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Live food colonies

Jul 24, 2003
Well since this is quite an expensive hobby, or can be if you cant get frequent sources of live food, im thinkin of ways to make it a little cheaper and easier.

Im considering keeping my live food i.e. crabs, snails, shrimp? (crabs predominently) in the sump. Basically cause I havnt the room for another tank, other than the bedroom and dont fancy the noise of a pump ruining my zzzz's.

As by buying a bag of live crabs and slingin em in the sump they are there as as easy source. This posed some questions.....

1) If I have a sizable colony will their waste effect the quality of the water? Even if it doesnt, it would be intresting to know the level of effect.

2) They would need feeding of'course, but would they take their food from the water that is comin into the sump or would they require some specific food?

3) Actually what do they eat!!??

4) If theres a load in there, they are bound to get fruity at some point :roflmao: :roflmao: so would they breed? and if so how long do crabs take to grow/ is this quite feasible etc

5)Can you think of any other sources of live food that could be kept in there makin it a good cost effective exercise? As i dont want to feed little inky the same stuff all the time and make him bang his head on the wall with boredom.

6) What do reckon on this idea?

Sorry theres so many questions with this but im thinkin this is a good way to make it a more feasible hobby with limited space.

Cheers in advance.
hi Scouse....

1) they will affect the tank's bioload if they are in the sump but that all depends on how big the sump/how good the filter and how many crabs etc etc... but its as good a place as any to put them, maybe put in a small internal fluval 1 or something, that'll catch the solid waste at least. I have doen this exactly as you suggest with good results :smile:

2) Give them fish flakes sparingly once a day... dont want to pollute the tank.

3) em.... almost anything organic but fish flakes has a good balance of vits and minerals that will be passed onto the ceph eventually.

4) They may mate but the young are planktonic and hard to rear.. so wont be a problem, especially since these crabs are on death row anyway.

5) I can supply you with live shore crabs if you want to do it that way... Im not far from a beach that I have used for all my cephs.

6) good one!
Alright Colin,

Nice one mate there are some good answers there which have made me think....

But before you read my responses I'll quickly tell you how I plan my sump to put you in the picture....

Sump, split into three compartments (picture rectangle with two central compartment dividing walls lower in height from sump walls), water from tank drops into comp. No. 1 (live rock and crabs (poss other live food)), water overflows into comp No. 2 (plankton (floro light above) on top and DSB on bottom), water flows over into next one (some kind of mesh barrier that wont clog to stop plankton overflowing), comp No. 3 (skimmer, pump, filter), filter will be free standing and pick up some water circulating in this section then water from comp will enter skimmer before return to main tank.

1) By bioload I take it you mean the actual biological systems in the tank, generating waste etc?

To expand on this i.e. depending upon size of colony and on the filtration I will need to show you my plans for my sump. There is one that is coming with the tank that i shall be adapting, however I dont know the exact sizes so cant draw it up yet.

Goin to look at the tank on thursday and hopefully pick it up on sat so I can crack on with that thereon. Once Ive done that, if I may I'll post the drawing/pic of design for your thoughts if thats cool???

Fluval 1? Not sure what one of these are? some sort of filter plate or cup thing I would imagine?

2 & 3) Fish flakes!! Thats simple enough, brilliant that inky will prosper from the vitamins, he'll need with all the partyin he's gunna be doin!!

I wasnt sure whether they would need anything as the water dropping in to the sump will hit the crabs first, so i thought there maybe enough already in it? but i hear ya on not overloading with fish flakes!! nice one.

4) planktonic eh!?! had to look that one up...shows my naivety!! (an spellin!)

Well I have a theory that may well prosper here? unsure really...by moving any babies into the second section of the sump (plankton & DSB), this may prove as a nursery over time, do you think? Thats if any arnt lost through the mesh or whatever? poss worth a try?

Death Row!! LOLOL Just hopin one of them doesnt turn up the size of that fella on the green mile!! I think me an inky will be in trouble then!!! :shock:

5) That sounds like a good idea if we can sort it out. But we'd have to see its worth while as i might be able to save us both the effort in sourcing them down here. I might try and find the central fish-market for london and cut out my local fishmonger?!? But it sounds good as you will know exactly what is required, where as freddy the fisherman will probably turn up with anything!!!

Shore crabs - are they salt-water? suppose so? Infact thinkin about it, I would require saltwater crabs anyway wouldnt I? because they would go through reverse osmosis (?) after a while if i plonked fresh crabs into salt wouldnt they?

Just noticed an archived food thread which has re-emerged, which is handy for other types of live food. Cheers TONMO!! :notworth:

6) Once again mate! youve come up with the goods, cheers. Good to see you have done this as well, and ive been reading and noticed people have undertaken it with other kinds of live foods aswell but usually in seperate tanks.

p.s. shame to see the jocks got beat in polo by germany!!! polo on elephants!!! what was all that about?!?! and Scotland are top seeds!!!!! LOL
Alright Colin

Just thought I'd add this sketch of the sump design to give you a better idea, unfort no measurments until i get tank at the weekend.

prob about 2 1/2 foot long by 2 ft sq.? total guess!!!!

I was thinkin about growin the plankton in a mesh bag of some sort to add to the protection of the mesh between sections two and three, also help the latter not gettin clogged (i hope!).

Also not sure how sec 3 should run,,,do you reckon flow into sec 3 , then into skimmer, then into filter (save on carbon useage) then return to tank? or flow into sec 3 , leave filter free standin to pick up percentage of water just turnin over in section and skimmer pick up sec 3 and then return to tank?

questions questions questions........

Nice one

I have free time on thursday and fri morning as i am doing a back shift so will have a go at all this stuff i need to catch up with then... good way to share ideas though!!!

Cheers Tony thats cool.

Colin, nice one fella.

Just a thought actually, since readin the two filter thread....the sump im gettin already has a trickle filter built into it and i was gunna do away with it (cut it out) and do my sump the other way. hhmmmm.

The fillter im gettin for the sump is one to contain my carbon etc, need to ask elliot as its an old one of his. I was also thinkin of a rowphos fella madgigy thing bobby whats-his-name.......

More to come but im a bit rushed at mo, but will be able to add lots more on friday (tomorrow) as im goin to view the tank tonight before pickin it up at the weekend.

Hi again
Sorry for the format this is in but with so many points I just need to sort through them one at a time and type away, hope I don’t miss anything…

1) 3 compartments is good but let me juggle them up a bit… I’d have compartment one as the place for the skimmer and probably a load of bioballs. That way you can skim out a lot of the waste before the filter has to worry about it and the bioballs will act as a home for beneficial bacteria. This will also act a bit like a settlement chamber and will catch a lot of the heavy waste. You may need to siphon this periodically and may be worth having a mat prefilter to catch solid waste before it clogs the bioballs… this all depends on your bioload. Part two is the main part of the sump and I’d make this the biggest part. I am actually against the use of deep sand beds DSBs as they have a short lifespan, they can’t last more than three years, but as this is a ceph tank and not a long proposed standing reef tank then we will get away with it. I’d use oolitic sand and calcium plus as a buffer and this is where I’d put the live rock. I’d also have a stack of Caulerpa and encourage this to grow heavily by having a long photoperiod ~18hrs a day? So to recap… 1 for prefilter and skimmer (that also saves you skimming out any amphipods etc) 2 for DSB, liverock, Caulerpa and beasties and part 3 for return pump and carbon/chemical filtration.

2) Rather than plankton in part two it really is the copepod and amphipod populations that you will be growing up. You may keep crabs in this part of the sump but they will probably dig and waste the DSB. Perhaps part three would be best for the crabs? My sump only had one part but it was bare bottom with no DSB so had no worries with crabs messing about in the sump.

3) Plankton really has no use in a ceph tank. It is often used in reef tanks to feed corals etc but will just be unneeded bioload in a octo tank. Better to encourage amphipods etc that will help with waste management.

4) You want the ‘pods to have access to the main tank so wouldn’t use a mesh. Also bristle worms will be good to have in the DSB and in the tank as they eat waste.

5) Bioload is the waste produced by the living things.

6) Fluval 1 is a type of internal power filter, very useful for removing solid waste… try a search online or visit a LFS to se one… I use Fluval and recommend them.

7) The shore crabs are saltwater and are as hard as nails, you can even keep them damp with saltwater in a tank with nothing in it other than a few rocks to climb on and a water change every few days, which is no real hassle when the water is 10mm deep!

8) I’d always have the skimmer first then the rest of the filtration. That way it also removes ink if the need arises before the filter gets clogged with it! How about having the flow from the tank into the sump actually via the skimmer intake fed by gravity? That way all water passes through the skimmer. I did that with my big cuttle tank and into an AquaMedic 5000 skimmer. That was easy though cause the skimmer is 4 foot tall and hold about 5 gals so depends on what skimmer you go for!

9) So, through the skimmer then into the trickle… maybe better buy new bioballs though!

10) Okay? Fire away… I’m sure this just made more questions rather than answering any LOL
Well another post just sparked this question an thought i'd sling it here....

ive dicovered were londons main fish market is an its open to the public aswell, lookin forward to a little adventure down there actually for some strange sights :shock: :heee:

anyway if i picked up a load of live shellfish like clams, mussels, cockles etc an kept them in the sump for feedin time (poss leave some in the main tank aswell), would they also act as a cleanin crew as well since i think these filter water to eat dont they????

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