80gal. DIY Refugium - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-28-2009, 03:34 AM Thread Starter
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80gal. DIY Refugium

A few months back i started a refugium project for my 150 gal south african tank. my key objective in this project was to take care of nitrates. project is still under construction....

80 gal 60"x12 1/4"x24" ($25 craigslist)


3/16" glass ordered from local shop (12 1/4" x 13", $21)


siliconing baffles in place (3"s apart 3"s of bottom, refugium section is 36")




back painted black, silicon is dry


water test for leaks (none) not so crucial in the filtration/refugium chambers, very crucial in the return chamber. this will determine the amount of water that gets pumped back in the tank in the event of siphon loss. my return section holds about 8 gal


more to follow shortly...
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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-28-2009, 04:44 AM
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looking good so far. i might have gone a little lower for the waterline in the fuge section (just incase. but i guess it depends on your overflow and return set-up, and how much back siphon youre looking at)

what do you have in mind to stock the fuge section?
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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-28-2009, 04:46 AM
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An 80 gallon tank for $25. Doesn't get much better than that.
It's nice to see a fuge for a FW tank. You don't see that too often

-Chris

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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-28-2009, 06:08 PM Thread Starter
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already have fug stocked with: java fern, vallisneria....flourite substrate. waiting on the rest of my plants: pygmy chain sword, dwarf sag., java moss. ill get pics uploaded soon.
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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-14-2010, 05:45 PM Thread Starter
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so ive had the fuge running for about 2 weeks now with plants. ive got about 2 watts per gal. (6500k daylight cfl) nitrates are at 10ppm, ph 8.0, flourite substrate, 78 degrees. so far ive got 5 java ferns, 10 corkscrew vallisneria, 1 vallisneria americana, some daphnia, micro worms, and a lonely nerite snail (thanks to the plants) upon first arrival of my vallisneria i noticed that they were the wrong kind, so back to the lfs for exchange! (thanks for giving me 11, i kept 1) took them about a month to get me Vallisneria tortifolia, i wont go there again. finally got the right kind, looked great! nice tight spirals, vibrant green! awesome! planted in the substrate, roots only, did well for the first week then slowly started to melt off leaves. trimmed them off, only to wake to more melting. my java ferns are doing great. just the vals are showing signs of "shock" maybe? eventually will it grow back so long as the roots arnt going bad as well? im new to this whole "plant" thing! please help!
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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-15-2010, 02:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scales View Post
($25 craigslist)

Brilliant!


What's the purpose of your refugium? I read a little about them here <http://saltaquarium.about.com/cs/aquariumdiy/a/aa041400.htm>, but I still have questions...if you don't mind entertaining them. What are the dividers for? Do the plants in the refugium live in the dark, consume O2, and provide CO2 for your lit tank? And I saw that your main objective was to take care of nitrates, and I believe plants in the dark would still consume nitrates. Can you upload more pics? PLEASE?!


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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-15-2010, 01:32 PM
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Plants in a refugium still need light to photosynthesize. You can either incorporate a fuge right into the tank itself, or inside of a modified HOB filter, in which case you can utilize the ambient lighting... or, and this is more common in reef tanks, the fuge will be a separate tank altogether, in the stand below the tank, and it will have its own little light to keep things photosynthesizing. But no matter what, the fuge needs light too.

Scales, I've always had vals melt away on me. I wouldn't worry about it. They always seem to do this as they adjust to their new environments, then they bounce back with a vengeance. Nice tank, and good thinking on using a fuge in an african tank!
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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-15-2010, 03:51 PM Thread Starter
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1st, this is for an African setup!! otherwise id just have a planted tank.

2nd, the dividers are for mechanical/biological filtration(media of your choice)

3rd, the refugium has its own light. its on 10 hrs a day.

4th, let me explain:
The Nitrogen Cycle
One characteristic, next to passion for the hobby, every aquarist should have or obtain, is patience.
Patience, next to understanding the basic water parameters, will be put to the test while cycling a tank. And cycling by all means, not only during the fresh set up of a new tank.
An established aquarium can cycle at any time, depending on severe changes of the bioload, filtration failure, or any loss of nitrifying bacteria.
The process of the nitrogen cycle starts the aquarium. Since an aquarium is an artificial and fragile ecosystem it requires our “interference” in order to thrive. Our interference starts with providing an “artificial” filtration system. In short, creating an environment as close to nature as possible.
Introducing fish, plants, and food to your aquarium begins a natural process called the nitrogen cycle. Food which is consumed by the fish provides them with energy. This energy in turn is burned with the help of oxygen which your fish breathe from the water.
During the energy burning process, waste is returned to the aquarium environment via the fish’s gills. The waste primarily consists of carbon dioxide and nitrogenous compounds such as ammonia. In order to maintain a healthy environment, these substances must be removed. The carbon dioxide is mainly eliminated through either aeration at the surface of the tank or through photosynthesis by aquarium plants. As for the toxic nitrogenous compounds, they are converted to less toxic compounds via the nitrogen cycle. Natural bacterial colonies convert ammonia into relatively harmless by-products.

The entire nitrogen cycle begins with the conversion of solid wastes excreted by fish into ammonia. Bacteria known as nitrifiers include two "microbial partners" which transform toxic ammonia into nitrite and nitrate via biochemical oxidation.
Both bacteria prefer alkaline environments (pH 7.2 - 8.5). However a stable and consistent pH level is important.
Nitrifiers are most active at temperatures ranging from 68 - 86 degrees F. Their metabolism will decrease below 50 degrees F, while levels above 95 degrees F are potentially life threatening.
Nitrifiers need oxygen to perform their task (aerobic respiration). Nitrate is the final compound after completion of the biochemical oxidation, which plants utilize as a fertilizer thus removing them from the water.
The aquarium is a well oxygenized artificial ecosystem that carries a high biomass (all living organisms) compared to nature. Often the plants are unable to utilize all the nitrates produced. In consequence nitrates accumulate, resulting in the need for regular maintenance of the aquarium in order to keep nitrate levels within acceptable parameters.

However with the refugium being well planted the nitrates should be of no concern for a while, thus eliminating the need for frequent water changes....
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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-15-2010, 09:14 PM
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Sweet! So the refugium dividers are for filtration, light is required, and the whole thing perpetuates the nitrogen cycle, AND, in this case, its for an African setup. Thanks for the info!

Do cichlids contaminate the water faster than community fish? I thought protein skimmers took care of nitrates in saltwater tanks? If that is the case, other than being a fun project and a safe haven for creatures in need of refuge, what would the purpose of a refugium be for a saltwater setup?


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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-16-2010, 12:22 AM Thread Starter
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typically african cichlid setups are overstocked, so typically "yes" the water gets contaminated more frequently. in the saltwater world i could not tell you what goes down. as for me the refugium/sump filter acts as:

1. a place for more water. more water means more dilution. more dilution means more time till pollution.

2. filtration

3. a place to keep equipment (i.e. heater)

4. refugium (for plants) african rift lakes have few to no plants. whatever plants there in usually get uprooted or munched on. having a refugium takes carfe of that problem as well as improves the water column.

5.Refugium (for fish) agression, health, incompatibility, are all key factors. sometimes 2 fish dont get along. what to do? drop 1 in the refugium until you figure it out. sometimes fish get sick. you can have a seperate quarentine chamber for dosing meds.

there are many different resons for someone to have a sump/refugium......its really all up to you and your specific needs/preferences
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post #11 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-16-2010, 12:32 AM
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Those are all great ideas. I hadn't thought about the dilution factor, but it makes sense. Keeping equipment down there also sounds good. I about flipped when I saw the price you got on that tank! lol Good find, and thanks for the info!


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post #12 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-16-2010, 01:24 AM Thread Starter
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yah and thats just for a beat up 80gal. my real prize is the actual tank 150gal craigslist special for $30!!
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post #13 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-16-2010, 01:38 AM Thread Starter
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heres some pics from today:

full setup (future plans in the mix for a new stand to show full refugium, doors will cover filter/return chambers)



front view of refugium



vallisneria tucked in the back left corner



filtration chambers: tank water entering, pre-filtration (course), bio balls (to keep colonized bacteria((bio filter)), fine filtration, refugium...



return chamber



new rock pile (natural looking?)



what do you think?

Last edited by scales; 01-16-2010 at 01:52 AM. Reason: more added
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post #14 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-16-2010, 02:06 AM
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Wow, I'm impressed! Looks good.
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post #15 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-16-2010, 03:13 AM
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Those were retarded cheap fish tanks! The refugium and main tank turned out sweet. The rock pile looks good, too. What do you have pumping water out of the return chamber?


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