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Quigley

55 gal refugium design.

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I am designing a 55 gal refugium to go under a 75 gal aquarium that I want to set up as a sps reef.

The idea with this design is that I can view the refugium as well as the tank. (I will have to custom build a stand.) I also figured that having the water pass through the long viewing area would provide a lot of contact time with macro algae and live rock to help remove pollutants. Since this is my first foray into reef keeping I would like to do it right so if any one has any comments or advice about this design or recommendations for equipment or plumbing I would greatly appreciate it.

 

I have included a drawing of the intended design. Water will enter via two 1.5”returns in the back/middle then pass through open cell foam and some bio media. It will exit to the right into a chamber with a protein skimmer. (An urchin has been suggested.) Then the water will flow over a slotted baffle into the front viewing area/refugium where I plan to have a lot of macro algae and live rock. I have considered having a plenum in this area but there seems to be no consensus on whether this would be a worth while endeavor or a waste of time. After passing through the viewing area the water will flow over the baffle into the sump on the back where there will be pump to a UV sterilizer, the heater and possibly back up heater, and a float valve for a fresh water top off connected to a R.O. filter. I am planing to have the tank drilled to hook up an external pump (Reef flow dart?) to return the water to the main tank.

 

6blb6et.jpg

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That would be a nice setup. I wonder if the dart would be too much flow to make the skimmer or macro not perform the best though. And i would ditch the bio media.

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I think you are right about the bio media. I have done a bit more reading and it sounds like the bio dose a bit to good of a job of breaking down waste into nitrates so that the anaerobic bacteria can't keep up and nitrates spike. Is there something else I should put into this chamber or just save the space to add phosphate sponges or carbon if needed?

I suppose I can throttle back the flow on the dart if I need to for the macro algae but I don’t want to compromise water flow in the main tank.

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Well the water rate going thru the sump/fuge should match the rate of your skimmer to be the most effective. You can add pumps to the display for more flow, or a closed loop. I think instead of the bio media you should leave it for carbon or PO4 sponges or a filter sock. Some sort of chemical filtration that can be replaced/rinsed.

 

Another option would be for you to split that bottom tank in 2. One side to act as a sump, the other as the fuge. You could then utilize all the flow of the dart, and T off your return to go to the fuge side with a slow flow. Then the fuge drains into the sump side. You'd still have the problem of too much flow for the skimmer to be its most effective though. But at least you would be getting the most out of the fuge.

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I'm confused here. (scratch) Why do you need such low flow through a fuge in order for the macro to do it's job? I thought that macro would take out the same amount of nutrients if it is low or high flow. Why does it depend on the flow of the fuge for how much nutrients are taken out? Also the flow of the pump would be spread out over the whole area of the fuge, so the flow at any one spot (other than the inlet and outlet) wouldn't be moving that fast. Is there a study done on flow through the fuge somewhere?

 

Another thing is that isn't the urchin a little small for a 75g sps tank? Your talking about the Aqua C Urchin right? Shouldn't you get something that is rated more like 200g since you want it to be an sps tank? And I don't see why you have to limit the flow of your fuge to the flow of water going through your skimmer, since you should have very little water flow through the skimmer anyways (about 1.5-2x tank volume, so about 115-150gph). Shouldn't you be able to just T off of one of the fuge supply lines, put a couple of ball valve in there, and get the amount of flow through your skimmer that you want? You may want to look into a different skimmer if that is the case, because you may need to make room for it.

 

I agree that you should get rid of the bio media, but what about the UV sterilizer? It may be useful to have on a switch so that you can turn it on when needed (like if your fish get ich or something), but don't they do more harm than good in a reef tank?

 

Anyways, sorry about the rant.

 

I will stop now.

 

Just wanted to get a few things cleared up, and hopefully help someone in the process.

 

Thanks! (rock2)

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Back to the drawing board.

 

I can see Impur’s point about lowering the flow in the refugium. I suppose the macros need some time to do their job not to mention the fact that one of the other purposes of a refugium, that donned on me this morning as I digested last nights reading, is to provide a refuge for small organisms that would normally not thrive in the display tank. I don’t think they will thrive if they are being flushed from the refugium by a heavy flow of water. Back to the drawing board perhaps I could consider a larger protein skimmer and have it feed water to the refugium. I will still need a protein skimmer that has a slim profile or that can be housed outside the sump/ refugium.

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If the UV sterilizer is on the return, it will kill any 'pods that are traveling back to the tank. I agree with civicsit that it may be good to have one that is off most of the time, but able to be turned on when needed.

 

dsoz

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I don’t think they will thrive if they are being flushed from the refugium by a heavy flow of water.

 

You do want some of this to occur. If the organisms are flushed out of the refugium, they become fish food. You underestimate the reproductive power of 'pods. Some can have a batch of 20-100 eggs every 2 weeks.

 

What you want is a balancing act. Calm enough for growth, but turbulent enough to knock some around to get them to wander to the display tank.

 

I have the same design problem that you have. I just got a 75g that I need to build a stand for, and my old 45g will become the sump. The 45g has the same footprint as a 55g, but only not as tall. Please post your final design so I can steal it from you if it is good. :)

 

dsoz

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Thanks. That is a great link. There are links on that page to that are loaded with great information. I spent 45 min last night reading about deep sand beds.

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So I just thought of something that would make this sump plan a mute point. My wife is ok with me setting up a reef tank and is going to let me design it the way that I want but her stipulation was over placement of the tank in our home. I have not been super happy with the placement of the reef tank against the wall at the end of our kitchen because unless I go to look at it I wont see it as much as I would like to. There is also no good sitting area to view the tank from. I had just been discussing this with my wife when I took a break to answer natures call and the idea struck me. Why don't I build a stand/false wall over the bath tub/built in shower adjacent to the loo and put the tank there. Comfortable sitting area. Lots of viewing opportunity. Easy access to water/drain for water changes and plumbing for a water top off system. And if the tank were to leak it would just drain down the bath tub instead of wreaking havoc on my floor. I off handedly mentioned the idea to my wife and she seemed to think the idea sounded pretty good. The only problem is that the 55gal won't fit in the tub so I will have to get another tank for the refugium ad the refugium will no longer be visible.

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Logic reigns supreme in my house. I think the argument about leaks draining into the bath tub and not was the clincher. Getting the 75gal and 55gal tanks for free helped with the initial argument for starting a reef tank. But most of all I am lucky enough to have a wife who recognizes when I am really excited and passionate about doing something and is willing to support or at least tolerate my enthusiasm.

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Ok ao the bath tub plan is a bust. I was able to look at the support under the tub and there is no way that it will support the weight of two tanks. So I am back to building a stand for the kitchen.

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I set up a 25gal tank that I plan to use as a quarantine tank once the 75/55 refugium is complete. How long should I wait before putting any live rock into the tank. Salinity,PH,and temperature are stable. There are some nitrares present but the level is relativley low.

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