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FAQs about Refugiums 6

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 4, Refugiums 5, Refugiums 7, Refugiums 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, Live Rock, Live Sand Micro-Crustaceans, Amphipods, Copepods, MysidsAlgal Filtration in General, Mud Filtration 1

Downstream "fuge" pic by Henry Schultz

Re: pre-pump refugium Phil, Thanks for your quick response.<No problem it's what were here for!> To refine my question, would the refugium being on the suction side of the pump (with all the "good stuff" having to travel through the impeller) be a bad thing.<No... it should be fine having to travel through the impeller> I understand about the water flow aspect of the situation, and the refugium having its own pump would be good so that the flow through it could be adjusted while maintaining a high flow rate in the sump, correct?<You got it!> I'm also the low man on the totem pole where I work, so you have my sympathies with your weekend e-mail duty.<Thanks!! :) > Best Regards, John Jordan

- Sump/Refugium Construction & Lighting - Hi guys! <Greetings, JasonC here...> I sent this last week but haven't heard back so am assuming it may have gotten lost when I had some mail problems. I also have some questions on lighting so thought I'd add them here. SUMP/REFUGIUM: I am interested in setting up a sump/refugium for my 72g bowfront tank that I will be converting to FOWLR later this week. I have a 29g All-Glass that is not being used and would like to use this as the sump/refugium. I would like to do this without drilling the tank and have some ideas but I'm not 100% positive that they'll work and am still at a loss on a couple of things. I've checked out all of your sump FAQ's and have also checked http://www.ozreef.org/diy/index.html but none of the designs there look like they'll work for me and they don't address my concerns. I've attached a drawing of my basic design, this is a front view w/ approx measurement of a 29g. I'm figuring on just using a tube with gravity siphon to get the water from my tank to the sump which will be located in the stand below my 72g. This way the siphon can be set so that if the water in the tank gets too low it would drop below the end of the tube and would stop the siphon. The first section would be 6" wide and is where the water would enter the sump. It is also where I would place the heater and possibly the skimmer but I ordered a HOT type skimmer so am not sure if it will work here. The first divider would be glass or plexi positioned 3" from the top (this is to provide an overflow in case the water level gets too high) and 3" from the bottom of the tank. The second section would be 3" wide and would be a place for filter floss/carbon/etc and would have a plastic mesh top at a height of 8-9" to prevent the filter media from overflowing into the refugium part. The second divider would again be glass or plexi but positioned flush with the bottom (sealed) and 9" from the top of the tank. The third section would be 15" wide and would have a sand bed with live rocks and Caulerpa. The third divider would be the same as the second in position and composition. The fourth section would be 6" wide and would be the area for the return pump. So far, does this sound like it would work? <Yes.> Are there any things I should change? <Consider seriously drilling your main tank - siphon overflows are destined to fail, and if Murphy has anything to do with it, you won't be home at the time.> My major stumbling block is what to do about a return pump. I'm not sure how to do this without risking the pump pumping too fast and overflowing the main tank. <Part of the problem with using siphons - in a gravity overflow, the tank will only overflow as fast as you pump water in.> Any suggestions? <Use a valve on the output side of the pump to regulate it.> Are there any pumps on the market that have an auto shut-off so that it would shut itself off if the water in the return area dropped below a certain point? <Not that I know of, but there are water sensing devices that could probably be adapted.> LIGHTING: This 72g tank currently has the original strip light on it. It's a 48" 40w and I know I'm going to have to upgrade this. I'm not able to spend more than about $150-$200, is there anything decent I can get in this price range? <I'm sure there is, but I'm not familiar with prices, so it's hard for me to make a recommendation based on price.> I've looked at/considered several options but just can't make up my mind. One thought was to get a Helios 4 bulb/220w strip. This will run about $156. Another was to get an extra strip light that would house 2 40w bulbs and run it along with the current strip light that's on the tank. By the time I replace my current bulb this would cost about $110 (I really dislike the idea of running 2 strips on there!). And the final was to get a PC SmartLite with 2 65w bulbs which would be about $170. If necessary the SmartLight could be run along with my current strip but again I'd like to avoid 2 fixtures if at all possible. Do any of these sound sufficient or am I overlooking a better option that would work for me? <I would work the problem backwards - what is it that you want to keep, and what are its light requirements - that will necessarily move you in one direction or another.> The tank measures 48.5x18x23. Thanks for all the help! I look forward to hearing/reading your thoughts on these items. Ronni <Cheers, J -- >

Very Nice Refugium Beginnings Hey Gang!   <cheers, my friend> I hope y'all are doin' fine!    <"...and feelin' groovy....la da da daaaah daa daa da...feelin' groovy"> I sent a picture of the refugium  I constructed for under $40. <you have seriously done an excellent job. Good size ration and very advantageous upstream application (much better than downstream IMO)> It has flow rate around 225 gph with no leaks! (and there was great rejoicing!). <cool... good flow rate too around 10X per hour for the average 'fuge. But your plants & algae will need more (Gracilaria and seagrasses)> Question; Do y'all have a link to a site that sells algae like Gracilaria and/or Thalassia (shorter sea grasses)? <absolutely... please try Morgan Lidster at InlandAquatics.com (mainland- Illinois) or IPSF.com (Hawaii)> What are the recommended algae to get the most out of a refugium? <Gracilaria or Chaetomorpha are likely two of the best here for you. No Caulerpa and resist Dictyota too> Thanks to Anthony for stressing the importance of this thing & lighting the fire to get it going!            <you are quite welcome and you will be pleased> Your friend in Denver, Scott <kindly, Anthony>

Forget Evolution... lets adapt for Scott! <G> (refugium) Anthony, could you elaborate on this flow rate comment..."<cool... good flow rate too around 10X per hour for the average 'fuge. But your targeted plants & algae will need more (Gracilaria and seagrasses)>" <no worries... you will learn and appreciate it in your readings as you do more homework on these two specific "veggies". You picked two fine organisms for refugiums/vegetable filters... they just need more water flow than most. Gracilaria is grown commercially (massive scale for human food consumption) and one of the first lessons learned is that it needs rather strong water flow ideally to keep it literally in a slow tumble. Else it will peter out in your tank (a common problem will aquarists). And sea grasses need surge or other strong flow to shed metabolites and epiphytic matter that would otherwise stifle them> This system is what these plants are going to have to deal with! <don't make me fly to Denver and B*@%ch-slap you> They will adapt won't they? <you are either joking, or you picked a bad week to stop doing crack. If the question is serious... the answer is... ahhhh...no. An analogy: lets say you are a cigar-smoking, beer-drinking nudist and someone offers to employ you to do just that... yes, pay you (!) to drink beer, scratch yourself and smoke cigars all day. The catch is that you have to do it in Antarctica. You'll adapt won't you? Grow your hair longer... huddle around the cigar for warmth, etc. Sheesh! I do not believe that you or your plants can overcome evolution in a few hours or days just because you can't find a crowbar to stick in your wallet to beef up water flow in the fuge for the plants you desire . Heehee... And remember, Scott... we only tease the ones we love> thanks Again, Scott <no Scott... thank you :) Anthony>

Re: refugia Anthony, Anything I can do for the cause, I will do! Thanks for the kind words & thoughts! It's hard to imagine I've only been into this for less than 2 months! <wow... impressive! You really do research a subject well!> I have a lot of time on my hands around the apartment here due to some medical disabilities, so, this reef tank and everything that goes along with it certainly keeps me from going stir crazy! <agreed... excellent therapy for the body and soul> So, like I say, let me know what I can do to help ya out!   sincerely, Scott, from Denver <thanks again, bud. With kind regards, Anthony>

Re: pre-pump refugium To Whomever is Stuck with Weekend Duty, <Phil... the new guy> I will be adding a refugium to my 120 tank as soon as i finish some research on the subject, but in my reading I haven't found an answer to one question: How does a pump affect the beneficial components of refugium water?  It seems like it would destroy the beneficial stuff the refugium is supposed to generate, like planktonic organisms.<Well John, in a refugium you want high flow.  It may seem like it would destroy the good bacteria, but it's really helping it.  But like you said if the flow is too high you'll have a 29 gallon sandstorm.> Most of the refugiums I have seen on websites are hang on models with a powerhead on the input side. I have a 29 gal. tank that I hoped to use as a refugium, but need to know whether or not plumbing it between the sump and return pump is a good idea.<I've seen this done before.  But IMO the best way is to have the refugium have its own pump(s).  If you tie this in with the sump you may have too little or too much water flow.  And if you use the 29 gallon tank, you may want to add "baffles" to help keep the substrate in place.> Thanks <no problem> John Jordan

New Refuge Happy January 26th to ALL. <and a SUPER day to you too bud :) > I want to add some coarser substrate to the sugar fine sand in a new refuge. <hmmm... mixing media is usually challenging if not problematic. What's the reasoning bud?> I can get crushed oyster shells (used to supplement baby chick food) in bulk. Would this be ok in a refuge? <beyond issues of combination from oyster shell (for how low on the run g they are), they are calcite and useless for bio-mineral supplementation/buffering. It can be useful for cultivating micro-crustaceans. If abused though (too low flow) it becomes a wicked detritus trap. My recommendation is to stick wholly with fine sand if NNR is your goal or wholly with oyster shell if you want zooplankters more and are willing to add buffer to compensate> Thanks Don <best regards, Anthony>

Re: New Refuge Thanks Anthony, I was looking for both NNR (fine sand) and critter growth (coarser oyster shell) it is a 20H so maybe 14-18" of fine sand and an inch or so on top of the other 6-10" of fine sand. <I would simply never recommend mixing sand. Go fine DSB and enjoy better plankter growth from spaghetti algae in the tank... or if the fuge is unlit- suspended strands of polyester filter pad. Great for growing pods in a hidden 'fuge or sump> I certainly don't need any more detritus!!!! <indeed... resist the course sand> I am planning a couple piece of LR in the refuge, <OK... not too much though> maybe making a couple rubble piles would be more effective than the oyster shell? <ahhh... neither. Again, fibrous mats or course wiry algae grow bugs better by far> (I saw the fine sand/oyster shell mix discussed on WWF forums.) <interesting. Possible but laborious. A hokey compromise to me> Maybe I should just experiment a little to see what works for me. Can always give the crushed oyster shell back to my uncle ;) Don <experimenting is cool... do let us know how it fares in time. Kindly, Anthony>

Refugium Questions I have a 60G reef tank that I am setting up a refugium for. My main goal for this refugium is Nitrate Reduction, but I also plan on keeping organisms in there to help feed the display tank. What I currently have setup is an 8 gallon container with almost 4" of live sand, <wow... very small 'fuge to accomplish your goals. The "rule" on refugiums for private tanks is 20-40% of display size. [public aquariums often run a 1:1 ratio!]. For nitrate reduction, your bioload will need to be quite light> that gets water from the sump, then gravity feeds back into the sump. Should I get a larger container? <right on brother! And mostly filled with sand... little water for deeply actually. A 15 or 20 gallon long minimum and 6+ inches of sand would be nice> Also, for lighting I am thinking about 75W NO fluorescent units from Home Depot. (they are bent like PC's so the light will be more concentrated) <OK> Will this be adequate? <adequate... its not even necessary for NNR <G>. Hmmm... if keeping plants and algae too, it would be moderate lighting... perhaps not enough for strong Gracilaria growth. Likely fine for Chaetomorpha and definitely so for some red kelp> I am also considering the Flora and Fauna Kits from Inland Aquatics. The Flora Kit contains: Dictyota sp. C. brachypus (delicate) *Gracilaria sp. Halymenia sp. Ochtodes sp. Ulva/ <all are fine except the Dictyota... a potentially horrifying nuisance (tough to extract from the display if/when it makes it through)> And the Fauna kit includes: Mysis/Gammarus shrimp Amphipods/Copepods Miniature Brittle Stars And a random selection of a few other items <excellent> I have also read that a group of cleaner shrimp will be beneficial because they will spawn and the eggs will be fed to the tank. <nominal.. they also eat fauna in the refugium. I'd pass on all fish and motile macro inverts as predators if you have hope for growing strong populations of plankton> Any advice, suggestions, warnings is very much appreciated, -Eric <as per above my friend. And do look for the refugium section in our new book coming out this spring... large coverage :) Anthony>

Re: Refugium Questions Thank you. 2 more questions. Should I use all live sand? <actually... all dry sand inoculated with a handful of live will be fine> And how strong of a flow should I have? <depends on the creatures kept, but around 10x here is likely in the ballpark. Anthony> Converting Caulerpa refugium to misc. algae Mr. or Mrs. Crew, <I'm "baby bubba crew" <G>. Anthony Calfo in your service> Anthony was kind enough to come to the Boston Reefers meeting and shock a number of people including myself about the toxicity of Caulerpa. <my great pleasure :) > I "had" a 20 g. refugium full of C. prolifera plumbed into my 65g SPS only tank and have since removed it all and have added some Ulva, Chaetomorpha, and left in the small amount of C. brachypus that was left. <the Ulva is fine although not a reliable means of nutrient export. Little harm either. Do enjoy. The Chaetomorpha is excellent though. Do focus on it. It is superior habitat for microcrustaceans (producing plankton) and far less noxious than Caulerpa. It is multicellular and does not suffer from pruning like Caulerpa. And it is more stable and less work too. Good choice> I suspect the tank may go through a diatom bloom or two with all the chaos going on. <no worries... just be on top of that skimmer. Make it work daily for at least the next couple of weeks to prevent any possible bloom> After the Caulerpa was removed I noticed a 1/2" layer of detritus covering the refugium, should it be removed or just left in there? <I would definitely remove it. Sounds like your flow is a bit too slow in the refugium too. Please increase water flow here> Besides the algae I have already added is there any else I should add? Is there any other advice you can give that will help in the conversion to "safer" algae. Thanks in advance. <no worries my friend. Just good flow, bright light, systematic harvest and you will have a less noxious and more productive vegetable filter/refugium for it!> Tom G.  Malden, Ma. <best regards, Anthony>

Converting Caulerpa refugium to misc. algae More questions baby bubba crew, <no longer... I am now... a knight... who says... "Ni!"> What other types of nutrient export can be used besides macro algae? <wow... a tough question to answer in less than 10,000 words. At least by me. Bob and I turned over something like 30 pages into the editor just on refugiums (without pictures!) for the new book (Reef Invertebrates). There are tens of species that can be used. Animals filters, Vegetable filters, true plants, micro- and macroalgae. Syconoid and other sponges, tunicates... so many great creatures> I have heard of people using xenia as a nutrient export. Are there benefits? downsides? <briefly stated... Xenia is fast growing, weakly noxious and fairly stable. It is also quite saleable. That makes it useful as an "animal filter"> How about cryptic zones. <fascinating with sponges and tunicates (and other filter feeders, worms, etc). They are slow to grow, variably noxious and precarious. Only recommended if you are willing to work harder for it> And lastly what are your thoughts on using quality natural seawater. <Never!!! Too tedious to prepare safely. No less expensive after processing (ozone, carbon, test kits and additives to temper its seasonal variations in bio-minerals, etc). And where are you going to draw natural seawater from that isn't along a populated coast with effluent from millions of people living inland polluting the first few miles of it. No way dude. Not likely safe or worthwhile. Synthetic seawater mixed with purified H2O is extremely consistent and safe... I'm willing to pay for that small bit of insurance> As you can tell I am trying to be nature boy with my reef tank. <why don't you make a jersey shore biotope display with a sandy beach with beer cans and needles littering it? Just a suggestion> Once again thanks in advance. Tom G. <best regards, my friend. Anthony>

Refugium flow rate Dear Mr. Fenner: I'll pose this question to you, seeing as how I believe you are knowledgeable of the EcoSystem type refugium setup. I have a 55 gallon reef aquarium with an ALL-GLASS overflow, Durso stand pipe leading into two wet dry's beneath the aquarium.  The return is powered by a Mag Drive 500 from the sump back into the aquarium. I have a variety of power heads situated within the tank for circulation. I also constructed a 10 gallon refugium, in the ecosystem design...very similar with baffles and about 3 inches of Miracle Mud Substrate. I've read over and over again how a refugium's water flow should be no more than 3-5x it's capacity per hour.  Is this correct?  So I should be pushing for about 40-50 gallons of flow thru the refugium per hour?? <In general, yes> I'm a bit confused on this issue, and currently have a Maxi Jet 1000 powerhead supplying water to the refugium (which is located about 1 1/2 - 2 feet above the sump in a separate cabinet to the right of the tank.....and is gravity fed back to the sump). If I am correct that I'll only need to pump 40-50 gallons per hour thru the refugium, then can you please explain the following statement by Leng Sy over at Ecosystems: "What struck me right from the start is that when I asked Mr. Leng Sy how much circulation was needed through these system, his answer was a lot. In fact in a 120 gallon system that he has set up, he flows about 1000 gallons per hour through the sump. The sump is the area where the apparently very beneficial filtration occurs. Judging from the results that can be seen on the web site, the filtration is working extremely well indeed, especially since NO skimmer is used. You read that correctly: no skimmer is necessary on this system". http://www.fishdomain.com/article_miraclemud.shtml <Their experience varies from mine. Leng and I have talked over many issues over many hours (we're good friends, and go on dive/photograph vacations together), including this one (rates of turnover in algal/mud filters). There are practical limits and considerations... such as "blowing over" living and non-living elements in the filter, potential trouble with circulation gear, failure... You won't "get" much more from the utilization of these refugiums by circulating them anymore than 3,4 times per hour... Now, if you are looking for just the benefits of the circulation itself (aeration, current, moving sediment about...) more flow (whether it's through the refugium or not may be a good idea. However, you will not get more nutrient uptake, micro-crustacean and worm production, growth of macro-algae... by running more water through the living sump> Thank you for all the help you and your crew have provided me with these past several weeks. Regards, Steve <Thank you for your participation. Bob Fenner>

RDP refugium and CO2 Hi, it's me again. I hope that everything is going well, sunny skies and all of that, it's cold as heck here.   I went ahead and set up the refugium last night, and I was re-reading the reply that you sent me and I was wondering...When you were talking about the reverse light cycle, I thought about something.  It will help the pH remain stable, true.  I was also thinking, "If the two were on a reverse light cycle, since plants become primary producers of co2 at night, would the main tank produce enough co2 to discontinue supplementation, and vice versa?  Or would I still need to do that? <good question my friend, but it is one that cannot be answered here  by Yes or No. I/you have no idea what the net demand is on your tank from the bio mass. We cannot say that if met now that the growth in either vessel will not continue to support the process. This is simply something you must monitor in your specific aquarium. Is you display filled with two one inch corals... or fifty (follow, my friend). A good question, again... but not possible for me to answer from this end of the computer. Do enjoy experimenting with it though <G>! Best regards, Anthony>

Re: 10g Refugium Greetings! I have been looking into setting up a  10g refugium to my 45g SW tank. The only practical place I have to place this is to place it almost at the same level about a foot away... <This is fine... in fact, could be better if a few inches higher... to allow for a gravity return to your main system> Do I understand I only need to add a few inches of sand? <This is one approach> The tank is 12 in high... The total wattage should be about 30-40 watts? <Again, this is one way... there are other techniques with more light, for different purposes... but 3,4 watts per gallon will support most types of macro-algae> I have read the lights can stay on all the time or just be on at night-which is best in your opinion? <Either regimen will work. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algfiltfaq2.htm and the linked pages (in blue, above)> I plan on using a small power head to deliver the water to and from the refugium, gravity feed  is not an option right now. Other than that, just add a few crab, snail and some LR to seed it? <I wouldn't use crabs... can use LR or LS...> What is done for maintenance just trimming some macroalgae or something? Sounds too simple, I  must be missing something!   Thanks for the info Denise <Take the time to read over these issues on WWM. You have many good questions, but there may well be some other elements to consider. Bob Fenner>

- Refugium Plans - Hey Gang! <Hey! JasonC here...> This is a picture of the refugium I'm building. There will be a 295 gph powerhead providing water from the main tank thru 3/4" pvc pipe 1 1/2' into refugium, then, gravity fed into the sump under the main tank. It's a simple design, but, I'm open to suggestion for improvements! <Looks good to me, but you might want to leave out that sponge filter.> Where do y'all recommend ordering some short seagrass (Thalassia) or Gracilaria, turf algae, or, Chaetomorpha from? I haven't found a LFS in Denver to get this stuff from. <I don't know of any off the top of my head. I would ask around on the forums to see where other aquarists are finding theirs.> I also sent a picture of some algae on some of the live rock pieces in the main tank, would this be good stuff for the refuge? <I'm not sure... I see perhaps three or four different types there, but even then I'm not exactly sure which type they are. Got Caulerpa? What are your lighting plans for the refugium?> Will crushed coral work in the refuge? <Sure.> An update on the Green Finger that had "Mash 4077" surgery; 6 hours after being cut, it's bushing out almost as large as before the operation took place (a little shorter though!) Thanks again, Scott <Cheers, J -- >

Re: mini-refugium? Greetings WWM Crew,   Your site is absolutely fantastic, and I've become a big fan and an addict. <Me too> As I grow in my aquarist experience, I've learned that I've just about broken every cardinal rule there is, and am hoping to correct my mistakes. <Unfortunately that is the way it works sometimes, as long as we learn from our mistakes and try not to make them again.> OK aside from that, which I'll be certain to ask for help about later on, here is my situation. I am running a 54 gallon corner bow front reef tank with 80 lbs. LS, 60 Lbs LR, corals and fish, etc. - its actually overstocked (based on parameters I've learned here) but I will take measures to rectify that soon. <good plan.> I have a wet/dry filter connected to the internal overflow system ( its under the tank in the stand ) and have a few powerheads in the tank for current ( for the corals ) a protein skimmer - which came with my wet/dry filter in the sump/filter and a UV set up in the sump as well. My fish and corals seem to be doing OK ( after multiple losses the first month ) but I've only been at this for 3 months total. My readings  are ph - 8.2, ammonia - 0, nitrite - 0, SG - 1.021 (29ppm), nitrate - 40, <Dang> and temp - 80 degrees. As you can see I have a rather high nitrate problem, possibly caused by the tank being overstocked, and the nitrate factory in my wet/dry bio media area, which I read a lot of people here are removing. <could be part of the problem> I'm not so sure that removing the Wet/dry media would have been a good idea, so I purchased a nitrate sponge ( funny little rocks in a sock like casing that I've connected to one of my internal 802 powerheads ) but the Nitrates have still not dropped after a week or so. <From what I have heard, these are not that great.  I would not remove the bio balls just yet because you mentioned that your tank is overstocked, once you get that situation rectified it may be worth considering.> My next plan was to take a 5 gallon quarantine tank that I've had up and running and trying to use it as a mini-refugium underneath the tank sitting next to my wet/dry. Since I do not plan on adding any more fish, and I've learned that the 5 gallon is probably too small for a Q-tank, I thought I might try this idea with the hopes of setting up some more LS or mud, and macroalgae and letting a 24x7 light run. My plan is to place a 2 small pumps inside the refugium and have water coming in and pushing out into the sump. My questions were 1: would this make any difference at all at only 5 gallons? <Not much of a difference> 2: is this perhaps even detrimental <If I understand the pump setup correctly (pump water in, pump water out) it could become dangerous, you may end up with wet floors, electrical fires, etc> 3: what other ways might I try to reduce my nitrate readings? <Weekly water changes, maybe a 10gal refugium with a DSB, thawing frozen food and removing all food juice.> Thanks in advance your site is a great pleasure to have access to. Rao <Best Regards, Gage>

Question on the Aquafuge Hi, I am looking to purchase the Aquafuge RF24. Would this be ok to add to my 90g. tank that already has a wet/dry and a Fluval 404 and 204 <Sure> i am going to be removing  the Fluvals very slow. I would also like to know if i can add this unit where would be the best place to hang it? Should it be in between my intake and return on my wet/dry? <I'd place the hang-on refugium on your tank itself. Much better for viewing, keeping water level constant. Bob Fenner>                                       Thank You                                         Chris

Re: Question on Aquafuge Bob thank you for your quick response. The question on where i should hang the refugium is, on the tank should the refugium be place in between the intake and the return from my wet/dry or is there a better place to hang it?                                     Thanks Again,                                          Chris <Please see the previous response... the best place to hang is on your main/display tank... Not on the wet-dry sump. Bob Fenner>

Question on Aquafuge Bob, Sorry i understand that it should hang on the tank. My wet/dry is a hang on  for my intake. What I'm trying to say is should the unit be place in between the return in the main tank and the intake in the main tank. If that's not good how should the 2 units be set up on the back of the tank.                                 Sorry, Thank you Again                                        Chris <Ohhh, this arrangement is fine... but matters little how they are arranged in relation to each other. Bob Fenner>

Zooplankton Hey Gang!  After Anthony suggested zooplankton for my 'Shrooms and Kenyan tree corals, I typed "zooplankton" on the internet, and this site is one I checked out. http://www.rotifer.com/  Interesting stuff. Does a refugium produce these kinds of life? Just curious, Thanks for the time! Your friend in Scott. <cheers, Scott.. yes- refugiums produce far more diverse and nutritive forms of plankton (photo- and zoo-). We have an extensive chapter on refugiums in our new book (Reef Invertebrates) ;) Do consider installing a fishless refugium... they are tremendously helpful additions to most any aquarium. Anthony>

Aiptasia in refugium I have a 65 gallon reef tank with a 20 gallon refugium that gravity feeds the main display tank.  The refugium has become an Aiptasia breeding ground.  Is it possible to add a few peppermint shrimp to the refugium to combat these pests?  Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.  Thank you. <I have used peppermint shrimp to wipe out Aiptasia. Things I learned in the process: make sure to get Lysmata wurdemanni, the true peppermint shrimp, and not one of the Rhynchocinetes genus, or camel shrimp -- some retailers confuse the two! If you have any particularly large Aiptasia, you should remove them manually, as they may be too large for the peppermint shrimp. You might have more success using a third tank for Aiptasia removal. If the Aiptasia is on live rock or removable clumps of macro algae, I would suggest removing a piece or clump at a time to a dedicated peppermint shrimp tank -- a bare tank with minimal lighting and circulation would be fine. If you add the peppermint shrimp directly to the refugium, they may decide that some of the other refugium inhabitants are tastier than the Aiptasia! --Ananda>

Caulerpa in my refugium ? Dear "Anyone that will answer"   :-) <I feel like "someone" :)  > I have a 55 gallon live rock tank with a few pieces of coral, mushrooms, polyps...nothing major.  The tank also has about 10 fish.  The tank is about 2 years old. I am building a refugium in the Eco system Method... <sorry to hear it... heehee. Joking (half at least)> with 4 baffles filled with "Miracle Mud" and Caulerpa on a 24/7 light schedule. <a secret: the "miracle" to Miracle mud is that people actually pay that much money for soil> At least those WERE my plans until I was reading in the FAQ section that Caulerpa produces toxins to corals and would be considered bad if I was planning on adding coral one piece at a time every month or so. <hmmm... more information needed here for sure. Caulerpa is NOT the devil incarnate and it can be very useful for nutrient export. However... it is very labor intensive and potentially volatile. And I am not referring to events of sexual reproduction (only). That can easily be skirted by systematic thinning of o colony to stave off completion of a its life cycle (3-6 months for most species in the genus). 24/7 light (stasis) may do the same. There are far more serious concerns with Caulerpa regarding anti-biotic and anti-fouling exudations which harm coral on a daily basis and slowly concentrate in the system. Any benefit you seek from Caulerpa, I can name a much safer algae for use in your vegetable filter. Gracilaria ranks high... true turf algae (Chaetomorpha and the like) are even better if using algal mats> So now I am confused. First I went from wanting to add Caulerpa to the  refugium and put it on a reverse light schedule from the main tank.   <I can dig the RDP photoperiod for pH stabilization> But then after researching Leng Sy's specifications, he called for a full 24/7 daylight schedule for the Caulerpa so it NEVER produces and releases the carbon dioxide, toxins, chlorophyll into the water. <that last string of claims is not exactly true... the toxic exudations are unrelated to acts of sexual reproduction. Caulerpa sheds them just like coral shed nematocysts and various allelopathic compounds. All must be addressed with regular water changes and carbon/ozone. I like weekly for water changes and carbon (small and consistent amounts)> So what do i do? <cheer loud for the Steelers next Sunday playing against Tennessee> I've heard that deviating from his plans just a little bit (by not adding the baffles, not using Miracle Mud, and not having the right kind of Caulerpa, as well as the 24/7 mandatory light schedule) is what seems to make most folks fail at his method's proven success. <I would argue instead that modification of his good idea can make it even better! Keep the mud, run the lights on a reverse period, don't use Caulerpa, do protein skim aggressively, and enjoy a better refugium for it> If Caulerpa is the "demon" macro algae that I am reading so very much about in the FAQ section, <and beyond! There is a mountain of scientific information to support its effects on corals and fishes if abused.> then why does the EcoSystem work so well?   <by virtue of the many different ways that various aquarists succeed or fail to succeed in aquarium husbandry at large> Thru my research on the net, it seems his methods don't leach any toxins into his tanks.   <'Net research! Ughhh! Please, bud... completely anecdotal (including our forum right now) if not commercial (not us). If you want good research... get hard data... real science. I'll give you a page full of references to run down if you like (boring). And like Chris Farley said... "You can stick you head up a cow's..." er, well... "just take the advice of the butcher." Not just a bunch of aquarists with one and two year old tanks saying "everything looks great". Noxious exudations take many months to take a toll on coral and fish health. We are talking here about a long view of health for your reef aquarium> I suppose that's because in his method, Caulerpa is harvested regularly and never allowed to reproduce.  Do you feel that having the lights on 24/7 is possibly the BIGGEST reason why the Caulerpa in his setup's don't leech these "toxins" you all are saying it does? <I am certain that Caulerpa leeches them despite marketing claims> I'm also wondering if I should still continue to build my refugium using the EcoSystem Miracle Mud's schematics. <experiment and adopt the parts you like best. Strike out on your own... and Go West... Go West, young man.> My biggest goal here is to get my nitrates down to near zero WITHOUT the use of a protein skimmer or other artificial means. <Good heavens! You made me take the long way around the barn for that! <G> Dude... a five gallon bucket filled with 60# of oolitic sand and tapped with a bulkhead at the top... water flowing inline on the way down to the sump. Please... NNR (natural nitrate reduction) for the cost of a bucket (50cents) and a bag of Southdown sand (less than $3). Much better nitrate reduction with almost no maintenance headaches> I just don't have a whole lot of room for such peripherals in my main sump. Please advise on what, if anything I should do to get my refugium up and running properly. I don't want to poison my corals, but at the same time, I want to reduce my nitrates as low as possible. <deep sand bed my friend> Other macro algae's were mentioned.  Which is closest to having a Caulerpa-like nitrate reducing effect without producing toxins?  Also, would I still need to leave the lights on 24/7 with any OTHER macro algae besides Caulerpa? <Caulerpa is one of the only algae that can permissibly be illuminated 24/7... others will die without respiration> Thanks again for all your help.  I am learning a lot here. Regards, Steve <excellent to hear, bud. Best regards, Anthony>

Overflows and Refugium Hello, I have a 120 gal tank with one overflow going to a sump with a mag drive 500gph. My question is can I add another overflow to go to a 10 gal refugium with a smaller pump or will it overflow. <its not clear what you mean here? A second drilled hole overflowing to the refugium  but still draining to the main sump? If so, yes... will be fine. You mention another pump though? Does this mean a second pump returning the water back to the display from the refugium which acts instead like a second sump. If that's the case... no way, a danger. You best bet is to simply tap a refugium inline on the way down to the sump (or atop above the display and the refugium will overflow back in> Also would a 36watt pc 50/50 be sufficient for a refugium with macro algae, live rock, polyps, and mushrooms? <if said vessel was very shallow (12" or less). Anthony>

Tim from Fiji and Refugiums Hey Bob, Merry Christmas, and all the best to Anthony and Jason. <cheers, Tim... great to hear from you my friend. Anthony at bat today> I hear you guys are threatening to swing by our fair isles early next year. <indeed... and I'll be sure to correctly pronounce "Fe-gee", rather than "feee-gee!"> I'll have the beers stowed and the night lights charged for instant action. <outstanding... and do let use know then what delights from the mainland that we can bring (besides fine Tequila)> I have been spending many interesting?? hours lately roaming over our varying fields of mud, sand and silt. <did you find Thalassia or Zostera seagrasses yet?! I promise I'll get you retired early selling them <G>!!!> I have amazed myself at just how far (and deep) I will swim to see absolutely nothing, and get seriously dirty. <Ha!> Oh well....their have been a few rewards...mostly fields of Trachyphyllia geoffroyi and associated gobies, along with some interesting soft corals and Goby/pistol shrimp combos.      I have been sold on the idea of a refugium for some time now..... <indeed... they are the future of reef keeping and soon to be as integral in modern marine aquariology as live rock> and recently had a chance to put theory to practice at Kula Park, here in Fiji. Philip has been in touch with you recently....and he much appreciated your instant response. <we have been accused of being quite fast... hasn't served us well in the field of interpersonal relationships, but fine for the website <G>> The display is 540gal, reservoir of 1000 gal, and now a 4 tank setup for the refugium of 300 gal. <a great start> Three small cubes are set up as 1. 'surf zone' sand and macro fauna, 2.dark dense mud from outside the mangroves, 3. lighter mud/silt and associated critters from 120" kept slightly darker, and the large tank will be mangrove habitat with hopefully bonsaied Mangroves. The Photoperiod for all initially is 24/7, however this will probably evolve.    <hmmm... not sure that you will want or need the 24/7 lighting here. Only Caulerpas will commonly fare well in stasis with this kind of lighting... and they have their share of baggage (noxious exudations, labor intensive farming required, heavy chemical filtration and or ozone needed to temper their effects). My advice would be to use another plant or algae species (like Gracilaria, Chaetomorpha... and seagrasses when they mature). Light them on a reverse cycle than the display if you want/need pH stability... but no 24/7 here. Do evolve> Water chemistry is good, and stable, along with the temp. at 78 degrees. The goal is to evolve into a full blown reef tank. <then definitely forego the Caulerpas in my opinion... inhibiting to coral growth in time. When you've been diving the world over... how much coral growth have you seen in patches of Caulerpa? Proof is in the pudding as they say. At least free-living corals thrive in with the seagrasses (elegants, open brains, Fungiids, etc)> Water flow through the show tank is 5 times (we aim for ten) <wow... yes. Much more flow needed for corals as you know> and will tweak the refugium systems to around 4 times during the next plumbing installation. <perhaps stronger if tending Ogo (Gracilaria)... some seagrasses to get them to shed more epiphytic material> 2 things.......the system incorporates a large sand filter we both want to ditch to allow full circulation of the critters. Can I have your opinion please... <please, yes!... ASAP> and 2. I need to question the use of an impellor pump from the refugium to the show tank. I wouldn't like to zap through one of those macerators, and Colin Flood cites a quote from "Dynamic Aquaria" page 66-mid third column, of FAMA November 2002 "that most impellor pumps with their internal turbulence, pressure and shear forces kill many planktons and the swimming or floating reproductive states of plant and animal. They found mortality rates of large zooplanktons, such as Artemia salina as high as 90% after passing through such a pump".     <this reference (a fine work in so many ways otherwise) had caused quite a stir with this comment which was unfounded in practical applications. Impeller shear is essentially bunk and more recent studies have shown it. As cited, the above reference involved the study of brine shrimp... a non-marine species. And a large, stupid and clumsy one at that. It swims and behaves nothing like marine plankton/microcrustaceans. Please don't give impeller shear a second thought... little concern. If you have more money than you know what to do with, get a fine Tunze Turbelle pump that is engineered to reduce impeller shear. Else, just buy a good pump that is reliable and economical to run and damn the torpedoes! Crunch all the plankton you want... we'll make more :)  > If Phillip cuts off his roof and raises it 10 feet he can easily achieve gravity flow...........just kidding! <ironic you should mention that... I always preach upstream refugiums in preference to downstream ones <G>> What's the deal with sending questions into wetwebmedia like this? Is their an annual subscription? <nope... we are here 24/7 for the love of the hobby/industry. No moolah... niente... nada... free service> Thanks for your time, and I look forward to your visit next year. All the best, and stay well. Tim. <peace and long life, my friend... we shall see you soon. Kindly, Anthony>

Refugium algae Dear Anthony, Many thanks for your quick and thorough response. No way I'd be in this hobby were it not for the books and advice of Bob and friends. Looking forward to the new book. <thanks kindly> A bit of clarification, please. I have dual 95 PC, 10,000 Kelvin lights on the new refugium, on a chain, 8 inches above the water <whoa! stop there bub. Sweet lights... but useless at 8 inches. This may singly explain some previous trouble keeping Gracilaria for example. Although bright to the eye, the usable light (PAR) plummets with every inch off the surface you creep. The "rule" for most fluorescents (including the blazing VHOs and PC.s) is that anything higher than 3" off the water surface if a waste of electricity. A lux meter will confirm this for you... just amazing. With some light systems, the difference between lights at 8" and lights at 4" is 150% or more! Just staggering. Please do lower these lights> line with a .177" acrylic lid. I can put the fixture right on lid, an inch from the surface. <if it presents no fire hazard, yes... OK for livestock> Is this too much light for Ulva, Gracilaria, and/or Chaetomorpha? <my heavens, this is not even remotely too bright for these algae. Gracilaria for example is farmed commercially in floating baskets at the surface of the water under tropical sun. Our pc lights are barely a glimmer by comparison> I can raise the light or lower it easily. <excellent... my vote is 2-3" off water surface> Caulerpa refugium has and old All Glass 2 tube fixture but I will gladly upgrade to your recommendation if and when I can replace the bad stuff. Please describe proper acclimation for these plants. I didn't know it was required. <acclimation of corals, anemones, other invertebrates (shrimp crabs, etc) and plants and algae is extremely critical. They are far more sensitive to osmotic shock than fishes that have many thick layers of skim to temper the osmotic changes. Algae and Arthropods (shrimp, crabs) are perhaps the most sensitive by far. Acclimate them with a slow drip as you would a sensitive fish for 20-30 minutes> Please expand on "competition". Is this completion for space?  I have plenty. Or is it a chemical competition? I would like to try continue trying several varieties to see what works. <you would be much better with one species unless the total system volume is huge... competition for available nutrients, noxious exudations, etc. If you want to succeed... definitely begin with one variety only. To compromise... how about going back to Gracilaria and getting both red and green species> I have added a small 600 GPS pump for turbulence since getting your email. OK? <sounds pretty cool... remains to be seen for algae. Keep a good turbulent/tumbling movement of the algae and detritus in suspension> "Free floating for all of the above plants?  Blowing around with pump? I can divide the surface area with acrylic or fine mesh fiberglass screening. <not sure I follow here? Gracilaria floats... pump is drawing low? A simple cage may be all that is needed. > Again, many thanks, WetWeb advice has served me well. Never had a disease process since filling the show tank (first reef experience) 30 months ago. I expect Santa will bring me a digital camera (with diving case) so I can send you folks photos of my 160 gallon Howard/Wetweb creation - the best aquarium between Pleasant Prairie, WI and the Shed in Chicago. Howard <awesome! We'll look forward to it! Best regards, Anthony>

Refugium Lighting I recently purchased Anthony's Book of Coral Propagation.  Excellent book. <thank you, my friend! Please share what you learn in kind with others> I have read the first 80 pages religiously and impatiently scanned through the rest looking for answers to my current dilemma. I'm currently setting up a 240 gal display tank (1st floor); overflow to 180 gal refugium/sump, housing sea grass, mangroves and sponges (basement). <very cool already> Refugium has 4" mixed CaribSea sugar sized and fine aragonite sand. Regarding lighting a refugium, I have heard someone suggest: 70 Watt HPS light at 95CRI and 2900K. Others tell me that lighting will grow unwanted algae, out of control. What type of lighting would you suggest for the Refugium? <lighting will not grow unwanted algae easily without nutrients. Nutrients really are the limiting factor for nuisance algae species. With that said... I must admit that 2900K is obscenely warm colored and may very well contribute to undesirable species of algae more easily. Please don't bother with fancy or expensive lights here. Simple daylight fluorescents from URI (6500-7500K) will be very fine. Even plant type bulbs as warm as 5500K would work well. Approaching or dipping below 4000K is not sensible IMO for the big picture> Anthony also recommends a (Tunze) return pump to minimize impeller shear. <true... but I also admit that impeller shear is really over-rated. I would not worry about it> I don't see a high head Tunze return pump.  Could you recommend a external return pump for a 14' head return, to be used at the refugium? <Japanese made Iwasaki gets my vote almost every time... they last forever (have seen more than a few over 10 years old) and are near indestructible. Low power consumption, modest heat imparted, very quiet. Time-tested. Just avoid the dual pump series (noisy). Find one that satisfies your flow and the allowances of the bulkheads/overflow you have drilled.> Thanks, GREG <best regards, Anthony>

Refugium Advice in FAQ's (Steven's input) Hello Crew, I would like your collective advise on implementing a refugium on a reef tank I am planning for the Spring. I saw some conflicting views in the FAQs (whew, 3 days of reading) on how to best implement this. I am purchasing a 400 gallon (96"x24"x40") tank that will use a 48 gallon Ecosystem mud sump and a thin sand bed in the main tank. I want to maximize the fauna as I plan to keep Anthias and other plankton consumers. I plan to go real slow as I am re-entering the hobby and have spent the past 2 years reading, including Bob's CMA and Anthony's BoCP. I noted each of their replies in the FAQs, but I want to re-ask some FAQ questions to get clarification for my specific implementation. 1. Given the mud sump, should sand be used in the refugium to maximize biodiversity? <I would chose one method or the other. Far too many times in this hobby various ideas are modified from their original design and when things don't work out the hobbyist blames the idea, not their implementation of it. Plenums are the biggest example.> 2. Should the sand refugium be a DSB or Plenum based setup? <I see no difference between the two when properly installed.> 3. Would a DSB or Plenum refugium create a nutrient sink given the Ecosystem filtration? <Again, not if properly designed and installed.> 4. Anthony does not seem to favor Caulerpa in the mud sump due to it's (potential?) effect on the corals. <And I agree for corals, but I saw no mention of them. For fish-only, it is fine, though I do like Chaetomorpha for its excellent zooplankton production.> Which seagrasses or macro-algae would you recommend for the mud sump and refugium respectively? <It depends on your purposes. For zooplankton, I like Chaetomorpha. For nutrient export, Caulerpa is awfully good. For picoplankton, Thalassia seagrass.> 5. Given Ecosystem's recommendation on a 24-hr lit sump, should the refugium be lit on the same cycle or use an RDP? <For Caulerpa, 24/7, for other macroalgae or true vascular plants RDP.> 6. What size would you recommend for the refugium? <The bigger the better> 7. Would up-sizing the sump from the Ecosystem recommended 48"-long sump to a 72"-long sump increase filtration capacity and allow for more stocking potential? <Quite possibly> Thanks, Rob <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Refugium Advice in FAQs (Bob's input) Hello Crew, <Hello Rob> I would like your collective advise on implementing a refugium on a reef tank I am planning for the Spring.  I saw some conflicting views in the FAQs (whew, 3 days of reading) on how to best implement this. <Okay. Will render my opinions.> I am purchasing a 400g (96"x24"x40") tank that will use a 48g Ecosystem mud sump and a thin sand bed in the main tank. <Mmm, anyway to talk you into a larger container? Discounting "transit volume", displacement by solids... you may end up with just ten-twenty gallons of water in this sump/refugium. I assume you are employing a separate sump for your mechanicals (filter gear, monitors...)> I want to maximize the fauna as I plan to keep Anthias and other plankton consumers.  I plan to go real slow as I am re- entering the hobby and have spent the past 2 years reading, including Bob's CMA and Anthony's BCP.  I noted each of their replies in the FAQs, but I want to re-ask some FAQ questions to get clarification for my specific implementation. <Okay> 1. Given the mud sump, should sand be used in the refugium to maximize biodiversity.    <Not necessarily... as stated if possible, practical, do add more volume to the refugium... and restrict flow to-through the refugium to 2-3 turns per hour> 2. Should the sand refugium be a DSB or Plenum based setup? <If you are a fan of plenums, go ahead. I am not in most set-ups, including yours. IMO/E you'll be much better off with a DSB> 3. Would a DSB or Plenum refugium create a nutrient sink given the Ecosystem filtration? <Not likely, no> 4. Anthony does not seem to favor Caulerpa in the mud sump due to it's (potential?) effect on the corals.  Which seagrasses or macro-algae would you recommend for the mud sump and refugium respectively? <Halimeda, Gracilaria...> 5. Given Ecosystem's recommendation on a 24-hr lit sump, should the refugium be lit on the same cycle or use an RDP? <RDP> 6. What size would you recommend for the refugium? <As large as possible> 7. Would up-sizing the sump from the Ecosystem recommended 48"-long sump to a 72"-long sump increase filtration capacity and allow for more stocking potential? <Oh yes! Bob Fenner> Thanks, Rob

Refugium Macroalgae Question Hi Guys ! <cheers, Chuck!> Recently I removed all (well almost all) of the Caulerpa from my 50 gallon refugium and replaced it with Gracilaria, turtle grass and Chaeto... (spelling ?). <Chaetomorpha... all very wise IMO. Kudos> Everything is going well, many small "bugs" and my peppermint shrimp  have been breeding periodically releasing even more food into the main display tank. Since my display tank is 300 gallons I do not plan to use such a small refugium for algal filtration.  Instead, my refugium's purpose is to generate live food/plankton for my main tank. <agreed here too that this is a better plan for most aquarists> Small amounts of the blade, fern, grape Caulerpa have come back even though I removed all of the live rock and brushed it with a toothbrush.   <the grape Caulerpa is especially noxious/toxic> The other algae are growing at a very swift rate and I am worried that the Caulerpa will sexually spawn since it is in the minority and since it is being "squeezed out".  Is this concern well-founded? <not very... its more a simple matter of completing its life cycle (3-6 months unbroken for the cell/colony)> I try to pick out the Caulerpa as it grows but it is nearly impossible to get it all.  Is this sufficient to keep the Caulerpa from  sexually reproducing / entering into my main display tank? <yes... frequent and regular pruning> Right now it hasn't spread into the display tank and I want to keep it that way....any other suggestions  on how to do maintain this ? <yep... napalm> Do I still need to harvest the "good" or less virulent algae mentioned above in a similar manner as the Caulerpa ? <yes... all algae essentially for vigor if nothing else. Less or no risk of sexual reproduction with some of the other non-Caulerpas though> Thanks, and looking forward to meeting Anthony in Boston, home of the Boston Reefers,  in January !!! <me too, my friend. And we can discuss then if Dr Ron and the Ronnie's are fascists or hypocrites or something altogether different <G>> Regards, Chuck Spyropulos <rock on my brother :) Anthony>

Help with Refugium Hello Dr Fenner, <Just Bob, please> You helped me a while back with some questions I had concerning a mini-reef 25g hexagon tank, a mad clown and a Prizm skimmer. For some unknown reason, the skimmer is back on line and working fine again and the mad clown has had to be taken back to the pet store and exchanged for a more docile one. Reading through your FAQ's and website, I am sold on your thoughts and philosophies and went ahead and purchased your book "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" which I read in one clean sweep until my eyes began to bleed, absolutely fantastic reading. I am also sold on the idea of a refugium to aid water quality. <A worthwhile addition> The water parameters in the main tank have all been stable for about 4 months (tank 6 months old), with the exception of Nitrate which sometimes goes as high as 10ppm. <Soon to be diminished> I have purchased a 15g tank (18x12x18) which will be set-up as a down-stream refugium and would like to know your thoughts on the following: - 4in sand bed - 15kg (33Ib) of live rock - Your thoughts on suitable macro-algae. To be honest, the only things that I can find the LFS selling in the UK is Caulerpas and Mangrove pods. - Lighting 1 x 15w (PowerGlo 18k spectrum) <All sounds fine... though many of my cohorts think otherwise, I would use the Caulerpa (leave the lighting on 24/7), being careful to not let it "get away", overgrow the system... watching for any ill-effects of its abundance... Perhaps keeping an eye on your suppliers for other macrophytes to supplant it with in coming months (like Halimeda, Gracilaria...)> My concerns are the use of Caulerpas in the refugium considering I have a few soft corals in the main tank (Leathers, Mushrooms, Sinularia & Xenia's) and the lighting on the refugium. Should I use a reverse cycle or 24/7? <I would leave the lighting on (with the Caulerpas) continuously> On my existing live rock in the tank, I have noticed an amount of copepods milling around in the night time (sitting there with my flashlight, much to the annoyance of the misses) and hope to have a similar introduction in the refugium. <You will> Thanks in advance for your help. Kind Regards Sandeep <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Refugium Hello, Great site! I have just filled my second 3" notebook with "print outs" from your site. This way I can sit in my chair with a beer and read....and re-read and drink another beer.......... I am planning a 120 gallon reef tank. I will have a remote 100 gallon sump (Rubbermaid in the basement). My skimmer will be outside the sump with it's own pump, skimmed water returns back to sump. I will have a Super Aqua Sea Dolphin pump (lots of head pressure) sitting next to the sump to return the water to the display tank with a close loop arrangement. On the plumbing from the sump pump to the display tank I want to have a "T" with a gate valve that I can use to control water flow into a 100 gallon refugium, (also Rubbermaid). The refugium I hope to have sitting 12" or so above the level of the sump, and have gravity feed the water from the refugium back to the sump, (with a 2-4x turnover of water volume per hour). Does this sound like a workable arrangement? <Yes, it sounds fine.> Will the skimmer and/or the pump grind up any possible beneficial food that will hopefully make it out of the refugium? <Yes, to an extent, but I don't believe this to be too bad of an issue. While it is better to have a refugium above the display so the water and food can gravity feed into the main tank without having to go through a pump, I doubt you want to have a Rubbermaid tub in your living room. This refugium arrangement is definitely better than nothing and will help, but not as well as the above tank variety.> Thanks for your help, Cary <Best of luck to you! -Steven Pro>

Refugium Configuration Hello all, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> Your web site is great!  Thanks for the hard work!  Thanks to your information on the benefits of skimming I started my Aqua Medic turbo flotor 1000 skimmer over the weekend  and I am glad for it (YUK). <A fine skimmer choice!> I think I am running my current refugium incorrectly...I have a siphon box running to the refugium (light, Caulerpa, live rock, 7" sand bed, and Skimmer) over a divider to the pump which pumps back to the tank.  I have read in several of your FAQ's that the refugium should only receive partial flow from the tank (over-flow).  This design was based on input from the store that I purchased the majority of my materials.  Is there generally a sump that is run in tandem to a refugium where the water from the tank is split by a "T" and globe valves to control the water to each area? <Ideally, raw water from the sump should enter the refugium from a dedicated line from the sump.> Should I ditch the siphon box for something different? <Best advice is to keep it simple> Currently it is one large closed loop from the tank to the refugium and back to the tank.  Could you direct me to a good source for design? <An excellent source would be Anthony Calfo's "Book of Coral Propagation", which will definitely become a valuable addition to your library. Anthony discusses multi-level systems, refugia, and generally setup and husbandry in great detail. If you're a fish geek like I am, your copy will basically be thrashed in a matter of months- you'll refer to this book constantly!> Also, could you recommend some good, not too scientific, books describing aquarium appropriate livestock and their specific needs? <Bob's "Conscientious Marine Aquarist" is hands down the best book on this topic, IMO.> Thanks, you guys rock! Scott from Colorado <Hey, man-we couldn't do it without you! Take care!>

Sump and Refugium Above Tank Hi Guys, My questions concern both sumps and refugiums. Am I correct in saying that a sump is merely a way of stowing one's filtration, etc. out of sight and also increasing water volume overall? <Yes> A more convenient way to dose? <I guess that would be correct, also.> My thoughts on combining an upstream sump/refugium have met with "good to go" and "they should be separate". It seems to me that dividing a sufficiently large tank into an area that acts as a sump in so far as it contains the equipment and allocates the rest of the space to normal refugium functions there shouldn't be a problem. <Correct, that is how most sump/refugium combinations are laid out.> Maybe the problem lies in that most people think of a sump as being below the tank (rightfully so) and I think in terms of its function. I plan to put a 30 gallon tank upstream of my 75 gallon reef tank. The 30 gallon will be divided so that the first part (pumped directly from display) will be for heater, skimmer, carbon, etc. It will overflow into the remainder of the dedicated to macroalgae and pod production. Then to be overflowed into the display. Do you see problems with this arrangement? <The only "problem" (and it is not that big of a deal) is that your display tank will act like your sump. One of the other things that occurs in a sump is that the water level fluctuates due to evaporation and that the operating water level is left a little low to compensate for power outages when the display back siphons down. In your case, the water level will fluctuate in your display as water evaporates. You can take care of this with daily top offs, but you will still need to keep the tank's water a little low. Even with a great plumbing job, if the power goes off, your pumps will go off, but water will continue to overflow out of the refugium and back into the tank. There is also all the water in the plumbing that will drain back down in the display.> Best regards, Mike <Good luck with your plans! -Steven Pro>

Nuisance Algae In A Refugium Dear Bob and Company, <Scott F. here today> My new (second) refugium: 36 gallon box with 4 to 6 inches of oolitic sand inoculated with live sand from 3 sources, 20# live rock, couple pounds of rubble and shells, 5 varieties of macro algae, 10 small peppermint shrimp, 2 large scarlet cleaner shrimp, amphipods, worms, snails, and 2- 55w pc lights. It's been in operation 6 weeks connected to a now total 160 gallon system. <Sounds nice!> I have been fighting red micro algae all over this new tank even though it has a 200 gph flow through from the overflow of a nitrate, phosphate, silicate, free system. A temporary 2 inch sponge and a Poly-filter in the overflow protects the balance of the system (and allows the micro fauna and shrimp eggs to develop).  There is no sign of the red stuff in the show tank, sump or Caulerpa refugium. The deep white sand is turning grey with darker grey spots. <Might be a form of coralline algae?> Nearly every day I wipe the glass and blow or brush the stuff from the rocks and substrate. Big problem is that it is damaging the (expensive) collection of Ulva and other macro plants that I am hoping to cultivate and hope to replace the Caulerpa in the other box. The red obviously came in with some of the live sand or plants. I have not had any significant micro algae in the show tank since the Caulerpa refugium got going over a year ago. New water is treated with mechanical, carbon, R/O, and 2 de-ionization units. Efficient skimming, about 120# of live rock, etc. I do 20 gallon water changes every two weeks. <all sound fine> I raised the lights 12 inches above the tank but hesitate to cut lighting more for fear of wrecking the macro plants. I put in two small pumps to increase circulation. I can isolate this tank from the system and put a Skilter on it if there were any chemical I might use? Red Out, etc.? As always, advice from WWM will be appreciated. Howard in Wisconsin <Hang in there, Howard. It sounds like you're doing everything right with this setup! I think you'll find that this red algae will ultimately diminish on its own, but you should continue to take steps to eliminate it. Part of the problem, no doubt, is that there is a high level of nutrients in the refugium, and lower flow (compared to the main tank), not to mention good, intense lighting in close proximity, all of which are a recipe for microalgae growth. I really think that things will improve with time. Once the higher algae begin to actively compete for the available nutrients, you'll see a noticeable downturn in the microalgae growth. The idea of a dedicated skimmer (even a unit such as a Skilter, which is not a unit praised for its efficiency) for the refugium might a good one. The increased  circulation was a good idea, too. Please avoid any "chemical" fixes, such as the products that you mentioned. They will cause more harm than good, IMO. Time and continued good husbandry will result in the end of this algae bloom, which is, by most accounts, a pretty normal occurrence. You're making some great observations and adjustments. Just stay patient and "keep doing what you're doing". Good luck!>

Re: protein skimmer I would like to know if I should redesign my refugium? It is a converted wet/dry system with a 6" sand bend, 25 pounds of live rock, and hand full of Caulerpa algae with a separate pump chamber, lit with a 96 watt power quad CF. I would like to include a skimmer in my filtration design but the refugium does not have enough space for the skimmer and the tank return pump. <Perhaps try a hang-on unit affixed to the refugium?> I think I can convert the Berlin Red Sea to stand beside but you guys seem to really gun for the Euro Reef skimmer. <The Aqua-C models are excellent, too.> Can this be modified to stand beside? <I believe Euro-Reef has come out with an modification for external use of their skimmers. Do check their webpage, http://www.euro-reef.com/> Should the refugium be larger? <Hard to quantify, generally larger is better, but almost anything is better than nothing.> My tank is a 75 gallon with a plenum sand bed and 40 pounds of live rock. I have five fish, two peppermint shrimp, and an assortment of snails and crabs. I would like to balance the system out between corals and fish when the project is complete. <A difficult line to walk. The more fish, the more waste, the more potential for nuisance algae.> Is the presence of Caulerpa, live rock, and lighting all that defines a refugium? <No, a refugium can be many things. Caulerpa is just the most mass marketed version, but there are many other possibilities. Do search through www.WetWebMedia.com regarding for additional information.> Is there more to the pie that I am not aware of? <Much more> Could you direct me to a site that has some good designs? < http://www.ozreef.org/ is one of the best DIY websites.> Sorry, I just started this hobby four months ago. <No worries> Thanks in advance for your help, Scott <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Refugium questions Hello Crew....the funniest thing...usually while looking through the FAQs trying to answer my questions...i just end up with more questions. <heehee... what a surprise <G>> So here we go... 150 Gal full REEF. I have 3 sumps connected each holding approximately 20 gallons; <that part is a bit disturbing (untidy if not unsafe) but I'm Ok if you can sleep comfortably in that house with it> the center houses a Calcium Reactor and 2 return pumps; and the other 2 have separate flow control with one having Skimmer/heaters and the other Plenum/Refugium combo. Ok the plenum is simple classic Jaubert design...1.5 in. dead space, 2 layers sand (2 in. coarse, 4 in. fine on top), 2 screens...etc. On top of the sand bed sits some Live Rock and 3 types Macro algae. As far as critters outside of what came on the live rock are peppermint shrimp. Ok enough of background info....My questions: 1. Is the Plenum/Refugium design a sound one? Never had a nitrate problem. <agreed... seems reasonable and deep enough (over 4")> 2. About every week the refugium is practically replete with macro algae growth...looking much like those algae scrubber type filters...I prune it down to almost nothing but is it more beneficial to leave it in there? <hell no! It must be religiously and systematically harvested. A great benefit if you keep up with it, but a terrible scourge (toxins from macros released) if you neglect it. I personally do not recommend Caulerpa for most aquarists. Many reasons here> In other words what acts as the best denitrator...the plenum, the macro-algae, or the live rock? <none... the deep fine sand bed itself is the main denitrator (without the plenum... the plenum is useless in small applications: neither helps nor hurts)> The small shards that find their way to the main tank are absolutely relished by the fish especially the little green "grapes." <ughhh... what a dreadful plant. Impedes scleractinian growth in the long term, concentrates toxins in fishes flesh in the long run (3+ years), discolors water and limits coral health. Etc. Better to have Chaetomorpha, Gracilaria (Ogo), seagrasses... anything but Caulerpa. See Eric Borneman's sentiments on the same> 3. I wrote previously regarding feeding my SPS'. Am I to assume that the critters reproducing in the refugium are actually sending zooplankton to the main tank on a microscopic level? <some... but most are too large for SPS> If so, what can i do to further encourage such proliferation? <keep the refugium fishless and feed it periodically. Also, placement upstream (above the tank) is far more effective than downstream (sump then pump)> I want to buy more critters to place in there to support the feeding of the SPS', but am I wasting my money thinking the peppermint shrimp larvae will actually fit into the SPS' mouth? <correct for most... and I wonder if the shrimp aren't killing more good things in the refugium than they are worth keeping for their eggs> 4. What do you think of those "moist-canned" zooplankton currently being offered on the market? <if you mean, Sweetwater plankton... I love it for fishes and many corals (LPS and corallimorphs)> Regards, Dennis <Kindly, Anthony>

Re: converting wet/dry to a refugium/mud filter Hi all!      I was finally able to pick up a 75g tank, complete with corner overflow and a 20g wet/dry filter system. Any advice on converting it over to a refugium/mud filter? Or would I just be better off removing the bioballs and replacing them with LR? <I would set this system up as either from the get-go... that is, never place the bioballs... and instead (your choice) go with the refugium with either/ and/or both the mud and LR. Bob Fenner who would use both.> (currently the tank is high and dry). Thanks again for all your advice, PF

Refugium Lighting Hello, I am setting up a marine system with a 90g display tank, 10g sump and 15g refugium.   <A good idea, but 15 gallons is very small for a 90 display. Should be around 1/3 to more of the display volume.> I've been reading articles and FAQs but am still not clear about the type of lighting I should have for the refugium.  It is not my intention to make a reef tank out of the refugium, just to fill it with 3-4" aragonite, live rocks and lots of macroalgae to deter the growth of microalgae in the display tank and help filtrate the system naturally. What lighting do you recommend for this purpose?  I was considering an Aqualite single-strip 65w, 24" straight pin fixture for $59; will this work? Any other suggestions about my refugium plan?  Thanks, Jeff <Refugiums just need enough light for plant growth, not the intensity required for reefs, not that it hurts. A 65 watt PC would work fine for 15 gallons, maybe more, but do consider a larger refugium. There is much more on refugiums at WetWebMedia.com, search on refugium in the google search engine. Sounds like a lot of fun!   Craig>

Caulerpa Refugium Dear WWM Crew, I've acquired some Caulerpa. I think I've identified it as razor Caulerpa, Caulerpa serrulata. Is this a good algae for my new refugium? <It depends on the intended purpose of the refugium and your tanks needs.> Should I allow any in my display tank? <Again, it depends.> My refugium will be 22" x 24" x 10" high and will have 2" of Miracle Mud. How much shall I start with (I have lots) <You do not need too much.> and will it attach itself to the mud? <It should use its holdfasts to attach/"root".> Any other comments or suggestions would be helpful. <There is a lot of information on refugium types and macroalgae in our FAQ files on www.WetWebMedia.com.> My primary use of the refugium is to help control nitrates in my 180 gallon reef tank. <Caulerpa is excellent for nutrient control, but more and more research is showing it is harmful to corals. You are going to have to strike a fine balance here. I would also pursue some other means of nutrient control (protein skimming, careful feedings, appropriate foods and supplements, clean source water, etc.).> Thanks for your help, Brian <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Refugium I have a question concerning a refugium set-up. I currently have a 55 gallon refugium that is on an opposite lighting cycle than my display tank. The refugium contains 60 lbs of live sand and some Caulerpa algae. I have read some articles that make me think that there are better algae or other methods to do the same thing (reduce nitrates, etc.). I would like any information or resources about refugiums. <It depends on your tank. If you have a mostly fish tank and nutrient export is your priority, Caulerpa or Dictyota would be my choice. If you have corals, I would avoid both. Then depending on your corals and the type of plankton you wish to generate Seagrasses, such as Thalassia, or Chaetomorpha would be my favorites.> Thanks for your help, Mike Winston <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Refugium Follow Up I do have corals mostly LPS and soft leathers. Will the Thalassia or Chaetomorpha also remove the nutrients <Yes, to an extent. The Chaetomorpha is your best choice. It is more effective at nutrient export than the Seagrasses and it will encourage zooplankton for your LPS.> and if they will where can they be purchased, none of my LFS have this? <You should be able to find it at many online e-tailers. I know http://www.eastcoastclams.com/ has some. It is not listed, but just email him and I am sure he will send it to you. You should look around though. You don't want to pay shipping on a handful of algae. It would be more cost effective to buy something else for the shipping fees.>

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