Habitat - Indoor :: Refugium/Sump Filter

Turtle tank setups and other indoor configurations.

Post Posted: Sun Dec 11, 2016 3:35 pm   Refugium/Sump Filter

I've been toying with the idea of building a refugium for my Tank. I've read that some people are running these along with canister filters. Who is that done? Are there just 2 filters being used at the same time, or is the intake from the canister in the sump?
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Post Posted: Sun Dec 11, 2016 11:50 pm   Re: Refugium/Sump Filter

Need to summon ljapa!

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I don't recall seeing a detailed post on it, but there could be a canister filter alongside a refugium. There are different ways to design this with different goals but I don't think it's a common feature in turtle setups.
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Post Posted: Tue Dec 13, 2016 2:31 pm   Re: Refugium/Sump Filter

Thanks, I did see his post previously.

ljapa, how is your refugium set up, and does it make a difference with your filtration quality?
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Post Posted: Tue Dec 13, 2016 7:34 pm   Re: Refugium/Sump Filter

It can't hurt to have one but for the space it takes up you could probably do more with mechanical / bio filtration.

A refugium or "fuge" needs tank water diverted to it somehow. I don't suggest splitting your canister filter lines to feed it because your canister is gravity fed and the pump motor isn't expecting to push any extra load. If you had a sump that's the ideal place for a fuge. If you don't have a sump, you could do a HOB fuge if you have room.

Ideally you will want water straight from the display tank with all the gunk in it. You'll grow something like moss balls (requires light) so that that macro algae that's easy to maintain will consume the nutrients preventing any micro algae.


After moving earlier this year, i switched Moe into a reef ready tank with a HUGE sump. I'm going to add a fuge to it because I have the space. I'll post some pics and updates as I'm LONG overdue.
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Post Posted: Sat Dec 17, 2016 8:30 pm   Re: Refugium/Sump Filter

Thanks for the info.. Maybe i'll reconsider.. I'm really just trying to get more efficient filtration in my tank. Maybe i'll just try and design an area with some plants that the turtle can't get to.
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Post Posted: Sun Dec 18, 2016 11:58 pm   Re: Refugium/Sump Filter

I love my refugium. I have a FX6 with lines run just to/from the filter and the refugium with a return pump.

In effect, its excess filtration and a place to grow food. My refugium was built from a 55 gallon tank with glass dividers making three chambers. I have a CPR overflow on the main tank. Water flows into the first chamber filled with a few gallons of biomedia. The second chamber has a deep sand bed, Amazon swords, duckweed, and cherry shrimp. Tobie gets duckweed regularly and the occasional netful of shrimp. The last chamber has one of those blue/white filter pads folded over to stop shrimp/debris from making it back to the pump.

I suspect I have enough biofiltration with just the refugium that I could ditch the FX6. Once I added the duckweed, I saw a big reduction in nitrates. Not enough that I didn't need water changes, but it definitely meant I didn't need them weekly.
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Post Posted: Mon Dec 19, 2016 2:30 pm   Re: Refugium/Sump Filter

Ijapa, what size tank do you have? I've got a 40 breeder, with a Fluval 405, and I don't feel that it's doing the trick (i've got three trays of ceramic bio rings, and one tray of carbon). The water is clear, and odor free, but my Nitrates are always out of control. It's become "normal". I've got some fish, shrimp, a lobster, and the YBS, and all are doing well, but I'd like to extend the life of my filter/water changes.
I've been craigslist creeping, looking for either an FX5 or FX6. I think that would do the trick if I used it as my primary filter.
My second idea was running an additional Fluval 305, I have one sitting in my basement, missing some parts. I was toying with the idea of using the 405 for strictly bio-filtering (the sponges and four trays of the biorings), and the 305 for mechanical & chemical (the sponges, two trays of carbon, and another set of "polishing" sponges). Any thoughts??
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Post Posted: Mon Dec 19, 2016 9:36 pm   Re: Refugium/Sump Filter

When I first built my sump, I had purchased a 55 gallon tank at the dollar a gallon deal. I found a tank and stand on Craigslist for $50. When I explained I just wanted the stand and would pay $50 for that, the guy said I'd have to haul off the tank too.

It sat in my garage for a few weeks. I tried to give it to a friend of my son who raised snakes. Finally, I decided to turn it into a refugium. $55 for the tank. $50 for the refugium body and stand. I think I paid $60 to get glass cut for the dividers.

Before the refugium, I had a Fluval 405 and would hit well past 40 each week on nitrates. I added the refugium and some plants, and I could keep a weeks nitrates to just over 20.

Where I really saw a nitrate reduction was when I added duckweed to the refugium. After that, I'd struggle to get nitrates above 15.

Now, the main tank has been upgraded to a 150 gallon. The 405 has been upgraded to an FX6.

If your goal is nitrate reduction, an FX6 isn't going to help much. It will add water volume, but a larger filter won't change how much poop is turning into nitrate, just how fast the filter can convert it.

To get rid of it, you need water changes or something that eats it. I've tried the tricks that involve bacteria--deep sand beds, lots of biomedia in the refugium with a slow water flow, underwater fast growing stem plants. They work, but not enough to keep up or even make much of a dent.

The limiting factor for plants isn't fertilizer it's oxygen. Immersed plants or floaters are what you need for nitrates and a turtle in my experience.

One thing to consider, if it's nitrates your after, is an algae filter. I've never played with one, but it looks like it would do the job.

EDIT: I do like the refugium for other reasons. It gives me a place to grow food for Tobie. It makes water changes less stressful because all the new water goes into the pump return. My basement is cold enough that I still need heaters in the main tank, but in a warmer room, I could probably get away with only heating the sump. It also gives me more water volume, which dilutes the nitrates as well.
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Post Posted: Tue Dec 20, 2016 5:07 pm   Re: Refugium/Sump Filter

Thanks again for all the info. You're selling me more and more on this. I was planning on using a 10gal tank, i just have to do more research on the proper set up. do you have some kind of shut off/check valve, in case of a power failure? Couldn't the sump overflow?
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Post Posted: Tue Dec 20, 2016 8:24 pm   Re: Refugium/Sump Filter

Ijapa,
Can you post some pictures of your refugium? I really love to see it.
Thanks
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Post Posted: Tue Dec 20, 2016 8:27 pm   Re: Refugium/Sump Filter

NYstyle,
I had problems with nitrates and ammonia in one of my tanks also. The solution was plants! I put Water Hyacinths in my tank and all was well. They are a natural food for turtles, a great hiding place for fish and a natural filter. Besides they look great.
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Post Posted: Tue Dec 20, 2016 9:25 pm   Re: Refugium/Sump Filter

NYstyle wrote:Do you have some kind of shut off/check valve, in case of a power failure? Couldn't the sump overflow?


See, now you are going to make me nervous. I've considered it, but four years this Thanksgiving, and multiple power failures, and no overflow.

I've drilled a hole in the return just above the water line. That way, if the pump fails the hole forms a siphon break. I have to make sure the refugium can take enough water to not overflow from that back flow until the siphon does break.

The CPR overflow has a small pump on it, so that it will restart the siphon when power returns if there is air in it. The two ways I could get an overflow--and I've come close with both after cleanings, are

1. if the sponge in the overflow is so clogged that it won't let water down the drain fast enough.

2. If I have a problem with that CPR pump and I break the siphon. More on that below.

This is the overflow: http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/p ... aQodMk4AsQ

The whole thing is plexiglass. There's a nipple where the small pump attaches with an air hose. I've had the pump fail. It's not that big of an issue except when restarting. I now always have a spare. I've also had the nipple get clogged with duckweed that's been sucked into the overflow. Now, part of the water change is to hook an air tube up to the nipple and blow it out.

The whole things in the basement with a very unlevel floor. Any water leak is going to flow away from the tank.
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Post Posted: Tue Dec 20, 2016 9:27 pm   Re: Refugium/Sump Filter

kiwi wrote:Ijapa,
Can you post some pictures of your refugium? I really love to see it.
Thanks


I'll see if I can dig up some I had posted before. The whole area of the basement is filled with junk right now and the main tank needs a cleaning before I could post anything taken now.

EDIT: We'll see if I remember how to do this.

Very old and not as clean as I remember. It's not pretty, but it is neat:

Image

Image
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Post Posted: Wed Dec 21, 2016 8:39 pm   Re: Refugium/Sump Filter

Kiwi, I've used plants in the tank before, they usually get destroyed and create a bigger mess in the tank and filter. I haven't tried the Water Hyacinths, maybe i'll give it a shot. Even when I add duck weed, it'll only last a few days. i did mention that I was thinking of adding a "partition" for some plants..

Ijapa, thanks for the pictures, i meant to ask on my last post. Sorry, i didn't mean to make you nervous. I'm pretty sure that the hole will do the trick. I've seen that technique on a couple of you tube videos.
Is the CPR necessary, is that what controls the flow rate?
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Post Posted: Wed Dec 21, 2016 10:40 pm   Re: Refugium/Sump Filter

The flow rate is controlled by the return pump. Water hits the overflow whenever it is too high. As long as the pump can't pump the water in faster than the overflow can drain, its the pump that controls it.

I initially bought a pump that was too powerful. Not too powerful for my overflow to handle, but too powerful of a return stream for my 55 gallon.

You don't need the CPR. You need some type of overflow that isn't a simple siphon, because you want that flow down to the refugium to stop if the pump stops. I've seen some interesting do it yourself overflows with PVC. But I'm not handy and luckily I'm at a point in life I can throw money at stuff.

I'd encourage you to at least think about a 20 gallon long tank instead of a 10, if you have the space. If I had it to do mine over, I'd steal space from the return area to make the central chamber larger.

Oh, and one other thing that makes a refugium great that I didn't mention: all evaporation happens in the return. All my water stains in the main tank are hidden behind my rim, since the main tank level never changes. And, when I top off betweeen water changes, I just pour it in the pump chamber. I don't disturb the tank residents.

EDIT: a decent write up on a DIY http://www.bcaquaria.com/forum/tank-jou ... ign-24715/

If you are going to build your own, the place to ask is at the saltwater huge tank forums. They've been doing sumps for decades. They seem to be pretty rare in freshwater situations, though I think they make a lot of sense for a large turtle tank.
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