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Soon to be Octopus Owner!

Edin

Larval Mass
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Jul 7, 2017
Messages
6
Location
Rochester, NY
#1
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I apologize if this is in the wrong section; just finding the New Thread button was quite a journey for me. I've been reading up on octopus care for a little while now and have decided to get one but I still have a few questions I was hoping I could get some help with. I'm new to saltwater aquariums in general, so I apologize if any questions here seem basic. I know the type of care depends on the species so I've decided on O. Vulgaris for its size and lifespan (females 12 months, males up to 15 months).

My questions regarding this species are:

What salinity should they be kept at? I know as the water evaporates the salinity will increase so should it be kept at just under the recommended amount? I plan on measuring with a refractometer. Also need recommendations for a good refractometer, lol. I see most are calibrated to be used in warmer waters and I don't know how this affects the readings.

I've heard of people using a rotting shrimp for 24 hours to help with cycling a tank. Is this recommended? I plan on cycling for at least three months. I know finding a distributor who can get you the correct species is tough so I'm willing to wait longer. I plan on getting a tank for corals and focusing my attention on that while I wait. :)

I plan on keeping the tank at ~62.6°F. In between the optimum temperatures for growth and maximum food efficiency. Does this sound about right?

What flow rate is recommended for the tank? I plan on keeping it in a 210 gallon (73.5"x25.13"x30" Aqueon brand.) with a 50+ gallon sump. I've read that the tank should cycle at least three times an hour. I've also read that the higher the better. I was going to get a 3,962 GPH pump but that seems too high to me. I'm imagining everything being blown to one side of the tank, lol. If that is ok, does the skimmer need to be the same strength as the pump?

What brand of fine aquarium sand and sea salt would you recommend? I know not to use crushed coral or anything that has been treated with copper. Are there any other factors I should take into consideration when choosing?

I know RO/DI units take forever to make water and are usually hooked up directly to the tank. I don't have a faucet in the room I plan on keeping the tank in so my plan is to connect the RO/DI unit to a faucet in another room and have it pour into a spare 20 gallon, which I could then just pour into the main tank daily. Would this be OK?

This is my shopping list so far and what I'm expecting the price to be (in no particular order). I would love and appreciate any recommendations on a chiller, water testing kit, RO/DO unit, and Refractometer.:

1.) 210-gallon aquarium ($749) ( Price Confirmed with LFS)
2.) 50-gallon sump and plexiglass ($150)
3.) RO/DI unit ($130)
4.) Skimmer ($200)
5.) Chiller ($110)
6.) Water testing kit ($70)
7.) Pump ($160)
8.) 200-300lbs of live rock ($400. Waiting for quote from LFS)
9.) Refractometer ($60)
10.) Fine aquarium sand. ($50)
11) Aquarium Salt. ($80)
12.) Mini-fridge for food ($85)
13.) Floaty toys to give to the octopus (Ping-pong balls, legos, etc.) ($40)
14.) Time to cycle. (Priceless)
15.) Octopus. ($250 + $60 delivery)

Here is a quick sketch of the design I plan to use so far. Once I decide on equipment I can check the specs for sizes to make sure everything will fit and make a better one:



Some articles I've already read:
Octopus Basics - Keeping an Octopus as a Pet
Keeping an Octopus
Before You Get An Octopus as a Pet...
Ceph Care Equipment List
Octopus Availability
Choosing a Filtration System for Your Saltwater Aquarium
Octopus Care 101
So You Want to Keep an Octopus... | Details | Articles | TFH Magazine®
Biology of Octopus vulgaris off the east coast of South Africa
Growth and food intake models in Octopus vulgaris Cuvier (1797): influence of body weight, temperature, sex and diet

Some links I found on the site that aren't working at the moment:
http://saltaquarium.about.com/cs/dirosetup/index.htm
http://saltaquarium.about.com/cs/seasaltmixes/

Thanks for the help! It's very much appreciated! I look forward to meeting you guys and seeing your setups! :)
 

DWhatley

Cthulhu
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Gainesville, GA
#2
:welcome: Edin
I've decided on O. Vulgaris
As you will discover, this is more easily said than done. However, most species will be comfortable in your planned octo-home. One thing that most new keepers have problems accepting is the lifespan. Even if you acquire one of the slightly longer lived species, these are wild caught animals with unknown ages. As a rule of thumb, it seems that animals less than about 5 months are rarely captured because the stay well hidden in the live rock.

What salinity should they be kept at?
Full ocean salinity ~35 ppt (~1.026 specific gravity). Keeping it lower for evaporation is not recommended, keeping it topped off is.

I plan on keeping the tank at ~62.6°F
This is at least 10 degrees too cold for anything that is native to the Caribbean and anything off the FL coast. Temps between 72 and 78 would be a more appropriate range for anything caught along our East Coast or imported from Indonesia. US West coast animals would need the cooler temperature.

I know RO/DI units take forever to make water and are usually hooked up directly to the tank.
Auto top-off systems are a nice luxury but most of us make water into a bucket and store it for both evaporative top off (freshwater) and water change (saltwater). You will need to do water changes (about 10% a week or 30% a month) that involve removing and replacing the saltwater

Hardware comments:
  • You will need to invest more in a skimmer for a 210 gallon tank. With a few exceptions, you should buy a skimmer rated for twice your gallonage. For space considerations, you may want to consider two skimmers
  • You are far too low on your pricing for a chiller that will chill 210 gallons. Your lights and pumps will add some heat to the system however, for a tropical system you can get away without a chiller provided your ambient temperatures do not exceed about 78 degrees in the summer. You may need a heater if your ambient stays below 72 degrees in the winter.
  • I would inquire about having your tank drilled instead of using an overflow box. You can have them side, back or bottom drilled. You can use a flexible hose to the sump so drilling is not necessary but can be easily done if desired for esthetics.
  • You need to add chemical filtration to the sump. I recommend carbon in a filter sock attached at the water flow from the display tank.
Additional reading recommendations:
 

tonmo

Titanites
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#3
Welcome @Edin!! Thanks for joining TONMO. That is a TOP introductory post :smile:

Looking forward to your contributions here!!
 

Joe-Ceph

Haliphron Atlanticus
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555
#4
Salinity:
you only need to measure salinity when you do a water change. just replace all evaporated water with fresh water (RO/DI - no salt).

Cycling:
Find a good resource that will explain the concept of "cycling" a fish-only marine aquarium (photosynthetic inverts don't poop enough to be comparable to an octopus). Study it in detail until you really understand the nitrogen cycle (ammonia to nitrite to nitrate to nitrogen). "Cycling" is a misleading name. What you are really doing is building up the population size, over successive generations, of various kinds of bacteria that eat octopus poop and food scraps, and convert them into less toxic substances (nitrate and nitrogen gas). You build up these bacterial populations by providing a steadily and gradually increasing continuous supply of food for the bacteria in the form of fish poop or rotting octopus food. You increase the amount until it is at least equal to to the amount of food your octopus will eat, and then you keep putting it in at that rate until your octopus arrives, or your bacterial colony will starve and die back. Many descriptions of "cycling" leave out these key concepts.

Once you've cycled your tank as I've described above, and it's had stable water quality readings for two or three weeks, more time isn't really better or worse. It's about being able to handle the bio-load. That said, it could easily take three months. Some variables are: temperature, amount and porosity of live rock, and flow rate around live rock. Warmer and more speed cycling up.

Corals produce very little waste, and so a "cycled" tank full of corals won't have a large enough population of bacteria to handle the amount of waste produced by an octopus, unless you are also dumping a steady supply of additional food/waste into the tank.

Flow:
Be sure to look a "flow curves" for the pumps you consider. They are charts showing the actual flow for various feet of "head". "Head" is resistance to flow, mostly from the distance your pump needs to lift the water to get it up over the side of your tank, plus a little for the plumbing. calculate your head using various calculators online.
There are really two kinds of flow:
1) Flow through your sump. This is limited by the max rate of your overflow.
2) Flow around your live rock. It brings food to the bacteria living in your live rock, and takes away waste, so you need a lot of flow around your live rock so it can do its job of purifying your water. You might want to design in a closed-loop recirculation pump to increase flow around your live rock, without adding propellers inside your tank that could hurt your octopus.


Your tank design:
you might want more than one overflow for a tank that size, or at least a very large one.
You need to design in a top that is escape proof for an octopus, and design the overflow and the inputs so that a little octopus can't escape.
Try to go without a chiller if you can, by having reliable AC and Heat that keeps the room withing range, and keeping your pump and lights from adding too much heat. An external pump adds a lot less heat than a submersible one.
The mini fridge won't like being in an enclosed space, it needs an open of ventilated one.
Large and/or multiple skimmers. Design your filtration system for the bio-load of a fish-only tank, but the water quality of a reef tank.
Add chemical filtration, like DWhatley suggested.
 

tonmo

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#5
Blast from the past!! :grin: ...and in a great post. Glad to see you back, @Joe-Ceph!
 

Edin

Larval Mass
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Rochester, NY
#6
:welcome: Edin
One thing that most new keepers have problems accepting is the lifespan. Even if you acquire one of the slightly longer lived species, these are wild caught animals with unknown ages. As a rule of thumb, it seems that animals less than about 5 months are rarely captured because the stay well hidden in the live rock.
I understand the lifespan will be short-lived and that the octopus will probably arrive in the middle of its life. I don't expect to get a hatchling (though it would be nice). Heck, I don't even expect the right species to arrive, lol! Regardless, I'll be more than happy with whichever species of octopus ends up in my tank. I think they're all fascinating.

Full ocean salinity ~35 ppt (~1.026 specific gravity). Keeping it lower for evaporation is not recommended, keeping it topped off is.
I plan to top off at least once a day. I just wasn't sure as to whether 1.025 or 1.027 would be more harmful. I guess with a tank this large, three or four gallons of evaporated water wouldn't make much of a difference in salinity.

This is at least 10 degrees too cold for anything that is native to the Caribbean and anything off the FL coast. Temps between 72 and 78 would be a more appropriate range for anything caught along our East Coast or imported from Indonesia. US West coast animals would need the cooler temperature.
Thanks! I was way off. The temps indoors during the winter stay 70-75°F during the day and drop to 68°F at night. I don't know how much heat would be generated by the pump/lights but I'll invest in a heater just in case.

  • You will need to invest more in a skimmer for a 210 gallon tank. With a few exceptions, you should buy a skimmer rated for twice your gallonage. For space considerations, you may want to consider two skimmers
  • You are far too low on your pricing for a chiller that will chill 210 gallons. Your lights and pumps will add some heat to the system however, for a tropical system you can get away without a chiller provided your ambient temperatures do not exceed about 78 degrees in the summer. You may need a heater if your ambient stays below 72 degrees in the winter.
  • I would inquire about having your tank drilled instead of using an overflow box. You can have them side, back or bottom drilled. You can use a flexible hose to the sump so drilling is not necessary but can be easily done if desired for esthetics.
  • You need to add chemical filtration to the sump. I recommend carbon in a filter sock attached at the water flow from the display tank.
Just confirmed with my LFS for a predrilled 210g for $839.99 and placed my order. Also came home with the stand that it'll be on. Wouldn't I need an overflow box even with a drilled tank? Or can I just hook up the tubing to the holes (and octo-proof them) and they'll be fine like that?
I ballparked the chiller cost because I didn't know if I would need one (and now I know I don't!)
I completely forgot about the carbon filter sock in the design. I'll add that to my list.
The current skimmer I'm looking at is the AquaMaxx ConeS CO-3 In-Sump Protein Skimmer rated for 450g light / 270g heavy. Think this might be powerful enough?


Additional reading recommendations:
I've read the yellow stickies but I forgot to mention them in my post. It seems a few of the stickies all take you to Reef Sanctuary but the links are broken.
http://www.reefsanctuary.com/forums...arting-your-first-fo-fowlr-marine-system.html
http://www.reefsanctuary.com/forums/fish-diseases-treatments/29836-mature-aquarium.html[/QUOTE]

Thanks!
 

CHolland

Pygmy Octopus
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Florida
#7
I don't have an overflow box. I just octo-proofed the tubes.

Also, if you can go bigger for the skimmer, I would. Octopuses produce a lot of waste for their size.

Looks like your off to a good start!
 

Joe-Ceph

Haliphron Atlanticus
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#8
I guess with a tank this large, three or four gallons of evaporated water wouldn't make much of a difference in salinity.
I kept bimacs in chilled tanks and saw almost no evaporation, and I suspect that a tank at room temperature will have a lot less evaporation than a heated tank. You probably won't have any where near three gallons of evaporation, even in a week. Note that the only water level that will drop is in part of your sump, not in your tank, which limits the amount of evaporation that your system can handle before your return pump starts sucking air.

If you end up with a species that is found in tide pools, don't sweat short term changes in salinity. As tide pools bake in the sun they often loose a large percentage of their water to evaporation, causing a spike in salinity (and temp) that lasts until the next sufficiently high tide, and then changes very suddenly. Tide pool species have evolved to be able to shrug this off.

Wouldn't I need an overflow box even with a drilled tank? Or can I just hook up the tubing to the holes (and octo-proof them) and they'll be fine like that?
The term "Overflow box" traditionally means a contraption consisting of a box hanging inside the tank that water overflows into, a U-shaped siphon tube that moves water from this box up over the tank wall and into a box hanging on the outside of the tank with drains in it that lead to the sump. Because of the siphon tube it requires no drilling, and It looks a little like the box in your drawing. These are bad with octopuses because curious tentacles can fiddle with the loose parts and break/stop the siphon.
A "drilled" overflow can mean a couple of different things, but they tend to have very rigid parts, and are much more tamper proof.

I like gathering water for the sump from the surface (with an overflow) rather than just hooking up the tubing to the holes (which are further below the water line) because floating bits of junk can be sent to the sump sooner rather than later. This only makes sense if the first thing the water finds when it gets to the sump is a filter sock, filter floss, or some other mechanical filter, which is a good idea both for keeping chunks of stuff out of your skimmer, and for giving you a chance to get it out of the water before it breaks down.
 

Edin

Larval Mass
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#9
If you end up with a species that is found in tide pools, don't sweat short term changes in salinity. As tide pools bake in the sun they often loose a large percentage of their water to evaporation, causing a spike in salinity (and temp) that lasts until the next sufficiently high tide, and then changes very suddenly. Tide pool species have evolved to be able to shrug this off.
That's a good point, I haven't even thought about that. Are O. Vulgaris found in tidepools?
 
Last edited:

Edin

Larval Mass
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#10
Some updates: It looks like the LFS ordered the 210 Aquaeon Overflow version so it'll arrive with two overflows built in. It should look like this:

210galoverflow.jpg

With the amount of space they take / water displacement, I guess that will make this a 200gal? Once it arrives I'll look it over and figure out how to octo-proof it. I'm thinking two custom glass panes for the left and right sides and a lock mechanism on another pane in the middle.

Skimmer:
Now I'm looking at the AquaMaxx ConeS CO-5 In-Sump Protein Skimmer. It's rated for 350-600 gallons.
I'm doing some reading now (links below) and from what I can tell it seems like they only remove 30% of TOC. Would it make sense to have two AquaMaxx CO-2 skimmers instead of one CO-5 Skimmer, especially now that I know I'll have two overflows? (I plan to upgrade the sump to a 75g to accommodate for the room they'll take up.)

The links for what I'm reading:
Feature Article: Further Studies on Protein Skimmer Performance
Feature Article: Elemental Analysis of Skimmate: What Does a Protein Skimmer Actually Remove from Aquarium Water?
Myths about protein skimmer size - Reef Central Online Community
Skimmer size debate!!??

Skimmer (again): At what point should I introduce my skimmer to the system? I've heard both immediately and I've heard about two months into the cycle so it doesn't remove the bacteria right away. Thoughts?

Water Quality: I just received my API Reef Master Test Kit and I'll be testing my tap water soon to see what stage RO/DI unit I'll need.

Thanks! :)
 

tonmo

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#11
Hey, how is this project coming? Feels like we should move this to the Tank Talk forum, yeah?
 

Edin

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#12
Moving to the Tank Talk forum sounds good! (I didn't know it existed, sorry.)

The project is coming along pretty well. I've updated my design and my 210g and 75g have arrived (attached, but I've recently decided to just use one return pump and two smaller heaters in case one fails). I'll be contacting a local glass company this weekend about getting some baffles for my sump and then I should be ready to start adding RO/DI water and live rock. I'm still on the lookout for a good non-metal mesh-like material to cover the top of my overflow. :smile:
 

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tonmo

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#13
Nice!! Great design diagram -- though I can't vouch for the design itself; I'm no expert -- but it does a great job of conveying intent - thanks for sharing!
 

DWhatley

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#14
I would recommend not joining the overflow pipes into a single, blockable tube. Unless the tube receiving the two outflows is larger than the delivery tubing you will be choking your return. Additionally, combining the tubing allows for a single point of failure if blocked by debris or an energetic (voice of experience) snail.

If you have decided on a single return pump, check into using a SCWD (or something equivalent) to still give you return flow from two different directions.
 

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