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50g Breeder and first attempt at keeping a ceph


Oct 18, 2012
Hope its ok I start a build thread here. This will be my first attempt at keeping a ceph and want to do it right. I have recently purchased a used 50g breeder that is predrilled with (2) bulkheads. The bulkhead placement are at the far left and far right of the tank several inches below the rim. The first thing I would like to tackle is I can tell from the saltline that the water is about an inch below the rim. I honestly feel like this is going to bother me and have been thinking of ways to overcome this. My first thought is to build a coast to coast internal overflow/weir so that the water has to go almost to the top. I would do this ONLY if I decide to go with the BeanAnimal design but that would force me to buy a new stronger pump.

The second option and most budget friendly is to keep the bulkheads where they are and use my existing Taam rio 1100 pump. I am going to assume this will be somewhat noisy as I dont think I will have enough waterflow to completely fill 1inch or even 3/4inch pvc. Opinions on this would be greatly appreciated.

My current equipment list is as follows
29g Dt cycling about 7-10 days now
Super nano kit from glassholes.com
Taam rio+ 1100 pump
20g sump with Upflow algae scrubber, tufa rock, refugium section for chaeto or w/e
aqueon 1250 gph powerhead
50 lbs base rock from reefrocks.net
7lbs live rock from LFS
50g breeder empty
10g nano with marineland led hood and hob filter (been cycling about 2 weeks)
300 watt heater
(2) clip on lamps from HD
4w led bulb true daylight (50 watt equiv)
7w led bulb daylight (for Upflow Algae scrubber)

2 more questions come to mind
1. What do you guys do to cover powerheads so they dont become blenders? Links for materials used would be great.
2. How do you incorperate your carbon into your sump build? I was thinking of just putting it in my filter sock.

Sorry to post so much but expect more to come lol. I want to be sure things are done right the first time. Thanks again :hmm:
Radioactive, Welcome to TONMO!

I'll make a few suggestions but always keep in mind that tank builds are not a standard and there are almost as many build out differences as there are tanks.

Overflow - If I understand you concern about the overflows not providing full pool, this is actually desirable for an octopus (no advantage for cuttlefish). Neal and I prefer to drill our octopus tanks with as large an air pocket as is reasonable (1"-2"). Most octos are not fond of being out of the water and the extra air space is helpful for dissuading escape. Additionally, we have found that add a lip around the edge is beneficial for the same reason so our tanks usually have an acrylic cover with cutouts that are covered with inset tops (like you will see on most acrylic tanks. That being said, I would highly recommend building out a weir if the bulk heads are not inside an overflow, not to raise the water level but to discourage finding your octo in the sump (or on the floor). Even with a box around the bulkheads, you may need to add some dissuasion with rough material in the box (a course sponge seems to work well) when the octo is small (either because of age or sizing). I had very young animals end up in my sump (Yeti being the latest because I forgot to put one in place) and found that a course sponge ends the problem.

Powerheads - I avoid normal power heads in the octo tanks and use a Koralias. The Koralia's impeller is designed to freeze with very little interference but, again with smaller animals, I place them in a mesh bag to keep little investigating arms from harm. Lately, I have just left the bags in place. They do stress the equipment a bit and need cleaning periodically but less gets into the hardware and it is not something I have to think about if I get a young animal.

Carbon Filtration - Virtually all my tanks with sumps now have a simple homemade PVC contraption (pipe and 90 deg bends) that slips through the handles on the larger (7" forget about a 4" size) filter socks. I place a mesh bag of carbon inside the bag so the filtration is not active like with a canister but better than passive. I keep two bags for each tank so that I can swap them out weekly and rinse the carbon of debris. I particularly like the zippered bags for this (the same ones I use on the Koralias). I have tried a variety of media bags and like this style (not necessarily this vendor but I ordered these when looking them up for you). I have black and ordered the white this time to know when I have replaced the carbon in which set. I normally replace carbon about once every 2 months but since I alternate, that equates to about once a month. I would recommend white if you only get a single color because it is easier to see the dirt when you rinse.

Two things you have not mentioned that are recommended are your top considerations (an octopus tank MUST have a full top) and a skimmer.

There are a couple of stickies (the green threads that stay at the top) that may offer help or ideas. Some of the more complete build out threads are linked and we encourage keeping a journal with photos as you design your tank.

Oh, and long posts are OK :oops:
Thanks I was searching forever trying to find that material. The link is perfect and I will be ordering them soon. I make all my filter socks with 100% polly and needle and thread. They arent the prettiest but can survive cleaning in the washer(without soap) or hand wash very easilly. I do not have a skimmer but will be getting one from a friend next I see him. It is a reef devil and it used to be for his reef tank of over 8 years. Since its free and seems to be a decent skimmer I jumped all over it when he offered.

One thing I do NOT have is an rodi unit. I have tested my water from tap and show 0 copper. Do you think I can get away with this?

The 2 bulkheads have strainers on the inside of the tank but now box. Can I use that plastic mesh to cover them and call it a day?

Astro turf will be lining my entire hood and the hood itself will be custom made by yours truly. Right now I was thinking industrial strength velcro to secure it in place. So far I am thinking of using lightdifuser panel covered with some type of plastic screen. I would really like to keep the top "breathable" for gas exchange. My concern is that the screen material will build up with saltcreep so im still open to suggestions on this.

I also forgot to mention I am splitting the theme of my tank. On one side I will have all the live rock (55-60lbs) and the other I am going to fully take advantage of having a 2 year old son. It will be a "theme park" so to speak and I would like to document which side the octo likes better and why. Lighting will consist of normal e27 bulbs via clamp on light. I was thinking about getting 2 red bulbs but will try different lighting to see what works best for him/her.

I am about 2 hours away from Long Island and was thinking about getting food from Bait shops there. I live 5 minutes from the hudson river but would be waaaay to worried about getting food from shops around here since the hudson is extremely polluted. Thanks again
Power Heads - how fine are the strainers, how far away are they from the implelller and how easy are they to remove? These might be all you need if the answers are fine, several inches, very hard. Otherwise, you will have to create something to meet that criteria. Another reason I like the Koralias is that they have no narrow inlet tube but suck from all directions. This gives a lot of output without forceful input. Over time I have eliminated all my power heads and replaced them with Koralias (there are other styles with the same idea now but I have not tried any of the off or new brands).

RO/DI unit - IMO, it is not optional. Your tap water has a ton of chemicals that need removing. They are put there to kill bacteria and strengthen your teeth. They need to be removed. If you are lucky, you have chlorine and not chloramine. Chloramine is a special mixture of Ammonia and Chlorine. It does not separate well and is benign at tap PH. Raising the PH makes it poisonous. If you can't start with RO/DI, buy either distilled or RO/DI from the grocery. Chemicals that claim to remove chloramine don't. If you read the fine print they break the chemical bond and remove the chlorine.

Astro turf - I will recommend not using it as it will get extremely nasty. A better preventative is to design your top with as much over hang as you can manage and still clean the tank and then secure anything that opens. Stuff a very course sponge in any openings that can't be entirely closed. Screen (fiberglass) or something like this (I have been thinking about trying this) might be suitable. Currently mine are all acrylic and we use a peg board and drill to make uniform holes in the lids without drilling the entire top. (DIY is a rule not an option :grin:)

Good idea on having lighting options as, over time, you will have different species. I keep a red light on most of the octo tanks and light half the tank with it 24/7 and have noted some interesting anecdotal behaviors. When they are very young all have chosen to den on the side with the red light. As they become adult, they seem to prefer the unlit night side. There may be other explanations but my rock is pretty much equal on either side. Flow might be different.

For store bought and our favorite, blue crab claws, try your local Asian market or grocery seafood counter (most of the later have disappeared in my city). We scavenge the crab claws from the live tanks and it is their favorite food. The claws can be frozen (but not attached to a crab). Frozen shrimp, live clams (I let them sit in a bucked of tank water overnight before feeding. You can leave these in the tank as clean up crew that will eventually - if not immediately - be eaten.), an occasional crawdad (you need to be sure these are eaten before they die in the saltwater but I have never had one to be left to die) and any small crab (live) are all options for feeding.
Power head has very large open face. It is 1250gph and I do not mind stressing it out by covering it with some kind of octo proof material. It goes for $60 retail but I got a steal for $16 shipped so no biggie if it breaks due to stress.

RO water is $1 per gallon so that would cost me $80 just for the initial fill of DT and sump. I am looking at this unit http://www.purewaterclub.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=95&products_id=246 for cost concerns. I understand this is not a great long term unit but several factors come into play. I do not pay for water so wastewater is not a big concern. If I get my initial fill plus 1 or 2 topoffs then I am ahead of the game. I honestly feel like this will be my best solution since I can not find any units on craigslist.

Wednesday I build my stand for the DT so this is coming along quick. The top is another story. I will most likely have to drill my DT for a return so that I can have a completely sealed lid. No biggie as I have drilled tanks before. From what I am reading acrylic or plexiglass warps over time and drilling heat escape holes seems to prolong it. I have looked through some build threads to get ideas on tops but still not 100% on what I will do. I have a 12"x12" 1/4 peice of glass left over that I can use for my light/door. Do you think the spacing on the screen you linked would be OK for small octo's?

Thanks for the tips on the food. I will look at the market today. Thanks again
Humm, at that price, if you can get 6 months to a year from it, not bad at all. One other item you should add though is a TDS meter. This will give you a good clue on when to replace the RO filter. You can get a stand-alone unit but I have not used mine since I got an in-line tester and they are even cheaper now. The only other suggestion is when it is time to replace the DI sand, buy a refillable clear DI canister (standard connection) so that you can replace the mineral removing sand. It is less expensive than replacing the sealed unit but messy and somewhat frustrating trying to deal with the screw on cap so that there is not a grain of sand to prevent leaking. I am thinking about replacing mine with a canister style I saw. It would provide a bigger sand bed but I am not sure the sealing issue would be any better.

PS would not buy used as the RO and sand would need replacing and cost almost as much as the unit.

This is where I buy my filters and parts I usually shop eBay for the DI resin and buy a large bag (keep in mind I have 8+ tanks to maintain).
Yeah I will certainly get a tds (especially with this unit). I am going over my finances and 1 last question came up. Can I do a high flow system and not use powerheads? If I were to do a Bean Animal overflow with my return plummed into my tank and have a flowrate of approx (1000gph at the pump) would this be too much? the DT is 36x18x19 I think. I can also adjust the flow down to be less if needed but I am trying to figure out which pump I am buying. I think with all my rock in place to deflect the flow it would be ok but wanted to ask opinions first. Thanks
Sadly, I am not up on some of newer experiments and know nothing about the Bean Animal system. Octos like areas of relatively high flow but not throughout the tank. As they age you often see them sitting in the return field but as little ones, this is too much for them. How much is too much I have no clue. You DO want enough flow to move debris and keep your nitrates as low as possible. There is anecdotal evidence that octos are more sensitive to infection (especially eye) when nitrates are high. Actual numbers are not established but I have had eye infection issues in two cases and now believe this was a factor.
Thank you. I am going to have an upflow algae scrubber in my sump. These are amazing at removing nitrates. Basicly you grow algae in a contained area so that it does not grow anywhere else. Algae does an amazing job at eating away nitrates. On top of all of that it uses a wooden airstone in the compartment which will help oxygen exchange. Basicly a very inexpensive yet very effective tool I think anyone should look into. There are other designs that can be used without a sump but all have proven to be effective.

The bean animal design utilizes 3 pipes (1 being an emergency) and can handle an insane amount of flow and be whisper quite. No air exchange is used and works by filling the entire column of your pvc with water. Since this DT will be in my living room it being quiet is very important. I would need to build a weir which would help with surface skimming but would also need to place a screen over the 3 inlets to prevent escape.

One last question and I will stop being such a pest for a while. Normally bubble traps are desired to rid the system of microbubbles. Would microbubbles from a skimmer be a good or bad thing for an octo setup? Thanks again
The general consensus is bubbles are not a good thing and can cause havoc (including death) if they get into the mantle. Fortunately we don't see much of this, likely because most have sumps but Roy has seen it as fatal in the lab. An easy way to eliminate them and add a bit more filtration is to put a filter sock under the skimmer return. Simple, quiet and minimal maintenance.

I've passively looked at algae scrubbers and allowed an uncontained but vacuumed growth on my back wall of one tank just to see if it helped (not). Right now I am experimenting with a small DSB in the tank that I gave an example of drilling holes in an acrylic lid. If you looked at the tank you may have noticed a built-in sump that serves no purpose since we drilled the tank and have a much larger area below. I thought about an algae scrubber here but opted for a DSB. It will be awhile before I know if it is effective (this is a tank that suffers from higher nitrates). keep in mind that you are going to stress your system. Octopuses are messy eaters and the garbage can be hard to locate timely. This is why we are so insistent on 3 months or more of active cycle time as the waste is like a tank full of fish.
I've passively looked at algae scrubbers and allowed an uncontained but vacuumed growth on my back wall of one tank just to see if it helped (not). Right now I am experimenting with a small DSB in the tank that I gave an example of drilling holes in an acrylic lid. If you looked at the tank you may have noticed a built-in sump that serves no purpose since we drilled the tank and have a much larger area below. I thought about an algae scrubber here but opted for a DSB. It will be awhile before I know if it is effective (this is a tank that suffers from higher nitrates). keep in mind that you are going to stress your system. Octopuses are messy eaters and the garbage can be hard to locate timely. This is why we are so insistent on 3 months or more of active cycle time as the waste is like a tank full of fish.

Anyone ever tried a Sulfur Denitrator in a ceph tank?
Why o why did I read the cuttlefish articles.....what to do..

Stands are built and now we may do 50g sumps to go with our 50 DT's. Got my glass for my weir today and will build it tonight.

I have never used a sulfer denitrator but the information I am seeing looks interesting.

My friend cant find his reef devil so now im back to no skimmer. I guess that gives me 3 months to save for one since I wont have an octo for that long anyway. I really wish I could get away with a DSB in a 50g sump/refugium and not have to skimm. Is it possible? Please dont flame me I am just weighing my options. The plan would be to have a 50g breeder sump. use 12 inch high baffles and do 4 inches for filter socks and carbon , then a 24 inch section for refugium with proper DSB, then 8 inch for return area with ato. I would have a veggie filter (chaeto) in the fuge along with whatever live food i will keep and maybe some sand sifters. Keep in mind each section is also 18 inches deep. Seems like alot of filteration for 1 octo. This will all be in conjunction with the bean animal overflow so I could increase my flow rate if desired.


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...go with the octo...I know, it's a tough call! I was on the fence for a minute myself, but now I'm resolute; my hearts been tickled by tentacles. I believe the general consensus here is that a protein skimmer is a must. No one here is going to "flame" you for asking a legitimate question, you've got quite a bit of filtration planned there. Everyone here is really cool about sharing the information needed to keep these critters successfully. That said, I'm in the learning phase too, so listen to what the experts here suggest. Good luck to you! I'm looking forward to reading of your progress!
Looking good. I really highly suggest the skimmer, Octo and cuttles are very messy, in addition its about the only thing that helps with ink. the skimmer is not needed for cycling. so you definatly have time to save up...check craigslist things pop up cheap on there a lot.
Will do thanks guys. I will save up over the next 3 months. I think I will be up and running next week. Should be getting RODI unit around the 3rd or 4th. Once thats here the tanks are getting filled . This is all assuming leak tests and baffles go as planned. Im still going to do a very large section of my sump as a dsb/refugium with chaeto. Plus I can keep more live food in there when its bigger.

Hopefully $150 will get me a decent skimmer as thats about all I can swing.Since I am planning my sump now would you guys say 9"x18" is enough room in my sump for most skimmers? Height really isnt an issue.

One last question for today. Are 1/4" holes too big for my top? Thanks everyone I really appreciate all the feedback thats been given.

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