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FAQs on Mud/Algal Filtration, Rationale/Use, Science 

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Related FAQs: Mud Filtration 1Mud Filtration 2 Mud Filtration 3, Algal Filtration in General, & FAQs on Mud Filtration: Engineering/Placement, 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

Mmm, mud use... adds some useful chemicals and acts in ways like biological catalysts... speeding up necessary rates of reactions. In other ways performs as supplements... getting "used up" with time... And does act as a micro and macro culture medium, providing space, nutrient to algal, animal life... Overall making systems tied to these units more stable and optimized, preventing a host of ills, environmental "diseases" (algae, nitrates, HLLE...)

Can you use Miracle Mud in an external Filter?  3/9/11
Hi everyone!
<Hello Michelle>
Hope this hasn't been already asked, apologies if it has. I'll start at the beginning. My Regal Tang sadly has HLLE. I'm pretty sure its down to diet as she only accepts Kings flake, frozen brine and frozen mysis.
<Are you soaking these foods in a vitamin prep? A Paracanthurus should take pellets no problem, mix them with the other foods for a while and wean the fish over gradually and it will accept all>
I did even try cutting seaweed up into the flake but it always just sat on the top of the water untouched. I have since read that using garlic can help? If so I will give it ago. She did once happily devour a rather large handful of different macro algae over a period of a week. I was happy that she ate it but to be honest I thought I would be able to grow it in the tank without her eating the whole lot as my LFSs never have any. Anyway I have tracked down a specialist marine shop who does sell it and whilst talking to him he suggested this Miracle Mud. When I told him I didn't have a sump he told me to get a pair of tights to use as a bag and put the Miracle Mud inside and then I would be able to put it in my Fluval 205 external filter. Can I ask what your thoughts are on this?
<Baloney. Worthy though the ecosystem method is, the mud itself is not a cure for HLLE. Perhaps by changing to the overall methodology in some circumstances will bring about an improvement to the environment which may, does improve the condition. This would require you installing a sump. The cures for HLLE are gone over here at WWM and elsewhere. Improve the water quality/ space/ environment for the fish. Ahh, I have just seen you have a three foot tank - too small for this species.. read here on WWM re: Paracanthurus.><<Oops... where's the link?>>
And while I have your time can I also quickly ask about the macro algae - is there any hope of me growing it in my 3' tank or will she always devour it before it has chance?
<For this you really need a refugium of some kind. Have you looked into the hang-on-back ones?>
If not I have a breeding container which I was using to hold up some rock work but it might serve a better purpose if I put the algae in this and hook it in the top of my tank?
<Yes! This is the way forward - see this article for some more ideas http://www.wetwebmedia.com/hagenrefugart.htm>
Thanks for any help you may be able to give!
<No problem Shell>
Shell (a big fan of the website and books)

Question concerning DSB or MUD filtration, 12/19/10
To whom it may concern,
Hello my name is Justin.
I am currently serving in Afghanistan as an infantry soldier.
<Stay safe.>
I only say this to say that I have very limited access to the internet and would hopefully like a quick response. That way I can read whomever answers thoughts.
Anyway my question is concerning what I have been reading about these filtration systems. My question might sound outlandish but it kinda sounds similar to a compost pile to a garden?
<Not really, they are more about getting pollutants, nitrate mostly, out of the system. We don't really want them to release nutrients back into the system.>
That is another hobby of mine and that's why I am asking. And if this line of thinking has no truth to it, is it maybe at all possible to make a "compost pile".
<It would cause all sorts of problems in a closed system like an aquariums.
Too few nutrients are rarely a problem in tanks, more often too many nutrients are a problem.>
Like in the sense that just so many of use (aquarist) dose the systems with outside supplements. Is their a way to do this more naturally or I guess I should say through a more "natural" processes?
<Not really, there just isn't enough room and reactive materials to maintain levels of beneficial chemicals to support the livestock, especially without letting toxic conditions get out of hand.>
As I'm writing this I think I am starting to somewhat answer my own question. in the sense that if their was or is a way possible it is being worked on or trying to be figured out... anyway I still would like some insight by whomever answers this.
<Nutrient control is usually a bigger issue in aquariums than a lack of nutrients.>
Also if it is being worked on or trying to be figured out can I be pointed in the right direction possibly to read up or learn about these techniques?
<I have not heard of anyone trying to do this.>
Hopefully my question makes sense, and if I have already found the place to look for this information I guess patience and experimentation are on the order. Thank you to whomever answers this

Mud vs. DSB in HOB Refugium 8/6/08 Hello: <Tom.> I spent about 5 hours reading about HOB Refugiums last night (until 4am). I am considering purchasing a AquaFuge2 Large (25" Long) HOB. Not sure I completely understand what's best for my tank a Mud or DSB on the bottom of refugium. My tank: 46 gallon bow 404 Fluval canister filter Red Sea Prizm protein skimmer Approx. 1" crushed coral on bottom. <The usual nitrate factory warnings: clean the canister frequently along with the crushed coral bed (consider replacing this with something finer) to prevent detritus buildup.> Thanks for reading. <Either will work fine, pretty much personal choice. I choose DSB for myself, mud is expensive and can be messy if not careful. Ask the next guy and he will swear by the mud. Give whichever appeals to you a try.> Tom <Welcome, Scott V.>

Implied benefits of Miracle Mud 10/8/03 I was wondering what your thoughts are regarding the implied benefits of miracle mud as compared to a deep sand bed in a refugium.   It has been stated that among the benefits are reduction or elimination of HLLE in some fish as well as the bleed off of compounds such as iodine.  Is it truly as good as it has been made out to be or just a bunch of hype. Thanks in advance.  Terry <I believe that the fundamental notion of using mud as a nutritive substrate has merit and benefits. However, the long-standing history of fabulous if not incredulous marketing claims for this product line are embarrassing to me for our trade. I can assure you that you will get many benefits from a simple aragonite sand DSB in kind... without claims of it curing  diseases miraculously, sparing you the need to ever do water changes or use a skimmer... or feed a small country. Both simply work at face value and can be employed successfully. Anthony>

Algae Control And Miracle Mud - 07/18/2006 Good evening fishy folk. <Good evening, Dave.> I've recently setup sump w/ liverock filtration for my 90 gallon tank. The sump is about 35 gallons and I've had it equipped with a refugium. I have approximately 16x water flow in my tank, I have a blue florescent bulb for lighting 10hrs a day, and I only feed my critters about 4 or 5 times a week, yet I still get hints of Cyanobacteria. My first question.   <Excess nutrients in the tank....> Would Caulerpa in my refugium be the next best step to fight Cyano???  The Caulerpa would take a lot of the algae feeding nutrients out of my main system, correct? <Could help, but could also cause problems.  Better to try Chaetomorpha first, in my opinion.> Second question.  I bought 10lbs of "Ecosystem Miracle Mud" for my refugium and I have been advised that I should have closer to 20lbs for the size of tank I have.  Are you familiar with this product? <Yes.> Am I getting ripped off on this? Is it simply.... dirt?   <I've met Leng Sy, and liked the things he had to say.  Many folks swear by his mud and many say it's nothing great.  I've not used it, so have no firsthand experience.> Is there anything else that doesn't cost $10/lb that would be beneficial with Caulerpa to help reduce nutrients that this Cyano is obviously feeding off of? <Do please read here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeasfriend.htm and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm and all the algae articles listed here:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marinvind1.htm .> Last question: if I were to use this Miracle Mud, I'd drain my sump as much as possible, at least the refugium chamber.  I'd put the mud in the chamber and fill the chamber with premixed salt water, scooping away any floaties left over.  When I turn my sump pump back on, I realize there will be a little discoloration in the water.  In your opinion, would there be any risk of drastic water chemistry changes from having the Miracle Mud in my sump?   <Mm, possibly....  best not to make sudden/major changes, if possible.  I'd go with this plan, and just keep a close eye on things.> Would the pH be harmfully affected?   <As long as your tank is of an appropriate pH and hardness to begin with, you should be okay.> I just don't want to lose my two clowns and goby. the shrimp, starfish, and crabs. Your advice?? <Mostly just to read more about algae! :grin: > Thanks a million! Dave <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Algae Control And Miracle Mud - II - 07/25/2006 Ya know what makes this hobby so much fun.... ummm... ha... ha.... ha... ha...    Is that you can read 10 different opinions... and get 10 different answers.   <True enough!> It kinda seems like LOOSE GUIDANCE to ensure you don't do anything stupid... but really, it's yourself that's gonna find the answer.   <Ultimately....  yeah.> I find the only way to fight Cyano is water flow, but how can someone possibly hit every angle of their liverock with sufficient water flow without stocking your tank with powerheads.    <Closed loop?> I have a pump that creates 800gph, a MaxiJet 900, and two 1200's.  16X tank flow rate should be sufficient, right?   <Perhaps.  There are other means aside from water flow alone to control this nuisance....  and I think you are (were?  will be?) pursuing them.> My typical water tests are to ensure constant salinity and temperature. Then I do a monthly (or more frequent if needed) pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate test.  Are there any other tests that would be beneficial for me to monitor??   <Phosphate, calcium, carbonate hardness, general hardness.... iodine perhaps....> I am not keeping corals... at least not yet.  Aside from that, I am doing 20% water changes semi-monthly.  Anything noticeably insane in my practices?   <Not particularly.> Any suggested improvements from what I have said?   <Maybe that you test phosphate, and try to ensure that your water is coming from a very pure source....  Preferably from a RO/DI unit http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i4/RO_systems/reverse_osmosis.htm or other such purification means.  This will help tremendously with your algae battles.> I also am using a deep livesand bed (about 4" across the majority of the tank).  I head something about using NO sandbed or at least one under 1" if I am using the Miracle Mud.  I dunno, sounds kinda strange to me.   <Me too.> Any biological reason for disaster if I keep my deep sand bed and the Miracle Mud?   <Nah, not that I can see.> I want the deep sandbed so that I can keep a couple of Jawfish in the near future.  Thanks again for all your help... could you sense the frustration in my first paragraph??   <Having experienced the same frustration myself, yes.  ::grin:: > I'm finally buying Bob's book!  So next time he has a drink, tell him I paid for it... sorta.   <Heh!> Your fishy friend always...   Dave P.S.  Just got back from the French Polynesia scuba diving (well actually it was my honeymoon... but the scuba diving was more exciting... shhh... don't tell). <Um, WOW.  Nope, I won't tell.> Those 12 foot lemon sharks look more cute and cuddly in pictures.  I was going to attach the picture of the one behind me while I was 70ft down... but the brown cloud (wetsuit my @$$) behind me was a little embarrassing JK! <Heh!  Sounds like you had a great time.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>    Re: Sump Setup?  12/13/06 Good Day to you Tim. <And to you!> Well I am not Norwegian by birth I Have only been in the country for 5 years. I live in Horten, which is about an hour and a  half south of Oslo. Well the main reason that I want to get a sump up and going is to work at getting rid of nitrates. I have heard a lot about this miracle mud that people use in a sump, (more horror stories than anything else) is there any other filters, reactors, or such like that I should get? or that you can recommend? <The miracle mud works by encouraging the growth of macro algae in the sump. You can grow macro algae in your tank for nitrate export without the use of miracle mud which, as you note, is the subject of much debate. You should also consider the use of a DSB - much info on this on the website - as a means of reducing your nitrates. Lastly, you could consider purchasing a sulphur (or other type of) denitrator to reduce your nitrate problems. An excellent denitrator is produced by Korallin, though it is by no means cheap. I would suggest you use the tank you previously suggested with a strong 24hr light, have a DSB in this sump and grow macroalgae. This is the most natural and best way of eliminating nitrate problems and, depending on the what is in your main tank, may also act as a beneficial refugium where you can grow food for tangs or copepods for fish such as the mandarin dragonet. Any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. Hilsen, Tim> Tusen Hjertlig takk for hjelpen Tim Clinton

Deep Mud Bed for NNR...Yes   2/25/07 Quick question.  Could a deep mud bed help with NNR as effectively as a DSB.   <Both deep sand beds and deep mud beds can successful reduce nitrates to zero more here:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm and here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mudfiltrfaqs.htm also links in blue at top of pages.> If the answer is no, my follow up question is why not.  Thanks a million. <Welcome!  -Mich> Ari

Shaving Brush Substrate  2/28/07 <Hi Brandon!  Mich here.> Just a quick question, I am getting ready to add a hang on refugium to my 65 gal reef aquarium.   <Excellent!> I have really been considering using mineral mud (about 4 inches), and livestock being Chaetomorpha algae, live rock, and a shaving brush plant.  This brings me to my question, will the mud substrate suit the brush plant? <Yes.> Am I just better to avoid adding this species all together due to the fact I will have the Chaetomorpha?   <Can try both.> My main goal is to harvest pods for my Mandarin and add biological filtration.   <Chaetomorpha is the most important here.> Your help is greatly appreciated, this site is unbelievable in the amount of knowledge is supplies everyone.   <Thank you for the kind words.> Keep up the fantastic work. <Will try!  -Mich> Brendan

Algae bed/Mud + Refugium? + Skimmer? Hi Dr. Fenner, <Just Bob please> I respect your experience and I appreciate your willingness to share it. I have read through all of your FAQ's on refugia and mud filtration and I would like to bounce a few ideas off you. I am just getting started down the road towards acquiring my first saltwater system. I've been reading for the past 6 weeks and have become a fixture at the LFS's. <A good place to study> The goal of my system is to have a healthy system with the lowest possible maintenance necessary. In addition to the common reef inhabitants, I am MOST interested in keeping one or two Mandarinfish and I am coming to understand the challenges they bring. I have seen some algae/mud systems (no skimmer) in operation and I am very impressed with the quality of the water they produce. I understand that the water in these systems needs to be turned over about 5 or 6 times per hour. Is it possible for this type of sump to act as a refugium and produce enough live food for the Mandarins to eat with the water moving this fast? <Yes> Secondly, what is the survival rate for the plankton if it is being pumped at this speed? <Very high. I would speculate in the ninety plus percentage... those critters are tough> So lets say that you believe the water is moving too fast to grow enough food or the pump is killing too much of the plankton and I add a true refugium above the tank to grow food and other species that aren't suited to the main tank. I'll move the water through here pretty slowly and gravity feed it back to the main tank. <Fine> Now I have crystal clear water and yummy food for the Mandarins. Finally, the skimmer question comes up. I understand you like them and I will probably end up with one. However, I will probably begin without one as an experiment to see how much fish-life I can safely support without one.  <Better to start off with one, then turn it down, cycle it on/off...> The research I have done and the feedback from others seems to indicate that an algae bed/mud system without a skimmer is sufficient if you keep the fish population fairly low. I'd like to do some tests on this theory and try to better understand if/when the skimmer becomes necessary. Finally, I'd like to hear your feedback on running the skimmer, the algae/mud bed, and the refugium together. My thought would be to put the refugium above the tank and the skimmer and algae/mud below in the sump with the skimmer coming after the physical filtration and before the algae/mud bed. <Okay> What of Leng's argument that the skimmer will take the plankton and trace nutrients out of the system? <To some degree true... But what of the advantages of running the skimmer?> Given that the algae/mud bed is lit 24hrs/day, I understand that the use of a refugium that is only lit 12 hours per day on alternate cycle from the main tank is optimal. Can you explain how/why this reduces the fluctuation in chemistry? <Mmm, optimal? Depending on the types of life employed, either lighting regimen can be "optimal" for the system, water overall. Alternating the cycle can save Redox, dissolved oxygen vacillations... leaving the light on continuously on the refugium/sump can accomplish the same> In this scenario (algae/mud bed lit 24hrs/day - refugium lit 12 hours per day opposite lighting of main tank) , what do you think of running the skimmer during the time that the main tank is dark and the refugium is lit. My understanding is that this is when the bugs stay close to the bottom of the refugium and are not brought into the tank in large numbers. Therefore, the skimmer would not be skimming the bugs during feeding time. <A good idea, hypothesis to try out> Would turning the skimmer on and off on a daily basis cause just the chemistry changes I am trying to avoid? Does the skimmer really kill the plankton I have worked so hard to grow? <Systems can be co-opted, marginalized in either case> What about Keep It Simple, Stupid. Am I going way overboard here. I feel that the benefit of biodiversity and food source from the refugium outweighs the cost of complexity. I'd like to get away with the algae/mud bed acting as this refugium - I'm just not sure if the algae/mud bed will feed my Mandarins. <Try it out> Furthermore, I am afraid that the skimmer will become necessary as I add more fish down the road but that's a complication as well. <Yes> That's about it, for now. Thank you immensely, -Jeremy
<Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

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