Welcome to FK. Please register to join  


Lost Password?

Register now!
Main Menu
Articles > Marine Articles > Setting up the Orca TL-450
Setting up the Orca TL-450
Published by StoneCold on 15/2/2007 (60604 reads)
Like a lot of other people on here, I purchased the Orca TL-450 13gl Nano Marine tank and like everybody else seems to have, I too found it very difficult to begin with. This was due,in large, to the general 'lack' of detail and information that comes with this tank.
Since originally setting up my tank I have gained a fair amount of knowledge about this tank and its faults and features. Having answered a fair few queries about this tank and, with the fact that its seems to be a very popular and common choice amongst new keepers to the world of marine, I thought I would share some of the knowledge I have gained and jot down this information, in the hope that others would find it both informative and helpful?
I will start with the tanks features and set-up.
The Orca is a 'plug and play' tank, this simply means that it contains all you need in its set up to get started straight away.
Starting from the back of the tank and reading L to R there are 4 chambers.
1st left is the return chamber, this is were the water is eventually returned to the tank after being pumped through the tanks filter system. This chamber also contains ceramic noodles, which are part of the said filtration system. Next chamber along contains the tanks heater (self explanatory) and a set of bio balls which, once again are a part of the filtration system. 3rd chamber from the left is the chamber that houses the skimmer (more of this later) and in the last chamber is the tanks pump, which is hidden and surrounded by another part of the filtration system, the filter sponges. From the top of this chamber protrudes an air pipe with an adjusting cap on the end of it. This pipe allows adjustment for the air intake for the tanks skimmer. Now, call this a design fault if you will, but this air pipe hangs loose inside the tank. My first 'tip' would be to undo (using a small screwdriver) the clamp that holds the tanks cables from the heater and the pump, place the air pipe in the same recess as these cables and reclamp them back up. This allows the air pipe to hang outside the tankwithout getting trapped and also allows for easier access and adjustment.
As mentioned earlier I now return to the tanks skimmer system. When the tank is first set up and switched on the skimmer system will continually pump thousands of tiny air bubbles into the tank and fill the new owners mind with panic! Fear not, this is an easily overcome problem. The problem occurs due to the fact that there is nothing for the skimmer to extract from the water at this early stage. On a large independant skimmer, used on bigger tanks, this problem is adjustable...not the case with the Orca. So here is my second 'tip'.I would recommend that the skimmer air intake valve is fully closed thus not allowing any air to be sucked through and into the tank. I would estimate it would take anything between 3-7 days of tank cycling for the conditions to allow successful 'skimming' with the Orca system, in the meantime place some fine filter wool into the same chamber as the ceramic noodles (the return chamber)this will capture any particles that get through the tanks filter system and prevent them from re-entering the tank. The filter wool should be FINE and not placed in there in a 'thick' wodge as this will only serve to slow down the waters return to the main tank and cause the back chambers to overflow. The filter wool should be rinsed out daily to remove any debris. After a few days (just keep experimenting with the air intake valve to see if the bubbles remain)the bubbles should dissapear and the skimmer sytem should kick in nicely!
The second design fault (IMO) with the Orca is the 'lack' of power in the water returning to the tank from the pump. Firstly (tip 3) ensure that the vents inside the tank, in front of the pump chamber, are fully open, thus allowing maximum throughput through the pump. Secondly ensure that the spray bar pertruding from the return chamber should be turned to face upwards so that the returning water will break the water surface thus improving airation and water movement (the water level should be set just above the spray bar)It is at this point you will notice the 'lack' of water volume being returned and so thirdly, I would recommend the purchase of a small powerhead to increase the circulation in the tank. This will be very useful for people that plan to have LR in thier tank as circulation will be key.
My last tip for this tanks set up is to attach the small power pack (with the red light on it)to the top outside of the tank, via its attached suckers. This forms a loop in the power packs wire, thus preventing any water that may get splashed onto the wires from entering the pack itself.
All articles are the copyright of their respective authors

Navigate through the articles
Previous article Nano Setup Part 1 - Setting up the Orca TL-550 Coral Next article
The comments are owned by the poster. We aren't responsible for their content.
Poster Thread
Posted: 19/2/2007 21:40  Updated: 19/2/2007 21:40
Home away from home
Joined: 21/11/2005
From: Wiltshire
Posts: 1881
good article and very useful for those orca fans, worth linking to it in the forum when people ask..makes life a lot quicker and easier
Posted: 26/2/2007 15:54  Updated: 26/2/2007 15:54
Home away from home
Joined: 18/1/2007
From: Essex
Posts: 538
 Re: article
SC, What powerhead would you recommend getting?

Great article by the way!
Posted: 23/3/2007 22:58  Updated: 23/3/2007 22:58
Just popping in
Joined: 28/2/2007
From: Cheshire
Posts: 17
 Re: article
I have a Hydor Koralia and it is superb

Posted: 19/6/2007 9:32  Updated: 19/6/2007 9:34
Just popping in
Joined: 18/6/2007
Posts: 1
Hi all,
I thoght i would share a photo of my recently set up orca. I am having a blast watching the small life forms apear and look forward to adding some corals . i have a small clean up crew and 2 Clowns, Can i add another fish or should this be my lot. how do i add photo's
Posted: 18/7/2007 13:33  Updated: 18/7/2007 13:33
Home away from home
Joined: 9/7/2007
From: Middlesex
Posts: 2319
 Re: Orca
I found the comment very useful which i will take on board when i set up my orca soon. I have a question if anyone can help. I am not familiar with this type of protein skimmer as i had a red sea hang on skimmer, but looking inside to check i notice there is a gap about 1 inches from the top of the protein skimmer to the box that collect the organic waste. why? is'nt that might cause the bubbles to get into the tank. i thought it should acually fitted to the underside of the box if u know what i mean so the micro-bubble is aiming for it and u can controll it byt the screw
Posted: 5/9/2007 21:32  Updated: 5/9/2007 21:32
Just popping in
Joined: 4/9/2007
Posts: 1
 Stonecold's article on Orca TL-450
Delighted to find this article - couldn't believe our luck, it was a lifesaver! Purchased one yesterday and were quite baffled by lack of instructions. Tank is now set up and running but obviously wont be stocked for 3-4 weeks. Can you further advise, please, what should the heating rod be set at? Many thanks.
Posted: 9/9/2007 20:58  Updated: 10/9/2007 11:10
Home away from home
Joined: 9/9/2007
From: London
Posts: 395
 Re: Stonecold's article on Orca TL-450
Fantastic article Stonecold, found it really helpful. I've just bougt a TL-450. I'm gonna begin setting it up next week.

I noticed that you didn't mention the UV sterilization unit, where abouts is that?

Thanks in advance

EDIT: It's ok, I've found out - it's integrated into the pump
Posted: 29/10/2007 9:35  Updated: 29/10/2007 9:35
Just popping in
Joined: 29/10/2007
From: Hampshire
Posts: 14
 Re: Article
Good article and a great help. Question, my instructions talk about an activated charcoal filter. Anybody give me a clue as to where that is?
Posted: 5/12/2007 22:23  Updated: 26/2/2008 0:44
Just popping in
Joined: 5/12/2007
Posts: 2
 trouble with skimmer
hi great article very helpful thx, can you help me a little more with the skimmer as i have no bubbles whatsoever coming from the venturi ? sorted that out. but still having probs with the cup filling with water do you suggest tinkering with the water level ?
Posted: 3/2/2008 19:21  Updated: 3/2/2008 19:21
Just popping in
Joined: 3/2/2008
Posts: 10
 Re: Setting up the Orca TL-450
Posted: 2/4/2008 10:54  Updated: 2/4/2008 10:54
Quite a regular
Joined: 2/4/2008
From: Devon
Posts: 44
 Re: Setting up the Orca TL-450
Just setting up TL.450 and found your article a great help. First shot at marine fishkeeping and want to make sure I get it right. Didnt come with any bio balls in the heater chamber. Do I need to buy some at the risk of sounding dumb!!! Sand and water in,filters running, so far so good. LR next. Any advice would be great.
yorkshire tea
Posted: 13/8/2008 14:21  Updated: 13/8/2008 14:21
Home away from home
Joined: 10/8/2008
From: Pembrokeshire
Posts: 524
 Re: Setting up the Orca TL-450
is the orca tl450 glass?
Posted: 8/1/2009 20:10  Updated: 8/1/2009 20:10
Just popping in
Joined: 8/1/2009
From: Devon
Posts: 4
 Re: Setting up the Orca TL-450
Received an Orca for xmas..nightmare instructions..after reading this article Im wondering if my heater is in the wrong chamber..upon opening the box it is in the first chamber with the filter/tube..and the ceramic tubes/balls are squashed together in the second chamber next to the skimmer cup.. do I need to swap these around? or is it correct? Help?
Posted: 13/2/2009 12:36  Updated: 13/2/2009 12:36
Just popping in
Joined: 13/2/2009
From: London
Posts: 1
 Re: Setting up the Orca TL-450
Now why carnt the instustion be that simple. thanks mate that was great insite and has help me alot. i have today added my first LR 3 and a half kilo's needs abit more i think but it cost about 50 so i think i wait a week before i get some more. but i am unable to keep my eyes of it, it's georgeuss, i canrt wait to put some live stock in.
i will start with a couple of shrimps and cleaner crabs but have been told to wait for 3 to 4 weeks (bummer) but i guess i will learn the art of patients and i can learn during this time. and meet people like your self's to help.
temp looks good and so is my salt its ticking over nicely. will spread some photos soon. when should i start testing the ph etc after stock goes in or a day before?
also what amount do you recommend of live stock having in mind i preffer the shrimps and shell stuff things more then fish .
thanks for addvice.

the stigg
Posted: 18/3/2009 13:26  Updated: 18/3/2009 13:26
Just popping in
Joined: 1/3/2009
From: Dorset
Posts: 10
 Re: Setting up the Orca TL-450
great article but did as u said with the skimmer i'm now into week 3 have lr 2 leather corals and a clown fish but my skimmer is still playing up. Whenever i undo the valve alittle i get thousnads of little bubbles still and panic then shut it off again, my lfs told me this is normal and i should have left it open all along b4 i put livestock in can u help please. My other problem is my vents keep closing up everytime i open them . All new to me so any help would be appreciated.
Posted: 18/8/2010 2:01  Updated: 18/8/2010 2:01
Just popping in
Joined: 17/8/2010
From: Essex
Posts: 3
 Re: Setting up the Orca TL-450
Hey all, i also have a ORCA TL-450 and the instructions recieved are abysmal,....excuse me for the spelling, but its a good little machine really it does alot of the work for you, i first started with RO water just to run it through, had some major noob mistakes, for e.g. added the 'live sand' to just RO water then added the salt about a week later....pfft, anyways i left this for about a week, constantly checked on forums to make sure everything was ok, in response to that microbubble problem, it seems you encountered the same thing i did its basically coming from that protein skimmer, because the tank is new there not a lot for the skimmer to do, so for some reason produces these bubbles, anyways turn tht off for a couple of days clear the tank glass with whatever you want i use a jay cloth on mine, so now its umm.....3 months down the line maybe 4 ive been quite patient, i have 5kg of live rock i did have 3 hermits but only one little baby one remains now which is quite irritating but oh well, and have kept 2 lovely little ocerlaris perculas, in there as well, as for adding snails i shall be doing this sometime next week, so i should stop the algal blooms tht keep apperearing, the clownfish are fine and all readings are low, ammonia is a little above 0 nothing to worry about greatly and everything is fine though strangely i have only done about 3 water changes with tap water pre mixed with salt and everything still is fine, the clownfish have even shown signs of dominance, with a larger female being quite obvious and the smaller male doing the 'waggle dance' id appreciate any advise given on matters including the use of kehiem balls, as a bio filtration as well as some bio balls and sponge filters.

hope this helps to ORCA users alike, and on a another note with the addition of so much filter i was thinking more fish would be in order, i was thinking maybe a royal grammar, a clean up crew and maybe another fish....not all at once ill get the clean up crew first
Posted: 18/8/2010 2:04  Updated: 18/8/2010 2:04
Just popping in
Joined: 17/8/2010
From: Essex
Posts: 3
 Re: Setting up the Orca TL-450
yea the OCRA TL 450 is glass, makes cleaning it a little easier :)
Posted: 14/1/2012 19:25  Updated: 14/1/2012 19:25
Just popping in
Joined: 11/1/2012
From: -
Posts: 4
 Re: Setting up the Orca TL-450
This guide was very useful when setting up my tank. I have now set up this aquarium for freshwater. Maybe a stupid question, but this tank comes with 4 power cables. Looks like 1 is for light and fan, 1 is for water heater, 1 is for the pump, but what is the last one for (the one with a small red light when it's connected)? I have tried to take out the power, but it looks like nothing happens.

Second thing I have, is that the water is very hot. It went up to 28 when I had the heater on 25. Is the heater so unrelayable? I have turned it down to 22 now.

For oxygen to the water, do I need to use skimmer even for fresh water aquarium? Or is it enough with just having sirculation on top of the water?
Posted: 15/1/2012 21:04  Updated: 15/1/2012 21:04
Joined: 11/4/2003
From: Spain
Posts: 3874
 Re: Setting up the Orca TL-450
Who's Online
72 user(s) are online (4 user(s) are browsing Articles)

Members: 0
Guests: 72

Volume Calculator
Tank Capacity Length



CMs Inches


UK Gallons
Unit Converter
Volume Litres

UK Gallons

US Gallons
Temperature Celsius

Length Centimetres



eBay Products

Self Cleaning Fish Tank Desktop Aquarium Betta Fishbowl Round/Square Home Decor

End Date: Thursday Mar-8-2018 9:37:35 GMT
Buy It Now for only: 11.81
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

18L Glass Aquarium Fish Tank Starter Kit Set Filter Pump Net Plant Stones Square

End Date: Thursday Mar-1-2018 7:42:52 GMT
Buy It Now for only: 21.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

RGB Remote Xmas LED 5050 SMD Aquarium Fish Tank Light Strip Submersible Blue Bar

End Date: Wednesday Feb-21-2018 19:58:57 GMT
Buy It Now for only: 11.38
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Interpet Glass Fish Bowls - 21/30/35cm heights, ideal for Coldwater Goldfish

End Date: Tuesday Mar-6-2018 11:28:12 GMT
Buy It Now for only: 16.95
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Interpet Glass Fish Bowls - 21/30/35cm heights, ideal for Coldwater Goldfish

End Date: Tuesday Mar-6-2018 11:28:12 GMT
Buy It Now for only: 36.95
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Interpet Glass Fish Bowls - 21/30/35cm heights, ideal for Coldwater Goldfish

End Date: Tuesday Mar-6-2018 11:28:12 GMT
Buy It Now for only: 28.95
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

0.188 Seconds | 1 Queries