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Monty's Scavenger Tank


Staff member
Moderator (Staff)
Sep 4, 2006
Cape Coral, FL
When Kara sent Monty, I expected to put him in the living room 45 hex but he was so small I opted to start him in the empty 15 gallon tank I keep for dwarfs. Since he is a Caribbean Two Spot (:biggrin2:) we agreed it would be better to keep him in the breakfast room where there is more opportunity for both daytime octo and human viewing. I don't NEED another tank to maintain! :roll: but started looking on craigslist for an inexpensive 40-45 gallon tank. I found two cubes that would have been great but they were gone before I emailed the seller. One of the raffles at MACNA was for a 40 and one of the Atlanta Reef Club members agreed to haul it home for me it I won (yea, right). In any case, I did not win the new tank but Karl offered me a 37 that he needed out of his basement and for the grand cost of helping him move his new 130, Monty has a tank and stand. We had hoped to put our spare 25 in the stand but it was too tall so we picked up a 15 breeder that still did not fit but Neal "adjusted" the sides (with the purchase of a new tool he had been wanting :roll:) and we had the beginnings.

The tank was not drilled and I won't have a siphon overflow so we bought the bits and Neal drilled the holes (his first glass tank drill, others have been acrylic or we took the tank somewhere). He used his small drill press so we could not quite put them as low as desired but perhaps that is OK since we are short a few gallons of the target water capacity. Next we had to make the overflow boxes. The no jig router attempt on the tube tank was not the best of attempts so we found someone who would only charge a little for cutting the turrets (I have no fathoming of the correct name but the top always reminds me of a castle) using a template he had in the store.

I used a made for plastics black paint to blackout the back and, so far, am very pleased with the results. Unlike normal spay paint, it is very opaque and has a plastic like feel. How well it will hold up is anyone's guess.

PlumbingWith the exception of bulkheads, we had enough PVC plumbing (mixed colors, I painted everything black) from prior projects to fashion the water flow.

Lighting and Heating
We had a set of light available from a tank we upgraded but no way to attach them. The last use had them mounted on a bracket screwed into the wall (and it was still on that bracket over Cassy's tank but not in use). Neal came up with a cleaver way to us PVC to support it (wish I had taken a picture) but ultimately, we found a decent board the right size, routed, sanded and stained it to match and have a more or less self contained cabinet. Unfortunately, the lighting is giving me fits taking pictures :hmm:

I had a few spare old glass heaters but they were either too tall or had a short (now trashed) so I opted to bite the bullet and buy a new titanium unit.

This has to be a very inexpensive project and only expected to be a temporary tank (yea, right) so I used the rock I had in my LR bin and scavenged from the other tanks. There is less rock in this tank than my others and I may take two more pieces from Monty's existing tank when we complete the move. I use a very thin sand bed and we still had a large quantity in the garage fish area from the upgrade for Cassy's tank.

We "borrowed" the pump we use to move the fresh and saltwater from tank to tank. I found an old powerhead with enough lift to get the saltwater from the mixing bucket to the holding bucket so the larger pump could be pillaged. We are also borrowing the skimmer from the tank we did not use in the living room. There is only a base clean up crew in that tank so it can run without a skimmer until it has a major occupant. I shortened one of my 7" filter socks to fit in the sump and made a bracket from PVC.

Clean-Up Crew
I had a few hermits I was holding back that I had gotten for the twins as food so they went into the tank as soon as the LR was arranged. I also have a few live bait shrimp from my trip for MACNA so I am using one of them as a miner's canary to be sure I have no water quality issues. I had planned to leave him in there if he died to increase the cycle but he is enjoying having the tank all to himself. I ordered and received the rest of my clean up crew from Kara (SealifeInc) I put in roughtly 20 snails, one serpent star and one brittle star.

Since I am short cycling the tank, I wanted to be sure I would see any signs of unexpected issues so I added two peekish grogonians and transplanted a few polyps from other tanks. They did fine for two weeks so I add one more newly acquired gorgonian, halemidea (which won't live long) and another macro algae (more for some color and tiny critters than any nutrient export expectations) and transferred a small sponge.

The octo tank that is now a sump had an acrylic lid but the tanks are not configured similarly so we scavenged some right thickness acrylic from left overs (one piece had to be made from two) and modified the existing cover to make it all work. There is still a small bit of glueing to be done this weekend to give supporting sides to the hinged top but it is almost complete.


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I am always interested in how people plumb their tanks. I am building my first hard plumbed tank now and am a little intimidated by it. I am sure once I have done it once it will be a little easier and I will feel more brave.:heee:

dwhatley;165201 said:
The no jig router attempt on the tube tank was not the best of attempts so we found someone who would only charge a little for cutting the turrets (I have no fathoming of the correct name but the top always reminds me of a castle) using a template he had in the store.

Its called a weir

You did a really nice job there. I think I will be putting a double overflow as well in my 75 gallon.
Don't even THINK about a single overflow for that sized tank!:shock: We only put one on the 65 and I really regret it. Even though this is a small tank, I wanted two. By splitting them to each side and having the return between them (holes in the bottom half behind the LR with two small siphon breakers at the top) I have a really nice flow. I was not sure if I was going to need to add a koralia for flow but the pump is oversized and it is working out very nicely for this small tank without having to add more.

This is how I plan to plumb my tank so 2 over flows is the way I will be going. My husband doesnt like the idea of drilling a tank but I told him he could practice on a different tank first just so he had a feel for it before he touched my 75.
Cobbled Octo Top

I thought I had included a picture of the top we cobbled together using part of an old octo tank top and scraps but found I had not included it in the build out. The center part is a trimmed down hinged top we made for Octane's tank (upgraded to a larger tank and used the original as a sump). The end pieces over the overflow boxes are hinged and made from scrap.


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Do you have problems with the acrylic pieces of the top bowing over time? If not, why do you think the don't bow? I've read that acrylic absorbs a small amount of water and bowing happens because the bottom side absorbs more than the top. do you periodically flip the pieces over?
Joe, the acryic (even very thick acrylic) tends to warp when the lights are close to the top but much less so if the lighting does not heat the surface. I suspect it is the cooler water on the tank side and warmer temperatures above are more the cause than than moisture absorbsion. Keeping the lids locked down helps a lot if there is support underneath the edges since it has no place to go but I have put an inch square acrylic bar across one lid to try to correct a warping problem (I don't believe it would have started to warp had we had a support along the underside front - one of those debated things that resulted in a wrong choice - the smaller tops that have the front support on the same tank have not warped at all). The warp has corrected to a safe useage over time with the bar but I would like to add an inside front brace when the tank is not occupied.

The lid in the picture never warped in its original configuration but I just now realized it has started showing a problem :oops: Unlike its original use, I did not add the locks to the outer edges of the center lid to force them onto the underneath support (and will do that this weekend).

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