Q & A: Setting Up A Refugium

Jim from Youtube.com writes,

"Hey Guys,

Love all the videos. Have a few questions for you though if you don't mind me pickin your brain?

I am in the middle of upgrading from a 29 gallon biocube to a 65 all glass pre-drilled tank. I'm using a 29 gallon regular tank as my sump.I am going to install 18" high lexan panels for chamber dividers. I have for filtration a 4" filter sock and Aqua Medic Turboflotor skimmer am going to put those together in the first chamber. The second chamber is going to be 13" long fuge and will have a bed combination of Miracle Mud and live sand then spaghetti algae with some rubble rock. The third chamber I have a TurboTwist UV sterilzer and a 2 Little Fishies Phos Ban Reactor as the
last step in the filtration am gonna put the sterilizer and reactor on their own pumps to loop back into the chamber then the return pump to recirculate to the tank. I think I'm pretty much along the right path but was wondering your input on it and if youd recommend any changes?

I decided to do this all due to the filtration in the biocube how it came just didnt cut it and figured I can have a much more beautiful tank by building my own as well as a much bigger tank to look at instead of dumping more money into the cube and have a smaller less elaborate tank to look at. Thanks for takin time to read my rambling ass message lol....Any feedback would be greatly appreciated......Jim"

Before I answer your question, I need to know if you have room to install a separate tank as a refugium. By separate, I mean one that is not contained within the sump. I am proponent of independent refugiums that slowly introduce water back into the main system. This can be achieved by having the drain from the tank tee'd into the regular sump and also the
refugium. You can either install a smaller diameter hose from the tee or simply install a ballvalve onto the line that feeds into the refugium to slow up the flow. You will need to install a high connection from the refugium to the sump. As the refugium slowly fills, the overflow dumps into the sump. You will increase the dwell time of the aquarium water in the refugium for nutrient removal by the macroalgae, denitrification from the substrate, and oxygen replenishment as a byproduct of macroalgae photosynthesis. If you have a healthy population of microfauna in the
refugium, it can be slowly introduced into the aquarium without risk of swift depletion.

Finally, I am not a fan of UV sterilization in reef tanks. If you are concerned about sporulation from your macroalgae returning into the tank, I have never experienced a problem even when my refugiums were not lit with a 24/7 photoperiod. I typically run lights on refugiums in the reverse daylight mode with great results. Good luck!


Joe Pineda is the Chief Technical Officer for Infinity Aquarium Design and is one of California's most respected professional aquarists specializing in marine science and biology and aquarium systems engineering.


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