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FAQs about Refugiums 14

Related Articles: Get Thee To A Refugium by Bob Fenner, Refugia: What They're For And How To Build Them by Forest Phillips, Pressure Locking Sump Baffles; Welcome to the World of Versatility! By Joshua McMillen, Reef Systems, Reef Set-Up, Converting a Hagen Aquaclear 500 Power Filter into a Hang-on Refugium (or How to Promote the Peace in a Fish Household) By Steven Pro, Reef Filtration, Marine System PlumbingFish-Only Marine Set-up, FOWLR/Fish and Invertebrate Systems, Reef Systems, Coldwater Systems, Small Systems, Large Systems, RefugiumsMacroalgae

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

Old Refugium New Tank      3/5/17
Hi Everyone,
I would like to get your advice on a question: what is the best way to introduce an established refugium to my new tank?
<Once the new tank is initially set up to the point of new water being stable (a few days usually); just beginning the interchange of water between the two
The refugium is 200 Gal.
I have kept alive for the last two years while I rebuilt my FOWLR tank.
The refugium has been kept alive by "feeding" it with the water change output from my reef tank. It has about 200 pounds of live rock, a deep sandbed, macro algae, worms, copepods, crabs, mangroves and even an oyster that hitchhiked on the live rock.
It also has a crop of Aptstasia that would make a reefer freak.
<Meh; some folks around the world use Aiptasia in RDP operated refugiums as media. I take it you don't intend to try to eradicate the anemones before joining the systems>
I just completed the fish tank. It is 1600ga.
It has a fine sand bottom, and I used 600 pounds of dry rock to build the rockwork, decorated with Living Color faux corals. The tank has been running empty with lights out for the last month (waiting for my first set of damsels to finish their stay in quarantine). The tank has also been isolated from the refugium up till now. I originally thought I could
slowly acclimate the refugium with the tank over a period of several days to speed up the development of the biological filter. When I mentioned this to my LFS owner he suggested I wait at least 3 months for the new tank to age a bit.
<Mmmm; not what I would do>
His exact words were "that much new water will kill everything in your refugium".
What he says seems to make sense, I would dilute the nutrient level to much to support the existing life in the refugium. So I was wondering what your suggestion is as to how to introduce my refugium to my tank.
Mike S.
<Up to you, but having "done" this for decades, I doubt there will be any issue with existing (refugium) life and this transition; now or later. Bob Fenner>
Re: Old Refugium New Tank      3/8/17

Thank you so much for your response. I'll get started on the "big mix".
I was not planning on eradicating the anemones.
<Good and good>
I figure they provide some value to the ecosystem as filter feeders. In my previous setup they never made the jump to the display tank - either the UV sterilizers prevented it or someone was eating them, because there were none after years of running.
Thanks again.
Mike S.
<Welcome. BobF>

LA Fishguys       6/25/15
<Thank you Jim. BobF>
Hi There, I uploaded last week Episode 143 A Bigger Refugium
Your promotion is in Part Two
Part One https://youtu.be/bwn9fNB4fFo
Part Two https://youtu.be/bLuLviWfLkI
Part Three https://youtu.be/j9KNVPYuMiU
Part Four https://youtu.be/QsqXe04Y2fg 
Jim Stime, Jr
Aquarium Design - Installation and Maintenance
Midwater Systems - JELLIQUARIUM Jellyfish Display Systems
MyFishTank.com - Acrylic Aquariums, Stands and Canopies
LA Fishguys - Aquarium Reality Television

refugium    5/14/12
I have a 220 gallon display tank, and a 40 gallon sump. Currently the water overflows from the display tank to the sump into the first chamber where the protein skimmer is (the skimmer is actually outside of the sump but the pump for the skimmer and the return is in the first chamber), there is also a bunch of live rock and some hermit crabs in this chamber. The chamber is about half of the 40 gal tank and the water is 12 inches deep.
<Mmm, a brief note here: I'd be checking to make sure this (too-small) sump can accommodate the transit volume (the water in play) should/when the pump is off... practice turning off the power...>
It then flows over and under to the next chamber where it is heated and pumped back to the main tank. I would like to know if this set up has the benefits of a refugium
<... is there much purposeful life here other than the Hermits?
Macro-algae, a DSB, a RDP lighting arrangement? If not...>
 or if I should add more live rock, some plants and a light in order to get more of a filtration benefit for my tank.
<Ah yes... but you really need a larger volume sump...>
I thought about putting in some aragonite but since the main tank overflows to this chamber I worry that it would constantly disturb the sandbed. I am not experiencing a problem with my tank or the water quality but am wondering if a few small
steps like adding more live rock, some plants and a light would make a big difference.
<Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm
the second tray down. Bob Fenner>
Re: refugium     5/14/12

Hi Bob,
The 40 gallon breeder is the largest I can go because the only way I could fit it in the stand was to drop it in from the top before the main tank was placed, so I am stuck with it. I have checked to make sure it can handle the overflow should the power go out and it does. I positioned a siphon break at the level needed so that part is fine.
<Ahh! Very good>
Right now I only have live rock and hermit crabs with some pod life in the sump. I would like to increase filtration and was thinking about adding lighting, more live rock and possibly adding some macro algae, if I did that do you foresee benefits?
<I definitely do. And would make these additions Jess>
also, are you concerned that the sump size is not large enough to handle an overflow when the power goes out, or that it is not large enough for refugium benefits?
<The former... ANY refugium improvements are worthwhile. Cheers, BobF>

Re: refugium

Thank you so much for the quick reply :)
<Service to you! B>
Re: refugium     5/14/12

Sorry Bob, one more question~
I am not planning on adding sand to the refugium, only live rock. What types of plants would grow best without sand and as far as other life, what would you recommend such as crabs, snails?
 I think from what i have read, you suggest the lighting to be running off  set of the tank lighting, is this correct?
Thanks again,

Refugiums  9/25/09
"Mmmm, me too! Here's my big offer, response: Please do investigate refugiums to the point of authoring articles on their design, construction, maintenance... including aspects of plumbing, pumping/circulation, algal and other organism selection, and their operation/maintenance... and I'll help you place (sell) them to the print and online zines... really>":
Saw this and thought, we could do this. I just created a pretty cool refugium and I'm continuing to research this. Combine this with some water quality studies and we have at the least a cool middle-school science project or a good contribution to the saltwater aquarium hobby. I'm a pretty decent writer and I'm volunteering as the President/CFO of a great public marine biology program (http://maosmontereyhigh.org) - we can do this.
We have an exceptional group of bright high school students, many with parents who work in marine science (Hopkins, MBA, MBARI, MLML, CSUMB) so I have good contacts and resources.
I really would like to spend some time on this, but would love the feedback and advice from you.
Bill Rothschild
<Mmm, my habit is generally to produce an outline of sorts... Describing the order, elements... A fleshed out version likely of what we have as the sub-divided FAQs files on refugiums on WWM. BobF> 

Refugium... Size/proportion...    8/5/09
Dear Mr. Fenner,
I'm now reading your wonderful book, "The Conscientious Aquarist." You mention refugiums as a wonderful form of filtration. What is the size ratio between the main tank and the refugium tank?
<"The bigger the better">
For example, for every 10 gal in the main tank I should have 1 gal of refugium tankage. How can I determine this? Is there a formula or ratio?
Thank you very much,
<"If you liked the book...": Please take a read on our site re Refugiums: http://wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm
the second tray down. Bob Fenner>
Re: refugium 08/05/09

Dear WWM and Bob Fenner,
Thank you for your reply and informative web site.
<A pleasure to share... co-conspire with you Ted. BobF>

Refugium question 3/28/09
Hello everyone.
I have asked a couple of questions here before and got such great answers and your site is so wonderful especially for us noobs I want to say thank you very much.
<Happy the site has helped.>
The picture I sent last week that I thought was Aiptasia turned out not to be from what I could tell after getting a nice hint from Mr. Fenner himself. After doing a bit more hunting I saw it was some type of what called a cup coral. Pretty neat critters. How amazing is this hobby?
<It is too much fun at times.>
Well on to my question. I got a refugium but haven't hooked it up yet. It was a pretty good deal on eBay and I wanted to jump on it while I could.  Anyways since my tank isn't drilled I am going to need to use overflow boxes. The setup came with an overflow and return pump but I don't really trust these so am saving my money to buy the CPR overflow with the
Aqualifter pump so I can hopefully avoid loosing siphon from air bubbles, and have a return pump that will be of better quality and a bit more trustworthy.
<Do get two of these for redundancy. Flow what one can handle and then start the other up. This way if one fails (even these will in time, the box or the Aqualifter) the other can handle the flow. In the future do consider drilling...it is very worthwhile. Do visit my site Glass-Holes.com to learn more about it.>
I thought I should hold off on setting it all up until I have good products to use so my risk of losing circulation between the fuge and the display tank is minimal.
<I agree...get two.>
I am very excited to get the fuge going and start growing the little critters and all in there. I was wondering if it would be ok or maybe even a good idea to put the DSB in there and a small pump, or filter and heater and start it running as a sort of stand alone fuge until I get the better overflow and pump?
<You could, it would not hurt. But if it is going to be a while for the overflows do keep in mind this essentially becomes another system to maintain.>
Or would this be more trouble than its worth or not make much difference?
<Just more trouble for my taste, but it will not hurt if you wish to.>
It would mean a difference of about 2 or 3 weeks when I will be able to afford to get all the other stuff together. I have seen where people were told to run tanks with just sand and LR for a long time to let the sand bed populate. I wish I did that with my mine in my tank but I found your books and site a couple weeks late.
<The sand bed will populate in time so long as you do not introduce predators...the sand sifting stars being one of the most popular.>
I thought maybe with the fuge it might make sense to do this. I asked at my LFS and they said I would be better off waiting until I have everything I need and put it together then. But they also gave me bad advice before so I don't really totally trust what they have to say. I did take your advice and remove the crushed coral from the display and put in a DSB last weekend and am very happy with the end result so far. With the DSB in my display do you think I should still put in a DSB in the fuge or should I do something else like maybe put in the cc?
<Chocolate Chip Star? If so, no, just find the thing a new home. As for DSB, the more the better.>
<<Ahh, crushed coral...sorry it is early here and I stayed up way too late last night. Well, you can go with the crushed coral, but I personally don't like to for the same reasons to avoid it in the display. It can collect detritus and give you nitrate fits. If you wish to use it keep it shallow, have a powerhead in the refugium to keep stuff stirred up and stir it yourself every so
often to clean it out.>>
I want lots of bio-diversity in my system, and would like to grow food for a future mandarin. I read that the copepods that mandarins need grow better in a course substrate, but I also read that you can put in a DSB and use rocks and Chaeto for them?
Any advice will be greatly appreciated on both subjects. Well thanks again for your expertise and I hope the remainder of your weekend is great.
<I am confident it will be.>
I know mine should be fun I am picking up another 60lbs of LR from a local guy I found on forums. I'm pretty excited I can get a good price on it.  $3-$5 a lb is much better than the $10 lb from my LFS. I can't wait!
<Ahh, congrats.>
Thanks again.
<Welcome, Scott V.>

Refugium 2/20/09
Hello, I hope everyone there is doing great. <Hello, as far as I know all is well, it is here!> I have a few questions about refugiums. My wife bought me a 55g tank about 2 weeks ago for my 36th birthday. <Nice, congrats.> Since then I have devoured all the information I could both in books and on the internet (mostly in your forums). I know you guys don't tend to answer questions that have been asked before and can be found in places on your site, but I am sort of running into problems with contradicting info. <Okay.> My tank is new so I haven't added much yet because of the cycle. I added only about 6 pounds of live rock to get it started. <If you plan on more rock, which you should, it is better to just add it now, cure it all together.> I want to put a refugium in the system because I want to do a tank with both fish and some corals (soft to start). The main question I have is the refugium. I know that bigger is better but my space is pretty limited so I have two choices from what I have found after looking everywhere. The first choice would be the CPR HOT large refugium and the second choice is one I found on eBay that measures 22x10x16 (LxWxH). The second refugium is one that goes under the tank. The main refugium area in the second one measures 12.5x9.5 and I'm not sure about the Height before the baffles the total height of the system is 16in so I would guess from looking at the pictures of it, it would be around 8in. Is it better to have a deeper narrow refugium like the HoT or a shallow but wider surface area like the one under the tank model? <In this case I would go with the under tank, but you will need an overflow. See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ovrflowboxfaq4.htm and the linked files above.> Or does it really not matter either way? <Well, generally more surface area is better for gas exchange, but with a refugium depth can be advantageous if that is where a DSB may go.> I want to make a refugium that will support the corals and maybe some fish in the tank and do natural filtration. Do you think that either of these systems would be big enough to serve that purpose alone or would I have to add other means of filtration or possibly both systems? <Either way a skimmer, more live rock is beneficial.> I can only afford one at a time but would be willing to use both. Also is it complex to plumb the undertank model with the Overflow (my tank isn't predrilled)? <You can get a HOB overflow (really two for redundancy's sake) or drill yourself or an overflow. Do take a look at my own self serving link for the latter: http://glass-holes.com/category.sc;jsessionid=65D8E2C0E8233E227B07682BACAC5BE1.qscstrfrnt01?categoryId=3> I want to make sure that I won't have an overflow issue should the power go out, or a pump failure. <Do take a look through http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ovrflowboxfaq4.htm and the linked files above to familiarize yourself with your options.> I have looked but can't seem to find an area on your pages on how to plumb these without that problem happening. <Adequately sized gravity fed overflows and enough transit volume in the sump will do the trick. Search the link above and the rest of WWM for the terms and it will all be clear.> When I do the Google search it comes up with all sorts of info on Overflow boxes. <It does, read through it and learn much!> I don't have a protein skimmer yet but will be adding one of those as well. <Good, a great addition to any marine system.> I know the email is long winded, sorry. <No problem.> I just have been obsessing over all of this and want to do it right to begin with. Thank you for the great site! <Welcome and thank you too!> I am reading here or my books every chance I have. <Keep doing so, learn from other's pain and save yourself some. The lesson of life I do suppose! Scott V.>

Refugium, DSB...
How big is overkill? 11/10/08 Hi Crew, <Seth.> I have been searching for days and I can't find an answer to my question (please forgive me if I missed it.) <No problem.> I have kept many tanks over the years and most have been the typical free-standing kinds with all of the equipment under-cabinet. Once I had the pleasure of a dedicated room to house all of the guts but I was restricted to an existing space. I am in the process of designing a new house and we are including multiple displays plumbed into a common filtration setup. The fish room is being planned into the blueprints so the size is very flexible at this point. <Very fortunate to have such flexibility.> The accepted answer to How big is always As big as you can fit and I completely agree. <As do I.> I'm well aware of the benefits of added system volume and have enjoyed a large Chaetomorpha-stocked refugium designed for NNR for several years now. However, now that I can design the room around the equipment I find myself wondering'¦ there must be a point of diminishing returns. <There is in just about everything.> Even worse, at a certain point, would the refugium produce pods and such at a rate that exceeds the consumption capacity of the display(s) and result in an increase in decaying matter? (It would probably have to be incredibly large to get to that point I imagine.) <Not going to happen.> The current draft calls for a bare-bottom Chaeto tank and I'm seriously considering a separate DSB tank for additional NNR (separate for ease of maintenance). The Chaeto tank is about 20% of the total system volume or 390g (3-tiers, each 12"H x 24"W x 8.5"L) with 250W horticultural MH lights and 1000gph flow. So my question for you is, what is the point of diminishing returns as a percent of the total system volume for both a refugium and a DSB (with average lighting, flow, stocking, and such?) If larger is worth it then I can go larger; if I'm overkill already then I can scale back. <I do not feel what you have proposed is overkill. Many systems have a refugium larger than the display itself. Is it worth it? Maybe, it certainly doesn't hurt. It also depends on the livestock you wish to feed/keep. In general, I feel that 30% or so of the displays volume is a good number (just for the sake of giving it one!). I am personally in the process of putting together a 300 gallon display with about another 400 gallons of refugium. Why? Because I have room for 300 gallons where the display must go, with a closet on the other side of the wall that I can sqeeze 400 gallons and my equipment into. It is overkill, but why not?> Thanks for your help. Seth Seattle, WA <Welcome, though I likely added to the confusion! Scott V.>

Refugium, gen.  10/20/08 Hiya guys, I have a 3ft sump tank on my 60 gal main tank and I am thinking about making it into a refugium will I gain any benefit from this? <Yes, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm.> If I do convert it am I right in thinking that the setup up should be a pre filter chamber into protein skimmer into sand/algae area then return pump <This is one of many configurations, will work.> ...hope you can help Craig <Scott V.>

Refugium for a single specimen tank 05/29/2008 Hey Crew, <<Hello, Andrew today>> I have decided to keep a single specimen tank with an eel. I currently have a 125 tank yet to set up and was wondering if refugiums would still be beneficial in this case. If so, would the refugium setup change due to the tank inhabitants? <<Personally, for just a single specimen tank, a refugium would not really benefit much>> What size of a refugium would I minimally need, given the previous conditions, and considering bigger is better in the article? For now I only have tank and canister filters, lighting, and all the other necessities, but would a skimmer be needed if a refugium is used? (I am extremely sorry to have repeated this question, if it has been brought to you by others, but the FAQs seemed very extensive, so I merely skimmed over what I can ) <<Thanks for the question, no need to apologise. Hope this helps. A Nixon>>

Refugium for Anthias tank 03/05/2008 I have a 90 gallon tank with Anthias and been considering setting up a refugium to breed copepods for them. The only thing that would fit is the Aquafuge hang on 13-1/4"L x 4-1/2"W x 12"H. My sump/wet dry filter doesn't have the room for it, with the skimmer & pump taking up a lot of space. Would that size be enough to have a good population of copepods <<yes, this size will be fine>> Can I mix different species of copepods? <<For sure, create some diversity>> I already have at least 1 species doing well in the tank; The tiny white dot ones that hang out on the glass. They certainly get eaten by my fish but probably not good enough of a meal for them. I also have tiny little darker bugs (I think they're amphipods?) crawling on my rock and sand, but I don't think the Anthias eat these. <<More than likely not>> Why is it necessary to have a skimmer in the refugium when I already have an operating skimmer, since the water is shared between the tank and the refugium? <<You do not need a skimmer in the refugium, in the sump yes>> Thanks for the help. <<Thanks for the questions. Hope this helps. A Nixon>>

Refugium  1/23/08 Hello, <Hi Jon.> Of course thank you for the wealth of info you guys and ladies provide for all of us. I appreciate it immensely! <Happy to help.> I have had a 55 gallon tank for about ten years. I used a power filter forever and then about a nine months ago I purchased an Aqualife Support Trickle Filter model p1000 with a model 22v protein skimmer and a mag 7 pump in the sump, bioballs, etc. I started to keep some soft corals and mushrooms along with my tomato clown and a three anemones, 1 Condy, 1 bubble tip, and 1 long tentacle. <The anemones are trouble mixed together.> I also have a yellow damsel, 1 royal tang, 1 tomini tang (new addition) and a green mandarin goby (also a new addition). <Too small a tank for the Tangs and the Mandarin.> I only have 1 LPS which is a candy cane coral. I was using 4x64 watt power compacts (2 actinic and 2 daylight) over the 55 gallon and recently purchased a 150 gallon display tank that was made by perfecto with two corner overflows. <Yes, much more suitable for the fish.> In addition, I purchased a used 72" coral life power compact unit with 4x96 watt bulbs ( 2 actinic and 2 daylight). I have both lights over the 150 gallon tank now and I realize this is not enough. So now I have this trickle filter hooked up to the 150 gal. tank and I realize it is a little too small and cannot handle the overflow from the tank during a power failure so I have been reading about all of the choices for refugium/ sump design, etc. and of course after many nights of reading I am still a little confused. <OK> I would like to have a refugium to help with nitrate control and the breeding of copepods for the goby in particular. <Good idea.> I already have small copepods that I see on the glass that are very small and they have been around for many years in my 55. I used all the water from my 55 when setting up the new 150. I also "seeded" the 55 about 8 yrs ago with a few small pieces of live rock when it was a fish only tank. I had about 40 - 50 lbs. of dead coral in the tank at the time and a crushed coral substrate. The theory (for me anyway) back then was that this live rock would seed the entire tank and turn the dead coral "live" over time and I believe that is what took place. <To some extent, over this period of time, yes.> So that coral is also in the new 150 and I will still buy live rock on my next trip to the LFS. I also added about 40 lbs. of live sand in the 55 which was also transferred over to the new tank from the 55. It is hard to sum it all up quickly as my 55 gallon went through so many changes through the years. I am wondering if I were to take the bio balls out of the trickle filter and put in live rubble rock and use one of the compartments for more sand and Chaetomorpha (sp.?) would I then have a refugium/ sump that would handle this size tank (biologically). <It may, I would make the addition of live rock first.> If the trickle filter with bioballs turns ammonia to nitrates then in theory I would need to add a refugium in addition to the trickle filter to help with nitrate control (plus the numerous other advantages I have read about). <Yes, refugiums provide the same advantages without the bioballs too.> But it seems to me that everyone is throwing out their bioballs for live rock in the sump or fuge. <With a sufficient amount of live rock in the display also, this would be the way to go.> Don't you still need some sort of place for the nitrifying bacteria to exist also. Even with a tank full of live rock and live sand? Or does the refugium handle all of these things? <The live rock will serve as the biomedia here.> I can use the old 55 for the sump/refugium in addition the trickle filter I have underneath the tank. <If you have the room for both, perhaps use the 55 as a dedicated refugium and the trickle filter (with bioballs removed) as the sump to house your skimmer, heater, etc.> I left a lot of room under it and still with all the plumbing it seems to disappear quickly. <Room under a stand has a way of being less than we figure!> I left 7 ft underneath with 24 inches in depth and 26 inches in height. The 55 gallon is 21 inches tall and that would leave 5 inches to work with which I don't think is enough. <Plenty if it is a dedicated refugium. Otherwise, it will depend on your skimmer, but will be kind of tough to work in.> I also am not sure if there is any advantage to having the 55 as a sump because I am assuming you can't fill it all the way up and have a skimmer in there also. <You could silicone in glass dividers/baffles to allow varying water heights in the sump. A second alternative here: http://wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_3/cav3i1/Baffles/baffles.htm But not the greatest if the water heights vary too much in my opinion. > So now I am considering getting a used 30 or 40 gallon tank for the refugium/sump. What would you do? Use the 55 for the sump in addition to the trickle filter? <Yes, as refugium and sump respectively if you can fit both.> I don't like this option because it seems to me that I would just need another pump or siphon box. <Or drill the 55 for a gravity fed overflow, much less headaches in the long run.> Or just go with a sump/ fuge and get rid of the trickle filter altogether? <It is the simpler option.> If I go with this option I am thinking then I should just use the 55 gallon and not look for the 30 or 40. <The large tank would be better.> I have also read that bigger is better but if you don't fill the fuge all the way up to leave room for backflow in case of a power failure then isn't it the footprint of the fuge that is more important? <A larger footprint will provide more area for gas exchange and lighting area for the macroalgae.> Your patience with this lengthy e-mail and response is greatly appreciated. <Not a problem.> Thank you, Jon <Welcome, have some fun setting this up, Scott V.>

Refugium for a 75G 11/8/07 Crew, I currently have a 75 gallon FOWLR tank with 75 lbs of LR, a 3-4" sand bed with an Eheim classic canister filter, emperor 400 hang on filter and Marineland hang on filter. I also have a aqua c remora pro protein skimmer that yields little to no skimmate for about 4 months. I have decided I want to add a refugium to further boost my filtration. <cool> I have decided to get the Aqua-Fuge ps2 from Aquacave.com. The refugium holds 4.5 gallons, has a "back pak protein skimmer", maxi jet 1200RV and 16" 24W light fixture. <I would reconsider this choice. You already have a really good protein skimmer and 4.5g isn't going to make much of a refugium. Bigger would be better.> I plan on putting the refugium under my tank with pumps connecting it to my main tank. My question regards what I plan on putting into the refugium. My LFS said that I should put only Caulerpa with a deep sand bed or mineral mud, <Ugh... no Caulerpa! Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/caulerpaalg.htm> and that would be adequate. My idea was putting a few lbs of LR in with maybe a few soft corals that could flourish under this lighting. I was also thinking about putting a goby to sift the sand. <LOL Your "refugium" is starting to sound more and more like just another attached tank (which is just fine if that's what you want).> Could I get away with putting a few lbs of LR with a few soft corals and a goby - or is filling the Fuge with Caulerpa a better plan? <Better plan is to get a bigger tank for this, and put different macroalgae in it. The rest I suppose is up to you. But I wouldn't put fish in it. Use seeder sand to start the micro-stirring sand critter population. The new "Reef Invertebrates" book by Calfo and Fenner has a lot of good info on starting a refugium.> Thanks, Zach <De nada, Sara M.>

Fuge, design reading   10/26/07 Hello all! Thank you for helping so much in the past with my questions. Your advice has made the hobby much more enjoyable. I recently moved and am setting up my tank again. My xenia did not make the move and my green finger leather has black tissue on the base. All else faired well. <Pulsing corals often suffer from moving...> Two questions; should I go in for surgery on the leather, or is there a good chance of healing? <Mmm, yes... Alcyoniids often recover well from such cutting...> The other involves my fuge. I purchase a 1100 gph little giant I want to set up as my return to a closed loop manifold. My sump doubles as my refugium. At the height I'm running the pump, I will be getting about one thousand gph. My tank is 75 gallon, plenty of live rock. The sump is about 20 gallons with huge mats of Chaeto. Is this too much flow for an effective fuge? <For the actual growth area you may design in this sump, yes... not optimized...> In my mind, the critters will be too busy holding on for dear life to procreate as much as they could. I have another pump that I can run that will be about 350 gph, but will also have to use power heads in the tank to get the flow I want. Kind of tired of all the pumps and wires in plane view. Any suggestions? Thanks, Rob <Mmm, you could fashion a lower flow section here... or better, tie in another tank/holding container with less circulation... as the refugium section. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm the second tray down... on Refugium Design, Circulation/Plumbing... Bob Fenner>

Lots of Gear, Lots of homework, still confused... Reading on WWM re Refugium Design    10/21/07 Hello WWM, <Jason> My name is Jason and of coarse <course> I have questions. I have a 112g tank that I'm in the process of setting up as a reef tank. I have been successful with my 55g fish and invert only tank and am ready to try the next level but I'm taking it slow. <Good> I want it to be right, as my first tank has been trail <trial? Or did it catch aflame? Heeeee!> by fire. I'm setting up a sump underneath my 112g and have purchased a ASM G2 protein skimmer, RO/DI 100gpd water filter, and lights for a reef tank. I don't have any lighting questions that's the easy part for me. I do have plumbing, flow ratio, sump size type questions. Thanks ahead of time for your help. Does the sump need to be a specific size? <Mmm... yes... the bigger the better... must need accommodate your transit volume... Posted on WWM> I have a 20g I could use. <Likely too small... for the G2, other use...> I also would like to set up refugium but think that I may need something larger than a 20g if I do so. I have seen many reef tanks w/out refugiums are they a must have with a reef tank or not? <Not> I have an overflow box that's a hand me down from a friend that is from a Tide pool series 2 wet/dry that is rated to 600gph. I plan to use this to feed my sump. It has 2, 1 1/2inch flex tubes running off it to the sump. I know I need a chamber for the skimmer that flows into a chamber to a refugium. How do you determine the flow rate through the refugium? <Mmm... a handful of turns... again, posted: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm the second tray...> I have read some of your replies to others about flow through them, but how do you figure that? <The actual measure? Can time with a bucket of known volume, a timing device... There are flow meters...> The pump that was given to me with the wet/dry is a MAG-12 (1200gph). Do I need to have the pump gph match that of the overflow box rating? The pump on the skimmer is a Sedra 5000, 500gph, is this a problem too? Thanks again. Jason <You may want to divert just some water through the actual refugium area... or use two sumps... one with limited flow... Many possible designs, eh? Bob Fenner>

Re: Refugium Setup/Overflow Prevention - 10/09/07 Hi Rick, <<Hi Jackie...and...it's Eric, actually (no 'Rick' here [grin])>> Thanks for the information. <<Happy to share>> I wanted you to see my rudimentary diagram. <<Ah yes, thank you...it opened for me this time...and seeing this will help me to better help you>> From the info you provided I need to drill a whole in my sump (plastic) & refugium (acrylic) to install the bulkheads. <<Not exactly... I would drill and install a couple 1.5' bulkheads a couple inches down from the top of the refugium and then elevate the refugium just enough (if necessary) to allow it to gravity drain in to (going over the 'top') of the sump>> After the bulkheads are installed, what should I use to connect the sump to the refugium? <<A length of PVC pipe extending from the refugium bulkhead and over the top rim of the sump, with a 90-degree ell on the end, will suffice for the configuration I just outlined>> Keeping in mind the bulkhead on the refugium will be higher than the bulkhead on the sump (for purposes of the gravity feed). <<Indeed...but no need to drill the sump/complicate the installation any further...just extend the drains from the refugium over the top of the sump>> Also, when purchasing the CPR Fuge, would you recommend the one with or without the skimmer? <<Without... A good skimmer will pay huge dividends versus the high initial investment...I very much suggest you look at the quality offerings of Aqua-C and Euro Reef...the latter being my current fave>> My sump does not have any baffles, and my setup is such that I can't move the skimmer to the left side of the sump. <<No worries...simply use a long enough piece of pipe from the refugium bulkheads to reach the pump chamber at the other end>> I have one corner overflow. Thanks, Jackie <<Quite welcome...and do let me know if I need to clarify further. Eric Russell>>

Refugium Paper   3/7/07 I saw on one of the pages on your site where you were looking for a more in depth paper on refugiums.  I was looking in to these when I found the page and thought it would be a great way to learn and help out at the same time.  So I have started a new paper on Refugiums.  If you would like to look over it and comment on what i have so far that would be a great help!  I would love to have it published once it is done, but that may be a little while as I plan to cover a lot more then what I have so far. This is just the beginning. Have a great day! Chad Naujoks <I will gladly review your work, and make suggestions... and if you'd like offer my input on how best you might market it. Bob Fenner> <Is a good start... What re 'at level' or refugiums mounted above display tanks? I would mention these in your category of "outside refugiums". I take it you will discuss DSBs, lighting, plumbing and various designs for these living sumps as well. It might suit to make this a multi-part survey piece... as covering the whole topic is going to run quite long... And do be on the look out for algae, example refugiums to photograph for your piece. BobF>
Re: Refugium Paper  - 3/7/07
Bob,   Thank you!  I haven't looked into the "At Level" or Above Display tanks. I will definitely add those to the paper (More Research!!!)  Yes I planned on covering all of the DSB, Live Rock, Lighting, Plumbing, etc.  This is why I mentioned it would be a little while before it was complete.  I truly appreciate your input and will keep you up to date on the progress of this paper. <Glad to help>   I am not sure what you mean by a multi-part survey piece.  I could break it up into chapters once I get going a little more with the information and then it could be broken up by chapters for showing on the web.  I will be creating 3-d models for the images of the types of Refugiums and Various Designs in 3dStudio Max, I will also keep a lookout for various incarnations that I can get decent pictures of as well. <Ah, good> Thank you again for your great input! Chad Naujoks <Mmm, and have you seen the coverage of this topic in Anthony Calfo and I's "Reef Invertebrates" book? The first quarter of this work is actually... refugiums. BobF>

Refugium Water Flow   12/15/06 Hello to all at WetWebMedia. I was having trouble finding the correct questions on your page so I'll just ask my own. I currently have a: * 50 Gallon tank * 5 power heads or 4 if you want to be picky: Maxijet 1200 divided in two with PVC T going to front two corners on bottom, Maxijet 400 x 2 L&R Rear, & a Rio 600 in the Center * 9 W Turbo Twist? UV Light <Could be> * Eheim 2217 Canister Filter * Seaclone 100 hang-on-the-back Protein Skimmer with Maxijet 100 Powerhead * 3 96W light, 1 Daylight, 1 50/50, 1 Actinic on timer. * Over 80 lbs of live rock, bunch of caves * Close to 100lbs of live sand * Two False Perc.'s (Black & Orange Pair), Royal Gramma, Hot Pink Pseudochromis, and an Algae Blenny, Two Cleaner Shrimps and Two Peppermint Shrimps, some snails & hermits. Now, the questions. I think I'm ready for some soft corals, but a refugium is missing in this whole setup. <Mmmm, would help> Seeing how simple some of these overpriced CPR Refugiums and many other similar models are, I decided to build one myself. I have space for a ten gallon tank in my current stand, and really would have liked to fit a fifteen or even a twenty gallon, but... they did not fit when I first tried dumping them in there. Let's just say thank the upper lord for having me try and fit these in there BEFORE I set the whole thing up. <Or yourself...> I plan on having three stages, with a overflow section attached to one of the two walls to hang the skimmer from. The first stage would have the skimmer and pump, along with my 250W heater. The second stage would be the refugium, which I plan on throwing some mud? Or live sand? Whatever you think is best, <Either will/could work... the mud will require a bit slower flow rate of water> live rock rubble on top of that and Chaeto. I did hear Caulerpa goes sexual, whatever that means. <Read on... most algae have "alternation of generations"... with two distinct sexual phases... one vegetative, the other sexual...> The final stage is the question. What pump should I be considering? <Posted... read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugpumpfaqs.htm and the linked files at top> I currently have an overflow that handles 600gph. I understand I do not need to match that but shouldn't I keep the water flow a lot slower than that. Aren't 200 to 250gph more or less what I'm looking for in a refugium? <Yes, this is much safer> I would understand more flow for a wet dry, but a refugium grows better the less it's disrupted, no? <Yes> I have an Aquaclear 70 lying around. It pumps out around 400gph at 0 feet, by the time it gets up 4 or so feet to the overflow and back down it should be at around 200 to 250gph, I'm assuming. Is this enough, or should I be looking to purchase a larger pump? <This should work... at least worth trying> Also I heard a clamp on Camp light from home depot with a 20 W 5000K Daylight Energy Saver Screw Light should be enough light. Is this true? <Can work> Sorry for the long email, I just want to make sure you know exactly what I have so you can tell me what is best! for my critters, Thanks! <Read a bit more my friend... you have good ideas... and/but these could be tempered with others input. Bob Fenner>

Refugium Brand Input, comm., other reef improvements    12/3/06 Hello Bob, <Hey David, JustinN with you today.> I need some tank advice and hope you could help. <Ok, I'll give it a go> I have a 90 gallon fish only tank, 6 fish (Blue tang, yellow, Singapore Angel, Foxface, few damsels) 50 pounds live rock in ank and gravel bottom. <I would likely add more live rock to this display, for the overall health and appearance of the tank. Also, your blue tang will need larger quarters eventually.> I use a AMiracle wet/dry sump, and a Fluval as a secondary filter. I have a skimmer too. I want to add a Refugium for water quality and clarity. What brand do you recommend. Aquatraders sells a 24 inch Odyssea with 300 GPH return and protein skimmer; is that OK? I would like to stay around $100. <I have looked at these myself before, and I feel the pump they are equipped with is likely of dubious quality. I would replace it with a MaxiJet 1200, if I were to try one myself. Otherwise, the build looks fairly solid. I'm not certain how effective the skimmer will be, but it couldn't hurt to try. Alternatively, I would consider phasing out the wet/dry in place of an under-tank lit refugium and sump. The cost would likely be about the same as the hang-on-back fixture, and results would likely be better. Assuming you're utilizing bio-balls in your sump, these could be contributing to higher nitrate levels as well.> Also, should I leave my UV Sterilizer in the sump? <Is of debatable use here, some feel is too indiscriminate.> Also, should I get rid of the gravel? <When you say gravel, do you mean standard aquarium gravel, or crushed coral? If you are not using a calcium-based substrate such as sugar-fine aragonite sand or crushed aragonite coral, I would absolutely change this out.> I would like to lessen water changes as an overall goal while increasing water quality. <Lessening water changes is not a realistic goal for the long-term health of your tank. There is no better health mechanism for your aquarium than the replacement of water to replenish depleted earth minerals and remove nitrogenous wastes. That said, the addition of live rock, as well as conversion of your wet/dry into a refugium will likely help improve your water quality. Cheers! -JustinN>

Chaetomorpha Growth/Refugium Methodology - 10/26/06 Hey all, <<Hey Mark>> Your sight has been invaluable; I appreciate all the time you have saved me. <<Glad you find it useful>> I recently converted my sump into a refugium with some LR rubble that was sitting in the bottom of my main tank.  About two weeks ago I added a bit of Chaetomorpha and an overhead fluorescent light to the fuge. <<Cool>> From what I hear, Chaeto is supposed to grow like crazy; however, I am not seeing any growth at all. <<Chaetomorpha is a rapid grower, true, but it needs sufficient nutrients to grow.  It is quite possible your system is too "clean" at the moment to foster a growth spurt.  As long as the alga stays healthy/doesn't begin to deteriorate I wouldn't be concerned.  You could try increasing flow/lighting intensity if you wish as these elements can boost growth, but likely what you have is quite "adequate">> Am I being too impatient? <<Maybe...as explained>> I worry about lack of lighting and the Chaeto releasing nitrates back into the system. <<No need to worry, the algae won't do this>> Are fluorescents sufficient for about 12 inches of water in the fuge? <<Chaetomorpha will tolerate varying levels of intensity, but it has been suggested that more intense lighting foster more rapid growth/uptake of nutrients.  I have my 55g refugium lighted with two 65w 6500K PCs and had explosive Chaetomorpha growth in the early days of the tank which has now slowed to a near standstill...likely due to the system maturing/finding its "balance">> Also, is a DSB required for a refugium? <<Nope...but does have/add benefit in itself>> It looks like I would only be able to get about a 3-4 inch bed due to the current setup. <<Four-inches of sugar-size aragonite would serve quite nicely>> Should I put some sand in there anyway? <<Is up to you>> Thanks in advance for your help. <<Happy to share>> Mark <<Regards, EricR>>

Re: Macro algae lighting: ?'s  9/29/06 So the prob is my canister filter? <... if/when you read you'll see that this, these are contributors...> What grow light would be the best for a refugium with chatoe in it? Wavelength and what not, I want it to just grow out of control, that would entail the most nutrient export right?...I have read my self in circle on WWM about this subject just cant make a firm decision.  Thanks again appreciate the help < http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugltgfaqs.htm Don't write... read. RMF>

Converting to a Refugium   9/26/06 I've done tons of research online, but seem to find conflicting information about converting my filtration system to a refugium. <Study, discern fact from opinion, make up your own mind> I am attempting a 75 gal reef system (currently only fish and inverts),  and have a carbon filter system with a protein skimmer now. My existing  substrate is aragonite and I have 110 pounds of live rock (which has been cured,  in the tank, and looking great for about 3 months).   I want to convert to the refugium because all my research tells me it's the best way to go, and I have also had a hard time getting my calcium levels to come up (despite adding a 2 buffer system every day for a month). I was told that it's because the carbon is sucking all of it out. <No...> I have been told by some that I can convert my sump into a refugium simply   by adding miracle mud and the algae (and my old bio balls for a time) once I   change the physical sections of the sump into the 3 necessary areas. Others tell  me that I have to have live sand in the tank before that will work. What's your  opinion? <Posted: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugdesignfaqs.htm and the linked files above. BobF> Leslie  Gideon Kurtz

Re: Water Parameters and New Lights  9/9/06 Hi WWM crew, (especially Bob since he replied to my previous two emails) <Hello again... sorry for the delay... am out on holiday in Jamaica... and diving, eating and drinking too much...> I took your advice and made some changes. attached are some photos~ I went to W-mart and purchased a 10 gallon tank then started drawing up a schematic for a refugium that will work for me with my preexisting Fluval system/setup while also using many light parts I already had laying around the house.  I opted for the 10G because the 20G/tall would have been too big for my stand by a little more than a 1/4 inch and 15's aren't anywhere I shopped! <Are a bit longer and wider, but the same height... as a stock ten> The idea is to use the refugium as a place to grow marine plants and use them to control water parameters so I can stop with all the unnecessary chemicals already. <Good> Refugium Specs: 10 gallon tank/refugium underneath the main tank in the cabinet 10 lbs of live sand in refugium 2lbs. of crushed live rock (not pictured) Overflow box <Siphon style> from main tank with 1.5" diameter hose to refugium (ball valve cutoff added - not pictured) Seaclone skimmer in 10 gallon tank 200 watt heater in 10 gallon Fluval hose from 10 gallon to Fluval canister Fluval return hose from Fluval canister to main tank Refugium questions: I am using two separate light fixtures for the refugium. Both light units rest about 6 inches from the surface of the water. One is a 15watt N.O. fluorescent 50/50 and the other is a twin socket 2x20 watt 50/50 compact fluorescent setup. Is this sufficient for the refugium or should I make a modification to the height or lighting itself? <Mmm, either one or both will work fine here> Which lighting schedule is better, 24hr or reverse photosynthesis? <RDP, reverse/overlapping with your main system> Do you have any suggestions regarding plant life and which types would be better off keeping with the lighting that I have? There are so many types out there (including Mangroves here in S. FL) that it is a daunting task to pick. <Nor mangroves in a tank this small... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/refugalgfaqs.htm and the next linked file in the series of FAQs> I've been told that Chaetomorpha Sp is the best way to go for many reasons but I want to run this across your desk (PC) first. From what I read, many plants such as Caulerpa go sexual each month and start gamete production with accompanied mass die-off that causes a releasing of all stored nutrients right back into the system. This is bad. so why would people use these plants? <Mmm, perhaps all they have available... maybe the risks, downsides are outweighed by gains... could be ignorance...> Do you share the same opinions or is it okay to mix the plant life up a little for other reasons that perhaps I do not understand yet? <In such a small volume, best to go with just one species> How much plant life is suggested in a 10G? Should I remove the sponges, Biomax, and/or Carbon from the Fluval now that I will have a refugium and live food running from the refugium through the canister? <I'd leave all as is> I've been reading the "Refugium" sections of the site as well as some other sources and cannot seem to get a straight answer regarding the "amount" of critters I should seed my refugium with. What specific detritivores (types and/or quantities) work well with this size refugium and/or what critters I should stay away from despite their possible popularity in general/ or with bigger refugiums? <All posted on WWM> Main Tank Update: - Adding 20lbs. of live rock to the main system today totaling about 65lbs. Will add another 15lbs soon. - Installed the 4x96 watt lights and the corals are acclimating very well thus far and the system appears to be fine (IE: Water Parameters perfect) The Golden Polyps and Red Brain have shrunk a bit but I suspect that they'll be fine because I moved them even lower until they adjust. - Am seeing a diatom bloom in the form of green and brown substrate but ONLY on half of the tank. but it keeps me scrubbing glass all around. Why is this happening this way (half tank) and aside from reducing the lighting; is there another more appropriate solution? <Posted> Will the refugium plants assist in controlling this? <Yes> Is this a result of losing the Fluvals hoses to remove the water from the lower part of the main tank in favor of the overflow box's (only removing surface water) or is it purely as a result of the stronger lighting? <Perhaps a bit of both and other influences... the "aging" of your system. Succession> New lighting schedule (please correct my method if it appears too sudden). The goal is to run them from 12pm to 12am concurrently. <The ones for the refugium? Should be fine> Start times: 12pm - 10000k 1pm - dual Actinic Stop Times: 8:15pm - Actinic (increased by 15 minutes every 2 days) 10pm - 10000k (increased by 30 minutes every 4 days) As always, your replies are met with great anticipation. and thank you again for the wonderful suggestions thus far! Regards, Gerald <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Filtration/Tank Cycling/Refugium Addition - 09/02/06 Hi crew, <<Ronde>> I am ~4wks into my SW experience and for the most part am really enjoying it.  WWM has been a great tool for me, but there isn't enough time in a day to read the whole site (I am trying). <<Not necessary to read in a day...take two <grin> >> As I stated pretty much everything is alive with the exception of a few snails (1 or 2 margaritas and a Nassarius or 2 (sp) <<Nassarius>>) and 1 of the 3 green Chromis I purchased. <<Mmm...this tank is likely too "new" for livestock yet>> That leaves 6 margarita  snails, some blue legged hermits, some Turbos (not sure which kind) and some Nassarius snails.  I just purchased an AquaPod 12 for use as a QT for any new pets. <<Excellent...do be sure to read our FAQs on quarantine>> Now for the questions.  1. I have a 46g bowfront glass tank with 60# of CaribSea Arag-Alive Bahama oolite, 30# of live rock, a Penguin 350 bio-wheel, a Penguin 200 Biowheel, a  Maxijet 900 powerhead, a Seaclone 100 (I know it is a bad choice and am looking to get a Remora or Remora pro; do you have any suggestions on which would be more appropriate?) <<The AquaC Remora will serve fine...and you might want to consider removal of the bio-wheel filters unless this will be a FOWLR>> There is also a 150w heater in there too.  Will this setup support soft coral or do I need to change some of the setup? <<You don't state your lighting, but "generically speaking, yes.  Though you need to research the "specific needs" of the species you plan to acquire>> My temp runs from an occasional low of 79 but stays in the 80 to low 81's. <<This is fine>> I have a 36" Current USA Nova Extreme set on timers with actinics  coming on for 8 hours and the 10000k on for 6 sandwiched in between the actinics and the lunars on after the actinics turn off at night. <<You should shoot for a more natural (12-13 hour) photo-period>> I had the lights on longer but had a diatom bloom that the snails have since taken care of. <<Part of the natural algae succession of a new/cycling tank>> My last water tests gave me a result of spec. gravity 1.022, <<This needs to be NSW levels (1.025/1.026)>> pH 8.4, ammonia  0ppm, nitrite <0.25ppm (color in between 0 and 0.25ppm on Aquarium Pharmaceuticals saltwater master liquid test kit) and nitrate 10ppm (usually around 20ppm steady). <<This 4-week old tank is still cycling...please don't add further livestock until this is finished>> Fish are fed 2 times per week 1/2 cube of frozen Mysis which takes about 6-min to eat. <<Your fish should be fed daily my friend>> Also I add Purple-Up a few times a week (I need to buy a calcium test kit) and use Seachem Reef Buffer once per week. <<Please read here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/suppleme.htm>> Would a refugium eliminate the need for one or both of the Penguin filters? <<Your live rock will eliminate the need for these...but addition of a refugium is always beneficial>> Due to space restrictions it would probably need to be HOB  style.  On an All-Glass brand tank would the extra weight be a  concern? <<No>> Fish seem to be happy and the snails seem to be happy except for the fact that a few hermit crabs have displaced them from their shells (I need to  buy some bigger shells). <<A common issue...and one more reason I don't keep hermit crabs>> I don't want to be a victim of paralysis by analysis but need to know if I am on the right track. <<Keep reading...you'll get there>> Sorry for the length but thanks for the help. <<No worries my friend...but please do use proper capitalization on future exchanges>> Ronde B. <<EricR>>

Refugium setup   8/21/06 Hey guys, Love the site. I'm a newby to marine aquariums who read TCMA cover to cover and enjoyed it, but it raised a lot of questions. <Mmm, you're telling me? Try writing it> Tried to get some help at some local shops but no one seems to have time for a new guy unless they are trying to sell me something. <An unfortunately common scene> So after thoroughly reading your site I thought I'd ask you guys some questions. I have a 55g tank with about 35 lbs of live rock, 8 snails, 4 hermits, a cleaner shrimp, 4 damsels, a blenny, a few dusters and some mushrooms that stowed away on the live rock, an Emperor bio-wheel filter, a protein skimmer, one 38 watt full spectrum light, and one powerhead for circulation. The system has been running 5 weeks. It was seeded with some mud from a shop, <Good> and I have eliminated ammonia and nitrites and my nitrate is 10ppm. I want to eventually add one or two larger centerpiece fishes, <Define large... in a 55...> an anemone or two, <No...> and eventually maybe some hardy soft coral. I realize this means adding light and about 20lbs more rock. I had a massive algae bloom last week on the rock and substrate but the cleaners were added and they are taking care of it. <...> I want to add a refugium like the one Mr. Fenner described in his book. <Good idea> I have 10 gallon tank that I would like to set up next to the main tank with a rock or two, some live sand, a mangrove and some algae. <A twenty would be much better> At the risk of sounding like an idiot, are there any lily pads that would grow/be appropriate?. <Lily pads?> Is there a pump setup/system that would allow these tanks to be at the same height? <Mmm... yes... you could build, buy a sump that has baffles of a set height...> Once this refugium is established can I turn of my bio-wheel filter? <Could> Do I need a mechanical filter and if so what do you recommend? Can I just put a sponge in a piece of pvc in-line between the tanks? Thanks, Mike <Mmm, best to refer you: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm fourth "paragraph" down... the articles, FAQs files on Refugiums... do take the long read here. Bob Fenner>
Re: Refugium Setup   8/22/06
Wow, a fast response, and from mister Fenner himself! You asked me to define large. I just meant one or two fish larger than a damsel, such as a tang. <I see... do take care on their selection. You don't have much room> You said no anemone; is the limiting factor here the setup, tank-mates, my lack of experience, or all of the above? <These and more... posted on WWM: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/cnidaria/anthozoa/anemoneselfaqs.htm> I know the lighting is insufficient but if that were fixed... I went into a shop this morning (before getting your response) looking for stuff to build my refugium, and the owner really pushed this hang-on fuge. <These do work> He said it is all I need. The thing can't be more than 3 gallons, has a single column of bio-balls and a grow light, and he said he would be giving it to me "at cost" for $200. I told him I'd rather build my own and have something aesthetically pleasing, but he said that since I was new to the hobby I should buy his, run my aquarium for a couple of years and then try building my own fuge. He also thought I should buy a 400 watt lamp, a toadstool, and a bubble tip. Sorry about the lily pad thing. Thanks from the New Mexico desert, -Mike <Keep reading Miguel... much better than trial and error... and more enjoyable (for me at least!). Do agree that the larger, outside sump/refugium is better here... Hold out for this if that's what you want to try. Salud. Bob Fenner>

Cleaning biomedia/fuge cycling  7/14/06 Hi again crew <Samuel> On your site and many others there is extremely conflicting information about biomedia in wet/dry systems and cleaning it! (oh so confusing!) <Mmm, examples please... little time, interest for/in commentary> My tank has been running for about 3 years with occasional problems but nothing dramatic. I recently had a medium BGA outbreak (actually I have had small amounts on and off for a while but only just got it ID'd by Bob) One of the contributing factors of course is nitrate. <Oh yeah> Now I had always been content with my wet/dry in my five foot semi reef (I also have around 90 kilograms of liverock and a large protein skimmer. Oh and a 36W UV sterilizer) I am setting up a refugium right now. I have two questions. Will the three foot fuge be adequate to deal with any nitrate produced by the wet/dry? <Very likely yes> Do you need to cycle a fuge? <Mmm, well... maybe... If the rest of the system is established, and there isn't a "whole lot" of biota (live and dead) coming in with the live sump... not much> - It is not in the sump, it is a separate side-by-side style fuge with a 2-3 inch fine gravel bed. I used sea-water to fill it (as i do with my display). So, does it need to be cycled or can i just "connect it up"? <Hey, this is three questions... as the last two are related; maybe two and a smidgen... All should be fine here> thanks so much crew! Sam McMenamin <You're welcome... and less confused I hope/trust. Bob Fenner>

- Refugium vs. wet dry filter 6/25/06 - Good Morning! <Good morning.> Thank you for providing all this wonderful information. This site and your books have saved me a lot of headache. However, despite all of the reading I have done I still have a question I can not seem to find a clear answer on. I currently have a 30 gal reef and fish tank set up in our small apartment. I currently have the system running on a12 gal trickle/ bioball sump (wet/ dry filter/ (Pro Clear Aquatic System). The tank has been running for about two years now and every thing is in check except the nitrate.  I have decided to put in a refugium to help solve this problem in addition to all the other benefits the refugium seems to offer. To make a long story short, instead of drilling and changing the sump to convert (Husband did not like that idea, and I am going to pick my battles) I ordered a 12 gal refugium. Do you think I should keep the wet dry running along with the refugium or do you think the refugium is enough? <If you have room, I'd keep them both running until the refugium is really kicking, otherwise you may go some time without biological filtration.> If I kept both should I have the tank water run into the wet/dry first or the refugium? <Probably wet/dry first.> Thank, Carrie <Cheers, J -- >

Nano Aquarium Upgrades    6/14/06 Hey guys, <Hello Travis'¦>      I want to thank you for all you help in the past and for your great site. It's saved me a couple of times. <Always nice to hear.>   Anyway, I have a 20H nano reef with a CPR BakPak skimmer.  Ammonia, nitrites, nitrates all at zero. <Very cool, nanos aren't the most stable creatures.> My tank is stocked with a pair of pink skunk clowns, a cleaner shrimp (possibly another one later), and a colony of hairy mushrooms. I eventually want to add more corals.   <Okay.> Anyway, my CPR BakPak hasn't been pulling much it out.  Its like a tan/clear liquid with some tan sludge on the side of the collection cup.  I wouldn't mind the noise from the venturi if it actually pulled some gunk out. <In my experience the Bak Paks rarely produce dark skimmate, they usually skim very wet and produce loads of tea colored skimmate'¦.its not a great skimmer to be honest'¦but obviously adequate in some situations.>   This has turned me towards refugiums. <Well I wouldn't give up on the idea on a protein skimmer altogether, especially on such a small system.>   I could get a large fuge that hangs on the back of the tank but I couldn't put a light on it (long story here).  Would this be sufficient if there was just rock and sand in it? <For microfauna production yes, for macro-algae growth and nutrient control'¦.not in the least bit.> I was also considering an internal fuge that could use the main lights of the tank to grow Chaeto and mangroves (because i like mangroves) <Mangroves are too big for this tank and they aren't very helpful at pulling out nutrients to be honest (see A. Calfo's article re: this), an internal 'fuge can work though I will admit they aren't to pretty.> and to hold my heater.  Should either of these ideas be put into action? <Well an internal refugium, is not a true refugium simply based on the definition of a refugium which means 'a refuge', the external idea is not a good idea because you can't grow and macro'¦and your main goal it seems to be is to use the refugium as a means of nutrient control.  Why not look to upgrade your protein skimmer, Knop, P.M., Aqua-c and Deltec all make great hang on models and MRC is also supposed to come out with a hang on model soon as well.> I was also considering upgrading my main lighting from a 65w compact fluorescent light to a 2 x 24w T5HO fixture. <That's a worthy upgrade.> I suppose I could keep all softies, LPSs, and a BTA clone. <Well the tank is a little small to be mixing the sessile cnidarians with an anemone....> Thanks again for everything. <No problem.> -- Travis <'¦Adam J.>
Re: Nano Aquarium Upgrades    6/14/06
Okay, I guess I wont do a fuge then. <Sorry to be the bearer of bad news'¦but do keep in mind that if you ever can add one they are of nothing but benefit, lots of pros and very few cons about adding more water volume, microfauna and nutrient control.> I just cant stand my BakPak skimmer and don't exactly have enough money to buy a Deltec or similar skimmer. <The Deltec is by far the most expensive skimmer on that list I gave you, probably DBL if not triple the price of the others, the Aqua-C would be the best bang for your buck, and they are quiet barring a very low hum from the pump. Don't get me wrong the Deltec is a great model but for a nag on skimmer Aqua-C is probably the most economical choice performance and price wise.> Would the tank do all right with no forms of filtration other than biological? <And LOTS of water changes with fish in the tank.> Or should I implement the use of some kind of HOB filter. <An HOB filter would only serve to add water flow, would not help much in this aquarium'¦especially with nutrient removal.> Thanks again, Travis <Adam J.>

Refugiums    4/20/06 G'Day from Downunder crew, <Howzit?> I am writing to get some advice on some changes I would like to make to my reef system. I have a 120 gallon reef tank that has been going for around 6 months and I have read with interest many of the posts regarding the use of a refugium. There is no one yet that I have found in my area that uses a refugium and my LFS has not used one or set one up either. <They will... assuredly> They gave me some feedback regarding their thoughts on the use of a refugium and agreed it may well be a beneficial addition to my system but could not comment based on experience. I have limited space under my tank (Australian houses rarely, if never, have a basement as many American households do <Actually, very few on the West coast do> and all I have is a large concrete slab) due to the chiller, sump and hosing and as such I have devised a plan to convert a section of my sump for a refugium. I have a 15 x 8 x 7 inch section that has been used to house bio balls and my LFS has instructed me to slowly remove these as the system matures. Would this be sufficient to create a refugium? <Yes... though larger would be better, this amount of space will make a discernible improvement> I am mainly after an environment that I can support the growth of macro algae's, amphipods and copepods etc to feed my live stock. I currently have a plenum setup in my tank (convinced to give it a go by LFS and to date it seems to be going well) so I assume I do not need a deep sand bed in my refugium? <Not necessarily, no> A second option is to plumb the chiller to the outside of the cabinet but this although not difficult would possible be less aesthetic (especially to the other half). <Very important> This would give me room to add a 24 x 14 x 18 inch refugium <Perhaps later...> and leads to me on to my second question (if I may?). Am I better off using that available room for a calcium reactor and sticking with the smaller refugium in the sump? <... can't tell from the information provided. Both pieces of gear are worthwhile though> I plan to extend my live stock to include SPS corals in the next 3 - 6 months once I am convinced I have my water qualities sorted and more importantly stable. I appreciate this is a bit all over the place but appreciate any time you could spare to enlightening me on these two subjects. <Reads like you've been reading and understand underlying principles, consequences. Am sure you've been over the materials archived on WWM re Refugiums... Bob Fenner> PS I would like to applaud Bob Fenner on the "Conscientious Marine Aquarist book he wrote. I recently purchased it and have probably read it cover to cover twice now. Cheers Marc

Newbie Refugium Setup  - 04/05/2006 First, thanks for the support you guys provide. This is a great site! <Thank you for your kind words> I am very green, setting up my first SW system (reef tank). I have a predrilled 90g (48' x 18' x 24') with overflow. My refugium is a 29g (36' x 12' x 18' I think) that will be below the display tank. My LFS has been helping me with the setup and seems to know what they are doing. I have also been reading The Conscientious Marine Aquarist (great book, Bob!) and like the more natural (less technical) approaches to creating a system. My ultimate goal is to have a tank with a large variety of inverts (corals, stars, anemones, etc.) <Mmm, do read re mixing anemones... not recommended> and 5-7 medium sized fish. Here is how we are setting this up: - Main tank: Approx 80 lbs of LR, and starting with 80 lbs of coral substrate. (will this be enough for a DSB?)   <In the sump/refugium, maybe... needs to be a few to several inches in depth... see WWM re> - Refugium: the drain from the tank goes into a piece of PVC that has openings cut in it to 'slow the flow' and water exits into a box the width of the tank and about 6-8 inches tall, also designed to 'S' the water through and slow the flow further. I was then given a bag of mud (my estimate is that it will be 3-4 inches deep) to put on the bottom and instructed to cover if with approx 1-2 inches of coral mentioned above to keep finer mud from eroding. <Mmm, much to say re this... will "erode" in any case... don't want to have too much flow over this...> Then another box on the other side of the refugium (6 inches tall, open top) to contain the return pump. - My plan in the refugium is to have a small amount of LR (to create turbulence) and keep Chaetomorpha and/or Gracilaria with some pods, peppermints, and any other livestock that makes sense. <Do you have a diagram of all this? You don't want "too much" flow over/through the refugium/portion itself> My questions: - Will this refugium setup work without a skimmer? (Bob, I know you really like skimmers.) I'm being told I won't need one for at least 3-4 months, and maybe not at all. <You could try it without... but I'd bet you "dollars to donuts" (probably not much diff. anymore) that you'll want/end up with a skimmer> - Will this setup provide enough biological filtration? <Should... once it's mostly established (a few months)> I have been reading about DSB vs. plenum and both seem effective. Is 3-4 inches of mud with 1-2 inches of coral on top considered a DSB? <Mmm, of a sort/type, yes... though most DSBs are comprised of carbonaceous material period> Should I lay some window screen material on top of the mud to keep bigger critters from digging? <I would not... but I would also not bury a/the mud either> - What other livestock would you recommend in the refugium? <None purposely bought... would almost always just allow recruitment from live rock, other incidental sources> - Will my tank be overstocked with what I want to put in it? (Obviously this would be a slow process to stock.) <Don't know what you exactly intend. Not posted here> - Any other suggestions for a rookie? <Mmm, the general: take your time, "look before you leap", don't trust any one in particular, keep your beer in a cool place> I have read some entries where people have been reading for years prior to starting. I have only been reading on the subject for about 4-6 weeks. Am I going too fast? My tank is already setup with tap water, just to check for leaks. <Best to "savor" moments... as the saying goes... enjoy the process...> - Lastly, I am buying a 60 lb box of LR that I will be curing myself and adding about 20 lbs of cured at the same time. I am being told that 1-2 weeks will be enough time to cure my rock. Is that right? The TCMA books reads 4 weeks. <Variable...> Sorry for any ignorant questions, and thanks in advance for your help and patience! Jared Barnard <Keep that open, curious (and add a bit of cynicism) mind of yours Jared, and you'll do just fine. Bob Fenner>

Refugium Questions 3/23/06 Hi Bob <Hello Brian - Jen S. here.>   This is the first time iv written you, But iv read a lot of your stuff on the internet....   Sounds like you know lots, So if I could ask some questions that would be great..   I Have a 75 gallon salt water tank with 160 lbs of live rock in it.. <Hold on... slow down.  This is a little hard to read/understand without correct punctuation/spelling.>   2 emperor 400 bio wheels for filtration and a Prizm Pro delux skimmer <Not sure if this skimmer is efficient enough for you now, let alone when you combine the two tanks.  You may want to reinvest.>   with  4 inch sand bed in bottom ok   here's my thinking I would like to turn my 75 into a refugium <OK, is possible.> because I bought a 125 gallon bout a month ago and I want to combine the 2 is   this possible with the tanks standing on same wall <Yes, this is possible and a refugium of this size will benefit you exponentially.>   The 75 is a little taller then the 125 because the 75s stand is taller...   So here's my question   Can I use 2 power heads to pump water from 1 tank to the other using   pvc piping friends tell me am nuts ;-D But I want something different   you know'''  <Yes, you can with the proper check valves, anti-siphoning devices and so on.  There are many refugium plans on the site already if you want to do a search and check them out.  It will, however, be a decent amount of work to get it right, especially with regulating flow between the tanks, but it will be worth it.>   Any info or ideas from you would be great <Once again, do a search on the site -- you'll find more info than you know what to do with on this subject!  Best of luck, Jen S.>   Thanks Brian Coble Peshtigo Wis,

New refugium  - 03/11/2006 Howdy my very helpful crew, <Well, hello Jonny> I get SO much from your site. <Good> I have been keeping SW fish only tanks (and FOWLR) for...well...a LONG time.   I recently decided to go reef in my 72 bowfront a year and a half ago.   It has been running great (thanks to all the great info here no doubt.) I removed my wet/dry, though, it was doing great, zero on everything and 10ppm nitrates.   Anyway I added a PM refugium that is 30"X16"X14" (LxHxW.) It cost me an arm and a leg but I was able to install it with my remaining appendages. <Heee!>   That was the largest I could fit under the odd bowfront stand and even that took a bit of sawing of the back which was just an inch or so.  Anyway, the refugium part of the area is only 18"X16"X10" which by my calculations is only about 12 gallons. <Yes> I wanted the benefits of denitrification and production of critters for my display tank, hence the intermediate sand size I mention below.   Do you think the size is really enough to do what I want? <Will definitely help> I chose to go with the next step up from sugar fine sand to try to get the best of both worlds (using 1-2mm CaribSea at a depth of about 4-5 inches, may go to 6".)   I plan to have the same CaribSea in the main display but at about 3-4" with lots of water flow and the LR raised just above the sand with PVC pipe (see I have been reading.)  Right now I have basic large CC size junk in there that packs down because the substrate animals have trouble going through it. Could you please recommend some good critters to add to my refugium to get it going well (I have heard to stay away from sand sifting stars.)   <Mmm, are posted... by and large "just waiting" with some "decent" live rock will see this substrate well-populated> I already plan to add some LR and Chaetomorpha if I can find any (LFSs here in Houston don't seem to carry it.) <Can be easily mail-ordered, but I would check with the local reef club (it's excellent) and ask the members there to share... They will likely be very helpful>   Also, I know these question have been asked before but I am lazy and would like you to repeat yourself (grin.)  Where can I find some good critter packs to seed my tank and refugium?   <Indo-Pacific Sea Farm (am out in HI right now near them), and Inland Aquatics in Indiana are two faves that are well known>   And what lighting would you recommend on my refugium to grow the algae well? <Posted Jonny> I have chosen to remove ALL the sponges (cleaner, not live ones, lol)  from my tank to allow for the fuge critters to have their best chance of getting food and getting into the display tank (they are already going to have a hard time with the return pump and skimmer, lol.)   The sand and all the detritus seems to me to be small enough to pass through the overflow and pumps safely.  Agreed? <Thus far> Lastly...I know I have gone on long enough,  I need an in-sump skimmer (I worked at LFS when I was young and heard the horror stories of SW floods.)   My problem is that the PM refugium only has room for a skimmer with a footprint of 5" by 6-7" (It is four inches at that top with the lip but I can cut that I am sure if I have to.)   I want a good low maintenance skimmer but not one that will over skim my good critters coming from the fuge (there is no room to put a skimmer on the inflow side) so a nice mid range one would do.  Also, I don't want to put a skimmer in my tank or in the refugium area.   <Look to the Aqua-C line> Thanks for all your kind help.   God bless, Jonny <Be chatting, reading. Bob Fenner>
Re: New refugium  - 03/12/2006
> I wanted the benefits of denitrification and production of critters > for my display tank, hence the intermediate sand size I mention > below.   Do you think the size is really enough to do what I want? > <Will definitely help> Actually, you know PM rates this refugium, 30"X16"X14" (LxWxH), for a 180.  I find that hard to believe though I do like and trust PM products. >"The bigger the better"< > I chose to go with the next step up from sugar fine sand to try to > get the best of both worlds (using 1-2mm CaribSea at a depth of about > 4-5 inches, may go to 6".)   Do you think 4 1/2 inches is enough?  I will add more each time it goes down a half inch.  I ask because I have put that level in there and going any higher would not leave me with much room for growing alga and much live rock which I will need do to a plan I shall mention below. >See WWM... is enough< > Could you please recommend some good critters to add to my refugium > to get it going well (I have heard to stay away from sand sifting > stars.)   > <Mmm, are posted... by and large "just waiting" with some "decent" > live rock will see this substrate well-populated> You say they are posted.  Do y'all realize that you are up to 14 refugium FAQs now?  Not to sound too lazy (which I am, grin) but it can be hard to find advice for the best critters to add and more importantly which to avoid in the refugium.   That last part is especially important.  I really don't want to put anything in there that shouldn't be. >... Take a look... I have separated out these: http://wetwebmedia.com/refuglvstkfaqs.htm Learn to/use the Google tool with search terms, view the cached version... this highlights the selected terms... a powerful time-saving tool< > <Can be easily mail-ordered, but I would check with the local reef > club (it's excellent) and ask the members there to share... They will > likely be very helpful> I did not even think of the local club.  I have heard that Houston has a good one.  Thanks for the reminder. >Yes... they are running this years MACNA... Might see you there< >   Also, I know these question have been asked before but I am lazy > and would like you to repeat yourself (grin.)  Where can I find some > good critter packs to seed my tank and refugium?   > <Indo-Pacific Sea Farm (am out in HI right now near them), and Inland > Aquatics in Indiana are two faves that are well known> Thanks so much.   I had read about Inland Aquatics but could not remember where (there are so many FAQs now) so I couldn't find the info again.  Now I can go check them out and Indo-Pacific Sea Farm which I had not heard of. >Again... there are a few tens of thousands of visitors to WWM daily... Use the search tool...< >   And what lighting would you recommend on my refugium to grow the > algae well? > <Posted Jonny> Ok, well I have not seen a definitive answer.   I was thinking of a 24" Coralife that has two 36w PCs so I can do one actinic.  But that is $175 at my LFS.  I read somewhere that (think in a FAQ) that Home Depot sells some small PCs for about $40.   Do I need the actinic or would that work.   Here is the thing I mentioned above that I want to do and the type of lighting might come into play here, hence, my confusion. >No actinic necessary or desirable< I have always been fascinated by pipe fish (seahorses bore me, don't know why) but I have never had a tank with slow enough water flow and gentle enough livestock to keep them.  Well, I was thinking that I could put one or two in there and they would not decimate the refugium critters too much but would be happy and I would have the benefit of two great tanks (though one I would lay on my belly to enjoy, and probably fall asleep there many a night.)  Refugiums have so many benefits!   >Oh, yes< Do you think this is possible and how many pipe fish do you think I could have in such a small area without them decimating the fuge population and hampering its benefits?   I think we agreed that though the refugium is three feet long the actual area for the life is about 12 gallons (taken up by a lot of sand, lol.) >Too general a possibility...< > I need an in-sump skimmer (I worked at LFS when I was young and heard the horror > stories of SW floods.)   My problem is that the PM refugium only has > room for a skimmer with a footprint of 5" by 6-7" (It is four inches > at that top with the lip but I can cut that I am sure if I have to.)   >  I want a good low maintenance skimmer but not one that will over > skim my good critters coming from the fuge (there is no room to put a > skimmer on the inflow side) so a nice mid range one would do.  Also, > I don't want to put a skimmer in my tank or in the refugium area.   > <Look to the Aqua-C line> I have seen the large box ones.   I did not know that they made little skinny ones.  They are dark colored and I prefer to see into the chamber to check how things are going but if you say they are a good brand, I will have to set aside my preference to see the bubbles since your word is as good as gold to me (just can't sell it for as much darn it, grin.) > Thanks so much for your help Mr. Fenner > God bless, > Jonny >BobF< Maybe the experts can help... the key operative word: "maybe"... and term "expert": "previously married, flow under pressure?"   03/07/06 For some time now, I have been battling a never ending growth of hair algae.  I went to my local fish store where i bought the tank, a 70 gallon corner bowfront, and asked for help with ideas of how to rid the tank of this nuisance.  They offered up suggestions of some chemicals, better lighting, an ecosystem refugium, etc... <Good to hear/read of options being offered, hopefully explained> They also advised that i use bottled water, or RO/DI, which i used bottled "spring" water already.  No help so far.... so i start <Capitalizing your "i's"? Tell me it's true> getting pretty in depth into researching on the net, in the forums as advised, meanwhile buying a critter clean-up crew, and a couple of Kole Tangs to try to help out until i can figure out something permanent.  The whole time, the fish store was testing my water quality telling me it's fine. <Need your own kit/s> Long story long, after many months of trying to figure it out essentially on my own, I have come to the conclusion that I know i need better water circulation, better water quality, etc... I was thinking something like a sump, but my Aquarium is not drilled, also much of this is new to me, and i don't know how to set much of this up properly (sump, pumps, powerheads, skimmer, other necessities) <Can learn> Is there anywhere I can get detailed instructions on setting these things up, <Mmm, yes... WWM, Ozreef.org, your local marine club members, the various specialized BB's... all should be able to help. Not "rocket science"> and how effective would an overflow setup be, <... can be... very> or should i just buy a drilled aquarium and start over with that I'm not extremely limited financially)? <Up to you> Opinions on things like UV sterilizer, ozone, chiller, etc.... that is stuff I should know now, even if I won't need until later. <Best to invest ones time... educating oneself... much more enjoyment in knowing what one's up to, eh?> I only have 3 small fish, and several invertebrates occupying the aquarium now.  What a waste to have such potential, but I'm scared to have the lights on long, because it is so ugly.  Any help would be greatly appreciated, and I'm used to working with my hands, and reading blueprints and schematics, no need to dumb it down) it's just kind of a new science to me and i don't know which direction to head in.   Thanks, Eric Harris <... Keep reading Eric. If you have time that you're willing to commit, your answers are already posted... Bob Fenner> Refugium   1/18/06 I currently have a acrylic 135 (72"x18"x24") gal. tank (fish only, eventually want reef). I want to add a refugium but have no idea on how large it should be. <"Bigger..."> My current set-up is a tidepool2 , EV-180 skimmer, mag-7 (for skimmer), pan world 100PX (main pump) and a ocean clear canister filter. <Products, proper nouns, capitalized> Water flows from overflow to tidepool (skimmer and mag 7 are in tidepool), the main pump takes suction from tidepool and discharges thru ocean clear back to tank. I have a 30 (36"x12.5"x17") gal. glass tank I would like to use it as a refugium. Would this be sufficient? <Could be> I still want to incorporate the ocean clear as a secondary means of filtration. Would  this set-up work? <Could> Any input would help. And how would I go about adding the refugium to the aquarium?  I would deeply appreciate if you could e-mail me back. Thank you in advance.                                                                                                                    LeRoy <Please read... here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm See the area with all the links re refugiums? Bob Fenner>

Is a 'fuge a good addition?  1/8/06 Hey guys, <Mike> Hope the New Year is starting out well for all at WWM.   <Thus far> Here's what I've got, a 150 with 100lbs of live rock, 120lbs of dead base rock, and 1.5" of dead sand.  Everything is plumbed directly below the tank into the basement (best decision I've made, space for all sorts of options and easy maintenance).  I'm running two sumps, one at about 4' high and the other 2' off the floor. The first (20gal) houses a large skimmer followed by water polishers and the second (40gal) houses the W/D.  Water is being moved by weirs on each end of the tank with four 1.5" drains and one 1.5" return on a closed loop (about 1600gph). Originally we wanted to keep large, heavy eaters like triggers, angels, puffers, etc., but after spending countless hours on your site, we've decided to keep pets that won't push our system to its limits both physically and socially.  Now the stocking list is looking like a dwarf angel, yellow tang, butterfly, blenny, goby, and other like sized additions. Now for the questions - the system is two weeks old, <... with all this life in it already?> ammonia = 0, nitrites = 4, nitrates = 100, <... these last two... trouble> salinity = 1.22, temp = 77, phosphates = .5.  Is it normal for the nitrites and nitrates to be so high at the same time? <Can be... in a system that is cycling>   I know the former will drop, but what about the latter? <Yes... accumulating in the absence of means to remove,..> I'm doing 5% water changes twice weekly with RO/DI.  With my setup and age of the system, would I benefit from a refugium now or should I wait until things have aged awhile? <Would benefit now, and later> I suppose my main goal would be nutrient export and low nitrates, so I'm assuming 3"-4" of sand with some macro would be all that's needed.  Eventually my rock combo will yield 220lbs of LR/LS, but in the mean time, would the 100lbs be enough to sustain things with out the bio-bale in the W/D? <... I would not add livestock, not feed this system period...> And would removal of bio media restart the cycle? <Not likely> My idea is to place the 'fuge between the two sumps.  I plan on plumbing without pumps just bulkhead/gravity fed from sump 1 to 'fuge to sump 2.  I like the idea of large volumes of water outside the main display; it seems to offer more stability with stocking and water quality.  Am I heading down the right path or am I missing something.   <Just the initial set-up... time to have this system cycle. Don't add fish life till the nitrite is zip, zero> It almost seems like cheating by making the system more naturally based v. technically based. <Mmm, interesting comment> Thanks in advance, you guys do great service and save countless lives (literally and figuratively) and dollars. <Thank you. Bob Fenner>

Re: 'fuge a good addition?  1/8/06 Bob, Thanks for the quick reply. My test readings were done three days ago, I just retested and my nitrites are at 0 and nitrates at 15. <Much better> I should have been clearer; the only life is that on my LR. <Ah, good> Should I pull the bio media and let the LR carry the load or should I let the system age first? <I would pull the media now> The bio-bale is white and I can already see detritus accumulating, I can only imagine this getting much worse.  Would 100lbs. Of LR be enough to support the early stages of stocking (cleaning crew), with out the bio media? <Should be, yes. Bob Fenner>

Why Not Try Wet Web Media - 01/03/2006 When setting a refugium up what is the best thing to use?...Mud?...Or live sand? Why?...Which one is the best? What brand would you recommend? <In future queries, please capitalize the beginnings of sentences. Before future queries, please at least try the search tool and archives. - Josh>

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>>

Are Refugiums and Sumps Mandatory? 11/3/05 Greetings, <Hi Brad!> Brad B. here. I've been reading a lot on your web site to try an educate myself, answer questions and get ideas. I'm trying to be a good steward and have a basic question. First, here's my scoop: 46 g bow front marine aquarium / 60 lbs of live reef sand / mix of rock and live rock - a good coverage of LR but not all that much weight as I chose specimens with good color and surface area but light (save $$) / two Emperor 280s (fiber media plus activated carbon cartridges) / AquaC Remora skimmer with MaxiJet 1200 / two AquaClear 50s and two AquaClear 30s for circulation / Coralife 36" with a 96W Actinic, 96W 10,000K white, and two lunar LEDs on a timer - Actinic = 12 hrs and White 10,000K 8 hrs... okay...  Can I expect good success (such as getting/keeping nitrates near zero) with a low fish load - inverts - corals given the above stated setup without adding a sump or refugium? <Brad of course it is possible to get away without a refugium or a sump. Though I will say a refugium is in my opinion a great asset to any marine tank, not only as a nutrient export device as a breeding ground for detritivores and micro-fauna. The sump is a great place to hide equipment and improve the aesthetics of the display. And both the refugium and the sump increase your water volume and thus your margin of error. Having said that yes, as I stated above these are not mandatory. However the heavier maintenance because of the lack of these devices will fall on you. You may need to perform extra water changes; and yes I would understock your tank as far as fish.> I want to/did invest in good stuff but want to keep it simple as possible. Many thanks! <Welcome Adam J.> 

Re: Refugium or Sump Mandatory? 11/4/05 Thanks for the reply.  <You are welcome.>  If I were to add one of these products which would you recommend and how?  <For your set-up a hang on variety could work, they are pretty much plug and play.>  I'm having a hard time finding setup instructions. I found hang-on type refugiums online but my tank's back rim real estate is pretty much maxed out between my two Emperor filters <I would rather remove one or both Emperor filters if I had to choose between them and the 'fuge. The 'fuge is of much more benefit in my opinion.> <<Not just your opinion, definitely would be of better utility here.  MH>> and AquaC Remora hang-on skimmer. Again, I'm looking for the best simple/effective installation that is appropriate for my setup. <The skimmer/refugium combo is about s simple and efficient s it gets.> Also, my 46 gal bow front tank stand does not provide a lot of floor space to put things.  <I thin the hang-on is the best option for you.> Thanks again for your help. <Welcome, Adam J.> 

Refugium/Sump Round III - 11/4/05 I just ran across an Aqua Clear Aquatics Mud 90 Sump Filter. Good unit? <AquaClear is a reputable company but I am not familiar with this product.> If so, any recommendation on the "mud" or substrate? I guess I'm not exactly sure how they work just yet but I've heard of using DSBs and then the website sells "mud". <The mud and the DSB are supposed to serve the same purpose (nitrification/micro-fauna breeding grounds) For more on what a refugium does and what a DSB/Mud filter does search WWM. Adam J.>  <<Or buy "The Natural Marine Aquarium - Reef Invertebrates".  MH>>

Refugium 8/4/05 Bob, <Keith> Thanks for the quick reply on my previous email. I have read some of the articles about the refugiums and I think I am going to move forward and include one on my 240 gallon reef aquarium. <Ahhh> The only issue is see is that I have limited space below my cabinet and was wondering if it would be best to replace my current wet-dry with the refugium. <Mmm, I would> My gut feeling is that I should leave it in but I have heard that there are refugiums that include the wet-dry equipment. Currently, I have my venturi style skimmer in my sump. The pump that feed my skimmer also serves my Calcium reactor unit. <Okay> Do some people actually make their refugiums a display tank of sorts? <Oh yes... all sorts of interesting things go on there> I do have room in my den for a tank and have a location that would put the refugium a few feet from my display tank. I believe that the lights on the refugium are on at night so that would limit the display tank appeal. <Sounds good> P.S. Thanks for the advice on the reactor media. I was using what cam with the system which was inferior to the ARM product. I have changed the media and will be watching my SPS for better base growth. <Ahh, good move. Bob Fenner>

Lighting for a CPR hang-on fuge 29 Jun 2005 Hi.  I am considering a 20 inch CPR hang on refugium and am having trouble finding an appropriately sized light strip.   <Mmm, there are plenty about... See the fish mag.s, the Net...> Would 28 watts of pc suffice for growing Chaetomorpha and either Gracilaria or Ulva, or should I go with 40? Joe <I would use the smaller wattage of these. Bob Fenner>

DSB for NNR...(nitrate control and refugia) 6/22/05 Hello, I have set up 75 gallon refugium for NNR (natural nitrate reduction).  I can only get the 1-2mm aragonite here in South Africa.   <Heeeey! Are you aware of the SA forum? Good local networking for you (seeing tanks, frag swaps, etc): http://sareefkeeping.com/forum/index.php> What is the perfect depth for the bed, 6 inches, 7 inches?   <4-6" minimum indeed. But with strong water flow above it when using more coarse sand. I'd opt for at least 6", mate.> Also, what else do you recommend I put in the refugium? Live rock, Caulerpa?   <Neither. LR impedes flow and has less benefits there... Caulerpa is noxious if not toxic and too tedious to keep long term (risk of vegetative fission, etc.). I'd recommend a Chaetomorpha or Gracilaria colony for safer algae and as good or better pod/plankton production> Would it benefit my system to add some coral to the refugium as my main tank is FOWLR? <No, my friend. On the contrary! The coral will prey on zooplankton that the refugium generates for your fishes. Please consider reading our extensive refugium coverage in "Reef Invertebrates" where a full chapter is dedicated to styles, benefits, disadvantages, etc> Many Thanks, James. <kindly, Anthony>

Refugium question Aloha Mr. Fenner, mike here, i had a question about live refugium starter kits. i currently have a 30 gallon reef system with a 15 gallon refugium/sump. my tank has been up for about 2 yrs now.  my only filtration is a small Penguin Biowheel filter and a Seaclone 150, it seems to be doing an alright job. <Fine for this size system, with good care/maintenance overall> (i was going to pick up a Georeef skimmer cs6-1, i also wanted your opinion about overskimming). <No need to switch here> the starter kit i was interested in was the inland aquatics flora and fauna kits. they can be found here http://www.inlandaquatics.com/prod/prod_refu.html . <Ah, yes. Know the owner/manager, Morgan Lidster. A fine fellow> would you suggest using this product to boost ones refugium? <Yes> do you have other suggestions for a more natural type of biological filtration? <Mmm, the periodic trading out of substrates (rock, sand...). Not easily done in Hawai'i.> I'm afraid the types of algae included in the kit may try to reproduce and cause my tank to crash (the Caulerpa algae mainly). i have already spoken to the personnel at inland but i just wanted a second opinion. your opinion and suggestions are greatly appreciated. Aloha mike <Considering your success, apparent good care, powers of observation... I would not be concerned re one type of algae over-populating this bit of water. Keep trimming it and you'll be fine. Bob Fenner>

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.>>

Refugium Lighting - 06/12/05 Greetings all.  Am adding the medium (19 inch) and large (24) CPR hang on refugiums with Chaetomorpha to two of my tanks.  Would 40 watts of PC be enough light for the medium, and 65 watts for the large?  Thank you. Rob <<Hi Rob!  Others will argue differently...but I use two 65w PCs over my 55g Chaetomorpha refugium and my algae grows like crazy.  I think your lighting scheme will be just fine.  Regards, Eric R.>>

Hang-On-The-Back Refugium Thanks Scott. <You're quite welcome!> Will go with medium Aquafuge so all three filters fit on the back of the tank.  Sorry, I meant changing the Rio on the refugium for a Maxijet; already changed the Rio on the Remora after it ceased to work, after a month.   <Ahh...I understand. If you have any concerns as to the reliability of apiece of equipment, then it certainly makes sense to start out with one that you have confidence in!> Incidentally, the damsel is one of the most timid (relatively) of the species that I have kept; it is usually found alongside the blenny. <Ahh...good to hear. Fish, like people, are unique individuals, and it's hard to generalize, but you will get the odd fish now and again that does not conform to our expectations of them!> May try a clown or two spot goby.   <Fun, colorful fish that you will definitely enjoy!> Thanks again for your help. Elvis <My pleasure! Glad to be of assistance! Regards, Scott F.>

Brown Algae In refugium - 06/11/05 Hey guys, <<Howdy>> I looked for a similar Q&A to this...couldn't find any. <<Really?>> I have a new setup cycling for about a month.  I inadvertently had the light running on the refugium w/out anything but Miracle Mud in there.  I developed a light coat of brown/rust algae.  My question is after trying to skim it out and adding some Caulerpa, will this stuff go away? PS:  79 gallon bow front, 3 chamber sump/custom w/AquaC 120 w/ Mag 700, and a 5 gallon refugium with 20lbs of Miracle-Mud, 80 or so lbs of live rock. <<Sounds like you're experiencing the natural succession of algae associated with cycling a tank.  Given time and good water flow the algae should subside.  Please have a read here re tank cycling: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm>> Thanks very much, Ken <<Regards, Eric R.>>

- Power Filter vs. Refugium - I have a 20 gallon tank (24 inches in width), so space on the back is at a premium, obviously. <Sure.> Presently I have an Aqua C Remora on the back, plus an Emperor 280 power filter.  I have about 40 pounds of live rock.  Sand bed varies from 2 inches in the middle to 3.5 inches on either side.  I have a Sunpaq Orbit (one 65 watt daylight, one 65 watt actinic).  Inhabitants - 2 small percula clowns (each 2 inches or less), and one small pygmy angel (1-1.5 inches). <I hope you plan to upgrade the tank size in the near future... 20 gallons isn't really suitable for the pygmy angel.> Also, several small hermit crabs, one torch coral and one small rock of green star polyps.  I may add a few other items such as polyps and mushrooms later, and perhaps a shrimp or two.     Question - Would I be better off sticking with the power filter or ditching it for a hang-on-the-back refugium (e.g. a small one by CPR)?  I'm just curious how you folks might come down on that choice. <Given the size of the tank, the amount of rock you have... I think it's probably best to stick with the particle filtration offered by the hang on filter. If I could convince you that your money would be better spent on at least doubling the size of your tank - with 40 pounds of live rock, you have much less than 20 gallons of water... you're going to need all the filtration you can get.> Certainly there are advantages to each.  The power filter is a better way to run carbon and RowaPhos and the like (in my estimation), to take out gross particular  matter both daily and during cleaning (in addition to what comes out via siphon which alone isn't enough), more surface agitation and water movement, etc.  The primary refugium benefit in my estimation (or the one that I'd hope for primarily) would be to serve as a growing ground for algae to keep it out of the tank.  I don't see a refugium as matching most of the other power filter benefits. <In your case, neither do I.> I see the power filter in this setup as probably offering the most overall benefit, though maybe I'm wrong.   As O'Reilly would say - "What say you?" <I say consider a larger tank - then do both.> Thanks for your time. <Cheers, J -- >

Refugium Question - 06/03/05 Ok I recently bought a large CPR refugium.  I currently have a DSB in it with Chaeto growing in it. <<Super!>> My main and on going problem is the issue with Cyano I cant manage to get rid of it and since the water flowing through the refuge is so little it seems to grow like a wildfire in there. <<Solution is simple...step up the flow.  Chaetomorpha algae is appreciative of high water flow...Cyanobacteria is not.>> I have a 75 gallon system very lightly stocked with fish heavy LPS and soft corals. ETSS Reef Devil and all my other specs are in line as to where they should be. <<OK>> I only feed maybe 3 times a week and my fish scarf everything up. <<I would feed more often than this...at least daily.>> I have tons of flow going through my tank but I still can't manage to kick the Cyano. <<But you stated the flow through your refugium was little.>> And the Cyano in my refuge seems to keep killing chunks of my Chaeto. <<Yes...large/heavy amounts will cover/smother.>> I use RO/DI water and I will be changing the filters on it soon.  But how can I get rid of the Cyano in my refuge. <<As already stated.>> Some ppl have told me that this is where you want Cyano but I don't want any at all. <<A small patch or two is no real problem.>> Main question over all is how do I get rid of the Cyano in my refugium because it is disgusting and it keeps killing my Cyano? <<Kick up the that flow through your 'fuge.>> Thanks hope I was clear. <<Clear enough, yes.>> Stephen <<Eric R.>>

Refugium Hey Folks:  <Hello, Ben> I am under the impression that turnover for the refugium should be slower than the sump system yet adequate enough to supply o2 and nutrients. IF my assumption is correct what is the range for the turnover rate?  <Ben, sounds to me like you are talking about a homemade reef. There really isn't a steadfast rule for flow. Most manufactured refs have built in baffles to keep the sand/mud, etc from getting stirred up. Any flow rate from five to ten times the volume of the ref should be sufficient. Measure LxWxD, divide by 231 to give you the volume size in gallons, and go from there. James (Salty Dog)> <<Mmm, actually... sounds to me like the question is about refugiums themselves... a few turnovers OF the refugium volume itself, per hour are about prime... 3 to 5 or so. BobF>

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.>

Red Slime in Refugium 5/16/05 Hello all, Just a quick question...my 55 gal tank is well on it's way from FOWLR to reef. I purchased a CPR refugium about a month ago and added some Caulerpa and a few chunks of live rock. All this has gone very well and the tank appears to be doing great.  <Congrats on the move to a reef! Sounds like nice changes.> However, in the last two weeks the refugium has been growing quite a bit of red slime algae. I've read over methods of control but have not seen my particular issue addressed....I was wondering if it will stay in the refugium or will it spread to my main tank? The LFS says it's likely to stay in the refugium. Today I noticed a sheet of the red stuff broken off and being tossed into the main tank in bits....The refugium water flow is obviously low, and the lighting is 24/7. Just what the bacteria like best right? What's your take on this? Lighting in the main tank is dual 175MH and some actinic supplementation. Water flow is brisk. All nasties read "zero". Thank you for your time, Ivan  <Red slime seems to flourish in 24 hour lighting and low flow. Low alkalinity and pH also contribute. Even though Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate and Phosphate all read zero... there may be a good bit being produced/introduced, but it is being used just as fast. I would not worry about it moving to the main tank since the higher flow, more intense light and normal photoperiod should all inhibit it. In the mean time, I would consider lighting the refugium 12-14 hours opposite the main tank. If you are concerned about the Caulerpa crashing, prune it often or switch to Chaetomorpha. Once the macros get going, they should out compete the slime for nutrients. Best Regards. AdamC.>

Adding refugium, effectiveness effect on hang on skimmer My question is I have a 90 gal. with an Aqua C hang on tank protein skimmer, 80 lbs. live rock, 50 lbs. branch rock, and power heads. I would like to add a refugium, under tank, with a it's own hang on tank overflow. Will there be any problems with the effectiveness of the skimmer and/or refugium with this set-up. I don't want to give up the hang on protein skimmer and go with an in-refugium model, since I already have the on-tank model. Any input & experiences would be greatly appreciated before I attempt to build a refugium. Thank you. Nikki <Mmm, as long as the skimmer and overflow are kept within specification of each other with water level in the main tank there should be no ill-effect on the skimmer. Bob Fenner> 

BGA, Refugium, Lack of Knowledge I am in the process of setting up a 210 tank with a refugium.  I have Caulerpa and starter fish growing in the tank for about 3 weeks.  With the addition of some bacteria I am now at the end of the nitrite cycle.  However, I just noticed a red film like algae covering the mud in the refugium. <Common> I was told by the people in the store where I purchased the set up that I will need to add an antibiotic to get rid of this bacteria and I will have to begin the set up all over again.  Is there any other option. <Not so... Please read on WWM re Cyanobacteria, Refugiums, Antibiotic/Chemical Algae Control... Knowledge is power... its antithesis? Be powerful. Bob Fenner>

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.>

Problems with Refugium/Cyano My refugium is starting to get a scummy kind of reddish algae with bubbles on top of the water. <<Cyanobacteria most likely.>> I'm assuming its bad and wondering how to get rid of it and stop it from returning.   Thanks!    <<It's an eyesore for US, and it's a sign of an unhealthy system, especially in regards to nutrient export/control.  Put "Cyanobacteria" and "marine algae", "nuisance algae" into the Google bar at top of our home page.  Glory in the VAST (and I do mean vast) results you will find, follow all leads, then act.  Marina>>

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