Twin 12G Long Refugium Setup - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-05-2016, 01:37 PM Thread Starter
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Question Twin 12G Long Refugium Setup

A little background:

I want to ask about an experiment I'm putting together before I get too deep in to it. I'm interested in utilizing two 12G long (35.5" X 8.5 X 9.5) tanks with one being a planted display and the other being a refugium containing moss and RCS.

I come from more of a reef keeping background, but I have a low tech planted tank that I've kept for 6 or 7 years. It's an oddball 16G cube (15.5"^3) that I plan to convert to a watchman goby/pistol shrimp habitat.

Proposed set-up: The basic idea is to have the front display tank (12G long) raised on a ~36 X 9 X 6 wood platform on the desk I'll be using for the stand. I wanted to place the second tank, the "refugium" (also 12G long) directly behind it, flat on the desk top, so approximately 6" lower, but otherwise completely parallel to the display tank.

Refugium components: To accomplish the circulation I will use a CPR overflow box with aqua-lifter (300GPH max rated spill, but I plan to circulate about 120GPH if it all works out) and an appropriate sized return pump forcing the return water through a media reactor chamber (Aquamaxx brand) filled with Seachem Matrix for biological filtration. I know, this is where it starts getting even weirder. The refugium will also house a HOB filter with Boyd's Chemipure (which I have been using with good success on my other low tech cube). The overflow box will have tubing running into the refugium with a simple media sock at the end to act as mechanical filtration so I can rinse as required. In-between the inlet and return pump I want to start off with a couple handfuls of java moss (or other, similar moss) and a mineral stone and some almond leaves for a group of RCS (how many to start?). I also have an appropriate wattage heater that will go somewhere in the refugium.

Display tank lighting: I am thinking a Current Satellite Plus 36"-48 with the additional 15min ramp timer. Actually already ordered it after receiving a Finnex 24/7 that I returned because it was broken on receipt and that I could not use with a ramp timer the way I wanted to.

Display tank hardscape: Bogwood from my current low-tech and lava rock in the corners to plant on in an effort to conceal the return hose and overflow box. A few almond leaves strewn across the middle, which I will presoak if necessary and replace periodically (I have a ton of these already).

Substrate: 7lbs. Flourite black sand, in a thin (1/2") layer across the middle portion of the tank. 4lbs. UP shrimp soil at the base of the lava rock, at each end. I may not need to use all of either bag, leaving me some for gradual replacement down the road (but I don't know).

Planting: I want to keep it simple and I have these same plants in my cube, so I would like to keep using them, but just more of them: several java fern tied to the lava rock as midground/background, and red lily bulbs at the base of the lava rock (in the UP shrimp sand). I might start with a little osmecote under the UP sand. Yep, that's all the plants I'm planning on. And maybe some frogbit depending on how it goes with keeping the red lilies in check. And of course the java moss in the refugium.

Fauna: I have a few ideas here and this may be controversial, but this is where the RCS in the refugium might make a little more sense. So I would like the RCS to breed and provide nutrition for the fish, while also maintaining a colony of RCS in the refugium. I will also feed both the fish and the shrimp / snails, I do not intend any kind of total closed system. I'm basically going to use the RCS kinda like copepods in a reef refugium. I Would either like to keep a small number of peacock gudgeons (a male and a couple females? 2 males and 3 females?), or a group of maybe 6-10 sparkling gouramis. Last option: a super spiffy red dragon betta. The sparkling gouramis would be my first choice. This is going to be a species tank, not really a biotope (as you can see). I will also have RCS in the display tank and I am going to get the plants going, then get the RCS established and breeding, then the fish. If the fish don't eat the RCS, that's fine with me too - I just won't keep the extra colony in the refugium.

Additional fauna I plan are ~10 horned nerites, ~3 olive nerites (both of which I already have). 2 Amano shrimp, which are large and that I already have. Chopstick snails (how many?) to keep the thin layer of substrate under the almond leaves stirred (these are something I have never used, but I am thinking of them like nassarius snails in my reef tanks).

Frequent water changes (weekly or biweekly, 10% or so once everything is cycled and well established) and the addition of liquid ferts.

This is where I know I need the most advice. Somehow, I have had my current planted tank thrive with very small additions of iron as the only added fert. I have been adding 0.5mL with every 2 gallon water change, weekly - but skipping the 4th week. Its a 16G with java moss / java fern / anubias / and lily bulbs. The lillies and anubias have both responded like crazy since I started using the iron about 9 months ago. It has a HO flourescent at 10,000K that I only run 6 hours per day. I have zero algae and consistent plant growth that I rarely need to trim, but that has been looking healthy for many years. Is there something wrong with continuing to fertilize like this? I have Amanos, nerites, 2 corys, 6 neon tetras, and 3 lantern eye tetras in this tank and the sub is flourite black (not sand, the bigger stuff).

Excuse my rambling, and any feedback is much appreciated. The components I have selected reflect things I already have in my possession and my budget for a few new items. If you hate the whole idea, I can take it. If you see any tweak, just let me know. If you did read all this you're a trooper - thanks in advance.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-05-2016, 10:05 PM
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Here are my thoughts, besides this is a cool idea

-You've got your tanks backwards. 12g tanks are cool tanks, it'd be a shame to hide the second one. Also the longer you keep them, the more cherry shrimp will grow on you and you'll definitely want to be able to watch them. Also I personally think a refugium will work better on top, that way you don't need to manually move the cherry shrimp when you feed your fish (they can swim through the return if they want). Unlike copepods they won't make it though a pump and live.

-You're going to want a sponge on your pump input, again cherry shrimp don't survive pumps, not even a little bit... lol Also this could if you'd like remove the need for the media reactor if you go with a large sponge (or a sheet wedged across the tank with the pump behind it)

-Filter sock is probably not needed , planted tanks are much dirtier than reef tanks (typically). We're not talking large debris, but fine particulate and micro fauna that survive on that. You're welcome to use one, but most people dont

-Overflow boxes are great, but they take up a large amount of space and will probably take away from the build appearance. I would drill the tank, but again thats you're option

-You're HOB filter idea is entirely up to you, If you decide not to go with a visible refugium, I would make it more like a sump with a sheet of foam and then the chemipure bag before the return pump. You don't need anything fancy for dividers or anything else, but that would be my vote for minimizing equipment

-Cherry shrimp colonies are great, as you've already realized, they don't breed prolifically enough for large scale feeding, BUT you can still use them from time to time as a treat. If you're fish decide not to eat them I would still leave some in the refugium anyways; they're great scavengers and will act as part of a clean up crew

As to your lighting, substrates and plantings, I can't really comment on any of it as I don't have good experience with any of your choices, but nothing leaps out at me; besides plant heavily from the start (it makes algae management much easier) Take a look at my journal in my signature for my sump/refugium/riparium whatever it's called build for what I did on my tank.


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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-05-2016, 10:20 PM
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I'd put the shrimp tank on top of the display tank and have the overflow pipe straight into the display. A properly sized grating should drop plenty of food into the lower tank, and a shrimp-only area will probably grow copepods and other goodies as well.

Unfortunately this means that the water level in the display won't be constant unless you do some plumbing shennanigans or buy an ATO.


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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-06-2016, 01:58 PM Thread Starter
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Ok, cool - thank you for the feedback! I was planning to use sponges on both my return pump inlet and the HOB uptake inlet, so thank you for reminding me - I figured that would be best for the hatchlings. And I wasn't intending to have the hatchlings "pumped" back in to the tank, (I see how it sounded like that when I referenced reef copepods). I was planning to control this by hand, allowing some to breed in the display, while being able to add mature and breeding shrimp into the display from the refugium as necessary. After I posted this I found a lot of information on freshwater copepods - I actually didn't know these would reproduce in a tank. I have never seen one in my planted cube, even though I am a very close observer and they would have caught my eye since I am so familiar with them in my reefs. I will definitely want these in my refugium. I understand that there is a possibility of a population explosion, but I feel like they could be physically controlled since I will not have substrate in the refugium. I found these freshwaters for sale "copepods mixed species" at aquaculturestore com. Would you recommend them? Or maybe the better question is, would you specifically not recommend them?

About the arrangement of the tanks, I really do not want to drill. Buying these 2 tanks is an investment towards my long-long term vision of a wall display, so I don't want to alter them until I'm ready to build all of that. I cannot locate a overflow box under 300GPH that isn't one of those "u-tube" models. I just have a hard time feeling like I could trust one of those. Does anyone know where I could get a somewhat more "low-profile" and lower GPH model than the CPR 300GPH I referenced above?

Also, any information out there on the "chopstick" snails I reference, available from Arizona? Or another species that would work for stirring a thin layer of substrate that isn't so large? I have used malaysians and I'm not 100% opposed, but 99%. Thanks again to both of you for the feedback.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-06-2016, 02:31 PM Thread Starter
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theatermusic87, I should have looked at your journal before I responded, wow! That gives me all kinds of ideas. Now I'm going to second guess the purchase of a pair of these 12 longs for sure. I'm starting to think I could do a lot more with a 22G long and something on top of that. Well heck, back to the drawingboard lol!
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-07-2016, 03:23 PM
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Lol, if you like that idea do some quick googling for riparium, there are all sorts of neat ideas out there. AquaAurora on here has some fantastic setups and journals do you might want to look at them as well.

As to copepods i have then in my shrimp only tanks, though I suspect the first eat them in my other tank. I never ordered any, they along with freshwater limpets just kind if showed up, probably brought in on plants. No issues with either (the limpets actually survive with fish) and they seem to go through a cycle every couple weeks where population goes up and down noticeably. Don't worry freshwater limpets are no where near the size of salt, they get to about the size of a pin head.


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