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FAQs about Refugiums 2

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

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

Aquafuge Hang On refugium filtration by CPR

Concerned about refugium repair Hi Mr. Fenner, 2 questions. First what is your opinion on this. I placed on Friday, Dec. 28, a piece of live rock with a bunch of 3 types of button polyps, yellow, and orange sponges underneath, and a section about 4" sq. of an encrusting type of coral that looks like a Favia fagrum from picture on your website in my tank, and it is about a foot to 15" upstream from my nice toadstool. Since Saturday my toadstool has not been opening up. It is still standing nice, and tall, and full. Everything looks great except it hasn't opened. I've read that buttons cannot be put near leather corals, but even at this distance it still matters? <Yes... chemically> Mind you the toadstool was put in the tank only 2 weeks prior, so is it maybe just finally acclimating to my tank, and the timing is just a coincidence, or would you go with a warfare going on between it, and the polyps?  <Some period of adjustment, detente at least> I have since rearranged the flow in the opposite direction, and now the toadstool is upstream from the polyps. Would this make a difference, (how much time should I wait to see if it helps?) <Days, a couple of weeks> or maybe I should move one, or the other further away( I do have the space, my tank is 5' long). <I wouldn't keep moving them> Second, I want to repair my refugium, which is built from a store bought glass tank. It has Miracle Mud, Caulerpa, and LR in it, and lit 24/7. The problem is when I built it I used acrylic that was too thin for the separations, and now the water flow has made them bend, and the silicone is starting to let go on them. I would like to redo the separations with thicker pieces, and silicone it better. The refugium could be shut-off from the main sump system (bypasses it through a tee with shutoff valves) with no problem to empty out. My concern, and worry is will this do any damage to all the critters, Caulerpa, and the mud bed which is pretty live if I take every thing out for about 2 days ( the time to fix, and let the silicone dry)? <Mmm, you need to make provision (another going system) to keep all the live parts live...> My sump would still be running, and circulating the water in the main tank, and I do have a Red Sea Berlin XL skimmer running from the sump, so there will still be oxygen, and filtration from the skimmer happening. Main concern would be the water parameters, and would they change suddenly? <Hopefully not> I have fish, and corals in the tank. The main tank is 120 G. with a 50G. sump ( not including the refugium which is separate). So there is a decent total volume of water to not let it change that quickly.  <Agreed. You should be fine> If I put the mud, and Caulerpa in a tub with a powerhead to circulate, and aerate, would this be safe for the life in there? <Plus a heater, and if you can something in the way of a mechanical filter... like a "cycled" canister or hang on power type> Is this a bad idea to disconnect it from the main system for a couple of days? Concerned, and worried about how to fix it!! Greg N. <Needs to be disconnected to fix. Or another sump made to swap out in real time. Bob Fenner>

Refugium Questions - Copepods and such Good evening Bob, <Good eve to you> I emailed you a few days ago about suggestions for a refugium and the future of my current wet/dry system. I have began setup of the Aquafuge 18 refugium and had a few follow-up questions to aid in my 3, 6, 9, and 12 month goals and direction. <Okay> After the refugium has established itself and I convert my wet/dry area into another mini refugium, should I tie the two units together or leave them independent of each other. <I would tie them together> There is no risk of overflow in either circumstance. The existing wet/dry system uses a powerhead to return water to the tank, the Aquafuge uses a powerhead to pull water from the tank. The main advantage I see is one less thing to plug in. The only downside would be any micro-organisms in the wet/dry area will have a heck of a ride getting to the refugium. Then again, they will be taking that ride to the tank anyhow. Am I overlooking anything? <Perhaps... I would "tee off" the inflow to both, with only a bit of flow to the refugium sump and have it in turn flow (parallel, not in series) with the main sump> My other question is regarding copepods and other similar critters. I am really excited about the possibility of having these guys thrive in my system, I am just unsure how they get there. There are a few places around on the net that sell "Starter kits" and such, but are these needed? <Not generally... seems almost like magic, but many creatures come in by way of live rock, substrates, other organisms... make their way to the less-predatory areas...> Wouldn't a few of these guys piggy back in on live rock, live sand, fish, etc? If so, wouldn't it only take a few months before they would be thriving in my refugium and feeding guys in my main display? <Ah, yes> Thanks yet again for your time and knowledge. Benji <Thank you my friend. Bob Fenner>

Sump/Refugium questions Mr. Fenner, I have attached a Word document with a picture of my sump and some questions. I would greatly appreciate it if you could take a look. <A nice diagram/drawing... Do think the series of baffles will/would lend structural integrity to this sump... A few comments re possible changes: I would either place the pump in the second chamber, or make the first chamber (with the skimmer pump) a "spill over" (rather than under), to supply about the same "head" or height of water to the skimmer pump, to make consistent its delivery to the skimmer itself... otherwise, with the water level going up and down (with total water volume in the system) the skimmer will operate more erratically.  I encourage you to actually "take out the two middle baffles and move the last one to just containing/surrounding your intake fitting for your return pump (do some checking on the "Quiet One" pump... this product (modified Grundfos) used to be notorious for having problems), build a contrivance above this intake area with the baffle to support mechanical filtration (to practically keep stuff out of the pump), and a tray for bags of chemical filtrates, pads... should you find yourself using such... And the intermittent area (the middle of the sump), consider placing more live rock... perhaps a mud base... live macro-algae and some simple illumination above. Much further sump and refugium input here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm and the linked files beyond. Be chatting. Bob Fenner> Regards,
Don Mack

Blast my limited computer knowledge... couldn't figure out how to make the Word graphic into something placeable, scalable here... isn't there the alt print screen tool a ma jibbee that allows you to make a picture of such doc files... scrunch down to size in cyber land?

Re: Sump/Refugium questions This is not smaller, but in web format, does that help? <hope so... I'll try to upload, place. Thank you. Bob F> Don <Turns out I still couldn't... thank you for trying>

Re: Sump/Refugium questions Thanks for the quick reply and explanation. Don Mack <Anytime my friend. Is there another format you might send me your drawing/diagram? Tried what little I know to post it today (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/daily&A.htm)... couldn't make the Word doc. smaller... Bob Fenner>

Refugium Questions Howdy Bob, <Hello Ben> Let me start with a little background. I have a 55 gallon tank that currently is home to 1 blue damsel, 1 false clown, 1 neon goby, 1 Hawaiian yellow tang, and 1 sebae anemone, as well as several snails. It has a 2 to 3 inch bed of live sand, and about 15 pounds of live rock. This system has been up for a bit over 6 months now, the only recent addition being the anemone a bit over a week ago. <Okay> On the equipment side, this past week I purchased a 48 inch SmartLite. I have a hang on tank filter system that consists of 7 chambers I will attempt to describe. An in tank over flow feeds a chamber that has the heater, safely away from all the little fishes, that flows into chamber 2, where I currently have a sponge to catch large debris that may enter the filter. From there, chamber 3 fills to overflow into chamber 4, the skimmer chamber. Water exits chamber 4 via the bottom and fills chamber 5 to flow into chamber 6. Chamber 6 has a 2 inch row of bio balls on top of some more sponges. Water leaves chamber 6 via the bottom and chamber 7 has a powerhead to return water to the main tank. Pretty simplistic, effective, and more importantly, nothing on the ground. I am also a ferret owner, so trying to hide anything near the ground is futile. <I understand> More background, while my skimmer does produce foam and some goo, it has never produced enough to collect. My water is perfectly clear and my fish seem happy and healthy. My only bane has been nitrate. It seems to always be climbing rapidly. For this reason I am considering a refugium, and I am slowly moving to a reef system and would love the other benefits refugiums can provide. My to-do list for the next month is adding 45 pounds of live rock to the system and a reef relief cleanup crew from ffexpress. <All good moves> The goal for the refugium is better nitrate management and food supply for future corals, inverts, fish. <Yes> Now on to my questions. Because of space constraints, I am considering 3 options. 1) Converting my current wet/dry area into a small refugium, basically macro algae only. 2) Leaving my wet/dry area intact, and adding a CPR Aquafuge 18. 3) Adding the CPR Aquafuge anyway, and still utilizing my wet/dry area for refugium duty. Which of the 3 options would you recommend for a reef system. <Number three> I know you say the larger the better, but is giving up the wet/dry worth it? And with such a light fish load, should I be concerned about the lack of output from my skimmer? <No worries> Thanks for your time and knowledge. Benji
<Glad to share my friend. Bob Fenner>

Re: Frayed/Split Fins (refugium plan) OK you sold me on a refugium. I needed an excuse for one since my clingfish is gravid and flying fish express got a few in stock. <Mmm, gravid gobiosocids or sumps?> I've seen a hang-on type which seemed very attractive. I was going to fill it with Caulerpa. The question is: what kind of lighting does macroalgae need? <Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium1.htm and beyond> Can I get y with standard fluorescent? I can arrange the Caulerpa close to the refugium's surface. Also the guy answering your mail while you were out diving (Chris?)  <Jason> thought I was joking when I asked about keeping an old wife in the tank. Any experience? <Yes> They're temperate, so that's usually a big no-no. But Burgess claims them as hardy...which can also mean aggressive. Any info? <Mmm, about the same... do read over what is listed on Fishbase.org
Bob Fenner>

Oldwife, Enoplosus armatus

Refugium. Hi Dr. Fenner, <Just Bob, please> I have this question that regards with refugium on what is the best approach. I know each one has it's own advantages like for ecosystem that it helps with HLLE in fish and at the same time reduces nitrate and other requirements for reef. The Plenum on the other hand helps to give more Ca/Alk since CO2 is present below the two level media which is sugar sized aragonite and crushed coral and can be placed with mangrove, Caulerpa to help reduce nitrate as well. The third one is what I currently use which is just sand on top of bare bottom 40gal tank and some live rocks and Caulerpa on a 24hr photo period to reduce nitrate. I guess my question is which one has the most advantages for keeping a good reef environment.  <Good question... any, all are "better" depending on a myriad of other conditions, prerogatives elsewhere in a given system... As you state, if there is a situation of HLLE, perhaps the mud-filter route is best... for excess nitrates, likely the plenum. The DSB/live rock and Caulerpa method might be superlative for supplying small organisms for food to the main tank... Why not incorporate elements of all three?> I know these days a lot of people is pushing towards Ecosystem and does not require usage of Protein Skimmer, does that mean the Miracle Mud takes the organic material out of the system and does the waste product of fish and invertebrates get absorbed by Miracle mud.  <Mmm, kind of on all these counts... Actually I and at least a few other folks are fans of using at least some skimming with mud-filtration...> I know some aquarist are successful with either one and it depends on your personal experiences but if you had to set a system which one would you prefer? Thanks, RL <I have used all three approaches, and would use any/all of them again. Bob Fenner>

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

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

Refugium question hello bob got a question for you... I have three ten gallon tanks plumbed in series with the middle one acting as a mud refugium. <Mmm, I would have the first as the mud refugium in series... with a much slower water flow through it... and most of the water dumping from the main tank into sump #2> the other two are for pumps and heaters. anyways I have quite the productive mud tank in regards to Caulerpa growth and id like your help in selecting some inverts to curb the growth (I get lazy and don't want to prune the system, and I sometimes cat reach dead or decaying plant matter.) I'm going to put a few snails in there to control the microalgae growth, and I usually have few freshly bought starfish in there to fatten up for my harlequin shrimp. there's three different types of Caulerpa in the refugium, mostly racemosa (which I noticed isn't a favorite among herbivorous fish...). regardless I seem to have too many constraints that I'm placing on myself. hermit crabs are not my favorite and I really don't want to 'taint' my tank with them (I had huge problems with them earlier in the SW tank career). <I'm not generally a fan either> I don't want an urchin in there for fear of it overwhelming the Caulerpa over time. so the two most used macro grazing inverts are out of the picture. any suggestions? also I'm trying to encourage the growth of worms in there as well as arthropods/copepods. <I would actually just harvest the excess as part of your weekly maintenance protocol. Any herbivore is too likely to favor one species of Caulerpa... perhaps eat too much. Trade, sell, or feed the excess to your main tank. Bob Fenner> Jon drawbridge

Refugium question hello bob got a question for you... << Greetings, JasonC here, once again doing my Bob Fenner impersonation, giving Bob a day off. >> I have three ten gallon tanks plumbed in series with the middle one acting as a mud refugium. the other two are for pumps and heaters. anyways I have quite the productive mud tank in regards to Caulerpa growth and id like your help in selecting some inverts to curb the growth (I get lazy and don't want to prune the system, and I sometimes cat reach dead or decaying plant matter.) << may want to move that system so you can reach all of it... >> I'm going to put a few snails in there to control the microalgae growth, and I usually have few freshly bought starfish in there to fatten up for my harlequin shrimp. threes three different types of Caulerpa in the refugium, mostly racemosa (which I noticed isn't a favorite among herbivore fish...). regardless I seem to have too many constraints that I'm placing on myself. hermit crabs are not my favorite and I really don't want to 'taint' my tank with them (I had huge problems with them earlier in the SW tank career). << may be time for a second try >> I don't want an urchin in there for fear of it overwhelming the Caulerpa over time. so the two most used macro grazing inverts are out of the picture. any suggestions? also I'm trying to encourage the growth of worms in there as well as arthropods/copepods. << I would try to get over one or more of your constraints, I doubt you can have you cake an eat it too in this instance. In addition, none of the smaller grazers, snails, etc are going to be able to make a huge impact on your algae. Only a larger grazer, like a Tang or similar fish will be able to make a dent, based on your description. I would stick to the manual removal you've been doing and check out some herbivores that may have previously been off your list. >> Jon drawbridge << Cheers, J -->>

More Input Please!!! Dear Robert,  You must think by now that I am like a puppy dog whose always in your face!!! <No my friend. I think you are human. A person who like all of us, seeks acknowledgement for what you are and hope to be. This is a universal constant> Thanks for responding back to me so soon. I did read your marine physical Q & A part regarding UV Sterilizers and Fractionators. I shall place my one and only Protein Skimmer back on the Reef Tank. I've never used a UV Sterilizer before nor owned one for that matter. <Not a necessary implement> None of my other 4 fish/invertebrate tank combination has any of the these 2 (Mikey calls them fish only tanks (3 salts and 1 fresh)). Actually, the 6 ft. long tank (72" L x 18" W x 20" H) has 5 fishes, 1 curly Q anemone, a spotted red legged hermit crab, a pin cushion sea urchin, a purple spotted lobster, ball sponges growing in several different colors, and some nocturnal snails that you can't possibly see coming out of the daytime.  The 55 gal. tank contains 4 fishes, peppermint shrimp, tiny little white 6-legged sea stars, lots of pink foraminiferans ( they look like tiny little hard corals), some blue and red legged tiny hermit crabs that stay small, ball sponges that come in all sorts of colors.  The 29 gallon tank contains 4 fishes, some blue and red legged hermit crabs, some 6-legged white sea stars, some 5-legged brittle stars ( super duper tiny but distinguishable, anyhow), white ball sponges and last but not least, entangled and intertwined (there must be hundreds of them!!!) duster clusters (soft brown parchment like tubes - very tiny, yet I never bought feather dusters, don't know where they came from, never feed them and they keep multiplying like crazy - they are congregated where the power head and the overflow box are located; where the water flow is the strongest - I didn't place them over there, it is just where they are stuck at !!!).  <Yes>  Then of course, there is my 5 ft. long tank ( 60" L x 18" W x 24" H) with all the assorted corals and what's left of my fishes. Anyway, the point I am trying to make is to leave all my tanks at 1.024 salinity (specific gravity, as you term it). Since all my tanks contain more invertebrates than fishes, is it okay to keep all 4 of my salt water tanks at 1.024 spg?!? <Yes> The only tank I haven't mentioned is the 20 gal. fresh water tank with 5 male feeder guppies, 4 glass shrimps and lots of microscopic twisting conical shaped snails. But, that is of course a different matter. <Yes> Now, how come I have so many ball sponges growing in all of my tanks. Is that indicative of something going on that I am not aware of?!? <I don't think so... these organisms grow "where allowed"... are beneficial... of no negative consequence> How about those duster clusters, what am I doing differently that they multiply like crazy?!?  <A lack of predators, competitors.> I don't even know how to care for either one and there they are, just appearing out of nowhere. All 4 tanks have 10 gallon sumps while the 6 ft and 5 ft long tanks have an added 20 gallon refugiums. Are there any special instructions I should be aware of to not lose these strange yet astonishing beauties?!? Your input is greatly appreciated. <Do what you are doing.> Well, I shall look forward to hearing from you and talk to you soon!!! Grateful always,  Aleida Ann Graichen <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

A couple quick questions... I'm using a Rubbermaid 40 gallon container as a sump. I want to fill the bottom 3" of it with live sand as a deep sand bed. I have two questions. Will this be enough to help reduce nitrates? <Yes> Is 3" enough? Considering sand costs money, should I do 4"? <Could use just a bit (ten-twenty percent of "live") and mix with non-live coral sand... will do about same> Can/should I put some starfish in there for minor sand sifting? I've always wanted starfish, but my stronger liking for triggers/puffers has prevented this. <Sure> Is there any reason to have a fluorescent light on over the sump? <All sorts... Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm  and the links, FAQs beyond. Bob Fenner> Thanks as always. - Eugene

LS in my sump I left out an important piece of info from my first email. The main tank is a 100G with 80lbs. live rock, fish only. <Okay. Same responses. Bob Fenner> - Eugene

Refugium, Deep Sand Bed, and Diving. Hi Bob, Maybe you can enlighten me on a couple of things. I have a 90 reef tank mostly LPS and SPS with about 220 gallons total system water. I set up a separate plenum refugium in an old 70 gal. (48"x18") about 2 months ago. I followed your illustration and info on wetwebmedia.com, lots of great help from the FAQ. I have a problem, I bought too much substrate (CaribSea "special seafloor grade. 1mm dia.) What I would like to do is add this gravel to my display tank that has about 1" crushed coral already in it. Not to the whole tank, but around the front, sides, etc. I don't want to take everything out and start over. Too much work. But with the added substrate I could make a deep sand bed about 4-5" deep about 6" wide (between the front glass and the LR.) Is this a good idea?  <Mmm, maybe... you realize it will all be getting mixed together... about the same depth... over time> I can't seem to find any info on people experiencing with a deep sand bed AND a plenum. Your insight would be much appreciated. <Both can work together... better than one apart from the other IMO/E> On a side note, I just got certified PADI and I'm leaving for the Cayman Islands next week for a week of dives. :) You have any "favorite spots" I should check out?  <There are so many... will you just be on Grand Cayman? Do you intend to just use one dive agency? You only have a week... the place isn't all that big, but IS huge underwater... I'd just go, trust the local folks who are showing you about... There's not too great a variability in the biological make-up (nor much in the topography) all about the island. Hopefully you are intending to make photos... Oh, and do read over about the Caymans on the Web. A very popular dive/travel location.> It would be a nice and educational change to see reef creatures in their natural environment.  <Definitely> Keep up the fantastic website! Any plans for a new book? <Always working on such. Next... a Pond Pocket Guide! Don't groan. Things could be worse... be chatting, Bob Fenner> Brad Stefanko

Re: Refugium, Deep Sand Bed, and Diving. Whoa fast, fast response. Thanks for your help! I have a follow up regarding my refugium. Is it possible to raise cleaner shrimps in a dedicated refugium? <Yes> I wish I had more that a week in Grand Cayman. I have seen all kinds of wonderful pictures of reefs there. I don't think a week is enough either. I know I am going to work in "Sting Ray City" experience.  <A "standard"> The dive agency that we are using is Ocean Frontiers. I have bought a camera and hope you use lots of film! I do have a trip planned for Fiji in June '02 I assume there are great dives sites in Fiji also. <Yes... am off to Taveuni 11/27... Supposedly heading back in May... Maybe we'll meet up there in June!> As always, warmest regards Brad <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Refugium Lighting Hi Bob, I read the questions and answers from the person who is converting their sump into a refugium. As you may recall, I have also been working on the refugium idea. Like this person, I was considering using PC lighting, too. But then I asked myself -- isn't that overkill? We're not trying to have corals in the refugium -- just algae. I was thinking of using a cheap T12 24" double bulb fixture from Home Depot, along with some NO fluorescent bulbs, say one Coralife 10K and one of their "plant" bulbs. Wouldn't that be more than enough to propagate some macro-algae? <Yes, a good use of technology. HD even has a small "Lights of America" fixture/lamp combo that is a PC... also appropriate. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Dale.

Refugium Hello Mr. Fenner, I just wanted to ask if in my last email you saw a picture of my sump (I attempted a drawing) that looks like the one the you posted on your daily Q&A? Because if you did, that was way off!! :) <Yikes! Did see it... it's a work of art in "my book"... You're a much better e-artist than I> Maybe yahoo and hotmail have a strange format change because that looks no where near what I drew. Ahh.. dang. I hope you saw what I wanted you to because your answer might have been based on the wrong idea. If you could let me know, that would be a good thing. I won't go to my hardware store and start buying away. :) Thanks <Do think I have an awareness of what you are/were getting at... and your refugium design is fine. You can see it posted on the Daily FAQs today: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dailyq&a.htm and will be moved to the "Refugium" section of the marine index on the morrow. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Refugium Hi Mr. Fenner, Thanks for the quick reply. I asked about a refugium on the center glass divider of my tank. I kind of knew in the back of my mind that it would not be the best idea. I have decided to cancel my skimmer order to an AquaC the uses a pump placed into the water. This will allow me to have the refugium in my sump. I am having a hard time visualizing how to set this up. I have a rather bizarre sump that was sold to me by my LFS. I will attempt a diagram below.. water out water in ___________I__I______ I___________I__________I__I______I I= acrylic wall I IXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXI X= Bio Balls I IXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXI ~= water level I IXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXI I IXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXI I~~~~~~~~~~~I I~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~/ I___________I_I_________________/ Okay that is a rather base drawing at best. I will remove the bio balls and add coarse & fine sand as well as smaller live rock & macroalgae. <This sounds good> On the left side I have two pumps 1) return to the tank & 2) to supply the skimmer I would raise the water level to half way to the top or slightly higher. <Do "practice" how high this water level should be, by filling the sump with the power off to your pumps... turning on and seeing how low the sump gets to... this is your high water mark there...> What do I do to make sure it does not overflow if the power goes out (I have an overflow to provide water to the sump)? <Ah, see the above or: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pbfaqsmar.htm> Also another question is at the top of the sump where the water comes in, it first goes across an egg crate. Could I leave that in and put the lights on top of the acrylic? Would it be able to get enough light? As far as lights I have heard good things about home depot outdoor PC lighting. I would like to use that if it would fit. <Yes, it should> If that would not be a good idea what would you suggest as a lighting setup? <Please check the e-tailer links on WWM> I am drawing a big blank there. :) If you could give me some ideas I would be so grateful. Thank you so much! I am sorry for the long post, I do not want to ask too much of you! I do hope I was clear about my questions. <No worries. Bandwidth is cheap. Bob Fenner>

A refugium idea Robert Fenner, Hello. I hope all is well with you. I was hoping to get your opinion about an idea I have for a refugium. I have a 75 gallon tank with a 30 gallon sump. All is well but my nitrates are on the rise. I want to build a refugium. My space down below in the sump will allow it but I wanted to upgrade my skimmer to an in sump AquaC. That would take up all of my space there. I have an idea but am unsure if it is at all feasible. I have a canopy that is 10" high with 380 watt PC lights. My tank has the glass support in the top middle of the tank. I am guessing that supports the construction of the aquarium.  <Yes> Anyway, what I would like to do is place a clear container like one would find at Home Depot. and place some LR and Caulerpa in that container. The light for the main system would give to my refugium. How I would set up the plumbing I am not so sure of right now. I guess I am just in the "what if" stage. My concern would be the weight on the glass divider (thinking 10g) <Mmm, this is likely "a bit much"... seawater weighs about 8.2 pounds per gallon... and the container, rock... will add some more per that volume... perhaps a handful of gallons... and then, what about the "shadow" of blocked light in your main tank... I would still look for space in the existing sump (doesn't have to be much) for rock, light, and macro-algae, or a way to scrunch in another container below, to the side... to run in parallel> and if the refugium would cast a harmful shadow to the center of the tank. I am going to post this idea on WWF and see if I can get some feed back there too. <Good idea> I would really like to hear what you think and if you have an concerns with the placement or possible plumbing & or lighting problems. If there is something harmful right in front of my face (that happens all too often when I am excited about a new idea) I would like to know Thanks!! <Thank you for your well-thought out, written note. I think you will find another alternative to the center brace placement is more workable. Bob Fenner>

Marine system set-up Hi mar. Fenner, A few short quick questions. Will batting in the sumps, which is put to help break up bubbles, also stop the buggies that grow for fish food in the refugium to pass through back into the main tank? <Very little. They can/will proliferate there, as will their food organisms, and make their way into the main tank> What do you think of Combi-San marine supplement from Two Little Fishies? <A good product (made by acquaintances in Germany). Very similar to "two part" additives from companies in the U.S....> I hear you often mentioning Selcon, but I don't see it anywhere where I live. <There are once again, quite equivalent vitamin complexes sold and made by other companies... you can easily order all from mail order, etailing outfits> The intake of my sump is foaming a lot to the point that you can say it is skimming by itself, ( the foam is thick, and dry) Is this a danger, ( aside from the obvious of it overflowing onto the floor, or something like that) in the sense that it might break down by itself, and get back into the water column in a more condensed form? <Mmm, no real problem here. Will subside with time going by> I am running a refugium with Miracle Mud, and Caulerpa, and a separate sump with baffles, (will add some LR later on) as the filter system. No protein skimmer at the moment. The Miracle mud instructions say it is not needed. I know from your daily questions, your opinion is to still put one, which I think I should also, but specifically for the free foaming in the sump, should a skimmer help lessen this, and keep it more under control in it's proper chamber, or would the foaming still happen just as much out in the open? <The skimmer will/would remove the foaming/action almost immediately> Should one lawnmower blenny in a 100 G. tank with around 70, to 90 lbs. of LR be o.k. I have an amazing amount of hair algae, but I don't want him to starve afterwards, or should this size of tank produce enough algae to stay ahead of his eating habits? <I would try one of about three inches to start... and in a month or two if it looks like there is more filamentous algae than you want, consider adding some other algae eating organism/s> I don't want the same to happen that I read about other peoples Lawnmower Blennies dying from running out of food. Thanks a lot in advance, Greg N. <Thank you for your well-researched, thought-out queries. Bob Fenner>

Refugium Substrate / Water Level Hi Bob, I've picked up the refugium to place under my 300 live rock reef tank. It is 20 gallons and is 16" high. The substrate will be live sand. I want to grow macro algae. I would like your opinion -- How high / deep do you think the substrate should be? <I would just use some low lying live rock... this sump/is quite small to have both this and a substrate/gravel> How high do you think the water level should be? <Not very... Do "practice" turning off the power with whatever mechanism you have for moving water into/out of the refugium... to make sure it won't overflow/flood onto the floor... Maybe start with the system with filled up with near the top, turn the pump on, and see how low the water gets... this is AS FAR as you want to fill the tank... Bob Fenner> Thanks! Dale.

Two level refugium Hi Bob It is a pleasure to ask a question as I always find my answers using the Google feature. Have a 120 with 50 lbs rock, 2 in cc and 4 fish; 8 inch lion, full grown zebra moray, medium puffer, 2 in Achilles tang. <Wow, two inch is small for this species in captivity> Just ate my 12 inch panther grouper for dinner (tasty) who accounted for about 1/2 the bio load food) and put in the tang (4 weeks in the main tank I am hoping to get lucky with this fish). I have had the first three fish for 2 years now and have never had a fish die Would like to grow some coralline algae and liven up the rocks so I'm changing things. This tank will ultimately be a reef once I can afford a 180 of. I have unlimited room in the 3 foot crawl space under the house where my wet dry and urchin skimmer are located. <How nice.> Just took out half of the BioBale and will dump the rest soon at your recommendation. Saw 30 gallon Rubbermaid tubs at home depot today and was thinking I would use 2 of them for a refugium.  <Sounds great> Should I do a plenum in one (which one?) <Good idea, the second... or just one if run in parallel (versus in series) that has the slower flow rate of water through/over it> and rocks and macro in the other or keep both the same. Originally I was going to put 1 inch sand, rocks and macro in one big tub. I have no experience with invertebrates other than growing tangs delight in a 20 gallon for my Achilles.  <Algae, not invertebrates...> Also, would a calcium reactor benefit my situation or should I wait for the reef.  <Would benefit... you could make one... would really boost your corallines... but not necessary> I have not done a single h2o test in over a year and do monthly 25% changes. I would like to take this tank to another level. Thanks for the fantastic service you provide with the q & a. Sean from Denver <Thank you for writing, sharing. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Idea for refugium Mr. Fenner, thank You so much for the time you spent educating the novices like myself about the marine world.  <A pleasure, honor and duty I gladly undertake> I have a 55 gal reef with a wet dry filter, skimmer, and UV. I also have about 35 lbs of live rock, and a light bio-load (4 small fish, a yellow tang 2 shrimp, a Condy and a bubble coral) would it be OK to remove the bio-balls from the wet dry or should I add more LR? <Both or either> My next ? involves the use of a refugium. I was wondering if I could drill a hole in the side of my wet dry to act as a overflow into a Rubbermaid makeshift refugium? <Yes... a good plan for increasing volume, flexibility...> this would allow me to move my return pump into the refugium, and allow me to use my wet dry as a sump for the UV and Skimmer. I was wondering how big Rubbermaid container would have to be.  <Hmm, about as big as you can fit. There are a bunch of handy sizes, types available> and could I use my submersible pump in the refugium???? <Yes> thank You. Be chatting Jeremy <You're welcome my friend. Bob Fenner>

Refugium Feasibility and Set-Up Hi Bob, You may recall that I am the person with the 300 gallon reef tank, live rock, live sand, plenum etc. who asked some Angel compatibility questions . . . It has two overflows, one on each end of the tank with sponge filters in each to trap the grossly-large particles, which flow down into the cabinet to a wet-dry sump. I have a pump which then pumps to a "T" to returns that are on each end of the tank. <Good description> I was working on my plumbing today, cleaning the filters and adding some decorations. When I killed the power to the pump, the sump over-flowed. That told me that my sump is not big enough, right? <Yes... and/or your water level was too high in the main tank, and/or the overflows not made "high enough" and/or of sufficient through-put/diameter... Best to set all up "as if it were running", turn the power off, and see how high the water comes up in sump... or alternatively to start with the system turned off, fill the sump "all the way", turn all on and mark the low spot where the water ends up in the sump, use this as a guide for the maximum fill...> I have always been intrigued by the idea of a refugium. Quite simply, I would like to grow food -- algae and micro-critters -- for my tangs and sand-sifting gobies to munch on. I don't need a plenum, because the main tank already has one. <Okay> If I bought a new and larger sump -- and hung some appropriate lights down in the cabinet -- could I simply put the old sump next to the new one and use it as a refugium?  <Sure... divert "some" (a tankful or two) flow to it per hour... have "flow over" to the main sump...> Would the full capacity of both sumps be available for plumbing drainage when the power is off? <Mmm, not really... if you rely on gravity to more the water from the refugium to your main sump... you could get a bit more leeway by reversing this order (have a small pump move the water back to the main sump and the replacement water overflow back into the refugium via bulkhead/plumbing connection/s... Is the gallon or two here worth this? Non IME/HO... Again, experiment with turning pumps off with sumps full... and consider modifying the overflows in the main tank...> I read your book, web site, and FAQs on refugiums. The book made passing comments, the web site page is not complete and does not explain how to do it, and the biggest comment you made in the FAQs was to do the refugium "in parallel, not series."  <Yes... to try and be more clear here... For you to cut in a "Y" with a valve going to the refugium, to adjust the smaller flow rate there... and have that water (in the refugium) course over to the main sump for processing, return to the tank... Not in series as in ALL the water going from the tank, through the refugium, through the sump, back to the tank.> With that, here is my idea: Can I have one side of the tank (overflow A) go down to the old sump/refugium, and immediately be pumped back up to the return on that side . . . And then have the other side of the tank (overflow B) go down to the new sump -- which would have the activated carbon and the protein skimmer, to be pumped back up to the other return? In effect, one side drops water down to the refugium and to be pumped back up with food, and the other side drops water down to the new sump to be filtered and pumped back up nice and clean. <Likely there would be way too much flow to/through the refugium in this scenario...> Let's say this idea works . . . Here is the next question, maybe a stupid one: How do you keep the pump in the refugium from pumping sand and dirt back into the main tank? <Mmm, set it/the pump up high enough to where these materials aren't in that part of the water column? Use particulate filters? Baffling to drop out much of this material?> Many, many thanks! Dale M. <Clarity is pleasurable. Bob Fenner> About refugiums: In my refugiums, things look great. Now I want some macro algae and 'pods. What is your best recommendation for seeding both of these organisms. <Time going by... with decent quality live rock, most always enough of these sorts of organisms will be there, grow on their own. If you're anxious, want to speed things along, you can buy starter cultures from outfits like Inland Aquatics to seed, overwhelm all> I do not have miracle mud. . . . My LFS will sell a complete Caulerpa strand for like 40 bucks, but I don't think this is worth it. Is it?  <Sounds pricey. You only need a few inches...> I also plan on going with a reverse light cycle (It has been just too difficult to keep the tank's temp under control with the refugium light on 24 hrs per day. Also, do you use carbon in your mechanical filter? <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/chemFiltrMar.htm> Right now I am using just a regular blue (I don't know the material) filter with a piece of what feels like really tough paper towel (which came with the tank from Tri Tan) and I replace it about every other week. Is this OK?? <Is this "doing what you want"? If so, okay> Thanks again, in advance Rich <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Circulation in refugium Bob, Finally got my 20 gallon refugium up and running. Should there be any kind of circulation? Or should the water be stagnant? The reason why I ask is the return water from the little power head, water from the sump is causing just a little swirl current in my refugium. Thanks again. <Please read on the WWM site re refugiums. Bob Fenner> Linstun

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

Reef Fish Hi, I was wondering if you could suggest some species of fish that I could place in my reef tank that don't require me to feed them, rather they feed off the liverock or something like that.  <In a very large system... well-established...> I plan on keeping at most 2 small fish for my 60gal reef. I want fish that stay only around 1 inch and that's it. A would like a 6 line wrasse and maybe a Pseudochromis but I am not sure if they will survive on their own without me feeding them. Any input greatly appreciated. -Matt <Hmm, well, you will have to augment these fishes diets in any case... adding a sump as a refugium could help you/them quite a bit. Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm and the FAQs beyond. Bob Fenner>

Filtration? Hello Mr. Fenner, I have a filtering question. When I had my tank built originally I had an overflow built in at one end. The person who built it also designed the filtering system. It consists of the overflow going down to a wet/dry sump then through a filter cartridge for mechanical filtering, and then returning to the tank. I've added a protein skimmer, and a U.V filter. I now want to change it into a reef system ( currently a FOWLR system), and I'd like to know if I will be adding a refugium, and separate plenum, is it o.k. to still leave the mechanical filtering in place, ( I was thinking on the intake side of the system before the refugium, and plenum. Is this a good idea, or not, ( do the mechanical filters work by pushing through only, or can they pull through also? <Both... kept clean, un-blocked... All can be run together> A friend says I shouldn't have a mechanical filter inline if I'm doing a reef tank with the refugium/plenum. I understand his reasoning that the little critters that grow in the refugium will be caught in the cartridge, and not become food for the fishies, but I think this is so only if it's put after the sumps. Greg N. <A few configurations possible here... I would run the sump/refugium in parallel... not in series. With some of the return water (from the main system) entering into the refugium being pumped separately (i.e. not through the mechanical filtration) back to the main/display system. Bob Fenner>

Refugium article "get thee to a refugium" Mr. Fenner, I was curious about your article, get thee to a refugium. At the bottom, under the heading "how to do it" there doesn't appear to be any text, just light/dark, pumps/equilibrium, etc.. I was wondering if the article isn't complete, or I'm missing something. I'd love to read about how to do it. <Thanks for this note... will have to take a look/see further... there are whole article/installments on refugiums in a "pending" file (some years old) waiting publication (first rights...) for hobby magazines here and abroad... and what constitutes a manuscript/draft of a book ("the conscientious reef aquarist") not in print... so, some excuse for non-inclusion... a/sort of paradox of "making things known" versus crass (what am I saying, "necessary" more like it) need to "make a living"... will add this to the "Task List" (it's humongous) on FrontPage "to do" list to move more here... Any specific question/s?> I have a 10gal tank now - I have a thing for small tanks, mostly the footprint of where I want to put it. What I want to do is plumb it to a 50g sump with a 10gal refugium in the basement - Just live sand/rock/macroalgae. Maybe someday I'll tie a larger tank aka 75 gal into the mix, but for now I like the stability of another 60 gallons so I can stock the 10 with community (peaceful) fishes. Currently have a Banggai Cardinal and a fake Percula. <Sounds good, neat> Thanks for your help, your book was recommended by the LFS, and that's the reference I've used to get into the hobby. I had to chance a small tank because I'm a student, and alas, anything over 12 is not allowed where I used to live. <I couldn't afford even this size system... so, I installed and kept them for other folks (and scratch) as an under-grad...> But, suffice it to say, had it not been for your book, I'd probably have the 10 stocked with comets. <Nothing wrong with Goldfish.> Thanks again! Patrick Guffey <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

10 gallon refugium Bob, I decided to add a 10 gallon refugium to my 240 FO tank. <Ah!> I plan on putting the refugium next to my sump , under the tank. Will it work if I run two EXACT powerheads, one adding water from the sump to the refugium, and the other pump inside the refugium returning back the water to the sump. will this work?? <Yikes... I would at least also make a "bridge" of good diameter PVC pipe... using end-caps, fill with water... between the two tanks... in case one powerhead is stronger, or one quits... Alternatively, if you can, arrange that gravity alone returns the water to the main sump (or tank for that matter)... a few possibilities here> I don't want to drill any holes because my sump is acrylic and the refugium is glass. <Okay. Bob Fenner> Thanks

Re: 10 gallon refugium Bob, How about buying some mangroves and sticking them in my sump. Will this method be just as efficient as adding a refugium? If so how many mangroves will I need for my 240 FO tank? <This sump is too small for such additions. Too much likelihood of the tank breaking. Bob Fenner>

Refugium Bob, Ok I made up my mind I'm going to add a 10 gallon refugium under my 240 gallon FO+ 100lb liverock tank. It will sit next to my wetdry sump. I have several questions, one is 10 gallons big enough?? <Bigger would be better, but even this small size will have appreciable beneficial effects> I know bigger is better , but will it make a GOOD difference in lowering nitrates? <Yes> Second is it essential to have "live sand " as the substrate for the refugium?  <No> I plan on just using aragonite, the non living kind. <It will become live of its own accord> Third how many inches should the substrate be? <A couple...> Fourth how should the water flow/current be in the refugium? Should it be VERY calm? <A couple to a handful of turnovers per hour are ideal> Last question is the refugium should only contain Caulerpa, aragonite, and fluorescent lighting right?  <Other things that might go in include live rock, "mud", other algae...> Let me know if there should be anything else in the refugium. I plan on using this to battle my nitrates. I know there are a lot of questions that I ask, but I couldn't find the answers in the WetWeb media in the "REFUGIUM" section I read the whole thing. Thanks Linstun <Take a look through the associated FAQs there... the blue links at the top of each Page. Bob Fenner>

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

Hey Bob ;) (refugium questions) You are just a great aquarist and answer questions at times on the FFExpress FAQ (a section I have read, I'd say, 85% of all questions and answers). <You must be a vociferous reader! Please also see our site: www.WetWebMedia.com> Anyway, I have a question about refugiums (a section that I believe should and will become its own section on the FFE website FAQ). Going forward, I really like the idea of a refugium to lessen possible nitrates and to keep PH swings in check all while providing food for my tangs. <Good purposes, possibilities all> My system: 6 weeks old --> 75 gallon 15x24x48, Sump --> 30 gallon sump with bioballs (all over flows and returns are in a trapezoid in the back middle of the tank), UV sterilizer, Berlin protein skimmer, 150 watt heater (never on); Natural filtration --> 90 lbs. live rock (FFE), 80 lbs. live sand (FFE), good water circulation (all via powerful return pump and four return pipes), 96 x 4 PC lights (two actinics, two daylight), all cycled -- daylight 7 hrs day, 9 hrs actinic. My Parameters: Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate = 0, Temp swings from 77-81 during most 24 hour periods, Strontium and Calcium added periodically. Livestock: Kole Tang, Hippo Blue Tang, One True Perc Clown, Two Banggai Cardinals, 50 gallon clean up crew (FFE), 75 gallon reef relief (FFE), two large cleaner shrimp, and one more sifting star. Here's the deal, all animals are eating and adjusting nicely 1) I want more animals: corals, anemones, and a few more fish. At this point, what do you suggest is possible to be added without overloading the system in its current state?  <Please read through the "livestocking sections" on the Marine part of the WWM site and the many survey pieces and associated FAQs here... many, many choices> 2) Should I add the refugium now or later?  <Now> 3) There is a place in my sump that looks "just perfect" to me for a refugium. It appears that it would be about a total of 3 to 5 gallons in volume. Is this big enough to have a noticeable effect, and or a sizable refugium for 'pods and macroalgae?  Or will its effect be negligible? <Worthwhile, noticeable> 4) Pending this is adequate (even though it may be too small; assuming it will have a good effect none the less) in size, what kind of lighting do I need (for the refugium)?  Wattage and Type, if you will. <Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/refugium1.htm> 5) Do you suggest the 24 hour period of lighting, or the reverse light period for PH swing minimization? <For most cases, circumstances, continuous lighting> 6) In the small refugium tank set up, when the water flows back into the main system, in my case the other portion of the sump, should it over flow from the top of the refugium, as in skimming like in the main system? Or doesn't it matter?  <Mmm, sometimes does matter... here over the top will be fine> I'd like the water to be pumped to the top of the system and flow from a little below the water line to encourage 'pods to flow back to the main system for a possible mandarin dragonet in the future (yes I know that most of the 'pods will be shredded in the return, but I assume their remains will still become food for the mandarin, again if you could address this assumption I'd also appreciate that too). <You will be surprised to find how many critters make it through the pump mechanism intact> Mr. Fenner, you are the best. Thanks so much for your help. Thank you thank you thank you!! <You are welcome. We are soon to be good friends. Bob Fenner> Concerned "Conscientious Aquarist," Rich Walker

Re: Hey Bob ;) You don't know what this insight and wisdom has meant to me and the innocent marine life I have adopted! Not to mention lighting response!! Thanks so much Mr. Fenner for your help. I will be in full contact with you on my operations and my new refugium to be constructed and added this weekend! If you are interested in pictures too, I will add them also! Talk to you soon, and again thanks so much. The aquarium community owes you a great debt. Rich <Your effusive enthusiasm for life, the hobby and my small part in helping are... palpable to put it mildly. Thank you my friend, for boldly brightening my day. Bob Fenner>

Refugiums Mr. Fenner, A good friend of mine sent me to your web-site about a week ago. I can't tell how your site has helped better my reef keeping ability. <Very glad we've met finally> I started three years ago. I became frustrated with all the problems an uneducated reef keeper gets into. <There are many> My LFS has mainly high schools kids working and bless their hearts they try, but I come out of the store even more confused. I have relied on books mainly. <A good start...> I can't complain, I'm sure some of my past fish can though. I have an 80gal reef, wet/dry, skimmer, 90lbs live rock 40lbs live sand. Amm. NO2 and NO3 are thankfully (with the help of you website) 0 for the first time in those three years. My love of this hobby has hit a resurgence thanks to learning better care and techniques. I do want to build a refugium in my 25gallon sump. The water level allows about 1/3 or just under that of the sump to be filled. I would like to rid the sump of the bio-balls, add a fine sand, lighting, and the rubble from the LR that my LFS accumulates. <Good plan> I thought that using about 10-15lbs of it would allow me to have the desired algae and benefits that the whole chunks of LR would give. I could be very wrong. Lots of critters to call the sump home. I know bigger is better, but now that I have such a balance established in the tank I though that perhaps this setup would be sufficient. If you have any thoughts or concerns about this I am open to hearing them. No reply is needed, I just wanted to thank you for renewing my interest in this hobby and let you know it has sparked my creative side. Sincerely, David <Thank you for "pumping me up"! Good to know our efforts are reaching the intended... Your design sounds fine. Yes, a bigger sump/refugium would be better, but taking the bio-balls out, doing the conversion will net you tremendous good with the smaller volume. Bob Fenner>

Re: Refugiums Mr. Fenner I wanted to thank you again for your help when I mailed you some time ago about turning my wet/dry system into a refugium. If you will remember (can't fault you if you cannot, you do go through an exhausting amount of mail I'm sure) I wanted to know if using rubble from LR was good to use in my smaller sized sump. I did the deed two weeks ago and now have 0 NO3 for the very first time. I am so pleased. I thank you and your web-site for leading me on the correct path. <You're certainly welcome. Congratulations on your success!> I am sending a picture of a section of my sump. I have algae growing but something along with it that gives me cause to pause. It almost looks like tiny flecks of rice. A poor description but the picture I hope will do better justice. <Yes, these organisms do look like grains of rice...> It is on a few sides of the sump and not with the algae, alone. I now see it in my 75gallon tank. Not too much, but what it is I am not sure.  <No worries here... collections of algal cells et al... or some sort of worm (very small, yes) but not hazardous.> My fish do look well. My small 1" domino has on his right side below his dorsal fin, a small pin hole size faded white splotch. Any relation to what is seen in the picture?  <No, no worries. A rambunctious species that does grow (too) quickly, experiencing various tears, marks...> Just curious at this point. I am going to take him out to be on the safe side and put him in a Q.T. Treatment will follow once I identify what it might be. Again my fish and I thank you for all of you help and support. It has been the best gift. David <A delight my friend. Bob Fenner>

Re: Refugiums Mr. Fenner, Thank you for the quick and informative reply. I am relieved to know that the growth on the walls of the tank are nothing to be concerned with. :) I couldn't help but smile about your response about my little domino and the white splotch on his side. Just last night I commented to my girlfriend about how much he has grown since upgrading my lights last month. I now have proof and know that I am not imagining this. Your reassurance and time are wholly appreciated. David <You are welcome my friend. Bob Fenner>

Plumbing question (more about refugium placement...) Hi Mr. Fenner, As usual I want to thank you ahead of time for the incredible website you have. In my opinion none equals it !! <And continuously improved...> I have one question about wanting to build a refugium tank. But first let me explain how my setup is placed. I have a 125 gallon saltwater tank that is in the wall that divides my kitchen, and the living room. It is a see through from both sides, and is completely enclosed in a wall cabinet I had made around it when I gutted the kitchen to renovate it. Enclosed underneath in the cabinet is my wet/dry sump that is about 20" w x 16.5" h x 12"d , and all my other filtration stuff is in the basement up near the ceiling ( mechanical filter, U.V light, pump etc...) <Nice to have this space, arrangement> My question is can I also put the refugium in the basement? <Certainly> It's the only place that I can fit it. The tank I want to use for the refugium is 12.5"d x 18"h x 30"w. Is this an o.k. size for my main tank? <Bigger is better, but this will do... including "transit volume" should your power or pump fail... Would a larger "Rubber Maid" tub fit?> I figure about a 30 gallon increase in total volume. (maybe 25G by not filling completely to the top).  <Don't do this! Do check what the "means/extremes" this sump and plumbing configuration will accommodate by filling the sump minimally while all is running, turning the pump off... seeing how high the water level rises... and make this difference in height your maximum fill line... Understand?> I'm not quite sure about basic plumbing physics, and don't want to experiment with my main tanks water, and fish life at stake. If the refugium is below the main, and sump, will it completely drain the main tank if the power goes off, or even if it's running? <Ah! You do understand... only by experimentation will you find the maximum "fill line" in the sump> How would I hook it up? should I drill the sides for the water to flow through, or should I have the tubes going in, and out over the edges. I've read over all the articles on your site about refugiums, but didn't find anything about placing them in the way I have to. Is their anything special I should do to it to ensure that it wont drain? Thanks a bunch in advance. <Hmm, do you have an aquarist friend or shop that will assist you? Best to have someone look over your scheme, shoulder...> Greg N. Montreal, Canada. P.S. Do you ever come to Montreal for anything, or do you know of any expositions, or anything of the like pertaining to the saltwater hobby in the Montreal area? <If memory serves there is a marine club there... ask your retailers...  Join ones on the Net... Chat with you soon. Bob Fenner>

For Chicago area responder Hi Bob, yesterday you got a question re: refugium sump from Chicago reader. He expressed some frustration with LFS. I'm in Chicago area and suggest he visit Ocean Design Aquarium (call first and find out when Tony works) and also Marine Connection in Wheeling. Both are out of the way but very much worth time/distance. Chris at Marine Connections is particularly knowledgeable on DIY, whole store is DIY. Tell him to go to chat and ask for me. <Rats... hopefully he will write back again... I don't save messages (or senders email addresses) more than a day... out of (here comes that idiotic adverb again) expediency. Bob F, who will post this msg. just the same... in hopes he will chime in.> --Jane aka Des

Re: Refugium Mr. Fenner, I want to thank you for the quick and informative reply. I do want to apologize for my grammar mistakes in my last e-mail. A college education can go right out the window when you get excited and write at breakneck speed. :) <Don't I know this... daily lessons on moving my non-prosaic efforts about...> I went to Oz's Reef and got a DIY setup that would help us achieve exactly what we want as far as the refugium and skimmer placement. Plus the emergency overflow you suggested. We are going to tackle that this coming weekend. <Ah! Great> Thanks again. I wish we could find a way to repay you for all you have given us. Best wishes, Lisa <You have just done so... abundantly my friend. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Refugiums I hate to extravagate  <Hmm?> you with a question, and I see you believe that most reef keepers are in the doctorate level of marine biology, correct?  <Not as far as I know... I don't have one... Most I'm familiar with simply have an earnest interest in the living world, a knack perhaps with gadgetry, and stubborn persistence with "making/getting things right"> Seeing how you reply to all without a knowledge of there background, but yet giving them a knowledge of yours. Further from the latter is my question to you. You fixate in the use of refugiums, but yet I have yet to accomplish a Caulerpa that has lived more than two weeks without expiring or a companying green hair algae. What is the reason, Doctor Fenner? <The prevailing conditions favor (and/or have been changed by the Hair Algae) to favor this nuisance Green over the ones you want to grow... This happens all the time... And can often only be changed by "re-setting" the parameters of the tank... i.e. changing the chemical, physical, biological make-up... like by adding a bunch of new live rock, altering alkalinity...> P.S. I am in the utmost part when it comes to testing. 24/7 lighting from a CF, only use carbon once a month and Phos-Guard bi-weekly. DKH via reactor 35, tank 8.3PH effluent 6.7PH and Ca tank 440 and Iodide 0.006. What's the problem Doc? <No doctorate. As stated you're experiencing an allelopathogenic effect... fancy term for the pest algae poisoning would-be competitors... Sort of like a Eucalyptus tree, Asparagus Fern, other plants producing chemicals that disallow other plants from growing under, around them... so they can "hog" (scientific term), the available nutrients, water, light... Perhaps ask the fine folks (though none are PhD's, on our chatforum (http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/) the same question... for their input. Bob Fenner> Reno

Question regarding w/d use as refugium Hello, I have a multi-part question for you. I currently have a 55 gallon fish-only tank that I'd like to take over to semi-reef. The livestock is a yellow tang, a regal tang and a small (6") Naso. I know, I know. I'm getting a 90 when we move next year. Maybe even bigger. :)  <Ah, good> There is also a coral banded shrimp, two cleaner shrimp, about six snails. I can't keep hermits for more than a month at a time, they just vanish. I swear I think my regal kills them.  <It's possible> I've seen him pick up shells and swim to the surface and drop them. I don't know what he thinks he's doing, but I'm sure the hermits don't like it much. Whoops. Tangent. Sorry. <No worries> I am currently running on a w/d filter, a few powerheads for water movement, and a skimmer (Big Mombassa). I've upgraded my lights (2x65w SmartLite PCs). I realize this isn't enough for anything other than mushrooms and some polyps, but that is really all I want to do right now. <Fine> I have slowly been removing the bio media from my w/d nitrate factory. How quickly can I remove the media?  <If the system is otherwise stable, live rock cured thoroughly most folks can remove all at once w/ impunity> I've been removing about 15 balls or so with each water change (once every other week). Oh- I suppose I should mention that I've got about 40-45 lbs of live rock in the tank. The substrate is just crushed coral, but it's been in there for three years- quite thoroughly live now. <Yes> My nitrates are a big problem. BIG. Usually over the 100 mark. Water changes don't even seem to help. So what I want to do is remove the bio media from the w/d as mentioned, add some sand to the sump (I honestly don't think I need for this to be live sand, it'll get populated rapidly. <I agree... do consider adding a light to the sump, some rock, macro-algae> My wife is afraid to look in the sump because of all the "creepy-crawlies" down there. One thing that truly confuses me about this- won't it end up sounding like a waterfall in there? Is there a way to soften that? <Yes, inside and out... covers can be made with sheets of Styrofoam... you can insulate the cabinet... and a diverter can be made of PVC piping to spread the flow about...> I've seen you mention use of Ehfi-Mech in the sump, as a de-nitrator. What would be the proper way to use this?  <If you can afford it... but the live sand, some rubble will accomplish the same ends> Should I just add a few inches of sand, and put a box of Ehfi-Mech in there as well? Sounds almost too easy, as if I'm missing a giant step or six. <No, you've about "got it"...> And, of course, I'd like to get a few pieces of live rock in there, and lots of macroalgae. I've seen two different ideas on lighting something like this- the most typical is getting one of those small PC units and put in on a reverse daylight program. The other was just a small regular florescent, running 24/7. Which way do you think I should go? <The small PC left on all the time> The largest question: am I on the right track with this? Is there anything I'm overlooking? <Not as far as I'm aware... it's obvious you've been doing your homework> I truly appreciate any thoughts and advice you can offer. John

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