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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After many hours of research on the subject, I decided to customize my own design in an attempt to best accomodate the needs of my setup.

This is my first attempt at a refugium build. I am desperately in need of some good sound advice about the design.



* The DT is a 26g bow front
* I intend to use the Eshopps 300 gph Overflow

So here's the questions I am venturing to have answered before I undertake this project:

1) I've seen the intake tube both submerged and pouring in above the waterline. What's the difference?

2) I've seen a valve to control flow on either the intake or the return. Does it matter which side it's on? If so, is the valve better off submerged or perhaps mounted up and out of the actual refugium?

3) In regards to the baffle seperating the refugium area and the return chamber - Some designs have holes or slots in the baffle down closer to the sand bed. Is this necessary to keep the return chamber full?

4) Aside from it working, my biggest criteria in this project is noise reduction. I am hoping to tackle this problem after it is up and running with various tricks and modifications, but am wondering if there is anything in the initial planning that needs to be addressed first.

5) I am aware that having the skimmer in the return increases the probability of microbubbles returning to my DT. I've heard alot of mixed opinions on what side it should be on though. To place the Remora in the intake area, I would have to widen the chamber a bit which would thereby reduce the actual refugium that houses the macroalgae by a few inches. The design was made with the intention of making the refugium area as large as possible but I'm not sure how important this really is..

*Note - The biggest flaw I see in this setup comes with the Remora HOB protein skimmer, but there isn't much I can do about it. The remora will spill 6 inches down into the return chambers. I'll have to devise something with media to soften this later on. For more reference, my tank specs can be found here:
http://www.thereeftank.com/forums/f7/aeons-26-bow-front-159221.html#post1792085

Hope to get some good feedback here. Thanks Reef Tank!
 

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I am one of the weird and rare few who do not have a sump so bump:) It looks like you got it pretty good. One thing I will state is that the advantage to having a sump is having an in sump skimmer, not a hang on. the in sumps work WAAAYY better usually..plus I have not heard the greatest about the remora skimmers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks. Yeah, the hang on skimmer is not ideal, but it's what I could afford. It's skimmming pretty good actually, but I expect will be noisy in the refugium. I might try to cascade it down somehow or damper the trickle with lots of media..
 

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+1 on the in sump protein skimmer, your design looks good, but if you think you will get a good protein skimmer i would take that into the plans....

its better to add a spot for it now, then have to remove everything and re-do it all.

because if you stay in the hobby you WILL get a better skimmer, so just plan on having one later on, so all you have to do is just drop it in the sump when you get it! thats what i would do, and thats what i try to do from now on :)
 

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oh boy, this is going to be fun. where is EC?

i think that you are making it way to hard on yourself. get rid of all of the sand/macro algae. that will just create more problems. use the space for spreading out the baffles. the way you have them now, they will not do any good. they are two thin. the water will flow to fast and not help anything. make the baffles at least 2" apart, that way you can siphon down in there when you do weekly water changes. remove the baffle on the right and just make the last baffle on the left a few inches higher.

forget about the pump going to a refugium. they are useless. once again more work for you with zero benefit. just something else that will need weekly maintenance and complete overhauls every few years.

G~
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
ok, so forget biological filtration in the refugium? Perhaps just use a small area for some chaeto instead?

Good advice about making the baffles wide enough to get into and clean. More baffles indeed. Yeah, it does seem like the water is going to be moving through there pretty quick - more attention needed to containing microbubbles.

I'm confused though, you say take the right baffle out? But that's the wall containing the refugium area! Without it, my chaeto goes into the mag return :/

And what pump going to the refugium? There's no pump going to it, just an overflow.
 

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sorry, i read return as refugium.

exactly, remove the refugium completely. they are useless. why would you want Chaeto? if it grows then you have a phosphate problem. it boggles my mind why people want to grow something that should not be able to grow if the system is clean. you should be keeping the system clean enough of phosphates that macro algae could not grow. if you are able to grow macro, then the micro will be more than happy in your system. it takes less phosphates to grow hair algae then it does to grow macro. it is just better to leave as many areas clear as possible. it makes things easier to clean and keep track of.

G~
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I hate to admit it, but that makes perfect sense. I guess I wanted a macro algae refugium mostly as something else to grow and look at and say, "I did that! Look at me I awesome!"

I thought the whole point of the chaeto was to suffocate hair algae. I put some in my display recently and it appears to have done just that. However, I just started using R/O water and also just got a protein skimmer, so maybe it wasn't really necessary to introduce chaeto after all.

Really, I am confined by budget constraints, so I thought chaeto might be a cheap and natural solution to some of the problems my tank has. I could upgrade my skimmer from the Remora to an Octo, or invest in a top of the line canister filter, but with all the money I plan to invest in upgrading lights, building a sump/refugium, getting a stand built, buying softies ect., I am looking for economic solutions to common reef woes. A refugium, a remora skimmer, and some chaeto seemed optimal at the time I researched options to improve the overall integrity of the tank.

I'm starting to like the "keep everything clean and sterile" approach to a sump though. I already have enough nooks and crannies for weird/bad stuff to potentially take hold in my DT to have it be going on down underneath as well..
 

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there is really nothing hard/expensive about keeping a reef system. it is all of the propaganda that makes it seem expensive/hard. all you really need to keep a reef tank is a lot of flow, some LR, good lighting, and a skimmer. i have made many a skimmer over the years that work extremely well, all have been under $100, not including the pump. anything else is not needed and makes maintenance harder.

the most important thing to keeping a reef tank successfully is to get all of the detritus out as fast as possible. the more flow the better because it gets the detritus to the skimmer. the skimmer is the only piece of equipment we have that filters the water immediately and actually removes items from the water column completely. the other types of filters just trap the detritus in them. this allows the detritus to rot and release its phosphates back into the system. this is why the skimmer is so important. the more powerful it is the less siphoning you need to do later.

one of the big mistakes a lot of people make when getting into this hobby is setting up the aquascaping so that it is very difficult to get behind it with a siphon to remove any detritus that can accumulate back there. all detritus is bad, and it needs to be removed regardless of where it can hide. the tank needs to be setup to accommodate this or you will always run into problems.

G~
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Yikes. My aquascaping is a solid impenetrable wall lol.
I do have a submersible pump that blows through the back aisle and sorta keeps things going in a circle. Inverts make their way back there too from time to time. I assume they are cleaning, or maybe just pooping and causing more problems. I think the verdict is still out there on that one. I'm careful not to disturb the sand bed in the rear of the tank in fear of releasing toxic pockets that might be lurking. My nitrates hang around 10, and that was without a skimmer which I now have, so hopefully everything will be good now.

Anyways, the short of it is that a clean and sterile sump is better than a refugium with more biology happening in it. Correct?
 

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exactly, remove the refugium completely. they are useless.

G~
I would not say they are useless....

Useless as a filter maybe and unnecessary, but i use mine to keep inverts and other things that would get attacked and eaten in the display...
and as far as macro algae, I grow it as food and nests for my live stalk.

I think a lot of people have come to think of refugiums as that little place in the middle of the sump with chato. I personally enjoy keeping incompatible animals in the same system but in different tanks.

I have multiple refugiums, and frag tanks, in my system, and i love only having to maintain a single system.

I'm not trying to be argumentative, or say your wrong, thats just my opinion on refugiums.
 

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what you are doing is creating an compromised system. "refugiums" as everyone uses them are lagoonal areas, where phosphates are encouraged to accumulate. this is great if you are planning on doing a lagoonal system, but in most cases that is not what people are looking to accomplish in their display. the entire system is a single water column. if you have phosphates in one area then you will have phosphates in the other areas.

if your system is designed with multiple displays then that could be different story, but the system should still be designed for a single biotope. multiple biotopes in a single system is asking for a maintenance nightmare. if you have a display for corals, and another display for predators, like triggers, then you are fine and the "refugium" could very well be the coral display. if you are trying to have corals in the main display and have another display for mandarins you are creating a biotope incompatibility. sure this could work for about a year, but after that, once your sand/LR is saturated with phosphates all of the system will suffer.

compromised systems are not for the beginner, or the light of wallet.

G~
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
ok. I think you have effectively talked me out of a refugium. I appreciate it's merits as Nate has pointed out, but I think there are many other investments to make in my system that exceed the novelty of having a second environment to house stuff. A sump seems alot more sensible, less complex to get up and running efficiently, and quite simply serves the greatest purpose of all - increasing the overall water volume of the system.
I believe this to be worth it's weight in gold when considering I have a 26g tank with 30lbs of LR causing water displacement.

This brings up a new question though.
I have heard alot of debate with canister filters and sumps - whether to clean them or let them cycle biologically.

(is biologically a word? It is now I guess..)
 

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Eats Crayons
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Ahhhhhhhh the timeless debate of sump vs. refugium. I also find refugiums completely useless. I dont like canister filters for the same reason Geoff mentioned. All they are is just a good place for detritus material to hang out and rott, and biologically is a word.;)
 

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I have a system similar to the one you are looking at setting up and use the refugium side to house a stone fish that was given to me by the previouse owner. As I have inherited this problem as this was how the sump was set up before I would agree and say it is nothing but a pain and much more expensive to change after. I am currently trying to change it to sump only but might be awhile before stone fish can have his own tank so going to keep a refugium for awhile at least.
 

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you can be correct on the fall of the water. this is totally based on the size of the chamber that contains the pump. if it is big enough then the flow from the "refugium" side will keep the pump out side water high and will keep the micro bubbles to a minimum. if the pump side is rather small then there will be a waterfall in microbubbles could become a factor.

the only filtration system you need on a SW system is the skimmer. everything else is just added maintenance. i put refugiums into this category also. another type of filtration that is not needed and just makes the system more complicated/expensive/time consuming.

G~
 

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Ahhhhhhhh the timeless debate of sump vs. refugium. I also find refugiums completely useless.
I thought of the refugium as an ideal place to house pods for the mandarin. Is there a better alternative?
 

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Eats Crayons
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what you are doing is creating an compromised system. "refugiums" as everyone uses them are lagoonal areas, where phosphates are encouraged to accumulate. this is great if you are planning on doing a lagoonal system, but in most cases that is not what people are looking to accomplish in their display. the entire system is a single water column. if you have phosphates in one area then you will have phosphates in the other areas.

if your system is designed with multiple displays then that could be different story, but the system should still be designed for a single biotope. multiple biotopes in a single system is asking for a maintenance nightmare. if you have a display for corals, and another display for predators, like triggers, then you are fine and the "refugium" could very well be the coral display. if you are trying to have corals in the main display and have another display for mandarins you are creating a biotope incompatibility. sure this could work for about a year, but after that, once your sand/LR is saturated with phosphates all of the system will suffer.

compromised systems are not for the beginner, or the light of wallet.

G~
Geoff touched on this and explained it really well. Not trying to parrot here just too lazy to type.:doh:
 

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I thought of the refugium as an ideal place to house pods for the mandarin. Is there a better alternative?
LR in your display should provide ample hunting ground for your mandarin, which is why people recommend at least 75 lbs of LR per mandarin. The pods in my fuge may once in a while get sucked into the tank as a snack, but they mostly stay in the fuge unless I physically move them.
 
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