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.