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I have a 25 gallon tank and was wondering if the refugium is necessary. I am somewhat new at the reef aquarium. I do not have any corals or anything of the sort because I got stuck with a chocolate chip starfish. he pretty cool but eventually I would like to add some corals. i have some fish now, a shrimp, and a crab as well... should I have arefugium?

Thanks!
 

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i am not a fan of refugiums. i feel they are just something else you need to maintain. they do not add any real functionality to your system. there are a lot of myths about what they do to your system, but if you understand the science behind what makes a SW tank tick, the reality is that they are not very useful and can actually go against what you could be trying to accomplish in the system itself.

if you need more elaboration, please list the benefits you thought the refugium would do for you.

G~
 

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Geoff, I'm curious what you have to say so I'll bite.

Primarily, my refugium is a secondary display for viewing pleasure. Secondly, I used it as a place for delicate species to be safe from my old aggressive fish. Third, I use it to encourage more rapid propogation of copepods and other microfauna for the purpose of feeding the green mandarin I would like to get down the road. Fourth and finally, I grow and prune a variety of macroalgae for the purpose of nutrient export. Perhaps the amount of nutrients I am actually exporting is minute, but it is just one more piece of competition for nuissance algae.
 

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if you need more elaboration, please list the benefits you thought the refugium would do for you.

G~
1. Remove phosphates
2. Remove nitrogenous wastes
3. Stabilize PH
4. Remove CO2
5. Add O2
6. Supply a natural food sourse for the display tank. A food sourse that lacks the preservatives found in most over the counter foods.
7. Reduce or eliminate problematic algae in the display.
8. They're just fascinating to observe and educational.
 

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Geoff, I'm curious what you have to say so I'll bite.

Primarily, my refugium is a secondary display for viewing pleasure. Secondly, I used it as a place for delicate species to be safe from my old aggressive fish. Third, I use it to encourage more rapid propogation of copepods and other microfauna for the purpose of feeding the green mandarin I would like to get down the road. Fourth and finally, I grow and prune a variety of macroalgae for the purpose of nutrient export. Perhaps the amount of nutrients I am actually exporting is minute, but it is just one more piece of competition for nuissance algae.
A great article if you want to know how much phosphate and nitrate algae can remove from your system.
http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2006-09/rhf/index.php

A quote from the link above.
"For those interested in knowing how much phosphorus is being exported by macroalgae, this free PDF article in the journal Marine Biology has some important information. It gives the phosphorus and nitrogen content for nine different species of macroalgae, including many that reefkeepers typically maintain. For example, Caulerpa racemosa collected off Hawaii contains about 0.08 % phosphorus by dry weight and 5.6% nitrogen. Harvesting 10 grams (dry weight) of this macroalgae from an aquarium would be the equivalent of removing 24 mg of phosphate from the water column. That amount is the equivalent of reducing the phosphate concentration from 0.2 ppm to 0.1 ppm in a 67-gallon aquarium. All of the other species tested gave similar results (plus or minus a factor of two). Interestingly, using the same paper's nitrogen data, this would also be equivalent to reducing the nitrate content by 2.5 grams, or 10 ppm in that same 67-gallon aquarium."
 

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Geoff, I'm curious what you have to say so I'll bite.

Primarily, my refugium is a secondary display for viewing pleasure. Secondly, I used it as a place for delicate species to be safe from my old aggressive fish. Third, I use it to encourage more rapid propogation of copepods and other microfauna for the purpose of feeding the green mandarin I would like to get down the road. Fourth and finally, I grow and prune a variety of macroalgae for the purpose of nutrient export. Perhaps the amount of nutrients I am actually exporting is minute, but it is just one more piece of competition for nuissance algae.
using it as a secondary display, or as a place to keep delicate species that require the same biotope as the main display is a perfect use for a refugium. it is when the refugium is a different biotope than the main display that you will have problems. for instance: growing algae. algae prefer a different biotope than most people's displays. if you are keeping a softie tank than disregard. softies and algae both prefer more nutrients in the water column than a reef top biotope. if you are able to grow the algae than you have nutrients in the system, why? why not remove them before they have a chance to fuel the algae growth? why make more work for yourself? if you remove the phosphates immediately then there will be no competition for the phosphates.

1. Remove phosphates
only if something is exported from the system. if sand than the sand will need to be replaced on a regular basis.
2. Remove nitrogenous wastes
less efficient at it than LR, but can do this.
3. Stabilize PH
only if it is filled with algae only. if sand is in the fuge, it will actually destabilizes pH. the production of CO2 by the bacteria make it difficult to keep pH high. if ever the power goes out. whoa nelly. better hope to keep the water circulation up or the sand will quickly use up the oxygen in the water column. :(
4. Remove CO2
how? algae will convert CO2 to O2, but only when the lights are on. if the lights go off then algae will go back to normal metabolism. converting O2 to CO2.
5. Add O2
answered above.
6. Supply a natural food sourse for the display tank. A food sourse that lacks the preservatives found in most over the counter foods.
preservatives are associated with phosphates. you are feeding the tank the stuff you want to export, which contains the phosphates you are trying to get rid of. not really helping the phosphate problem in the system. fueling more algae. if we are talking pods, then we are going to have another problem. the amount of food needed to keep pods goes against the low nutrients needed in the system to keep the corals happy. once again adding more phosphates to the system.
7. Reduce or eliminate problematic algae in the display.
if the nutrients are removed from the system immediately by wet skimming and siphoning detritus the algae whether nuisance or not will not have a chance to grow.
8. They're just fascinating to observe and educational.
this they can be! it is amazing the amount of different critters and growth you can have if you allow phosphates to build up and feed the small critters and let their populations explode. i just wish there is a way that this could be done and keep the main display as nutrient poor as needs to be for the corals we like to keep.

G~
 

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using it as a secondary display, or as a place to keep delicate species that require the same biotope as the main display is a perfect use for a refugium. it is when the refugium is a different biotope than the main display that you will have problems. for instance: growing algae. algae prefer a different biotope than most people's displays. if you are keeping a softie tank than disregard. softies and algae both prefer more nutrients in the water column than a reef top biotope. if you are able to grow the algae than you have nutrients in the system, why? Because there are nutrients in every reef tank. why not remove them before they have a chance to fuel the algae growth? why make more work for yourself? if you remove the phosphates immediately then there will be no competition for the phosphates.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elegance Coral
1. Remove phosphates
only if something is exported from the system. And a skimmer only works if you plug it in.:confused: if sand than the sand will need to be replaced on a regular basis.
I don't know of anyone trying to control phosphates by repeatedly replacing sand. Harvesting algae is the primary method.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elegance Coral
2. Remove nitrogenous wastes
less efficient at it than LR, but can do this.
You have to know that you can't make that statement. It is false. You can't even compare the two.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Elegance Coral
3. Stabilize PH

only if it is filled with algae only. if sand is in the fuge, it will actually destabilizes pH. the production of CO2 by the bacteria make it difficult to keep pH high. if ever the power goes out. whoa nelly. better hope to keep the water circulation up or the sand will quickly use up the oxygen in the water column. :(
This is an example of what happens with a sand bed choked with decomposing organic matter. A system that has been neglected for a very long time. This is not the case in a well maintained system.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elegance Coral
4. Remove CO2

how? algae will convert CO2 to O2, but only when the lights are on. if the lights go off then algae will go back to normal metabolism. converting O2 to CO2.
Most people run fuges on reverse light cycles. This means that photosynthesis never stops.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elegance Coral
5. Add O2

answered above.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elegance Coral
6. Supply a natural food sourse for the display tank. A food sourse that lacks the preservatives found in most over the counter foods.

preservatives are associated with phosphates. you are feeding the tank the stuff you want to export, which contains the phosphates you are trying to get rid of. I don't understand what you are saying here. Feeding the tank with pods grown in a fuge, eliminates or reduces the amount of food needed to be fed to the system that contain preservatives like phosphate. Allowing you critters to feed on pods grown in the system does not add phosphate to the system. Who on earth would grow pods in a system, capture them, treat them with phosphates as a preservative, then feed them back to the system? not really helping the phosphate problem in the system. fueling more algae. if we are talking pods, then we are going to have another problem. the amount of food needed to keep pods goes against the low nutrients needed in the system to keep the corals happy. once again adding more phosphates to the system.
I don't know anyone that feeds their pods. Pods are quite capable of finding their own food. Even in the cleanest of tank. If you don't believe this, simply remove all the fish from your next tank, and see what happens to the pod population.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elegance Coral
7. Reduce or eliminate problematic algae in the display

if the nutrients are removed from the system immediately by wet skimming and siphoning detritus the algae whether nuisance or not will not have a chance to grow.
What about the substances that are not easily skimmed from the tank? Not everyone wants to spend their weekends changing water and siphoning detritus.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elegance Coral
8. They're just fascinating to observe and educational.

this they can be! it is amazing the amount of different critters and growth you can have if you allow phosphates to build up and feed the small critters and let their populations explode. i just wish there is a way that this could be done and keep the main display as nutrient poor as needs to be for the corals we like to keep.

G~
I agree with you 110% if we are talking about refuges the way you envision them. Detritus ridden cesspools for the aquarium. My point is that they need not be this way. A fuge, the way you describe them would be counter productive, but a clean well maintained fuge can be interesting and beneficial.
 

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you need to siphon detritus, or the tank will become a cesspool. i spent no more than 10mins a week siphoning my sump. i siphoned the display once every 3 months to get the little bits of sand that accumulates from bacterial turgor in the LR. if it were not for this i would never have to stick my hands in the display for siphoning. all systems need to be siphoned or they will become cesspools.

running a 24/7 lighting cycle for correcting a problem that would occur if the bacterial population in the sand was not there. my system maintained a pH of 8.0 to 8.2 day and night. very little pH fluctuation at all. i could actually tell by the end of the week when i needed to siphon out detritus. the pH would start to drop from the bacteria processing the phosphates in the detritus that was accumulating in the sump.

the feeding the tank the food from the fuge, was more a reference for using the algae you were growing in the fuge to feed the critters instead of exporting the algae.

the sheer number of bacteria in the sand bed trying to work on all of the phosphates in it are what use up the O2. the less detritus the less of a pH problem you will have, but as long as there is all of the biomass in the tank, there will be a pH swing. if the power were to ever go out in a sand tank, you have very little time to get flow going before the tank will become anoxic from the bacteria.

calcium carbonate is a very efficient phosphate sponge. so much that it is used in dialysis machines. the calcium carbonate will uptake the phosphates as fast if not faster than the algae can. it is not until the calcium carbonate is not able to uptake it as fast when the algae starts to grow.

LR has a much greater surface are for all of the bacteria needed for the nitrogen cycle than a sand bed would. only the top 2 cm off a sand bed is efficient at converting ammonia to N gas. the same can be said about LR. LR on the other hand is completely open to the water column. its entire surface is able to process ammonia to N gas to a depth of 2cm. if the LR is very porous the amount of surface are capable of completing the Nitrogen cycle increases even more.

there are nutrients in every tank, no way around it. though limiting the nutrients is the key. on the reef top there is very little nutrients. much less than what we can accomplish in our system. having the algae/sand in the tank "captures" the nutrients. the fact is that they are still in the system. in a BB tank that is siphoned every week the maximum amount of nutrient export occurs. if the flow in the tank is high enough and the skimmer strong enough the amount of detritus actually exported once a week using the siphon is greatly reduced. in my 125g system i only did a 10g water change a week, with only about 5 gallons really needed for total removal of the detritus. it was just easier for me to make 10g instead of 5. if i missed a week i would do a 15g water change just so i would be sure to removal the extra amount of detritus.

G~
 

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Okay......Fine.:rolleyes: Back to the original question.;)

I have a 25 gallon tank and was wondering if the refugium is necessary. I am somewhat new at the reef aquarium. I do not have any corals or anything of the sort because I got stuck with a chocolate chip starfish. he pretty cool but eventually I would like to add some corals. i have some fish now, a shrimp, and a crab as well... should I have arefugium?

Thanks!
A refugium is not necessary. Outside of proper lighting and biological filtration, there is no "necessary" equipment. A refugium is one of many devices that can be used to extend time between water changes. Which is all any filtration are additive equipment can do for us.

No matter how the system is set up, the whole thing will need to be kept clean.
 

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To put my 2c in, for your 25g tank even if there were undeniable benefits for a fuge, it would take as much effort to maintain it as your display tank. I have heard both sides of the argument and have had a fuge for several years, my fuge also serves as a place to cure live rock, and to house skimmer and heaters and ATO equipment.
 
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