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DIY Refugiums, any help?

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pondguy

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Nov 1, 2004
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26
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Mankato, Minnesota
I have a 220 AGA built into my dinning room wall. Behind it is a storage room complete with mop sink, moisture vents and all aquarium stuff. The tank is drilled with two 1" bulk heads, one on each end, they drain to a 55 gal tank that is set up as a wet/dry filter/refugium. the water enters the 55 tank at the top of one end where the water passes through some foam filter media to a drip plate. Down the drip plate to an area filled with bioballs, pumps for UV and Skimmer are here, water then goes up and over wall into an area I want to build a refugium with Miracle Mud, Calerpa and LR. Water is then exported back up to tank by a LG 4MDQX-SC pump and split to return on both sides of tank through spray bars. Any ideas on the refugium, is this a good idea? Also, need DIY plans for a bigger skimmer, mine is a Red Sea Berlin XL turbo with venturi, I just don't think it is big enough. Ryan
 

mike

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May 13, 2004
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17
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Redmond
Refugium

Have you ever thought to add the new refugium above the tank? I would add one that is around 30+ gallons above the tank, and pump only 150-250 gph through it, from a small powerhead hid in the rockwork some where, and let it gravety feed back into the main tank. You could grow some seriouse pods this way! Just my .02 worth. Just don't skimp on the skimmer. Mike
 

pondguy

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Nov 1, 2004
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Mankato, Minnesota
Mike, this is a good idea, but I don't think I have the space above the tank. the ceiling is only 8' and the top of the tank sits at 6'-6" with a custom reflective hood for the lights above this. So, I am stuck with the sump refuge, is there going to be too much water flow throught it with a 1200 gph pump. I guess I didn't realize you need to have less water flow for a refugium. Ryan
 

pondguy

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Nov 1, 2004
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Mankato, Minnesota
by adding the caulerpa, I can in theory have a larger fish load. i want to stock this tank heavily with angles, tangs and butterflys. I need the refugium to build a good colony of copepods and microfauna, the caulerpa is there for the nutrience extranction along with the skimmer. plus i would be able to harvest the caulerpa to treat the fish in the tank to a bonus meal, so to speak
 

Curtswearing

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Nov 20, 2003
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St. Louis, MO
OK, now I understand your goals.

Most fish won't eat caulerpa because of the toxins but you wouldn't want to do this anyway. As an average, 90% of the nutrients that a fish eats will re-enter the tank in the fish poo. If you take the caulerpa out of the refugium and feed it to the fish, that means that 90% of the nutrients the caulerpa had absorbed will re-enter the tank where microalgaes and other nuisance algaes will get another crack at the phosphates, Nitrates, etc. Once the fish poo comes out, we have no control over what gets the phosphates out of it. Bacteria are the most efficient, algaes and ionic adsorption are less efficient. Basically, a lot of things have to go wrong for the phosphates to make it back to your refugium. In other words, if you get caulerpa, don't put it back into the main tank.

Miracle Mud for that big of a tank will be quite expensive. If you added a refugium with some live rock and some pod piles, no caulerpa, and spent the money you would have spent on MM on building a better skimmer, you would be better off IMO.

(Pod Piles are small piles of LR rubble, snail shells, etc. The pods will breed in these locations).
 

pondguy

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Nov 1, 2004
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Mankato, Minnesota
so, i should build the refugium, leave out the Caulerpa and MM, but instead use more LR and Pod Piles and build a better skimmer....what type of skimmer, I have these plans for a counter current skimmer that is 6' tall and 4" in diameter. Is this big enough. Also, with out the caulerpa, is the refugium simply there to breed the copepods in the LR? I thought you were suppose to have the macroalgae to fight with the microalgae for nutrient export. I just want to know what would be best. Thanks
 

cwcross

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Aug 18, 2004
Messages
250
I disagree. I think you should go with MM (only about 30 lbs maybe for a 220) and no skimmer. I run a skimmerless reef with MM and am very happy with it. I think you will be happy too. My corals are thriving, even the dendronephthya (although it might be a scleronepthya, I can't identify it completely) is growing!. If you decide to go this way, let me know and I have some suggestions for you. I think a skimmer is bad for a reef system and takes out to many DOM's and colloidal food sources.

Sincerely...Collin
 

Angelscrx

Import Fish
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Jul 30, 2004
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Ettrick, VA
I have refugium with Grape and razor cualerpa and lots of pods. I do have to trim the macros often but I definitely harvest pods and feed the main tank. I also have live rock in the sump on an additional sand bed. I plan on probably getting rid of the DSB in the main tank and keeping it remote. Works great.
 

cwcross

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Messages
250
If you go with Miracle mud, I suggest keeping your mud in 4 tupperware pans or bowls or something that lie closely together to match size and shape with the bottom of your refugium, including some small rocks for pod houses. This will make it easy to change out your substrate in the remote tank, which is the biggest problem with beds. Then consider keeping your algea in another bowl that you sit on top of the mud bowls so that it doesn't root into the mud. With a little engineering and thought, this will make you a very easy to maintain mud based refugium with algea that you can maintain very easily. To keep Mud substrate fresh, go about 1 year and then begin to rotate out one of your 4 mud bowls quarterly with fresh mud and harvest the algea out of the other bowl as needed.. Also, consider forgetting the skimmer. I'm not sure a skimmer adds anything. My tank certainly does well without one. This setup will provide you with a nice export system that minimized the negative effects of the setup (which I believe are outweighed by the positives)

Sincerely...Collin
 

Angelscrx

Import Fish
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Ettrick, VA
So if you don't have a skimmer what other filtration do you have? I have of folks just using sump/refugiums or canisters or mangroves or combinations of these. I like the idea of the bowls. Thanks

cwcross said:
If you go with Miracle mud, I suggest keeping your mud in 4 tupperware pans or bowls or something that lie closely together to match size and shape with the bottom of your refugium, including some small rocks for pod houses. This will make it easy to change out your substrate in the remote tank, which is the biggest problem with beds. Then consider keeping your algea in another bowl that you sit on top of the mud bowls so that it doesn't root into the mud. With a little engineering and thought, this will make you a very easy to maintain mud based refugium with algea that you can maintain very easily. To keep Mud substrate fresh, go about 1 year and then begin to rotate out one of your 4 mud bowls quarterly with fresh mud and harvest the algea out of the other bowl as needed.. Also, consider forgetting the skimmer. I'm not sure a skimmer adds anything. My tank certainly does well without one. This setup will provide you with a nice export system that minimized the negative effects of the setup (which I believe are outweighed by the positives)

Sincerely...Collin
 

aquariumdebacle

electrolyte addict
Joined
Jul 4, 2003
Messages
613
Location
Seattle
STAY AWAY FROM CAULERPA! It's nasty, nasty stuff and can kill the entire tank! A decent protein skimmer will remove far more yucky stuff than any algae. If you must use algae the Ulva and Chaetomorpha species are much much safer.

I have a refugium that is both upstream and downstream simutaneously. One half of the overflow feeds to air driven lifts leading to the refugium. The refugium oveflows to the main tank. I have not noticed any significant flow of organisms to the main tank. The "fuge" however, is crammed with three dominat types: amphipods, mysis, and a little tiny type of possible crustacean that zips around really fast.
 

cwcross

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Angelscrx said:
So if you don't have a skimmer what other filtration do you have? I have of folks just using sump/refugiums or canisters or mangroves or combinations of these. I like the idea of the bowls. Thanks
I have no filtration, except the refugium....C
 

cwcross

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Messages
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aquariumdebacle said:
I have not noticed any significant flow of organisms to the main tank. The "fuge" however, is crammed with three dominat types: amphipods, mysis, and a little tiny type of possible crustacean that zips around really fast.
My understanding is that the primary purpose of the refugium is not to spill macrofauna into the main tank, but to produce zooplankton and phytoplankton, which is mainly too small to see. This largely comes from the eggs and sperm and larvae produced by the species "crammed" into your fuge. If your fish eat all the macrofauna, they won't produce any plankton, so they need a place to thrive at. If you skim your water or use a cannister filter, you will just then remove much of the zooplankton and many of the dissolved organics. That is why people often say don't use a skimmer with an ecosystem filter. I am a believer of this philosophy. I don't really feed any supplements to my tank and everything is growing. I do target feed my candycanes and brains occasionally but not very often really.

The downside to having no filtration is that there will be more colloidal organic particulate and dust in the water. My water is very clear, but does have some particulate in it. I see this as a benefit though of providing a transport of micronutrients for the corals. People who see it always comment "how clear the water is". However, they aren't really reef people. Tanks with skimmers have less particulate in it. That is why the foam is brown/green and goopy to a large degree. Occasionally, I will blow everything up and put a 50 micron sock on for a few days. This is mainly to export detrius though and I don't do it but every few months for several days.

Sincerely...Collin
 

Angelscrx

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Ettrick, VA
cwcross said:
If you skim your water or use a cannister filter, you will just then remove much of the zooplankton and many of the dissolved organics. That is why people often say don't use a skimmer with an ecosystem filter. I am a believer of this philosophy. I don't really feed any supplements to my tank and everything is growing.
I want to set up a bigger tank and I really like the concept of going all natural (biological) filtration. I am going to have to research this further as I am sure that the maintenance is very different. Thanks
 

cwcross

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Messages
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Angelscrx said:
I want to set up a bigger tank and I really like the concept of going all natural (biological) filtration. I am going to have to research this further as I am sure that the maintenance is very different. Thanks
You are right...it's less! No real supplements, no real feeding corals, very little testing except Ca and Alk, very few water changes. Just keep topped off with RO/DI water and pull algea out about once/month or so. Then rotate mud about every quarter or so. Feeding and scraping glass etc. That's about it really...C
 

Angelscrx

Import Fish
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Ettrick, VA
Nice very nice. But what are the negatives? If this was the best way to go you would think everyone would be doing it. Not to sound negative but someone has to get the other side of the story. Thanks for the info.
 

pondguy

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Nov 1, 2004
Messages
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Location
Mankato, Minnesota
It's sounds like we have two kinds of skeptics. One that is a die hard skimmer user, the other the ol' natural type. I think that I will try the refugium, with the miracle mud, start changing it out after one years time. I will stay away from the caulerpa, and try the other types of macroalgae suggested ( i would put the quote that lists them from Dan M., but I am a stupid landscaper and can not figure out how to insert the quote option) I am also going to use LR and the Pod Piles. I plan on having a lot fo fish and need all the nutrient export I can get. Any more advice, concerns, please help?
 

cwcross

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Aug 18, 2004
Messages
250
I have culerpa in my refugium. I have no problems with it. The main thing I take out thout is hair algea, which grows much faster. I have none in my main tank but it grows fast in my fuge. I don't doubt that it releases some sort of toxins. However, I have never had problems with it. I'm sure there are probably better algeas though.

...C



pondguy said:
It's sounds like we have two kinds of skeptics. One that is a die hard skimmer user, the other the ol' natural type. I think that I will try the refugium, with the miracle mud, start changing it out after one years time. I will stay away from the caulerpa, and try the other types of macroalgae suggested ( i would put the quote that lists them from Dan M., but I am a stupid landscaper and can not figure out how to insert the quote option) I am also going to use LR and the Pod Piles. I plan on having a lot fo fish and need all the nutrient export I can get. Any more advice, concerns, please help?
 

pondguy

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Joined
Nov 1, 2004
Messages
26
Location
Mankato, Minnesota
Thanks for the input C.. I have heard from many people that they have caulerpa in the refugiums, all the books that I have read say caulerpa is a good type the use. How is it C, that you don't have any hair algae in your main tank, but have it in your refuge? Do you have a lot of tangs in your tank? Ryan
 
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