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Live PhytoPlankton


Pygmy Octopus
Aug 22, 2003

I am thinking of setting up a 50 gallon ceph tank. (I currently run a 150g SPS reef tank)

I would like to know whether anybody uses live phytoplankton to increase critter biomass. Any particular species of live phyto ? (nanno?)

Also, has anyone tried running a tank using Miracle Mud or similar - and dispensing with a skimmer (but possibly increasing mechanical filtration?)

I am strongly considering linking the two systems together - should there be any problem with this?.... (assuming common filtration)

Ammonia - 0
Nitrite - 0
Nitrates - 0
Phosphates - 0
Calcium 430
Alk 9.1
Salinity 1.026
Magnesium 1250-1300

Many thanks for your help

Hi and :welcome: to TONMO.com ,Elliot

I use live phytoplankton but Im not exactly sure what species, I also add rotifers to the tank each time i set a new one up (in case you were interested)

I think it should be ok to link the filtration, However Im not sure if the water is too alkaline. You will also have to make sure that the copper levels are 0 as cephs are very sensitive to this.

Many thanks for your quick reply!!!

The alkalinity is high due to the reef being an SPS (small polyp stoney hard coral) dominated tank.

Copper - as will all inverts is a definatate no-no in an SPS tank - so no worries there - as I use no medications.

Do you add both rotifers and phyto once off only? I was thinking more continous - although probably not rotifers (as I do not have a sufficient quantities of live phyto in reserve).

What are you thoughts regarding an eco-system approach?


I see, what other inhabitants are there in the tank? (just curious)
I add the phytoplakton about every 2 weeks, the rotifers are added only once.

I have a tank full of acropora, montipora and several plating fungias.

There is a Malu anenome, a bubble tip anenome.

2 bali clowns, 1 vampire tang, 1 hawaii tang, 1 purple tang, 1 dottyback, 2 atchman gobies, pistol shrimp, 100+ snails, 100 + assorted crabs.

I continously feed the reef with brine shrimp, mysis, lance fish, phyto plankton - using peristalitic pumps. (about 75ml a day phyto)

The rotifers, I am investigating now, as they are a primary acropora food source - but am holding off until I have decent phytoplankton levels for the rotifers to feed.

I have searched for the ecosystenm method on the site - but have so far found nothing regarding miracle mud etc.


Reef v. Octopus tank links

Octopus are gross feeders and will literally foul up your good reef conditions if you link tanks.
I found cuttlefish would tolerate levels of nitrate I could only estimate by dilution - I don't think a nice coral system would respond favourably to that!
Colin did post something along the same lines a few days ago.
Skimmers remove a lot of muck with cephalopods, including ink, and in my opinion are a very important part of the equipment.

Thanks for your reply.... I have been unable to locate Colins post re: miracle mud or natural nutrient exportation.

Despite being a gross feeder, would it not be possible with daily live phyto, rowaphos, above tank refugium (supplying pods etc), and possibly a sump based DSB - I could consider not running a skimmer.

I would/could still plumb in my deltec AP850 - should the need arise?

I currently feed 5 cubes of brine, 4 cubes of mysis and half a lance fish daily for my current reef inhabitants, 20 river shrimp over the week.

I was also hoping of a small ceph species which would be able to scavange the live rock for the majority of his food, with only infrequent adding of river shrimp etc.
Miracle mud, etc.

I think this is a Sevenoaks Marine thing - & have only read about it on the web, no practical experience.
Colin posted a response about waste levels being so high that they would upset the almost sterile conditions in reef aquaria, and advocated ceph-only systems.
With live rock you can get a lot of life (worms & copepods, etc.)clearing up after cephs., and other things can be added to tidy them up! (I used seahorses, and queried mandarins as suitable in old posts, but they could become part of the food chain?)
Most cephs. eat large prey, preferably live, and would probably not thrive scavenging, and cuttlefish need a night/day regime to remain healthy?.
I have not kept cuttlefish for several years so am not aquainted with the latest equipment names/types.
I think you have to plan to feed an octopus (shrimp, not brine shrimp, scallop, crabs, etc.) My bimac ate everything he could from the live rock (amphipods, one crab) until there was nothing left. This was within the first few weeks I had him. Octopuses, even small ones, eat a lot.

Nancy and Mike,

Thanks for your thoughts....

Ok... so I guess before we I go any further, I should try and see what sort of bio-load my filtration would need to take.

Could you give me an idea of what nitrate, nitrite and phosphate levels your tanks run at. Is there a need to run phosphate absorbers?

I noted with interest in an article by Rob Tooney, that he quoted several papers showing inflated nitrate readings were not harmful to octopuses. (The article is from last issue of Advanced Aquarist Online Mag). It was this that got me thinking of having a species tank added onto the reef. (Although for the time being, this will be stand alone). I had with this information presumed that with regular water changes, levels of nitrate would be sufficiently low.

Furthermore, I was hoping with phytoplankton, refugium and dsb - that my "natural filters" could be adapted to provide large volumes of critters and cut down on further water pollution. Also, phytoplankton should reduce nirtate further.

The sump would also contain a large amount of the live rock, so as to avoid predation... but the tank will also have a 20 - 30kg - purely for octopus habitate and asthetics.

In your opinion, am I still unrealistic to think I can achieve an eco-system approach to octopus keeping?

Many thanks for your thoughts on the above

Nitrite was measurable, nitrate can go completely off-scale, (250+ppm).
I used to try to encourage macro-algae to furnish the aquarium, and remove some to try to balance nitrates. The common caulerpa grow rapidly, but are prone to suddenly dying back and need to be cropped.
I never measured phosphates.
If water quality dropped too far the cuttlefish went off their food and I would have to make a major water change (50%+), and they recovered rapidly.
Phytoplankton may be removed by skimmers (?) so I would prefer macro-algae growing on rock.
I tried keeping several cuttlefish at the same time, so needed to make sure they were not too hungry, which meant feeding levels were quite high, and waste ditto.
There is more on reef versus cephalopod set-ups in Canister Filters (under Tank Setup and Maintenance)
Hi Elliot,

i have had some serious bother with my PC and three times I have sat to write a response, so please accept my apology if this seems somewhat disjointed and messy...... as soon as this is done the PC goes out the window!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I think that the questions asked are all relevant to what size of octopus you get and I see no reason why an EcoSystem wouldn't work... I have had refugiums set up on an octo/cuttle tank and it seemed fine.

Think about the octo as being a (fish x3) that's because they are said to produce three times as much waste as a fish of the same biomass. I suppose pumping 3 hearts doesn't help that either LOL

My feelings on the water parameters are this.... they are all bad in some way and they are best kept as low as possible, your SPS tank has very enviable water parameters and so you should have no problem setting up and maintaining an octo tank.

I have also seen nitrate and phosphate off the scale and I didnt worry about them too much but like Mike said a big water change is called for if they go off their food.

As far as Rowaphos is concerned, I ran TMCs similar product and it dropped the phosphate right down, which did slow down an algae outbreak but had no visible affect on the cephs feeding or otherwise... if you have the available funds to put a phosphate remover on then go ahead... but i still advocate water changes.

On a personal note, i have seen reef tanks that seem to be running very well at close to 100ppm nitrate, so I am unconviced that the tank needs to be zero and for one of my tanks which was a mixed reef.... the nitrate was over 100ppm and i made a DIY denitrification chamber and within about 4 months the nitrate was