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FAQs about Refugium Pumps, Plumbing, Circulation, Flow Rate 4

Related Articles: Get Thee To A Refugium by Bob Fenner, Refugia: What They're For And How To Build Them by Forrest Phillips, Pressure Locking Sump Baffles; Welcome to the World of Versatility! By Joshua McMillen, Reef Systems, Reef Set-Up, Refugiums, Reef Filtration, Plumbing Marine Systems by Bob Fenner, Myth of the One Inch Beast (Why Relying on One Inch Overflows... or Overflow! Is foolhardy) by Scott Vallembois, Fish-Only Marine Set-up, FOWLR/Fish and Invertebrate Systems, Reef Systems, Coldwater Systems, Small Systems, Large Systems, Macroalgae,

Related FAQs: Refugium Pumps/Circulation 1, Refugium Pumps/Plumbing/Circulation 2, Refugium Pumps/Pb/Circ. 3, Refugium Pumps/Pb/Circ. 5, & Sump Pumps/Plumbing/Circulation 1, & Refugiums 1, Refugiums 2, Refugiums 3, Refugiums 4, Refugiums 5, Refugiums 6, Refugiums 7, Refugiums 8, Refugiums 9, Refugiums 10, Refugiums 11, Refugiums 12, Refugiums 13, Refugiums 14, Refugium Rationale, Design, Construction, Hang-on types, Lighting, Operation, Algae, Livestock, DSBs, & Caulerpa, Marine System Plumbing, Holes & Drilling 1, Durso Standpipes, Overflow Boxes, Bubble Trouble, Plumbing Noise, Make Up Water Systems, Marine Aquarium Set-Up, Micro-Crustaceans, Amphipods, Copepods, Mysids, Algal Filtration in General, Mud Filtration 1,

Chaetomorpha Strands clogging the outlet drain pipe. Sump/fuge design      7/24/19
Dear Crew
Love to connect with you'll. Your advices are not only practical but also very reliable.
<Glad to aid your efforts; though I would/do advise you to seek other input: books, magazines, websites...>
Am currently facing issues with Chaetomorpha (referred to as Chaeto in some parts of my mail) in my 15 gallon sump arrangement.
<And difficult (compared w/ larger) to maintain such small biological marine volumes>
I have a four chamber sump with Chaetomorpha in the second chamber where it receives water from the skimmer chamber. The glass barriers in the sump are drilled and the water is passed on to the other chamber (DSB) through a bulkhead attached. Have a fine mesh on the bulkhead to block any big
particles to enter the next chamber hosting the DSB. I also have a small pump in the chamber to keep the Chaetomorpha moving/tumbling.
<Okay thus far. I understand your set up>
Am facing issues with the sump drain where I keep the Chaetomorpha algae.
It was all entwined when I got it from a fellow aquarist. Now it's in bits strands are floating independently.
1. The Chaeto strands clogs the drain pipe leading to overflow of the chamber to the DSB
<Hopefully you can fashion a large chemically inert screen to expand the period of time between having to address the algae clogging>
2. The Chaeto also gets stuck in the inlet of the pump used for circulation and is blown all over the chamber in small pieces/strands which then leads to clogging of the outlet drain
<Mmm, can the pump be better located; perhaps...?>
I tried attaching an elbow to the bulkhead (like a dorso setting) to avoid the Chaeto fragments to directly flow to the open bulkhead. The Chaeto still gets stuck under the elbow and clogs the bulkhead drain mesh.
Please advise how this can be avoided
Warm Regards,
<I might (even) consider relocating the Chaeto/macro algae to the DSB chamber... Bob Fenner>
Re: Chaetomorpha Strands clogging the outlet drain pipe     7/25/19

Thanks for the quick response Bob
It’s a small set up and hence am struggling.
<Ah yes; as stated>
My earlier setup (240 gallons) before my relocation was much stable and gave me better scope to work things around
Referring to your suggestion, Would like to state that reason I moved the Chaetomorpha away from the DSB to the chamber prior to it The DSB chamber has a. Lower water level
<Ahh... anyway to adjust? Move it, and/or the pump to another section?>
All other factors being common, I would face the same problem in the DSB chamber as well as It has a similar drainage arrangement.
I would still like to try that. Is there any added benefit of having the microalgae in the DSB chamber?
<Macro; and yes... organisms coming out, into the sand/substrate can/do make use of the algae as space, food. B>

Sump Refugium Return Pump      5/6/16
Hello Wise Crew Members,
<More like wisenheimers>
I have decided to change out my Velocity Poseidon PS4 return pump that is externally mounted from my sump refugium for a EcoTech DC M1 pump. The inlet and outlet of the Poseidon pump is 1" however the Vectra DC M1 pump with the adapter pvc kit inlet is 1-1/2" and outlet is 1-1/4". How can I replace the bulkhead on the sump to accommodate the new pump with my aquarium active.
<I'd just bush all up; as with bushings; hopefully threaded (best) w/ Silastic as a bit of seating. Schedule 40 PVC will do here. I would NOT go through the trouble to re-drill the sump/refugium and up-size the bulkhead>
Should I turn off the ball valve ball valve between the pump and sump and just drain that section where the bulkhead is and re-drill for the new bulk head?
<Again; this would not be my preference>
The sump is 1/4" acrylic. I know that I would have to replace my braided hoses. Please see attached pics.
<Too many Megs... why don't folks follow our directions?>
Thanks Kindly,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: the time has come for a refugium - Help... pb recipes for disaster   10/11/13
Hello Mr. F,
How are you?
<Fine, thanks>
As I stated in my last email I have started my refugium " successfully" but I have a big problem : I cannot keep the levels between the refugium and sump balanced.
<... per your drawing... no; this can't be done... without utilizing level sensors, electro-magnetic switches for pumps/pumping... Things I would NOT do>

I included a drawing so you can better understand my system.
<I thought we'd been over this. I would NOT utilize two (different) level sumps/refugiums, overflows... fraught with danger>
The problem is that I cannot regulate with the valve that is on my return pump from the refugium to sump the level.
Sometimes they stay balanced for even 6 hours, then in the morning I find 1-2 cm disbalance, and that influences the automatic top up system that is located in the mid sump and that influences the salinity.
 After trying for several days, the only thing I can think of is that the overflow is not feeding constantly the refugium, even if the level in my DT is always the same. I have 2 Vortech MP 40 plus 2 AquaMedic powerheads  that move the water a lot, and maybe that is what changes.
So I was thinking of an alternate solution described in the drawing : a closed vessel that should take the variations of the
level and feed the refugium constantly from a hole in the bottom.
<Won't work either>
But this is valid only if really the overflow feeds the refugium non constantly. Please tell me what do you think, I am playing a very dangerous game here with the salinity for my SPS.
Thank you very much,
Andrei sbarcea - Romania
<Back to the drawing board... Again, one sump is enough for all of us...
(Police song, from Synchronicity I recall). B>

Refugium <algae, circ.> and SPS <hlth.> question  10/11/13
I have successfully started my refugium in the basement. It is 200 l, so 20% of the system and is filled half with live rock and half with Chaetomorpha algae. On it there is another tank connected with a 15 cm deep sand bed of 0.5-1 mm sand. A pump takes the water from the refugium and circulates it over the sand bed from where returns gravitationally to the refugium.
<Responded to you re just an hour or so back>
I have put a economical bulb of 100 w and 2500 K over my Chaetomorpha, because this is what the guy that gave me the algae had and seemed to be doing fine. But on a small portion of it has turned brown. I put a small powerhead with  a hose with many holes that would circulate more the water around the algae. Would this help?
<Likely of some use; yes>
 For now on it doesn't seem to evolve the problem.
And second, is the SPS in the photo growing or dying?
<Growing; nicely>
Thank you very much,
Andrei from Romania
<Welcome; BobF, cooking et al. in S. Cal.>

Plumbing a DIY refugium - 10/31/2012
Hello my name is James Plath, and I am a huge fan of WWM. You inspired me to set up my first SW tank. I have a 20 gallon high Nano reef I set up this year. It has a relatively high bio-load: 1 percale clown, 1 sunrise dotty back, 1 pygmy cherub angel, 1 green Chromis , and an assortment of soft and LPS corals. I am running a canister filter and HOB skimmer, and have a deep sand bed of about 4 1/2 inches. I have decided that to increase biodiversity, provide a constant food source, and make filtration easier,
I would like to add a refugium made out of a spare 10 gallon tank lying around.
<A good idea and project!>
I have no room beneath the tank, as that is used for storage, so I cannot house it beneath the display tank. I would like to have it next to the tank, on a stand, at the same height. Is this possible?
<Mmm, not practically... better by far that there be a difference in elevation twixt the two systems... One a bit higher/lower than t'other.
Otherwise it's really not easy to assure the water will flow back/forth expediently. Alternatively one can build/buy an overflow box to fit twixt, and more slowly pump water over, chancing that the siphon will not fail.
See CPR's Fuges re: http://www.cpraquatic.com/products/aquafuge.html
and/or Glass-holes.com  re>
How can I go about plumbing this fuge, as well as circulating water through it without baffles?
<Ahh, see the above links>
Also, do you have any recommendations for good rooted macro algae besides Caulerpa for smaller fuges?
<Oh yes; please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/refugalgfaq2.htm
I would like to have a macro for housing and growing micro-starfish and small crustaceans, in addition to Chaetomorpha.
<Look to the genus Gracilaria... IMO one of the best all-around>
Thanks, James Plath.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Refugium/Sump, pb design      11/1/12
Hi, I am entertaining the idea of building a refugium/sump for my 40 gallon breeder style tank. I will be using a 29 gallon bow front tank if I decide to build the sump. The 29 gallon tank is much taller then my display tank and I was wondering about the baffle height and how it effects the setup.
<As long as the "underpass" is a few inches below the top of the sump (and main tank) water level....>
Now I know that the higher the baffles the more water capacity I can have in the sump which is what I am looking for. I am worried that the way I am planning on setting up the sump might increase the chance of micro bubbles since I want to utilize higher baffles. With the slow down of current in the design my return portion of the sump will be much lower then that of the inlet and refugium. I am thinking this might create micro bubbles in the return portion of the sump, correct?
<Possibly, depending on flow rate... I wouldn't be concerned at this point... IF this is an issue, there are mechanisms (filter bags, sponge material) that can resolve the bubbles>
If so, how might I be able to reduce the micro bubbles from the higher elevated drop of water into the return portion of the sump?
<As stated above>
Another question I have is in the picture I provided for the sump where the refugium flows over into the center return area I was going to slot the top of the baffle to reduce flow. I was wondering if simply drilling holes in the top of the baffle instead of using slots might be more beneficial?
<About the same>
Didn't know if one of the crew might have tried this before or not, but if not I will try it and find out for myself. My biggest concern is flooding my house since my tank is in the upstairs portion of my home. I have searched around for fail safes and have only found uninformative quick references to ideas and not really how to incorporate it into the design (quick references mentioned not from this site).
<You could attach an overflow... to elsewhere... via a through-put in the sump... but unless you're using an auto top off system, you won't likely have a problem w/ the given volumes of the main and sump tanks>
The attached JPEG image is a copy of the design I drew up for how I want to setup the sump/refugium and if there are any recommendations that would make it more efficient I would appreciate your input.
<It may be hard to get the pipe filled, and keep it filled on your overflow... I'd see WWM re a Durso standpipe instead. Bob Fenner>

Struggling with nitrates and water filtration/Nitrate Control/Plumbing    3/4/12
Hail, fish gods,
<Hello Margaret>
I set up my tank about a year and a half ago. I'd like to get a bigger DT, but I'm struggling with my water parameters, and I'm concerned about going "all in" if I can't figure out a way to work this out. If you have time, I'd love to hear any suggestions you might have for me. I've attached a diagram of what I've got going on, but here's an overview.
My questions for you are regarding nitrates, water filtration, and one plumbing question.
I have a 60g cube tank, a 55g refugium, and a 150g sump. It currently contains the following.
DT equipment:
about 50 pounds of live rock
4 Tunze 6015s
130W (I think) of PC lighting
I also have an Ecoxotic LED Retro 36 kit with 5 stunners sitting next to the tank that I haven't gotten around to installing
1/2" mixed substrate (some coarse, from before I learned not to use that, and some fine sand)
DT Livestock:
2 mated Ocellaris (black and white clowns)
5 Apogon leptacanthus (threadfin cardinals--beautiful little fish)
1 Centropyge acanthops (African flameback pygmy angel)
1 Lysmata wurdemanni
1 pencil urchin, I think--it came in on some LR
1 polyp of some variety, about 3"x5", it's orangey brown with green highlights under the actinics
2 mushrooms that also hitchhiked in
a handful of snails, some of which are breeding
6" DSB
2 Nassarius snails
AquaC-EV400 -- this has been installed for a year and has never produced anything other than scum in the tower. I'll call the company again for help, and then buy a different one if I can't get this one going. I think the lack of a skimmer is a big part of my nitrate problem.
<Yes it is. There are three items you need to address in the skimmer. The air intake valve will slowly build up a deposit and will drastically reduce air flow to the skimmer.
The spray injector eventually clogs with debris. Both of these need to be cleaned.
Directions for doing this are in your skimmer manual. The third item it to check the pump impeller housing for any build up and I'm assuming you have the correct pump size for the EV400.>
75# LR
Water readings:
SG 1.025
Ph 8.4
KH 18
<Why are you using a KH test kit. We are interested in dKH which measures carbonate hardness
(buffering capacity of your water). KH measures total hardness and is geared more for freshwater tanks.>
Temp 80-81
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 25, up from about 10 last week... sigh.
Ca: 410
Magnesium: 1500
<Little too high.>
Phosphate: 0
Silicate: 1
Problem #1, Nitrates
A couple of months ago the nitrates spiked to almost 100. I've gotten them down doing tons and tons of water changes. The nitrate spike killed two peppermint shrimp and a cleaner shrimp, as well as everything in my fuge. :-(
<Why didn't you address the skimmer problem?>
I feed the tank about a pinch of Spectrum pellets two out of every three days and on the days when I can feed more than once they get about a pinch of formula 2 flakes as well. With the pellets, I make sure none of them fall all the way to the sand and I stop feeding as soon as a pellet falls by a fish who doesn't chase it down. The flakes are a little harder to control, but I never see them swirling down below the surface after anyone is done eating. I'm certainly open to the idea that I'm still overfeeding, but, gosh, I'm trying really hard not to. I sometimes feed frozen glassworms and Mysis, and in perusing the FAQs I did discover that I should be rinsing this food first, which I hadn't been doing. Still, frozen food 1-2 times a week doesn't seem like enough to give me these readings.
<Over a period of time it will especially without the use of a protein skimmer.>
Nothing that I put in the tank has died in the tank and not been removed promptly. Nothing that I've observed has died, either. <?>
I did discover a lot of build-up of some sort or another (detritus?) in my sump and fuge. I've siphoned all of this out. Do you think THIS was my problem?
<Quite possibly. DSBs can be a double edge sword. If micro fauna is not present to consume detritus/waste, DSBs will then turn into a nitrate factory. Is your DSB teeming with micro fauna?>
Maybe just yet another part of it? I'm at work re-seeding my fuge now. I get some more pods and other critters from IPSF on Tuesday. I've had Chaeto for a year that never grew, and I recently got some Caulerpa which I thought I'd try until I get the nitrates under control and then I'll try to get something safer growing. I just have some Home Depot clamp lights with plant lamps over the fuge. Do you think this was too little light for the Chaeto?
I know that the lack of a skimmer is a problem, but with this volume of water and light stocking (relative to the water volume, not the tank size) I thought I would be okay until I got around to dealing with the skimmer. I guess I was just wrong?
<Yes. If the above skimmer suggestions do not cure the problem, do contact Jason at AquaC. He will not rest until your skimmer is functioning properly.>
Problem #2, Water Filtration

I have some pretty major problems with water filtration. My source water is very, very hard (KH 18) and I don't have enough water pressure to run a reverse osmosis system. I've been using a Kold-Steril system, which is incredibly easy to use, and being able to make 60g of water in 30 minutes is fantastic. When the water comes out of the Kold-Steril, the KH is still 18. The KH in my system water is also 18. I've tried a bunch of different solutions for bringing down the KH, but only one
thing worked but it created lots of phosphates.
I recently discovered that there are RO booster pumps
however, which has got me excited. Do these work?
If so, maybe I could switch to RO and get my KH down.
Do you think I should go this route? Any chance this would help with the nitrates?
<Unlikely. The Kold-Steril should remove any nutrients from the source water.>
The Kold-Steril system doesn't remove the silicates that are in my tap water, so I get diatoms (only in the DT though) that I have to clean off everything every 7-14 days. I do not, however, have any nuisance algaes at all, which makes me grateful to have diatoms instead of worse things as I struggle through this nitrate problem. Do you agree? If I install the Ecoxotic lights now, with the nitrates, do you think I'll start growing nuisance algaes like wildfire?
<Many quality LED companies design their LEDs to favor the spectrum corals prefer and will help reduce algae growth by limiting the wavelength algae prefer.>
Plumbing Question, refugium

I'm wanting to set up a dedicated tank for high-flow macro-algae for nutrient export that is separate from my refugium, which I believe should have a much slower flow. Would you advise that I plumb it inline or parallel to the refugium? If inline, before the fuge, or after the fuge? I was actually thinking that I would situate it above my huge sump and have the bleed line from my return pump feed the algae growing center.
<I believe what you depict in your attachment is fine. Just add a ball valve to control flow into the refugium.>
If I take the algae out of the refugium, is there anything else in there (the fuge) that would need light?
<Why would you want to do that, the algae is helping to reduce nitrates.
You need to export the nutrients out of your system. Get that protein skimmer
working, no need to buy a new one, the AquaC EV400 is an excellent skimmer.>
I've got a shipment arriving Tuesday of pods, worms, snails, and other critters to get the refugium going again.
<Please do.>
There's nothing alive in the fuge right now other than the sand and the 2 Nassarius snails.
Will my current nitrate reading kill all these animals?
<No, 25ppm isn't all that bad for these animals.>
If so, I can run the fuge independently from the other tanks until I get the nitrate problem under control.
<Leave as is for now and concentrate on exporting nutrients.
I would also get that Ecoxotic LED fixture up over the display tank, will also help control algae growth.>
Thanks so much for your feedback. I really appreciate your time. I hope you don't tell me to "learn to/use the search engines" because I tried really hard before I wrote in.
<You need to take action after reading helpful information.>
Since this is a common mantra for you, however, I thought you may appreciate the "Let Me Google That For You" site (www.lmgtfy.com). Here's the example you can send back to me if it turns out I haven't done enough research. Click here
http://lmgtfy.com/?q=nitrate+reduction >to see how funny this site is. :-)
<I don't see anything funny, just links to helpful information.>
Thanks again.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Re Struggling with nitrates and water filtration/Nitrate Control/Plumbing       3/4/12
<Hello Margaret>
thanks so much for your helpful response.
Re: the plumbing, I want to have two refugiums, one focused on critter development, etc., and one solely geared towards growing macroalgae. 
The diagram I sent only depicted the current setup, with one tank.  So when I add a second one, should I put *that* one inline or parallel to the existing setup?
<I'd put it parallel if it were mine.  In that regard if I wanted to work on something in one of the refugiums I could shut the water off feeding it.>
I was thinking about just putting some macroalgae with a light in a Rubbermaid bin above my sump and using an extra pump to send sump water up there and then back again, with a couple of powerheads to keep everything moving.  Does that sound good?
<That would work as well.>
Thanks again,
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

Refugium Mechanics 2/17/12
I read some articles and FAQs and they seem to say that I can put one tank next to another and have water move between them. The question I could not answer is do you need one tank substantially higher then the other? Or can one of them be 2 or 3 inches higher for the siphon to work? Thanks, Paul.
<Can be just a few inches different... configuring sufficient (large) overflow/s... to accommodate the pump flow to/from one to the other. Bob Fenner>

60G mixed reef question. Refugium pump sizing/choices 9/1/11
Hello, first off thanks a lot for the help you all provide. I am setting up a new 60G mixed reef to replace my 28G NanoCube, but I want to make sure I do this setup correctly and take my time doing so. I am having a 30"x12"x16" sump built which will have a skimmer chamber, refugium chamber and return chamber (in that order). I drilled the tank and have a built-in overflow rated at 700 gph and I was initially looking at the Eheim 1260 as my return pump pushing to two 3/4" return bulkheads, but I am concerned that the 630 gph it is rated at, even at approximately 550 gph after my head loss, will be too much for the sump since I will have a built-in refugium chamber.
<Mmm, a good idea to engineer the system to only have some of the water going through the refugium, likely a valve on the discharge side of the Eheim... And use internal pumps to move water around in the display itself>
I am going to have mud, Chaeto and some other macroalgae in the refugium but I was also concerned that the water flow may be too much to successfully grow 'pods. Should I go with the Eheim 1250 with one 3/4" return bulkhead, being that it is 317 gph, in order to slow down the movement through the sump or should I just stick with the 1260 and use a ball valve to cut it down about 1/3 or so?
<Up to you... you may well find the head-loss to be considerable... I don't think the larger pump will/would be too much>
I will have either one MP40 or two MP10s (on each side of the tank) for flow, so I am obviously not counting on my sump to really create any water flow but I want it to serve the purpose it is there for. Thanks a lot for the help.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

minimum distance refugium needs to be lower than display tank 8/10/11
<Hello Jenny>
Love your site!! We're setting up our reef tanks with refugiums, and in one of our setups, I have a refugium that is only 2" lower than my display tank. It's a side by side setup, and I wanted to keep the stand the refugium sits on. Is this enough space for my overflow box to work?
<I don't know, have you tried?>
Probably a stupid question, and I didn't see the answer as to how much lower the fuge needs to be when I searched the site.
<There are no rules as to where it needs to be, it can be anywhere even (and preferably actually) above the tank. What you need to ensure is that you are able to get the water in and out of it somehow, by using a pump and a drain>
Plus, there was a simple diagram and no instructions on this with my overflow box so I thought I'd check before we plumb it. Thanks for your help.
<For help with overflow boxes please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/overfloboxfaqs.htm?h=>
Re: minimum distance refugium needs to be lower than display tank 8/12/11

Hi Simon,
<Hi Jenny>
We're going to try and see what happens. My husband is of the opinion that as long as the water level of the display is above the water level of the refugium that the law of gravity would ensure it will work.
We will see. If not, it's not a big deal we'll just lower it until it works.
<As long as you can get the plumbing in, then it will work>
Thanks for getting back to me. We are finding the site very informative and enjoyable.
<That's great news!>
Re: re: minimum distance refugium needs to be lower than display tank 8/23/11

Hi Simon,
<Hi Jenny>
Just wanted to get back to you on results of the below mentioned overflow.
It worked perfectly.
We installed a check valve in the return line to the display so that if the power goes out, only the water in the overflow box drains into the refugium.
<Mmm, these are prone to failure. If it was me/ mine I would not be relying on a check valve of any kind to prevent a back siphon. I would instead, ensure that the end of the return from the sump is at or above the water line in the display>
We had tested it, and the power actually went out this past weekend, and we were so happy we put in the valve as it worked like a charm.
<They usually do to start with, until a grain of sand or such gets stuck inside...>
No floods here.
<I'm crossing all my fingers and toes here;)>
Take Care.
<You too>
Re: minimum distance refugium needs to be lower than display tank 8/23/11

Hi Simon,
<Hi Jenny>
We did that as well.
Thank you and the whole WetWeb crew for all the great advice. I'm enjoying the journey of knowledge. Have a great week.
<Thank you Jenny, you too. Simon>

Sump/Refugium (Configuration, Drains, Etc.) -- 07/02/11
Hi Guys,
Great site!
I've been reading here for the 6 months that I have had my tank and have a few questions before I start cutting and gluing my pipes and fittings.
I have a 110 gallon Marineland aquarium that I am attempting to convert from Biowheel filtration to a sump setup.
<<I see>>
I have drilled and installed two 1.5" bulkhead drains on the upper back corners and a single central 1" return bulkhead.
<<Very good>>
The drains will have street ells and strainers turned up to adjust the water level in the display as high as I can get it.
<<Mmm, this can work and is similar to my own setup'¦but rather than using strainers which will greatly reduce the capacity of the drains, I chose to 'notch' the ells and use them like mini overflow boxes. If you have placed the ells to allow for the height of the strainers you can simply add a short length of pipe to allow for maximum water height. At any rate, I do not recommend utilizing the 'strainers' unless you plan on a greatly reduced flow rate'¦which in itself is not necessarily a bad thing when it comes to dealing with noise, bubbles, et al'¦and if you have other means of providing water movement within the tank (which you should anyways)>>
I have purchased but not installed yet a wmd40rlxt Iwaki pump that is supposed to do around 1200 gph.
<<Even with the associated headloss, this pump will likely overpower the drains if you use the bulkhead strainers on them as you have mentioned. Do plumb a 'gate-valve' on the output side of the pump to allow for tempering flow as needed>>
I've just installed 6" of a fine aragonite DSB and suspended my current rock on a pvc frame 1/2" above the sand. (All this came from you guys, if correct, that is).
<<A wealth of opinions here'¦ I prefer to place rock on the tank bottom and then add sand'¦but what you have done can also work>>
Hopefully I will be able to have a selection of fish, inverts and coral.
<<I don't see why not>>
I'm planning on attaching a 3/4" pvc closed manifold (?)
<<closed-loop manifold>>
return system around the perimeter of the tank to the 1" return line after it comes through the glass and using 4, half-inch loc-line segments on reducing tees to direct the flows. Will this work or does the manifold need to be 1" also?
<<Ideally the manifold would match the diameter of the return line for maximum flow. But more importantly I think'¦ You will be disappointed with the performance of this closed-loop. Even with only four half-inch nozzles, you need at least twice the flow this pump will provide to get any real benefit re any forceful water flow. Half-inch nozzles on a closed-loop system needs a 'minimum' of 350 gph per nozzle'¦and even then the flow is meager by comparison. Considering the size of this system a bigger pump is not an option, in my opinion. I do suggest you consider some the propeller pumps available, for creating water movement within the tank>>
I have room for an old 42 gallon aquarium to use as a sump/refugium under the display.
<<Excellent'¦bigger the better as you will be flushing a lot of water through it with your chosen return pump>>
With the external pump on the left side of the sump, I was planning on dumping the raw water from the right drain of the display and splitting it into a front Chaeto refugium compartment and a live rock compartment behind it, each 15 gals and the remaining to feed the external skimmer. Should I valve one of those to reduce the flow and which one?
<<I 'would not' place any type of valve/restriction on the drain lines. Depending on your final plumbing configuration, they are likely to be taxed as it is>>
From there the water would drain into another narrow chamber that the left side of the tank drains into, before a couple of bubble/sedimentation traps and the final compartment with my heater and pump uptake. Does this appear workable?
<<Is workable, but (yeah, here I go again)'¦ If you have not built this yet'¦ 'Ideally' the drains from the tank would flow to a compartment on one end from which the skimmer would draw'¦water would then flow through the refugium compartments and in to the chamber where it is returned to the tank via the pump. This type configuration allows the skimmer to process raw tank water with a minimum impact on the biota in the refugium compartments (due to the flow of water coming 'from' the skimmer compartment to the refugium), and also allows said biota to be washed to the return pump compartment to be carried to the tank for the benefit of your livestock in the display tank>>
I would like to maximize the size of the refugium/live rock compartments and minimize the remaining ones.
<<That's fine>>
Without knowing how much will drain down during a power failure,
<<You 'need to know this''¦ Run some tests and adjust the height of the drain intakes as needed to keep from overflowing the sump. Watch the water as it drains when the pump is off (turning it back on if needed to keep from overflowing on to the floor) and then mark this maximum water height on the outside of the sump>>
how do I go about setting the top height of the panel between the bubble traps?
<<This is determined by the 'working height' of the water in the sump (i.e. - when the pump is running)>>
If I use up 30 gallons in the refugium sections, is 12 gallons enough for the pump and overflow insurance?
<<Maybe'¦maybe not'¦ You need to do some tests and adjust your plumbing as required>>
I'm planning on the bottom edge of the bubble traps 1" off the bottom and the top edges up near the top of the aquarium.
<<Likely fine'¦ But do some testing'¦>>
I've attached a drawing of my plans and also in which I assume any evaporation will show up in the left-most compartment. Lastly, if one of my drains gets clogged, I assume the display will overflow, any ideas on mitigating that disaster with my setup?
<<Indeed I do'¦ Determine the maximum gravity flow of the drains (usually an 'average' of around 700-750 gph per 1.5' drain'¦but ultimately dependent on the plumbing configuration), and utilize a return pump that will only push as much water to the tank as 'one' of the drains can handle. Voilà ! Built-in redundancy>>
Thanks in Advance,
W. Nicola
<<Happy to share'¦ Good luck with your build. EricR>>

Re: Sump/Refugium (Configuration, Drains, Etc.) -- 07/03/11
Thanks Eric,
<<Quite welcome Walid>>
So timely a response and on a holiday weekend!
<<Yeah, that Bobster is a real slave-driver!>>
I'll implement your suggestions.
<<Very good'¦>>
Thanks again,
Walid Nicola
<<Always happy to share my friend'¦ Eric Russell>>

Water Pumps... 4/15/11
I have a 3.0 Sicce water pump in my 120 gal saltwater tank. It sits in the refugium. The return splits to 2 overflows that have 2 return jets on each.
It does not seem to be putting out as much pressure as it should.
Do you think the pump is to small for this type set up?
<Not for a sump return. If you are counting on this for total flow, yes.
See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/circmarart.htm>
It's specs say 714 gph at 9.9 ft. I thought it would be plenty, but maybe I should have gone a bit bigger.
<Split into 4 outputs you will not have much perceivable pressure. And the rating will be a best case scenario.>
I just heard it was a very good pump. Do you recommend any other pumps??
<These are very good pumps, so are Eheims. Keep in mind though with more flow comes less overflow redundancy and the possibility your overflows can't handle it at all. See:
<Welcome, Scott V.>

Plumbing Question (No 'balancing acts' please'¦) - 12/13/10
Hi everybody,
<<Hiya Cesar>>
I am new to marine aquariums. I am still planning things out and have not started anything, yet.
<<Always good to plan/research first>>
I have a 30 gallon acrylic display tank, a 40 gallon acrylic tank (refugium?), and a large wet/dry with sump. The wet/dry sump is under the display tank, but I am afraid that the refugium sits to the side of the display tank.
<<This is fine - in fact, the refugium can be quite an interesting 'display' itself>>
I can easily set up the display to drain to the wet/dry sump and get pumped back up to the display tank. However, I want to incorporate the 40 gallon tank as a refugium.
<<I think employing the 40g tank as a refugium is an excellent decision>>
Should I: 1) drain the display to the 40 gallon tank, then drain that to the wet/dry sump, and pump it to the display tank, or 2) drain the display to the wet/dry sump, pump it to the 40 gallon tank, and pump that to the display tank?
<<A 'gravity drain' to the refugium which is then 'gravity drained' to the sump is the way to go here, you would never be able to balance/keep in balance two pumps utilized as you describe. However, you say the vessel under the display is a 'wet/dry' sump'¦ The mechanical filtration (filter sponges/cloth) typical used with these devices to prevent premature fowling of the bio-media will negate most of the benefit of the refugium re its planktor production. You can overcome this by utilizing 'two' drains going to the wet/dry; one from the display and a smaller one from the refugium (with the display still also draining to the refugium). The drain from the display would attach to the regular input of the wet/dry filter, while the drain from the refugium would be routed directly to the pump chamber of the wet/dry filter, thus allowing the planktors, et al to circumvent the mechanical filter material. Another option would be to remove the bio-media and filter material if not needed/wanted (say, if this will be a 'reef' display) and use the wet/dry filter simply as a sump>>
The first method sounds like the easier answer.
<<Not just easier -- is better/smarter'¦do not try to 'balance flow' from two pumps as you describe>>
However, it will require drilling a bulkhead hole on the lower side of the tank because the two tanks are side by side.
<<Shouldn't be a problem. The two tanks will simply perform as a shared system (water levels will be equalized between the two tanks) with water pumped to the display from the sump, and drained to the sump from the refugium. You'll likely want to utilize a bulkhead screen between the display and the refugium to keep fishes from entering the latter. Be aware these greatly hinder flow so size your throughput(s) accordingly>>
I think I will have problems with the second method because the pumps will not be equal.
Can I control this with ball valves?
<<No - at least not for any length of time. Even should you seem to find a balance here the differing head-heights/pressures and just the build-up of bio-film within the plumbing, will create differences in flow rates on a continuing basis'¦a sure recipe for disaster.
What are you opinions?
<<You've got 'em'¦>>

Refugium Pump Sponge/Refugiums 12/12/10
Hey guys,
Thanks in advance for your help.
<You're welcome.>
I have a refugium setup on my 55 gallon tank and I was wondering whether I should be using the filter sponge for my Mag drive pump. My refugium is full of little feather dusters, pods and other worms and I never see these in my main display. I have been using the filter sponge in the past and it has been a nice home for pods. My concern has become that the filter sponge is limiting organisms from entering my main
tank. Should I remove the sponge from the pump and leave it in the refugium as a home for the pods or should I just leave it on as I have had it.
<I guess that all depends on you. Having pods and other critters in the main display provides
a food source for finicky eaters such as mandarins and helps some in keeping the substrate clean.
If it were me, I'd remove the sponge, just adds another item to the cleaning list.>
Best regards,
<Ditto. James (Salty Dog)>

Refugium/Sump Return Pump -- 08/19/10
Hello crew.
<<Hiya Dave>>
I tried to figure it out on my own but I just couldn't resist after a night of searching so I figured I'd bother you again with another few questions.
I have a 75 gallon tank with a 38 gallon sump/refugium. The first question involves my return pump from the sump/refugium to main tank. I cleaned the return pump for the first time yesterday, the sump/refugium has been up and running almost three weeks now and when I removed it out of the tank to put into a bucket of siphoned water that I removed while doing a water change I got a ton of junk that came out and fell down to the bottom of the return pump section of the sump. I siphoned out as much as I could of course.
<<Very good--routine removal of accumulated detritus in this area will help much with your water quality>>
When I opened the return pump to clean the internal filter
there was loads of junk in there.
<<I would not use 'any' type of 'pre-filter' on the return pump. Aside from quickly fowling, this filter prevents the migration of much of the beneficial biota from the refugium to the display>>
I removed the filter sponge on my overflow box because it was slowing my flow down big time and I had to throttle back the return pump a lot with a ball valve.
<<Indeed'¦ If you feel the need for some type of mechanical filtration here I suggest you employ a filter 'sock' at the termination point of the return drain(s)--cleaned/exchanged 'at least' weekly>>
I have a four to almost six inches depth of sand bed in the 75 and 4.5 to 5 inches of depth in the refugium, 65 pounds of live rock, AquaC Remora with MaxiJet 1200 pump, and a bag of carbon as my filtration. After about two weeks I had TONS of little critters crawling around in the refugium.
Do I need this filter that is inside my return pump?
<<Nope, is not beneficial--in fact is quite the opposite, in my opinion>>
It seems it will cause more harm than good as it gathers all the junk inside it.
My second question is one that I have seen a thousand people ask you; but you know every tank/setup has its own capabilities.
<<Tis true>>
I have a coral beauty, purple flame goby, watchman goby with pistol shrimp, flame hawkfish, bristletail file, blue/green Chromis or damsel (seen them called both), and a 15 inch snowflake eel. I'm looking to add another 15-20 pounds of live rock to fill in the emptiness since I removed my H.O.B filter and moved my heater and protein skimmer to the sump.
<<Do consider whether you really need to add this additional rock vs. the loss of swimming/growing room. Perhaps a rearrangement of the existing rock would be a better alternative>>
Will a yellow eye tang or chevron tang be ok to add?
<<Likely yes--but all the more reason NOT to fill the tank up with too much rock, for the reasons just stated>>
The other question is I'm running a ton of flow in the 75 and I have one spot in my sand bad that is 3 inches in depth, any problem with that?
<<Nope--though you may want to research and consider employing a 'gyre' type flow system rather than a 'chaotic' flow system. Aside from being more natural, a gyre flow system with a 'top-down' style (water pushed along the top and rolling/flowing down at the end of the tank and then back across the bottom) is gentler on deep fine sand beds and thus much less likely to rearrange same>>
It is what has caused me to have a section that is 6 inches in depth.
<<Well do I know'¦>>
Thank you soooo much for all the help you guys
<<And gals!>>
have given me and the information I've needed to teach my girlfriend on the reasons why I need to spend more money on things.
<<Hee-hee! A pleasure to assist with (all) your dilemmas. Umm, is this where I'm supposed to say you need a bigger tank? [grin]>>

Separate Sump and Fuge Conception... "... flows downhill, payday's on Friday" lesson unfolding 5/26/10
Hello hello!!
Ok so, first of I'd like to say that marine aquarium keeping and scouring your site is my new full time obsession! I have to say I've work diligently at kicking habits throughout my adult life that I considered addictive to the point of causing me to neglect my life's other necessities.
<And then came marine aquariums, we know>
Then along comes a ready and running 20 gallon marine aquarium that was in need of some major TLC and now I'm hooked big time! Thank you very much for giving me a guilt free reason not to mow the lawn, do the dishes and
vacuum the carpets etc. I love you guys/gals man!
<Do slip in those other tasks... good to keep the blood flowing... will make you more alert for important activities... like your aquarium interests!>
Alright enough with the fluff. I'll give you the basic run-down of what where I'm at and where I'd like to go with all this joyful craziness! I won't bother you with many technical details as I know I can find those in The Conscientious Marine Aquarist, Reef Aquarist and WWM among other sources. Basically I'd appreciate some broad advice as to how I should start/continue my thinking about my overall design which will probably take over a year to finally realize.
About 4 months ago I acquired a 20 gallon marine aquarium with about 20lbs of live rock covered in a straight stringy algae or plant (I have yet to fully identify, but I feel is of little consequence since I trimmed it back replaced the CFs and is no longer growing), a clown fish, CPR Bak-Pak skimmer, coral life 24" CF light fixture and a single Rio pump providing additional flow. Since then I moved the whole setup in a 26 gallon bow front, added 40lbs of Ocean Direct "live" sand (I mixed 20lbs of fine and 20lbs of less than 1/8" coarser sand), upgraded to and modified a Maxi-jet 1200 (beautiful results), replaced the bulbs in the fixture, added a Zoo-Med PS-40 for additional flow and introduced a Spotted Toby and Tailspot Blenny.
All my readings look great (nitrate <5 an hour before weekly water change),
the live rock looks healthier and everyone is feeding well and getting along. Despite the excitement of all this and the hours tallying up to weeks I've spent learning about this hobby I've already decided to dream bigger and add more challenges to my marine endeavors So here's the scoop. I recently purchased a Perfecto 60 gallon cube aquarium to be used as my display tank which is sitting in my basement itching to fulfill its destiny. I also just stumble across two Aqualight 150 Watt MH lights (one slightly used, on new) for $150 total (Woohoo)!!
I plan on "fabricating" a coast-to-coast overflow system in this tank incorporating this exact pipe design:
<Have read... Wish the words "fail safe" were omitted>
I would like this to flow into a 20 gallon sump (using a 30 gallon aquarium)
to house all my hardware (skimmer, heaters etc.) and possibly a DSB. From there I would like to pump the flow up to a displayed 40 gallon fuge which will be used to raise Phytoplankton, Zooplankton, possibly some shrimp for a larval food source along with some Chaetomorpha and small mangroves (for visual appeal mostly).
<And this refugium overflow via gravity into the cube I take it>
Do you think this is too much to be raising in one fuge or should I consider using the Chaetomorpha in the sump?
<Either way>
Regarding the overall design, what level compared to the main display should the fuge be at considering that I would like to add a smaller display directly off the fuge to house seahorses in the distant future.
<A few inches... more important is the size of the overflow through-puts>
My thinking is that it should be above the display so I can simply have an overflow back into the display tank and when the time comes pump up from the fuge to the seahorse tank which would be set just above the fuge. Am I safe to assume that setting the level of the fuge overflow merely 6" above the display tank water level will provide enough height for the overflow to function at the required rate or am I asking for a flood?
<No flooding as long as the overflow system works, the sump pump functions, and there is no back siphoning from the refugium... I would test "shutting down" the power with all filled up about where you want... and make a permanent mark for height of water in the sump below... for as high as you'll ever want to fill it... the transit volume is of concern here for when the sump pump quits or power fails... Understanzee?>
Would I need to go higher than
this and could the seahorse tank be set at the same interval above the fuge?
<If the seahorse tank is set near the same height, the flow rate should be quite small... again, mainly the transit volume issue... all the water over the height of the drains in all upper tanks will need to be accommodated in the sump below>
The idea is to eliminate the need for a step ladder to view the seahorse tank if you know what I mean. Also I've been getting the sense from my readings here at WWM that I should look at "trying" to match the flow rate into the sump with the quantity of water my skimmer will be able to handle and/or 10X the volume of the sump (200gph).
<Better to provide more "in tank" circulation with pumps in those systems... As you will find here, having multiple tanks/systems serviced by one lower reservoir (sump) requires that it be of good size/volume, and/or have greatly reduced (read this as "piled up") volume of water above it>
Should I look at devising a way to slow the flow into the fuge or am I safe since the fuge is twice the volume of the sump and will equate to 5X the volume of the fuge?
<Is one approach, yes>
If I use a high quality pump from the sump to the fuge that is advertised to pump 300gph and is pushing vertically around 4' with minimal horizontal flow how many gph can I really expect approximately (math equations I can use)?
<Would have to look at a/the performance/demand curve for the particular pump/motor, plumbing diagram... but summat less than likely stated. In actual practice, a good idea to plan on a variable resistor (valve) on the discharge side of the pump to regulate>
Whew, I hope that wasn't too much, but I've been trying to visualize this whole concept and before I go about making sketches and the like I really just wanted to know if this is feasible or if I should be rethinking this whole thing.
Thank you so much! I better go cut the lawn ;)
<Oh yes! Bob Fenner>

Refugium Siphon Speed/Refugiums 5/5/10
Please can you help,
I have just set up my first marine tank, it's a small 200ltr tank with a 50ltr refugium. My problem is siphon speed, there are so many schools of thought on this that I'm baffled. some say the slower the more
growth, some say the faster the better it filters. At the moment it's turning over 180lph. please can you set me straight with this problem.
<Sure, best to read here.
James (Salty Dog)>

Upgrading To A 75/Refugiums/Plumbing 5/3/10
<Hello Dave>
I currently have a 38 gallon tank with a blue/green damsel, Flame Hawkfish, Purple Flame Goby, Watchman Goby with pistol shrimp, Tiger Brittle Star, and a Snowflake Eel. I have 50 pounds of live rock, Aquaclear filter, and a Remora Aqua C hang on protein skimmer for filtration. My eel is about 13 inches now and I have been battling nitrates (20-30 ppm)for the past few weeks,
<Not surprising with the fish load you have in a 38 gallon tank.>
so I am going to upgrade to a 75 gallon and turn my 38 into a sump/refugium.
Can I set these two tanks up next to each other in a "L" shape?
<You could depending on the height of the 38 and 75 gallon, but will require drilling holes for bulkhead fittings in the 75 and possibly in the 38.>
If I section the 38 into 3 sections can I use my hang on protein skimmer in the first section of it?
<Sure, and is where you would want it.>
For the middle I would like to put some aragonite sand and some live rock.
<The refugium section.>
I'm sure my eel is going to get my pistol one of these days, could I put my watchman and pistol in there?
For the last section do I just place a pump to flow the water back to the 75?
What would be the best way to get the water from my main tank to the refugium?
<Basically, you would need to have both tanks drilled for bulkhead fittings, then tie/plumb the two together. If this option is not to your liking, then you will have to place the refugium (38 gallon) under the display tank and use an overflow box to feed water to the refugium.>
After looking at all kinds of articles on your site and others I'm not understanding how the water flows from one section to the next if they are separated by glass.
<The glass sections are not the same height as the walls of the tank, usually about a third of the tank height. Water then flows over the glass sections.
See diagram here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm. Also read here and related articles/FAQ's appearing in the header.
Thanks for your time and any help is greatly appreciated.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Re Upgrading To A 75/Refugiums/Plumbing 5/3/10 - 5/4/10
I would really like to avoid drilling holes in the tanks.
I also would like to have my refugium on display so you can see it. I will do what I must but if my 75 gallon is 62 inches tall from the floor on its stand and my 38 gallon tank is 57 inches tall on its stand would an
overflow box work?
<It may work if you can find an overflow box where the "U" dimension is wide enough to straddle both tanks. Problem is, overflow boxes are more than 5 inches deep so using the drain hose to feed the refugium may cause some air/drain problems since the drain will likely be submerged in the 38.
Now that I know the difference in tank height, I believe your best option is to just drill a hole for a one inch bulkhead fitting in the 75 only.
You can then plumb a piece of PVC with an elbow to feed the 38. The drawback here is that you are likely to see a gap between the tank trim and the water level in the 75. I'm going to ask the crew for their input here so do read the dailies as they likely will not respond to you directly.>
How many gph pump would you recommend for the return?
<One inch drains are only good for around 350gph despite manufacturer's claims, so a pump somewhere in the 400gph range should work.
(I replied twice with same thing noticed I had a Y instead of a D for the part "and my 38 gallon tank" sorry.)
<No problem, but in future queries, do cap all "i's" and proper nouns. Saves me the time if I do not have to do it before posting. Generally, queries that require more than the usual correcting get answered last, but they do get answered. James (Salty Dog)>

Re Upgrading To A 75/Refugiums/Plumbing 5/14/10
Hello again.
<Hello Dave>
I got my 75 gallon tank yesterday and it is being leaked checked as I type.
<A good idea.>
It appears I will be able to use an overflow box. It is an Aqueon ProFlex hang-on overflow box. It has a hose barb located at the bottom of the outside box that sits 2 inches higher than my 38 gallon on its stand so this should work fine draining into the 38.
<Just be sure the drain hose is not submerged in the 38.>
I've been reading more on what type of substrate I should use and I'm leaning toward a sugar-fine grade at about 6 inches in depth. Is this a good amount and any idea on how many pounds of sand/aragonite that will be for a 75 gallon tank (18wx24L)?
<If you are planning a DSB, do read here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm If not, a couple of inches deep will be fine providing you do not plan on keeping any burrowing wrasses. As far as the amount of sand you will need largely depends on grain size, depth desired, and tank dimensions. A long 75 and a short 75 are going to require different amounts to achieve the same depth. With your tank size, I would start with 60 pounds and go from there.>
With using this overflow box would you still recommend a 400gph return pump inside the 38?
<Sure, you can always throttle the output down with a gate valve if necessary. You may even want to go slightly higher as you will have some head loss depending on the length of the return tube. Gph measurements are taken right at the output of the pump and do not reflect head loss incurred by the length of the return line and/or any other restrictions.>
Thanks for your time.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Re Upgrading To A 75/Refugiums/Plumbing 5/3/10 - 5/4/10 - 5/14/10 - 5/17/10
Good morning.
<Hello Dave>
I put substrate and salt water in my 75 gallon yesterday. I went with 150 pounds of sugar-fine aragonite sand with a depth of 4-5 inches. I've only got one powerhead installed at the moment. The dust has finally settled enough that I can see into the tank and I am noticing a little sand tornado below the powerhead. The head has a 295 gph and is 5 inches above the sand should I take it higher or is this tornado being formed from sand particles still not settled?
<You will likely get this continually. I'd move the powerhead up near the water's surface.>
Should I sift the sand now to get the air pockets out that I can see in the sand bed?
<Not really necessary, will take care of itself.>
Once again thanks so much for your help you guys are great.
<You're welcome and once again, be sure to read here and related articles/FAQ's, as your sand depth is deep enough to be considered a DSB.
James (Salty Dog)>

Re Upgrading To A 75/Refugiums/Plumbing 5/3/10 - 5/4/10 - 5/14/10 - 5/17/10 - 5/18/10
It is me again haha.
<And it's me again also, ha ha.>
I went to the store and got a nice 10 pound piece of live rock and put it into the 75 gallon this morning. The tank is now super cloudy again. Guess this will eventually stop when adding things. If I am going to be adding my rock and equipment that I am using from my 38 gallon am I going to need to wait and fully cycle this 75 before adding the rock and my fish? My problem is that the 38 gallon tank is at another location and I'm worried that if I start taking rock from the 38 and putting it into the 75 the 38 is not going to have enough bio filter to keep up with my livestock in it.
What would your recommendation be to handle this?
<Obviously you have enough live rock in the 38 to handle the bioload of it's inhabitants, so why not make a complete transfer, just add more rock before introducing any more fish. You should not have any bio filter issues going this route. James (Salty Dog)>

Re Upgrading To A 75/Refugiums/Plumbing 5/3/10 - 5/4/10 - 5/14/10 - 5/17/10 - 5/18/10 - 5/22/10
<Hi David>
I did a complete transfer today bringing all my rock and fish together and put them in. Dripping the animals for two hours of course. I put my pistol and watchman in together but the pistol went digging straight threw the sand and the goby took off for a home under the rock. I'm sure I am just being a paranoid father but will they eventually find each other again?
<I believe so, may take some time though.>
I also have a brittle tiger starfish, will he be a problem for my deep sand bed?
<No, your Ophiuroid is an excellent scavenger and will help in keeping the sand bed stirred.>
Once again thanks for all your input and help, I'd be lost with you Mr. Salty Dog.
<Thank you, but Mmmm, somehow that didn't come out right. James (Salty Dog)>

New 180 Gallon FOWLR Aquarium Setup, now FO... Pb, pump sel. 3/8/2010
Hello and thank you for your wonderfully informative site.
<What a planet eh?>
I have spent time researching your site but still not sure on the best approach for my new tank.
I am in the process of combining two 55 gallon FOWLR systems into a single 180 gallon tank. I will stay fish only. I will have a 65 gallon custom sump. The sump has three chambers: the intake side which would have my AquaC EV180 skimmer (raw water except for a filter sock), the return section is in the middle and would have my return pump, heaters and other equipment.
The refugium is on the far end. The refugium would be fed by a tee and gate valve off the drain line passing over it. The gate valve would provide an appropriate flow rate for the refugium.
<Sounds good thus far>
I was going to get an All Glass Mega Flow dual overflow system and add two Hydor Koralia Evolution power heads for circulation. The power heads are rated at 1,400 GPH. Is this a good setup for a FOWLR system?
<Can be>
I thought an Eheim 1262 would make a good return pump but I am confused about feeding the two return lines, does this effectively double the head?
<Mmm, about, yes>
If so, would I better served getting two pumps at roughly 300 GPH for my estimated 6' of head or a larger pump that would give me approximately 600 GPH at the combined 12'?
<Is one approach... though valving and one larger pump would serve as well>
Then I read about through the wall overflows, specifically the Dart overflow system with two 2" drains. I would feed this into my 65 gallon sump.
This should provide approximately 2,600 GPH of gravity-only flow. Is this a wise amount of water flowing through my sump?
<Only so much will flow through as is pumped back up... but having excess/redundant flow capacity is a very good idea>
I also read about Anthony Calfo's closed loop manifold system. I love the simplicity, low cost, and clean look.
<Designs with pumps in the systems, some flow outside to/from sumps/refugiums are superior>
I would rather have the pump in the sump because I think it will run quieter and I would rather not drill my sump. I think head would be about 6'. Is having the pump in the sump a good choice and what pump would you recommend? The Eheim line sounds like great pumps but I don't think they are large enough.
<I too favour the Eheim line above all others>
Given that I will stay fish only, is one of these two configurations a better choice than the other?
<Yes; your first one over the "closed loop">
Thank you again for your wonderful site and all the time the crew puts into.
You are a big part of what makes this such a great hobby!
Doug McDermid
<Thank you! Bob Fenner>

Flow Through Stand-Alone Refugium -- 03/08/10
I am getting ready to plumb my refugium and was wondering what flow would be sufficient.
<<This can be variable dependent on the 'type' of refugium (e.g. -- vegetable, DSB, mud, live rock'¦or any combination of these)'¦but generally a flow of a 'few times the volume of the vessel' is sufficient>>
I have a 55 gallon display with an Eshopps sump in which I will either use flow from my PhosBan reactor to supply water to my refugium that sits beside my sump.
<<Mmm, the refugium is better fed with 'raw' water directly from the display. Not that you can't do it the way you propose, but why not utilize the nutrient export capabilities of the refugium as an adjunct to the system. In other words'¦let the refugium serve 'in addition to' the reactor by processing its own raw system water>>
The refugium then gravity feeds back into the sump that houses skimmer, pumps, etc. The refugium itself will be approximately 11 gallons with 1" Miracle Mud and Chaetomorpha algae.
<<I see'¦ The 'mud' will likely require a slow flow rate to keep from being stirred up>>
Will 60 gph. (5.4 times turnover rate through the refugium) of flow through the refugium be sufficient?
<<It sounds like it should be okay, although 11-gallons isn't much volume so this may still prove to be too much for the mud>>
If not, what would be an optimal flow?
<<In this case, as much as you can do without stirring/overly disturbing the mud bed. The design of the refugium will be a factor (baffles, et al)'¦the 'optimal' flow rate will take a bit of experimentation on your part>>
Thank you,
Michael H. Lobato
<<Happy to share'¦ Eric Russell>>

Re: Flow Through Stand-Alone Refugium -- 03/08/10
Ok, my design is basically a cube with an inlet and outlet bulkhead.
<<This design will likely be problematic to the mud bed in such a small volume>>
Shall I have the fabricator place a baffle near the inlet and outlet? Maybe a 1 to 2 inch space where the inlet can fill without disturbing the mud?
<<Indeed'¦the baffles can also be used to set the 'working height' of the water in the 'fuge, independent of the position of the bulkheads>>
Thank you,
Michael H. Lobato
<<Happy to assist'¦ EricR>>

Water Flow Rates/Plumbing 2/20/10
You guy's have been so much help, thank you.
<You're welcome, Les.>
Would you mind looking over the PDF attachment to check my sump flow rates through both the skimmer (600gph) and refugium (600 gph) sections. I will be using the new Reef Dynamics 250 skimmer in the skimmer section and for the refugium section I will be using a 5" DSB w/macroalgae and just a little LR, is that OK?
<Will work.>
Any flow rate suggestions?
<Experimentation needed here. A ball valve will allow you to control the flow so as not to create a sand storm and/or have the macro tumbling around. May want to read this article taken from our Conscientious Aquarist Magazine for suggestions/ideas.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_6/volume_6_3/refugiums.html, and this
article written by Mr. Fenner. Do read related FAQ's also.>
Also, do I need to put some crabs in with the DSB to stir the sand? (Critter suggestions).
<See above links.>
I think I'm OK with the flow (16x or 3200 gph) through the display for a FOWLR -do you agree?
<Is OK but do suggest true union ball valves on the returns to control flow if needed and for ease of pump maintenance. Since you didn't list the size of the plumbing for the drains, I do suggest 1 1/2" drains. This should allow approximately 950 gph of flow through each drain line. This won't get you your 3200gph but neither will the Eheim pumps. A 10-12x actual flow rate is what I usually suggest.>
Any suggestions before I build this?
<Yes, read here and related FAQ's.
Thanks again my friends,
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Les Currey
PS: Do you guy's accept contributions for your site? I feel I should make one to Wetmedia.com <Wetwebmedia.com> for all their help.
<We accept and welcome donations as our crew, including Mr. Fenner, volunteer their time and services. If you scroll down on the plumbing link above, you will see a donate tab which will guide you through your options of PayPal or credit card.>

Re Skimmer Selection... actually refugium flow, subst. 2/17/10
<Hello Les.>
I thought it was best, to only pump 3x-5x your tlt refugium water volume through the refugium and the rest should go to the skimmer section within the sump? If the refugium section within my sump is only 18gal of total water,
wouldn't I just want to pump around 90gph through that section?
<That is one school of thought, I personally do not subscribe to it. The two big arguments for slow flow are to not uproot the macro and to allow it time to absorb the nutrients it is taking out of the water. On the first point it is not
how much flow, but how it is implemented. A person could have 3 times turnover in a refugium and have
that flow directed at the macro's roots and cause problems. A person may also have 20 times turnover that is very dispersed with no issue. Also, if Chaetomorpha is the choice, rooting is not an issue. On the second point, this is simply not how plants or algae work. It is not like me throwing you a cheeseburger at 90 mph. The downside to too little flow is the buildup of detritus, just as in low flow areas of a tank or even a canister filter.>
Also, thanks for your previous response. You answered all my questions but one. You said to put all the LR I could in both the refugium and return sections of my sump, and some macroalgae. Do you also think I should put
some sand in the refugium?
<You can, I certainly do. I would have some sort of DSB somewhere, if not in the display
then remotely either through the refugium or a separate vessel.>
Thanks again, you have been a tremendous help.
<Welcome, have fun, Scott V.>

Thanks Bob and one question. Refugium design/operation 1/14/10
Hey Bob
<Hi Josh!>
Just got back from the SDMAS that you spoke at!! Loved the presentation and would love to go dive some time.
<Ahh, do stay in contact>
Now to the nitty gritty. How do you think this sump works?
<I really like the (I think this is what it is) heater holder... or maybe the angled bit with a hole is for supporting a probe...>
The overflow side had miracle mud in it and I think a piece of egg crate to hold back Chaeto from the return side. I guessing they didn't run a sock, but have never seen this set up and am a little confused on the lack of baffles and the high rate of flow that would be going through this sump/refuge with it being under a 270 tall.
<I would only run "some" water through such a size, configuration... tens of gallons an hour... not hundreds. As you state, more flow will "dump over" any media>
The tank/sump are both custom and ran in concert for years as the story goes. Do you see any improvements I could make? Should I go with it as is with the mud, Chaeto, etc and let this puppy run? THANKS BOB! Josh
Sump is 60 gallons and baffle is 6 inches high.
<Mmm, well, it's a shame the shape isn't more long and flat vs. tall... I'd use this sump as the prev. owner/operator likely... but have most of the circulation located in the display tank itself (recirculating pumps, powerheads...); maybe add another new sump/refugium in addition... with only "some" of the recirculated water parsed out to both. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm
the second tray... re Sump, Refugium Designs... and let's chat further re diving and your ideas here. Bob Fenner>

Re: Thanks Bob and one question, 'Fuge design, circulation 1/15/10
Thanks Bob. Much help. Let me tell you what I'm thinking and see if we're on the same page.
I have 2 K4s circulating the tank
a Gen x 40 pump 1100 gph. would be bumping down from a Coralife 1720
a ASM G4 skimmer
40 Watt UV
Chiller etc etc etc........
Would that be enough of a reduction of flow to run this refuge/sump as is with the mud ,algae, or should I go down in pump size?
<I would divert the greater half or more of flow to just recirculating... with valves, so you'll be able to adjust, only running a portion of the flow here through the refugium. I think all would prove to be too much, washing whatever media, algae "over the baffle">
P.S. have about ten feet of head and going to plumb chiller/ UV inline of main discharge. Give you an idea of the friction loss :)
<Yes... again only part of the water draining through the refugium, the bulk (through valving) going back to the pump ala a closed-loop recirculating system. Understanzee? BobF>
Thanks again!

Refugiums, pump, Pb... 1/5/10
Hi Guys,
I am assisting a friend with a 220 gal. reef running for almost a year and now going to add on refugium. Looking for opinion on not using an outlet pump by diverting a portion of overflow water from display tank and run through refugium and overflow to the sump. Easy to regulate flow with valve in diversion line. Overflow is 1.5" dia. p.v.c.
<I would simply split the overflow line into two and run one to the refugium. Feeding it off the pump is just wasted energy/power.>
Cory B.
<Scott V.>

Wet Dry with Refugium Question -- 12/14/09
Will this work?
<<It will'¦though I would suggest routing the drain from the refugium directly to the chamber housing the sump's return pump. As it is shown here, much of the 'life' coming from the refugium will be sequestered in that first chamber before the bio-media. Placing the refugium drain near the return pump will better able these critters, and their reproductive matter, to enter the display tank>>
Or will it pull out copepods and other good stuff like that (See attached file)?
<<Hmm, this is indeed the intent of the refugium'¦ Aside from the benefits of nutrient export, it is 'desirable' for planktonic and epiphytic matter in the refugium to be drawn through the return pump to the display tank. The perceived 'damage' to these critters re is minimal and overrated'¦and those that do get damaged are still of benefit/utilized by the system>>
Justin Adams
<<Happy to share'¦ Eric Russell>>

Re: Wet Dry with Refugium Question -- 12/15/09
If I routed the drain from the refugium directly into the chamber with the pump how would I take care of the micro bubbles? Thanks
<<I wouldn't expect much if any problem with micro-bubbles in the effluent from the refugium. But'¦be sure to have the drain from the refugium terminate below the surface of the water, and press-fit a 90-degree ell fitting on the end that can be turned away from the pump intake to allow any bubbles that do come through to rise to the surface. EricR>>

Refugium Overflow 3/11/09
Hello there, and thank you very much for your fast reply.
I have since received my refugium and am in the process of getting all the stuff to set it up. In your reply you recommended 2 overflow boxes. I am looking at the CPR overflow boxes because those have the air pump to hook up should the power fail. If I hook up two would you suggest the smallest model (which would be the CPR cs50 overflow box) it is rated for tanks up to 60g and a flow rate of 300 gph, or would you go with 2 cs90's rated at 600 gph for a 125 gallon tank?
<In all honesty just throw the ratings out the window'¦both of these overflows use a single 1' bulkhead for draining. I have actually flow tested both, many times, and I assure you that a little over 300 gph is what they both flow! See http://www.wetwebmedia.com/SystemPIX/PlumbingPix/Oneinchart.htm>
Also I was thinking if I am going to run two of these would you suggest running one of them into the skimmer section of the refugium and the other into the refugium itself, both with T's on them to adjust flow rate?
<That can work fine.>
Last but not least what pump and size would you recommend? I was looking at the Maxi-Jet 1800 Utility Pump 474 gph, or maybe the Maxi-Jet 3000 Utility Pump 775 gph. I would think the smaller one would be ok since the refugium doesn't require too much flow through it and the skimmer probably wouldn't make that much flow either but maybe the bigger one with a T on it to slow the flow down? I was mostly thinking of the smaller one would make less noise and less heat.
<Go with the smaller one'¦it will put your flow below 300 gph. It is the point, this way you have true redundancy with your overflows. If on fails the other can handle the flow.>
I need a submersible one if you have any better suggestions and any extra input would help. The refugium will be about 4 ft. from the top of my display tank. One more question. The way the refugium is configured is first compartment is for the skimmer, next is the refugium, last is the return. Can I overflow the skimmer water into the refugium then into the return?
<Oh yes.>
I realize its best to bring "raw" water into the refugium, and I planned to do this either with a T from the overflows, or running one overflow directly (as stated above) but letting the skimmer overflow mix with the raw water is that ok or should I attach a pump from the skimmer and run that water directly to the return section?
<Na, just let it overflow into the next chamber.>
This is all so new to me and I have done lots of reading. Also is there a good skimmer for this system you could point me to? I was considering the Aqua-C urchin rated for tanks 22g-75g.
<Is my first choice, the 'go to' skimmer on systems such as this!>
Thank you again for this wonderful resource you all provide us Noobs! =)
<Welcome again, have fun, Scott V.>

Re: Refugiums, pb et al. 3/12/09 I'm really very sorry to keep pestering you, but all your info is so great and seems so spot on I can't help it and hopefully this will be the last time for a while, as I know you have many other people with questions. I read the article you linked and it makes a lot of sense. So any of the CPR overflow boxes with one 1" output will flow the same. <Sadly pretty much the case.> Would you then suggest I buy two of the overflow boxes with two 1" outputs? <For the flow you are talking about running through the overflow you will be fine with the models we talked about. Either will be able to handle the flow should one fail.> That would seem like a bit too much flow. Also if the Aqua C urchin comes with the maxi-jet power head that means the powerhead puts out 295gph, is that what the skimmer will clean and need to flow through it? <Hmmm, no. The MJ is rated for 295, but will actually flow much less than this through the skimmer.> If so, and I'm running 2 Overflow boxes and each one is around 300gph like you stated would they both be pretty much all the way open with the gate valve one going to the skimmer section and one to the refugium section. If one were to fail that would lower the flow rate from 600 gph to 300 gph I should still be ok correct? Or does a protein skimmer not really work that way? <All that matters as far as the overflow is the amount of water pumped to the tank, you will be under 300 gph with the pumps we discussed before.> Also do you think it's worth putting maybe a second pump in the system someplace with a float switch just incase my return pump were to fail? <No, I would not mess with that. It is not a bad idea to have an extra pump on hand though should one fail or need to be cleaned.> I am looking for as close to a very redundant system as possible. I really don't want my fish and other critters to die because I could have prevented something, that wouldn't be very fair to them. With the size of the actual refugium is (I haven't calculated the exact gallons yet) but its 12.5X9.5 and height is somewhere around 8 or 10 inches. I don't think it would require a lot of "extra" flow outside of the 295gph the skimmer might use. Also is there a "better" pump? I saw Maxi-jet recommended a few places in your articles, but would an Eheim or something be more reliable in your opinion? <The Eheims are top of the line, but the MJ is a fine pump for this application.> Also if I wanted to run carbon in the system would you suggest using a Fluval canister filter or something like that? <If you have one'¦do realize these need to be frequently cleaned to prevent detritus buildup and excess nitrate. Even if you run them without mechanical filtration this can still happen. > I have seen where people put carbon pads in the refugiums or in the skimmer sections. <The way to do it IMO.> Can you just lay the bags in there or do you need to make an area where the water flows "through" the carbon? <You are going to want to be sure the water actually passes through.> Anything else you might suggest would be appreciated as well. Thanks again for your wonderful site and the books you guys write. They have both been an incredible resource. <Welcome and thank you! Scott V.>

System water flow... overall circ. and refugiums 2/22/09 Dear Crew: <Ben> It is my intention to create a high flow system with sump and refugium. Having read quite a few postings on DSB's, sumps and refugiums I have gleaned what seems to be contradictory advice. This may be due to my ignorance (as opposed to stupidity) of a specific contextual frame I do not understand, ergo I write. I have several questions please. <Ok> 1) Are high flow rates recommended to maximize biological processes, to make the creatures feel more at home or both? <Can be a combination of these ends... though it should be mentioned that there is a need to define terms like "high", and that there are circumstances, processes, organisms that prefer "lower" rates of flow> If it is primarily the former then it would be of little use to utilize a additional pump and plumbing circuit for the sole purpose of water movement in the tank? <Mmm, w/in relative terms, settings, there are exceedingly few systems that are over-circulated> 2) I intend to use a 6" DSB in the tank, sump and refugium. The goal is de nitrification and the propagation and maintenance of a healthy population of sand dwelling critters. Some articles/comments have suggested refugiums should have a slow rate of water flow while others suggest a fast rate. <Depends on a few factors... for the refugium sake itself... 5-10 times turnover is about ideal... but there are often other uses that call for more turns> Both slow and fast flow rates were suggested as optimal for de nitrification!? <Actually... flow rate in the water surrounding substrates where denitrification occurs are of little influence> Is the fast rate just for the main tank and sump? <Mainly, in most cases, yes> Should the flow rate to the refugium be slowed or not? <Should be, yes> Do you have a suggested rate or range of flow rates for the refugium? <Yes... 5-10 times vol./hr.> Gross tank volumes planned are 150 for the main tank, 50 for the sump and 50 for the refugium. I have yet to calculate probable net water volume but a good guess would be about 145 to 175 of actual water. I plan to turn that over somewhere between 15 to 20 times per hour. <Okay> 3) I have read some advertisements/articles re: the New Marine Series Marineland tanks and feel their proportions of dimensions offer several advantages. <They do indeed. These are (surprisingly to many) well-thought out units> They rate their overflow boxes (2) at 700gph each which in ideal circumstances would give me only 1500gph return capacity or about 8.5 turns of the tank per hour. Perhaps I should be thinking of a DIY tank or have someone make one already drilled for my flow rate goals? <This is the rule rather than exception unfortunately. I would "supplement" the drilled options here... by either drilling more holes or adding an over the back "closed loop circulation" system> Except for perhaps the feed to the refugium I would like to use 2" plumbing throughout the system in conjunction with a very high GPH pump. <Okay> Thank You Benjamin <Welcome; thank you for sharing.... Do feel free to chat further... am going to place your query in ScottV's in-folder for his resp. individually. Bob Fenner> <<Hi Ben, I do believe these use the standard joke of a throughput size, 1" for the overflow drains like most pre manufactured "reef ready" tanks...you will in reality only see 300 gph per. As Bob stated, you will want to add more one way or another...it does not sound like you actually have the tank in hand yet, now is the time to get one with larger throughputs! Either custom from the manufacturer or do consider drilling it yourself. Most any manufacturer will drill your holes larger from the factory for an up charge. If you are at all mechanically inclined or have somebody you trust who is, drilling the glass yourself is very easy/straightforward, really kind of fun and darn cheap! A few links for you drilling: http://reefercentral.com/Videos.html why 1" overflow throughputs stink: http://wetwebmedia.com/SystemPIX/PlumbingPix/Oneinchart.htm I hope this helps out, feel free to write back with any questions. ScottV>>

20g nano system refugium equipment 2/3/09 To whom it may concern: After reading your website fantastic article about system requirements on a nano system, I recently started one of my own. It has been running for 6 month now and everything seem to be working fine. I have a Remora skimmer, 20 pounds of live rock, a air pump, a compact florescence light with 6000k and 10000k tubes and a power head for water flow. I have a small crown fish, a quadcolor anemone, a green spotted puffer, a small snowflake eel <Needs more room than this... and may well have trouble/contact with the Bubble Tip Anemone here> and a turbo snail. I know the tank is way too small for the eel and the puffer once they got bigger, I will get a bigger system or surrender them to a fish store if necessary. I do a biweekly 20% water change, but I still have a problem with high nutrient because of all the microalgae and glass anemone on the live rock and on the glass. <Ah yes...> I want to start running a 10g refugium. <An excellent addition!> I am ready to purchase all the necessary equipment, but I can't figure out all the equipments that I need. How can I make sure I don't get too much water from the tank to the refugium before it overflow? <A matter of calculating where the overflow will drain water down to (and adjustment)... the pump capacity (and possibly adjustment with a valve on the discharge end)... and measure to not overfill the transit sump (the refugium) when all is up and running (with the power turned on/off)... Do you understand this?> How can I make sure the water pump is pumping out the same rate of water as the tank is flowing in to it? <Again... the factors above.> Can you make a list of all the things I need to buy? <By careful reading... Either the first chapters of Anthony Calfo and I's Reef Invertebrate book... or on the Net... These areas: http://wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm the second tray down... and/or good help pages on the Web: Melev's Reef, OzReef.org...> I have read your web page about refugium and all the benefit from it. I can't wait to start mine. Thanks a million in advance for your help. I am sure my fishs will appreciate it as well. <I agree... do read, take good notes... and write back with specific questions you have. Bob Fenner>

What is the maximum current (ft/min) in a refugium? -- 10/10/08 To the crew: Thank you for your many FAQ's which have been most helpful. <Welcome> I am now seeking a quantitative answer to the question; what is the maximum current in ft/min through a refugium. Posting to the BB has not resulted in an answer so I turn to the Crew for guidance. The answer could also be couched in terms of gph if the dimensions of the refugium are given or in volume turns per hour. Any definitive information is appreciated. Tomg3reef <As general statements go, "not so much flow" such that whatever life, substrate et al. components are tossed about too much really... Likely 5-10 f/min... I give a rule of thumb to folks of oh so many volumes per hour... not many, usually... but with the use of baffles, perhaps subverting most of flow around or past the "bio area" itself, rates can be quite high. Bob Fenner>

Sump/Refugium Flow Rate Question 10/4/08 I am in the process of setting up a 300 gal. tank with a separate three compartment sump/refugium. I am still in the planning stages (actually, I only have the tank so far) and have read a lot about the benefits of a refugium and DSB. <Many, definitely worth doing.> My plan is to build a 55 gal baffled refugium (L 60' x H 18' x W18' with ~12' high baffles) with the middle 24' being the refugium with a 5' DSB. Since the tank has duel overflows/returns, I am planning to run two Iwaki MD40RLXT pumps for the return. <Are these the typical prebuilt overflows? If so do read http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ovrflowboxfaq4.htm and the linked files. The industry's 'reef ready' tanks are rather disappointing in overflow capabilities for the most part.> These pumps are rate at 1,200 gph which, I assume, will translate to about 2,000 gph after normal power loss due to the trip to the tank. My question is if this rate of flow will be too much for a refugium in which I hope to keep some pods, macroalgae, cleaners etc? <No, this will be fine for this size and volume. The livestock can handle it.> If so, do you have any thoughts on a better way to do this? <You could run your skimmer and refugium compartments on opposite ends, with each overflowing into a middle pump return compartment. This will allow the refugium to see only half the flow, although I would not worry too much about this criteria. The main advantage to this configuration is that it allows you to increase the water level (and volume) in the refugium area. The downside is a bit tougher plumbing with two external return pumps.> Thanks, Michael <Welcome, Scott V.>

Return Pump vs. Powerheads for system flow 8/22/08 Hey Guys, <Larry> I moved last year and had to sell my 125G reef tank (sad day for me). I have been in serious withdrawal ever since. My beautiful wife surprised me on my 40th birthday by purchasing a new 120G (48" x 24") aquarium and stand to re-kindle my obsession. <I'll bet!> The tank is an AGA with dual Megaflow overflows. I see all over the FAQ's that the realistic flow rate through the two 1" bulkheads will only get me half of the published rating of 2x600GPH. Obviously, that total flow rate is insufficient for a 120G reef tank. <Yes, sad that the holes are not simply larger.> The overflows will feed a 30G DIY sump located in the furnace room behind the wall. The sump will house a skimmer and heaters. I plan on eventually adding a separate refugium above the sump with water pumped up from the sump and overflowing back into the sump. <Consider running an overflow line from the tank to the refugium, then overflow into the sump. This will save you the use of one pump.> Ignoring overall system flow for the moment, will a properly sized return pump (500-600GPH after head loss) be sufficient to support the skimmer and a refugium? <To support the tank, yes. You will need to add supplemental flow as you mention below. The problem with this overflow setup is it leaves you no margin for safety. Running the lines at capacity means water on the floor if a line gets even partially blocked. If you are at all comfortable with DIY, consider drilling the tank for larger throughputs. You can drill the rear pane of glass inside the existing boxes, substantially increasing your flow capacity while keeping the tank looking the same.> I am considering using a number of Koralia powerheads to get the overall water movement in the tank up to a reasonable level. I like the idea of the diffused flow generated by these style powerheads vs. strong jets from the return lines. Is there a downside to doing this vs. increasing the flow through the sump? <Only aesthetics. There are many upsides though. Less power use, better flow characteristics, usually quieter, etc. > I've read various suggestions for increasing flow, including using the 3/4" return line bulkheads as additional overflows, or even drilling more or larger overflows. I'd like to avoid doing these if possible. <Okay.> Also, is there any benefit to draining the 1" bulkheads into larger PVC pipes(1.5")? I know it won't increase the max flow rate but will it help with noise? <Not really, any many cases doing this will increase the noise with the water beating around inside the larger pipe. Most noise associated with these overflows comes from siphoning issues/running past capacity.> I plan on running 2 separate lines down to the sump. If I can stick with 1" lines, the holes through the wall will be a little smaller. <1' will be fine.> I am excited about getting the tank up and running, but I don't want to make any short-sighted decisions that will impact things later on. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Larry <Welcome, congratulations on the new setup, Scott V.>

Protein Skimmer, sel. refugium plumbing mostly 8/13/08 Hello Everyone, <Ramon> I have a couple of questions about a protein skimmer for my system. <Ok> My tank is a 55 gallon (not drilled), with a 2 inch sand bed (adding 2 more inches) and 2 15 gallon Rubbermaid containers. 1 is a refugium and the other is a sump. <Nice> I am planning to upgrade my refugium and sump with two 20 long or two 30 gallon drilled tanks, I also want to know if I stay with my 1 inch gravity return line how large should I have my feed line drilled? <For what you can get practically through this one line, I'd run all consecutively through both sump, refugium... first the 'fuge... I'd make two overflows if you're drilling... run one each independently to...> How far down from the top and should it be level with the return line? <Two inches and yes> the platform is only 18"w by 24"l by 13 1/2"h which the bottom of the platform is sitting level with the tank, it would gravity feed to the main tank, so I was wondering which tank would be my best bet? <The bigger the better> I plan on staying with my 55 for a long time and not upgrading. it will house some fish with mostly button polyps, mushrooms and leathers. I was wondering if the Aqua C Urchin series would work for my set-up? <Of a certainty, yes... a very good choice> or should I get another type of skimmer? It will sit in the sump and budget is tight as always. <Save up...> Thanks Again, Ramon Ortiz Tampa, FL <Bob Fenner, Kona, HI>

Re: Protein Skimmer, actually sump/fuge plumbing 8/14//08 <Howsit?> I was wondering should I have a pump for the fuge and one for the sump or one for the fuge and "T" it to the sump? Or just run a line from the sump to the fuge and then to the tank? <I would definitely run two pumps... but have an "equalizer line" (pipe and through-puts) twixt the two sump/refugiums... lest one overflow or return be/come out of balance. BobF>

Refugium Overflow/Plumbing 8/11/08 Good afternoon Crew, <Hello> I just have a couple questions about a refugium I'd like to set up. My tank is a 20 gallon long variety with 1 inch of the Aragamax sand. I have about 15-20lbs of live rock, 80 watts of PC and regular Fl. lighting. There's 2 Black and White Clown Fish and a Randall's Shrimp Goby. I do have a few smaller moderate light requiring corals and a number of inverts. I'd like to add a 10 gallon refugium with Macro algae and additional live rock for the purposes of: increased stability, better pH buffering, more biological filtration, and less temp/chemical/etc. fluctuation. I don't really need to grow pods or anything like that, although I wouldn't mind if they grew. The only thing I'll be adding is more corals and inverts. No fish. Here's my question: I do have everything (hardware, at least) except for a way to get the water from the main display tank to the 'fuge. I'd like to keep the 10 gallon tank directly behind my display if at all possible. As for my design, I'll have the first section keep the skimmer (Tunze DOC Nano in tank variety) and will be baffled so it will keep the water at a steady level. The second section will have the sand, rock, and macroalgae, while the third will keep a return pump. (Probably a Maxi Jet 600 or 900). I'd like to keep an Aqua-Clear HOB filter to keep carbon and poly-filter on the back as well. My question is this: I don't think a standard overflow would work (I don't have a drilled tank and I'm afraid the over-the-top overflows will eventually fail.) <A hang on overflow will not work at all if one tank is directly behind the other and close to the same height. These require a drop between tanks by their design. When they are used, more than one for redundancy (even with a drilled overflow) is a good idea.> It's too risky for me. Do you have any suggestions for this? Also, further complicating things, I'd like to keep the fuge directly behind the 20 gallon tank. Any suggestions? <If you wish to keep it directly behind, on the same platform, you will have to drill the 20. The height difference between the tanks does not allow enough space for a hang on the back overflow. Do NOT pump back and forth between the tanks, trying to balance the flow without an overflow, you will have water on the floor in short order.> I know I'll have to keep reading to see if I can get more answers, but any help will be greatly appreciated! Thanks a TON! (or a Tunze?) Eric <Welcome, Scott V.>

Re: Refugium Overflow/Plumbing 8/11/08 Thank you Scott. <Welcome Eric.> I have since read a bit more about my setup (existing and proposed) and believe I could raise the refuge higher than the 20 gallon, and I could have the overflow section on the 10 gallon (would that require drilling?.. I would think so but I definitely can drill that one). <Drilling would be the best route.> Meanwhile, I could put the pump in the main 20 gallon display and pump that water up to the 10 gallon refuge.. The refuge doesn't have to be directly behind it. I definitely won't be utilizing 2 pumps, that's for sure. <Good.> I've heard/read too many horror stories and it doesn't make logistical sense. I've been reading a lot more about this setup and about my lighting, and I think I'll be all right, but maybe you can help clarify: Would the PC and NO flour. (65 watt PC bulb and 15 watt 10,000K NO bulb) lighting be enough for a Plerogyra sinuosa and a Euphyllia ancora? <It can be in such a shallow tank, ideally with most in the daylight spectrum.> My tank is only about 10-12 inches top to bottom and the light fixtures are almost directly on the glass top.. Those 2 LPS would be about 6-8 inches from the actual light. <Will be fine.> Thanks a lot, I really appreciate all the help everyone on the team has provided! <Welcome.> Eric <Scott V.> Refugium water movement 6/27/08 Hello everyone, <Hello!> I have a 55G main tank and recently added a 15G refugium (total size counting outflow and inflow area), the return to the main tank is done by a 1200 maxi jet. If i put a 400 MaxiJet in the refugium to increase the water movement, the pods will get killed by the propeller? <Quite possibly. Certainly could cause some unwanted elimination of invertebrate macrofauna> Will the refugium be better or not with the MaxiJet 400 in it? <If the flow is especially prosaic, it could help- especially if you screen the intake to keep the invertebrate life out. On the other hand, relatively slow flow through macroalgae will enhance nutrient export and copepod culture> Thanks for your help. <No trouble> <Benjamin>

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