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Refugium
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Refugium

After several months of dealing with nitrates in the 15-25 ppm range, the decision was made in'01 to add a refugium. But due to severe space restrictions, the best I could get away with was a 29g 'tall' glass tank with a 96W Powercompact Smartlight. As per their instructions, I put down a slope of Inland Aquatics' Dry Oolitic Aragonite sand from about 4" in the back to 1" in front. Then I added a layer of Live Oolitic Aragonite Sand for seeding and finally, a thin layer of CaribSea Reef Sand to hold it all down. I then ordered IA's Flora and Fauna Starter Kits, the ISPF's "Mix 'n Match Special" for diversity, got a couple chunks of cured LR locally, and fired the thing up.
Nothing.
Oh sure, the macroalgae began taking off after awhile and watching the 'pods, worms, and shrimp multiply was absolutely fascinating, but the nitrates didn't budge. For
months. Then one day miraculously, they dropped to practically nothing. I had to do the test several times to make sure it wasn't me. This took exactly half a year.
can't say, however, that I'm totally pleased with this set-up either (what else is new, huh?). First, and again because of space, the refugium is actually on the OTHER SIDE OF THE ROOMfrom the tankwhich

necessitates an 8ft piece of tubing which must snake it's way across the room to return water from to refugium to the sump. Second, because the refugium tank is not of the 'reef ready' variety, the 'J' tube leading to the overflow box must be continually monitored for the formation of air bubbles which can (and have) broken the siphon. Theoretically, this could empty a substantial amount of the main tank's water volume onto the floor although realistically, that would take quite some time. I have had to mop up a gallon or two though. And finally, I've come to the conclusion that it was the refugium that introduced the first real outbreak of cyanobacteria the main tank has ever had. This was a real battle to eliminate through constant water changes, siphoning, and carbon, but we've finally got it under control without resorting to chemicals. To help reduce the chances of reoccurrence, we have stepped up the water movement in the refugium considerably.

On the positive side though, it HAS done its job in keeping the nitrates down (of course NOW the theory being put forth is that a bit of nitrates are actually good for a reeftank.), it provides the main tank with food through the 'pods and macro, and in a pinch, I can store a frag in it for a day or to without any harm. I can therefore say I recommend refugiums wholeheartedly. Just not set up like this.
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©2006 Michael G. Moye