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FAQs about Wet-Dry, Trickle Filter DIY, Modification/Conversion

Related Articles: Trickle Filters, pt. 1 By Bob Goemans, Get Thee To A Refugium by Bob Fenner, Refugia: What They're For And How To Build Them by Forrest Phillips, Physical Filtration, Denitrification/Denitrifiers, Nitrates and Marine Systems

Related FAQs: Wet Dries 1, Wet Dries 2, Wet-Dries 3, Wet Dries 4, Selection, Set-Up, Pumps, Plumbing Issues, Bio-Balls FAQs, Bio-Ball, Wet-Dry Media 2, Other Filter/Media/Elements (other than bio-balls), Operation/Maintenance/Repair... Biological Filtration, Biofiltration 2, Fluidized Beds, Ammonia, Nitrites, Nitrates, PhosphatesDenitrification/Denitrifiers,

Another Tidepool question – 02/14/13
WWM crew,
<Hey Brett>
As a long time reader, I know that with a little patience, I will find most answers from previous FAQ’s. This time it’s different, however, I’m still not sure. I have a 90 gallon reef, running for years. I currently run an old Marineland  Tidepool sump setup with sump skimmer and 2 reactors. One has carbon, the other phosphate materials.
<Need to mention for all's input the usual referent, question: "You are aware of the limitations, downsides of using such I take it". Gone over and over on WWM>
The display 10X + water movement with pumps.  I have approximately 50-60 Pounds of live rock and 3-4 inch DSB in the main tank. Hard and soft corals with fish and "cleanup crew".  No refugium.
<I would convert...>
 Here is the rub, I have always fought nitrates.
<Indeed; these units (wet/dry, "drum") are tremendous generators of NO3. Induced>
A few years back I swapped my old protein skimmer for a Reef Dynamics INS135. That was the best move I have made. Now for the next possible move. I see conflicting info depending who answers on this site about the 4 trays and the wheel. Some replies have said ditch the wheel and filter media in the trays, while others have said, the tray media is fine with frequent changes, as is the wheel if there is enough bio activity in the rock.
<Am more in favour of the last opinion... but would be far better in addition to have a refugium (w/ RDP macro algal culture) and DSB...>
I’m afraid to change to what is limping, but not totally broken, fearing a spike in my numbers, without being able to reign them in. 
<Try (I would) removing just the drum for a few weeks... Consider, read on WWM, books re the other possible changes alluded to above>
Any further guidance would be appreciated. I can and will convert it a sump without the wheel if you believe that will help lower some numbers.
<Yay! Yes!>
I have no issue replacing the wheel with fresh live rock or whatever may help, heck, at this point I replace the entire sump if you can recommend a better one.
<Well... adding another sump, container for more volume, the 'fuge, DSB... would be ideal>
 One other follow on, if I add rock, or rock and sand and create a small refugium,  does it need to be lit or can it remain dark, as the sump is inside my base,.
<Mmm, better to have two actual areas if there's room... one dark, one alternatingly illuminated in opposition w/ your main system lighting regimen. IF there's only room for one area, the lighted>
 Thanks for all you do, Brett
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Wet/Dry or Refugium?/Filtration/Wet Dry Filters 2/28/12
<Hello Rudy>
I am hoping you can help me decide between a wet/dry and refugium.
I have read many of your articles and I think I have too much information now.
I have a 58 gallon FOWLR tank, but only about 15 pounds of live rock right now.
Tank has been running for about 8 weeks with one blue/green Chromis, a turbo snail, an emerald crab, and about 3-4 hermit crabs.
I just added a yellow goby last week.
I have a large wet/dry that I am running without the bioballs as just a sump.
I have a Reef Octopus BH100 skimmer and UV light that I have not hooked up yet.
I do not plan on making this a reef tank.
If I do not want to spend the $$$ for lots more live rock, should I put the bio balls back in and just be diligent about cleaning the filter floss the water hits before going to bio balls?
<I would.>
Or should I install a 20gallon refugium and grow algae?
<If you're not planning on getting any more live rock, I'd use the sump with bioballs along with your skimmer.>
From what I've read, the major reason for a refugium is to lower nitrates and grow pods for a reef system.
I read on one reply from Bob Fenner that for a fowlr a wet/dry will work as long as the bioballs are kept clean.
<They work very well and will raise the oxygen level to near saturation.>
What would you recommend?
<For your needs, as stated above.>
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

Wet/Dry or Refugium?/Filtration/Wet Dry Filters 2/28/12
<Hello Rudy>
I am hoping you can help me decide between a wet/dry and refugium.
I have read many of your articles and I think I have too much information now.
I have a 58 gallon FOWLR tank, but only about 15 pounds of live rock right now.
Tank has been running for about 8 weeks with one blue/green Chromis, a turbo snail, an emerald crab, and about 3-4 hermit crabs.
I just added a yellow goby last week.
I have a large wet/dry that I am running without the bioballs as just a sump.
I have a Reef Octopus BH100 skimmer and UV light that I have not hooked up yet.
I do not plan on making this a reef tank.
If I do not want to spend the $$$ for lots more live rock, should I put the bio balls back in and just be diligent about cleaning the filter floss the water hits before going to bio balls?
<I would.>
Or should I install a 20gallon refugium and grow algae?
<If you're not planning on getting any more live rock, I'd use the sump with bioballs along with your skimmer.>
From what I've read, the major reason for a refugium is to lower nitrates and grow pods for a reef system.
I read on one reply from Bob Fenner that for a fowlr a wet/dry will work as long as the bioballs are kept clean.
<They work very well and will raise the oxygen level to near saturation.>
What would you recommend?
<For your needs, as stated above.>
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

Convert Wet/Dry to Refugium? 07/17/10
Hey Guys,
Awesome site here and thanks for answering my previous question.
<<We thank you for the kind words - and are pleased to assist>>
I have spent a lot of time recently perusing your site for the wealth of information you guys seem to be able to offer.
<<Indeed - the result of years of collaborative effort>>
I have a 55g tank with a wet/dry filter system, in sump protein skimmer and U.V. light. I have approximately 75- 00lbs of LR and 2-3" of aragonite. My question is a rather simple one.
<<Mmm [grin]>>
My tank has been set up for about 6 or so weeks and I was wondering since all of my reading has lead me to believe that my current filtration system went out of date around the same time as using stone tools and wearing loin cloths.
<<Not necessarily trueat least not in my opinion. Wet/Dry filters can be very effective on those systems where large additions of nitrogenous material need be dealt with quickly, as in the feeding of large and/or many fishes in a FOWLR system - and where such a system can safely endure the elevated Nitrate levels re. Though I do think the fluidized-bed filter is a less troublesome and more efficient (more up to date?) option over the wet/dry in such instances. But none the less>>
My levels are 0, 0 and very low 10's, should I convert to a refugium or continue with what I have going.
<<Hard for me to say definitively (you provide no information on the type/stocking of this system). But If this is a reef system then yes, I would replace the wet/dry with a refugium for the added benefits of the latter (increased organics processing and addition of the refugium biota to supplement/replenish the display). But if yours is a FOWLR system, you may well need to keep the wet/dry for the reasons mentioned>>
The history is that I had this same setup established 3 or so years ago for quite a few years and casualties were extremely low to the point where it was more than likely an overstock issue.
<<Okay - so if it works for you..>>
Again you guys have a really fantastic site and the information is great. Thanks for the time and for the future response.
<<Is a pleasure to share>>
D.C. Area
<<EricR SC Area>> 

Re: Convert Wet/Dry to Refugium? 07/19/10
Sorry for the lack of info on the stock and plan of what I would like this tank to be.
<<No worries mateI dont think it would have made much difference in my responses. And please do accept my apologies for this late reply>>
I am intending for it to be a reef tank. I currently have 5 Emerald crabs, 10 or so blue legged hermits and as many Astrea snails, 1 yellow tailed damsel, 1 lawn mower blenny, 1 yellow watchmen, 1 sm coral beauty and 1 green Palythoa grandis rock w/about 30 or so polyps.
I have 2-110w power compacts and use white and blue lunar lights. If I convert to the refugium will the system have to cycle again or since it's established will it just start converting the nitrates?
<<Unless youre planning to add fresh live rock or such to the refugium, you will not need to recycle the tank when you remove the wet/dry filter. Though I do suggest you add the refugium and let it run a few days before pulling the wet/dry (if possible)to help take up the slack re the temporary loss of biological filtration>>
Would a 10 gallon system work well with what I have or should I go a little bigger?
<<Go as BIG as you canreally>>
Thanks for the info and very timely response.
<<Happy to share EricR>>

Skimmer/Refugium Opinion's 7/13/10
Hello Again Wonderful Wet-Ones!!
<Hello Jill>
I have been scrolling for days and days through your FAQs on skimmers and I think I know what I would like to do but wanted to run it by you first.
I have a 125 gallon tank with two corner overflows to a wet/dry, trickle filter, Marineland sump system with a Marineland skimmer. I have removed the BioWheels and filled with LR rubble instead. The sump is set up to run the overflow water through mechanical filtration before hitting the protein skimmer....After much reading, I can see why my skimmer never really produced much gunk. The footprint for the Marineland skimmer is very small and there seems to be no way to increase that without putting in a whole new sump system which the room through the cabinet doors makes virtually impossible.
Here is what I am thinking.
I am thinking to remove the in-sump protein skimmer and using that space for a DSB and LR rubble and buying a hang-on the tank skimmer instead. My only issue would be that I have to hang the skimmer on the side of the tank. I feel I would be giving up possibly good skimming but getting a "refugium of sorts" instead.
<If I had to make that choice, I would opt for an efficient skimmer. If I knew the dimensions of the skimmer area in your sump, I may be able to suggest a good skimmer that would fit.>
Tank inhabitants are: 100 lbs LR, Copperband Butterfly, Flame Hawk, Harlequin Tusk, Rabbitfish, Diamond Goby, 5 hermits, 4 turbo snails, 2 small leather corals, 10 mushrooms, Halimeda and a small bubble coral.
I am trying to upgrade more to a reef than a fish only and will eventually be adding more softies in once I have my lighting upgraded and this sump/protein skimmer issue resolved.
Any thoughts to my above plan?
<Send me all the compartment dimensions and I will suggest if possible, an efficient skimmer. With a 125 gallon tank, I'm guessing you have the Marineland Model 3.>
Thanks once again!!
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Replacing bioballs, Wet Dry mod.  04/03/10
Hello and thank you for such a wonderful source of information. Here's a question that I have yet to find in your FAQ's. I have a heavily stocked 110 tall that has been doing quite well for the last 18 months. How about cutting the top off my wet/dry filter, taking out the bioballs and putting a G3 skimmer where the bioballs currently reside.
I should mention that I also have an inline 20 gallon empty refugium that I would put a DSB, rock fragments and macroalgae if I did this. Please let me know what you think. Thanks.
<I think this is a good idea. Bob Fenner>

Re: Replacing bioballs   4/3/10
By the way, I love your book. I guess my concern would be that the only kind of conventional filtration would be a filter sock on the end of the discharge line (as suggested in your book). The only thing that really bothers me about my setup is that there is so little room in the sump for a skimmer, so all I can fit is a Coralife 125, which is crap. I've been looking for a way to get around this since I learned better. The refugium is higher in the stand than the sump, so there's not enough vertical room there. The only thing I could come up with is taking out the bioballs to make room,
<Is a good, workable plan>
but that is scary since bioballs seem to be advocated by FO aquarists.
<Mmm, not so much by anyone w/ backgd. re... Please read here:
and the linked files above>
By replacing the balls with a huge skimmer would I be changing the way the aquarium operates?
<Improving it overall, no worries>
Instead of relying on biological filtration to make nitrate, we would be very aggressively removing DOCs before they ever turned harmful.
The job of biological filter would then turn to a deep sand bed in the refugium, along with macro algae and live rock, can these really compete with the balls in an FO setup?
<Oh yes>
My nitrates stay around 20-40 due mainly to a large zebra moray, a porcupine puffer (4"), a Foxface lo(4") and a harlequin tusk(4"). There are also other fish (flame angel, pair of maroon clowns, green Chromis), but they're very small compared to these guys. In my opinion having such a small skimmer has resulted in the high nitrates, along with my current algae problem. It just scares me to take out the balls in a semi-predatory FO tank. I know a small DSB, LR and a skimmer can handle reef tanks, but the load is inherently smaller in those applications. Thanks again.
<I say dang the torpedoes, full speed ahead w/ your project. BobF>
Re: Replacing bioballs
Full speed ahead, aye, and thank you.
<Velkomen mein herr! B>

90 gallon wet/dry filter, mod.    3/7/10
I have an Eshopps model wd125cs along with an external overflow under my 90 gallon . I was trying to find out if I can put sand on the bottom of the sump to add extra filtration.
<Mmm, yes, you could. Please read here:
Bob Fenner>

Wet/Dry Conversion 12/08/09
I have a 90-gallon pre-drilled system with a wet/dry filter. It uses a return tube that connects to a black plastic plate that holds media. Then it trickles over the bio-balls before going to the skimmer and UV sterilizer and return. I have a deep sand bed in the tank and plenty of live rock. My question is that I want to remove the bio-balls and possibly add sand and rock to the sump area where the bio-ball were, but what to do with the black plate that brings in water from the tank?
<<If simply replacing the plastic bio-media with sand/live rock then why worry about it? Leaving the return and diffuser plate as it is should not be an issue>>
I can't add a light source with that there. Here is a picture of a similar unit.>A commercial pic I don't want to re-lift. RMF<
<<Ah, yes Well then The sand/rock wont need a light. Should you decide to replace the rock with a macroalgae like Chaetomorpha its not difficult to remove the diffuser tray and secure the drain line in a corner of the bio-tower (if acrylic, it can be easily drilled near the top edge and the drain pipe secured with a nylon zip-tie) and find/set a suitable light fixture (a 65w Lights of America fluorescent unit from Home Depot would likely serve well here) atop the unit>>
Jay Williams
<<Happy to share Eric Russell>> 

Re: Wet/Dry Conversion 12/08/09
Thanks for the response.

<<Youre quite welcome>>
The only other question would be is there still a need for the return to go through some media anymore like it currently does or just eliminate that as well?
<<I would discard Once you swap the bio-balls for sand/live rock/macroalgae this vessel becomes a refugium (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm). Particulate matter in the drain water will settle out, with organic material becoming food for the swelling biota populationsin fact, I find supplemental feeding of a few shrimp pellets or similar every few days beneficial to help increase and maintain useful population levels. EricR>>
R2: Wet/Dry Conversion 12/09/09
While I'm getting good advice, should I add activated carbon and how?
<<I wouldto be changed-out every couple of weeks. This can be added anywhere along the filter path, but I would add about a cups worth in a filter bag after the refugium and before the return pumpor you could place the carbon is a small canister filter/media reactor. EricR>>

R3: Wet/Dry Conversion 12/11/09
I seem to be getting some mixed results.
Some are telling me that by taking out my bio-balls and putting sand and live rock that it will be the same thing since I have sand and rock in the tank already.
<<Same howas in the biological function? If so, then yesthe sand/rock in the sump/refugium will function much in the same manner as that in your display tank, but with the added benefit of being secluded from most of the macro-predators in the lastallowing colonies of beneficial fauna to prosper and multiply>>
Which is the best optionto leave bio balls, take out and don't add anything, or add rock and sand?
<<That depends on what is going on now and/or what you wish to achieve here. I dont recall any mention of what type of system you have or the reason you want to convert this filter in the first place, but If you have a reef system and high Nitrates are an issue, replacement of the plastic bio-media with live rock/live sand may prove beneficial re its ability to process Nitrogen products beyond that of the plastic media. If your desire is to increase the availability of planktonic food items to the system, replacement of the plastic bio-media with sand and/or rock will provide a sanctuary for the culture and development of said planktonic lifeor instead of sand and rock, the addition of a lighted vegetable refugium (macroalgae) on a reverse-daylight lighting schedule will also increase numbers of planktonic life, as well as provide some measure of pH support to the system AND some nutrient export via routine pruning and removal of the macroalgae. If you have a FO or FOWLR system and you are attempting to try to increase the capacity of this system, then you may be better served by leaving the plastic bio-media and supplementing filtration via the addition of a fluidized-bed filter. Sowhat is your desired result with this conversion?>>
<<Happy to assist Eric Russell>>
R4: Wet/Dry Conversion 12/11/09
Well currently I don't have any fish just some stars (chip and spiny) an urchin and other inverts along with the live sand/rock. My nitrates we high so I removed bio balls. I would like to go the reef route with some corals and some fish.
<<Then I would highly recommend the addition of a RDP vegetable refugium. Also, the Stars, and maybe even the Urchin, will likely have to go before the addition of corals. Do start reading here (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/reef1.htm), and among the links in blue. EricR>>

R5: Wet/Dry Conversion (now conversion to reef) 12/12/09
Thanks for the help.
<<Quite welcome>>
I have read many of the articles and I think I'm on the path to a reef setup. I've had fish only for many years and this will be my first jump to reef setup. I currently have PC lighting 4x65w 10,000 k and 4x65w actinic blue. My question is after I complete the refugium with macro and move the chip star (I looked up the urchin and it's reef safe) what would be a good start for the 90 reef?
<<Many options Decide what niche of the reef you want to replicatedetermine its suitability to your system and the organisms withinmake a list of what you might like to keep and then research the specific needs of these organisms as well as compatibility and even their suitability for captive keeping. Another way to go is to decide what you want and then build your system to suit. Once you narrow things down a bit we can discuss further. Do you have a skimmer? Opinions vary, but I very much suggest you employ one. If you havent already, start reading up on reef systems here (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/reef1.htm) and keep reading among the associated links. Cheers, EricR>>
R6: Wet/Dry Conversion (now conversion to reef) 12/12/09
Oh and one more question (probably more) is about whether I should keep running the UV sterilizer?
<<You canthough I find Ozone to be of more utility/benefit. EricR>>

R7: Wet/Dry Conversion 01/06/10
Ok here's my issue with converting. As you can see by the diagram the bio balls were on the left side and on the right I have my ASM G-4 protein skimmer, UV light and the return pump.
If converting to a refugium will I need to divert some of the water flow directly to the sump so as not to have all going into new refugium?
<<That depends on the rate of flow (water drain) from the tank. For the refugium, a flow of a couple hundred gallons per hour would be sufficientanything more should then be diverted to the sump side of the vessel. Ideally, you have multiple drain lines whereas one can be directed to the refugium and the other(s) directed to the sump. If not, then a T or Y fitting will need to be fitted to the drain line with a valve (preferably a gate-valve for its increased sensitivity, though a ball-valve can be made to work) fitted to the side going to the refugium to temper flow as/if needed>>
And second, the holes that exist for flow would keep the water at the same height on both sides.
What should I do to those?
<<I would block the lower holes and allow the refugium to spill in to the sump from the higher point>>
I was thinking of using a pool patch on the bottom one to raise the water level on the left side to add the sand, rock and algae.
<<This could work If the vessel is glass, a simple glass patch and some silicone will do the trickor a piece of acrylic and some solvent-weld if it is an acrylic vessel>>
The biggest problem with the return is that it is a 1" hose barb and would be tough to attach PVC and valves to that.
<<You could attach a short piece of flexible PVC pipe (can be found at Lowes and Home Depot, or similar) to the barb with a hose clamp (use plastic if submergedstainless steel if not), and then you would be able to cement PVC fittings and pipe to the flex-pipe. Another option might be to replace the existing barb fitting with a PVC pipe fittingassuming the barb fitting is threaded in>>
Let me know what your suggestions would be.
<<Have laid out a fewlet me know if anything is not clear. Do also have a look here and among the associated links: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/plumbingmarart.htm >>
Jay Williams
<<Happy to share, Jayand my apologies for the tardy replyI traveled through ten airports last week and (I assume) picked up a bug along the way thats now kicking my butt. Eric Russell>>

Wet/Dry Filter Conversion/Nitrate Control 12/1/09
Hi Crew,
<Hello Jill>
Hope you all had a wonderful holiday!!
<A bit of a headache Friday but a good holiday.>
Well, due to the extra time off of work, I started messing around with my 125 FOWLR tank with two corner overflows. Each overflow goes down into the sump housing a BioWheel on each side along with the filter trays. I am soooo hoping I didn't mess myself up here. My problems have been high nitrates. Steady at 80 ppm.
<Yikes, are you measuring total nitrates or NO3?>
I use Chemi-Pure Elite along with foam filter pads and a protein skimmer I am not very happy with but that is another issue.
<But an issue that may help lower nitrate levels.>
After much reading of Bob's book and Wet Web, I decided to remove one of my BioWheels and replace with LS and LR. As I started adding in the sand, I realized I did not have room where the BioWheel was to maintain a DSB so now I have about 1 1/2" of sand with live rock on top and the foam filter pad.
So, basically one side of my sump has the filter pad, LR and sand, the other side still has the BioWheel along with the Chemi-Pure and filter pad.
My question is this, should I remove the sand as it is only 1 1/2 inches <deep> and should I keep Chemi-Pure
on that side as well? I may be way over thinking this but as the water is draining into the over flow,
one half is going on the side with the Chemi-Pure and 1/2 is going on the side with the LR so now I'm
worried since only 1/2 my water is being sent through the Chemi-Pure.
<If the foam pads are not cleaned a minimum of once a week, this can/will add to your nitrate problem.
If the water isn't being forced through the Chemipure, it will not be as efficient removing dissolved nutrients. More information from you would have given me the ability to provide a more informative answer.
Items such as your tank maintenance routine including frequency of water changes, fish load, types of fish kept, protein skimmer currently being used, amount of live rock in the tank, etc.
With your understanding that excess nutrients are the prime source of high nitrate levels, I will refer you here.
I know this is a FO tank but eventually, I would like to move up to a reef but I don't dare until I can resolve this nitrate issue. Thanks much and take care!!
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Re Wet/Dry Filter Conversion/Nitrate Control 12/1/09
Sorry James for not providing more info.
<Is fine.>
I have a heavy fish load....A 6" dog face and a 2" Porc puffer, Harlequin Tusk, Copperband, Foxface, 5" Diamond Goby. The first 3 will be moving To a 180 gallon when it's cycled. I do a 20-30% water change every 2 weeks and
Replace the foam filter pads once a week at least...One side (the side I feed on)
Seems to collect more so that gets replaced about twice a week. The skimmer cup gets cleaned out every couple of days.
<Do you clean the reaction chamber? This is where the skimming "paste" will usually form and greatly decreases the efficiency of the skimmer.>
I've had this tank only about 4 months so I know I have a bit to work out. I don't know the brand of my skimmer, It's from Marineland.
My whole system came from them.
<Marineland makes two models of the in-sump skimmer. The model 100 and 300.
With your fish load, I'm hoping you have the later which is rated for 300 gallon tanks. The 300 has a height of
23", while the 100 has a height of 18" and is rated for 100 gallon tanks.
Go to this link, is this the type of skimmer you have?
I cleaned the skimmer real well last night as I found out sand got in it from all my messing around this weekend and it's starting to work much better. I also have about
100 lbs of LR in the main tank and just a couple of lbs in the sump area.
I just Purchased another air pump
<Air pump or powerhead? Powerheads are a much, much better choice for water movement.>
to put in the backside of my tank behind the live rock. I Believe there are dead spots back there and I'm hoping that will help.
<I'd be shooting for a 1200-1300gph total water movement in your system.>
Oh, ammonia, nitrite are 0, sg is 1.023 and phosphate < .5. I use RO water and Seachem salt.
I'm not sure if its NO3 or not. I use the API reef master test kit if that tells you anything.
<It's NO3, and 80ppm isn't good.>
Thanks again....I'll read more on nutrient control.
I think I get too heavy handed at feeding... :-(
<Doesn't help matters, much better to feed smaller amounts more often.>
Jill Johnson

Re: fighting conch, algal contr., and wet-dry conv. to live sump   9/10/08 Thanks for your prompt response. I re-read some of the algae FAQs as per your suggestion and will continue to follow the recommendations outlined (monitor nutrient control, adequate circulation/aeration, regular RO water changes and filtration/skimmer cleaning, macroalgae cultivation, proper illumination/replacement of lamps, etc.). In your reply, you recommended against adding blue leg hermits, but didn't indicate why. <Am "just" not a fan of using such in general... Even the genera of "reef safe" (generally) ones can be "too picky"> Would you please elaborate further? <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/maintindex.htm the third tray down> In my reading of your BGA/Cyano article, you mentioned that in regards to biological controls of BGA, certain hermit crabs do consume BGA. <Yes... some Calcinus and Clibanarius species particularly can, not always...> Is it the other fish/inverts that present the problem? <Can, yes...> As far as a "clean up crew", what would you recommend, based on my existing livestock? <Read the above citation> I noticed you recommended Zebrasoma tangs and Mithrax crabs (which I currently have), among others, in some of the FAQs. <Yes... appropriate application... in some settings> On a related theme, I've read a number of the emails in the WWM sump FAQ. I'm intrigued about the discussion as to converting a wet/dry filter into a sump/refugium for housing live rock and/or macroalgae, but at the same time I'm a bit leery about making modifications and not doing it right. Attached with this email is a photo of my commercially bought wet/dry filter. You can see that the water enters from above through 2 diffusers (not sure if this is the correct term), pours through a filter pad over a drip tray, past the bio-media balls, then across another sponge into the second chamber that houses an in-sump Berlin skimmer, and finally pumped back into the main tank. Is there a way to keep the mod.s simple? <Mmm, yes...> Is it as easy as removing the bio-media and putting live rock in its place? <Virtually, actually, yes... Better to have "more space" for other items... but a DSB can be fitted under/with the LR> You can see in the photo that the water level in the wet/dry is about 35-40% full...do I raise the water level so the rock would be completely submerged? <Yes, this is best> Should the diffusers and/or drip tray be removed and be replaced with something else? <These can remain; remove the pad> You'd indicated that lighting for a sump containing live rock and/or macroalgae is beneficial. If the filter tray is still there, is there any problem with lighting from the side (instead of from above) that clamps onto the side of the cabinet? <Mmm, no problem... though/but it would be better if there was another separate area to house the algae> I presume from reading some of the prior posts that the LR in the sump can be lit with a simple one-bulb fixture from a home store. Any bulb wattage minimum? <Mmm, tens of watts will do most all that can be here> I also worry that residue from the live rock could clog up the pump that sends water back to the main tank. <Should be screened in a fashion> You can see in the photo that even now, there's residue that's gotten past the pad and second sponge and has settled at the bottom of the sump and in/around the skimmer. <This will surely pass. I would ignore this mulm> On another note, the skimmer rarely froths over the edge into the cup/receptacle, but a good amount of "pasty gunk" - forgive my lack of scientific terminology - accumulates along the inside of the cylinder on which the cup sits. Any thoughts? <Your RedOx is likely low... put in other words, your water quality is mal-influencing this skimmers function... and it may need adjustment... to raise the water level w/in the contact chamber...> Is Red Sea Berlin brand skimmer any good, or if not, what would you suggest? <Is low to middling in functionality> Sorry for the numerous questions that are all over the place. I'm trying to get as much direction as possible in advance by reading prior articles and WWM posts, but much of the info isn't specific enough for me to be comfortable making these changes, and still I feel like I'm a little in over my head. <No worries> Maybe it might be easier to just plant a few Halimeda bushes in the main tank? <Mmm, worth trying, but a "whole different kettle o' fish" compared with the conversion of your wet-dry. I DO encourage you to go forward with this> I have 120W total (four 30W bulbs) of 50/50 lighting in a 125G, is this adequate? <... For?> Thanks again for your patience. <And you for your earnest involvement. BobF>

Swapping Sump with Sump/Refug. 6/25/08 Hey all, <Hello Chad.> I have a 55 gal. main tank with an 8Gal sump that houses my skimmer, heater pump and I'm upgrading to a 20 Gal Sump/Refugium. The Refugium is smaller than I wanted (12x10), but I figure something is better than nothing. <It is, this is a decent size refugium to fit under the typical 55 gal. stand.> The main reason I wanted to add this was to grow some macro algae in a DSB to control some diatom issues I was having in the main tank, but since then the diatoms have pretty much disappeared. <The refugium will still be of great benefit.> So here's my questions. I'm ready to swap the two and was wondering if my process sounds OK. I'll probably empty the contents of the existing sump into the new sump/fug, add the DSB (4" oolitic or fine aragonite) with some clean dead Fiji rock fragments then top it off with new saltwater to get to the operating level that I want, seed it with some sand from the main tank, then do a small water change with the remaining new saltwater and turn everything back on. Alternately I could just fill the new sump/fug with clean salt water and pitch the old sump water. Should I expect any spikes in ammonia/nitrites? <Be prepared, you may. I would expect nothing of great concern, just be ready with water changes if needed.> Should I be ready to do another water change in the next few days or will the 2 week schedule be OK? <Your regular regimen should be sufficient. Just test your levels for the first couple days and be prepared for a water change if need be.> I figure I'm not really adding/removing any live material, but I will be changing out the filter sponge separating the return pump, which I typically clean every couple of weeks anyway. <Cleaning it at least once a week will further contribute to better water quality.> Next when can I add some Chaetomorpha, Nassarius snails and pods? <Right away if you like, I prefer to wait a week or two myself.> I'm also not sure my LFS has Chaeto, and I don't want to use Caulerpa after reading about it. Can I order it online without many problems? <Yes, Chaeto is easy to come by online. Do also check your local clubs, many people give this stuff away by the fistful.> How much wattage would you recommend for a small 'fuge like this? <I personally like at least 65W of PowerCompact bulbs. The reason being that you do not want light to be the limiting factor of the macroalgae growth, nutrients in your tank should be for the maximum benefit. Some do use less light with success though, there is no one correct way.> Finally, I'd like to keep the old sump and possibly plumb it in as a 2nd refugium that I could shut off from the main tank and use as a quarantine when adding new fish. Any idea how I would plumb something like this? <Many, it depends on the tanks relative orientation. Remember that gravity will dictate where the water flows. If the tank is above the sump it will need to be gravity fed from the tank or pump fed from the sump and then have a gravity return to the sump.> Would I plumb it directly from the tank overflow then pump it back into the Sump/Refugium or try to pump it out of Sump/Refugium after the skimmer somehow. I'd probably try to grow a mangrove tree in that, would there be issues with a quarantined fish and possibly medication with a mangrove? <Yes, some will, do not do this. A quarantine tank is best kept entirely separate and dedicated to this purpose.> Thanks for your great site and all your help, Chad <Welcome, thank you, Scott V.>

Wet Dry Refugium Combo 4/13/08 I have a 135 gallon Acrylic tank with at least 1+ lbs of live rock to every gallon. Although my tank was moved when I moved to my new house 5 years ago, in total time it's been up for over 8 years. I run a wet dry filter, with a protein skimmer, and I have a UV system as well. The tank has about 3 inches of crushed coral and no sand, and I do 25%+ water changes every two weeks. I have never cleaned the bio balls, but they never really got dirty either (visually anyway). <Okay, things/approaches to marine tanks have changed a bit in regards to bioballs, substrate and the use of UV (for some), but if it is working> My tank has fish and corals, along with anemones that keep splitting into more and more (currently I have six). <A good sign of water quality and husbandry.> I have a 60 gallon tank that I plan to make into a wet dry / refugium combo for this tank replacing the current wet dry only system. My questions are around this new refugium, so I need some direction and advice. <The refugium is a very worthwhile addition.> Do I need the bio balls at all, or should I make the refugium part even larger instead ? <Personally, I would ditch the bioballs, you have plenty of live rock to take over.> My plan was to move all the bio balls and put them into the first chamber of the new refugium, where approximately 70% of them would be under water at all times. Can I move all the bio balls at one time from one unit to the new one, or will I have issues ? <Moving them all at once will be fine, you should not need them anyhow.> If I can move them all at once does it matter which ones were in the air and which were under the water, and what is the correct ratio for above and below water (if it matters) ? <If your tank was relying solely on bioballs for biofiltration it would matter somewhat. You do want the bioballs to generally be exposed to air, this is the strength of their use, increased available oxygen. For your system there will be little difference.> What do you recommend for in the refugium part, as I've heard everything from Mud to live sand, mangroves to only algae, live rock to none, and to add things like hermit crabs and shrimp ? <Hmm, sand, a fine aragonite, preferably a DSB is my choice and recommendation. The addition of live rock is fine, as well as a macroalgae. Mangroves look nice, but grow slowly and provide little nutrient export compared to Caulerpa or Chaetomorpha.> The light I'm using came with my reef 60 gallon tank, so it has day and actinic lamps. Can these be used for the refugium or do I need different bulbs ? <They can be used, although you will get more bang for your buck replacing at least the actinics for daylight bulbs, preferably in the 6500K range for algae growth.> My intent is to light the refugium on an opposite schedule from the main tank unless that doesn't benefit me at all ? <It does help quite a bit towards stabilizing PH through the night.> If there are no real benefits I will light it on the same schedule as my tanks. Does it matter if the bio balls get direct light on them from the compacts, or should I be blocking the light from direct contact ? <Blocking the light will prevent algae growth on the bioballs.> Lastly, when it's all swapped out the same day, my intent was to immediately do my water change throwing out the water that runs over the refugium. My thought being it would be better for my tank. Am I right or doesn't it matter ? <Little difference, the system will all be tied together anyhow.> I've attached an example of what my setup will look like, but unlike the picture some of my bio balls will be above the water unless you tell me otherwise. <As they should be, I would ditch the bioballs. Your setup looks fine.> Thanks in advance for all the help, as I really appreciate it. <Youre welcome, thank you.> I know a lot about salt water tanks through the knowledge I've gained over the years, but my success is due to asking questions. I know enough about the refugium to be dangerous, hence my questions above. <Heee, dont we all!> Sincerely, Dierk <Best regards, Scott V.>

Re: Wet Dry Refugium Combo 4/17/08 My intent was for all my water flow to go through my refugium and then back to the tank. However I see some people saying that's fine, others saying no, you want a very slow flow through the refugium. <You do not want too slow, I feel the slow flow is an overrated concept.> Questions: 135 Gallon tank, and my refugium compartment is going to be 12 wide, 22" long, and 17" high. If I have 4" of sand that leaves 13" of height for a total of 15.53 gallons of water in this middle section. What flow do I want through the refugium? <Anything from a few hundred GPH to a thousand at most will work fine. On a tank this size I would personally choose in the upper end of this range if all your sump flow is going to pass through.> Do I have too much water over the sand (13" too deep) ? <No, the more water volume the better. The DSB is helpful too!> Thanks for the help. Dierk <Welcome, Scott V.>

Re: Wet Dry Refugium Combo 4/19/08 You are so helpful and I sooooo appreciate it. <It is such a pleasure to help out.> I won't say last question, because that rarely if ever happens. Per your advice the BIO Balls are going to be history. Instead I was going to put a bunch of small pieces of live rock in the first chamber where the tank water will enter. My questions are: Is it a good idea to fill the first chamber with small pieces of live rock, or is it better to leave the first chamber empty ? <Ideally the first chamber will house a protein skimmer and mechanical filtration, if any is used. Live rock in the sump is a good idea, but you do want to make sure it does not accumulate detritus in the same manner as the bioballs.> If I dump water directly into the first chamber thus causing air bubbles upon entry, does it matter if the bubbles end up all over the live rock ? <Not really.> As the live rock will all be under water my fear is it causing some kind of outbreak due to the oxygen bubble accumulation. <Not with live rock, although other inhabitants may have issues.> My main tank lights are on approximately 10 hours a day. Does this mean the refugium should have it's lights on the other 14 hours every day? <14 hours is acceptable for macroalgae.> What do you recommend the best way is to rinse the new refugium tank now that I used fish tank sealant to hold my compartment dividers in place? <Outside under the hose will be fine.> I've heard cold water fill-up 3 times quickly makes it safe for the fish, I've heard use warm water and leave it over night, and I've been told rinse it once and I'm done... I just realized that I've neglected to mention that I'm doing the refugium as part of my overall goal of making my water changes really easy and maybe less frequent then weekly. <No art here, just rinse the tank out. Not really even an absolute necessity, just an extra precaution. The sump/refugium will make water changes less stressful to the tank inhabitants. For water change frequency you should stick to weekly. You may be able to cut back and maintain the same water quality you have had, but sticking to your current regimen will only increase your success.> All my water will go from the tank to the refugium, the refugium will dump into a 50 gallon Rubbermaid container, and then from the container back up into the tank. Moving forward water changes will simply involve swapping out the Rubbermaid container for this tank. This obviously changes my tank size up an additional 45 gallons from what it is today (to approx 180 gallons). <A welcome addition of water volume to any system.> Does that make the refugium too small now or is there no difference ? <I am not really following you as far as refugium size.> Lastly, I was thinking about merging another 100 gallon tank into this mix as well. As I think this would exceed the 1000 gallons an hour through the refugium, I will probably have to start up another refugium for the second tank and then dump both refugiums into the same Rubbermaid container. <This could work, or a single, larger refugium.> Would I need the second refugium or should the one still handle it ? <Depends on the size of the refugium for the volume that will travel through it.> Do you see any issues with my plan of merging the tanks? <No, not with a common sump at the bottom of the gravity flow chain.> Outside of problem in one tank becomes problem in two. <A possibility, with good husbandry this will not be an issue.> As always thank you for all your GREAT help with this, and have a great weekend. <Welcome, you have a great weekend also.> Sincerely, Dierk <Best regards, Scott V.>

Wet/dry Refugium Conversion 11/28/07 Hello Crew, <Hello Peter, Scott V. here.> Of course I have to start out by thanking you in advance for your great site. I currently have 250 gallon FOWLR tank with a drilled overflow (filled w/ bio balls), wet/dry filter, protein skimmer and UV light. Nitrates normal range is 20 to 40. I would like convert this filtration system to a refugium. I do not have enough room under my tank for both the wet/dry and refugium. I found a good deal on a refugium identical to the CPR Aquafuge Pro, seems the only difference is that it is less expensive and larger approximately 45 gallon capacity. Im thinking of filling with ecosystems miracle mud and anything else you can suggest. The first chamber would house a protein skimmer. The bio load consists of a Clown trigger 2 ½ inches, Humu Humu trigger 2 inches, 2 inch purple tang, 3 small under inch damsels, 4 inch regal tang and a 2 foot ribbon eel. All very healthy. Will be adding more. My questions are: 1. Will I have problems with biological filtration in the beginning? Also, once broken in will this type of setup be efficient for my size tank or would you suggest something different. <You shouldnt with sufficient live rock in your tank. Your bioload is fairly low for your sized tank (your fish are relatively small). If this concerns you, remove the bioballs in stages, giving a few days in between. I think the setup you are considering would be great, again assuming you have sufficient live rock.> 2. I do have a lifeguard fluidized bed filter not currently in use that I can use. Should I hook that up to my wet/dry now to build a bacteria colony and then transfer it to the fuge when I install it. <I wouldnt, should not be necessary.> 3. Do you think miracle mud is the way to go with this type of setup or would you suggest something other than miracle mud. <I would personally use a fine (oolitic) aragonite sand in the range of 5-6 to assist lowering the nitrate. > 4. Next the protein skimmer. I have read that a smaller skimmer can be used on setups like this. Is this true? I was thinking about getting the Aqua Medic Turboflotor 1000. It looks like a descent skimmer for the money. Do you think a different skimmer would work better with this setup? <It can help decrease the load on the skimmer. However, I would actually consider a larger skimmer on this system, you will have a significant load on it as your fish grow. Look at ASM, Aqua C or EuroReef.> 5. What type of lighting size/ watts is appropriate for this set up? <Assuming you are growing Caulerpa or Chaetomorpha I would look at a 55/65 watt power compact in the 6000K range. Some use much less light here, but I dont like the light to be the limiting factor for the algae growth. Some people use more, even to the extent of halides.> 6. Lastly with a refugium should I continue to use the uv light? <I wouldnt, they are of little use in my opinion.> Sorry for the long winded email. I do appreciate any information you can supply me with. Thanks Again, Peter <No problem, it is easier to have one email with many questions to see the whole picture. Sounds like a worth while project. Welcome and good luck with it, Scott V.>

Re: Wet/dry refugium conversion 12/2/07 Hello again, <Hello Peter.> Thank you Scott for your speedy response. I have just a few more follow up question to my 1st email. <OK> 1. What if I don't have a sufficient amount of live rock? Will the refugium be able to handle my growing bio load as I add more fish. With little live rock would a matured fluidized bed filter help? <The filter will help if you do not have sufficient live rock for your biofiltration. The only concern is their tendency to accumulate detritus, increasing nitrate levels. This is more of a reef concern than FOWLR. You should see more growth in your macro algae as the stocking level and size of your fish increase.> 2. How will having a refugium and no wet/dry affect my oxygen levels? <Very little. You will still have the overflow itself, first chamber with your protein skimmer and surface area of your refugium to provide gas exchange; as well as CO2/oxygen infusion use by your macro.> 3. Just for clarification. You wrote if I was concerned to remove bio balls in stages. Are you saying remove in stages, then when it is completely empty remove wet/dry and install fuge? I can't have both running at the same time unless I have the fuge outside the cabinet while this process takes place. <You can put some of the bioballs in the refugium or first chamber and remove them in stages if you wish. They will not be acting as wet/dry but will still provide some biofiltration. Again, with sufficient rock they should not be of any concern, especially if you choose to employ the fluidized bed.> 4. I currently have a return pump in my wet/dry that is 1300gph. Will I be able to use this as the return pump in the fuge? <Yes, with proper intake screening. Just keep in mind that this is where evaporation will show if you do not have an automated top off system.> Once again thank you for your help it is much appreciated! Peter <Youre welcome, have fun, Scott V.>

Re: BTA & Candy Cane Coral Concerns 09/19/07 Hi Mich, <Hi Jackie> Thanks for making me feel more comfortable with my situation. <Glad I could help.> I have one last question for you. I have always wanted a refugium. It is difficult to turn a sump into a refugium? <Not at all. There is plenty of info on our website. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm And many related links in blue such as these: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugdesignfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugdesfaq2.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/RefugDesFAQ3.htm Can even be as simple as something like this, which is not part of the sump but hangs on the back: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/hagenrefugart.htm > Thanks, Jackie <You're quite welcome Jackie, Good luck, hope this helps. Mich>

Filter Question 9/5/07 I have a 120 Gallon Tenecor Tank that came with a wet/dry trickle filter. I have about 75-80 lbs of live rock and about 2-3 inches of livesand. I have a mixture of fish and Invertebrates currently, with very little coral. The Tank has 4) 96w quad SmartPaq (SunPaq). It came with a Berlin skimmer, plumbed from the wet/dry filter (I get a full cup every 1-2 wks). The unit has been running for about a year, I do my water changes and regular maint. I cannot seem to keep my Algae under control. I get a brownish red powder and a dark green algae. I have been reading thru your FAQ's and I am confused over a couple of things. 1. Should I convert the wet/dry to a sump? <You can, but it is not going to get rid of the algae. That is a separate issue to address.> If so, what are the proper steps ? <Remove a few bio-balls each week until you have none.> 2. I have a Fluval 304, that was on another tank. Would it be beneficial to plumb it into my Tenecor tank? <It would be beneficial to use this and use Chemi-Pure in the filter. This would help much in removing dissolved waste which is leading to your algae problem. Do read here on algae control. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm James (Salty Dog)>

Wet-Dry Conversion...and Fun With Flow Rates!   6/24/07 Hi WWM crew, <Hey there! Scott F. in today> First let me say that I love the site. <Glad to hear that! We certainly enjoying working on it!> Tank specifics- 46 Gallon Bowfront, 192Watts 50/50 lighting, Pro Clear Aquatics Pro 75 Gallon Wet/Dry, QuietOne 3000 (approx. 500 GPH at tank height) pumping through an SCWD to either back corner of the tank, Hydor Koralia 3 (850 GPH - a lot of circulation for this tank, I know) pumping water from the back center to the front center of the bow, small mini powerhead blowing in the back for a little extra circulation, inline heater. <Sounds nice> Substrate- 1 3/4" crushed coral topped with 1/2" AragAlive Livestock- 80+ pounds of live rock, assorted snails and hermits, 1 Emerald crab, 2 Peppermint Shrimp, 1 Abalone, 1 Lettuce Nudibranch, 1 Tongan Conch, 1 Purple Firefish - 2 1/2", 3 Blue Chromis - 1" to 1 1/2" each, 1 Black Blenny - 3", 1 Royal Gramma - 1 1/2", and 1 Hi Fin Red Banded Goby (has come out to be seen only once since being added to tank). <A very nice mix of fishes for this sized aquarium!> Water - Ammonia is 0, Nitrite is 0, Nitrate is around 20, Salinity is 1.023, and pH is 8.4 <Sounds fine...Could work on that nitrate level, though...Perhaps yanking the biomedia in the wet-dry would help..> I am planning to add a Flame Angel, but I was wondering if the tank could handle a mated pair. <Hmm...I would be a bit hesitant to place a Flame Angel- let alone, two of them-in an aquarium of this size, and with this type of population. These fishes need a bit more room, IMO- and can be a bit aggressive in close quarters. Perhaps one (and I said "one") of the "Dwarf Dwarf" Angels, like C. fisheri, would be more appropriate.> I know you have to keep the dwarf angels separated in anything less than a 70 but was not sure if that applied to mates. <Even with a mated pair, in this aquarium, it's more of an issue of physical space.> Other than perhaps starting to grow a few small coral frags I am not planning any other livestock changes. The livestock (except for snails and crabs) was all recently placed after adding 36 pounds of live rock and re-cycling the tank. <Sounds like a plan. Note that your coral frags may be nipped at by the Angelfish..> Wet dry info - http://www.proclearaquatics.com/Instructions/Pro%2075/Pro%2075%20fig-2%201-28-05.pdf After reading a lot about replacing the BioBalls to deal with the Nitrate problem I am very interested in doing so, but I do not want to simply remove them. My plan is to take out the trays and balls (I would remove 1/3 of the balls each week) and place an acrylic baffle to block the bottom opening between chamber 2 and 3. <That's fine.> here are overflow holes already drilled at the top of chamber 2 which would turn chamber 2 into a constant height chamber like chamber 1 which holds the skimmer. I have a couple of questions about this setup: 1. The Wet/Dry is rated for 300 GPH so I know I am already pushing more water through than is intended although I have not seen any problems. Do you think this is a problem and would removing the trickle mechanism and replacing it with a refugium make it better? <No need to blast water through a sump. Honestly, I like a slow flow through the sump. This low flow allows more contact time for nutrient laden system water to work through the skimmer and/or any chemical filtration media that you have in the sump.> 2. I know refugiums are supposed to have a much slower flow rate than the 500 GPH the pump will be cycling through the sump, will this be a problem? <I'd slow it down all around. Remember, the references to "flow rates" (ie; 20x-40x/ hour) that you hear so much about in reef keeping really refer to circulation rate within the display itself, not through the sump. GO slow through the sump/refugium.> 3. Do I need to add some kind of baffle in chamber 3 (i.e. to prevent bubbles from entering the pump) or can the overflow spill directly into the chamber and on top of the pump? <You'll have to see, but a baffle of some sort is probably going to be needed.> 4.If the refugium will work, what should I place in it- add a lamp and fill it with some kind of macroalgae? Fill the bottom with a deep bed of live sand or crushed live rock with or w/o a light? Sand bed with some creatures? Mud setup? <If it were me, I'd keep it really simple and just float some Chaetomorpha macroalgae in there and run a cheap compact fluorescent fixture (that you can get from any hardware store) over the section containing the macroalgae. Run the light on a "reverse" schedule from your main display, harvest the Chaetomorpha regularly, and you'll acheive a nice pH stability and nutrient export. This macroalgae has a great reputation for being a nice place for amphipods and other creatures to live and multiply within its fronds- another bonus!> I also just bought a chiller (no air conditioning to keep the fish cool), it supports a flow rate of only 100-160 GPH so my plan was to run a small pump in chamber 1 (under the skimmer column) with 1/2" flexible pipe running into the chiller and back into the sump. Does this seem reasonable? <Yes. A dedicated chiller pump is always a nice idea. Use a ball valve so that you can dial down the flow from the pump if necessary to achieve a proper cooling benefit.> Would the added circulation as a result in chamber 1 improve the operation of the protein skimmer? <Well, this is not really "circulation". You're pulling out water from tis section, running it through the chiller, then returning it to the display, right?> Pulling water down in the chamber rather than having it immediately flow into chamber 2. Thanks so much for the advice. Samuel <Glad to be of service! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Heater in CPR BakPak 2r+ Return 2/27/07 Hello! <Hi>   First off, let me join the scores of others that have complimented you on your site. <Thanks.>    I have read the FAQ's for hours but am unable to find an answer to this question.  As I have grown up being told there are no dumb questions, I'll ask it. . . <Fire away.> Do you see any problem, either with skimmer efficiency, overflow, overheating, etc. with putting my submersible heater in the return chamber o my CPR BakPak skimmer? Thanks for taking the time to help with this question, and for all the kernels of wisdom I have gleaned from reading the FAQ's. -Kris <Have seen this done and seems to work fine.  It does make me a little nervous though, if the skimmer pump dies could be big problems.> <Chris>

Cramped in space...and time... not a Hemingway pastiche!  Skimmer fitting 2/12/07 Hey Crew,    <Adam>   You guys rock, I have been able to be very successful in having marine aquariums the last 4 years with no outbreaks and ich, etc.. Who would ever guess a quarantine tank would save so many lives...??!??    <Yay! You and I at least...>   I have this sump in my 120 GL FOWLR and Shrimp/Snails/Hermit/Star Fish tank.      http://www.seatrademarine.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=PCA75&Category_Code=PCA        We just bought a really cute small, Yellow Eye Kole Tang which is doing well in our old tank, a 30 gallon, that has a aqua c remora skimmer which we use for our quarantine tank. I am very PRO skimmer BTW.    <Mmm...>   we currently have about 80 lbs of live rock and are going to add another 40 when we introduce our new tangs (hoping to get a chevron or another one with Kole (not same sub-species) to separate/differentiate the current territories. <Are conspecifics in HI...>   We have approx 20 hermits, 10 snails, 2 cleaner shrimp, 1 dwarf angel and 1 false eye puffer .. so a small bioload..      We do not have a skimmer yet, and with the 2nd compartment of the sump being only 10x10 we are going to probably get a EV-120 with the intake positioned directly underneath the bioballs.. <Good choice> I will extend tube the pump for the ev120 under the bioballs chamber and cut a hole for the tubing to go through the sponge divider (small hole) This then would drain through the return valve via skimmer into the same 2nd compartment which the skimmer would share with our mag 7 pump, which would be positioned sideways in remaining 5' area.    <Okay>   The sump's 2nd compartment is 10x10 and the ev120 is 8.5 w x 4.75 pressed flat against bio-ball compartment, then the sideways mag 7 pump 5 x 3.8 with our water heater in there as well.. pretty tight fight but it will work.      the background info is done, now the questions.      1. Should I 86 the bio-balls? <I would, yes> I do not plan on having any other inverts than current stock and they are doing great.. The bio-balls clean stuff up and I don't think it would "hurt". We do 10-20% water changes 1 or 2 times a month.. Only algae we are getting is a little green hair algae on a few spots in the very fine (less than 1 inch) sand at the bottom of the tank. I have dual overflows pre-drilled and 2 pumps aerating water positioned at the top left and bottom left front of the tank (fish love to swim in the current.) <Nice to have the redundancy>   2. If you think I should remove them, what should I put there? <Mmm, nothing if you'd like... some rock, other calcareous media...?> The skimmer is too tall 18' and the drains drain directly on top of them.. (see intake in picture... right on top) BTW: 2 overflows = 2 drains which are T into 1 for that connection.      3. Do you think the skimmer is even worth it even though it is getting pre-filtered water and sits very close to the return pump? <Oh yes... very worthwhile. Wait to you see the gunk it removes, your improved water quality, the improvement to the vitality of your livestock> You don't think this may get extra microbubbles with the EV-120 and be very undesirable?   <Not likely to be an issue here> (bubbles drive me nuts)      4. Or should we bite the bullet and buy a different retail sump with more room.... would you recommend one (not the one you get a 10% kickback for recommending! ;) JUST KIDDING)    <Heeeee! We don't "do" kickbacks>   I think this should work as long as the EV 120 Extension tubes do not make the skimmer less efficient...    <Marginally>   Let me know what you think, you guys have always helped me well in the past and I owe you guys big time!      -Adam <I'd make this addition, improvement. BobF>

Wet Dry mod.  - 1/18/07 I really appreciate the insight into the situation. Thank you. <Anytime, Jason. Is what we're here for.> On another note this came to me. As I said, I have a wet/dry filter with most of the bio balls removed from it as to stay away from any nitrate spikes or anything like that. I'd like to get rid of the rest. Should I gradually replace the balls with live rock in the sump in their stead? I mean the only place for the rock would be directly in the path of the drip plate of the filter. <Can the drip plate be removed, to access an area that is always submersed? If so, then this is certainly a good idea.> I just take notice of many saying if you plan on keeping a reef not to use a wet/dry unless you remove the plastic media. What are your thoughts? <My thoughts are that you're already aware of the potential downfall of bioballs in a reef aquarium, indicated by the fact that you've already removed a large portion. The downfall of the wet/dry media stems from people not maintaining and rinsing their bioballs (in discarded tank water, of course!) regularly, which I get the impression you are doing. All will likely be fine if you continue your current path, though you may end up finding more benefit from the live rock addition. Hope this helps you! -JustinN>

Refugium Add on / Conversion  - 11/02/06 Hello, <Hi there> I have a Wet Dry filter now on an 80 gal tank with 50lbs of live rock. ( I know I need to add 30 lbs more and have my old hair ridden stuff in a tank hopefully re-curing now)  I have recently set up the system after replacing the frame of the tank which had broken.  I had, in the past, a huge problem with hair algae.  In efforts to not repeat this, I have read a lot about the benefits of a refugium to help consume the nitrates that feed the evil hair algae.  My sump is a wet dry with a 12 x 12 chamber dedicated to bio balls and another 12 x 12 chamber that houses the pump and protein skimmer.  I have a hang on the back overflow system with one 1" drain line as the tank is not "reef ready". <Heard, seen this... responded as such> I have no desire to place a filter in the room outside of the tank area and have about 15 x 12 footprint left under the tank that can house a fuge.  I could do one of three things... 1)  get a hang on the back refugium, but these seem costly and only hold about 6 gallons.  I am also concerned that the 40lbs additional weight is not good for the frame of the glass aquarium and reaching the thing for maintenance will require a ladder. <Agreed> 2)  Move my skimmer and pump to a separate vessel next to the wet dry and convert the wet dry to a refugium.  If I do this, I would gain the 12x 12 area that currently houses the pump and skimmer as a fuge area and would have to eliminate 50% of the bio balls as they would be submerged.  I could have it about  10 inches deep before I would risk overflow issues in a power outage.  This seems good, but the flow rate would not be controlled through the refugium very well since the this controls the total flow rate of my system. <One way... better than 1)> 3)  I could add a refugium next to my wet dry and leave the wet dry as is.  This way I could pump water from the wet dry to the fuge tank and gravity drain it back to the sump.  This leaves my other filter intact and lets me control the flow to the refugium.  This seems well and good, but I am having trouble finding a 12X12X12 vessel that I can cut a drain hole in.  Should I have one made from acrylic ($$), or can I use a opaque plastic trash can? <Either one can/will work>   The later is obviously cheaper, but would the white plastic sides cause a problem with light or heat? <Nope... a bit more algae growth on lighter colored surfaces, but no big deal. I would go with these choices in the opposite order of their ranking... The third is best... along with removing the bio-balls from the extant wet-dry. Bob Fenner> I suppose I'd like advice on which of the three solutions is best.  All of them only about 6 gallons on an 80 gallon tank, but I know some is better than none. as well as any advise on    Regards Russell Wet/Dry Conversion 10/12/06 Want fish and coral mix. <Ok> I have a 75 gallon tank with 70 lbs of live rock along with live sand. If I remove the bio balls from the wet/dry can I just go with the live rock in the display?  If you say I should put rock in the sump, can I just put more rock in the display tank and if so, how much more??? Thanks <As long as you remove the bio-ball slowly to allow the LR to assume their role you should be fine.  As far as having enough LR it depends, if it is fairly porous you should be fine, if dense I would add maybe 10 more pounds if you have room for it.  Can be added to either the tank or wet/dry as long as it is submerged.> <Chris>

Wet Dry, bio-media - 2/21/2006 Hey Bob & WWM crew, From:  Johnny The Nubie      You guys are great and I learned a lot in the past month, But a little confused about The removing of the bio Ball thing. Yes, I've been looking through about 150 FAQ'S if not more and I get a little piece of the answer or you refer them back to the FAQ'S  which still have trouble finding the right answer { which you should or you would be repeating yourself a hundred times a day and I am a believer in doing your homework}. <Ah, good> But I really need some direct answer's to a few questions and would really appreciate it if you would help.  Here it goes, I have a 90 gallon reef ready tank [will do fish / live rock first ] waiting for the stand [ being made, should have it tomorrow] I have 100 pounds of sand waiting, 60 lbs dead / 40 lbs live. I have 45 pounds of base rock and plan on ordering 45/50 of live rock from Walt smith. I'm using RO/DI water [90 gallons in containers that has been ageing for two weeks with power heads and air stone in each].      I have a pro clear 150 wet and dry filter [bio balls] with built in skimmer. should I leave the bio balls in while I cure my rock or just take them out from the beginning and put some of the live rock in it's place in the [which will be a sump] wet/dry, and cure the whole tank like that. <Up to you. I'd leave out from the get-go> do I need to put a light underneath if I put live rock instead of bio balls? <I would, yes> should I take out the plastic grating and let the rock sit on the bottom of the wet/dry or sit the rock on the grating? <Either way> The guy at my LFS also sold me  a phos reactor with a can of Phosban [150g ] do I need to use this for phosphates or should I use it with different media like carbon or something else? <... up to you> should I hook the phos reactor up at start up of my tank or wait a while and with what media? I have more questions But don't want to take up too much of your time, you guy's/girl's are loaded up as it is with this stuff. <Set up w/o and run for a while...>      I really appreciate all you do for us newbie's and advance fish keeper's and I'm hooked on your site!! Thanks for all / any help you can give John <More fun to come! Bob Fenner> Wet-dry to refugium conversion   5/28/06 Is it possible to convert a wet/dry trickle filter (the ones with bio balls) to a refugium without doing plumbing or drilling? <Yes> I have been reading for hours on your site, I can't seem to find a picture or drawing of my filter. Thank you for such information, Julie <An "over the side" intake (that will have to be primed/filled with water) can be fitted to an external pump intake, or a submersible pump used to return water to the main tank... The "compartmentalization of the insides", choices of components, lay-out are up to you. Bob Fenner>

- Refugium vs. wet dry filter 6/25/06 - Good Morning! <Good morning.> Thank you for providing all this wonderful information. This site and your books have saved me a lot of headache. However, despite all of the reading I have done I still have a question I can not seem to find a clear answer on. I currently have a 30 gal reef and fish tank set up in our small apartment. I currently have the system running on a12 gal trickle/ bioball sump (wet/ dry filter/ (Pro Clear Aquatic System). The tank has been running for about two years now and every thing is in check except the nitrate.  I have decided to put in a refugium to help solve this problem in addition to all the other benefits the refugium seems to offer. To make a long story short, instead of drilling and changing the sump to convert (Husband did not like that idea, and I am going to pick my battles) I ordered a 12 gal refugium. Do you think I should keep the wet dry running along with the refugium or do you think the refugium is enough? <If you have room, I'd keep them both running until the refugium is really kicking, otherwise you may go some time without biological filtration.> If I kept both should I have the tank water run into the wet/dry first or the refugium? <Probably wet/dry first.> Thank, Carrie <Cheers, J -- >

Filters...Wet/Dry To Ecosystem   8/3/06 Greetings and thanks for all of the great info. <You're welcome, Paul.> After an exhaustive search I am unable to find any info on this question. I have a 90 Gallon tank with appropriately sized wet/dry filter (my mistake) with skimmer  and I can not seem to get my nitrates down, currently 20ppm. I am changing 20 percent of the water every two weeks. Inhabitants include Hepatus Tang, 6 Green Chromis, Lawnmower Blenny, Royal Gramma, Cleaner Shrimp and False Perc Clown. Mushrooms, Xenia, Green Starbursts round out the crowd which all seem to be doing well presently. I have 90 lbs live rock and a shallow sand bed. When I started this venture I intended FOWLR but now want to establish a reef. Tell me if this plan sounds ok. I intend to remove the wet/dry using the bioballs from it in the Ecosystem filter in place of the ones that it comes with. <No need to do this.  Would not use any bioballs in the Ecosystem. See comment below.> I will have new water premixed to replace the content of the wet dry taken out at the change. At this point the skimmer will obliviously be gone also. Am I likely to have an ammonia problem with this approach? <Should not.> Am I missing something that will harm my friends? <If you have no live rock, then you should use the old bio-balls until the Ecosystem gets seeded, then I'd remove them.> I have read that an undersized skimmer is appropriate to use with this system and I am considering an Aqua C Remora. <Would be a good choice.  You may also consider one of the Ecosystems with built in protein skimming.> Your hard work on this site is greatly appreciated. <Thank you, James (Salty Dog)> Paul Powell

-Wet dry to Refugium-  8/28/06 Hi there; < Evening> New to this site and have been looking into changing my wet/dry over to a refugium. I have a 75 gallon tank with about a 20 gallon sump which houses the bio balls (I know get rid of them) and a protein skimmer. <You do not "have " to remove them, depending on your bioload and maintenance regimen of water changes, a wet dry can be a very good filter, just becomes a nitrate factory and most tanks have that issue as it is :)> I have two options that I am looking at here. Option one is to take a 20 Gallon long tank, have the overflow from the main tank drain into a compartment with live rock, then baffle the tank from there to allow the water to flow into the DSB and fauna area then pump back to the main tank. I am concerned about this method though because I will have to really slow down the return volume to the main tank to allow the water "dwell" time in the fuge. I thought that a slower water turnover back to the main tank would affect the dissolved oxygen level of the main tank and affect the health of my corals, or would this be a mute point because of the "oxygen" added by the fuge to the water? <This method works, and while the flow isn't conducive to tons of copepods and other micro fauna going crazy in the higher flow; It will certainly work.  If you want an all in one option this works, and works well,  Vie seen a rate of flow at 500gph through an 18" long sump setup similar, and it runs my friends reef and puffer tank which both share a sump just fine. Your concern for oxygenation is unfounded as well if your skimmer is decent.  a good skimmer will saturate your return water with oxygen and is one of the best gas exchange areas for its total footprint.> Option two is to keep the current sump in place which houses the wet/dry and add another 10 gallon tank under the stand and make that into the refugium. If I go this route I would split the overflow from the main tank have an open flow to the sump (wet/dry) and a valve on the flow to the refugium so that I can control the water turnover in the fuge. I will run the return of the fuge back to the sump with the wet dry, for return back to the tank. <This is the method described here on WWM, and one that I know works very well, I think if you can make it leak proof and ensure you know the max GPH you plan to use in the refugium is enough to keep the wet dry siphon working if it uses an overflow type box, or a reliable tank driller to cut you an overflow hole in the tank.  It will guarantee your flow is higher through the sump, and can be fine tuned in the refugium.  Use a t inside down, to ensure that your flow isn't totally bypassing your refugium and you should be a very happy aquarist.> I really would like to go with option one but my concern is the rate of water return to the main tank being too slow. Can you please let me know which you think would work best. Thanks for your help and you guys have a great site here. <You do as well, I hope that helped.> <Justin> Wet/Dry Conversion - 09/29/06 I have been reading the articles on WetWebMedia about removing the bio-balls for wet-dry filters. <<Okay>> I'm in the process of removing mine and replacing the space with live rock. <<Cool>> The water runs over the live rock; will this work or should all the live rock be under water? <<Mmm, I would place the live rock in the bottom of the filter where it remains submerged...use the spray/drip tower for chemical media (carbon/Poly-Filter pads)>> Right now I have the wet dry area split into two parts (side by side).  One half bio-balls the other half live rock.  My aquarium has been setup for only 4 weeks. <<This tank is still cycling?  You can go ahead and remove/replace all the plastic media now...no need to do this in stages as you would on an established/stocked system>> 29 gallon aquarium 20 lbs of live rock in aquarium (I will be adding more) 8 lbs of live rock in the wet/dry filter Protein skimmer Water changes over in the aquarium about 12 times an hour. Thanks, Jackie <<Regards, EricR>>

Should I switch my Wet/Dry with a Refugium?   9/19/06 Bob, <Chris> I just want to start out by telling you how helpful your website is, I visit it on a regular basis to keep up on all things saltwater.  My question is in regards to setting up a refugium.  My current filtration includes a Top Fathom Protein Skimmer TF110A and a Jebo Wet/Dry filter that measures 24x12 (it doesn't have the filter balls it has what looks like strips of shredded paper).  I recently downgraded from a 150 gallon tank to a 54 gallon corner tank  and haven't had any major problems except that I am have a hard time keeping the nitrates where they need to be.  My question to you would be would you get rid of the wet/dry and have a refugium only would or would you have both running. <If only one choice, the refugium, if two, both>   I really like the idea of the refugium being a place that natural food can grow and flow into my display tank for all of the fish and coral and just wanted to check with you to see what you thought the best option would be.  Also in regards to the contents of the refugium.  I was thinking about placing a large quantity of small pieces of liverock, live sand, and several types of plants for filtration purposes.  Is this what you would use or do you have other suggestions.  Lastly what type of lighting would you use and would you have it on 24/7 or an opposite cycle of the display tank.  Thanks a million Chris Johnson <You're sure to enjoy yourself, and gain by reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm the fourth "paragraph" down... articles and accumulated FAQs files on... Refugiums. Bob Fenner>

Wet/dries for 300g+ commercial installation 1/24/04 I work in the aquarium svc business, at this point mostly with 4' & 6' glass fish-only aquariums using wet/dries, and decorated with coral skeletons/shells  & artificial decorations.  We generally make our own wet/dries from 20 & 29  gallon aquariums using  PVC, eggcrate & bio-balls.  We have had good success using one Mag 5 or similar pump per standard overflow (All-Glass "Reef Ready" tanks) and with a sump capacity that is about 20% of the size of the tank (so that  evaporation doesn't become much of an issue). <All sounds quite appropriate.> We're preparing to handle sales and maintenance of 300-600 gallon acrylic  systems, and I'd like your input on a couple of things: a) Should we still stick with 20% size wet/dries? It appears that our competition is using smaller ones (re: less expensive), but we haven't maintained any  of the systems they installed so we're not sure how well this works. <I would consider 20% a minimum.  My greatest concern would be that the sump can handle the volume of water that will flow into it if a pump stops.  As a general rule, I suggest the largest sump that is practical.> b) Can you recommend a source of inexpensive rigid-sided rectangular tanks (made from plastic?) that we might use instead of glass aquariums to construct the wet/dries?  If we stay with our current wet/dry design and just enlarge it,  in most installations we will probably be looking to make wet/dries with  dimensions similar to 75 & 125 gallon aquariums.  (Anticipating that in some installations the wet/dries will still need to fit under the tank in a stand.) <Several types of water holding vessels come to mind, including fiberglass, acrylic aquariums, polyethylene tanks (often used in the back of trucks).  An internet search using key words like "water tank" combined with poly, polyethylene, fiberglass, etc., should yield a good starting point of hits.> c) Any input you can provide concerning the various acrylic tank makers would be helpful. <I can't really be of much help here in terms of specifics.  The "big boys" of the industry (Tenecor, Sea-Clear, etc.) haven't gotten there by chance.  Just stick with well known companies.  FWIW, your acrylic tank supplier is a great place to check with for sumps.  Adam> - DIY Wet/Dry - Hello Crew! I just recently found your site and have been having a great time surfing through it.  I am having trouble finding an answer to my questions though. I am a BIG advocate to DIY and I am planning to build my own acrylic aquarium, it will be 6' X 2' X 2' or 2.5' high.  Which comes to 180 to 220 gallons.  Building the tank itself isn't the problem though, since I have worked with acrylic before, just not in building aquariums. I want to also build my own wet/dry system and that is where I have the questions. I don't have any place for a sump, since I also built the stand myself (I can't seem to stop building [smile] ) out of oak and I made so my 75 gallon sits below.  I'm thinking of making a built in system, perhaps like the commercial versions?  I'm considering actually hanging it on the outside of the tank to save room, since I am also going to build a custom background out of foam, epoxy, and sand (I did this in a 175 I had to sell when I moved). How much bio-media do I actually need and are some systems better than others? <No preset amount - perhaps as much as you can fit - there is no ideal design for a wet/dry that I am aware of.> For example, would I be better off with a series of bio-wheels (I've got an idea how to make these as well, hah, hah) instead of bio-balls? <Probably six of one, half a dozen of the other - no clear advantage of one over the other.> If so, how much would be needed? <As much as possible.> I have several ideas on HOW to do it, I just don't know how MUCH I will need! <Go nuts.> Obviously you need some details.  It will be freshwater system with Cichlids, mostly Africans. <Wet/dry may not be your best option then - wet/dry filters are very, very efficient at producing nitrates... potentially more than will allow your fish to stay healthy. You might want to consider other filtration options.> I also already happen to have a Rio 2500 sub pump, which I hope will be big enough, as well as several Penguin 1100 powerheads as well.  I am trying to figure out the most efficient and easy to maintain system as possible. <Might be efficient, but perhaps not easy - I see a lot of water changes in your future.> That is why I wish to utilize a trickle system. <Consider perhaps something where the bio-media that you choose is submerged 100% of the time, skip the wet/dry action.> Any help would be GREATLY appreciated, thank you, <Well... if you figuratively pay yourself for your time, you may find you could have just bought all the right pieces off the shelf... am always alarmed by folks who want to build their own tanks - do not skimp on materials or figure that one thickness less than what is recommended will do. More than all that - good luck.> Jim <Cheers, J -- >

Live Rock vs. Bio Balls in wet/dry filter - The full Grok Dear Bob & Crew, <Scott F. your Crew member tonight!> I'm hoping that you'd be able to shed some light on the highly debated issue of what filter material works best in a wet/dry filter. My system is 175 gallons with about 2" - 3" of fine grain (sugar-sized) aragonite sand, some live rock, but it's mostly a fish tank. I use a sump with a twin pump Euro-Reef skimmer (with ozone). Tank turns over about 9X per hour. Live Rock - The live rock proponents say to ditch bio balls and fill your wet/dry chamber with live rock fragments because bio balls create nitrate. I'm thinking, well duh, of course bio balls create nitrate ­ as the natural result of the biological filtration process. They say that the bacteria growing inside the rock consumes nitrate. Does this only happen when the rock is submerged, or will this also be true in the oxygen rich air/water exchange area of the wet dry? If only when submerged, would it be beneficial to ONLY pack the submerged portion of the wet dry with rock? <Personally, I am of the opinion that denitrification will generally take place at a more significant level in rock that is submerged. For this reason, I'd use live rock as a filter adjunct in either a submerged area of my sump, or just in the display itself. I have always been a big fan of ditching all media in a "trickle filter", and just letting the live rock and sand in the display or an attached refugium do the work. Then, the sump is simply the "nerve center" of your water processing system, functioning as a place for chemical filtration media, the skimmer, etc.> Bio Balls - The bio ball proponents site the ball's superior surface area ­ thereby it's greater capacity for supporting bacteria ­ makes it superior. That the only reason balls create more nitrate (if in fact they do) is because of its superior ability to process ammonia and nitrite. <Essentially- they are so efficient at fostering bacteria that process ammonia and nitrite that the bacteria which break down nitrate simply cannot multiply fast enough to keep up> Further, at least monthly water changes need to be performed anyway to replenish nutrients, so nitrate shouldn¹t really be an issue if you keep up with your water changes. <Nitrate can certainly be managed with frequent small water changes, use of aggressive protein skimming, chemical filtration media, etc., but natural denitrification processes are your best friend, IMO. That's one of the reasons why deep sand beds are a very popular method to help accomplish this> What I'd like to know is: Which is more efficient at converting wastes, balls or rocks? <Both are efficient, but live rock has an advantage, IMO, in that it is more flexible in the ways that you can utilize it...> Will using LR in the sump lower nitrates (lower or no nitrates being preferable all things being equal)? <It can assist in lowering nitrates..> Any other benefits of using natural filtration media like LR (does is help buffer water for instance)? Which would you guys use and why? Is the benefit worth the conversion from balls to rock frags? <As above, I'd be more open to the idea of going without media, and just using live rock in the display, along with a good bed of live sand...Talk about easy...And very natural!> As always, I much appreciate your thoughts and advice! J.D. Hill <Hope that my thoughts are of interest to you, and that they inspire you to research this topic more thoroughly. Good luck! Regards, Scott F> 

Wet Dry Conversion >>>Greetings, Jim here<<< First off.. great site!!! very informative.  I have 180G tank, wet/dry/just purchased the AquaC Ev240..yeah!!  approx 75lb LR, small fish bioload, Condy, polyps (not growing). I have read to remove bioballs (nitrate factory) and foam blocks. but here is my concern.  If I remove the bio-balls it's like Niagara falls in the room.  It's been mentioned to add sand & LR rubble to sump (how much?),<<<That's up to you, there is no minimum or maximum but enough to dampen the sound of the water at least<<<< wouldn't adding more live rock to main tank do the same? <<<not if you're trying to reduce noise in the sump>>>  why grow macro algae in sump if it can be grown in tank? (aesthetics?). <<<Pretty much, also some species are invasive and can take over a tank<<<  If I do put sand/LR in sump, lights on 24/7 or dark? <<<no lights needed unless you are growing macros<<< Should I remove drip plate and extend return with PVC w/T fitting down under sump water level so it doesn't crash down and stir up sand? If so, what about gas exchange now?  I can baffle the sump so sand doesn't return to pump returns/skimmer. my goal is zero nitrates-efficient <<<I would go with the baffle idea<<< filtration/skimming b/c I want to move to corals eventually. I have read pages upon pages but all these little things keep popping up? I already wish I knew then what I know now (i.e.. LFS setup).  I want to do everything right for perfect water/less maintenance...love the hobby. thanks for your help.. and this great site! >>>Best of luck, Jim<<< Converting a wet dry filter into a refugium I am in the process of planning out a 75 gallon tank for a reef set-up.  I had it set up at one point, but moved and never got to completing the stocking.  Here I am starting from the beginning again.  my question is as follows.  I have a 25 gallon wet-dry trickle filter system with bio-balls. The system is split into 2 partitions.  The overflow from the tank goes to the filter into a drip tray with pre-filter media.  Then drips into bio-ball chamber.  Then flows into 2nd partition to be pumped back into tank.  What I wanted to do was remove the bio balls.  Replace the bio balls with live bio-rock and make the first chamber into a mini refugium.  Does this make sense. << Yes, this is very common, and I encourage you to do it. >>  In doing this do I keep the drip tray to drip directly onto rock? << Either way. >> Do I keep the pre-filter media? << I would probably take it out, since I don't know what it is. >> I would keep the 2nd partition for the return piece to place the skimmer.  Any help is greatly appreciated. << Removing the drip tray helps because then you can put lights on your refugium for macro algae.  Good luck. >> Thank You <<  Blundell  >>

Wet Dry Filter Conversion (Bob's go) I am in the process of planning out a 75 gallon tank for a reef set-up.  I had it set up at one point, but moved and never got to completing the stocking.  Here I am starting from the beginning again.  my question is as follows.  I have a 25 gallon wet-dry trickle filter system with bio-balls. The system is split into 2 partitions.  The overflow from the tank goes to the filter into a drip tray with pre-filter media.  Then drips into bio-ball chamber.  Then flows into 2nd partition to be pumped back into tank.  What I wanted to do was remove the bio balls.  Replace the bio balls with live bio-rock and make the first chamber into a mini refugium.  Does this make sense.  In doing this do I keep the drip tray to drip directly onto rock? <Keep the rock submersed, that is, underwater. Using the drip tray is fine otherwise> Do I keep the pre-filter media? <No, give it the heave-ho> I would keep the 2nd partition for the return piece to place the skimmer.  Any help is greatly appreciated. Thank You <Glad to proffer my opinion. Bob Fenner>

- Wet/Dry Conversion - I am in the process of planning out a 75 gallon tank for a reef set-up.  I had it set up at one point, but moved and never got to completing the stocking.  Here I am starting from the beginning again.  my question is as follows.  I have a 25 gallon wet-dry trickle filter system with bio-balls. The system is split into 2 partitions.  The overflow from the tank goes to the filter into a drip tray with pre-filter media.  Then drips into bio-ball chamber.  Then flows into 2nd partition to be pumped back into tank.  What I wanted to do was remove the bio balls.  Replace the bio balls with live bio-rock and make the first chamber into a mini refugium.  Does this make sense. <Sure.> In doing this do I keep the drip tray to drip directly onto rock? <Probably, but you want to make certain the rock is completely submerged, otherwise you'll still have a wet/dry filter with a different type of media.> Do I keep the pre-filter media? <Would be better for the refugium if it were to get raw water, so no to the prefilter.> I would keep the 2nd partition for the return piece to place the skimmer.  Any help is greatly appreciated. <Consider also the possibility of just using another, smaller tank and just toss the entire wet/dry... their design is such that they don't always convert well to other uses.> Thank You <Cheers, J -- >

Converting a wet/dry into a refugium Hello, Excuse me if the following seems to be as though I don't know what I am talking about.  I currently have a 55 gallon fish only tank that contains 2 filters that hang off the back.  I also have a 75 gallon tank.  This is where my questions are coming in. This tank is a standard 75 gallon with 1 corner built in overflow box.  Under the tank  (in the stand) is a filter. This is where I may sound as though I don't know what I am talking about. The overflow tank uses gravity to bring water into this clear rectangular filter.  It drains into the first part of the filter, into a drip tray. This then drips onto bio balls.  This then flows into another portion of the tank which fills with the water, and is then pumped into the tank.  My question are as follows.  What type of system is this. << It is a sump, and this type is a wet/dry filter, getting its name from the bioballs which are wet and dry. >> Is this a refugium, is it a sump?  Is this a practical set up? << I don't really think so.  I think they are quite outdated.  I would take out the bioballs and fill that area with sand and algae, making it into a refugium. >> If I am to connect a skimmer where would it go? << Probably right where the water is coming into this filter, before the sand and algae, and before it gets pumped back up. >> I am looking into making this a reef tank and would like to know what I need to get this started.  Thank you in advance for your help. << There is a ton of info on refugiums in the Invert book by Calfo and Fenner.  Also, try searching for refugiums online and I'm sure you can see lots of pics of people doing this exact thing. Good luck! >> Best Regards, Jason <<  Blundell   >>

Wet Dry? Hi, your web site is great!  First I have a wet dry filter with Bio balls on a 75 gallon reef tank. My nitrates are around 30 and from reading some of your articles I guess I should take out the balls slowly. But what should I put in there, Live rock or nothing? <You have come to the correct conclusion... I would encourage you to remove the bio balls.  This space can be left empty or you could add live rock if you wish, just keep it all submerged.> If live rock should be in there should a light be on it all day or say 12 hours. I have about 70 pounds of live rock in the tank now. <You have plenty of rock in your display to support the tank.  If you do choose to add some to the sump, I would recommend 12-16 hrs of light on a schedule opposite that of your display.  Electricity is cheaper at night and lighting the what will now be a refugium opposite the main tank helps stabilize pH.> Two more questions: Do denitrator reducers work? I was thinking about getting the coil one but heard they plug up. <Removing the bio balls should solve your nitrate problem. Denitrators do work, but they are fussy to maintain.> Also how much should a protein skimmer produce in a day? Thank you much.  <Just the right amount!  Seriously though, it is hard to say.  It depends on the skimmer, the stocking level of the tank and other factors.  On my 92 gal tank, I have a Euro-Reef cs6-2 skimmer that produces about a pint of dark chunky skimmate and a thick build up in the neck every three or four days.  HTH.  Best regards.  AdamC>

Converting a wet/dry into a refugium I need to get some fast advice on my current situation/problem.  I have a 75-US gal FOWLR (only 40 lbs of live rock, currently) and wanted to add a sump/refugium to the system.  My current system is a drilled tank with an overflow to a Tidepool wet/dry w/ BioWheel.  I was planning to overflow the wet/dry to a 10-gal sump w/ refugium and miracle mud (that's the biggest that will fit under the tank and it does have to go under, can't go over) and then use the existing pump that is in the wet/dry to get the water back up to the main tank just by simply moving the pump into the end chamber of the 10-gal sump.  Well, after looking at the diagrams of how my overflow box works that I purchased to bridge the wet/dry to the sump, I realized that the one that I bought won't work b/c it won't reach to the operating water line of the wet/dry.  So, how do I get water from my wet/dry to the sump tank?  Or can I convert the wet/dry open area into a refugium? << Yes, it is very common.  Many people remove the bioballs and just fill that area with live rock and macro algae.  Then add a light on top of it, and you are done. >> I would rather have the 10-gal sump b/c it has more volume of water than the wet/dry (which only has about 5 gal in the open area at operating level).  If I can't use the 10-gal sump, then do I need to put dividers into the wet/dry? << Most wet dry have dividers in them already, but if not, then yes you would want to do so to prevent sand and debris from getting into the pump. >>  I would think that if it was used open without any dividers, the miracle mudwould be stirred up too much.  Any help on this would be a tremendous help! << Well with live rock in there I wouldn't worry about the mud stirring up.  You can always use a drip plate, which I think most wet/dry's come with. >> <<  Blundell  >>

Wet/Dry question 3/22/05 Okay, about a month ago I bought a 90 gallon tank from a guy who had it up and running for about 3 years. He has a wet/dry filter attached and protein skimmer. The wet/dry filter has the bio balls and I've been checking all my levels since moving it and they are all great except the nitrates! Sky high!!! Surprise, surprise!  <This is quite a classic situation!> Plus starting to get the brown algae and red algae problems. From your site, I've been reading that the bio balls are the problem. So, if I want to go the route that's less maintenance as far as water changes go...... how do I get rid of the bio balls and what do I do instead? Do you get rid of them slowly or yank them all out and then put whatever else in there?? I'm willing to do whatever, but am overwhelmed with all what I'm reading and need some personal direction. Any information would be absolutely wonderful!! Oh, by the way, its a fish only tank. Thanks so much! Kim  <You will need to replace the biological filtration somehow. My suggestion would be with live rock. After the live rock is cycled and added to the tank, you can begin removing the bioballs at a rate of about 20% per week until they are gone. This will give the live rock time to "pick up the slack". Maintaining alkalinity and calcium at normal levels will also help control the algae, especially in the presence of live rock. Good luck! AdamC.>

Wet/Dry Filter question follow up 3/30/05 Oh, one more question. How do I tell how much live rock I need? <The general rule is 1-2lb per gallon of tank volume, but I prefer to say about 1/3 of the volume. Better quality rock like Kaelini or Marshall Islands is more porous (so you need less) than Fiji or Caribbean.> Just what will fit in the wet/dry filter? And, my wet/dry has three compartments. Do they all get rock? Or, just where the bioballs go?? Sorry, and thanks!! <I would actually put the rock in the display rather than in the sump. It doesn't matter where in the system the rock is placed, it will function the same, so you might as well get the aesthetic benefit of having it in the tank. The wet/dry can be converted to an empty sump, refugium, etc. Best Regards! AdamC.>

Knocking Out Nitrates! Hi there WWM Crew. <Hey there! Scott F. here today!>  Hope you don't mind, but I have a question, despite reading so many of the articles concerning wet/dry filters. <That's what the site is all about! Ask away!> I have a 55 gallon tank, with an A-Miracle hang-on wet/dry trickle filter. I'm also using a Whisper dual cartridge filter with carbon. The tank has about 20 lbs of live rock, and the inhabitants (Red Coris Wrasse, Coral Beauty, Algae Blenny, Sebae Clown and a Yellow Tang, with a few snails and a Feather Duster, with some paintbrush macro-algae) all seem to be doing quite well. <Good to hear!> I see so many references to the wet/dry filters producing nitrates, but my nitrates are about 20 ppm and have been at that level for about 6 months. My local fish store tested the water for phosphates and told me nothing to worry about. Yet, I keep getting green algae blooms and I'm going crazy trying to clean the tank every week or so. <Well, wet/dry filters excel at removing ammonia and nitrite, but they do little to keep up with and reduce nitrate, the "end product" of biological filtration. Nitrates and phosphates are a big source of nuisance algae blooms. In a tank with established nutrient export systems (i.e. deep sand beds, etc.), you should achieve nearly undetectable levels of nitrate.> Lighting is a total of 260 watts (2 x 55 watt blue actinics, one 50/50 40 watt, and 2x 55 watt 10000k bulbs). Initially, I was keeping the lights on about 10 - 12 hours per day. For the past couple of months, I have been keeping them on no more than 6 -8 hours per day, and still, green algae all over. <Well, light in and of itself is not the cause of nuisance algae. Light and available nutrients are the contributors.> Would it help to clean the bio balls at this stage (the wet/dry has been up and running well over a year. <I'd consider ditching the bioballs all together, and just relying on a deep sand bed, live rock, chemical filtration media, (activated carbon/Poly Filter) aggressive protein skimming, quality source water, and frequent small water changes to do the job.> The built in skimmer rarely works. <A reliable, productive skimmer really helps. It is your first line of defense against accumulations of dissolved organics. Do consider upgrading to a skimmer that really does the job.> I use at least 2 filter pads at all times, and I either change one and rinse the other every week, or rinse both weekly. <Good practice.> Still green algae blooms. What if I remove the bio balls entirely, and replace them with a good amount of activated carbon? <I wouldn't use carbon "in place of" bioballs. Rather; I'd use it in addition to any other filtration media/method.> Would I be better off removing the wet/dry entirely and going with a canister filter and better skimmer? <Just a better skimmer!> Or can I simply help solve the problem by pre-treating new water when I do my weekly 10 - 15 % changes, by using a phosphate remover before adding the new water to the tank?  <These are definitely helpful practices, but should be used in conjunction with other techniques.> Thanks so much for your help. I'm pulling my hair out with this, and I really don't want to go bald (I'm running out of time). <Hang in there! Try some of the ideas that I outlined here. Do a little research here on the WWM site and you'll find a wealth of information on this topic! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Thank you so much for the comments. So far, the Urchin is doing a good job! It's been in for a little over 24 hrs. and about 1/4 of the cup is full.  <Ah, good> Please recommend which container(s) I should be considering so I can at least keep my eyes open for a 'good deal'. <Most anything of size... even "totes" made of polyethylene... these are mentioned over and over on WWM> Although I don't believe I can trade mine in, I could always put it up for sale on 'craigslist' or something like that. In fact, that's where I got the Urchin for $95. Quite a savings, I thought. <Yes> I appreciate your responses so much. I know you must have a ton of email everyday from people like me <Luckily not too much... a small part of one percent of the tens of thousands of people who peruse the site write in> and I feel very fortunate that you have so kindly taken the time to respond to my questions. I will try not to take up any more of your time unless absolutely necessary! <No worries. I look forward to this interaction. Bob Fenner> 

Conversion of Wet/dry Trickle Filter into a Refugium and Sump Gentlemen Greetings again - and Thank You.  Its amazing how much progress I have made reading the FAQs/articles and following your advice (My fiancée thinks I am genius). <Perhaps you are> As I mentioned previously, I am setting up a 60 gallon FOWLR with 75lbs of Live Rock and 60lbs of Live Sand. I will be using a EuroReef CS1 skimmer, a Rena Filstar XP2 canister filter (chemical & mechanical) and a sump/refugium with a DSB. I will not have a DSB in my main tank because I believe with only 60 gallons I will be to taking too much space from the fish and live rock (Don't laugh!). I will be using about 1-2 inches of Live Sand in the main (an article in FAMA stated that most denitrification occurs in the first couple of inches - my goal here is aesthetic) Water will come into the refugium/sump from the main tank using an overflow box and a drip plate in the wet dry. My goal of having the refugium with a DSB is mainly nitrate reduction. I would like to convert my wet dry to a refugium (for algae) using a DSB and a sump (to place my Euro Reef and heater). I will be using a AMiracle Maxi-Reef 200 trickle down filter witch has a 12X12 sump area. I would like my DSB to be where the bio balls were originally and I would like to place some Live Rock there. My DSB and main tank sand will be CaribSea Fiji Pink Aragalive and m y return pump will be external and attached to my sump. My concerns are the following 1) Since the Wet Dry has a wall between the biological area and the sump (and a small opening) I would be restricting the flow of water to my skimmer and return pump . Do I have reason for concern - any ideas? <This wall can be modified... cut, drilled if this proves problematic.> 2) Even though I will be using the foam filter in the opening between the biological area and the sump I am concerned that sand will come into contact with the skimmer and return pump. Any advice on this? <Not likely an issue... again, a modification/dam can be inserted if need be> 3) Do I need a plenum for the DSB and if so what is the best type to use for this purpose? <No need for a plenum> 4) Can I get away with a 4 inch DSB? I plan to use 65 lbs of LR in the main and 10lbs in the refugium - is this a good ratio? Any advice on a better way of creating a DSB in the biological area? <This will work> 5) Finally, as you have advised I am using a skimmer and powerheads for circulation for curing my Live Rock. Should I be also using a filter for mechanical (foam) with chemical (carbon) or is it unnecessary? <I would use these if you have them> A couple of emails ago Bob blessed the general concept of my sump/refugium but I don't think I gave that much detail about the setup and some of my perceived concerns. Thanks again - My future fish also thank you. <Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Modified Wet-Dry Hello again, Bob.  Thank you for the quick response to my original email. The advice was well-taken and much appreciated. The Mag-Drive 7 works fine as you predicted! <Ah, good> I have now purchased an AquaC Urchin w/MaxiJet 1200 pump. But it won't fit into my sump where the old protein skimmer existed. The area of the foot where the pump housing attaches makes it just about an inch too wide. I have removed the last of the bio-balls out of the center chamber (there are three chambers - the sump, the bio-ball area, and the return water area) which left only the plastic tray with filter media on top.  I completely removed the tray and filter media, and put the Urchin in there where it fit easily. I don't think this should be a problem because I still have filter media in the bottom of the overflow in the display tank so in essence, the water is still being filtered prior to going into the sump and protein skimmer.  Also, I added a small egg crate piece between the original sump area and the Urchin (that just fit into the grooves where the plastic tray sat) and placed a small piece of filter on it. I've hung the bag of activated charcoal over the plastic that divides the first two chambers. It's almost directly in front of where the drain hose from the overflow dumps into the sump so there's good water pressure there.  The lid to cover this area doesn't fit now though (Urchin is too tall) so I am going to have to devise something to keep the water from evaporating too quickly. So, I was just wondering, do you think this setup work out okay?  <Hard to visualize (am still a bit sleepy), but a couple things... I take it the second chamber where the skimmer resides has a "wall" to keep the water depth constant... a good idea for function's sake... and do take care that the carbon filter bag is secure, lest it block the outgoing pipe. A top for the previous wet-dry can likely best be made by visiting a "plastic shop" (look in your Yellow Pages), searching through their scrap bin for a suitable piece of sheet, and cutting it (tape over the areas, draw the lines with a pen...) with simple hand and power tools. Bob Fenner> 
Re: Modified Wet-Dry Hi Bob, Thanks for the quick response.  I guess it IS hard to imagine, so I've attached a picture of the filter in its original form and will describe how it was, and how it is now. <Ah, good> It's hard to tell by the picture (because the white top cover is on it), but the acrylic divider separating chamber 1 and 2 only comes up as high as the bottom of the PVC pipe. <Yes>   The 2nd chamber is the largest.  It has two removable trays - one holding up the bio-balls, the other holding the filter media. The acrylic divider separating chamber 2 and 3 does not go all the way to the BOTTOM of the sump. <Yes... unfortunate... The first chamber, were it larger, would be better to situate your skimmer (for constant water height mostly), or the second chamber, if the overflow were at the TOP> It ends at the top of that white sponge that you see on the bottom.  Basically, I've removed the skimmer, both trays, all media and the big white sponge - everything that wasn't glued down.  Now, the only thing in chamber 1 is the bag of charcoal draped over the divider (about 2" away from the pipe opening); (I think if the bag should fall off, it will fall to the bottom of chamber 1). <Okay> The water in chamber 1 flows over and through the charcoal bag and into chamber 2.  Chamber 2 has the Urchin flush against the acrylic wall dividing the 2nd and 3rd chamber.  But the Urchin towers over the top of the filter unit by about 5 ". <This is okay> The water in chamber 2 comes approx half way up the length of the Urchin.  Well past the MaxiJet. <Do be "religious" re water volume in your system... to assure that this level stays about such...> The water from chamber 2 flows into chamber 3 through the bottom where the acrylic divider ends (where the white sponge was).  From there, gets returned to the display tank by the return pump.  Clear as mud, right? <Not... is crystal clear now, thank you> LOL.  Am I correct in believing that it doesn't matter whether the protein skimmer is in the first or second chamber? <Mmm, actually... would be better, as remarked, if it were in a part of your sump that had constant, higher water height... as you'll find... for skimmer function> Thanks for the suggestion for a new cover.  I know of a couple of plastic stores in the area so I'll check it out. <Real good, and not to toss a sliding spanner into your works here, but I do wish (and can conceive of this next...) we could go back, trade in this modified wet-dry and start with another larger, more flexible container...> I appreciate all your help! Best regards,
<Glad to share. Bob Fenner>

Wet Dry Filter Modification - 08/17/05 Dear Sirs, <<No need to be so formal (and, a few "Madams" here as well)... EricR at your service.>> First time using and visiting your web site but it seems very informative. <<Seems so to me too <G>.>> I have a Life Reef LF2-300 Wet Dry Filtration System (Twin Towers), with Calcium Reactor/C02 Monitored and Controlled, Protein Skimmer, 57 Watt UV Sterilizer and External Canister Filter (For Carbon), used on a 180 Gallon Tank with Metal Halide and fluorescent lighting.  The tank currently has a 2" layer of coral sand <<Mmm...would consider reducing this to less than 1", or increasing to more than 4".>>, some...very little live rock and a dozen various small fish. <<No idea what "various" might be...>> I have come to the conclusion (visible brown algae) that I would like to modify my Wet/Dry Filter due to nitrate concerns.  I was wondering if it would be an improvement to add LS about 4 inches to the bottom of the sump area and slowly remove about half the bio balls in each tower over a few weeks? <<Maybe, but you haven't given me much info to go on (actual fish load, nitrate levels).  Wet/Dry filters usually work very well for FO/FOWLR systems (rapid response <higher oxygen levels> to increasing bio-load/over-feeding) where a higher residual nitrate level is tolerated (around 20ppm).>> The filter is 41 inches long and 13 inches wide.  The sump area below the towers looks like it would support about 3 to 4 inches of sand.  I was thinking that doing this might give me the best of both worlds, the ammonia to nitrate efficiency of the wet dry, but tone it down a little with half the bio balls, and also give me the de-nitrification benefits of the living sand to off set the efficiency of the Wet/Dry. <<Okay, think about that last sentence...all a bit self-defeating, don't you think?>> Could a set up using a moderate amount of bio balls in a wet dry with a 2" Coral Sand substrate and ample living rock in the tank with a bed of LS in the sump of the Wet/Dry work? <<Mmm, if your nitrates are truly high in this system (30+ppm)...firstly, look at your feeding habits, water flow, etc....if these are in alignment, I would suggest adding the 4" sugar-fine sand substrate to the sump and removing ALL the bio-balls (one tower one week, the second tower the next).>> I know that I also need to improve my circulation, and increase my water changes while watching the feeding amount. <<Ah good...you already know then...>> And I plan to increase the living rock content to an appropriate amount. <<Be sure to maintain good water circulation "all around" the rock.>> But I want to also fix my filter that I know believe has/will become a nitrate factory. <<Do consider my suggestions/food for thought...then "modify away" if you deem necessary.>> Your insight would be appreciated. Regards, James Wet-dry to sump change 11/3/05 Hi WWM Crew. I have been looking through your site regarding the use of bioballs, and I have subsequently decided to get rid of mine due to super high nitrate levels that are not being controlled by water changes, but I have a few questions. I have a 110 gallon tall tank that is drilled with an overflow and wet-dry. There are 100 lbs of live sand in the tank as well as what has to be close to 100 or more lbs of live rock (but I am not completely sure, as I have accumulated it over the years). The live sand was put in approximately 1 month ago when I switched from a 75 gallon tank to the 110 (I think it is between 3-4 inches in depth, as it is a 110 tall).  The wet-dry contains bio-balls in the left compartment (intake from the tank), and the right compartment contains a CRAPPY JEBO skimmer that came with the tank as well as the return pump to the tank. I am getting a new, better skimmer--either an Aqua C EV 120 or a Euro-Reef CS6-2. I was told that the Euro-Reef is a better, easier to work with skimmer, but this will not fit in the right compartment of the sump with the return pump; the Aqua C would fit in this space (but is supposedly not as good of a skimmer and harder to adjust).  My question is this: Should I remove the bio-balls from the left sump compartment and replace them with the Euro-Reef skimmer, and then either add some live rock to this compartment or the right compartment with the return pump (or add no more live-rock, as there would likely not be a light on this)? or put the Aqua C skimmer in the right compartment with the return pump and replace the bio-balls with live rock in the left compartment (again, there would probably not be any light on the rock). <Either will work. Am partial to using whichever compartment is easier to maintain a more or less constant water level in> If it is a better idea to get the better skimmer and put it in the left compartment where the bio-balls currently are, will there be a problem if I add some live rock to this compartment around the skimmer? <Likely not> or would it be a problem to add the live rock to the compartment with the return pump (not sure if there will be a lot of crud from the live rock that would get sucked into the pump and returned into the tank, as it is an open compartment with no other barriers?)  Of note, the tank currently holds a snowflake eel (he's medium size and has grown VERY slowly over the past 7 years--gets fed once per week), ~4 in yellow tang, ~3 in blue tang, ~4-5 in maroon clown, ~3 in flame angel, a bubble tip anemone and some snails. I also plan to add 1-2 short spine urchins, a bunch of small hermits and Nassarius snails for clean-up, and maybe 1-2 cleaner shrimp (from what I have read on your site and seen from my eel, I don't think he will eat these). <Likely will in time> Some of the snails have been dying, presumably from the high nitrates, and I don't want to lose the anemone, which is currently looking great. Given that you have much more experience than I do, please let me know what you would likely do. Thank you so much for your time and the great website. ~Jocelyn Blake  <Welcome. Bob Fenner> 

Converting A Wet/Dry - 01/02/06 I know that you get this all the time but here goes...you folks are to be commended on your insight and help that you provide to amateurs like me. <<Yeah, but we still like to hear it <grin>.  But seriously, we're here because we want to be here...to help...to make a difference...>> I realize I am probably being redundant but here goes, I have a Coralife 75 Wet/Dry system on a 65 gallon tank. <<Mmm...can't find any info on this...only thing close I found is a Pro Clear Aquatics Pro Series 75 Wet Dry Filter like this one: http://www.petco.com/shop/product.aspx?sku=946230&cm_ven=lnk&cm_cat=82&cm_pla=946230&cm_ite=946230&SiteID=rhg4V7cAWWM-S0gU8kvgc4SrDgRMn1Dkaw&CMReferringUrl=&CMReferringUrl= >> It is divided into 3 compartments and I was thinking about converting it into a sump. <<Ok>> I realize I will have to upgrade the present skimmer that came with the system, that is a given, but my question is would I put the rock into the center section? <<Should work fine, yes.>> My tank is over 8 years old and is not drilled and not reef ready by today's standards.  It has a catch basin in the tank that pulls to an outside catch tank that is then fed down into the wet/dry. <<Ah, the standard siphon overflow...>> Also would it be better to get an outside pump to pull the water back into the tank? <<Not sure I follow...but a submersible pump in the last compartment of the sump to "pump water TO the tank" is a good/reliable method.>> I realize that I will have to move the heater down into the lower area and since this is an 8+ year old system would it really be cheaper to take another tack? <<Cheaper?...I doubt it.>> If so, what?  You folks are way cool in the advise that you give and if there is something that I missed in your notes please feel free to point me in that direction. <<If you haven't been here there should be some info about converting your filter to a sump:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/wetdryfaqs.htm  And more good info here as well:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sumprffiltfaqs.htm  Be sure to follow the indices in blue at the top of the pages.>> Carol <<Regards, EricR>> Trickle filters I have a trickle filter set-up on my 72 gallon tank. My nitrates are always high and I have read several articles about how these filters are notorious for this. What do I do now that I have invested in this expensive set-up? <If you have enough liverock (approximately 70 pounds) and you have a medium fish load (not groupers, lionfish, eels or other big messy eaters) you can slowly remove the wet/dry media.> Should I add some live rock to the sump? <That would be helpful.> Thank you, Mark <There is much more written on this subject at our website www.WetWebMedia.com -Steven Pro>

Help! (Tossed the nitrate generating mechanical media in the wet dry...) bob, Steve, Anthony, Jason!, little error just made, I had discussed my nitrates with you guys (mainly Anthony and Steve), I have a well stocked 130g tank,160 pounds of live rockiness tang, queen angel, blue tang, red Coris wrasse, lionfish (all 4 inchers), Picasso trigger, tomato clown (2 inchers) and a snowflake eel (7 inch), I have a good skimmer, and a wet/dry, the tank is around 8 months old, all fine except for the nitrates, I mentioned that I had a large floss on top of the bio balls in the sump which I was told never to change not by you guys), Steve mentioned he didn't like having this in the main section of the wet/dry, in the first tray I have floss which I change regularly, and rotate weekly a phosphate pad and carbon, I just did a 20g water change, and removed the floss I had over the balls, now my tank is a milky cloud, an obvious bacteria bloom which I kind of was hoping wouldn't happen, you thoughts on what to expect now?, should I worry?, anything I should prepare for?, thanks guys, I appreciate it.....riot.... <This too shall clear... as a matter of fact, what is going on is a sort of "changing of the guard" and your system will be cleaner, and much less nitrate-plagued soon... I'd just do your regular maintenance and wait. Bob Fenner>

Re: help! (Wet dry to sump to refugium to?) thanks bob, if in my situation, what would you do as for filtration?, keep the main tray with floss and carbons, and leave the bio balls in the main section?, remove the bio balls and replace with something else?, I highly respect your opinions, your site is the best on the net, hands down..... <I would remove the bio-balls and any other wet-dry or mechanical media here... and convert this "box" to a sump... in the way of a refugium if you have the interest. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm and the associated FAQs files (there's a bunch!). Bob Fenner>

Wet Dry Nitrate Factories? Hello Bob, I need some education regarding wet dry filters being nitrate factories but first the setup... 140 gal FOWLR with wet dry filter Aquaclear skimmer ~100 LBS live rock Inhabitants are an Emperor angel, Maroon Clown, Pacific Blue Tang, Convict Tang, Sailfin Tang, Scissortail Goby, Lawnmower Blenny, 2 neon gobies, plus some number of red tip hermits and turbo snails. This tank has been running for about a year. For maintenance I do a 20 gallon water change every 2 - 3 weeks and change the filter fiber, clean the skimmer etc. while doing the water change. My nitrate levels have always remained well below 10 ppm (I use the FasTest kit which has a lowest reading of 10ppm.) <Good maintenance, live rock... careful feeding...> >From what I have read from various sources, I should be pulling out my bio balls because the huge amounts of aerobic nitrifying bacteria growing on bio balls should be cranking out nitrate like crazy given the load on this tank. I'm struggling with this concept since it has always been my belief that the number of bacteria present is dependent on how much ammonia/nitrite is being produced. <One principal factor... as is a relative availability of aerobic, hypoxic, anaerobic space... detritus, circulation, types of foods...> If this is the case how would a wet dry system produce more nitrate than other types of filtration? <"Driving" the "forward" reaction of nitrification over its reciprocal complement (denitrification)... you may well have a relatively uncommon situation of "good" mix of livestock, feeding, upkeep, live rock, substrate... If you're satisfied with the under 10 ppm. nitrate readings in such a FOWLR system (I would be), then I wouldn't change much> Is it really just a maintenance issue of detritus collecting on the bioballs over time?  <These possibly, and other major to minor inputs> If you could either explain to me or point me to any information (books, articles, etc.) explaining how a wet dry filter can produce more nitrate than other filter systems I would greatly appreciate it? <... perhaps better to encourage you to do experiments... increasing the feeding, trying more frequent water changes... The energetics of the reaction series that yield more/less nitrate accumulation are straightforward... if there is more source material (ammonia, nitrite), less aerobic activity and/or more anaerobic digestion... the equation/balance of accumulated metabolites will/does shift from higher/lower. Do you want specific reference as in articles on biological filtration? What books, magazines do you have access to? I will take a look at what matches in our references. Bob Fenner> Thanks in advance, Richard

Wet Dry filter design, service in ornamental aquatics, old friends Hi Bob, I used to work for you a few years back, as did countless thousands, at one time or another.  <Good to hear from you Ron> I worked at Wet Pets 1 and Wet Pets 2 when it was going. My company is called Aquatic Environments,  <Ahh, a good name... the original intended for Wet Pets...> I live in Minneapolis, Minnesota now and have a few questions if you have a minute. ( By the way- I promote your books 100%) I have designed and build 5 of my own style wet dry filters. I know you tend to like the live rock methods but I can't get the people here to buy them. <Interesting> SO - you did a lot of testing back in the day - with anaerobic chambers on wet dry filters, can you share with me how to make them really work. I know you did it,  <My designs were really only those of George Smit... the originator of Miniriffes... as bought over and re-made by the Eyas' (Andy and family) (Intl. Seaboard) in the mid-eighties... largish sumps with about 3/4 of the space dedicated to rubble (a few inches) over about #5 (1/16" nominal) coral sand (of a few inches in turn)... their real "trick" is not having much livestock, feeding, flow (3, 4 turns per hour) through them> and my very own is working somewhat. Please help me if you possibly can. I have a service group and a custom acrylic manufacture shop. <Congratulations!> I am trying to scratch out a living as you used to do. I am very proud to have been able to work for you back before your celeb status. <Ha! Am glad we have found each other... that you have pursued your dream, involvement in our interests.> Thanks Bob !!!! Ron Smith <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Wet Dry filter design, service in ornamental aquatics, old friends That was the fastest reply I have ever received !!! Thanks, I take it that I should forego the experimenting stages and try to keep the specimens in my charge healthy by the most proven and ( by your guidance) time tested manner. <Mmm, not so fast... Do keep an open mind (always)... there may well be a "better mouse/nitrogenous waste trap"> WATER CHANGES. Thanks again Bob, great to chat again. Yes the Twin Cities are keeping the industry alive and well. There is about 5 of us that are "real" players, the rest are out on the horizon. <And hopefully leading, inspiring those others to better themselves. Hope to run into you "on the road". Bob Fenner> Thanks again, Ron

Wet/Dry Gentleman, Thanks for all your help in the past! Just built a sump/wet-dry for my fish only system. I have a 75 gallon (Corner Over-flow) fish only system. Equipment: LifeGuard Quite One 700 gal/hr external main pump, a Supreme MagDrive 9.5B in sump pump powering an ETSS Revolution 500 protein skimmer, a Coralife turbo twist 3X UV, 2 Ebo-Jager 125 watt heaters and 2 power sweep 228 power heads for in tank circulation. My previous sump was only 7 gallons and I couldn't stop micro bubbles from entering my tank, so I built a new one, about 20 gallons (24x11x18) I have the skimmer dumping into the bio chamber followed by an over-under-over baffle system trying to eliminate micro bubbles. Seems to be doing a good job, much better than the smaller sump, however I did not permanently glue the baffles to the sides and bottom of the sump. Wanted to ensure my design worked first. I used small blocks of 1 inch by 1 inch plexi as guides so I could slide the baffles in and out as I please, making adjustment before I go permanent so I wouldn't have to start from scratch. However, as I had thought, the flow is still making it around the baffles on either side and I believe some bubbles are making it back into the main tank this way. Hoping that if I do glue them permanent this should eliminate my micro bubble problem. I just wanted to get your opinion on my baffle dimensions. Both "over" baffles are 5 inches in height from the bottom of the sump and the "under" baffle is 3 inches from the bottom of the sump. There are 2 inches between each baffle. This leaves 2 inches for the water to flow down to get under the "under" baffle with 3 inches of clearance from the bottom. The bottom of my bio tower is at 6 inches from the bottom of the sump. I don't mind making the over baffles higher and raising the overall height of my water lever and cover a few bio balls. In addition I have my main pump opened full throttle, but I did put an elbow fitting so as to draw water from the bottom of the sump. This has without question inhibited the flow rate of the pump back into the main tank. Does this arrangement sound correct. Or should the first "over baffle be higher than the second. I am considering making it 7 inches instead of 5, or should both be the same height? If so, should they both be at 7 inches or maybe higher? Any suggestions?? Thanks John, Cape Cod <Hi John, I do have some suggestions. The idea is to slow the flow down enough in your sump and provide *downward* movement of your water at a slow speed, so the bubbles are allowed to rise to the surface as the water moves down, then reverse the direction and make the water rise, leaving more bubbles while it drops again. Some sumps use sponges to help eliminate bubbles as well. The space in between the baffles should be the same distance as the space at the top and bottom of the baffles making the water flow slow and steady. Making it only 2" speeds the water allowing the bubbles to be swept in the current instead of floating to the surface of the water. It isn't so much the water flowing around the outside of the baffles, it's that the gaps are too tight speeding the flow of the water. Open the space between the baffles and it will remove more bubbles. You don't need the Ell on the pump, it just impedes your pump. You don't need to raise the water level unless you want. You have to weigh this against sump capacity if the power goes out..... The deeper the sump and wider the spaces the water flows through as it rises and falls through the baffles the more *time* gasses will have to rise to the surface, and disappear. Hope this helps, Craig>

Converting an Oceanic 75 Trickle Filter to a reef-type sump Mr. Fenner, Can you please advise me on any method to convert my existing Trickle filter to a Mini-reef safe sump. <I'll try> I understand a trickle filter, while good for a fish-only set-up, might produce excessive nitrates for a reef tank. <There are countervailing strategies for preventing, reducing this accumulation... your present filter could be converted easily... by the removal of the wet-dry media, replacement with live rock, possibly macro-algae, and/or vascular plants, perhaps a DSB or other media for encouraging anaerobe denitrification...> I am having a tough time trying to reduce my nitrate problem (above 80ppm!). I know my trickle filter is not the only problem, but an article I'd seen somewhere on-line had a DIY project, converting an Oceanic 75 Trickle filter (just like mine) to a reef-type sump. After reading your responses and articles on WWM, I know your the best person to ask. Thank you for your time. Lou Agostino <Likely you will need to do both... figure how to not add more NO3 and encourage its removal... this will probably involve adding another sump/refugium, in addition to the above mentioned conversion of your WD filter... the latter may well not have enough space... Please re-read through the Nitrate, Wet-Dry, and Algal Filtration sections on WWM... I would start with the Indices or use the Google Search feature on them or the Homepage. Bob Fenner>

Re: Converting an Oceanic 75 Trickle Filter to a reef-type sump Mini-Reef Conversion (Pt. II) Thank you for a quick response your valuable info. I will take your references and research my problem a little better. I'm thinking my set-up requires a total re-engineering. <Scott F. filling in for Bob today> Here's my set-up specs: 75 gal. Oceanic Show tank Oceanic 75 Trickle Filter Berlin Turbo hang-on skimmer 1-802 powerhead 1-400 series PowerSweep powerhead (which stopped its sweeping motion in about a month even after cleaning) 1-Rio 600 pump <Powerheads seem to be a necessary and unreliable evil! They transfer heat to the water, and are prone to mechanical failure. Perhaps you should investigate more reliable (and unfortunately, expensive) methods, such as utilizing external top-mounted pumps like Tunze Turbelles, or investigate creating a closed loop system. Check out this link: http://WetWebMedia.com/circmarart.htm for lots more information on circulation in reef systems.> Lighting: 1- 96w 10,000k power compact 1- 96w 5,500k actinic power compact 2- 65w SmartLite (50% actinic/50% 10,000k) <Suitability depends on the type of corals you plan to keep. Research their light requirements and stock accordingly, or modify your lighting as needed> approx. 50lbs live rock approx. 50lbs home made Aragocrete rock (copied from G.A.R.F.'s web site) +5" of crushed coral over a Plenum (w/1" gap between the glass & the crushed coral) <FYI: Plenum proponents, such as Bob Goeman's and Sam Gamble, seem to recommend a layer of sand that is four inches above the plenum, assuming that you are using crushed coral or other material with a grain size of 2-4mm. Apparently, the thought is that this combination of depth and grain size provides the ideal gradient. Do read more on this method, though.> Livestock: I donated most of my stock to my cousins Fish-only set-up. Here's what remains: 1-Yellow tail damsel 1-Three striped damsel 1-purple ribbon coral ~10 Astrea snail ~10 left-handed hermit crabs 5-Scarlet reef hermit crabs 1-Brittle starfish I plan to remove all the inhabitants, temporarily, to my cousins tank. Remove about half of the man-made Aragocrete rock (w/the exception of some really nice caves I made) Add approx. 100 lbs of uncured Live rock (w/all the nasty critters removed). <if it were me, I'd try to cure the rock in a container other than the aquarium (like a plastic garbage pan, etc) facilitating easy removal of the waste products produced during curing..> Convert the trickle filter, among other things after I finish reading! <Good! keep reading-you're on he right track!> I hope I can count on you for some more advice. It means a lot to me. Thanks, Lou Agostino <Thanks for stopping by! Feel free to contact Bob or any of the crew in the future with your questions!>

Re: converting wet/dry to a refugium/mud filter Hi all!      I was finally able to pick up a 75g tank, complete with corner overflow and a 20g wet/dry filter system. Any advice on converting it over to a refugium/mud filter? Or would I just be better off removing the bioballs and replacing them with LR? <I would set this system up as either from the get-go... that is, never place the bioballs... and instead (your choice) go with the refugium with either/ and/or both the mud and LR. Bob Fenner who would use both.> (currently the tank is high and dry). Thanks again for all your advice, PF

Rock Under Water! Hello to the crew <Scott F. your crew member tonight!> Have been reading on your site for about 5 weeks now. Lots of great info. My question is about removing bio/balls from a W/D filter, when replacing with LR. Does the rock need to be submerged or does the trickle of water keep it functioning in the way we want. <Either technique works well, IMO. I prefer to keep the live rock submerged myself, but it's perfectly acceptable to have the water trickle over it. If submerged, you can actually get some additional biodiversity and a potential for coralline algae growth. Plus, if you light the sump, you can use the rock "rubble" to "mount" or attach coral frags to trade with your friends...! > Thanks for the great site with great people to pass on the WORDS we need. (Wisdom On Real Dilemmas/Situations )  Ron <Well, Ron, I hope that this was UFY (useful for you)...TTFN (Ta Ta For Now!) Regards, Scott F, who better stop with this acronym stuff before it's TL ( too late)...>

Re: 180 gal tank wet dry question plus ozone? hi guys killer site... just got a 180 gal tank with 2 overflows a custom aquatic wet dry a ts-8 Euro reef skimmer and 1/8 horse sequence pump. 1st question its a FO might convert to a reef later. is live rock in the sump better than bio balls and if I use live rock in the sump does it need lighting above the filter? <I would go for the live rock rather than the bio balls, and no, it doesn't need to be lighted.> does it need the same trickle action the bio balls need? or should it be under the water? <Better for it to be submerged.> if I use live rock instead of bio balls will it cut down on algae in the aquarium? <Not necessarily. There are other factors that will influence this more that the choice of filter media.> or is there something else you would put in the sump? <Live rock is fine.> 2nd question want to get ozone looking at the aqua zone plus 200 mg-hr ozonizer with controller and ORP probe also has air dryer...is there a better one you would recommend? <Perhaps the next model up... once you add the sump, your system will be larger than 180 gallons.> I would like an ozonizer that's complete do you know if the aqua zone plus is complete? <Need to check with the retailer where you intend to purchase it.> thank you for your help...Scott... <Cheers, J -- >

Removing Wet-Dry and adding Live Rock - 3/5/03 Hi - <Howdy, Paul here> I have quick question about the best way to move from a wet/dry filtration system to using only live rock for my biological filtration. <So many ways so little time> My current set up is a 75 gallon salt water tank (not drilled) so I am running an Eheim 2229 wet/dry,<Actually I like these> Remora Pro Skimmer,<good> Magnum canister (I know this is junk, but it is mainly used for some carbon and to drive my 25w UV). <OK>  I also am using a Cora-Life 50/50 bulb. I have 45 lbs of Fiji live rock and about a 1/2" of sand.  I am going with a fish-only set up (primarily, but may add a some inverts).<Make an adjustment to your lighting if you list corals as a possible choice of inverts>  I have a Percula and a Three-stripe Damsel, and some hermit crabs and I am going to add a tang and angel - but still TBD. My question is, I want to add another 30-40 lbs of live rock, <Very good and I really like this idea> and remove the Eheim wet/dry. <OK>  What would be the best way for me to do this? <Add the rock first (after curing in a separate tank. See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lrcurefaqs.htm) then remove the wet/dry> Should I add the rock, then remove the wet/dry, or remove the wet/dry (slowly), then add the live rock (fully cured)? <add rock then remove wet/dry. I am curious as to why you think you need to remove the wet/dry? You could still add live rock and keep the wet/dry. Especially being that this is a fish only setup.> Thanks for the help. <No problem. Paulo> Jason

Removing the dry from wet/dry Hi, <Hi Brian, Don with you tonight> My 180 litre reef tank has run reasonably successfully for about 18 months. I say reasonably well because although nothing has died (apart from a wrasse which jumped too high!) nothing much looks 'vibrant'.  One leather coral grows well, and star polyps spread slowly. Another leather coral, and two colt corals look good when they open, but they don't do so very often. A single hard coral (cup) looks good, and is always open. water quality seems fine, all 'baddies' at zero except nitrate which was at 12.5 prior to the last water change. I change about 10% a week, using Kent salts and Ro water. Calcium levels are a problem so I use an additive where necessary (powdered aragonite?). There are two small clowns, a blenny and a cherub angel. Various shrimps, crabs, snails etc. <All sounds good, eliminating the nitrate will help> A new LFS has opened and already has an enthusiastic following of experienced reefkeepers. Their show tank is exactly the same model as mine (Rio 180) and looks great. Like mine it has a hefty amount of living rock, and T5 lighting (3 aqua blue and one actinic) with a lighting period of nine hours a day. (Mine was 12, but I've cut it down). Anyway, I finally get round to the question. My tanks has, on the advice of another shop, had on it all the filtration from an old freshwater set-up of mine. That is the original Juwel internal filter system, and Eheim professional wet and dry, and a Fluval 304. The last two have the filter pads and media which came supplied. I add a poly filter from time to time. The new shop has suggested that with my new skimmer (Biostar Flotor, bought to replace a Bak Pak 2 which was too noisy for the living room) I could, over the next couple of weeks, gradually remove the media from the other filters, leaving the canisters as extra water volume and flow. Their tank looks stunning and other customers said their tanks have improved a lot since following the advice, but I'm a bit nervous of this move, especially at nitrites are at zero and have been since the tank cycled.. What do you think, and would a bit more living rock (currently 20Kg) help. <Sounds like you found a good one. Agreed, go slow when removing the media, test the water parameters as you go, and all should go well. More live rock would be most beneficial> Thanks for finding time for these questions. I find your FAQs etc on the web invaluable. <My pleasure and spread the news for us, eh? Thanks> Brian

Removing the dry from wet/dry Thanks for that quick reply ... very helpful. Once the new skimmer starts skimming rather than just bubbling I'll gradually remove the media. <Sounds like a good plan Brian, go slow, be patient and all will be fine. Don> Brian

Changing A Few Things... Thank you for your speedy reply on my last email.  I have read as many of the former posts as possible, and have learned oh so much, but nothing beats good old person specific answers. <Yep...The one-on-one stuff is good! Scott F. with you today!>   How can I reward you?  Ah, I'll name my Radiata Lion Fish after you if you let me know who the actual responder to this email is.   :P <Wow! That's cool! Sure beats the last time someone named their feather duster after me! LOL> Just as a reminder, my last email was asking how to actually go  about replacing the bio balls in my wet/dry filter with live rock.  Your answer was that you don't actually replace the live rock in the same spot as the bio balls but instead by placing the live rock in the main display.  This leads me to my next question. <Not sure who gave that initial response, but it makes sense to me!> I am currently in the process of trying to build replica coral shelves with caves and the sort using PVC and so I am a little short on actual display room for the live rock I would like to add. My question is it possible to take out the bio balls in the wet/dry filter and replace them with live rock while raising the water level in the filter to submerge the rocks completely.  In essence I would modify the wet/dry filter to just house more live rock.  Of course I would be careful to keep the water level at safe levels in case of a pump failure or something else. <Sure. That sounds like a logical approach to me...> Here is the actual set up of the filter and the idea I would like to work with. The wet/dry filter. under aquarium.. is prob around  30 gallons with two intake hoses from the main tank going to the left side of the filter.  The water then goes through a small prefilter, drip plate,  over the bio balls, eggcrate, small open area with carbon, sponge, and finally into the open sump area where it is pumped back into main aquarium.  Pretty basic wet/dry filter.  I was thinking on axing the eggcrate material and bioballs and just sitting live rock in the large area left behind.  I can increase the water level to cover the live rock permanently. <This is a nice approach, and this should work out fine...> After the live rock in the next chamber I was considering growing some sort of plant life.  If this is feasible and would be beneficial do I need to add some sort of powerhead in the wet dry filter to move water through the rocks a little more efficiently? <As long as it's not stagnating in there, I'd let it "run its course"...> What type of lighting, that can fit in my aquarium stand, would be enough to grow plant life and support the live rock? <I like some inexpensive PC or fluorescent fixtures that can be purchased from many e-tailers...lots to choose from...> I have built a separate Rubbermaid container that houses my skimmer.  The water out of the main aquarium now flows through this FIRST, thanks to your website,  before entering the wet/dry filter...really wish the manufacturers model would have had this built in. <A great design! And I often wonder myself why manufacturers don't do this...A level flow of nutrient rich water is ideal for feeding the skimmer for maximum efficiency...> My second main question involves some sort of growth in the main tank. I have read everything I can find on your website and It somewhat resembles diatom algae, although the symptoms are different.  Most people say that over a period of a day or a few hours growth just appeared out of nowhere.  I have noticed the brown/dark red. almost looks like a Carmel coated apple, at least a week before on one of my live rocks.  It has SLOWLY spread to all my other rocks and coral skeletons. It isn't slimy and doesn't look like normal algae.  My lack of visual knowledge doesn't let me identify it very well, but it almost looks like I BBQed my rocks.   Their isn't really a texture to it.  Probably would have spread to the sand if my brown barred Goby wasn't around. My LFS said  that it could be a bacteria and for me to just keep the lights off for a while.  Bacteria or do you think its the good old diatoms waging war?  If need be I can take some pictures. <Pictures might help, but I'm 99% sure that you're dealing with an algae known as Lobophora. It almost resembles a coralline algae, but it's brown and has a sort of rubbery feel too it, right? In that case, I'd say that this is almost certainly what you're dealing with. It's essentially harmless. If you just cant stand the stuff (I find it to be kind of ugly, myself), you could physically remove it by "chipping" it and "peeling" it off of the rock. Alternatively, you could employ an urchin to help remove it. In the end, nutrient control efforts will help to keep it from becoming established to begin with...> Thanks for your advice.  Let me know who actually responds to this email this time.  My Lion FISH is awaiting a name.  :} Kevin <Scott the Lionfish....Hmm- I guess it has a certain ring to it, huh? LOL. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

-Wet/dry to refugium- Hi, I'm thinking of making my turning my sea life wet dry to a refugium. <I did this once...> It is set the usual way with a bioball divider, a little slot where a prefilter sponge goes. It is a 90 gal overflow set up with about an 8 gal wet dry.. would putting the sand and rock and bioball chamber along with other goodies and leaving the last 1/3 of the sump for the skimming. <I took out the balls, and on top of the eggcrate that supports the balls, I put a few layers of really dense filter pad (felt-like). On top of that I put a few inches of sand and a few small pieces of live rock. The problems w/ this setup are as follows: My sump had a few holes on the side of the bio-chamber right under the drip plate, these had to be drastically widened so the 'fuge wouldn't overflow. The other, and much larger problem is that the other half of the sump could no longer accommodate all the water that would drain from the display in a power outage.> Is that enough room. The total area is 13.5 gal availability <It might work, but I'd calculate out how much water will be drained down and how much you'll have to spare. Good luck! -Kevin> Joe Culler, Asst Mgr, Lakeland

Wet/dry to Sump/Refugium? I just purchased a CPR cr300 wet/dry, and want to convert it to a sump/refugium. I want to take everyone's advice and get rid of the wet dry, but I don't know where to start.  Currently I have a 120gal reef tank with fish and assorted corals and am running an AquaClear 200 pro wet dry.   I'm going to make this into a in wall tank with a sump room behind it.  The cr3000 is not in use at this time.  I'm trying to plan ahead.  Can you help me? thanks in advance. <Dave, I suggest that you go to the WWM site and search for refugiums and read the information regarding them. Also do read the FAQ's on the topic. Anthony Calfo's and Robert Fenner's book Reef Invertebrates covers refugiums very thoroughly and I hope that you purchase this book to help guide you. Good luck, IanB>

Lowering Nitrate Hello <Hi there! Scott F. at the keyboard today!> I am having some nitrate problems. I currently have a 150 gal wet dry with bioballs. With WWM's help I have determined that the bioballs and the wet dry are contributing to the problem. I am going to slowly remove the bioballs and replace with 15 lbs of live rock and some sand and Halimeda. Not a lot. I will light the old wet dry for the benefit. <Good thoughts...Just do it slowly and monitor water chemistry parameters during the process...Should be fine> Should I leave the prefilter pad in the drip tray?? Remove the drip tray and let the raw water into the rock/sand area because the filter pad may be helping to raise nitrates. <Bingo! You hit it right on the head! Filter pads are great, and I do recommend them for mechanical filtration. However, you need to be able to clean and/or replace these pads regularly (like a few times a week, IMO.> I need to get the nitrates down Joe Culler, <Well, Joe, with those minor adjustments, and a little "tweaking" of your husbandry techniques (like water changes, skimming, etc.)- you should be on your way! Regards, Scott F>

- Lowering Nitrates, Wet/Dry Woes - Hi I cant seen to get my nitrates down below 5ppm.  I have a 90 gal soon to be reef. It has a Kole and hippo tang along with a cinnamon clown, royal Gramma and scooter blennies. I have a traditional wet-dry and a SeaLife systems 150 skimmer. <Hmm... quite possible the wet/dry is responsible for the small amount of nitrates - is the nature of these filters, very efficient at producing nitrates.> This is my first marine attempt and I should have done a few things differently. Bigger umph from a bigger skimmer. Refugium instead of  a traditional wet dry.  But that's water under the bridge. I don't want to replace the wet dry with the refugium and I don't have much room in the cabinet area to add one. <You should really re-consider this stance - do think the wet/dry may end up working against your reef plans. A refugium would be the way to go.> I do 5% water change twice a week. I have been changing my prefilter pad weekly, rinsing my sponges, etc etc. I have some red slime going on and I added some Halimeda which my tangs are "reorganizing" to try to lower nitrates. <Don't think this will help - you are working in the wrong place, and as long as the wet/dry filter is present you will have detectable nitrates.> I have seen in Dr. Fosters fish stuff a little "in tank" refugium. It is 7x7x4. Will that help if I put some sand, couple critters, Caulerpa in it right in the tank. <Don't think it will overcome the nature of the wet/dry filter - as long as that is inline.> I can prune the Caulerpa and feed it to the tangs. The real question is will it help? <I don't think so.> I don't want to waste the $$$ if it wont make a difference.   Joe <Cheers, J -- >

- Lowering Nitrates, Wet/Dry Woes Follow-up - Well, that kinda stinks. The thing that scares me about adding the refugium is the shock to my system. <Perhaps you can run one on the side of the tank before you remove the wet/dry... giving a chance to get the refugium going and to slowly remove the bio balls.> Disconnecting the wet dry and adding the refugium can be done but the shock to the fish and other life. How bad will that be?? <Bad if you do it suddenly - much less drastic if done slowly over many weeks.> Is the 5ppm on the nitrates a killer for the corals?? <Not entirely, but I'd be willing to bet that sooner or later 5ppm will become 10 which will become 20 and so on.> Or can the water changes and diligence overcome this. <You'd have to be doing a lot of water changes, and you still can't alter the nature of a wet/dry filter.> Can I replace the bioballs with live rock?? <You can, but quite typically the wet/dry sump really isn't designed to keep the rock submerged but yours may be different - would be worth investigation. Cheers, J -- >

-Converting Wet/dry to sump-  I have a 55 gallon tank running with 45 lbs of Foster and Smith Fiji live rock (been running two months). Currently the system has a small (Amiracle SL-50) wet/dry running. Over the weekend I spent hours finding a way to cram my remora pro skimmer under the stand hanging on the sump side of the wet/dry, it fit by a hair! Your site, and a local pet store recommended slowly removing the bio-balls from the filter. <Forget slowly, yank it all at once.> I am wary about this, since most of the people in your FAQs on converting wet/dries seem to have a ton of live rock per gallon. Is 45 pounds enough? <That it is. It's been known for quite some time that you can ditch the entire bio-chamber in one shot if you have a reasonable amount of live rock and/or live sand in the tank (Sprung and Delbeek proposed this in The Reef Aquarium which came out in '94).> I also have about 15 pounds of lace rock in there left over from my cichlid tank. The substrate is 60 pounds of Carib-Sea aragonite (I now realize that more than 1 inch less than 4 is bad, but I bought it before I knew that). I don't plan to have a heavy bio-load in there. I want to do mostly fish and inverts with some easy corals. I would prefer to take the media out of the wet/dry, but I want to be sure I have enough bio filtration, and I don't have the money for more live rock right now. <You're all set, ditch away! You shouldn't notice any ill effects, but you should always plan for the worst and test your water frequently for ammonia and nitrite. Good luck! -Kevin> Thanks for the great advice! -Ken

Sump/trickle filters Hi Bob, <Trevor> Your site is excellent, and I have read so much at this stage I don't think I'm retaining more than 10% at the moment. I am presently moving from a Juwel 180 tank to a 60 x 24 x 18. This has a sump/trickle filter in it, but I am not greatly happy with the design. I was thinking of re-designing it and have spent days looking through all varieties of site to purchase one in the UK - not many available here. <Why not build your own? The components to put in it can be purchased...> some sites suggest that trickle filters are not good for nitrates though, and what I want to keep is a community carrying maybe around a dozen fish 2 percula clowns, scooter blenny, domino, some tangs and couple of others that would hopefully be harmonious with these which I already have. These I want to also live around about 20lb of live rock - not quite a reef. Would re-designing my filter be beneficial to me or would I actually be better with 2 or 3 canister filters instead ? <Mmm, likely the re-design will work out much better... more steady, easier to work with, more flexible> You guys are pros so I couldn't think of anyone else I'd rather ask - including my LFS ! Thanks for taking the time to read this, Trevor in Blackpool England. <Do keep looking about, keeping good notes... your system's filtration will "gel" with consideration. Bob Fenner> 

Wet-Dry? I am in the process of purchasing a saltwater, fish only, aquarium. Around 100 gallons. I was reading some of your comments on the wet/dry filter systems and frankly I am more confused now. Everything I have read up to now has recommended the wet/dry filter. The system I am looking at has a SeaLife filter. I understand you to approve of the wet/dry filter but with modification.. Could you help this beginner out by expanding a little more. Thanks >> I'll try. Wet-dry type filters are fine for very crowded, variable load situations... but are notorious at over-driving nitrification... and requiring mechanisms to thwart the tendency (denitrifying processes like anaerobic filter media, live rock/mud and algae sumps... copious amounts of live rock (with plenty of low flow area within them))... Think about what you want to do by "filtration"... by using a typical wet-dry you will find a surplus of nitrates produced... and need to find ways to rid the system of the same... Instead, more "balanced" filtration approaches like using live rock, macroalgae, a mud sump... won't. Bob Fenner

Reef aquarium (balance, algae problems, wet-dries) Greetings Bob!! I just had to e-mail you to let you know that I have finally reached the reef aquarists dream. I have contacted you in the past about algae problems and you suggested getting rid of my wet/dry. Hesitantly, I did it, and I cannot believe the results. I have a 55 gallon plumbed on the bottom to a 40 gallon sump. The sump contains some ceramic beads, a piece of filter fiber, a good protein skimmer, and a Rio pump which returns the water to the top of the aquarium on each end. I have 2 VHO whites and 2 VHO blues and 2 power heads in the aquarium. The tank includes tons of mushrooms, frogspawn, bubble coral, star polyps, bicolor angle, coral beauty, 3 cleaner shrimp, and 2 perculas. Everything is doing great. My mushrooms are multiplying like crazy!!! I am going to have to start giving them away. I have had absolutely no nuisance algae in over 8 months and am only doing 10% water changes every 5 to 6 weeks!! <Ah, good to read of your successes> My question is....how much more life can I safely place in this aquarium? I just ordered (from FFExpress) 3 more perculas, 2 blue tangs I'm hoping they will leave my inverts alone) <They will> , 1 Fungia, 1elegance, and a black banded starfish. <Yikes... you have two Dwarf Angels and two perculas already...? I would not order any more fish life for this size, number of total gallons... perhaps some small invertebrates, frags, macro-algae...> Sorry for the long read and thank you so much for your expertise!! Diane <You are welcome my friend. Again, congratulations. Bob Fenner>

Question regarding w/d use as refugium Hello, I have a multi-part question for you. I currently have a 55 gallon fish-only tank that I'd like to take over to semi-reef. The livestock is a yellow tang, a regal tang and a small (6") Naso. I know, I know. I'm getting a 90 when we move next year. Maybe even bigger. :)  <Ah, good> There is also a coral banded shrimp, two cleaner shrimp, about six snails. I can't keep hermits for more than a month at a time, they just vanish. I swear I think my regal kills them.  <It's possible> I've seen him pick up shells and swim to the surface and drop them. I don't know what he thinks he's doing, but I'm sure the hermits don't like it much. Whoops. Tangent. Sorry. <No worries> I am currently running on a w/d filter, a few powerheads for water movement, and a skimmer (Big Mombassa). I've upgraded my lights (2x65w Smartlight PCs). I realize this isn't enough for anything other than mushrooms and some polyps, but that is really all I want to do right now. <Fine> I have slowly been removing the bio media from my w/d nitrate factory. How quickly can I remove the media?  <If the system is otherwise stable, live rock cured thoroughly most folks can remove all at once w/ impunity> I've been removing about 15 balls or so with each water change (once every other week). Oh- I suppose I should mention that I've got about 40-45 lbs of live rock in the tank. The substrate is just crushed coral, but it's been in there for three years- quite thoroughly live now. <Yes> My nitrates are a big problem. BIG. Usually over the 100 mark. Water changes don't even seem to help. So what I want to do is remove the bio media from the w/d as mentioned, add some sand to the sump (I honestly don't think I need for this to be live sand, it'll get populated rapidly. <I agree... do consider adding a light to the sump, some rock, macro-algae> My wife is afraid to look in the sump because of all the "creepy-crawlies" down there. One thing that truly confuses me about this- won't it end up sounding like a waterfall in there? Is there a way to soften that? <Yes, inside and out... covers can be made with sheets of Styrofoam... you can insulate the cabinet... and a diverter can be made of PVC piping to spread the flow about...> I've seen you mention use of Ehfi-Mech in the sump, as a de-nitrator. What would be the proper way to use this?  <If you can afford it... but the live sand, some rubble will accomplish the same ends> Should I just add a few inches of sand, and put a box of Ehfi-Mech in there as well? Sounds almost too easy, as if I'm missing a giant step or six. <No, you've about "got it"...> And, of course, I'd like to get a few pieces of live rock in there, and lots of macroalgae. I've seen two different ideas on lighting something like this- the most typical is getting one of those small PC units and put in on a reverse daylight program. The other was just a small regular florescent, running 24/7. Which way do you think I should go? <The small PC left on all the time> The largest question: am I on the right track with this? Is there anything I'm overlooking? <Not as far as I'm aware... it's obvious you've been doing your homework> I truly appreciate any thoughts and advice you can offer. John <Press on with this project my friend. Your nitrates are soon to be near zero, and your livestock happier and healthier. Bob Fenner>

Re: Question regarding w/d use as refugium Hello, Mr. Fenner, <Howdy> And thank you for the quick response! <You're welcome> I have started this refugium project, and realize that I do indeed have a few things confusing me. heheheh- I thought I had it all figured out. <Don't know anyone who does... including myself> I read somewhere online that using play sand (sand for sandboxes, etc) is okay for a project such as this. Is this true? <Well... actually only a few types are advisable... you likely want to avoid the ones that are silicates... and use one that is carbonaceous (made of calcium carbonate) of all about the same grade...> I bought a 50 lb bag today for under two bucks, then before I added it starting thinking... just what's IN this stuff? <Question of the hour> Another thing- I went to purchase the PC lighting today (would you believe that Home Depot had NO PC fixtures that aren't for outdoor/motion sensor applications?), and I realized that I had utterly no idea what kind of wattage I'm looking for. I'm looking to light my sump, which is at most 10-12 gallons. And it's only 1/3 full at any given point, so I am thinking that 60 watts of light may be serious overkill on this. What would you recommend? <Sixty watts would likely be okay...> I think that's about it for now. I truly appreciate the help. /john <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Need for Wet/Dry??? Hi Bob, I wanted to send you a quick note and get your opinion about the need for a wet/dry filter. I've included photographs of my two fish tanks. Tank #1 is around 220 gallons with fish only currently holding: 2 Tangs, 1 Passer angel, Niger Trigger, Lion, Snowflake Eel, and 1 dwarf angel. I will probably add a French angel who I hope will eventually grow very large. On your recommendation to use macro algae, I built Tank 2 (around 300 gallons) which is connected to tank one by water only. The water is cycled around w/ a pump running around 1200g/hr. The second tank is abundant w/ macro algae (currently just in the center... but is rapidly growing) and has a few anemones and fish. I notice the Nitrates measurably dropping now (after a month or so) and I will eventually add a few corals, more inverts, and grazing fish to keep the algae in check. As you can see, both tanks have a lot of large rocks in them.  <A very nice arrangement...> Tank 1 has around 150 pounds of lace rock and tank 2 has roughly 300 pounds of lace rock (they look big, but they are all hollow and thus lots of surface area). As you can see on the picture of tank one, I've got a wet/dry running on the top/left that I'm not sure is really necessary. I'd like to remove it and rebuild my U/V filter (the monster on the top/right) as well as a book case or something equally attractive. <A good project> So the ultimate question is, in your opinion of course, do you think the bio load that I've described w/ the amount of porous rock you see in the system is balanced enough to warrant the removal of my Wet/Dry Filter? <Remove half of it (the bioballs first) and see if you can detect any appreciable waste accumulation... likely not... in fact, the opposite will occur> the system has been running w/ tank2 for about a month w/ zero ammonia and nitrites. Nitrates are on the way down. Thanks in advance! I love your site! <Thank you my friend. Bob Fenner> -Jeff

Trickle Filter Questions Hello Robert, <You actually reached Steven Pro. Anthony Calfo and I helping out for a while.> I just recently found out about WetWebMedia.com and think it is very helpful site. I wanted to ask you two quick questions. I have a 125 gal. saltwater-fish-only setup and don't intend on starting a reef of any kind (strictly fish). I currently run a home made wet/dry filter with 6 gallons of bio-media. I wanted to know whether it is better to have these bio-balls in here, or am I better off taking them out. My tests for nitrates are way less than 10 ppm, possibly 1 or 2 only. If your suggest keeping them in there, should I cover the balls all the way to the top, or middle, low etc. <It sounds like things are running pretty well as is, so I would leave things alone. AS far as covering the bioballs, I am guessing you are referring to covering them with water by raising the levels in your sump/trickle filter. It is best to leave as much of the bioballs exposed to air as possible. -Steven Pro> Thanks for your help. Hamilton.

Convert a wet/dry to a Sump/Refugium I have a 72 gallon tank w overflow on one side. The tank has 2 holes cut out on the bottom - 1 that goes into the wet dry (Amiracle) and the other is a return hooked up to my Rio powerhead. I am going to silicon a piece of plastic to separate the power head from where the bio balls used to be. I am going to add Aragamax Oolitic Select Sand:0.5-1.02 mm live sand or Aragamax Sugar-Sized Sand: 0.2 - 1.2mm diameter to the bottom of the wet dry about 2 inches. On top of that I will add some live rock and some algae. <Sounds like you've been thinking, investigating here for a while> The Rio powerhead is a 2500 and it about 4 feet below the tank. Please see attached word doc for full pic and pic of actual wet dry (except mine does not have the extra plastic separator - that is what I am going to add and it does not have the external overflow.) The red indicates = what I plan to do Blue indicates water. Please answer these 2 questions and any other incite you have. 1-Will this setup slow down the flow of water too much. If so what should I change? <No to slowing down water flow too much... should be fine with the arrangement, pump you have> 2-Is the sand choice ok? <Yes... might want to build a series of "baffles" along with the plastic separator and silicone you already plan... to aid the sand staying in place...> Thanks a million. Brad <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Re: Convert a wet/dry to a Sump/Refugium Thanks - you're the 'fish'. Sorry to bother you again :( Re. Silicone/Plastic separator - What is the minimum I can wait before I add water?? <A day, 24 hours> What is you're recommended - I want a second opinion from the manufactures. The smaller the sand the better in a Sump/Refugium?? <Not necessarily... depends on what is "elsewhere", your desires... like is the substrate to help add alkalinity, biominerals? Maybe to act in part as a denitrator? Or is this all to be "done" somehow else> What critters should I put in sump?? <I would just place a few small pieces of live rock...> What is the minimum number of inches I should fill it with sand??? <Minimum? A couple> Is it better to have many small pieces of LR or a few big ones in my sump??? <Smaller> Sorry to have so many follow-up questions :( Thanks :) Brad <Read the WWM site over on these topics. Bob Fenner>

New tank start up with wet dry. Bob, I am setting up a new tank which consists of a 100 gallon w/dual overflows plumbed out the bottom which lead to a large (rated for use of up to 240 gallons) wet dry filter. I am also using a protein skimmer. I have read your Conscientious Marine Aquarist and also The New Marine Aquarium by Michael Paletta. In reading both of these and speaking to three well known and reputable dealers in my area I had decided to use the aforementioned hardware along with 50 to 100 pounds of live rock. <Sounds like you've been studying> I intend to initialize this system as a fish and hardy invert tank with hopes of progressing to a full blown reef if I am successful. Unfortunately now I do not know if I made the right choice in filtration after reading the answers to the many wet dry e-mails you have posted on your site. Should I forget about using the bio balls in the wet dry as I cycle my tank? Should I use only a partial amount or all of them? Should I go ahead and turn this filter into a sump? All of the local people I have spoken with suggested using the bio balls. Am I headed for uncontrollable nitrate levels? <For now, practice using the gear "as it is"... you can easily remove the plastic biomedia, make the sump into a refugium later. No worries> Please help me. I lay awake at night and ponder these issues. My wife thinks I've gone over the deep end ( pun intended ). <You're making my day. Enjoy the process my friend. Bob Fenner> Thank you for being so dedicated to the hobby and making yourself available. Best regards, Kevin Miller <Be chatting.>

DSB & wet/dry questions Mr. Fenner, <You got Steven Pro today.> Just picked up a copy of your book, and have to say, very well written! <I am sure Bob will appreciate your kind words.> Enough flattery and on to the questions. Here is my setup. I have a 125 tank, 40 gallon wet/dry sump, AquaC Ev-120 Skimmer, and about 160 lbs. Of Fiji Live Rock. It is a new setup and I have had the Rock and the skimmer in place for about a week. I started this with the wet/dry in the system as my initial intent was to have a fish only but am drawn to the reef. So, here is my question, since I am still both cycling the tank and curing the live rock in my main tank, should I just remove all of the bioballs at once in the wet/dry and use it as a sump? Or should I remove them slowly. I don't think it matters as I have no animals to hurt from a spike of any kind. <I would wait until the rock is done curing (ammonia and nitrite drop back down and maintain a level of zero). Then you can remove all of the bio-balls. Make sure you do not get another spike (unlikely), but best to be cautious before adding your animals.> The second issue is of the substrate. I have about a 1/4 inch of crushed coral, about 2 inches of the Carib-Sea medium coarse Aragonite reef sand, and about a 1/4 inch of Carib-Sea Live Sand in that order from the bottom to the top. Is this OK? My impulse is to pull it all out and just go with about a hundred pounds of live sand and create a 4-5" DSB? Or should I go with about 3-4" of the finest dry aragonite and then top off with about an inch of live sand? Any thoughts or suggestions? Would you pull the current substrate, add to it, or leave it as is. <I would add 4" of fine grain size aragonite sand and then place 1" of lives and on top.> Thanks a million!!!!! Adam <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: stupid question (migrating out of Wet Dry to Sump) Anthony, This may seem like a really stupid question, but better safe than sorry.  <there are no stupid questions, my dear... just ugly suits> I'm expanding my sump area to accommodate a ton of live rock and the much needed protein skimmer.  <excellent... but keep up with detritus in sump> I'm going to keep the trickle in line for a while and probably slowly wean onto a full Berlin system and reef out.  <agreed> I just bought a 50 gallon Rubbermaid bin for the new sump area. Is this acceptable as a sump or is there some chemical danger about Tupperware that I may be unaware of? <nope...Rubbermaid and food grade plastics as a rule are safe> I know it's probably fine, but again, better safe with my track record. Thanks, you rule. -Pat <better safe than sorry! Anthony>

Wet/Dry Prefilter I just added a Rio 2500 & an inline chiller to my 125 gallon FO tank that already has a Rio 4100 pushing the circulation. Here's my problem, the wet/dry can't handle the water returning through the two returns & starts to overflow above the filter floss. As a partial fix I replaced the old floss (that was used for about 2 months) <Way too long to go without replacing. I replace all prefilters at least monthly, if not every other week.> & the water is flowing fine. I am considering drilling about twice the number of holes in the lid just below the filter floss to allow for a higher flow rate inside the wet/dry. What's your take on this? <If you keep your prefilter cleaned, you will probably need to take no further action. -Steven Pro>

Wet/Dry? Love the site...learning lots daily. Quick question regarding nitrates and removing bio balls. Nitrates are high...even with 12% weekly water changes. 65 gal. hex...pair of perc clowns, coral beauty, bicolour angel. and that famous "giant pink wig" Caribbean anemone...colt coral, zoanthids. Wondering about removing the bio balls and having the water flow through filter bag. Will this help with the nitrates or will I need more live sand...1 to 2 inches now. <Somewhat helpful if you clean the filter bag very frequently, almost daily, but adding more sand would be better.> If I put live rock in the sump will that help also? <Yes> I read over your site and am a little confused with the removal of the bioballs. Do I need to go with a deep sand bed? or is the current set up cool. <Under 1" or over 4" is my rule of thumb, which I picked up from Anthony. You may also want to check your source water for nitrates.> Aloha for your help. POG <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Built-In W/D Hi Bob, I've found a tremendous amount of Saltwater info on the internet - much of it yours. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with the rest of us. Here's my (1st) loooong question. I read all night about the demise of the Wet/Dry Trickle Filter concept with BioBalls (after buying a used set-up having this, just today!#$@&^). It's a 60 Gal Acrylic with the Trickle Filter integral to the entire back of the tank. I think I understand the Nitrate Making Machine concept, but I'm wondering now what to do with the W/D Trickle Filter (sump?) after I remove the Bio Balls. <Just leave it empty.> Do I just fill it up with Live Rock, or Live Sand and operate the rest of the equipment as though there were still Bio Balls in the sump? Your FAQ's mention many times to get rid of the balls and add LR, but I don't know if adding them to the sump (on back of the tank) is OK or not. <Just add to/decorate the tank with liverock.> Does it help to add to the Tank (where the fish are) and the sump? <Depending on layout, you maybe able to create some sort of lighted refugium in the back.> Is the integral Wet Dry Trickle Filter at least a "nice to have" for mechanical filtration, and water movement, as long as the Balls are removed? <Yes> I'm really not planning on a Reef Tank at this time, as I know that they are not for beginners. <Really not that difficult. It more depends on what you want to have, fish vs. corals.> I'll probably stay with fish for years...We'll see how it goes I guess. Also, do you have any recommendations for where to buy the Live Rock / Sand? <Check the message boards for various recommendations.> I really don't know what the hell I'm doing yet. P.S. I joined the Forum, but for some reason cannot access it yet as a Member. <I will CC Lorenzo and Jason for their input.> Thank you very much in advance, Jeff Leeper <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Wet/Dry or Sump Hello, I have been reading about sumps and wet dry filters. I just obtained a wet dry/sump for my 55 gallon tank. I am somewhat confused. What I have been reading is that the bio-balls should be removed and replaced with live rock. Is that necessary? <No, but is better in many situations.> Is that best? I have about 75 lbs. of live rock already in my tank. <Then you do not need the benefits of W/D filtration.> I thought the bio-balls were a good place for the right bacteria to grow and help filter. Am I behind the times. <A little bit.> I was planning on using my wet dry/sump to put a protein skimmer and move my heater into it from my tank. <All you need is a sump.> I currently have a Emperor 400 and I thought that the wet/dry sump would replace that. <Your liverock is capable of replacing both now.> Also, I have read that the overflow hose is or should be 1" and the return line should be 3/4". Is this true? <Depends entirely on the gph.> My LFS told me to use 1/2" return and that the spray bar that I am going to make for my return should also be 1/2". I haven't got my TENECOR WET/DRY 75 FILTER yet, but I am trying to get ready for when it gets here. I have a Rio 2100 (672gph) for my skimmer and a Rio 3100 (700gph at 4ft) for my return. What are your suggestions! <To get your pump to perform at 700 gph at 4 feet of head pressure you will need to use at least 3/4" line, preferably 1".> Thanks, Daniel <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

To Hang-on Refugium or Not? Hello Bob (or who ever might be helping me out today) I have a 30 gal reef setup mainly LPS, and soft corals. I have about 40 # of live rock and currently running a wet/dry trickle for filtration). Everything has been okay for the last 5 months; Ammonia=0, Nitrites=0, Nitrates=never above 10. Anyhow, I been considering adding an Aquafuge hang on refugium (maybe with some "Miracle" Mud) and I have a few questions. Should I convert the wet/dry to a sump or can I continue the use of my bio-media? <I would definitely convert to a sump system.> Would using both just be counterproductive? <The more water in your system, the better.> Also, for lighting I'm currently using a 175W 10000+ K MH. Is 6W per gal to much? <Depends on your corals. It seems like a lot for a 30, but depends on brand of lamps, too. If your corals are doing well, I would not recommend changing anything.> Thanks in advance, Mark <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Removing Wet/Dry Your book "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" is number one. Tank: Currently I had (just put in the live rock Dec. 6) a 120 marine FO tank, w/d system @315gph, skimmer, Magnum 350 Deluxe filter (carbon, filter, micron cartridge), 280w full spectrum, 40w wide spectrum, 140w Actinic and 3 submersible power heads. Question: According to your book, its mentioned that the w/d is not required. At what point would you recommend on having the w/d portion removed? < Hey Joseph! IMO I need more info! For most types of livestock mixes, I would remove that wet-dry nitrate factory portion of the filter... and use the space for more live rock, an ersatz algal scrubber or alternating light/dark (with your main system) "mud" type filter. For a fish-only system you might want to leave the wet-dry part in. Such contraptions do greatly accentuate facultative aerobic processing of nitrogenous wastes (aka nitrification), but I'd gladly trade that part of the stock unit for another sump, ozonizer for your skimmer, or money toward your next set-up! Bob Fenner>  

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