Refugium input wanted! - El Natural - Aquatic Plant Central

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Old 12-13-2016, 05:56 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Refugium input wanted!

I'm currently 11 weeks into the Dry Start Method for my refugium and would appreciate any advice as this is the first time I'll be utilizing a sump/refugium. l'm hoping it's easier, maintenance wise, than my large canister filters.

I'll try to list all of the pertinent info in this post without getting long-winded. In subsequent posts I'll discuss some of my concerns and questions along with pics to help you understand my situation.

So for now in a nutshell:

Main Tank - 300gal (1135L) --- EMPTY AND WAITING TO BE USED
Sump/Refugium - 116gal (439L) Based on EcoSystem’s Delux model 7222
Refugium section - approx. 80gal (303L) - 49" Long x 20.75" Deep x 18.25” High
Refugium Substrate (bottom to top) - Backyard top soil (mostly clay); Partially mineralized MGOC; CaribSea Tahitian Moon Sand

Plants:
Cardinal Plant (Lobelia cardinalis) ’Small Form’
Water Hyssop (Bacopa monnieri and some caroliniana)
Dwarf Hairgrass (Eleocharis acicularis)
Dwarf Baby Tears (Hemianthus Callitrichoides)
American shoreweed (Littorella uniflora)

Lighting:
1 48” T8 in back (32watt Fluorescent)
1 AquaGro 1500 Ultima Colour Plus (30 watt LED tile)
2 AquaGro 1500 Ultima GroBeam (30 watt LED tiles)

14hrs on

ck

Last edited by ChrisKane; 12-14-2016 at 09:07 AM..
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Old 12-13-2016, 06:18 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Refugium input wanted!

Had I researched more I would have changed the physical aspect of this sump.
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Old 12-14-2016, 09:22 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Refugium input wanted!

My current concern is the color I'm seeing in the substrate (red? and cyanobacteria?). It's my fault for allowing my bounce cards to be kicked out from the refugium which then bounced light at the soil. Since then I've removed the bounce cards until I can cut a slim piece of black foamcore and tape it to the bottom.

What type of alga is the strawberry red I'm seeing?
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Old 12-14-2016, 09:28 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Refugium input wanted!

From the image of my substrate you can see that I should have sprayed the first layer of top soil from my backyard as it has a lot of clay. Unfortunately I found out the hard way. I never imagined that the clay would be so impenetrable! I've resorted to punching holes everywhere but some of it is still dry. I'm hoping that when I flood the sump, the weight of the water will soak in.

ck
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Old 12-14-2016, 03:59 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Refugium input wanted!

First two pictures - First planting in late September and about two weeks ago.

In the latest image you'll see two potted plants (Drosera spathulata & Drosera capensis) to keep gnats at bay.

Neither shows the driftwood I purchased (see pic). I tried boiling it and went through more than 20lbs of propane over two weeks trying to rid this wood of it's tannins with no success. Consequently, I've put it on the roof where it seems to be slowly going grey.

I'd welcome some advice as to the tannins role in the overall health of the aquarium. It's been a long time since I've researched this subject. Frankly, I was most interested in my planned bamboo shrimp having a way to locate themselves in the current and this piece is tall enough to get them there and hopefully look nice as well.

ck
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Old 12-14-2016, 05:02 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Refugium input wanted!

Chris, I have no feedback for you,. All I can say is, Wow! What an ambitious setup.
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Old 12-15-2016, 02:58 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Refugium input wanted!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisKane View Post
My current concern is the color I'm seeing in the substrate (red? and cyanobacteria?). It's my fault for allowing my bounce cards to be kicked out from the refugium which then bounced light at the soil. Since then I've removed the bounce cards until I can cut a slim piece of black foam core and tape it to the bottom.

What type of alga is the strawberry red I'm seeing?
It might be oxidized iron. In my bottle tests, I often got a pretty pink layer in the soil layer just under the top sand layer. This happens in the dark. Iron in the soil solubilizes under the anaerobic conditions at the soil bottom and percolates upwards. In the meantime, oxygen penetrates through the sand layer and percolates downward. When the two meet in the middle, the iron oxidizes and forms a layer of pinkish-colored oxidized iron.

In your case, since light seems to be a factor, it could be the purple photosynthetic bacteria, which require light. Some of the purple bacteria oxide toxic H2S (hydrogen sulfide) to non-toxic sulfate. These are very good soil bacteria that there is no reason to discourage.

I agree that you have a very impressive setup!
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Old 12-15-2016, 03:31 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Refugium input wanted!

Quote:
Originally Posted by dwalstad View Post
It might be oxidized iron. In my bottle tests, I often got a pretty pink layer in the soil layer just under the top sand layer. This happens in the dark. Iron in the soil solubilizes under the anaerobic conditions at the soil bottom and percolates upwards. In the meantime, oxygen penetrates through the sand layer and percolates downward. When the two meet in the middle, the iron oxidizes and forms a layer of pinkish-colored oxidized iron.

In your case, since light seems to be a factor, it could be the purple photosynthetic bacteria, which require light. Some of the purple bacteria oxide toxic H2S (hydrogen sulfide) to non-toxic sulfate. These are very good soil bacteria that there is no reason to discourage.

I agree that you have a very impressive setup!
Sorry for hijacking this thread for a question. Is this red color caused by iron toxicity? Or is it some kind of defense mechanism against UV? Substrate is 3 cm yard dirt + 2-3 cm gravel cap. No filtration.







The aquarium was outdoors in the yard and received some direct sunlight. Only Bacopa and Vallisneria turned super red. I have never seen such red colors no matter how strong artificial light did I use with these plants.
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Old 12-15-2016, 01:44 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Refugium input wanted!

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Originally Posted by s2man View Post
Chris, I have no feedback for you,. All I can say is, Wow! What an ambitious setup.
That would be the norm for me. If anything is easy I get bored. A perfect example is when I took an adult wood working class many years ago. The teacher had several options that were simple (one was building a bird house) but much to his consternation I insisted on making a dining room table. I still have it to this day.

Mind you... I've had to endure setbacks as well.

ck
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Old 12-15-2016, 01:59 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Refugium input wanted!

Quote:
Originally Posted by dwalstad View Post
It might be oxidized iron. In my bottle tests, I often got a pretty pink layer in the soil layer just under the top sand layer. This happens in the dark. Iron in the soil solubilizes under the anaerobic conditions at the soil bottom and percolates upwards. In the meantime, oxygen penetrates through the sand layer and percolates downward. When the two meet in the middle, the iron oxidizes and forms a layer of pinkish-colored oxidized iron.

In your case, since light seems to be a factor, it could be the purple photosynthetic bacteria, which require light. Some of the purple bacteria oxide toxic H2S (hydrogen sulfide) to non-toxic sulfate. These are very good soil bacteria that there is no reason to discourage.

I agree that you have a very impressive setup!
Thanks for educating me! I can't help but say how much your book influenced me to go with a naturally planted refugium. Ironically, I finished your book last summer whilst in NC!

ck
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