New to the Saltwater Experience

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by DanielGClapp, Mar 16, 2012.

  1. DanielGClapp

    DanielGClapp Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Hey everybody! My name is Daniel, I'm 17, and I live in Phoenix, AZ. I have spent the more recent time of my life researching saltwater tanks. My ultimate goal being, of course, to be able to gain enough experience and knowledge to be able to house and raise an octopus. It all started when somebody mentioned their pet octopus and I was like "There's a such thing as a pet octopus? No way!" Thus started my research. I've had a freshwater tank before (I know, I know :smile:) I was pretty enthusiastic to discover this entire community dedicated to raising cephalopods. I am a pretty ambitious and hobby-centric person, which is why this challenge is so appealing to me. Any way, enough about me, I have questions!

    (Which I will be posting in the appropriate thread..... :heee:)
     
  2. Jean

    Jean Colossal Squid Supporter

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    You may want to explore looking after a less demanding (and expensive!) saltwater pet before an octopus! But good luck and :welcome:
     
  3. DanielGClapp

    DanielGClapp Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Yes, I was planning on keeping a few saltwater fish for several months before getting an octopus. And thank you!
     
  4. CaptFish

    CaptFish Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    :welcome: to TONMO
     
  5. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    :welcome:Love your avatar!
    It looks like you are on the right track and I remember the same thoughts when I discovered TONMO while looking for feeder shrimp for my seahorses :grin:

    My normal advice to a saltwater beginner is to plan for a full year to create your environment and get your saltwater "thumb" (kudos to Thales for the thumb thought). However, keeping fish is not part of what I suggest unless you are going to set up a separate tank for the octopus. Removing fish is, as many discover, very disruptive to the tank and leaving them in the tank is not wise (for the octopus and your experience with it). By taking a full year to create your environment, the tank will be well cured, your other animals well established and you will understand how to manage the system. There are a few things you can put in an octopus (limited) tank and some of them need time to establish (mushrooms in particular). Working with the less sensitive animals and keeping a stable environment (which will become even more stable over this time) will go a long way toward long term success.
     
  6. DanielGClapp

    DanielGClapp Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Thank you! Well, sounds good to me. So what your saying is to create the tank as if I were to have an octopus in it, but put no other fish in it? Just let it run for a year? Let everything get established, learn how to maintain it, etc. Is it OK to have starfish in the tank? Would that be an issue for acrylic tanks? Thanks for the advise!
     
  7. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    You would build a bioload that is compatible with an octopus (fish are not). So serpent/brittle stars (I usually keep 1-2 per 30 gallons - they are hardy as long as your tank is well cycled and will learn supper time, some will feed from your hand, I am particularly fond of red brittles) would be part of what you would add and feed. You would start with Hermit crabs or snails (both often don't do well together but you can have both. Hermits will often kill snails for their shells) then start adding less hardy animals. Small crabs can be added to clean the algae as it grows but be aware that they will become octo food. Leather corals (always a good choice, attractive and come in a variety of colors and shapes), sponges (very hard to keep but you might try one, a death won't pollute enough to be a concern but I have yet to keep one more than a year), low stinging polyps (easy to keep but a bit harder to determine their compatibility and I recommend any you try that you keep them on their own rock that can be removed if an octopus reacts), mushrooms (another attractive choice and there are a variety of colors) and gorgonians (one of your later adds some do very well, others not so much but again there are a variety including some easy to find purples that add a nice color spot). Note the list is not in order of hardiness. You will be continually increasing the bioload over about 6 months to prepare for the overload the octopus will present. Keeping your softies alive and healthy should give you a good feel for managing the tank.

    All the softies are immobile and need to be placed so that an octopus does not traffic over them. Octos don't go around anything. They just plow over the top of whatever is in their way :grin: so arranging your tank to provide easy movement and putting the more delicate (gorgonians especially) animals in a place that is visually attractive but not in a hunting path is part of the fun. It goes slowly but if you add a few things each month and not try to add everything at once (look up new tank syndrome and then avoid it) it can be less boring. The patience you learn while working it all out will pay off with an octopus as they require lots of patience if you want to interact with them (but they are cool even if you don't).

    One thing I try to mention to new keepers is to be aware that you are building a tank for multiple octopuses (one at at time). Their life span is SHORT and you will not be getting a hatchling so you can count on your initial buildout time to exceed the amount of time your first octopus will be with you. Tank sizing is one of the big questions asked and usually about a specific species. However, you can never be sure what species you will get each time you order one so the largest tank you can afford is usually the best bet for a single tank environment. If you get hooked (look up MTS :sagrin: many of us have it), keeping several sized tanks gives more flexibility.
     
  8. DanielGClapp

    DanielGClapp Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Wow, thanks for all that info! I'll definitely be looking into every one of those suggestions, especially the mushrooms. They look very nice! Just to restate, if I went with an acrylic tank, would the inside be susceptible to scratching from the starfish? Ive personally never felt one, and I'm not sure if anyone has had that problem. I plan on getting a tank during the summer when I'm not so busy with school. I would prefer to have a 100 gallon tank because it is large enough that I would not have to worry about size being an issue, and because it is a very nice even number. Percentages and other calculations should be no problem with a 100 gal. So what your saying is to start off with the hardiest thing and gradually add less hardier things, while keeping in mind the octopus? It seems like it would be very hard to place the plants where the octopus could not trample them. Another thing, would the majority of these plants etc. be requiring high quality lighting? I was sort of happy when I figured out lighting wasn't a large concern with octopus care. Again, thanks for taking your time to explain everything so thoroughly. I really appreciate it.
     
  9. GPO87

    GPO87 Sepia elegans Staff Member Moderator

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    Welcome to Tonmo Daniel :)
     
  10. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    First, lets get something straight. NONE of the things I mentioned are plants, they are all animals :grin: Other than seagrass, anything that looks like a plant is either a macro algae or a colony of animals. That being said, all that I mentioned are in my own octo tanks with PC's (and at the low end of the wattage for the tank size). You will want some lighting but nothing I mentioned needs heavy duty lights or major formulas to have them survive (caveat species does matter though and always check the requirements before buying). I have one tank lit with a set of of aquatic (made for an aquarium) LED's and all critters are doing fine and have been using that light bar for over a year. If you can afford LED's that is the way to go but they are still way beyond my budget to start replacing my PCs (power compacts). I suggest shopping on-line, finding things you like, read up on their care requirements and then buy locally if you can find it affordably (this reduces the risk of adding too much at one time since ordering on-line is more cost effective to buy in quantity because of the shipping). There are some gorgonians that are not photosynthetic but most need to be place high in the tank with a lower lighted aquarium. All need a lot of water flow.

    Starfish won't scratch anything :grin: but urchins (I forgot to mention them, pencil urchins are recommended but some keepers have gotten away with pin cushions - I have them but not with my octos - they are very useful for cleaning up the live rock but will eat your coraline - the purple stuff most people want - algae) will some times but not drastically since they typically stay on the LR. The LR and sand are the worst culprits and you would not believe how easy it is to scratch the tank with either one. Also, cleaning is more laborious because you can't use a metal scraper but I like my acrylics and could not make a call which I prefer.

    Another way to entertain yourself with your tank after the initial cycle (about 3 months) and before you are ready for an octopus is to visit your local Asian market and see what they have live. I have found regular clams on ice to do well from any seafood counter but you need to temperature acclimate them slowly and I let them sit overnight in tank water to remove whatever they have taken up while on ice (and to be sure they are alive and viable). The octos occasionally eat them but they can live for years without any concern. They are not attractive but help a little with water quality, don't pollute like other bivalve molluscs (oysters and mussels are nasty) if they die and you miss noticing, are an inexpensive addition while you are learning, can be a food source and can be left indefinitely in an octo tank. I have also found snails there that have lived over a year (you need to ask if they are fresh or salt/brackish water snails. If that doesn't translate, try one in fresh and one in salt before you put them in the tank). It is rare to find live octopus (lots of frozen) and the few members that have found them (only one in the US) were not successful keeping them alive (most likely due to the shipping method). I found a conch once that lived for almost a year but then died for no clear reason but I suspect starvation. Conch, however, is a natural food for octopuses and the one I brought home went into a non-octo tank. Lobsters and abalone are not a good choice as they would require water colder than your tank. I take the stance that anything in a food market is already destined to die, and if I feel I can try it in my tank with out causing it to suffer (i.e. I have a good idea of what environment it needs) I will make the attempt. With only one tank, you also need to consider if it can remain in the tank once your primary inhabitant arrives.

    One of your bigger expenses is going to be your live rock, it is not cheap no matter how you buy it (you will need an absolute minimum of 100 pounds and preferably closer to 200) but finding a local aquarium club often leads to swaps or finding someone who is leaving the hobby. Also CraigsList is a viable place to shop for the same scenario. You don't have to get it all in the same place but you do have to expect additional cycle time each time you add new. Other than crabs and snails, you should have all your LR in place and finished your ammonia->nitrite->nitrate from the last LR addition cycle before adding critters. Even crabs and snails should not be added until you have cycled the initial rock for at least a month (validating by checking for nitrite). This can be somewhat mitigated by cycling the newest rock in a garbage can rather than in your tank if you happen to find some later in the build out.

    A word of caution, it is a good idea not get a tank so tall the you cannot reach the bottom (a lot of the larger tanks come in "tall"). I highly recommend measuring your arm from the arm pit to the end of your palm and don't exceed that height after any canopy you might add. I have a 4' and a 3' tank and would not do that again. Most people find 2' tall pretty much the max height that allows them to easily (not always comfortably) clean the full sides of a tank.

    The cube tanks are very popular right now and I believe you can find a 90. Don't worry too much about round numbers and calculations. A 100 gallon tank will not be filled with 100 gallons because of the displacement of your live rock. You will want the largest sump you can fit. You cannot keep the sump full as it has to hold its normal water AND all the water that will drain back from your main tank when the power is turned off. Keep in mind that your skimmer will be above your sump and you will need additional clearance to remove the collection cup so the sump height needs to take the skimmer height into account.

    Waiting until summer gives you some time to study tank configurations and learn how a system goes together. The tank talk forum has a sticky (at the top of the forum) called Tank Buildouts with links to some of the more complete journals on TONMO. Reading through the ones listed should start you thinking about what you want to design. There are other forums that specialize in tank set ups that would be worth visiting as well once you have a general approach in mind.
     
  11. corw314

    corw314 Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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  12. DanielGClapp

    DanielGClapp Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Oops, my mistake. Thank you for all the info! I realized the LR was going to be costing me a lot. What do you think the average is? $5 a lb? I see that can get extremely pricey. I'll definitely be reading up on those stickies. Come to think of it, a cube aquarium would be ideal. It would save a bunch of space in the places I think it could go. Right now I'm trying to learn everything I can about sumps, especially how they work. My initial question about that would be whether or not the LR is the main source of filtration? It seems like it is. Another thing, I keep reading that an octopus requires 3x the amount of necessary filtering etc. Does this mean that I need to get a skimmer that far exceeds the tank gallonage? Again, thank you for all this info!

    P.S. I can't see my previous post, but apparently you can since you addressed it. Hmmm.....
     
  13. CaptFish

    CaptFish Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    Fixed.
     
  14. DanielGClapp

    DanielGClapp Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Thanks! And thank you all for the welcomes!
     
  15. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Yes, your live rock will be your main (if not only) source of BIOLOGICAL filtration. You will want some form of CHEMICAL filtration in the form of carbon for water clarity and MECHANICAL filtration in the way of a skimmer (there are additional methods for each of these types but these are the minimum for a cephalopod and all that I personally use).

    For your charcoal exposure, I recommend placing a 7" sock containing a bag of charcoal (refillable mesh bag) placed in the sump under the input piping/hose from the main tank. This gives a more than passive charcoal exposure and adds a considerable amount of filtering with the sock. The sock needs to be changed weekly and I recommend at least one spare (I keep two per tank) as washing requires soaking (I use Clorox in a bucket of water and then a dechlorinator when I rinse and then let them dry to ensure the chlorine is completely eliminated. The additional spare is for weeks that I am lazy :wink:). The charcoal can be rinsed and reused for awhile. I keep two bags per tank and swap them weekly, rinsing out the one taken off the tank and soaking it in fresh (vs salte) RO/DI water until the next week. I can't give an accurate timing of when to replace the charcoal. My go by is to replace it when I don't see black in the water when I clean it.

    There is an on-going discussion about skimmers in the Tank Talk forum in the Which protein skimmer do you recommend sticky. Unfortunately, there is not a single best of choice. Typically, expect half the rated tank size, however, I have found that the Coralife skimmers seem to be closer to their ratings than any of the other lower end models. I have tried only one mid-range (by price) unit and hated it so I stick with the Coralife. I have not tried a high end unit.

    You will also be doing water changes. My personal schedule is 5 gallons weekly. A water change is not just removing the saltwater and replacing it with new saltwater. You will also be stirring your sand and generally targeting detritus while you siphon. For first time marine tank hobbiest it is always good to mention that you will need to watch for evaporation and refill your sump with FRESH RO/DI water at least weekly (often sooner if you have an open sump and/or a fan speeding evaporation. Salt does not evaporate so replacing evaporated water requires fresh water, replacing removed water requires salte water.
     
  16. gjbarord

    gjbarord Sepia elegans Staff Member Moderator

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    Welcome Daniel!:welcome:

    I actually grew up in north Phoenix and went to Barry Goldwater High School. What high school do you go to?

    Good luck on the octopus system. We will all be here to help you out along the way.

    Greg
     
  17. DanielGClapp

    DanielGClapp Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Wow, small world! I've never heard of Barry Goldwater. I go to AAEC (and I doubt you've heard of that). I also live in the North Phoenix area! P.V. school district. Thanks for the encouragement!

    P.S. Is there a way to check on you're posts? I keep missing when someone posts something new! Thanks!
     
  18. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    There are two ways to subscribe to threads.

    To be emailed when their are new comments on any thread you have posted to:
    Settings (at top of page) -> General Settings (left column) -> Default Thread Description Mode (mid way down page), Select Email Instantly, Daily or Weekly option.

    To subscribe to individual threads where you have not participated:
    Click Thread tools (at top of any forum page after headings) and select subscribe to this thread.

    You can unsubscribe from individual thread through your settings controls.

    A third way to quickly glance at new posts is to click on the New Posts menu item in the blue menu.
     
  19. Tanked

    Tanked Larval Mass Registered

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    please explain to me what this is.
     

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  20. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Please give a little more info :wink:
    First, is it in your tank? Can you get a clearer photo? How big is it?

    From the photo it looks like a feeding clam but it could be anything as the resolution is too vague.
     

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