Sumps & Refugiums
A refugium is a separate part of an aquarium that shares the same water supply and has space for biomedia, macroalgae, and types of inverts. A refugium can serve several purposes for your saltwater aquarium. It is a place to add additional rocks or sand for surface area for beneficial bacteria. This will expand the amount of this beneficial bacteria in your tank, which will increase the efficency of the nitrogen cycle. The nitrogen is responsible for turning ammonia into nitrite and nitrite into nitrates. More beneficial bacteria can also result in fewer algae growth. The additional rocks and sand can also provide habitat or a breeding ground for copepods and other microscopic inverts. Many hobbyists who plan on adding a Mandarin Dragonet or any other type of finicky fish will also build a refugium because of this reason. Having a population of copepods in a refugium will stabilize the population in the main display, which is ideal when carrying for a Mandarin Dragonet. Copepods will slowly make their way into the main display while some remain behind and reproduce. Macroalgae is often grown in refugium as well to help export nitrates and decrease algae growth. As you can see, a refugium is a vital part of a reef aquarium.
Refugiums are most effective when they are part of the filtration system in a sump. This means you should most definitely have a sump installed on your reef tank. Aside from supplying space for a refugium, sumps make maintenance much easier by allowing easy access to the filtration system. AlgaeBarn offers triton style sumps custom made by Crystal Reef Aquatics. Although made for using the triton system, they are great for any situation. And yes, they have plenty of space for a magnificent refugium. There are five different styles all at separate prices for a variety of tank sizes. These sumps have a clean look and are very practical.
Sumps and refugiums are very popular and for good reason; they help make the reef aquarium expereince a wonderful one.