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Basic Refugium Maintanance Question

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jmaxwell

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Dec 10, 2003
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Mill Creek, WA
So I recently added a refugium to my tank and was wondering how you go about weeding it. What is the proper way to trim the Caulerpa? I have several different kinds all sort of mixed together, but it isnt really attached to anything. Do you just break pieces off or pull out chunks or what?

Jim
 

jasontatro

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Sep 1, 2003
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West Seattle
NOt to hijack the thread, but I have some fuge questions as well. Actually one pressing question..... why did all of my caulerpa die. I bought a clump of grape and added it to my fuge. Within a few weeks it was all soupy and dead. There was some new growth here and there, but I didn't experience the growth that most people do. What did I do wrong?
 

j.stagner

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Mill Creek, WA
Well, I also recently (2 months ago) added a refugium, so I am pretty far from being an expert.

My caulerpa (mostly grape) grows extremely fast, the amount of growth within a week is really very obvious. It is lit 24/7 with two 65W PC bulbs, one 10KK, one red. The lights are about 12" from the top of the water, only because it was easier to mount that way. The substrate is CaribSea mineral mud, which is black and supposedly contains a lot of plant-friendly substances like iron.

I've read that you should have relatively slow flow through the fuge, but mine is actually pretty fast, about 800gph. That's just because it was an add-on and it was the quickest and easiest way to plumb it in.

On the few occasions I've done any harvesting so far, I have used a pair of stainless steel scissors to just start snipping. I catch the pieces in a net and remove them.

I'm quite sure there are better ways to run a fuge and to do the harvesting, but it works for me.

I, too, look forward to seeing what kind of information people will post.
 

esmith

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Oct 9, 2003
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From what I have heard Jim, lighting for 24 hours will help to maintain PH levels (as would reverse lighting), and will assure you that your macro doesn't go sexual.

HTH,

Eliyah
 

NaH2O

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As far as flow goes in a fuge....well, that depends on the organisms kept in it. Too slow flow with strong lighting can lead to nuisance algae growth - it just depends - if you are trying to culture zooplankton, you will need slower flow than if you only had macros.

The following quote I pulled from another website regarding Caulerpa.

Caulerpa's are a fast growing species of Macroalgae. If your purpose of owning the caulerpa is for nutrient export, then it is a good choice in my opinion. I use it along with some other macroalgae species.

However, there are some issues with it that most people don't know about and I think it is important that you know all of the info so you can make up your own mind.

Caulerpa actually contains a toxin called caulerpenyne. That is the reason most of your fish won't eat it. If caulerpa dies or goes sexual in your tank some of these toxins will be released into the water column. If you had a huge refugium filled with it and it all died at once, it could kill your fish and inverts. There have been many studies on the impact of this toxin but not as it relates to reef tanks.

You NEVER want a caulerpa to die or go sexual in your tank for another reason---all of the phosphates and nitrates that were previously bound up in the caulerpa get added all at once to your water column----Yikes!!! After running your protein skimmer for a week, would you want to pour that skimmate into your tank? Obviously not. Having caulerpa die on you is basically the same thing.

If you use scissors to cut caulerpa, it will release a little of this toxin plus gelbstoff (basically a yellowing agent into the water). Luckily a activated carbon is excellent at removing the gelbstoff. The question is, does the activated carbon also remove the caulerpenyne??? Most people recommend a pinching action to reduce the amount of the the toxin and gelbstoff. I.e. Pinch and hold the pinch for a couple of seconds.

Obviously, the key to using this macro is keeping it alive.

Every living thing needs food. Caulerpa occassionally can die if there is no food for it. What is food for it? Proper lighting for photosynthesis is food. So are nitrates, phosphates and iron. If you throw some caulerpa in a sparkling clean tank with no nitrates nor phosphates, you better have pretty good lighting or you better have a very long photoperiod.

You can buy a product from Kent Marine if you think you should dose iron. Here is some info on Iron http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issues/aug2002/chem.htm

Trimming more often so that all of the caulerpa is getting light is important. I also believe that the fact that the more of it you have, the older it is and there is a greater likelihood of it going sexual and there is more competition.
I have been having a discussion with a friend of mine on these issues lately, so there are a couple of things a wanted to add. As with a lot of things with this hobby, all macros have issues. If you think of them as a living organism, they are going to develop some form of defense mechanism. They can't swim away or attack their predator with poisonous spines, instead they have developed toxins, which can be detrimental. The important thing is these toxins can be overcome in a sense. Don't harvest then immediatly put the caulerpa back in the fuge. Wait for your waterchange to harvest, pinch off in your waterchange water, give a good rinse, then it should be ready to go back in.

Hope this has helped out.....
 

mojoreef

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LOL and if you just get rid of the food and waste instead of allowing it to rot, this to will become a risk you dont have to take. hehe the things we do just to allow stuff to rot.


Mike
 

esmith

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So basically what you are saying is that you should remove the macro from the tank before doing any trimming?

I haven't done this before, but was thinking about it as I hate having to chase down all of the pieces so that they don't get shot back up into my tank.

Mike - You were using Mangroves in one of your sumps, are they more efficient at removing the excess nutrients from the water than macro? If so, I might switch over to them instead of macro...assuming that you don't have to do any prunning of them.

Eliyah
 

j.stagner

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Wow. Good info. Don't think I'll be using the scissors again. Removing the macro before trimming it is not possible in my situation, as the growth is so dense that grabbing it and removing it from the fuge is the same thing as trimming, it will literally rip it out.

As for the long photoperiod, it simply can't get longer ;)

I've also recently read that you should keep the growth from getting too thick, as this will shade all of the lower growth and cause the problems mentioned above. This is confusing to me, because I've seen pictures of tanks where the growth is 8" high. But I've noticed benefits with it from the time it first started growing, so if I need to keep it cut short, that's okay with me.

Any thoughts on this?
 

NaH2O

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Here's my $0.07 (have to figure inflation, right? How many years has it been $0.02?). You really want to prune/harvest regularly, in order to EXPORT the nasties. Make it part of your water change routine. Pruning it back will encourage the growth, thereby leading to more undesirables being absorbed. If it gets too dense then you may create an area of die-off, which would lead to the nutrients being put back into the system. Also, if it hasn't been mentioned already, you don't want to feed your refugium macros to your tank. You are just introducing the nutrients back. Sure some will be utilized by the fish, but on what level.... 1%? and the rest just goes out the other end.
 

mojoreef

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Mike - You were using Mangroves in one of your sumps, are they more efficient at removing the excess nutrients from the water than macro? If so, I might switch over to them instead of macro...assuming that you don't have to do any prunning of them.
Nope they suck, to slow a grower and they suck out certian elements to. That and you have to watch out for the leaves, when they fall off and drop into the tank they release all the nutrients and poisens back in.

So, refugiums, calurpas, macroaglaes, algae turf scrubber, dsbs, ect, ect is all to replace just removing detritus prior to rotting??????? hehehe;) :D

MIke
 

esmith

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Thanks Mike, I am planning on removing my DSB here in the next couple of months when I move at which time I'll be setting up a new tank that will be free and clear of any sandbed :D. Sure wish I knew how much trouble maintaining the algae would be using one when I set up this tank.

Eliyah
 

Mushroom Boy

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Jun 27, 2003
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I had a caulerpa refugium on my old system and would just pull out clumps of it at a time. Afterward, I would go through the "mass" of caulerpa and try and rescue as many amphipods as possible and reintroduce them back into the refugium :).

Some interesting points raised about the toxins and proper handling, and Mike, I like your point as well :D.
 

Johnny

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Jan 26, 2004
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Meridian Mississippi
I was wanting to use Zenia in my sump to remove nutrients. Any Ideas?

It grows like a weed in my tank because of not having a refugium and you could trade the harvest.
 

NaH2O

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Johnny, I have read that Xenia makes a good choice, as well. According to Reef Invertebrates...."True corals work well just the same with Xenia being one of the most popular for its fast absorption, weak aggression and high resale value abroad." Sounds like a good idea, you would just need to make sure it's requirements were being met in the sump.
 

j.stagner

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Jan 8, 2004
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Mill Creek, WA
Regarding my earlier post about upper growth shading lower growth, I decided it was time to do a good pruning. I discovered that the lower growths were in pretty sad shape, much paler and definitely looking like it was not long for this world.

I am glad this thread was started when it was, very timely for me. Thanks, folks, for the great info.
 

mojoreef

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Xenia is a good exporter but it is also very risky on melt downs. The absolute best exporter/absorber is cyanobacteria, I believe it is about 500 times more then the next closest.
Good thing to keep in mind also is that a skimmer will export as good as any of the before mentioned, BUT it wont die, go sexual or have to be pruned, hehehe...sorry I will leave you folks alone I promise:p

MIke
 

NaH2O

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Mike, your posts are beneficial because it brings a lot of things into perspective. No need to leave us folks alone. :D
 

mattseattle

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Seattle, WA
so you are saying a skimmer is the best bet :) that is all i am currently running. i haven't tried the algae approach or any of the others except for a skimmer. i've been afraid to try the calurpa (sp) as i was scared it would go sexual and contaminate my tank while i was away for a vacation or sleeping or something.
 
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