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FAQs about Cephalopods 1

Related Articles: Cephalopods, Don't Buy an Octopus Before Reading This by James Fatherree, The Ballet of the Wonderpus by Richard Ross, Mollusks,

Related FAQs: Cephalopods 2Cephalopod Identification, Cephalopod Behavior, Cephalopod Compatibility, Cephalopod Selection, Cephalopod Feeding, Cephalopod Systems, Cephalopod Disease, Cephalopod Reproduction,

Octopus eggs! (03/20/03) Hi guys <Hi! Ananda here tonight...> I have an octopus that laid eggs about 45 days ago (we had one about a year ago that stopped eating after it laid eggs and died) this time I caught it in time so make sure her food is right near her and she is eating every day. <Wow... very cool.> That solved that problem, the main reason I write today is I believe the eggs may actually hatch this time, they are becoming very clear from their original white color and you can see the baby octopi in the eggs. If the hatch do I need to separate them from the mother, and do you know what I should begin feeding them? <I would definitely separate them from the mother. There's a bit more info here about cephalopods: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/cephalop1.htm ... and you must check out "The Octopus News Magazine Online" at http://www.tonmo.com/ -- some of the people on their message board may have experience with this.> Thanks for any help you may have You guys rock best on the web!!!!! Bill <Thanks so much for your kind words. --Ananda>

Re: Octopus What is the name of the skin cell which allows octopus and their relatives to change skin colour (camouflage) so quickly? <Likely you're referring to chromatophores. Bob Fenner>

Are we as smart as an octopus? Dear fellow Wetheads: CNN.COM uncorks a salty news-item from Reuters.... ----- "Octopus gets in a twist over shrimp" (Feb. 24, 2003) An excerpt: "An octopus in a German zoo has learned to open jars of shrimp by watching zoo attendants perform the act underwater. Frida, a five-month-old female octopus [from Morocco], opens the jars by pressing her body on the lid and grasping the sides with the suckers on her eight tentacles. With a succession of body twists she unscrews the lid." ----- I'm not sure what the big deal is here. After a few tries, I learned how to unscrew shrimp jars like that too, and I even have a few suckers left over to hold the cocktail sauce....  8-)=~~~ Bruce Mewhinney <My hands get a bit slippery on the beer nuts bag (sometimes have to put down the brewski to actuate), but we've got color vision with focus capability too! Bob Fenner>

Octopus compatible fish - 2/16/03 I wanted to know if you can recommended any compatible fish that will live in the same tank as my octopus without it eating them?>I currently have 3 cleaner shrimp with the octopus and they are doing fine. Thanks, Michael Casillas <To be responsible... we do not recommend anything with an octopus. Everything is either prey or predator to an octopus. My guess is that your cleaner shrimp have only been with this octopus for a matter of just a few months... perhaps even weeks. They will not live to see a year if the octopus is healthy and that's a gross understatement. Please do remove the shrimp ASAP... they are a natural prey item. To solve your dilemma... let me suggest you create a dry or wet (with fishes) diorama display tank behind your octopus tank. We have seen some outstanding presentations made this way. It encourages the octopus to hang out on the glass too,  salivating over the fishes in the next tank <G>. Best regards, Anthony>

Seeking cephalopods Dear Mr. Fenner, I have a question and hopefully you have an answer! I understand that you had (or at one point, did) connections with Hawaiian fish and invert collectors. I have been trying to find a source of  Euprymna scolopes. It is a small cephalopod which resembles a cross between an octopus and squid. It's behaviours are most close to cuttlefish though. Here is a link to info and pics on them: http://saltaquarium.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http%3A%2F%2Fis.dal.ca%2F%7Eceph%2FTCP%2Fcuttle2.html If you knew of anyone collecting, or willing to collect this species i would greatly appreciate you letting me know! It seems to be quite common, so why it is not collected is beyond me. I wish ceph's were collected more, as there sure is a demand for them! <Unfortunately I have never met anyone who has collected this species. Did read James Woods excellent coverage. Am going out to HI next week and will ask friends/associates if they're familiar with, can catch this animal for you. Bob Fenner> Regards JGR P.S. I love your books! I use them so often for references that the conscientious marine Aquarist is in taters with pages missing! <Yikes!>

Questions on an Octopus I found your web site in the course of searching the internet for information on octopus.  I suddenly find myself trying to feed and care for one.  Not having much luck in the feeding area which is my main question.  First a little background on how I got into this predicament.  Several weeks back, my two children spent the weekend visiting their mother (I'm divorced and have custody of my children).  She took them to San Diego for a 3 day holiday weekend. <This is where some of us live> My son managed to catch an octopus some how at the beach and kept it alive in the sink in the hotel room for two days.  They put it in a tub and it also survived a 5 hour car ride home.  We live in the high desert next to Death Valley in a small town called Ridgecrest .   When he told me he was bringing it home (just hours away from them arriving home) I scrambled to try and figure out how to set something up to keep it in.  I know nothing about salt water tanks or anything tied to keeping marine life.  Since I am on a very tight budget I had to improvise.  I quickly searched the internet for info I could find and eventually wound up putting together a makeshift tank <Yikes... am sure you can sense what is coming... should have left this animal in the sea...> Since I was fairly sure it wasn't going to live long, I didn't want to spend a lot of money.  I bought a large clear plastic storage tub with a lid, a filter system and an aerator system.  I also bought the sea salt you need to mix with water to create the salt water environment and a hydrometer to measure the specific gravity and salinity.  The entire set up cost me just slightly over $50 (see the enclosed pictures).  I also had a set of rock bookends with holes all through them.  They looked like the tank rocks you can buy at the pet store.  I put them in the makeshift tank as well.  To make an already long story short, he made it home and after two, going on three weeks now, the critter is still alive (don't ask me how). <They are tough in many ways> You can just see him in picture 4, curled up in one of the holes in the rocks (he loves the hidey holes).  When he is out, his main body is probably 4-5 inches in diameter and his tentacles are about 8-10 inches long.  My son also brought home two snails from the beach too. Not knowing what an octopus eats, I've tried several things with no luck.  I think he has eaten the snails and what appears to have been a single live clam that made it home with the shells they put in the transportation tub.  Since we live in the middle of the desert, I don't have ready access to any large pet stores or fish stores.  We have one small pet store with fish and they have a VERY limited section on salt water fish.  What they have is VERY expensive as well.  I broke down and bought three small damsels (at $4 a piece) and several small hermit crabs.  He seems to have eaten one of the damsels, however the other two died after 4-5 days in the tank.  I think it was too cold for them.  He doesn't appear to have touched the little hermit crabs in their shells.  I also read that they can be trained to eat fresh fish as opposed to actual live fish.  I tried buying some fresh fish at Albertson's but he rejected that.   In some of the information on your site, you tell folks to try live crabs. The local store has small live crabs (not the hermit type, but regular crabs) but they cost quite a bit (as in $5 each and up).  Rather expensive to feed an octopus.  Since we live so far from the ocean, I can't just run down to the beach and dig up any either.   <Consider human crustacean food... like shrimp (small or pieces... with the shell on> Since he has lived this long (through some very arduous conditions I might add), I feel obligated to try and do my best to keep him alive.  So, my question is: What do you think my best bet is at finding a food source he will actually eat?  If I need to feed him live crabs, can I order them myself and have them shipped here?  If so, where do I go to do this?   <"cocktail" et al. shrimp (w/o the sauce of course)> If he will eat fresh fish from the market, what kind (variety) do you think will work best?  I tried red snapper and he flat rejected that. Being in the middle of the desert in a very small town and on an extremely tight budget, I'm at a loss as to what to do next.  He's lived this long which means by some miracle I must have managed to get his makeshift tank suitable for him (don't ask me how because I was winging it all the way).  The children are quite excited that he is still alive.  Poor old dad here is banging his head against the wall trying to figure out how to get him to eat so he doesn't die of hunger. Any help would be greatly appreciated.  I fear he's not going to be around much longer if I can't get him to start eating and quickly. <Do fashion some sort of cover for your tank (these animals do escape!)... and be aware of the need for some sort of chilling mechanism (this is a cool water specimen that likely will not live through your summer temperatures)... if your children are headed back to the coast anytime soon, I encourage a ready lesson in conservation, returning this animal to the Pacific. Bob Fenner> Dick Dickson

Mud Filter, Octopus, Skimmer? Hi I'm new to the salt water hobby . <Welcome to our ever-fascinating hobby!> I just set up my 72 gallon bow tank with a ecosystem refugium filter and an 800gph pump I was told with this filter I don't need a skimmer . <Mmm, actually... there's quite a bit of discussion re this issue... and many people do utilize a skimmer with mud filtration> I'm planning on keeping an octopus been doing a lot of research on them everything I read said protein skimmers are the way to go . <Yes> I'm using live sand 60 lbs and 90lbs live rock the tank has been running for two days and I put two damsels in it tested the water ph is 8.0 and ammonia, nitrite and nitrate is 0 .Is that ok , I ordered some stuff that claims it cycles the tank in 48 hours what do you think? Thank You for your time, Manny <Lots to say here... Please visit our site: www.WetWebMedia.com re mud filtration: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mudfiltrfaqs.htm

Octopus I want to put a shark in with a octopus I was wondering if the shark would eat the octopus or octopus would eat the shark? <Either is possible depending on species, but the mix is a bad idea regardless. -Steven Pro>

Moray eats crabs (and Octopus? News at 11:00) will the snowflake eel eat a octopus? <<It could, given a lack of room to get away. Eels are one of the big octopus predators.>> & how big of a tank does it need <<It which? The eel or the octopus? A snowflake could probably do well in a 75, a 55 at a bare minimum. An octopus could do fine in less space, but no matter what you choose, you would need a top that it pretty much nailed onto the tank. Both the eel and octopus are expert escape artists, but the octopus is perhaps a genius when it comes to getting out of tight places.>> thanks <<Cheers, J -- >>

Eel eats Octopus Read all about it! Luc again will the octopus eat the eel?? thanks <<Hello, I just replied to your original email. Again, my answer is a qualified yes - eels do eat octopi in the wild. Can it/will it happen in a captive system - depends if the octopus has room to get away, although if it deploys it's ink as a get-away mechanism, you will have some problems on your hands. I wouldn't house these two together. Cheers, J -- >>

Moray eats crabs (and Octopus? News at 11:00) Oh boy... did I screw that up? I was sure I had read somewhere, and seen video footage of an eel spinning around and around while it bit off an octopus tentacle. Octopus lived, but eel got food for the effort... <Saw the same footage I think... Australia if memory serves...> Am I wrong? I'll gladly post a disclaimer... <Not wrong at all... these animals are as compatible together as you and I living in a pizzeria! B> J --

Denitrators, Octopus Dear Mr. Fenner, <Steven Pro in this morning.> I was scanning through the websites on salt water aquaria, and came across your forum, and was wondering if you might give me some insight on denitrator units. <I don't like them. Too much hassle and expense when there are other alternatives.> Seven years ago I purchased a 125 gal. tank with a "Life Support Systems" trickle filter rated for a 250 gal. tank. It has 2 pre-filter siphon boxes on the back of the tank, an in the sump oxygen/ozone reactor, protein skimmer, and carbon reactor. I also have a (maybe you've heard of it) Terminator denitrator unit which uses a programmable pump to automatically inject methanol to feed anaerobic bacteria, sending nitrate levels back to zero before flushing water back into the wet-dry unit. I used this system for about a year without any problems before tearing the whole system down in preparation for moving to a new home. I had been remodeling a room in the basement for a recreation room where the tank was to be set up and am now ready to start my hobby once again. My question is this... Do you think that this system is overkill, or should I continue to use the denitrator unit I bought? <I would never recommend someone buy this setup, but since you have it (and it was working for you?) I would go ahead and use it.> I used to have a lot of live corals, clams, a few fish, anemones, and I kept an octopus, as I had a Plexiglas divider installed in the middle of the tank to house the octopus separately. This system seemed to operate fine but my octopus only lived about a year, which I am told was about its natural life span. <Yes, they are short-lived animals.> Any suggestions? <Really, you only had the tank setup for one year. It is too short a time frame to make an accurate determination as to whether the unit was functioning properly or whether the animals were thriving or surviving. I would be inclined to use whatever I could, but change the philosophy more to a natural system (liverock, live sand, protein skimmer, and vigorous circulation). You can read much more about this searching www.WetWebMedia.com or with Mike Paletta's excellent beginner's book "The New Marine Aquarium."> Sincerely, Jeff Lloyd <Best of luck to you. -Steven Pro>

Feeding an Octopus (from George in Greece) Hi Bob, Can you please let me know what kind of food will an octopus accept in captivity ?  <Mmm, some species are more specialized feeders than others... most of them eagerly accept crustaceans of relatively useful size (not too big)... and quickly learn to take non-live meaty foods (fish flesh is what most folks use... like small whole bait fish or fillet> We have put one in a tank with a lot of sea urchins but it doesn't seem to be interested in them. In contrast, it consumed a small fish on the spot and all the bivalves that were already in that tank. <Don't usually eat these as far as I'm aware> Is there any chance it will finally pay attention to the urchins.. ?? <Not much my friend. Look for small crabs... try the fish meats you can secure. Bob Fenner> Thanks a lot. George J. Reclos Ph.D.

Re: Octopus feeding <Do look for small live crabs... If the animal is very small (like the size > of your thumb), small live crustaceans of other sorts> Well right now it is the size of a small fist (the head) while the tentacles seem like 45 cm each... <That is good size. Small crabs (5-8 cm. across) should do fine. Bob Fenner>

Octopus and Chilling Incident Hi Bob, I tried frozen shrimp (the ones that are for human consumption) which was totally rejected by the octopus. I then tried some small frozen fish which was also ignored. Today I will start feeding it with live oysters which will be staying in the other tank and fed to it at a rate of 3-4 / day. The only question is how can I know that it is well fed .. or perhaps overfed.. <Do look for small live crabs... If the animal is very small (like the size of your thumb), small live crustaceans of other sorts> Do you still have your octopus in that tank ? How long have you been keeping it ? <Have never kept these cephalopods, other than in retail settings> A really interesting animal.. I think that in the next edition of your book you should include more information about it.. as well as some cool water marine fishes.. (as usually our website is at your disposal for this purpose). I hope that till then we will have acquired enough information to justify a chapter in your "Bible" !! <Thank you for this. Some friends and I are writing some related works together... the next on "The Best Fishes for Marine Aquariums"... and the following work will likely be on "non-fishes"... will accumulate your note here for this latter title> You will read full details in the August update of our site but I would like to let you know in advance (for your book.. ) While on a business trip the thermostat of the chiller stuck in the "on" position and the water temperature dropped from 21 C to 4 C where it stayed for 12 hours. My son stopped the chiller and allowed the temperature to reach 21C in 20 hours.. No fish or invertebrate losses !! <Amazing how tough aquatic life can be when it starts in good health. Bob Fenner> George

Cephalopods Mr. Fenner, just wanted to bring this site to your attention regarding everything to do with cephalopods. It includes pop culture as well as Ceph husbandry. It is frequently visited by Dr Steve O'Shea and Dr James Wood of CephBase. I was wondering if you would include this site in your links page or from the cephalopod FAQ? Thanks for your time... Colin link is............. www.tonmo.com  <Thanks much for this, and your work. Will post to Marine Links and Cephalopods areas on our sites. Bob Fenner> Colin Dunlop Moderator, TONMO.com The Octopus News Magazine Online: www.tonmo.com 

Cuttlefish Thinking of doing a species only cuttlefish tank.  <heehee... a species tank: the ONLY tank you can keep cuttle fish in. They are voracious predators on most everything including each other> I know they are pretty predatory, however can say hermits and snails be kept in the tank.  <depends on if you want to measure their stay with a stopwatch or not <G>. Er... nothing else in the tank please, and keep a close eye out for interspecific aggression> How about anemone hermit crab (2") ? I have a free 30 gallon that I'm thinking of getting a cuttlefish. It's pretty much only has a few snails, a few hermits, and reef lobster (no claws on this species). Wondering if I can put a cuttlefish into it. Thanks <a 30 gallon is too small for even a single cuttlefish even in the short term (2 year picture). They also need chilled water. Are you prepared to buy a chiller or like provision to insure stable, cool water? This is a $600-1000 investment?> Jim <best regards, Anthony>

Do you have any info on your site about octopus?  <Yes: Please use the Google search tool on our homepage: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ Most of what we have on practical husbandry matters is in the Cephalopods FAQs page> I know they need a very well covered tank and I've heard they eat crabs and things like this but do you know how big of a tank they need. I don't have the scientific name but most dealers call it the common octopus is this the giant one or does this one stay at a more reasonable size? Do they need perfect water quality like angels or can they handle not perfect water quality like eels. Do you know of anybody that has kept them a long time besides public aquariums? <Many people do try, some do exceed in keeping these intelligent mollusks. Bob Fenner>

Octopus's Garden Dear Bob: <<JasonC here, Bob has gone diving>> Paralarval stages of common octopus are divided into planktonic and benthic stages. During the planktonic stage, copepod should be their main source of food. What I would like to know is what are their natural prey when they become benthic (50-60 days old). <<First, let me say that I honestly do not have the experience to give you an authoritative answer. However, that doesn't stop me from guessing... I would say that once an octopus becomes benthic [bottom-dwelling for everyone else], that the sky is the limit: small crabs, fish, anything it can get its tentacles on I would think.>> Thanks. Javier. <<Cheers, J -- >>

Quick question re: cephalopods, Reef Aquaria and Octopus? Hi Bob, <reef aquarist and author, Anthony Calfo in your service> I have a quick, hopefully simple question for you regarding cephalopods. I have kept reef tanks for the past 10 years (?) or so now and had great success with several different types and themes. One of my earlier tanks was one for an octopus, O. bimaculoides, I believe. It did quite well but after a year or so it died,  <hmmmm... although short-lived, are you sure that it really did well. Specifically, you are confident that you cared for it in the final year of it's life as evidenced by a sudden and dramatic growth spurt (and egg laying before death for females). This is common physiology for many/most octopus. For example, if a given species has a natural lifespan of say 5 years and reaches a size of 18"... said specimen will live for about 4 years at 4-6" and experience a sudden growth spurt and drive to spawn in the final year before death. I mention this because most folks keep species in aquaria that are too warm and feed a single prey or limited diet and the animal dies within a year. No worries if this was true for you... I just want you to be informed> as expected, and I moved on to bigger things, corals and clams and such... Well, at the moment I've got a 2 year old 70 gallon tank with SPS corals and the odd soft coral to fill in some space, and. The other night I noticed that I've lost a clam (very upsetting) and I believe the culprit is a mantis shrimp.  <quite frankly, this is not at all likely the cause of death for the clam. Look for other possibilities as well. Was the mollusk fairly cleaned out? Doubtful. If so, a crab is more likely. If not, the most common predator are tiny Pyramidellid snail infections> Well long story short, I thought a neat addition to the tank and a revisited to past interests as well as a solution to the mantis shrimp problem would be to add an octopus. My question to you is this, with their sensitivity to water chemistry, do you think this would be a viable addition to this tank. I would hate to kill it by putting in my additives for the corals... Well, let me know what you think. Thanks in advance, <although I believe that the reef additives are unlikely to amount to enough to kill an octopus, there are some metals used as trace elements that could impact the metal sensitive cephalopod. More importantly, I doubt that you will find a temperature tolerant species of octopus to live without a chiller. Our trade is dominated by tropical species that have a threshold at 76-78F. Warmer temps contribute to premature deaths. Although short-lived, most Octopus should still live for 3-5 years. I would strongly advise that you set up a proper species specific display for the octopus if you must keep one. A small chiller isn't a bad idea either. Most live better and longer closer to 70F. Anthony> Brian

Re: Quick question re: cephalopods Hmm, 3-5 years of life, really? All I've read, about this species any ways, suggests that they have a life span of about 1-1.5 years tops.  <hmmm... I should clarify, my friend. We are talking about the Two -spot "California mud flat" octopus... cited as being seasonal and occurring from Alaska to Baja. Even in Cal waters... we are hardly talking tropical temps here. This is the first obstacle for aquarists with even hardy species such as the O. bimaculoides. Many folks want to keep octopus, but few aquarists can/do invest in a chiller to keep such animals at even California water temperature (forget the more northern habitat of this seasonal species). And so, their natural lifespan is abbreviated, and reported life spans in popular literature are artifacts of elevated and unnatural temperatures. Not a crime, just an accelerated life cycle for a cold-blooded animal> I'll have to go back and look over my log books for then, to see what was happening but from what I recall it just sort of stopped eating (water quality was perfect cause I checked that whenever the behavior changed) and then after about a week or so (I think) it just died. I always just assumed that it was old age, but I suppose if they live longer than I had though, it could have been something else. As for the death of my clam that I mentioned the other day, you can add to that the death of two more.  <serious bummer, my friend> These weren't expensive ones, they'd come with the live rock, but still... The clams look fine one day and then the next morning they are just eaten clean out. Nothing remains but a cleaned out, white shell. Very frustrating. I'm not really sure what's causing this, but I yanked some of my live rock (a piece that seemed suspect but was easily extractable) and found that I do have mantis shrimp in the tank.  <with such dramatic slaughter... agreed shrimp or crab... although to play the odds, a crab has the edge> This rock had a 2+ inch basher in it, but I know he's not the only one in the tank cause after I got him I hear several other pops in the main tank. As for the additives, the only one that I was really worried about was "Marc Weiss's Black Powder". Stuff works really well on my corals, and the clams seemed to do well with it too, but I have little knowledge of what's actually in it and how it would affect an octopus. Well any ways, thanks for all your help. <do be very careful of adding products that do not list ingredients and cannot be tested for relative (read: good, bad or ugly) efficacy and concentration. Even sugar-based additives make corals look good for a while months) before things get complicated. Best regards, Anthony> Brian

Trying to find resources... I am looking for information on keeping an octopus. I would like to know how easily this can be done and what the life expectancy is for the animal. As well as how safe it is for myself. I find these creatures fascinating and would like to own one myself. Do they require special filtration needs. If you can direct me to someone or a website. Or if you have any info. I would appreciate it. Thanks, Bridgette Wallace <These are difficult animals at best. Short-lived, potential disaster with inking, will eat anything else in the tank, and too smart for their own good in that escaping and perishing on your rug are real probabilities. Take a look here for more info http://www.wetwebmedia.com/cephalop1.htm -Steven Pro>

Re: ??? (Cephalopods in the Great White North, eh?) Bob, Beer, Cold SCUBA and Octopus...who could ask for anything more? Anthony, Thanks for the reply. Tell Bob that if he buys a small "T" at the hardware store and uses it as a shunt for a straw <hmmm...is this the voice of experience?> Who knows? Bizarre? We live with bears.  <And magnificent birds of prey... is it true that you can't leave small dogs outside in Alaska for fear of eagles?> Give us a try. You got to dive here. You wouldn't believe the colors of the invertebrates and worms up here. I never would have believed they existed in such cold water. Wacky. <There is not enough whiskey in day to get me to dive my skinny rump in water off of the coast of Alaska!?! I'll take your word for it, look at the pictures and buy the Tee-shirt...hehe> Buying a 125 tank in April. This big enough for a small octopus?  <depends on the species. May be way too big for convenience. The pacific species that are perhaps more accessible for you run the gamut from dwarf to small boat size (well... close). But the Pacific species in the trade are categorically more temperature sensitive (need cool/chilled water). Assuming that you don't have or want to buy a chiller, you may need a species more tolerant of warmer aquarium water (with pumps and lights alone in the average home it's hard to keep a tank under 70F). And so, the Caribbean vulgaris species has been reliable for many aquarists in this regard. It is golf ball to baseball sized for the first few years of its life, and like many/most species balloons in its twilight quite large (bigger than a basketball), lays eggs/breeds and dies. Can be hardy in a species tank but generally a short lived animal (less than 5 years for most). Have you seen any species in LFS that I could share and opinion on?> And if so, any suggested reading before getting one? Chuck <hmmm... I'd have to dig for that info. I recall a great article some years back in FAMA magazine on husbandry and breeding/rearing octopus. Do archive, I'll look as well. Anthony>

Octopus I was wondering about an octopus and had a few simple questions. Since they like to match the color of the ocean bottom, if I wanted it to be more colorful than white, can I use colored gravel for the tank? <Not a great idea.> Also what kind of a tank setup would you recommend? <No other animals in it, extremely well covered, monstrous filtration, etc. You can read more about these creatures here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/cephalop1.htm> Thanks, Dustin <You are welcome. -Steven Pro> Re: Octopus why would colored gravel for an octopus be bad? <Colored freshwater gravel is for just that, freshwater tanks and is inappropriate for marine use. -Steven Pro>

Re: Your choice of tank inhabitants Hello again Bob! Thanks for the reply. Yes, I am taking pix of these stands---& I promise to send some to you when they're done. <Better still, I will help you fashion your adventure into an article for the pet fish press... to inspire, inform many others> I do have a thought for that other tank (actually I have had it for a while, but keep discounting it as too irresponsible, but while we're at it I might as well get the 'official' "NO!"). ...a very small octopi? In a species-only Hex 18 (15"dia. x 25"h-taller than wide-maybe not the best shape for one?)?  <Mmm, could be done with the principal species that are used by the hobby... but dangerous... re "inking" the system, dying/decomposing... beyond considerations of pollution (big, messy eaters), escape...> It would be plumbed into130gal+ of system water, so "inking" shouldn't be life-threatening. <Don't bet on this... if done, likely to kill everything, including itself within hours> And the lights would be dim, and on only during off-hours (opposite the display tank) to permit gentle viewing during the day, but... To me, the #1 reason to NOT keep one is their intelligence--I would hate to "stifle" one in a jail cell, but if it were a tiny species, and the tank had "proper" habitat.......just maybe? <Small ones... not readily available in the trade... grow quickly...> (This is where you say," Don't do it, you inhumane bastard!"...or...?) Thanks again, Erik Nelson <Keep thinking this over as one of who knows how many possibilities. Bob Fenner>

HI Robert! Have some news (octopus out, seahorse in) Well it has been awhile! Hope all is well with your self! <Yes> We haven't said much after our touchy debate. <Mmm, don't recall> Just thought I let you know that Arnold the octopus has moved on to that big fish tank in the sky. I'm really baffled by this, because his water quality was in check. He didn't eat much 2 days before his passing. I did notice some strange behavior the night before his death. He also had a pale gray look to his skin with black specs or dots. If I do try another Octopus I'm going to use a bigger tank next time. <Typical loss pattern... likely "just old age"... Cephalopods don't live long, decline very rapidly at senescence> Right now I'm starting to transform the 12 gall into a mini reef with a few seahorse. Found this cool site. Check it out! http://www.seahorse.org/ <Yes... a very nice group of people, site. Have linked on ours. Bob Fenner> JET

Cuttlefish help I am planning to start a home marine setup with a cuttlefish. (probably sepia officialis) I could technically get any type of aquarium up to about 55gal and set that up. would a cuttlefish be happy in that or is there a smaller species that would go for something economically smaller? <This is too small a system for a cuttlefish of any species> how long do they live in captivity.  <A year or two...> I would probably donate him to the new England aq. if and when he grew too large. What would be the basic care for him, to keep him happy, (salinity, temp, ph, light, environ, etc.) and finally, where could I get my hands on one! p.s. I live in mass. if that affected shipping at all. thank you very much, Felix Lufkin <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/cephalop1.htm Bob Fenner>

Octopus article! An article? <Yes my friend. You're capable... it pays> sure It has been sometime since I sent you the that e-mail. He seems to be doing fine! I'm very glad that I bought him! Very interesting to watch! There seems to be so much personality in them. <There is> He knows the difference between when I walk in the room and when someone else does. He'll hide immediately if it is someone new him! He gets a lot of Athenian from family and friends whom never seen a real Octopus. My girlfriend and I have named him Arnold after the large Book "Arnold Schwarzenegger"s Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding that sits on top of the lid to keep Arnold the Octopus from escaping. <A worthy choice.> Thanks for Reply I'll update new pics now and then for he has filled out a little bit. <Start gathering materials, recording your observations, thoughts in a journal of some sort... have an idea of layout? Bob Fenner>

New Octopus This is the very 1st thing I said I wanted when I saw one in a LFS Almost a year ago. I have had him for over a week now and things are doing very well. I'm not sure what kind he is! Most important he isn't venomous. Some sort of an Atlantic I think. I've read up on your FAQ section but wanted to know if he needs things like supplements. Do they get sick like fish? <Not generally... in almost all cases... simply die quickly if there is much wrong... almost always due to water quality troubles> if so, Do you treat them like fish! I keep the tank light off all the time. This helps keep the temp low. Does he need a certain amount of light? <Not really... Low is better> The LFS didn't seem to know much! He is in his own 12 gall Eclipse tank alone. with a cave to hind in. I'm look'n to get a protein skimmer, that can adapt to the Eclipse. Do you know were they may have them.  <Please read on our site as others have made the hood modification to do this: http://wetwebmedia.com/skimmerfaqs.htm And the other FAQs beyond... and do take care to cover all openings bigger than your finger width... these are very good escape artists!> The Water parameters are in check, and I do a 10% change weekly. Octopus aren't really popular for most people and the LFS don't have them in regularly. I knew just almost as much as they knew. I'm well aware of how smart they are. He appears to be happy at the moment. When I was testing his water. He became curious and stuck his little eyes out from his cave. He was watching me very closely, kind like a human would look at ya and say what are you doing? He is out and about for most of the day. Do they regenerate arms, or the suction parts to the arms. He might be missing some, do to capture. Here are some crappy pics. http://logos-and-graphics.com/octopus/ <Very nice... and lots of them. Maybe an Octopus vulgaris... will get bigger... feed little...> The yellow might be a little extreme as a result of the flash on the camera. I think when he is afraid he turns almost white! When he wants to hide he turns almost black and his skin texture gets rough like a rock with algae on it! When he scooping things out he is a sandy brown! Thanks JET <Maybe an article, relating your experiences, using your images... for a hobby magazine like FAMA? Bob Fenner>

2 questions, follow ups Hi Bob!, PF again: First off, I posted to the forum a while ago, but never heard back from you on something.  <Really? Semi-disturbing... always think I get most all sent to me... and respond to... in a timely fashion... or at least timely> Would your contacts in the Hawaiian exotic fish collection industry be able to collect E. scolopes? (Here's the Ceph Database URL for info on them: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/hosted_sites/tcp/Escolopes.html). The reason I ask is that the only source I've located deals only with University level researchers. I've also been asked about this by some of the members of the Ceph mailing list, including Dr. James Wood. Apparently there's a demand for them on the research level, and Dr. Woods feels they would make good aquarium pets as well. Any info appreciated. <Have never known the Hawaiian waters to collect this species (mostly a couple of species of genus Octopus are (misused in the trade hailing from the U.S. west coast...). Would seek out this species as an earnest possible culturist, hobbyist-scientist-experimenter from the folks at the given site> and secondly, did your friend in Eugene ever get back to you about the local sushi scene? I haven't heard word one from him, and was wondering if you had. Susie (my wife) and I are going to be house hunting in that area in about a week and a half, and we were wondering if there was someplace we should or shouldn't miss on our quest for sushi. <Ah, the quest... no, don't recall hearing back.> Thanks again! Hope to see more of you in the forums Mike <Hope to see you there Pinkster. Bob Fenner>

Re: 2 questions, follow ups Thanks for getting back to me so soon, I thought you'd need a day to recover from your trip, I know I do when I travel. <<Can't wait... or will fall even further behind... yikesville> > <Really? Semi-disturbing... always think I get most all sent to me... and > respond to... in a timely fashion... or at least timely> no biggy, we all get distracted, I usually refer to that as life. :) <<No my friend... life is all the opposite of distractions>> > <Have never known the Hawaiian waters to collect this species (mostly a > couple of species of genus Octopus are (misused in the trade hailing from > the U.S. west coast...). Would seek out this species as an earnest possible > culturist, hobbyist-scientist-experimenter from the folks at the given site> I don't understand the given site reference, if you mean Woods Hole (IIRC), they state very bluntly that if you're not doing research on a university level to please don't bother them. That's why I was asking about your contacts in Hawai'i. It's my understanding that they can be collected by simply walking around the shallows in the evening. If I had the means, I'd go do it myself, the hard part is keeping me out of the water. <<Hmm, never seen this cephalopod there... Would ask other folks on the Ceph pages/sites. Bob Fenner>

Re: 2 questions, follow ups > Thanks for getting back to me so soon, I thought you'd need a day to recover > from your trip, I know I do when I travel. > <<Can't wait... or will fall even further behind... yikesville> I know what you mean. Sometimes I dread returning from vacations. My record is 800 emails in 11 days, luckily though, few were anything I need to respond too. <<Yeeikes, time to abandon that addr. (at least for listservs) and not leave a forwarding one>> > no biggy, we all get distracted, I usually refer to that as life. :) > <<No my friend... life is all the opposite of distractions>> see what you mean, I see work as a distraction from my life ;), but don't tell my employer that <<My lips are sealed>> > <<Hmm, never seen this cephalopod there... Would ask other folks on the Ceph > pages/sites. Bob Fenner> That is odd. From what I've read they're supposed to be very common, esp. in very shallow waters. They are nocturnal though, and masters of camouflage (like many cephs). Hmm. I'll post to the Ceph list and see what they have to say. <<The best idea... Perhaps someone there can lend you insights as to how to secure specimens>> As always, thank you so much for you time, I think it's a miraculous thing to live in an era when contacting an expert is as simple as it is. The Pinkster <<Hmm, expert... previously married and flow under pressure. Bob Fenner>>

Re: 2 questions, follow ups > I know what you mean. Sometimes I dread returning from vacations. My record > is > 800 emails in 11 days, luckily though, few were anything I need to respond > too. > <<Yeeikes, time to abandon that addr. (at least for listservs) and not leave > a forwarding one>> it's my work addy (the one I'm using right now), mostly they were of the Jane/Joe Schmoe is now in charge of some workgroup I've never heard of before in some place I hope to God I never have to visit, let alone work at. Many egos in need of stroking, sadly. <<<The way of this world my friend>>> > > no biggy, we all get distracted, I usually refer to that as life. :) > > <<No my friend... life is all the opposite of distractions>> > > <<Hmm, never seen this cephalopod there... Would ask other folks on the > Ceph > > pages/sites. Bob Fenner> I've posted to the Ceph mailing list, someone else mentioned them at reef central on the Ceph list there, but he can't find anyone else who has them either. The NRCC does, but since I'm not a researcher, I'm SOL. <<<Maybe not so Fish Outta Luck... do have whoever there contact me... I will vouch that you are indeed a researcher... as you legitimately are... and ask for their assistance in helping you secure a specimen. Please refer said person/s to our site.>>> > That is odd. From what I've read they're supposed to be very common, esp. in > very shallow waters. They are nocturnal though, and masters of camouflage > (like > many cephs). Hmm. I'll post to the Ceph list and see what they have to say. > <<The best idea... Perhaps someone there can lend you insights as to how to > secure specimens>> > As always, thank you so much for you time, I think it's a miraculous thing > to > live in an era when contacting an expert is as simple as it is. > The Pinkster > <<Hmm, expert... previously married and flow under pressure. Bob Fenner>> :groan: just for that one, I'm sharing this one with you: While rereading CMA I mentioned to my wife that Reggae would be an ideal music to accompany it, when she asked why, my reply was: Then I'd be a Rasta Fennerian! <<<Seems reasonable. Let's roll a big spleef using a whole TFH Mag, smoke da ganga and see Ja! (a large Terebellid Polychaete no doubt). Bob F>

Re: long term planning (size of tank, foods, mandarin, cephalopod FAQs> The mail maintenance demons ate the original message, but your response to my comment that a 180 tank was not that much larger than a 120 was (to paraphrase) "that I should hang out there more often".  <Bizarre... reminds me of the "altered translation dictionary" skits of comedy teams> I was just curious (not offended, just curious, the short comings of email, you can't hear the tone of my voice) what exactly you meant. Oh, and I agree, your replies aren't short, they're concise. And if you're curious, I'm trying to assure my wife that my hobby won't eat our house. <I understand (methinks) all the way around... half again as big is "bigger" as in "I wish you were about to help me count my money"> And on a whole nother topic, I thought this might apply to the recent posting that mandarin fish take roe, please feel free to snip the next section and post it separately if you'd like. <Okay, will do so, thank you> Re Mandarin Tip: "Hatchling cephalopods require live food. While Sepia officinalis is the only cephalopod species that has been reared through their youth on Artemia, I do not recommend using Artemia unless there are no other options as many of the cuttlefish will die and the growth rates of the survivors will be retarded. Mysid shrimp, small marine fish, amphipods, isopods, and other small live marine crustaceans and fish are ideal first foods. Bill Mebane, a scientist at the Marine Biological Lab at Wood's Hole, has had great success using newly hatched killifish (Fundulus grandis, sorry killifish lovers!) to feed hatchling cuttlefish. Killifish eggs can be ordered from Gulf Coast Minnows; their address is at the end of this article. The eggs can be shipped damp, are inexpensive, and are an especially great option for land locked aquarists. Essentially they are the Artemia of the fish world. I've heard that some aquarium stores are starting to regularly offer live amphipods (also known as scuds, hoppers, or beach fleas) for sale; these are the main food I have using to fed my hatchling cuttlefish. " From Dr. James Wood article on breeding cuttlefish, URL for Dr. Wood's article: www.nhm.ac.uk/hosted_sites/tcp/cuttle4.html While I don't have anything but gut instinct to back me up, I imagine that killifish eggs would make good mandarin food if they are taking roe, and easier to get if you don't have access to a market that carries roe. Here's the URL for Gulf Coast Minnows: http://www.bayoubusiness.com/minnows/about.htm Hope this helps! Mike <Hmm, will post on the cephalopod FAQs section, "foods/feeding/nutrition" as well. Again, thank you. Bob Fenner>

Nautilus Do you think it would be safe to keep a nautilus in a 240gallon tank with fish like a Sohal and emperor angel? would the Nautilus be able to catch these fish? the nautilus' ability to catch fish is my main concern. Can it? thanks <More likely the fish would bother the Nautilus... best to keep these cephalopods in their own, dedicated system... with low lighting... good filtration... Don't think this mollusk would catch these fish species... unless it was exceedingly hungry. Bob Fenner>

Octopus Hi Bob, I've seen you reply to a lot of questions by people online and I was wandering if you could possibly help me. I have a dwarf octopus that has had babies (4) they seem to be doing fine but I don't know what or how to feed them?  (Do you know the species? You should look on the Net and quick re their care... Yes to being able to raise them...) Next I need to know if I should separate them from the mother?  (Yes... there is a chance the mother may eat them... or that her imminent death (very common) will cause their loss from water pollution) Lastly do you think there is a chance of them surviving? thanks Bill Nickens (Please see the Cephalopod coverage and related FAQs file posted on our website: www.WetWebMedia.com for more general information and references. Bob Fenner, in Cabo till tomorrow)

Octopus, mix in small aquarium Can a small octopus live in a fish and invertebrate tank with fish not bigger than him, but he is not bigger than the fish? <Not a good gamble... these intelligent mollusks can be very touchy in such a setting. What if it "inks" the tank? How would you feel if it ate its tankmates... yes, even though they're bigger than it? Please read over the sections starting with Mollusks on the site: www.wetwebmedia.com. Cephalopods are best maintained in designated "specimen" tanks... or public aquariums. Bob Fenner>

Octopus Love:  can I put anything in with my octopus or will it kill it. can I put coral or live rock in it? >> <Most systems with most Octopus species/specimens do fine with coral and live rock... The cephalopod needs the coverage/habitat, and unless its stressed to the point of "inking" its environment will generally leave all corals alone.  Bob Fenner>

Keeping Octopi Question: Who better to ask? I have always had the itch to keep an octopus in a "species tank". One that stays relatively small (if possible) and is not a danger to my household (venomous, i.e.. Blue Ring). What advice can you offer on these fascinating creatures. Here's what I have learned:

  • They are escape artists
  • the are nocturnal
  • prefer live foods
  • seems to be a debate over the water parameters they can be kept in
  • some say same as FO tank, others claim that parameters beyond reef quality water are necessary (which is true?)
  • short lived species (2 yrs max from date of birth?)
  • extremely intelligent

What I'd like to learn:

  • some good books to read
  • what is/are the most hardy species, also the smallest species when full grown
  • best method of filtration for their tanks (here we go again w/filtration debate -- I have read trickle is best)
  • where can I get one
  • really anything you can tell me, any articles you could point me to, etc....
  • minimum tank size required
  • your experiences, if any, with these creatures
  • can they be found/kept together or in pairs, if so, is this better

As I said, I have been considering this for years and have much to learn before actually giving it a go.

Bob's Answer: Dave, lots of good questions as always (difficult to answer and useful...). You are right (that is, I'm in agreement) that octopus should be kept in their own "species tank". Public aquaria get away with sometimes stocking one with other macro-life, but this is done with VERY large systems, tremendous filtration and often open or semi-open water systems...

I also agree with what you understand to date as to requirements. Better water quality is very preferred, for higher DO and preventing suicide through an "inking" incident via stress. Most species do only live a couple of years. Re: what you (and I) would like to learn: As far as I know there are no good husbandry "books" on the group: You might very well want to use this occasion to pen one. There are a few hobbyist and scientific paper series that are worthwhile and I would search these out by way of a large Library's access to the Zoological Record, BIOSIS and any other computerized bibliographic tools they have available (write me if you'd like to see a general article on how to go about this).

  • There are some tiny species, even considered interstitial (yep, living between sand grains).
  • Tropical and cool-water species survive about the same (the latter need a chiller of course).
  • About a half-dozen species of both are offered from time to time from marine livestock wholesalers. Your LFS probably does not stock any, but can/will special order one for you (have them contact me if they don't have source).
  • All types of filtration (chem., phys, biol) and vigorous circulation are called for. Trickle is a good start.
  • As big a tank as possible, mainly for dilution effect (vigorous eaters, excreters...) at least a forty even for Haplochalaenas.

I have "kept" (been at institutions that housed) the three species of E. Pacific Octopus spp., and have kept O. vulgaris and bimaculatus for a few months... but it would take many pages to offer much detail of these experiences. I personally suggest O. horridus, a tropical species, often available from the Philippines.

I have never seen an occasion where in hobbyist settings more than one individual was kept together for any period of time. If you have a way to peruse old hobby lit. Look for the following issues for relevant feature articles:

  • FAMA 2/80, 8/81, 10/84, 2/87, 4/88, 5/88, 10,11/89, 4/94
  • Marine Aquarist: 3:4/72, 6:4/75, 8:6/78

Oh yeah, thanks again for the info! Also, I just reviewed an octopus today from another provider other than FF. Its a bluish color and is pretty small. I was just wondering if you had any idea what specie it was? Ian >> >> What? Are you joshing old Bob? Hopefully not a venomous type... Bob Fenner Oh no, I love FF, but I'm in NC and as you know, octopi don't ship good, and the place I bought it from is in FL, a lot closer to me, but. I do have an order from FF in transit now, oh yeah, and I also hope its not a venomous type , Ian >> >> Not FROM Florida... but if it were shipped in from the South Pacific... do take a look under the name Haplochalaena on the Internet via your search engines... and keep your hands away from this animal. Bob Fenner

Cuttlefish I work at a local fish store in Washington and with a shipment of marine  fish came a little cuttlefish. Not knowing what to do our salt water  department guy put it in a reef tank and the current was too much for it.  It turned white and tucked itself all up. After putting it into a  specimen container for a few minutes and not seeing any sign of movement  the "expert" concluded it was dead, and threw it into the garbage. Finding  this out I got the cuttlefish out after a few minutes and put it back into  a specimen container. The cuttlefish still changes colors very slightly in  small areas of it's body and I wanted to know if this is an indication that  it is still alive. It hasn't apparently moved at all but continues to alter  pigments in its flesh. Any info would be great. Thanks, Davin >> Well, it's a shame this little creature was shipped to the store... and it could still be dead, or close to it... and still change color... If you think it is real close to being dead... you might place it in the freezer to more humanely euthanize it. Bob Fenner

Keeping Chambered Nautilus << How hard is it to keep a chambered nautilus? What are the water temp requirements? I currently have a well established 180g tank with top of the line filtration. I have been in the hobby for over 5 years and have set up an automatic water change system that runs every 2 weeks and changes 30g at a time. Thank you, Chris Persing >> Take a look at the articles on this group (the cephalopods) stored at the URL: www.wetwebmedia.com for more detail. The most common species of Nautilus offered in the trade should be kept a relatively low temperature (for marine tropicals)... best in the low seventies (F.). And please do consider what you're getting into with these intelligent fish eaters.... They are a handful... and something whose novelty (compared to other marine life) all too often wears off... Bob Fenner

KEEPING A NAUTILUS CEPHALOPODAN Hello Bob, We met before at the SEA Bay meeting in Palo Alto about 5 months ago, I purchased your Conscientious Marine Aquarist book at that time and use it as a reference frequently. I have a chance to purchase a Nautilus from a local shop and am very intrigued by the animal. Your book offered very little advise in this regard. I would keep it in a dedicated 20 gallon tank. I'd appreciate your opinion/comment about keeping a nautilus. I also have a fish only 100 gal. and started a 55 gal. reef tank. Thanks, Dave >> Well, take heart in knowing my editor for CMA cut the length back from more than 1000 pages and even at that length, it contained no major section on nautiloids... First off, do look much more into the husbandry of these animals than what I can present here... but know that: a twenty is too small... a forty would be my minimum... and the deeper/shape the better... they are sensitive to pollution... and are big, messy eaters, producing a great deal of wastes... And that some species require cool water... due to their natural vertical migrations to deeper/cold water. There are a few worthwhile articles on these animals captive biology. Let me know if you can't search the local large college library, a hobbyist's magazine collection, and I'll copy and mail you on the pieces in my analog files. Bob Fenner

Blue ringed octopus Hello my name is Jessie I am planning on setting up a specialty tank and I  was curious as of how big a blue ringed octopus can get so I can get the  correct size aquarium....Thank you for your time.... Jessie >> Jessie, please don't go forward with this idea... not only are these animals deadly venomous... they're very short lived (about a year maximum)... and in all honesty, very reclusive (they hide all the time...). Even in a suitable sized system (let's say forty gallons, even for a small specimen), it would be hard to find one. My real advice is to keep searching for more suitable species of animals. Bob Fenner, who is sorry to be so negative, but have just seen so many of these cephalopods lost for... 

Blue Ring Octopus in Trade > Dear industry and hobby representatives on the MAC Board and Advisory Board,  I thought you would be interested to hear these concerns being expressed by  an octopus researcher re the trade in aquarium animals that have the potential to be fatal. > Paul Quote > "This is the season for blue-rings! We frequently see large supplies of > them this time of year. One supplier told me this week that a holding > operation in Indonesia was listing over 300 in stock. Last week, a retail > store in San Francisco had a dozen on display in a front tank easily > accessible to patrons. With this many animals in the pipe-line, we should > be seeing them for sale everywhere. This obviously makes me nervous that > someone is going to get hurt. But what to do? I've tried writing numerous > warnings that have been posted here and elsewhere, but the only responses I > usually receive are "I have a constitutional right to bear blue-rings" or > "blue-rings don't kill - people do". > >I've thought about writing a piece for a popular forum like FAMA, but to > get it accepted, and more importantly read, I would probably have to include > some of my photos and I'm afraid that popularizing these beasts would do > more harm than good. I already have occasional guilt pangs from allowing > some of my pictures to be posted. > >I've also considered going to the Feds suggesting regulation of import, but > frankly this is would be opening up a Pandora's box that could be bad for > responsible hobbyists as well as researchers. If you ban or regulate the > import of one species, how and where do you draw the line? Stonefish are > bad, scorpion fish are O.K.? > >One idea that I have had, and perhaps some of the attorney's out there > might want to comment on whether this would be of any utility, is to contact > through professional association lists, as many retailers, wholesalers, and > importers as possible, warning them of the potential dangers of selling > blue-rings to uninformed individuals and also stating that I will make > available to anyone injured by one all information that I have about the > known risks and too whom and how this information has been disseminated. > >The industry really has to take responsibility here. I have encountered a > few suppliers over the years who would not sell me blue-rings until I proved > that I was part of a research operation and/or who provided information with > a shipment stating that these animals were deadly. However, the vast > majority of suppliers say absolutely nothing about the risks.  > >For those of you who frequent various conventions meetings related to the > industry and/or hobby, has there ever been a session or symposium > devoted to the general topic of the importation and sale of dangerous marine > animals and how to minimize the risk? > >It would seem to me that the very least that should be done is provide with > the sale of any blue-ring a single sheet of paper describing the risks of > injury or death through a bite and identifying the toxin (Tetrodotoxin) so > that medical personnel would have some idea how to treat a bite - or at > least know how to get information quickly by calling a poison hotline. I > suppose one could go so far as to provide information on how to treat a > bite, but that might open up liability issues." > end quote > Paul Holthus, > Executive Director, > Marine Aquarium Council > 3035 Hibiscus Dr., Honolulu, Hawaii USA 96815 > Phone: (+1 808) 923-3254 Fax: (+1 808) 923-6023 > Email: paul.holthus@aquariumcouncil.org  > Website: www.aquariumcouncil.org > Good for you Paul. I'd even go further and encourage people to leave off with keeping Cephalopods period... they require specialized care, species-tank set-ups, and have naturally very short life spans (generally under two years...). You could write a piece that would not popularize their keeping (and hopefully not be vilified for it), and I'd gladly add my name to such statements. Bob Fenner

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