Today’s Refugium Techniques: 10 Questions to Guarantee a Controllable, Clean, High Performance Fuge
Are Purple Refugium Grow Lights Better?
Purple grow lights focus only on the light spectrum macroalgae needs to grow without regard to aesthetics. The primary reason is cost, eliminating the spectrums your macroalgae does not need is simply more cost effective.
Is There Any Benefit To Full Spectrum Lights?
Is Spinning Chaeto Worth It?
Yes, spinning the clump of Chaeto will expose it to more light (faster growth) and allow for more efficient nutrient export. It also helps reduce the amount of detritus that can settle and get trapped amongst the Chaetomorpha stems. That said, it's not 100% necessary and does require a considerable amount of flow angled correctly to properly achieve.
Can You Stop Chaeto From Becoming A Nitrate Trap?
The first step is to always use filter socks or filter rollers to remove detritus from the water before it comes in contact with the Chaetomorpha. Ensure the refugium compartment can be properly cleaned and siphoned 100% which allows you to physically remove any settled detritus from the bottom. Employing water flow and spinning the bunch of Chaeto helps too and you can always rinse the Chaetomorpha in clean saltwater on a regular basis to flush away debris. Just pull it out and rinse in a separate 5-gallon bucket during your water changes then siphon out the refugium chamber.
What's The Best Real-Time Measurement Of A Refugium?
While refugiums are primarily employed to help reduce nutrients, you should be monitoring pH on a daily basis to monitor how well the Chaetomorpha is growing. Chaetomorpha will absorb CO2 as it grows, this will then allow for a higher pH level in the water. If you start to see pH drops or swings in your tank, a problem with your refugium could very well be the reason.
What's The Best Way To Track The pH Effect?
A pH monitor with a data log and graphing capability like the Neptune Systems Apex is the most efficient way to track changes in pH over time. Just be sure to note the start date and see how the addition of the refugium affects pH levels in your tank. Adjust the photoperiod and light output to accommodate your tank's daily pH swings.
The acclimation mode on your refugium light can also be useful because it allows you to slowly ramp the output of the light over an extended period of time. Simply take a daily pH measurement during that time to see how that output level affects the pH in your tank and adjust to your needs.
Is A Scrubber As Good As A Refugium?
Yes, a turf scrubber is equally as effective as a refugium in the way of nutrient export. evaluate which option fits your particular sump and plumbing situation best to determine the best route for your tank.
Does A Refugium Consume Trace Elements?
Yes, a Chaetomorpha and other macroalgae will consume trace elements as it grows. Using an iron test kit or sending off ICP tests can help you monitor these effects. The bigger the refugium, the more trace elements it consumers.
Dosing additives such as Brightwell Aquatics ChaetoGro can help replenish depleted nutrients in your tank.
Does A Refugium Introduce Pests?
Yes, a refugium can most certainly harbor harmful pests, just about all of them in fact. Pests can easily be introduced via macroalgae coming from outside sources. Sourcing the cleanest Chaetomorpha you can possibly find is worth your efforts. Inspecting and removing any pests before the Chaeto goes into your tank is certainly recommended no matter where the macroalgae comes from.
One big benefit of a turf algae scrubber over a refugium is that scrubbers will not introduce unwanted pests because the turf algae is not introduced from an outside source.
Should I Turn On My Refugium From Day 1?
No, you want to wait until your tank has some measurable level of nitrate and phosphate to support the growth of macroalgae before turning on your refugium. Without those nutrients, Chaetomorpha and other macroalgae cannot survive.