A little bit of aquarium maintenance is not only unavoidable, but it can also be a fun way to do some satisfying work and stay involved with your tank in particular and the hobby in general. But, in some cases, an aquarium system never seems to get in the right balance, so to speak. The result is massive, regular water changes, frequent replacement of chemical filter media and lots of algae scraping. When the chore of keeping your aquarium livestock alive (much less healthy) becomes what seems an almost insurmountable feat, you might start to consider throwing in the towel.
Rather than giving up, many frustrated aquarists resort to installing a refugium. This often happens only after much consideration, since (1) this might involve making substantial changes to the existing filtration system and (2) well-designed units can incur a significant expense. For sure, it’s not a decision that many take lightly.
In pretty much every case--every aquarium system--a refugium will (at least to some extent) serve two purposes: Improve water quality and improve animal nutrition.
What this really means is that a refugium, if densely planted with actively growing macroalgae, will amend your system’s water quality by removing excess nutrients and CO2. This, in turn, will lead to reduced growth of nuisance algae (and less algae scraping!). It could also lead to greater stability of pH values.
Improved water quality should, in itself, help to improve the wellbeing of your animals. But the increased availability of live pods and greens that a productive planted refugium provides can only further enhance their health!
So, do you need a refugium? Look at it this way: There are multiple ways that one could go about simplifying aquarium maintenance. But in terms of natural, long-term solutions for both water quality and feeding issues, you can’t really do better than a booming, well-constructed, heavily planted fuge!
What Kind of Light Do I Need for a Refugium?
Nowadays, almost all refugia have macroalgae and other types of plants in them. This means that they require a light source of their own. Luckily, there are now aquarium lighting systems that are specially designed to provide the very high intensity ...
How Big is a Refugium?
A refugium must be large enough to function properly. That is, not just keep a bed of macroalgae alive, but also provide enough space to allow for continuous growth. Without continuous growth, nitrate and phosphate removal ceases. Worse, if an ...
Do Copepods Need Light?
Let’s start by making one thing clear: There are no animals that “need” light in the way that photosynthetic organisms do. Only plants and certain microbes are capable of performing photosynthesis (“photosynthetic” corals and clams, don’t need light, ...
How Does a Refugium Work?
A refugium is an auxiliary tank that is connected to the “main” tank. While the main tank is used mostly for display, the refugium serves mainly utilitarian purposes. In short, refugia naturally turn unwanted materials such as dissolved and ...
What is a Freshwater Refugium?
Given the immense popularity of refugia in the marine aquarium hobby, you might be left wondering if they work in freshwater systems. While they haven’t quite caught on yet on the freshwater side of things, they are just as applicable. Freshwater ...