -I read on WWM that the water flow to the fuge should be fairly slow for the plankton but very strong for the macro-algae. What do you recommend in my situation? <Ahh!> Is my flow rate (6X volume of display tank per hour, meaning 18X the volume of the fuge) a good compromise? <Actually... the flow rate is a function of actual water volume (less than manufacturer estimate) per the REAL gallonage in your transit volume sump... this will NOT be 30 gallons... for one, the tank itself you will find is actually NOT thirty gallons (231 cubic inches in a gallon... go and measure), two, you won't be filling it all the way (as you will have a flood if/when the power or pump/s fail)... three, the contents of the tank (sand, rock, biota) displace some good part of the water volume... At any length, you will likely have less than ten gallons of actual water... My reason for encouraging you to upsize or add another sump> -I would like the system to feed the corals with plankton and not almost exclusively sustain the mandarin. Would it be wiser to give up the mandarin then? <Makes little difference... what goes in the Mandarin... will also help sustain your corals> Can such a system feed both the mandarin and the corals (and maybe two other small non-sifting-fishes)? <Yes> Shimek insists a lot on NEVER putting a sand-sifting creature in a system with a DSB. I want the mandarin very much but if you say to forget it, I will.  <Up to you... will add interest> -Can I feed the fishes with macroalgae from the refugium? Not everybody seems to agree on that. <You can> -Will I still get some benefit from the trace elements present in the aragonite sand even tough I'm on a reverse schedule (pH will be more stable and aragonite won't dissolve?)? <Yes> -Are the macroalgae I mentioned likely to compete with the corals for nutrients? <Yes, to extents> -Do you know where on the net I could find more detailed summarized info about each of these algae species? <Good question... no, I don't... but there is a HUGE amount of such data to sieve through in the scientific literature... and we have some articles on WWM re doing such searches> Here are three other questions that are not related to our subject, if I may take the opportunity to ask: -Is there a species of host-anemone that is not so risky to put in a reef tank? <Captive produced Entacmaea quadricolor number one> -Is it true that all LR that is not in full light are going to die? <No... it might surprise you to know that live rock is actually a good deal buried in substrate in the wild... that the "live" part folks "turn up" is actually "upside down" in the wild... out of the sun for the most part.> Some say to use base-rock at the bottom of the tank for that reason. I tough people were placing corals on the LV and that they would always be shaded anyway. Not sure to understand how to organize that. -Is there a way of organizing a somehow similar "micro-fauna-autofeeding-system" in a freshwater tank? <Yes... not commonly utilized in the U.S....> I again apologize for the long e-mail. Many thanks! Regards, Dominique Capelle <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Re: A short follow up... RE: Another DSB-LR-macroalgae-refugium question... Thanks for the quick and informative reply Mr. Fenner! <Welcome> So I will segment off a bigger fuge or place it in parallel (will discuss it with appliance person), reduce the flow with a valve, and mix a small amount of biosediment to the two DSBs. <Ah, very good> Now I still need to narrow down the choice of macroalgae I want in my system (fuge and display). I noticed that there somehow seems to be a friendly disagreement between you and Mr. Calfo about the use of macroalgae.  <Yes... and many others of us here (WWM) and the aquarium spiel world at large...> I remember some sentences from Anthony such as "please discipline yourself to use a single species of macroalgae... mixing is counterproductive... chemical aggressions...". Can you help me in my selection? <Yes... and in an effort to be clear/er... there are many species of algae on reefs in the world... mostly delimited in size, dominance by predation rather than competition... Similarly, in captive systems of size there is little difficulty of chemical competition problems...> As I said I'm interested in Chaetomorpha, Thalassia, Gracilaria and Ulvales. Are some combinations better (less competition and chemical aggressions)? <Yes... per unit... grams of organism let's say, the vascular plants (e.g. Thalassia), reds (Gracilaria, Chaetomorpha) are less toxic/trouble than greens (Ulva) in this order> My first concern is plankton production (don't know which one is better for that, best "epiphytic value"...). <All in all, considering what conditions prevail in most marine aquariums, the reds are better here> Of course, food source and nutrients export are also interesting "side-effects". Maybe it helps to mention I don't want to use more than 2-3 watts per gallon in the refugium (maybe not enough for Thalassia). I'll have 5 watts per gallon in the display. <The Thalassia has a much (likely an order of magnitude or less) rate of metabolism... it just doesn't "grow" compared to thallophytes... How to put this... we're back to the "argument" of whether to use more than one species... Which is what I would do... Will cc AnthonyC here for his (likely diverging) opinion... but I would place at least a macrophyte in addition to the embryophyte here... maybe one in the refugium, the other in the main tank> Regarding this: <<-Is there a way of organizing a somehow similar "micro-fauna-autofeeding-system" in a freshwater tank? <Yes... not commonly utilized in the U.S....> Is there information about it on the WWM, I didn't find any. If you had some reference (website or literature) it would sure be greatly appreciated.>> <There are no popular works/hobbyist in English as far as I'm aware. I would pay a visit to a large/college library for more information> Thank you so much! Regards, Dominique Capelle, from Montreal (Canada) P.S.: May I ask where you are located? <I am in S. California (San Diego). Anthony resides in Pittsburgh, Penns. Bob Fenner>

Re: Another DSB-LR-macroalgae-refugium question... Hi Mr. Fenner! Nowhere else do I get such complete and detailed replies. So it shall be Thalassia and Gracilaria in my refugium as well as Chaeto in my display tank. Nice of you to have cc to Anthony. Will be interesting to have complementary points of view. Am I right in saying that none of these (Thalassia, Gracilaria, and Chaeto) are likely to into a sexual repro phase? Thanks! Regards, Dominique <Seagrasses rarely "go to seed" under captive conditions... and algae... do reproduce by sporulation and sexually... but these genera, not a problem. Bob Fenner>

"Upgrading question" Hi, I have spent more money than necessary on my current marine set-up, and am hoping to avoid such errors as I move up to a 50 gallon from my current 30 gallon (30 gallon going to my snake). I currently have an Emperor 280 filter, Rio 800 and 200 powerheads, heater (dual temp), some live sand, lots of live rock - amount 45-50+ lbs, small clown, six line wrasse, Chromis (traded in my large aggressive clown for the latter two recently), 3 types of mushrooms, cabbage leather, clam, button polyps, snails, crabs, various "livestock" that has appeared over the past two years, and a 96w pc light w/ no glass canopy. <Your lighting is not going to be sufficient for the clam.>  I have ordered an overdue protein skimmer (Aqua-C hang on). <Good choice>  My problem...I want a refugium and am not sure which way to go- I am worried about getting a sump because I fear it will overflow in my rented apt., should I turn my little filter into a refugium and get a canister, get a hang on refugium, get over my fear of water damage, or some other solution? I will be getting the new tank within 1-5 months. Thanks for your advice, I feel lost with all the technology. Erica  <Hello Erica. No need to fear sump problems as long as the sump is sized properly. That is you don't want a sump designed for a 100 gallon tank. There would be too much water in the sump if you lost your siphon, and the return pump will empty out the sump into your tank, which would cause the tank to overflow. A suggestion for the refugium would be the Ecosystem Hang On 60. This would be the filter/refugium I would use in a 50 gallon. It definitely helps keep the nuisance algae down and creates an ideal breeding ground for copepods etc. I'll paste a link here for your reference. http://www.ecosystemaquarium.com/  Good luck on your transition. James (Salty Dog)>

Moving and Refugium 2/15/05 I am setting up a 20g refugium for my 55g FOWLR. I am going to be moving in about 2 months. Can I use the refugium to house my anemone and my clown fish while I set my 55 back up? <a good idea likely to keep the anemone fairly well isolate> Should I use the same substrate or would this be a good time to convert from crushed coral to sand? <either is fine if well cared for and with enough water flow> If so should I go with a deep sand bed, what sand do you recommend? <do a DSB if you need nitrate control> I guess I should add I have 60lbs of live rock. The tank has been up for 3years. And 1 more question then I will leave you alone.  What substrate should I use in the refugium? <coarse if you want amphipods... fine/muddy if you want copepods... with Chaetomorpha algae if you want Mysid growth> It will have a plenum. Thank you so much for taking your time to answer. Andy <best of luck and life. Anthony>

Refugium placement 2/15/05 - Del Antonio Good morning WWM crew. <howdy> First. Many Many thanks for all the kind attention y'all give to nurturing The hobby! I'm one of those Salt newbies (longtime reader, first time writer) who has enjoyed some measure of bliss/success because of your efforts.  <welcome my friend> On to my Question. I have a 50gallon display - Critters and Corals, and 20+ gallon sump under main tank with a chiller on a loop into a shed adjacent (on an outside wall) (with 20X flow for system). I'm thinking of adding a 100 gallon 4 chambered tank (scored used from LFS display) into the shed to increase total volume and refugium. <a good idea for stability and water quality> Can I / Should I move all flow/plumbing out to the refugium? <not needed... but fine if so> I'm thinking about plumbing 1 inch PVC to gravity feed from tank overflow into (outside refugium) and return to display. Removing the under display sump altogether. Or, pondering plumbing the refugium feed line into the under display sump. Then pumping from refugium, thru chiller back to display tank. Am concerned about having an extra 50 gallons in the system...with a 20-gallon open sump in the house, although I 'think' a 1-inch drain with 2(?) bulkheads would handle the flow. Thanks for your advice. Spencer Weiner, Santa Barbara newbie <I like the upstream, refugium idea (overflowing back down to the display) best FWIW. Kindly, Anthony> 

Refugium placement 2/16/04 Hi Anthony... alas, there in is the concern....it would be a downstream refugium. gravity fed from display to refugium, then pumped back up to display. still think it would be kosher? <yep... no trouble at all... very good either way. Give no thought/worry to the bunk issue of plankton shear with downstream refugia - the pods are just as edible on the other side of the pump :)> cheers to WWM! Spencer <kindly, Anthony>

Upstream Refugium - Del Jason <Morning.> Previous message (below) resending in hopes this arrives.  <My apologies for not seeing it the first time.> Good morning WWM crew. <Good morning again.> First. Many Many thanks for all the kind attention y'all give to nurturing The hobby! I'm one of those Salt newbies (longtime reader, first time writer) who has enjoyed some measure of bliss/success because of your efforts.  <Glad to hear... that you read first, ask questions later; and also that we're able to help.>  On to my Question. I have a 50 gallon display - Critters and Corals, and 20+ gallon sump under main tank with a chiller on a loop into a shed adjacent (on an outside wall) (with 20X flow for system). I'm thinking of adding a 100 gallon 4 chambered tank (scored used from LFS display) into the shed to increase total volume and refugium.  Can I / Should I move all flow/plumbing out to the refugium?  <You could.>  I'm thinking about plumbing 1 inch PVC to gravity feed from tank overflow into (outside refugium) and return to display. Removing the under display sump altogether.  <Sure... why not. My sump and pumps are in my garage.>  Or, pondering plumbing the refugium feed line into the under display sump. Then pumping from refugium, thru chiller back to display tank. Am concerned about having an extra 50 gallons in the system... with a 20-gallon open sump in the house, although I 'think' a 1-inch drain with 2(?) bulkheads would handle the flow.  <Would handle the flow, but you won't want to pump one sump into the other and then back into the tank... could be disaster if one stops pumping for whatever reason. Better to let gravity do as much of the work as possible.>  Thanks for your advice. Spencer W. Santa Barbara newbie <Cheers, J -- > 

Sump and Refugium Hello Guys, <Gary>             I have a 200 RR aquarium and I am using a 75-gallon tank as the sump and refugium, under the 200-gallon aquarium. The aquarium will be FOWLR, mostly angels and triggerfish. The protein skimmer I am using is the Euro-Reef's CS 12-1, with the two Sedra pumps. I will be using two Mag-drive "18" pumps to return the water from the refugium to the aquarium. My concerns are the heat associated if all of the components are housed in the 75-gallon aquarium and the space that will be devoted for the DSB and live rock, which is about 20" and 17.5" wide. Is this enough space for the sand bed? <You'll see... depends a good deal on the amount of livestock, foods/feeding...> Should I set the skimmer in a Rubbermaid container outside of the 75-gallon aquarium? <If you have room, I would... if not... in the 75> If so, how do I get the water from the container to the refugium? <Best to cut a good sized "equalizer" line, with through hulls twixt the two sumps... allow gravity to move it over to the 75> If I am to use the Rubbermaid container, should it also have a sand bed? Thanks, for you help. Gary <I wouldn't place sand there, no... best to keep sand/substrate away from, out of the Sedra. Bob Fenner> Refugium... "You've only just begun"... Bob I've been reading your articles and are very informative, I would like your opinion on building a refugium incorporating my existing wet dry, basically my inlet would flow over the bio balls with a skimmer in the same section then to the refugium chamber and on to the return chamber. the sump will be 50 gallons, and the tank is a 125. your input would be greatly appreciated. Chris. <What you have in mind can work. There's a bunch more to consider here... how to pump water twixt, arranging space for all... what organisms, substrate, baffles... to incorporate. You have MANY choices to make... and a need to understand what they are. Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm and the linked files above where you lead yourself, TAKING good notes... When you work your way down to specifics, we'll chat. Bob Fenner> Does (Refugium) Size Matter? My kids heard me talking about adding a refugium to my 180g reef tank and decided to buy me one for my birthday. <Wow! Talk about the family that plays together! That's great!> They purchased an AquaFuge RF24 with Aragalive as a substrate. I don't really have room for anything larger. Originally, I was looking to the refugium for nutrient export but I am not sure it is large enough to have an impact. I have been moderately successful reducing the algae problem in my tank that prompted my consideration of a refugium ( running RowaPhos in a fluidized bed filter) and I am wondering where you think I will get the most beneficial bang for my buck in improving my reef habitat with this admittedly small system. Thanks for your help, Dave <Well, Dave, I agree that a modest-sized refugium may have less capability of processing nutrients than a large one, it is still better than not having one at all! A well-managed refugium, even a small one, can provide some additional biodiversity, natural food supplementation (through planktonic growth and amphipod reproduction) as well. You can effectively grow many macroalgae in a small space, provided that other environmental requirements are met, and harvest them regularly regularly to export nutrients. The sand in the refugium can also help supplement the denitrification processes occurring in your display tank. In the end, the benefits are no less important with a small refugium. Enjoy it! Regards, Scott F.> 

Refugium and Euro-Reef Skimmer Hello guys,  <Hello Gary> I have a Euro-Reef CS12-1 Skimmer that I will use in my 75-gallon refugium that will be a 200-gallon FOWLR aquarium, however I have a problem with the water height in the refugium is 15", which is causing a higher level of water in the sump where the skimmer is located. The height under the aquarium is 30" and the height of the skimmer is 24". I cannot place the sump outside of the stand because a higher power (wife) says I cannot, everything needs to be hidden. The baffles in the refugium are 14", 16", and 14" before the DSB and then 14", 16", 14" on exit to the return pumps 2 - MAG-18. Here are my questions: if I lower the baffles in the refugium, try to raise the skimmer height in the sump could I possibly get the desired height of 6" - 8" for the skimmer, or will this be too low of a level for the refugium? If this does not work, should I switch to a Wet/Dry design, with LR in the tower and place the skimmer before the return pumps? Your help is really appreciated.  <Gary, why can't the skimmer be placed outside the refugium and pump the water to it? It would save a lot of fooling around. James (Salty Dog)>  Thank you <You're welcome> 

Refugium and Euro-Reef Skimmer - II James, The scenario you speak of is to:  1) flow the water from the tank to the sump with skimmer in it, to the refugium and then to return to the tank.  <Either to the tank or the refugium. Yes, what's behind door #1 was my thinking.>  2) Flow the water to the refugium, pump some of the water to the sump with skimmer and then pump it back to the refugium. <You could do this also.>  3) Or would the water to the skimmer be in a loop, water from the refugium going to the skimmer in its sump, then back to refugium. Did I further confuse you?  <Not confused, what you want to eliminate is modifying the refugium just to use your skimmer.>  I wish I could draw this for you, but my computer skills are not that good. <Either are mine.>  Right now I have the skimmer in a sump that receives water from the tank and then everything flows through the refugium to the return pumps, but the water height in the sump is above the suggested height Euro-Reef recommends. The skimmer sits in a sump, presently. I guess I do not have a full grasp of the refugium filtration.  <Now I'm confused, but I think I see the picture. Whenever you use pumps to equalize or try to equalize levels, it is difficult if not impossible to control. I'm thinking, why can't you connect the sump to the refugium with a 1 1/2 piece of PVC at the level you want, with bulkhead fittings on sump and on refugium. That way gravity will maintain the level in both containers. Then pump your water out of the refugium into the tank. I hope this makes sense to you, if not we'll keep going till it's right. James (Salty Dog)> 

Refugium and sump Hello <Hi Chris, Justin (Jager) here> ...and thank you for your help. <no problem tis what we are here for> I have a 75 gallon reef tank that is undrilled which overflows into 30 gallon sump using a single tube gravity overflow box. <Yes very familiar with those, I use two myself.>  The sump contains my EuroReef skimmer and a DSB. I have a 40 gallon refugium built and I want to add it to my setup. Would it be possible to use a dual overflow box that has two hoses, one to the sump and one to the refugium? <Yes, but you must drill both tanks or overflow one into the other to avoid flooding.>  I can see that balancing the flow rates may be a problem, <You won't ever get it right and keep it right>  or not, but have you ever heard of anyone doing this? <Yes, but their basement flooded with a lot of water.>  Is it possible? Thanks. Chris <Well it is a lot easier, safer, and cheaper to get the 40 gallon and the thirty gallon drilled and run a connecting tube between them so that the water runs into one tank then when that one gets to the drilled connector, it flows into the next where the pump is and then returns to the tank, running a dual hose overflow box is highly difficult without this connector, and I have only seen it work once. and only until one pump wore out a bit and then it overflowed. it lasted all of 15minutes. The only safe way to do it is to have the sump and refugium connected so that if one gets more flow it will not matter as they balance each other out. My personal tank with a sump and refugium is set up with two overflow boxes and two separate hoses but does what you want to. Water gets pulled from both sides of the tank and then both hoses flow into the sump(1 for the wet/dry and one raw for the skimmer and DSB) which then fills into the PVC connector that was drilled into the side and then that falls into the refugium, this allows both tanks to stay at a predefined level using PVC pieces to change the level the water is collected at in the sump, and it allows for an emergency in case the pumps fail or the electricity shuts off as both tanks can absorb the extra water from the main tank. If one of your tanks is higher than your other then you can use an overflow box on the higher one to drain into the lower one but it is safer and cheaper to get them drilled by a professional, such as a glass supply or glass contractor as they have the correct drills and other tools. Good luck on this.  Justin (Jager) >

Refugium questions Hello!  <Good Morning>  I have searched the FAQs on refugiums and am finding snippets of info but not in particular to my situation. Have a well stocked 90 gallon and would like to have a 10 gallon refugium on the side for macroalgae, and particularly a place to culture copepods, etc. I think I read I can't run this through my sump. But my aquarium is a completely closed acrylic with canopy, built in prefilter box, etc. I was hoping to pump water to 10 gallon from sump and then siphon it back to the sump... <You just have to make sure in the event of a power failure you won't have flooding. Easily checked by turning power off.>  ... where it can go to main tank. All my sump is full with UV and protein skimmer and heater, main pump to tank, etc. so it cannot be used as this type of refugium. Then I thought I read that live sand may not be a good thing.  I was just going to put live sand and some rock from main tank and good lighting, then start up with some macroalgae and culture or two of copepods. Can you please help me?  <I'm guessing a hang- on refugium won't work since most acrylic tanks have solid tops with little place to hang anything.>  My husband and I are also being thoughtful to should the power go off no flooding occurs. With the idea of running this through the sump, we will avoid this problem. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  <I think if I was doing this, I'd tie the refugium to the sump with bulkhead fittings and supply water to the refugium that way, then pump water back to the sump with a powerhead. James (Salty Dog)>  Thank you, Renee' <You're welcome, Renee'>

Too Small Refugium, Too Few Words.. Would like to keep running Eheim canister filter and add refugium to marine fish only system. It's a 75 gallon. I am building a refugium out of Rubbermaid container, unfortunately it will only be about 5 gallons that's all the room I have is this workable? <Nope... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm scroll down to filtration, refugiums... Bob Fenner>

Seahorse and More Refugium First of all, let me just thank you for the lovely site and all of the wonderful information. I have done months of research (most of it on your site) to make sure I do everything right. <Glad to hear our work can help you.>  I am setting up my first saltwater tank. It is 30 gallons with 2x95 watt 12000K lights (also a small moonlight), a plenum with 65 pounds of substrate (Seaflor special grade reef sand and GARF grunge), 30 pounds of live rock from Dale Barger's site, and 2 MaxiJet 900 pumps. <good setup, lighting good for mushrooms and some softies. Maybe up the LR when you can for the added filtration> I am saving for a good skimmer at the moment. It is to be a soft coral and peaceful fish tank. I am planning to add a multi-purpose refugium (beside the main tank--probably 10 gal size). The following would be housed in the refugium: Ulva lettuce plant, Chaetomorpha, Botryocladia sp., red mangroves, shaving brush plant, live rock and sand, Mysis, and other "food" critters. I would also like to house a pair of seahorses (Lined) therein. My questions are (finally!!): Is this too much for one refugium to do? <Possibly, I would pick one plant you like the most as the algae's will choke out others till eventually there is one winner, and those mangroves are too big (6ft or more after a while>  Is the size of the refugium ok, or does it need to be larger? <it is fine, though a bigger one is better, simply more water in general to act as a stabilizer.>  What pump size should I put on the refugium to give enough, and yet not too much, flow. <the flow into the refugium and out should be no more that 5x the tank size. I prefer smaller like 2x or 3x.>  Also, how long should I wait before adding the seahorses? <give it a few weeks, maybe three, during that time you can q/t the horses and watch them.>  Thanks so much for reading and answering my lengthy email! Angela <No Problem Angela, It's a labor of love. You might want to have a baffled section in the refugium or a floating breeder tank with a sponge to keep a part of the copepod population in the refugium alive and well from the seahorses who eat them. good luck and I hope it goes great.> <Justin (Jager)>

Sump/Fuge Design 3/31/05 Hi crew hope you guys are fit and well. <Adam here. Sadly out of shape, and none of us is completely well! Ha!> I am sending this in text form as I had previously (4 times) sent an image attached in various formats but got no replies, so I suspect that it didn't get thru.  <Sorry to hear! With all of the junk that we get it is hard to imagine that your message was rejected, although it may have been an issue of size. Do try to send images that are a few hundred Kb or less.> Anyway down to it. After having a FOWLR 40G (UK) successfully for the last 2 years, I have for the past 9 months been researching a full blown reef to the point of information overload. <The amount of (seemingly conflicting) information can be quite overwhelming! Local marine aquarium societies can be quite helpful. When you do find someone that you fell is providing up to date reliable advice, do stick with their "formula" until you are comfortable deviating from it. Mixing philosophies often leads to difficulty. "The Reef Aquarium", Vol's I&II are excellent resources as are books by Fossa and Nilsen. They aren't cheap, but the investment will lead to great returns in money not wasted on useless equipment and loss of livestock.> The boss has Ok'd it and the kids are looking forward to it, I have the cash so I'm just down to finalizing the design. Details: New tank is a 120G (UK) with sump/fuge underneath 70G (UK).  Sump is in three sections as follows: Section 1 (left side as you look at it) heaters, return pump (approx 1200g) up to manifold to display tank, a couple of baffles where I can occasionally put some carbon. Section 2 fuge area with 2" sand, live rock and macroalgae. Section 3 skimmer Turboflotor T1000. <Sound great, although I have two suggestions... first, up the depth of sand to 4-6" if you can. This will aid in denitrification and provide better habitat to various critters. Also, the sand will dissolve and settle over a fairly short period of time. Second, locate heaters in a section of the sump that will ALWAYS have water in it, even during water changes. This will most likely be the skimmer chamber. In case of spills, excessive evaporation or forgetfulness during a water change, it is easy for heater to become exposed, overheat and break. Also, my personal preference would be to use a more robust skimmer. Models from Deltec, H&S and others are more pricey (although not as bad as they are in the US!), but they will also put a proportionally larger smile on your face.> My question is my display will have two overflows with an internal diameter of 1.5 inches giving I guess approximately 500-600gph each. One overflow will go to the skimmer and my dilemma is where the second overflow will go. Do I send it into the skimmer section and let it overflow into the fuge giving raw water into fuge for algae, or send it directly into the fuge but I guess this flow will be too fierce for the algae to cope or do I send it to the return pump which I think may just be a waste of time. <If you have adequate water movement through the system, there will be little difference in quality of water that reaches the skimmer or algae regardless of where you place the second return. I would choose the section that is most convenient. Depending on which macro algae you choose, vigorous water movement should only benefit it once it is established.> Your comments would be greatly appreciated as always. Be safe. DaveG (UK)  <Best Regards! AdamC.>

Bioballs or Refugium? I am getting ready to set up a 125 All Glass reef ready tank. I purchased a Pro Clear 150 wet/dry with built in protein skimmer. (2) Maxi Jet 900 powerheads and (2) Maxi Jet 1200 powerheads. Waiting for 200 lbs of live rock and 200 lbs of aragonite/live sand to arrive. Will be using (2) 175W 10,000K, (1) 175W 12,000K metal halide, (2) 96W blue actinic and 4 lunars for lighting. Now what do I do about the bio balls, use them or don't use them?  < I wouldn't use them. Pull them out if you ask me. >  If I don't use bio balls then how do I set the sump up?  < As a refugium. I would have recommended looking into this before making that purchase. But since you already have it, I'd search online for refugium set up designs and ideas. >  One of your crew members recommends live rock in the sump and one recommends live rock only in the display aquarium. If live rock goes in the sump then what lighting is required?  < Oh I think live rock in the sump is a must. It is a great way to go, especially with a tank that size. You don't need lights on the sump, but it can really help. Most people use cheap lights from Home Depot or old aquarium lights. I'm sure if you go to www.utahreefs.com/forum and search for refugium or refugium light you will find tons of info. Please read up before setting up this aquarium. >  Please help! Thanks, Angela < Blundell >  

Refugium Idea Hello I want to set up a refugium but don't want to spend a lot of money on the plumbing and all the other things. I found my old Eclipse 2 gallon aquarium and thought that if I get a cheap 18 watt power compact fixture, and get 2 powerheads connecting each aquarium to each other, it would work. Will it work? I have a 10 gallon nano reef.  <If you're thinking pumping water into the refugium and then pumping water out of the refugium back to the tank, no, you're asking for trouble. If the return power head quit, you would have a flood. Anyway, it's almost impossible to get two powerheads pumping the exact amount of water. James (Salty Dog)> Thanks  <You're welcome> Refugium setup I am currently setting up a 180 gallon tank in my basement. I was going to use a refugium for nutrient export, but I was wondering if I need to use my skimmer still? There seems to be some conflicting ideas on the subject. I was looking on your site earlier, but couldn't find an answer.  <Eric, I recommend using a skimmer, it will only increase your water quality. James (Salty Dog)> Thanks In advance  <You're welcome>

Refugium/Custom Aquarium Hi again, <Angela> I wrote a while back about using a refugium as a seahorse tank.  I am thinking of building my own refugium tank, but since this is my first saltwater aquarium experience, I am a bit nervous.  I have a space beside my 30 gal. soon- to- be reef tank that would fit a refugium with a 15"x15" base.  I was thinking of making it 25" high.  This way, it would be higher than the display tank and be able to drain to it.  Is it possible for the skimmer to pump into the refugium? <Yes>   Would the pump that I would need to work the skimmer be too powerful for the refugium? <Mmm, likely not... there are "average" or suggested rates of flow... a handful per hour through refugiums... considering what you might have in the way of a skimmer... should be okay> I am also concerned about getting lights to fit it...any info is greatly appreciated. Thanks for your help, Angela <Much readily available re these issues... posted on WWM... Please start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm and sort through the linked files above where you lead yourself... keeping good notes... You will soon be much more confident re your choices, directions. Bob Fenner>

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