sump & refugium VS. wet dry & bio balls


I'm going to change my set up, probably getting a 125 or a bit bigger. Currently, I have a 55 with pc lights, cc and 100+ lbs of live rock. Hang on CPR backpack, 3 ph's. Well established reef. I don't want to get into the DSB debate.
My lfs guy is trying to talk me into a wet dry with bio balls, but he has little experience with reef set-ups, he just deals with fish and equipment for the most part. My buddy (a fellow reefer) is trying to tell me a big sump with a refugium is better for a reef. I have lot's of corals and a few fish.
What are the pro's and con's / experiences with these set ups? Does anyone have a reef with a wet dry and bio balls?
Right now I have a CPR backpack hang on. It does a great job. Could I still use it with a sump and refugium, or would I have to get another kind of skimmer? I'm still in the planning / shopping phase and want to do this right.


Billy, this is off subject, but read the topic "UV or not to UV." This was another of our debates.
As for this know what I'm gonna say...
And thanks for notmentioningmyname in the anemone topic you posted. :rolleyes: :D

nm reef

Active Member
Personally I prefer to go with refugium only and skip the wet/dry...sump....altogether.....currently I've only got a 55 set-up with a 30 gal refugium(gravity return)....I also use the CPR bacpac 2r in the the future I plan to develope a 125 gal system using the same type set-up but with expanded refugium capacity and a larger skimmer........instead of a sump or wet/dry system I use the refugium at a lower flow rate and add a millinium 3000 hang on filter for monthly carbon and phosphate filter medium...most of the time the added millinium is nothing more tham circulation ... but it is used to polish the water with bags of either carbon or phosphate date this type system on my 55 has been very effective....ammonia- 0..nitrite-0...nitrate-0...phosphates-0.... :cool:


Peronally I would go with the sump/refugium combo. The refugium will help harbor amphipods and copepods, and help you grow macro algaes which will help reduce nitrates in the tank. However, if you don't have a high bio-load and/or you dont really need the macro's you could probably go with a wet/dry for a period of time. I personally do not like them. I would wrather use a DSB or UGF with a lot of live rock. This has always worked for me in the past and all of my corals and such are doing great.


From everything I've read lately, wetdry's in time add to the nitrate problem. A sump with plants,algae,rock & sand would be more beneficial.


I agree with NMreef i use the same setup on my reef just a differnt skimmer i keep my flow rates through the refuigem at 3-5gph with exelent results


I'll NEVER use cc again! When I changed from cc to ls, I could not believe all the crap in the bottom of the tank! And I was siphoning on a weekly basis....too much work for that. Unless you like having that crap sinking through your cc, change to a dsb....hassle free! I also have a refugium....check out the diagram has it's own water flow adjustable via a ball valve from the sump's return. :cool: