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Refugium
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bobfish
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Joined: 21 Aug 2006

PostPosted: 2008.02.21(Thu)18:19    Post subject: Refugium Reply with quote

Hello
I was wondering about refugiums. Are they worth it? Could I use my 10 gallon tank as one? And how could I pull it off?

thanks
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38 gallon
pH.6.5 temp 78-81 soft water
Med-heavy planted tank
110 watts power compacts
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dale
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Joined: 10 Jan 2005
Location: Abbotsford Canada

PostPosted: 2008.02.21(Thu)19:46    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Bob,
Whether a refugium is worth it or not depends on what you want it to do. As an investment for retirement it does not usually perform as well as RRSP's or even conservative mutual funds.
Some other uses for refugiums are nitrate reduction via macro algae growth, protection of delicate species, copepod production etc...
What do you want your proposed refugium to do and how big of a system do you intend to attach it to?
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bobfish
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Joined: 21 Aug 2006

PostPosted: 2008.02.21(Thu)21:38    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a simple soft coral tank with feather dusters. I would like to be able to provide the most natural inviroment as possible. I have noticed that since I've added fish to my system the small critter population has dropped dramaticaly. I also like the idea of propagating coraline and other macros since I have a blue tux urchine. I have heard of making one out of an auqa filter but since I have a spare 10 gallon I thought id use that. But what worries me is a leak. I live in an apartment and can't risk one. So going sump when I've never done it before is daunting. has anyone done this before? what would I need? can I trust my lfs for advice? should I go with a mud bed? any thoughts will help.
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38 gallon
pH.6.5 temp 78-81 soft water
Med-heavy planted tank
110 watts power compacts
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dale
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Joined: 10 Jan 2005
Location: Abbotsford Canada

PostPosted: 2008.02.23(Sat)0:18    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Bob,
I'm assuming the refugium will be for your 30G. tank.

There are lots of opinions out there regarding refugiums so the important thing to consider is the perspective of the person offering the advice (what kind of system do they run). Not all systems are the same and don't need the same equipment.

This is just my opinion (and a starting off place for discussion).

You're trying to run a softy tank with filter feeders (similar to my 140 G. actually). You have the challenge of trying to achieve a water column nutrient rich enough for coral and FF growth while combating the effects of a nutrient rich tank (excess nuisance algae and high nitrate levels). So, advice from hobbyists geared towards SPS dominated tanks that advocate extremely efficient skimming won't really work. You want to try to walk the line in between good nutrient levels and bad.

In your case you should:

a.) Consider a HOB skimmer and run it part time then,
b.) Go for the most effective fuge possible.

An effective refugium needs to have:

Good flow to keep detritus from accumulating
Easy to harvest macros
Large enough volume to be effective

There are lots of DIY fuges out there using a modified AC 500 filter (just google it) mostly by nano reefers. They are a fun project and might provide a little nutrient conversion but not to a really effective level, especially considering the tank you are proposing. The problem is that they usually use a macro algae called chaetomorpha (the best for that application though) which looks like a green Brillo pad. In amounts effective for nutrient conversion it will trap detritus (thus creating a higher nutrient load on the system). You can lightly pack the filter but then there isn't enough chaeto to be worthwhile.

There are manufactured HOB (hang on back) refugiums that would work for you. I know CPR makes one (you can google CPR HOB refugiums to check one out).

A ten gallon tank would be a better fuge but you will need to either drill it or the display (or buy an overflow box that costs about the same as drilling). Many people do this "leak free" so just research sump set ups and see what is involved. You can eliminate the parts reserved for skimmers and incorporate a refugium space instead.

I would also consider incorporating Macro alga's into the main display for nutrient conversion. Just make sure you harvest the algae when it gets too big or the nutrients aren't really removed from the tank. If the urchin munches on some that's OK, it's just food you don't need to add at feeding time.

The main problem I see with refugiums used for nutrient control is that they are designed to look nice instead of being effective. They are usually small chambers added into a sump that look good to start but wind up becoming grungy pits that are tucked away under the stand and hard to clean. People also become attached to the macros and don't harvest ruthlessly enough.

Although a hotly debated topic, I would avoid mud beds in simple or small fuges as they tend to complicate the process and cause more problems than they are worth. They do have a place however in larger fuges that utilize macros (such as Calerpa taxifolia) but that's another story.

As for trusting your LFS, that's unanswerable. Again, consider the motivation. Is the staff member a fishkeeper themselves or just a salesman? How do their tanks look? Is their solution always to buy another product or do they offer advice that helps you at no cost? Try asking their advice and then verifying it with others before committing to purchase.
If you met me in a LFS I'd give you the best advice possible knowing that a happy customer is a loyal customer but I also recently talked to a client who was sold a $300 filter when only a water change was required.
Shrug???
Well, that's enough for now. You can chew on it and see if something helps.
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bobfish
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Joined: 21 Aug 2006

PostPosted: 2008.03.19(Wed)8:00    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thats a lot to think about.
I think I will go with a 20 gallon tank and convert it to a sump. then using a mag 5 pump I think I would be in business. What would be the most effective usage? Deep sand bed or live rock with plant matter?

Also I've seen mention of refugium being excellent for seahorse.
Can anyone confirm this?
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38 gallon
pH.6.5 temp 78-81 soft water
Med-heavy planted tank
110 watts power compacts
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Percula9
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Joined: 06 Apr 2008
Location: Orange county

PostPosted: 2008.04.06(Sun)19:35    Post subject: Refugium Reply with quote

I converted a 10 gal into a sump refugium, best thing I ever did. Keeps my tank looking good. The water enters on the right into a filter sock then over a baffle into the fuge, which consists of a 4inch sand bed and chaetomorpha. Then the water goes over another baffle into the return chamber where water is pumped back to the tank. I did all my self for less then 50 bucks.
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