Refugiums and skimmers were once the very idea that was breaking the mold, but in the last few years they have become the mold that we all so comfortably fall into. Its when we all start falling into this standard that we should begin trying to push things a little bit further to advance the hobby, so what’s next? We need to find new ways to push the envelope and create new ways of making our tank inhabitants even happier. Several thoughts have been swimming around in my head lately for new types of filtration.
The first of these has long been on my list of things to try but hasn’t quite made it into reality yet. The idea behind refugiums was always to use natural means to export nutrients, so why not try a natural means of protein skimming? The beaches are the protein skimmers in nature, so it would make sense to me to recreate one. As the water foams up on the sand, surface tension causes the same effect that removes the proteins from the water. These nutrients are then available to organisms on land. This effect may be achievable with the wavemakers around today and a tank with a sand slope. Interesting tide pool creatures could also be easily kept in this type of tank.
Refugiums have also become comfortable rather than innovative, and with this one I decided to try something new. Rather than using macroalgae to export nitrogen from my reef, I decided to try employing some corals that are known to suck them out of the water and some animals meant for filter feeding as mechanical filtration. When I converted my refugium, I had a nasty case of green hair algae, and my macro-filled refugium wasn’t helping. Since installing the new system, I’ve noticed the hair algae starting to bleach and die. While this could be a product of many other factors, I certainly can’t deny the strong possibility that the new refugium should be credited.
This hobby has done nothing but break new ground since it started, and we will stop discovering new things and new animals that can be kept in captivity if we don’t keep moving forward. I urge all hobbiests to continue breaking the mold and pushing the limits. If you have an idea, don’t be afraid to try it, and be sure to share your successes to keep us all on track.