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Suggestions/review of tank equuipment


Dec 13, 2013
Hi all,

I'm ready to buy all the equipment I will need other than my tank to set it up and start cycling for 3 months before I actually get my octopus.

I'm looking at buying a sump, protein skimmer and filter first, and then water and live-rock and whatever else I will use for cycling.

I would like to check the models of equipment I was going to buy to check they would work well for an octopus in a 56 gallon tank.

I have noticed there seem to be some all in one units which are attractive to me, but are these sufficient alone for an octopus?

Some of the sumps/filters I am looking at buying:

If A separate filter is needed I was looking at the Eheim Ecco Comfort filter

If a separate Protein Skimmer is needed, I was looking at the following:

There seems to be some pretty big price discrepancies and I don't want to buy something very expensive if I don't need it. Based on what I have been reading I would think the Proclear or Berliner filter/sump and the cheaper AquaC in sump skinner would be fine.

What are peoples recommendations? Are there better options than what I have considered?
I had 2 of the x2 skimmers and the pumps are junk, bolth originals and a replacement failed inside of a year
I'll add a personal veto for the Red Sea skimmers as well. It has been several years since we operated the Berlin model we bought for our 140 (at about $150 more than the one you are looking at but price and models have changed and can't really be compared) but I would never buy another. It never worked well, made a mess, was hard to clean and produced little more than salt creep. I have never owned a high end skimmer (the Red Sea was the most expensive) but I have had numerous lower end units and have found the Coralife units are the best of the lot by a major margin. For an octopus tank (and really any tank with a heavy bioload) the normal recommendation is to size your skimmer for twice the display tank volume. You will see (and I agree) many comments that note the Coralife units are more properly rated and you can use the smallest skimmer rated for MORE than your volume. The arbitrary twice is not required. Keep in mind there are better skimmers but, IMO, not at the price point of these units.
Thanks, I will look into the Coralife brand.

What is your opinion on getting an all in one unit..sump filter and skimmer versus separate components?

Is there a particular sump/filter you would recommend?
For a sump and filter set up, I prefer an open tank (as large as you can accommodate) with a filter sock containing a bag of charcoal. The acrylic splash box does help with salt creep but can make changing a filter sock clumsy. For my octo tanks, I simply run the overflow into the sock and place a bag of charcoal inside the sock. Look at some of the tank builds listed in this thread for some configuration ideas.

I personally don't like wet/dry or bio ball filtration but others are sold on it. I find the simple sock and charcoal easier to clean and performs well. An open top will help with CO2/Oxygen exchange.
I would definitely recommend buying component parts rather than all in one. If you have the room, size your sump so your skimmer can fit fully inside the sump (the Coralife housings can be placed either inside or outside). Placing the skimmer housing inside the sump will eliminate any problems with skimmer overflow should you put something in the tank that causes a lot of foaming or initially mis-adjust the skimmer.

Often, hobbyists will use their original display tank as their new sump when they go bigger. In a few cases, the sump capacity will exceed the display. Keep in mind that you cannot fill your sump to the top. You will need to find the max water level based upon power off drainage from the main tank.
I was having a look at that thread, but some of it was over my head.

I'm not even sure I understand the setup you described above.

I'm just looking for the best sump/filter that will work with the tank and stand I already purchased. Not sure if I need a seperate protein skimmer or not if the sump/filter includes one.
You only need one skimmer as long as it will remove the protein created by the bio-load of the tank but none of the sumps you referenced have a protein skimmer, there is very little room to add one and they provide very little additional water or oxygen exchange. As a reading guideline, anything marked freshwater/saltwater will not include a protein skimmer.

There are three types of filtration you will need for your tank. Mechanical for particulate and protein removal, chemical to remove organic compounds dissolved in the water (giving it a yellow color) and biological for waste conversion, ammonia(deadly) -> nitrite(poisonous) -> nitrate(mostly benign).

A skimmer, removes protein. Carbon (charcoal) removes the dissolved organics and should be place somewhere in your water flow and rinsed and refreshed regularly.

For particulate removal, you will need some kind of filter material (you will note in the descriptions of your referenced sumps that they will "accept" a variety of filter pads or socks but the filter material is not displayed or clear in the pictures). Pad type particulate filter material will usually be placed in a tray on top of the bioball chamber (like this) and will need regular replacement.

For a wet/dry biological filter, the bio material (often specialized bio-balls but other media is also common) will need to be kept wet but is typically not fully submersed so you are limiting the extra water benefit of your sump space. The arrangement has some staunch fans but I am not one of them.

Instead of the commercial sumps I prefer using a much simpler arrangement with a 7" sock containing mesh bag filled wtih carbon (charcoal) using a regular aquarium as my sump housing. I use live rock in my display tank as my only biological filtration (ie no bio-balls or other bacteria media in the sump). Placing carbon in the sock allows a less passive chemical (charcoal) filtration since the water is forced over the medium as it enters the sump. Look at the second (back) and fourth (front) pictures in this thread. The tank is much smaller but it shows a typical tank and stand set up using an open sump (15 gallon tank in this case) and filter sock (the skimmer is missing in the photo but is placed on the left hand side inside the tank).
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There is so much reading to do. I've tried grasping it all but a lot of it is going over my head.

I just want to buy the equipment and will probably pay someone to set it up for me.

I want the simplest / most cost effective arrangement, which is why I was looking at some all in one systems, or a sump/filter combination with a separate protein skimmer. This setup still allows me to use live rock, charcoal, bio balls etc, so seems like a good simple setup from what I've read.

Are there drawbacks to that? Is there a "better", simpler alternative?

Is there any equipment you can recommend as far as specific models and such?

This one looks attractive to me : CPR Wet/Dry with Skimmer

It's rated for a 200 gallon tank and mine is 56 and I have read good reviews about it. Would there be any reason not to get something like this, and then use live rock and charcoal?

Thank you.
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Welcome to the world of saltwater aquariums. You have pretty well hit the nail on the head when you say there is a lot of reading and it is initially overwhelming. It is a true hobby and like any hobby has a lot of levels but the getting started part does not really allow for many short cuts and often results in a lot of failure (so common that you can google New Tank Syndrome and get a definition). You just can't have a beautiful tank that someone sets up for you and simply enjoy it. I like to recommend getting coach for people new to a marine environment. If you have a friend that has kept saltwater (not freshwater because there is very little that is similar) this would be the ideal candidate. A good LFS is a second choice but finding someone who can take the time with you and watch your tank is often not viable and often a conflict of interest with their need to make a sale. There is a growing industry of young enthusiasts that will (for a fee) come and clean and monitor home tanks. If something like this is in the budget, it can be a good way to get started and learn with hands on but with someone controlling the startup.
I want an octopus, but honestly the tank setup stuff is not that interesting to me (or not yet). So if I can have someone set it up and tell me what I do to maintain the tank, then I'm happy with that.

I live in NYC, but have no friends with aquariums here or in a position to help, so trying to set it up by myself.

At the moment, I just want to set up the tank to start cycling.

The unit I linked to above seems fine...if I get this unit and set it up or have someone set it up and start the cycling for 3 months...aside from testing water levels and making everything going smoothly, is there anything else I would have to look out for?

My plan at the moment is to buy a unit like the one above or similar equipment
clean tank
fill with appropriate water and live rock'
And then essentially wait 3 months, testing and monitoring levels and do whatever else I might need to do to cycle.

Have I missed anything?
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Unfortunately, it is not that simple to create a marine habitat and octopuses are more demanding than most fish. Your initial cycle will show no ammonia or nitrites at about one month, then you will need to continue to build bacteria to handle the waste of a messy animal. Octopuses are not a good choice for beginning hobbyists and we recommend keeping a tank for a year before introducing delicate animals.
I've found someone I'm going to pay to set everything up, which should make things easier...

Can probably pay him for future stuff if I need to.

Does the CPY unit linked above have any real downsides for a 56 gallon tank?