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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I originally posted this question in the DIY part of this forum. After reading a little more I thought it might be more appropriate to post it here.

I am changing my fancy guppy breeding fishroom and putting in a central filter for approx. 45 tanks. What do you think of putting in a refugium type filter? Similar to the refugiums used in reef tanks only freshwater of course. Is this possible?

Rod
 

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I originally posted this question in the DIY part of this forum. After reading a little more I thought it might be more appropriate to post it here.

I am changing my fancy guppy breeding fishroom and putting in a central filter for approx. 45 tanks. What do you think of putting in a refugium type filter? Similar to the refugiums used in reef tanks only freshwater of course. Is this possible?

Rod
I think its a great idea. You'll have to have enough lighting and plant biomass (lots of emergent/floating plants) for 45 tanks.

Also and more importantly, if I were using a central filtration system, I would add a very serious UV sterilizing filter downstream of the refugium. Without a UV sterilizer, one sick fish could easily spread disease to every single one of those 45 tanks.
 

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Hi Rod. Not exactly the same, but Dataguru did something like this here. You'd need much bigger, but thought this may give you some ideas.

Betty: is this set-up still running? I'd love to hear what you are doing now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
MommyI
Thanks for the link. Yes that is something along the line I was thinking of.
Dianna,
I have two racks, the first one with 11- 20 gal tanks and 17- 5's with three connected 50 gal tanks used as sumps. The other rack has 7- 10 gal tanks and 9- 5's with two 50 gal sumps. That gives the first rack about 450 gallons with a third of the total volume available for the refugium. My sumps are plywood/epoxy tanks that measure 12" H x 24" D x 40" w. Fairly shallow and wide. Should be plenty of area for plants. I took out several old stands and have three leftover 'shop lights', a total of 240 watts of light. About 1.6 watts per gallon over the sumps. Is that enough? And yes, I think that a uv light would be important.

Could you suggest some plants for the system?
Thanks
Rod
 

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MommyI
Could you suggest some plants for the system?
Thanks
Rod
Its hard to predict which plants will work with your lighting, your soil, and your water. Thus, I generally recommend that people try as many plant species as possible. Again, I would emphasize floating plants (water lettuce, frogbit, etc) and emergent plants. See the "Aerial Advantage" chapter in my book. Plants that have access to air grow about 4 times faster than fully submerged plants. And the faster the plants grow and the more plants you have, the more waste they're going to take up. It is that simple.

Some pond people advocate using 7% of the total surface area of their ponds for their planted refugiums. Its called the "7% Solution". I'll let you do the calculations. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
An update on the refugium. I completed the first stand, drilled the tanks and installed the pump earlier this week. Yesterday the UV filter arrived and I got it put in last night. My first plant order is due to arrive today. I ordered a few each of Frogbit, Water Lettuce, and Watersprite. A Few is not enough but with glass drills, pump and UV fliter my fish budget is exhausted for this month (and next). I'll stick a few guppies in after I get it planted and see what my water tests out at for the next few days. I'll add fish as the plants grow and the water stays good.
For substrate, I used 1" of soil from the backyard and 1" of coarse sand from my horse training arena. I planted one 50 gallon sump with all the extra java fern, java moss and crypts (lucens I think). The water looks good and clear but it smells like dirt. I guess that is normal- there is dirt in the bottom. I'll put my new plants in another 50 gal interconnected sump. Do you guys think I will need to put substrate in that sump?
Once I get my plants I'll see if I can get a picture.
 

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Watch out for an ammonia spike if the arena sand came with any manure. Especially if it is finely ground. There might also be readily available nitrogen in the soil, too, of course, but the use of 'arena sand' raised a red flag in my mind.

Soil in the sump would be dependent on what plants you want to use. I would use plants that are rooted in the substrate, with leaves above the water, so yes, add soil to the substrate.
In each tank with fish keep the floating or drifting plants. Things like Java Moss, Guppy Grass and similar fine plants will provide a safe haven for the fry, and microorganisms for them to eat when they are newborn, and perhaps too small to eat many prepared foods.

Plants will use fertilizer (AKA remove waste) faster with more light. Even in the shallow set up you are proposing I would try to get more light over the sump, or at least VERY good reflectors to make sure the light you can supply ends up at the plants, and not all over the fish room.
 

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If you have enough light, you should try some water hyacinth. It's a super plant. Lots of info on the web about it's water purifying abilities. Can's wait to see some pictures! Keep us updated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Mommyeireanne,
Thanks for the suggestion. I had wondered about hyacinth. I've looked at a couple of sites that sell aquatic plants and I have yet to find any water hyacinth. Do you know of a source for any?
Diana K,
Yeah, I didn't think that manure would be too good. My arena is not a corral. I only ride there to train horses. The sand was clean plus I washed it before I used it. I am unsure whether or not I will put plants in each individual tank. One of the reasons I considered this type of filter is the experience I've had using plants in the individual tanks. It has improved water quality and algae growth but it is a pain to catch fish and work around. I'd be interested in what others think about this. Keep in mind that this a guppy breeding set up. Guppy fry are relatively large and able to eat crushed flakes, baby brine shrimp and other live foods (which I culture). I understand the relationship between light and uptake of nutrients. I am somewhat concerned about CO2 being a limiting factor. Each tank is drilled and has a standpipe. Do you think that as the water flows down the pipe that the CO2 will "outgass" from my water? If I run into problems with plant growth what can I do to supplement Carbon levels?
So far so good. The pump and substrate has been running in the system for 4 days. UV filter for 2 days. Plants for 24 hours. Yesterday I added a few Guppies. Ammonia and Nitrite is zero. Nitrate is 7 ppm which is what my well water has. pH has stayed at 7.2 and tds is 330 ppm. Just about what I want for guppies.
The only problem has been one 20 gal tank cracked from the hole I drilled. I guess that is what wet/dry shop vacs are for.
Rod
 

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Hi everyone, I'm planning a similar setup for my plants growing tank. I was planning to use a UV filter , until I read than it can oxidize the iron ….. first is it true , and what consequence it will have if the iron in maintain only in the substrate ?..

Jerry

I............. I would add a very serious UV sterilizing filter downstream of the refugium. .....
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Diana K I decided to put a few Java Fern in the individual tanks. I put some gupps in without and they all huddled around the standpipe. They looked more comfortable with plants in there. It has been nearly a week since I started moving guppies into the system. I expected some ammonia by now, but nothing. The only thing that has changed is the pH went up from 7.2 to 7.6 Fish look and act good. Here is a picture of the fish room before the remodel. I only had 22" between rows of tanks, not much room for photos. The first one is a shot just outside the barn door. The second one is the new rack. I'll take out the old racks and build the other new rack in the next month. The next is the system inside the door. The sump/refugium is under the tanks. I've tried to upload a picture of the sump- but it didn't work. I'll try again later.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Anyone have suggestions for the rate of flow through the tanks? Currently I am running 7 gal/hr through the 20 gal and 2.5 gal/hr through the 5's. That's about 150 gal/hr through the refugium.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Ok, I've resized the image and I'll try again. I had to make it tiny before it would take. Made the resolution poor. Hopefully you can see it. The water lettuce had leaves 8 inches long- gave it a spread of about 16". The leaves were very yellow. After a day or two the roots fell off and the leaves started rotting . I pulled off the bad tissue and put in another shoplight. The next day what was left of the leaves turned bright green and it has put out more shoots. Maybe they will live. Other plants are frogbit and water sprite. There is some Hygrophila 'Augustafolia' planted in the back. We will see how it goes.

Rod

BTW, what do you people suggest for a photo period? I think most of the reefers run lights on all the time. They mostly grow multicellular algae. Would higher plants need something different? I am currently leaving the lights on 24 hrs.
 

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The Water Hyacinth is usually apond plant, so you can get it from people who sell those. I'm north and we only have these available half the year. Water Lettuce and duckweed are more pond plants that work very well uptaking nutrients. My water lettuce shed at first also, and doesn't get big in a 75g aquarium. I understand they can be huge in a pond with sunlight all day. My duckweed usually grows exponentially and has to be thinned, but with a new tank I'm running charcoal in the filter and it isn't increasing right now. I know koi and golfish eat it. I read somewhere that guppies do, too. Maybe an additional food source?
Very important to let your plants have some lights out. They need dark periods to grow. 14hrs of light is generally a good photoperiod.
Photosynthesis increases pH. If your water is buffered (KH above 50 ppm) it will be more stable. Fish want a constant pH. Most plants want water a bit hard & alkaline.

appreciate the updates!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
MEA,
Thanks for the info. I noticed there were a couple of duckweed hitchhikers on the other plants. In a few days I should have much more.

Rod
 

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Hi everyone, I'm planning a similar setup for my plants growing tank. I was planning to use a UV filter , until I read than it can oxidize the iron ….. first is it true , and what consequence it will have if the iron in maintain only in the substrate ?..

Jerry
UV light can, indeed, cause iron deficiencies in floating plants, Hornwort, and algae (they all depend on water iron). UV light oxidizes (and destroys) iron chelators in the water. Rooted plants are okay, because they can get iron from a soil substrate. Note: I have UV sterilizers in all my tanks, and all rooted plants are doing fine.

Actually, the UV sterilizers should help with algae control by making water iron less available.

I strongly suggest that a UV sterilizer be downstream from any plant refugium. You don't want to remove water iron before it goes into the refugium. AND if pathogens are breeding in the refugium, you want to kill them before the water goes into the fish tanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Diana,
Yes, I agree- the UV filter is downstream of the refugium. Everything continues to go well. I have been shocked that I have not gotten ammonia yet. I have over 100 guppies in the system and still NOTHING! I really thought I would need more plant mass than what I have.

Rod
 
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