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FAQs about Cephalopods 2

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 1, Cephalopod Identification, Cephalopod Behavior, Cephalopod Compatibility, Cephalopod Selection, Cephalopod Feeding, Cephalopod Systems, Cephalopod Disease, Cephalopod Reproduction,

Octopus cyanea, the common "Day Octopus" of Hawai'i, there

Confusing comic   7/22/11
Does today's comic in http://xkcd.com/ make any sense to you?
<Mmm, only a bit... There is/are such things/organisms as mimic octopus/Octopodes... I think as the subtitle of this site/blog states, they're engaging in sarcasm>
I'm not quite sure if this is a "fish" thing either.
Note that if you hold your pointer over the comic you get additional information on the comic although that takes it in a whole other direction.
<Yes... though it does touch on the terminology of this group of Cephalopods>
-- Shawn
<Cheers! Bob/DF>

Cold water salt water snails and a Octopus O. bimaculatus  9/26/10
To the crew of Wet Web Media,
I ordered a O. bimaculatus that should be here in a few days... either Monday or Tuesday at the latest. It is being flown air cargo and will arrive the same day (I will be ecstatic if this actually turns out to be
the correct species) Anyway, I have never kept a cold water octopus before though I have kept a number of other warm water species.
<The main difference is the requirement for a chiller. Coldwater species generally fare poorly at room temperature unless you can keep the room cold all year around, e.g., a cold stone basement. Provided you have the chiller keeping the temperature. Now, do make sure you understand the difference between Octopus bimaculatus and Octopus bimaculoides. The two species are closely related, but Octopus bimaculoides is a robust, hardy, *subtropical* species that does best at 18 C/64 F but will do well at room temperature up to about 22 C/72 F. Octopus bimaculatus is hardly ever kept, and little is known about its long term requirements. It's another subtropical species from the California coast, but it's hard to say if it is a hardy, adaptable species being it's so rarely maintained.>
The reason for my email is it occurred to me that my snails and hermit crabs and star fish aren't exactly suited for the cold water life.
<Indeed. If added to a room temperature tank this really shouldn't be an issue though. Feed in small amounts such sea life will be captured and eaten long before thermal stress becomes an issue. Maintain in a separate, heated, tropical aquarium, and then add one or two to the unheated tank as required. If you're keeping a coldwater species of octopus in a chilled tank, then yes, dumping tropical species of snail and hermit crab would be unwise, though this depends on how quickly the Octopus captures and feeds on these things. What you don't want is a bunch of dead animals decaying away in the tank.>
So I will be transferring them to a warm water tank and will need to replace them with cold water species. I have read here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mollusca.htm specifically "Top shells, Family Trochidae are macro-algae eaters that are often shipped from cold-water climates. A related family, the Turbinidae, or turban snails, includes the popular Turbo (yes, it's a genus and a common name) snails, excellently adapted for feeding on hair algae and films."
but I wasn't sure if that which (common name) snails are cold watered species. Could you either elaborate further, list a few different cold water snails, or send me a link when I can find multiple cold water salt
water snails. I had also read that some of these snails are poisonous and I would really like to stay away from those.
<Understandable, though I'm not sure about what snails are poisonous. Venomous, yes.>
Also could you possibly point me to a few some what common cold water sea stars if possible that would be very helpful I know of the Sunflower sea star however I don't believe its common to the aquarium trade.
<There really aren't any coldwater starfish in the trade. You'll have to collect your own. Luckily, getting coldwater foods for Octopus is not difficult. Your local grocery store will have mussels, clams and oysters.
With a bit more ferreting about, at least here in England you can get live periwinkles as well, and in other parts of the world you may be able to find equivalent edible marine gastropods. Another good source of food for coldwater Octopus are estuarine Palaemon spp. shrimps, and here in England these are commonly sold in aquarium shops as "river shrimps". When gut-loaded with Spirulina flake, these are excellent food for Octopus. Do bear in mind very small Octopus will need other foods, for example live
Mysis, as well as small crustaceans found on live rock. None of this will matter greatly if you have Octopus bimaculoides, since that species tolerates room temperature well and as such can be fed tropical
invertebrates as required.>
Thank you for your time. It is appreciated greatly appreciated.
<If you don't already own it, run to your nearest bookstore and order a copy of the "Cephalopods" book by Colin Dunlop and Nancy King, published by TFH. It contains lots and lots of information on diet.>
Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.
~ Proverbs 6:6
<Indeed, but ants are all female and have short, hectic lives. I prefer to consider the cat, an animal that knows how to chill out and mooch meals off dumb two-legged animals! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Cold water salt water snails and a Octopus O. bimaculatus  9/26/10
Hi again,
Thank you for taking the time to reply to my email.
<Not a problem.>
I do have a chiller on my fish tank so I am ready for which ever octopus they send.
<Good to know. O. bimaculoides isn't particularly fussy, but during the summer you will find a chiller useful.>
The problem in the aquarium trade with regards to octopus is so few people can properly identify the octopuses and thus label them "Indonesian octopus", "octopus vulgaris" or worse "brown octopus" which makes it VERY difficult for hobbyist to know which species they will receive.
<Indeed, a well-known problem.>
O. bimaculatus is the name they had posted for sale though like you said it is unlikely that this is truly the octopus they are selling and hopefully it will turn out to be the tide pool loving O. bimaculoides.
<Fingers crossed!>
I simply will not know until it gets here which is more than a little nerve racking. Once it gets here I will check the eye spots to see which they have sent. I will adjust the tank temp based on ID once it arrives.
I do own the book you mentioned and it really is a great read for people wanting to learn more about keeping octopus. I am a member on TONMO which is also a wonderful source for octopus keepers.
<I enjoy TONMO as well, and have written the odd piece there about fossil cephalopods. As I'm sure you realise, some of the people who post on the forum there are very expert on cephalopod-keeping.>
The snails I am looking for are for a clean up crew.
<I see. Well, good luck with that'¦>
Sometimes octopuses do eat the clean up crew however often they do not if they are well feed.
<Indeed. I'd buy them assuming they'll be eaten, and be pleasantly surprised if they're not. For what it's worth, Nerite snails seem very good at avoiding predation because they move so slowly and have very thick shells for their size. There are some intertidal, non-tropical Nerite species traded such as the Virginia Nerite Neritina virginea and the American zebra Nerite Puperita pupa which you might consider. They're mostly sold as "freshwater" snails though they aren't anything of the kind.>
Thank you for your suggestions once again. It is greatly appreciated.
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Interesting Squid Article - 7/16/09
Hello Crew. I'm sure Bob F may already be aware, but this is a pretty interesting/neat article about the invasion of giant squid in San Diego that you might want to share.
<Thanks for sending this along Andy... Neat, but scary animals... I've had some unpleasant interactions with Humboldt Squids diving in the Revillagigedos... BobF>

Divers attacked by jumbo flying squid (NEWS.com.au Article) - 7/16/09
Bob Fenner, Luke Haseler thought you might find this article from NEWS.com.au interesting:
Bob, Have you seen these squid? Cheers, Luke.
<At least Humboldt's squid seems to be thriving in this env.! BobF>
Divers attacked by jumbo flying squid From: NEWS.com.au
July 17, 2009
THOUSANDS of aggressive sea monsters with razor-sharp beaks and toothy tentacles have invaded San Diego beaches, spooking divers and tourists.
The 1.5 meter-long carnivorous calamari -- which can grow up to 45kg -- have attacked divers.
Some divers have reported tentacles enveloping their masks and yanking at their cameras and gear.
Click here to read the full article on the website
Alternatively, you can copy and paste this link into your browser:

Cephs book review by NealeM   2/3/09 Bob, This review any good for WWM? http://www.tropicalfishfinder.co.uk/article_detail.asp?id=98 Cheers, Neale <Mmm, yes... but fine just to "point" to the present posting... if it's not "going away". BobF> Re: Cephs Bob, It's a freebie. Just cut and paste if you want it. Cheers, Neale <All right! Thank you, BobF> Book Review: Cephalopods: Octopuses and Cuttlefishes for the Home Aquarium by Colin Dunlop and Nancy King by Neale Monks

Cuttlefish Help 10/26/08 Hi Crew, <Welcome> I have a 65 gallon marine tank, and I'm planning on keeping the dwarf cuttlefish Sepia bandensis. <They are very fun animals if you keep your hands out of the tank as they are fairly aggressive animals.> I've been trawling the net for information and a few places (including TONMO) have suggested that it's possible to keep more than one of these guys in a single tank. <I've kept more than one at a time. However, I always kept them separated due to my fears they would fight. As previously mentioned, they are fairly aggressive. They don't live very long as it is so I didn't want the added stressors. Other species of the Sepia genus have been kept together for ages. Mike Irving on the WWM Crew should be able to help you with keeping S.b. specifically together.> I'm just looking for confirmation on this, because it would be awesome to keep two or three of these guys together, but if it's not possible, Id still be happy with just one. <It is possible. It has been done before. However, you have to be willing to possibly lose an animal. Unless your intent is on breeding, it is easier to keep just one in a species tank.> Thanks for your help. <You are more than welcome Curt S.> Cheers, Andrew

Small Octopus as fresh food  7/18/06 Hello WWM crew!   I have been able to catch some baby octopus in my area which i froze, intending to use them for bait, but i never ended up using them. Do you think these would be a safe food to feed my fish? My fish are 1 flame hawk, 4 Nemos, 1 eibli angel, and 1 Bluering angel. <Should be fine. I might cut out the beak and ink gland first, cut into bite-sized pieces, give them a rinse ahead of time. Bob Fenner>

- Chambered Nautilus -    6/14/06 Hi Crew! <Hi.> I have a couple of questions about the chambered nautilus. Do you know how long their lifespan is in captivity? <In a very general way, dismally short compared to life in the wild.> How large can they get, or what shell diameter is an average adult size? <I think eight to ten inches.> What sort of lighting do they require? <None at all - they live mostly in darkness. Most public aquarium displays use red lighting to at least show the animal without stressing them out.> How much light is too much? <Any.> Are there any special requirements that the nautilus has in captivity. <Well... my smart Alec answer is that the requirement is to keep them out of captivity entirely, but considering that they make daily migrations of several thousand feet from deep waters to shallow to find their prey, I'd say there's nothing you can do in captivity that will properly replicate their natural environment.> I read that they need cold waters between 56-72 degrees. <Perhaps colder even... again, not really remotely practical for the home hobbyist. Best to leave these magnificent creatures in the ocean.> Thanks for all your help and time! Gratefully, Johanna <Cheers, J -- >

Cuttlefish Injured Tentacles 11/3/05 A week ago I purchased a dwarf cuttlefish (bandensis, I think) from my LFS, who had already kept it for a few months. It was surprisingly healthy and active; the first night I brought it home it ate a white cloud I offered it from my planted tank.  I'm keeping it in a 29-gallon tank with 40 lbs. of oolitic sand and 25 lbs. of LR. I'm running a Bak Pak 2, a small back filter with phosphate remover and carbon, a Fluval 304 powerhead and a RIO 400 powerhead. <Would add a skimmer> I keep SPS corals and have a 150W 20K HQI metal halide. <Bright for these> My water parameters, I figured, are excellent for a cuttlefish: high calcium and strontium, clean water, etc., except for the bright light. But this cuttlefish is remarkably healthy. Last night I found it hovering above my pink bird's nest coral. Upon further inspection I noticed its retractable tentacles were stuck inside the coral, keeping the cuttlefish from pulling itself free. A Trapezia guard crab was holding onto the tentacles and eating the end on one. I figure the cuttlefish tried to grab the crab, but couldn't pull the crab out or pull itself free. <Sounds likely> It began shooting ink, and I had to manually pull the tentacles away from the crab with my hand. Now the retracting tentacles hang out limp like they're stretched out and stick to everything the cuttlefish touches with them. My question is can a cuttlefish heal from something like this? <Oh yes> I've read they can regenerate their tentacles. If I feed it frozen foods it won't need those tentacles to catch live prey, will it? <Not likely> Is my cuttlefish going to die? <Someday...> What can I do to help? Its behavior seems back to normal, except its a bit shook up still like it doesn't know what to do now that it's two retractable tentacles don't work. If they can heal, how long should it take? <A month or so> Your advice is greatly appreciated. Adam <As is your input. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Re: Cuttlefish Injured Tentacles 11/3/05 Thanks, Bob. You called it. This morning, not more than 30 hours since the incident, the cuttlefish has recovered. Its tentacles are fully retracted. I had to join the forum and email the members at Tonmo.com. They were not as optimistic as you. Nevertheless, they were very kind and understanding. <Ah, good> <<Some months ago I tried to register at Tonmo, never received a confirmation email, and never received a reply from one of the site admins regarding.  Glad this is not the case with all who wish to join this forum.  Marina>> I spent a lot of time with the cuttlefish last night, offering it frozen krill, which it would not accept. Its tentacles were still hanging limp. But this morning I couldn't see its tentacles and figured it bit them off or they healed. When I fed it an algae-eating shrimp from my planted tank, it took it eagerly. <Good> These guys are more resilient than I give them credit for.  <"Amazing powers of regeneration... cognition, reflex..."> I know the lights are a little strong and that cuttlefish are diurnal, but the lights are on only 9 hours a day and there are several places for it to hide. It likes burying itself in the oolitic sand. I think it will adjust well and really is a great animal for a stony coral tank, because they want anything to do with each other. On the other hand, you should have seen my Nassarius snails going for the cuttlefish when it was injured. The ocean is not a good place to get sick! I had to remove them. <Good point> By the way, I am running a protein skimmer: the Bak Pak 2. Nothing special. <I see> My one question: Because cuttlefish are supposed to be so smart, will it learn to keep its arms out of the Seriatiopora? Those Trapezia crabs mean business. <Hard to state... crabs and other crustaceans are "irresistible" to these animals> Thanks so much, Bob. I'm having a good day. Adam Michels <Make it a lifetime! Bob Fenner>

Re: FW: Cuttlefish Injured Tentacles 11/3/05 Correction: "I think it will adjust well and really is a great animal for a stony coral tank, because they want NOTHING to do with each other."  My fault. <No worries. I understood/stand what you meant/mean> I've read many of your threads; you guys must really get upset when dealing with so many beginners . . . "I think I want to breed cuttlefish. Do I need a protein skimmer? Will a 10-gallon work?" Ha!  Adam Michels <Your time will come, is coming... Bob Fenner> 

The Great Octopus Pilgrimage - 07/12/2005 Gentlemen,   <Err.....  Gentlelady Sabrina with you today, though possibly neither gentle nor ladylike! (grin)> After  a long journey-I have found you. A pilgrimage across the web, through pop-ups and lighting sales- as a new saltwater aquarium has  brought me here to you, oh great wise crab of the sea (might be a compliment,  might not, ya nevah know). <I like crabs.  I'll take that one as a compliment.  Crabs are neat critters.> Since your time is valuable- Here's the  stats: 55  Gal Tank Two  (2) power heads (which occasionally I will allow to mix air w/  water) <Not necessary, IMO, and may possibly get "too" much dissolved air into the water....  Some folks believe that injecting air with a powerhead might help contribute to "gas bubble disease" - sort of fishy "bends".  I'm not convinced of this.  However, if the surface of the water is sufficiently agitated, you may not need additional aeration at all.> attached  with undergravel filter-layered w/ crushed coral. <Much to say and not say on this....  I, personally, would urge you away from the use of an undergravel filter for a marine tank, but that is not to say that it is impossible for a tank to function with one....  Start reading here on filtration methods, and form opinions of your own:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm ....  as you can see, there really is just toooooo much information to pack into a single brief email on this topic.> 30  LBS of Live Rock ( a current addition) <Ahh, good.> Fluval  405 canister filter <Pros and cons here, too - if properly maintained and cleaned regularly, I would use this *instead* of the UGF, and use a fine layer of crushed coral or aragonite sand as substrate, or go with a deep sand bed (4"+ of oolitic aragonite sand).  Sufficient live rock, a deep sand bed, a good skimmer, and powerheads for circulation is all the filtration I use.> The tank is 3 weeks old. <An exciting time....  I will caution you, there is so much information out there, it can be very daunting; please don't get discouraged!  Enjoy the pursuit of knowledge, and keep in mind you have us (can join us on our chatforums: http://www.wetwebfotos.com/talk ) and the wealth of knowledge in WWM and on other informative sites to back you up.  Err, "We're here for ya, man!"> The tank was habitat to a cichlid family when I got it. Since, I have converted it to saltwater. <Many a great tank has begun in this manner.> Now that you know the  environment-here are some of my questions, oh masters of life  balance: My  ammonium is zero, but my nitrites and nitrates are really high... is this just a  normal cycle process or does it indicate some environmental issue? <Just a-cycling', my friend.> Should the tank have no need to cycle because it was home to freshwater fish prior to it being salt? <The saltwater nitrogen cycle and the freshwater nitrogen cycle are handled by different bacteria altogether.  Thus, you will most definitely have the tank cycling.  The live rock alone will get this tackled for you, please do not add fish until after the cycle has completed.  Also, please consider quarantining animals prior to placing in the display tank.> How long can I go w/o a protein skimmer? <Umm, as long as you can stand it, really.  A skimmer will help by removing dissolved organics from the water - you will have a sort of a tradeoff between how much work you want to put into water changes and how much you want to spend on the tank.  A quality skimmer is worth every dime, and with skimmers, you really do get what you pay for. What  improvements should I make in order to make my tank more livable? <What *I* would do (keep in mind, there are many, many ways to skin a catfish!) is remove the UGF, omit the canister but keep it around for occasional use (carbon, other resins when necessary), add a quality skimmer - AquaC remora would be my choice - switch out the crushed coral for a DSB, and add another 20-30 lbs of live rock.  But that's just me.  There are a bazillion other options, out there.> I eventually  would like to have an octopus <Woah, holy mackinaw, an octopus, eh?  MUCH will be needed in the way of modifications to the tank....  Please see here:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/cephalop.htm - and be sure to go through the FAQs linked in blue at the top.> and numerous corals. <Mm, in a 55g tank, you'll be limited on space for corals....  and again, there's toooo much information than I can pack in here.  Begin here:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/index.htm - and keep in mind that other factors, especially lighting and selection of inhabitants for the tank, will determine what kind of corals you can safely house.> A humbled thanks is given to each of you whom, each day, whilst negotiating ones own life, continues to answers questions from baffled buffoons such like I. <Count me a buffoon, too, my friend.  I plan to be learning for a long time yet to come.> You  are heroes in you own like, fine gentlemen. <And crabs.  Or gentleladies.  Or whatever category I fall into.  Such an exciting time awaits you; so many wonders to learn....  Do please make use of our marine database ( http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm ) and take things slowly as you embark upon this fantastic living room-ocean journey.  Wishing you and your tank well,  -Sabrina>

- Fabulous (bipedal) Octopus Behavior - Hi Bob, Crew etc, I wanted to thank you for maintaining this terrific web site and extremely useful resource. Please keep up the good work! I also wanted to point you and other WetWeb addicts to a fascinating article published last week in Science magazine describing bipedal locomotion in two species of octopus (Octopus marginatus and Octopus aculeatus). These particular species were observed "walking" using two of their arms and using the remaining 6 arms for camouflage. Readers will need a subscription to read the article (or a trip to the local library), but the movies, which are absolutely out of this world, are publicly available from the magazine's home page http://www.sciencemag.org/.  I hope you can post the information regarding this fascinating animal. Cheers, Michael <Thanks for sharing - will be posted along with all out other dailies. Cheers, J -- > 

Keeping an Octopus? Mm.. not Recommended Just Yet! >Hello crew of WetWebMedia, >>Hello, Marina tonight. >Thanks for helping me out with my question.  >>Don't thank me just yet, I'm going to kindly ask that you please use proper capitalization, punctuation when sending us correspondence. We are an all-volunteer crew, inundated with a huge number of emails daily, and are forced to retype such messages.  >So recently I made a trip to my LFS and they had two small octopi that they were selling, they were called either Atlantic or Pacific Dwarf Octopus, not quite sure what the scientific name was. >>It seems that you're not even sure about the common names, what ocean they come from, let alone their generic nomenclature. This is not a good place to start, my friend. >I asked them about it and they said that they only reach about 3-4 inches and they said that it was possible to keep it in a 10 gallon tank, I would like your opinion on the necessary tank size. >>I cannot, in good conscience, encourage you to try this. Keeping octopi and cuttles (their Cephalopod brethren) is a specialized endeavor. It is clear that you are a beginner, and I honestly feel that this attempt will likely lead to the death of the octopus you bring home. I cannot encourage you ENOUGH, however, to do as much searching and researching as possible (assuming you are very interested specifically in Cephalopods) before even considering purchasing a specimen.  >Also what type of filtration would be best? >>In my opinion? Think "reef". Also, think "raccoons", as ALL octopi can and will escape any normal tank should they choose. I'm hoping I'm doing a good job of discouraging you from purchasing this/these animals at this point. >Will I need a skimmer? >>Basic question, you need to do more research, MUCH more research, and there is more information you'll need than I am able/willing to offer in a single email. >Should I have any power heads or will they be sucked up by them? >>Same as above. >If the filter isn't an underground filter should I have live sand or crushed coral rubble? Are they compatible with any corals or inverts? >>Again, same as above. Please, make use of Google, not just on our site, but on the www as well. Read, read, read, and read some more. >I planned on just keeping plants in the tank with it, mainly Halimedas, Grape Vine, and Shaving Bush plants, would this be ok? >>Um... >What would you suggest that I feed it? Are there any precautions that I should take for preparing the tank? Any other information that you can collect would be great, and thanks again for helping me out with this. Randy >>Well, Randy, like I said, don't thank me just yet. First things first, yeah? I suggest you spend a few days searching on the web. Searching our site has netted me one link - http://www.tonmo.com/. Now it's your turn. It would probably be most helpful to you to first learn what animal you're talking about, exactly. After that, some books would be appropriate, maybe searching for some octopi/cuttlefish forums, searching them for basic information. Along with being sensitive to water quality, these are escape artists extraordinaire. Keeping cephalopods is, in my opinion, a specialized endeavor, and one I also honestly think that only advanced aquarists are best suited to attempt. Marina 

Oxygen content Hi, I checked the search tool for my question with no luck. So forgive me if this was already asked. My question is about octopi. I'm setting up a 30 gallon cube tank with a canister filter. I have heard that octopi need higher levels of dissolved oxygen content, but I'm not exactly sure what that means. How should I keep it high? Or is what I have good enough? Thanks a lot and again sorry if this was already asked.  <Ben, the canister filter is not going to give you the oxygen level you need. You really need a wet/dry filter for good air/water exchange. James (Salty Dog)> 

Oxygen content Follow-up  Hey  <Hey here> Thanks for your quick response. My LFS told me this would be enough so I spent 200 dollars on it. Is there anything else I can do?  <What will help some is to have the return water break the surface of the tank water. That is, do not submerge the return line, preferably use a spray bar. Some filters come with this. If he sold you a Rena or Eheim, it will include the spray bar. James (Salty Dog)> Thanks Ben <You're welcome>

The Octopus and the Moray Hi Bob,   I have a 30 gallon marine aquarium. I have on bimacluoides octopus (1 inch) in my tank alone. In my 10 gallon marine aquarium I have one snowflake eel I am quarantining. The eel is about 5 inches. Is it okay to mix these two together. <Mmm, no... though the moray you have feeds most often (in the wild) on crustaceans... it might very well bother the Octopus to the extent that it inks your system... likely deadly to both> I feed my marine life 2 times a day so would there be a problem with food? Or do you think I should put the eel in the 30 and the Octo in the 10? Please get back to me as soon as possible.    <I would go with this last plan... separately stocking... DO keep your tanks completely covered! Both these animals are very adept at getting out of tanks. Bob Fenner>   

Rearing baby octopus Hi there, <Hi Andrew, MacL here with you tonight.> Recently my reef octopus has been refusing food and not coming out, I  suspected it was coming to an end and was laying some eggs, I was right, I have come home today and there are hundreds of babies swimming around my tank!! I don't know what to do!! Many have already been sucked up into the filtration system, I'm not sure what I can do to help them. I would like some to survive but I don't know how to go about it. Please help if you can. <Strangely enough I happened on this webpage just days ago. Take a look, it tells you exactly what to feed baby octopus http://www.dal.ca/~ceph/TCP/rearing.html  His advice,  use Mysid shrimp, amphipods, crustacean larvae, crustacean appendages, and small crabs. Hanlon (1985) reports that food should be from 1/3 to 2 times the mantle length. He also recommend that you not use Artemia. I would think that brine shrimp that was soaked in Selcon would work. And possibly live brine as well. He does recommend making sure that the food gets to the octopus with tweezers and or with a turkey baster. Please let me know how they do. MacL> Thanks!!

Keeping an Octopus (11/3/04) Hi there, <Hello, Steve Allen tonight.> I am looking at getting an octopus, it is a common reef species, only 10 cm long including tentacles. <Not a blue-ring, I trust, ;)> I have no fish in my tank... only an urchin and some pests I'm trying to get rid of (mantis shrimp) I'm hoping the octopus can help with that. <Possible, I suppose.> I am looking to set up the tank for the octopus only, it's a big tank with good filtration etc. My only concern is the abilities of the octopus to escape. <They have been known to squeeze through tiny holes and unscrew bottle lids.> Any hints, tips would be much appreciated!! Thanks!! <I think there are some posts about this on the FAQs if you search. Also, Tropical Fish Hobbyist had an excellent article about octopus--keeping in one of the issues this past summer. See if you can find it at the library and read it. Bottom line is there can be no gaps or holes at all.>

Copper and an Octopus (4/22/04) <For future reference, please capitalize the proper noun "I" and the first letter of sentences. We post all queries and replies on our site permanently and want them as readable as possible. Our volunteer crew will have a lot more time to answer queries if they don't have to proofread them. Thanks.> OK, I have been reading all your articles about copper removal, but I have to make sure just for self reliance. I added sea cure copper to my tank about a month ago <Never again, right?>, and I just did a 60% water change, added two bags of activated carbon, aquarium systems copper remover, and I'm getting a couple of Polyfilters. How long should I run each of these filters? How often and how much water should I change, and how long should I wait before I should add an Octopus? <A long time.> I thank you very very much for your help. Ryan Satow <Any copper will be deadly, so you want it all out. If you have rock or sand, it may leach out for months to come. I'd run these filters for several days. Carbon is used up and no longer working in as little as a few days depending on how much of various chemicals are in the water. PolyFilter changes color (blue I think) when it absorbs copper. I would do several large water changes. Then remove the chemical filtrations and let things sit for a couple of weeks. Get a good copper test kit and test. If any detectable copper, then it's back to square one. Hope this helps. Steve Allen>

Getting Copper Out of Rock to Make It Safe for an Octopus (4/22/04) What if I boil all my rock? The rock I have is not live rock, so I don't mind do anything that will get me ahead. <No effect. The only thing boiling does is kill stuff. In your shoes, I'd just get rid of the rock and buy new rock if you only plan to use base rock. If you want to keep it, I'd suggest you follow my plan of testing the system for copper after a few weeks to be sure none is leaching out of the rock. Steve Allen.>

Looking for cuttlefish? - 4/6/04  Hello <Hello> I have 17 years experience in keeping marine aquariums, & have successfully kept many types of animals.<Want to volunteer here? We can always use some help!> I have a 100 gal. aquarium that I would like to dedicate to a single cuttlefish. <What kind of cuttlefish? This will help to understand the captive environmental needs of the animal, equipment needs, the costs to you, and where to procure an animal> I have found a number of sources for husbandry information. <The greatest cuttlefish/cephalopod site in the world: http://www.dal.ca/~ceph/TCP/ > But I am unable to find a source for the actual cephalopod. <Check the link above. There is some information on it. Some of the sites are no longer in business but others are still in tact. You can always ask your favorite retailer to special order or at the very least make a request to the many online resellers> Can anyone help me to find a cuttlefish? <Let me know if you are able to procure one. I will work around here see what I can find. Please email with a status with my name in the title in about a week or two.> Please send me any info that will help to: XXXX@XX XXX.com. Thank you for your time. <You bet! Again, please send status as soon as you can. Thanks. ~Paul>

Octopus tank  1/25/04 Everywhere I read, I notice that Octopi are the craftiest escape artists and are capable of shifting quite a bit of weight to get out. <And shape>  One person mentioned theirs being caught "running" down the hallway of their house. <Have seen it myself.>  Made up or not, I have no idea. <True. They are always looking for better pastures of water so to speak> I also hear they can often be found on beaches in the right conditions. <Not really sure 'bout that but could maybe see them come out of the water for a few seconds having chased some food up on the beach but not likely a usual or expected habit of the species> My question is are these sea creatures capable of living for extended periods out of water? <Not really.  Short spans but very short indeed> I remember reading a story about someone finding a Blue Ring attached to some rock someone brought from the water to a beach. <Some are better capable of keeping out of water than others but haven't heard of this over hours myself>  It reared up and also raised it's front tentacles like an attack position. <That is probably true but just not sure what the capabilities of octopi out of water are>  I'm sure aquarium-level octopi are capable of much the same. <Yep!!!!>  How quick are they out of water? <Actually surprisingly quick.> While I have no plans on keeping an octopus, <Glad to hear. To be kept in the ocean> it helps to know as much as I can because someday I'm sure I'll have the room and funds for another large tank that'll have something other than a reef in it. <Mmmmm.....try to leave them in the ocean. I have a good suggestion for keeping them in the tank. Make a platform and use Astroturf all around it. Our octopi (at the Monterey Bay Aquarium) hate the feeling and have never escaped using this method. Put Astroturf everywhere!!!>  Thanks for the Conscientious and Reef Inverts books, they're unbelievably useful and are entertaining to read! <Agreed! With that in mind, I can't condone the keeping of octopi in the average home aquarium or average aquarists for that matter. Leave it to the professionals. Take care. ~Paul> Jeremy

Taking A Mystery Critter Home From the Sea--Bad Idea (1/6/04) Dear Crew, <Steve Allen with you tonight.> I am writing to find out how to care for an octopus.  At least, I think its an octopus. I was in Antigua and found something in the sand rather far from the shore, and a person who lived there told me it was a baby octopus, also called a sea cat.  So I took it home (I live in New York) and bought a tank and a pump and put some broken coral at the bottom with a 25 watt bulb to keep it warm.  I've had it now for about 5 days, but this is the first day I was able to feed it. I would like to know, first of all, if it is indeed an octopus.  I cant send a picture, but I can describe it.  It is now the size of a penny, normally clear but it can change into a deep red color in a split second.  It spurts ink sometimes (but hasn't yet in this tank). I was told that it should reach the size of a basketball.  Its head is oblong and its tentacles are already rather powerful. I would also like to know if I am caring for it properly. I have looked on lots of websites but cant find proper caring instructions, and anyway I am not quite sure what it is.  I was told by someone at the pet store to feed it frozen mashed shrimp and squid every other day.  the water in the tank already smells rotten after a few hours.  Is this normal?  I made sure to dechlorinated the water and have a proper saline level. Thanks. <Okay, I've spent a couple of hours trying to mellow my response to your inquiry, but I'm going to have to be honest with you here. Why did you remove a creature from it's natural home without being sure what it is, not to mention how to care for it? You may have committed crimes in Antigua, the US and the State of New York by doing so unless you have a license to import/export exotic animals. Did you smuggle it through Customs? It was cruel and irresponsible to take this creature from the ocean. If you are a child/adolescent, please don't' do this again. If you are an adult, you should know better.> <This sure sounds like an octopus or a cuttlefish to me. A 25-watt light bulb for heat? This poor creature came from Antigua. Use a proper heater to heat to the temperature it came from. By a "pump" do you mean an air pump with an airstone? What filtration are you going to use? If there's no filtration, that's why the water stinks. You need powerful mechanical, chemical and biological filtration. Dou you plan on having 200-gallon tank? If this species really is capable of growing to the size of a basketball, it needs a very large tank eventually.> <The very best thing to do with this octopus would be to fly back down to Antigua and put it back where you got it. The next best (and most practical) thing to do is to see if you can find someone in your area who is expert at caring for cephalopods and might be able to take it. The third best thing is to spent a couple of thousand dollars on the equipment you need to properly care for it. You might check to see if the fish store you talked to about feeding it can take it and care for it properly, but they probably won't want to out of fear of serious fines if the Feds catch them trying to sell it. Alas, I suspect it's sad fate is to die in the tank you have now sometime in the next few days.>

Taking Mystery Critters From the Ocean 2 (1/7/2004) Thank you for your honest and prompt response.  At the moment, it (Oscar) seems to be doing well. <Good to hear.> I have also been in contact with someone from a pet store who knows how to care for octopi, and I am aware that soon I will need a much larger tank.  By "pump" I meant filter and source of oxygen.  And for now the tank is small enough that the water is at a sufficient temperature, and it no longer stinks. I found this octopus far from the water, about to die in the dry sand. <Ahh. I apologize for misunderstanding your use of the term "far from the shore." I thought you had taken it from the sand out to sea. Regrettably, many people do such things.> Evidently it had mistakenly become attached to someone's snorkel equipment and had been displaced far from its natural home. <Unfortunate indeed. I guess it's a good idea to inspect one's equipment before leaving the beach.> I could have placed it back in the ocean but I decided to take my chances learning how to care for it instead of putting it back. <An understandable impulse. Do bear in mind that such an action can lead to legal troubles. Hard to say if it would have been better off in the ocean--only time and your good efforts to care for it will tell.> The water sports crew who work where I found it were very familiar with this species and told me how to care for it.  If it weren't for me, the octopus would be dead right now anyway, so despite the trauma I have undoubtedly caused it, I have given it a few more days of life, and hopefully will continue to do so in the future.  If I find that I can't care for it properly then I will find someone to give it to. I wrote you hoping to gather as much information as I could on how to care for this octopus.  I understand why you would be angry, but would it have been less irresponsible of me to have left it there to die in the sand? <Again. I thought you took it from the sand under the sea off shore. A misunderstanding on my part. On the other hand, sometimes it is best to leave it be or put it back. If you can provide good care and get this animal to grow/thrive in a tank, then I'd say you did the "right" thing even if it wasn't strictly legal. It is now important not to release it into the wild anywhere.> Of course I could have put it back in the ocean, but taking animals and keeping them as pets is not so extraordinary <indeed the vast majority of the marine animals in our tanks were taken for the ocean somewhere>, and no artificial environment, not even the zoo, is ever as healthy as the natural one. <I would submit that one can provide a healthier, safer environment than nature. Few animals die of old age. They're either eaten, starve or die of disease or trauma.> I am going to do my best with it. <This is definitely the right attitude and the only hope for success.> It will of course cost money but I am prepared to pay for it. <Commendable.> In any event, thank you for responding and giving me some advice.  If you have any other suggestions on how I can take care if the octopus myself, please email me again. <Well, it sounds to me like you have a local source of advice, which is a precious thing. You may be able to contact other octopus keepers on the web or at a local club. Try the forum at www.wetwebfotos.com. "Reef Invertebrates" by Fenner & Calfo has some good info. Do bear in mind that tropical octopi don't live more than a few years. Any $ you invest in a set-up can be used for other things down the road. Good luck to you in this effort. You have the right attitude for it. We would love to hear how things go--keep us posted. Steve Allen.> Sincerely, Colin

Mystery Critter From Antigua Follow-up <1/9/2004> My octopus died last night. <Sorry to hear :(>  I guess I spoke to soon when I said he looked good.  Suddenly he just seemed very weak and stopped moving, then he kept changing colors for no reason and then died.  So I thought I would let you know.  It's sad, but I should have expected it.  Anyway, thanks for your help.  Colin <Well, you did all you could. The likelihood of saving this animal was low. Perhaps you can direct your caring impulses to an actual aquarium with purchased animals that can actually survive, rather than hopelessly stranded ones. Best of luck to you. Steve Allen.>

Bimaculoides Octopus and Fish - 8/20/03 Hi WWM crew, <howdy> Thanks a lot for taking the time to answer my question. I have been reading a lot about the cephalopods and the Bimaculoides octopus in particular. <a very good species choice> I have a chance right now to buy a very young tank-raised baby Bimaculoides that has a head that is about the size of a small gumball. I was wondering, if this octopus was raised and fed only frozen foods or small crustacean as his diet, would he be able to live along with the other fish in my 80g tank? <not at all... it is unrealistic to expect to conquer natural instinct and thousands of years of evolution just by hand-rearing> None of my fish are aggressive and I have a good amount of live rock with caves. Right now I have a medium regal tang, a flame angel and a small long nosed butterfly fish and two clownfish. Would these fish be able to live with the octopus in harmony? <actually... your tang, angel and butterfly will almost certainly nip at or eat the baby octopus. Quite certain. Read and research more... you will understand that cephalopods simply must be kept in species tanks only> Thanks again, Rocko <best of luck, Anthony>

Cephalopod link to add Hello: I couldn't figure out how to suggest a link.  I would like to submit a link to my personal site http://www.tralfazworld.com This site is all about my Octopus bimaculoides (named Tralfaz - of course) It includes a live webcam on his tank, pictures and information.  Thanks <Like the accompanying music! Will add your link on the morrow. Bob Fenner>

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