Saltwater or Reef Aquarium Refugiums: Pros and Cons

A refugium is a small fish tank that either sits beside or hangs onto an existing saltwater or reef fish tank. This is used by a growing number of aquarists to continuously cycle water into and from the existing tank. A refugium normally consists of aragonite live rock, macroalgae, and a deep sand or mud bed. A refugium is the best representation of how nutrients are managed in nature. It recreates, on a small scale, the seagrass beds that are typically found in association with a natural reef.

Saltwater or Reef Aquarium Refugiums: Pros and Cons

How does a refugium work?

With a refugium, sediment and leftover food settles within the rock and deep sand, where the micro shellfishes such as amphipods and copepods will feed on it. As an outcome, fish tank water quality is preserved in a natural and effective manner. As the micro shellfishes multiply, they provide a natural food source and increase biodiversity of the aquarium.
A macroalgae, normally of the Caulerpa genus, is grown above the rock and sand. As the macroalgae utilize the nutrients within the water it keeps these levels from becoming bothersome to assist reduce the variety of water changes that are required.

When the refugium is brightened on lighting schedule reverse of the main aquarium, it provides vital oxygen during the nighttime hours when the primary aquarium is not lit up, therefore lowering the nighttime pH variations.

What are the benefits of refugiums?

Refugiums offer numerous advantages to saltwater or reef aquariums. They:

  • Offer existing fish tank residents with natural food sources such as phytoplankton and zooplankton
  • Filter water naturally (significantly lowering nitrate and phosphate levels) and decrease the frequency of water modifications that are needed
  • Support water conditions (especially oxygen level and pH).
  • Help control algae growth in the existing aquarium.
  • Include trace elements back into existing aquarium water.
  • Function as temporary acclimation tanks for new occupants.
  • May possibly help the immune systems of fish (it is hypothesized that many species of macroalgae release compounds into the water that enhance resistance in fish).
  • After development, offer significant aesthetic worth to the system.

What are the types of refugiums?

A refugium can be integrated into a fish tank system in many different methods. They can be situated above, below, along the side, and even inside the fish tank.

Neighboring refugiums:

These are stand-alone fish tanks that are established above, below or beside the primary screen fish tank. For an above the fish tank setup, just install the refugium with the outlet above the water level of the primary fish tank. The water from the main aquarium can then be just pumped into the refugium and allowed to drain back into the fish tank through gravity. A listed below the fish tank installation works in the very same way as a sump design wet/dry filter. An overflow box on the main aquarium is used to feed the refugium below and the water is re-circulated with an independent water pump situated below. The AquaFuge Pro system is an exceptional choice for these applications.

Eclipse System aquariums make terrific refugiums for an along-the-side application. Simply set up the brand-new fish tank beside the main display aquarium, and pump water from the primary fish tank into the Eclipse system. Install a U-tube from the refugium to the screen fish tank and draw the air from television which will start the siphon. It is ideal to offer over-flow protection by installing the refugium at a greater level than the display aquarium. Normally, installing the refugium a few inches higher than the main aquarium is sufficient depending on the size of both the primary aquarium and the refugium. Make certain that the pump that is used to move the water from the primary aquarium will run dry prior to the refugium overruns in the event of the U-tube loosing siphon.

Hang-on and internal refugiums:

These are either an acrylic box that holds on the beyond the primary aquarium, such as the AquaFuge External Hang-on Refugium, or a little acrylic box that connects to the interior wall of the primary aquarium, such as the In-Tank Refugium. Larger internal refugiums can likewise be built using sheets of glass to partition part of the fish tank. The refugium can consist of a side of the fish tank, or a corner, or perhaps the whole length of the aquarium versus the back. Merely partition the desired location and if using glass, seal with an aquarium safe silicone sealant. Utilizing a water pump, pump the water into the refugium, and provide either holes in the glass, or a U-tube style for the water to go back to the primary fish tank. Design the water circulation through the refugium to maximize its contact with the live rock and macro algae.

REMEMBER: Refugiums are not a replacement for mechanical purification, but can augment almost any system.


D. Roberts (Junior Expert)/ author of the article

He is a specialist in the field of veterinary medicine, and pet care. Believes that the person responsible for each pet, which was taken into the house, and therefore should study his behavior, means of determining health status and methods of first aid.

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