Monday Archives: Outdoor Mangrove Refugium

by | Oct 9, 2023 | Aquaculture | 0 comments

reefs.comPabloMangroveMost reefers have heard of Spectrum fish food, made by New Life International, Inc. Seasoned reefers may know that the founder and owner is Pablo Tepoot. Pablo has been keeping fish since well before I was born, working with freshies and salties. Back in the ’90s I drooled over his Cichlid books. Fast forward a decade to me gawking over a video of a fish-only aquarium housing dozens of species ranging from tangs, large angels, moorish idols, parrotfish, butterflyfish… all thriving solely on Spectrum pellet fish food. Pablo’s feet are deeply entrenched in the industry these days; I relish the opportunity to speak with him at shows we’re both attending. Recently the one and only Bob Fenner paid Pablo a visit and shared pictures of his reef. However it wasn’t the aquarium that caught my attention, it was the thriving outdoor mangrove refugium.

Mangroves have garnished their fair share of attention for being an option for natural nutrient export, generally housed within a refugium of sorts. What some reefers miss is that while they can be phenomenal exporters, the tiny twigs available to most hobbyists will do about as much nutrient export as sneezing into one’s tank. It has been shown that macro algaes are far superior to mangroves for nutrient reduction in most circumstances.


Mangrove roots growing hydroponically attached to PVC.

Mangroves are trees that get very big with an incredible root structure which creates habitats for a plethora of animals in nature. Sticking them in a little pile of mud in a small section of your sump is not an ideal situation for them. However Pablo’s approach widened my eyes and got the gears turning. As Bob explains, these red mangroves (Rhizopora sp.) are grown outdoors, hydroponically, in concrete vats. These vats are connected to his 1,800 gallon reef aquarium. Phosphate reading was ~0.03 ppm, Nitrate ~3 ppm. This is the sole source of phosphate removal, no lanthanum chloride or GFO is being used, which is unusual in system of this size.


Pablo’s 1,800 gallon display aquarium.

Photo and info credit to Bob Fenner. Thanks for sharing Bob, keep up the great work Pablo!

  • Austin Lefevre

    Austin Lefevre founded and owns Aqua Box, a group of passionate professionals who bring unique aquarium systems to fruition worldwide and offer fully quarantined and conditioned fishes to the US retail market. Austin has been a bonafide fish nerd for his entire life. When the kids in elementary school were reading Dr. Seuss, Austin was reading Jacques Cousteau. He's been in the aquarium industry since 2002 working in local fish stores, coral farms, and headed up a fish breeding program. He's been an avid SCUBA diver since the age of 12 and consistently seeks new aquatic adventures.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Upcoming Events