Refugium in a planted tank

Posted by Dustin Wunderlich on

What’s up Gold and Silver fish?

So I have to tell you that I have been thinking about a few more projects after meeting with the, “King of DIY”  AKA Joey Mullins at the ACA.

First let me say that I am kinda bummed that he couldn’t make it down to my place, I was looking forward to talking with him about both aquariums and YouTube. Not to mention doing some sick videos.   It is what it is though… Our man had some family things come up.

That said, meeting him makes me want to step up my game on some projects. One thing I have never done is a refugium in a freshwater aquarium.   As most of you know, or should know, the more plants you have, typically the easier it is to run a balanced aquarium.   A refugium, or “refuge” aquarium for other plants is a tank that is connected to your main tank and offers a place to grow plants, fish and critters that perhaps wouldn’t make it in your main tank.

In the pre YouTube era, I actually had a small reef tank with a 20 gallon refugium on it.  I cut a hole in my wall and had it sitting there with a pump returning back to the 29 gallon tank…. Trust me when I say that I am not getting a salt tank again any time soon, but I can tell you that the corals grew great and the stuff in the refugium was neat to watch.

Greg K asked me about the use of hydroponics or a refugium for his cichlid tank.

So with planted tank, I would try and figure out your goal of the refugium first. I say this because there are a number of ways or styles I have thought about going.

If your goal was strickly nitrate removal, then I would go for some plants that can grow up out of the water. These plants would be Water sprite or water wisteria for me.  Both grow like crazy when given the chance to come up out of the water. They also look pretty cool with this different form as well.    Personally, I would consider doing something like this ABOVE the tank.  I have never really trusted sumps as you can drain out too much water or pump too much up out and out…..ask me how I know this.

The deal with it being above the aquarium is that you really don’t have to worry too much about the volume of your pump,  as long as you have a large down flow from the upper refugium, you are good.  Conversely- if your over flow gets something in it and your are running your refugium under your aquarium, you could over flow it.  Either way.

So above the tank would be pretty killer because you could have the plants visible both in and then up out of the aquarium.

Another way to roll in a refugium would be with java moss, or any kind of moss really.  I think it would be sweet to have a mountain of moss that you could grow and easily keep/breed all kinds of shrimp in.

Yet still, another cool way to go would be a mix of the two, and then add duck weed to the lower sump, this would be a great nitrate sponge, and also a great way to feed goldfish and cichlids. (I think some african cichlids would eat duck weed, but they might just be pissed off and destroy it)

Greg’s question was about growing vegetables.  While I haven’t ever done this, I am sure that the water from a dirty aquarium would be fantastic for feeding plants.

Here is a video from my friend Rebecca’s place- Food Chain Lex.  You can see how she rocks the aquaponics in a pretty killer fashion.

Pretty sick eh?

Let me know your thoughts on refugiums in the planted tank.  TANK ON!


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