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FAQs about Refugiums 3

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 2, Refugiums 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

A basement sump with PC lighting, EuroReef skimmer...

Going Reef-ish IV - Refugium Confusion I have a 29 as a Q tank. That size would probably be tight width-wise. But I could probably do a 15 or a 20g. So -- If I understand this right -- get the aquarium, buy a piece of glass and get it cut to size at home depot. Silicone it in so that it stops about 3 inches (or so) from the top of the tank to allow for overflow to the pump area and I'm done? <You got it.> (let dry 24 hours before putting water in and using, correct?). <Correct> Thanks SO much. <You are welcome. Have a nice weekend. -Steven Pro>

Re: Help, help, help...refugium Anthony, Thanks for you input. I didn't see him last night at all while fiddling with the small refugium. I did get an overflow box and all seems to be working quite well.  <excellent> I do have a question about the tube going back into the main tank. I seem to be getting a lot of "splashing" so I'm not sure I have it set up right. The u-tube goes from the refugium side of the overflow box into the outside of tank portion of the overflow box and then there is a sponge sleeve encasing the outflow tube to the main tank. They are not connected, just next to one another (I might have to try a diagram and scan it if this doesn't make sense). Also, can the critters make it through the sponge sleeve? Or should I remove it? <wow... doesn't sound ideal. Please do forward a scan though. Siphon overflows are truly scary for so many reasons. Your best bet is always pumping up to a vessel with a drilled overflow hole... no impediment to natural plankton overflowing nightly.> I hope Mr. Mandarin will show himself again. Mrs. is still active. I had been feeding a mix food, with brine as the primary,  <whoa! Brine shrimp as more than 25% of most fishes diet will contribute to their death IMO within a year for most fishes! It is almost entirely water, with very little nutrients otherwise... it is a shame that fishes like to eat it so well... they simply starve to death eating eat. just look at the nutritional analysis on the back of the adult frozen brine shrimp package and compare to most any other food. Staggering. Your mandarin and other fishes have been on a diet by eating water made to look like a shrimp (hehe... the brine). A truly awful food in my opinion for most applications> Mysis as the secondary and a slew of other things.  <excellent on this side of the plate> Mrs. was eating the same thing and still very fat.  <still may be suffering from a dietary deficiency if she ate a lot of brine too> Over a week ago, I started putting in a small pure Mysis cube chopped finely in addition to half of a mixed cube. <excellent... do consider a jar of Sweetwater Plankton too> The guy at my new LFS (that gave them to me from the old LFS) mentioned that it could be an illness of some sort.  <or simply old age... they are not naturally long lived and we do not know the age at import> I will, however, do a check of water quality jut in case. All other critters (including corals) are thriving and growing like crazy (Ricordea has gone from 3 frags to 14 full mushrooms in 5 months). <outstanding> Finally, in your answer to #3 below, what is a PolyFilter? <A chemical filter pad made by Poly Bio Marine used instead of or in addition to carbon. A wonderful product that actually changes color to indicate the toxin/waste removed (blue for copper, rust for iron, etc). Great for mystery water quality problems and diagnosis beyond general good support of water quality> Thanks so much, Misty <with kind regards, Anthony>

Help, help, help...refugium Dear Bob and crew (wow, you have a whole crew now!)... <yes, a whole crew... and no complaints other than the uniforms he makes us wear. Don't get me wrong... I have no qualm with uniforms, per se... but plaid skirts are really a bit too much. Sure... we can call them WWM kilts... but I'm not even Irish!> It's been a while since I've needed your help. Things are going very well with my tank overall.  <good to hear> To refresh, 75-gallon reef, very simple set-up (protein skimmer, Penguin filter, 4 MaxiJet powerheads, 125 lbs. of live rock, 5-inch sandbed). The tank is stocked with a very friendly group of fish...Banggai pair, bicolor blenny and a mandarin pair. I inherited the mandarin pair last November from my LFS that had to close. At the time, they were fat and ate frozen very well (made sure of this before taking them). I also had a very healthy population of pods in my tank. Well, Mr. and Mrs. Mandarin moved in. Both were eating very well. Both were very fat. At one point, I even channeled frozen food down to them through a large clear tube to make sure that they were getting enough to eat. Mr. Mandarin would sometimes go up into the tube for a private buffet. <yes...very good, but no brine shrimp right? Else they will starve in time on it. Feature mysids, Pacifica plankton and higher protein meats> Then, I guess that Mr. decided he would only eat pods at some point and now he won't eat anything! I noticed him looking thin a couple of weeks ago and tried the tube feeding trick. No luck. Bought a different kind of frozen (exactly the kind they ate at the LFS). No luck. Bought 10 lbs. extra of cured live rock from a LFS. No luck...he's still looking thin and isn't as active. Mrs. continues to thrive and beat out the Banggai's to food. <hmmm... no clear explanation> So, I'm in the position of needing to set up a refugium immediately. My friend that used to work at the LFS that closed is bringing me a Ziploc bag full of live sand from his tank today. I'm thinking that for the next three days, I'll set up a very small refugium on top of my tank so that critters can get to the main tank via gravity through a tube.  <excellent... I believe that a fishless refugium above the tank is always the very best placement> Then, I'd like to set up a 10-gallon system next to my main tank, just a bit above, so that gravity can again do the trick to move the critters. <yes> My questions to you are: 1. Are there any "emergency" measures I can take to help Mr. Mandarin immediately? <once emaciated... there is not much to do> 2. How should I plumb the short-term refugium (I have a 2-gallon eclipse that won't put too much weight on the top of my tank for the next couple of days)? <your simple gravity overflow idea is fine. Be sure to feed the copepods to boost the population, but be careful not to overfeed> 3. Any other ideas? < A PolyFilter and close examination of water quality to see if this scale-less creature isn't the first of the fishes to send up a warning about a straying parameter> Thanks in advance for you help. Kind regards, Misty <best regards, Anthony>

Refugium/sump/plumbing Hi Anthony or Steven, PF here under my Other Alias. <Greeting, my friend... Anthony here under one of my personalities> Do either of you know of any good sources for plumbing info? I'm planning on eventually (after buying a house) converting the 20L into a refugium/sump. <hmmm... plumbing info in the "where to get cool toys" sense or the "give me some ideas what I can do" sense? any places for cool aquaculture toys... AREA, Inc in Florida is one such place. Reverse float switches, industrial/automated toys, solenoids, etc> I'm still sorting through my stuff (and leery of unpacking since we'll be moving again in a few months), and don't have my reference books. Any advice on taking care of a Staghorn coral? The LR I got from FL had one come in on it, it's slowly starting to recover from the shipping trauma, but is there anything I can do to help it along? <yes... very strong random turbulent flow, high Redox (iodine for this would be fine) and regular feeding with very fine zooplankton (a live or frozen Selcon soaked baby brine suspension would be cool> question on the 29g/20L combo system? correct me if I'm wrong, to small for a CA reactor. <Hehe.. nothing is too small for a CA reactor...ha! Seriously, even with a pH controller (which should make it foolproof with proper adjustment) it is a bit dangerous in such a small system. Do explore you other options (manual dosing and water changes). Kindly, Anthony>

Sump/Refugium Hello crew, <Cheers Bradley> I am trying to build a refugium to grow macros and eliminate micro bubbles. I have a MTC pro 6500s skimmer. I don't have the capacity to drill a tank. Can I just place the skimmer inside the tank (37 gallon) separated by baffles. Will this cause any problems. <this will only work well if the sump level is kept dead even/constant with an automated device (float switch/solenoid). Else skimmer performance will fluctuate with sump level> What else should I add/fix. Please see my crude drawings and make any comments. (side view and top view). As always your help is appreciated. Brad <nice drawings... how about a sealed internal partition instead for the skimmer that receives all raw water first before overflowing to the rest go the sump. This would give you a constant water level in the "pool" from which the skimmer pump feeds. Anthony Calfo>

Help with Refugium Flow Plans Hello There, I have read through your FAQ's as well as a number of DIY sites showing refugiums and have decided to try my hand at it. My setup may be a bit unique though, I currently have a wet/dry sump type filter set up on my tank. Unfortunately it is designed in a way that I really can't remove the biomedia and use it satisfactorily as a refugium (smallish size/lighting issues) so I was thinking I'd design my refugium to be used in conjunction with the wet/dry for now. My main problem is flow with the design. Now tell me if I'm wrong, but a refugium shouldn't need really strong flow to work. <Correct> My plan was to elevate the refugium above the wet dry slightly, then use a small pump in the wet dry to pump water into the refugium, and with a bulkhead towards the top of the refugium allow it to drain passively back into the sump area. Then the return pump from the sump would push this mixed sump/refugium water back into the main tank. <A good idea/design.> I planned out some other designs where water drained from the main tank into the refugium, then was actively pumped back out, but I thought of far too many circumstances in which I could either flood my front room, or burn up a pump but breaking a siphon and running it dry. <Correct to abandonee this design.> The only problem I can see with my design is if the sump went dry (at which point I'd have other major problems). I've enclosed a picture to help you visualize it, thanks in advance for your help. Your site has been a help to me and kept me out of a lot of problems in the past. <Very glad to know someone has used the site to avoid some of the pitfalls. You get a bit of a skewed view from just reading and answering the daily avalanche of emails. -Steven Pro> Sincerely, Mike Frazer

Refugium/Sump Hey guys, Anthony, you were born at Tripler! Wow! My two children were born there we call it the big pink hospital (or Pepto depending on what your going there for) <yes...nothing speaks of quality health care like a pink stucco building...hehe> I've just set up my sump/refugium I have an over flow box to a 10 gal in the bottom of my stand and then returned with a Rio 2500. This is allot of circulation for the refugium part.  <it depends on what you are keeping in the refugium. Some sturdy seagrass might appreciate the flow and the scrubbed plants will liberate more diatoms and phyto perhaps> I've divided the tank to separate the pump from the refugium part and I hope to put a skimmer in the section with the pump.  <actually... a standing vessel or partition that receives raw water first before the refugium/sump would be better... fluctuating sump levels wreak havoc on skimmer performance> Right now I've just got the inlet tube going directly into the tank with a strainer on it. is there anyway to lessen the turbulence from the inlet maybe a piece of foam. thanks for all your help. Dela <how about some tees to split the flow... not too much though. We still want a good turnover in the tank display assisted by the return. Anthony>

Planning a Refugium Conversion <<JasonC here, Bob is away on a diving trip.>> Bob, I currently have a 125 gallon reef tank that I have been having problems controlling nitrate levels. The tank has been set up for about a year and a half so my water is well circulated. I do not overfeed a do water changes on a regular basis. The only filtration I have is a home made trickle filter, a five gallon bucket full of about 3 gallons of bioballs that trickles into a 30 gallon tank, carbon inserts, and a Berlin protein skimmer. I have done some research on how ammonia becomes nitrite which in turn becomes nitrate and think that I finally understand the process. The sump and trickle filter are all new additions to my tank. I previously had 2 Emperor filters with BioWheels. If I understand the biological process correctly, the bioballs are not helping matters at all in trying to bring down my nitrate level. <<indeed, the bioballs make such an efficient biological filter for the first two stages [ammonia/um and nitrites] that the filter can produce nitrate ad nausea.>> I have been doing a little more research on refugiums and plenums and it seems that these ultimately are the cure for bringing down nitrate levels. After reading a couple of articles on the subject I have come up with a bunch of questions: 1. Is it possible to convert my existing 30 gallon sump into a refugium and a plenum? <<sure, just add some sand and live rock - plenum you can do without if the sand bed is deep enough, perhaps more than 4" deep if possible.>> 2. Can I remove the 5 gallon bucket with the bioballs all at once or should it be done slowly? Does it matter since my tank has been set up for over a year? <<Slowly is best, probably more so because the tank is well established.>> 3. Is there anything out there that I can buy to initially get the refugium started? <<live rock>> Thank you in advance for any help or insight you may have on this topic. Your website is a great help for everyone trying to preserve and capture a small piece of beauty that are coral reefs. Gianluca <<Glad you enjoy. Bob will see this and will appreciate the kind words. Cheers, J -- >>

Refugium Questions <<JasonC here, Bob is away on a diving excursion.>> Bob, I have a couple of quick questions regarding a refugium. I have a 125 gallon reef tank and an old 30 gallon tank that sits underneath the main tank which acts as my sump. All I am really using the sump for is to house my protein skimmer, filter, heater, and return pump. I set up the sump to get all that equipment out of my main tank and now use it to top off the water and drip my Kalkwasser. My main problem seems to be keeping nitrates down. I only have about an inch of live sand in my main tank which tapers to about nothing towards the front because I have a bunch of mushrooms and polyps ground in the front on the floor of my tank. I was thinking of placing some egg crate and about 3 inches of live sand with some small pieces of live rock in the sump to create a plenum. Do you think this would be a good idea to reduce my nitrates? <<even without doing the egg crate thing, which is a little short of a plenum, would definitely help work on the nitrates.>> If I put some lights on the sump do you think I would be able to use it as a refugium also? <<don't see why not.>> Does it matter that my return pump and protein skimmer would still be in the sump or would this be stirring things up too much? <<oh, there's a reason not... you might want to work on this so it can be possible. Sand in the pumps will wear them out. Anyway to get the pumps outboard?>> Lastly, what kind of maintenance is there in keeping a plenum or refugium? <<very little once they are up and running - prune the macro algae, make sure anything big that dies gets yanked - the usual stuff, it's a lot like a second tank with only sand, rock, and little critters. I can tell you though that I stare at mine almost as much as my reef tank. Interesting things happen in refugiums.>> Do I need to siphon the sand or anything to remove any detritus? <<in a refugium, no - one might stock it with some sifting stars, small Cukes, things that would unsafe in the main tank, but out of harm's way in the 'fuge.>> I have found plenty of articles on setting up plenums and refugiums but nothing as far as what to do to maintain them. <<that's because there's really not much to it.>> The reason I am trying to set all this up in my existing sump is because I would really like to avoid setting up a separate container for a refugium because of space limitations. Any help you may have on the subject would greatly be appreciated. Thank you, <<CPR [a site sponsor ;-)] is the only company I can think of that currently makes a Hang-On-Tank refugium that requires only 4" between the tank and wall to fit. You may also want to look into what you might replace that 30 with, perhaps a genuine sump which would also get those pumps out of there. You could use the 30 for... I don't know - a Xenia grow-out system or something. Cheers, J -- >> Gianluca

Sump & Refugium combination Design I have a 125 gallon reef tank with 20 gallon sump which I set up from scratch 6 mos. ago. I had encountered a lot of problems, and found a lot of solutions by reading your Wet Web Media Daily Questions & Answers. <Mmm, no need to just read the dailies, please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sumprffiltfaqs.htm and the Refugium FAQs linked beyond> I am planning set up a sump & refugium combination due to limited cabinet space of my aquarium. My supplier, Custom Aquatic, do customize orders, but I need your help to figure out the proper design to provide a good water flow. <Lots of possibilities here> I hope you can spare some time and share your expert idea. <Yes, there is time> Thank you for your kind assistance. Ferdinand Santos <Be chatting, and reading my friend. Bob Fenner>

Refugium What is the reason that it is recommended that refugium lights are to run opposite the main lights or all the time???  <Not always recommended... but when so, it helps to temper fluctuations in pH. pH drops at night due to respiration in photosynthetic animals (CO2/carbonic acid) and a reverse daylight photosynthesis (RDP) refugium or display can counter this effect> And what creatures should be in there (currently green brittle star, 2 snails, 1 red/1 blue hermit crabs)? <for it to work you will need photosynthetic material (coral, reef invertebrates, and commonly plants)> the refugium is 8 gal with a 20 gal sump. The refugium is slightly above the sump.  <I personally prefer my refugiums in-line above the display so that plankton produced overflows nightly right into the display for coral and fish> Water is pumped into the refugium from the sump. Then there is a drilled hole with a siliconed tube to return the water to the sump. Does this seem OK.  <yes, fine> Last question does UV work against the idea of a refugium <little harm...but little need for it if you are properly quarantining all new fish and coral in a separate hospital tank. Put the UV on the QT tank instead. Kind regards, Anthony>

Refugium Plumbing Hi Bob, <Steven Pro this afternoon.> Thanks for publishing all the great advice on your web site. I have learned a lot. I am in the process of adding a 20 gal. refugium to my existing 55 gal. setup. I do not have a sump. Do have 70+ lbs. LR, Penguin 330 BioWheel power filter, and Prizm HO skimmer. I don't have any water problems now but like the increased water capacity and many benefits of a refugium setup. What I have done is setup a 20 gal. tank right up against my 55 (not quite touching). The 20 is approximately 1-1/2" higher at the top than the 55. I am feeding the 20 with a 170gph powerhead with 3/4" PVC and have a 1-1/4" PVC U-tube made from a typical drain trap as a siphon return. When the pump is on at the current water level (20gal 1/2" from top 55gal 1-1/2" from top) every thing seems stable. When I shut off the pump the water levels in both tanks equalize within a few seconds. This lowers the 20 a little more and still leaves 3/4" or so room in the 55. What I am wondering is am I cutting it too close here? Maybe I should get a smaller powerhead? If I install a ball valve in the 3/4" line to reduce the flow will it likely hurt the powerhead. I can't think of what might go wrong the way it is but I may be missing something. Any comments or thoughts on this setup are appreciated. Mike Mahoney <Your current configuration seems OK. The only suggestion I have is to locate the powerhead as close to the surface of your 55 as possible. That way, if your siphon tube looses suction and begins to overflow onto your floor, the powerhead will only pump out a few inches before running dry. You may loss a powerhead in this situation, but you will save most of your animals and minimize damage to you floor. -Steven Pro>

Re: refugium thanks for the wicked quick response!!! <very welcome, indeed. Anthony> I also have 10 Lbs of live rock w 27 watt LOA CSL. The live rock once had macro on it until I got my Tang. Will this macro alga grow back now that the tang can't get to it?  <depends on the species and remnant material left... but there is a good chance in time that it will (1-3 months)> Is this the right kind of light? <a color favoring the daylight end of the spectrum would be best (6500K)> thanks Jeremy <kindly, Anthony>

Refugium for a 90gal FO tank I am setting up my 90 gal tank again after a 2 year drought (military life). The tank has a huge Lifereef wet/dry filter which I would like to replace with a refugium based on your comments. The purpose of the refugium would be two fold: filtering and providing greens for the tangs I intend to buy. I would like your comments on this plan: I am thinking about two 20 gal rubber maid containers directly behind the aquarium. <Directly behind and above, right?> The first one will be fed with a 300 gal/h Eheim 1250. It will have the protein skimmer in it. Two 1" bulkheads will connect it to a second 20 gal container filled with 4 inches of very fine sand and 20 lbs of live rock. I will probably put a 65 watt LOA lamp over it. This second container will then gravity feed, via two U siphons, back into the tank. <Why use the siphon tubes? Bulkheads are the far better choice.> The main tank will have less than an inch of fine sand, probably no live rock to begin with, and 2 VHO lamps. My reasoning: live rock is just too expensive for me to fill the main tank the way I would like it: $5 a lb no matter how I get it. Eventually I plan on buying more live rock and transferring the old rock from the refugium to the main tank. Since I am planning on having a yellow tang, a hippo tang, a lion fish, a snowflake ell, and maybe a flame angel, will this provide enough filtration? Other than additional live rock, what else would you suggest? <This will be plenty of filtration once you add the live rock to the tank also. My only suggestions would be to buy the best skimmer you can afford (I like Euro-Reef and Tunze) and use purified water if possible (reverse osmosis).> Many thanks for your thoughts. Your site is top notch professional and a treasure to all aquarium lovers! JC <Glad to be of assistance. -Steven Pro>

Re: sump filter (balancing flow rate arrangements) hi Robert sorry to bother u again if I'm feeding sump via overflow and the feeding beast (tm) skimmer with Eheim 1060 pump which in turn flows into trickle tower and other media will a 1060 at other end be to powerful and dry sump up or do I need a smaller pump as I also have a Eheim 1025 spare Thanks for your help Craig brown <Mmm, the only sure way to tell re the relative water heights, volumes of these containers, plumbing between, and size/flow rate of pumps is matched is to try them out... Bob Fenner>

Sump Stocking Hey guys, just got a custom sump for my FOWLR tank. Tank has high a higher than average bio-load as it has some carnivores in it. Its a 125Gal with same amount of LR, < 1/2in substrate, with a 30gal sump. Anyhow, nothing is in the sump right now. Read through most of the FAQ's, anyhow kind of torn. Should I put a ton of little pieces of live rock ?  <could be a dangerous detritus trap with heavy feeding> or a deep sand bed with some rock or mud ?  <if you expect nitrate challenges...possibly> What would be the best benefit in this type of set-up ? <denitrification> The size of the sump is 30x13, so it isn't terribly large. . . Thanks Ed <do consider an empty sump with a baffle (low glass divider) and treat the sump like a settling chamber to collect sediment for near weekly removal assuming the skimmer doesn't work perfectly every day <wink>. Anthony>

Sump filter hi sorry to bother u again my questions about a sump filter I've designed one and hopefully will work it a tank 36x18x15 its has 1 chamber with filter floss/sponge for physical filtration it then drops in to tank and is pumped up through beast skimmer which outputs in to drip tray on trickle tower which is 12x10x15 and I want to fill it half with Eheim Substrat and bio balls, is this ok <Should be. I would leave off with the bio-balls, just use the Eheim Substrat> chamber 3 is a 15x4 bed of coral gravel chamber 4 is a mix of poly filter and clear water then it goes to chamber 5 heated passed through Quiksand qsa-1 filter its then pumped up via eheim1060 pump I will have 1060 pump powering beast will this set up work ok or can u suggest a better media set up my tank is 100gal and the sump will be feed by auto siphon boxes as well as the sump I will also use a Eheim 2217 and a Fluval 304 pump .I've seen a ozonizer with a uplift tube its meant to be safe to use do u recommend its usage <Not at this point. Set up the rest and see what you get> also I will be using a 25watt U.V on this system. thank you for the advice its most appreciated. Craig brown <Lots of gear here and maintenance to go with it. Do try this out for now... perhaps a few to several months from now you'll try out a more "biological" approach (live rock, lighting, macro-algae...). Please read over the "Sump" and "Refugium" sections on WetWebMedia.com for more background, input. Bob Fenner>

Algae bed/Mud + Refugium? + Skimmer? Hi Dr. Fenner, <Just Bob please> I respect your experience and I appreciate your willingness to share it. I have read through all of your FAQ's on refugia and mud filtration and I would like to bounce a few ideas off you. I am just getting started down the road towards acquiring my first saltwater system. I've been reading for the past 6 weeks and have become a fixture at the LFS's. <A good place to study> The goal of my system is to have a healthy system with the lowest possible maintenance necessary. In addition to the common reef inhabitants, I am MOST interested in keeping one or two Mandarinfish and I am coming to understand the challenges they bring. I have seen some algae/mud systems (no skimmer) in operation and I am very impressed with the quality of the water they produce. I understand that the water in these systems needs to be turned over about 5 or 6 times per hour. Is it possible for this type of sump to act as a refugium and produce enough live food for the Mandarins to eat with the water moving this fast? <Yes> Secondly, what is the survival rate for the plankton if it is being pumped at this speed? <Very high. I would speculate in the ninety plus percentage... those critters are tough> So lets say that you believe the water is moving too fast to grow enough food or the pump is killing too much of the plankton and I add a true refugium above the tank to grow food and other species that aren't suited to the main tank. I'll move the water through here pretty slowly and gravity feed it back to the main tank. <Fine> Now I have crystal clear water and yummy food for the Mandarins. Finally, the skimmer question comes up. I understand you like them and I will probably end up with one. However, I will probably begin without one as an experiment to see how much fish-life I can safely support without one.  <Better to start off with one, then turn it down, cycle it on/off...> The research I have done and the feedback from others seems to indicate that an algae bed/mud system without a skimmer is sufficient if you keep the fish population fairly low. I'd like to do some tests on this theory and try to better understand if/when the skimmer becomes necessary. Finally, I'd like to hear your feedback on running the skimmer, the algae/mud bed, and the refugium together. My thought would be to put the refugium above the tank and the skimmer and algae/mud below in the sump with the skimmer coming after the physical filtration and before the algae/mud bed. <Okay> What of Leng's argument that the skimmer will take the plankton and trace nutrients out of the system? <To some degree true... But what of the advantages of running the skimmer?> Given that the algae/mud bed is lit 24hrs/day, I understand that the use of a refugium that is only lit 12 hours per day on alternate cycle from the main tank is optimal. Can you explain how/why this reduces the fluctuation in chemistry? <Mmm, optimal? Depending on the types of life employed, either lighting regimen can be "optimal" for the system, water overall. Alternating the cycle can save Redox, dissolved oxygen vacillations... leaving the light on continuously on the refugium/sump can accomplish the same> In this scenario (algae/mud bed lit 24hrs/day - refugium lit 12 hours per day opposite lighting of main tank) , what do you think of running the skimmer during the time that the main tank is dark and the refugium is lit. My understanding is that this is when the bugs stay close to the bottom of the refugium and are not brought into the tank in large numbers. Therefore, the skimmer would not be skimming the bugs during feeding time. <A good idea, hypothesis to try out> Would turning the skimmer on and off on a daily basis cause just the chemistry changes I am trying to avoid? Does the skimmer really kill the plankton I have worked so hard to grow? <Systems can be co-opted, marginalized in either case> What about Keep It Simple, Stupid. Am I going way overboard here. I feel that the benefit of biodiversity and food source from the refugium outweighs the cost of complexity. I'd like to get away with the algae/mud bed acting as this refugium - I'm just not sure if the algae/mud bed will feed my Mandarins. <Try it out> Furthermore, I am afraid that the skimmer will become necessary as I add more fish down the road but that's a complication as well. <Yes> That's about it, for now. Thank you immensely, -Jeremy <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Macro Algae/Sump ?????? Dear Mr. Fenner, <Anthony Calfo in your service> I have read much of your WWM information and FAQ's and am still unclear on a couple issues. I am converting a wet/dry with bio - balls to a sump and would like to add sand, live rock and macro algae. My first question is regarding grape Caulerpa algae. I have acquired some live rock with this on it  <which is the best way to transfer (on live rock)> along with a handful of this from the LFS. I was hoping to put some in the main tank which is a 125 gallon dual overflow AGA. I am hoping this will help reduce some nitrates and add some color.  <don't count on the nitrate reduction without due diligence with maintenance (feeding, pruning, harvesting, etc) on your part. Too tedious for me. I prefer DSB for nitrate control...more reliable and less work> I am a bit worried regarding this Caulerpa going into sexual production.  <common and dreadful> I have read this will produce a lot of gametes that can overwhelm a system. Is this a concern with a larger tank (125g + sump)?  <yes...still a concern. Do run two skimmers on this system to temper the risk> It is scary......sounds like a time bomb waiting to happen when you leave on vacation for a couple days.  <exactly...Murphy's law> I am also wondering since this algae contains these gametes etc., what if your tangs eat this algae during this stage? Is this dangerous to be consumed? <no, but the algae not only releases gametes, but all of the noxious compounds that it absorbed in growth for days/weeks prior...however it is done so all at once. Can be disastrous if you are culturing a large enough quantity for nitrate control and not just a little for color> My second question is somewhat related. I would like to add macro algae to the sump (previously wet/dry filter). My problem is there is really no way to have lighting over head. A difficult retro-fit for side lighting which may cause other problems?  <possibly... at least inconvenient> I have heard of a "dark sump" What is this?  <not something that you can grow Caulerpa in ...hehe. Sponges, yes> If I just added a deep sand bed and live rock without any lighting in the sump would this be very beneficial?  <now you are talking! Yes, please do...minimum 3"...I prefer 5+> Do you have any suggestions regarding what to put in a sump for a FOWLR and possibly mushrooms tank? <you really don't need anything...run it dark and use it primarily for denitrification. Otherwise the options are numerous depending on your personal preference (seagrass bed, Aiptasia scrubber, coral culture raceway, etc> Thank you very much for your time and consideration. Sincerely, Mike McCarthy <<kindly, Anthony Calfo>

Caulerpa racemosa Bob, <Steven this morning.> I have put some green grape Caulerpa (racemosa) in my new refugium. I had it in a container for a day or two ( filled with seawater from my tank and correct temp) before I had the refugium up and running, and now it seems to be a bit mushy and falling apart. Will this cause any water problems? <Possibly> And should I just leave it and it may come back? <I would remove almost all of it. Just leave one small piece that looks the best.> Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. John <You are quite welcome. -Steven Pro>

Hey Bob! Skimmer for established coral tank, refugium Hey Fenner, How's it? Quick one.....I have looked up and down your site (good one) and was wondering if you had a 20 gallon refugium type tank and were looking for protein skimmer would you use the CPR Bak Pak or the AquaC Remora? I went through every link on your page including the chat rooms but nobody really seemed to ask this question. I have no sump, no extra filtering, 3 powerheads, no fish, 48 lbs of live rock and various propagated corals. (Growing very well by the way.) Thanks again for all your assistance. <Likely the CPR Bak Pak here... as only want "some" fractionation and the system is already up, going well. Bob Fenner> Beers, Paul (again) =)

Refugium Mr. Fenner, <Anthony Calfo, author/aquarist and newly-acquired-taste-for-amber-beer-drinker...in your service> Could you enlighten me regarding the creation of a refugium? I've perused your site and have somehow missed the "instructions" portion (if it indeed exists). What goes into a refugium (mechanical & biological) and how do I cycle the water from the main tank to the refugium, and back? Thanks! Sam <Sam...very happy to do so, but we must first decide what type of refugium you want...or essentially, what is your primary goal for the refugium...denitrification, vegetable filtration or zooplankton production? If you had enough soft coral and/or gorgonians we could even talk about a phyto generating refugium. Please enlighten me and tell me a little bit about your tank and the bio-load in it. Anthony>

Re: Refugium Anthony, Thanks for the timely reply!  <full time staff here at WWM...Bob has us locked in a basement and feeds us Pez candies through a garden hose to keep us all sugared up> Well, to answer your question, I'm not completely sure which type of refugium to set up. Currently, I have a 40-gallon reef tank with 13 types of coral (mostly hard--frogspawn, torch, Goniopora, plate, elegance, etc.), <I'm very glad to hear that it is not so much of a "garden tank"... you have a decidedly LPS system and can better serve it's needs> several crabs-shrimp, and a few fish (coral beauty, lawnmower blenny, red-tail filefish, solandri puffer (which actually doesn't bother my corals).  <do keep a close eye on the last two fishes...tastes change as they mature> So, I don't have any fish requiring special arrangements or food. The tank I have just purchased is a 75-gallon. Now, if I were to transplant my reef to this tank, and add additional pieces because of the added space, what type of refugium would you recommend? I assume I won't need a "zooplankton" refugium because food is readily accepted by my fish (or am I incorrect?).  <no sir, actually all of the corals that you mentioned except the Goniopora need zooplankton. Hopefully you will continue with mostly large polyped hard coral in the new tank (or you will experience the same "mystery" problems that many aquarists DON'T report with their unnatural garden tanks> I'm not sure what a "vegetable filtration" system would be. Is this essentially having plants growing to reduce nitrates? <basically true, but only necessary with a heavy fish/bio-load...not your case> Now, here's a curveball: I may decide to dedicate the tank to my long-horned boxfish--thus a fish-only tank. <which it will still outgrow in time...have you ever seen an adult?!?> If I were to do this, I was planning on having an Aqua-C skimmer for filtration (and possibly a standard filter with carbon in case of a toxin outbreak). Would you recommend a refugium for a fish-only tank?  <its a nice place to tinker with small creatures and invertebrates that would otherwise get eaten in the main display, in this case> Although the tank will most likely be made into a reef, I'm simply curious. <very well> My primary goal for the refugium would be to 1.) hide protein skimmer, heater, etc.  <OK> 2.) to have concentrated biological filtration  <not a significant source, you'll be disappointed> 3.) because everyone seems to recommend them!  <I love the honesty! That is exactly why most people do it, and why I'll recommend it...hehe. Actually, a zooplankton generating refugium would serve you well with the corals and fishes. If the refugium is big enough.. put 5" of sand in (or more) and plant some seagrass (root deeply for success). Light it brightly and enjoy a good habitat for the production of zooplankton, diatoms, bacteria, etc to feed the corals> I hope this is enough information for you to base a diagnosis on. Thanks! Sam <best regards, Anthony>

Re: Refugium Anthony, Thanks for answering my questions. I do have one remaining, though. How do I get the water into the refugium (from the aquarium), and vice-versa? < refugium with a drilled overflow hole (bulkhead fitting and plumbed as you please from there) is to be set slightly above the display or sump that it will drain into. A water pump from the same reservoir will pump up to the refugee for overflow then Really as easy as it sounds. Best regards, Anthony> 

More on Refugium Anthony I thank you for the great info.  <quite welcome> Bryan here and sorry to keep bothering you. Clearing up on the proper glue for the acrylic baffles to the glass tank, you said silicone may not be the best.. do you have any input on what is a good product to use?  <buy acrylic glue wherever you buy your stock acrylic, and use silicone for glass on glass only> Back to the refugium.. w/ it I want to help w/ denitrification and increase the overall health of the tank by having the LR and algae and DSB. <LR does little for this in small refugia...algae is problematic for this dedicated purpose... DSB is best for denitrification> W/ this in mind I'm assuming just the two chambers are needed in the refugium? If I raise the refugium slightly higher than the sump, I can run a small submersible pump up to the refugium into chamber #1 containing DSB, LR and Algae, flow over a baffle into chamber # 2 where an overflow hole is located and allowing gravity to pull water back into the sump. Does this sound right or am I still off.  <would work fine> W/ the overflow hole, what dimensions should it be ( 1")?  <depends on pump desired/needed and purpose of refugium... it sounds like you are making this watt too complicated, bud> and what to use to gravity pull into the sump from the overflow.. (PVC or flex line tubing)  <little difference...depends on needs of application, nothing I can answer remotely> <as high as safely can be drilled> in a 16" 20 gal tank how high should the overflow hole be located. I was thinking of putting the baffle at about10-12" (is this to high).  <not high enough... wasted space, and I wouldn't have two chambers... just too complicated for little or no gain> Should 150-200 gph in the refugium be enough?  <sounds close...perhaps a bit modest if you want plants/grasses> Sorry for so many questions, getting excited to get the project under way and don't want to screw it up to bad. Thanks again Bryan <again...keep it simple. It sounds like you are thinking too hard and complicated about it all... do enjoy the journey. Anthony>

Refugium Bob, <You actually reached Steven Pro today, working my shift answering some of the daily questions.> I have read enough on your site and in your book to decide I would like a refugium. I have a 90 gal with a below tank sump. I have room underneath for a 20 gal or so refugium. My plan was this - a Rubbermaid (tm) container, positioned so that the overflow from my in-sump SeaClone P/S (70-110 gal per hr) would be directed into the refugium, with an overflow out of it back into the sump, where it will continue to be pumped back into the main tank as it always has. In this way I would get the oxygenated water from the P/S, and I wouldn't need any piping, or pumps to mover the water. Also in the event of power failure, I would have no overflow problems. 2" of live sand, some live rock (already 90 lbs in the main), some lighting to run alternate to the main, and Caulerpa. I just got a Mandarin that obviously need plenty of live food and I thought this might provide him with some as well. <He is definitely going to need live food as that is all he will eat. I hope this tank has a lot of planktonic life.> Can you see any flaws in this plan? <I think I envision what you are talking about. My only problem with it is the skimmer. If you have to use the skimmer to pump water up, it may not work as effectively as it should if operating at a standard height. Is this the Aquarium Systems Sea Clone skimmer? I have only seen hang on models and these were not terribly effective at removing waste in the first place. You may want to upgrade. -Steven Pro> Thanks in advance my friends. John

Re: Refugium Steven- Yes it is an Aquarium Systems SeaClone. But it will not be pumping water up. It is an in sump one, and it has an outflow that would just flow naturally into the refugium placed beside it. Seems not too bad for efficient. Maybe 1/8" of green liquid in the cup each day? <Still it does not sound like a lot of skimmate for a 90 gallon tank.> Thanks, John <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Refugium Bryan here with a few follow up questions. I am wanting some input to my idea of flow thru a sump and refugium I am adding to my main 75 gal tank. These will be placed under the stand/cabinet. I have a CPR overflow, wanting flow from here thru 1" PVC, "T" off to the sump and to the refugium with some type of valve to limit flow to the refugium. <random or even occasional restriction of a teed siphon overflow is an accident waiting to happen, my friend. Best to drop straight into the sump and with a separate/small dedicated pump, run a water circuit from the sump to the refugium and back in again...much safer> Return from sump with a Mag 7 or 9.5 (not sure yet) to the main tank....possible separate return from refugium to the main tank with Mag 3 or 5 to limit flow to couple hundred gal/hr. <again...best to run refugium on its own slow and dedicated circuit to and from a display or refugium and have a separate large circulation pump run the sump to display circuit> Return flow thru 3/4" PVC.  <fine size...make sure that your CPR can handle the flow, of course, from the pumps without creating a siphon (the awful sucking noise from an undersized overflow/oversized pump)> Does this sound plausible? Reading F&Q's made me a little more unsure of what is best as far as return from the refugium...whether to main tank directly or somehow to the sump. Also I read that these 2 should run parallel, will it still work since I don't have room in the stand for this. probably be in series) Will my overflow handle the flow rates needed.  <something you have to look into with your brand specific overflow, but I honestly doubt it...few can handle appropriate sized return pumps. Do think about having your display drilled in the long run...much better flow and almost no risk of overflow> 10x Vol of sump and 3-5x Vol of refugium. Real quick follow up to substrate and DSB. 3-4" Carib sea special grade is fine for a DSB allowing for denitrification and no more than 1/2" in the main FO tank. I again thank you for all your help. <sounds good...maybe a little deeper on the sand (18-24 month "half life or aragonite will place you dangerously under 3" too soon). kindly, Anthony>

Refugium follow up Thanks Anthony for the quick response on my refugium questions,  <very welcome, good sir> cleared some things up. Few new ideas then to run by you. I am going to run a dedicated circuit from the sump to refugium and back to sump. Is there any problem using submersible pumps for this?  <mild concern about pump contributing heat to water (if that is a problem and you are near a high end threshold)...otherwise it is the most common choice> and if not what type of flow rate from the sump to refugium and from the refugium to the sump?  <really depends on the type of refugium...heavy plants/sea grasses need great current, but a rubble filled vessel targeting zooplankton may not need as much flow> I had an idea for the refugium w/ acrylic baffles but my plan has changed since flow will be from the sump. <probably more complicated than needed> I shouldn't have the need for mech. filtration to refugium since this will be achieved from the sump already. So now I can take out a chamber from the refugium. Here's my new idea for the 20 gal. Flow from the sump directly into chamber #1 w/ LR, DSB, and algae... flow over the first baffle to chamber #2 w/ the pump back to sump. <I'm assuming that the refugium is on the same level as the sump and has a pump feeding in and a pump pumping out...if so, No Go. The pumps will never operate on the same identical pace indefinitely and you can easily get an overflow or dry pump. Better to prop refugium up slightly higher than sump with a high drilled overflow hole (in refugium) and have one pump feed it to overflow by gravity back to sump> Is there a need for anything else to the refugium or will this be fine?  <what are your goals for the refugium to accomplish?> Would a Mag 9.5 make a good external pump back to the main tank. 1" PVC return instead of 3/4" and1" to the sump from over flow. How about the sump/refugium circuit as far as diameter 1/2" or 3/4". <all dependant on what the overflow holes for each can handle. But that is a nice sized pump. The bigger the return pump, the less (if any) powerheads are needed in the main display... a big plus to me. Anthony>

3 stage refugium <Anthony Calfo singing John Denver tunes in my head having spied your hometown addie> Hi Bob, haven't written in a while as my ich problem seems to be taken care of, thanks for helping me. I am about to fire up a 3 stage refugium in the crawl space under my house. This will be for a 110 gallon f/o but I will convert it to a reef in the future. I have 3 33 gallon Rubbermaid's all connected with 4 inch lengths of 1 1/4 inch flexible PVC. The connections are at about the 20 gallon level. I drilled holes and siliconed the tubing in. The last one flows back into my wet dry. I put a T in my overflow line and am diverting a slow flow into the first tub. I am not sure exactly what to put in each tub and what order to set them up. I will do a plenum in one tub following the diagram on your site. Do I need to light it <if the purpose is plankton generation: probably not... but if you prefer to use it for nutrient export (vegetable filter): yes> and should I fill it with stirring organisms like mini stars?  <excellent idea especially if fishless> Another will be filled with macro algae.  <Calcareous macro...good. Caulerpa Macro. possibly bad, labor intensive and definitely noxious if Scleractinians are your long-term goal> Do I need a substrate or live rocks in this one?  <LR in some vessel would be nice to seed microorganisms> For the third I thought I would just fill it with live rocks or maybe you have a better idea. <seagrass would be wonderful (Thalassia or Syringodium...perhaps even a mangrove tree too). The grasses will encourage plankton that feed of epiphytic matter with sufficient rasping snails and strong currents periodically> What order should I put these in? Should I introduce organisms or just let them spread? <yes, and fishless as long as possible> I have some future goals. I want to culture some corals <please forget about Caulerpa then...have you seen my Book of Coral Propagation?> in one tub, probably put a shelf in the algae one and some intense light. Also some day I would like to breed fish so one might be good for fry and larvae. <wonderful goals!> Would screens on any of the connecting tubes be a good idea? <catch 22...much upkeep. Depends on the livestock you choose> What kind of powerhead arrangement should I set up?  <I'm content to save money on fancy devices for economical culture and make powerheads converge in paths to produce random turbulent flow> I apologize for so many questions but there is so much information and opinions about refugiums. Thanks Sean from Denver <indeed...and no trouble at all. Kind regards, Anthony Calfo>

Refugium question <<Greetings, JasonC here doing a cameo while visiting with Bob in sunny San Diego.>> I have read most of what was on the site about refugiums, and am still not sure of what if any "critters" to add to the refugium. I will have a small refugium in the sump under my tank with a 3 to 4 inch layer of live sand, some LR, and Caulerpa. Do I need to stir the sand or add critters to do this? <<I wouldn't think so. The live rock will add [over time] plenty of 'stuff' to the sand bed and refugium. You could add some stuff to give it a kick start, but it's really not a requirement.>> If so, what kind. <<There are a couple of detritivores and live sand starter kits which are available from the various online e-tailers.>> Also, what kind of maintenance in the way of vacuuming, etc., should I do in the refugium? <<none, except removal of excess Caulerpa from time to time - this is important by the by as it is the prime means of nutrient export from a running refugium. Cheers, J -- >>

Need Plumbing advice for refugium, will this work? Hi Bob, <<Greetings Gary, I'm not Bob, but JasonC here visiting with Bob.>> While cycling my 125 FOWLR tank, I got interested in adding a refugium. I remembered that I have a 38 high tank in storage that pretty much matches up with the height of the 125. I'm planning on putting it next to the 125,and enjoying the expanded display. I have 3 different pumps going out from my 125,so I figure the return from one of them would be perfect for transferring water to the refugium. <<Mmm, without reading on, I can tell you quickly this plan is flawed. You should always rely on gravity to move water from one system to the next, rather than using pumps. If one of the two pumps were to fail, you would end up emptying the one system into the other and then on to the floor.>> My main question is how to flow the water back into the 125. I was looking at overflow boxes, but they seem to be designed mainly for sending water down to a sump, so they don't seem like a viable solution for returning water to an adjacent tank. <<and for the design you've laid out, they would mean certain disaster.>> Then I started thinking that an overflow is nothing more than 2 boxes with a siphon tube between them. Would I be able to just put a couple of U tubes between the tanks and have the tanks equalize the water, and return the pumped water back into the original tank? <<Siphons rely on gravity, so with the two tanks side-by-side, this wouldn't work so well, you would need to maintain a lower-than-normal water level in the second tank to keep the siphon running.>> If this works, should the tanks be the same height or should the refugium be slightly higher? <<the refugium should be on the floor, and you should rely on gravity to fill it.>> If this won't work, can you suggest an alternative method? <<it's already in there.>> Also, what is the ideal turnover rate for a refugium. <<most often the flow through would be the same for the system, but the design of the refugium would allow a settling area for detritus to fall out of suspension.>> I'm all pumped about the refugium, but get a little confused with siphoning setups. <<Well, I hope I've helped.>> TIA for any help! Gary Nesmith <<You are quite welcome. Cheers, J -- >>

Refugium set-up Hi Bob, Welcome back, I'm glad someone posted bail for you. Anthony and Steve did a fine job while you were out.  <As always. They are competent, honest... articulate, and have a sense of humor to boot!> I have a 150 gal tank has been empty for three years due to some remodeling. It seems much has changed in the industry. <Yes> After reading, and re-reading your entire site, I've decided to make some changes to my set-up and would like your advice. Please find the attached diagrams. <Have downloaded and perused them> The existing equipment will remain with a few minor changes: The bioballs will be replaced with batting and a few pieces of live rock in the sump. The return from the Little Giant MD4 will run behind the tank instead of through the drilled overflow and I will add a calcium reactor. <All good improvements> I think I have enough room to squeeze in a 19x14x24H Refugium under the tank. I want to use the existing drilled 1/2 in hole in the overflow to gravity fill the new Refugium and return this water behind the tank as well. The tank is currently cycling with 1 1/2 " of LS and 80lbs of LR and whatever critters it came with. I plan to add 3 more inches of LS ASAP. Here come the questions: How much batting should be placed in the wet/dry portion, if any? <Not much... a couple of thin (half inch or so layers... two so one can be replaced regularly... to keep gunk out of the pump> Do I need the existing drip plate or just dump it on the batting?  <Just onto the batting likely... perhaps a floating box of Styrofoam can be fabricated to hold all in about the right place... with holes in bottom, shallow sides to allow overflow...> What are you thought on the UV/Skimmer inline (the skimmer seems to be working very well)? <A fine plan> Are you sure I don't need to use carbon with this ozone set-up? <Not necessary, or advisable... not enough ozone to worry about> What size pump/flow rate would you recommend for the new Refugium?  <Small, slow flow rate... look into the Mag line, the low numbers> Do I need the foam before the pump? <Just something large like a pin-type wet-dry media plastic thingamajig in the intake> And one more, for now, lighting suggestions over the new Refugium? Thank you O' wise one! <A couple of watts per gallon or so... of CF is best... can be had at Home Depot... Bob Fenner> Jim Schaefer

Refugium Several of the FAQ speak about a refugium illustration on WetWebMedia, I have been unable to find it can you direct? And I am just now becoming interested in refugiums so any insight on the subject would be appreciated. <Mmm, thank you for this. The only one I find is in the third FAQs file: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugfaqs3.htm at the end. Must need either insert part of an unpublished book (TCReefA) or devise new, save others graphics. Bob Fenner>

Breeding Fish & Inverts in the Refugium? Hello Almost Knowing One, <You reached Steven Pro today. Anthony Calfo and I are helping out for the time being.> I have read through most of the FAQ's but to no avail. I am looking for information or ideas for a guppy or molly type fish that I can breed in my refugium for my saltwater tank. I had a Sailfin molly pair but they are too big for my small refugium (10 gal). They did well indeed and bred a couple of times before the female got sucked into the power head. <The Mollies are your best bet, but they will eat your other planktonic life forms in your refugium. You might want to leave them out and get yourself some creatures specifically for a refugium, like Mysis shrimp.> The refugium will also hold a few peppermint shrimp some live rock and plenty of macroalgae. What kind of fish should I buy and do you have any tips on keeping the alive in such a high salinity. <Very slow acclimation over several days.> The refugium is hooked up to a 46 gallon fish/reef tank. <Leave out the big animals and watch with amazement the proliferation of tiny bugs.> Thanks for the support in this expensive and expansive hobby. P.S: Your site is great.  -Chad S., Springfield, MO <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Refugium Performance <Robert... Anthony Calfo in your service while Bob is away> My 90 gal. net reef show tank holds a variety of hard and soft corals, mushrooms, polyps, and fish. I continue to try to find ways to make this a complete Eco-system that will not need much in the way of added food. A 20 gallon refugium loaded with Caulerpa racemosa, and a deep sand bed is fed with 200 gph of effluent direct from the show tank then into the out-put chamber of the main sump thence back to the show tank. From the in-put chamber a separate 400 gph is treated with carbon, mechanical filtration, u/v, and skimming. I add Mg, St, and I on a regular, monitored basis. All water parameters, temperature and salinity are constant at ideal numbers. There has been no disease since this system started up 14 months ago.  By placing a filter bag over the effluent of the refugium I find 2 to 5 copepods of various sizes collected over a 24 hour period. A similar number are found when I filter the water coming down from the show tank. How can I improve the system to develop a steady supply of "plankton" for the corals and live food eaters such as cardinal fish? <fishless, mature refugia in time... explore grades of sand for targeting specific plankton in culture> What cultures or creatures can I add to the refugium?  <absolutely no fish... the rest will depend on the form and function of the refugium style to establish> I have no noticeable micro algae. Should I try to grow some in a small lighted box in the main sump? <not necessary but can be fun or useful if done right> With your advice, I use no bottled liquid foods or "formulas".  <excellent... otherwise, pollution in a bottle> I do the Fenner fresh mash" but would like to replace this with natural plankton generated in the refugium. <ideal if you succeed> Once or twice a week I put in a batch of freshly hatched brine shrimp (yokes in tact). The fish love them but are these useful, adequate food for the corals and mushrooms? <only if very fresh from hatching and better by far if fed and soaked in Selcon additive (keep refrigerated)> Howard <if interested in further unique system components such as refugium styles, plankton reactors, multi-gradient systems, etc... I have written about them at length in my new Book of Coral Propagation www.readingtrees.com with kind regards, Anthony>

Copepods and UV Sterilizers Hi, Will running a UV sterilizer kill beneficial copepods and amphipods? <If it is powerful enough, the flow rate through it long (time-wise) enough, yes> I had a large bug explosion a few months ago so I got a dragonet and he was eating like crazy. Now, he still looks like he's constantly picking through the rock and sand, but he is getting skinny as if he can't find enough to eat. I'm thinking about setting up a refugium under the tank and getting a amphipod breeding mat and starter culture from Indo-Pacific, but want to find out why the visible bugs are gone? (Still see larger bugs from time to time.) <Likely consumed by the Mandarin/Dragonet... they can/really mow through such fauna. I do agree, urge you to go ahead with your added sump/refugium plans. Many benefits, much fun. Bob Fenner> Thanks for your time, Michael

Refugium maintenance Bob, I have a two year old setup, 110gal aquarium, in-line with a 55 gal refugium with high intensity lighting, filled with live sand, live rock, many species of macroalgae, worms, etc. I have a turbo-floater protein skimmer. I run an ocean clear canister with a poly-filter. Both the tank and refugium are being overcome with hair algae. Nitrates and phosphates measure near 0. <Hmm> The tank is immaculate, with the exception of hair algae on the otherwise coralline covered rocks. I scrub the rocks and change 20% of the water weekly. <Lots of work> The refugium has accumulated debris from the flora and fauna. I do periodically farm the Caulerpa. <Good> My questions are: how aggressively should I clean the refugium. <Not very> should I remove the live sand (so that the debris in the tank can be managed). <Perhaps.> Should I pull the rocks out and scrub them? <Not really... should be unnecessary.> thanks, <At two years, it may be time to switch out, add some new live rock to your system... I might check into alkaline reserve levels... and would definitely be adding some purposeful algae eaters... Likely a Salarias Blenny, and maybe a Ctenochaetus and/or Zebrasoma species tang. Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm and the linked files to these fish groups. Bob Fenner> Sam Re: refugium maintenance Bob, Let me try to nail you down a little more. <Okay> Over time, the refugium accumulates detritus from dying algae, worms, shrimp, etc. Because I have live rock, on top of live sand, over a plenum, I assume that this detritus has worked its way into and under the sand.  <It's products, to some extent> This may be the source of nutrients for the hair algae. (I use RO and exchange resin water to remove phosphates). Probably due to the algae growth, my nitrates test negative on a low range kit. <Not much, but go on> Should I clean up the refugium, removing what hair algae I can by scrubbing the rocks, and removing the live sand and plenum?  <Mmm, why? In an attempt to remove potential pollutants, chemical nutrients that fuel green filamentous algal growth? Okay> This would make it easier to vacuum the refugium in the future, but would also disrupt whatever balance has been achieved. Should I increase the water turbulence within the refugium? <Total dynamic (non-linear) water movement in these settings is typically ideal at 3-4,5 volumes per hour...> Also, is there any good source re: the care and maintenance of refugiums. <Perhaps... but I am not aware of same... collected at one source. Bob Fenner> thanks, Sam

Idea I had an idea after reading one of the posts on your message board and I did not know where to go with it. The post was concerning the CPR hang-on refugiums. I looked it up in one of my catalogs to see how big it was and noticed how expensive and small they are. I then thought about it and had an idea to use a Hagen Aquaclear 500 as a refugium.  <The "other shoe" is about to drop on these approaches... know of a couple of folks/companies looking into hang on, injection-formed containers... thank goodness... the price of such is about to plummet> I have done something like this before, but without lighting it. I just filled the basket with liverock rubble and it worked rather nicely. <Yes... Pete and I experimented with these (with/out skimmers, CO2 injection, different types of biomineral/alkalinity reactors, macro-algae, substrates (natural and not) for the last years... You've never visited here as I recall.> The current idea is to retrofit the lid into some sort of hood/light. They should sell well under the CPR units of comparable size. What do I do with the idea?  <Sold! Do check with the Chua's at All Seas for fab small CF lighting fixtures at very reasonable pricing here...> I could try to build one myself and write something up for one of the trade magazines (probably FAMA as they are the only one I have noticed will use brand names in their articles). Or should I approach Hagen directly? <We should talk... and you might want to chat all this up with Leng Sy (Ecosystem)... your idea has been "kicked around" for quite a while... and you will need something proprietary, semi-spectacular to at least notable to get beyond marketing...> I am not looking to become a manufacturer or become rich off of this one idea, but I do not want to see these in stores and get nothing either. <I will send this note to Peter.C (biz associate, partner in fun) for his input. His thought was to have the bodies of his/our units OEM'ed in Mexico, over the border... but have talked with Jason.K (Aqua-C) re jigs, fashioning at least the first few hundred, thousand units in the U.S. to make sure they're a go-er... As stated above, there are folks who want to have something like the Tetra-Tec HO unit body injection molded overseas... you should get hot on this if you intend to do anything... Bob Fenner> Thank You, Steven Pro

Steve Pro's idea I don't know who this Steve Pro is either, and btw, I've never posted here either. I think you are doing a wonderful job anyway. <... okay> Back to his idea. And he is sure a lot more knowledgeable than I on just about everything aquarium, but I do have some thoughts on this, being pointed. :-) <Fine... Steve is a person who has worked in the retail end of the trade and self-employed with an aquarium service company...> >it was and noticed how expensive and small they are. I then thought >about it and had an idea to use a Hagen Aquaclear 500 as a refugium.  The thing I would wonder about would be the flow rate. If it could be adjusted to be quite slow. I don't know as, although I have a Whisper on my QT, I've never played with the flow rate. You gotta have a slow rate. <Yes> ><looking into hang on, injection-formed containers... thank goodness... the price of such is about to plummet> >have done something like this before, but without lighting it. I just >filled the basket with liverock rubble and it worked rather nicely. ><Yes... Pete and I experimented with these Oh sounds like a neat idea. For my next tank.... ><We should talk... and you might want to chat all this up with Leng Sy (Ecosystem)... your id Uh, how to say this, but Leng Sy is not known for competitive pricing. And I am saying this as a proponent and "user" of his system. <Yes... but to grant you some insight (Leng and I are friends) he makes very little money on his units... the costs of the containers themselves is quite high> ><something like the Tetra-Tec HO unit body injection molded overseas... ><you should get hot on >this if you intend to do anything... Bob Fenner> I think the clear look would be nicer than Tetra Tec's black box. Not that you were actually talking about look though. <Agreed... but it does hang on the back, get coated with gunk in most peoples settings> >Steven Pro Your friend, -des/Jane <Bob Fenner>

Re: Steve Pro's idea >Uh, how to say this, but Leng Sy is not known for competitive pricing. >And I am saying this as a proponent and "user" of his system. ><Yes... but to grant you some insight (Leng and I are friends) he makes very >little money on his units... the costs of the containers themselves is quite high> To comment on this, the Ecosystem40 box is extremely well made-- not P.O.S. <Yes... made for Leng by real craftspeople... just expensive> Very nice looking, solid, and nice components (maybe except for the darned Rio, which is small), for example very nice Jalli light fixture. Hardly even a scratch on mine-- except for lovely developing salt creep. :-) And I'm not complaining too badly, works good. <Let's settle on works well, okay? Bob F> --des

Sump / refugium question I currently have made the mistake <Ominous> and started to ponder on the creation of a sump / refugium for my 135 SW tank. Attached is a basic diagram for what I am thinking of. Basically, the water comes in from the tank via the overflow, and enters the sump. the water travels down, under a baffle (A) and then back up to the top of baffle "B". It then enters the refugium area which will contain LR, Macro Algae, and a DSB. Water then overflows into the pump chamber and back into the main tank. <Okay> Here are my thoughts at this time. In looking at the diagram, there is a possibility of dead or anaerobic spots along the sand bed due to most of the water moving along the top, while not along the bottom near the sand itself. To possibly solve this problem, would it be prudent to create holes along baffle "B" for water to pass through?  or would the wall between the refugium and the Pump chamber also create a dead spot? <I wouldn't be concerned about either... sufficient water movement here> Another idea that was suggested by my LFS was to elevate the DSB off the bottom with screens and egg crate, remove baffle "B" and have the water forced up through the DSB, into the refugium, and then over the wall into the pump chamber. <I wouldn't do this... too much water flow to make the DSB worthwhile for any real purpose.> I have heard of some systems that do this, but with Miracle Mud.  <Really? Leng Sy didn't intend this...> (any comments on that, I have read some threads that basically call it an equivalent to back yard dirt, nothing to say that it IS ocean mud - anyhow, too pricey for my pocket book) <"The proof is in the pudding"... in other words, if it works, isn't all that expensive in view of what it does, results it produces, livestock costs it protects...> Lastly, I plan on having my Berlin turbo skimmer in this as well, but due to the massive size of its submersible pump, I was considering placing the pump in the first chamber (at the bottom of the intake) plumbing it across the bottom and placing the skimmer itself in the same chamber as the return pump. The output of the skimmer would drain into the refugium. All the plumbing would be sealed so no water would leak into the pump chamber without going through the refugium first (unless pumped into the skimmer) My thoughts on that were basically, pumping the skimmer before the refugium would prevent skimming any critters that decided to go on a waterfall ride from the refugium. <Sounds reasonable. You might "glue", adhere the second baffle wall in in such a way that it can be "pulled up" (as in a race/guide along the sides, bottom) so that if you want to experiment with the suggested "reverse flow" arrangement of water under the DSB you can more easily try it out... This flexibility will also allow you easier means to try a shorter/taller second baffle wall, one with holes in it...> I was looking at building this in a 20-30 gal tank. Also, would a setup like this suffice as a primary filter for what will become a reef tank? <Yes> Currently the tank has roughly 3-4 inch sand bed of varying degrees of sand from sugar sized to small shells. It also currently has about 50 or so pounds of LR with the intention of adding about 100 more pounds when money allows. <Okay> Thanks again for all the information you have previously provided. Andy PS in to respond regarding my previous question about my Tidepool SOS overflow, I knocked out every other "tooth" and moved the filter pad up to cover the open holes. Now it looks as if none of my fish can enter the overflow, and it dramatically increased the overflow capacity. In-so by doing that, it no longer traps air in the siphon. So far so good from what I can see. <Ah, a good fix. Bob Fenner>

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