• Looking to buy a cephalopod? Check out Tomh's Cephs Forum, and this post in particular shares important info about our policies as it relates to responsible ceph-keeping.

Non-Ceph: SMALL Marine Inverts Tank


Nov 18, 2002
Hi everybody,

Well, despite living near the pacific ocean, the lack of sealife in my home has become distressing. I have held off setting up a bimac tank (of which I believe I have a pretty good grasp of, needs-wise, from all of the exposure to everyone's tanks over the last few years) because I am planning on moving to Thailand in 2004... I both do not want to have to try to find my little friend a home that can take of him (or her), and I do not want to make the ~$1K investment in a tank that I know no one will take care of, nor appreciate once I am gone (an approximate stay of 1-2 years) and that I obviously can't ship with me, especially since I have a lot of recording gear which is already going to be a massive undertaking to transport... So what I am wondering is, what is the smallest feasible tank to keep for small marine inverts? I would be most interested in keeping a few small crabs and shrimp, and of course whatever hitchhikers jumped a ride on the live rock. I'd like to have a bit of ocean invertebrate life in my home before I leave, and altho cephalopods are obviously my true love, I find the little crustaceans entertaining (altho if I had an octo they'd simply be lunch). I am patient and even for a small tank I can deal with waiting for cycling, etc.; I'm not going to throw a bunch of animals in a tank and hope for the best. I have read however, that tanks under 20g can have crashes that kill all of the inhabitants? Would a 10g tank be feasible for marine life? If so, what would be an approximate level of animals for such a tank? Amount of live rock? I would not want to overstock the tank, and would be happy with a few small animals; I have not yet had a tank and it would also be (on a much smaller scale) a preparation, experience-wise for the ceph tanks I plan on having once I move to Thailand. Also, for a tank of such small size (20g or, preferably less), what would my equipment needs be? Sorry for the non-ceph question, but I am eager to start my saltwater aquaria keeping, and am resisting the urge to postpone my emigration and eat the cost of a tank for a bimac, as a large part of my motivation for relocation is the cephalopod fauna of that country... (can anyone swim with Sepioteuthis and not want to live near them and be able to interact with them on a regular basis? And they have cuttlefish there, unlike north america, and warm water unlike our relatively cold seas...) :smile:

Hi Saul, which part of Thailand are you moving to? Well I have never seen a live cuttle there once, the only place you'll find cuttlefish there is at a seafood restaurant. They culture S.pharoanis there but I guess they are too big. They do have a few freshwater fish in some markets but they are mostly betta splendens which they use for fights. :wink:

I'm not too familiar with the smaller invert's needs (Probably someone else here will be) but you can go check out Reef Central
I actually think it's better to set up a smaller system to gain some experience in doing everything and keeping everything stable based on the past experiences I've heard.
For smaller tanks, I think all you need for filtration is a powerhead, but I'm not sure, cause I'm new too.
Chamkeeper: Thanks for the link, I'll check out the site!

Joel: Well, my stay is going to be divided into a couple of legs... I'll be in Bangkok for at least 6 months, as there is steady work for me there (I'm a DJ and while 1000 baht a night to start isn't much in the grand scheme of things, it's a lot more than a lot of people make there), as well as making trips out to Ko Phagnon to play the full moon parties... But also I'm going to be spending a lot of time travelling around to the different coastal and island areas to observe the Cephs in their environment, plus little trips to the surrounding countries for visa runs. However it's going to be next year because I'm going to save up enough money so that I don't _have_ to work (pretty easy with baht so weak against the dollar). I do know that Dr. James Wood saw a Sepia pharaonis off of one of the beaches in Phuket while we were there (in fact it was less than 50 yards from the actual beach... But yeah we didn't see any when they went out diving in the island chains.

WhiteKiboko: Yep! Beautiful country, friendly people, wonderful food, crowds that love my music, great beer and great marine life... What's not to like? After our liveaboard James, Ruth, Jennifer and I were all scheming on ways to stay... It's just that kind of place :smile:

Hi Saul,

About your original question on a small invert tank -

I have kept one for about 10 months now, a 19 gallon tank and it's been very successful, no crashes. Maybe that's because I had Colin advise me on it! I have only a Fluval 104 filter that I maintain once a month, and about 1 1/2 inches of fine sand. Also 25 lbs of live rock, including a "mountain". The tank is sold for corals, so has both a fluorescent and actinic bulb above the tank.

I had bought a cleaner shrimp (skunk shrimp) for my ceph aquarium, but I (and my husband)became so fond of Shrimpy that I set up a separate tank for him so he wouldn't become the future Ollie's lunch. We also have a red-legged crab, a mushroom anemone (fascinating!), featherdusters, snails, and countless amphipods and other small creatures. Lots of coralline algae has formed.

The tank is facinating to watch, always entertaining, and Shrimpy is quite tame and will climb on our hands or come running when he sees a face looking in.

So yes, you can have a small invert tank.

That's encouraging, Nancy, thanks! Do you think that a 10g would be doable or should I play it safe and maintain a 20g? Any thoughts are appreciated, as always

Hi Nancy,

Also, you say the tank is sold for corals, is it a kit? How much did it set you back in that case? (And was it sold complete?) Also, I used to live in DFW (bounced around southlake, grapevine, arlington, irving, that area when I lived there and I go occasionally to visit my ex and my close friends), shoot me a PM and I'll say hi the next time I am down around the old texan kicking grounds (unfortunately [even tho galveston is quite a ways south] James has relocated to Bermuda but I'd still love to visit the NRCC on one of my texas trips!) :smile:


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