Newbie tank setup idea

Discussion in 'Tank Talk' started by Gridlox, Nov 29, 2011.

  1. Gridlox

    Gridlox Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Hello all :heee:,

    To begin, I must admit that I am brand new to the hobby. I have been lurking on the forums for about a month now. I have been putting together a plan for the build I am wanting to attempt. I had been hoping to go big(ish) and get a bimac since they sound like the best pet. However, I signed my lease for my apartment yesterday and they have a pet policy that only allows 25g or smaller tanks. So bimac is out, and dwarf octo(prolly merc is my new option). I have read that mercs havent been available for a bit now, but I wont be in my apartment and ready for an octo until next fall.

    What I was thinking for my build is this:
    20g tank
    25g sump(I was thinking having a tank and sump would be easier since Im new to the hobby and more water is more room for error)

    wet/dry filter
    protein skimmer
    pump

    I know the above items need to be rated at 3x what would normally be needed. However, do I multiple the tank size by three (so I would need a filter for 60g tank) or do I had tank and sump and multiple by three(so a 135g filter)?

    I will also get approx 20 lbs live rock
    some sand for the bottom(enough for a 1/2 inch layer)
    1(or 2?) O. mercs
    a few purple barnacle shells(i think thats what they were called, id read in the forums they make good "caves" that allow the octo to still be viewed"
    lights(red so i can see the merc but do i also need other lights so stuff can grow on the live rock?)

    From my research here and on some other forums this is what I have come to believe I need. I am willing to spend up to $900 on equipment(although I am not opposed to less). I was hoping to get some feed back before I start shopping around and making purchases. Being the beginner that I am I'm sure I've overlooked things and/or just forgotten them since reading it in other posts.

    Any and all comments are appreciated! Thanks!

    P.S. Love the site, by far the best I've encountered
     
  2. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    It sounds like you have done your homework. A few little notes that might be helpful.

    You will need to add a stand or cabinet to your list. A cabinet is esthetically nicer if it is within budget but keep clearances and weight in mind when you shop.

    Drilling a tank (drilling a hole in the tank and sealing the hole with a bulkhead) is less messy and more reliable than trying to use a siphon and going over the tank to the sump. If you have the main tank back or side drilled rather than bottom drilled, you will reduce your chances of overflow damage (the water level is a defined depth and no back flow valve - point of failure - is needed), always a concern but especially in a rented home. Your sump will never be full so the larger size is a good idea (you have to leave room for the water that will drain when the power goes out). I think one of my tank threads gives an idea on how to measure and mark full sump capacity. If you need instuctions when you get that far, remind me to find it or a similar method.

    You can keep a pair of mercs in this arrangement but keep in mind that successes with multiple mercs have been with sibblings. If you can get them from the same supplier found in the same LR, this is likely to be the case or they have adapted to living together in situ. The animals should be about the same size since this seems to make a difference with most species, even in the wild.

    You can use most any daylight lighting or none at all if you have no corals but most people enjoy the esthetics of adding some form of actinic (blue) lighting to a marine tank to bring out the color in the rocks and any corals. Keep in mind this is a small species tank and limit what you put in to things that are octo safe (no high stinging corals or octo edibles and I advise against any fish). I recommend leaving the red lights on all night (or 24/7) so that the tank is never completely dark.

    I like the Coralife skimmers and find they are rated closer to actual use than many of the other lower end models. Size for your primary tank but you can't over do skimming. An advantage to upsizing is reusability for a larger tank later but the smaller one will work for this setup. Be sure your skimmer will fit on your lower tank in the stand/cabinet. An advantage to the Coralife design is that it only needs about an inch clearance to remove the skimmer cup where most other designs need several inches above the cup.

    If you have a sump, you really don't need a wet/dry filter. I use a simple filter sock with a bag of charcoal that sits under my overflow water in all my tanks with sumps and clean/swap them weekly. You can purchase a 4" sock holder but I recommend the larger 7" socks and making your own holder (easily done with pvc pipe and 90 degree elbows). These are very easy to clean and keeping multiple socks and mesh charcoal bags lets you be a little lazy on washing the socks and rinsing the charcoal while it gives you a quick weekly change. If you have micro bubble issues with your skimmer, the smaller 4" socks work very well to eliminate these and provide a little extra filtration, with or without additional carbon.

    You want to shoot for temps between 75 deg and 78 deg year round. You may or may not want to add a heater to your list depending upon how cold you keep your apartment. I recomment using a metal heater with an attached remote thermostat over a glass unit for safety. Eventually the glass ones crack. You may or may not want to add a clip on fan to your list depending on how hot you keep your apartment. A fan over the sump will reduce the temp as much a 4 degrees but you will need to watch your evaporation rate and top off with freshwater daily.

    You will need a good surge protecting power strip with a long cord and space between the plug outlets and a GFCI for the wall plug. Don't consider the GFCI as an option, it can save you, your animals and your apartment (it is not the same as a surge protector). You will also want some kind of timer for your daylight lighting. I prefer separate timers rather than the ones built into the power strips as the strips I have used with built in timers never had the configuration that fit my needs and were expensive but inferior in quality.

    oops, not so little :oops:
     
    SabrinaR and ieatfalalfel like this.
  3. Gridlox

    Gridlox Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Thanks for the quick and detailed response. I appreciate it as it will save me much time. Sorry if any of the info was repeated from another thread but its hard to pick out every detail. This has sated my questions for now. I am sure I'll have more as I purchase and begin the initial setup process.

    Thanks!
     
  4. CephKeeper

    CephKeeper Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    One other thing I would recommend is a refugium in the sump. These are beneficial for water quality, and are commonly used for reef tanks, in place of, or in combination with a skimmer. This also adds a place for you to put extra snails and crabs, or other live foods, until you are ready to feed them to the octopus. I run a large reef tank and have run another one for a year now, and this is what I personally would design my sump/refugium to be like:

     

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  5. Gridlox

    Gridlox Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    That would be great! How hard is it to create this setup? After reading your post I tried to look some things up. It seems that I need to buy sheets of acrylic from a hardware store and then glue it in place?

    My current "Sump" that I have prepared is just a simple 10g tank from walmart. I couldnt get any bigger because it wouldnt fit underneath my stand.
     
  6. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    With a 10 gallon, I would suggest leaving it simple. You will have a hard enough time setting it up to hold the hardward and have enough water to keep the skimmer going. You can't fill a sump to full height. You will need to see how much will drain from your tank when the power is off and then leave that much room at the top or a power outage will overflow the sump.
     
  7. Gridlox

    Gridlox Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Well thats kind of a bummer, I had been hoping for a bigger sump but 10g is the absolute biggest I can fit under my stand:(

    Once again, thanks for the input! I appreciate it
     
  8. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    With your stand constraints, look at the Coralife skimmer. It is no more adjustable than most (you will still need height clearance) but to remove the skimmer cup requires the least amount (about .5 inch) of additional height. It is why we bought our first one but be have replace our others with the same kind because we are please with it over any of the other low/middle end skimmers we have tried.
     
  9. Gridlox

    Gridlox Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Cool thanks, I just looked at the coralife skimmers on Ebay and I think with some patience I should be able to pick one up at a decent price. I think the one rated for 65g will be just perfect!
     
  10. Gridlox

    Gridlox Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    While we are on recommendations, are there any other brand recommandations for the various items I will need(filter sock, lighting, pump)?
     
  11. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    One other suggestion I would make along this line would be to find zippered mesh filter bags for your charcoal and to buy 3. DO NOT buy bags with a string type closure (wet string is almost impossible to deal with). Velcro closures work but will rot over time with the saltwater where the zippered have held up very well. I recommend buying three so that you can swap them during changes rather than having to clean/rinse them immediately. I keep two filter socks and charcoal bags for each tank and then do my cleaning after I finish with the tanks. This way I always have a clean sock and a rinsed charcoal bag available.

    I highly recommend using the 7" and not the 4" filter socks. A 4" will usually not hold a weeks worth of dirt and will overflow before you are ready to do your weekly maintenance. You will not find a holder for the larger sock and have to make something but a piece of PVC pipe and 4 90 degree elbows makes a simple holder.
     
  12. ceph

    ceph Wonderpus Staff Member Moderator

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    This all sounds good to me - don't forget to cycle for at least a month, two would be better. The overkill in size will give you extra buffer for mistakes. The aquarium advise above is great.

    You can make your own custom sized sump or tank from acrylic but I'd recommend that you go with your 10 gallon for now. It's already paid for and you know it holds water. Drilling through you main tank is a pain (go slow! even better, have someone else do it) but is generally worth it.

    Be careful with putting more than on octopus in a tank. . . It's a risk and I advise against it. Especially if this is your first octopus.

    Pygmy octopuses can be shy.

    James
     
  13. Gridlox

    Gridlox Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    I do plan on drilling my own tank just for cost reasons. I definantly want it drilled, but dont want to pay to have someone else do it.

    I had been planning to wait about 3 months before adding an octo to the tank. I had planned to get it all set up, get the LR and sand in, wait a few weeks, then and a clean up crew(although I have no idea what) and then let the tank mature for awhile.

    I have been looking at other peoples setups and I really like the painted back pane of the tank. I have read several forms on how to do this yourself(basically seems like I should just buy some spray paint and go at it from what I have gathered). However, I can not find any information on if I should do this before or after I have drilled the tank. Does anyone have an opinion on that?

    Also, what are people opinions on sand? Is live sand worth the price? If I have liverock will it eventualy "seed" my sand? What brands(if any) are better or worse sand wise for octos?

    As always Ive tried to carefully comb threads for info to eliminate repeat answers!

    Thanks for any and all advice!
     
  14. SandV

    SandV Wonderpus Registered

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    As for drilling your own tank, see if someone from you local reef club would be willing to help you. The smaller tanks have thinner glass and it really isn't the easiest to drill (without cracking the tank anyway). You can also ask at your local fish store how much they would charge you to drill it, I think we have paid like $10 per hole before for a previous 120 gallon (cheaper than buying a new tank if we cracked it, not they had a guarrantee, :) ) Also, just a side note, if you do crack the tank and have to do another, practice on the other panes, as the tank is no good to you now, but the practice is helpful.

    As for painting the back, yep just spray paint from home depot or where ever. We always do black but I guess you could really do any color you like. I would paint after drilling. One you will just scratch it up with touching it and drilling it. Two if you crack the tank and have to do another you wont waste the paint! You can use cardboard or a paper towel in your drillled hole while you paint it so you dont get paint in the tank.

    IMO live sand is not worth the price. Your rock will seed your sand, or if you want to speed up the process or add additional organisms buy a cup of live sand from your local fish store, they may call it grunge, or see if someone from your local reef club will give you some from their tank. You only need a small amount and with time it will all become live sand. Every time we have moved we just trash our sand and start with new dry sand.

    I don't know that any "brand" is better or worse, what you need to worry about is an size of sand. I believe sugar sand is the finest, but it is really hard to keep down, it blows around a lot and can cloud up the tank. Hopefully someone else can comment on what sand they find to be best.

    Hope that is helpful.
     
  15. CaptFish

    CaptFish Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    I use Carib-Sea Arag-Alive(fiji pink). Love it.
     
  16. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    I started a cross reference sticky entitled HOW TO ... that I hope to maintain with links to threads that discuss DIY issues. For some of the initial posts, I added a link to a thread on how to drill a tank that might be of help.
     
  17. Gridlox

    Gridlox Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    So this question is less octopus and more reeftank in general, and I've tried asking on other forums first but they arent nearly as helpful as you all.

    My question is this, can I set my tank up now(i have nearly all the supplies needed) and add one piece of LR and some other base rock and sand and "seed" all of it so that by August when I move in to my apartment my LR and LS are ready to go and I've saved some money.

    My concerns are these:
    1. How long does it take to turn base rock into LR? will 5 months be enough?
    2. How much work will be required? I cant set this up in my dorm, it would go in my GF's apartment and i dont go over everyday. If it does require daily maitenence just for the rocks, is it something simple enough that I could teach her?
    3. What are the chances that the LR/LS survive the move from gf apartment to my apartment come august?
    4. Are there any pitfuls im not considering?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  18. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    There are as many opinions on best tank care as there are tanks :grin:. I have only moved, relocated or upsized well established tanks but here is my thinking on your situation (Hopefully others will chime in):

    You should be good with your plan as long as you understand that you will have a "mini-cycle" during the move. You will also have to carefully plan your move so that your rock (all of it) is fully submerged at all times during the transport (a little sloshing exposure will not be a major impact but nothing should approach dry. There are pros and cons about moving the water. Since you will have nothing live other than the rock in the tank, I would only transport the water that is used to keep everything wet and fill with new saltwater at the new location. As I mentioned, you will have a mini-cycle and should expect to wait another month.

    While the tank is cycling, it is pretty much a watching paint dry phase. You will need to encourage the cycle much more aggressively than if you used all live rock. Since you have the time and will be disrupting the tank look into using dead shrimp to keep producing ammonia to create your curing cycle. You may wish to position the rocks so that the sides you hope to view are exposed as the sides on the bottom will not produce the needed bacteria and will be essentially "dead", even in the initial live rock. Since you are only using one (more would be better, even if they are small pieces) piece of live rock try to place it so that almost nothing is touching it, exposing as much as possible to the water. Elevating all the rock to expose as much surface as possible would be ideal. Normally you would start adding critters at about 2 months and start feeding the tank. Since you are planning to move it, I would avoid this and add the extra time after it is in your appartment. Using a dead shrimp weekly, will accomplish part of what you want and will ultimately make the move safer. You will want to light the tank, have currrent at all times and probably start using your protein skimmer after about 3 months. Setting up your sump is unnecessary and you can cap your inlets and outlets (or keep the water below them depending upon where they are located. I would still do water changes about once a month to help remove algae. Weekly or every two week internal glass cleaning is recommend because build up is much harder to clean and propogates algae. I don't use the algae magnet often because they put the algae back into the tank, more so if you are not filtering. In stead I use the Mr. Clean (be sure to get the ones WITHOUT SOAP) erasers and rinse often with tap water (the sink sprayer works best) and then wring them dry before continuing.

    The amount of time to turn dead rock into live rock varies and the more live rock you have the faster it will occur. It can take as long as a year and IMO a tank is not really cycled and stable until it is a couple of years old.


    I am not a proponent of live sand. IMO, it creates more of a nitrate problem than any benefit it provides but it is popular and may help because you are using so much dead rock. You could cycle your rock without a substrate, making it easier to transport in August. Since you will have a min-cycle anyway, you could add your sand (live or dead) at the time of the move rather than now without much impact.
     
  19. Gridlox

    Gridlox Pygmy Octopus Registered

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  20. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    You might look for reviews on the internet. I have tried several low end skimmers and not been at all happy with any but the Coralife but this one is new so you are kind of on your own.
     

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