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To Refugium or not to Refugium??

I am new to the reef aquarium hobby and have building my system for quite some time now. I’ve spent most of my time reading and planning on how I want to build my system. I have some questions for which I have not been able to find a whole lot of conversation on. I’ve noticed a lot of successful aquariums with refugiums and a lot without. So here it goes, my first question...Oh I have so many questions... What are the benefits of having a refugium and those without? Also, what is the best way of setting it up? I’m not necessarily talking about water flow or the location of the tank to the return pump but rather how should a successful refugium be setup? DSB, live rock, type of algae, small, large, etc.? I really appreciate any help or suggestions and I hope these questions don’t sound too rookie like!--Thanks!

Comments

  • map95003map95003 Posts: 773
    edited February 2010
    Pros: The benefits of having a fuge out weighs not having one in my opinion. It's a save haven for pods and other micro organisms to flourish before they become someone's meal and in turn it feeds your display tank. In addition, if you grow some type of macro algae (a few options available, I grow cheato), this will help with the reduction of nitrate/phosphate. If you setup it up with a DSB, this is also a plus with the denitrification process.

    Cons: Some say after a while the build up of junk could cause problems - to avoid this clean it every few months, don't disturb the sandbed, just swirl the water around and vacuum up the the stuff that has settled.
    From what I've read the fuge does not work well in a bacteria driven tank because there isn't much for it to break down.

    I'm sure there are other pros and cons that others will mention or correct me if I'm wrong....by the way, welcome to RB and good luck.
  • jimw369jimw369 Posts: 3,180
    edited February 2010
  • mattdeanmattdean Posts: 17
    edited February 2010
    One way to combat the possible problems with the deep sand bed over time is to split the refugium area in two by using 2 tupperware containers and fill those with the sand. Then when necessary, (sorry, I am blanking out on when you should do it - maybe year or two) you can simply take one of the rays out and replace it with new mud/sand. Just don't do both at the same time. they should be, say, 6 months apart.

    IMO a refuge is a benefit all around, especially if you want to keep a Mandarin or wrasses that eat the pods like crazy.

    Good luck
  • iceflyer04iceflyer04 Posts: 2
    edited February 2010
    Thanks for the replies! So why do some people have them while others don't? Is there a philosophy out there against refugiums? It always seemed to me to be a great thing to have. Especially the part about helping with denitrification processes.
  • jimw369jimw369 Posts: 3,180
    edited February 2010
    iceflyer04;109888 said:
    Thanks for the replies! So why do some people have them while others don't? Is there a philosophy out there against refugiums? It always seemed to me to be a great thing to have. Especially the part about helping with denitrification processes.
    A "refugium" is recommended as stated earlier when things like copepods are needed to help feed certain animals you might want to add to your tank. Some people feel they are needed, as you agreed with, helping with the denitrification process. Others use the refugiums for holding tanks for fish or coral frags. Others dont want to be bothered and do just fine without one. As with so many things in this hobby their is no right or wrong but only choices how you would prefer to set up your reef. This is one of the hardest aspects of a reef tank for people to understand.
  • BL1BL1 Posts: 3
    edited February 2010
    As far as size goes, you want to have the largest size refugium you can fit or afford to have. Sometimes space is the limiting factor, others it's money. The larger your refugium the more macroalgae, live rock, and DSB you can have. Also, your adding a larger total volume to the water in your aquarium, which will add to the stability of it. All of those will help to keep your water cleaner and more stable.
    A few things you need to keep in mind when planning your refugium, if you want to have a DSB, the minimum depth suggested for anaerobic activity is 6" if you can't handle a depth of at least 6" of sand in your refug then you might as well not have one at all. You'll want to use a very fine grained sand. Also, you will want only about 2 in. of water flow above the DSB, and no light on it.
    There are concerns with a DSB. There are lots of them, but most are common sense. Don't stir it or use a gravel vac on it. The whole point to the DSB is the bottom layers are left undisturbed so the anaerobic bacteria can grow and colonize the deep regions. If you introduce O2 to that deep region you'll crash the whole sand bed. There's a long list of things that happen in a chain reaction sorta way - the end result is usually a dead tank - just don't stir it.
    Another concern is they COULD become a nutrient trap after some unknown period of time. Not WILL become a nutrient trap - COULD become a nutrient trap IF not maintained properly.
    So how do you maintain a DSB so that it DOESN'T become a nutrient trap and explode on you at some random time in the future? You keep a good clean up crew. If they are hungry and looking for food - then not much will end up trapped in the sand to rot later. You keep the right KIND of clean up crew. You need sand burrowing critters to constantly turn and sift the upper regions of the sand bed. This helps assure that no detritus is left in the sand bed. These include various snails, crabs and other inverts such as sand sifting star fish.

    Another great reason for a refug is that all of your equipment can go into that tank and stay out of your display giving it a cleaner more finished look. What I mean by this is that your protein skimmer, heaters, thermometers, sterilizers, filters, and pumps can all be contained in the refug. I can't really think of anything else right now but, I hope this helped and answered some of your questions.
    Brian
  • ScorpaScorpa Posts: 631
    edited February 2010
    I'd say the bigger the better, their great for a food source!
  • map95003map95003 Posts: 773
    edited February 2010
    I would recommend a light on the fuge even if you have a DSB, and especially if you're growing macro algae (example cheato) in it. Alot of reefers including myself run the light on the fuge on a reverse schedule to the lights on your tank. This will help maintain your pH when your tank lights are out.
  • Frost_FreezeFrost_Freeze Posts: 1,705
    edited February 2010
    I second Map's light over the fuge suggestion as well as the lighting cycle, it wouldn't be a refugium if it didn't have macro algae, mangroves, etc. prospering in it. As to the cycling of lights, when my display lights go off my refugium light stays on for several more hours allowing a gradual decrease in the pH level. It isn't till a few hours before the display lights come back on that the fuge light finally gets a short break. Also, you may be a little too modest with the 2 inches of water flow above the DSB. True, 6 inches is the recommended depth of a fine-grain sand bed to sustain the proper anaerobic bacteria performing nitrification. IMO, anything over 10-12" would be somewhat of a waste of money, everything else seems to be spot on though nice response to the OP Brian very informative.
  • edited February 2010
    hey rookie just got on board cause I have no idea how to build or why to build but I want to frag sps an hards an from what I here is there water must be prestine.so if antone can steer me in the right direction I will be much abliged.
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