Help with Refugium


New member
Hello, I have been trying to run a 5 gallon refugium in a modified top off tank. I have attached pictures of my set up. I purchased a starter kit from Algae barn and set up in there. I have very low flow in the fuge. And run a ultraviolet light at night. My cheto never took off and now I just have this nasty algae mix that is like beads….and they stick to everything. The blocks that came with the starter kit just fall apart when I try to pull the bad algae out? I would like to start over but need to understand where I went wrong first. My end objective is a fuge that I can populate copepods to help with my reef and so I can add finicky fish. Thank you.


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Active member
What is low flow? You could try increasing it. Or even better, figure out a way to spin/rotate your cheto. I am running around 1200 gph through my 75 gallon refugium and it works great.

I like and have a Tunze light on one of my systems. Are you running (assuming opposite of reef lighting) an ultraviolet light other than the Tunze in the picture? If so, try just the Tunze over your fuge.

What are your water parameters, and is the tank new or seasoned? The cheto could of melted due to lack of nutrients.

Rarely there is one right answer in this hobbie. Keep trying different ways, it will work eventually.
- flow
- lighting
- nutrients / water quality
It's got to be one or combination of those things.


New member
I have the water trickling out. So yes that is probably a problem. I will clean out all the unwanted stuff , get a new ball of Cheto. My parameters are good in all accounts …nothing really high or too low. I run the ultraviolet light you see in the picture only at night. No other light is used. Tank is two years old.

One question, when I clean it out and put in new cheto…should I switch to just live rock? I hear that is better for copepods.


Premium Member
That algae looks really dark, so you have the nutrients to support it. It's looking a bit swampy in there so that could be a side effect of low flow and not harvesting out enough. You think that's bubble algae? Hard to tell from the picture. The marinepure blocks crumbling apart is a common complaint and I'm not sure what their purpose is in this application? Definitely switch to live rock if it's a needed thing.


Active member
Ultraviolet is the light you need. Get a inexpenAmazon. Red and blue LED grow light from amazon. There all sorts available for less than $25.


New member
Appreciate everyone‘s inputs. I have the ability to change my flow. Is Cheato the best micralgae for growing copepods or should I use a different macro?


Who Am I Here?
Premium Member
I honestly can’t help too much other than to say that I use a standard soft white LED bulb on mine and have no issues with growth. That said, I would definitely try increasing the flow a little bit. I’m not sure how much I have in mine (whatever the slots in my sump allow) but that does look like too low of flow

Michael Hoaster

Registered Seaweedist
Premium Member
From your pics, the light doesn't appear bright enough. Definitely increase flow. It doesn't have to be a ton. If you don't have luck with chaeto, try Ulva. Pods love it, all herbivores love it.