Refugium Tactics

LouH

LouH
I have a 120 gallon reef tank which houses SPS, LPS and a couple of soft corals. The overflow on the left side of the tank drains into a remote deep (14") sand bed (a small Brute garbage can), and the right overflow drains in to an acrylic sump which houses an ASM G-2 skimmer. A centrally located sump receives the effluent from the deep sand bed and the right hand sump, and two Eheim 1260 pumps return water back to the tank.

Now, I also take water from the deep sand bed container and lift it 4.5' to a 30 gallon refugium which is located on a shelf above the DSB. The pump providing the lift is a Mag7. Flow in the refugium is fairly vigirous. Currently the refugium is bare bottomed, but the space in the tank is pretty full with large chunks of live rock. A 65W Lights of America light illuminates the refugium on the same schedule as the main tank. For the last 5 months I've tried growing Chaeto in this refugium by placing a ball of it on top of the live rock in the tank. In every attempt the ball got smaller and smaller until it lost color. At that point I would remove it and throw it away.

My current situation is that a couple of pieces of live rock in the refugium are starting to get covered with hair algae while the Chaeto characteristically (for my tank) shrinks in size and dies. I'm contemplating taking my live rock and breaking it down into rubble for the sake of pod culture. This would also open up a considerable amount of area from the middle part of the tank and up for Chaeto to grow. I also think that a reduction in flow through the refugium would be a good move.

There currently is no algae in the main display, although my Bird's Nest has been under attack from slime algae for several months now. Nitrates and Phosphates are unmeasurable in my system, and I dose an iron supplement each week at water change.

Can anyone comment on my refugium plans? Is a rubble field better for pods than big rocks? Is low flow and space to grow the way to support Chaeto (Hey, that rymes). :rolleyes:
 

NeveroddoreveN

New member
Rubble would increase the surface area of the your live rock (biological filtration) significantly. I would do it. It would make more space for the pods to lay their eggs on and would help w/ bioF.
 

LouH

LouH
Yep, we're thinking the same way. I'm probably going to do it today.

One notable thing about the live rock in the refugium is that there is one piece in particular that never changes color due to other life forms using it as a substrate. Algae doesn't grow on it, and neither do fan worms, etc. I sometimes wonder if this rock once was exposed to copper medication or some other treatment. I think that I'm going to remove it from my system.

:eek1:
 

jenglish

Marquis de Carabas
that is the last thing in the world you want to do. Breaking rock up is going to destroy any low oxygen zones where denitrification occurs. Reef rubble will work like a bioballs and create more nitrate problems.
 

LouH

LouH
Hmmmm....conflicting advice. I'll see who else chimes in.

That is the toughest part of this hobby, you find tons of conflicting information. What to do, what to do........

Regarding the loss of anarobic area, I have a deep sand bed that is about 18" in diameter. Also, another major objective of turning the big rocks into rubble is to make space to grow macro algae. Wouldn't the large mass of growing macro offset the denitfificaiton facalties lost from reducing live rock? Are there any risks of liberating other toxic products of anarobic activity currently in the rock?

Lou
 

lombard0

New member
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=15457771#post15457771 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by jenglish
Reef rubble will work like a bioballs and create more nitrate problems.

+1

But if you're going to place those rubble on top of the DSB, then that's a different story.

Have you tried considering other type of macroalga such as caulerpa and/or gracilaria?
 

LouH

LouH
I've always been afraid to place rocks on top of my DSB for fear of trapping detritus. I like to manually stir up the top layer of sand to keep it loose, and having rocks on it would not allow me to do that.

My understanding, and correct me if I'm wrong, of the bioballs is that they drove up nitrates because live rock and deep sand bed methodoligies were not yet being utilized widely in the hobby, and because there were not faculties for denitrificaiton it accumulated in the system. Also, because the cleaning of bioballs would strip the system of nitrifying bacteria, they were not cleaned. This permitted the ever increasing of accumulation of waste products in the bioball chamber. Also, weren't bioballs used primarilly for fish only systems with large bioloads?

My thoughts on the reef rubble were that I could clean out the bottom of the refurium simply by pushing the rubble around and siphoning off the bottom.

Yes, Gracilaria is on the radar. My Yellow Tang loves it.

I have not made up my mind guys, and I apprreciate the help. Keep it coming. :)
 

xvinnyax74

New member
How about some Caulerpa... My pods eat it, and it grows also acting like a nitrate reducer.. Kinda helps to keep the cycle of life going...
 

LouH

LouH
I'm not a fan of Caulerpa due to the chemicals that it puts out. I really want Chaeto or Gracilaria to grow. The current issue is that my Chaeto shrinks and dies, and the hair algae in the refugium grows. This situation makes me nuts, because I had a big 'ol ball of Chaeto when the refugium had no other kind of algae growing.

Lou
 

jenglish

Marquis de Carabas
well, one way to tackle this problem is simply ask why is the chaeto failing to thrive? It doesn't seem to be lacking nutrients. How is it lit? How old are the lights? What is the lighting schedule?

Bioballs or Reef rubble hav eonly aerobic areas so they process ammonia to nitrate but no further where a larger peice of LR can have low oxygen areas to process some of in to N2 to be gassed off.
 

LouH

LouH
The Chaeto is in a tank about 14" deep. Resting on top of the tank is a 65W compact flourescent fixture with a 6400K bulb. The bulb is changed out every 6 months. The light is run for 12 hours/day coinciding with the main tank's photoperiod. The Chaeto is only a couple of inches under water because the live rock occupies most of the space in the tank. Flow comes from a Mag7 which deals with about 4.5' of head. I can't comment on the exact flow rate coming into the tank. I also have a powerhead on a timer. It probably runs 1/2 the day intermittantly.

The tanks' water parameters are as follows:

Ca - 400ppm
dKh - 8-9
Mg - 1250-1400ppm
NO2 - 0ppm
PO4 - 0ppm
pH - 8.0 - 8.3
 

pledosophy

Active member
I smashed up quite a bit of liverock to make piles to help stimulate pod growth. It has worked in my situation. I also have 30 lbs or so of smashed up liverock on the floor of my refugium that I use for fragging.

I have not noticed an increase in nitrates in my system since using rubble rock in my system or in my refugium.

To get around the detritus accumulation with the piles of smashed liverock in my display (the piles are about a foot high) I have spraybars going down the middle of the pile with a good amount of flow going through them. I have done nothing to help with the rubble rock on the refugium floor.

HTH
 

jenglish

Marquis de Carabas
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=15465691#post15465691 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by LouH
The Chaeto is in a tank about 14" deep. Resting on top of the tank is a 65W compact flourescent fixture with a 6400K bulb. The bulb is changed out every 6 months. The light is run for 12 hours/day coinciding with the main tank's photoperiod. The Chaeto is only a couple of inches under water because the live rock occupies most of the space in the tank. Flow comes from a Mag7 which deals with about 4.5' of head. I can't comment on the exact flow rate coming into the tank. I also have a powerhead on a timer. It probably runs 1/2 the day intermittantly.

The tanks' water parameters are as follows:

Ca - 400ppm
dKh - 8-9
Mg - 1250-1400ppm
NO2 - 0ppm
PO4 - 0ppm
pH - 8.0 - 8.3

That is odd in that I would think your Chaeto should be going gangbuster in those conditions. I might try upping the light with a couple of cheap clamp lamps and 5600K screw in CFL. THat's all I can think of.
 

LouH

LouH
pledosophy,

That's exactly what I was proposing to do. I actually think that I will have an easier time vacuuming up detritus than with my current configuraion. With the large rocks, I have no access to the bottom of the tank.

jenglish,

I think that you're starting to see where my frustration comes from.

Lou
 

addicted2reefin

New member
nitrate or phosphates may be an issues, there may not be enough nitrate for cheato to grow, which it needs as an essential nutrient, but a simple organism, such as hair algea, doesnt need alot of it to grow.

from my experience with planted tanks, u can have perfect water params, and have algea problems. if something is off, and is not being taken up by plants, such as the plants not having enough nitrate to grow, the algea will use up the minute ammount that is not enough for the plants to grow on. it could run the gamut of nutrients tho. main ones that come to mind are nitrogen and phosphorus, manganese is a close 3rd. i would say iron but u say u are dosing that.
 

chi3f

New member
crazy i was wondering the same about my small hang on fuge!!! my nitrates r still high and i have a couple diff. cheato weird!!
 

LouH

LouH
addicted2reefin,

So, as crazy as it sounds, you're saying that my tank might be better off with a higher nutrient load for the sake of growing some macro algae in my refugium? To be honest, alot of my corals did better in my tank when the nutrient load was higher than they do now. Maybe I should feed more?

Lou
 

g8gxp

New member
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=15476249#post15476249 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by LouH
addicted2reefin,

So, as crazy as it sounds, you're saying that my tank might be better off with a higher nutrient load for the sake of growing some macro algae in my refugium? To be honest, alot of my corals did better in my tank when the nutrient load was higher than they do now. Maybe I should feed more?

Lou

+1

I have a ball of chaeto with a spraybar to tumble it and it has not grown any in the 7 months i have had it.

i personally think macro's only outcompete nuisance algae in specific conditions, mainly when the nutrient load is high. If it is low to medium it's just enough to sustain "bad" algae but not enough to kick start chaeto. But i would probably try to find some other solution besides feeding more than necessary. You'll just be trading one problem for another.
 

addicted2reefin

New member
i would try dosing small ammounts of nitrogen and see how that works.

also if u are running phosban or ssimmilar try to take that off and see what happens.

do these seperately for about 2 weeks and see if either one works. if after the 4 weeks u see no difference try them both together.
 

addicted2reefin

New member
and yes, macro and coral each grow better in "higher" nutrients. u dont want ur nitrates to be 5 ppm but around 1-2, if that. they are more complex organisms than algea, so they need more nutrients than algea to thrive. algea can sustain itself in low nutrients, if something is off balance and there is nutrients that arent bein used up from other organisms.
nitrogen is need for all life to grow
 
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