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FAQs about Cephalopod Foods/Feeding/Nutrition

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, Cephalopods 2Cephalopod Identification, Cephalopod Behavior, Cephalopod Compatibility, Cephalopod Selection, Cephalopod Systems, Cephalopod Disease, Cephalopod Reproduction,

Mmm, don't eat Cnidarians, but may damage them via wastes, physical movement. Plerogyra sp. Here in S. Sulawesi.

How often should we feed our octopus?    1/10/07 we <... beginnings of sentences are capitalized...> just bought an Atlantic octopus yesterday for my boyfriends son. My boyfriend usually reads up on our little buddies before he buys them but it was the last one in the store so we took him. we took the pinchers off a crayfish and fed him yesterday...that made his third feeding of the day.....(the pet store fed him twice). We looked and looked at your site and couldn't find much....we found a lot about what they prefer to eat and all that but don't know how often they eat <I would feed an adult octopus 2 or three times a week... These cephalopods are not long-lived period... and more frequent feeding shortens their life spans further. Bob Fenner>

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>

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 -- >>

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

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>

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



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