LunaWolf98

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I'm doing research ahead of time before buying and setting up my first saltwater tank. It will be FOWLR, with the exception of possibly an anemone down the road at some point if/when I'm confident I can take care of one properly. The display tank will be in the range of 20-30 gallons and the sump is likewise flexible, sizing up or down to fit whatever stand I end up with for the display tank.

Planned tank inhabitants would be a pair of clownfish, a mandarin dragonet, likely a watchman goby or another kind of cleaner goby, and possibly a firefish or dartfish, and possibly a small kind of wrasse, as well as eventual additions to add to make a clean-up crew such as snails and crabs.

The image I attached is more or less what I had pictured, and I want to know if this design would work, as I want to make sure I'll have a steady supply of 'pods to keep my dragonet happily fed. I want to know if it's possible to set up a sump system with sock filter, protein reactor, media trays, bubble trap, and return pump and heater chamber, along with a separate refugium sitting overhead in a separate shelf, or potentially side by side if the stand was deep enough. The separate refugium would be a standard 5 or 10 gallon tank with light, and be fed from a steady trickle flow from E-drain on overflow box, set up herbie style, as well as a recirculation Tee and valve on one of the return lines that would drain into the refugium. The refugium would have a small pump inside of it with tubing to drain water back into the sump, which would likely enter at the return pump chamber and thus enter one or both return lines; or a third pump in the sump return chamber that would draw water from the refugium and into the sump, performing the same but in reverse (as I'm not certain the pump inside the refugium would break siphon in case of power outage). The only reason I thought of such a set-up is because this way I could get a significantly larger volume of water for my refugium, more algae in the fuge, potentially a small non-'pod-eating invertebrate, and a much larger population of 'pods overall than an in-sump style refugium. Custom Aquarium has their own Seamless Sump system that connects a refugium/reservoir tub to the return pump chamber with tubing, but any stand I'd get would not be wide enough to put them side by side. Is this a viable set-up?

Please let me know! Any and all advice will be happily accepted, as I am definitely not new to owning fish and tanks up to 50 gallons, but this is my first marine tank and I want it to go as flawlessly as possible!

Screenshot_20230306_001928_Samsung Notes.jpg
 

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Seems more complicated than necessary. Pods will occupy an unlit sump. I run cryptic refugiums with live rock.

As a reefer of 51 years, I focus on recycling nutrients into live food. In my experience, your filter sock will remove food that should go to the microbial loop, which includes pods.
 
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Quietman

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There are a few ways to set this up reliably but the general rules on set up are: pump upwards always. Never pump down, let gravity do that. Minimize cross connecting drain lines, too much complexity can be a reliability hit (although it can work but make sure there's a back up that can take both flows that's single purpose). If draining to a tank on lower level, make sure there's room to take all the water when power is off. I also like to make sure it can tank all the water if my return nozzle is low as can be if I accidentally knock it lower down.

If you can put refugium as part of or next to sump or part of or next to display, that's ideal. Then you're just dealing with two levels.

Planning is one of the funnest parts of this hobby for me. You'll find plenty of solutions for refugium set ups on here and elsewhere. You really shouldn't have to reinvent any wheels (if you think you do, double check - hobbies been mature for a while now which means most options have been solutioned).

One last word - A mandarin is going to quickly consume all available pods (even with a refugium) in a smaller system. Depends on sizing, if you're feeding/adding new pods, etc. Adding a wrasse to that will double demand. Just be aware.

Take a look at possum/pygmy and pink streaked (my favorite for small system). for smaller wrasses.

Good luck!
 
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LunaWolf98

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There are a few ways to set this up reliably but the general rules on set up are: pump upwards always. Never pump down, let gravity do that. Minimize cross connecting drain lines, too much complexity can be a reliability hit (although it can work but make sure there's a back up that can take both flows that's single purpose). If draining to a tank on lower level, make sure there's room to take all the water when power is off. I also like to make sure it can tank all the water if my return nozzle is low as can be if I accidentally knock it lower down.

If you can put refugium as part of or next to sump or part of or next to display, that's ideal. Then you're just dealing with two levels.

Planning is one of the funnest parts of this hobby for me. You'll find plenty of solutions for refugium set ups on here and elsewhere. You really shouldn't have to reinvent any wheels (if you think you do, double check - hobbies been mature for a while now which means most options have been solutioned).

One last word - A mandarin is going to quickly consume all available pods (even with a refugium) in a smaller system. Depends on sizing, if you're feeding/adding new pods, etc. Adding a wrasse to that will double demand. Just be aware.

Take a look at possum/pygmy and pink streaked (my favorite for small system). for smaller wrasses.

Good luck!
There is a chance I could put a dedicated refugium tank behind the display tank on the same level, or behind the sump tank on the same level. But how would I go about plumbing it? I spent several minutes ago on google and can't seem to come up with much of anything except refugiums that are set higher than the display tank so they can be gravity fed into display tank. If at all possible I want to avoid drilling tanks myself and I'm not certain that a so called water bridge made out of PVC piping would work that well to connect the two in this particular case.

Edited to add a few details
 
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Zdaniels

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I'm doing research ahead of time before buying and setting up my first saltwater tank. It will be FOWLR, with the exception of possibly an anemone down the road at some point if/when I'm confident I can take care of one properly. The display tank will be in the range of 20-30 gallons and the sump is likewise flexible, sizing up or down to fit whatever stand I end up with for the display tank.

Planned tank inhabitants would be a pair of clownfish, a mandarin dragonet, likely a watchman goby or another kind of cleaner goby, and possibly a firefish or dartfish, and possibly a small kind of wrasse, as well as eventual additions to add to make a clean-up crew such as snails and crabs.

The image I attached is more or less what I had pictured, and I want to know if this design would work, as I want to make sure I'll have a steady supply of 'pods to keep my dragonet happily fed. I want to know if it's possible to set up a sump system with sock filter, protein reactor, media trays, bubble trap, and return pump and heater chamber, along with a separate refugium sitting overhead in a separate shelf, or potentially side by side if the stand was deep enough. The separate refugium would be a standard 5 or 10 gallon tank with light, and be fed from a steady trickle flow from E-drain on overflow box, set up herbie style, as well as a recirculation Tee and valve on one of the return lines that would drain into the refugium. The refugium would have a small pump inside of it with tubing to drain water back into the sump, which would likely enter at the return pump chamber and thus enter one or both return lines; or a third pump in the sump return chamber that would draw water from the refugium and into the sump, performing the same but in reverse (as I'm not certain the pump inside the refugium would break siphon in case of power outage). The only reason I thought of such a set-up is because this way I could get a significantly larger volume of water for my refugium, more algae in the fuge, potentially a small non-'pod-eating invertebrate, and a much larger population of 'pods overall than an in-sump style refugium. Custom Aquarium has their own Seamless Sump system that connects a refugium/reservoir tub to the return pump chamber with tubing, but any stand I'd get would not be wide enough to put them side by side. Is this a viable set-up?

Please let me know! Any and all advice will be happily accepted, as I am definitely not new to owning fish and tanks up to 50 gallons, but this is my first marine tank and I want it to go as flawlessly as possible!

Screenshot_20230306_001928_Samsung Notes.jpg
I'm having a version of this done in my sushi bar. Advanced Acrylics is building this...two drains on mine but you could have it all drain to refugium area then drop into sump and back up to display.... how this helps!
 

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Quietman

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There is a chance I could put a dedicated refugium tank behind the display tank on the same level, or behind the sump tank on the same level. But how would I go about plumbing it? I spent several minutes ago on google and can't seem to come up with much of anything except refugiums that are set higher than the display tank so they can be gravity fed into display tank. If at all possible I want to avoid drilling tanks myself and I'm not certain that a so called water bridge made out of PVC piping would work that well to connect the two in this particular case.

Edited to add a few details
You could go HOB style - there are some very nice models that allow some mods to lighting and water movement between tanks. The two I've always thought nice were the CPR and Fiji Cube models (depending if you want a pump or suction in tank). These can be attached to either display or to your sump. Always liked Tunze products and their submersible fuge light is pretty slick. Alternatively Leng Sy (Miracle Mud) has several HOB and non HOB tanks on his site (ecosystemaquarium.com) that I've always found well designed. Never used any of the above, just was doing research on options before I finally decided to go with a ATS (my primary purpose was nutrient mgmt not true refugium livestock maintenance).

I think the HOB on the sump idea sounds pretty slick (of course you might want to have the fuge visible as it can be very interesting and with right algae very appealing).

You could also have remote refugium. Put a tank on a stand somewhere close by display (just a simple small cube for example). Pipe the overflow into the same sump just like you would a display tank. Just remember to calculate total drainage on loss of power for room in sump.

Lastly, fully standalone refugium. Fairly easy to maintain (I have maintained a separate algae tank for a short time just for curiosity). Doesn't require tons of maintenance or equipment as long as no fish load and just grow pods. Grow some algae on small rocks and you can move those back and forth to feed/populate tank. Or get one of those 'pod' hotels.

Just some options for you to consider which don't require a lot of overly complicated piping.
 
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LunaWolf98

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Thanks everyone for your advice! I think I've figured out what I'll end up doing, which is one of the following.

One:
I'll put a dedicated refugium tank next to my sump tank and connect them with a U siphon with attached air hosing at top to pull out the air and start siphon, which I've looked into several different builds that have done and seem to have good success with.

Two:
In the case I don't have the space for dedicated refugium beside the sump tank, I'll put it up higher and drain the refugium into the sump via hob overflow.

Really just depends on what stand I get and what size tank I end up with. But would prefer to go with option 1, all things considered. I'm thinking that I'll end up with approximately a 20 gallon sump, which I could add a fuge chamber into to focus on nutrient management, and then the dedicated fuge for 'pods. Regardless, I planned on repopulating and feeding 'pods as needed.
 
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Hawgpharm

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I had a lot of luck by having my fuge above my tank and allowing it to gravity feed into the main tank. I read an article that stated that a large percentage of pods didn't survive the trip through the pump. Also, I tend to avoid filter socks as they can remove pods from the system. For what you want, I'd also try to cultivate your own pods for extra feedings.
 
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There is a chance I could put a dedicated refugium tank behind the display tank on the same level, or behind the sump tank on the same level. But how would I go about plumbing it? I spent several minutes ago on google and can't seem to come up with much of anything except refugiums that are set higher than the display tank so they can be gravity fed into display tank. If at all possible I want to avoid drilling tanks myself and I'm not certain that a so called water bridge made out of PVC piping would work that well to connect the two in this particular case.

Edited to add a few details
I just added a separate refugium to my setup. I am using an old 10 gallon tank setup beside and just above my sump. I bought an overflow box that siphons into my sump which you can drain it anywhere really. I drain into the same area my main tank drains into sump. then I use a small pump 210 GPH that matches my overflow and pump back to refugium out of a separate area of my sump.
seems to be working fine. I just now have to add cheat and pods. have light over refugium also. so it's all separate but drains in and out of my sump. seem ok???
 
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I just added a separate refugium to my setup. I am using an old 10 gallon tank setup beside and just above my sump. I bought an overflow box that siphons into my sump which you can drain it anywhere really. I drain into the same area my main tank drains into sump. then I use a small pump 210 GPH that matches my overflow and pump back to refugium out of a separate area of my sump.
seems to be working fine. I just now have to add cheat and pods. have light over refugium also. so it's all separate but drains in and out of my sump. seem ok???
yes, this is a common setup.
 
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mjgonereefing

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Seems more complicated than necessary. Pods will occupy an unlit sump. I run cryptic refugiums with live rock.

As a reefer of 51 years, I focus on recycling nutrients into live food. In my experience, your filter sock will remove food that should go to the microbial loop, which includes pods.
Just stumbled upon this. Man I would love to learn more about how that’s setup.
 
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Subsea

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Just stumbled upon this. Man I would love to learn more about how that’s setup.

It’s a long tank thread, just start asking questions. I will respond as best I can.
 
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