Deserting the AIO world, sort of

Toddah

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So I thought having an AIO would be easier to manage than my past tanks (55, 60 cube, 210 long) but I have decided to make the jump and add external Refugium (behind the wall) to my IM 40 Nuvo AIO.
I have been fighting High Nitrates (25-50) and Phosphates (.27 to .374) since this tank was built, they are somewhat close to the redfield ratio but I would prefer both to be way lower than they sit. I have tried 3 skimmers and they pull copious amounts of dark skimmate, I do a .8 gallon automated water change every day and I try to feed so there no or very little food in the water column after 2 minutes, feeding frozen every other day and pellets or flake the off days. Fish are all healthy, sally Lightfoot crab is molting 2 or 3 times a year, euphyllia corals and mushrooms doing fine, Zoa's are multiplying slowly.
I decided to add an external 20 gallon tank to use as a refugium, I have a hole through the wall and plumbed (2) 3/4" pipes from my Back chamber to the external tank. Running a small pump in the right IM40 chamber pumping water up to my 20 Gal refugium and a bulkhead fitting in the 20 Gal to allow gravity flow back to the Left chamber in the display.
I have added 3 kinds of Macroalgae this week. I have considered dosing Vinegar to grow a better population of pods and bacteria but I want to wait to see what the Chato, Red ogo and another red Macro I don't remember the name of do to the levels.
The new system has been running a week and the Chato inserted a couple of days ago, the flow is lower than I wanted but when relying on a gravity drain without a lot of drop to create a suction I have to live with it. total system volume is around 50 gallons and I estimate I am turning about 70 or 80 GPH through the Refugium.
The Top tank is the refugium
The middle 10 gallon is my RO/DI water for ATO
The bottom tub is about 20 Gallons of saltwater my automatic water change system (not installed since the changeover)
I am still working on the dosing system components but have not implemented any dosing yet (one thing at a time)
I have a GFO/Carbon filter set to put in but again trying least invasive approach first (macroalgae)
I will be moving the Skimmer to the refugium eventually, I am concerned my flow to the refugium will not be enough to really skim the display tank.

Display_IM40.jpg
Refugium_IM40.jpg
 
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Toddah

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I don't think I have ever had a saltwater tank that was not ( to be honest) a lot of work. but call me a glutton for punishment!!
My wife ask me all the time " why do you do this to yourself ? "
 

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