Well the refugium isn't going to do much. Yes it might reduce the nitrates a little, but even a 100 gallon refugium isn't going to solve all your problems. I think it is too heavily relied on, when in reality, a small piece of macroalgae isn't going to do miracles. Of course there are all the benefits: filtration, area for pods
to grow and not be eaten (same goes for the macroalgae), and reduction in nitrates (since they feed off of this). I made that kind of confusing, hopefully it's somewhat understandable. Benefits of running it is it really helps out with getting a lot of the waste that would otherwise decompose and raise nitrates. Also helps if you overfeed, which many beginners do unknowingly. This can raise nitrates, phosphates, and cause cyano
and hair algae, etc. With regular water changes, like 10% or more each week, you can keep waste to a minimum hopefully. If you don't think this is possible, I'd say get the skimmer as it really helps out, but manually taking out waste and water and replenishing it weekly will be enough where you wouldn't need a skimmer. I think Convict runs his biocube with no skimmer and he does 5 gallon water changes a week and you can see those stunning results working!