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FAQs about Refugium Algae, Vascular Plants 1

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 2, 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

Refugium Causing Cyanobacteria and Nitrates?  3/28/07 Hi, <Hello Brian> Thanks, as always, for your great site! <Welcome> I have a 75 gallon tank (fish, live rock, 2 clams, 1 anemone, lots of snails & hermit crabs) with a CPR Aquatics AquaFuge Pro underneath.  The refugium has a DSB comprised of miracle mud, a cheaper type of generic miracle mud, and some coarse sand/crushed shells. <Mmm, all mixed together? I would NOT do this>   About two days after I installed the refugium, I put in a big mat of Chaetomorpha (sp?) algae.  I ran the lighting 24/7 <Mmm... this algae is not able to "do" the light reactions of photosynthesis constantly... needs a daily dark phase...> (I believe it's an 18w 10000k).  After about a week, the algae started to turn brown, then it started to come apart (small pieces were accumulating in the mesh between the main compartment of the refugium and the sump), then red slime started to grow on the algae, then the red slime spread throughout the refugium, then the algae almost disappeared entirely.  Now, the red slime is out of control in the refugium, the algae is almost gone, and the nitrates in the tank are at 40 ppm (they used to be stable under 10 ppm at all times).  What's going on?  Do I need to add some kind of critters down there to keep the slime under control and to keep the nitrates lower? If so, sand-sifting stars, snails? <Uhh... Please read here re Refugiums: http://wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm ... and re-read my comments above. Bob Fenner> Please help. Thanks, Brian

Marine algae I have a 55 gallon reef tank set up for 4 years now and is pretty stable.  I have added a refugium to my system but I can't seem to keep algae there.  When I add Chaetomorpha, Gracilaria stuff? or Caulerpa it disintegrates within a week. <Mmm, a few general questions come to mind re water quality, lighting...> The refugium is about 8 gallons and I have a 9x2 (18 watt) pc AquaLife mini fixture that is about 6 " above the water. I leave the light on for about 15-18 hours. <Except for the Caulerpa, which should be illuminated continuously, I would have a steady, alternating (with the main tank) twelve hour (or so) light period here> I am telling you about my lighting because that is what I think my problem is but before I run out and get better lighting I wanted your opinion on anything else I should be looking at.  I know my alkalinity is high and calcium is a bit low , <... this could be, likely is a problem here as well...> all other tests come out better than good and I can tell you the results of a test or 2 if you maybe steer me in the right direction. <Need real numbers, not subjective evaluations> What would make algae just fall apart in a fishless stable environment, especially when this stuff is supposed to grow like crazy anywhere. Thanks Mark <Many possibilities. Most are covered on WWM... Bob Fenner>

Re: Marine algae (for refugiums, lighting also)... tell me everything you know about aquariums in ten sentences... Not possible Hi, That wasn't very helpful, was there something that I left out in my email?  I tried to give you my lighting specs and tried to ask you what levels would you like to see that would cause problems in algae growth in my refugium. <Mmm, too many "other variables" to be more specific... The intensity, duration, quality of light used here (in refugiums) is a function of the types/species of algae used, nutrients of different sorts presence, overall water chemistry and physics, flow-rate, circulation patterns, the use of other gear...> Do you need levels like ammonia (do elevated levels of ammonia cause disintegration of Gracilaria?) <Ah yes! A very good example.> but my levels of ammonia are zero.  I don't thing high phosphates would cause the algae to wither away. <Actually, soluble phosphate coupled with low or vacillating pH can/will do this> So what I am asking is what levels would you thing would cause a problem that I am describing? <... levels of what?> You also mention that I should have my lights on 12 hours alternating, which would mean only 6 hours in my refugium? <... If you would but read... invest your time... the long/short of this, I would have the hours overlap during the "dark phase" of your main system... Have the lighting on the refugium on when the main tank is off... the lighting on the refugium can be on simultaneously as well> I leave it on when the aquarium is off and also some overlap (both lights being on) so at all times there is some light on the water somewhere.   <Bingo. Good> Should the refugium light be on all the time? <... only if you're culturing Caulerpaceans... and not other algae in addition> Should there be more wattage and if there is less wattage does more time on make up for the difference or if you don't have enough wattage that leaving it on all day wont help. <Extending photoperiod can/will only do "so much" to make up for wanting intensity... like an extra hour or two per day for ten percent too little wattage> Would low calcium levels cause this (I didn't think so) <Yes... and alkalinity mis-matched just as importantly> Anyway, what you can do is point me in a direction or let me know which levels would cause this problem <... perhaps a few general aquarium books... All this takes time, careful communication... I assure you> Mark <Bob Fenner> Refugium Algae - 09/25/05 Hello and before I ask my question thanks for the great service you are all providing. <<Welcome...we're happy to help.>> I have been searching through your site for weeks now and I am suffering from complete brain numbness. I have a simple question that has probably been asked before. <<No worries...shoot.>> In a refugium, is it possible/advisable to have 2 types of algae i.e. - Chaetomorpha and Gracilaria in the same refugium? <<Possible yes...advisable, no...algae compete for space just as everything else on the reef.>> Also, I know the Gracilaria will be enjoyed by my tang but is the Chaeto edible by anyone? <<My Foxface will eat Chaetomorpha, but Gracilaria seems to be better preferred by most herbivores (hence the common name "Tang Heaven").>> Thanks in advance for your help. Pete <<Regards, EricR>>

Re: Macro in Refugium, Going with Chaetomorpha - 10/23/05 Thanks for the feedback I found a great place that sells Chaetomorpha so I believe I'll try it out.  <Awesome.>  A question though is that one you would recommend to run 24/7 or a on/off?  <With Chaeto its fine to have resting periods, so a reverse light cycle is preferred.>  And is Mineral Mud still good to use with this form of macro? <Substrate does not matter with this macro, it's a floating tumble weed of sorts. Does not use hold fasts.> Thanks, Nathan M <Adam J.> 

Refugium Algae 07.04.05 I'm setting up a refugium for my 40 gallon aquarium. While researching what macro algae to put in it, I've seen you guys mention Caulerpa often. My concern is that isn't the Caulerpa species environmentally  dangerous. I remember seeing a Nova documentary about how this species has over taken the Mediterranean. I also went onto this website http://www.invasivespecies.gov/profiles/killeralgae.shtml which mentions that is it now banned in California because it has been found in 2 areas (San Diego and Huntington Harbor). I live in California by the way. I want to do my best to export nutrients, but I also do no want to endanger my local environment. It seems like this species is quite popular in the marine aquarium industry. Is there a "environmentally safe" type of Caulerpa? If not what other types of macro algae would you recommend for a refugium? I recently ordered my copy of The Conscientious Marine Aquarist. I can't wait to get my hands on it! Thanks so much for all the info and knowledge that you guys have shared with us. Sincerely, Hung Tran <There are other algae out there that will do a great job, I found no reason use Caulerpa when I setup my refugium.  I used Chaetomorpha and Ulva and found that the Chaeto did best in my fuge; it grew like crazy, which is exactly why I was using it.  Check out this link for others opinions on macros for refugiums. The Conscientious Marine Aquarist is a great book, and so is Reef Invertebrates which includes a section on refugiums. Best Regards, gage   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/grnalgfaqs3.htm >

DSB for NNR...(nitrate control and refugia) 6/22/05 Hello, I have set up 75 gallon refugium for NNR (natural nitrate reduction).  I can only get the 1-2mm aragonite here in South Africa.   <Heeeey! Are you aware of the SA forum? Good local networking for you (seeing tanks, frag swaps, etc): http://sareefkeeping.com/forum/index.php> What is the perfect depth for the bed, 6 inches, 7 inches?   <4-6" minimum indeed. But with strong water flow above it when using more coarse sand. I'd opt for at least 6", mate.> Also, what else do you recommend I put in the refugium? Live rock, Caulerpa?   <Neither. LR impedes flow and has less benefits there... Caulerpa is noxious if not toxic and too tedious to keep long term (risk of vegetative fission, etc.). I'd recommend a Chaetomorpha or Gracilaria colony for safer algae and as good or better pod/plankton production> Would it benefit my system to add some coral to the refugium as my main tank is FOWLR? <No, my friend. On the contrary! The coral will prey on zooplankton that the refugium generates for your fishes. Please consider reading our extensive refugium coverage in "Reef Invertebrates" where a full chapter is dedicated to styles, benefits, disadvantages, etc> Many Thanks, James. <kindly, Anthony>

Refugium algae harvesting 2/22/05 Dear Anthony, After taking your advice I recently set up a 20 gallon refugium for my 90 gallon tank (I didn't have much space). I have a 4" sand bed with two types of macro (Chaeto & Gracilaria). When I bought the Chaeto about two weeks ago it was the size of a soft ball. Now it has tripled in size. <outstanding... truly one of the best genera for nutrient export/refugium use> It was tumbling around but now it is starting too get to big to move around freely. My question is how much should I keep in the refugium? Should I cut it back so it can tumble around again? <yes... exactly... do figure out your cycle of harvest (2, 3 or more weeks to halve it and keep it tumbling). And do be strict and habitual about harvesting it for long term success> Also It seems the fine sand that I used really compacted well and I was wondering if I should add more now or wait until it is below 4"? <not compacted... dissolved my friend. Oolite has a half life of about 18-24 months in aquaria. Do add more to maintain your desired bed depth> P.S. Is any one else amazed that you can buy a book and then ask the author questions. Well I am! Thanks again for all your help! <thanks kindly, but the honor is ours :) Anthony>

What goes in a refugium Hello, I've been reading, reading and reading, I just want to know exactly what to put in my refugium.  < Lots of sand, some live rock, and whatever algae you can find. > What kind of algae or none at all.  < Oh lots of algae. I'll say Caulerpa... anything to start. >  I had Caulerpa, but from reading your website I gather that it's bad. I can't remember what that plant is that rooted in sand underwater and grows out of the tank. Should I go with that?  < Mangroves. But no, I'd try different Caulerpas and try to find out why they didn't do well for you. I think if you get some Caulerpa racemosa that is growing on a rock, and put it in your refugium you should be set. > < Good luck, Blundell >

Refugium - It's out There! Hello, I've been reading, reading and reading, I just want to know exactly what to put in my refugium. What kind of algae or none at all? I had Caulerpa, but from reading your website I gather that its bad. I can't remember what that plant is that rooted in sand underwater and grows out of the tank. Should I go with that? <Keep reading. Bob Fenner>

Refugium Hello, I've been reading, reading and reading, I just want to know exactly what to put in my refugium. What kind of algae or none at all. I had Caulerpa, but from reading your website I gather that its bad. I can't remember what that plant is that rooted in sand underwater and grows out of the tank. Should I go with that?  <Derek, they are called mangroves. Some people use them. Most use the macro algae called Chaeto for short. James (Salty Dog)> 

Chaetomorpha Quandary...To Tumble Or Not? Hi there WWM crew <Hey! Scott F. here today!> Need help with getting enough water flow thru my refugium to get my Chaetomorpha algae tumbling. I have a 20 gallon tank that I have separated into 3 chambers by gluing Plexiglas walls inside of. The first chamber which houses items such heaters and carbon or anything else I may need to use, gets the water flowed into it via an overflow box from my 55 gallon main tank. It then goes thru a baffle to cut down on bubbles and into my 2nd chamber that acts as a refugium. <A neat DIY approach! Awesome!> It currently has a 2 to 2.5 inch sand bed which I plan to increase to at least 4 or 5 this weekend, and just got hold of a clump of Chaetomorpha about the size of a fist. My problem is water flow. From my understanding and readings from this site, Chaeto needs to tumble around in order to grow. <I have my own feelings on this topic. I am a big fan/user of Chaetomorpha, and I have never kept it in an area with lots of tumbling motion. I've had so much success with this macroalgae that I had to give it away!  The key, in my opinion, is to give it enough water movement to keep algae and detritus from lodging in it and interfering with its growth, as well as decent lighting. Gracilaria, on the other hand (my other favorite macroalgae), is one that you do need to "tumble".> This is where my problem comes into play. The only water flow that I have in the sump/refugium is whatever is created naturally, which doesn't budge the Chaeto. I've tried adding a Maxijet powerhead but the unit I have, 1200 is way too powerful. It gets the algae tumbling but also causes a sandstorm. <Yep- a problem that is more annoying, IMO!> I was wondering if perhaps something like the Mini jet model of the powerhead, which reads a 13 to 104 gph rate would be sufficient to get the Chaeto tumbling and not cause a tsunami in my little refugium? And can the Chaeto survive long if not tumbling? <As above, I'd try it without taking these measures first. If you are finding that debris is polluting the algae, or nuisance algae is fouling it, then you may need to try one of these options, just to get some movement in there. even then, I don't think that tumbling is a guarantee of success. However, as a macroalgae geek, I love the fact that you are thinking to go to so much effort to keep it happy!> I can't get out to the LFS till Saturday due to work to get whatever I need to help my problem. I am restricted on space and therefore decided on a sump/refugium combo. The refugium area is aprox. 12 inches in length x 12 inches in width (small I know but better than nothing). I plan to use the refugium as a way to help nutrient reduction along with the 5inch DSB I have in my main tank and some critter production as well. <Relax. Things sound fine!> Also a question on the lighting needs for a 'fuge this small. What size light would work well in this case? At the moment, I have a 13 watt fluorescent over the fuge lighting it on an opposite schedule from my main tank. Is this sufficient or do I need more? <Well, you could always go for more, but if the proximity of the light to the algae is low, then you could see how it goes for a while. Perhaps a higher wattage compact fluorescent (like 28 watts or so) would be better "bang for the buck".> Thank you all in advance for any solutions to my problem you can offer. This is the most informative and helpful site I've come across to date, so much so that my head feels like its going to explode from all the knowledge gained and still gaining from your site !! <Yea- my head exploded quite a while ago, so I wear a lot of caps! seriously, thanks much for the kind words. It's our pleasure to be here for you!> Have a great weekend all !! <You too! Regards, Scott F.>

Chaetomorpha Quandary: To Tumble Or Not? (Cont'd.) Thanks for the super fast response Scott. You've put my mind at ease. I see no detritus accumulating on it at all so I won't worry about it not tumbling. <Good!> Off the topic a bit here but I'm looking into adding some baby bristle worms and some mini stars to the system. Would the 'fuge be the best place to add 'em or can I add some to my main tank as well? <Well, there are a number of views on this. Some people feel that bristle worms are potentially problematic in the display, as they can attack corals. I personally like to have them in my display tank, as they seem to perform a function analogous to terrestrial earthworms, "working" the sand and consuming detritus. If they get to be a problem in the display, you can always employ fishes like Pseudochromis, which are adept predators of bristleworms. > All that's in my main tank at the moment is about 55lbs of live rock, a bout a 4inch DSB, 3 Mexican Turbos and bout 18 or so Astreas to keep nuisance algae in check. And a little damsel, not sure of the name but it's a pink to red color with a black spot on its back rimmed with electric blue and some electric blue streaks along its face as well. <Could be any of hundreds of species! Many juvenile damsels have a different color scheme than adults.> I'm trying to get a nitrate problem in check before I stock the tank anymore than it is. Nitrates at the moment range between 80 and 160 according to the color chart. <That is a pretty high nitrate level. There are quite a few ways to help get this parameter into check.> Before I added the deep sand bed the test color would immediately turn a deep red and now it's just getting a dark pink, so I'm happy that [I'm] on the right track here. Just added a Aqua C Remora HOT as well and waiting for it to tune. I'm getting skimmate already from it a day later. <Excellent! A great skimmer! A well tuned skimmer, quality source water, well-managed DSB, and regular small water changes will help you get that level down.> Heh, sorry bout the babbling, getting back to my question on the baby bristle worms and mini stars. My concern here is will they survive in the main tank? <Provided that there are no predators that will reduce their numbers!> When I got the Chaetomorpha, it had 2 what seemed to be dead baby bristle worms, I say dead because they didn't move while in the fuge, they were just curled up and rolled around. They got thru to the main tank I guess through the return pump. As they were floating down to the bottom the damsel spotted them and ate 'em up. <Happens!> Thanks again for the super quick response and advice on the Chaeto !!! Victor <Glad to be of service, Victor! Regards, Scott F.> 

Macroalgae for the Refugium Sorry to be a pain but I want to get my refugium set up right! I have some Halimeda growing in my display tank. It seems from reading your FAQ¹s that one species is recommend for a refugium. Is it alright, if I have the Halimeda in my display and something else in my refugium? (say Chaetomorpha or Gracilaria).  <Yes, the Chaeto or Gracilaria will be fine John. James (Salty Dog)> 

Sargassum weed in refugium Good day. Several months ago, I was pleased to see Sargassum weed growing from a section of live rock in my reef. <Hope you've got a rechargeable weed whacker!> After pruning in back many times, I decided to remove it by pulling it out by its roots. Since I know I should be thankful for having this appear in my reef I decided to place the weed in my refugium rather than simply discarding it. It has been about a month or so and it appears to be growing. The roots have grown and expanded and the weed has the usual seed pods attached. It has become slightly darker than it was in the main tank which I assume is due to the significantly lower lighting.  <Likely> I have noticed a little coralline algae growing on the leaves although this does not seem to be adversely affecting its growth. My question is, how common is it for this type of weed to be used in refugiums and is it recommended? <Not unusual... but needs a good deal of iodine/ide... and not as palatable as some others... Greens, Reds> Does it have the same nutrient export capability as Chaetomorpha? By the way I also have Chaetomorpha growing in the refugium as well. Sound like a good combo? Thanks for your input. Paul <Different in some aspects/degrees, but complementary... Bob Fenner> 

Aiptasia infestation & quarantine question Dear Crew,  <Hi Paul, MacL here with you this fine and lovely day.> Last week, I obtained a half-pound of live Gracilaria parvispora (Ogo) from a dealer in Hawaii. I specifically asked the dealer if I needed to quarantine the Ogo before adding it to my downstream marine refugium. His emailed reply was no. <First and foremost, quarantine everything!> Upon adding the Ogo to my refugium, I noticed a few dead amphipods. A few days later, I discovered three 1-inch Aiptasia specimens attached to the glass and to a clump of Ogo. I've never had Aiptasia in my tanks before. After spending all night throwing out everything in my refugium including live rock, quarantining the Ogo in a bucket after the fact, sanitizing my refugium and hoping that the Aiptasia hasn't made it to the main tank, are there any other precautions I should take?  <You should be aware that lots of people use Aiptasia in refugiums for nutrient export. On the other hand its possible that this dealer was unaware that he had Aiptasia in his Ogo. Most people are going to say that you don't have to quarantine grasses etc before you put them in your tank because usually they come out of a situation where they've been used for nutrient export.> Regarding the dealer, should I simply warn him to check his Ogo tanks for Aiptasia or should I also demand my money back? What is customary?  <I might email him and tell him that you ended up having to put the Ogo in quarantine because you found some Aiptasia in it and you didn't want to chance having that go into your tank. I'm sure he didn't mean you any harm, but if you feel very strongly about it you might see if he's willing to give your money back or perhaps you two can come to a compromise. You'll need to treat the Ogo in quarantine to remove the Aiptasia from what's there.> 

Aiptasia Infestation Dear Crew,  <Hi Paul, MacL here with you again today.> (1) If Aiptasia is used in refugiums for nutrient export, how does one prevent the Aiptasia from contaminating the main aquarium?  <The people I know who are using it in this manner are keeping in enclosed in their sumps. So far they are telling me that they are not having it move. I personally wouldn't like to take the chance. One person I know who is cultivating it in their refugium has a second tank with softies that contains peppermint shrimps and copperband butterflies in the line before his main tank, so he controls them that way.> (2) Is it common for growers of Gracilaria parvispora to culture it in tanks with amphipods and other marine creatures, such as Aiptasia?  <With pods, definitely. With Aiptasia, probably not. But there are many people who don't view Gracilaria the way that others do. To them its a nuisance. This is something that is changing as more people begin to use it in their refugiums.> (3) Are you aware of any suppliers of live Gracilaria parvispora and Chaetomorpha linum within the 48 states? (I live in Colorado.)  <Honestly no I'm not unless Inland Aquatics has it. However, I do know that there are lots of people trading it on lots of websites. One with people close to your area would be www.reeffrontiers.com. They have a lot of people based in the western United States who are using Chaetomorpha.> Thanks very much.  <Its been lovely to talk with you Paul, if we can be of any further assistance please let us know. MacL> 

Small Tank, Small Refugium...No Place For A Mandarin - 05/03/05 Hello, <Cheers!> I have a question. <Me too...er...wait...this isn't about me...> I have a 55 gallon reef tank. I recently bought a Mandarin Goby <Do rethink this purchase my friend, return for exchange or credit. Your system is truly to small to provide what this animal needs for the long-term.> and a Fairy Wrasse. I was thinking about getting a CPR hang on the back of tank refugium. My question is, I have a 65 watt 10000K bulb light fixture. The hang on the back Refugium is 24 inches long, about 6 gallons of water. 1st, I assume adding this to the back of my tank with some live sand and some green seaweed stuff <Chaetomorpha linum gets my vote.> won't topple over my tank LOL. <No worries mate <G>.> It needs about 30 watts of light based on the watt per gallon rules. My light is double that. <Merely a guideline at best, other factors to weigh (water depth/clarity, etc..> I really want to cultivate copepods for my mandarin <A noble idea but I have to refer to my earlier comment. You just don't have the square footage (tank and 'fuge) to support this wonderful creature.> and have some Chaetomorpha and Caulerpa. <Please choose one or the other (see my earlier comment re.). The alga\u2019s compete for space/life on the reef just as every other organism.> I heard Caulerpa can release toxic spores when the lights go out so that's why I want a hang on the back refugium so I can keep the light on 24x7. <It's my opinion that Caulerpa is "toxic" at any time, but what you speak of is the reproductive act that's commonly referred to as "going sexual," which is often triggered by the day/night light cycle. If you choose the Chaetomorpha, I think you'll be better served with a "reverse daylight" cycle.> People are telling me an in-tank refugium that sticks to the back of the tank is too small for copepods. <Wouldn't be my choice either.> Both are made by CPR. Of course the in-tank one is only 29.99 no light required because it's in the tank. I guess my questions are is the bigger hang on the tank refugium the better choice and for the plants and animals I mentioned above will a 65 watt 10000k bulb be too much light? Do I need the 50/50 in a 65 watt? or the smaller wattage 30 watts and have to spring for a new light fixture. <As with many things in this hobby, yes, bigger is better. As for the light...the 65w 10K will serve just fine.> I e-mail you guys because you know what your talking about and always give good advice <Uh oh...pressure!> Thanks...........Chet from Colorado. <Welcome Chet...Eric from South Carolina.>

Just too many nutrients? (refugium questions) So here I am again! I've written a few times asking questions about what to do with my tank. I have a 29gal mini-reef with mostly inverts/corals and a few....ok 6 fish (too many for a 29gal IMO) <Mine too> deep sand bed, about 40lbs of live rock and double 55w PC lighting. It's being filtered by a Emperor 400 that has pods and shrimps doing the filtering (I've never had to change the filters).. there's also a few sponges in the filter. I added 3 powerheads to get some flow in the tank. everyone seems to be enjoying that. Here's the list (and I test the water regularly it all comes out fine) Inverts/corals- green/yellow polyps trumpet coral x-mas tree worm rock (what are those little striped arm things poking out of some of the holes? They almost look like baby serpent stars?) various little hermits snails of every type 1 cleaner shrimp 3 little red starfish 2 flame scallops - they've actually cleaned the tank up a bit, they also get target fed every other day with a zoo/phyto food. that actually has real zoo/phyto in it. I can't believe what some of the filter feeder food has in it...since when do they eat wheat gluten? Fish- 2 false perc clowns 1 watchman goby 1 firefish goby 1 lawnmower blenny (who doesn't do his job! he prefers flake food) 1 neon Dottyback and 1 Eiblii angel...oh my was he a bad impulse buy! He's already picking on the scallops and corals. Someone thought he was too pretty and I did some reading up on him after we got him home. Not something I want in the reef tank with pretty polyps and bivalves. I'm going to see if the store will give me credit for him. we've decided this will be the last impulse buy. Reading first. spend money later! <Yep> The tank was doing great up until about 3 months ago when the Cyano started up... battled that with aggressive siphoning and water changes. Finally narrowed it down to a certain food we were using...the Cyano always seemed to come back in force after the fish were fed. I've been really careful not to overfeed and have been doing plenty of water changes...I think this tank just can't handle what has been put into it. <Agreed> After the Cyano went away the hair algae came up...ugh! I've tried everything to get this stuff under control. Bought a protein skimmer a month ago and that was a complete failure.. half the time it just overflowed and it always dumped tons of microbubbles into the tank. I ended up giving up on it. <Look for a better make/model> Finally bought a hang-on refugium the other day in hopes that this will help control the nutrients. I've been reading the site about different macro algae and I was looking at the grape Caulerpa...lots of bad things and good things. I'm looking for mass nutrient export! <Good> Will this be an ok macro for me to use? <Yes... though there are others, and folks here to rally for them over Caulerpas> Sorry for the long email but this hobby gets frustrating at times...I try to read up on everything I can and a lot of stuff just doesn't seem to be working for me...I know I need a bigger tank! =) <Yes!> Thanks for all your help, I really appreciate the time you take answering questions! ~Angela <Do look into a small hang-on skimmer... my fave, the Remora from Aqua-C... that you can move onto your next, larger system. Bob Fenner> 

Ulva for Refugium Hello Crew, Is Ulva a good macroalgae for nutrient export in the refugium?  I have a bunch growing in my refuge but don't know if I should crop it or not. Thanks for your help. Roy <Ulva and Enteromorpha (Order Ulvales), aka Sea Lettuce are excellent green algae for refugium use... for nutrient export as well as food. Bob Fenner>

Gracilaria Refugium Hi guys. <Hello! Ryan with you today> I would like to set up a Gracilaria refugium next to and above my 180 gal. reef tank( tank is not running yet). The size is about 35 gal. Could you help in telling me how you would set it up? <Yes, lots of flow to keep the Gracilaria suspended in the water column, moderate light.> Will there be sand at the bottom? <I'd skip it, unless it's enough sand to aid in denitrification, like over 5 inches> What size grain? <Sugar-fine> Where do I purchase the Algae? <Don't buy it, just get a few clippings from a fellow reefer...Reefcentral.com is great for trades.> How does it take foot hold? <It grows in big balls, that roll with the current.> How much lighting? <3 watts/gallon> How many time the water should turn over? <10> Will this refugium produce lots of food for the corals that reside? <Yes, but a still algae, such as Chaeto, may provide more nutrient export and may help develop zooplankton in more volume.> Thanks for all the great advice. <No problem!  Ryan> Stephan G. Vegetable filter in refugium After much reading online and in your excellent Reef Invertebrates (RI) book, <Hi Mark, Matt here answering questions for Bob 'n' Anthony> I'm planning on utilizing Gracilaria in my refugium for nutrient export and some plankton generation (and for my tang to chow on when he's been good). My problem is that I have yet to run across a discussion of how to confine the algae so that it won't run through the sump baffles and into the intake of my main pump or skimmer pump.  In RI, you mention allowing the Gracilaria to "tumble" in the sump's water flow- to my thinking, this requires corralling the algae mat somehow, perhaps with plastic mesh.  Would you be kind enough to direct me to (or post) a description of how best to do this? <Sure!  I think most people put their macroalgae in a separate container connected to the sump, and then use some sort of grating to keep the contents where they're supposed to be.  No reason you can't keep the algae in the sump though!  I would construct a box of plastic egg crate (A pic of it here: http://www.ristandassociates.com/stock/plastic_eggcrate.html)  It looks like a white grid.  Cut out some large squares of this, and connect them together with plastic zip ties.  All this stuff should be available at a Home Depot or good hardware store.  The box will allow flow through, while containing your Gracilaria.  Hope this helps!  Matt> Thanks, -Mark- Best algae for refugia Hey Bob, or whomever answers up! << Blundell tonight. >> I'm curious as to your choices for refugium algae.  As in what you feel are the best at nitrate reduction, etc.  I've heard goods and bads about grape, the bad being going sexual, and I've heard bad things about Chaetomorpha releasing is own chemicals into the water.  I do recall removing some Chaeto from the main display and I must say that the underside did seem to be thriving on dead plant tissue which quickly crapped up my water upon lifting. << All Caulerpa is good.  I'd say C. serrulata is the most stable, but slowest growing. I think C. racemosa is the fastest growing, best for nutrient removal. >> So what are your personal preferences for fuge algae and why so? << Even better is Sargassum and Dictyota. >> Thanks <<  Blundell  >>

Marine Plants/Algae Hello there,             I have a couple quick questions for you regarding some plants. I'm setting up a new custom refugium to filter my 120g tank exclusively.  In this refugium I'm including a partition which will hold some free floating plants <actually algae, not plants> such as Gracilaria and Chaetomorpha.  It'll be built so that a pump low in one corner of the tank will push the plants in a "rolling/tumbling" fashion that I've read about.  Now I was wondering if there are any other good plants that would also do good in this type of filtration style?  I've heard both these plants do great for nutrient export which is my main concern for this section of the tank. <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm and: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/maralgae.htm and the MANY Related FAQs files (linked, in blue, at top)>             There is also another section to this refugium that will hold some turtle weeds and mangroves and such. <This is a BIG such> There will be a 30x30 area with a very deep 6-8" bed of Aragamud with a 1-2" bed of various muds on top of that.  Are there any suggestions on how to set that up? <Uhh, see WWM re Mangroves, the FAQs>   In my design I'm thinking about putting some plastic pots in there surrounded by live rock that will hold the mangroves stacked in the back area of  the fuge. <Stacked?> On the rocks I'll put some other plants and corals that are good for nutrient export.  On the open space in front of the rocks I'll have a seagrass bed with some flowerpot <I'd reconsider Goniopora use> and elegance corals in them.  Is there a certain way to place them in there? <Yes... posted on WWM> I'd just like to know if you have a suggestions on how to set that up or know of any conflicts going on in my plans here.  Thank you guys a million for all your help as well!  I can't get enough of you guys.  I'm looking forward to your guys new book on fishes.  Any due date on that? <None definite... thanks for asking... maybe another six months for the first of the two volumes to hit the street... another year after that for the second>   Keep up the fantastic work, it's good to know there are people out there with some good sound advice.  This coming from someone who's been working in the industry for some time now and have heard some seriously weird stuff on how to do things (male and female mushrooms that need to "mate") phewww!                                Thanks a ton  Chris AKA Fishtank <Keep studying, taking good notes Chris... and make a diagram of all of this planning to share please... and maybe write up! Bob Fenner> Refugium Algae 18 Jan 2005 I have a question about algae in the refugium, I hear so many people speak of certain type of algae to put in a refugium, indicating one is better than another. <I'm not sure you can say one is better than the other, just that in most peoples experiences some go sexual easier than others do. Or some grow better than others do and absorb the nutrients.> Or you need to keep the lights on 24/7 to prevent them from going active which could harm the tank. The algae that people are speaking of is the good variety (Caulerpa)<Macro algae, I am there with you. But I must say there's a lot of other grasses and algae that you can use as well.> My question is since all algae live of the same thing what's wrong with putting the hair algae and the other type of undesirables in a refugium, I think that would be better because they are not as sensitive and also never really hear about anyone of those going active....what your thoughts on that, and is there any draw backs to that. <I think the reason that most people do not use hair algae in a refugium is that they worry it will spread to a tank and hair algae can destroy corals very quickly. Does that help explain any better? Mac>

Refugium macro for tang food/nutrient cycling 3/28/04 Anthony, Thanks again for such a prompt response!   <always welcome> I am left with one remaining question...  Since you suggest against adding Caulerpa (and Bob suggested I use a macro algae other than my red Gracilaria)<<Really? RMF>>, what do you suggest I use for nitrate/phosphate export and to feed my many tangs?   <Frankly... I don't think you should give up on Gracilaria so easily. It is the most readily consumed and one of the easiest to keep by far. Any else I can think of is substandard. Still... as a suggestion, Ulva/sea lettuce types if you prefer> Since space limits me to only a 20 gallon refugium for my 180g aquarium, I need a very efficient method of nitrate/phosphate export (although my nitrate level has never been measurable, PO4 has been excessive). -Greg <Gracilaria and Chaetomorpha (not edible) are two of the very best. Anthony> Tang Heaven Q's 5/31/04 Greetings from Denver! <howdy> I'm in the middle of doing some research on tangs before I purchase one.  I like the Naso but don't want it to be too cramped in my 150.   <I'm very grateful to hear of your consideration/empathy> I'll probably go with a surgeon, as it is smaller.   <yes, do consider a smaller Zebrasoma species which you can enjoy for its full lifespan in the 150. Yellow tangs are fine choices... Sailfins however get too big and mean for most community tanks> I keep quite a bit of Caulerpa in my refugium to absorb phosphates and other garbage.  Can I replace it with Tang Heaven and still expect the same "water cleaning" results? <I do believe Gracilaria/Ogo (AKA Tang Heaven) would be a much better choice. Equally good nutrient export potential, and far less noxious to water quality, and clearly non-toxic to fishes over the long run (unlike Caulerpa... there are papers published showing inducement of death to fishes fed Caulerpa to excess). You may need brighter lights and stronger water flow for Gracilaria though... its not as adaptable as Caulerpa, but it sure is safer and more useful IMO>   Thanks in advance for your help. <with kind regards, Anthony>

Algae for Refugium I have a 55 gallon FO aquarium and I am adding a CPR hang-on refugium. I read about the Caulerpa on this site (a lot of info) but I still can't decide what kind of algae to put into the refugium. << I have this problem as well.  So many wonderful types of algae and few places to grow them. >> Since the refugium is visible, I would like to add algae that looks "good" and will also keep nitrate and phosphate levels low. << If you ask me all algae looks good. >> I would like to have more then one type of algae, like maybe a type of seagrass at the bottom and Fauchea Sp. that would fill in the middle. I am not adding any coral but still I don't want an algae that requires constant maintenance or could poison my tank. << Good thinking. >> What should I do? Since the refugium is hang-on should I not have 24/7 lighting? << I don't think so.  I think I would stick with a 12 hour light cycle, with the light ON during the night, and OFF during the day. >> I think there would be a lot of light going into the main tank. Where can I purchase algae like Gracilaria, Ochtodes, and Chaetomorpha? << Oooh, tough question.  If you can't buy it locally where you are at then I would suggest inlandaquatics.com or IPSF.com >> I really would like to know what you would put in the refugium? << I like Caulerpa taxifolia, C. mexicana, and I have C. serrulata in my tank now.  I also like all the Dictyota spp. if you can find some. >> Also, should I do a DSB in the hang-on refugium? What substrate should I use, live sand, mud, BioSediment, a mix? << A lot of personal preference there, but I really like the Carib Sea crushed coral or crushed aragonite over the mud options. >> Last question, what algae would be good for a ten gallon aquarium with a maroon clown. The tank has been set up for about 9 months with nor problems and nitrate stays low about 10ppm. << Well it depends on lighting and how much work you want to do.  Caulerpa racemosa is probably the easiest to grow.  But, it isn't the best looking (to me at least) and it grows so fast you have to keep harvesting it.  Where as C. serrulata grows so slow that you don't have to worry about that. >> It has 60 watts of 50/50 lighting. << To me, that isn't much lighting so I would stay away from Dictyota and go with Caulerpa. >> The algae would be primarily for decoration. Thank you so much and this site great, Andy << Thanks Andy, good luck. >> <<  Adam Blundell  >>

Refugium size 6/13/04 I have a 300 gallon reef tank with a 100 gallon sump. I just purchased a 20 gallon tank and stand for my new refugium. I have 1 65watt compact/actinic lighting <you will have trouble in the long run keeping some of the better macroalgae under light this dim and blue. Little or no actinic is needed here... macros tend to favor warm/daylight (5,000-6,500 K)... and 3 watts per gallon is well on the low end of recommendations for growing plants and algae. Do consider an upgrade if you can... else use a more forgiving macro like Chaetomorpha (one of the best)> and the 6 pack macro algae from indo pacific sea farms (great products) inside with a 5" live sandbed. <great company (IPSF) and great sand bed depth... but the mix of more than one macro species in such a small refugium will not work in time my friend. One will outcompete the other and you may be creating a bit of trouble in the meantime as they chemically duke it out with each other> I am planning to operate lights offset to main tanks lights as indo pacific recommends. <agreed> Is this enough to keep nitrates in check and PH stable <definitely a help with pH I suspect... but not a prayer of this sized refugium being the primary nitrate reducing mechanism for such a large display> or what do you recommend to tweak it better with what I have. <nothing much to change with the refugium other than brighter light, a single species of macro (Chaetomorpha) and probably better water flow (200-300 GPH minimum in this refugium) to optimize its function as a vegetable filter for nutrient export. For nitrate control, you could add to the system (next to the sump below perhaps?) a five gallon bucket filled nearly to the top with fine sand, drilled above the sand level with an overflow and fed by a slow stream of water from the sump/tank. This is one of the easiest, cheapest and least expensive denitrifying filters :) > The room I have is the reason why I can not go over 20 gallons. <understood... no worries, we make do with what we can. You may just need to finesse other aspects of the tank to compromise... lighter fish load, careful feeding, more aggressive skimming and water changes, etc. if you see nitrates increasing. Anthony>

In response to 6/13/04 refugium? 6/14/04 I have a 300 gallon reef tank with a 100 gallon sump, and after reading your response to my question on my new refugium I made some changes. First now because of room I went from a 20 hex to a 35 hex. And lighting I am going from a 65 compact to a 175 Hamilton 10k halide with a fan. and I have the overflow going to my sump and a Rio 1700 with a dial to tone it down. And I added more live sand. Well what do you guys think? I really value your opinion. Thanks,Tanker240 <the upgrades will serve you well. The extra volume int he refugium certainly increase your potential for mass (algae) for nutrient export as well as surface area to cultivate microcrustaceans. The halide is an excellent long term investment and good value (light produce per watt consumed). It doesn't approach the 5 watts per gallon necessary for some fo the more demanding macroalgae (like Gracilaria) but will be just fine for equally desirous or better types like Chaetomorpha. All good :) Anthony>

Controversial Topics (Sandbed Depth And Caulerpa Use) Hello, <Hi! Scott F. here> I have read through much of the site but still have some questions.  First I will tell you what I have--the contents of the tank have been together--Ecosystem aside--for about 1.5 years in a 100 gal tank: My set up is this (for about 6 weeks--I took all the water/sand/rock from the 100gal tank): 60 gal tank 100 lbs. live rock 3-4 inch DSB (fine-medium grain size sand--although more medium than fine) Ecosystem 40 refugium with miracle mud and healthy Chaetomorpha, red tang heaven, and Ulva and lots o pods/snails AquaC Remora HOT 280 watt PC lighting (soon to add another 110 watts) Pacific Tang, Maroon Clownfish in love with his Condylactis anemone, Firefish, Royal Gramma, Rock Blenny, Purple Lobster, two hermits and soon to be removed (although cute) Spotted Puffer as well as one sea anemone.  I would like to make my tank non-predator and ready to eventually contain some corals (ergo adieu to the sweet puffer). <And the anemones, too!> I inherited the contents of the tank from a friend and bought the skimmer, and refugium (although the Ecosystem 40 is for a 40 gal I figured it is better to have a small one than none at all at this point--and space is a constraint esp. with a somewhat reluctant spouse who 'doesn't care much for fish' I'm trying to keep it all as inconspicuous as possible).  Everyone seems very happy and all the fish responded very well to the addition of the refugium last week (swimming all around the water return...and the normally shy gamma came out and is now all over the tank). No water problems so far. Questions: 1. I currently have the 3-4 inches of sand with the rock resting on top in the tank.  The sand is different levels due to the two water pumps I put in--they've blown it around a little (I actually think this looks better than flat sand all the way across).   <Me, too!> The manual to the Ecosystem refugium says that I shouldn't have a deep sand bed.  My LFS says that that I should have put the rocks on the bottom of the tank, and then filled the tank with sand (three inches) and eventually the sand would settle into the rock.  Should I remove some sand?  Should I try to put the rocks on the bare tank bottom and add sand like my LFS says? <6 of one, half-dozen of another...I'd keep the sandbed 3-4 inches, and be done with it...> Will the DSB in my tank disrupt the refugium system? <I can't imagine what it would> I would rather have less sand in my main tank but initially put it all in there since I thought a DSB would be fine (I got it all from my friend with a 100 gal)--also...is it a problem that my DSB sand is not all fine grain but more small-medium grain pieces ( read on your site that fine sand is best for DSB)? <Well, fine grain is best, but it is certainly acceptable (IMO) to have some larger-grade pieces mixed in. Looks better, too! Do read some of the works of Dr. Ronald Shimek on sandbed composition. Lots of opinions on this topic.> I have noticed that after a month the sand layer is whiter on top to the depth of 1.5 inches.  Should I simply have one-two inches of sand in the tank since that seems to be the amount of sand that is getting good circulation??? <A lot of the conventional wisdom on sand beds dictates a deeper layer. Two inches may be too deep to be fully aerobic, but too shallow to foster complete denitrification. Again, there are a lot of opinions on this, and new data is coming in all the time. However, I'd stick with the tried and true for now: A sandbed should be 3 inches or more, or 1/2" or less!> If I need to take out sand and re-do the sand/rock would it behoove me to elevate the rock on a PVC/eggcrate setup for better circulation? <Can't hurt- but it's not 100% necessary. I'd personally try to leave as much surface area open as possible. You could elevate the rock or stack it to accomplish this> I really want to do what is best for the long-term/benefit of the organisms. <Agreed! That should be your goal!> 2. Should I add Caulerpa to the refugium?  I have read pros and cons.  I want minimal hassle and am worried the 'sexual life of Caulerpa' will be too burdensome.  But do the benefits outweigh the bother, or will I be fine with what I have?   <I like and use Chaetomorpha, myself. It grows, it's an excellent "substrate" for planktonic/amphipod growth, doesn't go "sexual", can be easily harvested, and it's fun to give away to your friends (Everyone wants this stuff at the Club "Frag Swap"! Let everyone else offer their "Blue Torts"- Everyone wants my "Chaeto!"> Thanks for your help--it is very overwhelming and time consuming trying to learn all of this and I appreciate all the time your crew dedicates towards helping people like myself (so hopefully in turn I can help others!). Saskia <MY pleasure, Saskia! That's what we're all about! Sharing this hobby that we all love so much! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Macroalgae in the aquarium 3/11/04 Thanks as always for the prompt reply. Following your advise I will leave only one species of macroalgae in my sump. Is it better to leave the Halimeda sp. or the Dictyota? <neither are ideal for nutrient export or plankton production (Chaetomorpha or Gracilaria would be better). To pick between the two, however, easily choose Halimeda. Dictyota is noxious and can become a nuisance> Do you advise to do this also in the display tank (the algae here is far from each other). <its better, yes> The C. racemosa is not much in the display tank and is the only algae that my Yellow Tang eats. Is it ok to leave it be in the display tank? <its actually toxic over time (1-3 years) in some fishes allowed to repeatedly graze it. It is also competitive with corals. I do not recommend Caulerpa for any reef aquariums. Best for biotope displays instead> Thanks, Thanassis
<kindly, Anthony>

Feed 'em or 'let em go??? I'm a newbie learning the ropes and finding your site was priceless.  (maybe you should do MasterCard commercial....)  You guys are awesome for all you do! Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!  (should I suck up some more?) <"Everywhere you want to be">   We are building a reef.  55g w/ 88lbs live rock and a 10gal overhead refugium.  I'll spare you the rest of the peripherals and get right to my ???'s.  In the refugium I have an 8lb live rock which has lots of barnacles.  When we first bought the rock it was covered with waving cirri.  Now there are many dead cirri floating around.  Inevitably they are dying from a lack of phytoplankton.  They are, however, reproducing as we've seen many cyprid larvae running around.  "What the hell is your ?" (You asked that at just the right time!)  Is it worth trying to feed these and save them or not? <Leave them be to be blown into the tank, consumed or no>   I found a post,  regarding DT brand liquid phytoplankton, suggesting that this brand had appropriate size particles.  I could shut down the 'fuge flow for a short time and feed them, so as not pollute the display.  I feel responsible to try and support them since I bought them (in a round about way).   <There is sufficient foodstuff/s being produced endogenously. I might try a micro-green algae culture as an experiment, but not an ongoing process> Second ?.... I attached a photo of a plant also growing on this rock....  I'm guessing that it is in the Rhodophyta family, but haven't been able to find a photo exactly matching it....  Is this a good plant to leaving growing for nutrient export?  Thanks again!  Brad <Does look like Fauchea sp. I would definitely try to retain this, feed some off if it gets to be overgrown only. Bob Fenner>

Downstream refugium 10/7/03 I just completed adding a downstream refugium in my sump. I sectioned off a small area of my 24 inch sump. The refugium area is 12inch high by 6 inches long by 12 inches wide. It probably holds less a little under 5 gallons of water. <still helpful. Aspire to 20-40% display tank in volume for future> I added about 2 inches of crushed coral and will add 2 inches of crushed live rock as a substrate. <very good for zooplankton production> I am going to be using a 13watt PC light. My display tank is a 75 gal w 80lbs of LR. I would like to know what type of macroalgae I should add to this refugium that would do ok with this light. <even if this refugium were not so small... you would still be restricted to a single species of macro for optimal health/vigor and utility. Seek Chaetomorpha IMO here to assist with plankton production and nutrient export> I am a little scared about adding Caulerpas because of what I have reading on your web page. <many scientific papers on the subject... I can share a couple dozen references on the toxicity of Caulerpa or you can search the Net abroad for references to Caulerpene and Caulerpenyne for starters> What else could I add beside Turtle grass and Halimeda? <neither are recommended here... Halimeda does less for nutrient export or plankton production... and Turtle grass is too large for this vessel> Could you please give me a few ideas? <other than Chaetomorpha... Gracilaria is an excellent choice. Ochtodes is fine too. All of these and more are detailed extensively in our new book Reef Invertebrates> I should mention that I am really interested in keeping soft corals like Colts, Xenias and Cladiellas. <if looking for the upright and branching Cladiella "colt" corals, know that they are not called Klyxum (2000 Alderslade)> You guys have convinced me that a refugium is a better way to go than adding Kent's Phytoplex and Chormaplex. What Macroalgae should I use to benefit these types of corals. Thanks Ron The Gracilaria may have some slight edge here for lending epiphytic matter to the Alcyoniids you intend to keep. Much to read/learn/explore... enjoy the journey! Anthony>

Macroalgae and DSBs 11/2/03  Hi, I am looking to add macro algae to a new sump. Can you tell me the best kind to use?  <that depends on many factors... but Chaetomorpha (Spaghetti algae) is hands down one of the best overall. Gracilaria is also quite good. Avoid Caulerpa in my opinion. See about all and why in the FAQs and archives of our site at wetwebmedia.com>  I thought about mixing a few kinds together, but I read one  response in a reef forum, and it said that you can make a mistake adding different types of algae together (maybe Gracilaria and Chaetomorpha?...  <all algae fight (allelopathy) and one will ultimately succeed all at the expense of considerable energies. Pick only one species per tank>  I don't remember for sure). They actually compete against each other and can become toxic.  <yes... to each other, to invertebrates... and even to some fishes>  I didn't know mixing macro algae could do that. That's not  what I had in mind to do :-) This response also said the grape Caulerpa being one of the most noxious of all of the algae. Is that true?  <very true by a remarkable scale of magnitude>  I thought it was a good kind to have?  <Caulerpa can be a boon or scourge. I dissuade folks from it because it is too labor intensive for most folks>  The response also talked about macro algae going 'asexual' and becoming toxic. What does this mean? I have never heard of this either.  <please do a keyword search of this topic and any other that interests you with the google search tool from our home page at www.wetwebmedia.com and all will be revealed to you my friend>  Secondly, I read in another forum where a lot of reefers were talking about having reef tanks with bare bottoms (either no sandbed at all or a very small sandbed. They ripped deep sand beds talking about DSB crashes and really messing up tanks.  <removing DSBs is a knee-jerk reaction by aquarists that have improperly installed them or have poor tank husbandry overall (usually inadequate water flow). We explain this dynamic at great length (tens of pages) in our book "Reef Invertebrates">  I have never heard of this and have never thought  of having a tank with no sand at all. Everything I have ever read talks about live sand being a very important part of biological filtration.  <agreed... there are tremendous benefits to live sand and rock methods>  I am confused.  <just need to read/research more my friend... and not so much from message boards with much opinion and inexperience (or limited experience) but from tenured and objective sources/authors>  Can you tell me your take on having deep, medium, shallow, or no sandbeds?  <I wish to help here my fried... but a proper answer cannot be relayed in an e-mail less than 20 pages! Please do simply read through our archives or if you feel frisky, that new book of hours is months old and covers all of these topics at great length. The most comprehensive in the industry to date>  Thanks, Paul  <best regards, Anthony Calfo>?

- Gracilaria - <Good morning, JasonC here...> To the Best Crew There is: So, I mail-ordered some Red Gracilaria, mainly for nutrient uptake.  I get the thing, and it's a huge "portion". I only have a 10 gallon QT, and it takes up like half the tank.  My problem is how do I keep it in place? Would a mesh bag or women's hose restrict it too much? <I'd think the bag would work better than the panty-hose.> I will have a sump on my 55 gallon display by the time it is ready to come out of QT, but either way I am going to want to keep it in place. <I'd go ahead and place this stuff in the sump. If the algae is from a reputable source, then you probably don't need to be so rigid about quarantine with is.> While I am here, any other fish besides tangs (i.e.: small/peaceful/community/reef-safe) eat this stuff? <The algae-eating gobies and blennies might eat it, but I'm not certain. Same goes for pygmy angels. Best to do some reading on those fish in the various sections on WetWebMedia.> Thanks, Rich. <Cheers, J -- >

Caulerpa lighting 6/22/03 I have also read many things about lighting. Some say lights on at night and some say lights on 24/7. Can I use this stuff with lights on 12 hours a day or should I leave them on 24/7. <I would recommend lights on 12 hours per day on an opposite photoperiod to the main display with hopes for assisting pH stability for it. Else... the 24 hr constant light cycle is an attempt to keep the algae in stasis with the hope of preventing a potentially dangerous or devastating act of sexual reproduction/vegetative fission from this noxious species. There are pros and cons to both. I would still suggest you consider alternate species of macroalgae for stability and safety issues. Best regards, Anthony>

Macroalgae 6/23/03 Hi, crew: <howdy!> In the Conscientious Marine Aquarist, Bob Fenner states that "Caulerpa are best."   <correct> Yet recent postings from Anthony Calfo state that a marked preference for Chaetomorpha, which doesn't go sexual.   <correct... if that "threat/inconvenience" in Caulerpa bothers you, than other such macros would likely be better> Aren't you guys part of the same crew?   <yep... the WetWebMedia crew... not the Stepford crew, the NRA or the Republican party collectively> Sure team members have differences of opinion, <good of you to notice mate <G>> but is there a consensus?   <there are many benefits and risks to Caulerpa... and they are overwhelmingly documented in our WWM archives free for the perusal (largely in the FAQs if seeking the cons. Else, we describe the "modern" consensus on the subject collectively in a nearly 50 page chapter on plants and algae in our new book if you'd care to pursue it> What should I do? <weigh the merits and demerits of the various algae that appeal to you, my friend. Caulerpa can be a tremendous boon or scourge depending on how strict you are (or not) as an aquarist with husbandry. No worries :) Kind regards, Anthony>

Finessing Refugium Macroalgae - 7/14/03 Thanks, Anthony: <always welcome mate> I'll go with sugar-fine substrate & Chaetomorpha. BTW, I've had trouble with getting algae other than Caulerpa to grow. <very common... especially in systems that mistakenly equate refugia with low(er) light and low(er) water flow. Nothing could be further from the truth for some cultivars. Gracilaria and Chaetomorpha are prime examples. They definitely need better light and especially enough water flow to keep them tumbling/in motion> Gracilaria just wasted away. <one of the most light intensive indeed> Ulva & Chaetomorpha just hanging in there in Caulerpa refugium. Any hints? <as much or more water flow on the latter issue/species> If I keep Caulerpa out of the new refugium, will the others grow better? <Oh, my goodness... most certainly! I had not realized they were mixed. Caulerpa is one of the most noxious and dominant algae. Indeed inhibiting to many other forms. Especially if it is that horrible grape Caulerpa (C. racemosa)... no joke, one of the worst (documented at great length)> Steve Allen <ciao, bub. Anthony>  

Algae for fuge 7/31/03 I know it has been addressed endlessly, but I can not surf for the answers anymore. <Okey-Dokey> OK ...90g mixed reef. 40g above tank fuge... Question....... Best algae ( mixture) for tang food, pod reproduction, and nutrient export. <Gracilaria because of your desire/mention of "tang food" being of importance. Chaetomorpha instead if having a pod disco and nutrient export were/are more important> Question..... at which point after (or during cycling of new tank with 2lbsper g of Fiji rock does one stock fuge ( Starting with what first Algae or pods or ???? <ASAP> Thanks All. .... Will send Pics. <rock on my brother! Anthony>

Foam on The Macro I have yet another question for the experts! I have a refugium with various macro algae's mostly grape and feather Caulerpa , I harvest weekly and the lights are on 24/7. <Good nutrient export if you harvest weekly!> I have noticed that on the water surface in the refugium a white foam that collects around the algae, the surface is agitated by the water flow from the main tank.  Any idea on what this is and what needs to be done if anything. As always your opinions are appreciated. Mike Winston <Hey, Mike- I know exactly what you're talking about here...I've seen it too. Sounds like some organic foam, possibly analogous to "skimmate" from protein skimmer effluent (but not as concentrated). I'd remove it by using a net, or a piece of paper towel placed on the surface of the water in the refugium, then quickly removed. Hope this helps! regards, Scott F.>

Refugium plants and algae mixing 3/13/03 I have a question regarding mangroves & other micro algae's in a refugium. Must you use one or the other or can you combine mangroves and micro algae in the same refugium. Many Thanks, John <you may certainly combine algae with mangroves in refugia, bud... mangroves are more ornamental- the macroalgae will be a better vegetable filter for you :) Best regards, Anthony>

Refugiums, macroalgae and reef plumbing Hello, <cheers> Can you tell me the best set up for a  ecosystem mud filtration unit, my tank will be a 125gl with twin overflows. I need to know what is a good pump, and how should I run the lines from the pump to a heater/chiller (aqua-Therm) and back to the return. I want to have at least 1000-1200 of gph for the sump and I need at least 600gph for the chiller so it will not freeze up, that is the manufactures  states. I was thinking that I could use a mag drive pump rated for 1500 or 1800gph to do the job. <please view the illustration and following links to get an essential take on the matter: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/plumbingmarart.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pbfaqsmar.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/circmarart.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/reeffilt.htm how do you rate the Kent marine Biosediment to the miracle mud( I hope you are liquored up to tell me about it)? <I find them both to be equally useless and overpriced and would advise a deep bed of fine oolitic/aragonite sand instead (6" or more) :) > I also need to know why you said sea grass is a better choice than Caulerpa and why don't ecosystem tell you why. <actually... seagrasses are not the only or best alternate for Caulerpa. But Caulerpa is frightfully noxious if neglected and has been shown scientifically to impede coral growth. They are not found naturally together on a reef. Other algae like Chaetomorpha and Gracilaria are more stable and less toxic if neglected> They don't have the patent on plants, right so why promote a species of plant when  there  are ones that are better for filtration, <because Caulerpa was one of the very few "plants" available in the hobby when Leng Sy first developed his mud system and they are the only common macro that can remain in stasis if lit 24/7> how  can I get some of this sea grass. <seek Chaetomorpha or Gracilaria instead from IPSF.com (AKA "Tang Heaven" or Hawaiian "Ogo")... or from inlandaquatics.com ("Spaghetti algae")> thank you, and I appreciate you site .   Mr. McCoy   <kind regards, Anthony>

Thalassia refugium setup 3/15/03 Hello Bob and crew! After reading your articles on the benefits of Thalassia, I've decided to convert my refugium to use Thalassia.  A few quick questions: 1) My refugium is 20" tall.  With a 7" DSB and ~2" overflow protection, this leaves ~11" for the Thalassia.  Is this enough vertical space? <not really... but no worries... sea grasses need to be cropped for vigor/health. Many of the current diseases of seagrasses are theorized to have been migrated by the lack of predation from over-fished grazers (sea turtles, manatees, etc) which leads to overgrowth and decay> 2) The DSB is composed of a mix of fine aragonite sand and some leftover epoxy-coated silicate sand (from a freshwater setup; mixed in before I knew what I was doing).  Will this sand be okay for the Thalassia, <not sure... in seawater it sounds a little shaky. Probably OK> or should I dump it and replace it with all fine aragonite? <for how small the tank is... the latter gets my vote> 3) I'm currently using 2x18W "Eclipse daylight" (5500K?) bulbs for lighting.  Is this adequate?  (or rather, what lighting would you recommend?) <not even in the ballpark, alas... you need at least 100 watts over a 20 gall for sea grass. Select warm colored lamps around 5500-7000K temp> 4) Can I run the lights 24x7 or is there a recommended photo-period for Thalassia? <24/7 can only be done over Caulerpa... none others commonly available. Employ a normal photoperiod of around 12 hours> Thanks!  Your website has been truly invaluable! David <best regards, Anthony>

Re: Refugium >Thank you very much for the advice Marine(a). >>You're welcome, Michael.   >Also, what type of algae plants that work good for the refugium? >>Oh my goodness, what an assortment you have to choose from.  Just about any macro algae, Caulerpa spp. often being the most easily acquired, cultured, and harvested.  I suggest you start here (take a look at ALL the links, I think you'll be amazed at the variety!) http://www.wetwebmedia.com/maralgae.htm >Thanks again!  Michael >>You're welcome!  Marina

Nutrient-cycling... or lack thereof in his refugium Thanks Anthony, <always welcome, my friend> Just to follow-up, I tested my Nitrates yesterday.  And they remain very low still.  Less than 5ppm.  I've seen other reef tanks who are not using a refugium and they seem to have quite a bit of hair algae accumulating.  Since my refugium I have none ! <a good reading... but it does not mean that you don't have a nutrient problem in the tank... it can (likely) means that your excess nutrients are tied up in biomass somewhere... likely the waxing and waning BGA and/or the Caulerpa? I have never really been exporting any of the Caulerpa.   <Yikes!!!! A tank wipe-out waiting to happen! Please do research more on Caulerpa in our archives and beyond about events of Caulerpa "going sexual" or "vegetative" (wipe-out) for lack of thinning (not pruning... thinning)> Are you saying that I should avoid exporting since tearing may cause die-off?   <avoid tearing yes... but do thin by pulling unbroken (as best as possible) fronds out> Even with low nitrates (phosphate was low too last time I checked), could there still be other nutrients in the system as a result of the Caulerpa? <indeed... bound in bio-mass as evidenced by the waxing and waning of your problem> Thanks again, Steve   <best regards, Anthony>

Re: sea grape Hello to All! <All of PF with you here tonight, Jason> I have a refugium that I've been wanting to put some macro-algae in.  One of my local fish stores have now started selling sea grape by the pound.  Would placing this in my gravity fed refugium be beneficial to my tank?  Its a 65gal.  75lbs of LR; toadstool, xenia and button polyps are my only inhabitants.. <Well, it sounds like they're selling Caulerpa racemosa. I'm not fond of Caulerpa as it made quite an effort to take over my tank, strangling off my xenia before I got it under control (thanks to a hungry tang). I prefer Chaetomorpha to Caulerpa - it doesn't crash, it doesn't try to take over the tank, and it doesn't produce allelopathic chemicals - all major pluses in my book. Check w/your LFS and see if they'll order it for you. OTOH, if you have a tang (or other herbivorous fish such as a rabbit fish) then you could try the Caulerpa and feed it to the fish. Personally though, I'm much happier with Chaetomorpha.> thanks, Jason...Surfs Up! <It usually is on the coast I live on, but not much fun to play in the Oregon surf, too cold for my blood. ; ) >

Refugium Lighting And Macroalgae Use Hey Guys, <Hello! Scott F. with you today!> A couple of questions. I have read a lot of the FAQs pages but I have yet to see a definitive answer. Do you think 24/7 or a reverse cycle lighting is better. <Well, I personally favor the 24/7 lighting in the sump; it's just plain easier to do, and it has worked well for me (I am of the school that says, "If it isn't broken- don't fix it!"). However, it is certainly not "natural", and people have theorized that the constant light keeps the macroalgae in a sort of "stasis"- much more definitive research has to be done in this area. The "reverse daylight" technique has worked well for many hobbyists. The primary function of RDP and 24/7 is to maintain a more stable pH in the display tank. It really is open to debate and experimentation as to which is better> Also I am using a combo of grape, prolifera, and feather Caulerpa. My Nitrites are 0 my phosphates are 0 also. I see that you do not recommend Caulerpa why? <Caulerpa tends to be an extremely invasive macroalgae, even in a refugium situation. Also, it has a propensity to "go sexual", at which time gametes and cellular material are released into the water as part of the algae's reproductive cycle. This can cause a depletion in the tank's oxygen levels, and a substantial degradation of water quality as these materials decompose. Also, studies by hobbyists seem to have implicated that Caulerpa produces substances which may inhibit the growth of corals in closed aquarium systems. Some of these substances can be leached when the runners are broken, as they may be during "harvesting" of the algae> If you had one Caulerpa to choose which would you use or is a combo good. <If you are determined to use Caulerpa, I'd use a single species. I have always favored C. prolifera, myself. Frankly- I'd recommend an equally hardy, productive, and useful macroalgae, Chaetomorpha linum, which has many of the "benefits" and none of the downsides of Caulerpa. I use this macroalgae exclusively, and am very satisfied with its results> My refugium has only been active for 2 months but so far so good. Should I expect any problems in the future? <If your refugium is well thought-out, and a compatible combination of creatures inhabits it- there should be no difficulties> Also lots of amphipods in refugium, how can I get this life in tank? Fish eat all in seconds before they can hide. <You could simply net collect the "pods and feed them that way. Or- simply allow some to be carried into the tank via the refugium return...Maybe not the most efficient way- but it works> If you were to 86 Caulerpa what would you use (mangrove?) what are your thoughts? <Chaetomorpha, as outlined above, or possibly Gracilaria> By the way I am using a protein skimmer. Thanks Jim <Well, Jim- lots of controversy here. Make your choices based on your needs and concerns...Hope this helped. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Refugium I have a question concerning a refugium set-up. I currently have a 55 gallon refugium that is on an opposite lighting cycle than my display tank. The refugium contains 60 lbs of live sand and some Caulerpa algae. I have read some articles that make me think that there are better algae or other methods to do the same thing (reduce nitrates, etc.). I would like any information or resources about refugiums. <It depends on your tank. If you have a mostly fish tank and nutrient export is your priority, Caulerpa or Dictyota would be my choice. If you have corals, I would avoid both. Then depending on your corals and the type of plankton you wish to generate Seagrasses, such as Thalassia, or Chaetomorpha would be my favorites.> Thanks for your help, Mike Winston <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Refugium Follow Up I do have corals mostly LPS and soft leathers. Will the Thalassia or Chaetomorpha also remove the nutrients <Yes, to an extent. The Chaetomorpha is your best choice. It is more effective at nutrient export than the Seagrasses and it will encourage zooplankton for your LPS.> and if they will where can they be purchased, none of my LFS have this? <You should be able to find it at many online e-tailers. I know http://www.eastcoastclams.com/ has some. It is not listed, but just email him and I am sure he will send it to you. You should look around though. You don't want to pay shipping on a handful of algae. It would be more cost effective to buy something else for the shipping fees.> Thanks again <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Caulerpa Refugium Dear WWM Crew, I've acquired some Caulerpa. I think I've identified it as razor Caulerpa, Caulerpa serrulata. Is this a good algae for my new refugium? <It depends on the intended purpose of the refugium and your tanks needs.> Should I allow any in my display tank? <Again, it depends.> My refugium will be 22" x 24" x 10" high and will have 2" of Miracle Mud. How much shall I start with (I have lots) <You do not need too much.> and will it attach itself to the mud? <It should use its holdfasts to attach/"root".> Any other comments or suggestions would be helpful. <There is a lot of information on refugium types and macroalgae in our FAQ files on www.WetWebMedia.com.> My primary use of the refugium is to help control nitrates in my 180 gallon reef tank. <Caulerpa is excellent for nutrient control, but more and more research is showing it is harmful to corals. You are going to have to strike a fine balance here. I would also pursue some other means of nutrient control (protein skimming, careful feedings, appropriate foods and supplements, clean source water, etc.).> Thanks for your help, Brian <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Help with Refugium Hello Dr Fenner, <Just Bob, please> You helped me a while back with some questions I had concerning a mini-reef 25g hexagon tank, a mad clown and a Prizm skimmer. For some unknown reason, the skimmer is back on line and working fine again and the mad clown has had to be taken back to the pet store and exchanged for a more docile one. Reading through your FAQ's and website, I am sold on your thoughts and philosophies and went ahead and purchased your book "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" which I read in one clean sweep until my eyes began to bleed, absolutely fantastic reading. I am also sold on the idea of a refugium to aid water quality. <A worthwhile addition> The water parameters in the main tank have all been stable for about 4 months (tank 6 months old), with the exception of Nitrate which sometimes goes as high as 10ppm. <Soon to be diminished> I have purchased a 15g tank (18x12x18) which will be set-up as a down-stream refugium and would like to know your thoughts on the following: - 4in sand bed - 15kg (33Ib) of live rock - Your thoughts on suitable macro-algae. To be honest, the only things that I can find the LFS selling in the UK is Caulerpas and Mangrove pods. - Lighting 1 x 15w (PowerGlo 18k spectrum) <All sounds fine... though many of my cohorts think otherwise, I would use the Caulerpa (leave the lighting on 24/7), being careful to not let it "get away", overgrow the system... watching for any ill-effects of its abundance... Perhaps keeping an eye on your suppliers for other macrophytes to supplant it with in coming months (like Halimeda, Gracilaria...)> My concerns are the use of Caulerpas in the refugium considering I have a few soft corals in the main tank (Leathers, Mushrooms, Sinularia & Xenia's) and the lighting on the refugium. Should I use a reverse cycle or 24/7? <I would leave the lighting on (with the Caulerpas) continuously> On my existing live rock in the tank, I have noticed an amount of copepods milling around in the night time (sitting there with my flashlight, much to the annoyance of the misses) and hope to have a similar introduction in the refugium. <You will> Thanks in advance for your help. Kind Regards Sandeep <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Refugium Macroalgae Question Hi Guys ! <cheers, Chuck!> Recently I removed all (well almost all) of the Caulerpa from my 50 gallon refugium and replaced it with Gracilaria, turtle grass and Chaeto... (spelling ?). <Chaetomorpha... all very wise IMO. Kudos> Everything is going well, many small "bugs" and my peppermint shrimp  have been breeding periodically releasing even more food into the main display tank. Since my display tank is 300 gallons I do not plan to use such a small refugium for algal filtration.  Instead, my refugium's purpose is to generate live food/plankton for my main tank. <agreed here too that this is a better plan for most aquarists> Small amounts of the blade, fern, grape Caulerpa have come back even though I removed all of the live rock and brushed it with a toothbrush.   <the grape Caulerpa is especially noxious/toxic> The other algae are growing at a very swift rate and I am worried that the Caulerpa will sexually spawn since it is in the minority and since it is being "squeezed out".  Is this concern well-founded? <not very... its more a simple matter of completing its life cycle (3-6 months unbroken for the cell/colony)> I try to pick out the Caulerpa as it grows but it is nearly impossible to get it all.  Is this sufficient to keep the Caulerpa from  sexually reproducing / entering into my main display tank? <yes... frequent and regular pruning> Right now it hasn't spread into the display tank and I want to keep it that way....any other suggestions  on how to do maintain this ? <yep... napalm> Do I still need to harvest the "good" or less virulent algae mentioned above in a similar manner as the Caulerpa ? <yes... all algae essentially for vigor if nothing else. Less or no risk of sexual reproduction with some of the other non-Caulerpas though> Thanks, and looking forward to meeting Anthony in Boston, home of the Boston Reefers,  in January !!! <me too, my friend. And we can discuss then if Dr Ron and the Ronnie's are fascists or hypocrites or something altogether different <G>> Regards, Chuck Spyropulos <rock on my brother :) Anthony>

Tim from Fiji and Refugiums Hey Bob, Merry Christmas, and all the best to Anthony and Jason. <cheers, Tim... great to hear from you my friend. Anthony at bat today> I hear you guys are threatening to swing by our fair isles early next year. <indeed... and I'll be sure to correctly pronounce "Fe-gee", rather than "feee-gee!"> I'll have the beers stowed and the night lights charged for instant action. <outstanding... and do let use know then what delights from the mainland that we can bring (besides fine Tequila)> I have been spending many interesting?? hours lately roaming over our varying fields of mud, sand and silt. <did you find Thalassia or Zostera seagrasses yet?! I promise I'll get you retired early selling them <G>!!!> I have amazed myself at just how far (and deep) I will swim to see absolutely nothing, and get seriously dirty. <Ha!> Oh well....their have been a few rewards...mostly fields of Trachyphyllia geoffroyi and associated gobies, along with some interesting soft corals and Goby/pistol shrimp combos.      I have been sold on the idea of a refugium for some time now..... <indeed... they are the future of reef keeping and soon to be as integral in modern marine aquariology as live rock> and recently had a chance to put theory to practice at Kula Park, here in Fiji. Philip has been in touch with you recently....and he much appreciated your instant response. <we have been accused of being quite fast... hasn't served us well in the field of interpersonal relationships, but fine for the website <G>> The display is 540gal, reservoir of 1000 gal, and now a 4 tank setup for the refugium of 300 gal. <a great start> Three small cubes are set up as 1. 'surf zone' sand and macro fauna, 2.dark dense mud from outside the mangroves, 3. lighter mud/silt and associated critters from 120" kept slightly darker, and the large tank will be mangrove habitat with hopefully bonsaied Mangroves. The Photoperiod for all initially is 24/7, however this will probably evolve.    <hmmm... not sure that you will want or need the 24/7 lighting here. Only Caulerpas will commonly fare well in stasis with this kind of lighting... and they have their share of baggage (noxious exudations, labor intensive farming required, heavy chemical filtration and or ozone needed to temper their effects). My advice would be to use another plant or algae species (like Gracilaria, Chaetomorpha... and seagrasses when they mature). Light them on a reverse cycle than the display if you want/need pH stability... but no 24/7 here. Do evolve> Water chemistry is good, and stable, along with the temp. at 78 degrees. The goal is to evolve into a full blown reef tank. <then definitely forego the Caulerpas in my opinion... inhibiting to coral growth in time. When you've been diving the world over... how much coral growth have you seen in patches of Caulerpa? Proof is in the pudding as they say. At least free-living corals thrive in with the seagrasses (elegants, open brains, Fungiids, etc)> Water flow through the show tank is 5 times (we aim for ten) <wow... yes. Much more flow needed for corals as you know> and will tweak the refugium systems to around 4 times during the next plumbing installation. <perhaps stronger if tending Ogo (Gracilaria)... some seagrasses to get them to shed more epiphytic material> 2 things.......the system incorporates a large sand filter we both want to ditch to allow full circulation of the critters. Can I have your opinion please... <please, yes!... ASAP> and 2. I need to question the use of an impellor pump from the refugium to the show tank. I wouldn't like to zap through one of those macerators, and Colin Flood cites a quote from "Dynamic Aquaria" page 66-mid third column, of FAMA November 2002 "that most impellor pumps with their internal turbulence, pressure and shear forces kill many planktons and the swimming or floating reproductive states of plant and animal. They found mortality rates of large zooplanktons, such as Artemia salina as high as 90% after passing through such a pump".     <this reference (a fine work in so many ways otherwise) had caused quite a stir with this comment which was unfounded in practical applications. Impeller shear is essentially bunk and more recent studies have shown it. As cited, the above reference involved the study of brine shrimp... a non-marine species. And a large, stupid and clumsy one at that. It swims and behaves nothing like marine plankton/microcrustaceans. Please don't give impeller shear a second thought... little concern. If you have more money than you know what to do with, get a fine Tunze Turbelle pump that is engineered to reduce impeller shear. Else, just buy a good pump that is reliable and economical to run and damn the torpedoes! Crunch all the plankton you want... we'll make more :)  > If Phillip cuts off his roof and raises it 10 feet he can easily achieve gravity flow...........just kidding! <ironic you should mention that... I always preach upstream refugiums in preference to downstream ones <G>> What's the deal with sending questions into wetwebmedia like this? Is their an annual subscription? <nope... we are here 24/7 for the love of the hobby/industry. No moolah... niente... nada... free service> Thanks for your time, and I look forward to your visit next year. All the best, and stay well. Tim. <peace and long life, my friend... we shall see you soon. Kindly, Anthony>

Refugium algae Dear Anthony, Many thanks for your quick and thorough response. No way I'd be in this hobby were it not for the books and advice of Bob and friends. Looking forward to the new book. <thanks kindly> A bit of clarification, please. I have dual 95 PC, 10,000 Kelvin lights on the new refugium, on a chain, 8 inches above the water <whoa! stop there bub. Sweet lights... but useless at 8 inches. This may singly explain some previous trouble keeping Gracilaria for example. Although bright to the eye, the usable light (PAR) plummets with every inch off the surface you creep. The "rule" for most fluorescents (including the blazing VHOs and PC.s) is that anything higher than 3" off the water surface if a waste of electricity. A lux meter will confirm this for you... just amazing. With some light systems, the difference between lights at 8" and lights at 4" is 150% or more! Just staggering. Please do lower these lights> line with a .177" acrylic lid. I can put the fixture right on lid, an inch from the surface. <if it presents no fire hazard, yes... OK for livestock> Is this too much light for Ulva, Gracilaria, and/or Chaetomorpha? <my heavens, this is not even remotely too bright for these algae. Gracilaria for example is farmed commercially in floating baskets at the surface of the water under tropical sun. Our pc lights are barely a glimmer by comparison> I can raise the light or lower it easily. <excellent... my vote is 2-3" off water surface> Caulerpa refugium has and old All Glass 2 tube fixture but I will gladly upgrade to your recommendation if and when I can replace the bad stuff. Please describe proper acclimation for these plants. I didn't know it was required. <acclimation of corals, anemones, other invertebrates (shrimp crabs, etc) and plants and algae is extremely critical. They are far more sensitive to osmotic shock than fishes that have many thick layers of skim to temper the osmotic changes. Algae and Arthropods (shrimp, crabs) are perhaps the most sensitive by far. Acclimate them with a slow drip as you would a sensitive fish for 20-30 minutes> Please expand on "competition". Is this completion for space?  I have plenty. Or is it a chemical competition? I would like to try continue trying several varieties to see what works. <you would be much better with one species unless the total system volume is huge... competition for available nutrients, noxious exudations, etc. If you want to succeed... definitely begin with one variety only. To compromise... how about going back to Gracilaria and getting both red and green species> I have added a small 600 GPS pump for turbulence since getting your email. OK? <sounds pretty cool... remains to be seen for algae. Keep a good turbulent/tumbling movement of the algae and detritus in suspension> "Free floating for all of the above plants?  Blowing around with pump? I can divide the surface area with acrylic or fine mesh fiberglass screening. <not sure I follow here? Gracilaria floats... pump is drawing low? A simple cage may be all that is needed. > Again, many thanks, WetWeb advice has served me well. Never had a disease process since filling the show tank (first reef experience) 30 months ago. I expect Santa will bring me a digital camera (with diving case) so I can send you folks photos of my 160 gallon Howard/Wetweb creation - the best aquarium between Pleasant Prairie, WI and the Shed in Chicago. Howard <awesome! We'll look forward to it! Best regards, Anthony>

Caulerpa in my refugium ? Dear "Anyone that will answer"   :-) <I feel like "someone" :)  > I have a 55 gallon live rock tank with a few pieces of coral, mushrooms, polyps...nothing major.  The tank also has about 10 fish.  The tank is about 2 years old. I am building a refugium in the Eco system Method... <sorry to hear it... heehee. Joking (half at least)> with 4 baffles filled with "Miracle Mud" and Caulerpa on a 24/7 light schedule. <a secret: the "miracle" to Miracle mud is that people actually pay that much money for soil> At least those WERE my plans until I was reading in the FAQ section that Caulerpa produces toxins to corals and would be considered bad if I was planning on adding coral one piece at a time every month or so. <hmmm... more information needed here for sure. Caulerpa is NOT the devil incarnate and it can be very useful for nutrient export. However... it is very labor intensive and potentially volatile. And I am not referring to events of sexual reproduction (only). That can easily be skirted by systematic thinning of o colony to stave off completion of a its life cycle (3-6 months for most species in the genus). 24/7 light (stasis) may do the same. There are far more serious concerns with Caulerpa regarding anti-biotic and anti-fouling exudations which harm coral on a daily basis and slowly concentrate in the system. Any benefit you seek from Caulerpa, I can name a much safer algae for use in your vegetable filter. Gracilaria ranks high... true turf algae (Chaetomorpha and the like) are even better if using algal mats> So now I am confused. First I went from wanting to add Caulerpa to the  refugium and put it on a reverse light schedule from the main tank.   <I can dig the RDP photoperiod for pH stabilization> But then after researching Leng Sy's specifications, he called for a full 24/7 daylight schedule for the Caulerpa so it NEVER produces and releases the carbon dioxide, toxins, chlorophyll into the water. <that last string of claims is not exactly true... the toxic exudations are unrelated to acts of sexual reproduction. Caulerpa sheds them just like coral shed nematocysts and various allelopathic compounds. All must be addressed with regular water changes and carbon/ozone. I like weekly for water changes and carbon (small and consistent amounts)> So what do i do? <cheer loud for the Steelers next Sunday playing against Tennessee> I've heard that deviating from his plans just a little bit (by not adding the baffles, not using Miracle Mud, and not having the right kind of Caulerpa, as well as the 24/7 mandatory light schedule) is what seems to make most folks fail at his method's proven success. <I would argue instead that modification of his good idea can make it even better! Keep the mud, run the lights on a reverse period, don't use Caulerpa, do protein skim aggressively, and enjoy a better refugium for it> If Caulerpa is the "demon" macro algae that I am reading so very much about in the FAQ section, <and beyond! There is a mountain of scientific information to support its effects on corals and fishes if abused.> then why does the EcoSystem work so well?   <by virtue of the many different ways that various aquarists succeed or fail to succeed in aquarium husbandry at large> Thru my research on the net, it seems his methods don't leach any toxins into his tanks.   <'Net research! Ughhh! Please, bud... completely anecdotal (including our forum right now) if not commercial (not us). If you want good research... get hard data... real science. I'll give you a page full of references to run down if you like (boring). And like Chris Farley said... "You can stick you head up a cow's..." er, well... "just take the advice of the butcher." Not just a bunch of aquarists with one and two year old tanks saying "everything looks great". Noxious exudations take many months to take a toll on coral and fish health. We are talking here about a long view of health for your reef aquarium> I suppose that's because in his method, Caulerpa is harvested regularly and never allowed to reproduce.  Do you feel that having the lights on 24/7 is possibly the BIGGEST reason why the Caulerpa in his setup's don't leech these "toxins" you all are saying it does? <I am certain that Caulerpa leeches them despite marketing claims> I'm also wondering if I should still continue to build my refugium using the EcoSystem Miracle Mud's schematics. <experiment and adopt the parts you like best. Strike out on your own... and Go West... Go West, young man.> My biggest goal here is to get my nitrates down to near zero WITHOUT the use of a protein skimmer or other artificial means. <Good heavens! You made me take the long way around the barn for that! <G> Dude... a five gallon bucket filled with 60# of oolitic sand and tapped with a bulkhead at the top... water flowing inline on the way down to the sump. Please... NNR (natural nitrate reduction) for the cost of a bucket (50cents) and a bag of Southdown sand (less than $3). Much better nitrate reduction with almost no maintenance headaches> I just don't have a whole lot of room for such peripherals in my main sump. Please advise on what, if anything I should do to get my refugium up and running properly. I don't want to poison my corals, but at the same time, I want to reduce my nitrates as low as possible. <deep sand bed my friend> Other macro algae's were mentioned.  Which is closest to having a Caulerpa-like nitrate reducing effect without producing toxins?  Also, would I still need to leave the lights on 24/7 with any OTHER macro algae besides Caulerpa? <Caulerpa is one of the only algae that can permissibly be illuminated 24/7... others will die without respiration> Thanks again for all your help.  I am learning a lot here. Regards, Steve <excellent to hear, bud. Best regards, Anthony>

Converting Caulerpa refugium to misc. algae Mr. or Mrs. Crew, <I'm "baby bubba crew" <G>. Anthony Calfo in your service> Anthony was kind enough to come to the Boston Reefers meeting and shock a number of people including myself about the toxicity of Caulerpa. <my great pleasure :) > I "had" a 20 g. refugium full of C. prolifera plumbed into my 65g SPS only tank and have since removed it all and have added some Ulva, Chaetomorpha, and left in the small amount of C. brachypus that was left. <the Ulva is fine although not a reliable means of nutrient export. Little harm either. Do enjoy. The Chaetomorpha is excellent though. Do focus on it. It is superior habitat for microcrustaceans (producing plankton) and far less noxious than Caulerpa. It is multicellular and does not suffer from pruning like Caulerpa. And it is more stable and less work too. Good choice> I suspect the tank may go through a diatom bloom or two with all the chaos going on. <no worries... just be on top of that skimmer. Make it work daily for at least the next couple of weeks to prevent any possible bloom> After the Caulerpa was removed I noticed a 1/2" layer of detritus covering the refugium, should it be removed or just left in there? <I would definitely remove it. Sounds like your flow is a bit too slow in the refugium too. Please increase water flow here> Besides the algae I have already added is there any else I should add? Is there any other advice you can give that will help in the conversion to "safer" algae. Thanks in advance. <no worries my friend. Just good flow, bright light, systematic harvest and you will have a less noxious and more productive vegetable filter/refugium for it!> Tom G.  Malden, Ma. <best regards, Anthony>

Converting Caulerpa refugium to misc. algae More questions baby bubba crew, <no longer... I am now... a knight... who says... "Ni!"> What other types of nutrient export can be used besides macro algae? <wow... a tough question to answer in less than 10,000 words. At least by me. Bob and I turned over something like 30 pages into the editor just on refugiums (without pictures!) for the new book (Reef Invertebrates). There are tens of species that can be used. Animals filters, Vegetable filters, true plants, micro- and macroalgae. Syconoid and other sponges, tunicates... so many great creatures> I have heard of people using xenia as a nutrient export. Are there benefits? downsides? <briefly stated... Xenia is fast growing, weakly noxious and fairly stable. It is also quite saleable. That makes it useful as an "animal filter"> How about cryptic zones. <fascinating with sponges and tunicates (and other filter feeders, worms, etc). They are slow to grow, variably noxious and precarious. Only recommended if you are willing to work harder for it> And lastly what are your thoughts on using quality natural seawater. <Never!!! Too tedious to prepare safely. No less expensive after processing (ozone, carbon, test kits and additives to temper its seasonal variations in bio-minerals, etc). And where are you going to draw natural seawater from that isn't along a populated coast with effluent from millions of people living inland polluting the first few miles of it. No way dude. Not likely safe or worthwhile. Synthetic seawater mixed with purified H2O is extremely consistent and safe... I'm willing to pay for that small bit of insurance> As you can tell I am trying to be nature boy with my reef tank. <why don't you make a jersey shore biotope display with a sandy beach with beer cans and needles littering it? Just a suggestion> Once again thanks in advance. Tom G. <best regards, my friend. Anthony>

Refugium Questions I have a 60G reef tank that I am setting up a refugium for. My main goal for this refugium is Nitrate Reduction, but I also plan on keeping organisms in there to help feed the display tank. What I currently have setup is an 8 gallon container with almost 4" of live sand, <wow... very small 'fuge to accomplish your goals. The "rule" on refugiums for private tanks is 20-40% of display size. [public aquariums often run a 1:1 ratio!]. For nitrate reduction, your bioload will need to be quite light> that gets water from the sump, then gravity feeds back into the sump. Should I get a larger container? <right on brother! And mostly filled with sand... little water for deeply actually. A 15 or 20 gallon long minimum and 6+ inches of sand would be nice> Also, for lighting I am thinking about 75W NO fluorescent units from Home Depot. (they are bent like PC's so the light will be more concentrated) <OK> Will this be adequate? <adequate... its not even necessary for NNR <G>. Hmmm... if keeping plants and algae too, it would be moderate lighting... perhaps not enough for strong Gracilaria growth. Likely fine for Chaetomorpha and definitely so for some red kelp> I am also considering the Flora and Fauna Kits from Inland Aquatics. The Flora Kit contains: Dictyota sp. C. brachypus (delicate) *Gracilaria sp. Halymenia sp. Ochtodes sp. Ulva/ <all are fine except the Dictyota... a potentially horrifying nuisance (tough to extract from the display if/when it makes it through)> And the Fauna kit includes: Mysis/Gammarus shrimp Amphipods/Copepods Miniature Brittle Stars And a random selection of a few other items <excellent> I have also read that a group of cleaner shrimp will be beneficial because they will spawn and the eggs will be fed to the tank. <nominal.. they also eat fauna in the refugium. I'd pass on all fish and motile macro inverts as predators if you have hope for growing strong populations of plankton> Any advice, suggestions, warnings is very much appreciated, -Eric <as per above my friend. And do look for the refugium section in our new book coming out this spring... large coverage :) Anthony>

Very Nice Refugium Beginnings Hey Gang!   <cheers, my friend> I hope y'all are doin' fine!    <"...and feelin' groovy....la da da daaaah daa daa da...feelin' groovy"> I sent a picture of the refugium  I constructed for under $40. <you have seriously done an excellent job. Good size ration and very advantageous upstream application (much better than downstream IMO)> It has flow rate around 225 gph with no leaks! (and there was great rejoicing!). <cool... good flow rate too around 10X per hour for the average 'fuge. But your plants & algae will need more (Gracilaria and seagrasses)> Question; Do y'all have a link to a site that sells algae like Gracilaria and/or Thalassia (shorter sea grasses)? <absolutely... please try Morgan Lidster at InlandAquatics.com (mainland- Illinois) or IPSF.com (Hawaii)> What are the recommended algae to get the most out of a refugium? <Gracilaria or Chaetomorpha are likely two of the best here for you. No Caulerpa and resist Dictyota too> Thanks to Anthony for stressing the importance of this thing & lighting the fire to get it going!            <you are quite welcome and you will be pleased> Your friend in Denver, Scott <kindly, Anthony>

Setting up of large refugium <<Hi Paul, Craig here>> Bob, I have a 450 gal reef setup, running fine. I just plumbed in a 90 gal tank that I had that was a former reef setup. Gravity feed from tank, gravity feed to sump. I had intended to set it up using live sand, live rock and the reef type lighting that was in use before. My LFS has suggested I go with mud, Caulerpa set up as it would suck up more nutrients. What would you suggest, sand/liverock or the mud? Seems I've heard some negative comments on the mud setup. <<Six of one, half a dozen of the other. LR/LS will be less expensive, set up as DSB it will reduce nitrates all the same. LR/LS has various size particles and microenvironments for pods, phytoplankton, etc. Most DSB experts say oolitic sand is essentially mud. Mud is a description of particle size and the space between the particles. For maximum diversity, LR rubble of various sizes with a DSB with coarser sand on the top layer would be my choice. IOW, fairly coarse material (aerobic) settling down to very fine particles on the bottom. (anaerobic)>> Also, the LFS said I should run the lights 24/7 to control the life cycle of the Caulerpa, to keep it or algae from taking over the big tank. I don't want to run lights 24/7 for energy reasons and it seems to me the main tank herbivores would control the Caulerpa before it could get established. Your opinion?  <<The Caulerpa goes in the refugium where it has "refuge" from predation so it can grow. It doesn't go in the main or where there are herbivores. It can be transferred into the main for food, etc, but you grow it in the refugium. You can run the refugium lights (should) on a reverse cycle, IOW, the opposite of your main to stabilize pH. The problem with Caulerpa is it goes through some wasting cycles that are problematic, and can be avoided by the 24 hour cycle, keeps the Caulerpa in grow mode full time. There are other better marine grasses and plants that have fewer negatives than Caulerpa. Search "refugiums" at WWM, lots of info.>>  Also, the refugium is 48 in by 25 high, perhaps maintaining a mud system in this size refugium would be a lot of trouble, I would like to go with the most maint free setup. Thanks for your time. Great site. Paul <<Small differences. I would look into the many other options you have. All of these will work. There are many considerations, financial, maintenance, habit, etc. Check out more info on WWM, that will help you. Craig>>

Re: Refugium Dear WWM crew, I'm in the process of starting a 24"x24" refugium in my sump.  What is a good on-line source for Caulerpa?   <Check the links at Wetwebmedia.com I hesitate to recommend any specific etailer. There are numerous choices.> What quantities and type?   <Have you read about the pros and cons of using Caulerpa? This is also catalogued at WWM.> Does Caulerpa require quarantine or special acclimation?   <Many aquarist suggest QT for anything added to the aquarium. I personally only quarantine fish. But I am aware of the risk inherent in this method and I accept those risks. Acclimation is similar to the acclimation of fish and corals.> Do you recommend other (types/quantities/acclimation/quarantine) critters for the refugium as well? <I suggest starter cultures of copepods, Mysis shrimp, and similar critters. No fish. You can start your search with Inland Aquatics and IPSF (Indo Pacific Sea Farms). Thanks again for your service, Brian   <The pleasure was mine! David Dowless>

Friends Don't Let Friends Buy Caulerpa! Good evening! <Hi there! Scott F. here for you!> I just recently heard about utilizing mangroves in a sump vs. Caulerpa, searched your site for more info, found a little.  Was wondering if you could give me a quick run down on the pro's and / or con's of this, was just about to set up a new sump for Caulerpa when I heard about mangroves. <Well- first off- I wouldn't look at mangroves as a means of efficient nutrient export, like macroalgae. They grow very slowly...much too slowly to perform the same export function in a closed system as macroalgae. They do encourage the growth of various fauna within their root systems, however, so are interesting in that regard. You should purchase a copy of Anthony Calfo's "Book of Coral Propagation" for some really cool information on using mangroves, as well as more good stuff on macroalgae and nutrient export. A must read, IMO.> I am looking for a natural way to lower nitrate levels so I can start adding corals, liked the Caulerpa idea because I could cut off excess growth and feed to my ever-grazing Naso tang. Current tank is 120 gallon fish and liverock only with 29 gallon sump.  Thanks for any info you can provide, love your website!! Doug Edwardsville, IL <Thanks for the kind words, Doug! Although very popular, Caulerpa is not really the best choice for a purposeful macroalgae, IMO. After lots of personal research, reading, and discussions with the likes of Anthony Calfo, Eric Borneman, and others, I have concluded that there are more drawbacks than benefits to Caulerpa use. This stuff grows like a weed, true- and if harvested regularly, can export nutrient efficiently. However, should you rip segments of the plant through careless harvesting, many potentially noxious chemicals from within the plant are leached back into the water. Also, these algae have a tendency to go into a sexual reproduction stage, potentially releasing enormous quantities of gametes and other cellular material into the water, negatively impacting oxygen levels, among other things. I'd look into more "docile" macroalgae, such as Chaetomorpha, Ulva, and even Halimeda. They offer many of the advantages of Caulerpa, without much of the detrimental effects. As Anthony likes to say- "Friends don't let friends buy Caulerpa!" 'Nuff said! Good luck, and have fun working on this project!>

The Crash (algae going sexual) My names Andrew and I'm a college student in LA. I'm doing a research project for my English class on the subject of Refugiums. <Man- all that we studied in college English was dangling participles, iambic pentameter- not even wet/dry filters...Man- things have changed!> I have done plenty of interest as I'm building one for my 75 gallon reef aquarium. What I'm asking is if you can recommend any sources or information on the Term; CRASHING. Crashing as in when the algae in the refugium turn sexual during the hours that light is not running over the refugium. If you could help, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you for your time and thanks for having such a site. Its been very helpful in the past with my reef aquarium. Andrew <Well, Andrew, I'd start by doing a search of the FAQs on macroalgae on the WWM site, possibly using the word "crash" to see what comes up. Otherwise, you should investigate Caulerpa, which is often associated with "crashing"! Also, do check out Anthony Calfo's "Book of Coral Propagation" for more info on macroalgae and their use/abuse/benefits/pitfalls. Good luck!  Scott F.>

Refugium Bob, in a refugium with Caulerpa, why does the light need to be on for 24/7. <The 24/7 light cycle is supposed to keep the Caulerpa from going sexual.> Ii it because of slowing down growth or oxygen consumption? I would like to try 12 hours on 12 hours off. <If you do so, have the light on opposite your main tank. This way the Caulerpa is consuming the CO2 that your main tank inhabitants are producing at night.> Some of my Caulerpa seems to die off after a while and then come back. Thanks <No problem. -Steven Pro>

Refugium Believe me,  I have checked out every refugium I could find and I like the looks of sea grass. However, I cannot find the Syringodium manatee seagrass you mentioned for sale anywhere.  <Thalassia may be better suited just the same... it is shorter. Syringodium grows 2-3' tall> I have checked several of the forums and was given several good leads that didn't pan out. If you know of a source please let me know?  Turtle grass is readily available and I can get Widgeon grass also but not sure if this is good for a refugium or not.  <not at all> Do you know anything about widgeon grass?  <yep... Ruppia maritima... it is a low salinity/brackish rat weed> I would like to start with two or three and see what happens. How do you attach the bio-balls or PVC tee's to the powerhead?  <bio-balls grip on with the clustered tines if you ram one on. The tees snap on if you simply find the right size at the DIY store (3/4inch CPVC for big Hagen pumps for example)> Is there a PC light that would provide enough light for the sea grass or is metal halide the only way to go?  <PC over turtle grass in shallow water (under 16") would likely be fine> If halides, would you use a 150 or 175 watt with a 65k bulb? HQI?  <there is no rule on brand or wattage... especially over a tank so shallow: hardly a diff to be noticed. They like bright daylight short and sweet... no magic recipe> Sorry to be so pesky, I drive my LFS "experts" crazy too. Fortunately for them, they are 189 miles away. Thanks for all your help! <best regards, Anthony>

3 stage refugium <Anthony Calfo singing John Denver tunes in my head having spied your hometown addie> Hi Bob, haven't written in a while as my ich problem seems to be taken care of, thanks for helping me. I am about to fire up a 3 stage refugium in the crawl space under my house. This will be for a 110 gallon f/o but I will convert it to a reef in the future. I have 3 33 gallon Rubbermaid's all connected with 4 inch lengths of 1 1/4 inch flexible pvc. The connections are at about the 20 gallon level. I drilled holes and siliconed the tubing in. The last one flows back into my wet dry. I put a T in my overflow line and am diverting a slow flow into the first tub. I am not sure exactly what to put in each tub and what order to set them up. I will do a plenum in one tub following the diagram on your site. Do I need to light it <if the purpose is plankton generation: probably not... but if you prefer to use it for nutrient export (vegetable filter): yes> and should I fill it with stirring organisms like mini stars?  <excellent idea especially if fishless> Another will be filled with macro algae.  <Calcareous macro...good. Caulerpa Macro. possibly bad, labor intensive and definitely noxious if scleractinians are your long-term goal> Do I need a substrate or live rocks in this one?  <LR in some vessel would be nice to seed microorganisms> For the third I thought I would just fill it with live rocks or maybe you have a better idea. <seagrass would be wonderful (Thalassia or Syringodium...perhaps even a mangrove tree too). The grasses will encourage plankton that feed of epiphytic matter with sufficient rasping snails and strong currents periodically> What order should I put these in? Should I introduce organisms or just let them spread? <yes, and fishless as long as possible> I have some future goals. I want to culture some corals <please forget about Caulerpa then...have you seen my Book of Coral Propagation?> in one tub, probably put a shelf in the algae one and some intense light. Also some day I would like to breed fish so one might be good for fry and larvae. <wonderful goals!> Would screens on any of the connecting tubes be a good idea? <catch 22...much upkeep. Depends on the livestock you choose> What kind of powerhead arrangement should I set up?  <I'm content to save money on fancy devices for economical culture and make powerheads converge in paths to produce random turbulent flow> I apologize for so many questions but there is so much information and opinions about refugiums. Thanks Sean from Denver <indeed...and no trouble at all. Kind regards, Anthony Calfo>

What's "good" algae for sump/refugium Gentlemen: <I just might be that, since I don't really work for a living <wink>> I am familiar with Caulerpa "going sexual" or dying back and releasing organics back into the water.  <dreadful...one of the many reasons to be wary of it in garden reef tanks> Is there another type of algae that is better suited for use in a sump/refugium??  <definitely...Seagrass: Syringodium sp. for big refugia, and Thalassia sp. for medium refugia. Calcareous plants (like Halimeda) for small refugia> If not, do you recommend any particular species of Caulerpa over the others?? By the way, I'm in Ohio so I don't have to worry about being a criminal algae culturist as it usually takes the Left or Right Coast Fads about 10 years to get here. Thanks for any help you can provide. Stan <yes, those folks from Cali are just crazy <wink> Anthony>

Macro Algae/Sump ?????? Dear Mr. Fenner, <Anthony Calfo in your service> I have read much of your WWM information and FAQ's and am still unclear on a couple issues. I am converting a wet/dry with bio - balls to a sump and would like to add sand, live rock and macro algae. My first question is regarding grape Caulerpa algae. I have acquired some live rock with this on it  <which is the best way to transfer (on live rock)> along with a handful of this from the LFS. I was hoping to put some in the main tank which is a 125 gallon dual overflow AGA. I am hoping this will help reduce some nitrates and add some color.  <don't count on the nitrate reduction without due diligence with maintenance (feeding, pruning, harvesting, etc) on your part. Too tedious for me. I prefer DSB for nitrate control...more reliable and less work> I am a bit worried regarding this Caulerpa going into sexual production.  <common and dreadful> I have read this will produce a lot of gametes that can overwhelm a system. Is this a concern with a larger tank (125g + sump)?  <yes...still a concern. Do run two skimmers on this system to temper the risk> It is scary......sounds like a time bomb waiting to happen when you leave on vacation for a couple days.  <exactly...Murphy's law> I am also wondering since this algae contains these gametes etc., what if your tangs eat this algae during this stage? Is this dangerous to be consumed? <no, but the algae not only releases gametes, but all of the noxious compounds that it absorbed in growth for days/weeks prior...however it is done so all at once. Can be disastrous if you are culturing a large enough quantity for nitrate control and not just a little for color> My second question is somewhat related. I would like to add macro algae to the sump (previously wet/dry filter). My problem is there is really no way to have lighting over head. A difficult retro-fit for side lighting which may cause other problems?  <possibly... at least inconvenient> I have heard of a "dark sump" What is this?  <not something that you can grow Caulerpa in ...hehe. Sponges, yes> If I just added a deep sand bed and live rock without any lighting in the sump would this be very beneficial?  <now you are talking! Yes, please do...minimum 3"...I prefer 5+> Do you have any suggestions regarding what to put in a sump for a FOWLR and possibly mushrooms tank? <you really don't need anything...run it dark and use it primarily for denitrification. Otherwise the options are numerous depending on your personal preference (seagrass bed, Aiptasia scrubber, coral culture raceway, etc> Thank you very much for your time and consideration. Sincerely, Mike McCarthy <<kindly, Anthony Calfo>

Caulerpa racemosa Bob, <Steven this morning.> I have put some green grape Caulerpa (racemosa) in my new refugium. I had it in a container for a day or two ( filled with seawater from my tank and correct temp) before I had the refugium up and running, and now it seems to be a bit mushy and falling apart. Will this cause any water problems? <Possibly> And should I just leave it and it may come back? <I would remove almost all of it. Just leave one small piece that looks the best.> Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. John <You are quite welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: refugium thanks for the wicked quick response!!! <very welcome, indeed. Anthony> I also have 10 Lbs of live rock w 27 watt LOA CSL. The live rock once had macro on it until I got my Tang. Will this macro alga grow back now that the tang can't get to it?  <depends on the species and remnant material left... but there is a good chance in time that it will (1-3 months)> Is this the right kind of light? <a color favoring the daylight end of the spectrum would be best (6500K)> thanks Jeremy <kindly, Anthony>

Refugiums I hate to extravagate  <Hmm?> you with a question, and I see you believe that most reef keepers are in the doctorate level of marine biology, correct?  <Not as far as I know... I don't have one... Most I'm familiar with simply have an earnest interest in the living world, a knack perhaps with gadgetry, and stubborn persistence with "making/getting things right"> Seeing how you reply to all without a knowledge of there background, but yet giving them a knowledge of yours. Further from the latter is my question to you. You fixate in the use of refugiums, but yet I have yet to accomplish a Caulerpa that has lived more than two weeks without expiring or a companying green hair algae. What is the reason, Doctor Fenner? <The prevailing conditions favor (and/or have been changed by the Hair Algae) to favor this nuisance Green over the ones you want to grow... This happens all the time... And can often only be changed by "re-setting" the parameters of the tank... i.e. changing the chemical, physical, biological make-up... like by adding a bunch of new live rock, altering alkalinity...> P.S. I am in the utmost part when it comes to testing. 24/7 lighting from a CF, only use carbon once a month and Phos-Guard bi-weekly. DKH via reactor 35, tank 8.3PH effluent 6.7PH and Ca tank 440 and Iodide 0.006. What's the problem Doc? <No doctorate. As stated you're experiencing an allelopathogenic effect... fancy term for the pest algae poisoning would-be competitors... Sort of like a Eucalyptus tree, Asparagus Fern, other plants producing chemicals that disallow other plants from growing under, around them... so they can "hog" (scientific term), the available nutrients, water, light... Perhaps ask the fine folks (though none are PhD's, on our chatforum (http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/) the same question... for their input. Bob Fenner> Reno

Refugium Bob, I have a 55 gallon tank with a 15 gallon sump (only partially full and want to grow Caulerpa in the space where my wet dry media is. Because of this I cannot provide a substrate. Will this be a problem and what kind of light do you need to provide to grow Caulerpa? thank you in advance for your advice. Jim >> Either grow the Caulerpa on top of the wet dry media, or replace the media with live rock, mud instead and place the Caulerpa there...  Any source of full spectrum light of whatever type output will do. I use small compact fluorescent hoods, but regular output fluorescents on up will do. Warm lamps (5k plus). Bob Fenner

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