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FAQs about Refugium Pumps, Plumbing, Circulation, Flow Rate 1

Related Articles: Get Thee To A Refugium by Bob Fenner, Refugia: What They're For And How To Build Them by Forrest Phillips, Pressure Locking Sump Baffles; Welcome to the World of Versatility! By Joshua McMillen, Reef Systems, Reef Set-Up, Refugiums, Reef Filtration, Plumbing Marine Systems by Bob Fenner, Myth of the One Inch Beast (Why Relying on One Inch Overflows... or Overflow! Is foolhardy) by Scott Vallembois, Fish-Only Marine Set-up, FOWLR/Fish and Invertebrate Systems, Reef Systems, Coldwater Systems, Small Systems, Large Systems, Macroalgae

Related FAQs: Refugium Pumps/Circulation 2, Sump Pumps/Plumbing/Circulation 1, & Refugiums 1, Refugiums 2, Refugiums 3, Refugiums 4, Refugiums 5, Refugiums 6, Refugiums 7Refugiums 8, Refugiums 9, Refugiums 10, Refugiums 11, Refugiums 12, Refugiums 13, Refugiums 14, Refugium Rationale, Design, Construction, Hang-on types, Lighting, Operation, Algae, Livestock, DSBs, & Caulerpa, Marine System Plumbing, Holes & Drilling 1, Durso Standpipes, Overflow Boxes, Bubble Trouble, Plumbing NoiseMake Up Water Systems, Marine Aquarium Set-Up, Micro-Crustaceans, Amphipods, Copepods, MysidsAlgal Filtration in General, Mud Filtration 1

Pizza Anemone and Thor: Cryptodendrum adhaesivum Klunzinger 1877, Thor amboinensis

New 180 Gallon FOWLR Aquarium Setup, now FO... Pb, pump sel.   3/8/2010
Hello and thank you for your wonderfully informative site.
<What a planet eh?>
I have spent time researching your site but still not sure on the best approach for my new tank.
I am in the process of combining two 55 gallon FOWLR systems into a single 180 gallon tank. I will stay fish only. I will have a 65 gallon custom sump. The sump has three chambers: the intake side which would have my AquaC EV180 skimmer (raw water except for a filter sock), the return section is in the middle and would have my return pump, heaters and other equipment.
The refugium is on the far end. The refugium would be fed by a tee and gate valve off the drain line passing over it. The gate valve would provide an appropriate flow rate for the refugium.
<Sounds good thus far>
I was going to get an All Glass Mega Flow dual overflow system and add two Hydor Koralia Evolution power heads for circulation. The power heads are rated at 1,400 GPH. Is this a good setup for a FOWLR system?
<Can be>
I thought an Eheim 1262 would make a good return pump but I am confused about feeding the two return lines, does this effectively double the head?
<Mmm, about, yes>
If so, would I better served getting two pumps at roughly 300 GPH for my estimated 6' of head or a larger pump that would give me approximately 600 GPH at the combined 12'?
<Is one approach... though valving and one larger pump would serve as well>
Then I read about through the wall overflows, specifically the Dart overflow system with two 2" drains. I would feed this into my 65 gallon sump.
This should provide approximately 2,600 GPH of gravity-only flow. Is this a wise amount of water flowing through my sump?
<Only so much will flow through as is pumped back up... but having excess/redundant flow capacity is a very good idea>
I also read about Anthony Calfo's closed loop manifold system. I love the simplicity, low cost, and clean look.
<Designs with pumps in the systems, some flow outside to/from sumps/refugiums are superior>
I would rather have the pump in the sump because I think it will run quieter and I would rather not drill my sump. I think head would be about 6'. Is having the pump in the sump a good choice and what pump would you recommend? The Eheim line sounds like great pumps but I don't think they are large enough.
<I too favour the Eheim line above all others>
Given that I will stay fish only, is one of these two configurations a better choice than the other?
<Yes; your first one over the "closed loop">
Thank you again for your wonderful site and all the time the crew puts into.
You are a big part of what makes this such a great hobby!
Doug McDermid
<Thank you! Bob Fenner>

Re: Micro Fauna Damage, pump sel.  05/11/09
Sara M.:
<Hi, so sorry for the delay in responding.>
I have been investigating piston pumps, but now wonder if the sudden increase in pressure during the compression stroke has a detrimental effect.
<It probably does.>
Any thoughts? Sources?
<Any sudden change in pressure is going to hurt just about any kind of life not naturally built for such a thing. But I'm sorry, I couldn't find any real "sources" to refer you too. Maybe... watch that episode of Mythbusters about shooting fish in a barrel (you don't have to hit the fish to kill them, the "shock waves" from the bullet traveling through water will kill all the fish in the barrel almost instantly)... I would think
that the inside of a piston pump would have the same issues.>
I am determined to solve this mortality problem, even if I am to use an air stone protein skimmer as well.
<Have you thought about just using an undergravel filter?>
Sara M.>
P.S. Perhaps the answer to significant micro fauna survival is a fast screw pump?
<I'm not sure why you're so worried about this unless you're trying to breed something. Usually, a well maintained and established reef aquarium will have micro fauna to spare (even with the mortality from the pumps).>

Pump question, sel.   11/28/2007 I have a 20 gallon salt tank that I want to add a UV sterilizer on. I have a converted HOB filter acting as a small refugium on the back of the tank. I would like to take and return the water from there. I am looking to get an inline pump rather than a submerged on due to space constraints. If the pump/filter are located 2 feet below the tank level how much pump do I need to make this work? <Mmm... "not much"... the actual "head" (lift) is negligible since the water coming from the hang on is about the same level as the tank... and you only want slow water movement through the refugium...> Aside from the resistance of the plumbing itself, am I correct to assume this configuration would have 0 head since the water is not changing level from input to output. <Oh! I should read ahead... not much> Or would there be 4 feet of head plus plumbing resistance to account for? I am hoping to get a small pump for this setup like a Eheim 1048 hobby pump. <An excellent company, series of pumps.> Thanks, Joe <Welcome, Bob Fenner>

Refugium Confusion...Should It Be Fed?...Should It Receive Water Directly From The Display?...Yes To All! -- 08/20/07 Good evening Crew. <<Hello Andy>> For the 359th time, I have a couple questions. <<Okey-dokey>> I've been surfing WWM but no luck. I have a 30g fuge that is fed from my sump (after bio balls) via a MaxiJet 1200. Head is probably 30" to fuge. Return is via 1" bulkhead that feeds back to my sump near the main pump return. My fuge has 6lbs live rock, 4-6" DSB and a large tuft of Chaeto. There are lots of worms, copepods and amphipods and tiny brittle stars. <<Sounds good!>> I know that at least some of the pods are getting into my display because I see them in my sump. <<yes>> Anyway . . . 1. Should I be "feeding" my fuge? <<I believe it to be beneficial, yes. The 'critters' will multiply/maintain higher population densities if fed>> I haven't found much on maintaining pods, and I have to believe that they must eat something (phytoplankton?). <<Some are quite the carnivores...maybe even eating their young if not well fed>> Should I be dosing with DTs or something and, if so, how often? <<You can simply add a pinch or two of flake food a couple to three times a week...but I have found that shrimp pellets are quite the 'favorite' among the denizens of my refugium>> 2. I have had my fuge set up for 2 months or so. My Chaeto hasn't grown one bit. It isn't dying either. Just kind of maintaining the status quo. I have 0 nitrates. After reading all these posts about people having to constantly cut back their macro, I feel like an underachiever. Any thoughts? <<Mmm, this may be due to the absence of 'excess' nutrients in the system...and likely a result of feeding 'processed' water to the 'fuge from the sump. You can try increasing the light intensity above the Chaetomorpha to see if this stimulates growth>> Also, it seems WWM advocates feeding the fuge directly from the display. <<'Raw' source water is preferable, yes>> What's the benefit? <<The efficiency of the refugium is increased/the refugium better augments the other filtration when fed directly from the display>> My guess is that the filter media removes dissolved organics that the macro need, but if bio-balls are nitrate producers and macro loves nitrate... <<A valid point, but you state your Chaetomorpha is living, just not growing... providing water to the refugium directly from the display will lessen the burden on the rest of the filtration system while stimulating growth of the Chaetomorpha which will then allow pruning/removal of the absorbed compounds...and will also likely result in increased diversity/populations of refugium biota which too provide benefits to the system...>> I don't want to do this because I'm afraid of flooding, etc. if/when the power does go out, lose siphon, etc. <<Not a problem if plumbed correctly...you made the same considerations/took the same precautions with plumbing your sump, yes?>> How much benefit am I losing if I feed post-bio balls? <<As stated>> Thanks! Andy Bulgin <<Happy to assist. Eric Russell>>

Reef System Setup...Improvements? - 03/19/07 Hey Eric... <<Hey Linda!>> I was looking over my wet/dry (sump) and followed the hose (the one that looks like a vacuum cleaner hose) up to the single overflow box, when it clicked... the wet/dry only comes with one hook up.  (mine is on the side). <<Ah yes>> Oh boy...Would I need to drill a hole and make another connection, buying the correct size fittings, etc. if I wanted to add another single or even a double overflow box? <<Mmm, is a consideration.  Unless the hose/bulkhead on the sump are sized larger than the overflow (nominal inside diameter of 1.5") then yes, you would need to add a second throughput>> If that is the case, I don't know about that kind of project.  Not that good with fittings, sealants, drilling holes in a sump...e-w-w-w...that is scary! <<Hee-hee...not that tough really...but if you're not confident...>> Unless you have a better way???       <<Oh yes!  But involves drilling the display tank...getting a larger sump...adding a downstream refugium...skimmer...lighting...et al...  Perhaps your setup is fine as is for now; give the removal of the aluminum compound time to have an effect and then reevaluate/determine what you want to change (if anything)...  If you have more questions/wish to discuss...you know where to find me, Eric Russell>>

Re: Reef System Setup...Improvements? - 03/20/07 Hahahaha  Yep, Eric...you have proven you are at my fingertips!  hahaha  Will keep you posted on my "success" (positive thinking!)   As Scarlett O'Hara said..."After all,  tomorrow is another day"...(smiling) Linda in GA <<Sounds good...  And frankly my dear...I "do" give a damn [grin]...  EricR>>

Plumbing a Refugium Questions (Or, "Around Robin Hood's Barn") First of all, excellent web site and great response to our previous questions! Thank you! <Welcome> I have a 125Gal acrylic reef aquarium and I'm adding a 60Gal glass aquarium on the side for a sump with a refugium. We have two CPR USA CS102DX C-siphon overflows (1200gph each) to feed the sump, a Turboflotor T1000 Multi skimmer for use in the sump (now hanging on the 125), a used 30Gal tall acrylic tank (to be drilled for flow) for the refugium inside the 125Gal sump, and a Supreme Model 18 Mag Drive pump (1800gph) for the return to the 125 (with a 3/4" inline valve). <Mmm, this tubing diameter is too small> A 1/4" acrylic panel will separate the skimmer from the refugium on one end, and another panel will separate the refugium from the pump on the other end (Aside, should I epoxy or silicone the acrylic panels to the glass tank?). <Try siliconing some plastic strips to the tank and fit the acrylic panels in... or permanently silicone them in...> The overflows will be connected inline, with a union and a valve downstream from each box, in case one fails, or needs to be removed for cleaning or maintenance. Two outputs from each box are 1", and all four outputs will feed into a 1-1/2" PVC line to the sump.  <I would test, make sure that one alone can/will handle the flow of the pump and plumbing you end up with here> Each overflow will require a 1-1/2" valve and union, downstream in the 1-1/2" line from each box. <Mmm, a valve... union for the overflows? For what purpose?> From the FAQs, I see the recommendations for PVC gate valves, rather than ball valves, and I understand the reasons why. Unfortunately, even here in a large town like Las Vegas, NV, not even the plumbing supply houses, or garden nurseries, stock PVC gate valves, saying that one reason is that they're not as reliable as ball valves. Also found web reference to that opinion at: http://www.plumbingworld.com/slicegatevalves.html. I'm leaning towards a PVC slice valve for the overflow box disconnects, and a PVC gate valve for the pump return line  http://www.mops.ca/cgi-bin/SoftCart.exe/cshop/BHSS-GV07FF.html?L+scstore+hsmj9175ff6ffe6f+1112298765 . <Could work... the valves on the discharge side/overflows are not really necessary (as far as I know)... with lowered water level... > I apologize that I don't have a drawing to follow (anyone have a link for a simple drawing program with a short learning curve?),  <Wish I did know of such... my graphics expertise is extremely limited> and I hope you can follow this, but I'm open to suggestions, and I thank you for your kind attention. Tom in Las Vegas <Your plan sounds/reads workable... I would look to either enlarging the 3/4" ID line to one inch... or arrange an over the tank manifold of larger diameter. Bob Fenner> Feeding Water To A Refugium I am setting up a 30 gallon refugium with a gravity return to my sump. I have a choice between feeding the refugium from the sump via a pump, or splitting the return from the main tank and adjusting the flow rate to the refugium with a ball valve. Would one method be better than the other, or doesn't make a difference either way? Are there any particular pros and cons with either method? <Hmm...If it were me, I'd be inclined to feed the refugium directly from the tank. My rationale is that you'd be getting "raw", nutrient-laden water into your refugium, which will help feed the organisms and macroalgae that reside in the refugium. I do like the idea of gravity feed. I just assembled a new reef system using gravity to feed the skimmer and other system components, and it really works well. As far as the pros and cons are concerned, I personally don't see a down side to feeding the refugium water from the sump, but it just seems to make more sense to me to supply it with water from the tank itself. Either way, a well thought out refugium is a huge benefit to your system...you cannot go wrong using one, IMO.> Feel free to contact me with any questions, comments, or concerns. Mark A. Kaczynski <I think that you're on the right track! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Sump / Refugium help please Hey guys.. thanks in advance for the help here... <Welcome> Setup - 75 gallon aquarium with 2 drilled 1" drains to a sump.  The sump has a return in the center (skimmer section on the left and refugium on the right) and can be plumbed for parallel flow by design.  The pump will have 600 GPH max flow at the tank level after head loss is subtracted...depending on which option is chosen below.  The skimmer is a EuroReef ES5-2..(350GPH pump) The rest of the tank flow is not a concern here...I will have more flow from a closed loop. I have 3 options to plumb the system...buying a new pump, etc is not an option...I must work with what I have. Option 1.  Place both drains in the skimmer section.  Once the water hits the return area, the pump returns most of the water to tank and less to the refugium via a T and gate valve.  The refugium then gets "skimmed" water and the flow of the refugium can be controlled with the gate valve.  The overall flow through the sump would then be reduced to a fraction. maybe 2/3 of the 600 GPH = 400GPH Option 2.  Put one drain in the skimmer section and the other drain in the refugium.  The pump would return all water to the tank.  300 GPH skimmer section + 300GPH in the refugium - 600GPH total flow. This would present new water to the skimmer section and new water to the refugium. Option 3.   Put both drains in the skimmer section but one will have a T (and gate valve) to divert some of the second drain water to the refugium.  This would also result in new water to the skimmer section and new water to the refugium...and then the pump would return the 600GPH up to the tank. Which is the best option and why?  I'm not sure if its best to pipe unskimmed water to the refugium or skimmed? <Better to go with Option 3... better to have unskimmed water feed the refugium... a handful of volumes per hour... Rationale for such is posted on WWM. Bob Fenner> Thanks, John

REFUGIUM FLOW & OTHER QUESTIONS Crew, <Hi John> Definitely appreciate the support you guys do for the hobby every day! <As the newest member on here, I'm continually amazed at the people I am honored to work with>  I read your site pretty continuously to keep up to date & learn as much as I can. <Very nice.> I have a few, somewhat unrelated questions that I've spooled up that I couldn't find direct answers to on your site (or are specific to my setup). My setup is a 120 gal (4'x2'x2') FOWLR with 180# LR.  The tank's been established 6 years with improvements made over time (upgrade to 520W of PC lights, LR addition, added refugium, upgraded skimmer, etc.).  Water params are 1.024 salinity, 8.4 PH, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, 10-20 nitrates, 4.0 alk, 450 calcium. Stocked w/ Emperor Angel (5yrs in tank), Regal Blue tang, Foxface, flame angel, lawnmower blenny, cleaner shrimp & numerous snails/hermits. Here's my questions: - Refugium GPH?  I've got a 15gal refugium with Miracle Mud, a couple different types of Caulerpa, hermits, snails & some small frags of LR in-line via 2" pvc with my wet/dry sump.  Skimmer & UV pull from the sump & empty in the front chamber of the fuge.  Due to room constraints, my Iwaki pump (a little over 2000gph) is at the end of the refugium returning to the display tank.  Yes, the water is seriously flowing through the fuge, but everything looks great in there & water params have improved over the months since it's introduction. <Nice to hear.> We are moving to a new house & I'll have a room dedicated to my sump/filters, so I have the opportunity to optimally adjust plumbing. <Wonderful, I am jealous.> I'm thinking of changing the setup to have my Iwaki return pull from the sump, skimmer pull & dump back into the sump, and have my UV pump (250 gph) pull from the last chamber of my fuge & return to the sump. This would lower my fuge gph more in line with what I think most would recommend? <It would definitely take the flow amount down.> I'm struggling having my UV pull from the sump due to killing off some of the "beneficials" exiting the fuge vs. a separate/dedicated pump. <I have to say honestly I think you would loose a lot of the benefit that you are gaining from the refugium. Personally I would consider going with a dedicated pump.> The dedicated pump drawback is that in the summer, my temps are 81-82 & adding another pump would probably increase the heat. <I see what your concern is but I think it might be worth the addition of a small fan or two to take care of the additional heat problem.>  Your thoughts?  FYI - the 15gal has made such a difference that in the new setup, I'm going to eventually add another 30 gal refugium to increase the overall health of the system (either extended off the 15gal or on the other side of the sump). <I'm a major proponent of refugiums. I have seen them make a huge difference on many peoples tanks.> -Reducing Caulerpa in refugium?  My Caulerpa is going gang busters & I need to cut it down. <Ah a common problem. Let me just caution you, if your Caulerpa is going gangbusters there's more to the story than that. There's LOTS feeding the Caulerpa, usually phosphates and that can be a problem.>  What's the best way? <I can tell you my method. Every couple of weeks I climb up on a step ladder and just pull out Caulerpa. I don't take scissors, I just pull it out. Usually it comes out in specific bunches at a time, and I'm lucky I have a distributor who I sell it to and he sells it to stores.>  Actually remove several of the plants or prune the excess? <When I pull sometimes it does take out whole plants but usually it takes bits and pieces of the plants and it seems to be natural places it is ready to split. Let me warn you if you see anything in the Caulerpa turning white pull the entire plant.>  I think pruning would be easier, but I think I remember hearing that cutting Caulerpa can sometimes cause degradation of the whole plant?  Also, when removing it, should I place some in the display for food or flush it to eliminate the extra nutrients/nitrates in the whole system? <I always put some in my tank for the tangs to eat and they devour it. But it does release some of the nutrients and yes nitrates back into the tank. Lots of people just toss the entire plant.  One thing I always try to do is make sure I have at least some of each type of grass or Caulerpa I have in my refugium still there.> -Refugium lighting?  What's better ... alternate lighting with display or 24/7? <Lots of people use the 24/7 because it keeps the ph higher and prevents the Caulerpa from going sexual.> I've heard arguments for both. 24/7 is what I'm doing, but it is probably not the best for the snails/hermits. With alternate lighting I run the risk of the Caulerpa going sexual, right? <If you do proper culling you won't have problems with it going sexual but both methods work.> Any preference?  Probably don't use Caulerpa & go alternate, right? <I know lots of people who use grasses instead of Caulerpa. Personally my refugium has a mix of both the grasses and the Caulerpas.> -Clown for BTA?  Probably my last fish to this tank will be a clown.  I know the maroon is the natural fit for BTA's, but I really prefer true Perc's (looks & less aggressive).  I've always known true Percs to inhabit a lot of anemones outside of the natural selections.  However, I just personally have never seen true Percs in a tank with BTA's.  What's your thoughts on the pairing/selection? <I have not seen true Percs take to a  BTA but others have. I know my black perculas from Australia totally ignore it.> BTW - I've only had the BTA 6 months and it's almost doubled in size from the LFS, only wandered the first night & I believe has increased it's color intensity.  The only set back was a 6 hour power outage last week that resulted in a 25 gal water loss (painful lesson - unclean check valve<OUCH>) that I had to replace with hastily made up salt mix (RO water already made, but not salt). Better of 2 evils I thought - quick mix water vs. airstones/powerheads dropped in display. The BTA did shrink after the outage & only recently has made it to close to pre-outage size. <Lately the skunk clowns appeal to me and I know they will go to a BTA. Just a different idea.> Not a question, but interesting comment.  I just introduced my Flame angel & cleaner shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis) to my display after a month in quarantine.  The cleaner never touched the flame in QT - probably due to the fact that they're almost the same size.  However, I was really worried about my Emperor having a $40 cleaner snack. The Emperor knocks around any new snails/hermits that are introduced & hasn't seen a cleaner shrimp for at least 5 years (had her that long). <Wonderful> I killed the lights upon introduction & got the shrimp to go into a nice crevice.  The Emperor showed immediate interest, despite the lights not being on. Tapping on the tank didn't push her away. I decided to intervene with my hand (algae scrapper didn't work) to make sure the cleaner was deep enough in the crevice that if the Emperor bite it would only get the antennae.  Well, the Emperor moved up close (mouth first), the shrimp stepped right out (I thought it was it's last move) and it climbed right on the Emperor's head with no altercation.  The Emperor was cleaned for an entire hour right there only 5 minutes after the shrimp was introduced! Today she has spent more time being cleaned (no lie - 6+ hours) than her usual free swimming.  She's actually hounding the shrimp & keeping the tang & Foxface away - which both keep swimming in sideways into the area.  The introduction of a 1.5" shrimp has completely changed the entire behavior of my whole tank.  Really amazing hobby & animals! <Such a wonderful experience, thank you for sharing.> Sorry for the long mail. <Wonderful email and thank you so much for sharing all of this. Good luck, Mac> Thanks, John

Risky plumbing to a refugium Just recently found your site it has a lot of info, I am setting a refugium now in planning stage. I cannot drill my tank and don't trust overflows. My question is could you use a loop with a T at the intake of the ref a ball valve on both outlets of t to control water flo to ref and intake of pump. Also a Tat pump for intake from ref and tank maybe a ball valve to control intake from ref. I hope this makes sense I do not this took about 10 min.                        thanks Larry <Mmm, if I understand you here, you want to rely on gravity and the constant power/flow of your pump to return water in a sort of balance? Not a good idea. Gravity won't "let you down", but one cannot rely on a pump or the electric co.. Alternatively however, you could have your refugium above the tank, and rely on the water overflowing it, back into the main tank. Bob Fenner>

Overflow plumbing for refugium Bob thank you for your reply, I don't believe my wife will go for the refugium above the tank can you recommend a good overflow. thank you for your quick reply and the great website, Larry. <I do like the CPR products... and if it's a real concern (overflowing from the main tank on to the floor), you might consider getting/using two of these (teed together or not) to service the below tank refugium. Bob Fenner>

Surge Refugium Questions 7/20/04 Hi Anthony <cheers Wayne> Sorry to pester you some more.... <no worries mate> OK I have a follow up question.  It  occurred to me that as I'm plumbing the 5 as a refugium above the tank it would be very easy for me to turn it into a Carlson Surge device by drilling one of the outlets to be below the other and then be the siphon inlet bit.  I think you know what I mean.   <I do... but its a dreadful idea in my opinion. Small surge devices are notoriously finicky to run (working better on a much larger scale), they also create a miserable salt creep and salt spray that is corrosive to lights and equipment of course... and most importantly perhaps, they wreak havoc on skimmer performance as they frequently disturb the migration of proteins in the tank to the surface. Surge devices are really only suited for public  aquarium sized tanks> So here's the stats.  The five is approx. 25 * 35 cm. floor, 35 cm. high (metric from now).  According to my math each litre added/withdrawn drops the water column 1.14 cm.  I can then plumb it into the current 30 OR I can plumb it into a larger tank I'm building to replace this with, which 120 cm. * 40 cm. <a refugium would be much better> (incidentally is this enough floor space for a Chaetodon kleinii?).   <alas... I don't think so. But it is a fantastic and hardy species> Put a litre into a tank of this size and it goes up 0.2 cm. So I can push 5 litres into there and it'll go up a centimetre, or 10 litres and it will go up 2. My questions are...... a) Is a surge of this volume significant, worth the bother.  I can maybe move closer to 15 litres I suppose, it's no more difficult to plumb. <difficult to plumb and totally not worth the effort> b) I intend to run, as I said a thin layer of sand  with a thick layer of rock chippings above (my LFS says I can have all the debris from the next few live rock shipments).  If I start crashing 15 litres in and out and I am likely to suck everything living out? That would pull the water column up down 16 cm. in a total depth of say 30. c) I will likely end up  with two tanks (don't tell the wife).  The current 30 'semi reef' plus this larger 50 ish (120 *40*40 cm.) in which I would like to keep my Centropyge bicolor, 6 line wrasse, Chaetodon kleinii (currently in 20 long QT in basement),  a couple other things (Inc. the errant bicolor).  Which should I lash the 5 onto?   <a refugium on the fish tank display> What will get the best value for money feeding wise, inverts in 30, fish in 50?  Should I return the kleinii - it eats like a shark!   <heehee... yes, a great fish but needs more room> Incidentally what might survive in a tank lit by 4 NO fluors. + survive the attentions of the kleinii and bicolor? <not too much... they are quite nippy. Photosynthetic gorgonians are noxious and a good candidate here> d) Flow rate.  Being a tight arse I have a currently unused but nice Rena water pump I intend to use that will shift about 200 litres an hour with 50 cm. head.  That means by my calculations it should flush about 13 times an hour, ever 4 or 5 minutes.  I am in fear of it reaching a stasis with this inflow and the inch outflow siphon where the siphon never quite clears enough water to break as the pump pushes it in?  Will this happen? <I'm not following your question here my friend> Basically it's a physics question.  In a siphon, is flow rate determined by the amount of drop, or drop plus water depth in upper container. <yikes... please tell me you are not using a siphon overflow under any circumstance? They will fail in time. I'd rather see you live without a downstream sump or refugium than take this chance> Do many people build this sort of thing on a small scale? <too tiny> Regards from Norway.   I only have the room for small tanks in my office, and am losing my remain freshwater as they're just too much maintenance compared to salt (yes you read that right) cheers, Wayne <very cool :) Anthony>

Refugium above tank? Dear Crew: I am in the process of plumbing my upstream refugium.  A little info: 55 gal 4' all-glass main display 40 gal clear plastic container refugium on 4' high stand to the right of main display (this brings the entire 'fuge above the display) Iwaki 40RLT on closed loop AquaC Remora Pro with Mag 3 I was thinking I can upgrade skimmer pump, and pump water from my main tank to the skimmer, which I would move to the 'fuge.  I emailed Jason Kim, President of AquaC, and he said with a Mag 7 or 9 this would work. First, IYO, do you think this is feasible? << Sure. >> Secondly, I have two 1" bulkheads drilled in the back of the refugium for overflow back to the display.  Can I run the pipes at 45 degree angles to the main, or do I need to come down at 90, then turn at 90? << 45's are better than 90 degree bends, so do that. >> I have attached a crude diagram of what I am talking about.  Thanks a few million. << This is somewhat common.  No worries, it looks good. >>  Rich <<  Blundell  >> Will pumps kill pods from the refugium? Thanks Adam! I'll pass on the dragonet. I still want to set up a refugium at some point though -it would be nice to have live food so I can leave the tank to take care of feeding the fish for days at a time when I go on trips.... << Yes refugia are wonderful. >> I just hadn't considered under the tank refugiums. Wouldn't the pump kill the pods first before pumping them up to the display? << No, they go right through the pump.  I'd say 90% of refugia are under tanks with pumps pushing the water back up. >> Narayan <<  Blundell  >>

Refugium flow rate Hello Crew             I have a question regarding the flow rate in my refugium. About 2 months ago I setup a 10 gal refugium upstream from my 30 gal main tank. It has a 3' sand bed. ¼ of the tank has about a 1' of crushed coral, and I have some razor Caulerpa and Chaetomorpha. I now am getting a good growth of copepods and amphipods in the refugium but with only about 3gal per hour turn over how will the pods get into my main tank. The way I have it plumbed now I cant get any higher flow without getting a lot of air bubbles into my tank unless I have it overflow into my sump. My sump only sits about 4' higher then my main tank so my overflow which I used ¾' bulkhead and ¾' pipe only drops about 2' before dumping into my main tank. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated Thanks Mark <Not much difference in height... but you could increase the flow here appreciably if you'd like... with a powerhead or small submersible pump... to a good one to three, four volumes per hour. Bob Fenner> Centrifugal pumps damaging plankton? 12/29/04 Dear WWM crew, First off I would like to say that I have literally spent hours perusing your forums, enough that my wife groans when she sees me on the computer   <glad to hear the former, not the latter... do take care of family first and foremost :)> Thank you for offering a great service. I have heard from a few different places in passing (mostly magazines, and in a couple of places on the WWM pages) that our common centrifugal pumps are limiting our ability to maintain significant zoo and phyto plankton populations in our aquariums, <actually, this is archaic information/belief based on some silly research with brine shrimp that was extrapolated to be applied to marine plankton. In truth, marine plankton act nothing like (salt lake) brine shrimp and suffer very little plankton shear. The point is also ultimately moot as the plankton come out just as edible on the other side :) If you were hungry, would you refuse a hamburger because you wanted a steak instead? <G>> and thinking about it makes sense that the plankton could be damaged by colliding with the volute of the pump.   <you'd be amazed what commonly passes through... I have seen small fish make it numerous times> Since I cannot seem to find anything more than speculation on this subject I was wondering what y'alls opinion is.   <it is only speculation and bunk at that. No worries on plankton shear> Do you think there is any benefit in trying a reciprocating or perhaps rotary pump?  I am thinking that the non-uniform output of the reciprocating pump could have its advantages (more turbulent flow etc.) but more complicated design would lead to more maintenance.  I would love to hear the WWM opinion on this subject. Thanks very much for your input Chad Miltenberger <hamburger 'til it hurts, mate. Anthony> Plumbing a Refugium (3/29/04)  Hello WWM Crew, <Steve Allen tonight.>  Well, I have spent the last hour trying to find the answer to my question to no avail. If you have already answered this please accept my apology for I know you are all busy people. Thanks though for all you are doing for the hobby. <No problem. Happy to help if possible.>  My question is... I have decided to add a refugium to my 400 gallon FOWLR tank. I have plans to enter the invertebrate realm by adding clams and corals. <Be sure to research the best lighting.> The tank has been set up for almost two years. I have only a few fish currently. I am trying really hard to take things SLOWLY and avoid any mistakes. <smart> I have decided that I need to add a refugium to the system in preparation for the invertebrate newcomers. I have a 20 gallon that will become the  refugium but it has to go below the main tank next to the sump. What I wanted to know is how to plumb it in. The easiest would be to use an overflow system and pump water from the sump to the refugium and have it return back to the sump to then be pumped up to the main tank. <Actually, often better to go from the tank to the 'fuge to the sump and up. Drilled overflows are best. Do you already have these for the sump. Here's a link to a nice diagram: http://www.inlandreef.com/Images/DIY/Plumbing/refugium_plumb.gif >  My concern is that all of the beneficial micro life will be destroyed by the impellers on all my pumps. <Certainly an issue, which is why an upstream refugium with gravity return is favored by may. Still, some have demonstrated that quite a few 'pods get through alive.> I bet the best way is to have the overflow from the refugium return directly to the main tank but that is no an option for me. <Understood> Lastly, at night I can see literally thousands of little critters in my tank (probably due to the low fish load) if I transfer some of my existing rock and sand is that enough or should I send away for some more in hopes for a more diverse system? <I'd bet you have plenty of diversity already. Just seed the refugium as you suggest.> Thanks again for all your work.  Robby Phelps <Hope this helps.>

Refugium Plumbing Question Hi Bob: <Ryan today in his absence> I have scrolled through nearly all the posts on this subject trying to find the answer to my question with a 100% definite, but alas I cannot find it...so...simply.... I understand that you should return the refuge (being gravity fed) water directly to the tank not the sump, however, I cannot drill my tank and I already have two extra returns hanging over the top of the tank and do not want anymore....so....can I "T" junction my refugium water into the main return line from my sump??...And if so, I guess the sump and refuge pump should be the same.....If not, any other ideas as to how to do this?? <Yes, simply run a bleeder line off the main return, with a gate valve to regulate flow.  Use a simple overflow system with strainer to return water to the sump.  Great diagram here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/plumbingmarart.htm.  Good luck, Ryan> Thanks. STEVE G

Refugium size 6/13/04 I have a 300 gallon reef tank with a 100 gallon sump. I just purchased a 20 gallon tank and stand for my new refugium. I have 1 65watt compact/actinic lighting <you will have trouble in the long run keeping some of the better macroalgae under light this dim and blue. Little or no actinic is needed here... macros tend to favor warm/daylight (5,000-6,500 K)... and 3 watts per gallon is well on the low end of recommendations for growing plants and algae. Do consider an upgrade if you can... else use a more forgiving macro like Chaetomorpha (one of the best)> and the 6 pack macro algae from indo pacific sea farms (great products) inside with a 5" live sandbed. <great company (IPSF) and great sand bed depth... but the mix of more than one macro species in such a small refugium will not work in time my friend. One will outcompete the other and you may be creating a bit of trouble in the meantime as they chemically duke it out with each other> I am planning to operate lights offset to main tanks lights as indo pacific recommends. <agreed> Is this enough to keep nitrates in check and PH stable <definitely a help with pH I suspect... but not a prayer of this sized refugium being the primary nitrate reducing mechanism for such a large display> or what do you recommend to tweak it better with what I have. <nothing much to change with the refugium other than brighter light, a single species of macro (Chaetomorpha) and probably better water flow (200-300 GPH minimum in this refugium) to optimize its function as a vegetable filter for nutrient export. For nitrate control, you could add to the system (next to the sump below perhaps?) a five gallon bucket filled nearly to the top with fine sand, drilled above the sand level with an overflow and fed by a slow stream of water from the sump/tank. This is one of the easiest, cheapest and least expensive denitrifying filters :) > The room I have is the reason why I can not go over 20 gallons. <understood... no worries, we make do with what we can. You may just need to finesse other aspects of the tank to compromise... lighter fish load, careful feeding, more aggressive skimming and water changes, etc. if you see nitrates increasing. Anthony>

In response to 6/13/04 refugium? 6/14/04 I have a 300 gallon reef tank with a 100 gallon sump, and after reading your response to my question on my new refugium I made some changes. First now because of room I went from a 20 hex to a 35 hex. And lighting I am going from a 65 compact to a 175 Hamilton 10k halide with a fan. and I have the overflow going to my sump and a Rio 1700 with a dial to tone it down. And I added more live sand. Well what do you guys think? I really value your opinion. Thanks,Tanker240 <the upgrades will serve you well. The extra volume int he refugium certainly increase your potential for mass (algae) for nutrient export as well as surface area to cultivate microcrustaceans. The halide is an excellent long term investment and good value (light produce per watt consumed). It doesn't approach the 5 watts per gallon necessary for some fo the more demanding macroalgae (like Gracilaria) but will be just fine for equally desirous or better types like Chaetomorpha. All good :) Anthony>

Getting 'pods from Refugium to Tank (1/13/2004) Hi Crew, <Steve Allen tonight> I am planning a 20 gallon plenum / refugium for my 180 gallon aquarium.  <Why put a plenum in your refugium? A simple DSB should work fine.> One of my goals is to produce enough 'pods to support a dragonette.  <Can you make the refugium any bigger?> Can you suggest any way to encourage / accelerate these little creatures leaving the refugium? <Good question.> I will be flowing only about 100-150 gph of water through the refugium and I have a small (1/2" I.D.) overflow for the refugium water to return to my sump. With this small flow rate <Plenty for a refugium of this size.> and only surface water being returned to my main tank, I am just concerned that very few 'pods will find their way to the overflow to escape the refugium.  Do you think this will be an issue?  <A valid issue. It may not be that many who get up there.> I had considered adding something like a small "ramp" than leads from the refugium substrate to the overflow opening but I do not know if this would have any effect in directing the 'pods. <A pile of live rock might work better.> Oh I do have one more question:  Plenum plans on WetWebMedia.com call for a coarser bottom substrate layer than that of the top layer.  I noticed that the plenum plans on www.garf.org call for the same substrate on both layers.  Does having a more coarse bottom substrate make a significant difference in plenum operation?  I am considering using "GARF Grunge" for the bottom plenum layer since it is a very coarse material and it contains such a diversity of life and coralline seedings.  Do you think this is a worthwhile idea or would the microfauna in the "Grunge" just end-up dying due to lack of oxygen in the lower plenum layer? <Covering it with something finer will likely suffocate the fauna in it.> Maybe the "Grunge" would be better suited for the top plenum layer?  <I would think so.> Would the coralline present in the refugium "Grunge" seed additional coralline in my main tank? <May eventually spread. As far as a plenum goes, I favor the sugar-fine aragonite DSB of 4-6" in a refugium. No plenum. You could wind up with sand blowing everywhere with the flow rate you plan. If need be, a 1/2 inch layer of a coarser sand on top will hold it down better.> Ok, so that was more than "one more question"...<Believe me, as a pediatrician, I am quite familiar with "just one more question..."> but thank you for all the great advice; I owe much of my saltwater success to the great people at WetWebMedia who answer my endless questions! <Me too> --Greg

Upgrade tank setup and move + water movement Hello, <Hiya! Scott F. here today!> Your site is extremely helpful and a virtual Great Library of Babylon of information.  I am only 6 months into the hobby and the recent find of your site has inspired me to expand. <We're glad to be here for you!> My question is about filtration concerning my new tank.  I currently have a 37 gallon eclipse and recently acquired a roughly 55 gallon tank (50x16x17).  I have been reading on your site that live sand should not be more than 1/2 inches or less than 3-4 inches.  All my LFS have told me that 1 to 1.5 inches is optimal so that the sand does not compact and that it would be adequate.  Can you explain in a bit more detail (I read on your site, something about not deep enough to fully denitrify) why this is not a good amount of sand?  If I had a good amount of live rock (1.25 - 1.5 pounds per gallon) would having the 1.5 inches of sand not matter or would it end up hurting the tank? <Well, this is the conventional wisdom...A shallow sand bed may not be deep enough to foster complete denitrification, but too deep to be fully aerobic...A Potential problem. On the other hand, there are some studies that I've read recently that indicated that the denitrification processes occur in nature in the first inch or so of sand, implying that you get some of the same benefits from a shallow sand bed as you do from a deep sand bed...This warrants further review from the hobby before this controversy is resolved.> I have also set up a 20 gallon sump/refugium under the tank that will be only about half full (so making the aquarium actually about 65-67 gallons).  The refugium part is 15x12x11 area (roughly 8 gallons?).  I plan to grow plants (recommendations on plants?) in here and/or macro algae to help with filtration, should I put live sand in there or mud?  If live sand is acceptable for the plants, should I just make this area 4 inches or so? <I'd go with Chaetomorpha, which does not need to be "planted"> If 3-4 inches is minimum in the main tank, that only leaves 13-14 inches of water depth.  I also have a Fluval 404 on the way but I'm wondering if even need it or would it hurt the tank? <Would not be harmful...Just replace the media regularly and keep prefilters clean...> I was planning to send it back but I realize that I only really have a 6x6" area for mechanical filtration from the overflow and some chemical filtration via carbon.  I do not yet have a protein skimmer (any suggestions on which one to get for my tank, preferably one that fits in a 6x6" square area or that sits out of the water and can be plumbed in by going over the top edge of the sump?) <Try an Aqua C Remora Pro...> I don't plan on going full reef for at least another 5-6 months after I move my livestock over next month (as I plan to be out of the country for about a month over the summer plus I want to make sure the tank is better established and stable).  I just want to keep fish and some inverts for the time being but no coral till later. I will begin cycling the tank this week (in which I plan to start cultivating live sand as well if I need a lot more) and plan to slowly move live rock over from my smaller tank after 2 weeks and begin moving  livestock over sometime in mid-late march (depending on ammonia levels etc.).  I will be using some of my old tank water (just by taking the water from my old tank as I do water changes to add into the new one.)  and live sand along with uncured live rock to help cycle as well as cultivate more live sand over the next month.  Is this a good idea? <Sounds fine to me!> One other topic, water movement: My return line will be pumping out water at about 400-500 gph (I think, including head) from the back corner of the tank facing the opposite corner.  I also plan to use a PowerSweep 228 (270 gph) on the opposite side facing laterally a few inches below the surface.  This is for the lateral and turbulent flows. I will also be using a smaller PowerSweep 214 on the return side (or the opposite side?  any suggestions?) as low as it can go (without sucking things up) to help blow detritus and debris around off the bottom of the tank.  This PowerSweep will be connected to a timer to go on every 15 min. for 15 min. (ever 30 min at night) in an attempt to create a surge effect (best I could think of without buying a wave maker or setting up some big bulky noisy contraption).  Is this a good idea?  Too much <Seems like you can never have too much flow! I would avoid timers on the powerheads, as most of them don't take kindly to being turned on and off repeatedly! Just run 'em 24/7> little?  Baby Bear's just right? <Sounds fine to me!> Thank you so much for your help to beginners to the hobby such as myself! P.S. How important are water chillers?  I live in Southern California in the greater Los Angeles area slightly above sea level. Temperatures average around 95 to the hundreds in mid-summer days but also drop back down to he 60s at night. <I live in LA, and I wouldn't be without my chiller...'Nuff said! BTW- what not check out the two excellent clubs we have in the So Cal area- Marine Aquarium Society of Los Angeles County (www.maslac.org) or Southern California Marine Aquarium Society (www.scmas.org)...Enjoy! Regards, Scott F> "It is in vain to expect our prayers to be heard, if we do not strive as well as pray." - Aesop

Sump/refugium question on water flow 2/16/04 Dear Sirs, Thanks to all of you for your help in the past. Couldn't have had a successful marine setup w/ out your guidance. <with hope for your continued success!> I'm now ready to go reef and I've ordered a 100 gal.  tank w/ internal overflow. My LFS friends saw the CPR Aquafuge Pro refugium in use while attending  a  dealer show in Chicago. He was very impressed, enough to convince me to use this setup for the new reef tank. <its small (too small) but still somewhat effective> My existing setup does not employ a sump (one of the reasons I'm not constructing my own yet)  and I had  a few basic questions about flows.  From what I've read, a reef system should have 10-20 x  the water flow per hour. <yes... and those wanting faster growth or with SPS corals and clams may need higher still. Paletta (2003) cites world class displays with as much as 40X> I think this means movement in the tank not how much is being passed through filtration? Is that right? <correct... a 100 gallon display tank needs a total of 2000 gph running through the display combined (powerheads, sump return, refugium overflow, etc... all total)> If true, I have this sump which will be filled w/ mud passing a fraction of the 10-20x flow, <mind you the sump needs around 10X so as not to get too stagnant/slow)> now is the rest of the 10-20x  just water being circulated w/ powerheads or whatever? <correct> I want to start this system right but don't understand how much water has to be filtered per hour and how much just needs to be moved. My LFS has been  helpful but there seems to be a gray area on return pump size for the Aquafuge sump w/ mud. Any help is appreciated. Respectfully, Samuel J. Marrone <the refugium flow is to be determined by what you'll keep... good Chaetomorpha or Gracilaria will need flow strong enough to keep them tumbling... Caulerpa can take slower flow. Do ID your fuge needs first, my friend. Anthony>

Aquafuge pro Dear Sirs,  I wrote earlier today w/ a question on flows for a 100 gal. reef tank which Anthony promptly answered. I have the greatest respect for your team and hold your opinions above all others, <Thanks for the kind words!> please do not misunderstand me but I've just recently ordered a $990 tank thinking I had a good handle on things, but now I'm wondering if I'm getting in over my head (no pun intended). <Has happened to all of us.> Basically Anthony answered that I need 10x the system flow thru the sump to keep it from getting stagnant. <I am not sure what Anthony's exact comment was, but I am not sure that this was his intended interpretation.  10x water flow is ideal in the display.  10x would is also a good ideal for the sump, but that is 10x it's volume (~250gph min in the case of the Aquafuge pro).  Many systems are designed so that all of the display flow also goes through the sump, but in this case that may not be ideal.> The sump is the Aquafuge Pro from CPR. I had e-mailed CPR earlier asking what pump they recommended and received a reply just a few minutes ago saying no more then 400 gph thru the sump, use a Rio 1700. <This sounds like a reasonable recommendation based on the size of the product, although I would recommend a similarly rated Mag Drive, Sen, Sedra, or Eheim pump over the reportedly less reliable RIO.> My dilemma is this: I have a very bad feeling that the tank builder is going to cut me short on the overflow capacity if I need 1000 gph for the sump alone. <Indeed, a tank with overflows that can actually handle that kind of flow is rare (and often impractical).  This is largely why powerheads and closed loops are so commonly used.> I'm also heeding Anthony's advice on no power heads. So if I go closed loop w/ a separate pump and run it from the sump I will also need overflow capacity for that. <By definition, closed loop circulation does not pass through the sump.  Water is drawn directly from the tank, through the pump and back.  There are many design possibilities, and most do not require the use of a pre-existing drain.> Before I go back to my LFS tomorrow and say hold everything the tanks gonna be wrong, I would like your feedback on this situation. I do not want to offend anyone, I do not want to offend CPR or take any credibility away from anyone, but as you can see I'm getting some conflicting info. <Yes and no.  Sometimes it is hard to see the "big picture".  400gph through the aqua-fuge is a good recommendation.  1000gph total in your display is a good recommendation.  Since you can't move 1000gph through the 'fuge, you will have to make it up another way.  Which way is best depends on your budget, how badly you want to avoid powerheads and other details of your system and hardware.> I want his tank to be right from the start, no band-aids or jury rigging if it can be avoided. <Kudos on trying to plan well!  All to often we set things up just to get it done and then are stuck with poor choices.> What would be the recommended size of overflow holes for 2000 gph <You would probably need at least 3-4 1.5" drains to handle that kind of flow, which most folks would consider to be impractical.> or more and what are your thoughts on CPR saying 400 gph thru the sump? Maybe I'm way off on the whole thing, should I run some other type of filtration?  Can it be that mud in a sump can't handle 1000 gph? I'm guessing the CPR system would run similar to the ecosystem are the flows that low for those? If you feel this note could cause some problems w/ CPR or whomever maybe it shouldn't be posted. I just want to have the best experience possible w/ this new adventure, but having some trouble w/ the foundation. Your the only ones I know that have the experience to provide and educated answer.  Respectfully, Sam Marrone <I removed the reply from CPR since it wasn't really relevant to the discussion and they made a good recommendation that is already covered here.  My personal preference for a "typical" system with a refugium placed under the stand is to provide appropriate flow through the refugium (in this case 400gph) to the display with an appropriate pump.  A single 1-1.5" drain will handle this fine.  Then, apply a closed loop to provide the additionally flow desired to the display.  A second drain can be plumbed directly to the inlet of the circulation pump (drain hole must be submerged at all times, no sucking air!), and the return line plumbed as desired.  I hope I have explained all clearly and adequately.  Best of luck, and feel free to write back for clarification.  Adam>   

Re: Aquafuge pro, refugium flow and display flow 2/20/04 Adam, Thank you very much for taking the time to go over this, I guess I did do Anthony a slight injustice by misinterpreting 10X the sump vs. 10x the tank volume. <Glad to, that's what we're here for!  No injustice at all.  There are many ways to skin this cat, and the best one depends on your circumstances.> I'm no longer panicking I will let the tank be built as is and run 250-400gph thru the sump. Now as for the closed loop, which is what I will attempt, do I plumb an extra line in the overflow compartment and let that run to the input of the return pump thru a tee? I guess there are many options here, but does that make sense? <This won't work.  The closed loop must be closed.  The inlet to the closed loop pump must come directly from the tank and return to the pump with no connection to the sump.  The most important reason is that the inlet must be submerged at all times and therefore will siphon if the pump stops, potentially flooding the sump.> I've since replied but I'd like to rephrase my question, i.e. 100 gal. tank looking for 10-20x circulation, if 400gph goes thru the sump and I run a closed loop into the return pump inlet then I'm running approx 1000-2000gph thru one pump? This is starting to make some sense as 2000gph is a pretty big pump I could just run the closed loop on a dedicated smaller pump getting water thru a 2nd line in the overflow? Sorry for all the questions but I'm a complete novice to the sump/plumbing requirements in a sound system. Thanks again.  Sam <My suggestion would be to choose a sump return pump that is rated to deliver the desired flow through your refugium.  Choose a second larger pump for the closed loop. Your closed loop will need it's own inlet/drain that will always be submerged.  You may have to use some creativity for the inlet and returns of your closed loop, but if you do a search on one of the popular message boards you will find lots of discussion.  You can also make a sketch and e-mail it here for feedback.  Keep in mind that since the closed loop is drawing the water from the same place it is returning it, there is negligible head loss.  Best Regards.  Adam>

Refugium turnover I have a 90 gallon that is cycling to be a reef tank....i am going to have a 20 gallon refugium mounted above the tank for macro algae and different types of pods...(i want a mandarin goby).....from what i have read and researched, i have found the some people say you should only have 1-2x turnover per hour? What do you recommend?  Is that accurate.   <That seems a little slow, however, it really depends on the inhabitants in the refugium. If you're planning on growing various species of macro algae, a turnover rate of up to 5x per hour may be sufficient.> I have a 40 gallon sump and I was going to half of it a refugium, but the water flow would be too much wouldn't it? <Considering I don't know what pump(s) you're planning on using, I have no clue. If you want further information, please do not hesitate to email us back with further information (mainly with the what pump you're using, how many gallons per hour it is, etc.) Hope this helps, Graham Stephan.>

Filter vs. recirculation 9/12/03 To the Crew... <howdy> I am expanding my current 300 gallon reef set-up to include a 250 gallon sump/refugium/deep sand bed.  My goal is to have a total water turnover rate in my tank of about 20 times per hour.   <very good> How much of that flow should go to the sump/filter.   <that depends on the needs of the organisms in your refugium... but do know that most refugia require the same or better flow than the main display, contrary to popular misbelief. Especially so if you want aggressive vegetable filtration (macroalgae)> I assume the majority will come from my separate recirculation pump. I searched the FAQ's, but couldn't find anything specific to this. Thanks, Bob McCook <we have the most extensive and complete coverage of this topic at length in our new book "Reef Invertebrates"... about 100 pages dedicated to plants, refugiums, live sand, DSBs, etc. In general though... you will need at least 10X turnover in your refugium filter. Best regards, Anthony>

Refugium water flow 9/12/03 Anthony, Does the 10x represent total flow through the refugium or could I use a slower rate of flow through (5X) and do the other 5X as circulation within the refugium itself? <as stated previously, I cannot say for certain without knowing what you will be growing. 10X was a conservative minimum (total flow through 'fuge). But with macroalgae (the most common refugium stock), you will need much more than 10X... and 5X by almost any measure will be difficult if not dooming (allowing excessive particulates to accumulate and turning the refugium into a miserable basin for nuisance algae. More flow is generally better... aim for 10-20X in the refugium. Anthony>

Refugium Plumbing - 9/20/03 Hello: <howdy> Great web site and great new book, can't stop reading Reef Invertebrates.   <ahhh... thanks kindly> I just finished the chapter on refugiums.  I wanted to ask about a modification to the schematic that appears on page 53 of a downstream refugium water flow diagram.  This is my water flow plan.  The 240 gallon display aquarium with internal overflows will use gravity to supply the first sump which will contain activated charcoal, heater and an in-sump protein skimmer.   <be sure to direct all raw water from the overflow first into a skimmer box/compartment for the concentration and collection of protein rich water at a standing level to insure optimal skimmer performance> This sump will then gravity supply a DIY 100 gallon Rubbermaid non-lighted refugium containing a deep sand bed of oolitic sand. <all good> The main focus of the DSB will be natural nitrate reduction.  The DIY refugium will have a bulkhead for the external return water pump placed approximately 12 to 18 inches above the sand.  The pump will then return water to the display aquarium.  My main concerns are, do you think all this gravity feed water supply will keep pace throughout the entire system or do you think there will be a "bottleneck" in the flow along the way?   <easily solved... if the display is drilled with enough holes to keep up with the pump/flow desired (a common flaw to have inadequate holes)... then you simply need to follow through on the other inline vessels. Namely, if the display has 4 holes... then the skimmer sump needs four holes to feed the true sump (the DSB refugium in this case with the return pump)> Secondly, is it acceptable to have the external return water pump supplying the display aquarium from the refugium or will the action of the pump prohibit any activity in the refugium? <no trouble at all... minor (and moot) concern regarding impeller shear on plankton. No worries :) > Thanks for you time and help. Joe <best regards, Anthony>

Rigging A Refugium Howdy Bob and Crew, <Hey there! Scott F. here today!> I have been reading the FAQ refugium and want to build one.  I want it to be very simple, no drilling, and cheap. I have a 26G and planning to build a 10G refugium.  There's not enough information on building this 10G refugium. Need help.  Space is limited so I can only place it next to the 26G tank. My plan was to get 2 Maxi-Jet 600(160g/h) w/ plastic tubing to Pump to and from the 10G. What do you think?<<Think Scott missed this part... can't pump to and from... RMF>> <Sounds like an elegant, simple solution. You may have to adjust the flow to get it right, but it should work out fine> Since there's no drilling involved, the tubing will be fixed w/ suction cups.  Any advice? I want to lower my Nitrate and add additional volume.. this refugium is the answer, Right? <Well, a properly stocked refugium can assist in the processing of organics, including nitrate. A deep sand bed in your system or in this refugium can help. Lots of great information about refugia construction and implementation on the WWM site, and in the great new book by Anthony and Bob, "Reef Invertebrates". Excellent stuff, IMO. Have fun! Regards, Scott F>

Flow in to a refugium... Hi everyone at WWM.  Hope all is going well.  I have a question about water flow into a refugium. I have a 55g main tank and am setting up a 10g (I know small but is all space will allow for now...) Water will overflow from the 55 down to the 'fuge.  In the center of the 10g 'fuge I am planning a DSB and eventually to grow macroalgae and copepods etc., to "help" feed the main tank and to reduce on nitrates. The pump I bought is the Quiet One 4000 which will give me about 750gph @3 ft head, not considering the T's and elbows inside the tank.  When it reaches the main tank it will be split into 2 custom pvc closed loops -4 T's per side-  run by a SQWD to alternate current to each side.  I guess my problem is that for the water flow into the closed loops I'd like a good amount of flow (I should get about 12X with this pump although I'd rather more).  But, is this going to be way to much flow to consider my refugium? <yes>   I do have baffles inside the 'fuge to hopefully keep everything from being blown away.  I really don't want to do this wrong and have to redo it because flow is waaayyyyy too much.  I read in Anthony & Roberts RI book that high flow is ok in a fuge but it didn't say what was considered high flow.  I think I would have about 60 or70Xs the fuge volume turning over per hour.....I'm thinking I'm trying to kill 2 birds with one stone (flow in tank and also the 'fuge) but it just can't be done together.  Some guidance would be greatly appreciated. < when you install the squid put a valve before it so you can regulate how much flow goes in the tank. the animals that live and grow in there can not live with that much flow cut it in half hope this helps Mike H> Jannell

Re: How much is too much?  Flow in to a refugium... Hi again (Mike H if it's still u), Just wanted to clarify one thing from your reply.  I'm pretty sure I figured out what you meant but to be sure: When you said to cut the flow in half on the return before the SQWD to keep the creatures alive,  I'm assuming that you didn't mean the 12x in the main tank volume was too much right,  u meant for me to do that to cut the flow going back into the refugium, right? <right sorry for confusion> Can you tell me for future reference, so I don't have to email again,  about how much flow should be given to a refugium...3x fuge size or??? <for your 10 gallon tank I would say 30-60 gallons per hour> If that's the case:  Could get your advice again....I'm thinking that it would be more beneficial to my tank at this point to not forgo the total amount of current into the tank to have the 10g refugium.   I'm thinking I may just use the 10g under the tank to just recirculate the water and not use it as a refugium at all (would it even be considered a sump, its so small) <any out side container holding water is a sump I once used a 5 1/2 gallon tank as a sump for a 10 gal display tank>  Do you think that would be the best bet for the tank? < I would use as a refugium>  The lack of properly aimed/designed water flow is worrying me.  Right now I have 2 filters, an Emperor 400 and a Magnum 350, running  and 2 powerheads with about 350gph together.  In preparation of removing the Emperor 400 totally, (to make room for the overflow for the fuge or whatever it turns into) I removed one of the bio-wheels a few weeks ago and have suddenly run into a red, stringy, mat type algae covering most of the sand. <  this is Cyanobacteria type this on the search and will give you info on how to get rid of it>   I continue to siphon it out daily with a turkey baster.   I was hoping that added circulation from the 12xgph loop would help the algae problem. < more circulation will greatly help  with the algae problems. Also test your phosphates if they are high find out were they are coming from and get rid of them (ROWAphos works great). hope this helps Mike H.>   Thanks again Jannell

Refugium placement and surface "scum" 12/11/03 Kudos- WWM site has been a huge factor in my enjoyment of this hobby/way of life. <Thanks for the kind words, although I am too new to take any credit!  Kudos to you for realizing that this all becomes a way of life!> Please comment on refugium placement pros/cons: gravity feeding sump vs. display, ease of installation. <In an ideal world, the refugium would always gravity drain into the display.  This ensures that any critters passing from the refugium to the display do so without a perilous trip through a pump.  In the real world, a refugium above the level of the display creates some serious logistical issues in terms of access to both the 'fuge and main display, aesthetics, etc.  Refugium sumps solve those problems, but microcrustaceans must travel through a main return pump to get into the display.  IMO, this is a minor downside for two reasons. First, a trip through a pump is probably not a dangerous to the critters in question as you might think.  Second, even if some critters are damaged or killed, they still are a nutritious and delicious prey item.  Hang on or in tank refugia often have the best or worst of the two previous worlds.  Essentially the choice comes down to which of all the choices works best for your and your system, and the fact that any refugium is probably better than no refugium.> I also can not seem to rid the surface of the display of "scum" (brown stinky floaters).  72-bow FOWLR, EuroReef skimmer, wet/dry, about 30-40lb. rock, Sailfin, goby, clown, damsel. <I am assuming by your use of a wet/dry that you are employing some kind of surface skimming device (drilled tank, spillway, J-tube overflow).  If this is the case, simply manipulating the current devices in the tank so that they direct the scum toward the overflow should suffice.  If this is not possible or practical or doesn't work, a strategically placed powerhead should work too.  Best regards.  Adam>

Propelling 'Pods Hey, <Hey there! Scott F. with you!> Right now, I have a 10 gallon reef ( all zoos) with 80 watts of pc in the coming week or 2, I am getting a 55 gallon tank with once again is going to be for zoanthids only- I'm going to use cured rock as to cycle the tank quicker. <Hopefully!> I plan on getting a couple of gobies including a Green or Target Mandarin so I want to get a head start for a couple of weeks at least before adding the Mandarin. <I'd wait a longer time than that before introducing this fish. Mandarins historically fare poorly in newly established tanks with limited microfauna for them to forage> I know the question I'm going to ask has been answered and you can go ahead and refer me to another link, but I assure you no matter how much I read I am still illiterate in the topic. <Cut yourself a little slack! I'm sure that you know a lot more than you think you do> I'm going to have no room behind or on top of the 55 at all except for the AQUA C Remora I'm getting-this also means the fuge will be under the tank. <Sounds fine so far...> I plan on using my 10 gallon and the 80 watts of pc. I still don't understand how the piping goes to get the pods etc from the fuge to the main tank. Telling me to use the return pump etc means nothing. Can you please explain to me how this works in layman's? terms. <Well, in many configurations, this is exactly how it works...The pods and other planktonic life are "sucked up" (or down, if the refugium is over the display) into the return to the tank. Really pretty simple. Sure, there are other possible means to accomplish this, but this is the most common way. As a simple person myself, this is how I'd explain it!> Thanks a lot. Mike <My pleasure. Regards, Scott F.>

Downstream refugium 5/28/03 Hey gang! Hope y'all are doin' well, A question for Anthony concerning the DSB chamber in the sump. There's 4 1/2" of space remaining in the DSB area, after the 8" sand was added. I'm thinkin' about placing live rock on top of the sand, here's the question, would the sand bed function better if there's a space between rock and sand? <it would function better without the rock impeding water flow above it IMO. No rock at all for me, here. At most, some tumbling Chaetomorpha or Gracilaria algae> I have a 18" NO strip light that could be placed over the sump as well, I was thinking that the reverse timer, light cycle (sump lights as display goes dark), the way the refuge does, might add to the system a bit. Every little bit helps! <agreed> What's your opinion? <I think that Kordell Steward will not be the starting quarterback in Chicago in the 3 year picture. Pittsburgh made the right call releasing him. Pre-season starts soon. Thanks goodness, too... golf and baseball bore me to tears.> Thanks for the advice! Peace & incense. Stormbringer <always, welcome mate. Anthony>

Down stream sump/refuge, turned upstream? 6/2/03 Hey Gang, I trust y'all are livin' large!, (life is good!), <always> Anthony, I need your advice on that "downstream refuge" picture/question sent to you last week. In order to put it under the display, I'd have to raise the tank enough to maintenance the Remora Pro protein skimmer, which has been off the tank for a couple of months. <bummer... compensated with extra water changes and chemical filtration I hope> As you can see in the photo, the "sump" in the top right side could function as an upstream refuge, <to be specific... a sump is the lowest vessel inline, be that the display proper or an empty vessel. In this case it is your trickle filter chamber. Agreed... the upper right vessel would make a fine upstream 'fuge> it's easy to feed it with a maxi-jet 1200 from the display, into the Remora chamber, over the sand bed, the into the over-flow back into tank. I've got another 20 gallon tank that I was going to put an 8" DSB in, then put it where the sump now sits as the refuge.  I'm still waiting for the sand to arrive, the Rocky Mt. Reef Club placed a large group order that's taking forever to get here. Question, should I go ahead and run this set-up as is, and use the spare 20 gallon as a quarantine tank? <if you have no other, QT then yes, please do> Do you think the 40lb, 8" DSB will do much for filtration if I run it as is? <sounds excellent for denitrification> I picked up some Halimeda Macro-algae today that's going on top of the sand. What would you do, drain & raise the display to accommodate the "plan", or leave as is? (I really want to get the protein skimmer going again) Thanks, as always, your bro in Denver, Stormbringer (Scott) <I favor upstream refugiums and the use of a skimmer. Given to choose between the two, I'm inclined to see you get that skimmer rolling ASAP. Best regards, Anthony>

Refugium questions Greetings, A couple of questions that I'd like your help on while I'm in the final stages of planning my new reef tank. First, I am planning a second tank 55 (gals) plumbed off the main system (150gals) with a DSB and live rock. I've read on your site that you recommend turn over rates of around 2-3 times per hour for the refugium.<Finally, in address of the specific amount of water flow needed for corals, we cannot only say that more is better. The type and volume of water flow in the aquarium must be tailored to suit each collection of corals that have hopefully been assembled with regard for their similar needs. The old "rule of thumb" for water movement was 4 to 10 times a tanks total volume. In modern aquariums however, a 10-fold turnover of water is mediocre at best. Now enlightened to avoid laminar flow for most corals, aquarists will find that 10 to 20-fold turnovers are common and appropriate. Some systems with various stony corals or programs targeting fast growth will likely employ even great flow. Judicious experimentation is the only rule to follow here." by Anthony Calfo><Read this article by Anthony Calfo   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/circmarart.htm >  Is 2-3 times the refugium capacity or the total system capacity? Second, when I start placing live rock in the display tank should I set the rock on the bottom of the tank and then put the sand around it or put the sand in first and then the rock on top.<I would put the sand in first and then put the rock on top> Thanks in advance for your continued help and support. Your site is extremely helpful.<IanB> Regards, Dave.

Refugium tweaking & scary overflows 6/10/03 Hello Anthony, How is it? <still hairy, thanks for asking> Well I hope! <sure... easy for you to say. People don't think you are wearing mohair pajamas when you are really stripped to the waist at the beach... but I digress...> I wrote you twice about a sump turned refuge (you may remember!?!), <I do...> at any rate, 1 1/2 days after it was up & working, the face of the tank cracked (Major bummer). <that part sucks... caused by a twist or torque of the stand... or simply a stand that was not level from Go most always> Now I've got a new, DIY 15 gallon design working. I'm using two Maxi-jet 1200, to get water to & from the refuge. <yikes!!! Cease and desist my friend! Never try to pair pumps to move water in and out of a vessel... it is truly a recipe for disaster. All pumps are not exactly equal... and even theoretical "identical ones may clog at different rates. Yikes again! Please do take the time to drain, drill and refill this vessel using a bulkhead fitting. Else, I personally would not run it at all... we are talking flood and fire hazard here> I didn't realize how touchy trying to balance the two was going to be! Would a siphon tube of the J variety, <alas no... truly outdated and unreliable if not unsafe. A drilled overflow hole is really the only way to go> work better to put water into the display tank without bubbles, or, is there a way to have a switch of some sort to turn the return pump on & off, at two different levels in the refuge (low & high), so the tank won't over flow or keep the pump from running dry? <you are overthinking this one bro... simply drill/install an overflow hole that is large enough to handle the pump you choose... it's foolproof after that> That would be cool if, when the water level in the refuge rose to a selected point, the pump would switch on adding an extra "wave" in the display. Then shut off at a low point, then back on, you get the idea! <very neat idea, my friend... but it would chew up pumps... especially the non-industrial hobby quality ones> I really wouldn't know how to do these types of projects, do you know where I could buy a clue? Thanks for letting me pester you, Stormbringer (Scott in Denver) <hmmm... not a lot of coverage on fuges in modern texts yet. Our new book has perhaps the biggest section to date (almost 100 pages on plants, algae and refugiums). Local aquarium societies and regional and national aquarium conferences are really the best place to learn these new techniques bud. Do follow the MACNA conferences. It is the best money you can invest in your aquaristic education... bang for your buck! MACNA this year is being held by www.lmas.org  Best regards, Anthony>

Refugium Flow.... Thanks for all the advice, Scott!  I know a lot of this stuff can be done different ways, and it's personal preference, but I appreciate the info. <My pleasure...And it's so true- there are tons of different ways to approach these systems. The best strategy is to look at other people's systems, listen to their opinions, and make your decisions based on what you feel comfortable with. Remember, you can always rework it if you want down the line!> I need a bit of additional advice on Question/Answer #4.  I'll probably have the refugium below the main tank, but above the sump.  My question is, "Should the water coming out of the refugium enter the sump before or after the skimmer?"  My concern is, if the refugium overflow water enters the sump and returns to the main tank (unskimmed), is that putting too much unskimmed water back in to the main tank? <Ah- I see your concern. Your call on this one. As I mentioned, you could split water flow, even on the "outbound leg" of its journey through your system, diverting part to the main tank, and part to the skimmer compartment. Or, if you feel better about it- you could divert all incoming water into the refugium, then the skimmer...There are soo many opinions about it! I am not as concerned about returning unskimmed water back into the system, as long as the skimmer, wherever it is located, puts out regular amounts of dark skimmate...> Thanks again for all your help! Bob Dusin <My pleasure, Bob! Good luck with your planning! Regards, Scott F>

10 gallon refugium Hey guys. <IanB here today> Kudos on the fantastic site, it is a great place to spend one's free time.<agreed>  Onto the question now.  I realize that a lot of info pertaining to my question is already on your site, but I have a question about a smaller system that I would appreciate suggestions on.  I have a 20 gallon reef, with all components inside yuck), and I want to install a 10 gallon sump/refugium, for obvious reasons.<yes, it is a good idea to do so>  My first question, and the one that most concerns me, is the location of the sump.  Due to space issues, this unit will be below the aquarium, as most are, but it has to be located on a diagonal from the main tank.  Is this ok?<yeah it should be fine>  Will I run into drain/return issues with this type of setup? <probably not>   Basically, I'd like to keep this setup as simple as possible (ha...don't we all), and I wanted to run my ideas by you guys to see what you thought of them.  I was planning on using pvc "J" tube in the tank, with the drain just below the surface, as opposed to an overflow box. <yes this is the way I would do it>   I would like to use a section of flexible tubing for the drain, instead of constructing a solid pvc unit with elbows and such, and I was wondering if that would be ok. <yes, it should be fine. use something like the plastic air tubing that is attached to your pumps>  I plan on draining the tank (using a 1" id tube) into the corner of the sump (which will have 3 partitions), the first of which will hold my skimmer/heater, and then using a baffle to drain into the refugium area (with a lower water level), which will be the second partition, and then another baffle with a sponge to help cut down on bubbles going into the final partition, which will hold the return pump (at a lower water level still). <all sounds good> Basically, this unit will appear as a series of "steps", if you will, and I plan on using 3/4" id flexible tubing as the return line, not splitting as many would do (small system, not necessary?).  How does this sound? <pretty darn good!>  What recommendations would you have for me in regards to return pump size?<a smaller pump. depending one what your LFS has available>  I have a large powerhead that I am currently not using, and I was wondering if this would suffice as a return pump (quite powerful, and adjustable to boot). <should be fine>  Should I use a larger drain pipe, or will the mentioned diameter be sufficient? <for this small aquarium it should be ok>  Also, should I install a valve to control the return pump rate, or at least a swing valve to prevent back siphoning? <yes> If you can't already infer, I am relatively new to this concept and I want to make sure I do it right (and don't end up with gallons of water on my floor).  The only thing that scares me a bit is the level that I plan on using for the first partition, which will hold my skimmer.  I have a relatively tall skimmer, and after taking some measurements I have concluded that the level needs to be almost at the top (Sic mean top) of the tank in order for the skimmer to have the correct water level in this section.  It scares me because I am unsure of what will happen if the pump fails or the power goes out......am I correct in being fearful of a potential problem here? <yes> Is it safe to say that the lower water levels in the other sections will allow for some extra water to enter the sump, without it flooding over this first partition? <the only way to avoid this is to get a taller aquarium>  Will these hose specs work without sucking in air, etc?? <they should>  And finally, one last question.  Is there any way to set up this system to allow for the pump to be shut off without breaking the siphon? <probably not>  I was thinking of running an airline from the venturi on the powerhead in my tank to a hole bored in the peak of the drain elbow to hold the suction, but I'm not sure if that will help or not.  To sum it all up, my main question is the use of flexible tubing all around (with the exception of the pvc tank drain) and the diagonal location of the unit.  I can't put it directly below the tank without a major tank move, and I'd rather not do that right now.  Please tell me this is ok :) <it should be ok.. you might run into some minor problems (I still do all the time believe me!!!), Good luck, IanB> Thanks a bunch guys.  I love this place! -Dave Conners P.S-I know it would be ideal to have a separate refugium with a low water flow in comparison to the sump area, but due to lack of space and size of system, I have opted to go with this hybrid set-up.  I don't plan on having a huge amount of flow anyway, as it is such a small system. <we are in agreement>  

Refugium Flow Rate Hello to all, <Hi, Jim, Don here today> I am in process of setting up a 20 gallon refugium with a 1" bulk head to sit above and drain back into my sump. My question is I tried to use a Sedra pump rated at 350 gallons per hour and it seems to want to over fill the tank (real close). What size/type of pump should I use ???? <depending on what you are putting in the refuge (macro algae, Gracilaria, Sargassum, etc) 5-10x turnover is sufficient (100-200gph for your setup). Maybe a gate/ball valve on the output side, so you can fine tune the flow. Don> Jim

Refugium Solutions... Scott, Thanks for the input.  I really appreciate the advice and love learning more about the hobby. <The learning and sharing is one of the best parts of the hobby!> I do have one more quick question...for now (I am not shy about asking questions). I am new to this so I don't know how to balance the inflow of water to the filter with the outflow of water back to the tank.  Amiracle says that the overflow box can do up to 400 GPH (I don't know how to verify that since it it gravity operated). <I'd trust the manufacturer on that one!> The filter literature recommends certain size return pumps for certain size tanks. For a 125, it recommends a 625 GPH return pump and for a 150, it recommends a 725 GPH pump.   I figured since my tank is a 135, it would probably be better to get something a little larger so I can scale it back.  Given the inflow rate of 400 GPH (?), does a return pump of 725 sound about right? <I'd go for a pump like the Iwaki MD40RLT, which is puts out 750 gph, is seriously reliable, and is quite efficient. There are a number of other models available that can do the job as well. Of course, you can always "dial down" the flow with a good ball valve. Do a little research, and you'll find many good alternatives in the 750 gph performance class...> Sorry, just thought of a second question from your response below. If I feed the refugium from the sump with submersible pumps, how would I determine the size of the feeder pump?  Should it be close to the 400 GPH coming in from the overflow box? <I would try a slightly larger pump and dial it down with ball valves as necessary...There will be a serious amount of tweaking and "wet runs" that you'll need to engage in to get it down, but it will be well worth it. You should check out the OzReef site for lots of good information on these types of setups and configurations. You may also want to talk with some fellow hobbyists about their setups- consider posting on the WWM Chat Forum...Lots of talented, helpful fellow hobbyists there!> By the way, I know it would be better having the refugium above the main tank so food could just fall into the tank instead of going through a pump, but I don't think there is any way I can get it above the tank.  This new 135 is big enough for a bedroom in my smaller house now :) Thanks again, Paul <Yep- that's always the tough part... Most people cannot configure the "ideal" refugium setup (overhead), but you could position it in many different ways...Be creative, and you'll come up with lots of good ideas for your system. Good luck! Scott F>  Refugium Hello, Great site! I have just filled my second 3" notebook with "print outs" from your site. This way I can sit in my chair with a beer and read....and re-read and drink another beer.......... I am planning a 120 gallon reef tank. I will have a remote 100 gallon sump (Rubbermaid in the basement). My skimmer will be outside the sump with it's own pump, skimmed water returns back to sump. I will have a Super Aqua Sea Dolphin pump (lots of head pressure) sitting next to the sump to return the water to the display tank with a close loop arrangement. On the plumbing from the sump pump to the display tank I want to have a "T" with a gate valve that I can use to control water flow into a 100 gallon refugium, (also Rubbermaid). The refugium I hope to have sitting 12" or so above the level of the sump, and have gravity feed the water from the refugium back to the sump, (with a 2-4x turnover of water volume per hour). Does this sound like a workable arrangement? <Yes, it sounds fine.> Will the skimmer and/or the pump grind up any possible beneficial food that will hopefully make it out of the refugium? <Yes, to an extent, but I don't believe this to be too bad of an issue. While it is better to have a refugium above the display so the water and food can gravity feed into the main tank without having to go through a pump, I doubt you want to have a Rubbermaid tub in your living room. This refugium arrangement is definitely better than nothing and will help, but not as well as the above tank variety.> Thanks for your help, Cary <Best of luck to you! -Steven Pro>

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

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

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

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

Re: Refugium Question Hi Again, Thanks for the speedy response. Do you have any recommendations regarding what type of "low sheer" pump to use? Thanks Cheri <<There are several co's. Tunze makes them. Try searching WWM or the web. Craig>>

Refugium Hello Anthony! (Or whichever person gets this...) <howdy!> Ok, the refugium is plumbed in - hubby did a very interesting job, I'll have to try and diagram it for you, or better yet, take pics. My question is...the 55 is divided into three parts: skimmer box (fed raw tank water) pours into middle section with sand, plants, etc. Third section is return pump.  <all sounding good> Ok, but both "baffles" are the same height. One is NOT lower than the other, to return to the main tank. <not sure I follow...meaning that the first and second chambers kinda mix before the water level drops down to the third section? More specifically, are you saying that the first chamber does not drop in to the second chamber? I believe this is the case. If so... I would stop running the system... drop the water level temporarily... add a small piece of glass or acrylic to the first baffle and glue/silicone to raise its height slightly. We want/need the first chamber to concentrate raw overflowing water before carrying on to the second and so on.> Will this cause problems, and if so, how do we fix it? Water is running through, so too late to undo and either cut holes like an overflow box, or anything else. <Hmmm... still not a problem. Get plastic nylon clips or clamps and clamp small strip of acrylic or glass to top of the first baffle to raise the height slightly like a dam> Hoo boy....hope this isn't a problem, but you will probably tell me it is... -Cathy <>< <no worries, I'm sure it can be resolved>

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flow Rate for Refugiums Bob - I've learned so much valuable information from you today regarding lighting and tank dimensions. Thank you. Just one last question and I'll leave you alone for a peaceful weekend.  I have read quite a few refugium postings on the web. Many of these postings state that flow rates through a refugium should be rather slow, say 2 to 15 refugium volumes per hour. I have seen two reasons for such a slow flow rate. One reason is that the algae in the refugium need time to absorb nitrates in the water. Another reason is that some refugium keepers want to raise small life forms to populate the main tank and feed tank inhabitants, and these small life forms might get whisked away from the refugium by a higher flow rate before having a chance to propagate. <That about sums it up.> I am thinking of keeping a refugium for the main purpose of reducing nitrate levels in the system water in a marine fish set-up. What flow rates would you suggest for passing water through a refugium? If you suggest a relatively slow flow rate, for what reasons do you think a slower flow rate is beneficial? <The range you state should be fine... as long as the flow doesn't totally "lay over" algae growth or tear it asunder... the more flow actually the better.> Thank you for all of your help today, and have a great weekend. Bruce Grant >> <Be chatting soon. Bob Fenner>

Beast Skimmer and sump as I said before am working on a new sump for my aquarium its a 100 gal marine tank. the sump I designed had chamber 1 was a 15x6" chamber were the beast was going to sit and be feed by a 1060 pump, chamber 2 was 12x15x10 deep but my local aquarist said the outflow is not enough to fill drip tray enough. What do u think I think it should balance out the other end using a 1060 pump with a back feed of 5-5.5ft hope u can help me out than for the advise Craig brown <Craig.. your intent or dilemma was not clear to me from the description. Is there a reason why you cannot simply have the first chamber field raw overflowing water and overflow into the second stage (chamber two/open sump/whatever downstream) with a pump working the skimmer from inside the first chamber on a dedicated loop (water in and out in same chamber)? Balancing pumps of even like models never work... it is not perfect science and they are not perfect products.. one will fall behind inevitably. Anthony>

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