Algae Scrubbers/Refugium's too efficient for my own good, is it right for me, and do I need one?

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tippin.turtle

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Todays trend in reefing seems to be about "nutrient control" and how best this can be achieved within the reef aquarium. Many suggest that macro algae's are an effective tool to control nitrate and phosphate levels within the desired ranges that are optimal for fish and coral health. Although, I don't argue that macro algae's are extremely effective at achieving this goal; I think one should evaluate whether or not this is the "most appropriate" approach for their specific application.
I get the impression that "new" reefers feel as though they need a refugium and macro algae in order to achieve optimal nutrient levels. My argument it is that it solely depends on the system it is being applied to. Is this a 'fish only" or a "reef tank"?
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In my situation, I utilize carbon dosing/bio pellets and have a bare bottom tank with a medium size fish load and many corals. My nutrients are maintained at respectable levels utilizing these methods.
As a new reefer I think it's easy to fall into the trap of believing you need a refugium and macro algae's only to find that once implemented you discover that nitrate and phosphate levels have reached levels that are extremely low to non detectable within the aquarium and coral health has declined.
Refugium's can be adjusted depending on size, rate of harvest, and photo period. But is this within the grasp of understanding to the novice reefer? Many of whom are trying their very best to grasp an understanding of the 'basic" water chemistry required for the marine environment.
So as one considers "Is a refugium/algae scrubber right for me?" I think these should be some questions for your consideration:
sand bed or bare bottom
many fish or a few
fish only or reef
frequent feeding or once a day
Macro algae's are an effective tool at lowering nitrate and phosphate but do nothing as a transport vehicle for these elements as it relates to coral nutrition.
Bio pellets on the other hand grow bacteria that consumes nitrates and phosphates, and those bacteria are then consumed by corals. Which ironically, is the only way corals can get these life sustaining nutrients.
In a day and age where there is an approach or an additive for everything. I urge new reefers to research their options and utilize what "best practice" meets their needs. Refugium's/Algae Scrubbers are not always the best tool for the job.
 
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PeterC99

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When I saw that ALL the best coral sellers in my area had refugiums with chaeto, that’s when I knew I needed one too. I understand there are other options but there must be some reason why all these top coral sellers had this one thing in common.
 
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tippin.turtle

tippin.turtle

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When I saw that ALL the best coral sellers in my area had refugiums with chaeto, that’s when I knew I needed one too. I understand there are other options but there must be some reason why all these top coral sellers had this one thing in common.
I imagine what they all have in common is a substantial bio load.
 

R33fDaddy

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When I saw that ALL the best coral sellers in my area had refugiums with chaeto, that’s when I knew I needed one too. I understand there are other options but there must be some reason why all these top coral sellers had this one thing in common.
They keep Refugiums because it is cheaper then them getting numerous Algae Scrubbers. They also keep live stock in the Refugiums that they sell to make a profit on.
 
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tippin.turtle

tippin.turtle

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I get your point and it’s a good point!
Here is something else to consider that I find interesting. In this video Jake Adams explores WWC's coral farm. Some tanks have egg crate while others are lined with rock in a "lagoon style". Jake asks why are these tanks setup in this fashion? The WWC employee (Bobby Melton) says it's because corals just grow faster in these tanks vs the egg crate tanks and doesn't understand why?
I believe these corals are growing faster because the tanks with live rock are covered in beneficial bacteria which the corals are directly consuming thus achieving better coral growth and health.
This to me reinforces my belief why carbon dosing/bio pellets should not be overlooked or dismissed and feel that many reefers are missing out by considering macro algae's as the primary approach rather than a secondary option for nutrient control.

(8:10)
 
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Knowing that there is an "Industry" fueling this approach and propaganda to nutrient management. It will be difficult to reach those who have a financial investment to think otherwise or consider that refugium's/macro algae's/turf scrubber approach for nutrient control should be viewed as a "secondary" measure only.
Coral nutrition and health will eventually win the day and this fad too will fade away; only those who have extreme bio loads and laxed aquarium maintenance practices will continue along this path.
 
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tippin.turtle

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Algae also supply exudates including sugars which is a form of carbon dosing, along with unutilised photosynthetic products. It’s not just growing stuff to throw it away.
Perhaps, but haven't seen any scientific data to support "unutilized photosynthetic products" making up any part of coral nutrition and does not justify to me that macro algae's are beneficial as the primary source for management of phosphate and nitrate levels in the reef aquarium as suggested by many selling/promoting this principle.
 
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What’s more, why would you want to miss an opportunity to feed your corals by trapping those nutrients in something you’ll be exporting/harvesting in the form of macro algae’s ; depriving your corals of a transport mechanism that only bacteria can provide?
 

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They work as well as you want them to. I adjust my lighting time for my blurple Kessil fuge light and to keep my nutrients stable. Ive been to the point where approaching 0/0 and just reduced my light period and have been able to keep nitrate and phosphate in a range where the corals and i are happy. I have dosing pumps dosing 2 part, kalk and aminos, and my goal is no more dosing pumps
 
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They work as well as you want them to. I adjust my lighting time for my blurple Kessil fuge light and to keep my nutrients stable. Ive been to the point where approaching 0/0 and just reduced my light period and have been able to keep nitrate and phosphate in a range where the corals and i are happy. I have dosing pumps dosing 2 part, kalk and aminos, and my goal is no more dosing pumps
I understand that they work and there is "controllability". My issue is that this practice is being promoted routinely as the 'first" approach to nutrient control while a simpler method with far greater benefits for coral health exist (carbon dosing). New reefers may not be aware of carbon dosing or as another poster stated he was simply repeating what he had seen from a coral retailer.
Seems to me that macro algae's are not the "best practice" in most circumstances or at least at the hobbyist level.
I too fell into this line of thought until I gained experience with both practices and have since realized that what is being promoted is NOT the best approach from my findings for the majority of us in the reefing hobby. I wish to pass along to new reefers that they should seriously consider the pro's and con's of each rather than just following along because everyone else is doing it.
 

bmeily

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I think refuges are so popular because they were cheap and easy. Get some of your buddy’s chaeto and a light bulb and done. They also worked for so many people. Worked for me, used a refuge, live rock, and skimmer only the first two years. I think they work well early in a tanks life since people usually have plenty of fish and feed often with very few corals. It’s prolly less important if your tank is grown out in coral and years old. It nice to run at night to help PH. I wonder if someone have taken a 3-5 year reef tank and slowly removed the refuge.
 
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blasterman

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I would file macro algaes under "slightly overrated, but certainly not obsolete.

What I dont like about macros like chaeto is they require care, lighting, proper flow, pruning etc. I think they represent a holistic approach to the hobby. For me I'm retiring my chaeto because I'm not buying products to feed chaeto.

If I want to beat stubborn nitrates I throw a mesh bag full of bio pellets in my sump or back filter and wait a couple weeks. You dont need a stupid pellet tosser (reactor). More industry propaganda.
 
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tippin.turtle

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I think refuges are so popular because they were cheap and easy. Get some of your buddy’s chaeto and a light bulb and done. They also worked for so many people. Worked for me, used a refuge, live rock, and skimmer only the first two years. I think they work well early in a tanks life since people usually have plenty of fish and feed often with very few corals. It’s prolly less important if your tank is grown out in coral and years old. It nice to run at night to help PH. I wonder if someone have taken a 3-5 year reef tank and slowly removed the refuge.
I agree,
I think they work for a number of reasons: Too many nutrients in (heavy feeding), dirty sand beds and sumps(nutrient battery), lack of proper tank maintenance (water changes and dirty filter socks).
If this is the case then yes, perhaps macro algae would be an appropriate application for this type of aquarium and I doubt this tank owner will be as concerned about coral nutrition or the nutrient levels within the tank.
Macro algae is more or less a band aide for poor husbandry, over stocked systems, inadequate filtration, and or lack of maintenance.
However, those who seek optimum conditions, excellent coral health, and are running clean tanks should consider carbon dosing over macro algae's.
 
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tippin.turtle

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Refugiums have purposes outside of just nutrient control. Honestly if yo uhave too little nutrients just add more nutrients to the system wether it be more fish or more food or dosing
If you enjoy growing macro algae's I suppose they are not only for nutrient control. Otherwise, a new reefer doesn't really need one.
 

R33fDaddy

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I agree,
I think they work for a number of reasons: Too many nutrients in (heavy feeding), dirty sand beds and sumps(nutrient battery), lack of proper tank maintenance (water changes and dirty filter socks).
If this is the case then yes, perhaps macro algae would be an appropriate application for this type of aquarium and I doubt this tank owner will be as concerned about coral nutrition or the nutrient levels within the tank.
Macro algae is more or less a band aide for poor husbandry, over stocked systems, inadequate filtration, and or lack of maintenance.
However, those who seek optimum conditions, excellent coral health, and are running clean tanks should consider carbon dosing over macro algae's.
Are you trying to say Carbon Dosing is better than Algae Scrubbers?
 
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