Newbie tank setup idea

Gridlox

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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
 

DWhatley

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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:
 

Gridlox

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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!
 

CephKeeper

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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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Gridlox

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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.
 

DWhatley

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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.
 

Gridlox

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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
 

DWhatley

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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.
 

Gridlox

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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!
 

Gridlox

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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)?
 

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