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Revisiting the freshwater refugium idea..again...

Tannin Aquatics

CCA Members
I received an email from a customer the other day that sort of triggered a recollection of a "thing" I was working through over the past few months..

He was talking about an interesting diversity of life forms he was seeing in his aquarium after a few months of operation with a variety of botanicals. This reminded me of some thoughts I had about both the potential biodiversity within the botanical aquarium itself, as well as the possibility of creating a "botanical refugium" of sorts to foster said biodiversity!



Now, the idea of a "refugium" is not at all new to the reef aquarium world, although you see less of them these days than you did in the early 2000's..a shame, because their benefits are manifold. Yet the idea has been little discussed in the context of freshwater, other than a scant mention or two in Discus discussion groups that I've stumbled on. Essentially, a refugium is a dedicated space (typically a vessel separate from the aquarium), which performs multiple functions to support the display aquarium it's associated with.



These include nutrient processing via plant or macro algae growth, or organisms such as worms, copepods, etc. which consume uneaten food and act upon organics (nutrient export). A refugium, as its name implies, provides a "safe haven" for life forms which would otherwise be consumed by the resident fishes in the display aquarium. And, these animals will often reproduce, and some of them are swept into the main aquarium, providing a natural food source. Typically, a reef refugium employs live rock and sand, as well as macro algae. Being essentially another aquarium, a refugium also adds to the stability of your display by adding overall capacity to the system, and can provide additional circulation and oxygenation. (click to read more)
 
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