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Old 05-24-2005, 10:18 PM   #1
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Refugium setup questions

I just upgraded from a wet/dry to a refugium. Without being entirely sure how to set it up (or even if my terminology is correct), I tried to go by the way the LFS had one set up. The end result is the attached pic. Other than a bigger sponge (I tried to cut up my old one... Good thing I'm not a hair dresser) and adding more water, I wanted to ask if I've got this thing set up correctly. Also, I had a couple of questions...

The reason I got it is b/c even w/ upscaled water changes, I had a nitrate spike and still can't get it back below 30-40. It just stays in that range. I have a 50pd clump of Tonga branch rock in my 72 gal tank that probably keeps dead critters in it hidden from me. My live rock also tends to grow a brown, stringy like algae (?) on it, making it look pretty nasty. My clean-up crew can't keep up with the growth. The LFS recommended taking out the live rock and giving it a scrub down to remove it, as well as a large water chage. My question is should I do this now, or wait until the refugium is becoming effective in reducing the nitrate levels so that this gunk won't just regrow by then. Also, is it ok to keep the light on the refugium on 24 hrs/day to attempt to jump-start it.

Thanks in advance for your input.
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Old 05-24-2005, 10:30 PM   #2
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The sponge your using may be contributing to your nitrate problem. Are you cleaning it and how are you cleaning? I can't really tell by the pic if you've got it set up correctly. How old is your tank? What kind of algae are you using in your refugium? Whats kind of livestock do you have? How often, how much and what do you feed? I've got a bunch more questions but we'll start here. And you are correct about adding water. Do it soon before that heater overheats and shatters!
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Old 05-24-2005, 11:43 PM   #3
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I probably wasn't changing out the sponge as often as I should have been, so I'm sure that was adding to the problem. I can take another pic of refugium if you let me know what you are looking for. The tank overall is about 1 1/2 years old. The actual tank was replaced about 6 months ago because the seal was leaking at the bottom of the tank. I'm using micro-algae in the refugium, strapped by rubber bands to a few pieces of live rock on the miracle mud. The tank stock has dwindled quite a bit over the last 6 months due to the nitrate spike I experienced, but currently has a yellow tang, flame angel, purple tilefish, panther grouper, dragon goby, royal gramma, open brain, leather toadstool, polyps, feather duster, fighting conch, and cleanup crew. I typically feed once per day w/ a cube of frozen brine, occasionally adding Herbavore Life Line or a small peice of the frozen red brick (I forget what it's called) for variety.
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Old 05-24-2005, 11:44 PM   #4
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Oh yeah. I cleaned the sponge w/ hot water.
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Old 05-25-2005, 12:01 AM   #5
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I'd first cut the feeding back to every other day. Basically on the refuge you want water entering, slowly passing through area with algae in it, and then leaving. I'm lighting my refuge 24/7. How does the water enter? From where? A sump or from the tank overflow? How does the water return to the tank? Is the refuge doing double duty as your sump? If so, what size return pump are you using? After you clean the sponge are you letting it dry before reinstalling? Any decaying food that may be trapped in the sponge probably won't simply rinse out.
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Old 05-25-2005, 09:42 AM   #6
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I have just recently gone through a similar modification of my system for the same reasons, i.e. my nitrate levels wouldn't come down and my cleanup crew couldn't keep up with the algae growth. I found taking out my liverock and scrubbing it in a 5 gallon bucket filled with salt water was very effective in lowering the nutrient level and improving the looks of the aquarium. I was able to get my nitrates from around 25 to 50 ppm to below 2 ppm.

Can you reply with your water parameters, i.e. phosphates, Ca, pH etc.? Also, what is your substrate, sand or crushed coral? Do you have a DSB in your refugium and what type of macroalgae are you growing? Finally, do you use RO/DI for your source water? I believe these are all critical things to getting your system under control and your nitrates lower.

Thanks.

Willem
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Old 05-25-2005, 02:35 PM   #7
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Be real careful just simply pulling out the wet dry completely and sticking on a fuge. That wet dry is super cultured with nirtate munching bacteria and a sudden removal of that regardless of what you replaced it with could likely cause a spike and algae bloom of biblical proportions. Be real careful when you remove large pieces of an established system.
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Old 05-25-2005, 07:34 PM   #8
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Cal-Considering most things say to feed "small amounts several times, daily" I was more worried that I may have been under-feeding. But I don't have many fish currently, so I will try cutting back the feeding schedule if the problem persists. I'll also be sure to let the sponge dry out next time I clean one. As far as how the water flows through the refugium, here is a link to the unit I bought. Looking at it will probably answer that.
http://www.precisionmarine.com/html/r24.html

awillemd-All parameters seem to stay in range, exept the borderline nitrate level, and the pH is usually around 8.4. The water tests as "very hard" though (test stick turns red) and I honestly don't know what that means...lol. My alkalinity dropped a bit for a while, but I've gotten that back up. Crushed Coral substrate, Miracle Mud in the refugium. The mud now has a bit of a darker coating/layer and bubbles over the top of it in places. Again, I don't know if that's good or bad. All I know about the micro-algae is that the LFS called it micro-algae (tons of help there, eh?...lol). If you can't see it well from the pic I posted, it's green strings w/ little green bubble like pod things on it, strapped to live rock by rubber bands. I use only RO water from the LFS for water changes/top-offs.

Brisc0-I was concerned about the same thing, but the LFS said it would be ok, so I pushed on and installed it on Sunday. Previously, I would have to use the algae magnet on the glass every 2-3 days to clean it off, but amazingly, there isn't a hint of algae on the glass after 3 full days. I haven't noticed any diatom bloom, and the areas on the live rock the turbo snails have cleaned since Sunday don't seem to have regrown much algae. I'd rather be lucky than good any day.

The Nitrate is still hanging around 40 though. Any suggestions on how long it typically takes for this to drop, or will this likely only happen after I clean off the live rock in the tank?
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Old 05-26-2005, 03:46 PM   #9
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Would it be over kill to have the water from the tank coming into a wet/dry then into a refuguim and then through a UV then back into the tank?
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Old 05-26-2005, 03:47 PM   #10
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Would it be over kill to have the water from the tank coming into a wet/dry then into a refuguim and then through a UV then back into the tank?
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