Greetings!

Discussion in 'Octopus Care' started by Shkuey, Feb 2, 2009.

  1. Shkuey

    Shkuey Blue Ring Registered

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    Hi everyone,

    I want to start off by thanking everyone here for their posts and articles. I've been researching keeping an octopus as a pet for a few weeks now and this site has been by far the best source of information I could find. Sounds like an awesome pet, I've always liked the look of an aquarium but fish are boring. That said I still have a couple questions that I was having difficulty finding the answers to.

    The most important is that I live in DC, and it sounds like the more common pets come from California or Florida. Is it safe to ship these guys? None of the stores in my area seem at all interested in carrying or selling them and as such don't seem to know anything about it.

    My current plan, after visiting a local aquarium shop, is to buy a 60 gallon tank with an overflow that drains down into a filter/protein skimmer, and then a return pump. Sixty gallons is the largest that space will allow and I realize this limits the choice as far as species goes. Articles suggest this is large enough for a bimac, not large enough for a vulgaris, but I have not seen tank size suggestions for other species.

    My shopping list thus far includes:
    60 gallon tank, overflow, filter/skimmer, pump
    two large bags of soft sand
    30 pounds of live rock (is that enough?)
    An RO machine
    Salt
    Water testing kit (salinity, ph, metals, etc.)

    I've not looked into food or anything yet as the tank would require a few months to mature, which should give me plenty of time.

    I am a little concerned about the overflow and the tube from the return pump. The slots in the overflow are about 1/4 inch (pencil would not fit), which seems tiny to me, but after so many warnings I just want to double check that this is small enough. The tube from the return is roughly 1" diameter, this is obviously a large gap, but with water running from it would the octo still be able to get into it? If so, how can I secure it? The top of the tank is completely sealed, should I drill small holes for oxygen or is that unnecessary?

    Hopefully I havent missed anything critical, and once again thanks for the awesome site. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. monty

    monty Colossal Squid Staff Member Supporter

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    :welcome: to TONMO!

    I'll leave your tank questions to the more experienced folks, but I can say that shipping shouldn't be a problem in the U.S.
     
  3. L8 2 RISE

    L8 2 RISE Haliphron Atlanticus Registered

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    Where abouts in the DC area? Im in NOVA, Herndon/Reston area.

    The general rule of thumb for LR is at least a pound per gallon. Have you kept salt water before? If not, I suggest you set up a tank for a little while and learn some stuff from it. Many people (including myself) start out the hobby doing tons of reading, etc (which is great) and then just diving into something big. I, for example, was planning on just diving straight into a cuttlefish tank, but things worked out that it would be a while until I would be able to set one up, so I decided to set up a 12 gallon just to learn a little and have a nice little tank. It was pretty much a disaster, and even though I had been doing research for 3 or so months before I set it up, I found out I knew almost nothing. By the time I finished with the tank though (since it was such a small tank, I declared it a lost cause and broke it down), I had learned A LOT. I've since gone through a few tanks, and now am on a 50 gallon temporary tank while I wait to finish/set up my 200 gallon ceph (cuttlefish and maybe an octo somewhere along the line) system. Because I had the experience of the prior tanks, my 50 has not hit a single cinch that I couldn't deal with easily enough. So my point is, I would suggest setting up a small tank, expect it to be a failure, and learn from it BEFORE you invest tons of money and fish/octo lives into a larger tank.

    Also on your list, I would suggest saying "GOOD" skimmer. You want a skimmer that is rated to 50-100 gallons more than what your system is with a ceph tank in order to keep up with the waste, also, I suggest you skip the filter. Another thing I learned with my 12 gallon is that they are more detrimental than helpful.

    As for LFS's in the area getting octo's, you obviously haven't talked to the right guys because 3 out of my 4 favorite LFS's in the area is readily willing to get me any type of ceph I want that they can get, and the other has said they would but I'd be responsible for any money they lost for DOA and I'd have to pick it up as soon as they unpacked it...
     
  4. L8 2 RISE

    L8 2 RISE Haliphron Atlanticus Registered

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    oh yeah, and :welcome:

    I suggest you check out wamas.org as you're in my area. All of the good fish stores in the area are on there and you'll learn a lot just from reading around.
     
  5. Shkuey

    Shkuey Blue Ring Registered

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    Thanks for the feedback guys.

    I'm in Arlington, L8 2 RISE, so not too far from you. When I said local stores I meant the closest 4 according to Google maps, so I admit it was not a thorough search of the area. (That said I visited a place called Pristine Aquariums in Alexandria and they were very very helpful, just didn't know about Octopuses.)

    I didn't check the rating on the skimmer, the employee pointed me to what he called the "good enough" one and the high end one, and I told him I'd go with the high end (roughly $200 I think? For the price hopefully it's rated high enough) Haven't purchased anything yet, though.

    I have not kept salt water before, only fresh water (and it's been some years). I like your idea of getting a little tank to learn the ropes, though I certainly wasnt going to put anything living into a tank I didn't think was ready... I expect I would learn during the three months of maturation that the water requires anyway? Maybe I could do a little tank with some crabs and eventually use them as food... maybe that's too heartless.

    Thanks again for the feedback!
     
  6. cuttlegirl

    cuttlegirl Colossal Squid Supporter Registered

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    :welcome: I would also recommend starting a tank with something besides a ceph. You would be heartbroken if your new friend died because something went wrong. There are lots of cool little critters out there besides fish. Crabs and shrimp are a good way to start...
     
  7. Fujisawas Sake

    Fujisawas Sake Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Supporter Registered

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    :welcome: to TONMO!

    :mesonych: = :band:
     
  8. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Believe it or not, one of my most entertaining critters is my banded coral shrimp :grin:. When we converted the seahorse tank (his home) to a ceph tank he had to go into the large reef and I expected not to see him again. Wrong! Then when we added a (very shy) niger trigger I was worried "Harvey" would be eaten (something I did not think about when buying the trigger). Surprisingly, Harvey rules the roost and cleans the trigger (whether he likes it or not) and is even more entertaining in the large tank.

    If you take a year and come up with a small system to raise food you will be sooooo far ahead of the game. Raising food has not been an option (although many have thought about it) for most of us so your success (or not) would be a welcomed journal should you build out a small system with this intent.

    As sleepy head :sagrin: mentioned, there is a whole lot more to a saltwater aquarium than anything in the freshwater world and creating a learning environment will save you money, still be very entertaining and the time passes much faster than you would believe. If you get hooked, well, MTS (MultiTankSyndrome) is a very old acronym :sink:
     
  9. Animal Mother

    Animal Mother Architeuthis Supporter

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    Welcome to TONMO!

    You are right about the gap in the overflow teeth. You can use some silicone to glue some screen in place over the teeth (which will require cleaning often) or use a rigid strainer of sorts on the overflow pipe itself (which won't keep the octopus out of the overflow, but at least keep it from going down the pipe). I used an extension of PVC pipe with lots and lots of 1/8" holes and an end cap to close it up.

    The skimmer should provide enough oxygen but it might be wise to drill holes in the lid anyway to help gas exchange.

    Quite refreshing to see you've already been doing a lot of research.
     
  10. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    I use a tight fitting sponge block in my verticle overflow. I have to clean it weekly and have several so that I can swap them and let the dirty one soak.
     
  11. L8 2 RISE

    L8 2 RISE Haliphron Atlanticus Registered

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    Prtistine aquatics is one of the nicer stores in the area, it opened pretty recently actually. My personal favorite is The Aquarium Company in Reston: http://www.theaquariumcompany.net/. There is also Mr. Coral up in Frederick MD, Blue Ribbon Koi in Manassas, and The Marine Scene, in Herndon, right downt the road from the aquarium company. Go into aquaco (the aquarium company) sometime, ask for Sean and he'll help you out with getting a ceph, in fact, send me a PM when or if you want to plan on coming out to aquaco and I'll meet you there. I'm pretty much always there.... You should do research on the skimmer you want. For example, for my 200 gallon tank, I could have gotten a skimmer rated for 300-350 gallons for 250-300 bucks and that would have been "good" for the system, but instead, I paid $600 bucks for a top of the line bubblemaster that is rated for 250 gallons that will ROCK my system. Here's a suggestion. Set up a small system right now, say 20 or 30 gallons with a sump, get some fish, corals, etc. and once that's set up, start setting up the octo system and letting it cycle (so nothings in there but LR, and a little later, a CUC and maybe a damsel or something) while it's doing that, learn the ropes with your small tank and then if you feel comfortable, get your octo. You aren't going to be able to learn the ropes with a few hermits and a still cycling tank.
     
  12. Shkuey

    Shkuey Blue Ring Registered

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    Once again thanks everybody for the advice. The Aquarium Company looks like they're right off the toll road, so that's pretty easy to get to. I will try to make it out there on Saturday afternoon.

    I think for a starter tank I'll just get a small one and, without having researched a specific species, go with a clown fish or two and an anemone. They're pretty little guys. I'm sure the store can recommend something compatible. Once that's chugging I'll start the octopus tank cycling.
     
  13. Shkuey

    Shkuey Blue Ring Registered

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    Hello again everyone,

    I have some more questions, hopefully you guys wont get tired of me. I promise pictures in return when I eventually get something exciting in the tank.

    I setup the tank on friday night and gradually added water until it was full sometime saturday afternoon (went slow to make sure the tank or plumbing wasnt going to leak, so far so good.) So it ended up being a 72 gallon bow front, 90 pounds of live rock, and a skimmer rated to 150 gallons. I still need to proof the return but I've got plenty of time...

    Anyhow, all the water tests come back in acceptable ranges, so how will I know that the water has "matured" enough for an octopus? Everything I've read says 3 months but is there some kind of testable chemical indicator? I've noticed in most photos people have noticeably blue water, the water in my tank has no color whatsoever... I wouldn't know it had water if it werent for some bubbles out of the return. I was also considering adding some macroalgae for color and I was wondering if there is a guide somewhere of plants/critters that are a safe addition to the tank. Can I add the plants and such right away or do they need a mature tank as well?

    Can tools (such as the salinity meter) be rinsed in tap water? Not sure if it's overly paranoid to make RO/DI water just to clean that stuff off (I see you guys putting your hands in there, so it cant be THAT fragile right?)

    Thanks again,
    Mike
     
  14. L8 2 RISE

    L8 2 RISE Haliphron Atlanticus Registered

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    Well I guess I'll chime in (again :grin:). We don't mind the questions, everyone starts off this way... What type of skimmer did you end up with? (just curious) and did you ever stop by aquaco?

    The water is probably in an acceptable range because nothing has happened to the tank... for example, if you test a bucket of salt water that you just made, it would be perfectly acceptable chemical levels. You'll have to wait a couple of days before you start seeing the changes... I personally NEVER test apart from nitrate occasionally, and when I set up a calcium reactor or dose anything else, I will test for those chemicals as well... I just hate testing and if anything's wrong with the tank, I believe your corals and fish will tell you. I mention that because I haven't personally tested through a cycle so I only think I know what happens: your ammonia should spike, then your nitrite, then your nitrate, and then ammonia and nitrite should level out at zero and you should start doing water changes to get rid of the nitrate. How did you put the water in? Did you put all of the RO/DI in the tank, then mix the salt, then add the rock, or how did you do it? I only ask this because it sounds like you might have done it all together and if the rock sat in the fresh water, a lot of things probably died, or if you poured the salt in and it swamped the LR, theres probably lots of bits of undissolved salt everywhere... Also, did you buy the LR from a vendor, so was it in a curing bucket or anything? If you bought the LR dry, then you won't go through a cycle because theres nothing to cause a cycle. If you want to kick start the cycle, you could "relieve yourself" in it when no one or everyone's looking :sagrin:, or you could throw a couple dead shrimp (as in the ones you eat) in, or you could do nothing... I would wait 2-3 weeks before adding anything, however, I'm not sure if the macro would or wouldn't survive... If you put macro in the display, be careful, you don't want to put caeto in there for example because the "strands" end up everywhere, you want to put something in that looks more like seaweed, etc. If and when you do go through the cycle, it should take about a month, I personally add a cleaner crew around 3 weeks and start squirting food in the tank at the same time to help the bacteria reproduce. At about 4-5 weeks I add a small, hardy fish: damsel or two usually, and some easy corals- few zoa's or something, not much though. after that, say around 6 weeks, I usually deem it safe to start slowly building up a reef. The reason you have to wait for 3 months as apposed to the 4-6 weeks it takes for the cycle is to build up a healthy, large bacteria population that can handle the waste a ceph produces. The blue water, I believe, is from the lighting usually, lots of people use actinic lighting- basically a black light - to see the "glowing colors" of coral. You can definetly rinse everything in tap water. I know several people that only use tap water in their tanks, however I wouldn't do it...

    Do you have any sort of lighting over the tank to support any corals, you'll need lighting for some types of macro's too....

    Hope this helps,
    Sam
     
  15. Shkuey

    Shkuey Blue Ring Registered

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    Not sure the brand of the skimmer, it's a tube that comes up out of the sump and has a little air intake to fill the tube with bubbles. I'm not entirely sure the skimmer is working as the cup on top has literally nothing in it except condensation... then again, there isnt a lot to clean I guess. I did think particles of crud would come off the rocks, but it doesnt seem to be. I did go to to the place you mentioned, as for how I filled the tank...

    I mixed the RO/DI water and salt in 5 gallon jugs (the blue things that you'd normally find on top of a water cooler), so the water was already salinated when added to the tank. Basically the process was that I poured in the sand, pushed it so it was vaguely level and put a bowl in the tank. Poured the water into the bowl so it would overflow into the tank (an attempt to keep the sand from making the water murky, it didnt work but the sand settled after a few hours anyway). I added half the rocks about a third to a half way through the process of filling the tank, about the time they would be completely submerged. The other half of the live rock came from the aquarium company you recommended and was added after the tank was full, it spent maybe 3 hours out of water and was never in fresh water unless they had it in fresh water. The first half of the rock was sitting dry for about two days from another shop, they told me that wasn't a problem but I'm guessing that half will not be quite as productive... no one shop seemed to have very much of the stuff in stock. I am very glad I went to the place you recommended though, the rocks they had were much larger and look a little less "dead" than the rocks I got from the first place. Cheaper too. It's a further drive but they'll be my shop of choice in the future.

    I don't have any lighting yet, I will acquire some when there is something besides rocks in the tank.

    I did buy a smaller tank from the aquarium company too (14 gallon biocube) but haven't set it up. Not really sure where to put it or what to put in it. Probably just do something decorative with it. The whole point of buying it was to learn before I set up the other one but it seems I jumped the gun.
     
  16. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    I would avoid buying anything that is not brand name, off the shelf and recommended by someone else from the store that sold you live rock and told you it could sit dry. Chances are it would not make any difference because it was not live rock, simply rock. It certainly was simply rock after two days out of the water.
     
  17. Shkuey

    Shkuey Blue Ring Registered

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    Sitting dry may not be the exactly correct way to describe it. They were sitting in a Styrofoam box, and they were wet, just not submerged in water. Still, the ones that went straight from the aquarium shop to my tank look much better.
     
  18. L8 2 RISE

    L8 2 RISE Haliphron Atlanticus Registered

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    you should be fine then, it might just take a little longer to cycle... you could always help it though by dropping some shrimp in there, or "relieving yourself" as I stated above... Glad the aquarium company worked out for you. LMK next time your out there once your tank is cycled and I have a few frags of nice zoas you can have to start out. You might have mentioned this already, but did you buy the skimmer new or used? If you bought it from a fish store and they didn't tell you anything about it, I wouldn't be too sure of the skimmer. Once you have live stock in the tank, not a ceph though, monitor the nitrate carefully, it should NOT go up very fast- as in almost unnoticeable for 2-3 weeks - if it is indeed a good skimmer otherwise, you may want to think about a different skimmer. Skimmers also take a while to break in, mine took a month, but it's usually about a week, yours will probably be a month too though because you dont have much producing waste in the tank. With the 14 gallon tank, since you "jumped the gun" as you say, I would go out and get 10-15 more pounds of LR from somewhere, let it cycle for 3 weeks in the main tank and then take that 10-15 pounds out, along with the required amount of water, and put it in the 14 gallon so that you have cycled water and LR that will probably do another quick cycle because of the move, and then be ready for live stock within 1-2 weeks.
     
  19. L8 2 RISE

    L8 2 RISE Haliphron Atlanticus Registered

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    oh yeah, I don't know if you did, but you should really join the local aquatic club : www.wamas.org/forums Buy used LR from tank breakdowns on there for 2-3 bucks a pound as apposed to the more expensive, less established LFS LR.
     
  20. Shkuey

    Shkuey Blue Ring Registered

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    Thanks L8, I had to google to figure out what a "zoa frag" even was. I'll post again when I've got an update, just letting it cycle for now, and I'll let you know next time I plan to be out that way.
     

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