Refugiums really do work, but can they work too well?

Discussion in 'Bulk Reef Supply' started by randyBRS, Mar 31, 2017.

  1. randyBRS

    randyBRS BRStv Apprentice :-P R2R Supporter Gold Sponsor

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    Hey guys!

    We're back with another episode of 52FAQ and this week Ryan provides a different perspective on the common term "nutrients", while answering the question of whether a refugium can completely strip a tank of them.

    So, what do you think? Can a fuge create a ULNS or even strip a tank of all nutrients?


     
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  2. revhtree

    revhtree Owner Administrator Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Photo of the Month Award Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Another great video! This is one thing that I am worried about with my fuge I am just getting started.
     
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  3. obct537

    obct537 Member

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    As a self-described greenhorn, this video gives me a headache :p I've recently been struggling to keep my tank relatively free of brown hair algae, and, after using GFO, and conservative feeding, I've finally started to "win" that fight. Now you're telling me I need to get the nutrients back up!?

    I love this hobby, but it seems like, no matter what I'm doing, I'm always doing it wrong lol
     
  4. DarkSky

    DarkSky Active Member

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    My SPS were pale for several months, I started dosing NO3 (stump remover) weekly and have noticed a huge improvement in coloration in my tank. My PO4 was always non-zero while my NO3 was zero, now I'm noticing detectable levels of NO3 (salifert test kit, no longer clear) and my ULR Hanna phosphate checker reading have been much lower.

    I however do not have a refugium, instead I opted to use two marine pure blocks in the section I built for my macro algae.
     
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  5. Paulbragin

    Paulbragin Active Member

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    I agree with your comment, I always wondered how do people keep such nice thriving reef tanks specially with sps corals. All my peramiters are all good. Nitrates and phosphates are always super low. Alk cal mag stable at proper levels lighting is good too. but every time I put a sps frag it browns out and dies after few weeks. Im wondering if my nutriate(incuding amino acids and vitamins) are too low.
     
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  6. randyBRS

    randyBRS BRStv Apprentice :-P R2R Supporter Gold Sponsor

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    Haha, the biggest takeaway I got from today's video is that I should stop trying to remove every last trace of nitrates and phosphates like they were the plague. Since they are just a component of a larger picture of "nutrients", they have enough importance to my tank that I shouldn't try to completely eradicate them.

    Early on, I read so much about how I need to have low to zero nutrients (nitrates/phosphates) and I was proud when I finally got there, but then I always wondered why I had no color and minimal growth in everything. I figured I was just someone who couldn't keep things like zoas and chalices because they never did well at all. It wasn't until I stopped trying so hard to control those things through media, carbon dosing, and reactors that my tanks really started to show promise. Of course, there is an amount of effort needed to keep that pesky algae out of your tank but I realized it doesn't have to be so extreme. After seeing the great results from our chaeto testing, I doubt I'll setup another tank without hard consideration as to how I implement one. :)

    -Randy
     
  7. arman

    arman Active Member

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    I have the same experience.I started to add NaNo3 and Na3PO4 and the results are the best.Coloration is improving very well and even growth.When my nytrient levels goes 0 some strange algae came too scene.I would be thankful if BRS investigate this matter or if it is a video related to this matter plz share it.
     
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  8. Viet658

    Viet658 New Member

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    I have zero nitrates and phosphates measured on my hanna phosphate checker and red sea test kit. My corals never grew too well. Tried dosing phosphate and nitrate for a while but didn't see much of a change. Now I just feed reef chili once or twice a week and my lps corals seem to be doing better.
     
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  9. Neptune1707

    Neptune1707 Active Member

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    I'm in the midst of an experiment. I have my bosses tank 29g bowfront that has leather and softies. All params good except phosphate at .86. His softies are HUGE!!! like on steroids. He has a handful of small fish. Feeds just flake food once a day. No algae in the tank. My office tank is a 29 gal rectangular tank. Has rock leftover from home tank to get it up and running. All value are good...phosphate is at .09 because I use NoPox. For both office tanks I'm using tap water with Red Sea Pro Coral Salt. I have introduced some zoos and torch coral that were struggling in my home aquarium of 135g. For 6 months zoos wouldn't open at home. Within 2 hours they were fully open as was my torch when I add to my office tank. Home tank parameters are good but phosphate/nitrate are like 0. SOOOO my conclusion is that I need to raise my home tank to include some nitrate and phosphate for the corals to do better. Recently I started adding tap water to top off for home tank. After 2 weeks the remaining zoos in my home tank have started to open gradually. Leathers have always been good and fully open. So the lesson I'm learning is that for many years I kept a tank that had high nitrate and phosphate and I thought I would never get a tank to 0 in order to have a pristine tank to keep corals. Now I have been able to achieve that in my home tank and that still isn't the solution. The solution is having SOME nitrate/phosphate but not to much. Your video was a testament to what reefers are figuring out. I think another key to keeping a tank with levels of nitrate and phosphate without algae is having a STRONG biological activity in the tank. Both office tanks are well aged and have come to a happy equilibrium. I think what happens in a new tank set up you will often see algae blooms even with the smallest of nutrients in the tank. I think this happens because the biological part of the tank hasn't matured to handle what isn't used by corals. Just my 2 sense, but I'm figuring out more in the last 2 months than I thought I knew. I'm continuing to test and add tap water to my home top off reserve to raise levels similar to office tank to net the results. My office tank has been doing great, zoos are growing, expanding and spreading. Torch is almost 2x its size in almost a month....all thanks to slightly elevated phosphate levels in my opinion.
     
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  10. arman

    arman Active Member

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    Let me tell my tank story that encouraged me to be one of the high nutrients followers.
    The thing started when i found that my RO setup was not working well and i used almost tap water (150 TDS) for i dont know maybe 2 months.And my corals were growing and opening and the colors were fantastic. Onec i got my friends TDS devise and i got that the Ro is not doing well.So i changed the filters and the TDS was about 3.When i started with the new water i saw that my corals health and are decreasing.And after 2 month my boble reef went to die.So i used a 4 litr tap water and he came back to life.But i wasnt convinced that the problem is my 0 nitrate and phosphate and i was happy that they were zero levels.I have to mention that my tank is 250 litrs and have a 30 litr refugium with a not very powerful skimmer.But whenever i tested the nutrient they were 0.Once i tried to dose some ohosphate to see what happens and as soon as i added the po4 the corals showed happiness(they seem they do talk to me:p).So i tried to add both no3 and po4 whenever i see my corals not doing well.I dont have sps.Theres no algae problem because of having herbivores.
     
  11. Neptune1707

    Neptune1707 Active Member

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    I can relate to your RO setup with TDS being high. I had the same problem. And when I think back to how my tank was looking, all my mushrooms were big and open and my chalice was open and reaching for food. Then I realized my RO filters were old and changed them. That's when I think I turned the corner and things started going bad. Within about 6 months everything started to shrivel. Nothing would completely die, but clearly not happy. I add a phosphate reactor thinking it was a phosphate source I wasn't catching and making the corals unhappy. Turns out I was making the situation worse but "stripping" the water even further of nutrients. SO about a month ago I took phosphate reactor off. Still does just 5ml of NoPox for my 135g and I have a small ball of cheato in my sump. Like I said I started slow with filling top off reserve with tap water to bring phosphates back to the tank. In the last few weeks....every week, the few zoos still in the tank are opening more and more every day. And the couple of green mushrooms I have are extending further and further. I'm continue to this gradual increase to see what happens. I haven't done a water change in about 3 weeks. So we'll see how it goes. Also starting to feed a bit more too! I yellow tank, sailfin tang and blue tang help keep little scraps of algae at bay currently in tank. Nothing to worry about. ...babysteps is key ;)
     
  12. JoshuaBrown

    JoshuaBrown Member

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    Outstanding question and answer. Thanks.

    I has super stoked to hear about the potential nutrient production by cheato in a refuge. Just got done building my sump based on cheato being the magic bullet.
    I believe I learned a little.
     
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  13. arman

    arman Active Member

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    I think any tank trying to keep nutrients low needs to feed more and more.Im not successful in sps.I have to try maintaining parameters to see what happens with sps.
     
  14. Neptune1707

    Neptune1707 Active Member

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    Yeah, I like having it mine. However I kinda have a sub-par light on it so it's not growing to fast. I was reading up on refuge lights...didn't realize there were specific lights for this. May have to upgrade soon! :)
     
  15. MaliciousRob

    MaliciousRob Member

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    @Paulbragin What kind of lighting? From my experience if an SPS coral browns out it is one of two things. Too low of light(browns slowly) or high nutrients(browns quickly). If you get bleaching its either from nutrients being too low or too much light. If your nutrients are low and they are browning then adjust the lighting up gradually. I'm not expert by any means that is just what I have noticed in my tanks.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2017
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  16. Dom

    Dom Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    I've found that no two tanks are alike. What works for me may not work for you. It isn't that you're doing it wrong, you have to do what works for your system.
     
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  17. Dom

    Dom Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    Once I set up a refugium, I never detected a nitrate or phosphate again. It was suggested that the "zero" readings may have been contributing to the fact that my frags were not growing. So, I installed a smaller refugium.

    My thinking: a smaller refugium wouldn't be able to maintain the nutrient load completely, causing me to have very low nitrates, but not zero.

    The coral growth rate hasn't changed.
     
  18. MeshmeZ

    MeshmeZ Member

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    The nutrient conversation is always an interesting one. I think the key here is to have no EXCESS nutrients. Just like we dose for calcium and alkalinity at the rate it's consumed, we have to match the nutrient consumption of our tanks.

    ULNS systems work to strip everything out of the water, but (correct me if I'm wrong because I'm not that up to speed on ULNS systems) ULNS systems require dosing of various "nutrients" in the form of protein, amino acids etc. They are dosed to feed the corals and then stripped back out.

    I have been dealing with this in my tank. corals pale out or a better description would be "tan out" they turn to a sickly light brown/tan color. I have started dosing small levels of amino acids, and spot feeding and my colors are gradually coming back.

    I think the key is to not feed so much that rotting food is adding and maintaining excess nutrients in the tank. There are many different ways to remove the nutrients from the water, but we need to make sure we are adding them back in at an equal rate, so the corals don't starve.
     
  19. Frop

    Frop Valuable Member Build Thread Contributor

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    I feel like this video has hardly anything to do about refugiums but all nutrients.

    Anyways, my tank is growing algae everywhere after removing the carbon/GFO. Refugium compartment is 20% DT size not stopping it. I probably need to feed less ;p
     
  20. teller

    teller Active Member

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    You are right. But this video is part of a previous video where BRS test the performance of several refugiums with different light systems, you should check it, very informative.
     
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