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FAQs on Mud/Algal Filtration, Engineering, Installing, Placement 

Related Articles: Algal Filtration Nutrient Control and ExportMarine Substrates, Deep Sand Beds, Live Sand, Biofiltration, Denitrification, Live Sand, Live RockMarine Set-Up, An Introduction to Reef Systems, Refugiums, Reef FiltrationMarine System PlumbingMarine Aquarium Set-UpMoving AquariumsMarine Biotope, Marine Landscaping

Related FAQs: Mud Filtration 1Mud Filtration 2 Mud Filtration 3, Algal Filtration in General, & FAQs on Mud Filtration: Rationale/Use, Maintenance/Replacement, Troubles, Products: Miracle Mud/Leng Sy, Other Mud products, DIY & FAQs on: Refugium Substrates/DSBs, Reef Set-Up, Reef Set-Up 2, Reef Set-Up 3, Reef Set-Up 4, Reef Set-Up 5, Reef Maintenance, Sumps/Filters, Sumps/Filters 2, Marine System PlumbingMarine Aquarium Set-UpLive RockLive Sand, Fish-Only Marine Set-ups, Fish-Only Marine Systems 2, FOWLR/Fish and Invertebrate Systems, Reef Systems, Coldwater Systems, Small Systems, Large Systems Best Marine Set-Up FAQs 1, Best FAQs 2, Marine Set-Up 1

Times were... the originator of "mud" technology, popularizer Leng Sy and myself (RMF) used to round and round re skimmer use and mud filtration... Nowadays EcoSystem sells units with skimmers... There is benefit of using foam fractionation here, at least on a punctuated basis. Re: Circulation: Less is more Re: Size of sump, refugium area... bigger is better.

Miracle Mud on top of sand?    2/3/13
Dear, Crew.  Thanks in advance for your help.  I have a 65 gal FOWLR with sump refugium and a skimmer.  My ammonia has been 0.25 recently,
<Mmm, not good>
 and I am trying to drive it back down to zero.  I have a sand bed about one inch deep in the refugium with Chaeto growing in it.  After reading the FAQs on Mud/Algal Filtration, I decided that miracle mud is probably a good investment.  My question is whether you would recommend to remove the existing sand or just add the miracle mud on top of it?
<I would simply place on top. Bob Fenner>

Refugium Question; mostly (Miracle) Mud     11/24/12
Hi Crew!!
Happy Holidays.  I just have a quick question regarding a refugium.  My main display is 125 gallons with a 30 gallon sump.  Up and running for 4 plus years but have always had nitrate/phosphate issues.  I recently set up a 30 gallon long refugium that is fed from the sump after the protein skimmer and gravity drained back down to the sump next to the return pump
to the main display.  My local LFS came out to help me with this set up. 
Right now the refugium holds a couple pieces of live rock and about 1 inch of Miracle Mud.  That was put in by my LFS, I think they either were doing me a favor or trying to get me to buy enough mud to build it up to 4 inches.  Either way, I would like a DSB in the refugium and different macro algae's.
Question is, should I remove the mud before adding enough sand for a DSB or should I just add the sand on top of the mud?
<A tough question; with plusses to both alternatives... I'd likely cover the present mud base if this were my system. Most all of it will dissolve in time... You can/could place more on top of the new DSB, but again, I would not likely do so. The inch on the bottom will do about as much good as can be done here>
Also, I do have a cleaner shrimp in there as the 30 gallon was holding my fish while I re-aquascaped my rockwork to give the fish more room for swimming.  Couldn't catch the shrimp and was wondering if he would decimate any copepods that grow or is he okay there as long as I feed him? 
<Mmm, to some degree, yes... I would remove the rock if necessary, and move this cleaner to the main/display tank>
Thanks again!!
Best Regards,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner> 

Mud/DSB/Refugium - 09/30/05 Hello and thanks for the great site and forums. <<Glad you like 'em.>> I could not link to the forums page to post there, so I thought I would send an email.  Thanks in advance for your help. <<Email is fine.>> I am setting up a built-in system intended to house a live-rock based reef.  My 90G show tank overflows via a custom tank top into a 55G tank converted to a three-chamber sump and returns to the main tank via a pump running at probably 1100gph (Supreme Mag Drive 12). <<Mmm...pretty good pump...but with head height, probably returning a bit less than you think.>> This custom setup was originally intended to house an ecosystem (mud) filter in the central chamber (about 20" x 12").  Over time and having read various apparently conflicting information, I wound up investing in some Aragamud from CaribSea instead of Miracle Mud.  Do you know this product, and is it intended to be an alternate to MM or have I been steered in the wrong direction. <<Honestly, no...I'm not a user/familiar with either product.  Though I think for the application you describe either will suffice.>> I may be confusing the functions of a DSB with a mud tank with a refugium, and what I really want to do is set it up right in the first place. <<Either will do what you desire.  The finer grades of substrate just require less depth to get the job done.>> My goal is to create a system that allows relatively low maintenance - i.e., it provides filtration (denitrification and nutrient export) , it can provide planktonic food, it can reduce the amount of artificially added supplements needed. <<Oh... so you are seeking Utopia! <G> >> So is this ideal system a mud tank with just a thin layer of mud and macroalgae, a DSB with live sand live rock rubble and macroalgae, or something else? <<My preference is a 6" DSB of sugar-fine aragonite with Chaetomorpha algae.  Though you could add a layer of "mud" on top of the DSB if you want.>> I have read through many of your excellent forums, but am still confused.  Does a mud system accomplish denitrification? <<If deep enough, yes.>> Can a mud system support creatures that could produce the planktonic food a "refugium" can? <<I think a vegetable refugium excels here.>> Does a DSB have to be "partially changed out" like Ecosystems recommends mud systems do?   <<Not so much changed out as added to.  Aragonite has a half-life of about 18 mos. so you'll need to add more every so often.>> Sorry for the disorganized questions.  Your advice is greatly appreciated.  I have already invested $$$ in the system, if I have to invest more to set it up right in the first place, I am ok with that. <<<<Very good my friend, starting right is key... EricR>>

Re: Mud/DSB/Refugium - 10/01/05 Thank you Eric. <<Welcome>> The 55G sump is only a 8" or so lower than the show tank, so there isn't a lot of head loss on the pump.  I designed and had built acrylic parts that allow the water in the 90G to rise above the rim, and literally overflow down a spillway (ramp) into the 55G, so the 55G is right next to and nearly the same level as the show tank. <<Ah!... Sounds like a very interesting design.  Would imagine this allows you to move much more water (and quietly too!) than a traditional overflow does.>> In reading your posts that address DSB's, as well as the offerings from IPSF etc., I am again confused as to fauna.  IPSF sells kits that contain sand sifting creatures like ministars, yet I see advice in your forums saying you DON'T want such creatures in your sand.  Can you clarify? <<The purpose of the refugium is to allow desirable biota to flourish and reproduce...thus...you want to limit/prevent introducing organisms which will feed on this biota...which "sand sifting" stars do VERY efficiently.  But if these are mini-brittle stars, they can be desirable as detritus feeders.>> And how to prevent H2S problems like I see in at least a couple frantic posts? <<While it is a possibility, it's not your "destiny" to have H2S problems because you have a DSB.  Good maintenance/husbandry practices and (this is very important)...STRONG water flow will prevent any calamities.  I've kept deep sand beds for years, and still do, with no such (H2S) problems.>> Once again, thank you! <<Very welcome, EricR>>

Flow Rate for a Mud Filter - 2/13/03 Hello Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service> I am building my own mud filter similar to the Ecosystem 60 to use on my 55g tank. <cool> I am a little confused about a flow rate. On their web site they say that recommended flow rate for sumps to be used for 55g tanks is 600-800gph. <for the Caulerpa... > Now the filter box I am going to use is 22"long x 4" deep x 12" tall. I bought a Rio 1700 (642gph)pump to use with it. Do you think that this flow rate is too high? <the flow rate will be dictated by the refugium specimens you keep and their needs... no the size of the vessel. There is a trend in the industry away from Caulerpa use in such large quantities for its noxious/toxic nature. I personally would not use it. There are much better macros for nutrient export like Gracilaria and Chaetomorpha (spaghetti algae). See more at Inland aquatics and IPSF.com> What would be an acceptable flow rate for this kind of set up  in your opinion? <for just a ballpark estimate... 10X refugium tank volume> Thanks, Jacob <best regards, Anthony>

Macroalgae In The Mix! WWM: <Scott F. at the keyboard this evening> I've been reading through your FAQs on the Ecosystem Mud filter approach. Since these are not dated, I can't tell what is the most current line of thinking, but did note that there seems to be mixed feelings on this even among your staff. That's fine and perfectly understandable. <Good, 'cause we do all have different opinions based upon our own experiences, which gives our fellow hobbyists an honest point of view.> New information comes along all the time. Can you give me an update on the following questions: <Will try!> 1. I see a lot of conflicting info on use of Caulerpa. Toxicity, etc. Is it still recommended? <Caulerpa is a great macroalgae that is prolific, easy to care for, and good at exporting nutrients if carefully harvested on a regular basis. Nothing is new here...It is prone to "go sexual" and release its cellular material into the water under the right circumstances, and some also theorize that it may produce substances which are potentially toxic to some corals. I prefer more "benign" macroalgae, such as Chaetomorpha. In addition, it is actually illegal to keep in some areas, such as Southern California, where it has been released into the wild, to great disdain.>  <Editor's note: Under State law (Assembly Bill 1334), the sale, possession, and transport of Caulerpa taxifolia was prohibited throughout California in September 2001. Please see here: http://www.swrcb.ca.gov/rwqcb9/programs/caulerpa/caulerpa.html > 2. Is it okay to use a micron sock and prefilter sponge with this system? Do these remove the desirable critters? <In my opinion, using these filter socks is fine; you just need to clean them very frequently. Yes, it is certainly possible that some desirable organisms will be removed by such mechanical filtration, but I believe that the benefits of these "socks" far outweigh any disadvantages, as long as you pay attention to very frequent maintenance.> 3. Is 24 hour photoperiod still recommended? Noted FAQ that Anthony answered where he pointed out possible sexual crash, but then I also understand this is key to claim of keeping pH and oxygen levels more stable. <I have employed a 24 hour cycle with macroalgae with good results, but a "reverse daylight" (i.e. light the macroalgae when the display is dark). In actuality, the "reverse" daylight technique is a more natural system; I don't think that keeping macroalgae in "stasis" is really  natural> 4. I see a some refugiums that don't use the 'Mud'. They sometimes also use live rock in the sump w or w/o the algae. In these cases, is the 24 hour photoperiod detrimental to the live rock? <Well, it could be disruptive to the organisms which inhabit the rock, but the bacterial processes are probably unaffected.> 5. Are the bioballs that ecosystems recommends necessary? Will these become a maintenance issue down the road? <I don't think that they will become problematic. From my understanding, these are actually used to keep debris from the macroalgae from escaping the sump.> If you'll indulge me on one more issue I'm struggling with: I'm trying to choose my aquarium size and have option of 18', 24', or 30' height. I like the look of the 30' height, but understand that it will drive the lighting requirements. I haven't seen any quantitative numbers on this though. Is there a formula for determining difference in lighting level required to achieve same intensity as a function of water depth? <Good question. I'm sure that there are certainly some highly scientific studies on this, and some applications of the inverse square law and other principles that can apply. However, I am a simple guy and I like to keep things well...simple. Here's my take on it: I tend to favor the 24" high tank, because you can still utilize 175 to 250 watt halides for most corals. In a 30" high tank, conventional wisdom is that you will need 400 watt halides. This is not "scientific"; merely based upon the work of hobbyists and personal experiences. Of course, there are many hardcore reefers who believe that you need such intense lights even in 14" tanks! I guess it all adds up to the fact that there are no right or wrong answers to every situation. You just need to assess the needs of your animals and take it from there!> Thanks for your help. Bob. <Glad to be of service, Bob! Regards, Scott F.>

Ecosystem filter with a mag 350 canister filter <Hi Pete> Dudes!.. small question for you  today.. in the reading stage of buying an ecosystem mud filter for my 10gl nano reef and was wondering if I can continue to run my mag350 canister filter after the waiting period for the ecosystem to get up and running, or will that end up sucking out all the benefits of the ecosystem? or is it overkill with the ecosystem and mag350 together?. Also would it be ok to run the ecosystem without the Caulerpa? and use live rock instead with another type of macro algae?<Running the mag would be overkill and the ecosystem needs the nutrients the mag will remove to function properly.  Any kind of macro should work.  Go to www.premiumaquatics.com.  They sell the unit and have a link to the company site which provides bundles of info.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks Pete

Re: ecosystem filter with a mag 350 canister filter cool.. thanks for the reply.. think it may be ok to run the mag350 just for circulation? with no carbon/filter media??<Sure, you may want to run some carbon down the road.  Some people have said the ecosystem does not take the yellow tint out of the water, some report blue/white water.  I guess it depends on the parameters of each individual's tank. James (Salty Dog) Pete

Miracle Mud Set-Up Hello everybody, <Dave> Some advice if possible please re-Miracle Mud and adding to an existing system. I wrote a few weeks ago about keeping separately from my main reef system one or two Mantis Shrimps in a 10G tank which was answered no problem by Jim I think it was. But on a recent visit home ( UK ) from China I purchased 10lbs. of Miracle Mud to take back, purely because they do not have this over in China yet and I was just taking anything back that could be useful. So, I am thinking about installing the 10G with Mantis(s) next to my 180G reef to locate the Miracle Mud in, and overflow back to the existing 40G sump. So my questions would be: Is it OK to use Miracle Mud in the base of a 10G, pump in from sump, overflow back to sump? <Yes... as long as the flow isn't too vigorous, likely to swirl the mud up and be transported out> If I transplant existing Caulerpa from sump to 10G with Miracle Mud, can the 10G system be linked in to the system immediately (After settling of MM)? <Likely no problem here> I read that the system needs to cycle first, but assumed that this is only for a new set-up, the MM does not cause a cycle correct? <Can if it is large relative to the rest of the system...> Is it OK to have Mantis(s) in with Miracle Mud with a few pieces of LR for Mantis(s) hideout? <Yes> If all OK, should I pump in to Miracle Mud-10G from final sump section (I.e. this area gets pumped directly back to main system) and also return from 10G to same location in sump, or return to first section of sump where skimmer is? (I know from lots of reading that skimmers are an area of debate with MM, but this is just a small volume of MM for this system I think, just wanting to experiment, so will leave the skimmer running) <Of the two I would do the first> Does the lighting in the MM area HAVE to be 24/7? <Mmm, with Caulerpa this is best... alternatively, do illuminate it during the natural dark/night hours... for the benefits of macroalgae plus subtending it going sexually reproductive> Best regards and presumptuous thanks again Dave <Welcome. Bob Fenner> 

What Goes In The Sump? (Eco System Sump) 7/18/05 Hello <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> I currently have a brand new 4x2x2 tank and an Ecosystem 3612 sump. They are running RO water at the right temp and sg but that is about all right now. I plan to build this over time into a reef system with fish, inverts, soft and hard corals. However, I am in no rush and am happy to take my time getting this right. <Good...Nothing wrong with taking your time! Do consider "specializing" in one type of coral or another- i.e.; SPS, soft corals, LPS, etc. It will be a much more successful (and unique) system if you run it this way.> I have 30lb of mm ready to go into the sump. I can get 80lbs cured LR at a days notice. So, first question is do I opt for Caulerpa or Chaetomorpha? (Does Chaeto have a good track record in MM sumps?) <Good question. "Miracle Mud" is designed to actually be a substrate that serves as a medium for the Caulerpa to actually grow on. Chaetomorpha is a "free-living" macroalgae, and doesn't need to attach to anything. Although I'm not a big fan of Caulerpa, myself, I would use this macroalgae with the Eco System sumps. Do contact the company for their thoughts on this, however. Perhaps it may not be necessary to use Caulerpa, but I think that Leng Sy and his people would be the best source of answers on this one!> Second question what is the sequence of events from here? My guess is: M.Mud in the sump, let it settle and when water is clear add LR in the main tank, followed a week or so later by algae. Test regularly and when ammonia, nitrite and nitrate are 0 add clean up crew of snails and hermit crabs. Chill out, keep measuring and if all is stable after a week or two try a couple of small fish (probable Percs). Thx for your help. Best, John <Sounds fine, but I would try to cycle the system without the fish. Read on the WWM site about the alternatives to using fish when cycling new systems. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Eco-System Filter and Protein Skimmer Hey Folks. I'm brand new to the site and have to compliment you on all of the vast information that I've collected thus far. Right now I am in the process of plumbing my 75 gallon tank as a FOWLR tank. I recently purchased an Ecosystem filtration. I have read that it requires no Protein skimmer.  <Better with> I have read numerous discussions on the WetWeb page and it seems that most of you folks still use/recommend the use of a skimmer, albeit perhaps one that is a little undersized for the task at hand. <Well-stated> I guess I should get to my question at hand. Seeing as how the first chamber of the sump is designed for use of the bio-balls ( a questionable item by some of you folks ), how do I plumb in a skimmer with the first chamber already used? <Could use a hang-on model...> Should I use an external skimmer? <Oh, sure!> I plan on using a AquaC, Precision Marine, or Euro reef. Is there a way that I can drill a hole in the outside wall for a pump for the skimmer? <You could... The skimmer can/could actually go anywhere... even hang on the main tank. Best to be situated in a spot where the water level is constant> I'd just like to hear what you're opinions are on this matter. Sorry if this question has already been answered on your site, but I have sifted for, it seems like forever, but I've never been able to find it. Any help would be greatly appreciated. BTW the tank is an All-Glass with the single overflow. Could I possible tap the down flow (from the tank ) and plumb an inline setup and direct the "exhaust" water directly into the sump proper? <Mmm, not easily done... if there were room for another transit sump...> Like I said before, and help would be greatly appreciated.  Chris Snyder <You know enough to make this decision Chris. Bob Fenner>  

Re-200L Reef Tank - 09/18/05 Hi Eric, <<Hello David>> Thanks for the quick reply and sound advice.  See quotation below from the support at EcoSystem re: turnover.  I guess I will start it all up and then arrive at the rate that gives the best compromise. "Hi David- Circulation WITHIN the EcoSystem 2nd chamber needs to about at least 10-12x the tank volume. I prefer 15x....so make sure that that is the flow rate going into the EcoSystem.  The high flow rate of the EcoSystem is based on the unique design of the filter boxes that requires high enough flow rate to achieve the unique vortex cycling over the MM bed that determines the high filtering capacity of the MM as a filter substrate.  (note that EcoSystem as a filter does NOT need help from other filter if set up correctly)  The water flow/circulation of your tank truly is determined by your corals.  Some corals need high turbulence which can be achieved with multiple powerheads and of course state of the art wave-makers.  But for the most part a general rule of thumb in the plumbing setup for an Ecosystem is make sure that your return pump is 500 gph greater than the desired flow rate (of again 10-12 or in my opinion 15x the tank volume) to compensate for flow reduction from friction and distance.  Then utilize power heads and other equipment to increase circulation to the noted 20x turnover rate in the tank itself or truly to eliminate any dead/stagnant part. Valerie Tann EcoSystem" You can see why confusion reigns.... <<Ah yes...I didn't realize you were using an EcoSystem sump.  Definitely follow the manufacturer's instructions re, like you say, you can make adjustments later.>> Everything else is fine, a pity about the Mandarin though... <<Agreed...lovely and fascinating creatures.  But for the vast majority of hobbyists, best left in the ocean I'm afraid.>> and no, I don't plan an anemone. <<Excellent to hear my friend.>> I can increase the size of my quarantine tank but if I quarantine corals for such a period would I need to use intense lighting on the quarantine tank too? <<Absolutely not...normal output florescent bulbs will do nicely for this purpose, just be sure to acclimate the corals to the light in the display when the time comes.>> Actually I have the books and they are well thumbed at this stage :) <<G'donya mate...keep reading/learning/enjoying/sharing.>> Thanks for your time, David <<Tis a pleasure, EricR>>

Miracle Mud - 12/15/05 Hi guys, I have 90 gal saltwater, was planning on turning existing sump into refugium, have read a lot of your FAQs and could not find answer.  My tank has been up and running for 2 years now fish & corals are doing great, have purchased 15 pounds of Miracle Mud.  Do I add mud, fill with water, let settle, plant Caulerpa, then turn pumps on? <<Pretty much>> Main question: will it shock my main tank? <<?...nope...but do try a keyword search on the net/BBs to see what others have experienced.  EricR>> Thanks, Chuck Miracle Mud & DSB...Can I Use Both? - 11/10/05 Hello There <<Hello>> I love your forum, your assistance and guidance is an absolute wonder for the Aqua-ciety. <<We're pleased you find it useful.> I have a quick question, I did read your FAQ's and I did not come across any discussion or topic specifically about using a DSB and Eco-System filtration combined. <<ok>> My setup - 120 gal, 6" aragonite DSB, 100/lbs live rock. I am wondering 1 thing.  According to the Eco-System website installation procedures, they specifically instruct the public NOT to use more than 1" sand bed in the main tank along with their filtering system.  I have read your pages on DSB's and I agree for a DSB for main tank filtration but I wanted to add the Eco-System refugium below the tank for extra filtration.  Do you recommend using a DSB 6" inline with the Eco-System/refugium with their product MM (Miracle Mud)? <<No reason you can't do this.  The choice is yours to either follow the Eco-System procedures exactly, or in your case since you already have the DSB in the tank, to use a "modified" version.  I don't think employing both methods together is going to "hurt" anything.>> Any insight would greatly be appreciated.  Also, I was curious to know if I had to read your comments on the web or would you be so kind to email me directly? <<We do both...we post and reply.>> Thanks in advance and thank you for you wonderful efforts in this hobby. Sincerely, Maurice Rousseau Jr.

Refugium Confusion? Question about Mineral Mud in a refugium  - 04/04/2006 Hello, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> I bought a CPR Small Refugium.  I am going to hang it off the side of my sump.  I have a 56 gallon main tank.  I really liked the section in the book 'Reef Invertebrates' about refugiums.  The main purpose of the refugiums is to harvest food for a Mandarin Goby that I am planning to get.  I would also like to place some Macro Algae in the refugium as well.  I bought some Mineral Mud and was wondering if it is ok to make the bed like 3 inches deep and then top it off with some sand? <I see nothing wrong with that, myself.> Do I need to top it off with the sand?  What are the benefits to that? <You don't have to top it off with sand, but it will help keep the mud from getting back into the display tank due to flow.> What is the ideal depth for the mineral mud in the refugium? Thanks, Jason <I'd shoot for two inches or so, myself. This will be a sufficient depth for many macroalgae to establish themselves. Good luck with your 'fuge! Regards, Scott F.> Filtration/Ecosystem Mud Filter/Pump Size  3/30/06 Hello,  <Hello Gerardo> First of all, let me say thanks for your website. I am new to the saltwater hobby and your site has been the best for answering from trivial to elaborate questions. <We welcome you.> I have a 60 Gallon FOWLR tank with a wet/dry sump. Overflow box is 600 g/hr, return pump is rated 900g/hr. Last week I bought by accident <How can you buy something by accident?> an Ecosystem Model 100 (24Wx8Hx8l) bare refugium (no pump, plumbing, etc). After reading Ecosystem's site and your Mud filtering section, I am willing to try the Miracle Mud. However, I don't know what kind of pump/circulation I need to buy in order to have it right at the refugium. Do you have any suggestions?  <I'm not aware that they have a Model 100.  I'd contact Ecosystem at (714)543-4100.  Don't bother emailing, you may or may not get an answer and if you do it will be at least two weeks (personal experience).> Thanks in advance for your help. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Gerardo Frias

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

Miracle Mud?...Seeking a Cure for HLLE - 04/05/07 Hi. <<Hello>> I've reviewed all of your FAQ's regarding Mud Filtration, and visited the EcoSystem web-site. <<Ok>> I don't see anything that answers my following question, which makes me wonder if it has an obvious answer that just isn't  obvious to me. <<Well let's take a look...>> Here goes: Can you put Miracle Mud in your display tank? <<Hmm...you could...but I think much of it would get/remain suspended by the water flow in the tank>> I have a  75 gallon FOWLR tank with a 3" DSB and a wet/dry sump. <<Simply increasing the depth of the DSB (even just an inch or two) with sugar-fine aragonite sand would be beneficial in my opinion>> My blue tang that I've had for 6 years is showing signs of HLLE, and I've read that the EcoSystem is the best way to go. <<Maybe. maybe not...  Apart from environmental issues; this tank is too small for the tang, a factor that is likely contributing to its condition, HLLE is often a result of nutritional deficiency>> After seeing how expensive it is, I'm trying to find a  way around it. <<Do consider "beefing up" the nutritional value of the foods you feed this fish.  All can/should be soaked in Selcon (or similar) at least a couple times a week.  Also, adding vitamins (Boyd's VitaChem) directly to the water can help (marine fish "drink" their environment)>> Can I mix MM in with my already existing live sand? <<Would work best if placed "beneath" the live sand...for the reasons stated earlier>> Also, if this isn't a good idea, will having an in-tank refugium with Caulerpa be beneficial to combat the HLLE? <<A refugium is always of benefit, but like the Miracle Mud, is no panacea.  You don't list your water chemistry values which depending could also be a contributor here, but I would start with the fishes diet...and do consider its need for a larger "home">> Thanks in advance! Tracy <<Happy to assist.  EricR>>

Ecosystem 3612 sump help.   6/13/07 Hi WetWeb Crew, <Hi there> My Name is Mitch, I'm From Australia. <Hello Mitch> I have recently had the ecosystem 3612 installed in my 120g tank. There was a lot of hassles importing the kit here so my local aquarium guy had the sump made here. <I see> This system is very new here so there is not much information around about it. <Mmm, am friends with Leng Sy... We had long discussions re this line... skimming... Some while down diving off Cairns... know this products history quite well...> I Don't think the internal measurements are totally accurate so I am hoping somebody who has the 3612 can give me the internal measurements. <Will cc Leng here re> I have attached a diagram of my system. Any help will be greatly appreciated! Thanks,
<Bob Fenner>

Re: ecosystem 3612 sump help. -- 06/14/07 Ok, Hope to hear from someone soon Thanks again, Mitch <Mmm, you did get my initial resp.? Archived here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mudfiltfaq2.htm Please make it known when/if Leng Sy responds to you. Cheers, BobF>

Issues For Discussion Dear Robert, <Howdy> Hello there, it's me again!!! I have a few questions to ask you, so please bear with me. <Okay> Michael and I are at odds as to what the comfortable salinity should be regarding my reef tank. He thinks that I should bring it down all the way to 1.017-1.019. The SCMAS group convinced me to bring the salinity up to 1.024 and up. Will you kindly help settle this question?!? Do I have it up too high and SCMAS is wrong or is Michael's assessment too low?!? Whatever you say, I shall adjust accordingly. Every time he comes to clean my fish tanks, he drastically brings it down by adding too much fresh water and brings the salinity down somewhere between 1.019-1.021 which kills a fish or invertebrate (or so I think). What to do?!? <By and large almost all captive marine systems should be kept near seawater spg... 1.025 or so... There are many valid reasons for keeping spg artificially low for periods of time... to save money on salt mix, reduce parasite pathogenicity, allow for greater oxygen solubility... But permanently leaving spg low has proven to be trouble... especially for non-fish livestock as you mention. I would elevate, leave yours in the 1.024, 1.025 range> As for the question of going to John Foster's house for the holidays, who's coming with you???  <Pete so far... Trying to get Di to go, maybe pick up Leng (Sy)...> I don't know yet if I am going as I find John's house situated in a very dangerous climb and extremely hard to locate that it confuses the dickens out of me. <Mmm, took us... six hours... last time to find...> Finding my way from Santa Ana to the hotel in Monterey was easier than John's house!!! He keeps nagging me to go to the Christmas Party and just seems to not accept a no for an answer. I e-mailed him as to what plans he had in mind as to how he's going to get me there, yet, he hasn't answered me at all. So I am quite stumped. I'd love to come, however, maybe, he can just pick me up at a gas station or grocery store @ the bottom of the hill close to where he lives at. I can just leave my car there. I can always hitch a ride down later on back to my car or he can bring me back to the same site after the party so that I don't have to guess where to go and I won't have to have a hard time finding a parking spot on those treacherous and winding roads leading to his place. What do you think of that plan?!? Should I let him know or should I wait to hear what he has to say?!?  <Good idea. If we can pick you up enroute let me know> How do you feel about a UV Sterilizer??? Is it beneficial or detrimental to a reef tank with the miracle mud installed in place?!?  <Some value... a handful of percent perhaps... in improved water quality, lowered total microbial population... See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphysf.htm> How about a protein skimmer?!? Leng Sy told me to take it away once I have my miracle mud in place!!!  <I'm more in favor, in most cases of "some" foam fractionation in addition to mud filtration. My opinions: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mudfiltrfaqs.htm> I also noticed that Leng Sy's tanks were either all soft or hard corals. Why is that??? <Mmm, think he likes them> Is there any reason why he has it set up that way?!?  <Perhaps experiments? Maybe to show how nicely his rigs work. I'll cc him and ask him to respond on these questions and if he wants a ride up north> And the hard corals are either small polyped or large polyped corals. Not inter-mixed. Is it better if I do things the same way?!? <Not necessarily> Am I missing anything important with such a set-up?!? <Don't think so. Bob Fenner> Sincerely yours,  Aleida Ann Graichen

Zero nitrates w/ refugium vs. giant clam Hello Mr. Fenner- I have read all the refugium notes/FAQs and I'm sold on one. For my future 92 corner tank I will use a 20 gal hex for the sump and one for the refugium (have an odd-shaped stand). From my limited (but growing---thanks!) knowledge, I understand that giant clams actually like some nitrates.  <This is so... to a degree.> I plan to start as basically a FO system, but I want to set it up as properly as possible w/ long term reef results in mind. So, what is your "official" opinion on clam + skimmer + Miracle Mud refugium? Thank You! Erik Nelson <Of all timely notes... picked up Leng Sy yesterday on the way to going to Hollywood, giving a pitch to the combined L.A. and Orange County marine clubs... and Leng and I went over and over re skimmers, his mud product... We kind of agree that "skimming has its place" and in general, after some time, balancing (a few months typically), a not-too efficient skimmer can/should be cycled on/off (day intervals) to allow production of planktonic organisms, in the face of a dearth of removable materials... in most systems. Bob Fenner>

Ecosystem filtration units Hello again Bob, Rob from Canada..... I have read everything I could possibly find about this filtration system for the past month or so. Got some good feedback from Mr.4000, spoke with Bob Smith (he's selling the product $$$$$$$ is his influence. It sounds very promising.....I think I will give it a whirl. <Very good> I have a couple of questions I would like to clear up before I go through with it.......I hope you can help! <I will try> First question......Are you really satisfied with this set-up? <Yes> Can a aragonite substrate be used in conjunction with the unit?.....Is there a correct amount? <Yes... and a qualified yes... good to monitor, modify per your setting...> What is the most effective Caulerpa (seen some different remarks on this)? <Thus far, C. taxifolia, C. sertularoides in tropical systems> Can established live sand be added to the mud (small amount) to trigger the creature cycle? <Yes> Is there any sort of shock to the system when a mud exchange occurs....i.e. 25% after a year? <Not much, typically not noticed> How many tanks have you viewed with this system running successfully? <A few hundred. Just back from seeing some very nice ones in the Midwest... some commercial settings like Preuss's in Michigan.> Will the following setup work?....>> new tank 180 - 200 gallon going to be a predator tank), 180 - 200 lbs of CURED liverock, substrate depending on answer above, water from my 55 gallon tank obtained from water changes to speed the cycling up and the ecosystem filtration unit? <Should... but I would add a skimmer (Leng and I go over this...) for this sort of livestock mix, size system (you can turn it off later if you find it removing nil...) and some other mechanical filtration> Last question.. (sorry about all the questions)...do you know where I could get a break on the cost of the mud.......Being from Canada sucks when your $ is worth just pennies. <Please do contact Eco-System directly re this... I will cc Leng Sy (hey, this rhymes!) here> IMO>>>>>>I get a kick out of those living is the U.S complain about how much the mud costs. <I understand.> Thank-you very much Mr. Fenner.......your site is very informative .....thanks once again! <You're welcome my friend. Bob Fenner> Rob !

Eco-system  Hello Bob- Thanks in advance! I have read the FAQ's & cannot find answer to this spec. question so here goes... Am putting 5 gal refugium under 50 gal FO+LR w/sump (the 5 is a bit small...but all that would fit in stand). <Way too small, by at least half... do find another place (larger) or make your own to "fit around" impediments underneath...> Have purchased 10 lbs Ecosystem mud to go in there. The refugium flow rate is approx. 3-4x/hr. What is your opinion on installing a plenum under this mud? <Can work, generally unnecessary with Eco-System's product... and you don't have the room... am cringing as I key this, but have you tried to see what will happen if/when the power goes off, the pump fails? Please do...> From the FAQ's it seems that plenums are usually matched w/ a calciferous coral sand substrate....is there a specific desired calcium reaction involved here? <All sorts... principally simple acid-base reactions liberating carbonates, biominerals (mainly calcium)> If so, should I mix in some sand w/ the mud? Layer it?  Will this mud become too compact aka "sealed" to warrant a plenum here at all? <I would not use a plenum approach here... too much of the above problems possible, not much (enough) to be gained... and too much volume lost... Bob Fenner> Thanks again! Erik Nelson

Skimming/Mud Filter I have a miracle mud filter and have read that you still recommend skimming. <Yes> If I am to skim for some part of the day, which part would you suggest? Daylight skimming? or Nighttime skimming? <Daylight is better than night, alternating every few hours is even better... If you perceive that you're not improving water quality (evidenced by higher Redox potential, dissolved oxygen, improved water clarity/color... improved livestock vitality, removed skimmate... you could/can turn the fractionator off.> I have e-mailed several people who use the miracle mud filter who claim they get the best Caulerpa growth when they do not skim at all. Thanks -- Chuck <Are they/you out to just culture Caulerpa? Bob Fenner>

Ecosystem 40m filter and water quality Dear Whomever is filling in, <Howdy> I have a 29g tank with 20# of LR, two 175ghp power heads and an Ecosystem 40m, utilizing 5# of Miracle mud and some proliferate and racemosa Caulerpa. The tank is about 3 mo old now and I have 1- 3" yellow tang, 1-percula, a sand sifting star, a couple of turbo snails, and some button polyps. about 3 weeks ago, I tried putting in a Trachyphyllia (green open brain). A few days later, the coral developed a small, blackish green spot, one at a time, under the translucent tissue. It festered out to the very edge of the coral and turns the tip black with some green algae protruding. As time goes on more become visible elsewhere. I cycle my 65watt smart light on for a 10 hr period and my water quality is usually as follows: nitrate - 12ppm, Phosp - 3 ppm, <As in three parts per million? Not 0.3, 0.03? This is way too much>  Ca. - 450 mg/d pH - 8.4 SG - 1.035 temp - 76 F. Salt brand is Instant Ocean. I do a water change every two weeks. Wheeeew!!!! Now that I have that out of the way. I know that most who have used the Ecosystem filter have had pleasant results. I think my numbers are a little high though. They claim that you do not need a protein skimmer. I am a little skeptical. <The owner of EcoSystem, Leng Sy and I were diving for a week together last month in Australia... we're friends as well as associates in the same trade... we have gone over this issue. I will cc him here. IMO/E skimmers are a good idea to use in conjunction with these products/approaches for some time, in many cases... I would/do use them> Do you have any ideas on what could be happening to the Brain Coral? <Yes... could be just color/looks "adjustment" to your (different) growing/living conditions (than the wild) and no big deal. Could be a result of exposure to too much nutrient... and a problem.> Considering I use Semiconductor Grade D.I. water from my work, I am shocked that my phosphates are that high. How do you rate the Ecosystem filter? Do you think I need a skimmer? <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mudfiltrfaqs.htm and where the links lead you. Bob Fenner> Thank you, Jeff Seely

EcoSystem Hello Bob...thanks for the invaluable advice you provide on this site to folks like me trying to educate ourselves rather than thrust ourselves into the hobby. This forum is an excellent complement to your book, as it provides added information that we can apply to our own unique situations. <Thank you for your kind, encouraging words> Now on to my situation...Based on info garnered from searches through this forum, I converted my wet-dry setup to the Berlin system by slowly removing the media from my Eheim wet-dry (which I know you don't care for anyway). So now I am completely wet-dry less and loving it. My only sources of filtration now are a Remora protein skimmer and a canister filter for using Chemipure and running my UV sterilizer. <Okay> I've had this system running for about a year now-here are some of the specs: Size: 46 gal hex Lighting: 130 Watt CustomSeaLife Power Compacts (88K+actinic) 45# LR 1" LS substrate 2 Percula Clowns 1 Hippo Tang 1 Yellow Tang Cleanup Crew from FFExpress Reef Relief Crew from FFExpress 2 Cleaner Shrimp Emerald Green Mushroom (that's what they called it at the LFS) Ammonia: 0 Nitrites: 0 Nitrates: <5 Phosphates: 0 Calcium: >400 Alkalinity: about 10 Ph: 8.0 (CO2 buildup?) Temp: 78F Always wanting to try new things, I'd like to put an Ecosystem hang-on filter (40 or 60) on the system. Here are my questions: <Ah! Of all things have just finished a call with Leng Sy, the owner of the company... we were diving together last month in Australia.> 1) Once I set up the new filter, can I remove the Protein Skimmer and canister immediately, or is there a cycling period? <I would leave all going for a week or more... then, actually, cycle the skimmer on/off a day on/off... for a while... see if you are generating any skimmate, if there is any discernible difference in water quality from your testing, observing your livestock> 2) I know there is some debate about using a protein skimmer in the Ecosystem method-what's your opinion with regards to my setup? <I am still a fan of "some" skimming with your set-up here and with most "mud" filtration arrangements> 3) What type of Caulerpa algae do you recommend for the Ecosystem filter? <C. sertularoides and C. taxifolia are my favorites for tropical systems Other questions while I have your attention: 1) What do you think of my current fish stocking level? <It's fine. I would not add more.> 2) Given that I am at the low end of the lighting curve (approx 2.8 W/gal), can you recommend any beginner corals that would do OK in my system? <Yes... Please take a read or use the Google search tool on our principal site here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/> 3) I've read a lot of confusing stuff about power compacts. Specifically, some "experts" claim they provide more light than some other sources of the same wattage. If true, does this mean that my W/gal ratio is actually higher than 2.8? <Mmm, "useful light"... is provided at the least cost overall (acquisition, install, operation) by metal halides... stipulating many things... that a given system/livestock mix can utilize MH's, that they are arrayed "properly"... CF's are the best available, most appropriate technology for the majority of captive marine systems... Enough intensity, wavelengths of PAR for the types of life kept, the "other" maintenance (e.g. chemistry, physics, biological dynamics) to accommodate...> Thanks in advance for your help (once again)! Walt <A pleasure my friend. Bob Fenner>

Re: EcoSystem HELLO BOB F. THANKS FOR SENDING THIS INFORMATION OVER TO US, WILL GIVE LENG A COPY ALSO. AS ALWAYS THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT BOB SMITH BOB SMITH <Real good. Bob Fenner> Hello Bob, <Hello> I work at a pet store, and we just got back from a trade show where we talked to the EcoSystem guys about their system. <Very nice people. Am sure Bob, Leng were there> After reading a lot about these systems online, and trying to ignore all the online nay Sayers who have never actually had experience with the system, I've concluded that these are a good, and even superior, alternative to a Berlin method. If you had to choose which way to point a store's saltwater section - Berlin-emphasis, EcoSystem-emphasis, or half-ass on both, what would you recommend? <Actually none of the above... they are unworkable in a general store setting (so strong an opinion as to state as fact). Retail settings call for much more rigorous, faster-reacting, one-pass "cleaning" than either Berlin (live rock and skimming) or Mud (algae with it or not) can/will produce. How much of this do you want to go over?> A few questions. EcoSystem does not recommend using a skimmer, but you do. <Talk with Leng Sy re this... there is "room to move" on their opinion here> It seems that those who recommend skimmers are recommending them for use under those extraordinary times with very high nutrient loads, like cycling live rock. <Or vacillating bio-loads like business (collection, wholesale, retail)> So, would selling an undersized skimmer along with EcoSystems, such as a BakPak 2R for a 75 gallon tank, or Remora Pro for a 125 gallon tank, be OK? <Sure> Or do you actually want a skimmer 24/7? <In most, many settings, I do. How 'bout you?> Next, do these systems basically do the same thing as a Berlin with live rock and a DSB, or are there other benefits? <Do the same? Yes, in that the Berlin and Mud systems end-result/purpose is biologically important molecules they don't.> Would you recommend an aragonite DSB (Such as Fiji Pink live sand, or Southdown sand) in EcoSystem tanks, or almost bare-bottom like EcoSystem recommends? <If I could "wave a/the magic wand" I'd have two or more sumps... one with the DSB of easily-soluble Aragonitic material, one of mud and macrophytes... I would not place a DSB arrangement in a mud filter... unless the sump was very large and demarcated/divided for both types of treatment> And what about a hang-on refugium, like CPR's AquaFuge, with Miracle Mud in the bottom and a Compact Fluorescent light - would this do the same thing as a hang-on EcoSystem? <Yes> I'm worried about us investing a couple thousand in these systems, and the local customers saying that's all neat and whatnot, but I'm just going to go to Home Depot and make it all myself and get the copycat mud online - is that commonly done, or is there enough reason to spend for the EcoSystem? <I suggest this, and it has worked for several retailers: set-up a good sized "demonstration system" with a lighted sump and labels underneath (and a hang-on demo. if you want on another), detailing what the system is, how it works, the components... They are worthwhile, do work, and will sell, given exposure and assurance (by successful experience) on your part. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Ben Maryland

Re: EcoSystem Bob, Just wanted to clear up a few things in my initial email that may have been badly worded. <Okay> >> If you had to choose which way to point a store's saltwater section - Berlin-emphasis, EcoSystem-emphasis, or half-ass on both, what would you recommend? I was asking which way you would recommend in terms of setting up customer's tanks. <Oh> Should we fully stay with Berlin systems, fully get into Ecosystem's line, or carry an incomplete line of both? <Actually both... there are definitely folks, settings that I would/do prefer one type of system over the other... How to be more specific here... Some people, by virtue of their present impatience, habits of over-stocking, over-feeding... I'd go with Berlin over Mud... Other folks, set-ups with more live corals (hard and soft), smaller fishes, appreciation for detail... I'd choose mud over Berlin... Not to be too much of a stickler, there are many settings (large systems, lots of variety of life... where I'd go with BOTH Berlin AND MUD...> For our store system, we have custom filtration vats. <I see> >> Or do you actually want a skimmer 24/7? You asked, "wouldn't you?", and I do use a skimmer all the time for Berlin tanks, but was referring to a skimmer on an EcoSystem tank. <Ahh... this question has come up a few times. Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mudfiltrfaqs.htm and the many FAQs on "Skimmer Selection", "Refugiums", "Sumps"... or better, use the Google search tool on the bottom of the WetWebMedia.com Homepage with these terms> >> Would you recommend an aragonite DSB (Such as Fiji Pink live sand, or Southdown sand) in EcoSystem tanks, or almost bare-bottom like EcoSystem recommends? To this question, you responded that you would not put a DSB in an EcoSystem sump. Actually, what I was asking is if you would recommend an EcoSystem sump, and a DSB in the display tank, like is used on Berlin-style tanks. What are your thoughts there? <I see... there are applications where I would encourage/use a DSB in/with a mud filter sump... Though I vastly prefer to remote Deep Sand Beds in their own sumps for ease of manipulation> Thanks for your help again! Ben Maryland <Sorry for the lack of clarity. Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

EcoSystem (Mud filtration, w/ or w/o skimming) Hello Bob I did get your reply in regards to converting over from skimmer use to mud. Just a note if that's ok Bob; I like to see thirty to forty days using both systems, then over the next week start to back off the use of the skimmer. This gives the animals and the mud time to acclimate. Thank you so much for your support and best regards Bob Smith <Thank you for this Bob. Will place on our sites where your products, mud-filtration are discussed. See you at InterZoo. Bob Fenner>

Mud sump/Chaeto lighting  12/16/05 Hi All, <Hello Chris> I am setting up a miracle mud ecosystem sump and have a question regarding lighting the mud sump - I am thinking of using the sort of power compacts (PLET) that contain the starter gear in the base of the bulb and are designed as a direct replacement for incandescent (GLS) light bulbs. Example here - http://www.bltdirect.co.uk/cat615_1.htm What wattage would be suitable for the Mud portion of the 23x10x12" sump - mud area (where the Chaeto will be) is 10"x11.5" as per the ecosystem design, I have seen the 2410 sump for sale with 13w PC lighting - is this about right?  9w, 11w, 15w or 20w seem to be my choices in the UK <This light would probably work Chris, but you will need some sort of reflector above it to redirect the light into the sump.  I'd go with the 20w bulb.> Finally, what temperature (colour) range (Kelvin) would be most suitable for the strong performance of the mud/algae filter? I plan to probably use Chaetomorpha initially but I would imagine the needs of this would be inline with other algae. <6500-10000 will be fine.  James (Salty Dog)> Cheers

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