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FAQs about Cephalopod Systems

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 Feeding, Cephalopod Disease, Cephalopod Reproduction,

cold water tank questions... Mostly octopus hlth., sys.     8/10/11
Hi Marco,
<Hello Ross.>
I'm not sure if you even are at WetWebMedia any more, but I've written to you over the years and you've been most helpful, so I thought I would try again.
<Oh, yes I am still here. Everyday. Though you may not be able to tell from the number of emails I answer. I'm too late often (Europe) or leave the ones where you can make cool comments to the native speakers with a better sense of humour.>
Background: I teach marine biology at a high school and about 5 years ago a couple of seniors set up a 100 gallon, cold water, marine tank in my classroom. Since they have long graduated, it has been up to me to take over the tank and learn on the fly (a process that never seems to stop, it seems). The tank has two Magnum 350 canister filters. One has the micron cartridge polishing filter and one has Fluval BioMax. There is a protein skimmer with an Ozonizer attached (not even sure what this does and if I need it).
<Can destroy some organic molecules (e.g. the ones giving the water a yellow tinge) that otherwise are not removed. Can also help with ORP/pH problems.>
The sump has half the number of bioballs, as originally put in, because you said they were frequently a source of nitrate problems (more on that in a sec.). I also almost always make my sea water using water from a reverse osmosis filter. Also, there is a fairly uniform layer of sand on the bottom of the tank that is about 4 inches deep.
<Okay. I remember this in parts.>
Now my questions. This may take a while. Pull up a chair.
Last fall, I got a female Octopus bimaculoides for the tank. Since she ate everything in sight, she only shared the tank with 2 brittle stars, one sea urchin, a small sea star, and a small chunk of cold water coral. (interestingly, she didn't like to eat anything in the Echinoderm phylum). She did beautifully. However, I went on vacation for two weeks this summer and things sort of fell apart. I had a faculty member come in and feed her just 3 times a week. She did fine the first week and then he wrote that one day she didn't take any food. He thought she might have been snacking on some snails that I had put in before I left. Unfortunately, when I got home, she died the next day. At first, I just chalked it up to natural causes. She was wild caught and we didn't know her exact age, we had her for 10 months; I just figured her time has come.
<Yes, probably you are right.>
Now, I'm not so sure. I've always had trouble with the nitrates in the tank. While the nitrites and ammonia are always zero, the Nitrates are almost always 20mg/l.
<Not ideal, but also not in a dangerous range to most marine life. You do have a lot of nitrifying filtration, I'd not expect it to drop much lower. In the sandbed probably a lot of denitrification happens, but these processes are much slower than in tropical tanks, the low-oxygen zones are smaller, also.>
The sea star that was living in the tank with the octopus died back in May.
<Most common causes for cold water sea stars dying are feeding and too high temperatures in my opinion/experience.>
I didn't think much about it then, but perhaps it is the Canary in the Coal Mine. Since the octopus died, I did a through cleaning of everything (every pump, sump etc.). I went on vacation again, and this time a pump broke. Since the water couldn't circulate properly, the water temp did rise about 10 degrees or so.
<This is a problem. Not only with regard to circulation, but mostly due to decreasing oxygen levels.>
The tank is essentially empty and I thought the nitrate levels would drop because it would seem the bacteria could finally keep up. But I checked today and they are still at 20mg/l. Also when I checked the tank, the sea urchin is now dead and the coral looks pretty dead too. Is this all just bad luck on my part?
<No, I don't think so.>
The recent deaths are due to the temperature change
<Yes, likely.>
and the octopus due to old age
<Also, very likely.>
or is something more nefarious going on? Could something be wrong with my testing kit? Perhaps the 20mg/L is a faulty reading. (I'm using the API kit and every pet store I go to seem to only carry that brand).
<You can try another one, e.g. Salifert. They are also sold online. Also, the water has to have the proper temperature when tested. Since you have a cold water tank, you need to wait until your water sample has at least room temperature or whatever the testing kit in question recommends.>
Should I test for something other than pH, nitrate, ammonia and nitrite??
<This is what I would test for.>
Any suggestions?
<One or more large water changes with clean, natural sea water if you still have the possibility. If it was my tank I'd exchange the BioMax canister filter and more bio balls to a circulation pump or power head and see what ammonia, nitrites and nitrates do. >
I want to get another octopus in September because it was such a wonderful addition to my classroom, but I want to figure out what's going on before I do.
<In my opinion you are doing fine.>
Thanks so much. Ross
<Welcome. Marco.>

Adding cephalopod tank to system 1/9/11
Hello crew and happy new year!!
<And you Josh>
It has been a while since I've written with a question, but always find you guys to be a great resource. I am hoping you can give me some opinions on this. I have been in the hobby for about 7 years now. I've gone through the learning process - much lost in the beginning, lessons learned, have moved from fowlr to softies to lps and now sps. Currently I am on my 5th reef tank. It is a 150g sps dominated tank with a 75g sump and 40g refugium that has been running for about 2 years. Levels are stable, growth and color is good, etc. I have an 'extra' 75g sitting around and have been doing research for the last year(?) on keeping an octopus vulgaris. The question is whether I should plumb this tank into my main system or keep it as a stand alone system. The octopus tank is out of sight from the reef tank, but it's placement makes it not too difficult to plumb together.
<Mmm, I would not. Not enough to gain, and too much to potentially lose>
I can see advantages and disadvantages to both.
Advantages: If I plumb it into the same system it will be much easier for regular maintenance and quality control. There will be more water volume thus more stability. Lowered cost of running because I could use the same skimmer, filtration, and pumps as my main system. Water changes would take place in a single location.
Disadvantages: Inking...? I've read that the biggest problem with this is that it suffocates the octopus in enclosed spaces, but haven't seen any conclusive evidence that it is toxic to other corals or fish. Is this
setup big enough to handle the inking on it's own? I would have no problem running carbon between this tank and the others on top of the carbon I already run.
Octopus are also messy eaters which would lead to a much heavier bioload and potentially make keeping my sps colorful difficult. But would this be easier to handle on a big system or an enclosed system?
<Easier on the organisms in the other system...>
I would really like additional opinions on this, and I always value your insights!
<You have mine! Bob Fenner> 

My new saltwater aquarium/ Octopus sys.  02/23/10
Hello my name is Chris. I am writing you because I recently bought a 150 gallon tank 48 inches wide. I got the tank to ultimately put an octopus in. I have been doing research online for this and want to make the tank escape proof. If I understand right I need a filter that would work on a tank that is 3 times as large as mine for the octopus is very messy. I feel like a canister filter will be easier for me to make the tank escape proof being that there will be less openings to worry about.
<Uh, not likely. For one thing, I don't think there are too many canister filters rated for 450 gallons (the biggest I've seen is for 400g). I think the easiest/best thing to do is to drill the tank, make the filtration components (whatever you use) remote, and cover the drilled holes with mesh to prevent escape.>
I called the North America branch of Eheim and was told that they have discontinued their saltwater filters. For over 7 years now I have wanted an octopus and now have the tank for it. I just want ease and quiet when it comes to the filtration for the tank. Please point me in the right direction here.
<I'd consider going another route... perhaps have something custom built (or use a sump with places for various media and protein skimmer, etc.).
Do keep reading, thinking.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/cephsysfaqs.htm >
Thank You,
Sara M.>

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

Octopus Aquarium   11/4/07 Hello <Howdy> I'm going to be setting up a in wall system with three aquariums, so I can house different types of fish and inverts. About a 300 to 400 gallon in the center for two bamboo sharks and one eel and two 100 gallons on each side, one for a octopus and the other for one trigger and one puffer. Do I need to have the whole system separate for the octopus for inking reasons. <Mmm, no... though do take care to screen waterlines thoroughly... as these cephalopods can squeeze through and to the other systems in quite small diameter lines> I will try to get about 4 to 5 times water turnover rate through a 150 gallon sump that has a carbon compartment, mechanical filter and excellent skimming, the aquariums will be full of live rock for bio filtration. I would like to use the same filtration/sump for all three aquariums. Is that possible? <Yes> Or do I need the aquarium filtration/sump for the octopus to be totally separate? <No> I always have thought so but I see them all the time at pet stores and there display systems are tied into the same filtration/sump. If I don't have the right setup is there something I'm missing that I can add so I can tie all three aquariums together? Thanks so much for the info!!! Todd <Sounds like a neat project! Bob Fenner>

Octo-Options, sys.    8/30/07 WWM Crew, <Derek> I have been an avid min-reef keeper now for a couple of years, moving up from tropical fish, I'm currently very happy with a Oceanic 30 cube which I keep in my living room down from much larger endeavors in the past. While the general rule of thumb is bigger is better for setups, I have found if you can do it small is all that is needed if you keep up with things. I am currently contemplating acquiring a small octopus, a bimac and I am considering the setup options. I have seen this species in several tank setups and am fundamentally concerned with the animals ability for movement. I would hate to go large and waste space and feel that perhaps I would marginally increase the size of my reef tank upgrading to a 46 bowfront perhaps and utilize the 30 cube solely for the octopus. <Can be done...> I have seen keepers say the minimum size considered should be 50 gallons or 30 gallons depending on who you ask. My question is, if 50 is just a "safety valve" for water quality etc then I feel I can make modifications necessary to accomplish the same in a 30 cube - say a custom sump which would also remove obstacles and dangers from the tank for the octopus - is my reasonable or should I be looking to other options? <Is possible... you too could get by in smaller quarters, no?> Alternatively, I have considered picking up one of the larger nano aquariums such as the 29 gallon BioCube by oceanic and turning it into an octo-tank? Thank you, I will abide by your advice. Derek <Mmm, take a read through our little coverage re Cephalopods, their husbandry: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/cephalop.htm and the linked files above and embedded... and do look for a recent issue of TFH, dedicated to their captive care... Much to relate re keeping the top on, the animal in, adequate filtration, issues of foods/feeding, longevity... and not much time today. Bob Fenner>

Can Frogspawn pull a Lazarus? Mmm, yes... Euphylliid hlth, octopus Systems    5/7/07 Hi, I recently purchased a small green frogspawn coral from a local LFS. It seemed to be fine viewing it in the store but upon bringing it home and acclimating it the coral refused to open and soon afterwards had this whitish stringy goo coming off it. It then proceeded to degenerate rapidly until it appeared only a skeleton was left. I moved the remnants of the coral to the 30gal <Mmm, a comment for all... re order of operation... Better by far to isolate all new such incoming livestock up front... to "harden", observe...> I had set up for the octopus <? For a cephalopod? This is too small a volume for most all available species> (temp quarantine tank now I guess). Shortly after this move the coral seemed to be showing signs of life. whitish filamentous tissue began growing inside it. Over the last few days it has rapidly began to look like a piece of cauliflower attached to rock. I am observing it now hoping it is indeed alive and it isn't just "mold" growing on it. Is it possible for a stony coral to regrow from a skeleton if the tissue inside the disk was still alive? <Oh yes> How might I help this process (other then leaving the poor guy alone already)? <Posted...> Should I try and feed it some micro-vert if I think it's exposing tentacles? <This and other materials, yes...> The octo tank is fitted with a single actinic strip <Not useful... needs other wavelengths, intensity...> and an undergravel filter. I have a nano-skimmer on order (should arrive the middle of next week). The last test for things showed ph at 8.2, ammonia and nitrite 0, and  nitrate at 1. The tank is still relatively new. Just some of the old h2o was saved from the move to the 55gal to help the cycling for said future dwarf octo home. <Much, much to relate... Thankfully you can find/access all on your own... Please learn to/use the search tool, indices on WWM... Your answers (and more) are already posted/archived there. Bob Fenner>

Re: can Frogspawn pull a Lazarus? Mmm, yes... Euphylliid hlth, octopus Systems  -- 05/07/07 Hi Bob Thank you for the reply. I had tried looking but didn't see the info I was searching for. I will try again tonight to find info on regenerating corals/frogspawn. <Yes... use the search tool on the "Asking the WWM..." page that can/will highlight cached view terms... Euphylliids and many other stony corals can/do regenerate thus... esp. important in the wild re "bleaching events"> The coral has began to show a greenish brown around the base to middle portion of the main stem. <Mmm, might be just algae...> I will add more light and continue to observe it. My research showed they liked lower light levels and relatively still waters. Is this incorrect? <... I REALLY don't like to just state qualitative terms... please see WWM re actual values> The octo I intend to acquire is the Atlantic joubini species. Is a 30 not recommended for them? <Mmm... might do here... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_Pygmy_Octopus> I am taking my time with finding one. The tank will need to cycle for at least another 2 or 3 months before I am ready for him. Thanks again. Jon <Do take care to ensure the top is COMPLETELY escape proof... Not just with the water level lowered... BobF>

Squid System... really BIG   2/24/07 Hey Bob, <Johnny> A couple of mates of mine caught this Squid recently... <I'll say!> What size system would you recommend for his ongoing care? <Many thousands of gallons... an ocean-full> Will he accept brine shrimp? <Heee! Maybe we can fashion a garnish of such and have a BIG calamari shindig> He he he.

Hiya! Octopus project... sel., sys.    1/21/07 Hi! You guys seem like good people to turn to! <Sometimes> For a science project this year (I'm in High School) I've been trying to get a hold of a Californian Two Spot octopus to put its intelligence to the test with a variety of experiments such as running it through a maze and the like. <Have judged at such get-togethers, and collected this species...> I've spent the last three or so months cycling a 72ish gallon tank. I harvested a 2-3 inch layer of sand from the Oregon coast personally, along with a goodly supply of live rock and water. My partner and I have been doing water tests religiously, and the water is finally up to snuff with an octopus' requirements. We have a large protein skimmer/mechanical filter and canister filter. We've customized the tank so its the Alcatraz of the sea. <Mmm, need two such systems... or at least some secure, chemically-inert containers to keep the octopi separated... not social animals> We are just struggling with actually finding a seller! Are there any good sites on where to find captive bred, two spot octopi, who's hopefully around three months old? <Mmm, don't know re captive bred... But do contact the "LA Wholesalers", like Quality Marine, Sea Dwelling Creatures re wild-collected specimens... I would do this directly (their contact info. can be found on the Net), rather than trying to deal with intermediates (fish stores)... If there are tide-pool areas, you might consider low-minus tides to gathering your own...> Also, what EXACTLY should we feed the octopus? Should we also get an external refugium to house live feeder shrimp, crabs, clams...? <Shrimp, crabs... live are best...> Well, I hope you can answer these questions, cause science fair is right around the corner, and the whole school has put their hope and dreams into the Octo-project. Oh, and with feeding, can one just dump 50 feeder shrimp in the tank, and let nature take its course? <Mmm, no... need to be careful to not pollute NOR over-feed these animals... see WWM re cephalopod husbandry> Can octopus be trusted to eat only when hungry, or will this just result in an unhealthy octopus? Thanks a million, Norris <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 -- >

Bobtail Squid/Systems   5/25/06 Hi WWM Crew! <Hello> I have been researching on keeping some stranger animals in a new tank setup.  I started looking into cephalopods.  The tank setup is a 36"x25"x25" display tank, open top, and setup for a reef.  I have a 50g sump, a 30g refugium, and another 30g prop tank all hooked up together with good filtration (ASM g3 skimmer, etc. etc.) and good temperature control.  The flow is about 35x turnover in the tank, set for some SPS. I know that an Octo is out of the question because of it's ability to climb out of my open top tank, and all cuttlefish except the sepia bandanensis live in warm reef waters which this one will be.  So I wanted to look into squid, especially after seeing pictures of the Bobtail Squid. WetWebMedia doesn't have much information, if any, about squid?  Or am I missing the entire section somehow?  I know some squid must have large circular tanks, why circular?  Is it because they have a tendency to jet really fast thus smashing themselves? <Do not know this for sure.> My biggest question: where can I get more information about the bobtail to see if my tank setup would be suitable? <Art, to start with, I know of no dealer who sells these creatures.  They would be difficult to maintain in the average home aquarium.  Life span is very short, less than a year.  They burrow in sand during the day by throwing the sand over themselves with their tentacles.  They emerge at night feeding on very small crustaceans.  It is very unlikely they would accept non-living food.  If you want to research further, do a Google search and I'm sure you will get a gazillion hits.  Bob may have further input here <Mmmm, nope... there is a bunch known re this groups husbandry... mainly worked out by folks in the public aquarium biz... We have links to most all the current "Cephalopod" websites where such that can be found via is... RMF>> as these animals do inhabit Hawaiian waters, where he is as we speak.> <<Indeed are, and Bruce Carlson, during the many years when he was at the Waikiki Aquarium worked on/with these... The literature of the zoos, public aquariums is just notoriously hard to reference/re-call... as is the pet-fish. A trip to a large college library with a biology dept. is likely worthwhile here. RMF>> Thanks! <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> - Art Re: Bobtail Squid/Systems, doo dar, doo dar...   5/26/06 Hi James, <Hello> Yes I've been Googling about them for awhile, yet I've gotten little in terms of captive raising them.  <I could not find anything on this also.> Plenty of articles on how they have reflect bacteria light in order to not cast shadows over their prey. Could you possibly forward this to Bob?   <Yes, I'm sure Bob will read this and inject his thoughts.> I'm sure many out there are not educated well on keeping squid, or when not to try it.  I have a few LFS that get the Hawaiian bobtail squid occasionally. Thanks! <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> <<It's off to the library you will go... RMF in HI>> Possible Blue Ring Octopus 1/9/05 Hi Crew, A little of your undoubtedly higher level knowledge if you please. I purchased a quite decent sized piece of cured live rock the other day in Shanghai. Carefully placed into my 'specimen' tank, which is basically a tank I keep for the Mantis I removed from the main system, and a few hours after placing I noticed an arm extracting from a tiny crevice in the face of the rock. Then another arm, and another and so on, until there were a total of 8 arms attached to a bulbous head. On eventually getting a good look at this guy and doing some research on your and linked sites, I have what is a 99% certain blue ringed octopus!!! <Yikes!  Quite a dangerous critter indeed!  They are quite distinctive, so a mistaken ID is unlikely.> Now, after reading all of the rather worrying articles on this guy regarding the words, deadly, poisonous, fatal etc, I am at a loss what to do with him. He is absolutely gorgeous of course, especially when colour changing when you approach the tank, but am not exactly sure what he would eat, or even if he is safe as long as you take additional in tank precautions. <Sadly, this beautiful creature is indeed capable of being deadly.  It's care (aside from bite prevention!) would be similar to other octopi.  They prefer live food, but will generally learn to accept frozen meaty marine based foods.  Escape prevention is paramount since they are brilliant escape artists, and in this case it is a scary thought to have a dangerously poisonous animal writhing about on the floor!> He and my Mantis have already had an interesting squabble on meeting each other, so am wondering who would come out the victor if it came to a full on battle? <My guess is that Victor would lose.  In fact, I watched a great scene on a nature program of a blue ring and a mantis in a tidepool.  The octopus patiently and skillfully stalked the much larger mantis until it got the right opportunity... then it moved in for the kill.> Anyway, just thought I would ask the experts on what course of action you think is practical in this case? Very best regards and gracious thanks as always Dave <Hmmmm... it is difficult to render advice on this animal.  Any course of action requires extreme care to protect yourself (and your family and pets) from being bitten.  Providing good care to this animal only requires a small amount of effort above and beyond normal marine husbandry and the only alternative is to kill it or let it die.  You will have to weigh the risks and rewards of keeping this dangerous but beautiful and fascinating animal for yourself.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>

Octopus Wrangling - 12/12/05 Dear Crew, <<Good evening>>    I have an established 29 gallon small fish/soft coral tank.  Several months ago I "rescued" a small (maybe 2") octopus my brother-in-law purchased for his predator tank. <<Mmm...>> I knew he wouldn't survive with the eels and sharks and I doubted he would survive in my setup. <<Really does need a setup made just for it.>> I haven't seen him since a couple of days after I put him in the water and I assumed he was done for. <<Maybe...>> After a while, my two scarlet shrimp disappeared without a trace and then the same thing happened to the banded coral shrimp I've had for four years. <<...or maybe not so "done for" after all.>> There's plenty of live rock and tunnels.  Could he still be alive in there and if so, any advice on how I might recapture him? <<You will need to remove/examine carefully each piece of rock until found...could be in a surprisingly small space.>> I didn't know before that he needs to be in a species tank so I can take care of him better and protect my other livestock. <<A valuable lesson learned I hope.  I hope you have now done your research and prepared a suitable habitat for this interesting creature.>> I looked on WWM but couldn't find anything on octopus wrangling.  Any advice or ideas would be appreciated. Thanks, Jody <<Pretty much as already stated.  Once you find the little guy/gal, transfer the rock, with octopus inside, to its new home.  Regards, EricR>>

The Great Octopus Pilgrimage - II - 08/04/2005 Dear Sabrina (Do you by chance have aquarium witch like powers? <Why, yes, of course.  Fish appear, and money disappears!  Just like magic!  Not exactly a stunning witchly power, is it?  Ah, well....> And I don't imagine that your are a teenager.) <Well, no, but I was at one time.> First, allow me to apologize - throughout my  consumption of ever inspiring advise, I didn't expect there to be such eclectic and diverse "wise crabs of the sea". <There are indeed some pretty bizarre crabs out there!  My favorite being a strange hairy crab that eats zooanthids....  I want one; it would be named "Fluffy".> You are, with out a  doubt, a gentlewoman of upstanding character and values. <I wouldn't go *that* far! (grin)> So after absorbing, refining and recycling your advice the following are the changes that I intend to make: Remove  the entire under gravel filter, leaving the two (2) powerheads in place. <Alright>   Replace  the crushed coral w/... well, actually, I wasn't clear on what you  were talking about-I was wondering if I could cover the crushed coral with  some "live sand". <Take a look here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsubstr.htm  and here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm  and check out the links in blue at the tops of those pages....  Also, if you have the chance, you might take a look at Anthony and Bob's book, "Reef Invertebrates", as there is a lot of information on Deep Sand Beds (some octopus info, as well!)....  Again, I would go with EITHER a very thin layer of crushed coral or aragonite sand, OR a 4"+ bed of oolitic aragonite sand.> Buy  a Protein Skimmer-any suggestions IAW the below live stock parameters? <Err....  I totally did not follow that sentence.  But I'm assuming you're asking about skimmer recommendations.  My personal preference is an Aqua-C remora.  Definitely check out our articles and FAQs on skimmers, as well.> Also I would like to add that my tank has cycled now and the nitrates are slowly disappearing-thank you very much for your stalwart advice. <Yay!> As future plans go, I would like to outline the following for your thoughts: -adding live rock to total 100 lbs. <Zowie.  Lotta rock.  Anywhere in the neighborhood of 50 to 100 pounds would be fine.  As much as you can (and desire) to pack in without the use of a shoehorn.> -I  am having a horrible time selecting fish and inverts/corals to accompany my  tank. I would like to have a octopus and a reef tank... can this  both happen conjunctively? <Not very simply.  An octopus is really a difficult animal to care for - not only due to their vast abilities of escaping systems, but their delicate nature in general.  Keep in mind that an octopus is an animal you won't see much in your tank unless you have a red flashlight and like late nights.  Furthermore, they have a keen taste for pretty fish.  For myself, boobie-trapping a tank just to house an octopus does not sound entertaining....  Please do read our FAQs on octopi; I have read that one can keep a small octopus contained if one lines several inches of the tank with Astroturf - enough that the octo cannot reach an arm past the Astroturf.  It really will be an interesting endeavor - though, not impossible.  Again, please do browse through the FAQs.> What other fish and corals would your recommend  that will give me the most diverse color and behavior patterns; yet, still thrive successfully? <Soooooo many options....  and as far as corals go, HIGHLY dependant upon lighting....  My own favorite super-hardy corals are Euphyllids (torch, hammer, frogspawn....).  Regarding fish, there really are a great many hardy animals to choose from.  I, personally, like firefish and gobies.  Try going to a few stores, see what you like, jot down their names, then come back home and look 'em up.> Ya know... someone should tell  Mr. Fenner his and his crew's advice is worth money ;) <.... Thank you for your kind words.  This, and the lives we strive to help, is a reward greater than any amount of cash.> To each of you... many thanks for sharing what is proved over and over again to be priceless intellectual property. <And thank you kindly for making use of it, and hopefully helping to teach others in the future.> J <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina> Octopus Slime Removal 8/1/05 I am using a filter sock on my Giant Pacific Octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini) system and have noticed an excessive amount of mucus/slime in the sock when I clean it. I suspect that most of this is molted skin.   <Yes... common, healthy> While the sock allows me to remove this particulate fraction, <Have at least two sets, make a "stand" of a four by... that you can invert these socks, hose them off... allow to air dry while other set is in use... will last longer between cleanings and period> what would be the best way to remove any dissolved mucus from the water? <Very aggressive protein skimming... perhaps coupled with ozone, a dryer for same...> Is there a type of filter or  filtration medium that specifically removes mucopolysaccharides? Thanks, Mike <Mmm, that is cost-effective? Really, large water changes (if you have the circumstances for open, semi-open system/s... and the skimming route. 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>

Sick Sand Shark... Goiter? Octopus in tiny system? Hi Crew My sand shark has a growth under the neck. What can I do for it ? <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sharkdiseasefaqs.htm and the linked files above> Also I have the one 2.5 gallon tank which I used to have a mantis shrimp in  it. Can I put an octopus in it? <Don't know, can you? I would not... for reasons posted re Cephalopod Systems... on WWM> The top is closed. The water in it has been in for two months with one small damsel now. It has a filter and sand and  light. Thanks <Keep reading. Bob Fenner>

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.>

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.>

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>

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

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

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>

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>

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>

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>

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>

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

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, livesand, 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>

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

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