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Ron Reefman
10/21/2016, 02:56 AM
I've been in the hobby for 12 years. I recently tore down a 400g system (180g reef, 75g gorgonian tank, 180g refugium, DSB /sump) due to a massive leak in the 180g tank. Here is a look at the bones of the system as it was going together and how it looked fully set up.

http://i395.photobucket.com/albums/pp37/RonReefman/P5010003.jpg (http://s395.photobucket.com/user/RonReefman/media/P5010003.jpg.html)

http://i395.photobucket.com/albums/pp37/RonReefman/P6060062_zpsbcfcac6d.jpg (http://s395.photobucket.com/user/RonReefman/media/P6060062_zpsbcfcac6d.jpg.html)


As a replacement I decided to downsize to a 125g CadLight DT with a 40G sump... but I wanted a refugium and the sump is too small. So I ordered a similar cabinet and made a 50g (2'x2'x20") tank to be a display refugium. The DT has been up and running for 7 weeks with LR, corals, a couple fish and a variety of CUC. The display refugium has only been running for 3 and most of the macroalgae was just added 2 weeks ago (bought from Russ at Gulf Coast Ecosystems). The refugium and the DT are fed from the sump and both drain back to the sump. The DT drains water back through filter socks and a skimmer before the return pump. The fuge drains water directly into the return pump section of the sump, so no filtration. The led lighting has just been set so the 2 tanks get very different light. The reef gets lots of blue and some white and violet, but no red or green. The fuge gets lots of red, green and white, but not much blue or violet. Here is what the system looks like currently.

http://i395.photobucket.com/albums/pp37/RonReefman/20161018_170631_zpsfaas63gv.jpg (http://s395.photobucket.com/user/RonReefman/media/20161018_170631_zpsfaas63gv.jpg.html)


'm looking for any kind of advise related to making the refugium successful knowing it shares water with an sps & lps dominate reef. I've basically assumed this was feasible but I'm less sure now as some of the macro algae doesn't seem to be doing as well as I would have hoped. Although the system is new and most of the algaes have only been in the tank for 2 weeks. Here is a look at the fuge from a week ago.

http://i395.photobucket.com/albums/pp37/RonReefman/232%20r1_zpsloypno5i.jpg (http://s395.photobucket.com/user/RonReefman/media/232%20r1_zpsloypno5i.jpg.html)


I intend for this to be a long term thread as the system matures and changes. I don't consider the fuge aquascaped at all. Currently I just have the macroalgae and a few soft corals spaced out so they all have room. I'm open to any aquascape ideas that could prove helpful to the success of the system.

Michael Hoaster
10/22/2016, 10:11 AM
That's a nice looking setup! I also like the old setup, with the custom light curtain and the orange light-leak at the bottom of the cabinet. It looks like it's floating! Would you mind elaborating on those two features?

Tying a display refugium in with your reef display is always going to be a bit of a tightrope/compromise. Good reef practices won't provide a lot of nutrients for the macros. Your choice of reds is a good idea as they don't need as much, but grow slowly. The downside is you won't get a lot of nutrient uptake with them. Optimizing nutrients for the refugium will make the reef side less happy. One thing you can do is increase the bio load. It shouldn't bother the corals much and the plants will like it.

It would be much easier to get a beautiful macro display, by disconnecting it from your reef. Then you'd be free to focus specifically on each tank's needs, which are very different. But I understand the desire to have a refugium to complement your reef. I think it's great that you're attempting to make it pretty, rather than just a chaeto filter compartment in your sump.

I think your setup will work fine. It just might take a while to get your macros growing well. You'll have to be patient, and you'll need to experiment with nutrient levels, and find a happy medium. When I first set up my planted lagoon tank, I kept nutrients low, and all my macros withered away. When I increased the bio load, they all came back, naturally attached to rocks, etc. You may experience the same thing.

Best of luck! I look forward to following along!

Ron Reefman
10/23/2016, 07:54 AM
Thanks for offering some insight Michael, I really appreciate it. Can you give me a link to more info or a build thread on your system?

The light around the bottom of the old stand was just cheap Chinese led strip tucked up behind a trim 'kick plate' around the bottom of the stand. The leds come with a remote that can change the color of the light and even make the light change color over time or make the light look like it was moving along under the stand. It was pretty cool and only about $20 on ebay. We have a 4 post bed with a wood frame at the top and I have the same leds on top of the frame shining up at the ceiling which is just 1 foot away. It's bright enough that it's the light we watch TV by in the evening.

The canopy was made with 2" square PVC (the box at either end) and aluminum lanai frame (the top brace that runs from end to end. It was my wife's idea to use fabric like a curtain. I had done a cool tile top on the stand and she found a fabric that matched it pretty well (she is a self described "fabriholic" and makes most of her own blouses and some of my cooler shirts... fish images mostly). It was my idea not to line the fabric so the lights could illuminate the fabric from the inside out. We just used cheap expandable curtain rods to hold them in place at the top and then at the bottom we made them a bit shorter so they didn't stick out at the ends but provided enough weight to make them hang without blowing around. It also made getting in the tank really easy as the bottom rod would allow me to just grab it and set it on top of the canopy.

I realize that I'll be balancing the low nutrient reef against the higher nutrient refugium. BTW, I do have a small amount of chaeto in a 12"x4"x4" section of the sump. My hope is that I can get this to work and have a place to keep some of the things I collect when snorkeling in the Florida Keys that I can't/won't keep in the mostly sps and some lps reef tank. And being perfectly honest, I didn't know the red algaes were lower nutrient users, but I was told by Russ at Gulf Coast Ecosystems that they are slower growing. And that is what I wanted. I had a 45g refugium full of chaeto on the old 400g system and now I'll have a 50g refugium with slower growing algae but on a system that is only half the water volume. Which may work against me in terms of keeping nutrients up for the algae?

I would really appreciate any insight and help you can provide. I'm perfectly at home with most corals and reef systems, but the pretty display refugium is really new ground for me. I consider myself lucky to have both Gulf Coast Ecosystems, KP Aquatics and Tampa Bay Saltwater all within driving distance. Plus we do collect stuff while snorkeling, and doing beach walks (especially after bigger storms as some cool stuff does wash up and survive). I have a 65g, 4'x2'x14" shallow reef tank with a 100+g sump/refugium as well. I'm currently cleaning out the shallow reef and plan to stock it up with live rock from Tampa Bay Saltwater as it is just teeming with live stuff (and some of it I wouldn't want in my sps reef)!

Any feedback will be greatly appreciated and thanks again.

Michael Hoaster
10/23/2016, 08:52 AM
Here is my build thread. It's getting pretty long now, but there is some great discussion in there.

http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2391470

If there is anything in particular you'd like to ask, feel free. I don't mind going over stuff again.

Thanks for elaborating on your old setup. Cool stuff!

That chaeto is now competing with your macros for nutrients. You may want to reconsider that. I'd also recommend you get some fish or shrimp or something in the fuge to help out with vital plant nutrients. They give off CO2 and ammonia and phosphate, which are the 'big 3' for plants.

I totally think your project will work. It may take longer, but you'll have a gorgeous dual-display!

Ron Reefman
10/24/2016, 04:15 AM
Thanks Michael. I knew the chaeto would be in competition with the refugium macro algae. But it's a new set up and I have had some minor algae issues in the reef tank. I'll pull it soon. I have 2 small porcelain crabs and 2 fat dwarf angels in the refugium now, one coral beauty and one half black. I have some mature yellow chromis in the 65g shallow reef that I could move to the refugium. The reef now has a mature yellow tang, a small scopas tang, a pajama cardinal, a yellow chromis and an indigo basslet along with a yellow sea cucumber, a pink filter feeding cucumber, a flame scallop, 2 peppermint shrimp, a cleaner shrimp and a couple of serpent stars. The bioload in the refugium will start to increase soon.

Thanks for the link to your build//journal thread. I'm looking forward to reading it. If I have questions, I'll ask.

Michael Hoaster
10/24/2016, 09:45 AM
That sounds great, Ron!

Ron Reefman
10/27/2016, 03:03 AM
Looking forward to a few days in the Florida Keys in a couple of weeks and hope to get in a lot of snorkeling. This may be a very different trip for me as I'm usually looking for unusual animals like odd colored sea stars, or ruby red mithrax crabs (instead of emerald green) or a spaghetti worm or a cool sponge (but sponges rarely survive long term). This time I may just go after algae and plants... maybe a cool gorgonian. Stay tuned, I'll have pictures to share.

Ron Reefman
11/12/2016, 05:39 AM
Well, the Florida Keys snorkeling trip was a complete bust as far as snorkeling goes. It was cold (water was 77F) and windy (12 to 20mph) and that made visibility in the water about 12" to maybe 18". It's hard to hunt for interesting new algae and plants when you can't see the bottom! But the vacation was still fun as we visited the Aquarium Encounter in Marathon and found it was very nice. It's not the Georgia Aquarium, but it still had some very nice tanks and we got a lot of really nice 'up close and personal' photos. The next day, after actually getting in the water to snorkel for about 10 minutes, we cleaned up and went to the Turtle Hospital, also in Marathon, and had a very interesting tour of their facility. Sea turtles are very cool and we rarely see them because we mostly snorkel near shore. So as a vacation, it was cool, but as a snorkel trip, it was a blow out. So now we wait until April or May for the water to warm up.

Yesterday I did get 25lbs of TBS (Tampa Bay Saltwater) live rock delivered. It's in my 65g shallow reef tank. I've considered putting one of those rocks into the 50g display refugium, but now I'm thinking I'll keep all the TBS rock together and make the 65g shallow reef a local/Caribbean tank. Besides, it gets most of the things we collect snorkeling or during beach walks.

So now I'll be looking to do some rock scaping in the display refugium with other LR that I have in the sump (and dry rock from my stash in the garage) and then visit Gulf Coast Ecosystems and KP Aquatics for new local stock. That will have to hold me over until we get a strong cold front that washes good stuff up on the beach at Sanibel Island.

liverock
11/13/2016, 07:04 AM
Well, the Florida Keys snorkeling trip was a complete bust as far as snorkeling goes. It was cold (water was 77F) and windy (12 to 20mph) and that made visibility in the water about 12" to maybe 18". It's hard to hunt for interesting new algae and plants when you can't see the bottom! But the vacation was still fun as we visited the Aquarium Encounter in Marathon and found it was very nice. It's not the Georgia Aquarium, but it still had some very nice tanks and we got a lot of really nice 'up close and personal' photos. The next day, after actually getting in the water to snorkel for about 10 minutes, we cleaned up and went to the Turtle Hospital, also in Marathon, and had a very interesting tour of their facility. Sea turtles are very cool and we rarely see them because we mostly snorkel near shore. So as a vacation, it was cool, but as a snorkel trip, it was a blow out. So now we wait until April or May for the water to warm up.

Yesterday I did get 25lbs of TBS (Tampa Bay Saltwater) live rock delivered. It's in my 65g shallow reef tank. I've considered putting one of those rocks into the 50g display refugium, but now I'm thinking I'll keep all the TBS rock together and make the 65g shallow reef a local/Caribbean tank. Besides, it gets most of the things we collect snorkeling or during beach walks.

So now I'll be looking to do some rock scaping in the display refugium with other LR that I have in the sump (and dry rock from my stash in the garage) and then visit Gulf Coast Ecosystems and KP Aquatics for new local stock. That will have to hold me over until we get a strong cold front that washes good stuff up on the beach at Sanibel Island.

Wheres da pics? LOL

Ron Reefman
11/23/2016, 03:14 AM
Just an update. I haven't done much to the display refugium other than adding a Coral Beauty and a Half Black Dwarf Angel and a Neon Dottyback. The macro algae in the tank appears to be starting to grow now. I hope that I can find some time between Thanksgiving and Christmas to do some work in the tank.

Ron Reefman
12/06/2016, 08:27 AM
It's been awhile since I've done an update. The new tanks haven't changed much. But there is a new member of the family that has taken up residence in the display refugium. It's a 3" to 4" Red Reef Lobster from Hawaii. I got it from Fishy Business Aquatics in Ft Myers. I also like Fishy Business because right around the corner in the same mall (2 storefronts away) is Bury Me Brewing Co, a very cool little micro brewery (I like beer with darker colors)! Anyway, Fishy Business sold this little guy to somebody else and had to take him back. Although online sites say 'reef safe' or 'reef safe with caution' this one is a cannibal and if he can't find enough food, he'll go after small fish or soft corals (ricordea from what the previous owner said). So the store owner, another friend and I, at Bury Me Brewing Co one night after work, agreed that Hannibal was a good name for the little lobster and after he ate the one fish in the display refugium tank, my wife now agrees with the name. But he's so cute! And now he'll have the display refugium pretty much all to himself unless we find some other crazy critter to add.


http://i395.photobucket.com/albums/pp37/RonReefman/PC050028%20R1_zpsljnedzdm.jpg (http://s395.photobucket.com/user/RonReefman/media/PC050028%20R1_zpsljnedzdm.jpg.html)

Ron Reefman
01/29/2017, 02:03 PM
After I finish putting the last touches in the remodeled masterbath, I intend to pull all the algae, rock and coral from bot my DT and my display refugium. I want the reef lobster's house to be more forward in the center of the tank. That way I can let macroalgae grow up the back glass and do more nitrate removal. I may have to move the few soft corals from the display refugium as the current algae in the tank is doing well and I have a new algae that came with some LR form TBS. It's greenish with small leaves and id growing like a weed in my 65g shallow local reef than.

JZinCO
01/30/2017, 02:07 PM
lobster! How is he with macroalgae?

Ron Reefman
01/31/2017, 04:27 AM
Thanks for asking.

So far he has been a model citizen with the algae and the few soft corals in the tank. He tends to stay in his 'house' most of the day. Occasionaly he'll come out and hide behind the rocks or come out just in front and look for food. When I feed with the turkey baster he comes out and gets on top of the rock and trys to grab the tip of the turkey baster as food spills out!

But he did take 2 BIG bait shrimp I added to the tank. So I'll be very careful with any new critters I add. They will either be cheap and considered food, or free, as in collected by me in the Gulf of Mexico or the Florida Keys. It's only a 50g cube, so I don't want to try any bigger fish that he might not be able to attack because they really wouldn't have much room to swim. Maybe a competitor like a small stone crab or a fighting conch. We find them at the beach all the time.

Ron Reefman
02/06/2017, 05:12 AM
Well, this week I'm going to redo the rockscape in my 125g DT (info and pics will be posted in my build thread... link is in my sig). And after that I intend to do the Display refugium as well. So to start things off, here are a 'before' photos of the fuge.

http://i395.photobucket.com/albums/pp37/RonReefman/Display%20Refugium%20FTS%202%20R1_zpsbcrlgh8p.jpg (http://s395.photobucket.com/user/RonReefman/media/Display%20Refugium%20FTS%202%20R1_zpsbcrlgh8p.jpg.html)

I know what I want to do with the rockscape in the DT, but I'm way less sure about what I want to do in the display Fuge.

If anybody has ideas, I'm interested in hearing them!

Ron Reefman
02/16/2017, 04:23 PM
I did the new rockscape in the display refugium this morning. I added some really nice rock with lots of caves and shelves in hopes that Hannibal, the Hawaiian Red Reef Lobster, will leave his ceramic rock cave. I'm not sure why, but it's been a massive hairy algae farm? I decided for now that I'll keep a few soft corals (2 leathers, 2 gorgonians, a cinnamon paly and some pulsing xenia) in with the algae. As I get some new algae or sponges, I'll pull the corals... maybe.

In the pic I left Hannibal's house at the front right corner. He hasn't wondered out yet... maybe after dark? So I have since turned the rock around so the opening faces forward and moved it back so it's at the base of the gorgonians.

I was pleasantly surprised to find several porcelain crabs hiding in the algae, sponge and rocks. I guess I'm feeding Hannibal enough he isn't hunting... or they are difficult to catch!

http://i395.photobucket.com/albums/pp37/RonReefman/Refugium%20FTS%20Feb17%202017%20R1_zpsjpzchyj6.jpg (http://s395.photobucket.com/user/RonReefman/media/Refugium%20FTS%20Feb17%202017%20R1_zpsjpzchyj6.jpg.html)

JZinCO
02/17/2017, 09:34 AM
I thought your previous design had alot of nice elements but they were scattered and it was a little one-dimensional. This new scape is a huge improvement and I think you will enjoy it.

Ron Reefman
02/17/2017, 11:36 AM
Well, this morning we found that Hannibal has moved out of his old rock house and is not living under the main rock structure. Yea!

And I agree with you 100%. The old scape was just kind of a holding pattern until I had time to figure out what would work. I may do more gorgonians in there and remove the leathers. I'd like to add a Flamingo Tongue or two to the tank. They are gorgeous snails (their mantle, not their shell) but they only eat gorgonians!

http://i395.photobucket.com/albums/pp37/RonReefman/Flamingo%20Tongue%20R3_zpspa479kgp.jpg (http://s395.photobucket.com/user/RonReefman/media/Flamingo%20Tongue%20R3_zpspa479kgp.jpg.html)

Chasmodes
02/18/2017, 05:38 AM
Looks great!!!!

Ron Reefman
02/19/2017, 04:03 AM
Thanks.

I have a big local club frag auction today. I'm selling some coral and plan to bring home some new as well. I know there are also several nice looking (not crazy colorful, but good looking) rock flower anemones in the auction as well as 4 or 5 RBTA and some nice serpent stars.

Ron Reefman
03/16/2017, 04:08 AM
I've been having a hairy algae outbreak in the display refugium. So far it hasn't affected the DT as I think the filter socks and tangs have kept it at bay. I just added an Atlantic tank and some big cerith snails from KP Aquatics. It will be interesting to see how they fair with Hannibal, the red reef lobster. I'll start doing some manual removal today.

SW Florida had a cold front (relatively cold for Florida) go through on Tuesday, so Wednesday a friend and I went collecting on a Sanibel Beach. It was chilly at 9am when we left home, and even cooler at the beach. But the sun came out and by 11am we had taken off our flannel shirts as it was quite nice out. I did forget to wear a hat and now I'm paying for it with a bright red head.

There were tons of Pen shells on the beach and lots of conch egg cases. There was a variety of sponges as well, which is were I tend to find most of the things I collect (inside sponges). We found a more than enough porcelain crabs and a few small pistol shrimp and serpent stars in the sponges we tore up.

I also noticed some chitons, limpets and slipper shells attached to the pen shells and I brought a few of each home. The chitons were small, but they attached to the glass in the tank very quickly and began moving around. I also collected a warty anemone and a hitchhiker anemone which are not photosynthetic but can be kept in an aquarium if you feed them. I found a black rubber/plastic piece off a boat that had a dozen small clams and they also quickly attached to rocks in my tank.

There were some nice purple gorgonians that were very 'branchy' almost to the point of looking a bit like sea fans. I found one with a purple snail (related to the Flamingo Tongue) and my friend found one with a nice little colony of feather dusters attached. We didn't know that's what they were until he got it back in his tank where the feather dusters then opened up. I passed up a couple of gorgonians that had very similar looking clumps of 'stuff' attached but because I didn't know what it was, I didn't want to risk putting it in my tank. Sometimes risky behaviors pay off.

I found a nice clump of red macro algae just in the water's edge which I have picked up before and it has done well in my display refugium, so I figure I'll try some in my shallow reef local tank too. I collected a good size (about the size of a quarter) decorator crab that has hollowed out a tunicate and wears it like a coat over it's carapace. I doubt the tunicate will survive in my tank, but maybe the crab will help keep it alive?

We found a couple of small octopus, one in a pen shell and the other in a sponge I picked up to tear apart. They are so cool to find and I almost feel bad that they have such a short life span. We also found big blue crab and a gulf toad fish that were still alive on the beach and we put them all back in the water and they all swam away.

All in all a pretty nice day. Just enough beach time and collecting to hold me over until our first Keys snorkeling trip in May. Well... not really. I can't wait for the water to warm up so we can snorkel. I have several new places in the Keys I want to explore.

taricha
03/17/2017, 09:55 AM
Love that account. Super jealous of being able to pick up such neat life like that. Only pics would make it better.
Not much of a display showstopper, but one of my favorite interesting Caribbean critters is my holothuria cucumber.

Ron Reefman
03/18/2017, 05:12 AM
Yes, living close to the Gulf Coast has proven to be a lot more fun than I expected when I moved here. I thought big sailboat, and we tried that, but it's more work than it's worth. I never even considered an aquarium when I moved, now I have 4!

I'm getting a few shots of things I collected in my tank and my friend took a few out on the beach with his phone and I'm trying to get those as well. So "Coming Soon" I'll have to look and see what species of sea cucumber I got. In the past I've had a couple of the yellow ones from the Keys. And then people see one in my tank and want to buy it. I know I'll be going to the Keys again, so I sell it. But the one in my 125g DT has been with me for more than 3 years.

Ron Reefman
03/20/2017, 05:49 AM
Here is a small start to photos from the beach collection day.

First is a guy we did NOT collect but actually released back into the Gulf. We found 2 of them, one inside a pin shell and the other in a small branchy sponge. As I understand it, this is about full size for these guys and the only live 18 to 24 months. Some day I may do a screen cover for my 65g shallow/local reef and then try keeping one of these!

http://i395.photobucket.com/albums/pp37/RonReefman/Resized_20170315_115924_zpsoprse5ft.jpg (http://s395.photobucket.com/user/RonReefman/media/Resized_20170315_115924_zpsoprse5ft.jpg.html)


This is a purple gorgonian and they do manage to survive on the beach for a while out of the water. Snowbird and vacationing shell collectors often pick these up as souvenirs. But we managed to find 10+ of them that were smaller and yet still nice full fan shaped. This one has something attached to it. I didn't know what it was so I passed on a couple but my friend took one. In his tank they opened up and at first he/we thought they were feather dusters. But on closer examination we think they are some thing else... but what?

http://i395.photobucket.com/albums/pp37/RonReefman/Resized_20170316_204322_zps9ckrmejk.jpg (http://s395.photobucket.com/user/RonReefman/media/Resized_20170316_204322_zps9ckrmejk.jpg.html)


Here is a decorator crab I thought might go in my 65g shallow reef tank which I'm making into a Gulf and Keys only local tank. But I decided to put it in my display refugium instead. There is only the Hawaiian Red Reef Lobster in the tank along with some macro algae and a couple simple gorgonians and leather corals. The big white thing with orange spots on it's back is a tunicate. It's 'attached' to the back legs by hooks. It moves pretty quickly and jumps from spot to spot looking like an astronaut doing a space walk on the moon... it's hysterical. It can also jump off tall things (there is a 16" tall gorgonian) and the front of the tunicate opens up slightly because it's attached at the back, and works like a parachute so the crab floats down rather slowly.

The good news is I have a bit of a hairy algae issue in this tank because the lobster won't eat it, but will eat any fish or small snails I put in the tank to eat it. The decorator crab has been ripping the hair algae off things and eating it like it hasn't had food in a week! We'll see how it does long term.

http://i395.photobucket.com/albums/pp37/RonReefman/20170319_091746_zpscg6pi3rr.jpg (http://s395.photobucket.com/user/RonReefman/media/20170319_091746_zpscg6pi3rr.jpg.html)