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Crypic zone vs refugium


dshel1217

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Need some help/advise. I've had a cryptic zone in my sump for a 2yr and I've been battling alot of algea issues for the pastuff year. so I'm considering convert over to a traditional refugium. I'll add some pictures of my setup. Thanks in advance

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Here is how I understand the situation. You have a mature reef with a nuissance algae problem. One or two chambers in your sump are crypic; meaning they have liverock and creatures are allowed to reside there, but there isn't a light. You are thinking of changing the dark chamber of your sump to a lighted refugium in hopes that the macroalgae will outcompete the nussiance algae in your tank.

There are a lot of factors involved, all the way down to the fish feeding habits. What are you battling? What filtration do you have? Refugiums and Algae Scrubbers can be employed in nutrient reducing capacity, but there is some debate as to how effective they are.

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Can you post pictures of your system? I run systems with either and both and neither and switching won't matter. Rohwer and his associates have a lot of research demonstrating the conflict going on between algae and corals and rearranging your system won't address the basic conflict. I would suggest reading my thread on Mike Frame's tank http://www.austinreefclub.com/topic/34556-hair-algae-a-case-study/?hl=%2Bcase+%2Bstudy.%C2'> Using the same basic technique also helped resolve a problem with red hair algae in KimP's tank.

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Can you post pictures of your system? I run systems with either and both and neither and switching won't matter. Rohwer and his associates have a lot of research demonstrating the conflict going on between algae and corals and rearranging your system won't address the basic conflict. I would suggest reading my thread on Mike Frame's tank Using the same basic technique also helped resolve a problem with red hair algae in KimP's tank.

I agree with Timfish. Switching to a lighted refugium may marginally increase the nutrient export over the long term, but it will not solve a nussiance algae problem in the display. Some people have reported success with algae scrubbers, however it's more likely they took multiple actions and the combination was successful.

I am using xenias in my refugium to soak up the extra nutrients.... I hope it works out well. My macro algae always dies but I think it's because the light's i'm using down there are just little 10" neon bulbs.

I remember some people experimenting with Xenia, Aiptasia and Mojano refugiums back in 2002. These species have more requirements than macroalgae and some people just couldn't keep them alive in the sump. Also, the refugium loses some of it's nitrogen capacity with less microfauna. The people that provided the light and flow showed them growing on every available space, including the glass and the baffles. They also showed that the Xenia and anemones migrated to the display and had to be regularly removed. On the plus side, if you put LR rubble or frag plugs in the refugium, then the Xenia will make their own frags!

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Just an interesting and relevant note - Steve Tyree is going to be presenting on Cryptic Zones at C4.

His presentation should be really fascinating and I am looking forward to it! The role cryptic areas (they don't necessarily haft to be in refugia) and especially cryptic sponges play in processing stuff is so critical to long term success.

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So, sorry for the off topic, is it possible for xenia to make it through a foam block? There's a foam block and a bag of GFO before the return pump. I'm just thinking it'd be difficult for anything to get through that unless it had microscopic cells that could get into the display tank and multiply.

I'm definitely going to try to make it to the C4 meet.

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How did GFO mess with your SPS? Just curious. I have a reactor showing up here soon and I'm going to put the GFO in that rather than in the foam block section of the refugium when it gets here.

GFO and other phosphate binding materials works very well the first day or two and often strips the water. If you have a system without a reactor and add too much media, then the phosphate will drop significantly and shock the corals. The same thing will happen if you allow your media to be completely exhausted before you change it out. This type of scenario usually results on bleaching, but sometimes results in tissue necrosis.

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You have to slowly introduce GFO to any system you haven't used it on. The quick removal of phosphate from a system can cause just as much issues as a quick increase in phosphate.

Also, I highly recommend not using the high capacity GFO to start. It'll strip your water too fast.

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I think I'll go with Tim's idea not changing anything that's already in place. But I'm going to add a 20g lighted refugium and keep on doing my manual removal, water changes ect.

As no surprise, Tim and I's approach are very different. If introduced slowly, the GFO should not stress your SPS. You can slowly ramp up as your phosphate level slowly decreases.

Tim's method is based on reaching equilibrium with the system and continual removal of the algae until something else outcompetes it or it exhausts itself within the system. Please correct me if I'm wrong Tim but that's the jist I pulled from it. While a more natural approach, results tend to take a long time and is very labor intensive. I think it took about 6 months of pulling algae for Mframe's tank to clear, right Tim?

The removal of nutrients via reactors and the additions of more CUC usually works for me in about 2-3 weeks. While I don't ramp down my reactors, I could see using the reactors as a quick approach and then ramping down to reach a harmonic balance in the system would be the ideal middle ground between the two methods. That way you get to enjoy an algae free tank immediately while you allow it to reach a balance and allows you to not have to take a night shift as an algae puller/scraper for 6 months. [emoji4]

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How did GFO mess with your SPS? Just curious. I have a reactor showing up here soon and I'm going to put the GFO in that rather than in the foam block section of the refugium when it gets here.

Just to clarify my meaning, what TY and NUX said is spot on. You have to stay on top of GFO. Don't add to quick, make sure it doesn't expire, strip the water to fast ect.

I don't use it because I'm a lazy reefer and that requires more maintenance then I want to do. A natural approach(refugium and crypic zones) is MUCH slower yet more hands off.

My system is not a natural by any means my is completely geared toward low maintenance.

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I think I'll go with Tim's idea not changing anything that's already in place. But I'm going to add a 20g lighted refugium and keep on doing my manual removal, water changes ect.

As no surprise, Tim and I's approach are very different. If introduced slowly, the GFO should not stress your SPS. You can slowly ramp up as your phosphate level slowly decreases.

Tim's method is based on reaching equilibrium with the system and continual removal of the algae until something else outcompetes it or it exhausts itself within the system. Please correct me if I'm wrong Tim but that's the jist I pulled from it. While a more natural approach, results tend to take a long time and is very labor intensive. I think it took about 6 months of pulling algae for Mframe's tank to clear, right Tim?

The removal of nutrients via reactors and the additions of more CUC usually works for me in about 2-3 weeks. While I don't ramp down my reactors, I could see using the reactors as a quick approach and then ramping down to reach a harmonic balance in the system would be the ideal middle ground between the two methods. That way you get to enjoy an algae free tank immediately while you allow it to reach a balance and allows you to not have to take a night shift as an algae puller/scraper for 6 months. [emoji4]

Ive been doing manual removal for a LONG time and it is horrible but I just recently got a bunch of turbo snails, a DIY skimmer neck clearer, and plumbed my bio pellet reactor to my skimmer.

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How did GFO mess with your SPS? Just curious. I have a reactor showing up here soon and I'm going to put the GFO in that rather than in the foam block section of the refugium when it gets here.

Just to clarify my meaning, what TY and NUX said is spot on. You have to stay on top of GFO. Don't add to quick, make sure it doesn't expire, strip the water to fast ect.

I don't use it because I'm a lazy reefer and that requires more maintenance then I want to do. A natural approach(refugium and crypic zones) is MUCH slower yet more hands off.

My system is not a natural by any means my is completely geared toward low maintenance.

I'll put my Tim hat on here and say, its entirely balanced on bioload. Keep a lower bioload, feed minimally, and your small refugium and cryptic zones in your sump should manage the nutrients with little issue.

The problem is most tanks you see in an average reefer's home is actually considered medium to high bioload. With that, you will need a much more substantial refugium than most setups can contain and still be aestically pleasing. In actuality, you'd almost want the reverse of standard systems, with your display being about the size of most sumps and your sump being the size of most displays. With that, a natural, low maintenance system can be achieved. You can also go the route of an ATS but that's more maintenance than even I want to do.

Keep a low bioload and don't keep SPS and you can run a low maintenance system until the cows come home. [emoji4]

If you're lazy like me but still want the nice stuff, employ technology, which you're doing already. Biopellets for nitrates, large skimmer, calcium reactor for foundation elements, aminos on occasion for trace elements, and replace your GFO and carbon monthly. The only hands on thing I do is the GFO and carbon monthly. I wager that's a lot less work then pulling algae on a weekly basis. I'd rather just dump some media in a reactor and walk away for another month.

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As far as time frame if you read the thread on Mike's tank it wasn't 6 months and I said it could be done much faster. The first post showed the problem disappearing in three months doing 15% water changes every 2 - 3 weeks. Weekly would have taken care of it much quicker.

The research over the last decade or so about the corals holobiont and the role of different DOCs ( Dissolved Organic Carbon) is painting a very different picture than is typically presented about nutrient cycling. And unfortunately 30 and 40 year old assumptions are still being taught as de rigueur. Significantly I think, Forest Rohwer's DDAMnation model explains the confliciting roles of algal DOC and coral DOC for reefs, both wild and captive.

Algae and corals are literally conducting microbial wars and fighting over the same nitrogen (NH4, urea, amino acids and NH3) and phosphate. The DOC released by algae, especially the nuisance algaes in out tanks, promotes pathogenic bacteria in the mucus of corals (which will slow them down or even kill them) and also promotes heterotrophic bacteria that will push a system to eutrophication. In the case of Mikes system he already had a lot of corals and we took out most of his Devil's finger and lots of Anthelia. His BTAs had browned out the previous summer and it was about 6 weeks after starting water changes they began to color back up. Nitrates stayed around 5 until the algae disappeared and phosphates have stayed around 2. One reason I asked for pictures in my first post is I wanted to see the over all ratio of corals to algae. The algae can be removed but it responds much faster than corals so if you do not have much coral it will be a lot harder. Additionally phosphate is a limiting nutrient for corals to use DIN (Dissolved Inorganic Nitrogen, NH4 and NO3). A system can run with 0 PO4 if adequate organic phosphate is being added but my guess is you're restricting how much food you're adding besides having stripped it out with carbon dosing. An imbalance between PO4 and DIN really screws up the zooxanthellae causing photosynthesis to be badly compromised.

It doesn't matter what the system is every system finds equilibrium. This concept of equilibrium is a much better word than balance. There are hundreds or thousands of variables in our systems and they can shift around but it can be a relatively minor change that pushes a system past a breakover point an ecosystem will change dramaticly. It can be a lot of work to shift it back. But it's not necessarily because of nutrients. Dumping roughly 2 oz of frozen or 7 - 8 grams of dry food in a 100 gallon system daily isn't feeding minimally. As far as corals taking care of the nitrogen produced in a system I have no problem with heavy bioloads. What I have learned over the years is the number one killer of tanks is failure of the AC. Keeping fewer fish gives a better chance of survival. And when I have systems, corals and fish over 2 decades old I'm not real motivated to push the limits necessarily. As fish mature the social dynamics change also, it is a game of chance as personality is a trump card but having fewer fish

But I am curious Ty, how many grams per liter of fish qualifies as a lite biload, medium bioload and heavy bioload?

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As far as time frame if you read the thread on Mike's tank it wasn't 6 months and I said it could be done much faster. The first post showed the problem disappearing in three months doing 15% water changes every 2 - 3 weeks. Weekly would have taken care of it much quicker.

The research over the last decade or so about the corals holobiont and the role of different DOCs ( Dissolved Organic Carbon) is painting a very different picture than is typically presented about nutrient cycling. And unfortunately 30 and 40 year old assumptions are still being taught as de rigueur. Significantly I think, Forest Rohwer's DDAMnation model explains the confliciting roles of algal DOC and coral DOC for reefs, both wild and captive.

Algae and corals are literally conducting microbial wars and fighting over the same nitrogen (NH4, urea, amino acids and NH3) and phosphate. The DOC released by algae, especially the nuisance algaes in out tanks, promotes pathogenic bacteria in the mucus of corals (which will slow them down or even kill them) and also promotes heterotrophic bacteria that will push a system to eutrophication. In the case of Mikes system he already had a lot of corals and we took out most of his Devil's finger and lots of Anthelia. His BTAs had browned out the previous summer and it was about 6 weeks after starting water changes they began to color back up. Nitrates stayed around 5 until the algae disappeared and phosphates have stayed around 2. One reason I asked for pictures in my first post is I wanted to see the over all ratio of corals to algae. The algae can be removed but it responds much faster than corals so if you do not have much coral it will be a lot harder. Additionally phosphate is a limiting nutrient for corals to use DIN (Dissolved Inorganic Nitrogen, NH4 and NO3). A system can run with 0 PO4 if adequate organic phosphate is being added but my guess is you're restricting how much food you're adding besides having stripped it out with carbon dosing. An imbalance between PO4 and DIN really screws up the zooxanthellae causing photosynthesis to be badly compromised.

It doesn't matter what the system is every system finds equilibrium. This concept of equilibrium is a much better word than balance. There are hundreds or thousands of variables in our systems and they can shift around but it can be a relatively minor change that pushes a system past a breakover point an ecosystem will change dramaticly. It can be a lot of work to shift it back. But it's not necessarily because of nutrients. Dumping roughly 2 oz of frozen or 7 - 8 grams of dry food in a 100 gallon system daily isn't feeding minimally. As far as corals taking care of the nitrogen produced in a system I have no problem with heavy bioloads. What I have learned over the years is the number one killer of tanks is failure of the AC. Keeping fewer fish gives a better chance of survival. And when I have systems, corals and fish over 2 decades old I'm not real motivated to push the limits necessarily. As fish mature the social dynamics change also, it is a game of chance as personality is a trump card but having fewer fish

But I am curious Ty, how many grams per liter of fish qualifies as a lite biload, medium bioload and heavy bioload?

How many people know their grams per liter of fish Tim?

Best I have is a video. [emoji4] You tell me sir.

How about instead of balance or equilibrium, we go with the term homeostasis? Homeostatic equilibrium? [emoji12]

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Couldn't all of this be explained much simpler Tim?

Corals fighting algae for the same nutrients. Bacterial wars, leading to potential harmful bacteria growth in coral mucus from the DOCs from algae, which could lead to a choking out and killing of the corals. It would be an additive effect, more algae growth, more DOCs from algae, more choking out of corals, algae wins. I get that your goal is to stem the tide, rip the algae out, fight for Team Coral.

Yes, I can see no phosphate causing issues with the corals uptaking ammonia and nitrate but I run mine at 0.03 ppm of phosphates so there is enough to not cause issues. The goal is not to strip the water column of phosphates but with my heavy daily feedings, it would be near impossible for me to achieve that as there is a continual source of phosphate added daily.

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. . . Homeostatic equilibrium? [emoji12]

Naaa, "Dynamic Equilibrium"! We're dealing with competing and opposing organisms in a complex ecosystem. laugh.png

I like it! We can call it the "DE". How's the DE in your tank?
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