Reef Central Online Community Archives

Reef Central Online Community Archives (
-   Advanced Topics (
-   -   Refugium tips (formerly "flow rate thorugh a refugium") (

gearhead 10/31/2004 11:35 PM

flow rate thru refugium
what is a good flow rate thru a refuguim?? what factors go into deciding how much flow? thanks

Anthony Calfo 11/01/2004 12:14 AM

it depends wholly on what it is you are keeping/culturing in refugia.

Much like lighting and how important it is to define what species you will be keeping at what depth and their subsequent needs before (!) we buy lights/lamps

In the case of 'fuge water flow... it has been grossly underestimated to date. I'd say 10X turnover bare minimum in general... but more like 20X is better/best. You will find that Chaetomorpha and Graciliaria, etc grow much faster and with better vigor in such flow.

Any doubts?... look for nuisance algae that typically flourish in low flow environments like Cyanobacteria.

And like reef displays... be sure to distribute that flow well (no single nozzle injection). Produce random turbulent flow for most refugia to keep solids in suspension for increased opportunities for filter feeders to use/export the matter.



gearhead 11/01/2004 12:28 AM

right now i'm using a mag 9.5 for a return. it's a straight shot up about 4 ft. i know a 15g fuge is kinda small, but i'm gonna build 1 that is longer & wider & taller than what i have currently.

i have a chaeto in there. I quess my next thing will be to get some ideas from people who have built their own refugiums for some design ideas.

Anthony Calfo 11/01/2004 12:35 AM

a nice technique with good strong water flow is to seal (silicone/glue) a thin strip of acrylic or glass like a lip (2-3" wide) just under the water surface and on the short end of the tank where you allow the water to enter at.

When the incoming flow crashes down upon this submerged lip, it forces the water to "scoot" across the surface directionally... causing an eddy in the tank which keeps your Chaeto ball constantly tumbling. That in turn improves health and vigor in the colony while reducing the total need for light over the tank/colony. Steven Pro pointed this out to me on his tank. Very neat!


gearhead 11/01/2004 12:41 AM

right now, my water enters into a 10"x12" section of a regular 15g tank. the water enters a 25 micron bag & i have a euroreef es5-3 skimmer in that section. then over, under, & over 3 baffels(spaced 1" apart with the middle 1 being 1" off the bottom of tank. then thru a 7"x12" section w/ LR, LS, & chaeto. then over another single baffel to the mag 9.5. i have a coralreef 9 watt light over the cheato.

Anthony Calfo 11/01/2004 12:50 AM

yikes.. that is staggeringly inadequate light for most any macroalgae my friend. I cannot imagine that you are getting vigorous growth (and substantial nutrient export in kind) with that glimmer of light.

Most popular green marine algae species (and true vascular plants) require reef lighting intensities or better since they come from the same or shallower waters as our corals.

A decent rule is at least 5 watts per gallon for such macros. A cheap DIY MH pendant (50 or 75 watt) with an excellent reflector would get you by here.


Cearbhaill 11/01/2004 05:28 AM

Ahhh- the great macro lighting discussion continues!

Why do so many of us have difficulty growing chaeto until we l slap on a cheap incandescent light?
I had tried batch after batch with different lighting schemes, and always ended up with melting chaeto- the thread detailing it is
As per Randy Holmes-Farley's recommendation I tried incandescent, and now I throw out great gobs every week.

I am so glad to have you here!

TacoKing 11/01/2004 08:31 AM

I have a 55gal refugium filled with cheato. It has 4x40 4' NO floro's over the tank that are lit 24/7. The 55 is supplied by a Mag 7 and has two returns into the tank.

I am getting amazing growth of my cheato. I remove about a 5' bucket worth of it every month and I really think it helps control my nutrients.

Before using cheato I was using a form of calurpa and hated it. I wasn't getting the kind of growth I desired, which in turn didn't help my nutrient issue. Cheato all the way!.


Anthony Calfo 11/01/2004 08:48 AM

Well... its not realistic for us to pin survivability on one factor like lighting. Water flow and nutrient levels (or not) play an even greater role. And in brightly lit systems with poor water flow when Chaeto is not permitted to tumble - is it a problem... yes. I do believe. But that's not caused by the lighting. Or at least not alone. The poor flow and poorly lit overgrown under-region of the colony is the Achilles heel here.

All a case by case basis with this highly adaptable macro :)

But for others like Gracilaria... its cut and dry. They will indeed fail in lower light. Aquarists often mistake the yellowing or orange turning fringes as a sign of poor health in red varieties. On the contrary! That's when some of them are getting enough light. These types are grown (on line or tumbling in baskets) coastally at the surface of the water. In the tropics :D Strong water flow... strong lighting here.

For Red algae (Rhodophytyes)... the darker red it is... the lower the light is/has been (maybe good... maybe bad - depends on the specimens natural needs and adaptability).

Anth - :)

ahenson 11/01/2004 07:17 PM

Anthony I am curious as to best way to set up refugium with chaeto. Setup will be 100g rubbermaid refugium lit by 400w 6500. It will gravity feed into two prop tank. Refugium has 5" southdown bed. I want as much chaeto growth as possible. With good flow and strong lighting are there other limiting factors other than organic sources? Is iron or anything else a limiting factor? Would you dose iron or anything else or will water changes be enough?
Glad to have you on the board, just finished your book.

sfsuphysics 11/01/2004 08:41 PM

This is interesting stuff since I'm (if I ever fricking bring a new wire from the breaker box to the room) in the process of moving my tank an putting a 50g macro-tank/semi-refugium right next to it to be accented by light from the window, and most likely two 54w t5 bulbs, is there any word on color spectrum of the light which is preferable for macros? I'd assume a more daylight light (6500k) as opposed to the bluers (10000k+) bulbs. I'm only asking because 6500k t5s are way cheaper.

Also you mention turbulant flow, is there a cheap and easy way to do this without resorting to a scwd (i've heard bad things about them), or ocean motion (way to pricy for a refugium).? The plan I had was to dump the main overflow into the tank, then hit it with a seio620 from the other side (I'm a bit of an energy miser).

billsreef 11/02/2004 01:13 PM

Either Borneman or Carlson type surge devices are great inexpensive methods of getting some nice water movement. I'm using a Borneman type surge maker on my chaetomorpha culture, and it definately improves growth rates while using the same overall flow rate into the tank ;)

gearhead 11/02/2004 01:33 PM

where is some info on these?? i did search thru RC with no results.

hail_sniper 11/02/2004 08:29 PM

idk, if this was a bad thing or not, but on the nano i set up recently, im not worried too much on copepod's as the animals i have on their dont really rely on them, but i do want the macro algae, i have about 80X turn over rate, is that bad? i have noticed very slow growth, and its about a gallon sized fuge with about 12W of light, so is the flow rate being high causing it to 'stunt'

mesocosm 11/02/2004 08:54 PM

Greetings All !

"Why do so many of us have difficulty growing chaeto until we l slap on a cheap incandescent light?"

Spectrum. Most "intended specifically for marine aquaria" lights generally have a spectra of 6500K to 10000K + . Chlorophytes (Green algae) typically prefer a spectrum closer to 5000K . But as has been said, there's more to it than light ... .


"is there any word on color spectrum of the light which is preferable for macros?"

If you want to play in the land of serious macroalgae spectral data (... with coverage of both growth and reproductive correlations ...), I recommend "The Biology of Seaweeds" (Christopher Lobban & Michael Wynne, Blackwell Scientific Publications, 1981) ... great stuff, but requires effort to digest.

Such information is only now beginning to filter into the commonly available literature. IMO, "Reef Invertebrates. An Essential Guide to Selection, Care and Compatability" (Calfo & Fenner, 2003) presents the best information on the utilization of macroalgae and marine vascular plants available in mainstream hobbyist literature to date.


billsreef 11/02/2004 11:57 PM

Here's some search results on both types of surge devices ;)

[url=]Borneman surge device[/url]

[url=]Carlson surge device[/url]

hammerhead 11/03/2004 12:16 AM

I use a 10k 65w PC on my refuge I have Cheato . I have 1400gph from my overflow to the sump. Im uing a mag 12 on my return I have alot of flow going through the refuge I also have a rio 600 in there a well. My light is on for 14hr's. I have to prune every 2 week to keep it from filling the sump refuge area.

Triterium 11/03/2004 09:09 PM

I get AMAZING growth in both caulerpa and chaeto!!!

I have a 20 gallon deep refugium lit by a cheap 175watt metal halide (4000K) I bought from Home Depot.

I have pretty much no water flow (maybe 5 gallons/hour). I do use air bubblers which create turbulent water movement in the fuge.

I had terrible growth before I upgraded to the MH light.

gearhead 11/03/2004 09:44 PM

whats cheap & where in HD was it?

Triterium 11/04/2004 12:12 AM

$85 for the whole setup(bulb, socket and ballast). It was by the floodlights



wayne in norway 11/04/2004 08:37 AM

I was at the DIY shop a few weeks ago, and saw 500 watt work lights on stands for 25 dollars apiece.... very tempting. If I stick it on my little refugium I would get nearly 100 watts/gallon of nasty algae friendly light

gearhead 11/04/2004 09:38 AM

Triterium - thanks for the info, i'll go check them out tonite.

wayne in norway - i've got a set of those, they will light 1/2 acre of land quite nicely(mine has 2 500w lights). they also get quite warm.

Anthony Calfo 11/05/2004 02:25 AM

cheers, All... sorry for the brief silence in reply - I've been away for a few days.

sfsuphysics - very good point re: many popular macros favoring warmer colored lamps! And thanks for sharing the nifty "seaweed" reference.

Additionally, for anyone interested in more info on marine plants and algae... do track down many of the the works by the Littlers. These and other neat-O/uncommon books/references can be peeped/bought at among other places.

Bill/Billsreef... excellent to hear an expert "marine greens" enthusiast chime in here! Indeed... for this organism at least, (improved) water flow is very influentialas you have started/shared.

Which brings me/us to Andy's question(s) about dosing and outfitting for "Chaeto" overall (iron, etc.). Really, mate... Chaetomorpha is truly a staggeringly hardy and adaptable genera/variety! With reef-quality water that is good enough to keep cnidarians healthy (regular water changes, etc.)... you need not worry too much about dosing specifically for Chaeto beyond normal trace element/mineral supplementation. They really are quite adaptable to a very (!) wide range of lighting too. Anything approaching 5 watts per gallon (arghhh! I hate rules of thumb) and of a color leaning towards the warm end of the spectrum will be fine (hence the reason why "cheap" lamps work well for Chaeto... crappy non-designer warm colored or aged lamps start or stray to the arm side of the spectrum).

Chaeto is so desrvedly popular in large part because of its great adaptability and hardiness.

kind regard to all,


Andy -

fishdoc11 11/05/2004 08:44 AM

What's the secret to "getting the ball rolling" (couldn't resist). I have ~ 600 gph going through a ~ 5 gal section(water volume) of my 30 gallon sump. The chaeto seems to sink after I clean it of detritus and doesn't want to float again for a couple of weeks and then it's time to clean the sump again. Also what is everybody's opinion on the bulb Melev has posted in his huge thread in the Reef Discussion forum. It's a power compact encased in a floodlight body. I'll post a link if I can find one.
thanks, Chris

fishdoc11 11/05/2004 08:50 AM

Here is the bulb I am using:
thanks again, Chris

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 04:19 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.