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FAQs about Refugiums 4

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 3Refugiums 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

Fish in refugiums? Not a good idea generally.

Refugium & Pond Plans Hi Bob, <<Craig here while Bob and crew are away at MACNA 14.  I will take on your refugium questions and you can ask Bob about your pond question on Tuesday.>> I am working on the addition of a refugium to my 300 gallon (96x30x24) reef tank.  I have obtained a 250 gallon container and plan to locate it and all  my other hardware in an adjoining "fish room".  I have researched your website and read your book (both excellent!) and have a couple of questions: 1. Is it ok to have the new "refugium" act as my only sump as well?  If yes, do I need a separate area for the water to crash into from the tank overflow? <<Most refugiums have a baffle in the area where the overflow returns. This can be done with glass or Plexiglas cut to fit and siliconed in place or with rock.>> 2. My tank is currently turning over at about 8 times per hour, and I am planning on increasing the flow as part of the new plumbing (larger pump). Will a flow of about 10-12 times per hour be too much for the refugium to function properly (nitrate removal, oxygenation, transfer of pods and other critters to feed main display)? <<IMO, this depends on how high the baffles are, how deep and wide the refugium is, the flow at plant/sand level, and the amount of rock and other obstacles to current. Ideally you don't want 10 times turnover in a refugium, that's why most refugiums are fed by only a percentage of the return from an under-tank sump or from a dedicated return which feeds the refugium something in the order of five times turnover. The flow really should be matched to the inhabitants of the refugium.  Sargassum, Caulerpa which I don't recommend or various types of sea grasses. You might also look into low sheer pumps (Tunze) if you run this from below and must pump the refugium return up into the main.>> My other question is regarding ponds.  I live in southern California (near the foothills in San Bernardino County).  My wife has always wanted to have a saltwater outdoor pond.  Is these do-able with local animals (maybe leopard sharks, or rock wrasse, etc) or is it possible to do something with tropical livestock.  Any insight you have on either subject would be appreciated. <<This is a subject unto itself!  Bob will be able to help you with this on Tuesday. Sounds like a lot of fun. Enjoy, Craig>>

Refugium Dear Bob, <Steven Pro in this evening.> I have a normal 30 gallon sump of which I have recently taken all the bioballs out of connected to a 130 gallon mixed invert and coral set-up. I have plenty of live rock in my system, and I'm trying to remove nitrates. After a recent bad experience with an Aquamedic de-nitrifier producing hydrogen sulphide (of which is partially my fault due to not keeping up with the heavy maintenance schedule of such a device) I have decided to try a natural refugium within my sump to reduce nitrates. After reading your numerous Q&A concerning refugiums I notice you do not recommend miracle mud and Caulerpa. <Quite the contrary, Bob is a big fan of this methodology. So much so in fact, that I have decided to experiment with its use in my new 120 gallon reef tank, sans Caulerpa.> My LFS say that miracle mud, live rock and Caulerpa in the area where the bioballs were (second sump compartment) will be just the job to reduce nitrates in my aquarium. <Quite possible assuming all other husbandry issues are in order; water changes, clean source water, high quality salt mix, proper feeding, good protein skimming, etc. I believe this will help you, but I wanted to point out this is not a cure all.> I was wondering what you suggest? <There are many different styles of refugiums. Please search out other methods and make an informed decision as to which suits your needs and that of your system best.> My tank has mainly soft corals and polyps in it. I have a bubble coral, Euphyllia and a trumpet coral also. I will light the sump with a compact fluorescent tube. Your comments are greatly appreciated. Best regards, Jim Griffin <Good luck to you. -Steven Pro>

My second (fauna) Refugium Dear Bob and friends, I just passed my second anniversary as a reef keeper and am working on the final(?) piece to this 150 gallon almost automated system. My first refugium, a 30 gallon box, with 6 inches of crushed aragonite, live rock, and a thick bed of (regularly harvested) Caulerpa prolifica has helped give me perfect chemistry and dissolved oxygen as well as food for the tang. Still never a disease process of any kind. You have given me advice regarding the second (plankton producing) refugium which is now ready to fill with 5 - 6 inches of "mud", a variety of fauna, and enough flora to keep the fauna happy. It is a 40 gallon box with power compact lighting fed by part of the overflow of the show tank (adjustable). It has a temporary 'Skilter' and heater which I will run until it is all settled and I open the valves connecting it to the total system. The overflow to the main filter sump is screened with a large drilled acrylic screen so nothing over 1/8 inch can pass. I have read everything I can find on WWM and elsewhere (including Thiel, Shimek, and Leng Sy) about refugiums and mud. There is much disagreement on what mix of fauna can/should be used and what kind of mud/substrate to use. <Yes. I can only tell you what has worked well for me.> I have gone through the research and the suppliers and am very confused. At the risk of a too long an email may I present some of my findings and ask for your opinion? <Sure> My system is based entirely on your book, WWM FAQs, WWM articles and your advice. Available substrates: Live Florida Sand from etropicals.com? Fiji live sand from Flying Fish? GARF Grunge? Indo Pacific 'Wondermud'? Inland Aquatics live sand? Florida Keys live sand from Saltwater Fish.com? Carib Sea Oolitic from Reef Fanatic? Miracle Mud from Eco Systems? Money no object, which would you choose? <Right now, I would start with dry sand and seed from several different sources live sand products and/or detritivore kits.> A mix? <Sure> Fauna selection is even more confusion. The obvious is to not introduce one plankton producer that eats the others and to use sand stirrers but no sand sifters. Inoculation with copepods and amphipods is a given but to add diversity and plankton sources and to consume detritus (and make it all interesting) there are other options: Gammarus and Mysis shrimp? <I like Mysis.> Small blue leg hermits? mussel rocks? Volcanic shrimp? Small brittle stars? <The tiny brittle stars are good too.> Common sea cucumbers? Peppermint shrimp (for their egg strands)? Urchins? Various snails? <I am a big fan of using various species of snails vs. any crabs.> Nudibranch? Spaghetti worms? <Spaghetti worms are a stable of most live sands or sand products.> "Sea Bunnies"? Other suggestions from the WWM crew? <I would even add small bristle worms.> I will use no Caulerpa in this box. Ulva? Tang Heaven red? Mangroves? Other plants? Leng Sy's Caulerpa sertularoides that does not proliferate? <I would lean towards a Sargassum, sea grass, or Chaetomorpha.> I know this email is extensive and thank you for your patience. Really, Bob this hobby and WWM have been a joy and have made me a much more observant, knowledgeable diver as well! Now there is even more beauty in the details, in the smallest things on the reef. Howard <I agree. Some of the most interesting creatures are the tiny ones. -Steven Pro>

Refugium (Design) mornin' <Good morrow> I am in the 'thought' stages of designing a refugium for my 75G reef. I don't want to use a standard tank and will make one from glass or acrylic. (both available locally). Planning on basic fuge' construction using the ideas I have gotten here. (thanks!) <Welcome> Is there any proportion (long/short, deep/narrow, tall/short) that gives the 'fuge an advantage?  <Larger, flatter> What about turnover flow? I have seen anywhere from 5-20x per hour. <Slower is better> I am thinking 48"x10"x10". This would give me a volume of about 20G US and I figure about 14-16 after DSB and rock. <If you have the space... make this sump taller... to allow for transit volume (should the pump/s, electricity fail), more flexibility down the line (DSBs and such)... Bob Fenner> Thanks, Don

Question on live food Hello again. How are you? <Fine thank you.> I have set up a tank to grow amphipods (Gammarus type) to replenish the amphipod population in my 29 gallon display tank. My amphipod population in the display tank has basically become extinct due to my scooter blenny and white striped cleaner shrimp. The amphipod tank is an isolated 10 gallon tank, (so I guess it's not a true refugium, or at least not an elaborate one). I have a heater and sponge filter in there. My question is, are there any precautions I should take before adding the amphipods from their tank to the display tank? <Adjustments for pH, temperature, and salinity.> When I get a good population going. I don't want to introduce any diseases into the display tank from the amphipod tank. <Very little chance/no carriers> Thanks again, Kevin <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Refugium lighting question Hi Anthony/Barb/Bob/Jason/Steven/anyone I missed, <Yep... Dave and Zo> I feel like I'm reliving Monty Python's Quest for the Holy Grail in trying to find a decent, affordable refugium light. <for $50 punch a hole in your roof and mount a chimney pipe or light tube <VBG>. The best light> I found one, Bayco's Bookworm light come with waterproof end caps (just where are these people reading books that you need a waterproof light?), <Turkish bathhouses> an anodized reflector, a 13w PC bulb that's 6500K, perfect... and I can't find one closer than MI. Unless, I'm willing to pay about twice the cost online($20 vs. $12), not including shipping($5-$6). That defeats the affordable angle. While AH Supply makes a nice product, I'm trying to stay under $20, and by the time you factor in building or hacking apart an enclosure to make the refit fit, the cost of the refit kit, and the bulb, we're well over what I'm aiming for. I've checked the local Home Depot type places, and while there are cheap shop lights, they're all in the wrong color (like 1025K). <ya.... about as yellow as Mountain Dew> So... whilst buying filter pads for my cats' water bowls (their even more spoiled than the fish) I saw that Petco is now carrying a clip on 7w, 6500K light. It's kind of pricey IMO ($17.95), but would it do for a DIY'd refugium based on an Aqua Clear 300 HOT filter?  <Nano or not... the wattage is just too low to be useful IMO and the color is an aesthetic semantic at that point> The refugium area would be approx. 6"w*6"l*5"d. Would this be sufficient light to support a population of macroalgae?  <not even close... get your teeth whitened instead and reflect a flash light off of them while reading the daily paper for a better source of light> Or, do I need to bite the bullet and go over my limit? <yep... or shave your head too and bounce a spotlight off of that to supplement the flashlight> Thanks for your efforts, PF  <and thank you for the question <G>! Anthony>

Building a Sump Hiya guys, <<Hello...>> Let me start out by giving you the usual "you're the best" and "I've learned so much from your site." <<I'm just happy to be here.>> It's true, your pages have walked me through every roadblock I've encountered in this sweet hobby. <<Glad you find the site helpful.>> I have a question now about building a sump/refugium to add to my tank (55 g, 75 lbs rock, skimmer). Specifically, can it be done with a tank with no overflow? I have looked at schematics which all seem to rely on an overflow to export water from the display tank. Can this be done with a small pump or other means? <<Not easily or without peril... even with two identical pumps - one to put water in, the other to take it out, you would probably never get them to run identically and then would be in constant jeopardy of flooding either the main tank or the refugium. Gravity feed is the best way.>> I would like to add the benefits of a sump, but don't want to have to take the saw to a tank that is currently running and doing great. <<You don't have to do that, there are siphon boxes which will accomplish a similar task - they are less than ideal, but perhaps better suited to your needs in this case. You just want to make sure you keep them clean.>> thanks, -Mario <<Cheers, J -- >>

Refugium Question I am about ready to start up my 20" high, 20 gallon hex that will be located next to my 75 gallon reef tank, just waiting for the stain to dry and a little help from WWM.. I guess I should explain my system before I ask any questions. I have 4x96 watt CF, Amiracle skimmer, 75 lbs live rock, yellow tang, clown, two cleaner shrimp, a few hermits and lots of snails and limpets. I also have Pink Pumping Xenia, Green Star Polyps Briareum asbestinum, Yellow Polyps Parazoanthus species, Zoanthus species, and several different varieties of mushrooms including Blue, red and green Actinodiscus species. Under the 75 I have a 29 gallon sump with 3/4 of that made into a refugium with Caulerpa (very similar to the eco system including the bio-balls). My water quality is good according to my test kits and all my critters look healthy. I was hoping to make it sort of a sea grass refugium and a place to put all those odd little creatures that I am not exactly sure of. Anyway, what kind of lighting would be best for turtle grass?  <bright daylight near 6500K (6500-10K fine). No actinic needed here> I have read that turtle grass is not the easiest to keep alive.  <actually it is quite hardy once established. Sprouted seed pods (seasonal) establish slow but quite safely and easily. The difficulties with Turtle grass are from trying to transplant adult plants. This is tricky... an undamaged specimen needs to be planted very gently at 3-6" in deep fine sand> Do you know of any special considerations that should be taken for its care?  <as per above and deep sand is critical... 6 or more inches are necessary... surge flow is very helpful long term> Can it be lit with three 65k, 13 watt CF's or is one 65k, 175 watt metal halide the only way to go?  <somewhere in between would be nice. If aesthetics are not an issue, then a warm (4K-6500K) DIY plant spot light is fine (albeit yellow colored). Cheap bright light from one or 2 spotlights> If I use a metal halide I know I will be tempted to stick a one or two of the more light loving hard corals and/or clams into the tank. Would this be a problem since the 20 hex will share a sump/refugium with my 75.  <not a crime... but put something in natural that sand flat dwells (Fungiids, elegance, Goniopora, etc)> I was wondering if chemical warfare would/could take place between the two tanks. Also, should I put live rock in this tank or would it be necessary only for eye appeal?  <if for grasses... a flat deep sand tank is fine. Just a little rock to seed bugs faster perhaps, but not much> I plan on using a Hagen 802 from the sump to the refugium and unfortunately a siphon overflow back to the sump.  <not enough flow and very dangerous! PLEASE have the refugium drilled for an overflow> I will split the return from the sump with PVC so it can be adjusted to flow in different areas of the tank.  <no splitting... the 802 is already not enough flow for turtle grass> In your opinion would this be enough flow? I don't want to use any power heads in the tank itself. Once again, thanks for all your help, I read your site everyday and have found the forums to be very helpful as well. <best regards, Anthony>

Macro Sump/Refugium return filter Greetings and Salutations! <<And greetings to you - JasonC here...>> I'm running a 20 gallon nano tank with a hang-on skimmer and hang-on refugium that I am using as a refugium and macro algae filter (macro algae, deep sand bed, live rock rubble). The water is pumped out of the tank into my Remora Skimmer. The output of the skimmer flows into the refugium and then the return is gravity flow back to the tank. I'm looking for a suggestion on how to keep larger pieces of algae from flowing back to the main tank while still allowing the little creatures from the refugium back in. I tried a simple filter bag on the output but that seems to be catching too much. Ideas?? <<I would try snagging Leng Sy's idea on his Ecosystem Aquarium refugium and put some bio-balls in that last chamber in the refugium. I think that would work fine.>> Thanks! -Jeremy <<Cheers, J -- >>

Refugium substrate Hi again gentleman, <<And hello again to you.>> wanted to thank you (JasonC) for your speedy and informative response about changing the depth of my sand bed and refugium stuff. You guys have been nominated by me for sainthood. <<Now it's on to the Pope...>> I have been doing a little research and decided to go with a refugium for my 80 gal. My question lies in the substrate. The guy at the LFS swears by the "miracle mud" but I expressed my concern of putting this substance into my system when really I'm not sure of the chemical make-up (am I really that paranoid and uninformed). <<No need to fear... many aquarists use this stuff and have a great deal of success. Many people swear by it, very few swear at it.>> What I've noticed from other sources is the reference to deep sand beds in refugiums. Have I managed to confuse my info? <<No... they are two different approaches, and a DSB in a refugium is of limited use unless the refugium is an actual second tank... there's just not enough surface area in the sand bed.>> He mentioned that some of the trace elements in the mud keep the Caulerpa from going into it's reproductive state and making a slimy mess of my refugium, which I would be destined for by using sand in a matter of months. <<Actually, Miracle Mud is part of the Ecosystem Aquarium developed by Leng Sy, one of the sponsors of WetWebMedia. Leng's system includes lighting the refugium 24/7 which is actually what stops the Caulerpa from going sexual. You might want to check out their website - http://www.ecosystemaquarium.com/ >> What is your take on the more beneficial of the two? <<It's all about your wallet - it's hard to say which would be 'more' beneficial - they are both equally valid methods.>> Thank you again, Dominic <<Cheers, J -- >>

Sump and SBD refugium Bob & Anthony: <cheers, my friend> thanks for your answer, I will use the passive carbon method in the sump, maybe in the pump return area (???).  <agreed> In my actual sump I have 2 pounds of Bioglass and 5 pounds of crushed coral. My tank is a 200 ltrs and in the main area I have 35 ponds of life rock. What can I do with this material (bio glass and crushed coral), if I take it away, I presume, the biological filter will suffer...as well my few fish and inverts. How can I perform the switch between my old sump and my new with DSB, safely. <leaving the media in but submerged and passive it will contribute to plankton culture without contributing significantly to nitrates> Greetings, Carlos <best regards, Anthony>

Refugium Believe me,  I have checked out every refugium I could find and I like the looks of sea grass. However, I cannot find the Syringodium manatee seagrass you mentioned for sale anywhere.  <Thalassia may be better suited just the same... it is shorter. Syringodium grows 2-3' tall> I have checked several of the forums and was given several good leads that didn't pan out. If you know of a source please let me know?  Turtle grass is readily available and I can get Widgeon grass also but not sure if this is good for a refugium or not.  <not at all> Do you know anything about widgeon grass?  <yep... Ruppia maritima... it is a low salinity/brackish rat weed> I would like to start with two or three and see what happens. How do you attach the bio-balls or PVC tee's to the powerhead?  <bio-balls grip on with the clustered tines if you ram one on. The tees snap on if you simply find the right size at the DIY store (3/4inch CPVC for big Hagen pumps for example)> Is there a PC light that would provide enough light for the sea grass or is metal halide the only way to go?  <PC over turtle grass in shallow water (under 16") would likely be fine> If halides, would you use a 150 or 175 watt with a 65k bulb? HQI?  <there is no rule on brand or wattage... especially over a tank so shallow: hardly a diff to be noticed. They like bright daylight short and sweet... no magic recipe> Sorry to be so pesky, I drive my LFS "experts" crazy too. Fortunately for them, they are 189 miles away. Thanks for all your help! <best regards, Anthony>

More Questions My wife informed me last night that my larger tank and refugium plans are going to be delayed a little while. My wife thinks that since my daughter starts college next week and the big check needs to be in the mail, my plans can wait, reluctantly, I must agree.  <as I do too... a better cause :)> Sigh . . . Anyway, I can still add the second smaller refugium and I think I will go with the sea grass version and miracle mud that you recommended. However, I have a couple of questions/concerns.  <there are many other refugium styles too... do experiment> First, I do not have a large area to place the refugium in, but I can go higher. Do you see any problems with a 20 gallon high, 20 gallon hex, or a 35 hex aquarium for a refugium?  <taller the better for seagrasses!> The LFS told me that I will have circulation problems in the taller, narrower tank.  <that's ridiculous... any vessel can have proper flow applied with due diligence and experimentation... what kind of capitalists are they?!?! They should have sold you a bigger pump ...heehee> The LFS also said that he was not sure that two 13 watt 65k PC bulbs would provide enough lighting for the sea grass on the bottom of the tank because of the depth. Do you agree?  <on that I strongly agree... a single halide would be nice (can be daylight colored and cheap construction DIY kit> Please note that the refugium will be next to a window and I do not think lighting will be the problem, but I do want your opinion.  <the natural sunlight will be a GREAT help especially if it is South or East facing> the second question; Should I drain the new refugium into the sump of my main tank and use a return pump from the sump back? Or should I use a small powerhead mounted in the 75 to push water into the refugium and drain it back to the sump or the main tank? The new refugium will set about 4"-6" from the main tank. Wouldn't it be better if the refugium drained into the main tank so that small critters would have less pump action to deal with?  <yes... this latter placement is my favorite> I do not know how to best accomplish this without a bunch of ugly powerheads in my main tank.  <sump feeds refugium which overflows to display which overflows to sump> I am also fed up with killer powerheads. I have killed more critters with powerheads than all the disease and other problems I have had combined (I am smarting a little bit, last night a powerhead killed one of my favorite clowns).  <bio-balls or pvc tees on the intakes prevent snail/fish deaths but don't become biological> I am looking for a better way to return water from my sump.  <a single large pump and a proper overflow (large) is the best overall... see here for the many ancillary possibilities: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/plumbingmarart.htm> I do not want to drill my current sump since I am planning an upgrade and have plans for it. Do you know of an external pump or pump design that would work by starting or maintaining a siphon over the top of the sump wall?  <that is honestly a dangerous and flawed design that I would not recommend under any circumstance... I wouldn't want to sleep in that house: fire/flood hazard :)> If I could do this, I would never use a powerhead again except mixing salt.  <agreed for so many other reasons. Powerheads are generally junk> Sorry I switched subjects on you but both are a concern. Thanks again for all your help, I read your comments every day. <best regards, Anthony>

Tank Expansion I would like to expand my system while maintaining my existing reef tank as is. What I would like to do is add a 55 gallon sump and a second 75 gallon or larger tank to my existing 75 gallon and 29 gallon refugium/sump. What I would like to do is drill two holes through the floor into the basement, then locate the two new tanks downstairs with the larger tank above the 55 with an external pump returning water to the upstairs 75 and the refugium (also located upstairs).  <as in two separate return feeds? tricky, but possible. It would be much better to have one slightly higher than the other and have a continuous gravity feed through all display (upstairs and down) straight down to the sump> The head would be around 14' (plus (5) 90 degree elbows) with a horizontal run of about 23'.  <that adds up to at least 22' of head for you to consider> What kind of pump would you recommend? Would you use more than one?  <for tried and true: a single large Iwaki with a plumbed backup waiting inline (but shutoff). Ampmasters are another brand that have nice specs on paper> I was thinking I could use 1 1/4" PVC pipe from upstairs as a return to the 55 sump. I could then use a 1" discharge for a return. I would use a submersible pump for the return to the larger tank mounted above the sump (downstairs). Does this sound like it would work to you?  <nope... beyond the logistical complication of a two-return system, a submersible pump large enough to handle that kind of head will add a scary amount of heat to the water> I would also like to make part of the 55 into a refugium similar to what I did with the 29 I have now. What are your thoughts on this?  <Syringodium manatee seagrass would be awesome here... many benefits to it as a refugium. Whatever you choose, though, PLEASE do not use Caulerpa... an awful thing to do to a coral system on a larger scale> I would install acrylic baffles inside the 55 to make the refugium. Would you add any live rock to the sump (if so how much?)  <optional... may not be necessary> or just use Home Depot sand or Aragonite sand with maybe a little live sand added?  <probably also unnecessary with two upstream refugiums planned. Leave it empty to act as a sediment/settling chamber (siphon detritus periodically)> Another concern is during the winter it can get very cold where I live (Wyoming). Sometimes during the winter my basement can cool off into the low 60's and stay there for weeks. Other than several heaters installed in the sump how would you recommend I heat the tanks during the cooler months?  <insulate where possible and add a titanium drop in or a flow through heater> I also plan on using metal halide lighting which I know will help. Also, 150 gallons of warm water should help my basement temperature stay up a little. My wife looks at me like I am crazy but I think this will work. Thanks in advance for all your help. <it sounds awesome my friend. Go slow, but go for it! Kind regards, Anthony Calfo>

Colorimeters Bob, A few questions for you regarding colorimeters. <Anthony Calfo in his stead> I'm looking for one I can use to perform pH readings of both fresh (for dips) and saltwater. I want something that is more accurate than ph pens with less calibration than a pen/monitor. Here are the questions: 1) Are you familiar with the Hanna hand held colorimeters?  <yep... a long standing company with a good reputation overall> Any opinion on their quality/accuracy? (custom aquatics carries Hanna's hand held colorimeters). <they have products that run the gamut in price and "quality"> 2) I was also looking for a colorimeter that tests for alkalinity. Hanna has 3 hardness testing colorimeters: A-Total Hardness, B-CA hardness, C-MG hardness. Which hardness colorimeter would be suitable for an alkalinity test for reef tanks, if any? <you have most of what you need to know with Ca hardness if you have to pick one only> Also, a few questions about algae filters/sumps: 1) Do 24 hour lit, macro algae sumps (Caulerpa) directly consume ammonia and nitrite in addition to nitrate, phosphate, and co2? <many aquarists are beginning to realize the disadvantages of Caulerpa driven refugia. I personally can't stand the application... far more disadvantages than merits (too long to describe here... lets chat about it at a conference or do look for our new Reef Invertebrates book Calfo, Fenner, Pro (pre-sales September for March 2003 delivery) with heavy coverage of refugium methodologies> 2) Does an algae turf scrubber directly consume ammonia/nitrate? <it draws sources of nitrogen before mineralization> 3) In your daily FAQs (months ago), you mentioned that macro algae would not be a good filter media in a system that had a highly variable bio-load (the algae's nutrient need would not be met, and the algae would crash -poisoning the tank).  <yep... and that's just the tip of the iceberg> Would an algae turf scrubber be suitable for a tank with a highly variable bio-load, or does it suffer the same weakness? <turf algae is more appropriate and stable. Seagrass refugiums in some ways more so (although tricky). If your goal is nutrient export: a second skimmer (cleaned on a staggered schedule with the first) will serve you much better for a variable bio-load. If your goal is coral or fish growth... PLEASE do not use Caulerpa but set up a refugium for plankton generation instead. Caulerpa systems are good for one thing mainly: growing more plants. If your goal is to grow plants... by all means, knock yourself out with mud and Caulerpa> Lastly, a few questions about a quarantine system. I've always had problems with quarantine systems in the past - basically, problems with bio-filtration.  <you weren't instructed properly then my friend. Qt tanks do not need to be always running with a waiting bacterial colony via ammonium feeding or a hardy placeholder (damsels or the like)... too many problems. Simply keep a large sponge filter in your main display sump, tank or refugium running at all times (it will be conditioned for a system load that is larger than anything you'll put in QT). The QT vessel is set aside dry and waiting... when needed, aged water and the ready sponge filter are dropped down and the display is topped off with new seawater> To eliminate this, I was planning on setting up a permanent quarantine system that could handle multiple specimens at once and was hoping to get your opinion on my plans: - No medications will ever be used on this system (if needed, separate med tanks will be set up). This is strictly for quarantine. <perhaps unrealistic as most livestock are still wild caught and too many are likely to need some sort of treatment> - There will be several acrylic 'holding tanks' that can be unplugged from the filtration system when not quarantining fish. Each holding tank will have its own dedicated inflow/outflow from/to the filtration system. (by this I mean that none of the holding tanks will flow into another holding tank - to avoid contamination/infection). - Before the water flows from the 'holding tanks' to the filtration system, it will pass thru 25 micron mechanical filtration and then through UV (designed to deliver 100 uW/sec/cm2 at 60% effectiveness - basically, end of life of UV bulb) - The filtration system will consist of the following items in their stated order: 1) Protein skimmer (very high powered skimmer (AquaC, EuroReef, or Tunze) , with ozone), 2) biofiltration (Seachem Pond-matrix and de-nitrate) 3) fluidized bed filter - Rainbow's 900gal FB, 4) An algae turf scrubber (lit 15 hrs/day) - When the water leaves the filtration system, it'll go through a 25 micron mechanical filter and then through UV (designed to deliver 100 uW/sec/cm2 at 60% effectiveness - basically, end of life of UV bulb). It will then return to the holding tanks. <very well thought out... nice hardware. Oversized appropriately. Sounds good> - A tank of damsels (75 gallon tank with approx 20 small damsels and inert landscaping) will be permanently connected to the bio-filtration (going thru the 2 passes of UV also). This tank serves to keep the bio-filter primed while no new specimens are being held in quarantine. <now this is what we don't need. Few damsels will even tolerate a captive crowd of 20, they are unnecessarily kept and put at risk, and the filter will only be conditioned for them. This when more fish are added to the system, the filter is burdened> - After fish have passed the quarantine, I'll "unplug" the holding tank(s) and soak them in bleach to disinfect before using them again. <uhhh...OK> My questions are as follows: Am I nuts?  <yes, I think so. Thanks for saying so first :)> Never heard of anyone trying to do this, but I want a quarantine system that can hold multiple specimens w/o allowing the spread of disease from one specimen to another.  <its interesting but over thought and overdone. QT needs to be simple, easily sterilized, inexpensive, etc. Isolate tanks spiked with ammonium chloride to feed sponge or other inexpensive (sanitizable, replaceable, etc) filters would serve you better. UV is also an highly labor intensive and overrated application for disease control. It depends on highly polished and chemically filtered water (expensive to produce and maintain and immediately ineffective when organic dyes for meds are needed). Again... overkill here. Keep it simple IMO> I think that by ensuring each holding tank has its own path to/from the filtration system, and by using 25 micron filtration and 100 uW/sec/cm2 of UV both before and after the bio-filter, I think I'll achieve this. <in a practical application, UV is not this dependable to insure that every living pathogen is killed during any possible pass through the UV if and when they are released from fishes or larval stages. And yes, what of the tomites and larval parasites in the holding tanks that rise from the vessel bottom and infect fishes without ever leaving the vessel or seeing the UV?> Is it necessary to put the 25 micron filtration/UV both before and after the bio filter? I was only going to put it after the biofilter, but then decided to put it in front of it as well to prevent the biofilter from becoming contaminated. I know 100 uW/sec/cm2 of UV is not enough to kill all protozoans, but by first using 25 micron mech filtration, I thought that would eliminate the larger protozoans, and the 100 uW would then suffice. Is this sound reasoning?  <I fear that you would be tremendously disappointed after the size of this investment> Am I over killing with the UV? <no such thing :)> Is the algae turf scrubber an effective component in this setup? I wanted something to remove phosphates. <hmm... if phosphates are screened in prefiltered water (RO/DI), then the incidental phosphates imported by fish food should easily be negated by the high turnover of water in this variable bio-load system. I wouldn't add the turf scrubber just for this reason.> Thanks! <with the amount of money you are looking to spend here, you would be much better served and enlightened my friend to get a cheap flight or use some FF miles to fly out to LA for a couple of days to tour the big wholesalers on 104th street and see how the largest industry movers do it. There you will see the good, the bad and the ugly. Quality Marine, Underwater World, All Seas and so many more all within walking distance. It may be the best $500 you spend on this system. kind regards, Anthony>

Sump/Refugium Question Hey WWM Crew! It's Phil again. Good news about my dad he has made progress will be home at the end of the month so he can help with the tanks. <I am very glad to hear his situation has improved since your last email.> But in the mean time, I need to do something about my 12 gallon Eclipse tank. It contains 1 Royal Gramma, 1 Keyhole Angel, 1 Mithrax Crab. On the coral side it contains a branch of Torch Coral and lots of mushrooms. I have been fighting to keep the water quality to the best it can be. I would like to set-up a sump or refugium for the tank. But as many people know the Eclipse models make it hard to do this, someone else asked about this, but I still would like more info on how to do this with the tank. What would be a good pump for this size tank? <You will not need anything too big. You could probably just use a Hagen 802 powerhead connected to some vinyl tubing.> Or could I just remove the hood and mount the 65w unit above it leaving the top free? <You could, but I do not see the either or option. Increasing your lighting is a completely different issue vs. water quality and increased water volume.> Any help would be great!!! Thanks <Good luck to you and your dad! -Steven Pro>

Second Refugium Dear Bob and friends, As you suggested, I have begun work on a second refugium for food production. It will be about 40 gallons in size with 7 or 8 inches of fine sand (mud?) and about 30 pounds of well seasoned liverock. I have several decisions to make regarding stocking. I want this to be an interesting highly diverse tank whose main purpose is to provide larva, egg strands, copepods, etc. as food for the fish and inverts in the show tank. What is the very best substrate for this purpose? Oolitic? <I would use fine sand.> In addition to copepod and pink bristle worms I am considering the following creatures. Please comment. Sea Biscuits, cucumbers, sand dollars, peppermint shrimp, pistol shrimp, volcanic shrimp, Mysis shrimp, and several varieties of snails? <Snails and Mysis sound ok> I want creatures that multiply, eat detritus, and produce food, nothing that eats the copepods and amphipods. I have read that starfish clean out the sand bed and shouldn't be in the refugium. Is this true for all starfish? Howard <The miniature serpent starfish would be ok. -Steven Pro>

Refugium Bob & Crew, On page 76 of your book, can you id the plants in the refugium? <In CMA, yes... likely a Rhizophora mangle (Red Mangrove) towering above all (see: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marvascplts.htm), and a mix of Penicillus, Halimeda et al. tropical West Atlantic macro-algae species submersed (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/maralgae.htm and beyond) Bob Fenner>  Thanks Mark

Many questions Great site, I have already read through a lot of the material here (just ask my wife, I think she has had about enough). <You think your wife gives you grief for reading, imagine what my wife says for all the time I spend answering the queries.> Anyway, thanks for all the help. I have 10 years of experience with the old style, saltwater, fish only tanks, wet dries, lots of carbon, UV, magnum 350, skimmer, 1/2" of substrate, you know what I am talking about, the old way. <Gotcha> However, I am a newbie when it comes to deep sand bed systems. I have been out of business for the last two years because of "work" (nasty word). When I quit, I had three tanks which I sold, but kept all the rest of my gear. Wow, am I glad I did, it still cost me a small fortune. Anyway, I have a 75 All-glass about seven weeks old with built in overflow, about 70 lbs. live rock, 29 gallon sump/refugium (very similar to a EcoSystem, Jaubert plenum (wish I had put this in my refugium), Rio 2500 return from the sump, one 802 and one Rio 1700 for current inside the tank, AMiracle 4, I think ps, protein skimmer (Its about 15 years old has two chambers and uses air stones, but works great), 4x96 watt PC (10k, 67k, 03, 71k) with a fan blowing down onto the water. Two Ebo-Jager 100 watt heaters, water temp is slightly under 78 F. Any suggestions on improvements to this point? <Seems reasonable> Water quality is; pH 8.6, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate zero. I am about to order additional test kits but do not have them yet. I have 9 hermits, 18 snails, one blue damsel (all added after the tank had cycled), one serpent star fish that is alive but I hardly ever see (very concerned, he was a gift), <Very normal to not see these starfish.> lots of stuff from the live rock and Caulerpa in my refugium that is growing very well. I use two 13 watt PC, 24/7 for the refugium. When would you start adding corals? <It seems like you are ready.> Could I add three or four small to medium corals at a time or is that to much? <No, should be fine.> I plan on starting with soft corals and mushrooms and move into the harder stuff as I gain experience. I do hope to get into clams way down the road. <You tank does not seem to have enough light for clams.> I also would like two or three percula clowns, not sure if the blue devil will be a problem, my luck he will be, a tank tear-down already. What critters should I add to my refugium? <I would leave it alone for now and allow the smaller hitchhikers to flourish.> Should I add scarlet hermits, snails? <If anything, perhaps a few snails.> I have a lot of detritus accumulating just over the baffle. Had a little bit of red slime develop there that changed to green slime but is going away now. In the main tank I get a little green algae on the glass each day but I am running lots of light for 12 hours, I kick the actinic on/off a couple of hours before the daylights. Do you see any problems with any of this? <Nothing stands out> I have a good growth of what looks like reddish purple hair algae that has been cropped, or maybe the purple tang food I used to buy. I also have a lot of bright blood red algae growing on my live rock. I suppose this is good? <Do look over the algae sections of www.WetWebMedia.com to identify what you have growing and whether it is considered a nuisance or not.> Sorry this is so long. I would like to add a refugium next to my main tank. Should I leave the Caulerpa growing in the sump/refugium and have two refugiums or just make the one a deep sand bed sump? <This is up to you. I am planning/building a new tank for myself and my current plan is to have one Miracle Mud/Caulerpa refugium under the tank on a 24/7 light cycle and a second Thalassia sea grass refugium above the tank on a normal light cycle.> I am using aragonite sand about 2 ?" deep, should I add "expensive" miracle mud to either of these? <I would choose one medium or the other and not try to mix them in the same refugium. I am planning on one Miracle Mud unit and one aragonite DSB.> Many more questions, hope this makes sense. I guess I better quit for now, let someone else get through. Looking forward to your answers and thanks for all you do.. <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Refugium Bob, in a refugium with Caulerpa, why does the light need to be on for 24/7. <The 24/7 light cycle is supposed to keep the Caulerpa from going sexual.> Ii it because of slowing down growth or oxygen consumption? I would like to try 12 hours on 12 hours off. <If you do so, have the light on opposite your main tank. This way the Caulerpa is consuming the CO2 that your main tank inhabitants are producing at night.> Some of my Caulerpa seems to die off after a while and then come back. Thanks <No problem. -Steven Pro>

Water flow through refugium Dear Bob and friends, <Hi there> It will soon be two years since I took delivery on my reef tank. All is well. However I continue to "tweak" this elaborate system which has been built to use all of your advice without space or financial constraints. <Our advice takes up little of either> My 30 gallon refugium, loaded with Caulerpa racemosa with 3 inches of fine substrate and some live rock, receives part of its flow through a valved line from the unfiltered overflow of the show tank. Additional filtered water flow is provided by a valved line from the filter sump. I can easily increase or decrease the filtered water flow but the unfiltered is at max without serious re-plumbing. <Sounds very nice> Water exits via a 4 inch overflow box into the discharge chamber of the filter sump thence up to the show tank. <Wow, what a big fitting!> I have no measurable nitrates or phosphates so the refugium is doing its chemistry job very well. However, copepod/amphipod production is poor because too many go over the overflow too fast. I hang a filter bag on the overflow sometime and catch some and put them back. <Ah...> My question is: What is the ideal flow rate through a 30 gallon (net) refugium servicing a 90 gallon (net) show tank in series with a 30 gallon (net) sump? <A few turns, 2-3 per hour... yes, not much> What else can I do to increase the natural food production in the refugium? <Mmm, make it bigger... add more live rock... a deeper sand bed... Bob Fenner> Howard

Flow Through Refugium Yes, Bob, I have plenty of space for a second refugium. I can make another 30 gallon or so box and set it next to and just higher than the present 30 gallon refugium. <Great. I would do so> Flow would be from show tank discharge to the new box, overflow to the  Caulerpa refugium, overflow to the discharge chamber of the filter sump and upstairs to the show tank. Or each refugium could have its own input of filtered or unfiltered water and overflow to the filter sump. I would then be circulating a total of about 170 gallons to the 90 gallon show tank. Both refugiums would be sealed against evaporation and lit all the time. <Fabulous... I would likely run them in series> Your advice on flow and what to put into the second refugium to create an environment to supply natural food to the fish and perhaps for the corals would be appreciated? <Either a DSB with Live rock (large pieces) or just LR and more Caulerpa> I have reduced the flow through the present refugium to about 100 gph as you suggested. It is 100% unfiltered water from the show tank overflow. <This is best> My goal has been to come as close as possible to a self sustaining automated system with water changes, carbon, and Calcium, the only maintenance needed. <A worthy goal-set> I have another question regarding the leather corals. A year ago I put in 4. Two are the toadstools that have the shorter tentacles and two have tentacles about 1 1/2 inches long. They were quite small when I got them and I didn't realize how large they would become - they are now crowding each other. I glued them into small holes in a large rock with super glue. Can I cut them off at the base of the stem and relocate them? <Yes. Planar (coronal) cuts... and the base/pedicle will likely regenerate...> Howard <Bob Fenner>

Re: water flow through refugium Dear Bob, Do you mean 3 to 4 turns of the system volume (150 x 3 or 4) or turns of the refugium volume (30 x 3 or 4)?  <Sorry re confusion. Three times of the refugium> Would sand deeper than 3 inches be a good idea? <Yes... a trade off of course with loss of water volume... Any room for an additional sump? Bob Fenner> Howard

Refugium Dear Sir; I would like to set up my 75gal tank again and this time I would like to filter with a refugium. Can you recommend a good book to purchase on the subject? <Yes, the best: Anthony Calfo's Book of Coral Propagation. My review of this friends tome here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bkcoralprop.htm Available from the author, Amazon, stores in the interest, etailers listed on the site. Bob Fenner> Thanks Dr. Fletcher

Re: Refugium Thank You. Have ordered Anthony Calfo's Propagation book. <You will not be disappointed. The education and inspiration there are worth many times the purchase price, time investment to read. Bob Fenner>

Refugium Bob I have read the many articles posted about refugiums. I am getting ready to set up a 125 gallon reef tank. Is there a good book on this topic only? <Not as far as I'm aware. There is some coverage in The Modern Coral Reef Aquarium v.1, John Tullock's Natural Reef Aquariums... but likely the best coverage is in Anthony Calf's Coral Propagation book. My review here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bkcoralprop.htm  Or just "writing your own", by reading through the Refugium, Sump areas on WetWebMedia.com's Marine website... with added input from BB's like Reefs.org, Reefcentral, our chatforum: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/ and others... and looking through commercial websites like Leng Sy's Ecosystem Aquarium... Bob Fenner>

Refugium Steven : Thank you for the fast reply! I believe I can make a support out of 1/4" glass to support the refugium so it won't be sitting on top of the sump. I will use 4 pieces of glass the width of the refugium and run them vertically under the refugium to the sump bottom and glue them to 2 pieces of 1/4 glass one under the vertical pieces and one on top, this will sit in the sump and the refugium will sit on this. What do you think? <Frankly, it still makes me nervous. I would build something out of wood before using glass.> Also, tonight I had LFS double check my nitrates, they also said they were 0! They seemed very surprised too. I have a few more questions, what kind and size of sand should I use in the refugium? Is CaribSea Seaflor Special Grade reef sand good or should I use Agar-alive Special Grade reef sand? <I prefer the sugar size grain sand.> I have one nice feather duster that just came out of one of the new rocks that is waiting to go into display tank should I add DT's live marine phytoplankton to the tank or anything else for this to eat? <You may want to experiment with this, but most of the small hitchhiker feather dusters seem to grow well with no direct feedings.> Also it still is a good idea to remove bio balls? <Yes> Thank you very much: Pat <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Sump/Refugium Hi Bob: Thanks a lot for all your help over the past several months, this is one of the few sites I visit anymore. I have several questions on sumps with a refugium above that I am planning on building. I have a 125 gallon FOWLR tank, a 30 gallon sump with bio balls, a Eheim 1060 and a Hagen 402 powerhead to return water to the tank. <I would strongly suggest something larger as your return pump. Something in the neighborhood of 1200 gph at your head/height.> Also hanging on the sump a Turboflotor multi skimmer. I have about 60 lbs of coral rock, 50 lbs of Tonga live rock, another 80 lbs of Fiji live rock from FFE bought cured but curing in a separate tank for about 2 weeks know. Ammonia in this curing tank went off the chart for 2 to 3 days after adding rock, but was back to 0 in 6 days! I am waiting to add to display until I get a new sump and refugium built. I should say all water parameters are good. pH 8.3 - 8.4 Ammonia - 0 Nitrites-0 Nitrates are 0 or so low you can't see any color change in the test. Cal. 390 - 430, KH 11-14, phosphates .25 to .50. I use C-Balance almost daily for cal. and kH. and a little raises iodide by Seachem twice weekly and Tech-M by Kent Marine once weekly. Fish are 1 purple tang 3"-4", 1 flame angel, 2 Firefish, 1 cleaner goby, 1 bluesided fairy wrasse 3 1/2," 1 blue damsel, 1 tomato clown, 1 royal Gramma, 1 cleaner shrimp, 2 peppermint shrimp, 25 or so snails, 20 hermits (some red legs, some blue legs, a few black and white striped legs). I change 30 gallons of water a month, 15 gallons every two weeks. Reasons to build new sump. 1 Increase water flow, Eheim is rated at 600 gph. I should say I have 3 power heads in the tank I would like to remove. <Yes, agreed.> 2. Remove Bio Balls. Everything I read on your site and others say bio balls will cause high nitrates, mine are 0 or very low. How long will that take. My tank is up since November 01. <Should be showing up now. Just to be safe, have your LFS double check the nitrates for you.> 3. Want to get a constant water level for skimmer! <This should vastly improve performance.> 4. Also maybe grow some macro for the tang. <Another good idea.> Here is my ideas. New sump 31 gallon Rubbermaid container 32" L x 20" W x 17" H water flows into filter sock, in area 10.5" W x 6" L then flow into skimmer area which is 10.5" W x 12" L then flow into the other part of the sump which will have a few baffles 2"-3" H for carbon, also 2 heaters then before water gets pumped back to the tank under a high baffle through a sponge. Thinking of using a Gorman Rupp pump # 518 @ 1100 gph for return. Now my idea for refugium a 12 gallon tub 20" L x 14" W x 12" H sitting width wise on top of the sump. <I do not know if the Rubbermaid totes are strong enough to support the weight of another filled with water. I think it would buckle out from the weight.> Water enters back 1/2 by a separate overflow with a ball valve to regulate how much water enters the refugium. Water exits front 1/2 through 1" bulk head at the top. Now the questions. 1. Should the water out of the refugium flow back to the skimmer section or anywhere in the sump before the sponge filter? <Actually, best to flow back after the sponge filter.> Is it all right to flow back to the skimmer section? <You want to minimize the removal or destruction of plankton.> 2. In the refugium would it be better to put a 1" plenum with sand bed or just 4" of live sand? <I just use the livesand, no plenum.> Any difference? Also, live rock and macro algae. I'm a little leery about Macro algae because of the information on your site about it going asexual. <Supposedly, lighting 24/7 will prevent that.> Also, pruning back can this happen by just putting a rock in the main tank for the tang to eat some off, then put back in the refugium? <Yes, that should be fine.> Is there anything that I am missing or doing wrong? <I am leery of using the Rubbermaid tubs the way you described.> Thank you very much, Pat P.S. Did I tell you your book is the best I have every read. I recommend it to any one I talk to at the local fish store. Sorry for the long e-mail! <Have a nice day. -Steven Pro>

Filter/Sump/Refugium Good afternoon Bob or Team Fenner... <"Team Fenner"... now that is a cool label. I'm going to talk to Bob about getting Jackets with "Team Fenner" embroidered on them... No, better yet: sequin Speedos. Ughh... I think I just made myself sick <G>> I have a few questions for you regarding filters. Currently I have a 90 Gallon Reef tank, many soft corals, a few hard corals, various fish and inverts. I'm currently using a Trickle Filter in my tank stand where the water first flows through floss material and then drips over tons of bioballs. The water parameters are good except the Nitrates are extremely high 90ppm due to what I think is the trickle filter.  <no question about it> Since I'm an engineer and enjoy projects, I was going to attempt to manufacture an acrylic sump with a built in refugium. I've put together a sketch (included) of my 2 designs but I have a few questions that are probably easily answered. 1) I was initially going to go with a three chambered sump. The first stage being a trickle filter.  <with enough live rock, the bio-media is not necessary and is actually an impediment> Then I saw some designs that utilize submerged bioballs.  <a staggeringly horrible idea that reduces efficiency of bio-media for many reasons not the least of which is dependence on submerged water for O2 ( a limiting factor to their growth/life)> That wouldn't be considered a trickle filter then because their is no air exchange to harbor the bacteria. Wouldn't submerged bioballs merely be a nitrate factory due to the build-up of larger detritus gunk in the bioballs? Wouldn't this be a high maintenance filter? I don't want that. <yes... horrible in so many ways> Would putting a trickle filter as an extra means of filtering the water add to water quality or would it counteract the refugium? <works against good live rock, refugiums, aggressive skimming, etc> 2) Should I not even have bioballs or any mechanical filter means as a prefilter?  <Bingo> Should I instead tee of the water draining from the tank and let most into the sump and let another elbowed connection control the water input into the refugium thus slowing the current? No trickle filter?  <agreed... at best, just a settling chamber for large particulates> No Filter sponges? <only if maintained weekly or better... a pain in the but, but polished water nicely and serves as a ready filter media for a quick QT tank when needed> 3) I thought refugiums should have a low water current 40-100gph.  <nope... depends on what you are culturing in the refugium. Low to scary high may be needed. Very brisk surge/flow needed for seagrasses> I have a pump that is rated for 1200gph at 3' head. I would need another compartment to decrease the flow rate, correct? <could just tee a bleeder line in a loop back into the low reservoir of the sump> Any information would be much appreciated. Thank you in advance for your time. <best regards, my friend. Anthony Calfo>

Re: Help, help, help...refugium http://www.saltreef.com/Answers/overflow.htm Anthony, The link above shows almost exactly what my overflow box looks like. The one exception is that I have the overflow box on the refugium on top of my main tank instead of having the overflow box on the main tank. There is a pump in the main tank that pumps water to the refugium through a vinyl tube. The refugium "inflow tube" is actually in the tank side part of the overflow box in order to not disturb the sand in the refugium. Then, the u-tube in the tank side part of the overflow box goes over to the outside box, which also houses the "drain" back to the main tank.  <wow... a drilled overflow hole on the refugium would make this much less complicated and safer from accidental overflow> The "drain" tube has the sponge sleeve over it, and the splashing occurs when the water hits the main tank (the drain tube does go under the surface of the water in the main tank). Does this help? <yes... lose the sponge sleeve for sure and extend or elbow the end of the drain tube to reduce splashing> Also, your point about the "more than 25% diet of brine" should be more publicized!!! I knew that a diet exclusively comprised of brine was bad, but no one has ever mentioned anything like "25%".  <yes... there is no strict rule for all fish, but over 25% is just plain dangerous and explains a lot of mysterious fish deaths after 8 months to a year or more when the keeper thought the fish was doing fine. The animal is eating a nutritively barren food and slowly starving to death. It would be like a human being eating sugar-free Popsicles for 25% of their diet or more. A hollow and barren food... mostly water> Little Miss Mandarin (and everyone else) will be dining on Mysis and Sweetwater plankton from now on.  <excellent... as varied without brine as possible> And hopefully Mr. will make an appearance soon. That's the tough thing about a reef tank...things just disappear (this is my first one, however, knock on wood). Whew! Thanks, Misty <best regards, Anthony>

Going Reef-ish II - Refugium Confusion Steven, Sorry, I forgot the model. Thought I included. It is an Amiracle. I inherited it and it doesn't have a model number (that I can see...I should look where?? ). It is about 22 inches long and maybe 12 to 14 inches high and about 11 inches deep -- most definitely rectangular in shape. It is SUPPOSED to be a year old (I got all this stuff used from a LFS that has gone out of business and didn't know what questions to ask at the time I bought it). The bio ball chamber is more like 2/3 of the space of the entire unit, the "pump area" is like 1/3. I don't have one of the models that has that "transitional area" between the bio chamber and the pump chamber that you see in lots of the books (Tullock's for example) where you can put a foam sponge or whatever. In my unit, the two chambers share a common wall that runs from the top of the unit to about an inch (maybe an inch and a half) from the bottom of the entire unit. This area is about 4 inches long. Since the sump/pump area is kind of small, my pump takes up almost the whole area (and I'm not sure what model it is, either). Does that give you any more idea? I can get pump and wet/dry models tonight when I go home if that would make things easier. I am not technologically advanced enough to have a 'puter at home AND at work (I live on one between 8a and 6 or 7p) or to have a digital camera (although that IS on my list of acquisitions to make). Thanks! and let me know if I need to go investigating for models tonight. <The following is from a second message with more details (inserted and answered here for convenience sake).> Duh... when in doubt, go to the manufacturer's web site. (you'd never guess that I work with tekkie geeks for a living, would you???) I THINK I have the SL-150 (maybe the 250). Mine looks almost exactly like the picture on the right. Mine has 2 intake areas on the lid though (like the picture of the Maxi Reef filter on the right) http://www.amiracle.com/filters.htm#advancedspecs <Third email inserted also.> OK. Measured last night. Dimensions are 24X 8x14. So I DO have the SL-150. The pump/sump area is 8x8. <Ok, now that we have the all the facts I shall try to give you a solution. The easiest thing I can think of is to drill a large hole, or several holes depending on the flow, similar in size to a bulkhead fitting, near the top of the dividing wall of the Bioball chamber. And then to seal a piece of acrylic or glass into the bottom forcing the Bioball chamber to fill to the new hole(s) level. That way you can make this full section your refugium with sand and liverock and have little to no worries about sand getting into your pump. The other thing to strongly consider is if you would be better off buying another tank or Rubbermaid-type tub of similar size and building that exactly into the refugium design you want and try selling the wet/dry. -Steven Pro> Rebecca

Re: Going Reef-ish II -- refugium confusion Steven, Thanks SO much and sorry for the multiple mails. <No need to be sorry. I kind of needed all the info.> 2 follow up questions if I may.... <Fire away> 1) what kind of bit do you use to drill through acrylic (I have a pretty fun Black and Decker drill and I bought the "bit kit") without breaking it? <A VERY sharp hole saw bit. Can be picked up a any Home Depot or the like.> 2) if I bought just a 10 g aquarium, wouldn't I have the same problem? <No, much easier to deal with. Can you fit anything larger than a 10 gallon tank into your stand?> How do I divide the pump area from the "grow/filter" area? <Using a simple glass divider where instead of having to drill holes, you just leave the divider an inch or two from the top and allow the water to overflow into the pump section.> I could silicone a divider (piece of plastic is OK, right?) though into an aquarium, couldn't I? <Yes, but I prefer glass so that it will not bow. You can get glass cut to size at Home Depot, too.> Or use an "aquarium divider". Would that work? <The small holes that come in these would not work right.> Then I could use the wet/dry for my next aquarium (these things are like bunnies or junk food -- you can't stop at one! <Yes, very addictive. At one time, I had as many as 7 tanks of various sizes. Now down to 4.> Thanks so much for all the help. You guys save us all tons of grief and make us LOTS smarter! <Thank you very much. -Steven Pro>

Going Reef-ish III -- refugium confusion Gentlemen (and you are ALL gentlemen...) <Why thank you kindly.> Last step left in my reef-ish conversion is converting the wet/dry to a refugium. I'm actually in process with this. I have: 1)Pulled about 1/2 the bio balls over a several day period and put LR in with the remaining bioballs (monitoring parameters as I go). 2) Mail ordered several lovely different kinds of macro algae from IPSF (they arrive tomorrow and I can't wait). 3) read the article on WWM, in CMA, section in Anthony's book and the FAQS (all 3 sections) on refugiums. <Fantastic!> Still have one TINY area of not-sure-what-to-do to make this work. . I have a 15 lb bag of reef sand (know I won't need the whole thing) that I will put in when I'm done the bio-ball/rock swap and will "plant" the algae in with the rock/sand. Here is where the confusion comes in. I am not sure what to do about the small space between the bio ball chamber and the section that holds my pump. Water has to go from the bio chamber to the pump chamber, so I can't silicon a piece of plastic over the area (saw that though...). But I don't want all my sand in there, either (in the pump chamber). Get a little piece of fine mesh plastic screen? The area is about an inch high and maybe 4 inches long and runs along the bottom from front to close to the back of the bio ball chamber. <A picture would be helpful or a brand/model for your wet/dry so that we could reference that. Most brands of W/D's have half the volume dedicated to bioballs and the other half for the sump/pump. Can you silicone in a piece of glass or acrylic that would divide the sump portion in half, but only go like 6" high. So that you maintain at least 6" of water in the Bioball area and in half of the sump area. If you send a picture or drawing, perhaps we could be of more assistance.> A final suggestion in this area (shoot me to a link if I missed something -- I have no problems reading info I missed!) would be greatly appreciated. I have so much more knowledge starting over now than when I initially began my marine journey. <Glad to hear it.> Thanks as always. Rebecca <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Refugiums and Pre-filters Hello gentlemen, <Hello, Steven in this evening.> I have a Mandarin Goby in my 7 month old 90 gallon reef. I have a 15 gallon refugium with some live rock. I realize that this lovely fish will only benefit from live food, and this is one of the reasons I had installed a refugium. In the refugium I see plenty of small white moving creatures (copepod, amphipods?) on the clear plastic sides. My question is how much of this food will make it to the main tank? I have a All-Glass overflow system with trickle filters and a sump. <You may wish to slowly remove the trickle filter media over time. Can be done and would be beneficial if you have 75 or more pounds of liverock.> There is a round foam prefilter in the overflow before it goes to the trickle filter, and I have a round foam filter on the mag drive pump back to the main display. I removed the one on the mag drive in the hopes that more of the live food would go to the main tank - was this a good idea? <A very good idea!> And what about the foam pre-filter in the overflow. They both catch a lot of detritus and I clean them weekly. <As long as you religiously clean them. Twice weekly would be best.> The in-sump Sea Clone skimmer I hope to upgrade based on your advice as soon as I can. <Sounds good. In the mean time, play around with it. I have heard of some people able to get good production from a SeaClone.> In relation to my last e-mail - I am still waiting for my oxygen test kit to arrive, but I did put an air pump in the refugium. I think that the slow flow here may be where a lot of the oxygen is getting used up (if that is indeed the issue). Seems to have improved their breathing already? <Anthony & I were just discussing the benefits (increased dissolved oxygen and ORP) I have witnessed in my own tank with the addition of strong aeration in the sump, above and beyond my Tunze skimmer.> I will send some feedback when I find out more and get it solved. Thanks ever so much once again for answering these little tidbits that pop into our heads. -John <You are quite welcome. -Steven Pro>

Refugium and "Hitchhikers" Dear Crew, <Steven Pro in this evening.> Sending to both addresses because it seems as if you are still having the occasional email twitch... <We don't get any messages addressed just to the WWM email, but if people CC them to both the WWM address the hotmail account, we get two copies. Very strange. Glad I just have to worry about pet fishies and only have to know how to type on the computer.> My apologies if I missed the answer to this in the refugium FAQs, and please feel free to just shoot me a link if I did...... <No problem.> First of all MANY, MANY thanks to Steven Pro in his assistance and suggestions in setting up my refugium. <Glad to have been helpful.> I ended up using a 20g long and getting my local glass cutting place to cut me a divider out of double-thick glass, which I then siliconed in place to divide the 'fuge into the pump area and the rock/sand/algae area. I think it's way cool. <Me too!> I have one small thing to run by you guys: The water goes from my overflow box (undrilled, sorry Anthony), through a plastic hose, down to the refugium in the cabinet under my 55g main display (couldn't do it above as suggested in Anthony's book). The water flow into the refugium is fairly strong. There is 15 lbs of Carib sea "reef sand" grade sand and about 20 lbs of LR in there along with assorted macro algae. The water flow is heavy enough to "move" the sand, so there is a little round patch of bare-bottom aquarium visible. Is this too heavy or am I twitching unnecessarily? <See if you cannot add a T or elbow to the end of the drain hose to direct the surge from going straight down and disturbing the sand.> I wish I could tell you what kind of pump I have, but I got it from a store going out of business (before I knew ANYTHING) and didn't pay attention to what kind it is, and it has no brand name or model listed anywhere. <Kind of weird it is not labeled in some manor.> Second question has to do with critters I saw in the system. They are either rock hitchhikers or they came in on all the algae and Thalassia (sp) I got from Inland Aquatics. <Be sure to tell us how the Turtle Grass settles in and grows. Jason, Zo, and I all would like to get some for ourselves. Getting undamaged fronds can be difficult.> They are snail-like (if not in fact snails), no shells though, the exact color green of grape Caulerpa, about half an inch in length. I have only seen them at night when the lights are on, and they are usually crawling on either the Caulerpa or the rock and it looks like they eat algae, from what I can tell. I went looking for pictures on the site, but didn't find "them". They are roughly the same shape as the photo of the Roboastra arika listed in the Nudibranch section. Need a pic? <A picture would help, but see if you cannot get a copy of Baensch Marine Atlas Volume II. There are several likely candidates in there.> Harmless or something I should remove? <More than likely harmless, enjoy.> Many thanks as always, Rebecca <Have a nice night. -Steven Pro>

Re: Sump/Filter Design Hey Guys, <Cheers, again> What if I used a skimmer, but used the sump design I proposed below. I know the flow would be too high to fully benefit from the Caulerpa nutrient uptake, but it would remove some, it would give me another deep sand bed, more live rock, refugium for critters, and extra oxygen in the water at night leading to a more balanced pH because I would light it 24Hr. What do you think? Thanks in advance for the help. < I can tell you that in either design, if the skimmer has to suffer from a fluctuating water level it will perform poorly. Since you are thinking about putting the skimmer in the 'fuge that will then overflow into the sump... I say it is a better idea (static water level in 'fuge)> Mike <best regards, Anthony>

Re: Sump/Filter Design Hey Guys, Let me clarify. I want to make a refugium/sump. It would only be one unit. There would be 3 compartments that are all connected. The first compartment is where the water from the main tank overflow goes, there would be no fluctuation in water level. This is where the pump for the skimmer would be. In order for the water to get to the next level it has to spill over a divider. The next compartment is where the refugium would be, that would then overflow into another compartment that would return the water to the main tank. <I understand your intended design now and it sounds good.> Water levels would always be constant in all compartments just like a regular sump. <That is not really correct. I do not know if you know this or not, but the water level will fluctuate in the last compartment (where the return pump is located). This is where you will see all changes from evaporation. You can minimize this by dripping in top-off water, use of a dosing pump, or one of the polar water type top-off designs, but there will still be some minor changes. The other two compartments will remain constant, though, and it is still a good plan.> Thanks in advance for the help, Mike <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Refugium lighting hi bob <Anthony Calfo in your service> I am now building a refugium for my 130gallon reef tank. It is 48x14x18. It will hold about 45 gallons of water, sand and Caulerpa. <have the discipline to keep it fishless and enjoy great amounts of zooplankton too> I was wondering what intensity of light should I use and also what kind of lighting. <depends entirely upon the symbionts being kept. Warm colored light for shallow water algae species, heavier full spectrum for deeper water (but not deep) species. Still... 6500-10,000K will do the trick. At Eighteen inches deep you are getting near that point where fluorescent lights will be only moderately effective and too weak for some plant and algae species. PC or VHO's would reparably be your best bet. 2-4 110watt daylight VHOs would be one fine possibility> should I reverse the lighting with the main tank or should I leave it on 24hrs. <RDP would be nice for pH stabilization but not necessary> Ecosystem surest 24hrs,kent marine 12hrs reverse with tank. What do you suggest? <I favor 12hrs, and not necessarily RDP. In a tank with mild pH swings I like the slight dip for extra dissolution of oolitic sand. But keep in mind my perspective as a coral farmer. You may want to trade that slight advantage in growth for the stability> also if I hatch live brine shrimp, can I put them in the refugium? will they survive? will they reproduce and supply food to corals and fish? They'll service for a while, but are not likely to breed or live long. Simply keep the 'fuge fishless and encourage copepods and amphipods with various grades of rubble> thanks big d <your welcome, big T: cousin to Joey bag-O-donuts>

Help me spend my gift certificate!!! -- stocking post-refugium set up Dear crew, First of all, MANY, thanks to Steven Pro for his assistance in my recent refugium set up. I ended up bagging the idea of trying to convert the wet/dry (couldn't find the right drill bit...) and went with a 20g long into which I siliconed a 9.5 inch tall glass divider (this hobby is making me way more "handy" than I ever expected to be...). And may I say that if I can do it, ANYONE can, and I would highly recommend it -- my tank has never looked so good, my nitrates are much lower and my water quality has never been so stable. And it was fun! <Glad to hear it worked out so well for you. Perhaps your testimonial will inspire others.> Second (and more fun!), I am about to receive a gift certificate to the LFS from work for exceeding some sales goals. I already know that one of the fish (if he's still there!) is going to be a sunburst Anthias (based on research here and input from you guys). I will still have about half the gift certificate left if I buy him. Here are some of my thoughts.. good ideas or no?? First let me give you my "new and improved" specs: 55g w 20g refugium 4.5 inch DSB (90 lbs sugar and 15 lbs reef sand) and 50 lbs LR in the main system 2 (about) inches (15 lbs) reef sand and about 10 lbs LR in the refugium along w some Thalassia and various other macro algae ammonia =0 nitrate= <10 pH = 8.3 (should be a bit higher, I know) <No, sounds pretty good to me.> calcium (working on this, too) around 380 -400 mg/l alk=3 meq/l (just started testing for the last two and bumping up-SLOWLY-with 2 part additive, following directions) <All of these are in the right ballpark. You could be a little higher, but not much.> PC lighting -- 2x 65 watt 10K 50/50 full day/actinic bulbs current inhabitants: 2 pearly jaws O. aurifrons (both about 3.5 inches) 1 long nosed hawk O. typus (also about 3.5 inches) assorted turbo and Strombus snails (maybe 15 or so) How about a clownfish (or 2?) I like the a. melanopus (my store sells it as "cinnamon") and the p. biaculeatus ("maroon" -- but only the ones with the white stripes, not the yellow). I have been through the articles and FAQs on the site and CMA on the group. Would they be to "boisterous" as they mature for the Anthias? <These two species probably would be a little too aggressive for your Anthias. Percula or Ocellaris (tank-raised) would be better choices.> I also like the Kole tangs (c. strigosus), (and the store has 2 stunning ones at the moment - one 3.5 inch and one more like 4.25, but wonder if this is pushing my luck tank-size wise and given the tang's habit of cruising all over the place (read ALL the tang sections...) <I would get the smaller of the two. An excellent algae eater that is usually not too mean.> Any other suggestions on peaceful tankmates for the jaws (they are a riot to watch and have become my favorites) to create a peaceful community that I eventually want to add soft corals and leathers to? <The various Chromis damsels are a popular, peaceful addition. Also, look and see if any of the cardinalfish interest you.> EVERYONE new will spend 2 to 4 weeks in quarantine (learned that lesson the hard way...) following purchase. <A lesson everyone should learn.> Thanks as always. Rebecca <You are quite welcome and congratulations on your sales goal accomplishment. -Steven Pro>

Flow rates/Refugium Bob & Crew, Thanks for your help in the past regarding flow rates. My LFS is suggesting that I modify my sump to incorporate a refugium. Presently I am using the Berlin method with excellent results, so I'm somewhat hesitant to switch to a refugium. Also I'm told that if I switch to a refugium that I can no longer incorporate a UV filter in my filtration setup. <The UV will indeed negate some of the benefits of a refugium. Namely the live food, but will still operate as a nutrient export mechanism.> My second concern about using a refugium is the flow rate through the refugium. Since I will be using two 4MDQX-SC Little Giant pumps, which are rated at 1225 gph @ 4', with each one going to a separate return, gives me a water turn over rate of approximately 13.3 times per hour in a 180 gallon tank. Most of the flow rates I have seen for a refugium are around 1200 gph, <That depends on the size of the refugium.> which would not seem to be enough circulation for a reef tank. Instead of modifying my tank could I use one of the CPR hang-on refugiums and still receive similar benefits and not reduce my flow rate? <Yes, given the CPR refugium is of adequate size compared to what you would be doing in your sump.> Thank in advance for all your help, Mark <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Sand bed Hello, <Hi there> I have recently found your website, and I find myself on here everyday. I find myself totally immersed on your website.  <Mmm, soon you'll be answering queries!> I have just purchased my 55 gallon fish tank and a 30 gallon fish tank for my sump. I plan on purchasing a ~20 gallon Rubbermaid container for my refugium. Would it be okay to add a deep sand bed in the refugium (~4in) with live rock and add only 1 in of sand bed for the 55 gallon tank? <Yes> And approximately how much water should flow through this refugium? <A few... 2-3 turns per hour is about ideal) Thank you for your time. <You're welcome. Bob Fenner> Dave

Refugium Hello, how are you doing today? <<I am well, and you?>> Okay, we are building a refugium, and we have read numerous times on wetweb that 100% silicon is what should be used as an adhesive. <<OK.>> We have gone to Home Depot, and they have told us not to use any of the silicone products if they are going to be used with an aquarium. Would you be able to tell us a name or brand of adhesive that we could buy? <<Hmmm... they should have at least one. The key word you are looking for is "100% silicone" or "pure silicone". Check the product blurb on the container. If there is mention of algaecides or mildewcides, put it back on the shelf. If all else fails, All Glass, the company that makes many of the glass tanks in the US also sells the silicone they use on their tanks. It's available in toothpaste tubes as well as caulking tubes. You will likely need to contact your LFS or All Glass to get this stuff in bulk.>> Also, do you have any tips on cutting plexi glass?  <<Make sure you get blades specifically for cutting plastics. This will give you a nice, chip-free edge on all your cuts without burning or melting. Also, take your time. Or what is that Norm says, "Measure twice, cut once.">> Thank you for any information that you can provide. Marci =*) <<You are quite welcome. Cheers, J -- >>

Nitrate Removal Hi Bob, To continue (Sorry), I have a couple of little technical problems re: refugium. Currently I have a shelf (fitted recently for now removed trickle filter) which I would like to support the refugium on, I would like to include the following in the sump in sections (if sections are needed) overflowing to the next section. Feed into 1. 1.Protein skimmer (in/out from same section) 2.live sand 6in(depth ok?) <If layered (two, the larger below), three inches would be my maximum (the upper, more fine of about an inch, the lower more coarse two at most> 3.Live rock full to top with 24/7 light. 4.Heater. Is there a particular order I should put these is? i.e.. 1 => 2 => 3 => 4 => main tank? would the heater be fine in either section? <The heater is best in the main tank really... as things do go haywire at times... good to have it heating the water there rather than the sump or worse, air... The live component should be first, the skimmer in a compartment/arrangement where the water level is steady (in most scenarios with an area where the water is backed-up to a given height, overflowing to the next. The LR can be placed on top of the LS area>> The technical problem because the refugium will be above the tank it will have gravity flow back into the main tank, but getting the water from the main tank to the refugium, I tried to use the pump with my cyclone to move the water up to the Skimmer and them into the tank but the skimmer became inoperable (not enough water pressure), the same ensued when I put a second pump in series with the first to get the water to the skimmer, should I just try and get the water to a sump above for the skimmer, with an overflow into the other sections (would this be more efficient?), <Yes... leave the skimmer with its own pump> also with the flow from the skimmer will this be too fast for the LR/LS if so do you have any suggestions for a bypass. <Yes. A tee and a valve to divert just some of the water to the above unit sump, bypassing the rest for circulation only.> There is also the problem of weight/size limit for the shelf approx 30-50Kg and 6in wide by 3feet height 2feet, will this be enough space for a refugium? (Afraid no space below or beside tank is in office at home next to 3 computers and you'll like this bit, its above 2 servers). <Yikes... am NOT a fan of seawater around computer gear... some quick calculations will reveal that seawater at about 8.2 pounds per gallon, and three cubic feet or so possible, approx. 7.5 gallons per cubic foot... that you cannot have even all water in such a size container, let alone more dense rock and sand... the unit should still function with about half the height employed...> Thank you for your earlier emails, I have now a less foggy direction to proceed tentatively. Alex (Sandgate, UK) <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Refugium doing poorly :( Hello and congrats to the team work you guys are managing. Great sense of humour I might add. I'd like an opinion on my refugium. I have a 125g. reef set-up with my filter system in the basement. My filter has 2x 33g. aquariums in series for volume and misc. filter equipment. Attached to this in parallel is another 33g. tank that is a refugium. It has Miracle Mud and the feather type Caulerpa. My problem is this. My main display tank has no algae or Cyano or whatever problem at all, yet in my refugium all my Caulerpa is absolutely coated with thick red Cyano. I am ready to pull it all out and start it over. However, it is teaming with life, amphipods, bristle worms, tiny miniature white serpent stars, copepods, tons of coralline on the glass, etc...., and I don't want to waste all this or lose it. I hardly think that the Caulerpa is doing anything at this point. I always thought that the flow through this should be slow, yet I think this is why I have all this Cyano growing. <A contributing factor along with high nutrients.> I also have regular home fluorescents lighting it 24/7. (Compact lighting, or any other special type is too expensive up here to warrant using it for the filter system part of my set-up). Would this type of light, or letting the lights go off for awhile at night make any difference. <Perhaps changing the lamps would help.> Also is it really important to also have some type of Macroalgae in with the Mud? ( I know the purpose of the macro, but as I stated, I seriously doubt it is helping me at all at the moment, and I'm strictly speaking in terms of combination with the mud). Can the mud be mixed with some other sand to make a DSB instead, or should it be kept separate? <Possibly, but doing so now would probably damage much of the life you wish to keep.> I'd like to add grape Caulerpa, or Halimeda instead, except I'm afraid of the Halimeda robbing too much calcium from my main tank, and the grape ending up the same as my present feather type. Would a different type of light set-up be in order? <I am leaning towards replacing the lamps.> Also, what height would you recommend for the refuge to let water flow through properly. <I am going to stay away from that question. It sounds like you have a lot going on under there. If it works now, I would leave it alone instead of possibly causing a flood with a change.> My design is home made, but it follows the design of the Miracle Mud suggestions. I'm really at a loss as to how to improve it, and have it working properly. Thanks in advance for any suggestions. You guys are the best! Greg N. Montreal, Canada <Vacuum out as much of the Cyano as possible and change the lamps. Also, give a read through the WWM archives on Cyanobacteria. -Steven Pro>

Refugium About the refugium.... I have a 20 gal tank under my display 60 gal, I built the stand so that I could connect the two, I was thinking about adding some damsels to it but now I think a refugium might be the choice.  <yes... more functional and helpful rather than a burden to the systems bio-load> (I was actually thinking about this before I read my e-mail. I have a Rio 2500 to connect the two and plan on a deep sand bed, though how deep I do not know, maybe 2-3".  <I say over three inches to get denitrification> I wanted to take some of the rock from my main tank (I just added another 25lb) along with some new rock, again I am unsure of the amount, <none necessary when plumbed together... decide what you want the refugium to do first... vegetable filtration, plankton generation, pH stabilization (RDP system) etc> and also to add a couple different types of Caulerpa.  <If fish only system OK, but if reef-keeping, please go easy on the Caulerpa or consider more coral friendly plants like seagrasses or calcareous species> Question is how much light should I provide for this set up?  <again...depends on what your refugium is doing. With plants, yes... brightly with daylight colored lamps> Should it be lit at opposite times to my main tank, is this a good idea?  <if you want/need pH stabilization (there are trade offs like less aragonite dissolution for inverts with high stable pH> Should/could I add some kind of culture to give it a boost?  <yes... sand from many different friends/retailers tanks for diversity> Should this tank be fed at all?  <at least a little...see what your growing first> Should I add any other water movement or filtration <definitely mucho water movement in almost any case... but no filtration needed when connected inline to the live rock up in the display> other then what is originally on the tank and what goes into the refugium?  Again thank you for your help!!! sorry to bother you so much but no one around here has much info on refugiums!  Kim <no bother at all... set up a great system, my friend. Anthony>

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