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FAQs about Refugium Algae, Vascular Plants 2

Related Articles: Get Thee To A Refugium by Bob Fenner, Refugia: What They're For And How To Build Them by Forrest Phillips, How to make a simple Algae Turf Scrubber (ATS), By Simon Trippick, Reef Systems, Reef Set-Up, Reef Filtration, Marine System PlumbingFish-Only Marine Set-up, FOWLR/Fish and Invertebrate Systems, Reef Systems, Coldwater Systems, Small Systems, Large Systems, RefugiumsMacroalgae

Related FAQs: Refugium Algae 1, Marine (Macro) Algae 2, Marine (Macro) Algae 3, Marine (Macro) Algae 4, Marine (Macro) Algae 5, Rationale, Identification, Selection/Compatibility/Control, Systems, LightingNutrition, Disease/Pests/Predators, Culture & Refugiums 1, Refugiums 2, Refugiums 3, Refugiums 4, Refugiums 5, Refugiums 6, Refugiums 7Refugiums 8, Refugiums 9, Refugiums 10, Refugiums 11, Refugiums 12, Refugiums 13, Refugiums 14, Refugium Rationale, Design, Construction, Hang-on types, Pumps/Circulation, Lighting, Operation, Livestock, DSBs, & Caulerpa, Marine System Plumbing, Holes & Drilling 1, Durso Standpipes, Overflow Boxes, Bubble Trouble, Plumbing NoiseMake Up Water Systems, Marine Aquarium Set-Up, Micro-Crustaceans, Amphipods, Copepods, MysidsAlgal Filtration in General, Mud Filtration 1

Macroalgae grown in your refugium can be harvested for feeding your main tank.

refugium plants; shopping in Greenland!      2/1/17
Hi another question, thanks for all your help, I would like to set up a refugium /sump .
since I live in Canada, for some reason I am not able to get saltwater plants like macroalgae or Chaetomorpha, they wont ship from the US to Canada, no problem with drugs getting in but cant get a plant. Lol.
what can I do, any suggestions, or if you know a way to get plants. or do I have other options, we live so close to the boarder but its still like I am living in Greenland..
thanks again
<I'd look about through your local fish store... ask it they know someone there who will share/sell you some of theirs; or use CraigsList or such to advertise in-country for it. The local algae won't do.... too cold! Bob Fenner>

Cycling a new set up     3/27/16
Would you advise to keep lights on when doing this and also put algae into the refugium. From the start ?
<Yes; this and much more related is gone over (archived) on WWM. Bob Fenner>
Re: Cycling a new set up     3/27/16

Thank you for your time.
<A pleasure to share. Again; do avail yourself of the hundreds of thousands of queries/responses; several hundred articles and book segments, tens of thousands of images which are WWM. BobF>

Refugium lighting 11/8/2013
Hello! How are you? My name is Shawn. I've written in before asking for advice. Thanks for all your help. I have a new question. I'm setting up a 20 gallon long refugium that will be plumbed into a system with 40 gallon breeder display and 29 gallon sump. In the process of looking for a light.
Today leds seem to be the way to go. My display will be led lite to help with any temperature issues and help with electric bill. So I was thinking if doing a DIY kit from rapid led for my refugium.
<Sounds good>
Was looking at the 12 led kit they have driven at 2 watts a piece. Should be plenty bright. My question is which color leds will work to grow macro algae?
<Mmm, the "apparent light" is deceiving... need to either read others evaluations/testing, or use a PAR, PUR meter to discern>
I've been reading up on marine algae and from my readings it looks like they use both chlorophyll a and b which each have their own wavelength if light they like.
<Can utilize>
A is 420nm and 660nm. B is 460nm and 650nm. So that Being the case from what I've read this is the plan I came up with. Need to know if it will work. 6 x 10" heat sink with 14 leds. 4 660nm deep red, 1 460nm royal blue, 1 470nm blue, 2 420nm violet, 2 cool white, 2 neutral white, 2 warm white.
All whites and blue are Cree models. I believe this covers both chlorophyll types. Correct me if I'm wrong please. If I'm right does this sound like it will work? Thanks for your help.
<Should work; IF these wavelength ratings are reasonably accurate. Bob Fenner>
Re: Refugium lighting 11/8/2013

Thanks for your response Bob. Does the light requirements I wrote look correct for macro-algae?
<Mmm, yes>
Are their any wavelengths I left out or don't need from my list?
The site I'm going to buy these from have a spectral graph of each led and they appear to be right on. Should I leave the 3 different whites in and add more of other leds?
<If you like the looks; leave them as be>
Advice? I plan on only building once so what one that will work.
<Read here:
Re: Refugium lighting 11/8/2013

Thanks for your help. On with the build.
<Excelsior! B>

Puzzling refugium, Chaeto. growth  11/10/12
Hey guys,
I guy at my LFS suggested I start using this forum to help decrease all the misinformation out there regarding this hobby so here's my debut question no one has been able to solve yet.
I have a 210 mixed reef with a small 10 gallon refugium.
<Is small, but of use>
I have an Ecoxotic panorama pro 8700k led on a dimmer at about half intensity running 12 hrs/ day & a 5" sand bed. I cannot grow Chaeto!!! It just dissolves over a month or so. I have changed photo periods and dimming intensities at numerous combinations with no luck.
Any ideas would be greatly appreciated
<Mmm, do you have sufficient (measurable NO3, HPO4? Enough calcium and Alkalinity? Too much competition from other macroalgae in the system, elsewhere? These are the principal factors... Read here re:
and the linked files above at your leisure. Bob Fenner>
Re: Puzzling refugium, Chaeto. growth     11/11/12

Hey Dave,
Thanks for the response. I have no measurable  NO3 or HPO5.
<... both necessary for photosynthates... See WWM Re>
My alkalinity is 11.5 and calcium is 450
<Both a bit too high>
consistently and no other macro algae in the display due to my Tang population. I can't seem to get magnesium above 1200 even with additives.
<Due to the Alk... lack of NO3, PO4>
 Ph is 8.3 to 8.4 consistently also. I have never been able to grow any large colonies of Coralline either. I wrote Red Sea about the magnesium issue & they were puzzled too. Some say certain types of rock (live rock) just wont grow coralline but it doesn't seem to grow much on powerheads, glass & other non natural surfaces either. For a time I was adding magnesium on a daily basis and though it would not raise the Mg levels it did kill all my snails, shrimp & stars. In fact I quit adding Mg supplements altogether to see if I can reintroduce those inverts without killing them.
Hope to hear from you again
<... no sense... You need to read. B>
Re: Puzzling refugium    11/11/12

No to be such a pest but is my refugium still useful even without macro algae?
<Yes; but not nearly as much... a RDP w/ such growth goes a long way to providing stability>
should I add some rock on top of my 5" sand bed to increase bio surface?
<I likely would>
I have over 200 pounds of live rock in the display now. Have you ever heard of or know anything about (no light) cryptic zone refugiums.
<A great deal; yes... was friends long ago of Steve Tyree who wrote/borrowed re>
I am very diligent about water changes (20% every two weeks) hence no nitrates
Thanks again for your help & patience's
<No worries. Bob Fenner>

Mitratus butterfly and Caulerpa in sump question    8/10/12
Hi Bob,
I have a couple of unrelated questions which I hope you can help me with. I have had a Mitratus butterfly for about 6 weeks, great hardy fish, it is white between its black stripes.
On your site 'best butterflies...' this is more or less the same as your photos for juvenile and adult, I have Scott Michael's 'angels and butterflies' reef series book which shows similar pictures as being the juvenile, but the adult being completely yellow and black with no white at all (can see such pictures on the web too).
<Yes, as adults>
Are the yellow and black versions a local variant or what my fish will become?
<The latter>
If, as I hope, the adult version is all yellow and black how long does the change take to occur?
<A year or so>
My second question relates to potentially using Caulerpa (I think grape variety) in my sump tank.
<Mmm, there are better choices than Caulerpas nowayears. Read here:
I have a FOWLR system with a lot of healthy fish that I feed well. I have no nuisance algae in the display since using a Kalkwasser reactor which has got control of the phosphate, but I do have a nitrate problem despite regular water changes (I know, I should reduce feeding or fish population).
I want to grow algae in the sump to help with reducing the nitrate. My lfs guy has Caulerpa in mind for the sump,
<Again... Not Caulerpa... other genera of greens, reds...>
will the lack of phosphate inhibit its growth even with nitrate available?
<Could possibly>
I'm aware of the dangers associated with Caulerpa reproduction, I read Bob is not against its use if people maintain it so it does not reproduce and foul the water, whilst others say steer clear.
<Have changed my mind in most cases, circumstances... other algae are better>
I'm thinking 24hr lighting to try and prevent this,
<Better to use other algal species and RDP>
but mainly I am thinking Caulerpa as I want an algae that will rapidly take up excess nutrients, am I wrong in thinking it grows quicker than other potential sump species?
<At times too quickly>
Still considering my options here, my nightmare would be to find algae had reproduced, clouded tank, and killed my expensive fish! Is the Caulerpa reproduction danger to fish exaggerated? I run a good skimmer with ozone, would this and use of carbon save me if the Caulerpa clouded the tank?
<Not always, necessarily, no>
Thanks for your invaluable help,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Chaetomorpha, and amphipod losses in a 'fuge      8/7/12
Hello crew,
Back with another question for you. I just recently added a CPR Aquafuge 2 refugium with the CPR 24 watt 65k lighting to my 29 gallon tank about 3 weeks ago. It consists of some rubble rock, live rock, miracle mud  and some Chaetomorpha along with a Chemipure bag at the inlet first stage area.
My Chaeto is turning white and my amphipods are dying off.
<Mmm, something amiss... likely chemically/physically "w/ the water"... what's your alkalinity, Ca, Mg... NO3, HPO4?>
 I noticed that yesterday i had a bloom of little white bugs amphipods and copepods on the acrylic walls. Could my Chaeto and amphipods be dying because of the lighting?
 today i just changed the bulb to a 24 watt Coralife 50/50 bulb hoping this will work. As far as the flow through the refugium it is concerned it is  a via aqua 610 that comes with the refugium.
<Is fine>
Do you think the Chemipure at the inlet side is restricting the flow?
<... can't tell from here>
should i even use it there or should i place it at the outlet side that feeds into the aquarium?
Thanks again,
<See WWM re Sump/Refugium Algae, Culture of Macrophytes... and answer the concentration question/s above. Bob Fenner>

Re: Sump/Refugium, and now skimmer as well Question. Upgrading    1/14/12
Thank you for your thoughtful and expert answer. I am forever grateful to you. This one is confusing me and please enlighten me. With the refugium that I have now, I am able to have zero nitrate and I think the Caulerpa in the refugium is doing a good job of nitrate removal in addition to my skimmer. Now, if I use the current S/R with almost doubling the water volume in a new tank, will I be at risk to have nitrate reading as the Caulerpa will not be able to cope with increased bio load (more fish, more corals)?
<Only practice, time can/will tell. I would not be surprised if this were so... You'll have to harvest the noxious Green algae more frequently>
And lastly, do I need to get a new skimmer because the one now is rated for 150 gallon.
<This too can only be found out through actual practice. T'were it my system, I would hold off on upgrading the skimmer>
 With the current
set up, it does not accumulate anything much in the skimmer at all.
Thanks Dai Phan
<Exactly. Cheers, BobF>

macro algae options/ fuges 9/22/11
Good afternoon, Crew. I know I've been bugging you a lot lately, but...well, I guess I'm just inquisitive/paranoid.
<To degrees, good traits I'd wager... Have individual and species survival value>
I did some research on your pages regarding different types of
Macro-algaes (Caulerpa, Halimeda, etc). As I'm setting up a Miracle Mud substrate in my refugium (and wanted to use some macro), I've been looking for places to buy Caulerpa. If I'm correct, the taxifolia species is least likely to cause problems when reproducing, provided lighting is kept on it 24/7.
<Mmm, do a bit more reading... I'd avoid this genus, family of Greens...
Please read here (again possibly): http://wetwebmedia.com/refugalgfaq2.htm
Well, that led me to finding that Caulerpa has earned a bad name due to some issues off the San Diego coast, and I can't find anyplace to purchase it (even heard rumors that selling it is banned).
With a mud substrate, what would a suitable replacement option be?
<See the link...>
Lighting will be 2-13w PC's in a 29g sump, with the refugium section run after the skimmer (which will be ran on a punctuated basis, once things are up and stable).
<And you, BobF>
re: macro algae options 9/23/11

Thanks for the link, Bob. After checking it out, it definitely helped to alleviate some worries I had with just stocking my 'fuge with Chaeto.
<Ah good>
I was under the (misguided) impression that it needed roughly enough flow to power a hydro-electric facility.
Seeing EricR's response to a question a
couple years back, assuring that really adequate water flow upwards of 200gph (depending on the size of the algae "clump"), and adequate lighting in the 6500k range, I feel pretty good about using this macro. Can't wait to get my own little batch of 'fuge critters to feed into my display (sorry for the colloquialism...in KY, if it's tiny and moves, it's a critter).
<And you, BobF>

Algae and Livestock in Tall Open Refugium 8/24/11
Hello Killer Crew,
<That's different. Hello Jenny>
Just wondering if my plan for livestock/marine plants in my sump/refugium is realistic. Most people have baffles in their refugium, but because mine is a 40 gallon tall, I chose to omit baffles. I have a DSB, a few live rock with some rubble and plan on having Chaeto along with Cultured Red Gracilaria or Gracilaria sp. Algae, a Mermaid's fan and Caulerpa along with a Mandarin Dragonet and a Jawfish.
<If it were mine, I'd just stick with the Caulerpa. If you choose to get a Mermaid's Fan, this species prefers water temperatures between 72-78F, and calcium levels akin to a reef tank.>
I plan to ensure copepod and live mysis/brine shrimp diet are available either naturally or via supplementation. I was just planning on letting the algae live and grow freely trimming when needed. Water parameters are all ideal, with light to medium flow water and light to medium lighting running opposite hours of the 70 gallon display which runs Orphek LED <A great fixture.>
full spectrum for 12 hours, then moonlight only for 12 hours. Will this be ok?
<Sounds good to me. James (Salty Dog)>
Re Algae and Livestock in Tall Open Refugium 8/24/11- 8/25/11

Hi James,
<Hello Jenny>
I'm sure you knew I meant "killer" in the most awesome sense of the word:)
<Mmm, I was going along the lines of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer. :-)>
You guys rock! Anyway, thanks for the tips.
<You're welcome.>
My display is a 70 gallon reef in progress, with plenty of live rock, not yet with livestock. I'm letting it cycle until the water is pristine. I keep the display at 80 degrees so that should be ok, but now that I think of it, the fan's not a necessity so I'll probably just skip it. I just thought it looked cool. I'll stick with the Caulerpa. So far we're loving the Orphek lights. We have 4 foot long tanks so we put two on each, and they are bright.
<Yes they are. When I did the review on the Orphek PR-156, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/WWMDigitalMagV3.htm , I actually had to acclimate the corals to the light, was that intense.>
The tanks look great already just with live rock, and the moonlights are stunning. I can't wait to see them when we eventually add corals. One last thing, I know you guys don't really like crabs because they are known for eating livestock in your tank, and I personally do not like snails either.
Will I be ok without these reef janitors?
<Small Blue/Red Leg Hermits are useful and do little harm. I would incorporate snails in your system, consider a few Bumble Bee Snails and Cerith Snails which are useful for helping to keep the sand bed clean, but would not add these for a month or two or they will starve to death.>
I plan on starting off with the jawfish in the refugium and a blue reef chromis in the display,
<Chromis do better in groups of three or more>,
but wondered if I need a crab and snails or will a cleaner shrimp be enough?
<As above, and the shrimp will be fine.>
I planned on adding a Bicolor Blenny and a clown about a month later in the display. Thanks again James. Have great day.
<And you as well. James (Salty Dog)>

Macro algae selection and long holiday 2/2/2011
I recently purchased some Codium edule for my refugium. Is this a good selection for such purpose?
<This is an algae that is fine for refugiums. (and it is edible too!) I do like to have more than one variety as some grow better in different setups and have different benefits. There are several pages of FAQ's on macro algae in refugiums, here is one to start with
I have a large CPR HOB refugium with 10000k florescent compact light on top, it is the one that come with the CPR HOB refugium as a package deal.
Will the light be too strong for the algae?
<Strong implies wattage, but you didn't give the wattage. So I assume you mean to ask if the color temperature is good. Algae do best in the more red-yellow ranges, so a 6000k would be ideal. The 10000k won't hurt it, it just isn't optimal for growth vs. power input.>
Should I run the light all the time or on a cycle?
<Either way you like. If you are getting good growth on 12 hours, that is fine. It can a good idea to run the light on a cycle opposite the main tank light if pH swings are a problem in your tank. (many of the FAQ's discuss this - keep reading)>
Do I need to add some live rock in the refugium? I already have ten pound of live sand in the refugium.
<I would add some live rock but you don't have to.>
My tank is 75G with about 75 pounds of live rock and about 5 inches of live sand. It's running a large HOB Remora skimmer and a large Eheim Classic canister filter. I have 1 clown fish, two Bartlett Anthias, one royal gamma <gramma>, one blue damsel, one pastel green wrasse and six bubble tip anemones. All fish about 2-3 inches long. Is this a good setup?
<This sounds like a nice selection to me. You don't mention your lighting.
I assume you have good lighting for the anemones. If you are not sure, please read up pronto...
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/cnidaria/anthozoa/anemonelightngfaqs.htm >
I am going on a trip for three months, should I surrender all my fishes to a LFS?
Can I keep any of my fishes or anemone if I have someone to feed them but not water change?
<This depends on how stable you feel your system is. If you have had this setup for a while with no equipment or livestock changes, that would help with deciding to leave them at home with a sitter. Three months is a long time. But if it has been stable for several months already, I would feel ok leaving them in the care of someone you trust to use good judgment. If any of the animals are new, I would consider returning them to the LFS. For a lightly stocked system as yours, 3 months without a water change
should be ok, although you wouldn't normally go that long between changes. The things I would worry about are whether the caretaker will know how to handle things like an equipment failure, power outage, or a wandering anemone. Will they be able to change filter media if needed, top off fresh water, or check water chemistry? Make sure they know not to overfeed. This seems to be the biggest problem with guest feeders. Besides forgetting to feed them at all. Travelling and having aquariums at home can be risky. It
depends on how stable your tank is and how responsible your fish sitters are.>
Sorry for all the different questions, <no worries...> and thanks for helping out a fellow fish keeper.
<You are welcome!>
Happy Chinese New Year!
<and a Happy Chinese New Year to you!
Macro algae selection and long holiday  2/4/11

Dear marine aquarium expert:
I have a quick question.
<I answered your questions on Wednesday. Please see the Daily FAQs and check your junk mail folder on your email account.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/daily_faqs3.htm - titled "Macro algae selection and long holiday 2/2/2011">
Will running a 10000K 36W florescent compact light too much for Codium edule in my HOB refugium?
<Thank you for providing the wattage this time. This does sound like a high wattage for (I assume) a smallish refugium. I would probably go for a 10W 6000k if it is a couple of gallons. But, in the meantime, it is easy enough to just tone it down with some shade... fabric or mesh that cuts the light down some. Shade half of it and see which side does better. Or raise the light high above it so that less is directly on it. And the algae will tell you if it is unhappy. I would put some of the algae in the tank also.
It is pretty, and you can see which location it does better in and adjust the lighting accordingly.>
Is it better to have it on 24x7 or on 10 hours cycle?
<This is up to you. With the wattage you have, I would go with the 10 hours for now. >
My tank is 75G with about 75 pounds of live rock and about 5 inches of live sand. It's running a large HOB Remora skimmer and a large Eheim Classic canister filter. I have 1 clown fish, two Bartlett Anthias, one royal gramma, one blue damsel, one pastel green wrasse and six bubble tip anemones. All fish about 2-3 inches long. Is this a good setup? I am going on a trip for three months, should I surrender all my fishes to a LFS? Can I keep any of my fishes or anemone if I have someone to feed them but not water change?
<see answer from Wednesday. I forgot to mention the feeder needs to be able to handle the protein skimmer as well. (I turn mine off when I have a sitter, as I don't want to bother them with it. Although Remora is so simple, you should be fine.)>
The tank has been with me for about 2 years now.
<This is good news. This answers your "is it a good setup" as a happy tank after 2 years must be good. And a stable tank is more likely to do fine with a few months of reduced maintenance. I was unable to change water for a long time in my tank, and it was fine. I have a plenum setup and don't have trouble with nitrates building up.> Thanks for your help, you are part of the reason why I feel comfortable keeping up with this hobby.
<You are welcome. This site also helped me immensely and that is why I am here today. Cheers, Alex>

Sump/Fuge Light, for algae  12/23/10
Sorry to bother you but I had one last question (for this month anyway). I have a 18 gallon partitioned section in my sump just for Chaeto which doesn't seem to be growing.
I have at least 15x GPH (non-filtered) flow into that small section. The Chaeto doesn't tumble it just sits on the bottom glass which is 16" deep.
I hear it is easy to grow so I'm questioning my light that runs 12 hrs opposite the display. It is a new 65 watt Fluorescent Area Flood Light, 500W Light Output, 6500k color temp that sits 3" to 4" above the water line. Is this enough light?
<Yes, should be sufficient quality, duration and quantity of photonic energy... Perhaps summat else is missing/rate-limiting>
Note: the Chaeto is about 6 weeks old with no noticeable growth.
Thank you,
<Let's see; where to start? You do have measurable NO3, HPO4? Enough alkalinity, biomineral (Ca, Mg) content in your water? Do take a read here:
and the linked file in the series (above). BobF>
Re: Sump Light 12/23/10
Thanks so much Bob. I read all the posts but did not see anything concerning water chemistry for Chaeto- probably missed it. As per your response, here are the water parameters for my two month old 175g reef display w/ 40g sump. I am also running two small Phosban reactors -
<Ditch this>
one with carbon and one with Phosguard, both changed every two weeks.
Also, Reefdynamics 250INS skimmer. Everything is "good" except my battle w/thread algae that I contacted you about this week,
<Whatever this algae is, it may well be chemically competing, poisoning the Chaeto>
diatoms, and the Chaeto not growing.
Sal. 1.024
PH 8.2
Alk 3.5
NO2 0
NO3 near 0
<Needs to be measurable>
PO4 .1
Ca 350
MG 1100 (slowing incr w/additives)
NH3 0
Does anything give a reason for the Chaeto not growing?
<The above mentions>
Maybe I should slow down the (15x sump) flow as expressed in some of the WetWebMedia posts.
<Yes I would>
PS: The only critter problem I've had, is a toadstool mushroom that closed up.
<Mmm, could be due to the lack of NO3, the "algae" as well>
I did a 20% water change but no response yet. How will I know if it died?
<Slime city... and stinky if not removed quickly. You'll know assuredly>
One last question, I have been occasionally adding "fuel" by Aquavitro and Marine Snow
by two Little Fishes to feed a few small mushrooms and zoo's - Is that OK?
<Am decidedly not a fan of the "snow"... tis the "Emperor's new clothes/fish food"... at best a placebo; worst, a scam>
Thanks so much for your help Bob.
<Welcome! BobF>
Re: Sump Light 12/24/10
Thanks again Bob, I will follow ALL your suggestions. I really appreciate your comments on the "snow",
<Hmm, yes. Jules/Two Li'l Fishies I count as a friend (me to him), but a few of their products are shams>
(1) Did you also mean that "fuel" by Aquavitro is worthless?
<No, this is a real product... i.e. actually does summat what it's stated to do. SeaChem's products are almost all exemplary>
(2) What then should I feed the mushroom's, zoo's and coraline algae?
<Ahh, please see/read on WWM re. All is archived re>
(3) I thought it was a good idea to run a little carbon as long as you changed it frequently as a method of removing organics?
<Is... more valuable as such than UV, less so than Ozone... to try to put in perspective>
(4) At what point of Phosphate PPM do I consider using Phosguard or other chemical phosphate removers?
<Mmm, more than 1-2 ppm. I'd be using other means to deny/exclude, "use up" ahead of this benchmark>
On nitrates, please excuse my ignorance. I understand that I should strive for .1 or .2ppm.
<Mmm, really too low. Depending on the "type" of mix of species... some like a good deal of NO3... e.g. Goniopora... all can tolerate 5-10 ppm>
I use a Instant Ocean Reef Test Kit, the test vial color chip goes only goes down to <10ppm and my water test shows clearer, so I guessed NO3 was near zero, but it could be <5 to 0.
(5) Is there a better test kit that is more precise?
<Oh yes... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/martstkitfaq3.htm
and the linked files above. Hach, Merck... much more accurate AND precise>
(6) Do the toadstool mushrooms sometimes close up, or only when they are stressed?
<Mainly due to negative influences>
Bob, thank you so much for your help. Is there any way I can return the favor, does WetWebMedia seek contributions?
<Welcome, and yes to accepting contributions (as my father used to say, "Never turn down the cash!".) There is a "Donate" button at the bottom of every page on WWM... all 12k plus of them! Cheers! BobF>

Changing light cycle and Changing algaes in refugium   9/16/10
Hello, long time reader first time writer!
<Well welcome in!>
Thank you so much for all the information and what you all do for the hobby. I have a quick question that I have searched for and can't seem to find the answer. I am going to change my setup to my refugium which I am currently running a 24 hour LED light cycle with Caulerpa as my macro algae. The refugium has been set up with this cycle for about 14months now.
I would like to change to a 12 hour light cycle with only Chaetomorpha as my main macro. After reading what you all have said in regard to this type of algae, I believe this will be the best move for my tank and setup.
<I personally like Chaeto better for a number of reasons.>
I want to remove all the Caulerpa in one sitting and immediately place in the Chaetomorpha and start running a 12 hour light cycle opposite to that of the main display light cycle.
My question is will this have any side affects doing this drastic of a change of light cycle and the removal/addition of two different species of macro algae? Nitrates, phosphates etc...Or should I slowly make the change?
<I would do this all at once as you describe. You will be far better off than having a mix in the refugium for a period of time. I would use this as an opportunity for a water change. Shut off the return pump, then
carefully remove the Caulerpa. Any stray little bits that stay or get blown into the tank can be a headache. Then just pump the water out of the refugium and carefully replace it. This will minimize the "dust cloud" you will get when you turn the return back on.>
Thanks again for your help!
<Welcome, Scott V.>

Refugium Question/Macro Algae 6/15/10
good afternoon everyone
I have a CPR HOB medium refugium coming later this week and ordered Chaeto & tisbe sp. copepods & L type rotifers for it. I have a DSB (6" deep) in the main tank so was not planning to add sand to the refugium (unless of
course you think I should), but was wondering do the copepods need rubble rock to breed (or perhaps just feel happy :) ?)
<I would, the pods hide in the myriad of pores during the day and I'd also add some sand.>
My goal with this refugium is to knock down my nitrates from 20ppm to about 5 ppm I have written you all several letters about my nitrates & tank & you have helped me lower them to this point & recommended a refugium so I won't bother you with all my tank stats. (even though I know you all like them lol !) Keeping the nitrates about 5ppm was recommended because I have clams & sps corals.
When I got my Chaeto & pods the person also added a fist size piece of Caulerpa racemosa. There are so many mixed thoughts on this that I don't know if I should keep it or freeze it? Don't want it in the main tank, don't want it starving out the Chaeto. Opinion seems to be it takes nitrate out faster than the Chaeto. If that were true would putting it in the refugium with the Chaeto, then when the nitrates drop take it out & let the Chaeto take over the job?
<I'd put it in the garbage. A very invasive specie and can/will create problems, it will find
it's way into your display tank.>
Thank you for all your help in the past. Your site & your personal help has taken me from newbie stupid to the beginnings of a beautiful reef tank.
There is nothing like watching that tiny sps frag grow & color up. thanks again.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Refugium Macro Algae, reading    4/27/10
I would like to first express how much your site has helped me in the past along with your great advice and personal knowledge, thank you!! I was wandering if you had a perfect combo of macro algae for a refugium? I have to admit I have a issue with over feeding. I do my regular weekly water changes in all my tanks, I use only reverse osmosis water, I have a water maker, and I still deal with 20-40 range nitrates in my FOWLR, I have double the size protein skimmers on all my tanks with refugiums, I'm thinking about ordering more plants and mangroves and stuffing my refugiums full, what do you think?
<That you should read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/refugalgfaq2.htm
and the linked file in the series.

One More Skimmer Question To Add To Your Site, sel.. Chaetomorpha tumbling, fan CFMs 03/26/10
Hey guys!
<<Hiya Drew! Sorry for the delay Work has been a bear and Im afraid I let your query linger in my box a bit too long. But hey, as I have been remindedIm just glad to have a job [grin] >>
You've helped me out before so hopefully you can again.
<<I shall try>>
I read through your info on skimmer selection and found that really helpful, but am still in need of some guidance.
<<Mmm, indeed It can be a bit confounding/intimidating considering the considerable outlay of funds involved with the purchase of a quality unit>>
I have a 180 gallon drilled tank with a MegaFlow 4 sump/wet-dry. It is going to become a well stocked reef and have a moderate bioload.
<<Do research our site re reef tanks and wet/dry filtersmost dont advocate the use of such filters in reef systems>>
I found a Coralife skimmer 220 that was used for 3 weeks for $100 which is about half the cost of a new one
<<Mmm, did you check yourself? Marine Depot sells this skimmer new for $112.00and a search on the net can get you one new for as little as $105.00>>
so I picked it up just to have something on the tank.
<<And thats pretty much describes itam not a fan of these skimmers>>
How well will this skimmer work when the tank is dully stocked with corals and fish?
<<I do think you will find the money would have been better put toward a better skimmer>>
Following that should I look into a better skimmer down the road?
<<Absolutely AquaC, Euro-Reef (now Reef Dynamics), H&S, Tunze, Deltecand maybe even the Octopus line of skimmers>>
I know you guys are fond of the AquaC and Euro-Reefs.
<<Yupthe ER is my current fave>>
What style and price range am I looking at if I decide to get one of these down the road?
<<I favor the needle-wheel style of skimmer, but other types offered by the manufacturers Ive listed will also serve. As for price range this will be variable among the differing manufacturers. I do suggest you get the next size up from what is suggested where possibleand expect to pay $300.00 and more>>
Also I took out the bioballs in the sump/wet-dry because I heard they are a nuisance in a reef tank.
<<One way to put itdo research our site for a full explanation>>
Should I replace them with live rock or rubble?
<<You can, yesor even use/rig the chamber for chemical filtrants (carbon/Poly-Filter)>>
The previous owner of the tank threw in a refugium that he had running with some success, but it was neglected and became a rotting mess.
The dimensions are 8"wide x 7"tall x 36"long. Because of the shape of it I can't figure out how I will ever get Chaeto to "tumble" any ideas?
<<Not to worrythe Chaetomorpha does not have to tumble. I have kept non-tumbling Chaetomorpha in a 55g refugium for nearly seven years now. Just supply adequate lighting and flow (as little as couple hundred GPH has proven sufficient in my experience), and keep it thinned periodically, and it should be fine>>
It's hooked into the main pump using a tee section and a ball-valve, but I can't adjust the flow too much higher because of the baffle system at the entrance of the refuge that causes the sand bed to float into the water which drains back into the sump.
<<As statedno need for a huge amount of flow>>
I know this won't work as a true refuge,
but my main concern was added filtration from the macro by pulling out nutrients.
<<It can/will workbut within the confines/limitations of its size>>
Lastly I've been looking into cooling fans for the halides in the canopy to keep them from running hot, keep evaporation under control,
<<Actually mate, promoting evaporation will assist with cooling of the tank water>>
and to make sure the heat doesn't warp the wooden canopy I built. I found some great prices for a variety of fans, but don't really know what CFM I should be getting?
<<Pretty much anything that moves air will helpjust keep in mind the higher the CFM rating the LOUDER the fan is likely to be. I utilize 12v fans for this reason (generally not as powerful as 110v fans given the same sizebut lots quieter) but if you use 12v units you will also need a suitable transformer/s>>
I also don't really know what CFM means in laymans terms.
<<CFM stands for Cubic Feet per Minute and references the volume of air the fan is rated to move>>
Could you guide me in the right direction?
<<I hope I havedo look to sources outside the aquarium industry for the best prices>>
Sorry for the length of this, but I know you guys are busy and I hate to bother you with multiple questions.
<<No worries mate>>
So with that being said, I'll let you get back to work. Thanks for all your help and guiding words.
Sent from my iPhone
<<Is a pleasure to share, Drew Cheers EricR Sent from my HP desktop>>

Refugium/Algae Control 9/28/09
First I will explain the system. I have a 180 gallon tank with about 18 - 6" fish,
55 gallon refugium and a 30" x 18" x 18" sump. In the main tank I have about 150 pound of live rock or more and a thin sand bed..just enough to cover the bottom. In the Refugium I have a 5 -6" deep sand bed two small pieces of live rock and a nice patch of Macro algae. In the sump I have a large protein skimmer, some rubble rock and a bag of bioballs.
<No real need for bioballs in your system, I'd remove.>
I have had the refugium set up for about 4 -5 months and everything has been pretty good. Now I am starting to get hair algae in the main tank and in the refugium. Someone just told me I should be trimming the macro from time to time. If that is the right thing to do I will start doing that when I do water changes ?
<An occasional trimming is recommended.>
But my bigger problem is there is hair algae starting to grow with the macro and I have tried cutting it out but it really is mixed with it beyond sorting it out. What do I do now? I hate to throw it all away and start new but I am thinking it is spreading to the main tank through the pump? Since it is a large refugium should I put a variety of things in it instead of just Macro or what do you think I should do at this point.
<I would add more live rock rubble to the refugium along with some of those hermits you mention below.>
I would say it is about 35% hair algae to 65% macro. I just got 50 little blue leg crabs to help clean the main tank with the 4 very large turbo snails I already have.
<Jeffrey, I'm thinking your problem is stemming from excess nutrients/nitrates/phosphates in your system. Eighteen 6" fish can produce an awful lot of waste, likely much faster than your system can export it.
For starters, I would place the macro in the refugium rather than the sump.
You did not state the macro species you have, but Caulerpa is recommended as being one of the better species to use for this purpose. Do read here and linked files above for more information on algae control.
Thank you,
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Lighting and Caulerpa reading   6/8/09
Dear WWM,
Hi, i know that plant light that give red or purplish color are not suitable for reef tank, but since this lamp categorize as plant lamp, can i use it to growth macro algae in my sump?
<Mmm, likely so>
If not, then what is the best lamp combination to growth macro algae.
<Posted on WWM... Maybe start here:
with "growing macroalgae, light">
Another topic is Caulerpa, I've read that Caulerpa are easily crash, for example in my friend tank, when first setup, Caulerpa growth very fast and fulfill his sump very quick, then he trim about 50% of the Caulerpa, then the result is Caulerpa are mostly become dead or decay, and some small part that still live is not growth fast again, in fact it like the Caulerpa are stagnant and not grow. Why and is there any method to trim Caulerpa so it will not crash and stop growing. Thank you.
<Also posted... read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/caulerpacomp.htm
Und the linked FAQs file in the series linked above. Just think how empowering learning to/using the search tool and indices will be...!>
<And you, Bob Fenner>

Sump/RefugiumChaetomorpha and DSB Together? 05/04/09
Hi to all, I am Markos from Athens Greece.
<<Greetings Markos>>
I am setting up a new reef of 100g with a100g sump the sump is:1st compartment is creating a rain fall with some LR 2nd comp skimmer + calc reactor then baffles 3rd comp return pumps 4rth comp refugium (this is my question)... is it a good idea to put in a DSB in combination with Chaetomorpha?
<<Sure My own refugium is set up in just this manner>>
or it is better to put a DSB in the main tank the refugium dimensions are 20*20*22-inch?
<<The bigger the better in my opinion. If you like the look (some folks dont), adding the DSB to the main display for the increase in size is of benefit>>
Best regards.
<<Cheers, EricR>>

Re: Sump/RefugiumChaetomorpha and DSB Together? 05/11/09
Thanks EricR.
<<Youre welcome Markos>>
I belong to (some folks don't).
<<Ah, okayso no DSB in the display>>
What about an ATScrubber above the DSB? (can I get a readymade screen with fittings anywhere?)
<<I dont see why you could not place an Algal Turf Scrubber above the DSB (instead of utilizing Chaetomorpha). I dont know where you can get these ready-made just off-hand, but do have a look around here: http://www.algaescrubber.net/forums/ >>
I have the space in the 20*20*22 refugium, how much flow should go through?
<<I think 200gph -300gph would be fineand likely more toward the lower rate if you go with the scrubber instead of the macro-algae>>
Thanks again,
<<Happy to share EricR>>

Re: Sump/RefugiumChaetomorpha and DSB Together? 05/15/09
So I'm ready to go now.
Is time to aquascape my display tank, just bought 50 pounds of dry rock and 60 pounds of live Fiji rock. Is this the right amount for 100g display+100g sump?
<<It is probably fine. Im a fan of placing less rock in the tank than most hobbyists usually do/are otherwise advised. I think having more open space than rock is a better, more natural looknot to mention giving the corals room to grow and the fishes room to swim and behave/develop normally. Obviously the amount of rock in a system does affect the bio-filter/bio-load and stocking levels must be considered rebut remoting more rock or adding ancillary filtration of another type, when/if needed, are also considerations>>
I am planning to leave the rock to cure for a month or so then add fine aragonite of 1-inch. During this time I will have only vigorous circulation (I dont have my skimmer yet). Should I add a canister until my skimmer arrives?
<<It wont hurt if you want to try to maximize the survivability of the emergent organisms in/on the live rock. A small canister filled with a cup or two of carbon (changed out every week or two) should suffice. I would also recommend this/some type of chemical filtration on a permanent basis>>
Really appreciate you help and the site (learned a lot)...
<<Were glad to be of service>>
If you ever visit Greece Eric give me a call.
<<Ah! Will do>>
Best regards,
<<Cheers mate Eric Russell>> 

Ok for a Chaeto area?
Sump room for Chaeto 5/5/09

This is my available space for a clump of Chaeto.
< Should be OK as long as the light is not blocked by the filter sock. >
I have a 23W energy saver, 1050 lumens, 4100K (tried for 6500 but couldn't find any).
Will this be an OK light source for Chaeto?
< Will work fine. >
Will it bother the filter sock?
< Shouldn't. >
I change the filter sock about every three days. Hoping a clump of Chaeto will help my tank. Am I wasting my time?
< Can't say without knowing the problem. >
The space is about a football sized area.
I do like the sock to catch debris and keep the sump clean. Skimmer is in middle and return pump on right so this is the only spot I have for the Chaeto. Hope the picture file isn't too big and is rejected by your system.
Thanks for the info and help.
< Your quite welcome. G A Jenkins >

Sump/RefugiumChaetomorpha and DSB Together? 05/04/09
Hi to all, I am Markos from Athens Greece.
<<Greetings Markos>>
I am setting up a new reef of 100g with a100g sump the sump is:1st compartment is creating a rain fall with some LR 2nd comp skimmer + calc reactor then baffles 3rd comp return pumps 4rth comp refugium (this is my question)... is it a good idea to put in a DSB in combination with Chaetomorpha?
<<Sure My own refugium is set up in just this manner>>
or it is better to put a DSB in the main tank the refugium dimensions are 20*20*22-inch?
<<The bigger the better in my opinion. If you like the look (some folks dont), adding the DSB to the main display for the increase in size is of benefit>>
Best regards.
<<Cheers, EricR>>

Water level in Refugium, algae and Coral lighting 3/20/09
Hello Everyone:
First off I would like to say that your site is the best, it makes it easy for me to teach my two sons on how to do research on the types of fish they want in their tank.
<Good, thank you!>
Now its when are we getting a Refugium on out 10 gallon tank. I believe it is better to show then tell. I have a question about the water level in my Refugium, Algae and Coral lighting?
I have a 15 gallon Rubbermaid container that I am using for my refugium which is being feed "raw" water by a Maxi-Jet 1200 that is Teed off to go into my sump there are two ball valves on this line, one is to regulate how much water is going to the refugium and the second ball valve regulates how much water goes into the sump. The refugium has a 3" sandbed and the water level is about 2-3" above the sand, so I wanted to know if I need to raise the water level higher to grow algae or can I keep it at this level and just run the lights and grow whatever the tank makes?
<You could, but I would raise this level 6" or so to grow much purposeful macro.>
I have a 29 gallon tank with 2 1/2" sandbed(will increase another 2 1/2"), 40lbs of LR, HOB whisper filter with TopFin (bio 3 filter cartridge). A 18 gallon sump that is halfway filled with water coming from the main tank and teed off going into a micron sock with Purigen bag. It also has about 20lbs of base rock and a skimmer, a heater, and a Maxi-Jet 1200 that flow the water back into the main tank. The 29 maintains an 80 temp the lighting is two 10k(39w) and two actinics (39w) is this enough light to keep any type of coral that would thrive and stay healthy? or the ones I need to stay away from?
<Well, you will definitely be on the lower end of the lighting intensity spectrum. Lower light corals such as zoos will do ok here. See http://www.asira.org/caresheets for quick lighting guides for each coral.>
I also change the water 2 times a week to minimize stress to my fish. About 4 1/2 gallons. My bioload is small 1 Royal Gramma, 1 Lawnmower Blenny, 1 Clown Goby and 2 Peppermint Shrimp. I add Purple Tech (1 Tsp), Tech I (1Tsp) and Strontium and Molybdenum (1 Tsp) once a week at different times.
<Hmmm, I really would not add any of these supplements to my tanks. I am an advocate of not adding what is not tested for.in your case there are no corals as of yet. Just test your basics, KH, Ca, PH, Salinity and perhaps Mg and add those accordingly. The water changes you are doing will provide all the trace elements you need.>
Thank you and keep up the good work,
Ramon and Sons
<Welcome, will do, have fun. Scott V.>

Quick Question about Chaeto... BGA growing on...    8/29/08 Hello to the Great Wet Web Media Crew! <Hello back! I always enjoy a little lauding before my work...> Words cannot begin to describe the amount of appreciation and respect I have for all the helpful insight you provide for this wonderful hobby. <Thanks for your kind words and appreciation. A lot of people before me have worked very hard to build this resource...from which I myself learned> Question: In my refugium, the Chaetomorpha has developed an almost slime-like substance where it meets the surface of the 'fuge (i.e. red and green). <Probably Cyanobacteria or dinoflagellates.> Is this normal? <Not necessarily 'healthy', but 'normal', yes.> Is it something that should be removed? <I would remove it as you harvest Chaeto. If you do wash it off, make sure to do so in a separate bucket of salt water, otherwise it'll break loose into the main tank where it could set up colonies.> Thank you so much! <No problem!> Daniel <Benjamin>

Refugium Macroalgae 08/12/08 Hi Crew! <<Hey Jennifer!>> I've got a problem and I've come to the experts for help! <<Kind of you to sayI hope I can live up to your expectations [grin]>> Here goes....2 months ago I made a 30 gal refugium for my 55gal reef tank (80+lbs of live rock). <<Excellent This simple addition has added immeasurably to the capacity for survival of your system>> I put 5" oolitic sand in the refugium and wanted to put Chaetomorpha in it for the macroalgae but not one LFS sold it <<I find the same problem around heremost folks turn to the Net re>> ...most of them didn't know what it was (they all had Caulerpa). <<Not surprisingand again, typical to my area as well>> After researching WWM I settled on Red Gracilaria. After 3 weeks in QT I put it in the refugium. I have not seen a reduction in the amount of microalgae (Bryopsis) in my tank, which was the main reason I did the refugium. <<While a helpful tool (as well as a superb matrix to foster refugium biota), the macroalgae is not a magic bullet. It will take time to outcompete/effect the nuisance-algae in your systemespecially if the elements that fostered the nuisance-algae in the first place still have a strong presence. In other words...if for instance your source water is contributing to the presence/propagation of the nuisance algae then you may need to address this (depending on degree of pollution) in conjunction with adding the refugium. But the bottom-line with any nuisance-algae solution ispatience>> Just a couple of points: All criteria for the Gracilaria, (lighting, water movement, etc) are being met. <<Very good>> Reading on ammonia, nitrite and nitrates have not been over 0. <<And Im sure you are aware the alga in your system can remove/reduce this to untraceable levels>> Calcium is low and I'm working on raising that. <<Okay>> pH is 8.2., Alk is 8. <<There have been anecdotal reports that raising and maintaining pH at 8.5-8.6 will promote the decline of nuisance algain particular, Bryopsis>> QUESTION: Typically how long does it take for the macroalgae to start kicking the microalgae's butt? <<Varies by system (degree of infestation, levels/continued introduction of growth elements, etc.), but as stated earlier, it rarely happens quickly. But rest assured, your addition of the refugium with DSB and macroalgae is a huge benefit to your system and will contribute greatly to its eventual balance/stability>> Was the Gracilaria the wrong choice? <<No A Caulerpa species would likely work fastest, but the downsides to this macroalgae (single-cell structure makes it difficult to cull without rupturing/releasing toxins, propensity for going sexual and further polluting the tank, ability to overrun a display if inadvertently introduced, etc.) outweigh any benefit, in my opinion. Gracilaria and Chaetomorpha likely run a close match to each other re their ability to outcompete the microalgae, but I like the Chaetomorpha for its denser matrix as this seems particularly attractive to many of the beneficial macro- and micro- organisms we typically want to foster in the refugium. But whatever you decide, do not mix species as this only pits them against each otherconsuming energies/resources better spent outcompeting your nuisance-alga>> I do weekly water changes (12-15 gal), change the carbon, skimmer, etcshould I change out more water? <<Not necessary In fact I would slow this to once every two weeks and see what happensmixing and maturing the new make-up water a week before use. This will give your water chemistry a little more time to settle down and maybe allow your tank to find its balance. While generally very beneficialwater changes, especially in small systems, can also be very disruptive due to the ongoing chemical processes of newly mixed saltwater. Im not saying that your weekly water changes are harmful/the cause of the problem herebut it cant hurt to give the every-two-weeks schedule a try for a while. Up to you>> The Bryopsis is not horrible...just some patches here and there but I want to get a jump on it. <<Do also consider that if not problematic, these algae patches provide food and refuge for organisms adding to the bio-diversity of your systemand are more natural than a reef display devoid of any visible alga>> Thanks guys! Jennifer <<Happy to share. Eric Russell>>

Re: Refugium Macroalgae 08/13/08 Hey Eric, <<Hey Jennifer>> Thank you for the quick response! <<Quite welcome>> Ok, I feel much better about what I'm doing and picking the Gracilaria. <<Ah, good>> As far as my water I've got an RO/DI and I mix the salt and water up in a 60 gal Rubbermaid garbage can and let it sit for a week...of course there is a powerhead in there. <<Of course [grin]>> It lasts for about a month. <<This is fineyou could even add a cup of water from the display a day or two after mixing to help with maturation. This bacterial booster-shot so to speak, may even help with any residual Nitrogenous compounds that might be in the salt mix>> Question: I change out the carbon weekly...recently I've read that carbon can be left in for up to a month...what's your opinion? <<Mmmcarbon is thought to be used up fairly quickly, though this can be affected by the quality/type of carbon and the level of ions in the system suitable to/available for scavenging. Some authors have recommended changing carbon as often as once a week as you are doing now. Some thoughts behind this are that the scavenging capabilities of the carbon will be exhausted in this time (as alluded earlier), and that letting the carbon remain in the system allows it to be colonized by bacteria and turns it in to a bio-filter which will then begin to contribute to the Nitrate level of the system (a concern primarily to reef hobbyists). Concerning the first issue, this is likely true for most systems in my opinion. In fact, I think I recall Bob mentioning that some carbons are exhausted in mere hours to days. I dont know of any simple tests to determine when your carbon has done its deed considering the other factors/ancillary filtration going on in a system that could affect results. But if you are not utilizing ozone, the easiest way to measure when you need to replace your carbon may be to monitor your water clarityconsidering carbons penchant for removing coloring agents. As for the second issue, I think the small amount of carbon most hobbyists employ will have little if any negative impact when colonized by bacteria. A third concern to leaving carbon too long in the system is the fact that it is an adsorbent material, meaning it causes substances to adhere to/be trapped by its internal structure but it does not change its physical or chemical properties. In this sense any trapped organic material will begin/continue to decompose as long as the carbon is left in the system. It is also thought that once the carbon is full-up that it can/will begin to release trapped compounds back in to the water. This is probably the most compelling reason, in my opinion, to change out your carbon on a frequent and regular basis. So, getting back to your question Leaving the carbon in your system for a month at a time between change-outs is probably not going to cause any serious problemsbut leaving it in for more than a couple weeks likely also means it is not providing the intended benefit. Understandzee?>> I'm very careful to wear plastic gloves that go to my shoulders for cleaning and I rinse all of their food to eliminate pollution/phosphates. <<Very good>> Will raising the pH hurt any livestock? <<Not if done slowly, in my experience (no more than two-tenths in a 24hr period) I'm mostly concerned about a starfish and coral banded shrimp. <<Should be fine>> I'm going to give the semi-weekly water changes a try. <<Excellentdo let me know how this goes/what you think>> Thanks for all of your help!! Jennifer <<A pleasure to assist. Eric Russell>>

Refugium Setup/Macroalgae selection 8/11/08 Hi Gals and Guys! <Hello Jill.> Thank you SO MUCH for your ongoing time and expertise! WWM is the premier source for aquatic pet education! <Thank you.> Im in the process of putting a refugium together and am beginning by planning and researching. Reef Invertebrates has been extremely helpful! I always try to get the best bang for the buck and am therefore planning my refugium to serve multiple purposes. First off, Ive decided to use a 4 inch DSB for nitrate reduction as well as zooplankton cultivation. I will also be growing algae for nutrient export. I would like to use Gracilaria or Botryocladia due to its beauty along with the fact that I will be able to feed the clippings to my tank inhabitants. My question is if I choose Gracilaria, is it possible to grow it anchored between the rocks or in the sand bed? <Yes, definitely.> I know that this algae should be tumbled, but my refugium will be on display and I would prefer a more aesthetic view. If not, do you know of any species of fish that will consume Botryocladia? <If palatability is your goal, Gracilaria is a fine algae, otherwise I would use Chaetomorpha (which can still be quite palatable). Both can be quite attractive.> To all at WWM, thank you for your ongoing efforts! Jill <Youre welcome and thank you, Scott V.>

Is Gracilaria curtissae safe in my refugium? Yes! - 6/21/08 Hey Crew, <Hi there, Lynn here this morning.> I've recently added a sump with a refugium to my 65 gallon reef setup. <Excellent> The sump has a SWC protein skimmer and I'm also running 2 Phosban reactors, one with carbon and the other with Phos-lock. In the refugium section, I've added a DSB and some live rock along with some Chaetomorpha and Gracilaria curtissae, <One will likely out-compete the other and take over.> ..keeping it lit at night (24" power compact) while the displays lights are off. After much reading about the risk of certain algae releasing toxins if the "go sexual", I was not sure if the Gracilaria curtissae was at risk of doing this. <Nope, no worries regarding noxious events with this macroalgae.> Also, do you have any recommendations of what you would add that would be beneficial? <I wouldnt add any additional macroalgae. If you mean fauna, this is one of those If you build it, they will come situations. Once the Chaeto/Gracilaria gets going, various pods, feather dusters, sponges (likely Syconoid), etc, will start appearing and populating the fuge. If youre adding the refugium/sump to an already fairly mature tank, then this process shouldnt take very long at all. If you want to give it a kick-start however, or have a fairly new system, there are various refugium packages that you can purchase online. Two such companies that supply these are IPSF (Indo-Pacific Sea Farms) and Arizona Aquaculture Solutions. Ive ordered from both of these companies with good results. These packages contain a variety of fauna, including various mini-Brittlestars, amphipods, grazing snails, beneficial worms, etc. Just make sure that you dont add any predatory hermits, crabs, and shrimps to the fuge. For more information on refugiums, please see WWM starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium1.htm. Another excellent source is Bob and Anthony Calfos Reef Invertebrates book. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Take care, -Lynn>

Caulerpa, use, replacement in a sump    5/4/08 I have an 80 gallon marine aquarium with 45kilos of live rock, some soft coral and 10 fish. I've recently bought a small piece of Caulerpa for my sump and am currently running the lights 24/7 on the sump and want to know will the Caulerpa multiply with this or should I run it for 12 hours when lights in the main tank are off. Also would I need to continue using my protein skimmer when my Caulerpa multiplies. I would appreciate your advice. thanks Nicky <I would switch this green algae out for a more suitable species and run the lights on an RDP cycle. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/refugalgfaqs.htm the next linked FAQs file in the series and elsewhere on WWM re Caulerpaceans. Bob Fenner> Be a better friend, newshound, and know-it-all with Yahoo! Mobile. Try it now.

Question on Macro-Algae 11/30/07 Hi WWM Crew, <Hello> Can you give me your thoughts on a good species of macro-algae for use in a refugium? The articles on WWM appear to recommend Caulerpa. However, I am looking for something palatable to most herbivorous fishes. Does there exist any palatable, non-calcareous (or just low maintenance) macro-algae that do a good job of nitrate/phosphate removal? I have been asking this question to a number of people, and the following algae have been recommended to me: + Gracilaria + Ulva + Sargassum + Caulerpa + Chaetomorpha <Two thumbs> Please advise. Thank you for your time, M. H. Arian <The Chaetomorpha is your best bet for all the attributes you are looking for. Fish can and will eat it, fairly low maintenance, and grows fairly fast for nutrient export. Caulerpa has been the mainstay for aquarium use for years mainly because of its growth rate, but Chaetomorpha is has gained popularity over the past few years. Happy reefing, Scott V.>

Several Issues... Refugium effects on water chem., damsel aggr.    11/30/07 Hi Folks, <Hello> Once again I need to solicit your help. I fear it's becoming a habit :-). I installed a hang-on refugium about 3 weeks ago. These are some of the changes that have occurred: 0 nitrates & 0 phosphates YIPPIE!!! Now for the bad news... my dKH has plummeted to around 6.7 (an all time low tis usually around 8 dKH), calcium dropped to 300 ppm (it's usually around 340 ppm), my coralline algae is dying, and I have a major green hair algae bloom. Do you think the negative changes are related to the new refugium (which houses Chaeto & Caulerpa and a few mini brittle stars)? <Mmm, there is a very real possibility that the algae there are indeed malaffecting the water quality values listed, and mal-affecting the coralline, yes...> In addition I began adding parts A&B on Monday. Since then my dKH has risen to 7.9. However, my calcium is still hovering around 300 ppm. <Need to increase this component, source> BTW my PH is 8.31 (pre A&B my PH was 8.22. Any ideas on what I can do to resolve my numerous problems? Tank config: 90 gal reef, 20 gal sump, skimmer, live rock, live sand, soft corals, inverts, 8 fish, 2 BTA (and a partridge in a pear tree). Params: 0 nitrates, 0 nitrites, 0 ammonia, 0 phosphates, ph 8.31, dKH 7.9, calcium 300, salinity 1.022. <This last is low... I would increase the spg to near seawater strength. And read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/index.htm scroll down to the trays on alkalinity, calcium... read the SubFAQs files on Troubleshooting> Second unrelated problem. I have a Blue Damsel (I now know, not a smart move) who is harassing my Royal Gramma I believe to death. The Gramma was living in one of my rocks, until a couple of days ago when my Brittle Star decided to take up residence in said rock. Now the Gramma is out in the open and being completely terrorized. He looks pretty battered. Do you think it would be ok to move the Gramma to my 5 gal hang-on refugium? <Yes... that or the damsel... Who should be removed anyway. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Jacque

Re: Several Issues... Refugium effects on water chem., damsel aggr.. NealeM, pls    11/30/07 Hi Bob, <Jacqueline> Thanks for the quick response. I have read many sources in WetWebMedia regarding alkalinity, calcium, & PH. Most appear to be over my head. <Rats! I recognize that "pride comes before the fall" (with not much space between), but I do pride myself on being able to explain even arcane subjects (which our hobbies have aplenty) to folks...> Is there any info available for those folks who need it explained on a different level? <A different level? I don't even sense what I might do here... Am going to ask Neale Monks here... who is very sharp, much younger, and has a different "experience set" than I, to give this a go...> Also, should I remove the Chaeto & Caulerpa from my refugium? <No, I would not... Unless there's a "whole bunch" of it... in which case I'd thin it out... otherwise, perhaps cutting back the light intensity, duration daily will avail you... I WOULD purposely increase the alkalinity AND biomineral content of your water... via a/the two-part system or other means you have at hand and feel comfortable with... Slowly... by increasing doses a bit daily...> Will that cure my green hair algae bloom and coralline die off? <These successive approximations should do so over time, yes> Or is there another way to fend off the dreaded green hair algae. I currently perform 30 gal water changes every other week. Can you offer any recommendations where to purchase a better quality of macro algae? <Mmm, w/o getting too involved here, and not knowing the type/species/cultivar of Caulerpa... I'd replace it with either nothing, or with a species of Gracilaria (Ogo)> You mentioned I should increase part A&B to help increase my calcium level. I'm somewhat concerned that increasing the dosage will significantly elevate my PH which is currently 8.32. <Actually... the commercial products I'm familiar with won't do this... they are comprised of buffers that "hold" the pH no higher> Would you recommend just increasing the part B dosage? <Yes... worth trying. Again, just an increment more per day...> Thanks, Jackie <You are on the cusp/border of great understanding, self-realization here Jackie... I am very pleased to live vicariously through you. BobF>

Sump plant confusion. Whats the best macroalgae for a sump 09/02/07 Hello crew, <Hi Dan.> I have been doing a ton of reading up on what plants to keep in a refugium/sump. I am looking to really use it for de-nitrification. From reading Chemo <You mean Chaeto? Like in Chaetomorpha.> seems to be a good choice, but I have read that is not that great for reducing nitrates as some would say. I have also read that Calupera <Probably Caulerpa> is good for de-nitrification, but it goes sexual monthly <Not necessarily monthly...it strongly depends on growth, size of the algae and the time since it was cut.> and releases caluperin <Caulerpenyne> into the system, which is not a good thing either, also if it is broken or turn it will do the same thing. What is the best bet to put in there to reduce nitrates, without messing with my chemistry? Thanks Dan. <Short answer: Chaetomorpha. Long answer: Chaetomorpha grows slow in some systems, but still provides sufficient nitrate export. It may double its size in about one or two months in general and does not cause any problems in a sump I am aware of. In a display, however, it can be hard to control and grow between corals like a weed. Caulerpa species can grow much faster and therefore export the same amount of nitrate in a shorter time. However, as you noted, they may release substances (one of them being Caulerpenyne) slightly toxic (and poorly understood) or go sexual and release all the nitrate they have taken up into the water again. To prevent that, Caulerpa needs to be cut on a regular basis (about 4-8 weeks). One careful cut usually is enough to divide the algae and take half of it out of the system. If you are careful (versus acting like a lawn mower) not much fluids from Caulerpa will get into the tank. I have many different macro algae, but Chaetomorpha is the most easy going among the somewhat faster growers. Think about a DSB in the sump, too. See also http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_3/cav3i6/Algae.htm and the linked files at the bottom. Cheers, Marco.>

Creating a "Green" Refugium (Macroalgae for System Support) 8/19/07 Greetings all, and thanks in advance for the advice Im seeking on macroalgae selection. <Glad to be here! Scott F. with you tonight!> I currently have a 26 gallon reef tank with about 30 lbs of LR, various softies and LPS, a HOB filter and HOB CPR skimmer/fuge. Im about to ditch the HOB equipment and connect it to a 20 gallon sump/fuge that will have a AquaC Urchin skimmer. <A nicer, more flexible way to go, IMO.> This tank will not be hidden in a cabinet, but will sit below and next to the display tank and I have it configured so all the plumbing compartments run across the rear behind a black false back, and the fuge is in the front half, creating a display refugium with no visible plumbing. My intention is to create something similar to a freshwater planted tank with macroalgae, a DSB, and some small groupings of live rock with the purpose of added filtering, nutrient export, and pod propagation. <A fine goal!> My question is on macroalgae selection which I intend to order from inlandaquatics.com. I know Chaetomorpha is highly recommended and that is what I use now, but because this is a display fuge Im not excited about the idea of a giant ball of string floating around. <It does have all of the charm of a pot-scrubbing pad, doesn't it?> I think Ive narrowed in down to a few possibilities and was hoping for your opinion on the best choice. Ive read that it is not good to mix macros, especially in a tank this size, so I need to choose one of these. <Umm...there are lots of thoughts on this. I have mixed macroalgae in the past without issues, but there could be some issues with various species, analogous to coral allelopathy. Some species are may actually exude chemicals to prevent encroachment from other macroalgae. Usually, however, the more immediate issue is that one species of macroalgae will simply smother and outgrow the others. Caulerpa are notorious for this.> Halimeda- I like the way this looks and it seems like it will work well but Im uneasy about the possibilities of it turning sexual. Ive read that it can happen, and what could happen to the tank if it does, but is it something to really be worried about? <I've never really had any issues with this macroalgae, Being calcareous, it does need to have decent calcium levels in the system. This stuff can really suck up calcium, on par with some stony corals, so do keep that in mind. I like this one, myself. It's durable, attractive, and if conditions are to its liking- a fast grower. I'm not thinking of it as a nutrient export vehicle, however.> Shaving brush- My favorite because I love the way it looks, but it doesnt seemed to be used much and I dont know how well it will work for nutrient export. I also haven't read much about how it grows and spreads. <I like this species, but it really does not grow fast enough to be frequently harvested for nutrient export. More "decorative", IMO.> Thalassia (turtle grass)- Looks suspiciously like the hair algae Im trying to get rid of and I havent been able to get a good visual on it in a tank setting. <You might be mistaken. Thalassia looks absolutely nothing like hair algae. It's a true plant, not an algae, and is a real amazing plant to build a special biotope system around! I think that you might be thinking of "Turtle Weed" (Chlorodesmis). It's actually a pretty tough macroalgae to grow, requiring very bright light and strong current.> The fuge portion is long and tall so I think I need something that will grow tall. Its still an option. <I'd be inclined to recommend a seagrass, such as Halodule, which can be fascinating and useful. It is not really a plant that you'd harvest for nutrient export, but it can grow rapidly and process nutrients if conditions are acceptable. Again, a neat plant to build a system around!> Ulva fasciata (sea lettuce)- again, it looks low growing, but I wouldnt rule it out just for that. <A possibility, but not a super fast grower.> Im open to any other recommendations or suggestions. Thanks, James <Well, James, for a combination of nutrient export capability and aesthetics, you might want to look at Ochtodes, or "Red Grape Algae", Botryocladia. Both of these grow very well in captivity, and can be harvested and given to other hobbyists. Do think about Halodule. It's the basis for a fascinating refugium/support system for your main display! Do some research on macroalgae and Seagrasses right here on the WWM site! Hope this helps! Regards, Scott F.>

Refugium question. Confug-ed! (Refugium and Macroalgae Growth)  7/31/07 Hello Gang, <Hi there! Scott F. back again!> About 2 ½ weeks ago Scott F. responded to my email regarding my apparent inability to NOT successfully grow Chaeto in my refugium. He suggested that I perhaps had too much flow through the refugium, and also supported the idea of securing more Chaeto from a different source. Since his response to my email I have taken his advice, and also spent many more hours reading on the wet web site. The more reading I do, the more turned around I get on this issue, so I am back with a few more questions. <Yeah- that Scott F. guy drives me nuts sometimes, too.> To reiterate, I have a 180 gallon tank with about 400# of live rock and a sand bed that varies from 2-4. My livestock includes Leather Cabbage coral, Kenyan Tree Corals, Toadstool Leather, Hammer Coral, Green Starburst Coral, Various Button Polyps, Eye-Stripe Tang, Yellow Tang, small Sailfin Tang, 3 P.J. Cardinals, 4 Engineer Gobies, neon goby, Keyhole Angel, Yellow Tail Damsel, Pink Skunk Clown, Black & White Percula, large variety of snails and crabs and 1 Serpent Star. I have had a serious nitrate problem for quite some time and decided to yank my wet/dry filter, including bioballs, and replace it with a fuge/sump combo about 2-3 months ago. I have kept my skimmer, which treats incoming raw water and then shuttles the processed water to the fuge chamber. I have only trace green algae growth in the display tank, and occasional small patches of red slime algae, but nothing substantial. Rocks, snail and crab shells, and certain areas of the glass are loaded with coralline algae. The fuge chamber of the sump is 15x18x13 with 3 ½ sand bed and about 10# of live rock.and two small clumps of Chaeto that refuse to grow. The lighting (based on tons of reading) is CF reflector flood that is 16 watts, 5100K. I have tried various bulbs from 2700K through 6500K without any change in growth. (I have read numerous reviews posted by folks who have had great success using the bulb that I am currently using, but now I am questioning the lighting again.) The light on the fuge runs opposite the tank lights. Any suggestions on different lighting that isnt going to bust my currently stretched budget? <Nope. Your "daylight-flavored" lighting scheme is the way to go, IMO. I like 5000-6700 k> Originally I believed the flow through the fuge to be about 700-800 gph, which Scott believed to be too much. I recalculated things and found the flow to actually be in the neighborhood of 1000-1100 gph. Based on this calculation and Scotts recommendation to reduce the through traffic in the fuge, I did some more reading, which is where I have become confused. <My fault here...I do recommend a swift flow through a refugium. But I don't like placing Chaetomorpha in swift flow. Sorry for the confusion.> I have read some conflicting recommendations about how much flow there should be through the fuge. I have read that flow through the fuge should be 2-3x the total system volume, which would convert into an optimal flow of 400-600 gph through my overflows into/through the fuge. I have read that flow through the fuge should be 3-10x the volume of the fuge, which would be a max of about 110-115 gph through the overflows into/through the fuge. <Don't get me wrong here- you should have good flow through the refugium. However, I disagree with high flow where you're keeping Chaetomorpha. I have always kept this macroalgae in a moderate flow environment and have enjoyed great success with it. I don't believe that it needs to be "tumbled" like Gracilaria, for example, despite many people asserting that it should. Just a nice, steady flow through the fronds to keep excesses of debris and epiphytic materials from accumulating has worked for me every time.> Based on Scotts recommendations, within one week of receiving his email reply, I made several changes to my system. I added 2 small powerheads within the refugium chamber, which are circulating 275-300 gph for increased current. I have slowed the flow through the refugium chamber from 1000-1100 gph to about 750 gph (for real this time) by eliminating one siphon tube within the overflow setup. (Essentially, the movement in the fuge hasnt changed, I guess, if you consider that I took 250-300 gallons of through flow away and then added 275-300 gph of movement with the powerheads. Should I increase the flow via powerhead or is this sufficient current for that area???) <Honestly, in my personal experience with this macroalgae-years of it- I can tell you that moderate flow has always worked for me. Hard to say why the macroalgae is not growing. It is puzzling! This type of setup has worked for me to the point where I was literally giving the stuff away as it filled my sump. I certainly would not discourage you from experimenting with the higher flow at this point, but try to give it a bit more time at the moderate flow rate to see if anything comes of this, first. If lower flow is not working, you certainly have nothing to lose by going back to higher flow. Perhaps other factors, such as the availability nutrients, are also in play.> I have added a new clump of Chaeto from a different source and I have changed to the light bulb outlined above. After having all of this in place for over 1 week, there has been NO growth or expansion within either Chaeto clump. There has, however, been substantial hair algae growth on one of the rocks in the fuge. <Probably because of the lower flow...LOL. Better there than in the display. It's still beneficial as a nutrient export mechanism, if you remove it. Another thought might be to pull the clump of Chaetomorpha apart a bit. I've had experiences where the tight structure of the algae actually smothered itself, and rampant growth once again occurred when I loosened the clump a bit...Just a thought.> This said, I am starting to feel like I need to attend remedial Chaeto growing classes!!! <Nah- it's all part of the fun and frustration of the hobby...Things don't always work as we think they should- trust me on this!> I have two overflow water outlets, each with two siphon tubes..one overflow at each end of the tank. I have already eliminated one siphon tube to reduce flow from the tank into the sump. Should I remove a second siphon tube and leave things with just one tube at each end of the tank? I keep doing the gph math, which tells me that doing so should be okay, but for some reason I am nervous about doing so. I guess it just seems like too little water leaving the tank for filtration; I am having difficulty accepting that it would be okay to run only 500-600 gph through the fuge filter for a 200 gallon capacity system.. <I can understand your concern. And I think that I may have added to the confusion. Bottom line in my opinion is that swift flow is fine for a refugium- even recommended. Don't mess with it at this point by lowering the flow any further. However, I am a big fan of slow flow through your SUMP (where your protein skimmer should be), as the skimmer will function more efficiently with longer contact time (3-5 times tank volume per hour is fine, IME). Perhaps you could experiment by moving some of the Chaeto to your sump, not your refugium. Or perhaps you can keep it floating in a plastic colander in the high flow 'fuge to break up the flow a bit. A worthy experiment, IMO.> With regard to the Chaeto, I have read scattered thoughts that it might benefit from slightly higher than average/ideal calcium levels? Any thoughts on this? <I have heard this, too, but I have never altered water chemistry to grow this stuff.> On a slightly different note, I am aware of how large the Keyhole Angel and each tang can potentially grow, and plan to upgrade to 250 or 300 gallons within the next one to two yearsprobably just as soon as my current setup decides to function the way I planned. <Gosh- with my Chaetomorpha "tips", that could be sometime next decade at this rate, huh?? LOL> The Tangs were all purchased as babies and have each grown quickly from very tiny to small-medium sizes. I have had the Keyhole Angel for 2 ½ years and he is still only about 3 long, not much overall growth at all. Generally, how long to they take to reach full (potential) size? <If you are talking about C. tibicen, the "Keyhole Angel", it could take a few more years. Even though they are one of the larger Centropyge species, I've never seen one larger than 5 inches or so, however. The maximum size might be sexually linked, too, but I'm not sure on that one. Bob is a big fan of this species, and he may have seen larger specimens in the wild, however.> Thank you again for your wonderful site and the wonderful input and advise that you all make available to the rest of us!!! You have no idea how TRULY appreciated it is!!! Susan <Glad to be of service, Susan. Sorry for the confusion! I think given some more time and minor adjustments, you'll be giving Chaetomorpha away by the bucketful. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Refugium question. Confounded By Chaetomorpha! (Chaetomorpha Growth Issues)  7/11/07 Hello Crew! <Hi there! Scott F. in tonight!> This is the second time I have written, and I would again like to thank all of you for your input and the time that you invest in helping the rest of us maintain healthy and successful systems! <We're thrilled to bring the site to you every day!> I am on your site several times a week, and even more frequently if I need to trouble shoot. Writing to you is a last resort for me; I have read and read and read some more (literally all of the WWM pages on refugiums and macroalgae), and I think that I am finally 'reading myself in circles' with this issue. Every time I think I have answered my questions I read something else that sends me back the other direction. I think that I could keep reading for the next 6 months and keep pushing myself in circles, so it is time to get some specific answers. <I'll try not to push you in circles...rectangles or trapezoids, perhaps- but not circles!> I inherited a 180 gallon salt water system almost 3 years ago, and knew (scary as it is) very little about the hobby. I learned very quickly, in large part to your website. The tank had/has about 400 lbs of live rock and a 2-4" sand bed. All of my coral is growing rapidly, and includes * Leather Cabbage coral * Kenyan Tree Corals * Toadstool Leather * Hammer Coral * Green Starburst Coral * Various Button Polyps Due to an unforeseen electrical problem shortly after taking possession of the tank, most of the original stocking was lost; current fish stocking includes * Eye-Stripe Tang * 3 P.J. Cardinals * 2 Engineer Gobies * Keyhole Angel * Yellow Tail Damsel * Pink Skunk Clown * Black & White Percula * large variety of snails including Mexican turbo, Nassarius, Margarita, Queen Conch * variety of crabs * 1 Serpent Star * I currently have new Yellow Tang, Sailfin Tang and 2 Engineer Gobies in the QT to replace what was recently lost to Ich. <Glad to hear that you embrace a quarantine protocol! Do note that the Sailfin Tang can and will get HUGE! A larger tank will be necessary for the future to accommodate this fish.> Also in the QT is a neon goby.. because I think I need one. <A sort of natural antiparasitic approach, huh?> They will be joining the display tank in 2-3 weeks. <Good to hear.> The display tank currently has tons of coralline algae, with almost no green or red algae growth at all. We have had intermittent periods of moderate hair algae growth, as well as red slime algae growth, but nothing recent. <Sounds like you've addressed any excess nutrient issues.> I realized early in my salt water days that I had a nitrate issue, but had little luck controlling it. The more I read, the more I realized that I needed to change my wet/dry filter system over to a refugium, as the bioballs were not helping matters at all. About 5 months ago we had a problem with Ich, and moved all fish into the quarantine tank for 8 weeks. I figured that would be a good time to change things over under the tank and replace the wet/dry with a refugium. The first shot at this was not an ideal set-up due to lack of properly sized tanks and less than optimal water movement through the fuge. One month ago, I replaced the first fuge setup with a 50 gallon sump/fuge that is working very well with regard to water flow. I have about 3" of sand, 10# of rubble rock, a few Nassarius snails and a ball of Chaetomorpha that I bought for the original refugium setup. The mass of Chaetomorpha was larger than a softball when purchased several months ago, and is now about the size of a tennis ball. The lighting in the fuge area is a 26W / 6500K spiral CF bulb inside of a metal plant light fixture (I have looked at many other fuges using the same type of lighting setup) that runs for 12 hours overnight when the display lights are off. Flow through the fuge is about 700-750 gph. I was hoping that the Chaeto would flourish a bit with the new set up, but it has not grown at all...but it has also not lost notable size either. Testing my water at least every other day indicates that I have moderately high nitrates; phosphate testing is inconsistent (I think I need a new test kit. will be picking one up this weekend), no nitrites and no ammonia. According to what I have read about nutrient exchange and the properties of Chaetomorpha, I am confused about why mine is not growing. I have given some thought to water movement within the fuge itself the refugium sits between the incoming water/skimmer chamber and the 'clean' water chamber to be pumped back to the tank) and have considered adding a small power head to the fuge simply to increase water movement. <Good thought. Initially, it sounds to me like you may have too much water flow through the refugium...Usually, we only want modest flow in there. Although you don't need to "tumble" Chaetomorpha like you do with macroalgae such as Gracilaria, water movement does help keep the fronds clear of debris and epiphytic materials that may interfere with the growth of the macroalgae. Perhaps a reduced "flow-through" rate, but a powerhead for movement within the fronds of the algae colony, will do the trick. Worth investigating, IMO!> I have thought about purchasing an additional ball of Chaeto to see if it will grow any differently than the current batch, but I hate to waste the extra ball of Chaetomorpha if it is not going to grow either. <An attitude I understand, but it may be a worthy experiment...Since it's such a readily obtainable macroalgae these days, it may be worth a try. Do inspect your current Chaetomorpha colony to see if it's being smothered by nuisance algae or debris.> Any thoughts you can offer here would be MUCH appreciated!!! <Well, I must say that this stuff is pretty tough NOT to grow. If you're keeping it in an aquarium system with sufficient nutrients. lighting and water movement, I'm pretty sure that you'll get good growth. I'd work on the flow issue and see how that goes...Sounds like the nutrient and lighting issues are satisfied with your setup.> Also, as an aside while I am bothering you, I have one last question. I suspect that the root problem is related to my water quality, but I am looking for some reassurance here. Two years ago I purchased a very healthy, deep rose-colored bubble tip, which split within 1 week of being added to the display tank. <Nice!> The two pieces did well until about 6 months ago, when one of them started to whiten and lose size. Eventually it stopped coming out and is presumed dead. :-( The second was doing well until about 2 months ago, and has started to display the same characteristics. <Sorry to hear that.> The remaining section is in a location that it picked out all by itself and has remained anchored for about 2 years; it is an area of relatively low flow with strong lighting. It has never bubbled on a regular basis (I presumed because of low water flow), other than when it was fed, but now does not inflate at all. It eats dried krill at least 3x a week, but continues to lose size and has not regained any of its rose coloring. <Many possible issues...Most common are insufficient water movement, lighting, and nutrition. My dear friend, Anthony Calfo, has written extensively on anemone care. health issues, and propagation in way more detail than I can go into here. Do use one of the larger search engines and look for his writings.> My pink skunk clown used to host exclusively in this anemone and would not allow the percula to get anywhere near it, but over the last 6 months both of them have been hosting in the toadstool. I have given thought to moving the anemone to a different location, but it is SO deeply rooted that I am not sure I can get it out with damage...and it moved several times within the first several weeks of splitting and hasn't moved since. <I would not move it. The potential for damage to what may be an already stressed animal is too great. Do consider the issues of proper lighting, nutrition, and proper water movement.> Any thoughts here would also be VERY MUCH appreciated. Sorry to have taken up so much of your time. Thanks for your help!!! Susan <No problem, Susan. Sorry that I couldn't go into too much detail on the anemone issue (just not enough room!), but there is soo much stuff out there on this subject that you'll probably find exactly what you need simply by searching on the net for Anthony's writings. Best of luck to you! Regards, Scott F.> Susan Andrews

Refugium Macro Algae switching from Caulerpa to Chaetomorpha   06/19/07 Hello Crew, <Hi Wade, Mich here.> I hope all is well with you, <Tis fine. Wishing you the same.> Just a quick question about changing macro algae in my refugium. I have Caulerpa and was lucky enough to acquire some Chaeto. Do I just yank the Caulerpa out and place the Chaeto in? <I would replace most all with Chaeto, but maybe reserve a very small amount of Caulerpa incase the Chaeto doesn't do well.> Will the Chaeto be able to catch up with nutrient export or will I experience a mini cycle effect. <Hopefully will just pick up.> There are undetectable amounts of nitrates, ammonia, nitrite, and approximately .15 ppm phosphate at this time. <Watch the phosphates... Can really fuel the nuisance growth along.> I think the change would be beneficial in the long run, just wondering how many steps backward before the benefit is realized. <I don't think you will see much backpedaling.> Thanks as always, <Welcome! Mich> Wade

Macroalgae for a Refugium with Lower Water Flow   4/15/07 My boys and I must check your website every week for great insights on how to maintain our marine aquarium.  Thank you !  Unfortunately, we are unable to find an answer to an important question for us. We have a hang-on refugium that we are using for NNR.  It contains a deep sand bed, red mangroves, <Yikes... these true plants will get too large, break this device...> and - at the moment - Chaetomorpha macroalgae.  We started this refugium about three or four months ago.  Over the last few months, we have watched the Chaeto slowly die off.  We have read on your website that Chaeto needs enough water flow for the macroalgae ball to tumble.  We don't have that much water flow.   <Mmm... not really necessary to have this much, type flow> Rather than re-engineering (or replacing) our refugium, we are considering finding a different macroalgae that can survive with lower water flow.  Is this possible?  Can you recommend an alternative macroalgae? <Mmm my next best choice is the genus Gracilaria> Thanks! Tim Swift <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/refugalgfaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

Refugiums/Macro Algae. Refugium Comments/Sharing  4/5/07 Hello Crew. <Hi Jeff.>     I just wanted to give my two cents concerning  refugiums/macro algae. <Please do..> I check your Q & A site every day  faithfully.  I am addicted to your site.   <Thank you.> Anyway, I have been in the  salt water aquarium hobby for about two years.  After a couple of tank  crashes and trauma (both the aquarium inhabitants and myself), I decided to  install a refugium with a large amount of Chaeto algae and sea lettuce  algae. Prior to the  refugium, I was constantly dreading the thought  of testing my water because of the results I would get.  I was constantly adding reef buffer, among other things, trying to stabilize my  tank.  Well, after installing it with the macro algae my system slowly came  into balance. It took about three weeks.  Now after two months my  tank is still doing very well. Ph is consistently at 8.3; alkalinity is at  9 dKH; and nitrates are at 0 (these three being the most  problematic).  I am no longer having the algae blooms like before.  I  still have some problems with silicates, but that is another story (tap water)  and I need to get a better RO/DI filter for that. If anyone is sitting on  the fence wondering if they should dump their filters for a sump/refugium, I  would strongly suggest going with the refugium (and yes, I have a  skimmer).  I also put about 20 lbs of rock in there as well and "seeded" it from the live rock in my main tank (90 lbs in my 90 gallon tank).  I didn't worry about sand because I have 3" - 4" in the main  tank.     I have noticed that almost every day there is a  least one person asking about bio balls, nitrate problems, and algae  blooms. <Yes, well unfortunately many people write before they read.> A refugium with large quantities of macro algae go a long way  to rid a tank of many problems.  It is not a cure-all, but it really makes  the aquarium hobby more pleasant.  I wish I had gone the refugium/macro  algae route right after I had cycled my tank two years ago. It is very  noticeable that my fish and invertebrates are no longer stressed, and I  have 8 corals growing nicely in the tank.  By the way, I use the sea  lettuce to feed my two tangs.     Well, there's my two cents. <I'd say it's at least a dollars worth if not more.>   Again, I would  strongly suggest to all newcomers in the salt water aquarium hobby to go this  route.  It is such a small investment with such a huge return.  The  bigger the refugium, the better. <Thank you for sharing your experiences.> R/ Jeff <Adam J.>

Re: Adding CaribSea Mineral Mud to existing DSB refugium  3/30/07 Bob, thank you for the link to pertinent questions.  I tried to find FAQs that specifically addressed my situation, but could not. <We must need keep pressing on... adding "more complete answers"... in the form of "articles"...> A follow up question: I want to split my refugium area (12" x 20" inside a 29-gallon tank) into two separate compartments, one for a DSB w/ Chaetomorpha, the other for a mud substrate w/ Gracilaria.  Would it be better to split this lengthwise into two parallel channels (6" x 20"), or just two 12" x 10" compartments, with one flowing into the next? <Interesting question... I don't think either algal arrangement will result in more/less competition in any sense... but do think I'd go with the parallel arrangement... to aid experimentation further in adjusting water flow rate, lighting... Bob Fenner>
Re: Adding CaribSea Mineral Mud to existing DSB refugium  3/30/07
Okay, I will divide the refugium into two parallel channels, 6" x 20" with equal flow going to both sides.  This leads me to two more questions: 1. Do you agree the Chaetomorpha & DSB should go together in one channel, and then the Gracilaria & mud together in the other (my logic here is the Gracilaria will root in the mud, whereas the Chaetomorpha just floats)? <Mmm, yes... I do agree> 2. Should I put some of the live rock rubble in each channel, or put all of it on the DSB side? <For me, this latter> Thank you for your continued input, Steve <And you for yours. BobF>

Re: Reef Systems And Skimmers And Maybe An English Tutorial 2/28/07  - 03/02/07   I need to make a comment here about one of your postings.  I do not have a question, just an observation.  I was reading your website and came across the posting "Reef Systems And Skimmers And Maybe An English Tutorial 2/28/07."  I am getting tired of seeing people trying to play "GOTCHYA" with the WetWebMedia staff. <Heeeee! Thank you> We are all here to learn.  Constructive criticism is another matter. Taking care of aquariums is a never ending learning process. <Ah, yes... Agreed... and usually a delightful, ever-wonderful one as well> I have learned so much over the past couple of months reading your articles and responses.  There is so much conflicting data out there and the Wet Web Media staff have done so much in terms of clarification.   I also wanted you folks to know that since I found your website my tank (90 gallon) has been doing much better. <Ahhh!>   I have always had a problem with nitrates (>60 ppm) even with water changes.  I kept losing my inverts (I think) because of the high nitrates. I ended up getting rid of the bioballs and replaced them with rock and some Chaeto algae.  This brought my nitrates down to 40 ppm.  I then decided to put a temporary (bigger) refugium in and completely get rid of the wet/dry filter.  I transferred the live rock and algae (not too difficult).  I added more Chaeto.  This brought my nitrates down to 20 ppm.  I finally found a very good refugium to permanently go under my tank.  I installed it approximately 1 week ago and my nitrates are floating between 5-15 ppm.  They seem to fluctuate based on the tank light cycle as well.   <Ah yes...> I went with the Chaeto algae and I made sure I have the right lighting along with keeping it on 24/7 <Mmm... I would definitely have the light off some hours per day... this genus, group of algae need the "dark period" of photosynthesis... I encourage you to use a timer... to have an alternating RDP (reverse daylight photoperiod/icity) with your main system's lighting regimen... Both the main tank and refugium lighting can be on simultaneously/overlap... but have them not on permanently> because of all the reading I have done on your site.  I have to start taking out some of the Chaeto because it is starting to really grow. <A good "trade in" item...> This refugium has greatly stabilized my tanks as well.  My Alkalinity and PH are very stable now (read about that on your site as well. I know the difference now).   I have one coral in my tank right now.  It is a colt coral.  It had bleached itself probably due to stress when the tanks had high nitrate problems which affected the buffering and caused algae problems. <Yes>   Since my tank has stabilized. The coral has gotten its nice tan brown color back.  I was worried all the algae inside the coral had been expelled because of the stress (read that on your site as well), but it seemed to have made it through OK.  It has doubled in size in just the three weeks since converting over to a refugium.   I bought a feather duster last week and I buried the base of it in the sand.  Well the little sucker decided he didn't like it and left his home. I saw him the other day worming around (still had his feathers).  I read your Feather Duster FAQS. I realized he is like just looking for a home.  So I am letting him be.  It has peaceful tank mates.  I also was going to pull out the tube he was living in, but after reading about how they will split in two sometimes when departing their old homes, I decided to leave it in the tank and see if a new feather duster pops out later on.   Well, that is my story.  Keep up the great work.  People out here really rely on you folks. Don't let the "GOTCHYA" people out there get to you.  It is nice to know there are a lot of aquarium freaks out there like me (that's what my wife calls me anyways). R/ Jeff <Thank you for your kind, encouraging words. I will share with James/Salty (who responded to the original email, brilliantly) and the rest of the Crew... Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Timer for refugium algae lighting   3/3/07 Bob, As a follow-up, I will be adding a timer to the refugium tonight when I get home. I have the MH lights, the actinic lights and moonlighting on a cycle already.  Thanks much. R/ Jeff <Ah, good. BobF>

Can't Get My Refugium Started! - 02/12/07 Hey Crew! <<Hiya Pam!>> Why of why, does my refugium create more problems than good? !!! <<Mmm, dunno!  But let's see if we can figure it out>> Every time I set it up, it goes brown on me! <<...?>> Is it cycling? <<Maybe>> I have 5&1/2"(total) of live sand with 3" of Mineral Mud sandwiched between.  Too deep? <<Nope>> There is a piece of feather Caulerpa (sp?) and a light above the unit which I keep on for 12 hours. <<How much/what kind of light?  And with this species of alga I recommend a 24/7 photo-period>> The Caulerpa is dying off and the sand and sides are brown. <<Hmm...>> Please let me know what I'm doing wrong (or right!) Thank you!! Pam <<Well Pam, the "brown" is likely diatoms and will pass soon enough, but unless you've left something off, the algae may be dying from too little light intensity/improper spectrum and insufficient water flow.  Regards, EricR>> Re: Can't Get My Refugium Started! - alg. 02/13/07 Just bought a new light.  Aqualight, 28 watt, 20".  This light will be only 4" to 5" away from the sand. <<Really?  This must be a very shallow refugium...are you sure there's adequate water depth/volume for the macroalgae?>> Hope it's okay. <<As long as it's not getting wet>> Another thing, you suggest keeping the light on all the time??? 24/7, like you said? <<Indeed...  Caulerpa species are known for having "sexual events" in which all kinds of nasty material is released in to the water column which can prove problematic in a small enclosed system.  This "event" is often triggered by the day-night cycle...by keeping the lights over the refugium on 24/7 you greatly reduce this risk>> Won't this disturb the main tank?  It's a "hang on" refugium. <<Hard to say for sure without seeing your setup...but the light should be indirect enough to not be a problem.  But if you think it might, then replace the Caulerpa in the refugium with Chaetomorpha algae.  The Chaetomorpha won't pose the same risks/won't require continuous illumination like the Caulerpa>> Thank you!! Pam <<Happy to share.  Eric Russell>>
R3: Can't Get My Refugium Started! - 02/13/07
My refugium is 14" deep. <<Ahh...>> I made a mistake about the space between the sand and light, it's 9". <<I see...better>> Hmmm, from inside the main tank it looked a lot less.  Silly me! <<Hee-hee!>> I think I will replace the feather Caulerpa with Chaetomorpha algae. <<Excellent!>> Thank you for your advice! <<Quite welcome>> Just one more "?"  What good is feather Caulerpa if it poses such problems?  What system would it benefit, the compost heap? <<Caulerpa is very effective in its ability to scavenge nutrients/organics from the water column, usually outcompeting other alga (one reason it is outlawed in some locales).  For experienced aquarists with an understanding of its inherent dangers and the knowledge/ability to compensate re it can be a very useful tool.  And while some would consider it arguably less effective for nutrient removal than Caulerpa species...for the average hobbyist or for those who don't want/need to take the risk, Chaetomorpha is a satisfactory yet more "user-friendly" substitute...in my humble opinion>> Thanks! Pam <<Happy to help.  EricR>>

Refugium macroalgae, No Caulerpa in Australia, Other Possibilities  2/6/07 Dear Crew <Hi Dan, Mich with you today!> I have recently upgraded to a new 6ft tank of around 100 gal (380 L) from my old 4ft system that was a total nightmare for one reason or another. <Congrats!> Anyway, I've decided to try and do it properly this time. <A wise philosophy!> From reading Mr. Fenner's book and your site I've decided to add a sump with refugium to control nutrient levels and filter the water. <Very good!> However, here in Australia, few LFS encourage the use of refugiums and instead try to sell wet/dry filters. <More profit for the stores?> In fact, I have been unable to find any that sell refugiums at all! So I went and built my own sump (30 gal) with compartments for a large skimmer, the refugium and the return pump. <Excellent!> I've read that Caulerpa makes a good algae to have in a refugium, but this is considered a noxious weed and is totally banned here. <Caulerpa would not be my algae of choice, for the reasons you state.  Chaetomorpha would be my first choice here.> 1) Basically I was wondering whether native sea grasses and a couple of mangrove plants would make a good addition instead. <Wouldn't hurt.  Though they are not terribly efficient at nutrient export.  I would try Chaetomorpha if you can find it.   You may want to try some local reef club websites.  If not I would see if there is another fast growing macroalgae that isn't terribly noxious, perhaps Gracilaria.    2) I also planned on putting a 6 inch DSB into the refugium but cannot get my hands on live sand. Will using live rock to seed the sand work just as well? <Yes.  Again check for local reef clubs.> 3) And finally, what sort of water flow through the refugium do I want to aim for? I'm thinking I want as much flowing through as I can get without churning the refugium up. <Mmm, you want circulation, but it doesn't need to be fast.> I have a 2500L/hr pump, but do you think I could go bigger than this? <Is this your return to your display or are you using this just to move water in the fuge?> Thanks heaps, your advice has been fantastic and you are to be congratulated for putting together such a brilliant resource for us! <Thank you for your most kind words!> Dan in Sydney <Mich chilling in Pennsylvania>

Re: refugium macroalgae, No Caulerpa in Australia, Other Possibilities  2/7/07 <Hi Dan!  Mich with you again.> Thanks for the super fast reply, I will check out those algae you suggested and also see if I can find some local reef clubs. <You're welcome!  Both will benefit you / your system!> The 2500 L/hr pump is the return pump to the main aquarium. <OK.> I do not have any pumps moving the water through the refugium itself, I've planned for it to simply flow from one end to the other as water enters from the weir and exits via the pump. I basically followed the design on your refugium article page ( http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm) only with some modified baffles to allow more room for the refugium itself. <OK, sounds good.> I've read that you want to try and move 10 times the tanks volume per hour which would work out as a 3500 L/hr pump. That seems pretty big to me. Anyway I will try the 2500 and see what happens, if it isn't making havoc why not go bigger?  And one other thing I forgot to mention. I purchased a Sfiligoi Superflite chiller (Italian made) and it comes with a separate electronic thermostat with a measuring probe. Should I put this probe into the refugium or the main display tank. <I think I would place in the display as that is what you really want to monitor.> Dan sweltering in Sydney <Wish I was!  Mich freezing in the Pocono Mountains, but into the double digit numbers today!  ...that's Fahrenheit by the way!  Brrr!>

Water parameters, refugium maint., algal use there   1/31/07 Dear crew, <Glen> I have an interesting observation I'd like to share.  Also any comments on the following refugium setup is greatly appreciated.  I have recently set up a refugium for my 55 gal reef for the purposes of growing 'pods for food & macros for nutrient export.  Since it is not a plumbed tank, I decided to display the refugium as well.   <I would do this as well... much to see, share> The setup: I placed a 20 gal high to one side of the display tank and installed a Rio Aqua 200 pump in the main tank and two siphon tubes between both tanks. <Two are better than one for sure...> The Rio pumps about 120 GPH into the refugium and the siphon tubes allow flow back to the main tank.  The top of the 20 gal is about 2" above the top of the 55 gal.  When the water level is equilibrated between the two tanks, this leaves me with about 3.5 gallons of buffer in the refugium in case the siphon tubes fail. <Not a pleasant thought, eh?> My pump will hopefully run dry first ;-)  Also installed a ZooMed oscillating powerhead (160 GPH), heater and Whisper power filter I had laying around doing nothing. After installing the "hardware", the "software" was set up and allowed to cycle as an isolated system: 15 gallons water from the display tank, 2" substrate (equal mix of sand, crushed coral and aragonite reef base), 15 lbs live rock.    The observation: At the end of 3 weeks, my refugium cycle was over and all water parameters were looking good: pH=8.4, NH4=0, NO2=0, NO3<10ppm, Pi=0, SG=1.024.  Same as the display tank.  Time to install the siphon tubes and fire up the pump!  Once I saw that the siphon was working, I thought to myself  " Maybe you should have slowly exchanged water between the two - a quart at a time.  Just like acclimating fish."  By the time I pulled the plug on the pump it had only been running for about 30 seconds and all corals in my tank had retracted their polyps, including my Rhodactis.  That little bugger never hides!  Even though all of my water parameters were OK and matched my main tank, <Allow me to add the stipulation: of things tested...> they still detected something was awry.  Something I couldn't test for. <Ah, yes> I have never even seen this on a water change either.  In the end all inhabitants were back to normal by morning, but it was an unnecessary shock to both them and me.   The questions: The only macros I can only find at the LFS places near me is Caulerpa. <Mmm, do a bit more looking about... perhaps "Craig's List" or such, ask your LFS or just hang around there... to chat with other aquarists re what they have, might give you a clipping of... If all else fails, consider buying online... Inland Aquatics, IPSF...> Right now it is illuminated in a semi-RDP style - 12 hrs of 15W actinic & 12 hrs 14W actinic + 15W daylight.  I will be upgrading the lighting soon & have the choices of the following total PC wattages: 36,65 & 72 or 130W.  What would you suggest to support macros and coralline algae? <Posted...> Is the substrate OK for 'pod growth AND the macros? <Is fine> Is carbon filtration necessary on the refugium? <Mmm, no... can be used in a punctuated fashion... perhaps a few ounces added (in a re-usable Dacron bag) in your hang on filter once a month... This would/does have value>   The 'fuge will be fed rarely, if at all, and I have carbon on the main tank. <Oh, then this will/would be enough>   However, I do have Caulerpa in the 'fuge and Sarcophyton, Xenia and Rhodactis in the main tank.  Chemical warfare has not been apparent between the corals, but Caulerpa also plays this game too? <Oh yes... see WWM re> Keep up the good work.  You've got me hooked! -Glen <Heeeee! Time to reel you in and land you on the beach of life! Thanks for writing, sharing Glen. Bob Fenner>

Cuban hogfish <hlth., sys.> and other questions... Refugium algae...   1/31/07 Hello Crew, thanks for this great outlet of information.  I have a Cuban hogfish around 3 inches I have had for about a month.  I initially had him in a 10 gal quarantine tank but a week ago I put him in my 29 gal reef refugium (5" DSB) to give him more room.  Almost the whole time I have had him he has hidden behind whatever available structure that was in the tank.  He has eaten little since his arrival. <Not atypical, or to be unexpected...> I feed him live ghost shrimp, scallops, and dried anchovies.  He snubs any pellet/ flake food offered thus far. <Time, patience...> For day upon a time he will just hide and not come out when the food is offered. <Also reasonable behavior> If I take out his hiding place he will swim around and explore but as soon as the structure is replaced back to the hole he goes. What can I do, if anything to speed up his acclimation to aquarium life? <Mmm, little... this species needs much more room... and time> He is the only fish in the tank including the (46 gal) reef tank.  Do you think putting a saltwater acclimated molly in the tank would stimulate him from his hiding spot? <Mmm, maybe> Also do these fish have a broom like fins, like the broom-tailed Wrasse?   <Not really> I'm wondering because his fins look uniformly ratty.   <Likely resultant/shipping damage... will repair in time of its own accord> I have one other unrelated question. Would I be better off buying more algae for a mud/algae (mud less at this time) sump to lower nitrates or building a coil denitrator? <Either perhaps... maybe both> This is for a 120 gal reef tank with a full bio load.  I currently have a 27 gal sump with two types of algae in it. The lights in the sump are on 24/7. <... Depending on the species... Really only Caulerpaceans can be illuminated continuously... other algae require a/the dark period...> Thanks again for this site. Chad <Thank you for your letter. Bob Fenner>

Unasked Refugium Questions? Around Here? Not Likely. - 1/24/07 Hi everyone, <Hey Pam, JustinN with you tonight.> back with another question, AND, I'll bet no one has asked this yet!! <I'd honestly be a bit surprised -- it is kind of a rarity around these parts...> I just set up my refugium (24X15X4) and added live aragonite and mineral mud. The mud container says to let it sit for 3 days without powering up the refuge! Three days?!!! Is this correct/ necessary? <Depends how much the clouding of your aquarium would bother you. If you do not wait this duration, you will likely end up with a dusty-looking display.> Also, the total depth of these additives will be about 5&1/2 inches. PLEASE, don't say this is too deep! I'll be adding a nice piece of Feather Caulerpa and some live rock. Can't wait to hear from you!! Thanks Pam <May I suggest foregoing Caulerpa sp. algaes, and instead, go with Chaetomorpha? The reason being, Caulerpa sp. run a risk of going sexual and infesting your aquarium to plague proportions, aside from not doing as good a job at nutrient removal as Chaetomorpha. Chaetomorpha does not go sexual, is easier to trim, provides a living space for numerous beneficial creatures, and will consume your wastes and phosphates faster to boot. The choice is yours, but do research this choice before you make it. Cheers! -JustinN>

Chaetomorpha Growth/Refugium Methodology - 10/26/06 Hey all, <<Hey Mark>> Your sight has been invaluable; I appreciate all the time you have saved me. <<Glad you find it useful>> I recently converted my sump into a refugium with some LR rubble that was sitting in the bottom of my main tank.  About two weeks ago I added a bit of Chaetomorpha and an overhead fluorescent light to the fuge. <<Cool>> From what I hear, Chaeto is supposed to grow like crazy; however, I am not seeing any growth at all. <<Chaetomorpha is a rapid grower, true, but it needs sufficient nutrients to grow.  It is quite possible your system is too "clean" at the moment to foster a growth spurt.  As long as the alga stays healthy/doesn't begin to deteriorate I wouldn't be concerned.  You could try increasing flow/lighting intensity if you wish as these elements can boost growth, but likely what you have is quite "adequate">> Am I being too impatient? <<Maybe...as explained>> I worry about lack of lighting and the Chaeto releasing nitrates back into the system. <<No need to worry, the algae won't do this>> Are fluorescents sufficient for about 12 inches of water in the fuge? <<Chaetomorpha will tolerate varying levels of intensity, but it has been suggested that more intense lighting foster more rapid growth/uptake of nutrients.  I have my 55g refugium lighted with two 65w 6500K PCs and had explosive Chaetomorpha growth in the early days of the tank which has now slowed to a near standstill...likely due to the system maturing/finding its "balance">> Also, is a DSB required for a refugium? <<Nope...but does have/add benefit in itself>> It looks like I would only be able to get about a 3-4 inch bed due to the current setup. <<Four-inches of sugar-size aragonite would serve quite nicely>> Should I put some sand in there anyway? <<Is up to you>> Thanks in advance for your help. <<Happy to share>> Mark <<Regards, EricR>>

Fuge Lighting  9/23/06 Hey guys. Thank you for your help selecting the right CaribSea <Mmm, was out with Toni from C till all hours drinking... this AM!> substrate for my DSB plenum. Now onto lighting. Have read all your refugium lighting FAQs and they have helped me dramatically for my previous installations. My refugium is only small and it is all I can squeeze into (am allowed to by my better half!) my cabinet. It is basically a 3ft sump with one area for a small amount of SeaChem matrix bio white rocks (sorry if that is vague, I can not remember what it is called). This will also house the AquaClear 70 pump powering my remora pro skimmer. Then there is the fuge section which measures 16" X 12" x12" deep. Seeing there will be a 6" bed with a 1" plenum beneath, that leaves around 6" of water depth in the fuge for higher algae. I currently have a nice 2ft power compact fixture I am not using. It is a 2 X 18W 7100k with a parabolic reflector. Due to the relative shallow waters of the fuge, do you think this sufficient? <Yes> I know its not helpful, but I am unsure what species of algae I can find in Australia. I have been told to strap on my tanks and just grab some on my next dive. But I have no idea of what I would be grabbing. Sydney water temps are not exactly tropical. Any suggestions? <Have dived in Sydney Harbour and outside... the species there will indeed work out. Try to gather just one... perhaps in a thick zip-lock bag... and do quarantine/isolate it before placing in another (even static) tank. Bob Fenner>      Thanks a lot       Garth

Red Turf Algae  - 09/14/06 I have what I believe is red turf algae growing like mad in my refugium.  Originally I thought it might be BGA/Cyano.   However, under a microscope I can see clearly defined nuclei.      <Ahh!>   To date, it has not shown up in my main display, however I am concerned it will eventually migrate. Any suggestions?    <Keep the faith... not likely to "move" if conditions don't allow/favor it in your main display... and you can likely "re-center" the fuge to disfavor it there>   To follow are my current system parameters that I test for:   Nitrate: 0ppm   Nitrite: 0ppm   Ammonia: 0ppm   Phosphate: ~.5ppm   pH: 8.26   Temp: 80F    <Looks good. Bob Fenner>

Algae For A Refugium  - 09/10/06 Hey crew... quick question.  What is the best algae/plant to put into a HOB CPR Aquafuge Refugium for nitrate reduction.  Its not terribly big (Water Capacity: 3.60 Gallons Dimensions: 19" L x 4.5" W x 12" T) .  I was going to put a couple inches of live sand and something to help close the cycle and do nothing but consume nitrate.  I don't care about growing any copepods or anything, just for nitrate reduction.   Any further suggestions on how much sand, which kind, or anything else you think will help with nitrate reduction would help greatly. Thanks for all your help and I know I can speak for everyone here.... you save us soo much money and heartache by the information you help us with.  We all thank you guys very very much. <Chaeto seems to be the favorite among the crew.  As for sand, I would go with the Ecosystem Miracle Mud.  I've used it before and it works well.  It also supplies a good deal of calcium and iodine to the system.  James (Salty Dog)>     Josh Henley

Which Macroalgae for a Refugium - 08/04/06 I have been working on setting up a new system and am planning an EcoSystem type refugium. <<Neat>> I have searched your site and have been unable to find a definitive answer (I hope I am not being redundant) and will keep my questions short in hopes that you can keep the answers short ;-) <<Okay>> What is the best, most successful type of Caulerpa and or Chaetomorpha you would recommend in the fuge or a combo of macros? <<No "combo" mate...  As with corals/most anything on the reef, alga fights for space too...and will release noxious chemicals as nasty as the any soft/leather coral can.  Best to keep it to a single species.  As for which one?  A species of Caulerpa is probably the most efficient...but also the most troublesome due to possible damage/rupture of this single-cell organism, and the possibility of a "sexual event" which can pollute a system.  My preference is Chaetomorpha for vegetable refugium use...easy to maintain, just "tear out" a handful every week or so...and its dense tangled matrix is a "haven" for amphipods, Mysis shrimp, bristle worms, etc....>> I will be cycling the tank with live rock and then putting the mud and Macroalgae in the fuge. <<I would add the mud/macroalgae from the beginning>> I am thinking I need to wait until the tank completely cycles before I add the mud and macroalgae? <<Nope...will help things along...begin "populating"...>> Or should I put it in when the nitrates begin to cycle down? <<Not necessary...can be added from the start>> I have a Mag-Drive pump that will be turning over the tank 15+ times through the fuge (below the tank).  I have two 1.5" Overflows and am sure the plumbing will handle it. <<Okay>> Is this too much for the fuge? <<Not at all...especially if you go with the Chaetomorpha...is very appreciative of high flow>> Thanks for your time.  Great site by the way... <<Thank You>> Todd Bemis <<Regards, Eric Russell>>

Quarantine...Macroalgae  6/5/06 Hi Crew, <Hello Jeff> I just purchased some macroalgae for my refugium.  How should I quarantine it so nothing that came home with it will infect my system? <How comfortable do you feel with your dealer?>  If uneasy, quarantine the same as you would for fish.  In most cases dealers usually keep macro in separate tanks where no fish are present.  If all his tanks are centrally filtered, then we are back to the top.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks, <You're welcome> Jeff

Golden Brown Algae in Chaetomorpha   5/15/06 Dear Crew, <<Hello>> I am using Chaetomorpha between my refugium baffles as a macro algae filter.  A golden-brown algae with fine strands has become enmeshed in the Chaetomorpha. <<Likely a blue-green algae/Cyano bacteria>> Rinsing and cleaning the Chaetomorpha periodically with marine water helps but the golden brown algae keeps returning.  What can I do to ensure that the Chaetomorpha and not the golden-brown algae thrives? <<Mmm, if the macro algae is not being malaffected I wouldn't be concerned.  The Cyano is obviously feeding off of something in your system>> I have a 75-gallon reef aquarium with a 29-gallon downstream refugium.  The Chaetomorpha is kept in a space between the refugium baffles which is 5" wide x 12" long x 15" deep.  The Chaetomorpha culture is 3-inches in depth and kept suspended with a strong up flow powered by an Iwaki MD-30RXT pump.  A mesh screen keeps the macro-algae from the pump compartment.  Over this relatively small 5"x12" surface area, I've placed a Jalli compact fluorescent fixture for reverse daylight photosynthesis (RDP).  The fixture's 13-watt "daylight" bulb is switched on by a timer for 8 hours each night.  I can replace the daylight bulb with an actinic bulb, replace the 13-watt fixture with an 18-watt fixture and change the photoperiod.   Which steps do you think will help the Chaetomorpha in its battle with micro-algae? <<The lighting is not likely affect the Cyano, but for the health of the macro algae definitely keep a "daylight" bulb, and if you think growth is slow, up the wattage.  I would also try siphoning out the accumulated "gunk" from the bottom of the baffle/Chaetomorpha chamber...the macro algae is functioning like a mechanical filter and probably trapping a lot of detritus which may be spurring the Cyano>> Thanks very much. Regards, Paul <<Cheers, EricR>>

Chaetomorpha Competition   4/18/06 Hi Crew, <Scott F. your Crew Member today!> I hope you are all well? <Yes, thanks! Hope you're doing okay, too!> I have a problem with my Chaetomorpha in my Miracle Mud sump, the Chaeto has been in there for about 2 months (shortly after addition of cured LR) I obtained Chaeto from two different sources which left me with what appears to be 2 different varieties - one with quite fine strands & the other with thicker/stiffer strands.  The mud area in the sump is 11"x10" with a water depth of around 10" over this is hung a 20w Power compact spot lamp @ 6500k 24/7 currently due to Caulerpa. I estimate around 1000 to 1500 litres per hour throughput in the sump (carbon & Polyfilter in flow also).  From my research during the design of the new system I believe these conditions should be ideal for Chaeto (however please do comment if you see any problems thus far). <They sound just fine to me.> Bio load is currently low in the tank (200 litre main tank) with about 26Kg LR, 15 Dwarf Hermits, 5 Nerites, 15 Nassarius, 2 Cleaner Shrimp some Xenia moved from my old tank (still running thanks to you guys) and 4 very small frags (Monti & Acro) which were earlier than I intended but... also there is algae of various sorts on the LR here (small amounts proceeding through succession I assume) The problem is that the thinner stranded Chaeto has been rotting - individual strands (which I understand are single cells joined end to end) have been losing their green pigments and becoming see-through with a general descent into a mushy mess.  I have read that Chaeto should "tumble" in flow & despite the good flow through the sump this behaviour eludes me! This said there seem to be plenty of people who don't tumble Chaeto with good results. <I am one of them. To be honest, I have never tumbled Chaetomorpha, and have used this macroalgae for years with great results. It's important to have decent flow going through the dense matrix of fronds, to prevent buildup of debris and detritus, but I have never tumbled the stuff, and I don't personally know anyone who does. I've heard this assertion a lot on the 'net, and I'm not certain how this got started. Perhaps there was some confusion with Gracilaria, which absolutely should be tumbled for maximum success.> Strangely the thicker more wiry Chaeto appears to be fine (however there are no signs of growth).  I have removed all of the Chaeto which was rotting & left only the healthy looking stuff (having first picked out all the beneficial life forms I could - waste not want not!! ;o) so I now have only a little handful of the thinner Chaeto  In addition I have read that others Chaeto "floats" at the waters surface - mine however prefers to sit on the mud bed surface. <Largely a function of the density of the stuff, I guess. Mine has always sort of floated just below the surface. As long as it gets decent light and flow, and is not clogged with debris, I don't think that it matters, really.> Now I have a theory here which I wanted to run by you good folks.  In the mud sump in addition to the Chaeto there is a small amount (handful) of Caulerpa (C. prolifera I think) which came from the same source/sump as the more wiry Chaeto - this seems to be growing fairly well with new green shoots visibly growing over time. Is it likely that this is releasing toxins to the water which are causing the dieback of the Chaeto?  If you really think this is a likely cause I will rip the Caulerpa out & toss but I would rather not do this without a fair chance that this will resolve the issue as I don't want to find that I have no viable Macro in the sump of any variety. <A very interesting theory, although I don't know if it is caused by chemical issues. I'm thinking that it may really be more of a case of simple competition for light and nutrients. Caulerpa grows faster and more aggressively than many algae, such as Chaetomorpha, and it simply may be outcompeting the more delicate growth form of Chaetomorpha, or simply blocking out light and flow. There are other, well-documented reasons to despise the stuff, IMO, so I'd try to get out as much of the Chaetomorpha as possible.> Any suggestions? <As above. Also, I'd probably just stick to one form of the Chaetomorpha, since once it's growing, it can easily dominate. besides, you'll be able to harvest large quantities of Chaetomorpha for nutrient export, and to share/trade with other hobbyists. The stuff is always in demand. Besides, Chaeto is a great "substrate" for an amazing diversity of life (like amphipods, mysids, and even tiny brittle stars).> Many thanks as always & apologies for the rambling email but I have tried to give all pertinent information (if there are any further details I can provide please do ask) Cheers Chris <Thanks for the detailed information, Chris! It certainly helps us do a better job for you! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

The Great Chaetomorpha Caper (What Killed His Chaeto?)  - 03/29/2006 Thanks for taking my email. <Our pleasure! Scott . with you today!> I have a six week old 75 gal eventual reef tank, 80# LR with DSB, now completely cycled. Ammonia and Nitrite 0, Nitrate <5. In the sump I have a separate 8 gal refugium fed by a 1/2in PVC branch off my main overflow drain. <Sounds nice!> Soon after the tank cycled--- about three weeks ago--- I added Chaeto to the refugium with very low flow and it grew like gangbusters. Water parameters have been essentially stable throughout. Then (reading somewhere that Chaeto should "tumble") I dramatically increased the refugium flow.  Two or three days later there was a diatom bloom, and then--- while scratching my head--- I noticed the Chaeto had wilted into a rotting mushy ball. I tossed it in the garbage and the diatoms soon disappeared. I surmise the Chaeto released a bolus of nutrients when it died, thus feeding the diatoms. <A very good guess, IMO> Any idea what killed my Chaeto? Besides increasing refugium flow, the only other thing I can think of is that, the week before this happened, I raised my dKH from 9 to 10--- over about 4-5 evenings with B-Ionic #1. Would appreciate any input. Russell in Louisville, KY. <Hi Russell. Sounds like you were really on top of things. However, Chaetomorpha is like any other algae in that it can and does crash when something is not to its liking. Hard to say what did it in. I doubt that the increasing dKH is what killed off your Chaeto. Contrary to what you may have heard, I've always kept this macroalgae in systems with a gentle current. Other macroalgae, such as Gracilaria, DO like to have a tumbling motion. Perhaps the strong water motion damaged some of the woven masses of the algae, which lead to a crash. Could have even been a combination of a few little things. I'd try a gain, but keep the flow moderate, and try to keep excessive amounts of detritus and other algae out of the Chaetomorpha "matrix" to ensure maximum growth and health. Hang in there! Regards, Scott F.>

What Killed My Chaeto? Bob's go... multiple msg. sends?  - 03/29/2006 Thanks for taking my email. <Thanks for writing> I have a six week old 75 gal eventual reef tank, 80# LR with DSB, now completely cycled. Ammonia and Nitrite 0, Nitrate <5. In the sump I have a separate 8 gal refugium fed by a 1/2in PVC branch off my main overflow drain. Soon after the tank cycled--- about three weeks ago--- I added Chaeto to the refugium with very low flow and it grew like gangbusters.  Water parameters have been essentially stable throughout. Then (reading somewhere that Chaeto should "tumble") I dramatically increased the refugium flow. <Mmm... doesn't really need to have vigorous circulation> Two or three days later there was a diatom bloom, and then--- while scratching my head--- I noticed the Chaeto had wilted into a rotting mushy ball. I tossed it in the garbage and the diatoms soon disappeared. I surmise the Chaeto released a bolus of nutrients when it died, thus feeding the diatoms. <Good theory... how would we test?> Any idea what killed my Chaeto? <Likely the tumbling> Besides increasing refugium flow, the only other thing I can think of is that, the week before this happened, I raised my dKH from 9 to 10--- over about 4-5 evenings with B-Ionic #1. Would appreciate any input. Russell in Louisville, KY. <Could have been mal-affected by other changes... in nutrient availability, the cycling in of new competitive, predatory organisms... I would not be dissuaded from trying again in a few weeks to months (sans the tumbling). Bob Fenner in Hawai'i, down with the NELHA crowd, including some old friends who are involved in macrophyte culture... that do use tumbling... but in large settings, complete, axenic...>

Refugium Set Up, When To Add Algae - 03/24/2006 Good evening! <Top o' the mornin' to ya'.> I have been reading your FAQs but have not found an answer to my question, so here goes! I am in the final stages of setting up my first tank. I have a 55 gal tank (saltwater) and a 26 gal sump, part of which will be a ~5 1/2 gal refugium (before adding sand). This is about as big as I can get it with my current setup. <May not see much benefit, but better than nothing.> I would like to have a DSB (4 1/2 in) in my refugium and grow algae (Chaetomorpha, I think). <Ok.> I'm wondering when would be the best time to put in the algae--before, during, or after I cycle my tank with the live rock. <Just wait until after. Best IMO to let things stabilize first.> Thank you for your assistance. Pam <Glad to offer it. - Josh>

When to add macroalgae to refugium 3/20/06 Hello WWM Crew, You have been my best resource for getting into the SW hobby! I am setting up a system with a 75 gal Display tank and a 55 gal aquarium converted to a refugium. I plan to stock my display tank with live rock and stock my refugium with Chaetomorpha.  I plan to cycle my tank with some uncured and some cure live rock.  Is it best to cycle the system with live rock first, and then add  Chaeto to the refugium or is there any benefit to starting the Chaeto first. Or perhaps to do this simultaneously? Thanks for you help! Andy <<Sounds like a great set up!  Although some may advise adding the Chaetomorpha at the beginning, I would suggest waiting.  During the cycle, you want the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate to feed the bacteria in the rock.  Also, any other wastes should be exported through an aggressive water change schedule during the cycle.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>>

Red Turf Algae in my Chaetomorpha refugium?   3/14/06 Dear Crew, <Yo!> I've looked all over your sight and cannot come up with an answer to my potential algae problem. For two weeks I have been cycling a 75 gal with 80# LR (which I'm curing). Ammonia and Nitrites zero, Nitrate 5 and Phos <<0.5. I have a 20 gal sump with a Remora skimmer going full blast and have charcoal in the filter sock (which is scrubbed clean every 2-3days). I think my Chaetomorpha in my 10gal refugium (with a small florescent light on 24/7) is beginning to grow little tuffs of hairy red algae in it (Red Turf Algae)? <Mmm... much more likely BGA...> I went to my LFS (who gave me the Chaetomorpha for free) and looked at the tank where it came from... and sure enough it had big golf ball-sized red wads growing in it. (I got what I paid for?) <Seems like it... you may be able to just cut away these areas...> Question: Should I just throw out all the Chaetomorpha and get a different supplier? Or is it now too late and this algae has contaminated my whole system? Or is this just a normal algae evolutionary phase of my new tank? Thanks. Russell <I would try finessing your culture and cutting away the worst parts... Think of it as a sport. Bob Fenner>

Refugium Algae/Stocking Questions - 03/13/06 Hello to all at WWM. <<Hey there Scot!>> I have a 46 gallon bow front tank (51 gallons total water with the skimmer, fuge and canister filter added) with 45 pounds live rock, four inches sand, HOB Aquafuge refugium with four inches sand plus live rock, three power heads for water flow and a canister filter that will aid in water flow and a place to add carbon (all of the sponge and floss filters have been removed from the canister). <<Ok>> Question number one: I would like to grow and harvest algae to feed the tank inhabitants, so at what point should I add algae to my fuge and what type would you suggest? <<Any time...sooner the better.  My preference for refugium macro algae is Chaetomorpha, though Gracilaria is also a good choice and likely more palatable to your tank inhabitants.>> Question two: Adding fishes and inverts.  Everything will be quarantined that enters my display tank three weeks minimum. <<Great!>> Looks like my tank will come to life very slowly. <<This is NOT a bad thing <grin>.>> I plan on adding snails and hermit crabs when algae begin to develop in the display.  Here is a want list of intended life for my display:  Two clowns, two cardinals, yellow tang, frogspawn coral, red mushrooms, torch coral. <<I'm "with ya" on everything but the tang...is my opinion this tank is too small.>> Which order should these be introduced into the display? <<Hmm...corals, cardinals, clown fish.>> Should I eliminate something from this list or add something else? <<How 'bout eliminating the tang and replacing with a pygmy angel (Centropyge loricula)?>> Also I will do five gallon water changes once a week.  Thanks for the help and suggestions. Scot <<My pleasure, EricR>>

Refugium Algae/Stocking Questions II - 03/16/06 Thanks EricR for the reply and advice. <<A pleasure>> I did some research on the Gracilaria you suggested and it is on the way. <<Super!>> Also I like your idea of replacing the tang with the angel. <<Ah, excellent to hear!>> I assume (this is where I get in trouble) that the angel needs to be introduced very last. <<This is fine...probably a "toss-up" between the angel and the clown fish.>> Thanks so much for your time. Scot <<You're very welcome, EricR>>

Macroalgae Compatibility - 03/12/06 Dear WWM crew, <<Hello Andrew>> First, thanks for this website - it has been an excellent resource for a lot of questions. <<Happy you find it useful.>> My question(s) deal with macroalgae, specifically the feasibility of keeping different kinds. <<Okay>> Setup: I have a 75 g with a 7 g homemade refugium.  The tank has an internal spill over drain, which I have  T'd to drain into the filter/sump, and into the refugium directly (the flow is controlled by a ball valve).  I figured the macroalgae I kept in the sump would do better getting nutrient rich water as opposed to water already filtered. <<Yes, this is fine.>> The refugium drains by gravity into the sump and is then recirculated back into the tank through the main pump. <<Mmm...hopefully you mean it drains in to the pump chamber in the sump, not through the skimmer.>> I also have a 15 gallon quarantine tank.  The question - I have 3 different types of macroalgae - Chaetomorpha,  Gracilaria (Red Verrucosa), and Ulva.  I would like to keep them all if possible (variety of live food), but I also know they can/will engage in chemical warfare with each other. <<Indeed>> Can I keep the 3 separate macro's - one in the main tank, one in the refugium, and one in the quarantine?  I can set the refugium at a low flow rate, which I believe is desirable for the Ulva, and keep the flow rate up for both the Gracilaria and the Chaeto in the main tank and the quarantine.  Will I still have to worry about chemical warfare (I love that - old fan of the Dead Kennedy's) between the macro in the main tank and the macro in the refuge? <<To some extent, yes...though 'possibly' of negligible consequence.  Even being physically separate, the algae will still "sense" each other through the shared water volume.  One of the advantages to having a vegetable refugium is the ability of the more desirous macroalgae to shed metabolites/other chemical components to inhibit growth of less desirable nuisance algae in the display tank...this same strategy could/would also be used against other competing macroalgae.>> And will herbivores (Tang's) eat the Chaetomorpha as much as the other two macro's? <<Not likely>> Thanks for your help, Andrew Hauser Naperville, IL <<Welcome, EricR>>

Caulerpa query   2/22/06 Hi Guys, <David> I have Caulerpa prolifera in a Miracle Mud sump.  The set up is about three months old and was doing nicely.  However the Caulerpa is disintegrating.  First the fronds appear covered in tiny hairs then these develop creamy coloured nodules at the ends and then the Caulerpa blade disintegrates.  I tried sending some pictures of this but I guess they did not go through.  The sump is lit 24 hours per day. <Mmm, I would check your water quality... particularly alkalinity and calcium and magnesium concentrations... and see below> I have read all about the problems of Caulerpa but living in the West of Ireland take what I can get.  Is this it going sexual?   <Not likely, no> Why would it do this? <Something amiss in the water most probably... or negative interaction with another algal species... chemically> Is it something else?  I have another macroalgae which looks exactly like terrestrial moss but cannot ID it, any ideas?. <Bingo... it's likely this other algae mal-affecting your Caulerpa> Neither can I get my hands on Chaeto. Thanks for your endless help. David <See WWM re the terms "Algae Allelopathy". Bob Fenner>

Chaetomorpha mucus   1/20/06 Hello, <Hi there> I've never written to you all, but I've done a lot of research on your site.  You all are extremely helpful. I've had my aquarium set up for just over a year.  I think it's wonderful and love the beautiful fish and my soft corals, but hate all my hair algae. To combat the hair algae I placed a 15 gallon refugium underneath my 75 gallon reef tank.  The refugium has miracle mud and Chaetomorpha in it.  My goal with the refugium is for the Chaeto algae to get rid of all the nitrates, etc. so that my hair algae hopefully disappear. <I'd add a DSB here as well> After I'd had this Chaeto setup for about a month I noticed a whitish mucus ball growing in the Chaeto.  That seemed gross, so I pulled out the mucus ball and threw it away.  Now, a month or so later, another mucus ball is there again. What is this mucus ball?  Is it a problem? <Likely a mixed mass of organisms... some other algae, critters living in/on it> BTW, to combat the hair algae I have change my VHO lights, placed de-nitrate (by Seachem) in the tank, and I am adding AZ NO3 Nitrate Eliminator.  I am also changing 15 gallons of water every two weeks.  And, though, I do not use filtered water, I checked my well water for nitrates and phosphates and they are at zero.  Anything else you'd recommend? -- David E. Tate <All sorts... posted on WWM. I would keep removing this mass from time to time otherwise. Bob Fenner>

Crud In His Chaetomorpha?    1/19/06 Hello, <HI there! Scott F. here today!> I've never written to you all, but I've done a lot of research on your site.  You all are extremely helpful. <Glad that you enjoy it!> I've had my aquarium set up for just over a year.  I think it's wonderful and love the beautiful fish and my soft corals, but hate all my hair algae. <You're not alone with that sentiment!> To combat the hair algae I placed a 15 gallon refugium underneath my 75 gallon reef tank.  The refugium has Miracle Mud and Chaetomorpha in it.  My goal with the refugium is for the Chaeto algae to get rid of all the nitrates, etc., so that my hair algae hopefully disappear. <Well, your thinking is correct. If the desired macroalgae out competes the nuisance algae for available nutrients, this is a viable concept!> After I'd had this Chaeto setup for about a month I noticed a whitish mucus ball growing in the Chaeto.  That seemed gross, so I pulled out the mucus ball and threw it away.  Now, a month or so later, another mucus ball is there again. <Lovely> What is this mucus ball?  Is it a problem? <Hard to say, really. It could simply be some organic material accumulating in the Chaetomorpha. Lots of stuff can and will accumulate in this tight matrix; it could be anything from fish waste to the spawning by-products from creatures that live in the algae...As long as you don't let it linger in your system, and as long as your water tests okay, I would not be overly concerned about this stuff.> BTW, to combat the hair algae I have change my VHO lights, placed de-nitrate (by Seachem) in the tank, and I am adding AZ NO3 Nitrate Eliminator. I am also changing 15 gallons of water every two weeks.  And, though, I do not use filtered water, I checked my well water for nitrates and phosphates and they are at zero.  Anything else you'd recommend? David E. Tate <Consistency, really. Just keep doing what you're doing, David. The best ways to combat nuisance algae and excessive nutrients in our systems is to take simple steps, like you're doing- and to keep doing them over and over again. The results will come, trust me! Hang in there! Regards, Scott F.>

Refugium algae  1/18/06 Good day! <And to you> I have Chaeto in an upstream refugium. My reef system is a month old and nitrite are zero and Nitrate are .2ppm. Raw water overflows into it and goes to the sump where the main pump returns it to the main display (175 gal.). I put the algae 2 weeks after I started the tank and I have not seen much growth in the Chaeto. <Takes time... when moved...> Is this a slow growing plant? <Is not a plant, but an algae... once going is not slow> I took the filter sock out on the in flow. While I believe it might give the Chaeto more organic stuff or food for the copepods I am concerned about the excess detritus. <Me too... I'd leave this on> Once in a while I clean the walls and bottom (bare) to remove brown algae and silt. Of course the tanks gets cloudy temporarily. Is this bad for the pods and the algae (clogging with detritus)? Should I put the filter sock back? -- Thanks again for the wealth of info. Sincerely Stephan <I would. Bob Fenner>

Chaetomorpha   1/7/06 I have had a good ball of Chaetomorpha in my refugium for about 6 months now.  It seemed to be growing at a slow rate, but was other wise healthy.  About 2 weeks ago I vacuumed the sand in my tank.  After doing so, I noticed that a good amount of sand accumulated on the Chaetomorpha.  Since that time, I have noticed that the Chaetomorpha didn't quite look healthy.  It was smaller in size and lost its bright green color. For lighting in the refugium, I have a 24" Coralife compact florescent fixture with 65 W 1000K and 65 W Actinic. <Should be more than enough light>  I keep the aquarium on a 24/7 lighting schedule with the refugium lights coming on when the display lights go off.  The lights are on 12 hours for each.  Is this right?  Should I keep the lights on for longer in the refugium? <Yes, I would increase the lighting time on the ref.  Many aquarists run them 24/7.> Recently, I trimmed the Chaetomorpha thinking that this may help out.   When doing so, I noticed a sulfur type odor.  I now fear that the Chaetomorpha is crashing.   Should I remove it from the refugium?  If so, I will likely order more Chaetomorpha.  What should I do in the future to insure good macroalgae health?  More flow?  Different lighting schedule? <I don't think it is necessary to remove it.  Chaeto does like strong water flow and will do better with supplemental additions of iron and magnesium along with trace elements. I've posted a link with FAQ's from other aquarists with similar questions.  Think this will get you on the right track.  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algfiltf.htm  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks for your help.  It is greatly appreciated. <You're welcome> Matt       

Caulerpa/Cyano in refugium 11/16/05 Hi Crew, For a group of volunteer experts, you guys should be commended for keeping this site so informative and assisting more novices to succeed.  <Glad you have found the site helpful!> Parameters: 250 gal. FOWLR with large wet/dry, refugium with live rock rubble/Caulerpa, protein skimmer (producing lots of daily skimmate), 40 watt UV sterilizer, trickle filter box with media pad, activated carbon, and PhosBan. Main display has ~250 lbs. of Tonga live rock, live fine aragonite DSB. On top of the refugium I have mini PC's that run 24/7.  <All sounds good. Do consider that in order to thrive, Caulerpa needs about the same amount of light as moderate light corals.> I have a couple of questions: First question is that I seem to be having trouble getting my Caulerpa to thrive or grow in the refugium. The refugium is a section of my wet/dry whereby there is a small power head that pumps water from the main pump section of the wet/dry into the refugium section and the water level weirs over into the skimmer section. The flow seems low but is there none the less. The Caulerpa has been in the refugium for about two months now, and if anything it looks like the "clump" of Caulerpa is shrinking.  <I would definitely consider current as a culprit. Just like any other marine organism, Caulerpa depends on water movement to deliver nutrients and carry away wastes.> Concurrently, I have been having a slight amount of Red Cyano forming on the fine DSB in the main display that I seem to have under control but occasionally it reappears. I seem to be an "over feeder" so nutrient export is important to me, hence Caulerpa in the refugium. I thought initially that maybe the Caulerpa did not have enough to thrive on; however with the Cyano forming, and the high fish load, I can't imagine that the Caulerpa wouldn't thrive.  Last night I went into the refugium section to remove a small amount of red Cyano that formed on top of a section of the Caulerpa and noticed that the Caulerpa was very flimsy and slimy, almost as if I could have agitated the water enough to eliminate the clump. Also it did not seem to have set any hold fasts onto the live rock, but yet it wasn't floating either and there are a few small clumps of it that did attach to the sides of the refugium. I tested Phosphates and the reading was .2 so I am perplexed. <Obviously, the Caulerpa isn't healthy and growing, so it isn't exporting anything. Sometimes it takes a couple of tries to get it established, so I would suggest trying again and increasing the light and current a bit.>

Caulerpa refugium pic request  11/16/05 Hi Bob- I'm looking for a photograph of a refugium with Caulerpa taxifolia in it. Would you happen to have any on file? Rachel <Mmm, nope. You might try WWFotos, other BB's re. Bob Fenner>

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