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FAQs about Refugium Rationale/Use

Related Articles: Get Thee To A Refugium by Bob Fenner, Refugia: What They're For And How To Build Them by Forrest Phillips, Reef Systems, Reef Set-Up, Refugiums, Reef Filtration, Marine System PlumbingFish-Only Marine Set-up, FOWLR/Fish and Invertebrate Systems, Reef Systems, Coldwater Systems, Small Systems, Large Systems, RefugiumsMacroalgae

Related FAQs: 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 Design, Construction, Hang-on types, Pumps/Circulation, Lighting, Operation, Algae, Livestock, DSBs, & Caulerpa, Marine System Plumbing, Holes & Drilling 1, Durso Standpipes, Overflow Boxes, Bubble Trouble, Plumbing NoiseMake Up Water Systems, Marine Aquarium Set-Up, Micro-Crustaceans, Amphipods, Copepods, MysidsAlgal Filtration in General, Mud Filtration 1

What part don't you follow? A refugium is a type of sump arrangement, tied in with your main/display unit through a circulating pump to culture foods, add filtration, volume... A complete article on the same (Get thee to a Refugium) can be found at wetwebmedia.com, that describes what these are, how to set them up...

Algae Scrubber Questions       4/20/16
I have a challenging maintenance tank because the co2 levels in the building get extremely high in this waiting room.
<Yikes; not good for people either>
The pH drops significantly during weekdays down to 7.9 (dropped to 7.6
before adding soda lime reactor
to skimmer), and then climbs up to about 8.3 in the middle of the night where it will swing back down the next day. On the weekends when they don't have clients it stays at 8.3. After adding
soda lime and reasonably stabilizing pH it seems like corals were at least able to open up. Before they would open for a day or two and then shut down. However, now I'm getting dinoflagellates which I thought at first was related to a Lysol spray they were using. After discontinuing the Lysol spray the algae changed its form a little bit but still persists and I've seen some unusual loss of invertebrate life. I've not been able to read any nitrates or phosphates in the water and calcium and alkalinity are very stable (alk at about 8dkh maintained by soda ash). I've tried
Kalkwasser for maintaining those and helping with the ph but it just barely keeps up with demand with few corals in the tank so I don't think it's the right solution long term as the tank gets filled.
Its about 1.5 years old now, but lightly stocked due to tank stability issues I want to get resolved. That was a lot of background for my main question which is in regards to adding an algae scrubber. I don't have room in the stand for a refugium,
<Rats! This IS what I'd add... with a reverse daylight photoperiod and macro-algae... THIS would solve the vacillating pH issue, and likely the noisome algae as well
but I've been thinking to fight these Dinos I need to get that ph even more stabilized by utilizing some plants.
<Ah yes>
I've been looking at an upflow scrubber from Santa Monica but its not in the clients budget. If I was more confident it would do what I want I could probably get them to go for it. Do you think it will have the desired effect?
<Might help; worth trying... But I want you to consider a good hang on the back refugium (of size)... perhaps one of the CPR units:
I'm confident the scrubber will scrub co2 but I'm not confident that the exchange with the air won't render the effort insignificant; and that essentially I will be creating o2 in the tank, only to clean the air in the room which seems like a daunting task for a little scrubber. I'd love an opinion, or any ideas on how I might test the theory before pushing the
Matt J
<Either one I'd try. Bob Fenner>

Re refugium or power filter?    2/28/12
Hi Bob! It's me again. You knew I'd be back, didn't you?
Lil' reminder of what I have:
 a.. 75 gallon salt water tank, 10 days old
 b.. 2 inches live sand, 2 " more,.. on the way!
 c.. Remora skimmer
Question;  Can I use my refugium instead of a power filter?
<Can, though I'd add a bit of mechanical filtration (see WWM re) if there's no pad, bag/s...>
The reason I ask is because I don't have a decent power filter, nor the money to buy one.
I do have  a $400.00 refugium I bought several years ago!
Thanks Bob, for your time a patience with all of 'our ' endless questions!
Pam Anderson
<Welcome! BobF>

Refugium Setup'¦ Beneficial? (Indeed) -- 11/20/11
Hey Crew.
<<Hey'¦whomever you are>>
Have a few minor questions for you. But let's start with me giving you the details. I have a 75 gal tank reef tank (3month old reef/tank) with a PhosBan reactor 150 (used GFO for a month as the media, now changed to Rowa
<<Is also 'GFO' (Granular Ferric Oxide/Hydroxide)>>
just to test all phosphate removing media. (Any suggestions?)
<<Mmm, yes'¦ Stay away from Aluminum/Alumina based Phosphate removers if keeping 'soft' corals (e.g. -- Seachem's Phosguard)'¦and buy Iron-Based (i.e. -- GFO) Phosphate removers in bulk. Don't be concerned with 'branding' (e.g. -- Rowaphos, Phosban, et al)'¦look for the best deal>>
Bubble Magus NAC 6 skimmer, 10 gallon water change every 10-14 days. Great water flow in tank. Never over feed, even use the company Elos phosphate free pellets for one of their 2 daily meals. Nitrates and phosphates almost always hover around 0. But I still get a slight light green algae (not hair) growing on the LR
<<This tank is still very 'young'>>
with some nice coralline algae also, and some algae growing in the sand bed. So my question is would adding a fuge underneath my tank next to the sump be a good idea?
Is it over kill?
<<Never'¦in my opinion>>
Should I add a power head in the sump for increase water flow?
<<Dunno'¦but likely not necessary>>
Also is there a way to have a fuge of just deep sand bed, an LR/ rubble? Basically not using light and still get positive results since I have so much other filtration?
<<Indeed'¦this is quite acceptable'¦but do read here and among the many associated links for a plethora of information on refugiums (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm)>>
Thanks guys/gals
<<Cheers'¦ EricR>>
Re: Refugium Setup'¦Beneficial? (Indeed) -- 11/22/11

Thanks Eric,
<<Quite welcome>>
With all the filtration I have, and room underneath my tank I have basically enough room for a 5/10 gallon aquarium.
<<Ah, I see>>
My next question is what size pump/return should I get? Basically what should be the gph in my fuge? Suitable for my 75gallon.
<<How will water be getting to this vessel? My suggestion is to divert some from the drain going to the sump'¦and drill/rig the refugium with a throughput that will 'gravity drain' to the pump chamber of the sump (please see here, and among the links in blue: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugpbfaq2.htm). Then add a small powerhead to the refugium for additional circulation if deemed necessary>>

Re Small Refugium/Refugiums DIY 10/6/09
Thank you James. Not to question you expertise however I had another question. If it would help a 55 gallon, and I plan to stock my 150 as a 100 or less would I see a 30% benefit?
<For purposes of nitrate/nutrient control as you were alluding to in the original thread, yes, it would help some, but I sure couldn't give you a percentage number, but I can say that a small refugium is better than none.>
Thanks much.
<James (Salty Dog)>
Michael Pamukcoglu

Wet/Dry or refugium? 5/17/09
Hello ladies and gents,
I currently have a 55 gallon FOWLR tank, it consists of 1 aqua clear 70 HOB filter, 1 aqua clear 70 power head, 1 aqua clear 50 power head, 1 UV sterilizer, and a Coralife super skimmer 65. It has a 3" sugar size oolite sand bed and 40 pounds of live rock. I have only one valentini puffer, and one porcupine puffer (3") and one long tentacle anemone,two hermit crabs and one turbo snail, along with the various serpent starfish that has hitchhiked on the live rock and are surprisingly still in there. The tank has only been set up for two months. They were moved from a ten gallon that has been set up for 4 months that has 2.5" inch sand bed and 15 pounds live rock with numerous hermit crabs.
<Even the 55 is much too small for the porcupine.>
I want to turn the ten gallon into a refugium, since I already have the overflow and pumps for it, the problem is we used quick cure (malachite green) in it and I don't know if it is safe to use?
<The tank will be fine to use.>
Should I go this route or just set up a wet/dry and leave my ten gallon just a breeder for puffer food.
<If you have all the supplies a refugium is the way to go IMO.>
When I move later this year me and my wife will be setting up a 300 gallon for a puffer, <Ah, good.> which we will employ both the wet/dry and refugium, but till then I would like your expert opinion on which would be a better filtration for my fish till then and easier to move. If I did use the ten gallon as filtration for my 55 then I could use the aqua clear 30 off it for filtration for my other ten gallon quarantine tank. There are just too many decisions to make, but that is why I love this hobby, because there are just endless possibilities. Well, sorry for taking up so much of your time, but any opinion you give will greatly be appreciated.
PS I attached a photo so you could see why I want somewhere to put all my equipment! Thanks!
<Welcome, Scott V.>

Refugium and FOWLR 3/12/2009
Hello Crew,
<Hi Lee>
Great Job, Thanks.
<You are most welcome.>
I have a 180gal FOWLR. I have 2 40gal sumps under the main tank. Currently I have the overflows from both sides of the tank flowing into empty sump1, and via hoses, sump1 flows into sump2, where
the skimmer and return pump are.
<Sounds good so far.>
Here's the questions does a FOWLR need a refugium and does a FOWLR benefit with a refugium?
<No, it does not need one, but yes there is a definite benefit to having a refugium plumbed into your system. They help greatly with nutrient control and provide a place for copepods and other live food to reproduce.>
<Do read more here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm >

Can a refugium double as quarantine? 12/24/08 Hi Crew, <Hello> Thanks again for running such a wonderful site. I can't commend you enough for making all of this information publicly available. It's certainly steered me from many potential pitfalls and your site is the first I recommend to other aquarists. <Good to hear.> Now to the question - Can a separate refugium sharing the same sump as a main tank be made to also function as quarantine? <Not really.> The goal of this would be to prevent setting up and tearing down a dedicated quarantine tank, while at the same time offering the stability of the primary setup and getting fish acclimated to the main systems specifications. <It would risk your main tank.> I was considering running fairly high rated UV sterilization on the plumbing leaving the refugium, which would be turned on and cleaned weekly whenever a new fish is going through the 1-2 month quarantine process... the intent being to kill all pathogens before they could contaminate the main tank. <Would not get them all.> Could this be sufficient for preventing outbreaks? <Unfortunately not.> If UV's not sufficient, assuming proper safety is deployed (both for fish and their caregivers) would ozone be an appropriate alternative? <Also would not get 100% and risk your main tank.> I understand that a separate hospital tank will still be required for any necessary medication, but I'm always open for a better solution for optimal conditions with quarantined fish, if it won't jeopardize the main tank of course. <Too much risk for the main tank in my opinion.> Thanks yet again for all of the wonderful advice you've made available, have a great holiday! <You too.> David Jones <Chris> <<Good for... "isolation" use though... RMF>>

Refugium and Scooter Blenny Utilizing a Refugium for Supplemental Food Production  -02/20/08 Hi Crew, <Hey there, Scott F. with you today!> First, here are my stats. <Here are mine- I'm 5' 7", brown hair, I'm a Sagittarius..oh- wait, wrong site!> Aquarium experience: 2 years Marine experience: 5 months Tank System:: FOWLR 30 gallon long, 5 months old, 4 inch sand bed, 40 lbs live rock, Fluval 204 canister filter, AquaC Remora Pro Protein Skimmer with Surface Prefilter, a 2 gallon hang-on-back refugium, etc (powerhead, heater). Pistol Shrimp, Cleaner Shrimp, small Yellow Clown Goby, Star Blenny, Blue-Green Chromis, and snails. I have a Royal Gramma in quarantine tank right now recovering from ich. <Good practice to treat the fish in a separate aquarium> The skimmer and fuge are new additions as of last weekend, and I have not seen any copepods in my tank for months. <Well, it's going to take a while for them to reproduce in significant numbers.> My questions are: 1) Can I prepare a good habitat (keep enough copepods) for a Scooter Blenny with my tank size through using the fuge and lots of live rock? Or should the Scooter wait until I move out of my apartment and therefore am allowed to get a larger system? I know you've recommended 100 gallons per copepod-eating fish in an open system, but that seemed to not be accounting for refugia. <The 100 gallon recommendation is a good one, but not an absolute, in my opinion. It takes into account a sort of hypothetical "production level" of animals that can serve as food sources. The thought is that 100 gallons is sufficiently large to generate enough food for a given fish to consume without competition. A refugium, of course, provides a "safe haven" for the food animals to develop without concern of them being eaten by the Scooter or other fishes as rapidly as they are produced. As such, it will benefit your Scooter if stocked and maintained properly. Without such efforts, a new aquarium is a grim prospect for a fish such as the Scooter, which depends on live foods for a good percentage of its diet. Without a steady supply of these organisms, it is really not a good idea to keep one of these fish, IMO.> 2) If so, how should I set up my small fuge (and the rest of my system) to maximize the copepod population and otherwise best suit the Scooter? Thanks for the help, Jack <Well Jack, you could utilize some pieces of live rock "rubble" (like golf ball to hand-sized), piled loosely in the refugium. The course rock will provide foraging and habitat for copepods. In addition, utilize a macroalgae like Chaetomorpha in the refugium, which affords a suitable substrate for small animals, such as Mysids, to forage and reproduce. The nutrients and uneaten food from your display will provide sufficient nutrition for the developing copepod and Mysis populations. To speed up the productivity, you could "seed" your refugium with some animals from an established system, or you can purchase "kits" of these animals from a variety of e-tailers, which contain starter populations that can get your refugium going. Best of luck to you! Regards, Scott F.>

Refugium? Or'¦ What Is In A Word? -- 01/23/08 I'm looking to add a 30g to my 90g as a space for more corals, and it would be great if I could also use it to add live food to the main tank as well. <<Mmm, I see'¦as in a refugium. The presence of corals will have 'some' deleterious effect re as most are quite predatory themselves; depending on species and stocking density, but if you can resist the temptation to add fish and inverts such as crabs/shrimp (and most definitely, no sand sifting starfish), and can provide some type of medium in which the mini- and micro-biota can breed and flourish (macroalgae/rock rubble), this vessel could perform as you wish>> The 30 will sit slightly higher than my 90. A pump will push water up and into the 30, and water will gravity feed back into the main tank. <<Sounds good>> I'd like for the 30g to first act as a reef with Rics and other soft corals. Beyond that, if I could also get it to feed my 90g, that would be great. <<It should'¦if you follow the guidelines I have stated>> Concerning the 30g, if I'm looking for some pod production from this tank, are all fish completely ruled out? <<Preferably, yes>> Are there any fish that would be suitable for this size tank and still not have a taste for pods? <<Nothing jumps to mind'¦>> Also, are there any inverts to avoid if I'm looking to get pods? <<Pretty much all. Ideally, to generate the life you describe to feed your tank requires a dedicated refugium'¦i.e. a refuge, a place devoid of predators'¦>> Thanks for your insight. <<Hope you find it of use. EricR>>

Cnid. incomp., crowding... refugium use  11/19/07 hello again Hi all! Two purposes to this email, one as an update, in case it helps others, and two, to ask a couple of questions: Background info: Main tank - 65 gal, with 4X96 watt lights, one 6700, one 10000, one 460 nm, and one 420 nm. I use a Hydor ETH 300 external heater (I love this unit, very reliable and constant heat input to tank). Lots of live rock, two Phosban reactors used for activated carbon (I switch between them every month - very firm believer in the benefits of activated carbon). Protein skimmer - skimmer, carbon etc. in wet dry sump. Refugium is a 37 gal. glass tank that I installed acrylic baffles into (acrylic didn't bond well to silicon- it holds well and is strong, but water passes by silicon). <Right, silicone shouldn't be used to bond acrylic to glass.) In the main tank I have two rapidly expanding star polyp colonies, lots of pulsating Xenia (started from one colony, now I'm up to about 10), Pavona cactus, hammer coral (one fragment, now expanded to 6 separate clusters), branching Montipora (started from a 1" fragment rubber banded to a rock, now about 3" in diameter and growing, two colonies of Nephthea (or Capnella, not sure), two Sarcophyton elegans, and some mushrooms (on a cluster of rock). <Ugh, why would you put a Sarcophyton in with a Euphyllia? Sarcophytons are notoriously toxic to a lot of large polyp stony corals.> Finally two very small Zoanthid polyp rocks, that seem to hold their own, with some small expansion. Buying fragments works out well for me, they're cheaper, and they seem to me to be very hardy. <...and more "environmentally friendly." :-)> As for other organisms, have three serpent stars, one Echinometra matthei (hitchhiker who's growing up), multiple hermit crabs, one blue-green Chromis, one Sebae clown, one coral beauty and one keyhole angel (have had these angels for years, seem to leave corals alone), one yellow clown goby, one lawnmower blenny, and one pearly Jawfish. <All these in a 65g tank? It's going to get crowded as these fish grow (I'm assuming the angel and Sebae haven't reached full size yet).> Also have a large Featherduster at the base of my rock (have had for over two years), within the last year, the Sebae clown has started a symbiotic relationship with this feather duster. <Yeah, these clowns will apparently try to bond with anything.> 1) Update - I've been running a fishless refugium now for a year and a half (thanks to Eric R. for some good advice). What I noticed is that there is way more stability in my display tank, and everything is hardy and growing well. The refugium is really neat to look at as well, lots of life in there in the form of worms, micro stars, copepods, Mysids, feather dusters, Sycon sponges, etc. <Cool. Refugiums are great.> I run a DSB section in my refugium, with live rock and I try to harvest out algae at some frequency (lots of green hair algae, though I've added Chaetomorpha and am not sure how to make this catch on better). <Maybe this will help: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/greenalg.htm> Does Chaeto grow quickly or do I need to really stock up a larger quantity to get started? <It just depends on how much light you put on it, availability of nutrients, etc. Most people report that it grows pretty fast.> Even if my phosphates are low (near zero) and I try to reduce the time the lights are on in the refugium, I seem to get the hair algae (very bright green, long, dense). <Your phosphates might be zero (or near zero) BECAUSE you have hair algae growing. Also, phosphate test kits only measure inorganic phosphates. Growing macroalgae in the refugium should help.> I've recently noticed a near explosion of white limpets in my refugium, with some making their way over into my display tank. From what I've read, I don't *think* I should be concerned, but I wanted to mention it in case you disagree. The only livestock I've ever added to the refugium are three small turbo snails, some small micro stars, and a green sea hare. (maybe Elysia?) I drain water off of my display tank, with a suction pump in the charge side of the refugium, and then pump back to my main tank with a pump from the discharge side. I have some safeties in the form of level switches to make sure I don't overflow anywhere, so far have had no problems. I cannot stress enough what a positive experience the refugium has been. <Excellent... please spread the word.> I chart my tank chemistry in MS Excel, and I can see exactly where my nitrates dropped to zero once I brought the refugium on-line. <cool> I also just recently got up enough courage to remove my bio-balls from my main tank wet-dry sump, I will update if anything changes, though I don't expect it to. I have stopped almost all tank supplements, other than Kalkwasser (with a 3 mL vinegar boost to one liter of Kalk solution from an Aquadoser per Julian Sprung's Reef Aquarium Vol. 3), occasional Lugol's sol'n for iodine and once in a while an HBH Balance block (probably not necessary?) - I've given up on all pollution in a bottle! <fabulous> I really feel that I get a large portion of phyto and zooplankton from my refugium. I run RDP on the refugium, probably a little overpowered on lights, 96 watt dual daylight/actinic on about 37 gal. tank, but I re-used these lights from my main tank when I upgraded it. I enjoyed building the refugium, the family likes it, and the livestock in my display tank certainly like it. I also enjoy looking for new and never before seen microorganisms in this tank as time goes on. I've never had this healthy a system before. Those out there considering, please give it a try, using this site as a reference, as well as the Calfo/Fenner Marine Invertebrates book - they have a great section on all the different types of refugiums you can build. <yep> My tattered book is currently on loan to my brother/sister-in-law, as I think they've decided to give a refugium a try after keeping an eye on mine. <Great!> 2) Now some questions. I've always had my corals pretty well spread out, and have taken care to relocate some (figured out my Nephthea were probably attacking my Zoanthids). So I had pretty good spacing. And everything is growing very well. However, two areas concern me. My hammer coral is expanding heartily toward my Pavona and my xenia. I've noticed that the xenia are moving away from the hammer. I just noticed the hammer is now touching the Pavona. Perhaps the carbon helps reduce the chemical warfare, but I'm assuming I need to cut back a couple of stalks to give away, or else move the hammer? <You can do either. But the Euphyllia will hurt the Pavona if it touches it.> My star polyps expand in a thick mat everywhere. They've surrounded the base of the Sarcophyton elegans and the mat has moved some way up the stalks. Other than that the elegans both look ok, but will there be a problem here? <Possibly, star polyps can get to be a nuisance.> Do I need to pull that mat back away, or do you think they will find equilibrium somewhere? It looks like the mat never makes it up the shafts, but maybe the elegans are expending valuable energy growing upwards to try and get away from the star polyps? <They're competing for space. I doubt either is enjoying it. Are you asking me who will win? I don't know. If it were me, I'd remove the Sarcophyton (b/c they are often toxic to stony corals).> Sorry for the long email - thanks again for all the great info, hope this helps somebody else, and if you're reading this and on the fence about refugiums.......go build one!!! You won't regret it! <Haha... definitely. Best, Sara M.>

Refugium For NNR? 9/17/07 Hi Crew, <Hello Ian> I have a 90 gallon FOWLR that is more or less fully stocked (Yellow Tang, Golden Butterfly, Flame Angel, 3 Firefish, False Perculas (2), male/female Lineatus Wrasse). <I'd say a little overstocked.> I've removed the bioballs from the sump and added an AquaC Urchin skimmer in its place. I'd also like to establish a DSB for my tank for NNR. The problem is my stand/sump is very limited with space, so I was looking at using something like the CPR in-tank refugium in the sump (but only for a DSB). The size of this is 7 3/4" x 4" x 7 1/2". I would use sugar-fine at a height of 4-5". Would a DSB of this size have much impact for NNR in this tank or is it worth skipping altogether? <You would be much better off setting this up as a combo (DSB/Refugium). Go for a three inch sand bed and stock with some live rock rubble and Caulerpa. You will need a small nine watt PC fixture over the refugium, they are reasonably priced at most fish etailers.> Thanks, <You're welcome, James (Salty Dog)> Ian

Refugium Addition 6/7/07 Hiya, <Hello> I use your site daily as a source of information, and have not asked any questions for fear of looking stupid ..or should I say sounding stupid *G* <Never worry about that, I sound stupid at least a dozen times a day.> I am looking at buying the Aquafuge refugium for my 45g reef tank, currently I have a Rena FilStar xP3 Canister Filter , and a CPR BakPak skimmer (that I love) so not sure if I should just leave it on or get the refuge with a skimmer. <I would keep the BakPak, most built-in skimmers are of dubious quality.> One of the things I have been reading is that once the fuge is in place the canister filter is not necessary? <Canisters are not really necessary at all if you have enough live rock, a quality skimmer, and good circulation.> If this is true then could I take out the foam pads still leave filters in it just for the added filtering and my thought was to hook a SCWD Wavemaker up thru it using it as the pump. <I would take all media out, canisters tend to trap debris and lead to higher nitrates.> Also is it possible to put the heater in this type of refuge? <Could but it would have to be in the main chamber, I do not do this in mine.> Thank you for your time and hopefully I didn't waste too much of it. <Not at all.> Totally addicted to my fish in Texas lol Sandy <Chris>

Is a Refugium Beneficial To a Fish-Only System? (Yes!) -- 05/19/07 Hey Eric, <<Hey Daniel!>> Understood, NO medicating in the Main Display; Quarantine tank, only. <<Ahh, very good'¦very good indeed'¦>>    I will put in 4 to 5 inches of Live Sand in, and 25 lbs of live rock for a 30 gallon Refugium, or is that too much? <<Sounds fine>>    Light(s) will be one for 10 to 12 hours/day. <<Are these on the refugium?  If so, then I would like to suggest a macroalgae in place of or in addition to the live rock (why don't you have rock in the display?).  The macroalgae will provide additional nutrient export, is an excellent matrix in which planktonic/plankton producing organisms will flourish, as well as providing some pH support you won't get from the rock.  As for biological filtration alone, a fluidized bed filter is an excellent option.  These filters have tremendous capacity, as well as the ability to quickly 'ramp up' to changing bio loads.  I'm not saying what you have planned is 'bad' nor won't work...just presenting you some options/opinions to consider>> Also, being that this Refugium is primarily used for filtration, OK to have Snails and Hermit Crabs? <<You can'¦>> Not sure what else should go in... <<No need to add anything'¦the refugium will develop its own range of interesting and beneficial biota in time>> Thank you so much for your time, I really appreciate it! Daniel <<Happy to assist.  Eric Russell>>

R2: Is a Refugium Beneficial To a Fish-Only System? (Yes!) -- 05/22/07 Hey Eric, <<Hi Daniel>> Hope you had a great weekend! <<Mmm, no...not great>>    My apologies, I have one more question for you: <<No worries mate>>    Per your inquiry, I have no Live Rock in the Display tank because the premise of my 'fish only' system was in case of an emergency/illness, I could treat the Display tank without having to worry about the effects on Live Rock and Inverts. <<This is a faulty/bad premise my friend...live rock or not, you do have biological filters/functions important to the health of the display that will be destroyed by the use of medicants>> In this string, you state to never medicate the Display. <<Correct>> Why wouldn't you do this for a 'fish only' system? <<As just explained>> Are medications (i.e. copper) bad for the Protein Skimmer and/or Wet/Dry filter (Bio Balls)? <<The latter, yes>>    (My 175 bow tank has: Foxface, Queen Angel, Purple Tang, Heniochus, 7 Green Chromis, 2 Neon Gobies, Coral Beauty, Longnose Hawkfish, Six Line Wrasse, and Diadem Dottyback.) <<Very nice...and the addition of a tasteful display of live rock would be welcomed by all>> Thank you! Daniel <<Always welcome.  Eric Russell>>

R3: Is a Refugium Beneficial To a Fish-Only System? (Yes!) -- 05/23/07 Hello Eric, <<Hello Daniel>> Sorry to read your weekend didn't go well, hope things get better for you soon. <<Thank you for this>> Looks like I lied, one more important thing. <<Not a problem...I'm here to assist>> About 4 months ago, I did use copper in the Display tank to treat what appeared to be Ich. <<Mmm...>> The problem was resolved, and the fish today are vibrant and active (though do tend to hide more than I'd like). <<Perhaps a symptom of 'not enough' readily available hiding places...in other words, perhaps the fishes just don't feel 'comfortable' in their surroundings>> I've read on WetWebMedia that copper binds itself to rock and substrate <<To calcareous substances, yes>> - would it have done so with the Bio Balls? <<I think not (plastic), though it would certainly have damaged the beneficial bacteria thereon>> Even though I used carbon to rid the tank of copper, could the Bio Balls now be contaminated, and not operating to the best of their ability? <<I don't think the plastic media itself is an issue, but if you have residual levels of copper in the system this could well be affecting your biological filter.  You should test for copper/try running some of Seachem's Cupramine to see if this causes a change/improvement in behavior.  You don't mention what the fishes are hiding 'in/among' but if this is dead coral skeletons these too could absorb/ be a source of copper left over by the medication>> Thank you very much, I appreciate it! Daniel <<Glad to help.  Eric Russell>>

Refugium for 125G   4/21/07 Hello crew, <Afternoon!> Thanks again for all the great information. I really do appreciate your help. As I am always trying to improve my system I was contemplating adding a small (CPR 2.5 gallon) hang-on refugium on the back of my tank. <A refugium should be present on every tank IMO, so well done> My system is a FOWLR with 100 lbs live rock containing a tusk, Niger Trigger, Assasi Trigger, and a Flame Angel. The purpose is for providing a source of copepods etc. for my carnivore's fish.  I have no problems with nitrate levels etc, and will set it up according to the FAQ's to include live sand, macro algae, snails and alternating light. <Reverse photoperiod -- Display tank lights off'¦Fuge lights on> The question is given the small and intended purpose of the refugium, is there real value in doing this and will the added weight on the tank weaken the structure in some way? <I'm presuming this tank is over 100gallons based on your stock list so it will be quite a substantial structure. This added weight would not be a problem. It will be a worthwhile addition, even if it seems minimal, the amount of microorganisms contained in a single square inch can be astonishing> Thanks again.    <Pleasure, Olly>

What's a Refugium, Why do I want one over a wet-dry?  - 04/12/2007 Hi guys, <Hello and Welcome to the show.. 'err...site.> I have been reading your comments and I have obtained a wealth of information. <Awesome!> However I have an ongoing issue with green hair algae <Let's see if I can help you out...> 1) my water quality is excellent, <This is god but in the future we do prefer specifics, just so that we an verify your analysis and sometimes an outside source may see an obvious yet big problem that the tester/owner overlooked.> the tank (55gals) is not exposed to sunlight, and I do water changes once per week. <Good.> 2)Also, I have a wet dry filter, UV sterilizer and a protein skimmer. <Wet-dries are notorious for trapping detritus and adding organic (nitrates/nitrite/phosphate) to the tank, or I should say trapping them not adding them> I was considering getting a refugium. <A very good consideration...a change I would make.> Is the wet/dry better than the refugium? <In a reef-aquarium, no the nutrient export/macro-algae refugia is vastly superior.> If not can you tell me why?.... <Lots of articles, FAQ's posted re which I do suggest giving a read through. But in general; the term refugia refers to a safe haven (a separated and secluded area). Refugiums can be used to house anything that would not normally thrive or cohabitate with those animals intended for the display tank. Refugiums can range from any of these: **Are for microfauna/zooplankton to reproduce **Culturing Macroalgae for food or nutrient export **Growing out propagated coral fragments **Safe haven for smaller fish/inverts. that would get lost in he display The most common way it is used however is as the nutrient export via macro-algae and for providing a place for the microfauna to "get their thing on" There are a multitude way of adding one and plumbing it to the display, the best route for you probably would be to replace the existing wet-dry with one, though plumbing a new vessel is not out of the option list.> thanks in advance for the help. <Welcome, Adam J.>

Re: Refugium....I think he's got it! -- 4/13/07 Thank you very much for your advice. <Of course.> I have been trying to get mushrooms to grow in my tank but they always die. <Water quality issues, cnidarian life, even those as adaptable as 'shrooms can only tolerate so many dissolve organics/nutrients in the water.> I am really going to go and buy (or make if possible) a refugium. <A very worthy addition.> I have a coral life 260w power compact (130blue +130white) <...Fine for most photosynthetic life in this size tank, but be sure to change those bulbs out about every 9 months...12 at the very most.> Thanks again. <Anytime, Adam J.>

Refugiums/Macro Algae. Refugium Comments/Sharing  4/5/07 Hello Crew. <Hi Jeff.>     I just wanted to give my two cents concerning  refugiums/macro algae. <Please do..> I check your Q & A site every day  faithfully.  I am addicted to your site.   <Thank you.> Anyway, I have been in the  salt water aquarium hobby for about two years.  After a couple of tank  crashes and trauma (both the aquarium inhabitants and myself), I decided to  install a refugium with a large amount of Chaeto algae and sea lettuce  algae. Prior to the  refugium, I was constantly dreading the thought  of testing my water because of the results I would get.  I was constantly adding reef buffer, among other things, trying to stabilize my  tank.  Well, after installing it with the macro algae my system slowly came  into balance. It took about three weeks.  Now after two months my  tank is still doing very well. Ph is consistently at 8.3; alkalinity is at  9 dKH; and nitrates are at 0 (these three being the most  problematic).  I am no longer having the algae blooms like before.  I  still have some problems with silicates, but that is another story (tap water)  and I need to get a better RO/DI filter for that. If anyone is sitting on  the fence wondering if they should dump their filters for a sump/refugium, I  would strongly suggest going with the refugium (and yes, I have a  skimmer).  I also put about 20 lbs of rock in there as well and "seeded" it from the live rock in my main tank (90 lbs in my 90 gallon tank).  I didn't worry about sand because I have 3" - 4" in the main  tank.     I have noticed that almost every day there is a  least one person asking about bio balls, nitrate problems, and algae  blooms. <Yes, well unfortunately many people write before they read.> A refugium with large quantities of macro algae go a long way  to rid a tank of many problems.  It is not a cure-all, but it really makes  the aquarium hobby more pleasant.  I wish I had gone the refugium/macro  algae route right after I had cycled my tank two years ago. It is very  noticeable that my fish and invertebrates are no longer stressed, and I  have 8 corals growing nicely in the tank.  By the way, I use the sea  lettuce to feed my two tangs.     Well, there's my two cents. <I'd say it's at least a dollars worth if not more.>   Again, I would  strongly suggest to all newcomers in the salt water aquarium hobby to go this  route.  It is such a small investment with such a huge return.  The  bigger the refugium, the better. <Thank you for sharing your experiences.> R/ Jeff <Adam J.>

Quick Question...Sump vs. Refugium,  - 02/15/07 Hi Guys, <Hi there!  Mich here.> A little history: I had a 55g FO tank about 10 years ago when I was in college.  I read nothing on the web or in print and just took the LFS guy's advice.  Well I now realize I did just about everything wrong and it's no surprise that I eventually killed everything I bought and gave up.  I had no live rock, did no water testing other than specific gravity, had too many fish, fish that would get too big (at various times I had a shark, yellow tang, clown trigger, dogface puffer, panther grouper, snowflake eel, and lionfish), fed a steady diet of goldfish to the predators, and had terrible filtration.   <Dang!> So I'm now starting over and ready to do things right.  I read "Saltwater for Dummies" cover to cover, I'm half way through Paletta's "New Marine Aquarium" book and I have Mr. Fenner's book "Conscientious Marine Aquarist" at home ready to go through next. <I think you'll find the latter quite helpful.  I would recommend reading it cover to cover if possible before embarking on your salty adventure.> I also made a trip to a good LFS that specializes in salt water fish and took a look around with my new knowledge in tow.  I still have the old 55g tank and stand so I'm planning to use that for a FOWLR (although I can see getting the reef urge down the road) <Happens.> - assuming it will clean up ok.  I'm considering going a bit bigger on the tank, but my hesitation is that my family is likely to move at some point in about 5 yrs or so and I don't want to get too big until the next house where I like to do a huge 300g built in.   <Oh!  Very nice!  I saw a most beautiful 300+ gallon in the wall room divider system this past weekend at fellow crew member Eric Russell's place.  An amazing system!> The bigger I go now the more trouble I'll have moving it eventually.   <Yep, I'm sitting in that boat next to ya!> My plans for this tank are to put it in the basement which we're about to have finished in the next month or so.  I'm having the contractor run a pvc pipe hidden in the wall from the spot where the tank will be, past the bathroom behind it and into the "utility room." <Sweet!> This will allow me to run plumbing and electric from the show tank to the utility room where I would have unlimited space for my sump/refugium.   <I'm turning green with envy right now my friend.> The LFS I stopped in showed me a nice wet/dry trickle filter which I though looked nice, but I read on the site that most seem to favor ditching the bio balls.  Here are my two questions: 1) Should you start with a trickle filter <No.> with bio balls and then ditch the balls or is ok to go straight to the sump/refugium set up? and <I would go straight to the sump/refugium set up.> 2) what's the difference between a sump and a refugium?   <A sump is a vessel that typically holds equipment i.e pump, skimmer, carbon or PolyFilter often located under the tank in the stand.  It can also be modified to house a refugium which is typically a refuge for microfauna and often has macroalgae, and possibly live rock, rubble rock, live sand or mud.  Does that make sense?  You can read more here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm and the many, many, many related FAQs highlighted in blue at the top of the page.> I don't have unlimited funds, but I have a pretty wide budget for this project.  I'd like to do as much of it by myself as I can though just for fun - should I build my own sump/refugium or am I better off buying one?   <Definitely build it yourself.> If buying or copying a design what is one I should look at?   <See the link above and the FAQs.  There are many options.> Finally, how big?   <As big as possible.> I was thinking I'd like to go pretty big since I have the space and really want to increase my chances for success - 40 or more gallons.   <Just as an FYI.  Rubbermaid makes huge grey troughs of various sizes ranging between 70 and 300 gallon that are really useful for such applications.  Please see here as an example, http://www.stockyardsupply.com/page11/index2.html   if you have plenty of space this can be a very good option.  Please note I know nothing about this vender. > Lastly as to the size of the show tank - should I stick with the 55g or use that as the sump/refugium and go for a slightly bigger tank - say about 75/90g?   <Either is possible.  Depends on what you want to keep.> I have a 2 yr old who will want most of the fish in "Nemo" - I'm going to skip on the puffer so the only one that would pose a problem size wise in the 55g would be the Hippo Tang (although I heard and read different things about them being trouble makers generally).   <Yes, a 55 gallon tank is way too small for a Hippo Tang (Paracanthurus hepatus) which should be housed in at least a tank of 100 gallon or more.> I've developed a rough stocking plan that should work with the 55g that would include: clowns, a yellowtail damsel, flame angel, bi-color blenny, cleaner shrimp, maybe hippo tang or Foxface.   <A 55 gallon is too small for the last two.> That's not set in stone, but it is the basics.  When I eventually upgrade to big reef tank I'd like to use the 55g or whatever I use as my show tank now to house a clown trigger or something else that won't work with other fish. <Think about something else.  A Clown Trigger (Balistoides conspicillum) can reach nearly 20 inches in length and should be housed in a tank larger than 135 gallons.> Sorry for the lengthy history.   <It's OK.> I'm sure most of this info is somewhere on your great site, but I can't find it exactly and need to establish some of these answers before construction begins in our basement.  The sump vs. refugium question has been driving me nuts for days now!!  Thanks very much for any response or direction you can provide. <Hope this helps.  -Mich> Best, Kevin <PS hate to see a long question...hehehe!>

Re: Quick Question...Sump vs. Refugium, Set-up  - 02/15/07 Mich, <Hello again Kevin!> Thanks for the quick response. <You're welcome.> I couldn't quite settle the sump refugium question for myself. <It can be confusing, hopefully make more sense now.> I'll read up some more where you suggested and continue reading my books.   <Very good!  Reef Invertebrates by Anthony Calfo and Robert Fenner has quite a bit of information on refugiums if you would like to do even more reading... The Conscientious Marine Aquarist is still the top book in my opinion.> I have about a month until basement construction begins and then another month or so until I can start setting up the tank. Only follow up question for now is this: is it appreciably harder to move residences with a 90g tank vs. a 55g?   <Honestly, I think either will be a pain, but both are doable with planning.  I presume you're familiar by now with the fish tank mantra "bigger is better". Also, given my set-up with the 10ft distance from show tank to sump would a drilled show tank be a big asset or just a different way to same result. <Most people prefer the drilled tanks.  Though it is possible to drill the 55-gallon even if it has a tempered bottom.  Many local reef clubs offer this service.  It will void all guarantees on the tank and there is a risk it will crack.  But most drilling projects I've seen were successful.   I hate to waste my 55g, but after all this effort I want a set-up I'll love. <Understandable.  By the way, most empty tanks don't stay empty for long.>   Thanks again. <You're welcome!  -Mich>   Kevin P.S. It's amazing how quickly a "quick" question turns into a novella!!! <Heeeheeeee!!!  Yes!> Disconnected Refugium....worthwhile?   1/3/07 Hey guys Happy New Year, <Right back at you!> One of my resolutions has been to improve the quality of life for the inhabitants of my reef tank and has led to the purchase of a DI and a new T5 lighting unit, but I have had another idea and wondered whether you thought it would be of benefit. <Very nice resolution.  These changes will benefit your tank.> I am thinking of setting up a remote refugium, but remote as in it is unconnected to the tank, due to the cost and space, however if I transfer a quantity of water between the two tanks daily would this be of some merit. <Possibly.  Obviously connected would be better.  Part of the benefit of a refugium is the microfauna that gradually makes its way the main system. Although it is possible to do this manually it will be much more difficult to do.  I think this will be less efficient and more cumbersome, though it still may be beneficial.  Be curious to see the results.>   Thank you for your time <Welcome.  -Mich> will

Question about Refugiums... use really   12/3/06 Hello! <Hi Erin!  Mich here.>      Well, I am fairly new to the marine hobby so I'm still learning, but many people seem unwilling to help or properly answer any questions that I have had. <Welcome to the hobby.  Hopefully you have found a reliable source of information in the WWM site.  I hope we can be of help.>  I currently have a 90 tall that has been set up for a month and a half. Everything is going great, no nitrates/nitrites/ammonia, good pH/harness/alkalinity, 5" DSB and about 80lbs of live rock. <Sounds good so far.>  The problem is I'm running a wet/dry.  <Not necessarily a problem, but not the most current thinking.>  The few people that have talked to me say I should turn it into a sump with a refugium (which I'd love to do since I want to get a mandarin or scooter blenny next year once everything has been going for a while <Patience is a virtue in this hobby.>), or to take the bioballs out and put live rock rubble in its place.  <I would tend to agree with this philosophy.>  Converting it into a sump/refugium shouldn't be a problem since I live in a house full of handymen that are good with this kind of thing.  <Not really much to do.>      I guess my main concern is that if I do this and copycat a lot of the setups found online, how do the different microfauna make it back into the tank since many of the setups I've seen just seem to have water flowing over several bubble barriers and into a chamber where the pump is? Aren't the microfauna going to be living towards the bottom of the refugium? <No, some do, some don't.> Also, how do they get pumped back into the tank without the actual pump harming/killing them?  <Some will not make it thru the pump, but not all are lost.>      <I think the in sump refugium benefits the overall health of the system and is worthy of your consideration.  A hang on the back refugium does offer advantages over an in sump refugium, but an in sump refugium is better than no refugium and can usually be set up with relative easy.  There is much to read.  Here's a good place to start:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm  There are many related FAQ's and articles on the top of this page.   Thanks for any help you can give me!  <You are quite welcome.> ~Erin

Algae Problem 10/14/06 Hi Crew <On behalf of WWM'¦greetings!> I need a little help. <Shoot> I have read just about every question concerning refugiums. I still can't make up my mind, so I'm turning to you folks for some advice. You have always helped me in the past and I figure in the future as well. <Thanks for the kind words> Should I add on a hang on tank refugium or a overflow box and refugium under the tank? I know you prefer above tank, but that is impossible in my situation. I have a 46 gallon bow front, with the following: Remora skimmer, Canister filter for Chemi-pure (want to remove this) 2 power heads Stocked with 50 pounds live rock 1 inch calcite bed 4 small crabs 4 snails 1 small Royal Gramma 1 small Percula Clown. Water parameters are: 0 Ammonia 0 Nitrite 5 Nitrate Temperature 82 PH 8.3 SG. 1.02 I do 5 gallons of RO water changes weekly.  The tank has been up and running for 9 months with out any real problems.  Over the last month I have noticed hair algae popping up and that is why I'm considering a refugium.  So, what do you think? As always, thank you so much for all the help and hard work. Mike.     <Mike -- A refugium is definitely a nice thing to help remove excess nutrient, burn excess CO2, keep pH stable...  The problem however is that a hair algae outbreak is usually a sign of rising phosphate levels. I would bring these levels down first before you implement a refugium to keep things stable.  Cheers! -- Dr. J>

Re: Finicky Sargassum Trigger (Refugium Plumbing) -- 09/28/06 First of all let me say thank you for your help with my triggerfish, the night I received your response he began eating the Mysis shrimp. <<Ah, super!>> He now will eat anything, but I am still trying to find the zooplankton since that is what they are more accustomed to. <<The Mysis are a good 'staple', but varying the diet is always better.  Both the Sweetwater Plankton (saltwater formula) and the New Life Spectrum pellets should be easy to find at many of the on-line vendors>> I now have another question. >>Okay>> I have been struggling keeping my nitrates below 20 ppm and I would like to be able to culture some copepods and things so I have decided to add a refugium after reading all the good reviews on them. <<Indeed...a very worthwhile addition to any system>> I have a 265 gallon tank with a sump and an AquaC EV-180, and about 150 lbs of live rock.  I have a 40 gallon Oceanic Trickle filter I am not using that I wanted to try and convert to a Refugium.   I have attached  a drawing of what I have in mind. <<I see it>> My problem is that I am very restrained by the size of the stand I have and the space that I have. <<A very common tale>> Most people seem to have the space/height to drain from the tank to the 'fuge and then down to a sump.  I will have to have my sump and 'fuge on the same level with only about 2" height difference in the two. <<Could be fine...do ensure there is enough 'empty volume' left to handle the transient water volume when the pumps/power go off>> My plan is to have water flow from the tank to the sump and the 'fuge and then the 'fuge will overflow into the sump and be pumped back to the tank. <<That's how I do mine (375g display, 75g sump, 55g refugium)>> From experimenting in my garage I think I can only put about 150 gph through the 'fuge this way to keep it from overflowing (of course I could have powerheads in the 'fuge for better circulation in there). <<Flow-rate is determined by the size/number of throughputs...but 150 gph through this refugium should do fine>> I thought of adding another overflow and pump, but besides the added cost, I was afraid that would be too many variables (as far as keeping the system from overflowing), but maybe I am wrong. <<All comes down to not spilling more water in to the refugium than you can spill out of it in the same amount of time. I guess my questions are do you think the 150 gph would be enough for my tank to see a real benefit, and looking at the picture can you suggest a better way to get water through the fuge and to the sump. <<An emphatic 'yes!' to the first...and as for the second, I suggest you add a gate-valves to the pump output and to the refugium input to allow for flow adjustments and be able to 'shut-off' the refugium for maintenance.  And if these are 'hard' connections, you may also want to consider installing unions>> Sorry for the length of the email, and thank you in advance for all of your help. Jeremy <<No worries Jeremy, am happy to help.  Regards, EricR>> <<Couldn't copy/paste the .pdf doc. RMF>>

Feeding SPS with refugium  9/26/06 Good evening to all, I'll start with the vitals, a 150 gal display with 225 lbs. of LR, two 250 watt halides, large Euro-reef skimmer with ozone, and roughly 4,000 gph circulation (most with a closed loop).  I am currently running a 35 gallon DSB refugium with Chaetomorpha and a 45 gallon sump.  I'm in the process of combining the fuge and sump into one 90 gal tank while still keeping the DSB separate from the high flow of the sump.  I'm mostly growing SPS with a yellow tang, Naso tang, flame angel, dragon goby, fridmani, and six line.  I have all the books published by your staff, but am still a little confused as to how to feed my corals by way of refugium.  Is it simply a matter of adding more pod, or more of a certain type pod to the fuge, or is it more involved than that? <Mmm, and/or perhaps less... a "healthy" refugium will generate a mix of larval to adult plankter life... which can/may serve as food if/when transported to the main system> I've read so much lately that all of the "phytos" are starting to sound very similar.  I'm anxious to get the new refugium on line and I would like to take full advantage of its potential as a food source.  As always, Thanks for sharing your collective advise and expertise. Mike <Spend a while reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm and the linked files above. BobF>

Benefits of refugium   3/10/06 Hey guys,  <Hello Joe.> It seems as though I'm making a habit of asking hard questions. Thanks for all your effort so far.  <You're welcome.> My question this time regards the benefits of a refugium balanced against maintaining a wet/dry filter with bio balls and a canister filter. My aim is to reduce nitrates. I am going to setup a refugium with live sand and macroalgae. I also plan to fill the spare space in my sump with live rock. There is already a small amount of Live rock in my main 8ft tank. I am confused as to whether I should remove the canister filter (as I'm aware it maintains high nitrate levels) or whether I can leave it in. <Canister filters are only a nitrate factory if the filter pads/media aren't cleaned/changed on a weekly basis and most people do not.  I've ran one for a year with no detectable nitrates.> Will the advantages of the refugium (10gallon) outweigh the disadvantages of the canister and wet/dry filter to the extent that I can keep the canister going for extra filtration? Or are they all sort of 'cancelling each other out' in regards to denitrification.  <The refugium is an excellent way to control nitrates using Chaeto or Caulerpa algae.  The refugium should also have lighting that remains on 24/7.  Nothing wrong with using the canister provided it is cleaned on a weekly basis.> Best regards,<James (Salty Dog)> Joe

Canister vs. Refugium...And Winna' by TKO in the First round is - 03/09/2006 Hi Bob, <Josh actually, but hello just the same.> I was reading some FAQ yesterday and noticed that in a particular question you recommended the removal of a canister filter to assist denitrification. I was wondering if you could give me your opinion of whether I should swap my canister filter for a refugium containing Chaetomorpha algae. <I'd say absolutely.> My specifications are: 850 Litre tank; Wet/dry mini reef with Skimmer, Eheim 2218 Canister filter. <Did you just say wet/dry? Hmm...may be the answer to your question.> My nitrates are too high. About 40-50ppm, and this is what I am aiming to reduce. <And rightly so. I'd look into removing both the wet/dry and canister here (eventually). Are you using LR? How much? You can plan this system to take care of itself, with diligence on your part.> So what will I lose/gain by doing this? <All posted...repeatedly.> Thanks Joe. <I know it's not definitive, but so it goes. Your help lies in understanding/embracing a filtration methodology. It becomes easier as you read about each. Remember...don't buy the cup holder if you don't need it. - Josh>

Refugium Silver Bullet for algae? 2/18/06 Hi everyone, tell me, I thought refugiums were like a silver bullet for the reef aquaria. I have a terrible Cyano problem and have been through all the trouble shooting to no avail.  (I'm the one ready to quit this hobby) Anyways, now the refug has the Cyano. Whaaaa? This really stinks. what are your thoughts? Thank you  Pam <I wish it was that easy!!!  There are no silver bullets and in reef aquaria, good things take time.  A refugium is a good tool for controlling nutrients, but it can take months for it to get ahead of a high nutrient load.  In the mean time, aggressive water changes, phosphate removers and siphoning of the Cyano will be helpful.  Also, be sure that the basics for preventing Cyano are covered... good water movement (10 or more time the tank volume), normal to high pH and alkalinity and careful feeding.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>

Refugium Or Not - 11/12/05  Hi, I have a 72 gallon bow tank, I plan on setting up a fish only with live rock set up, possibly a few shrimp and mushrooms but emphasis will be on the fish. <<ok>> The usable space in the stand that comes with this tank (another stand is not an option) is very small, about 16" x 16". I'll have about 50-65 pounds of live rock- would you recommend a bare bottom or live sand, how deep? <<I'm a DSB kind of guy...4"-6" deep.>> Would a 24 inch hang on the back refugium as well as a AquaC Remora skimmer or another hang on the back skimmer be good enough for this system? <<Go with the AquaC.>> What should be in the refugium? <<Some rock rubble and Chaetomorpha algae.>> CPR makes a wet/dry filter that would fit in cabinet- should I add that and take out bio material or leave in- maybe fill with live rock with no light- would that work. <<Hmm...I would leave the bio material since this is a "fish only" system.>> Thanks in advance- Paul <<Regards, EricR>> 

Re: Refugium Or Not - 11/13/05 Thanks for the response Eric R, <<Always a pleasure>> I have another question, in 72 gallon tank, with live rock, emphasis on fish, you mentioned to keep bio material in wet dry. <<Yes...for a "fish only" or FOWLR system I feel a wet/dry filter with bio material does have some utility.>> I'll have H.O.B refugium with AquaC skimmer, if I could replace wet/dry filter with a refugium sump, would it be worth it, or make no difference in my set up? <<I think it would be fine to replace the wet/dry if you wish. The extra water volume of the refugium is an advantage, as is the presence of the refugium itself (my vote would be for a reverse-daylight vegetable refugium). If you need additional bio filtration you should be able to easily plumb in a fluidized-bed filter.>> I also have spare AMiracle skimmer, along with AquaC skimmer, is that overkill, or just stick to AquaC skimmer? <<Won't hurt to add the additional skimmer...though I think the AquaC will be sufficient...and is definitely of better quality/design.>> Thanks again, Paul. <<Regards, EricR>> 

- Power Filter vs. Refugium - I have a 20 gallon tank (24 inches in width), so space on the back is at a premium, obviously. <Sure.> Presently I have an Aqua C Remora on the back, plus an Emperor 280 power filter.  I have about 40 pounds of live rock.  Sand bed varies from 2 inches in the middle to 3.5 inches on either side.  I have a Sunpaq Orbit (one 65 watt daylight, one 65 watt actinic).  Inhabitants - 2 small percula clowns (each 2 inches or less), and one small pygmy angel (1-1.5 inches). <I hope you plan to upgrade the tank size in the near future... 20 gallons isn't really suitable for the pygmy angel.> Also, several small hermit crabs, one torch coral and one small rock of green star polyps.  I may add a few other items such as polyps and mushrooms later, and perhaps a shrimp or two.     Question - Would I be better off sticking with the power filter or ditching it for a hang-on-the-back refugium (e.g. a small one by CPR)?  I'm just curious how you folks might come down on that choice. <Given the size of the tank, the amount of rock you have... I think it's probably best to stick with the particle filtration offered by the hang on filter. If I could convince you that your money would be better spent on at least doubling the size of your tank - with 40 pounds of live rock, you have much less than 20 gallons of water... you're going to need all the filtration you can get.> Certainly there are advantages to each.  The power filter is a better way to run carbon and RowaPhos and the like (in my estimation), to take out gross particular  matter both daily and during cleaning (in addition to what comes out via siphon which alone isn't enough), more surface agitation and water movement, etc.  The primary refugium benefit in my estimation (or the one that I'd hope for primarily) would be to serve as a growing ground for algae to keep it out of the tank.  I don't see a refugium as matching most of the other power filter benefits. <In your case, neither do I.> I see the power filter in this setup as probably offering the most overall benefit, though maybe I'm wrong.   As O'Reilly would say - "What say you?" <I say consider a larger tank - then do both.> Thanks for your time. <Cheers, J -- >

Stocking Questions & Refugium (Marine) Hi WWM Crew, <Hey, Mike G with you tonight.> Let's continue the tradition and start by saying you guys are the best.... <Thanks for the compliment. Of course, others here deserve it far more than I.> I have a 215 gal. with 200 lbs. of live rock, 2-3" inches of crushed coral bedding and 1200 watts of power compacts. My filtration consists of a heavy duty and large external "Beckett" style skimmer, a 50 gal. wet/dry sump with bioballs, 30 watt long throw UV sterilizer and 2 Sea Clear canister filters ( one pleated and one carbon). My bioload currently is as follows: 1. Arothron puffer 12" 2. Threadfin Lookdown 11" 3. Clown Trigger 4" 4. Niger trigger 6" 5. Naso Tang 6" 6. Yellowtail Coris Wrasse 6" 7. Black ribbon eel 26" 8. Emerald crab 2" (yes it has survived 7 months now in this tank). 9.Many snails and small hermit crabs. <Full house!> Given the size potential of the stated fish, is my bioload to high? <I would say that what you have now is just about as much as you want to have, maximum.> How about If I traded in the Niger trigger and ribbon eel for a tesselata or Hawaiian dragon moray? <You could do that, providing there are no aggression issues.> And lastly, Would adding a refugium benefit my system? Keeping in mind it could not be very big. (space issues). <Absolutely! Any size refugium can do wonders for any tank. I recommend adding it without hesitation.> On behalf of aquarists everywhere........ THANKS!! <No problem. Glad I/we could be of assistance.>

Multiple macroalgae in refuge 3/30/05 Hey crew, It has been over a year ago that I bought a Mandarin without knowing it's special eating requirements. With your help and hours spent reading the FAQ's, I still have a healthy and happy (guessing here) Mandarin. I believe this is mainly due to the refugium I added about 8 months ago. I am looking to complete this upgrade and wanted to bounce a few ideas off you. The refugium is a 75g (24" x 30" x 24") tank that sits above and to the side of my main display (150g). It is lit by 2 x 65w (10,000/6,700k and 460/420nm) Current SunPaqs.  The fuge is separated by two internal dividers that are 12" tall which create three identical chambers. The top 12" of the tank is open air. Each chamber overflows into the next and water is gravity fed to the display from the 3rd chamber. <Sounds very nice!> 1st chamber - filter feeders. Got this idea from Anthony's book. It has a 6" sand bed with a top layer of flat rocks for xenia, feather dusters, and rock boring crocea clams. Got the xenia started but lost two clams.  2nd chamber - mud filter/copepods.  The idea here was to cultivate copepods for the Mandarin. Blend of Miracle Mud and Carib Sea Mineral Mud form a 3" mud bottom. I tried growing Gracilaria in here but it kept being overgrown by Cyano.  I eventually want to add Thalassia (Turtle Grass) to this chamber. Is mud a good substrate for Thalassia? If so, I plan on adding 3" more of Mineral Mud after I plant the Seagrass. The water height in this chamber is only 12". Can the tops of Thalassia stick out of the water? If not, how high should I raise the water level? The reason I am thinking Thalassia here is for the epiphytic material produced. This is a good source of food for pods correct? <The mud is an ideal substrate for Thalassia and it will provide good habitat and food for tiny crustaceans. I suspect that it will grow to the top of the water and either stop growing or bend over. It won't grow out of the surface of the water. Gracilaria is difficult and requires quite a bit of water movement to grow well and so it doesn't get overgrown with other algae.> 3rd chamber - nutrient extract/amphipods Less that 1" aragonite sand with live rubble rock on top. The amphipods seem to like this chamber the best because of the larger substrate. I also keep Chaetomorpha in here which is doing great. I have started to give it away.  <Right on! Rubble makes great amphipod and copepod habitat.> I have had great success growing Mysis shrimp and amphipods in this refugium. I see copepods every now and then but I'm guessing there are tons I don't see. Unless, I have always wondered, do the larger Mysis shrimp and amphipods eat copepods?  <They may prey on them to some extent, but I wouldn't sweat it. The amphipods and Mysis will produce plenty of tiny offspring to provide food to tiny mouthed animals in your system.> If I have to raise the water level in the fuge, will I need to add more light to keep the Chaeto growing? I recently pulled the Gracilaria out of the 2nd chamber and put it in the sump which has specs similar to the refugium. The section that contains the Gracilaria is about 20" x 30" x 24" with a water column height of about 12". It is lit by 1 65w (10,000/6,7000k) Current SunPaq. The general consensus is for only white light on macroalgae right? <Chaetomorpha will grow in very low light, so you should be fine. White light isn't necessarily better, but appearance doesn't matter in a 'fuge and whiter lights generally produce more usable light per watt, so you get more for your money.> The air bubbles from the overflow keep the Gracilaria tumbling constantly so I hope to get some good growth to feed my Tang. I should mention that I have taken the covers off my refugium and sump to allow more light and aid in evaporation. It gets pretty hot in Las Vegas.  <Ahhh... good. The Gracilaria should do much better here. Good luck managing the heat!> To the most important question. I have read many responses that warn against putting different kinds of algae in the same refugium. The thought is that they will spend energy competing against each other and not exporting nutrients. **Deleted quotes from the FAQ's**  <I absolutely agree. In addition to competition with each other, the "soup" of chemicals produced may also stunt coral growth.> Does this idea of only having one type of Macro apply to the whole system. If the Chaetomorpha is in the refugium above the tank and the Gracilaria in the sump, will they still compete against each other? Can I add the Thalassia to the second chamber of the refugium even though it overflows into the chamber with the Chaetomorpha? Does Thalassia compete in chemical warfare even though it is a grass rather than an algae?  <The plants and algae that you are using are among the "friendliest" and the competition will be decreased by the fact that they aren't in physical contact. I think your plan seems reasonable. I would however, suggest that you use small amounts of carbon changed frequently to help reduce the amount of competitive substances.> One more question related to macroalgae. I have a 70g that I am setting up as a FOWLR predator tank. The tank is not pre-drilled and I don't want to use an overflow. I bought the largest CPR AquaFuge hang on the back refugium to use for nutrient export and threw in some Chaetomorpha. I figure with messy eaters I am going to have a nutrient problem. I have a 6" DSB, 90lbs live rock, and the AquaC Remora Pro. Do you think I will need mechanical filtration? I have stayed away from Caulerpa for my reef tank because of the negative things people say about it. However, most of the negatives apply to reef setups. Can I use Caulerpa since this tank will only have a few fish like a trigger and/or a puffer? Would this be a better nutrient exporter than the Chaetomorpha I have in there now?  <Caulerpa would be fine in a non-reef tank. Mechanical filtration would be beneficial if the filter is large enough and cleaned weekly or more often. I would also consider a clean up crew consisting of a few brittle stars and one or two sea cucumbers.> Any input would be appreciated. I sincerely thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. The only consolation I can offer is that I always make sure my LFS have the "CMA", "RI", and "BoCP" books on hand and are aware of their value. Mostly because they have been such a big help to me. cheers, Eric Nightingale  <Thanks for the kind words and support! AdamC.>

A Small Refugium With Huge Potential! I have a 300 gallon reef tank with a 100 gallon sump 1/2 full. I just set up my new 20 gallon refugium next to main tank on its own stand and overflow. I have a Rio 1700 pulling sump water into refugium and the overflow hose goes back in next to pump return hose to the main tank. The lighting for the refugium is a 65 watt 10k/actinic compact bulb. I purchased the 6 pack macro algae pack from Indo Pacific Sea Farms (great products), <My favorite e-tailer!> with a 5" live sandbed and they recommend to run my lights offset to main tank lighting. With all this said do I have enough going on  in the refugium as far as plants and a few critters like 4 snails 1 sandsifter seastar, 2 cleaner shrimp to help keep my nitrates at a low level, and to  keep the main tanks pH balanced or what should I do to tweak it and make it better? The 20 gallon refugium is all I have room for. <Well, a 20 gallon is a bit small for a tank of this size, but it can still deliver benefits for the system! I think that you've got a great set of creatures in there. The deep sand bed and macroalgae will, in time, foster the growth and development of a variety of beneficial infauna, and helps supplement the display with a continuous supply of natural plankton. As far as nutrient export is concerned, the DSB can help, as will regular harvest of the growing macroalgae in the 'fuge. Enjoy watching this little world develop and the benefits that it will bring your system! Regards, Scott F> New Tank Advice Hi Mr. Fenner, I heard that I missed your visit to Milpitas CA. Aquatic Gallery.  My brother has gotten me back into the world of fish. He told me to buy and read your book "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist".  I have been enjoying it (kids and wife are beginning to feel the effect of daddy getting into something other then them!).  I have attached a picture of how my system will be set-up and would like your input/thoughts.  This tank will house fish and Live Rock only (maybe after one year I may start buying corals).  The display is a 125gal plexi. My plan is to have the sump 14.5"L x 18"W x 20"H house the protein skimmer and the return pump.  The return pump will have a valve to split the water being returned to the tank with water (about 100gph) to the refugium. Refugium is 23"L x 18"W x 17"H. I'm not sure if I should buy an 1800gph pump or a 1200gph pump!? <Either will do... you won't get the actual stated flow-rate... due to head pressure, other influences.... If in doubt at all, I would go with the larger unit> A few questions: 1) The LFS told me that a refugium is a bad idea for a fish and live rock only tank and that I would be dealing with a lot of dead fish! <Umm, no. Not the case. Take a look at our website: www.WetWebMedia.com and if you can find a copy, Anthony Calfo's and my Natural Marine Aquariums: Reef Invertebrates book... there is extensive coverage of refugiums there> I can't believe what he is saying is true. Is this correct? <No my friend> 2) If a refugium is (and I believe that it is) a good method and will work with LR and Fish only - I plan on having a 4" bed of sand and some live rock, what types of plants would you suggest I put into it? <Please see WWM here> 3) Should I have more then 100ph pumping through the refugium? I thought that water should travel slow through a refugium but it seems as I have been reading in WWM that the turn rate should be 10 times the volume! <Best to have 2,3 times turnover an hour or so...> Last question Mr. Fenner. Should I run a dedicated powerhead from the sump to the refugium? <Not necessarily. The split flow from your main, recirculation pump should be fine> Any advise and or thoughts will be greatly appreciated! Kind regards.  Kevin. <Enjoy, keep studying, learning, sharing. Bob Fenner>

Refugiums (12-11-03) Is there any benefit to a refugium without corals?<There is but not as much.  It will take out nutrients through the algae you grow and the fish will also eat the larger copepods that it produces.  If you do go with just fish I would spend the money for the refugium on the best skimmer you can buy and add the refugium if you ever decide to get corals.  Cody>

Sump vs. refugium I am setting up a 29g tank, and am looking to possibly place a 5g sump or refugium under the cabinet (space restricts anything bigger, but 5g tank will just fit).<Should be fine.>  The tank will either be fish, or seahorse, haven't decided between yet.  I am planning on a live sand bottom, w/ maybe 20-25lbs of live rock, and skimmer which would probably be setup on the 5g tank if I decide on seahorses (less water movement).<Good idea>  If just the fish then I'm planning on adding a few corals, types to be decided later.<Ok>  I have been researching on the benefits/downfalls of each, but would like advice on which of the two would be "best suited" to my needs, and to my space restrictions.  also any skimmer choice and additional filter advice (I wasn't planning any) would be appreciated.  Patrick  <Well if you are to get a seahorse I would definitely get the refugium (culturing micro crustaceans). If it were me either way I would get the refugium...even if it's only 5 gallons, Good Luck, IanB>

Refugiums - 2/13/03 I want to slowly stop using my wet dry and switch to a refugium. <I agree with both ideas, but one is not a substitute for the other. A refugium is unlikely to provide anywhere near the level of nitrification that a large wet/dry can. And vice versa... a wet-dry provides no denitrification but a refugium can be outstanding in this regard. But they do two different jobs> I have been looking at several things including making my own. <the very best way indeed> However, my tank is in a lobby area of an office so I don't really want to chance a problem. <no worries... they are simple strategies> So I am thinking of buying an ecosystem or AMiracle mudd filter. <overpriced and undersized IMO> Would either of these work well for a reef as the filtration. <reef aquaria with a lot of live rock do not need a wet/dry or a refugium for bio-filtration. They will benefit from a refugium for its plankton culture and natural nitrate reduction (NNR) though> I like the idea of all natural style <you are already getting the best of it from live rock> but would like some feedback from you guys (and Gals) about those two systems if you are familiar. <Very familiar... have been to Germany with Leng and to visit his place in Cali with our mutual friend Bob Fenner> Both manufacturers say no skimming is needed <actually... Leng Sy now puts skimmers on his systems at the big shows. I would strongly suggest you use a skimmer or at least do large weekly water changes if not> and I don't think either really has room for an in sump as I have now, <skimmerless is possible, but challenging> but I don't think it would be hard to set up an out of sump skimmer on either. <agreed> Any thought on those systems? <save your money (especially on so-called "magical mud" products) and build a bigger and better refugium with aragonite sand in a deep sand bed (DSB) and definitely no Caulerpa (anything but Caulerpa!)> Am I crazy for thinking of going down this path?<nope... refugiums (seagrasses, Chaetomorpha, Gracilaria, etc) are outstanding benefits with DSB> Paul <best regards, Anthony>

Adding refugium to control hair algae I have a 150 gallon glass tank - bought everything from financial advisor (used). Two external pumps - Little Giant's  2MDQ-SC and 4MDQ-SC. One on each side of sump. Left side has 4MDQ running Berlin skimmer and going back to tank, right side just return to pump.  Lights are 3 250 watt 12000K MH and 2 VHO Actinic (Blue).  Being color blind doesn't help.  Anyway I like the effects.  I believe the water temp is too high - gets up to 84 sometimes.  Large amounts of hair algae all over.  Have bought various amounts of turbo snails and blue-legged crabs.  Turbo snails are doing fine, cannot find crabs at all, usually gone after 2-3 days.  Have cinnamon clown, yellow tang, and dragonet.  3-5 inches of aragonite with 20-30 pounds LS, 40 pounds of LR.  I know I need more LS/LR.  The other problem, I work 250 miles away from aquarium, only come home on weekends, wife adds fresh water daily, about 2-4 gallons per day.  LFS tests water on weekly basis, say everything ok.  I can't believe this because of the hair algae.  What do you think about putting a mangrove refugium (or whatever you call it) in addition?  I have a 10 gal tank sitting around, would this be big enough or should I go bigger.  How would I plumb this to work properly?  I'm getting confused with all information available. <OK, Sit back, take a breath...now let's continue. <G> The algae is a problem of nutrients. If you remove (or don't introduce) nutrients you can control the algae. The LFS says the water is 'OK', we need numbers on the source water. Specifically phosphate and nitrate. Phosphate should be 0 and nitrate should be very low if not 0. If not, you might consider RO/DI water. The refugium is a good idea for nutrient export. You need a tank at 15-20% (bigger the better here) that of the main system volume. Chaetomorpha (Spaghetti algae) is all the buzz right now for nutrient export. Mangroves actually grow too slowly to be of much benefit, but are a nice visual addition. You don't mention other livestock? Overfeeding will introduce nutrients as well. See here and the links at the top of the page for more about algae control: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm. See here and beyond for refugiums: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm. As far as plumbing the refuge, set the refuge tank a little higher than the display. Have the tank drilled for an overflow return and use a small pump to deliver water to the refuge. Put a light on it, 4-6" of fine aragonite sand for substrate and off you go. Water changes will help as well, 5% a couple times a week would be good. For the heat problem, try a small desk fan directed over the top of the sump to provide evaporative cooling. Take care, Don>

Refugium >Hello Bob, >>Not Bob, Marina here, greetings this morning. >I am thinking to purchase a refugium with a DSB, Miracle Mud, and light to use on my 105 gallon reef - is this worth to get one Bob? >>Bob would say that, yes, a refugium is DEFINITELY worth the investment.  However, Marina says nix the Miracle Mud, and just use a deep sand bed (sugar-fine sand, please, and if you need the buffering use something calcareous in nature such as Aragonite/Southdown (available at *some* Home Depots). >Thanks, Michael       >>You're welcome, and good luck!  Marina

Refugium Scott, <Hi there!> I wanted to run something by you.  This was a suggestion from a friend. "It would be best if you treated it (the refugium) as a separate sump. That way the macro algae & critters won't be over filtered, and it would act as a back-up if the other pump (filter) failed, and vice-versa. I realize you would need a second overflow and pump, but I think it would be worth it." What do you think of this? Paul <Well, I agree that a refugium can be used as a sort of "second sump", but I'm not sure what he means by "over filtered". The refugium should be positioned in the system where it can receive "raw", unprocessed water from the main system, as this will provide nutrients for the animals that you are attempting to culture there. I do agree, however, that the extra sump will help handle some water in the event of a "drain down" incident, and that a well-designed refugium can offer many, many benefits for your system. Definitely an important consideration when designing your setup. Scott F> Why a Refugium? I have read the column on refugiums, and I'm still not sure if I need one or not. If I get one, it would have to be attached to my 17 gallon Berlin sump UNDER the cabinet. <I've seen many set up this way> Since it won't be seen, is it worth having? <I think the benefits outweigh any perceived problems with this setup. They are a great addition to most systems; a natural producer of food, a settling place for delicate inverts, macroalgae, etc. I can't really use it for a quarantine tank, since it uses main system water. <Exactly- don't use for quarantine!> Should I get one for under the cabinet? <If you want to add one, I'd recommend that you put one wherever you can install it logically and correctly. Do look up "refugiums" on the Google search feature here on wetwebmedia.com for more info. Good luck! Scott F.>

Refugium I'm endlessly deciding between two configurations, and can't afford to do it wrong based on the cost of my custom fabricated filter. I can either mount my skimmer in the sump of my 24" Berlin sump and have a 15"x16"x20" (roughly 20.88 gallons) refugium or mount the skimmer outside the sump in a more traditional setup. I'm looking at the +/- game. What good is a refugium that is hidden under a cabinet? <Aesthetically...no good at all. However, all of the reasons that one keeps a refugium (zooplankton, phytoplankton, growing useful algae, etc. are still valid.> Can you still make good use of it? <Absolutely!> Also, as far as lighting goes, how do people get the proper sized lighting strips for custom size refugiums? <Check with the Custom Sea Life website. Their link is on Wetwebmedia. They may have just what you're looking for!  Good luck! David D.>

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

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

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

Question regarding w/d use as refugium Hello, I have a multi-part question for you. I currently have a 55 gallon fish-only tank that I'd like to take over to semi-reef. The livestock is a yellow tang, a regal tang and a small (6") Naso. I know, I know. I'm getting a 90 when we move next year. Maybe even bigger. :)  <Ah, good> There is also a coral banded shrimp, two cleaner shrimp, about six snails. I can't keep hermits for more than a month at a time, they just vanish. I swear I think my regal kills them.  <It's possible> I've seen him pick up shells and swim to the surface and drop them. I don't know what he thinks he's doing, but I'm sure the hermits don't like it much. Whoops. Tangent. Sorry. <No worries> I am currently running on a w/d filter, a few powerheads for water movement, and a skimmer (Big Mombassa). I've upgraded my lights (2x65w SmartLite PCs). I realize this isn't enough for anything other than mushrooms and some polyps, but that is really all I want to do right now. <Fine> I have slowly been removing the bio media from my w/d nitrate factory. How quickly can I remove the media?  <If the system is otherwise stable, live rock cured thoroughly most folks can remove all at once w/ impunity> I've been removing about 15 balls or so with each water change (once every other week). Oh- I suppose I should mention that I've got about 40-45 lbs of live rock in the tank. The substrate is just crushed coral, but it's been in there for three years- quite thoroughly live now. <Yes> My nitrates are a big problem. BIG. Usually over the 100 mark. Water changes don't even seem to help. So what I want to do is remove the bio media from the w/d as mentioned, add some sand to the sump (I honestly don't think I need for this to be live sand, it'll get populated rapidly. <I agree... do consider adding a light to the sump, some rock, macro-algae> My wife is afraid to look in the sump because of all the "creepy-crawlies" down there. One thing that truly confuses me about this- won't it end up sounding like a waterfall in there? Is there a way to soften that? <Yes, inside and out... covers can be made with sheets of Styrofoam... you can insulate the cabinet... and a diverter can be made of PVC piping to spread the flow about...> I've seen you mention use of Ehfi-Mech in the sump, as a de-nitrator. What would be the proper way to use this?  <If you can afford it... but the live sand, some rubble will accomplish the same ends> Should I just add a few inches of sand, and put a box of Ehfi-Mech in there as well? Sounds almost too easy, as if I'm missing a giant step or six. <No, you've about "got it"...> And, of course, I'd like to get a few pieces of live rock in there, and lots of macroalgae. I've seen two different ideas on lighting something like this- the most typical is getting one of those small PC units and put in on a reverse daylight program. The other was just a small regular florescent, running 24/7. Which way do you think I should go? <The small PC left on all the time> The largest question: am I on the right track with this? Is there anything I'm overlooking? <Not as far as I'm aware... it's obvious you've been doing your homework> I truly appreciate any thoughts and advice you can offer. John <Press on with this project my friend. Your nitrates are soon to be near zero, and your livestock happier and healthier. Bob Fenner>

Reef Fish Hi, I was wondering if you could suggest some species of fish that I could place in my reef tank that don't require me to feed them, rather they feed off the liverock or something like that.  <In a very large system... well-established...> I plan on keeping at most 2 small fish for my 60gal reef. I want fish that stay only around 1 inch and that's it. A would like a 6 line wrasse and maybe a Pseudochromis but I am not sure if they will survive on their own without me feeding them. Any input greatly appreciated. -Matt <Hmm, well, you will have to augment these fishes diets in any case... adding a sump as a refugium could help you/them quite a bit. Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm and the FAQs beyond. Bob Fenner>

Refugium. Hi Dr. Fenner, <Just Bob, please> I have this question that regards with refugium on what is the best approach. I know each one has it's own advantages like for ecosystem that it helps with HLLE in fish and at the same time reduces nitrate and other requirements for reef. The Plenum on the other hand helps to give more Ca/Alk since CO2 is present below the two level media which is sugar sized aragonite and crushed coral and can be placed with mangrove, Caulerpa to help reduce nitrate as well. The third one is what I currently use which is just sand on top of bare bottom 40gal tank and some live rocks and Caulerpa on a 24hr photo period to reduce nitrate. I guess my question is which one has the most advantages for keeping a good reef environment.  <Good question... any, all are "better" depending on a myriad of other conditions, prerogatives elsewhere in a given system... As you state, if there is a situation of HLLE, perhaps the mud-filter route is best... for excess nitrates, likely the plenum. The DSB/live rock and Caulerpa method might be superlative for supplying small organisms for food to the main tank... Why not incorporate elements of all three?> I know these days a lot of people is pushing towards Ecosystem and does not require usage of Protein Skimmer, does that mean the Miracle Mud takes the organic material out of the system and does the waste product of fish and invertebrates get absorbed by Miracle mud.  <Mmm, kind of on all these counts... Actually I and at least a few other folks are fans of using at least some skimming with mud-filtration...> I know some aquarist are successful with either one and it depends on your personal experiences but if you had to set a system which one would you prefer? Thanks, RL <I have used all three approaches, and would use any/all of them again. Bob Fenner>

Sumps Bob, Still getting info for when I am to start a reef tank, probably will be a long time but I am patient. Anyhow, my question is what exactly is a sump, and what is it's importance to a reef tank? How does it work? Why is it better than a trickle or any other wet/dry filter? How is it set up? Any info you can give is appreciated. If you are wondering what kind of reef tank I am thinking of, I am thinking of eventually setting up a 100-150 gallon tank. Hope this helps. Thanks. John Moyer >> Oh, a sump is merely a chemically-inert water-holding container... that is tied in with a main/display tank... to add volume, give a place to mount peripherals like skimmers, heaters, dosers, meters... And possibly as a culture vessel (refugium) or a natural denitrator... or a myriad of other roles. A related use is as the principal part of wet-dry filters (the tank is a sump)... You can mount a pump in, or outside of a sump... it can be in turn mounted under, next to, or above the tank it services... Sumps are very useful tools that grant an aquarist more water, water quality stability, and flexibility. Bob Fenner, who has more, including, "Get thee to a refugium" pieces stored at www.wetwebmedia.com if you'd like more full explanations.

Refugium Hi Bob, Hope you enjoyed your trip and got some good rest. <Thank you. Very nice battery-recharging so to speak... and very nice folks in the Cook Islands> I want to get your advice on a refugium I'm planning to set up. My goals are: 1. Main tank algae reduction. 2. Live food production for fish and invertebrates. 3. Water movement/ wave generation. 4. Water chemistry. <All worthwhile, and attainable> I don't worry much about the 4 point because the water in the tank has been good so far, and I'm planning on adding a Calcium reactor later that will hopefully cover that (By the way, won't calcium reactors act as fluidized beds to some extent?) <Yes, and vice versa... given large enough areas, patient monitoring and time (ahh, that all important, ever-elusive ingredient)...>  I plan to make it with 3 chambers. The first two would be only divided by a grid that would let the water pass between the two. In the first there would be a bed of mud (miracle mud?) <Maybe... could be just live rock, substrate of some sort (likely carbonaceous)... and can be added "later"> and I will grow Caulerpa in it. I plan on putting one of those plant bulbs on top of this that will remain on 24 hours a day. The water will enter the refugium on this side. On the middle chamber there will be a bed of 2 - 3" of live sand, and on top of it as much live rock as I can cram in there. The purpose of this is to grow as many stuff as I can to have the fish/corals happy and full of eating whatever this produces. If you know of any way I can max out the "live stuff" production here it will be greatly appreciated, Stuff like what to/not to-put in animal/plant wise, <I'd actually place no animals expressly here... i.e. none of the so-called "cleaner uppers"... some may be useful down the line (months)... but the "real" organisms will come about, live (not be consumed, outcompeted) by way of introduction through the macro-algae like Caulerpa, rock, sand...> or any better way besides LR/LS or mix of them or anything you think might help produce significant amounts of creatures. Then there will be a divide that will not let the water flow but on the top, sort of an overflow wall. The water will fill the two first chambers, and overflow onto the third, which I plan to use as a surge device, this way any live stuff won't be forced to pass through any pump. <hmm, do us both a favor and supply at least a small slot to allow some water to "underflow" the last section... should your water level "get" too low in the sump/refugium... at least this will save your pumping mechanism... maybe the life in all... And don't be overly concerned about the biota getting "spliced and diced" too much if/when it passes through the pumps volute/impeller... much will get by just fine> One thing is that I don't want bubbles in the main tank because I want to have sponges/sea squirts. I plan on having a sort of modified WC reservoir valve (Funny ha?) <Not humorous at all, a very good idea and description> that will close before all the water pours out, and that way will (Hopefully ) keep the surge pipe filled with water so it wont introduce air bubbles in the next surge. There will be a 1.2 - 2" pipe that will direct the surge against the normal current in the tank, and a 1" pipe that will be a safety in case the valve won't open. <Maybe situate a bit of coarse plastic media there as well to aid in this "bubble busting" exclusion... the Fein and Grob flocken that Eheim makes/sells is excellent here... one time purchase> And last, I plan on building a tall wood canopy that will also hold the refugium 2 - 3 feet above the tank. I'm still thinking how I want to build this because I know it can be a problem to access the tank, and will not be able to take it off because of the weight of the refugium. <Read through, consult with carpenters in your area... or a friendly structural engineer... there are fasteners, cabling systems that will greatly help in lifting your canopy, keeping it out of your way while working in the main system... and a need for careful design of the support of your refugium (that can "just" overflow via gravity and a constant level siphon/box back into the main tank if it's situated above it> Please advice also on size of the refugium tank (20 gal-30 Gal...) so it can hold all that stuff; how to much space give to each chamber; and advice on a good pump to get the water to the refugium. I'm including a rough scheme of the thing in an attachment. <twenty, thirty gallons ought to do it... and the structure... take a look at Leng Sy's pix in the hobby mag.s for Ecosystem Aquarium's acrylic boxes... they're about the right dimensions...> Thanks a lot for your help, Norberto. << Refugium.jpg >> <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Sumps/Refugium Set-Up Thanks a lot for all your advice. Is setting up a sump quite difficult?  <Not at all> I have space underneath my tank so I am looking to set this up soon. I read on your website that a lot of people have lights on them, is this necessary for just filtration??? <The lighting, live rock and macro-algae combination is well worth it> I think the lights are all 30W and the tank is 18inches high. Now that seems to me to be far too low. But they brighten up the aquarium very well. At the moment I am quite content with just a fish only tank as I am quite new to marine, but I feel that by adding live rock and a protein skimmer my tank could be so much more versatile. <Well put... and more stable, beautiful, healthier, easier to maintain, interesting...> At some point along the line I would be very interested in adding some corals to the tank, as I feel that they add such diversity and colour to the tank. To begin with just simple corals that can be quite hardy. (I realize that keeping corals is quite a lot harder than fish only and there are few "hardy" corals) <Actually there are quite a few easier ones... and you have a very good, actually the world's best marine livestock wholesaler in TMC in the UK... read over their review and the coral pieces archived on the www.wetwebmedia.com site> Oh and another thing my conscience is driving me crazy about live rock. Is it dangerous to the environment and reefs? <Not in the least... much more is moved, blown up, covered over, silted beneath... by human activity... not to mention the 99.999 plus percent that perishes from natural events... and it's self-replenishing. Not to worry> From what I have read on your site you do seem quite conscious of the environment and I presume that you would not endorse the use of live rock if it were harmful to the environment. <Hmm, again well-stated. Happen to be the author of "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist"... so, glad to appear consistent!> Thank you very much for helping me out, I appreciate your time and effort a lot. Matt. Thanks again <A pleasure. Glad to be of help. Bob Fenner>

Refugium question Would one of those ecosystem filters make for a good refugium filter? <Yes> Seems like it would be low maintenance. Cheers.
J --
<Bob Fenner>

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