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Where is your tank, and does it make a mess?


Staff member
Moderator (Staff)
Nov 19, 2002
Hi all,

Forgive me if this or a similar question has been posted before - couldn't find it if so.
All the captive cephs I've been in contact with have been in public aquaria or dedicated aquaculture facilities. One of the things that has held me off from getting a saltwater setup at home is that I live in a rented flat that is fully carpeted (and saltwater in carpets always smells so nice :roll: ); I know water can and does go everywhere during routine maintenance, especially if you have an animal that, you know, likes to squirt jets of it at you. :wink:
So my question for you home ceph-keepers out there is: Where is your tank set up? If it's in a spot that's supposed to generally remain semi dry and tidy, what do you do to ensure that you don't get wayward salt water on everything, and salt creep? Does anyone keep their tank in a carpeted area? Can it be done, just by being really careful?
I guess I just have visions of a sump disaster or sudden octopus shower turning the carpet into a swampy, stinky mess, followed by several years' worth of trying to avoid inspections by the landlord.
Both of our tanks are in our carpeted living room (we had intended to just have the 75g ceph tank in the living room, and have our 30g clownfish tank upstairs in the computer room, but the floor up there just wasn't going to cut it in this old house). Its just a matter of being careful, although sometimes it might take a few iterations to make completely dry.

For instance, I had a few threaded bulkhead fittings that would drip. Some of the droplets would evaporate before being "dripped" leaving a little stalactite under one of the bulkheads. Under the others I placed little plastic cups to catch the water. I never had to empty them because of evaporation. I have since replaced all the threaded bulkheads with slip-fit ones and none leak at all. Otherwise I have no problems with salt creep.

A little bit of quantitative analysis when planning your sump will prevent a flood disaster. There's a shocking number of people out there who rely on check valves to keep their sump from overflowing when the pump goes off--this is terrible because a tiny piece of algae can hold that valve open just enough...

Water changes and maintenance aren't that bad. Get a big beach towel and lay it down in front of the stand for water changes. The only time I ever have a problem is when I'm too lazy for an ounce of prevention. The pound of cure in this case is a box-fan on high over the wet carpet.

Renters like us really shouldn't be keeping these animals--we should be saving our money for houses; then we can put the sumps in our basement and make our living rooms a lot quieter :smile:

My 75 gallon is on the tile in the dining area, which makes for easy cleanup. A towel does the trick. The 60 gallon seahorse tank is in the living room on the carpet, and there is a dark shade to the carpet surrounding the stand... shampoo vac doesn't seem to do much for it.
Both my tanks are on wooden floors. The one tank has been in the corner for so long that the paint behind it on the wall is starting to peel from either an impromptu spill, or I admit, I am very messy when I do waterchanges. Nothing a towel won't get up. I wouldn't trade the mess for the world as I love my salttanks! Even have one in the kitchen on the countertop. It's worth every spill..
I also have the paint thing. It bugs my mom. It's right behind my filter, so I assume it's the bubbles popping, and sending saltwater flying everywhere. it kinda makes the paint rough, and i'm not sure I can get it off...
Thanks, it's great to hear everyone's different methods for avoiding and attitudes toward spills. I'm very much looking forward to the day when I'll have my own octo, but I agree, Dan, that it might be better to wait until the risk is to my own property and not to someone's who holds a large damage deposit that I'd like back eventually. :wink: Tiles sound like the best plan to me... in fact, I am hatching a scheme to someday have a tank (salt or fresh, not sure yet) that you can see into from about three different rooms, including the bathroom (of course then you need one-way mirror tape on all the tank walls :roll: )... but it would be great to watch the tank from the bath, not to mention doing water changes straight down the drain!
Have you considered asking the landlord if you can remove the carpet from the room in question (to be rolled up with pad and replaced later) and lay down some tile to protect the floor? Some might be intrigued enough to go for the idea. On the other hand, there's all that money....tile, tank, filters, sumps, etc., etc., etc. Maybe a bit much for a starving grad student paid slave wages to forever toil in anonymity in the shadow of the GREAT MAN. :twisted:
My 55 gallon freshwater tank is clean and spill-less. I use a Python No-Spill and will never go back. I also use a Fluval 404 canister filter and put that in a rubbermaid tub that fills the bottom of the tank stand. That way if there is a little spill when I open the canister is easily contained in the tub. Canister filters also have no exposed water to splash out or tip. Pipe attachments are either in the tank or in the tub, so unless a tube breaks/leaks in the middle, there is no water to spill.

The problem with saltwater is the mixing. Poured water ALWAYS spills some on the carpet. The more expensive the carpet, the more likely it is to spill. I use a tub in the garage to mix the saltwater, letting it sit with a powerhead in it. Then I drain, from the sump, down to a premarked line I made and attach the powerhead to the Python tube and fill it up. In a apartment you could do this all from the bathtub, using it as a safe area to put the rubbermaid tub for splashing and easy fill up. I spill more changing my little 30 gallon cuttle tank than the 240, because I use pitchers to pour water in and out.
When I lived in California, I was spoiled, my large tank (150+) was outside on concrete (under a carport). Water changes were easy (just dump water down the alley) and I made water using a hose and 5 gallon water containers. Now that I own a house in Pittsburgh, my tanks are all in the basement, either on a tile floor, or temporarily on cement. In one room, I have a tile floor and an area rug. The tanks are on the tile part of the floor and so far, I haven't spilled too much. The one on the cement is supposed to go in a room with a cork floor, but I am going to seal the cork first so that it is easy to clean up spills. I think I will wait until the cuttles go to the big ocean in the sky before moving the tank...

I just wipe up spills as they occur, the only time I have really made a mess is when I had to move or break down a tank.
I have a 19-gallon tank in the kitchen with small corals. I have an engineered cherry floor which water would damage, so I'm very careful. I used to put down towels, but then I bought an inexpensive mat from Drs. Foster and Smith, which absorbs 8 water and has a waterproof backing. Works great! I do water changes by syphoning into a large salt-bucket and the replacement water is in 1-gallon jugs, every easy to handle.

My larger tank is in the livingroom, on carpet. The stand is sitting on a wooden base. I've also had no real problem with water spills there.

i have my 125 gallon octo tank in the kitchen. due to the glass tops and large 55 gallon sump underneath there is hardly any evap to cause mess. i only top the tank off about every 2-3 weeks and its only about 4 gallons. my 55 gal. reef tank is in my bedroom. because of the hot lights on top it evaps about 5 gallons a week. this does cause some moisture issues if the house is above 75 degrees. so i just keep it cool in the house and that helps. about the water spills though... i keep one or two towels under each tank just in case and i also keep a 5 gallon bucket next to each one in case of a leak emergency

I just slipped while trying to lift a five gallon bucket of water to dump in my 10 gallon, whoosh, all of the water ended up on the rug... at least it was RO/DI water and not salt. I mopped it up as much as I could with towels - why does it seem that water expands after you spill it??? Off to search for my dehumidifier.
... dont know they need to invent water with super surface tension so you can drop it and it just sits on the floor like a big blob of mercury... that would be neat
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