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Related FAQs: Refugiums 1, Refugiums 2, Refugiums 3, Refugiums 4, Refugiums 5, Refugiums 6, 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, DSBs, & Caulerpa, Marine System Plumbing, Holes & Drilling 1, Durso Standpipes, Overflow Boxes, Bubble Trouble, Plumbing Noise, Make Up Water Systems, Marine Aquarium Set-Up, Micro-Crustaceans, Amphipods, Copepods, Mysids, Algal Filtration in General, Mud Filtration 1,

Biological slurp gun!

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

Refugium Design; stkg.         7/4/15
Hi there,
I am in the planning stages for a 180 (72x24x24) gallon reef tank. I am considering a remote upstream "display" refugium of 60 gallons (24x24x24) to go alongside the display tank. There would be a supporting sump that would sit below the display tank.
<All right>
For the refugium, my objectives are nitrate reduction, nutrient export, and pod population. Since the refugium would be displayed in the open, I'd also like it to be aesthetically appealing and interesting. My plan includes a 6 inch DSB, and growing Gracilaria (also serves as food source for tang in display), and keeping live rock and rubble.
<With you so far>
Assuming this sounds like a good plan so far, are there any fish or inverts that could make the refugium more entertaining to observe, without compromising the objectives mentioned above?
<Mmm; maybe>
A few ideas I had were to house a wennerae mantis shrimp, or instead maybe one of the following: mandarin fish, tube anemone, pipefish, seahorse.
The concern would be that these animals would decimate the microorganism population and growth.
<Of these my first choice is the Mantis... the other fishes would of course eat most of your 'pods'... Bob Fenner>

Refugium... stkg., rdg.       12/20/14
Evening crew. I need your advice regarding the inhabitants of a hob Refugium that I have just plumbed from my sump. I've actually installed it onto the side of my tank so this is going to be a visible part of my display.
<Lots going on in these. Worth exhibiting>
I am going back and forth now in regards to what to put in it. My original plan was for a seahorse tank but this would negate any benefits that could possibly grow in it.
<Mmm; no. Seahorses might eat some of the endogenous life, but there are many other benefits>

My next choice was to put a Layer of rubble in the bottom and add one or 2 types of pulsing Xenia. This is still on the table and my question there is should I just put a layer of rock rubble at the bottom and then add a couple of frags of the Xenia (
maybe a couple different colors/types ) I would assume that this would be the most beneficial set up possible and if so could you recommend anything else to put in it.
<Yeah... read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm
the second tray>
I do have a tub of new miracle mud that was originally purchased for this but am thinking that there is no point in adding if I am only doing the Xenia. Could you offer any other ideas in stocking.
<.... Read on!>

I'm not overly concerned with the pod development. I'm just after something that will give me a wow affect. Let me know what you think...thx Chris
<That you should learn to/use WWM. Not write. Bob Fenner>
Re: Refugium      12/21/14

I won't write again. Yes your website has a ton of information but it is extremely time consuming to use.
<...? See where you found how/where to write us re input on using the search tool (on every page) and indices. The field of ornamental aquatics, and hence WWM is huge>

We ask your opinion because you readily know the answer but instead of answering and saving us a ton of time
<Stop... I gave you the area to scan through. IF you're too lazy to read I/we can't help you. We simply don't have time to re-write substantive responses over and over for tens of thousands of folks a day; WWM is NOT a bb or chatroom; but a reference source... YOUR answers are where you were referred>
you take the just as easy approach and tell us to read the multitude if articles that may provide a glimpse of an answer to out question. I had stopped visiting your site because of the condescending tone that you use with all of the people who ask you for help. Obviously this had not changed so thanks for nothing. Merry Christmas Chris
<And you, BobF>

Sea cucumber in refugium       10/10/14
Hello Mr. F,
What is your opinion on keeping a Holothuria Hilla in my RDSB refugium for contributing to keeping the sand clean and stirred. Any reasons I shouldn`t?
<Just a concern that it might get sucked up against an intake; otherwise die unnoticed. Just keep an eye out for it every time you're working in/on the main tank and you should be okay>
Thank you,
Andrei from Romania
<Welcome; BobF in Calif.>

Fish addition in refugium       5/31/14
Hello Mr. F
How are you?
<Fine Andrei; thanks>
Could you please tell me if you think there would be of any help if I introduce in a refugium ( 140 cm x 40 cm ) with a 15 cm RDSB and Chaetomorpha and some live rock that now contains only 10-15 Nassarius snails that I don't feed and the normal fauna associated with refugiums ( worms, small stars, many small crustaceans swimming around ) a Valenciennea species for stirring the sand - I always think that there is too little action going around in my 8 months old refugium and I am afraid of the sand compacting at the surface.
<I would stir the sand yourself... with a wood or plastic dowel and NOT place a sand sifting fish here, in the refugium>
Also, regardless if I introduce it or not, do you think I should feed the refugium? With what?
And if the answer is yes, which Valenciennea species should I use?
<Not feed directly and no goby>
In my DT I have a thin layer of sand ( 2 cm ). I would love to use a pair of these gobies to clean the sand but I have lots of LPS corals placed on the bottom and I am afraid that the fish will always drop sand on them. Is there any species that doesn't swim and release the sand from above, but instead cleans it nicely " on the spot" ?
<Most all do move sand a few inches up from the bottom... the genus Amblygobius; being so small; do the least bit of stirring and sand spreading>
Thank you again
Andrei from Romania
PS : would you recommend Cuba as a snorkeling and diving destination? We have been in the Indian ocean several times and we were thinking of changing .
<We (folks in the US) are still banned from travel to Cuba (foolishness...). It's reputed to be very nice... I like Bonaire, the lower part of Cozumel and much of the Caymans. Bob Fenner>

Anadara spp in the refugium?    6/21/13
I am in the process of studying and planning a marine reef system relying on various, linked refugium strategies. I have kept planted, freshwater tanks for thirty years. While reading about the culture of Mysid shrimp, I came across a little side note in an article that stated that mollusk larvae were just as nutritious, if not more so, than Mysid larvae.
<Some are>
 In a previous article I had read regarding seagrass biology, I noticed that Anadara spp play a critical role in the health of the seagrass biotope and that various species of seagrass (Thalassia spp) do much better in areas they share with Anadara spp. And yet, nowhere in the refugium literature can I find an example of any hobbyist attempting to include Anadara spp in either their mangrove refugium mud, or their seagrass/macroalgae refugium DSB. 
<I too have never come across such>
Would their presence disturb the nitrate/nitrite cycle in a DSB?.
<Would likely help keep all in balance... including in terms of nitrification, denitrification>
I also cannot find a source for tropical Anadara spp (other than a fresh fish store ).  I searched WWM for the term “Anadara” and found one instance where it was used in a fish food recipe. It seems to me that raising Anadara species (say, A. granosa, for example, which are aquacultured all over the tropics) in a mangrove or seagrass refugium, would not only add a considerable benefit to natural filtration (as clams filter enormous amounts of water), but also as a food source when they spawn in the system. Since we can raise Tridacnid spp in our tanks, why not Anadara spp?
 I really doubt that I am the first person to think of this and can only assume that there are some kind of biological (or other) barriers to such an approach?
<None that I'm aware of... just the usual discovery of food items of use, their provision w/o removal by filtration, other organisms... habitat preferences...>
 Love your site. Best on the web. Look forward to your thoughts. Thank you.
<I look forward to reading of your further experiences here. Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner> 

Chaetomorpha, and amphipod losses in a 'fuge      8/7/12
Hello crew,
Back with another question for you. I just recently added a CPR Aquafuge 2 refugium with the CPR 24 watt 65k lighting to my 29 gallon tank about 3 weeks ago. It consists of some rubble rock, live rock, miracle mud  and some Chaetomorpha along with a Chemipure bag at the inlet first stage area.
My Chaeto is turning white and my amphipods are dying off.
<Mmm, something amiss... likely chemically/physically "w/ the water"... what's your alkalinity, Ca, Mg... NO3, HPO4?>
 I noticed that yesterday i had a bloom of little white bugs amphipods and copepods on the acrylic walls. Could my Chaeto and amphipods be dying because of the lighting?
 today i just changed the bulb to a 24 watt Coralife 50/50 bulb hoping this will work. As far as the flow through the refugium it is concerned it is  a via aqua 610 that comes with the refugium.
<Is fine>
Do you think the Chemipure at the inlet side is restricting the flow?
<... can't tell from here>
should i even use it there or should i place it at the outlet side that feeds into the aquarium?
Thanks again,
<See WWM re Sump/Refugium Algae, Culture of Macrophytes... and answer the concentration question/s above. Bob Fenner>

Seeding a new refugium 9/24/11
Hello WWM crew!
I posted this to the ReefCentral folks but have not seen a response so I thought I would ask you.
Need some thoughts on seeding my new refugium. Setting up a new tank and I have an existing fuge on my reef tank. The problem is I know I have Ich in my current set up (as hard as I tried to keep it out). I am wondering about taking macro algae and sponges full of pods to the new refugium. Likely moving the crypto as well?
<Unfortunately yes>
I could leave out the pods since it will be a fish only tank. I intend to have a UV on this tank and to cycle it for a few weeks before putting fish in. Should I look to others with hopes that their tanks don't have it?
<Better to, yes>
I am also using dry rock so I was hoping that the pods would help reseed it as well.
<Mmm, just place some smaller bits of fresh/er live rock>
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Seeding a new refugium 9/25/11

Thank you Bob for confirming.
<Welcome! BobF>

Algae and Livestock in Tall Open Refugium 8/24/11
Hello Killer Crew,
<That's different. Hello Jenny>
Just wondering if my plan for livestock/marine plants in my sump/refugium is realistic. Most people have baffles in their refugium, but because mine is a 40 gallon tall, I chose to omit baffles. I have a DSB, a few live rock with some rubble and plan on having Chaeto along with Cultured Red Gracilaria or Gracilaria sp. Algae, a Mermaid's fan and Caulerpa along with a Mandarin Dragonet and a Jawfish.
<If it were mine, I'd just stick with the Caulerpa. If you choose to get a Mermaid's Fan, this species prefers water temperatures between 72-78F, and calcium levels akin to a reef tank.>
I plan to ensure copepod and live mysis/brine shrimp diet are available either naturally or via supplementation. I was just planning on letting the algae live and grow freely trimming when needed. Water parameters are all ideal, with light to medium flow water and light to medium lighting running opposite hours of the 70 gallon display which runs Orphek LED <A great fixture.>
full spectrum for 12 hours, then moonlight only for 12 hours. Will this be ok?
<Sounds good to me. James (Salty Dog)>
Re Algae and Livestock in Tall Open Refugium 8/24/11- 8/25/11

Hi James,
<Hello Jenny>
I'm sure you knew I meant "killer" in the most awesome sense of the word:)
<Mmm, I was going along the lines of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer. :-)>
You guys rock! Anyway, thanks for the tips.
<You're welcome.>
My display is a 70 gallon reef in progress, with plenty of live rock, not yet with livestock. I'm letting it cycle until the water is pristine. I keep the display at 80 degrees so that should be ok, but now that I think of it, the fan's not a necessity so I'll probably just skip it. I just thought it looked cool. I'll stick with the Caulerpa. So far we're loving the Orphek lights. We have 4 foot long tanks so we put two on each, and they are bright.
<Yes they are. When I did the review on the Orphek PR-156, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/WWMDigitalMagV3.htm , I actually had to acclimate the corals to the light, was that intense.>
The tanks look great already just with live rock, and the moonlights are stunning. I can't wait to see them when we eventually add corals. One last thing, I know you guys don't really like crabs because they are known for eating livestock in your tank, and I personally do not like snails either.
Will I be ok without these reef janitors?
<Small Blue/Red Leg Hermits are useful and do little harm. I would incorporate snails in your system, consider a few Bumble Bee Snails and Cerith Snails which are useful for helping to keep the sand bed clean, but would not add these for a month or two or they will starve to death.>
I plan on starting off with the jawfish in the refugium and a blue reef chromis in the display,
<Chromis do better in groups of three or more>,
but wondered if I need a crab and snails or will a cleaner shrimp be enough?
<As above, and the shrimp will be fine.>
I planned on adding a Bicolor Blenny and a clown about a month later in the display. Thanks again James. Have great day.
<And you as well. James (Salty Dog)>
Re Algae and Livestock in Tall Open Refugium 8/24/11- 8/25/11- 8/27/11
Hi James,
<Hello Jenny>
I tried to read your review on the Orphek, but when I clicked on the link, it said the page was gone.
<Mmm, go to our home page here, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/, and click on the WWM Digital link and select the Winter 2010 issue.>
<<? Is also posted here: http://wetwebmedia.com/OrphekPr-156RevJamesG.htm
I was wondering how long you had to acclimate your corals and how you did it.
<About three days increasing the photo period about three hours per day.>
Thanks for the tips on the crabs and snails.
<You're welcome.>
I will do just that. One last question, is it necessary to test for phosphates?
<Depends on husbandry and how you feed. I don't own a phosphate test kit.
I use RO water for water changes/top offs, use an efficient protein skimmer, employ chemical media, do carbon dosing, and rinse all frozen foods through a brine shrimp net to minimize excess nutrients getting into the system. >
I am testing pH (goal of 8.3) via a continual probe, calibrating monthly, calcium (goal of 400), magnesium (goal of 1300) , nitrates (goal of 0, more realistic 5 to 10)
<It is best to have some nitrates if keeping corals/clams, say in the 5ppm area.>
past the cycle stage on ammonia and nitrites, and they remain steady at 0 so I won't test for these again until I add livestock), specific gravity of 1.026, temperature of 79-80. When I do water changes once I have livestock in my refugium, I just plan on pouring it in at the top. The water will have circulated in a garbage pail with a power head 24 hours prior and heated to same temp and bringing specific gravity to same as refugium. I assume this is ok.
I'm having so much fun this time around. I actually crashed a system over a year ago making the same mistakes most do, not enough research, adding livestock too fast, inadequate protein skimmer in a small reef setting. The refugium and AquaC EV-180 are going to make a huge difference.
<Yes they will.>
Your help in my crusade to properly educate myself and do it right this time around has been invaluable. I am enjoying the endeavor and consider it a great hobby. Have a great weekend.
<And you as well. James (Salty Dog)>

Micro-invert ID 6/28/2011
Good afternoon, crew,
I have just recently seen several of these little dudes in my 'fuge. I have searched to the darkest end of the web (may have missed a spot or two), and am clueless. Although I have NO idea what they are, they are fascinating little creatures. The "tail" appendage telescopes from about 5mm to 50mm and retracts again, leading me to believe it is a feeder arm of some sort. The main body is about 2-3 MM in length.
Can you give me a vector, Victor?
<I do think you have a Hydrozoan/Hydropolyp species here... I'd vacuum these out. Stinging if they get into your main system and eating you refugium production where presently encamped. Bob Fenner>

Re: Micro-invert ID 6/28/2011
Thank you. Since my email, I've counted at least 10 so far in my fuge.
Going to be fun getting them all out of my Chaetomorpha!
<Might I suggest a bit of rigid airline tubing attached to the airline as a siphon? BobF>
Re: Micro-invert ID 6/28/2011
Exactly the set-up I used to siphon off the red-brown Planaria that went nuts in my tank earlier. Works very well. I'm a bit more concerned about actually finding all the little freaks hidden in the Chaeto. Maybe remove and rinse it all?
<Worth trying. B>

Refugium(s), biota 12/15/10
Evening Crew
<Hello Chris>
I have a couple of refugium questions for you.
<Fire away!>
I have a 155 gallon reef with a sump/fuge combo.
In the fuge I have rock rubble and Chaeto which is growing fine. I also have a huge number of tube worms and the odd stalk of Aiptasia that I am thinking have filtered out the bulk of the life that was growing in there.
<Some, yes. Would inject these with a mixture of some kind in here>
I did see this really long worm with bristles on it which resembled an arm from a bristle star (not sure if I should be concerned with that or not)
I'm looking for suggestions on what to do here. Should I leave it alone?
I was thinking of possibly adding a CPR hob fuge and possibly growing mangrove plants
<good possibilities, although the actual benefits of mangroves apart from interest are pretty low>
and possibly another live food source for my tank.
<Should just proliferate here in the absence of predatory life>
Should I clean the entire sump and get rid of the worms
<No, worms are good, adding plankton to your system. You could clean out, if you think your system needs it, have algae/ nitrate issues et. Al, but otherwise just leave it all alone>
Let me know your thoughts and thanks for your time
<You have them Chris and no problem. Have you read on WWM re: such? Have you purchased 'reef invertebrates' and/ or 'Book of Coral Propagation'? Both have some excellent sections on refugia, plankton generation etc.>

Oysters in the Sump (Not the answer here) -- 11/29/10
I thank you for a wonderful website and excellent moderators.
<<A collective effort'¦we are pleased to serve>>
I tried but was unable to find any info on stocking oysters in the sump.
<<Not practical, really -- extremely difficult to sustain for any length of time>>
I currently run a 50 gallon tank with a 15 gallon sump. It is stocked with Carnation Corals
<<Mmm -- about as difficult as the Oysters. The challenge here with both types of animal is the feeding of them - both are very likely to starve to death. Please do read here (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dendrofaqs.htm) and here (http://www.thesea.org/carnation-coral/ )>>
I picked up under the docks in Kochi, Japan. I have been feeding them with PhytoPlan and ZoPlan,
<<Here's a link to a 'recipe' for azooxanthellate corals (http://stonyreef.com/blog/2008/feeding-azooxanthellate-corals/). Even with an accepted supply of food(s), providing this in sufficient quantity without overwhelming your system is a challenge. It can be done, but takes a special dedication and attention to system setup and husbandry>>
but they have shrunk to about half their size in 6 months.
I have read that feeding them oyster eggs would be good, but frozen oyster eggs are not available locally.
<<Can be found on the Net (http://www.fosterandsmithaquatics.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=21981) >>
There's an oyster farm about 10 miles from my house so I picked up a few and put them in my sump.
<<Hmm'¦perhaps you could also check to see if the farm harvests/will provide eggs for purchase>>
Water temp is 24.5 C, pH 8.0, dKH 11 and Ca 410. Filtration is a trickle filter with a coil denitrator, Beckett skimmer and ozone.
<<Do search the net re Azooxanthellate systems for tips on configuration/lighting/water flow/husbandry needs et al. One in particular that might be worth researching is the 500L non-photosynthetic reef by Dutch aquarist Pieter van Suijleko>>
Would 5 or 6 oysters spawning overload my biofilter?
<<I think the bigger question is 'will they spawn?''¦and if they should, 'would this be sufficient' to meet the nutritional requirements of the Carnation Corals? In both instances, I think the answer is 'not likely at all.' Such a 'self-sustained' non-photosynthetic system as you describe is not practical in my opinion, especially one as small as yours. It would take a much larger number of Oysters kept in peak condition and spawning on a continual basis -- something at least, if not more so, challenging than the Carnation Corals. Better to expend your time and energy on researching alternate feeding methods (e.g. -- producing your own 'live' Phytoplankton and Rotifers for a 'continuous-drip' feeding system, etc.) for the carnation Corals, as well as system and husbandry requirements'¦and to make sure you have the time, resources, and dedication to the keeping of these beautiful but 'extremely challenging' organisms>>
James Miller - Okayama, Japan
<<And to you in kind... Eric Russell - Columbia, South Carolina>>

Help! There is something in my refugium - they have tails! 11/16/10
Dear Mr. Fenner @ Wet Web Crew:
<Mr/s. Klos>
I am so thankful for you wonderful website - although most times I am happiest when I can just peruse it - not use it. Unfortunately - here we go again! This morning I woke up to a wet mess - apparently the input hose to my refugium was leaking all night. (as if that couldn't be problem enough)
In the haste to disconnect it - I jostled my refugium and up from the sand bed swam these little creatures, white, maybe a tenth of an inch long with flagella like tails!!
They look like small white tadpoles. They absolutely startled the heck out of me! I have no current problems in my display tank - but as of today I have disconnected my refugium altogether until I figure
this out.
<I wouldn't be (overly) concerned here>
My refugium contains - and has always contained the same live sand, refugium mud - which has all but dissipated now. I started with a handful of Chaetomorpha algae which has grown exponentially, 2 mangrove plants, - some live rock rubble (from my display tank ) and my nasty queen conch who
kept laying eggs and eating all my snails. I have not touched it or added anything new to it that I can recall since the day I started it - probably a year ago. I did keep a damaged coral in there once until it healed -
and fed it rod's food. I sometimes feed it to my conch too. What in the world could be going on?
Chris K
<Very likely "just" Errantiate Polychaete (bristle) worms... Very common in the world's marine substrates. Do send a well-resolved pic along if you can. Bob Fenner>
Re: Help! There is something in my refugium - they have tails! 11/16/10

I'll work on a picture Mr. Fenner -
Christine K
<Thank you Christine. BobF>
Re: Help! There is something in my refugium - they have tails!
& pegging bommies 11/28/10
Hi again Mr. Fenner and all the wet web crew! I truly can't say enough good things about your website! Try as I may - I could not get a decent picture of the critters inhabiting my refugium. They were too small.. However, in disconnecting my refugium for a few days it did not occur to me right away that the water temp would drop - when it did dawn on me - I looked for these creatures and could no longer find them,
<Ahh, "they come and they go">
however all my pods, plants and algae did survive! I am going to keep an eye out and in the future see if I can "catch" one if they show up again.
In the meantime I have an established yellow tang in my 90 gallon. I will be upgrading within the next year to a larger aquarium. Size will no longer be a problem!! Is there any minimum tank size that you would recommend to allow me to keep my yellow tang and add an Atlantic blue tang with no scuffles?
<125 plus... six foot long...>
Or would you recommend never having the two together. Also - this may be a very simple and uninformed question (as most of my rock is stackable) however - I did read on your website than when creating "bommies" it is possible to drill your live rock and peg it. What do you peg it with?
<Most anything chemically inert (like acrylic doweling) or not chemically harmful>
Christine K
<Welcome! BobF>

Reef Lighting / Refugium Use 11/16/10
Dear Awesome People from WWM,
<Hello Ryan>
Hi my name is Ryan. I have so many questions when it comes to my reef tank, and keep finding more each day. For now I will try and limit them to two areas. The first is lighting. I will be the proud owner of a Nova Extreme Pro 6X54w t5HO system (hopefully if my bid wins lol) this afternoon. I've been searching your site and others such as Reefcentral.com and thereeftank.com, but there are so many different opinions to which combo of bulbs to use. I have a 75 gal, 48L x 21T x 18D tank with 80lbs of LR and 40
lbs of Aragonite sand. I have a custom made sump/refugium (so I don't know the exact gal. size, but it is somewhere near 15-18 gallons. I have an AquaC Urchin protein skimmer in the first section of the sump, then it goes to a refugium with a good size clump of Chaeto. In the tank I have a Mocha Percula Clown, Yellow Tang, Blue Chromis, Royal Gramma, and various inverts including a gold & brown feather duster. For corals I have assorted mushrooms (green, red, blue, and a hairy). The hairy is my favorite. I also have a Daisy Star polyp and rabbit ear leather.
So my first question pertaining to lighting is proper combo of bulbs to use on the above fixture that will increase coral health and growth. That is my main focus. I would also prefer a clearer/whiter look, but I do want the florescence of corals to pop. Any suggestions?
<My choice would be UVLC tubes and they would consist of one super actinic (F54/03S), four Aquasun (F54/AQS), and one 75/25 (F54/75.25S). This combination will give you the pop you're looking for while still not appearing too blue. It will also enhance reds, greens, and yellows.>
Also, once having those bulbs, would I be able to keep the full spectrum of corals, sps, lps, soft, etc.?
I suppose placement would be key for certain ones if it is possible.
<T5HO lighting is more intense than most folks realize providing nearly 95 lumens/watt so less light loving corals would likely fair better at the bottom level.>
My second question pertaining to lighting is a photo period. I want to purchase lunar LEDS as well. I'm thinking the R2 solutions LEDS with controller (any opinions on LED fixture?).
<Not familiar with it, but the Ecoxotic Stunner Strips offer a choice of color temperatures and up to six strips can be daisy chained to one controller and they are very compact.>
What kind of photo period is optimal for growth and health?
<For the T5s, I'd start with 10 hours.>
Lastly, I have been trying to find the best way to naturally feed my tank as well as the normal frozen/flake foods I have. My refugium is set up on an opposite photo period to my main tank right now. It has a good clump of Chaeto and a few pieces of LR rubble, and I can see a good amount of copepods in it as well. What I'm wondering is: What is the best way to get those copepods into the main tank (since I'm guessing most are staying in there and not making it through the return pump)?
<There really isn't a best way. Eventually the population will increase and they will slowly find themselves into the main system. Some folks will seed the main tank with a population of pods.>
I know this was very long. Thank you so much for your time and effort.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Ventralis Anthias <fdg. mostly... other Anthiine stkg./sel.> / HOB Refugium <stkg.>-- 08/24/10
Hello WWM Crew,
<<Hiya Scott>>
Thanks to James and Eric for my questions a few weeks ago, the info was much appreciated.
<<We are pleased to assist--Eric with you again today>>
After reading all of the Anthias FAQ's and articles on WWM (yep, all of them), I had a few stocking questions involving Anthias.
The second part of my question involves refugiums; I have not done all my research about the myriad of uses of refugiums and the benefits they offer,
<<Can be substantial>>
but I will finish reading those posts later today / tomorrow.
I purchased my 120g reef tank on Craigslist, it was set up at the owner's house for about 10 months, and I have had it in my possession for about 1 month now. There is significant growth and life on the life rock, the water parameters are perfect (~4 ppm nitrates, 0 ppm nitrites, 0 ppm ammonia, 8.3 pH, 140 ppm Alkalinity,
<<On the low side if you have many stony corals--but still within the 'accepted range'>>
450 Calcium, can't remember the exact phosphate or magnesium levels, but nothing alarming).
My plan was to let the tank recuperate for a few weeks before adding any new livestock, the corals and fish all survived the move and are doing great.
<<Wise of you>>
One day I come home from work (about a week after having the tank set up) and there are three new fish in the tank (Yellow Banded Maroon Clownfish, Blue Mandarin Dragonet,
and a Royal Gramma). My girlfriend saw them at the store and "had to have them".
<<I guess you forgot to update her with your plan? [grin]>>
I was worried that the tank would be too "new" to house fresh livestock but all of these fish seemed great and are still actively eating and looking great now (3 weeks later).
My questions are about a few of the more rare Anthias species. Specifically the Borbonius Anthias,
<<Have 'seen' a few of these...stunning fish (but oh what a price tag--$300+ each!!!)>>
and the Ventralis Anthias.
<<Also very attractive>>
I have read that most of these fish do well in groups (1 male and several females).
<<As is the case with most all Anthiines... I don't know much about Odontanthias borbonius though I do believe it to be a deep-water species like Pseudanthias ventralis >>
However, due to their outrageous ticket price (specifically the Borbonius Anthias),
would it be OK if I only introduced one of this species into my tank?
<<I would not recommend this. In my experience, even those so-called 'hardy' Anthiine species like Pseudanthias squamipinnis and Pseudanthias bartlettorum can have problems when mixed with aggressive (as in Damsels, Tangs, Basslets) and/or extremely active (as in most Tang species) tankmates. Even the considerable investment aside, these fish would need/do best in a dimly lit (versus highly phototrophic) reef system, and tankmates chosen with much care>>
I also read that the Ventralis Anthias is a fairly fragile fish.
<<I have heard it can be hardy once acclimated--to the right system>>
In order for me to receive one (or more) I would have to special order them from my LFS (highly trusted) and he would receive them from his supplier. Would it be better to buy this species as well in a group or can it survive solo?
<<In a group, but'¦'¦'¦>>
My worry here is that this fish (or group of fish) would be under too much stress going from supplier to LFS to my tank, with zero acclimation time in the middle grounds (LFS).
<<Unless your LFS is willing to hold these fish to assure they are fit and eating before you pay (not likely, considering), this is your only method of acquisition>>
My LFS will not be getting any of these fish in to sell regularly unless they are special ordered so this would be my only option.
<<Understood--and not unusual considering the price/delicate nature of these fish>>
The second part of my questions involving housing these fish is about feeding.
<<Can be problematic>>
I currently have a 25 gallon sump / refugium (several "hand-fulls" of Chaetomorpha and live rock and I have added 2 bottles of Copepods to the Chaetomorpha which I feed regularly with Phytoplankton).
<<The Phytoplankton should be added sparingly--can be beneficial, but is also easily abused>>
I was wondering if I will need a more established or possibly an in-tank HOB refugium in order to have enough natural life for the Anthias to feed on.
<<You may already have too many 'competitors' for these live foods (the clownfish, mandarin, royal gramma--plus whatever else you may have that isn't listed). But'¦ The best way to seed this refugium is to obtain a cup of substrate and/or small bunch of Chaetomorpha from several other hobbyists' systems and add it to your refugium>>
There seemed to be mixed results regarding the feeding habits with most people's Anthias from what I read on the WWM FAQs. Some people had theirs chomping up Mysis shrimp, others had to go to more exotic routes with Glass Worms, etc.
<<Indeed'¦ You will have to experiment here. And it seems the higher the price-tag the more trouble it is to get them to feed!>>
I have no problem with buying as much prepared food as needed to keep these fish fat and happy but if you think that I need to get a more established natural food colony then I will certainly wait to get these fish.
<<A larger mature refugium will certainly help--but I think not having a species-specific system is your biggest hurdle to keeping either of these two species for the long-term>>
Aside from what I have done already to form my refugium, is there anything more I can do besides just waiting and letting it form naturally?
<<Make it bigger--else, not really>>
Thanks for all of the info;
<<Happy to share my friend>>
I look forward to the advice as always.
<<I think you risk much trying to add either of these fishes to your current system>>
Scott M
<<Eric Russell>>

Inverts for Refugium? Reading... 5/24/10
Hey there. First time writing in, love your site and all the info. I could read for hours
<I know>
Just getting into Reef systems myself
<Welcome to the art, science, involvement...>
Quick question. Should I be adding any inverts to my sumps refugium?
<Mmm, not necessarily. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/refuglvstkfaqs.htm
and where you lead yourself>
My display tank is a 125g and my sump is about 30g volume, 3 chambers. Skimmer/heaters/fuge/an empty area at present/ return pump sectioned off by a short wall. I have noticed a small amount of reddish colour on my sandbed in fuge.
<Likely Cyano/BGA... I would be adding purposeful macroalgae... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/refugalgfaqs.htm
... and lighting...>
Sandbed is only about 2 ½ inches deep,
<More of this here>
the same as DT. DT has 170lbs live rock, was welled cured before I purchased, hair algae is minimal.
DT has 8 Mexican Turbos, 12 Nassarius, 12 Cerith, 2 Tonga conch, 3 scarlet reef hermits, 3 peppermint and 2 cleaner shrimp. No fish yet, being patient. Its been up and running about 2 months now. All water parameters are great. Ammonia- 0 nitrate - 0 nitrite- <1, phosphate - 0 ph - 8.2 salinity 1.026
Do I need something stirring the sand in fuge and helping consume the hair algae present there?
<Enjoy the reading, process... epiphanies Jordan. Bob Fenner>

Refugium Question'¦And System Stocking Too! Lg... SW -- 03/29/10
Dear WWM Crew,
<<Hello Steven>>
First, thank you for the site.
<<Quite welcome'¦is quite the collaborative effort>>
I've spent literally hundreds of hours reading your articles, and really enjoy the resource.
<<We are pleased to know this>>
I have for many years had a system with about 100g of water in it, and have done fine within the parameters of what one can do with this sort of system.
<<Ah yes'¦just recognizing/acknowledging the limitations makes a huge difference>>
Recently, I've upgraded to a system with about 350g of water.
I've built a mechanical room in the basement and plumbed everything down there. It's cost a small fortune but is ultimately worth it.
<<Mmm, I can certainly agree on both counts'¦my own system is some 500g en toto>>
I've gone through about 3 months of cycling, plumbing and setup, and still have no livestock. All in good time.
<<Indeed'¦and the longer the better to allow much of the biota to attain sustainable populations before the introduction of macro predators>>
Anyhow, I have a 90g refugium. It currently has about 4 inches of medium grain sand, ~60lbs of live rock, and some Chaetomorpha. It's lit by T5's @ 12 hours off cycle from the display. I've seeded it with bottled copepods.
Most of the info I've been able to glean off the net is about small, under tank or hang-on 'fuges, and I don't know what I can do to take this system to its full potential.
<<As far as the refugium is concerned'¦just some time to let things 'develop'>>
In your opinion, what is the best setup for this sort of system livestock wise, macroalgae wise, etc.?
<<Many possibilities... Do some research and formulate a plan or two and then feel free to bring them back her for discussion. Please do also include a bit more detail about your system at that time (e.g. -- dimensions of the display, ancillary filtration, flow types, etc.)>>
I plan to run a display with a few tangs and smaller schooling fish; I think lyretail Anthias, and a fair amount of SPS.
<<Okay'¦assuming the display is large enough this could work quite well. And although you have listed an excellent species for captive care, Anthiines can often be quite challenging'¦another option might be Cardinals. I also suggest a biotope display where animals from the same niche on the reef (and of course the same ocean) are selected and placed in an environment simulating same>>
The water exiting the display T's into 2 lines, one into the refugium and another into a sump that is filtered first by 100 micron filter bags
<<Remember to clean/exchange these a couple times a week>>
and then a large protein skimmer, and I dose for alkalinity, calcium and magnesium. I do 10% water changes weekly.
Total specs:
350g water
pH: 8.1
salinity: 1.023
<<Should be NSW value (1.025/1.026)>>
calc: 450
mg: 1100
<<A bit low considering the Calcium level'¦should be about 3-times such>>
live rock: ~ 300lbs
<<Mmm'¦I hope there's room for the fish to swim, corals to grow>>
Thank you very much for any insight you can provide.
<<Will be chatting, Steven. EricR>>

Red Hairy Legged Hermit in Refugium? 3/27/10
<Hello Heather>
I have a giant red hairy legged hermit, about the size of a closed fist of a young adult (not a full grown man) including the shell.
<Yikes! A real pincher!>
I am looking for someone to adopt him as I can no longer take care of two tanks. There is someone interested in my crab and wants to put it in a 75g refugium. With 20-25g reserved for the skimmer, my crab would have approximately a 50g space with LR. Right now he's in a 30g. I've read that some inhabitants are risky for a refugium. Would this be a bad new home for him?
<Very likely a good home... it may eat some of the inhabitants, but will not consume all>
Shelburne, VT
<Oh, the town of my U.S. publisher. Bob Fenner>

Refugium Stocking, HOB -- 11/09/2009
Hey guys, Matt here.
< Hello Matt. >
How are you today?
< Very Well. >
I got a few saltwater refugium questions today and Ill try and make them short for you.
< Ok , fire away! >
I have a 26 gallon bow front reef tank that I'm considering putting a h.o.b refugium on it. If I do so, then what exactly do I need to put in it for copepods and amphipod population?
< Deep sand bed, macro, some live rock/l.r. rubble if room permits. >
What kind of macroalgae would be best, meaning easy to care for and just help my tank overall and help with some hair algae in my tank?
< Chaetomorpha. Easily maintained, non-invasive. Its the best choice for HOB applications. >
Once in there do I let the macroalgae grow wild or keep it small and trimmed?
< No, it should be pruned periodically to complete the "export". >
Also right now I am just running a hob filter with just carbon filter pad in it and a Deltec 300 skimmer on my tank. If I add the refuge do these need to stay on my display tank (I think the skimmer does?) or can they be hung on the back of the refuge I'm putting on?
< I would leave it on the display. >
Also what if I could pull water from the main tank into the skimmer then drain it back into the refuge? (if it can even be done)
< I would pull my refugium water from the display. >
All info or tips you may have to help me is much appreciated and thanks for your time
< Your Welcome. I apologize for the delayed response. GA Jenkins >

Tigertail Cucumber, Is It Ok In A Refugium? 10/23/09
<Hello Adrian>
I have 2 Tigertail Cucumber<s> in my 56 gal tank. One is 3 inches and the other one is 10 inches when expanded.
<Will get much, much larger than that.>
Because the big one is depositing sand all over my corals, I decided to move him in my 30 gal refugium (3''sand on the bottom but full with Caulerpa). Do you see any negatives with the fact <it> is in my refugium?
Also, should I ever feed the refugium? I figured out some of the food from the main tank will excape <escape> into the refugium anyway. Thank you for your knoledgeble <knowledgeable> opinion.
<Adrian, if it were me, I wouldn't keep the cucumbers at all, find a home for them. They can be more problematic than do good. Do read here.
James (Salty Dog)>

Copepods, biota/refugiums 9/28/09
Hello Crew,
Wanted to get your input regarding copepods.
<A "carte blanche" set of statements re: This is a huge grouping of crustaceans... thousands of species... of tremendous size, life habit variation... Some are very specialized external parasites... One needs to
be aware of the likelihood that the given species you're dealing with will be of use... as food, detritivores...>
My main tank's overflow feeds directly into my external recirculating skimmer, which in turn feeds into
my sump. Within my sump is my refugium and I'm trying to raise a huge population of copepods within my refugium. However, there seems to be an abundance of copepods in my main tank but not in my sump. My question is:
Does having my overflow directly fed to my recirculating skimmer decrease the amount of copepods able to travel from the display tank to the sump?
<Some likely>
Basically, are the copepods getting chopped and skimmed out?
<Hopefully not too many... depends on flow rate, dynamics, algae et al.
presence...the species involved...>
If so, do you have any recommendations in getting around this...
<Moderate flow... use of substrates...>
btw, the skimmer needs to remain external as it does not fit in the sump. Thanks in advance for answering my questions, as always you guys are a wealth of knowledge.
<And speculation. Bob Fenner>

Refugium 7/10/09
As I am now in the process of learning about refugiums(to the extent of animal vs. vegetative filtration) I find myself sifting through pages upon pages of FAQs. In a manner similar to that of the Cardinal fish FAQs of seemingly forever ago now. I offer to compile what info I can find from these into a coherent article while working on my research into the animal filtration/ Xeniid filtration.
<Gosh Forrest, please do! Will gladly supplant, post your consolidation/syncretization in place or in addition to what we have on WWM presently. Thank you, Bob Fenner>

"Filter Feeding Animals As Filters (SW) - 07/08/09"/7/10/09
Hi Crew,
<Hi Simon>
Reading the dailies today I noticed this poster (Forrest), and I have a couple of book suggestions for him if that is ok! 'Dynamic Aquaria' by Adey and Loveland, and 'Reef Invertebrates' by Mr Fenner and Calfo. Thank you for your input. I have owned the Dynamic Aquaria book and have only found about 50 really useful pages out of 600 as far as my needs and wants were concerned. The book is geared more toward building ecosystems. Although an informative book on ecosystems, it would not be one of my first choices to recommend. I agree with your suggestion of Reef Invertebrates, another book I recently bought. It is very well written and laid out, and contains
loads of useful information and plenty of great photos.>
Cheers all!
<Ditto. James (Salty Dog)>
Simon Trippick

Empty In-Line Aquarium/ Sump, refugium... biological stkg. choices 6/24/09
Thank you for all your help in the past.
<You're welcome.>
I've had my tank for 6 months now and I'm now done stocking but have a question I just cannot find a satisfactory answer for.
Tank is 110gal, wet/dry bioballs. 120 Coralife super slimmer. Seachem denitrate, Purigen and carbon.110lbs LR, 2" LS.
NH4 0, NO2 0, NO3 15 ppm. Ph 8.2 SG 1.023.
Denizens are:
4" porcupine puffer
4" yellow tang
2" hippo tang
3, 1" green chromis
3" Foxface lo
2" maroon clown
1" maroon clown
I have a 20 gal tank in the stand that had rock & macroalgae. It gets water from the overflow and drains into the wet/dry. I removed the rock & Caulerpa after noticing that it had become a detritus trap, surely not helping with nutrient accumulation. I replaced the rock and algae with a Sea Storm skimmer rated for 75gal since nothing taller would fit since it had to be above the wet/dry to drain/fit. but I still see sediment. Is there anything I can place there to help with that? Clams, damsels, Featherdusters, shrimp, crabs, mud, sand, aiptasia,
<Yikes, aiptasia? Certainly do not want these in there.>
oysters, another skimmer? For now I siphon it when changing water Not really sure what to do here but see some great potential.
<Making a refugium out of the tank would be very beneficial in providing a home for detritivores and other waste eaters.
Read here and related articles shown in the header.
Thank you so much.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

small white clams in refugium -- 10/10/08 Dear Crew, I was performing regular maintenance to my aquarium earlier this week when I noticed a few, very small white clam looking creatures on the sides of my refugium. I looked at them under magnification and they look like little clams. <Could be> Today I was back under there again and notice there are MANY more. There are not in my main tank that I have seen. Are they a problem? (plague) Thank you, Jo Anne <Mmm, no, not likely a problem... even beneficial... sort of like the Zebra mussel infestation in the Great Lakes... help clean your system... provide some food in the way of reproductive material... I would not remove unless they're blocking water flow, gear. Bob Fenner>

Re: California collecting detrivores/plankton - 6/30/08 Bob, <Jim... detritivores... not detrivores... for some reason, a common misspelling> I did find something that seems to be working. I went to my LFS and was able to scrape up some crud from the bottom of their live rock tank for free. <Ah, yes... the "old scraping the bottom crud out of LR tanks ploy"... been there, scraping> They were quite curious about what I was going to do with it since no one had ever asked this in the past. Anyway, just the other day I did see one bristle worm and one small brittle star crawling around the refugium. I don't know that I've read about doing this on your site and it might be something to pass on to people. <Oh yes> Then again, there is so much info on your website that it might be there already. Also, I bought some macro algae and it might have come with that. Thanks Jim <Thanks for the input. Bob, Scrapey, Fenner>

Tube worms in my refugium 5/30/08 Hello there Crew, Grant here. <Howdy> I've had a recent explosion of these parchment type tube worms. I'm not sure on the exact kind of them, but they aren't a hard, calcareous type tube, they are more like really weak leather or construction paper. <There are several (from the Middle English meaning "many") species of such tubiculous sedentariate polychaetes> The worm part that comes out of the tube is mainly white with some pink through it and right at the very center has two little black spikes that move back and forth, like a little mouth or something. <Okay> Anyway, I'm not too concerned about what type of tube worm they are and I've just been enjoying them. However, there only used to be 5 or 6 of them. I looked into my sump/refugium last night just to see what kind of life I had in there and lo and behold, there are probably at least 50 of these tube worms in there. The 5 or 6 I had are now quite long and their worm part that sticks out of the tube is an inch to a inch and a half wide. The rate of growth and size of them is pretty amazing really, in just a month's time they have probably 20x the mass the colony had when I last looked. <Mmm, no worries> I'm just wondering if they are detrimental to the whole idea behind a refugium? I want it to be a place for the really small critters to grow and thrive and seed my main tank, <These are of more help than harm here> I have a T. Squamosa and plenty of corals in my display, but I figure there is a pretty good chance these tube worms are making a big hit on my zooplankton population. The fact that they grew so fast leads me to believe they are really eating something in there. <Yes, something... but I suspect they're also producing somethings as well...> In your opinion is that something I should be concerned with or should I just let nature take it's course? <The latter... in fact, I'd offer some of this colony to your store, other hobbyists as culture material. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Re: Tube worms in my refugium 6/1/08 Well that is good to know, thanks for the quick reply. Any advice on how to collect this type of worm? <Scrape a group of them away with part of their substrate> It is so soft that I don't know how I would move it... And how far down into the tube does the actual body of the worm go? All the way? <Can> As soft as they are, I'm afraid I'll just end of tearing them apart trying to get them up and out of the sump. Grant Gray <Practice removing some. BobF>

Pod breeding algae? 05/19/08 Hello <Hi there Dan> I was hoping you could help me out a bit. I've searched your site a few times for info but can't seem to find the answers I am searching for. This is my first time writing. I hope I am not being too repetitive on you. <Me too> I currently have a 65 gallon hex tank with a total height of about 3'. Lighting is 3 measly 18 watt NO fluorescent lights. It has a small sump with a Proclear 75 skimmer on it (as a side, your opinions on this brand? <An "okay" non-engineered line... I wouldn't buy one> I've heard mixed reviews and it has been a bit touchy for me so far). The only water movement in the tank comes from the output of the 300 GPH pump which pumps water from the sump. This may seem a bit low but the tank will eventually be a seahorse tank and I have not had algae problems (yet)Substrate is a 3-5 inch uneven sand bed, and it has about 60 pounds of old live rock. The setup is less than 2 months old, but the rock is several years old and was only out of the water for about 30 minutes before being put in my tank, so it came with little die off. Tank is loaded with micro brittle stars, featherdusters, peanut worms, bristleworms, astrea stars, spaghetti worms, and a whole load of other goodies. <Neat!> Cleanup crew is 3 large nassarius snails, 2 nerites and several types of hitchhiking, in tank breeding snails. <Good> I pounded the tank heavily with food for about 2 weeks and noticed no increase in ammonia, gave it a weeks rest and put in 2 African bluestripe pipefish (Doryhampus exicus sp.) along with a yellow clown goby and a red fireshrimp. The pipefish were trained to eat frozen mysis and Cyclopeeze in the store (I saw them eat myself). The tank has a lot of small bugs I believe to be a type of amphipod (you identified them in a response I read, said that they tended to live in heavy algae. I don't have a lot of algae though) and these bugs have been the bulk of the pipefishes' diet for the last two weeks I have had them. I feed approximately 1/3-1/2 of a frozen PE mysis cube 2 times a day, sometimes with other shaved bits of seafood such as shrimp mixed in. They do not actively hunt frozen food when I feed, though they occasionally snick a piece that drifts in front of them. All attempts at target feeding fail because they are afraid of any type of intrusion into their tanks, whether it be hand or tube, and they only eat floating food. While they would probably be more receptive to frozen food if they weren't surrounded by live food, I am sure that live food is more ideal. <Yes... I'd make efforts to culture such in the sump...> The bugs are still heavily infesting the tank, but they could be mostly depleted in a few short months. I was thinking about ways to increase these pods, and since I can't do a refugium because of space and cost limits, I can grow in tank algae. And here is where (finally) the question comes in: What non-invasive, low light, low flow algaes would make good pod breeding grounds? <Gracilaria species... variously sold as "Ogo"...> The only algae I have found thus far is ulva sea lettuce. Most sites when dealing with algae are either referring to decorative algae or refugium algae and rarely mention their pod-breeding abilities. <See WWM re... the search tool...> Also, maybe you could provide more pod increasing tips I haven't read of or overlooked? I already have a small pod pile out near the front of the tank. <... there's a bunch worthwhile archived...> Also, I thought you may be interested in seeing this. It is video I shot and edited of my bluestripe pipefish to Aquagen's "Everybody's free" featuring Rozalla. It is a male/female pair and I did see them do the mating dance and connecting belly to belly several times only 3 days after I got them. The video isn't great, but I thought you may appreciate it. If you use the little arrow button in the lower right corner of the video and set it to "original size" it helps video quality a lot. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7945642321094592166&hl=en <Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner> Many thanks,

Growing live food in refugiums 4/4/08 Bob, <Mike> Another question about feeding/refugia. I am still looking about for food items to place in my refugium and have already started a green water culture (used Dt's and it's growing so I guess there really are live phytoplankton in there! :) ). <Yes... unlike some others...> Ideally, I would like critters which are well adapted to salt water and are prolific reproducers. I really would prefer to use food items that will survive/prosper in my display tank so as to avoid water quality issues. Unfortunately, the starter cultures I can find all have apparent negatives. Penaeus Vannamei (temperate species) Tigriopus Californicus (cold water species?) Mysidopsis bahia (cannibals) Palaemonetes vulgaris (brackish water?) Brachionus plicatilis (also brackish?) <Can be adapted to marine strength...> Do you have any recommendations from this list (or not on the list) ? Mike <Might I ask what your intention is... are you growing food/s for specific organisms? I would grow a general mix through the use of live rock, macro-algae... Bob Fenner>

Re: growing live food 4/5/08 Bob, <Mike> My goal is to keep some of the more difficult corals (such as Dendronephthya spp). My logic goes like this: live food - good (if it'll stay alive); dead food - bad (it rots!). I have a refugium now which is generating a variety of food for my tank and am planning to bring a larger refuge on line. I understand the Dendronephthya have been shown to capture phytoplankton as at least part of their diet but I assume they also use zooplankton as prey. <Mmm, yes... I STRONGLY encourage you to delve a bit into the non-pet-fish literature here. Nephtheids have been maintained/fed in culture... Foods should be grown outside the system IN ADDITION to maintaining a healthy refugium> I'm happy to raise food for my tank in stand-alone cultures but I'm not sure which are my best choices. <As stated, there is a body of useful information on specific unicellular algae and zooplankters of small size, their augmentation through Selco-like materials> I have seen 'white' shrimp cultures for sale as well as 'glass' shrimp. <Too large> I've ordered some 'salt water' rotifer cysts. I'm not sure about the longevity of Tigripus since they would seem to be from a fairly cold source (at least when I dove off Catalina I thought it was pretty cold :>). <Agreed. Inappropriate. Look for J. Charles Delbeek's input (U. of HI's Waikiki Aquarium)... I think in Aquarium Frontiers...> I'm splitting my phyto cultures now and I think I will have plenty of food for raising zooplankton. I've noticed that Paul Sachs has copepod and amphipod products for sale but I'm a little concerned that these were wild caught. Mike <Are you coming out to the MACNA this time around... in GA? I'd chat with Rob Toonen there re as well... for ref. input. BobF>

Refugium Stocking Question 3/7/08 Hello Crew <Hello again Peter.> I finally have my refugium up and running. I have to give thanks to a lot of answered questions on the subject by Scott V. Thanks Scott. <Welcome, happy to help out.> I have a few more, now that it is up and running. It is a 45 to 50 gallon refugium for a 250 gallon FOWLR tank. It has ASM Skimmer in first chamber (and currently has bio balls in that chamber too from my replaced wet/dry). Over time I plan to replace that with live rock. <OK> Second chamber has 5 inches of fine (oolitic) aragonite sand. Two days ago I added a piece of Chaetomorpha that had lots of pods and critters in it. Yesterday I added a little over a pound of cured live rock rumble on top of the sand bed and a pinch of sand out of the bag that the live rock came in (don't know if a pinch will do anything?). <It certainly doesn't hurt.> My questions are: 1) How much live rock rumble should I add on top of the sand. <This depends how large the refugium section is, but really what appeals to you. There are not hard set rules here.> 2) Will the live rock alone add the micro and macrofauna I need in the bed?? <More of the microfauna, but yes, it will.> I really don't have access to any live sand from an existing system. <Not life or death, the rock will seed it in time.> 3) I plan to get Nassarius snails. Should I add them now? How many should I add? <If your water tests are good then go for it. How many again depends on the size of the actual refugium. See here and related FAQ's for more info: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/gastropo.htm .> 4) Is there any other organism you suggest adding, like crabs, shrimps, stars snails etc?? <I would stick to other small snails, more reading on refugium stocking here: http://wetwebmedia.com/refuglvstkfaqs.htm .> Thanks in advance, Peter <Welcome, it is good to here your refugium came out so well! Have fun, Scott V.>

Refugium... critters 1/28/08 I recently purchased a refugium from ETSS for my 125 reef tank. <Great.> I want to know what critters if any you recommend I put in it. I would love to observe them multiplying in the fuge. Thanks for the great site. Keith <Most of what you watch multiply will populate themselves, coming from your live rock. You may also add a few Nassarius snails if you wish and have a DSB here. Stay away from the sand sifting stars, see below links and FAQ's. Scott V.> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sndsftstrfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm

Not an emergency- micro critters- 12/16/2007 Hello crew, hope all is well. I just set up my new above tank refugium last night, more exciting than Christmas when I was five :-). I have not added anything to it yet <Do you mean absolutely nothing or just no livestock? No live sand or live rock?> as I am letting it flow to check for leaks and make sure it works right ie. flow rate, overflow, etc. I awoke this morning to find a small colony of micro something has already colonized in the bottom corner nearest the main tank lighting. They swim erratically like plankton and are white, wouldn't even be noticed except they are all together and the only thing in the tank. I am surprised to see them as the refugium water is pumped from the final stage of my filter and through a UV sterilizer. <Hmm... curious.> I know identification is near impossible, but I am oh so curious. I took pictures, but they did no justice, so I tried a five second video that is perfect. The video is still around 10 MB even at five seconds, anyway I could send it to you? <Would you please upload it to Utube and send me/us a link?> Thank you. Layton <Best, Sara M.>

Refugium Tank 12/12/07 Hello, <Hello> I am still relatively new to the use of refugiums as a method of filtration and had a question for you. I have a 125 gallon tank with overflows into two sumps, one 20 gallon & one 30 gallon below it. I have converted the 30 gallon into a refugium with a 4" live sand bed, about 50 lbs of live rock, several types of macro algae, Nassarius snails, and 1 orange spotted shrimp goby. Should I add food to this tank? Or will the goby receive enough with what goes down the overflow pipe? <I would leave the goby in the main display (assuming suitable tankmates). He will eat the micro fauna in the refugium that you are trying to grow there and export to your tank. The refugium is a great addition to your system.> I am not sure if adding the additional nutrients, etc would cause the same problem as overfeeding in the main tank. Also, with a new child and work travel, it has become difficult to premix saltwater a week before a water change. Would it be detrimental to do a water change the same day I mix the saltwater? <No, just make sure it is aerated, heated and completely dissolved (give it at least several hours).> Thank you for your time, Kiet <Welcome, good luck, Scott V.>

Re: Stocking 300 gallon tank Stocking a Refugium 12/1/2007 Dear Scott, <Hey there!> Yesterday I changed 60 gallons and today the tank looks a little clearer..... I think it will clear up like you said in time. I'm adding 100 lbs or so of live rocks today (fully cured) and that should help as well (I hope). <Well, if nothing else- the addition of the extra rock will add some biological "filtration"> As I mentioned before, my refugium is 72 x 20 x 20 and it has a 4" sandbed. I don't know much about algae so I was going leave that alone for now and just really add loads of live rock to help filter the water. <Not a bad idea. But do look into growing and harvesting "purposeful" macroalgae, such as Caulerpa, to assist in nutrient control and export.> Do the live rocks need very strong lighting on their own? Like 2-65w compacts or 2-96w ones? Sorry for these dumb questions but I've never done a refugium before. <Not dumb at all! Lighting is important if there are photosynthetic organisms on the rock that require light (which there are, no doubt). If you're not growing high-light-demanding corals in there, your PC lighting should suffice, IMO.> When should I add a cleaning crew to the refugium? And what do you suggest? Do I need any critters that might help move the sand a little? Detritus eating ones too? <Well, I'd probably stick to some small snails, such as Turbo, Nassarius, or Trochus. Maybe a brittle star. Add them at the outset.> There will be only a few pieces of live rock in the main tank and no cleaning crew since most of the fish I intend to put in, are not invert friendly. <Smart strategy.> Any other suggestions are welcome and very appreciated..... thank you so much for all your help. Bill <Well, Bill- you sound like you put a lot of thought into the system. Do stock your refugium to take advantage of its valuable nutrient-processing/food production capacity. There is a ton of information on refugia right here on the WWM site! Check it out! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Seahorse in refugium 11/26/07 Hello WWM crew, I will try to keep this short and to the point. I have read tons on your website and really appreciate the great info. I am setting up a 15 gallon refugium for my 73 gallon aquarium. <Any chance you could make the refugium any bigger? say, 30g or more?> Primarily setting it up for nitrate reduction and to expand the water volume of the system. I would like to put two seahorses in the refugium. I know you recommend not using any livestock in a refugium as they partially defeat the purpose. My question is would two seahorses ( any species?) be that harmful to the system? <They all eat reef "bugs." But the bigger reason this is a bad idea is that the vast majority of seahorses sold for aquaria need slightly different water parameters than an Indo-pacific reef tank (lower salinity and temperature). Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pipehorsies2.htm> Thank you Layton <De nada, Sara M.>

Re: Seahorse in refugium, and now Aiptasia contr. -11/27/2007 Thanks for the quick reply. We have decided, based on your advice, to not use sea horses in the refugium. Instead we will nano tank some dwarf seahorse in a separate tank. <cool> On another note, I have been battling Aiptasia anemone for quite some time to no avail. We got the problem from a friend who tore down his tank and gave me some live rock. Tried Joe's juice, <doesn't work> peppermint shrimp, and even removing bad bits of rock, but just couldn't get ahead of them. <In my experience, you need quite a few peppermint shrimp for this method to work at all...> I was considering a copperband butterflyfish when my LFS recommended a Slender Filefish (Monacanthus tuckeri). We were told he is reef safe, but will be a bit nippy and sample a few things. Sounded similar to the copperband except this guy will eat readily. <Hmmm... I wouldn't put either in a reef thank. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BFsBestWrst.htm and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fishfish.htm> We got him and he has cleaned almost every Aiptasia in the tank, doesn't seem to bother corals, nips a bit at various worms, <Doesn't mean he won't eventually... but too late now, let's hope he doesn't.> and will happily eat most frozen foods. I wonder why this fish is not mentioned in the control of Aiptasia? <Hmmm, I don't know, but I imagine that (as with most animals) they're not entirely consistent. Yours seems to be quite helpful for Aiptasia and harmless to corals. This might not always be the case for every fish.> I live in the Netherlands and they seem to be common in tanks here, however I rarely see them on American sites. <Thanks for sharing your experience. :-)> Anyway thanks again for the advice/education. Have a great day! <You too, thank you.> Layton <Best, Sara M.>

Adult molly compatibility with 10 day old fry in 10 gallon refugium Clowns and Mollies 10/23/07 Hello crew, good evening to you. <Hello, and good morning now.> I have a 10 gallon refugium connected to my main tank currently housing 2 false percula clowns and about 10 molly fry that are about 10 days old now. <Not really a refugium anymore since it has predators for the flora and fauna.> The clownfish are not aggressive to them at all even though they are much bigger. <I would bet they will sample these fry if they can catch them.> My question is whether I can add an adult sized molly to the refugium (it is also well fed and will always be), or if it would probably eat even some of the fry. <Would probably try to eat the fry, almost everything will, and would probably crowd the clowns too much.> Regards, Omar <Chris>

Hi everyone, I have a question about hermit crabs and refugiums 10/20/07 Hi Everyone, <Ed> You've all been a great help in resources on the web! I have a 20L with a 10 gallon refugium. The refugium is lit with two daylight 100w bulbs as well as 18w actinic and 18w 10,000k PCs. Currently, I have an arrow crab, <Keep your eye on this... become predaceous> 4 blue hermit crabs, as well as Chaetomorpha, and Phaeophyta (brown macroalgae). My question is, will the crabs (arrow and blue) be detrimental to my refugium? <Mmm, yes, in terms of eating organisms that should not be...> I ask this because I have recently decided that I would like to use the refugium to culture amphipods and copepods that are already growing within the tank. Will they pick them all out to extinction? <Too likely yes> Also, as a side question, what are your thoughts for Phaeophyta as a macroalgae for refugiums? <Can work... some species and types of systems better than others. Many colder water rigs especially. Need to pay attention to regular iodine/ate supplementation> Are they as bad as or better than Caulerpa? <Mmm, no> I know that the site does not recommend Caulerpa in the refugium, but could not find any info about Phaeophyta. <Is a huge group/Division of mainly macro-algae... Not well investigated for ornamental use as yet> Actually, I have another question. Too bad you all don't get paid for the number of questions we aquarists love to ask. <Would be a different venue if so... Not of my desire, design> I do have corals in the main take. I would like to know if it is possible to use the refugium to grow up zooplankton or phytoplankton? Is this possible and is it difficult? <Can be... not difficult; though more specialized gear would be better... particularly for the phytoplankton. You might benefit from searching out, reading Frank Hoff's work> Thanks Ed <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Scooter Blenny in a refugium 10/16/07 Hello again gurus of sea-life. I'm taking your advice and attaching a hang-on refugium to my 120g FOWLR tank. From what I've been told, the refugium should have a DSB, live rock and Chaetomorpha macroalgae growing in it. There's plenty of advice on your site as to how to construct it so I'll figure all that out later. What I'd really like to add to my tank is a Scooter Blenny and I was thinking that the refugium would make a nice home for him. I say this because it's an aggressive tank housing a Snowflake eel, Arrow crab, small Hermits, Turbo snails, and soon a Lionfish and a Puffer. They will surely give the little guy a hard time. I know my moray will probably eat the crab, but I bought him purely to help out with a now cured worm problem. My Snowflake knows he's there and seems completely uninterested him so maybe he will be alright. Anyways, will it be possible to add the Blenny to the refugium without harming the macroalgae? If so, what type of Blenny would be suitable? The criteria I have for the type of Blenny is that I want him to be small, scoot around the sandbed, and look pathetic so that I may laugh at him. Those things crack me up. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated. -Phil <<Phil: A refugium is supposed to help grow pods and other critters that pour into the main tank and provide additional food for the main tank. Having a fish in there will defeat some of the purpose of it. Most refugiums sit off the back of the tank. Since most of them are only about 4 inches wide, why put a little Scooter Blenny in such a narrow space? To me, this seems rather cruel. I hope you will reconsider. Best of luck, Roy>>

Refugium Installation'¦Avoiding Biota Loss To The Skimmer -- 09/30/07 Dear Wet Web Media Crew, <<Hello Eric>> I have been reading your website for a few years now and it has provided me with all the information I have needed to set up and maintain my first reef aquarium! <<Excellent!>> Thanks so much for all of your hard work. <<We're all pleased to be a party to your success>> My question is regarding plumbing a refugium. <<Okay>> I recently purchased a 20 gallon tank to be added as a refugium to my 72 gallon aquarium. <<An always worthwhile venture>> I brought the tank to a gentleman who owns a LFS to be drilled, but upon arriving I noticed he was getting rid of a 90 gallon tank predrilled for the same price as the cost of the 20 gallon plus the drilling. <<Sweet>> So naturally I decided to buy the 90 and return the 20. <<Naturally [grin]>> The problem is that the only way I can conceptualize the plumbing is to add a submersible pump in the sump and have the fuge overflow back into the sump to be returned to the main tank. <<Yep'¦and is how mine is plumbed>> I am concerned that if I allow the water to be delivered into the sump the various life forms will be destroyed by the EuroReef skimmer. <<Not an invalid concern'¦ Arrange the design such that the refugium spills back directly in to the 'pump chamber' of the sump, thus avoiding the skimmer>> The sump is somewhat small, so I am guessing some, if not all of the water will be sucked into the skimmer. <<Mmm'¦that depends on the design/configuration of the sump'¦whether or not the skimmer is compartmentalized distal from the return pump>> I have read contradictory information regarding the damage caused by pumps; any definitive information would be greatly appreciated. <<The return pump will cause 'some' damage to biota, but most will pass through just fine'¦and even those damaged organisms will still be consumed/provide benefit to the system>> The refugium will either contain a DSB and Chaetomorpha or will be a sea grass type display. Thanks in advance, Eric <<Happy to share. EricR>>

Re: Refugium Substrate Question 7/8/07 Thanks for the quick response Sara. Please further educate me. What "other benthic critters" will reside in a fuge, will they make their way into my tank, and, if so, what feeds on them/what are they good for? <Worms and other benthic organisms, for lack of a better word, "stir" the sand on an almost microscopic level, keeping water and nutrients moving through the sand bed. Though some of them will probably eventually make their way to the refugium, it would help if you "seeded" the new sand with some sand from an well populated sand bed. They feed on debris, bacteria and/or algae in and on the sand. It's thought that the larvae of some of these critters can feed corals and other reef tank life. Best, Sara M.>

White Critters, water striding somethings in a SW sump 6/20/07 Ok I have live rock in my wet/dry where the water intake from the tank goes/where bio balls were. Floating on top and only on top are white gnat like creatures skimming the top of the one side. There are hundreds of them and I can't get a pic of them they're too small and fast! White with wings and legs size of a pin drop. Any clue cause it's only in this part of the sump and not in the house or tank. Sorry for not much info just maybe you have some sort of an idea or heard of this before thank you. Don V. <... Are these insects? Not common in SW... Maybe Halobates, Gerrids... Please see the linked files in this search: http://www.google.com/search?q=saltwater+water+strider+insects&rls=com.microsoft:en-us:IE-Address&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=ie7&rlz=1I7PCTA Bob Fenner>

Running A Refugium for Zooplankton Production - 6/7/07 Thanks Scott! <You're quite welcome!> One follow up question - is there any reason to add some fish food such as flakes directly to the refugium at any time to help feed the zoo-plankton population? Erik <I'd be inclined to use small quantities, and perhaps even try some live phytoplankton products as well. Regardless of what you "feed" to your growing Zooplankton population, feed carefully and monitor water quality regularly. Best of luck with your efforts! Regards, Scott F.>

Copepods... a huge, diverse, important group... not all suitable for tropical aquariums for sure 4/12/07 Dear Bob (or any of the other talented staff), <Jason> I purchased some Tigriopus californicus - Live Copepods from reef-store.com which I found on your site. My question is I purchased the 6 oz bottle and wanted to know where to pour all of its contents. <Mmm... an interesting Harpacticoid; with high salinity range/tolerance, other interesting bio. (amazingly large mitochondrial DNA variation w/in resident populations...), but a cold water species: http://www.racerocks.com/racerock/eco/taxalab/2005/harpacticoid/harpacticoid.htm> I have an 180 gallon reef tank (24x24x72) that's cycling to replace my 55 gallon tank. It has been cycling for 3 weeks and although I see a presence of pods, worms and nice size arthropods it is very few and my past experiences with tanks have been after this length of time I typically see them flourishing and consuming the tank sand bed. I have placed live rocks in the tank and have a 20 gallon mud sump with mangroves. Should I split the contents between the main tank and the refugium or place everything in the refugium. <I'd place all in the latter... some will make their way through the pump in time to elsewhere> I've had a mandarin for 2 years now and I do not want him to have problems feeding in the new tank. I plan on cycling the tank an extra week or two once I add the pods to allow them to flourish. <Mmm, okay> Also I have the wet/dry and the refugium as two separate entities. Both taking in their own water and pushing it out. Is this the best setup or should I find a way to plumb the two together? <Either can/will work... I often like to suggest to keep these components individual, to allow slower circulation more easily through the refuge> Any advice would be greatly appreciated as I've been in the hobby for 14 years now (3 marine) and I've never had any tanks remote to this size before. <Heeeee! More fun!> Its a 180 gallon tank (with a 1000 gph pump), 30 gallon wet/dry trickle filter, 20 gallon refugium (with a mag drive 700 pump), 3-250 MH with actinic bulbs and night lights, 20 watt UV sterilizer, 150 gal protein skimmer Thanks, Jason <Thank you for sharing... Only time will tell whether the new copepods can/will adapt to your thermal et al. regime... But other life forms will definitely do so. Bob Fenner>

Re: Blenny questions--oh, and a wrasse/mandarin question! ... moving Rotifers and such, refugium biota... -- 04/11/07 Thank you so much for the good news!!! At the risk of sounding completely incompetent, how exactly should I retrieve the rotifers, etc from the refugium? <Perchance a siphon> I moved some Caulerpa, but there isn't much in there. There are a bunch of little critters on the sides of the fuge, but I don't really want to scrape them off....? Also, my LFS said the six-line must go because he will hog the rotifers from the mandarin, so I will move him to the 150 and pray that he is too small and beneath the ornate wrasse's notice. I will move the blenny, too but I am probably going to have to dismantle the smallest nano tank to do it. Thanks again. <Welcome in number. B>

Getting Critters From the Refugium to the Display -- 04/05/07 Dear Crew Member, <<Hello Chris>> Thank you for so liberally giving your time to improve the hobby. <<Is a pleasure to assist>> I am contemplating an upstream refugium. I will pump water from my main display and have a gravity return from a drilled glass refugium. <<Neat>> Here is my planned configuration: 40 gallon drilled breeder display tank with soft coral and 3-4 small, non-aggressive fish. 30ish gallon gravity fed sump below tank for skimming, heating, top-off, a deep sand bed and Chaetomorpha harvesting. 30+ gallon upstream refugium (36x18" footprint) with lots of live rock for pod growth, to reduce the need for adding food to the tank and for my visual pleasure. <<A few things worth mentioning here... Don't expect the addition of the refugium to take the place of proper feeding of the tank, you still need to feed the fishes/corals adequately and on a regular basis. Do look to the refugium as a means to supplement natural/live prey items, just not as a 'replacement' for feedings. And do think of the refugium as 'more' than just a food source. Adding the refugium provides a biological niche that is often quickly overwhelmed in the confines of the display. The added biological diversity all helps with achieving/keeping the system in 'balance.' I also want to give you something to think about in regards to the setup of the refugium. I suggest you place the DSB/Chaetomorpha in the refugium, and place the rock in your sump. The larger space in the refugium will be of more benefit re the sand bed and macroalgae, and since the rock doesn't require lighting, you will help avoid growing nuisance algae in your skimmer/sump by moving the light to the 'fuge. And don't be fooled, the dense matrix of the Chaetomorpha is excellent habitat for housing populations of 'pods,' worms, etc.>> My first instinct is to drill the top of the refugium tank wall and simply let the water gravity-flow into the main tank. However, I typically notice amphipods and copepods swimming/crawling lower in the water column. <<They do get 'all around.' I've often seen them around/on the bulkhead screens where my refugium drains to the return-pump chamber in my sump>> Will enough critters make their way to the main display from an overflow high in the refugium wall to make a nutritional difference? <<Not as a direct replacement to feedings/not without the refugium being many times larger than it is...regardless of how it is plumbed>> Is there a better plumbing option to have pods make their way to the main display. <<Not really...without risking siphoning the refugium dry in the event of a power outage. In my refugium, I have found moving the Chaeto ball up against the drain bulkheads puts more critters in close proximity as they travel through the algae matrix>> Regards, Chris <<Cheers, EricR>>

Small Refuge Setup for a Nano-Reef, subst. biota 3/27/07 Hello Bob ... greetings from Manila, Philippines. <And to you my friend, from Hawai'i's Big Island> I've spent many hours reading your FAQ's .. so much great information on your site. Thank you. I hope you'll have time to answer my questions. <Will try> I'm setting up a 20-gallon tank, first FOWLR then moving into SPS. I plan to go skimmerless. I'm planning on a 5.5-gallon refuge. <Okay> Given that I'm going skimmerless, do you think I at least need a 10-gallon refuge, or can I get away with 5.5-gallons? <"The bigger the better"...> Also given that it is a small tank, 14" tall, I'm planning the following: 2-inches Miracle Mud on the bottom, 4-inches sugar-fine sand, 2-inches crushed shell on top. <Mmm, I encourage you to somehow partition the "Mud" from the calcareous substrates... maybe with Siliconed glass partitions.> This leaves less than 5 inches for my water space/Chaeto. Is this water space too small? <Mmm, no. Not too small> I know your a fan of DSB's, but with a small tank, is this deep enough to encourage denitrification? Is this the correct order and depth? <Yes and yes> I've read about methane pockets that can occur in DSB's which crash systems. Some people stir up sand to release any small forming gases. Others feel that the sand should not be disturbed as it will interrupt the denitrification process (I think this is your stance). If I choose not to disturb the sand, how will I deal with methane gas pockets? <I would not disturb this sand bed> Is it a good idea to have any other critters in my refuge: i.e. hermit crabs <Mmm, no... are too predaceous> for any detritus, or larger brittle stars for sand movement? Regards, Jason B <I would leave these in if they were natural recruits... but otherwise just count on incidental recruiting of various invertebrate infauna from your live rock in the main tank here. Bob Fenner>

Urchin in Mud Refugia/Sump Area? 3/1/07 Dear Bob, <Actually Adam J with you tonight, hello.> Can a pencil urchin survive in a mud sump environment. <Urchins are largely rock dwelling in nature, but with some rock for hiding, etc.., a light and food source I don't see an issue. Though I would surmise it would partially be an unwanted organism in any type of refugia. Not only being clumsy and destructive but being an opportunistic omnivore, feeding indiscriminately on algae and other benthic life forms.> I have a lot of algae growing in there <Why are you concerned with algae in your sump/refugia area...is this not it's designation...would rather in colonize here than is the display or this refugia intended for other types of life?> and could use the hitchhiker to keep it clean, <If it is filamentous algae, smaller less destructive herbivores such as small snails would be a far better choice.> Also will the Aiptasia anemones harm the urchin? <No, though a large population of Aiptasia is usually indicative a larger nutrient issue.> Best regards, <To you as well.> Jason <**AJ**>

IPSF starter kit is in the refugium -- will residents starve? Feeding Refugium Residents and Other System Tweaks! 2/23/07 Fellow WWM mariniacs, <A very appropriate title! Scott F. here tonight!> I just built a 20 gallon sump/'fuge to go with my 30G display. <A nice boost in size!> 'Fuge info: + Mag 7 for return through ½' PVC40. (24' rise, or so, out through ½' street els, GPH unknown, but seems to move well). Terminal street ell drilled with small hole just below water level to minimize siphon-back on power outage. One union for disassemble and cleaning. + About 7 lbs small live rock fragments in one compartment, + 6' ~1.5mm aragonite DSB in another section, + Separations are the sliding acrylic baffles with the rubber weather stripping. + 'Fuge also has Prizm Pro skimmer, 220W stealth heater. + Got the Mix N Match Kit from IPSF and seeded with 'fuge starter stuff -- bristle worms, mud, clams, snails, tang red, tang green, 'pod kit. <One of my favorite e-tailers. I highly recommend them> The 30 glass display has: + Two yellow-fin damsels, Lenny and Squiggy + Pseudochromis Diadema, sponsor of state terror <Sounds delightful!> + Shapely and colorful green Actinodiscus perched on rock maybe 10' from lighting, dead center under actinic lamp. + Fat and happy blue Actinodiscus with babies nearby (perched higher than green, maybe 6" from lighting) + Blue mushrooms are surrounded by some green and yellow zoanthids that came along for the ride from the store. + Emerald crab, maybe ¾ inch diameter carapace. + Small miscellaneous hitchhiker crab, blackish and meek. + Four small hermit crabs. + CPR 90 overflow (with Aqua Lifter) from Marine Depot (hums like a butterfly, stings like a bee) -- 1' PVC40 overflow back to 'fuge. Two unions for cleaning and a ball valve--Noisy, baby. + About 35 lbs live rock, arranged in triangular aquascape, peaking at left with blue 'shroom and zoanthid rock at the top about 6' from the lights, and defining an open area in front. + 30' Coralife, two bulbs, one actinic, one white. Standard fixture, not sure the lumens. Feeding is now, three times per week: + One cube of frozen krill mix, thawed in nuke oven, crushed into bits, strained, then gingerly dropped bit by bit into the display. <Careful feeding technique. I'd skip the microwave part, though. You don't need to do that, and it might even change the nutritional profile, for all we know.> + Pump off, then four drops of concentrated Zooplankton (Kent) mixed in cup and added in area of mushrooms. + Maybe 20 drops of Phyto food liquid from store (Kent again) dropped in vicinity of mushrooms / zoanthids. + Pump off for one hour. <Do be careful with these liquid foods. I have some reservations about non-living liquid foods, especially those that are not shipped/sold and stored in the refrigerator. They may degrade to the point of being simply pollution in a bottle. Study them and do consider living alternatives.> Periodic supplements: + Ten drops iodine once per week. + Chalk water from Germany (Kent) 'the best calcium supplement by far!' (could the directions for this thing be any more Teutonic?) -- added from clear liquid on top of mix in bucket at maybe 4 ounces per day. <Both are useful supplements, but they should be added according to your system's requirements. If testing dictates the need to add iodine, in particular, then go for it. Otherwise, there is a potential for inducing algal blooms, particularly in smaller systems. Your best "supplement", IMO, is a water change!> Parameters: + PH perhaps 8.2 / 8.3 + Specific gravity at 1.024 or so. + Ammonium = 0, Nitrite = 0; Nitrate < 5ppm. + Phosphate = 0. + Calcium at maybe 300 and rising. + KH at 12 drops -- is that around 180 on the scale (I do not recall)? Anyway, I think this means good buffering capacity. + Magnesium and Strontium unknown. <Parameters sound okay.> Lumination schedule: + Display: 12 hour cycle 11am to 11pm. + 'Fuge: was on opposing schedule 7pm to 7am, but I left it on all day and night yesterday thinking my IPSF residents had light-starvation jet lag from Hawaii. OK, finally now, I can raise some questions and concerns. Issue one: I have become slightly alarmed by some of what happened when I dropped by IPSF package into the 'fuge. Worms. Many of the worms from the mud and bristle kit quickly followed a flow into the pump area, made it through the pre-filter black microphone cover thing into the Mag 7, and became wiggling bait for Lenny and Squiggy and their bully overlord in the display. <Bummer...> The bristleworms seem to have arrived bleached and dead. No red hue apparent, and anything with bristles appears to be dead meat and settled on top the DSB. The spaghetti worms from the wonder mud mostly appear to have met the fish food end in the display. Those that remain seem disinterested in the 6' substrate, which I find bizarre. Could it be my DSB is too young and virgin to provide food for these guys? <Well, if their natural tendency is to burrow, they will, eventually. I'd give it a little more time to happen.> If so, should I buy 'Mama mia' worm kit from IPSF a little later down the line once the DSB is more compelling? DSB was topped off without about 1" established sand from the display, over which the IPSF mud was dropped. <This should work for now. If you think that you had some DOA's, do bring this to the attention of Gerald Heslinga (owner of IPSF). He is a great guy and will stand behind his products.> Tang Red and Tang Green. Beautiful stuff, but the red is making its way around and over the acrylic lined baffles in the 'fuge, where it collects on the pump pre-filter thing and makes it look like a red Christmas tree or a game of pickup sticks gone horribly awry. I fish it out with gloves on and put it back in the main area, but it will find its way back. What to do? I fear clogging the pump. <I'd buy one of those small straining colanders- like the kind you use for vegetables or rinsing rice. You can find small ones at some discount stores. You can place the Gracilaria (that's the species of macroalgae known as "Tang Heaven") in there. It likes a little motion- in fact, it likes to be tumbled, so you can place it where it will get some current, or you could even place an airstone in your "algae colander"!> The tang green looks like lime flavor fruit rollups. Is this Ulva stuff going to grow from this form? It seems like maybe I have part of a plant, hard to see any distinguishing features, reproductive organs on this stuff. <Hard to say, really.> Nutrients. Are my new 'fuge dwellers going to be happy with the nutrient input from so little livestock in the display? Do I need to give them more nutrients as they get settled in? <You'll be surprised what they find to eat in even the "cleanest" systems. However, if you are concerned, you could always provide some extra food for these creatures (carefully, of course).> I installed the 'fuge as a last ditch attempt to eradicate Cyanobacteria and banish it from my lexicon for a while. Now, I'm worried I might have set up a 'fuge that will starve, then I will be back to a Cyano problem. What sayeth the great Oracle of all things aquatic? <Well, no great oracle here, but I am a fish geek who has fought the nuisance algae battle many times over the years. I'd think about the possible causes of your nuisance algae problem. A big contributor to these outbreaks is excess nutrients caused by overfeeding or indiscriminate use of additives and liquid "foods". You sound like a very dedicated and careful hobbyist, but I'll bet that you could skip those additives with more frequent water changes, and I'll bet that you won't need to feed those liquid foods. Keep up your water quality monitoring, and good overall husbandry practices, such as aggressive protein skimming, and ,maybe run some activated carbon or Poly Filter media in your system on a regular basis. You might be surprised how quickly things turn. Other than those minor adjustments, you're doing fine. I often find it useful to remember the wonderful advice given by author John Tullock in his book, "Natural Reef Aquariums": Test, then tweak!" It holds true for almost any system...Don't add stuff to your tank if testing hasn't dictated its necessity. I'm sure that things are gonna be just fine! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Clean Up Critter For Sump 2/9/07 Hello Crew, <Hi Chad> I have a quick question for you; I have a 20 gal sump that is hooked up to a 46 gal bow front reef tank and a 29 gal refugium. My overflow sucks in food periodically when I feed my fish. I would like to put a critter in the sump to eat the left over food. I have another reef tank, 120gal with a 30 gal sump that I put a few black mollies in to eat the leftovers and that seems to work out fine, although the lights are on 24/7 because of the macro algae growing within it. In the 20 gal sump it is dark most of the time except some indirect light coming from the reef tank above it. I'm thinking of an arrow crab for the sump instead of a molly because most of the left over food is meaty. Is this a good idea or do you have another critter that would work out better? <I prefer invertebrates over fish for clean up work. Fish add to the bio load of the system. An Arrow Crab would be fine for your purpose.> Thanks, <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> <<Invertebrates add to the bioloads of systems as well... RMF>> Chad

Re: Clean Up Critter For Sump - II - 2/9/07 James thanks for the reply. This raises another question though. By saying that the fish (mollies) in my sump add to the total bio load (I do agree), you mean the use of oxygen and the production of ammonia. <Yes.> Do invertebrates (an arrow crab in this case) use less and produce less therefore add less to the total bio load? <Yes.> Thank in advance for the further enlightenment. <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Chad

Refugium Safe Sand Stirrers - 07/13/06 Hi my salty friends. <<Hello Stephan>> I have a 55 gal. cryptic refugium with live rock, 5" DSB with 1-2 mm sand. I'm running a 400gal/h pump thru it. It is lit at night with an actinic light for 12hrs. I noticed that my DSB has clumps of sand in the upper layer. <<Hmm...overusing calcium/alkaline additives?>> I was wondering what sort of animals I should add to help stir things up? <<Mmm, I'll get to this in a moment>> Is my flow too low? <<No>> Is my sand too coarse? <<No>> I don't want to put anything that might eat my pods. Help! <<And therein lies the rub Stephan. Anything you put in the refugium to "stir" the sand will be eating some portion of the biota contained within...even snails! Heck, your "pods" will even prey on their young if the available food supply gets low enough. But, adding a dozen or so Nassarius snails or Cerith snails won't decimate your pod population (I have Nassarius snails in my own refugium) and are likely your best bet in this instance. Do be sure to stay away from sand-sifter gobies and the overly efficient sand-sifting starfish>> I appreciate your generosity with info. Stephan <<Am happy to share. Regards, EricR>>

Refugium Setup 5/29/06 Hello. <Hi> I have been reading your articles and forums about the benefits of fishless refugiums. From my understanding they create a breeding ground for various pods and zooplankton that feed the corals and fish in the display tank. <Yep> My question is, by "fishless" do you mean no fish, or no large animals altogether? I recently learned that serpent stars and hermit crabs are very rough on the pods which inhabit the sand bed, often destroying them completely. For my future refugium, should I leave all cleanup crew members (blue legged hermits, Turbos, emerald crab, serpent stars) out, or is a fishless refugium simply without fish? Thanks Jon <A better way to describe it is to call it a predatorless refugium, but it doesn't sound quite as nice. But no, I would not add any crabs or stars to the refugium. Just rock, water and macroalgae if you want it.> <Chris>

Lobster/Macro Algae Refugium? 5/11/06 Dear Crew, <Hello.> Long time reader, first time poster! <Awesome.> Great site, it has helped me in countless ways with my new salt water venture. <Great to hear.> My question is: <*Drum-role please.> I have a 55G tank and I am looking into converting a 10G aquarium I have set up that currently exclusively houses a Purple Lobster into a refugium. <Cool.> (He was put there based on recommendations I read in your FAQ's, plus I was losing fish, & I came home from work one night to see him munching on my coral banded shrimp!) <Not uncommon.> My question is, is it OK to convert this tank into a refugium and still let the Lobster live in it? <No, defeats the purpose of the pod-generation, not to mention he will be destructive to any macro-algae you put in there.> The purpose of the refugium is to help lower my Nitrates which hover around 10 PPM. I plan on the 6" DSB and Chaetomorpha, per other FAQ suggestions I have read. <Yeah.. if that's what you want get rid of the lobster.> Thank you for your time, I have spent many hours perusing the site and, like most people, have found MANY answers from the FAQ's. <Great.> Thanks, <Anytime.> Craig <Adam Jackson.>

Xenia Scrubber/Refugium - 05/10/06 Hi Crew! I am in the process of redoing my refugium (9" x 12" area in my sump) and I think I want to try a Xenia scrubber rather than Chaetomorpha or similar macro. <<Neat! I set up one of these for a short time a couple years ago>> My question is regarding lighting. Currently I have a 6500K 13w PC over the fuge which worked fairly well for the macro. I am looking to upgrade this lighting and have come across two setups that I cannot choose between. 1. 70 watt metal halide retrofit kit (10000K bulb) Or 2. 2 x 32 watt power compact retrofit kit (two 6700K/10000K bulbs) My main goal is to grow the Xenia FAST and remove nutrients from the water. I also thought that if I went with the 70w halide I could place a few small frags in there while they are awaiting final placement in the main tank. Any thoughts? <<Yep... Either lighting scheme will suffice, simply choose that which you prefer/is more cost effective to install/operate. My 29g Xenia refugium was lit with a single 65w 6500K PC bulb and it grew very well. I have also maintained shallow SPS frag systems under this same lighting with good results.>> Pleasure as always. J <<Regards, EricR>>

Sponges In My Sump For Filtration? - 01/19/06 Hello, <<Howdy>> I will be having a DSB in an unlit sump and wondered if there were any sponges I could put in the sump to help filtration? Thanks, Ben <<With few exceptions sponges don't usually fare well in our little captive environments, and a large sponge gone "bad" can do real damage (poisoning). You're best bet is to employ the encrusting and cryptic sponges (Diplasatrella, Monanchora, Phorbas, Spirastrella) found on/in live rock. Place a few pieces in the sump and those sponges for which the conditions are right will develop and grow. Regards, EricR>> Mud/DSB/Refugium 11/15/05 Good morning and thanks as always for your willingness to share your expertise. <Welcome> I have now setup up my brand new system with a 4-5" DSB (Aragamax) in the 90G show tank, and a 6"+ DSB (Aragamud and Southdown) in a downstream refugium. I plant to put macroalgae in the refugium, and seed both DSB's with critters- live sand, MiniStars, etc. My question is the ORDER I should do things, with this brand new system. <Okay> A) First, since it is not an established system, can I/should cure my LR in the tank? <I would likely do so... if this was the only/best place... or you had no other, yes> B) Should I buy macroalgae and/or critters first and establish the live sand in the DSB's, or put in LR first? <Better to wait on these till ammonia, nitrite are absent, some nitrate accumulating> Unsure if the LS should be there to help with the in-tank curing (if that is recommended), or if the curing process would just kill the infauna in the sand? <Mostly the latter> C) Maybe just the macroalgae first for nutrient export? <Mmm, no, best to wait on this too> I am sorry if this is covered elsewhere, there is so much information now (which is great) that it is not that easy to find specifically matching questions. Thanks in advance for your thoughts! Regards, Bob Lee <Thank you for writing so clearly, completely. Bob Fenner>

Refugium question Aloha Mr. Fenner, mike here, i had a question about live refugium starter kits. i currently have a 30 gallon reef system with a 15 gallon refugium/sump. my tank has been up for about 2 yrs now. my only filtration is a small Penguin Biowheel filter and a Seaclone 150, it seems to be doing an alright job. <Fine for this size system, with good care/maintenance overall> (i was going to pick up a Georeef skimmer cs6-1, i also wanted your opinion about overskimming). <No need to switch here> the starter kit i was interested in was the inland aquatics flora and fauna kits. they can be found here http://www.inlandaquatics.com/prod/prod_refu.html . <Ah, yes. Know the owner/manager, Morgan Lidster. A fine fellow> would you suggest using this product to boost ones refugium? <Yes> do you have other suggestions for a more natural type of biological filtration? <Mmm, the periodic trading out of substrates (rock, sand...). Not easily done in Hawai'i.> I'm afraid the types of algae included in the kit may try to reproduce and cause my tank to crash (the Caulerpa algae mainly). i have already spoken to the personnel at inland but i just wanted a second opinion. your opinion and suggestions are greatly appreciated. Aloha mike <Considering your success, apparent good care, powers of observation... I would not be concerned re one type of algae over-populating this bit of water. Keep trimming it and you'll be fine. Bob Fenner> Mussels in a sump Hi WWM Crew, <Hello Chris> First I would like to say what an excellent site you have, it has been an endless source of useful information to me since I started my marine aquarium last year. Keep up the good work, the hobby would be a lot more difficult without you! Now that the flattery is out of the way, to my question. I have been feeding my chocolate chip starfish live mussels which he/she loves and I buy in 1kg bags from the local supermarket. Last week as an experiment I placed one in the overflow box to see if it would live, if not it would be easy to retrieve before it died and polluted my system (a LFS told me that these can really pollute a system if left to rot after they die, is this true?). <Very much so> I expected it to die as they are collected from the Orkneys North of Scotland, where the water temperature is significantly lower than the 28C of my set up. However after a week it is still alive, openly filtering water and reacts very quickly when touched by closing up tight. This lead me to think would it be possible to put the kilo of mussels in my sump firstly to give me a long term supply of live mussels for feeding the starfish and secondly, would there be any advantage from the filtering effect of having 40-50 live mussels in the sump? I am intrigued to hear what your thoughts are on this. <You have a few things going against you in this regard. As you say the temp is significantly lower where the mussels are collected from, so more than likely the warmer temp will not be suitable for them. Secondly, they are strictly filter feeders and the small amount of nutrients they get from your tank is certainly not going to sustain them. Then, as your LFS says, if one dies without your awareness, the problems that causes is not going to be worth the risk. If your interested in keeping them alive for a food source, I would put them in a tank by themselves, unheated. You would still have to provide phytoplankton for them to survive long enough to be used as food, and now we are getting into cost effectiveness of your end product. The choice is yours, Chris. James (Salty Dog)>

Refugium Dear Bob, Anthony & Staff, Thanks for all your help! My tank has improved so much since I found this site and your books. My problem is now things are growing too fast (especially my Xenia) I have given a lot away but they still grow back on the spots of the rocks were I cut them off. They truly are like weeds. My question is I have recently added a refugium with a DSB & Chaetomorpha (after reading Anthony's book) Do you think it would add any benefit to the refugium if I started to stock it with the Xenia? Thanks again. <I think it would be very insignificant. James (Salty Dog)>

Refugium - Stocking 04/25/2005 Hi, I have a 72 FOWLR and have a bit of a nitrate problem (< or = 40 ppm) and bought a hang on refugium from eBay (12 x 18 x 4 inches - only $35 shipped!) basically a generic CPR one. <Hey nice hardware.> I have an extra 32 watt PC (actinic/10,000 K) that I plan on using for the refugium, is this too much light? <I think that light will work nicely> Also, what type of Caulerpa do you recommend? <There is a lot of discussion on this and the most popular macro seems to be Chaetomorpha. Fast growing and will not go asexual which is the rumor on a lot of Caulerpa> Should I put red mangroves in? I've hear they do a good nutrient export job, which is strictly what I am looking for. <Mangroves, which are nice, take some room to grow and Chaetomorpha is much easier to grow with this setup in my opinion> Should I put a sand bed, use mud, or go naked / bare. <This is all based on what you want to keep. Because this is a fish only that will depend on the food requirements for those fish. Amphipods can be grown with a larger substrate while copepods like a smaller particle size.. It all depends on what you want to harvest.> All I'm looking to do is improve my water parameters, the refugium isn't for looks as it's behind the tank. Oh, and one more thing - should I be running the lights 24/7, a reverse schedule of my main tank, or something else? <A lot of people have success with 24/7. A good reason to run a cycle that is opposite your main tank is to help stabilize PH. So I would recommend the latter of the two.> Thanks so much for the help! <Anytime.. EricS>

Populating a refugium + importance of ALK + Calcium testing Hello, <Hi there> I have been reading your Forums for a couple of weeks now and am set aback at the amount of information. <There is... much to know, relate> I used to run a LFS and went out of business because I was too honest (I was not moving the junk/gadgets). <Hee hee! More important (of course) to be yourself... not gain the world and lose your soul...> I consider myself an intermediate level reef keeper - I know a lot but not hardly enough ;) . OK, on to my questions: About my system: 55 gallon Reef - In wall installation accessible via closet. 75lbs of live rock DSB 3inches 4 in places Tunze Skimmer 3110/2 *Small I know :( I may DIY one, I have an old Seaclone I would like to Mod. <Maybe for experimentation... I'd stick with the under-sized Tunze> 2x refugiums, one is sump/fuge combo 20gal - the other is sump/fuge combo 25gal driven by one Mag Drive 350gph. Temp 73 PH 8.3 Ni Am = 0 Na less than 10 ppm Cal? Alk? 2x 802 powerheads CPR overflow Fluval 302 running carbon only Lighting - Giesseman 350watt 10000K Livestock: 2 Domino Damsels - 1 Sailfin Tang <Hard to add more with those Dascyllus present> 20 snails/20 hermit crabs 1 BTA (MIA) 2 cleaner shrimps 1 peppermint shrimp 1. I hear everyone talking about all the cute little bugs in their refugiums - How does one *populate a refugium?? Does it just happen by itself? How do I get all kinds of critters in there? <Can add directly (as in a "kit", e.g. from IPSF.com, InlandAquatics.com...) or the self-producing LR route> 2. Can I have only micro Algae in the refugium or should there also be live rock? both refugiums have DSB's. <Better to have LR and macroalgae...> 3. If I am using store bought water form a Winemaking store (completely demineralized) + instant ocean, and a 10% water change once per week, should I still have to watch my calcium levels or should they even out? <Likely will be okay... is there something "that wrong" with your source water? What? I would get/use test kits for Calcium (though not Magnesium Strontium) and alkalinity if you were/are concerned> *I have good purple coralline growth* <Bingo! I would not worry re the above> 4. What is the importance of checking the Alk levels? <Mmm, another "window" on what's going on, might go on in ones system. Many folks, mainly due to over-crowding, over-feeding, lack of maintenance have shortfalls of alkaline reserve... suffer further troubles in algal proliferation, livestock health as a consequence...> 5. I have been having problems with algae in the display tank (the reasons I recently installed the fuges) I have been told it is red slime algae, but it looks brown - It covers everything in it's path - heck it even grew on my Yellow Cuke. It looks like an old opaque spider's web. I cannot understand what is causing this... any hints or things to look out for? <Cyanobacteria/BGA can be any color (is it slimy?)... with time, the refugia will clear this up... I would not be concerned> 6. On a side note - I bought a BTA about a week ago and he seems to have disappeared. <Happens... if "unhappy" can scrunch down to a very small zot in size> I thank you in advance for all information/help/pointers/tips you may offer. <Glad to share> PS Where do I see the answer to my questions once you answer them - do I check in the Forum? <We send all back to queriers, and later post to the Dailies, then later to separate FAQs files. Bob Fenner> Robert Martin Cheap refugium setup 1/16/05 I have just finished setting up a refugium/sump for my 55 gallon tank and thought others might wan t to know of how cheap it can be to jump start the invert and critter growth in one. I bought 2.50 worth of live sand and asked for the detritus from the live rock tanks while they were getting my sand, they dredged out a bag full (around 3 pounds) and gave it to me free as well as some Caulerpa that was in the tank. This "gunk" is loaded with everything you need and it comes in the correct size substrate as well. I did some checking as well and most fish stores are not only willing to do this for you they are happy to clear the crap out of their LR tanks as it is generally an eye sore for business. so don't hesitate to ask, you never know what you might get for free. <an interesting refugium strategy... thanks for you input. Anthony> Snails and refugia 3/17/04 Hi there, thank you for your help, I love reading the files. I also adore my copy of Reef Invertebrates, it's on my night stand as a semi permanent fixture. I have two questions I haven't been able to answer in my reading. <outstanding... thanks for saying so> First, we seem to have baby snails in both our larger salt water aquarium as well as our 12 gallon eclipse which is presently (for the last three months since set up) housing inverts with a few soft corals and fern Caulerpa only. Both tanks have a mixture of Astraeas, margaritas, Nerites, bumble bees, Nassarius, and Ceriths with the Nerites and Ceriths being the predominant species which has solved our algae (diatom on glass) problem. <the Ceriths in particular are excellent and reproduce readily> These snails look to be either Astraea or Nerites in type, they are so small, though plentiful. I understand that the Astraea snail has spawned in captivity, but survival to a shelled form, is it possible? <not possible/practical for their long larval cycle> Or is this a live rock hitchhiker (larger tank is 60 gallons and has been in operation for more than a year.)? <yes... quite likely> We have seen these snails in both aquariums and another variety on the invert tank that looks a lot like a baby Nassarius snail. In our larger tank we house a pair of tank bred Banggai cardinals (along with a six line wrasse, a dwarf pygmy angel, two false percula clowns, and a royal Gramma Basslet) I understand that the cardinals do not do well on flake food and we would like to take a vacation this summer. <if they presently eat flake food... then the vacation is no trouble at all. If not, most fish can still easily withstand a 5-7 day fast> Would buying a Mysis shrimp starter kit (the shape is hexagon, a refugium won't work, we already tried the hang on the back model with a steep increase in nitrates and deterioration of water quality.) help them to be able to eat during this vacation and to go away for the weekend in the future? <yes... excellent> Or would they be eaten up rapidly? <do revisit the passages in our reef invertebrate book on zooplankton reactors (in Refugium chapter) and seek to produce them continually> The supplier is Inland Aquatics. <Morgan Lidster at InlandAquatics.com is a great guy. Very knowledgeable, honest and a credit to our hobby/industry> Thank you for your help, and again, great book! <thanks kindly, Anthony>

Crabs in refugia? Best not to 4/20/04 Hello Anthony, <cheers, Drew> thanks for the reply. Would these crabs do well in a refugium used to grow macro algae? <not likely my friend... when refugiums are best employed as plankton producers and nutrient exporting devices, the inclusion of predatory creatures like fish, shrimp, crabs, corals, etc is not recommended because their inclusion is a net burden on the system. In a phrase: they take more than they give, in refugia. They require an import of nutrients (feeding) and/or they deplete more desirable microfauna (worms, microcrustaceans, etc) that they can/will prey on> I am very new to marine so still learning and getting new ideas, was thinking of having a refugium with live sand and some live rock and light with lights to promote algae growth, is this the right idea behind a refugium,? <yes... this is one possible way to run a refugium. Let me encourage you to read our chapters on refugiums, plants, algae and live sand/rock in our Reef Invertebrates book. It is the most current and comprehensive information to date (about 100 of 400 page book)> Thanks again. Drew <it looks like you are in Canada, my friend... if so, you might check with the following distributors for our books and others: Best regards, Anthony

Feeding His 'Fuge! (Refugium Life Forms) Hi all, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> I have a 90 gallon reef system that has been up and running for 7 months or so. As to the advice of many I set it up with a 40 gallon above tank fuge. I stocked it with a DSB ( as well as the main tank). I also placed many spaghetti worms /amphipods. rock rubble ...live sand etc., from IPSF in Hawaii. <My personal favorite e-tailer!> My question is that, while I do see a great deal of pods and worm type crevices in the sand, I am not sure that they are actually getting downstream to the main tank. I have kept the main tank fishless for the whole seven months (one algae blenny to help initial algae bloom ) in order to develop a healthy population of pods. There is some green Ulva in the fuge as well . Any advice as to getting these bugs to go downstairs to the main tank. The fuge does overflow into main tank, but I do not think they are getting there. <I'll bet a fair number of them are getting there. You may want to look at night, after the lights are out. I suppose you could also engage in a rather tedious "manual transfer" of these guys by net, etc.> Also, I never actually see these worms but I do see burrows in the sand. I assume this is from there presence. <Yep...You don't see tem too often, but their "burrows" and "castings" betray their presence> Also any advice on feeding the fuge critters? <Well, nutrients and food from the main system will usually do the trick. You can also "feed" the life forms in the refugium directly with some finely-sized frozen foods, like Cyclop-Eeze and the like. Regards, Scott F>

Animal Filter - 12/22/03 Hey there Anthony! <howdy Eric> I have a question regarding the use of an animal filter, which I recall you discussing in your book. <yes...> I'm using a 55gal. AGA for a 'fuge which has a 6" sugar-fine sand bed and Chaetomorpha algae. <excellent start> I had planned to install a second 'fuge as an animal filter with Anthelia and Xenia as the "living filters". As luck would have it; no room for the second 'fuge so I wanted to get your take on utilizing both methodology in the same container? <its never a good idea. Mixing plants and animals in culture in any combination will not allow both to thrive optimally. In this case... soft corals and plants more than most any other critters on a reef are competitive and can be very noxious to each other> As long as I provide a partition for physical separation, are these species (Xeniids and Chaetomorpha) low enough on the "noxious scale" to effectively work together without battling each other to the detriment of the system? Happy Holidays. Eric <there is not scale of measure that I am aware of between animals. Just studies on relative toxicity and noxious exudations by individual. Regardless... the practice of mixing the two is generally a bad idea. IN this case, with the partition and considering the nice size of this fuge... I'd be willing to see you try it. Neither organism individually is known to be especially bad (they are generally regarded as weakly noxious). DO let us know how it works out. Best of luck, Anthony.>

Hitchhiker ID/Refugium/Snail reproduction - 2/26/04 Hey Crew! Thank you all for such a great site. I wouldn't have made it this far without all of you. <We wouldn't have made it this far without your questions. So, thank you> I have attached an image file (not the best picture in the world) of a hitchhiker that has shown up in my tank. If anyone has an idea of what this is I'd greatly appreciate the knowledge. <Definitely an anemone from the family Actinodendronidae See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/anempt2.htm> My second question, is it okay to keep hermit crabs (blue legged variety) in a refugium? <I don't like the idea of putting hermits in a refugium as they are so omnivorous that they might eat anything and everything> My crabs, although great at keeping the sand on the bottom of the tank clean, are becoming pests to my soft corals and I would like to move them into my above tank refugium. <Really? I haven't heard of Blue Legged hermits bugging soft corals> The refugium is about 10 gallons and has a 4 inch sand bed and contains Chaetomorpha, grape and feather Caulerpa, and probably some other plant life. I got the grab bag of stuff from the LFS. <Sounds good. Do you keep lit 24 hours a day?> Thirdly, is snail reproduction normal in a healthy tank? <Yes. Pass them around to friends and reef club members.> Thank you kindly, Tony Hambley

-Refugium stocked with coral?- Hello Faq Crew, Hope you are doing well today, <That I am.> Have a few questions concerning a refugium, I have a 20 Gallon aquarium and in the process of setting up a 135 Gallon marine tank for fish only to start. <k> I would like to use the 20 for a refugium, will this suffice? <That would be just fine.> If so what is the best selection of corals etc. to start off with? <Well, do you want to turn the 20 into a reef or a refugium? I would suggest doing a search through our FAQ's for setting up refugiums.> can there be fish or should I stick to crustaceans? <Please read up on all the excellent articles at your disposal on this website, along with the plethora of emails asking very similar questions.> being a shallow tank what sort of lighting should i look at using? <For a 'fuge I'd suggest at least some PowerCompact lighting, 1 or 2 65w lamps should suffice.> I am sure there are lots of different ways to go about building one but I am hoping for some good guidelines to follow so i can do it properly the first time as I would hate to make a mistake and kill off the tank and possibly cause Harm to my main display tank. <No worries, it's not nearly that complicated. Read up! -Kevin> Thanks again Drew Forbister

Refugium, Mysidopsis bahia 10/14/03 Dear Anthony, Thanks to your guidance, my second refugium continues to thrive. <to your success/husbandry above all> Even after re-reading several specific chapters in Reef Invertebrates, I still have a couple more questions: Can Mysidopsis Bahia be mixed with the smaller copepods and amphipods or will the bigger guys just eat the smaller ones. (about 30 gallons, net of sand and rock) <hmmm... not a matter of predation so much as competition for space/resources... fewer groups will ultimately survive in the end. Best to focus on providing a specific matrix to encourage your target group rather than trying to "go for all" and failing> I find that these shrimp are bred worldwide and are very available as they are used in environmental testing. <correct> I found that the addition of 6 large Mexican Turbo snails has pretty much eliminated all sign of Cyanobacteria. Will these animals affect my "pod" production? <not much or at all, assuming the copepods find adequate algae to eat (they will)> I am feeding the refugium crushed freeze dried krill, soaked so that is sinks. Thanks again, <this will be better for the meat eating amphipods... but not for your vegetarian copepods/rotis. Do consider a phyto drip for the latter unless the macroalgae is sufficiently buck-wild.> Howard in Wisconsin <Anthony in his chair>

Adding A Refugium to grow Plankton 11/18/03 Guys, <and gals... don't forget Marina, Sabrina and Ananda :)> How do I go about adding a simple ABOVE THE TANK refugium to grow plankton ? Regards Lyndon <simple enough... take your refugium vessel (small aquarium, Rubbermaid bin, whatever) and drill a small hole for a bulkhead fitting in it. This refugium is to be fed with water returning from the sump or from a powerhead in the display. Water gets pumped up to it, and overflows through the bulkhead back down into the display aquarium. For pod culture you will want a dense matrix like spun polyester (coarse pond filter pads) or if you light the sump, living Chaetomorpha spaghetti algae. Its that simple. We have extensive coverage on this topic too in our new book Reef Invertebrates by Calfo and Fenner. Anthony>

More about 'Pods - 11/26/03 Crew: I noticed the question and Paul's reply regarding buying copepods. <Oh yeah!!!> I wanted to put in a good word for Inland Aquatics in Terre Haute, IN. <Yeah, that was my second choice, but having not bought from them before I was unsure of their abilities. Now I know! (and so will everyone)> They sell a wide variety of aquacultured products, including amphipods, copepods, Gammarus and Mysis. <I do like their site and their mission statement> I have bought his fauna kit before & was very satisfied. <Great!!> It helps to call rather than e-mail if you're desperate for something. <Unfortunately, Gerald doesn't make that very easy with IPSF. His policy is email only in my experience> I called yesterday at 11 AM MST and received 4 bags of excellent algae at 9 AM this morning. <From IPSF??> BTW, I have found that it is easy to get these creatures to grow in a refugium. I suction-cupped a few of those plastic dish scrubbers to the wall of my refugium as suggested by Anthony. I then added the fauna kit. I soon had hundreds of 'pods & shrimps in the refugium. When I wanted to transfer some 'pods to my new 25" CPR AquaFuge on another tank, I tried to catch some and could not. Instead, I removed one of the pads & shook it in a bowl of saltwater. I was amazed to find at least a couple of hundred 'pods & shrimps in there. Now the AquaFuge is full of them too, This is a great product. I put a 65 watt PC (10K/actinic combo) over it and threw in a wad of IPSF's Tang Heaven Red (red Gracilaria). A month later, I've gotten at least 500% growth. I have tried other means to grow Gracilaria, but this is the first time I have succeeded. <Great information. Similar to how I do it as well. Good on ya, mate. Be chattin ~Paul> Steve Allen

- Pod 'fuge and a macro 'fuge? - hi crew; <Hi there> trying to set up a refugium for my 180 reef and fish tank. Trying to provide food for the fish and the LPS and SPS corals I have. And at the same time, trying to get the side benefits of getting my main display tank rid of some nuisance algae that I encounter from time to time.. My q is this: Do I have to set up 2 different refugiums to do this, or could i just set up one that does both? <Stocking a single 'fuge with lots of nutrient-reducing macro algae encourages all sorts of pods to take refuge inside. It's the best way to do it.> In other words does one large enough refugium (was thinking of setting up one about 40-50 gallons) can do both?.. <As above...> It might seem like a stupid question, but been reading FAQs from your site for 5 days nonstop; and i got the impression that a lot of people DO set up multiple refugiums for different purposes. <Yes, but in this case, one comes free with the other! This is also not to discourage you from building a second refugium as it would help the tank tremendously. Good luck! -Kevin> OZZ

Breeding bugs in my refugium 08/06/03 I have a large system,450 gal fowler in house, draining into a 500 gal predator tank and a 300 gal refugium in the garage, they in turn drain to the sump, then back to 450 to complete circuit. I feed both the fowler and predator tanks heavily and the system has been running as set up for 6 months and is working to perfection. No water or algae problems. Refugium has deep sand bed,8 inches, live rock. It's only resident is a small Fimbriated moray that I removed from predator tank and put in the refugium as I was concerned he would be eaten by the 3 foot tessellated moray that lives there. After about 6 months as set up, I was hoping to see a huge population of bugs in the refugium by now, but even with a flashlight, I only see a few. I am assuming that with the fowler with heavy bioload draining directly into the refugium and the messy little Fimbriated moray, that there should be ample food to sustain a huge population of bugs. Lots of rubble on bottom. oyster shells etc. along with the live rock. Was thinking of sinking a plastic milk crate stuffed with filter pads in the refugium to see if this home may be more to their liking, plus giving me a way to harvest the little buggers, and maybe asses their population better. Any ideas? Refugium has NO residents other than the small eel. Thanks in advance. <Well, actually, your idea sounds really good. Have you thought about lighting the refugium and adding macroalgae (I'm very partial to Chaetomorpha myself)? I'd say try both, and see what you get. You may also want to try direct feeding the refugium too, something finely ground. Hope that helps, PF>

'Pod Factory - 8/27/03 Dearest Crew Folks: I am dying to set up a refugium, but I haven't been able to convince my wife yet (living room 55gal setup). <do consider making it a dramatic focal point with a mangrove seedling and small spotlight on it. Very exotic. Tell her it will turn into a palm tree in 20 years <G>> Is there a way to have a remote, detached refugium to grow pods and stuff? <yes... in fact, it is the best type of refugium IMO - AKA "Upstream Refugium" (use that term in a keyword search of our website from the google tool on the index page wetwebmedia.com)> If so, how could I make this work? <Hmmm... nothing much to it. I will have to dig for the diagrams my brother-in-law did for us for our new Book (have them in AutoCAD... need to find jpegs). Bob and I dedicated about 100 pages of 400 in the new book "Reef Invertebrates" to refugiums, love sand/rock, plants and algae... do check it out if you get the chance: http://wetwebfotos.com/store/nma-ri.html > I've searched, but since there are mentions of pods on almost every page, you can imagine how it went. Can you point me in the right direction? <indeed... use a more refined search phrase like "upstream refugium"... and a helpful tip: when a long page of text comes up with the hit, copy the entire page to a blank Word doc page, and use the windows search tool to find what you are looking for on it> Is anyone doing this? Yes... for many many years. My first one was just over 10 years ago ;) > I was thinking DSB, LR, regular fluorescents, yes/no? <for heavy pod growth and vegetable filtration... use Chaetomorpha algae and brighter light> How much should I feed it, a pinch per day of dry food? What about harvesting (that sounds like the bigger issue)? Any help is appreciated. Rich <excess pods will overflow nightly. As long as you feed them regularly, provide a dense matrix (the book mentions this at length) and keep the refugium sans predators (no fish or coral)... the brood population will not wane easily. Best of luck! Anthony>

Fish Story? (Tales From The Refugium...) I have a thriving 18G upstream refugium hooked up to my 80G FOWLR. It's been running for nearly a month with a DSB and a nice big chunk of Kupang Island LR covered with all kind of interesting algae (alas, mostly Caulerpa) including coralline and some other green, red & brown. There is lots of life in there--worms, tiny brittle stars, tiny crustaceans, etc. <My kind of place!> I find this tank fascinating in its own right, and spend nearly a much time observing it as I do the main tank. <I hear ya!> Tonight, I saw what appears to be a baby fish darting around in there. It is maybe 3/8" long an has the body shape of a Firefish. It darted around the tank very quickly. Coloration is two-toned--creamy on one end and dark on the other. It sure looked like a fish to me. It hides somewhere in the LR. II have no idea how it got there. Any theories as to what it could be? Any suggestions on what I should do to nurture it? Thanks as always, Steve Allen <Hmm...Well- I'm not going to insult your intelligence or observation skills by suggesting that it may have been a Mysis or other kind of shrimp...but? Do you think? Maybe...? Possibly? If it was definitely a fish, I suppose that it's possible that a larval fish somehow came in with some of the micro and macrofauna that were contained in the rock or macroalgae (after the fish settled out of the planktonic phase)...I guess the best thing to do at this point is...nothing. Obviously, the little guy is getting his nutrition somewhere in there ( Assuming this is a fish...If this isn't a great example of the value of refugiums as a food source for animals, what is?), so I'd leave him be for a while...keep observing him, attempt to id exactly what he is.. and move him into the main system at some later, more appropriate time. Enjoy this amazing discovery. Try to send us a pic if you can! Regards, Scott F>

Best Algae for a Vegetable Filter/Refugium Hey Gang, how's it going! Here's a list of algae available thru "Inland Aquatics" Flora kit, which ones would Anthony utilize I wonder? Dictyota sp. C. brachypus (delicate)* Gracilaria sp. Halymenia sp. Ochtodes sp., Ulva. Thanks for your time, Scott <IMO all are excellent except for the Dictyota and Caulerpa (nuisance potential). If you have enough light and water movement, the Gracilaria may be the most utilitarian choice. Some Ochtodes and Halymenia can be very attractive though. Ulva is nice but needs pampered a bit. Chaetomorpha spaghetti algae was not on your list but should be perhaps. It is very hardy and durable... weakly noxious and quite stable. Best regards, Anthony>

New plankton refugium/red algae/ozone Dear WWM Crew, This is Howard in Wisconsin again looking forward to the new book and once again trying to learn a bit more of what I don't know about this hobby <Me too!> With a two year old set up circulating about 160+ gallons, net - set up and modified 100% in accordance with TCMA and WWM and never a disease process, I should be satisfied. However, several months ago I added a second refugium with "non-Caulerpa" macro algae, peppermint shrimp, worms, copepods, and amphipods. <Okay> First refugium has 6 inches of fine sand and is packed with often harvested Caulerpa. Fish bioload is about half the "rule of thumb" level but I know that the large 'convicts' living under the rock and sand in caves have created a space that can't be cleaned and gets little circulation. <Yes> Deep sand (5 inches oolitic), inoculations from 3 sources, and fully cured live rock completed the second refugium which I hoped would be the last step in my little ecosystem. I figured I could grow natural food and perhaps enough other macro algae to later swap out the Caulerpa in the first refugium. <Sounds good> Well, the live sand brought with is a plague of red algae which slowly killed off the 4 species of macros and infected everything else in the system. A very productive Turboflotor, lots of carbon, poly filter, 1600 gph circulation, and my "only when needed" 25 micron - 700 gph mechanical filter all proved inadequate. <Thank goodness> Frequent chemistry checks continued to show 0 ammonia, nitrate, and silicate (I have R/O and D/I). Nitrates ranged from 0 to 0.4. I used two different low range test kits to confirm nitrate. I just couldn't figure out what was feeding the red algae! <... could be a few sources> Last week, after reading tons of advice from the web and re-reading sections of TCMA I decided to add the only bit of technology in that book that I did not have - an ozone generator and ORP monitor. This is an addition that I know Bob is very high on but I thought I could do without. <You could> The ORP monitor read 60, yes SIXTY while chemical tests still showed no chemical pollution. How is that possible?? An ORP test solution standardized at 200 - 250 mv read 205 so I assume the actual reading may have been even less than 60! How is it possible to have so much dissolved organics and/or low oxygen and still be shown that all is well by the chemistry panel? <It is likely the dissolved organics are at the base of the low ORP> By the way, my fish and corals have been fine through all this but now that the ozone has produced a steady ORP reading of about 350 the red stuff is fading. I didn't think my water could get any clearer but it has. <Great> If your there, Bob, thanks again for the ORP/ozone advice. Now I have it all. <We'll see...> I'll be starting over with the new refugium concentrating on Anthony's "non-Caulerpas". I'll wait for the new book and follow you guys' advice on doing so. <You'll really enjoy the algae section... the book could be labeled "Marine Refugiums and reef invertebrates..."> There is a mass of tiny bubbles on the walls of the tanks which I hope will subside? <Me too> I didn't have those with the Turboflotor breathing air only. Are there any creatures or plants that may not like the 350 mv ORP? <None that you'll likely want to keep> The Red Sea generator/controller lets me set it anywhere I wish + or - 5 mv, ozone per hour up to 200 mg. (I'm running 150)With a carbon pad on top of the Turboflotor and a bag in the discharge there is no ozone smell at all. <Shouldn't be. Thanks for writing. Bob Fenner> Howard

QT and refugium Hey guys and gals, <cheers> I have wrote about my 55 gal corner bow with Aqua C remora skimmer and magnum 350 filter. We are in the process of changing to a DSB and more live rock and also leaving the tank fallow for a month in case something in there killed Piggy the lionfish. Is there any reason not to move all the sand and rock into the display now and let it cycle there? <good heaven's... please don't. Understand that there are practically no exceptions to the 4 week QT rule. We could talk for hours why it is bad to evade the full QT/cycling period. In this case... what is a pest or predator gets into your sand in the display and reproduces? Many many reasons not to cure rock in a display tank> There aren't any fish and the current live rock in the tank is only 1 piece. The reason I ask is I have buckets, trash cans and small tanks all over the living room. <understood... if the display is bare-bottoms, I could concede to using it to sure the rock so that you could screen all matter in search of pests and predators before doing a large water change and adding sand> Also is there any method for adding a refugium to a glass tank that has no holes in it? I will eventually need to add one to support the green mandarin we would like to have. There is no room behind the tank, the Aqua C Remora barely fit. Thanks for your help Bryan and Dana Flanigan <actually... there is a common solution and the best type of refugium in my opinion: upstream. Have your refugium above your tank drilled and fed by water pumped from the display below. Such refugia have no problems with plankton shear from pumps since they gravity overflow. If you want to get fancy <G> you can put a single mangrove seedling in it and shine a spotlight on it. Bets regards, Anthony>

Hang on Refugium and inhabitants Hey guys... I've left you alone for a while, but I'm baaaack... ;) <Welcome Jeremy, Don tonight> Since my tank is not drilled for an overflow, I will be installing a custom-made hang on the back refugium. <Sounds good> In the interests or reducing the number of "things" inside the tank I am considering having the refugium being fed by the return from my Eheim 2217 canister filter (flow rate is about 260 gal/hour). I thought I had read in a FAQ somewhere that you recommend the refugium be fed by raw tank water, but I was thinking that my setup idea might be better for a few reasons: 1) save money on buying another pump, 2) reduce the number of artificial items inside the show tank, 3) the water the most likely to be highest in nitrates would be from the canister filter... the macroalgae in the refugium could tackle this as it's produced and before it enters the display tank. What do you think? <All good reasons to move forward. Forge on!> Also, what inhabitants would you recommend for this refugium. It will be 21" X 4" X 16" with a 4-5" DSB. I plan on having Caulerpa and Hailmeda (sp?), and was wondering if I need any snails/shrimp/crabs etc to maintain the DSB? If so, what species would be best? <I would stay away from crabs and shrimps and stick with snails. A mix is good, Nassarius, Cerith, Trochus, Astrea, etc. You don't say if this is reef or FOWLR. If reef, I would stay away from Caulerpa and use Chaetomorpha. Have fun, Don> Thanks in advance, Jeremy

Refugium predators 3/6/03 Thanks for the reply....HMMMM No macro organisms huh? Such as Sea grass, Gracilaria algae etc??? <no Peter... a misunderstanding. I was responding to your question about putting crabs, snails and the like in... not the algae or plants. By macro-organisms, I meant predaceous animals. Too often folks, put shrimp, crabs, corals, small fishes, etc in the refugium which eat the plankton that you are trying to culture with your "vegetable" matter> So ...not to combine a fuge for food production and nutrient export? <food production (plankton) and nutrient export (vegetable filtration) are done ideally and very successfully together here. Just be sure that the animals you add to the 'fuge are merely microalgae grazers to be safe> Perhaps you are getting at food production upstream and export below...prior to sump as in a raceway scrubber??? Please reply When is the book ready... Would love to chat more about the breeding/marketing of crabs snails critters and the like Peter <excellent, my friend. Best regards, Anthony>

Refugium seeding 3/5/03 Hi Ant... How are you today. <good, my friend... with hope you are the same> Was hoping you could help me clarify a few things. <no worries... I'll just make up something convincing if not <G>> I am just filling my 90g and 40 g above tank refugium. Live rock going in tomorrow. Now after cycle is done, (4" sand bed in both) I will probably be getting some items from IPSF. Having said that aside from the algae species in the fuge, what should I seed the fuge with for planktonic growth to feed the reef inhabitants. <I would seek some fellow hobbyists & aquarium societies that can share live sand samples with you to get you mysids, copepods, amphipods, and polychaete worms (Terebellids, errantiates (including bristleworms), etc). Some of this can be obtained from live rock that has not been kept with any/many fishes... more comes from sand in mature tanks and refugiums. Please also check out Morgan Lidster's goods at Inlandaquatics.com He has cool bugs, sea stars, algae, seagrass, etc. Nice kits like IPSF> As well, should additional life of identical species also be placed in main tank? or just let it flow down stream? <the latter> As well, Do snails and the like (hermits also go in fuge.... Hope to hear from you. <snails are OK is strictly herbivorous... but no crabs at all (!) or other carnivores like most shrimp. Do keep your refugium very simple and plain (without macroorganisms) if the purpose is to produce plankton> As well seeing that the market is saturated with those selling and propping frags and the like it seems to make sense to try a possible venture in offering packaged Fuge kits and the like ... <yes... very much so!> of course there is inland and IPSF. Yet was wondering if you could steer me toward info on breeding this sort of life be it micro stars hermits Trochus Nerites Mysis Gammarus etc. <all worthwhile ventures for certain. And there is plenty of room in the market for all for years to come. Chatting about culturing these creatures will take time. Bob and I wrote almost 100 pages on plants, algae and refugiums in the new book (384pp). At the risk of making a shameless plug <G>... let me suggest you check that out first and follow-up with questions. Heehee... in fact, our last minute additions to the editor for this book in part are what have delayed the delivery by a month as well as added 84 pages to it (no change in price though). Kind regards, Anthony>

Heavy Bio-load and Aiptasia scrubbing 3/10/03 Anthony, Thank you for the response. <always welcome my friend> I can see your point about using the Aiptasia for only heavily stocked tanks, <indeed... they are a boon or scourge <G> At this time I think our tank is packed, and we do feed a lot. One of the reason why I am sure we have such of an out of control infestation. <agreed... I've done the same thing of course. In fact, it was a corrupt interpretation of the old Adey (Smithsonian) style algal scrubber in a heavily stocked public aquarium that spawned the realization that these anemones could work as animal filters> We want to change that when the tank is setup again this coming spring. <agreed... better to not have lemons than have to make lemonade that you don't even like :p > We had thought about a copperband butterfly but in our area they are never found. I hope that will be a different story in Las Vegas. <you will find them in time... no worries. All in the US come through LA> We do have a xenia farm in our tank so it might worth the effort ((if Amy will help out)) to ship it and use that instead. <yes... awesome!> Thank you so much for clearing things up. We will look into a better refugium scrubber idea in the next two or three months. <heehee... when Amy gets her copy of our new book after it is released, borrow it <G>... refugiums, plants and algae take up 20% of the book!> Clair Jones <with kind regards, Anthony>

Populating a Refugium I was wondering if it is ok, or not to use a refugium (10 gal. 2 32w PC lights, as a propagation tank for soft corals such as star polyps and xenia? <I don't see why not...I've seen people experimenting with xenia in refugiums and raceways as a means of nutrient export...interesting stuff. Besides, when you think about it, if a refugium's purpose is to provide a safe, undisturbed environment for animals to propagate and grow, then why not include some soft corals?> Fuge is in an area that it is actually displayed, and I have some big softies. Want to frag them out will this take away from the effectiveness of the refugium? Thanks <I don't think that this will detract from the effectiveness of the "fuge". Once again, it's all about what you want to accomplish-providing a safe place for coral frags, growing macroalgae, etc. Just plan and execute accordingly. There are few "rules" here, really...Using a refugium is really a "cutting edge" concept...Have fun with it! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Refugium? (in a hang-on power filter) I guess this is more of an observation than a question. I have a 55 gallon reef tank, DSB and LR. On it I have a Penguin BioWheel 330 filter (with one wheel removed, actually I could probably remove the other one too). I had noticed that I had not needed to change the filter cartridges in over 2 months. Normally I would expect overflow at the center of the unit long before then, indicating clogged cartridges. I decided to change them anyway. Upon removal, I found that they looked practically unused! I then noticed, on top of and through the pads, about a gazillion bugs! Talk about a "biological" filter! Of course, I couldn't throw them out. I guess I will keep these pads as long as the material stays intact, using the auxiliary media containers to hold my fresh carbon instead. Is this common? <Not common enough, and very fortuitous. Bob Fenner>

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>

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>

New fauna refugium, Iron supplement? Dear Crew, Avoiding Caulerpa in this box designed to breed small crustaceans, <a good start already... seriously> I have put in Codium, red grape, Ochtodes, Ulva, Chaetomorpha, and "tang heaven red". (can't find Sargasso or 'seagrass' suggested by Steven.) <no worries on the Sargassum weed for smaller vessels... too fast growing> I read elsewhere that a chelated iron supplement will help these slow growing algae and not harm the reef. <agreed... within reason> I add nothing without advice from WWM. Will the iron effect the rest of my reef system? <it can benefit or harm the system like most anything else... Iodine, Calcium, etc. A good rule of thumb is that you should only dose what you can test for. If you are willing to test and monitor iron levels, then great. No targeted level necessarily (within mfg recommended range)... just prevent it from straying from untested and blind dosing. For all else, small frequent water changes will serve you as well or better (weekly recommended). With all that macro/plant matter... please be sure to always use carbon and change it often (1 oz weekly per 30-50 gallon rather than 4 oz monthly, for example). This is necessary to maintain water clarity from all of the discolorants released> I can temporarily stop or slow the flow through this refugium or I can perhaps stop the iron at the overflow with a chemical filter. (PolyFilter or a small bag of carbon). <no worries.. the iron can benefit coralline algae and others in the tank proper. Just don't overdose> Perhaps you can help me identify a milky white "slime" that covers part of the sand bed (oolitic plus several live sand inoculations) when touched it comes apart like a wet piece of tissue paper?? <strange... not sure without more to go on> How do you feel about small hermits and/or snails in this refugium? <snails will be fine or helpful, hermits and crabs of all kinds will almost certainly be a detriment> Any other plankton producers that will not eat the macro algae or the "pods"? What are the "sea bunnies" offered by Indo Pacific? Would they be worthwhile? <a snail/gastropod. Interesting but not necessary> Thanks to Bob for suggesting this addition to my system. Howard in Wisconsin <Anthony in Pittsburgh. Home of the awesome Pittsburgh Steelers :) Good luck to the WI folks and home team for Favre winning MVP of the year... I'm voting for him!>

Getting Rid of a Refugium Hi WWM Crew, I have a 30 gallon refugium hooked up to a 150 gallon reef tank + 30 gallon sump. I have quiet a few corals and 9 passive reef fish except the sailfin tang that I will have to return back to my LFS sometime end of this week (for obviously a wrong choice on my part). I would like to add fish or an exotic colored invert to my refugium as it looks too dull with Caulerpa only. <Please understand that as soon as you add a fish to your refugium, it is no longer a refugium. A refugium is a place of refuge for tiny creatures where they can live and breed free from predation. Any fish you add will consume some of these beneficial animals and turn your refugium into just another inline tank.> Is this something that has been tried or even suggested? <Not really because it negates the purpose of building a refugium in the first place.> What would be a good choice so that it does not eat up all that the refugium is supposed to produce for corals, etc.? <Leaving it empty.> Was looking forward for fish like clown pair or other small fish that lives in pairs and is interesting to watch. Smaller the better. I have also heard others suggesting a small cucumber and a couple of snails in a refugium. Is this true and should do that? <Some snails maybe beneficial.> Right now I have Caulerpa, miracle mud and aragonite substrate. Sand bed is about 3 inches. Your help is much appreciated as always. Here is a list of my fish: 1 sailfin tang (will be returned), 1 green Chromis, 1 false percula clown, 1 pyramid butterfly, 2 yellow Coris wrasse, 1 orange spotted fairy wrasse, 1 purple firefish, 1 fathead Anthias, 1 blue/yellow tail damsel. Regards, Razi Burney <Best of luck to you. -Steven Pro>

Refugium Flora and Hair Algae Woes Hello Everyone ! <Good morning! Scott F. here today!> Have a general set-up question regarding my 50 gallon refugium. I have a 300 gal mixed coral reef tank (mostly SPS). The reason I added the refugium IS NOT for nutrient export but for zooplankton, copepod, Mysis production for feed into the main tank. <A GREAT application for a refugium!> Given this, what would be a good setup for the refugium as far as the flora is concerned? Right now I have grape Caulerpa and feather Caulerpa, which I am slowly removing to make room for other macroalgae species that are less toxic/problematic. <A great move!> I am thinking of replacing the Caulerpa with Ulva fasciata, Chaetomorpha, and Thalassia from Inland Aquatics. Does this make sense, given that my refugium's purpose is to produce live food rather than nutrient export ? <Great question. Yes, it does. Even though the macroalgae that you mentioned are generally slower-growing than Caulerpa, they perform some other functions that are exactly what you're looking for. Chaetomorpha, for example, is basically a Mysis/zooplankton "Disneyland". Since I switched to Chaetomorpha, I have noticed an explosion in the Mysis population. This algae seems to provide an ideal home for them to breed and feed amongst. Ulva is also an excellent substrate for amphipod growth. Thalassia is a very slow growing plant, probably not a great choice for nutrient export, but once again supports plankton/diatom growth. Keep in mind that you need a deep sand bed for this species to root in (approaching 5-6 inches) or it will not do well. You should definitely get a copy of Anthony's "Book of Coral Propagation" for lots of interesting details on refugiums and macroalgae use. You'll love it!> Also, I have been battling the "Hair Algae Beast" in my main tank. I have traced the problem as being caused by the following: 1. Protein skimmer hose (long) was plumbed into my home's water/sewer drain pipe and was clogging, yielding inefficient skimming....now I use a collection cup w/>short hose and I clean the hose while cleaning the collection cup <Good move. A clean skimmer is essential for proper function and waste removal. Try to clean it a couple of times a week, if you can.> 2. Lights were too old and lost color temperature...replaced and right away my anemones, clams, etc opened wider...an indication of proper wavelength. <yep!> 3. Insufficient water changes...Now doing automatic daily 6 gallon changes <Wow! My kind of reefer! I'm impressed!> 4. Coral die off due to high temperatures when on vacation....replaced Teclima Chiller (many problems, 3 replacements from Fritz, finally obtained refund... I do not recommend these chillers) with Aqualogic....much more reliable....0 problems so far (6 months)... <Glad you resolved that problem> I also replaced some of the coral which should help CO2 uptake to some extent. <ok> 5. Excess CO2 from calcium reactor....temporarily disabled reactor until hair algae is gone.. I have a K2R and I can't seem to get the alk / calcium that I need without using excess calcium. Therefore I bought a second chamber and also I now run an AquaMedic Kalkreactor for makeup water. <Quick thinking on the CO2 problem!> 6. Excess feeding.... I cut feedings in half until algae is gone <As you know, feeding is okay, just don't overfeed! Your increased lighting from newer bulbs should make up for the lesser feeding of your corals> Now that I have traced the problem down and made the above adjustments/changes, the hair algae is not growing back. But the old stuff is still there.... <Tenacious stuff, huh?> Do you have any suggestions to get rid of existing algae? I just want to rid my tank of it once...after it is gone I think the above implemented changes will prevent re-growth. Is there anything I can in addition to daily physical extraction, vacuuming, activated carbon/poly filter to get rid of the existing hair algae ? Chuck Spyropulos (banned from reef-central by heavy-metal spineless guy, Ron Shimek) hee hee hee !!!!) <Well, Chuck, your corrections in husbandry and responses to the problems you've encountered so far have been great, and I hope that our WWM readers can learn from your methods! Apart from employing purposeful consumers of excess algae (i.e.; tangs, Centropyge, some blennies, etc.), I think that just yanking out the stuff is the best way to go for now. If you have extensive coral population, I'd be afraid to throw in a fish that could start munching on your precious corals. Manual extraction is a pain in the rear, but I think it may be the safest way to go at this point. And- you always are free to speak your mind here on wetwebmedia! I was gonna make a joke about the food/metal connection put forth by a certain "authority", but thought the better of it! Take care!>

Xenia in sump Hello whoever, <right back 'atcha unknown question asker> I've got a question about putting xenia in my ecosystem sump. <OK> Would it hurt the xenia to have the 24/7 lighting? <yep> I'm probably going to give the rock full of xenia away within the next week so it wouldn't be in there for an extended period of time. <alas... unlike the rarity Caulerpa, Xenia and most photosynthetic creatures cannot remain in stasis under 24/7 illumination. They will suffer and must be allowed to conduct respiration. It is truly your goal to export this creature alive from your tank, you must allow a day night period for the coral to prevent a potentially fatal luminary shock in time. Besides... the 24/7 lighting method is marginally beneficial at most. It has been dispelled as a preventative for vegetative events in Caulerpa. Caulerpa is prevented from going sexual by regular pruning within the known 3-6 month life cycles of more than 40 recognized species> I just don't want the xenia to spread anymore in my tank! Would this work? <My advice is to run a regular photoperiod for the next week for the Xenia and then return to 24/7 lighting if you like after its gone. Best regards>

Refugium Startup Hi, another question that I hope is worthy of your answers. <Hope that my answer is worthy of your question! Scott F. with you tonight> I have read (just recently) on your frequently asked Q and A's that one or all of y'all suggest an upstream refugium that will produce 'pods that will feed the system and the corals? Is this possible and what exactly would be put in the refugium that would be able to produce quantities that would be able to feed my fishes and my corals? <Certainly is possible. You could use various grades of substrate (Course substrates tend to produce amphipods, medium to fine substrates encourage smaller species, like copepods, floating forms of macroalgae, like Chaetomorpha, provide refuge for Mysis populations) to encourage the growths of different creatures.> I have a 180 gallon acrylic with a 60 gallon acrylic aquarium as a sump, with numerous corals and fish. My tangs are voracious eaters of frozen Mysis shrimp and also greens when possible. I also have several other fishes that would join in the smorgasbord. I have been thinking about a 24" hang on refugium by CPR and need to know what would be a possibility as far as stocking the refugium with live critters that would produce enough to keep my inhabitants happy or content. Any ideas or insight? <The refugium that you are considering could certainly produce enough life to supplement your feeding, but not enough to rely on it. Do read some of the many FAQs on refugiums that can be found on the wetwebmedia.com site, by using our Google search feature> Where would I get live starter critters that would reproduce in the refugium? Thanks as always, Jeff <Some can naturally be found in live sand and live rock, or macroalgae. You can also find a willing fellow hobbyist with a thriving refugium who could offer you a "starter culture" of such animals. And, of course, you can check out etailers, such as Indo Pacific Sea Farms and Inland Aquatics, which sell these creatures. Study, plan, and execute! And most of all, have fun doing it! Good luck!>

Jaubert Method Refugium Hello again! As always thanks for your prompt responses and considerable patience with what probably seems like an endless supply of repetitive questions. Anyway, I have decided to construct a refugium (after researching www.WetWebMedia.com) using the plenum method and a 4 inch sand bed. <Ok> I will alternate light with my main tank and will not keep any burrowing fish in the refugium. <You should not keep any fish in the refugium.> What would you recommend as a good flora/fauna starter kit and what type of inverts should I avoid placing in the refugium? <I would obtain some live sand, a few really good pieces of live rock, and a detritivore kit or two. The idea is to seed the refugium with a broad diversity of critters and using multiple sources and media accomplishes this well.> Also, I was thinking of using Natures Ocean live aragonite (.5-1.7 mm) diameter for the entire 4-5 inches and just adding maybe 1 inch of the same per year as it dissolves. <I would save your money and buy dead sand. If you want to buy some live sand, obtain this from your LFS or online retailer, not from a bag that is sitting on a shelf for who knows how long.> Mr. Fenner has suggested using a two layer method with inert screen in between. Is this simply to prevent burrowing animals from getting to the lower layers. <This is a description of the Jaubert method and I would have to defer to his writings, Dr. Jean Jaubert. You should be able to find his actual writings with a quick search.> I understand that different microorganisms prefer different grain size so if I stick with one type (see above) will I be able to sustain a well rounded population of microorganisms? <The fine grain sands seem to be the best.> Thanks again! <You are 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>

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

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>

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

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

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

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

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

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

About refugiums: In my refugiums, things look great. Now I want some macro algae and 'pods. What is your best recommendation for seeding both of these organisms. <Time going by... with decent quality live rock, most always enough of these sorts of organisms will be there, grow on their own. If you're anxious, want to speed things along, you can buy starter cultures from outfits like Inland Aquatics to seed, overwhelm all> I do not have miracle mud. . . . My LFS will sell a complete Caulerpa strand for like 40 bucks, but I don't think this is worth it. Is it? <Sounds pricey. You only need a few inches...> I also plan on going with a reverse light cycle (It has been just too difficult to keep the tank's temp under control with the refugium light on 24 hrs per day. Also, do you use carbon in your mechanical filter? <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/chemFiltrMar.htm> Right now I am using just a regular blue (I don't know the material) filter with a piece of what feels like really tough paper towel (which came with the tank from Tri Tan) and I replace it about every other week. Is this OK?? <Is this "doing what you want"? If so, okay> Thanks again, in advance Rich <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

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

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

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

Resource partitioning I've been considering on adding a refugium and most likely in the Leng Sy Ecosystem style. That is a sump with the Miracle mud and a bed of Caulerpa being lighted around the clock. Now I was talking with a friend of mine and he was suggesting that the Caulerpa in the eco-sump and the bacteria in the plenum (which I have in my system right now) will compete with each other for nitrogen. With only 1 that will win out and I he thinks that it will be the Caulerpa. As a result the plenum which acts as a nutrient sink will cause the Caulerpa to grow like crazy due to the excessive nutrients that will be released when the plenum system shuts down. Sounds pretty interesting to me but I don't think that such a thing will happen though. I feel that with a heavy bioload of fish along with corals and feeding there would be enough food for all the bacteria to go around. Bob I am interested in creating the ecosystem for the good benefits attributed to it including the plankton heaven which some of it makes it into the main display for all the corals and the fish to utilize. Your thoughtful comments would be greatly appreciated. Louis & Ivonne Please use our permanent address: >> Interesting thought processes evident here... Do agree that some sort of net transfer of energy, bioaccumulation and nitrogen-sinking will occur in the refugium/mud filter in competition with the anaerobes in the plenum... but do agree with you, this should pose little problems really... If your free nitrogen as nitrate dips below where you want it through testing or bioassay (let's say you want 2-5 ppm...) then you can always "harvest" part of the Caulerpa... I would go ahead with your plans. Bob Fenner

Refugium Hello Mr. Fenner (AKA God of Reefs) <Yikes, am just a pet-fish kind of guy, please> I have started a refugium and the Macro algae is doing good thanks to you. I am seeing a lot of algae build up on the acrylic of the refugium, (I run my lights opposite of the main tank approximately 13-14 hrs.). I was wondering, if it is ok to put some snails in there to clear up the area I can't see through? <Should be fine> Also is it ok to put a few Neon gobies in the refugium (hoping they will breed) since every time I place them in the main tank they end up getting sucked through the overflow and never make it. <I probably wouldn't... as they'll likely eat most all the beneficial zooplankters there... instead, put viable screens (like a pin-type bio-ball) on/over the overflow edge, or other strainer to keep them out> Thank you, Rob <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Survival of microscopic organisms in refugia Hi Bob, I want to thank you for answering all of my previous questions concerning refugia - I have one more. In preparation for setting-up a 180 gallon marine fish-only tank, I am researching the Ecosystem filter developed by Leng Sy (It seems that Mike Paletta, among others, have given it good reviews). <This is a very nice unit... and the technology is sound> One aspect of interest to me is that the mud refugium likely provides a home for microscopic organisms, which can be transported to the main tank via the return pump connected to the refugium. I thought I read in the refugium section of WetWebMedia that we shouldn't worry too much about microscopic organisms being shredded by the impeller of a return pump. This was good news to me, as I like the idea of placing the refugium below the main tank, which is also the suggested configuration for the Ecosystem filter designed for larger tanks. However, the idea that impeller pumps do not significantly shred microorganisms seems to be contrary to the position held by others, who place the refugium above the main tank so that microorganisms may drain from the refugium into the main tank without having to pass through a pump impeller. <There is currently quite a bit of discussion on the various hobbyist listservs over this very issue... Having operated such gear for many years and being semi-observant and interested, I'll assure you that enough, a bunch does "get by" the small centrifugal pumps used in our interest.> Are you aware of any studies that have tested the question of whether impeller pumps shred microorganisms? Even if impeller pumps do shred microorganisms, I wonder if shredded microorganisms provide a comparable degree of nutrition to coral and fish in the main tank as unshredded microorganisms? Bruce Grant <These same sorts of pumping mechanisms are used for delivering live food organisms in a few of the commercial culture operations I've visited... try them out and you'll see... some organisms do likely get "frappe'ed" via the shearing forces in non-positive displacement pumping mechanisms... they're still very much utilized by filter feeders, saprophytes... Bob Fenner>

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