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Would skimmer contradict refugium?

AshwinRavi

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This might be a no-brainer question to few or most, I am just having a hard time understanding the interaction of these two.

I have a 75G DT with 20L sump, the sump is basically set up with a filter sock, water passes through the length of the sump (recently added chaeto to this section, sump has no baffles) and meets the return pump (has filter sponge) at the end of the sump. The tank has very little bio-load and I do a 10G WC every week with no dosing, tank parameters have been stable, I have very few LPS with mostly softies so I have been lucky with my nutrients so far.

But, like everyone else, wanted to add more fish, possibly will get into SPS as well, so got chaeto and setup refugium so I have pods for mandarin that I plan on adding in the future and chaeto to combat nitrate and phosphate.

As I understand with higher bioload, protein skimmer would help control nutrients and ensure they don't go out of hand, till I get around to the next WC, is that safe to assume?

If that's true, what is the ideal location to install the skimmer? before refugium ( am worried about stripping the nutrients before it gets to chaeto) or after refugium (worried about pods getting killed before getting to DT).

I also have plans for building a proper sump (40G breeder) with baffles (hence my question on placement so I can design the sump) and removing the sponge on my return pump so I can have easy access of pods in the DT.

If I have a large refugium section, say on the 40G breeder, can I get by without getting a skimmer as long as I perform weekly water changes?
 

P-Dub

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You will need a proper baffled sump to run a skimmer with a refugium in the sump. Run your skimmer before your refugium. What nutrients don't get removed will be removed by the chaeto, hopefully, and ideally. The Chaeto will grow based on what nutrients are available for growth. It is unlikely that you will starve your chaeto completely. This also allows more feeding of your critters.

Regarding pods getting killed, your return pump will kill some as would any pump but plenty will make it regardless so this is essentially a non-issue. All but the larger pods will make it past your sponge depending on the porosity.
 
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AshwinRavi

AshwinRavi

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You will need a proper baffled sump to run a skimmer with a refugium in the sump. Run your skimmer before your refugium. What nutrients don't get removed will be removed by the chaeto, hopefully, and ideally. The Chaeto will grow based on what nutrients are available for growth. It is unlikely that you will starve your chaeto completely. This also allows more feeding of your critters.

Regarding pods getting killed, your return pump will kill some as would any pump but plenty will make it regardless so this is essentially a non-issue. All but the larger pods will make it past your sponge depending on the porosity.
so, going from filter sock, I would have protein skimmer, then refugium and return pump? should i even have the filter sponge on the return pump since ideally I want pods in the DT?
 

mahindra.dev

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so, going from filter sock, I would have protein skimmer, then refugium and return pump? should i even have the filter sponge on the return pump since ideally I want pods in the DT?
Yes that sequence makes sense. I wouldnt worry about sponge on the return. It can cause clogging etc. You want it open. Pods will get thru
 
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AshwinRavi

AshwinRavi

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What about skimmer in general, is its purpose to extend the duration between water changes and handle bioload? can I technically get by without one as long as I keep up with regular WCs?
 
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tastyfish

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Actually to contradict the info above, I run the refugium first, which means it takes out most of the nutrients etc and feeds the macro-algae, then going to a skimmer.

The triton method, which uses the refugium as the primary nutrient export method strongly recommends that the refugium comes before the skimmer also.

In reality, with a 20l sump, you are going to be limited by space and this will probably be the biggest issue, so my advice would be to do what works with the space you have. I would utilise a weir and over baffle to seperate the refugium from the following section.
 

Greybeard

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You don't need a skimmer... There's lots of folks that don't run them, and have been successful in this game.

There are substances in the water that skimmers won't remove, and substances that macro algae won't remove. They can overlap on certain contaminates... others need GAC, GFO, physical media such as socks... Your tank may require any, or all of these. Or not. There are certainly examples of successful aquaria that don't use _any_ of these filtration methods. There are many choices to make in this hobby, and NOBODY can tell you exactly what is going to work for you. Even following the practices of another successful reefer doesn't guarantee good results.

I like a good skimmer, chaeto ref, and occasional use of GAC and/or GFO. I don't do socks. Those are my personal preferences, and it works for me. There are many here that use the same, or similar... and there are many more that don't. You have to find what works for you. That's part of the 'fun' of this challenging, sometimes overwhelming, even frustrating hobby of ours.

Now, to answer the question... no, use of a skimmer doesn't counter-indicate use of a refugeum. And, as you've recognized, the ideal sequence may well not be achievable. I guess the ideal would be a sump below the tank, with a skimmer, and the return pump running to a refugeum ABOVE the display tank, overflowing by gravity to the display, and then to the sump. Unfortunately, this is not a realistic choice for most of us. The Triton system, which I love from a theory standpoint, suggests the ref as the 1st sump compartment, then the skimmer, then the return. I'm set up that way, though I have to admit, I'm not using many of the other Triton recommended techniques.
 

ca1ore

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Broadly, think of the skimmer as a tool to remove proteins before they break down; chaeto/ATS as a tool to remove them after they have broken down. If memory serves, skimmers remove about one third of the waste proteins, the remainder must be removed by other means or risk building up. I think the sequence of skimmer/chaeto is immaterial - I cannot think of a compelling argument for one versus the other that would stand up to logical scrutiny. Do whatever makes the most logistical sense. I personally run a large external/recirculating skimmer, ATS, chaeto refugium and GAC .... but I also maintain a very high bioload system and do water changes on the low end (about 15% monthly). No socks chez moi either.
 

P-Dub

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so, going from filter sock, I would have protein skimmer, then refugium and return pump? should i even have the filter sponge on the return pump since ideally I want pods in the DT?
That is the commonly accepted order of flow.
Generally, if you place a filter on your return pump it should be a relatively coarse filter. It can be helpful to prevent any macro algae from being sucked into your return pump and foul your impeller. My preference for protecting the return pump from anything are some sort of BULKHEAD OVERFLOW STRAINERS.
DSCN5142.JPG
 

DesertReefT4r

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Honestly you wont see any difference if you run the skimmer before or after the fuge. I suggest setting the sump as follows though. Drain and filter socks, skimmer, fuge, return. You do fore sure want to have baffles between the skimmer, fuge and return no matter which order you set it up.
 

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