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Refugiam prep, tank make over, and a new chapter!


Feb 22, 2017
I recently acquired a refugium to hang onto the back of my tank. I've been told this is a great way to help balance and keep your tank clean. This is a work in progress as I found out the store I got it from forgot to send me home with a pump to draw water and and through it. This refugiam also has a built in skimmer to it. I was also suggested that I might be able to keep a frogfish in the refugiam as a side pet. Looking more into that.

I've taken time to add a few more small feather dusters-not yet sure how they will do with cephalopods but I've also never heard anything saying anything against them. So a bit of an experiment. Miss Ripley when I had her never seemed to bother the large one, though she was also towards the end of her life she did spend a few days hunting but never bothered it. So maybe. Will see down the road.
I also have added a few peppermint shrimp which are there to more or less help maintain my tank while I wait for the next cephalopod of a sort to come along. (currently trying for either a cuttlefish as they are tank raised, or a tank raised octopus if one comes available. Granted due to the long possible wait is why I am allowing a few cleaner crew who would be treats for the octopus into the tank.)

I did run into a snag on some of my live rock as it started to grow a green like pest algae on it that I am told is very hard to get rid of. One of the stores here told me I can bring the rock in and they would help me with this. So currently I have that rock quarantined out of the tank and a lot of open space. I have a few new mushrooms that are more or less sitting on the sand until I can get some rock to put them on.
But on the plus this will make room for me to reorganize some of my rock as I have that cave rock piece I've been wanting to add in. I was not able to at the time I had it due to the at time octopus, Ripley having made her nest right on the spot I meant to put it.

I also added some microalgae including some dragon breath which seems to be doing great. Adds some color to my tank. That along with a pink bubble microalgae I also added.

Working with the mushrooms corals-I've really grown an appreciation of them as well as an enjoyment. So even while my tank does not hold much in the form of moving critters, I am greatly enjoying the life that is in it.
The new look to the tank. I'm pretty pleased with it. Plus all the coral in it are hardy species and for the part resilient even if future ceph-ooccupant might be a bit rough with them.
Currently working on trying to get a cuttlefish egg. Which-oddly enough if I get that I will need to take out some of the rock. The plan for that is to take out the large piece on the left as that is the easiest to move out and I think having a cave (which is the larger rock on the right) might be fun if they go in and out of it. I know the snails and hermits really seem to like to explore around it.
Goal-experimenting with having an enriching environment while also an eye pleasing one.

Thoughts and tips?


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Looking good but you won't have to take out any rock for a cuttlefish. You may want to get several eggs as the seem to do better in multiples and sometimes not all eggs hatch. You will also need a small tank (and big pocket book) to support the live mysid shrimp you will need for the first month or so. I found that keeping water movement to a minimum (I used an air wand in a circular tank) and feeding the mysid frozen daphnia at least twice a day went a long way in keeping them alive.
That much rock won't be a problem for cuttlefish? I wasn't sure if they needed more open sand beds. If I can keep it like that-that'd be great!
Yes, I'm hoping to get more then one. Basically a cluster of eggs.
How big of a side tank did you use for raising the shrimp?
I recommend an 8 to 10 gallon container with movement using air (I used a flexible air stone that I could bend to encircle the bottom of the tank) vs a powerhead or other motorized water mover. The tank does not need to be a formal set up and I suspect circular vs square may be beneficial (I used a biorb but that was because I have one). The only filtration I used was live rock. It does make it hard to catch them but it eliminated the need to do many water changes or run other filtration during the time I needed it (first month or so).

The bad news is that live mysid are the only thing we have found that are consistently acceptable as first foods (brine shrimp are consistently lethal) and keeping a supply is very expensive unless you have a local source.
Okay. That shouldn't be too hard. If it's one thing that oddly seems to reproduce well for me it's shrimp species. Lol.
I actually believe (but will check again) that there are a few local sources here for live mysid around possibly too. I know there are a few local saltwater club members who raise a lot of critters.
But that setup doesn't sound too difficult.
Sounds like this will be a fun learning challenge.
I'm still also on a waiting list for a tank raised bimac octopus. (Which may take a long time.) So a cuttle-clan is more likely to come next.
That video is indeed wonderful. I'd love to go to a conference like this.

I'm curious- they mentioned brittle starfish as clean up crew suitable in the tank- does this include serpent starfish as being safe with cuttlefish? I know they are fine with octopus.
Yes, serpents and brittles are fine with either. The only warning is to keep them from the eggs. I know they will eat octopus eggs and suspect cuttle eggs may also be on their menu.

TONMO does a cephalopod conference every two years. TONMOcon VII will be this April in Boston. Until this opportunity to have it at Woods Hole, we had been alternating East and West coasts. This would normally have been a West Coast event but there was no way to pass up this location.
Question on the refugium- I've added Kato and some and pieces of live rock. My question is I've been told I don't need sand in there due to having sand in the main tank- is it alright to add a small layer inside it more for looks as well as I was going to add a frogfish in there? Or does it matter?
Unless you create a deep sand bed, adding sand to your refugium won't be particularly beneficial and it will need regular cleaning but, if kept clean, won't harm anything and would provide substrate for macro algae.
Unless you create a deep sand bed, adding sand to your refugium won't be particularly beneficial and it will need regular cleaning but, if kept clean, won't harm anything and would provide substrate for macro algae.
What is the best recommend way to set up a refugium long term- using it as a live filter?
I'm getting confused on this.
Is it better to add the sand and then the algae as a filter sort. Or better to just have Kato and small rocks in it?
You are pretty much into preference rather than best practice territory so reviewing more tank oriented literature or forums for ideas and experimental results will give you a better idea of how you may want to proceed. Some people really like their refugiums to be small display tanks, some use their sumps. I gave up on using the sump as a refugium because of the additional work and lighting requirements. If your refugium is also your sump I would recommend not using sand to avoid complications with the pumps.

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