Biocube 14?

Discussion in 'Tank Talk' started by Jens, Feb 2, 2014.

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  1. Jens

    Jens Larval Mass Registered

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    I've been looking at saltwater lately, and I've never kept a salt tank. I've been thinking about a Biocube 14. Is this suitable for an octopus? From what I've been reading, there are pygmy species that don't get very big?

    I also understand that they eat live... so I'm taking that to mean I can't keep any fish with it? Or do fish do okay if they are the same size/bigger?

    I've had octopuses on the brain lately... even had a dream about a little purple one last night. LOL
     
  2. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    LOL, there actually is a purple (or purplish) dwarf, Octopus micropyrus. It is a northwest Pacific animal that hides in the kelp. Sourcing one, however, is pretty much impossible. Roy Caldwell had one in his lab a Berkeley a few years ago but never (that I know of) found a male for a breeding attempt. One other member likely received one that was supposed to be an O. bimaculoides.

    At one time Octopus mercatoris was easily available from Caribbean suppliers. A red tide and then a very cold winter have been thought to have negatively impacted the species along US shores and we have not seen very many for about 3 years. Once your tank is fully cycled (at least 3 months after your initial bacteria is established) you might try watching eBay and locating South FL saltwater fish stores.
    It is important to note that most LFS do not know the species of octopus that they receive. You will need to verify that it is usually red, nocturnal and has arms only about 2 times the size of its mantle. Any other Caribbean species will out grow a 14 gallon tank in a month or less.

    There is a sticky (Posts with Info For New Octopus Keepers) at the top of the Ceph Care forum that contains a list of longer Q&A post about beginning octopus care. Octopuses need to live in a species only tank and a 14 gallon nano won't support much sealife even if you decide against an octopus. There are special forums for saltwater nano tanks and I would highly recommend searching them out (reef central is usually a good place to start) to learn about caring for any saltwater tank but especially one this small. Saltwater is a different world from freshwater and you can lose the entire tank easily. Disastrous for both the animals and your wallet. Our general recommendation for a new keeper is to grow your tank for a year before trying delicate species.
     
  3. Jens

    Jens Larval Mass Registered

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    Thanks for the info! I'll check out the link. I've been reading over there too. Most people seem to be against the smaller end of the nano tanks, due to the size and how quickly things can go wrong, but I don't really want to go BIG as I'm hoping we will move out of this house in the next 5-ish years, and I really don't want to deal with taking down and moving a large tank. I've also been looking at the 29g Biocube, but I don't know yet. I keep hoping something will pop up on my local Craigslist and I can score a good deal on one. :D

    The over all hope is to move into the house we will be in for a loooooong time, and then work on custom builds. My husband is into freshwater, and has already been talking about doing such things. LOL.
     
  4. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    I don't like to dissuade a new keeper but there is so much to learn about saltwater that setting up a nano to learn (and enjoy) for something other than an octopus might be the way to go for right now. I would encourage the 29 gallon over a 14. A 29 gallon is still too small for anything but a dwarf octopus and you are still in nano territory but are at least doubling the water volume. An advantage if you stay with saltwater after your move would be that the 29 would likely make a decent sump for a larger tank where the 14 has limited use in saltwater (but could be converted to fresh).

    Be careful with a used tank and be sure no copper medications were use if you purchase a used glass aquarium. The general thought it that minute traces of copper are all but impossible to remove from the silicone seal (outside of stripping and resealing). Copper is lethal to invertebrates and octopuses are extra sensitive.

    As an aside, you might want to check on keeping dwarf seahorses (either the 14 or the 29 are acceptable but only for the dwarf species). They do take a lot of work and you will learn only a little about keeping saltwater tanks (their environment is restricted and using typical live rock is not an option for filtration) but breeding is possible and interesting. The down side is the daily need for live food but they will survive (unlike most other animals) on newly hatched brine shrimp. There may be alternative foods available now as it has been many years since I kept them.
     
  5. Jens

    Jens Larval Mass Registered

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    I've dealt with exotics for years, so keeping animals that are a lot of work isn't a new thing to me by any means. And I know the key point to start - research, research, research. Which is why I get on forums and ask questions!
     
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  6. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Another exotic that might appeal to you and would work in a small tank would be a mantis shrimp (my ideas come from animals I have/do keep and are often kept by other ceph enthusiasts). I've only kept a couple of the smaller ones but will eventually breakdown and get a peacock. Staff member Neogonodactylus (Dr. Roy Caldwell) is a specialist in these feisty critters and has a web page you might enjoy browsing (rabbit trail warning) even if they don't interest you as a small aquarium animal.

    Again, I am not trying to discourage you keeping a ceph but the limits of such a small aquarium are quite real. We have seen so few mercs that I worry you will set up an environment and never find one or, far worse, end up with a species that will quickly outgrow the tank (note my Box of Chocolates post referenced in the New Keepers links). In addition to physically being too small and adequate waste removal impossible, the oxygen requirement alone would kill any of the larger octos.

    Whatever animal you choose to start with, will be exciting, a lot of work and likely get you hooked on saltwater. I suspect your husbands freshwater passion has already introduced the term MTS (Multi-Tank Syndrome) and marine environments almost make it viral since so many interesting animals require their own tanks.
     
  7. Jens

    Jens Larval Mass Registered

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    Shrimp don't really interest me so much, unfortunately.

    So, how does shipping octopuses work? I will have to call around my local salt water stores and see if any of them can get them, or have them (Boise, ID area). If they are going to be super expensive to ship, and I can't get them local... then none for me, unfortunately. From what I'm seeing of octopus mercatoris, they aren't the cheapest little critters to start with (and that's if I can even find them!), and I will still have to buy my tank and supplies, and don't want to spend a zillion dollars. LOL.

    At least by the time I get everything, get it set up, and let it cycle for 3 months, it will be warmer outside. I don't like to ship any kind of critter when it is cold!

    So far I have discovered I will need something that will take accurate and precise measurements for my water, if I don't want to run to the LFS all of the time to have them check my numbers. If you have any suggestions on something affordable... please let me know!
    I will have to go with the 29g.
    I will need sand, 29lb live rock (and to look for rock with lots of good hiding places).
    I will need a protein skimmer as Biocubes do not come with one.
    I need to see if I can source shrimp/crabs for food.
    Keeping live shrimp and snails in the tank is an option, but there's a good chance they will become dinner.
    Starfish are okay. Pencil-type urchin are okay.
    Anemones will sting the poor thing.


    And still reading...
     
  8. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Octopuses must ship next day air. If you have the option, arrange to pick it up at the FedEx/UPS facility and arrive when they open. You will want a shipper that will ship with excess water and preferably a styrofoam cooler and heat or cold packs to approximate 72-78 degrees (cooler probably better than warmer but not cold). Shipping keeps going up so my estimate of $60 for the animal and $35 for shipping may be low.

    Inking during shipment is almost always lethal but, fortunately, not common. Acclimation is usually about 3 hours. If it inked and is alive, create a new batch of water as close to the shipping water as you can at a very rapid pace and get it out of the bad water, then acclimate to your tank.

    If you find one in an LFS, make them let you see it eat.

    I did not find a skimmer necessary with the mercs (but do with the larger animals) and it is unlikely you will find one that does much of anything for that sized tank. I would place your rocks in the center, to discourage climbing into the filter. However, you will need a lot of CO2/Oxygen exchange and a decent filter arrangement My very old, original style Nano has miserable passive filtration and I would encourage seeing what you can find in a cascade filter to fit in the back and dump into the tank.

    Create red lighting. Mercs are nocturnal (IME, more crepuscular and can be trained to eat around 11:00 PM maybe earlier with room lights out for a couple of hours) but do well with red lighting. I leave mine on 24/7 (on during the day to avoid adding a timer, on all night to avoid a time of total darkness and acclimate them to dark being red light on). You can use any daylights (or none at all) that come with the unit but you will want to turn them off several hours before feeding.

    Mercs are a "large egg" species. If you should get an adult female, she won't live long but will likely have mated and it is possible to raise the young. We have had a couple of members mate the siblings and raise the grandchildren. Again, not simple but doable.

    In a 29 you can keep a pair and I think they are more active when kept this way. However, anecdotally, the pair should have been found together and or be siblings. The best source would be from a live rock farmer that found them as bycatch in the rock.

    If you can go up 10 more gallons you could keep an aculeatus. The tank would be on the small side of minimum and you would need a skimmer but aculeatus are diurnal and, when you are lucky, a more active species. These most often come from Live Aquaria, have an arrive alive guarantee and are always packaged well. Unfortunately, they are also often full adults and are a small egg species so there is no chance of raising offspring. Here is a link to our most recent journaled addition, Kobe. If you subscribe to the journals and set your profile to allow email, you can follow along with his journal without having to remember to look.

    For journals on the mercs (as well as other aculeatus), you can use the search function and look for mercatoris in the title or use your browser's Find to locate mercatoris in the List of our Octopuses 2013 and List of our Octopuses 2003 -2012 . From 2008 forward, the name of the animal will be a link to the journal.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2014
  9. Jens

    Jens Larval Mass Registered

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    Only $35 for shipping?! That's not bad at all! The animals I'm used to shipping have to go via airline, so I was kinda expecting that. They were $100 through one of the airlines, or about $200 through a different one. Plus another $50 for the crate/container. I'll take $35 shipping all day long by comparison!

    $60 also isn't bad. One website I seen that advertised them wanted about $100.

    From what I've been reading on the Biocubes, the new ones have been quite the improvement over the old. And a lot of people do replace the filtration system in it. There are several threads on other forums about modding them, but I haven't gotten around to reading them yet. Reading about the sea life is much more fun, but I will retreat over there eventually.

    I have come across a few threads of people who keep an octopus in their Biocube. No problems with escapes that I seen noted, but you do need to stick a sponge or something in the back so they can't get into that area, and most people add weight to the lid/top of the tank to be safe. So that's good news on that front.

    I seen someone had posted pics of baby mercs in another place, still in eggs. It was just about the cutest thing I'd ever seen!

    I figure I can set up for a merc, and then after cycle if I can't find one, adjust levels if I need to, and recycle, and put in fish or something.

    I will check out the journals, and poke around and see what I can find for similar tanks to the Biocube 29 that are a bit bigger.
     
  10. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Do have a look at the mantis page I referenced. They are not really shrimp and might interest you more than you think. Reef Central has an extensive keeper's forum. An octo tank, however, would not be suitable for my other suggestion as the dwarf seahorses have a very different requirement. In a 29 you could keep regular sized seashorse though but feeding them is both expensive and demanding (very hard to take a vacation). Pipe fish are another option that are not quite as demanding and still quite interesting. Tank size limits the fish choices but there is a lot of fun reading to be had. You might want to pickup the newest copy of Reef Creature Identification to have a look as some of the animals (other than fish) that may be available from FL suppliers. I am waiting for my copy because I know it contains a section octopuses and there are several more than I have kept.

    If you can't secure a merc you will not need to change tank in anyway. Octos need a high level of bacteria to deal with their high waste and if everyone cycled for an octopus before adding fish there would be a lot less new tank syndrome. You will have to feed/over feed the tank once you accomplish your initial cycle (high ammonia->high nitrite->nitrate with zero detectable ammonia nitrite). The initial cycle usually takes a bit more than a month and is usually when a pet store will say you are ready for your first fish. Unfortunately, new keepers add a tank full of fish instead of one or two and the biofiltration cannot handle the load. The other two months are to continue to grow the bacteria that breaks down the ammonia and nitrite for handling the higher load an octopus will produce.

    Shipping may be as much as $65 now (note it has been awhile since I have paid for shipping) and most other octopuses will be more than $60 but I believe that is still a good price for an O. mercatoris. Keep in mind that these animals only live about a year and that you will not be receiving a newly hatched animal. With the mercs, having a gravid female is probably the most desired situation if you are prepared to try to raise them. Our small group of successes have typically produced 5 surviving hatchlings and about the same number of surviving grand children. We have not succeeded in additional generations because of the lack of pairs, not for loss of viable eggs.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2014

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