Anyone want to write an article about how to acclimate a new arrival?

Discussion in 'Octopus Care' started by Joe-Ceph, Dec 22, 2010.

  1. Joe-Ceph

    Joe-Ceph Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

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    I'm getting tired of reading threads about people getting new octopuses that die soon after delivery. I'm sure that many of the recent cases were the result of poorly insulated packaging and winter shipping to cold locations, but I wonder how many such deaths are due to, or exacerbated by, improper acclimation. I searched on Tonmo and found no articles that describe how to do acclimation correctly for an octopus (or anything else) and I only found one thread that addressed the topic. I thought that thread was a bit unclear and incomplete, and I think we can do better. This is Tonmo, where newbies come to get the knowledge they need to get their first octopus (or other ceph), and I think we need to tell newbies how to acclimate their new arrivals. I would write an article myself, but I've kept only self-caught bimacs from tide pools, which I believe are uniquely tolerant of abrupt changes in water conditions, and don't go for long plane rides in little bags. While the bimacs don't seem to mind, I think most of you would gasp if you read how I "acclimate" a new bimac, and I've never researched the slower method that we should probably recommend for most people.

    So who wants to volunteer to write an article to teach newbies the right way to acclimate a new octopus?

    My guess is that the best way to acclimate an octopus is only slightly different than the best way to acclimate any reef aquarium animal, would you agree? If so, maybe we should simply provide a link to an external detailed description intended for reefers, and write up only the ways that acclimating an octopus (or cuttlefish) might differ from the standard procedure. For example:
    Since octopus are more sensitive to low oxygen levels, should we recommend an air stone in the bag during acclimation?
    What precautions, if any, should be taken to keep an octopus from escaping during acclimation, and would simply rubberbanding the bag around the drip tube create a gas exchange problem? A back-pressure problem?
    What should I do if my octopus has inked during shipping, or inks during acclimation?

    Whether we write a complete article, or just provide a link and some added octopus specific tips, I think we should also include species specific tips or warnings. Do nocturnal species or dwarfs need special treatment?

    If one of us writes an article, should we open it up for peer review, editing, or additions? Is there already a Tonmo procedure for submitting articles, and reviewing/editing them? I know we could just do a thread, but those tend to be short, and I'm afraid that a thread might only give the bullet points, and leave too much room for newbies to do something wrong.

    Thoughts, ideas?
     
  2. Nancy

    Nancy Titanites Staff Member Moderator

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    This is a good suggestion. The problem is, we've discussed acclimation at some length in the past, but it's buried in hundreds of past posts and hard to find.

    There is a detailed, step-by-step explanation of acclimation in Colin's and my book, Cephalopods: Octopuses and Cuttlefishes for the Home Aquarium, pages 82-86. In addition to information on acclimating octopuses, there are notes on cuttlefish and cuttlefish eggs as well.

    We also need to address recent problems with acclimation, such as the octopus arriving in very cold water.

    I'll consider writing up something - it might be better in a Sticky.

    Nancy
     
  3. tonmo

    tonmo Titanites Staff Member Webmaster Moderator

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    I like the idea!! I'd love to see us getting back to adding more articles -- they are few and far between these days, but they are quite valuable for site visitors.
     
  4. Joe-Ceph

    Joe-Ceph Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

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    Thanks for offering to consider writing up something, I'm sure a sticky would be fine. That would give the community a chance to add anything that they have learned, and it will give people an easy way to find the info, all in one place.
     
  5. Thales

    Thales Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    There is actually a lot to agree on here before we write something up. :D I am going to hang my answers below, and prolly ramble about acclimation in general. I'll prolly be redundant too, but heck, I haven't had a day of in 13 days so I'll hide behind that excuse.

    There is a lot of myth regarding how to acclimate a reef animal. Many many people believe that long drip acclimation is the way to go, some even taking hours. Others think the shorter the better, and best if you can match temp/salinity/pH. I fall into the latter camp - get them out of the shipping water asap.

    Best I have seen was from a friend of mine - parentheticals are mine:

    http://www.reefsmagazine.com/showthread.php?t=82352 is a great article on acclimation and QT (I work with Matt an have learned lots from him) - though it seems that there is no compelling reason to QT cephs.

    This should never, ever be done. pH goes up, ammonia get toxic.

    Bag in a tall bucket. Add tank water to the bucket and bag as necessary.
    Get it out of the water immediately- ink can cover the gills.

    I think we discuss it here in this thread for a while and see if we hit a consensus. If not, have several people write up their ideas, and include an example of the acclimation procedures that LiveAquaria includes.
     
  6. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    I think the reason we DON'T have an article on acclimation is because it falls in the "many ways, and half being successful" category. Perhaps several write ups by experienced people are in order with a prequalifying, "why I use the method" and a count of the number of cephs (give or take) acclimated this way. I am 180 with Thales on the air stone but don't use the drip method so my larger water exchange likely compensates for any ammonia build up (or my octos have been better cared for preshipping since most are shipped within a couple of days out of the ocean). It is likely that the whole method that works should be used and not a one from column A and two from Column B kind of combination.
     
  7. ceph

    ceph Wonderpus Staff Member Moderator

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    I'll do anything from a modified drip method to grabbing the octopus and putting it in completely new seawater with 0 acclimation time depending on the condition of the water. I use the method that makes sense based on what arrives.

    My success rate with animals I've collected and transported myself is high. My success rate with those shipped to me has been touch and go. One "airmail" shipment took 8 days . . . that was the worst.
     
  8. SabrinaR

    SabrinaR Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Registered

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    So, adding an airstone is bad during acclimation? I havent used one during the set up but this still surprises me.
     
  9. tonmo

    tonmo Titanites Staff Member Webmaster Moderator

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    Definitely speaks to the need for an article! I imagine there will be some "tried and true" aspects, and then there are some that are more nuanced. A good article should be able to frame all that up in a good way. I'm all for community writing - and this may be just the thread to do it! :mrgreen:
     
  10. Thales

    Thales Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    The ammonia builds up in the shipping bag over time but is rendered less toxic by the depressed pH in the shipping bag. Adding an airstone will raise the pH quickly and make the ammonia more toxic.

    I think this is one of those things that has problems penetrating the cumulative psyche of aquarium keepers because it seems counter intuitive.
     
  11. SabrinaR

    SabrinaR Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Registered

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    Counter intuitive indeed. I wouldnt have thought that wouldn't be bad. I suppose if you catch your own or bring it straight from the fish store an airstone wouldn't be bad because it would maintain the ph levels? Or would you suggest not using one at all?
     
  12. Joe-Ceph

    Joe-Ceph Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

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    That makes a lot of sense. I wonder if step one should be to test the bag water, and based on how bad it is, decide how to proceed. It sounds like there are two main schools of thought, both of which have merit: 1) Avoid large fast changes in water conditions (temp, PH, ??), and 2)Get the octopus out of the polluted bag water ASAP. If the state of the bag water is so bad that it's doing damage (not enough oxygen, wrong temp, ink, high ammonia) then maybe you need to risk shocking the animal to rescue it from those extreme conditions (by doing a 50-100% water change). If instead the water isn't great, but another hour in that water isn't going to do any damage, then there's no reason not to transition slowly (drip method). A combination of the two can also be done. Again, I have no experience with receiving animals from shippers, so I'm just throwing out ideas, and trying to summarize what I think more experienced people are saying. So we still need to hear from people with a lot of experience receiving shipped octopus, and a lot of success acclimating them.

    I looked this up, and it seems that you are right. I know that if the low PH is caused by high levels of dissolved CO2, then vigorous aeration with an air stone will reduce the CO2, and there by raise the PH (closer to where it should be). It makes sense that CO2 levels would be very high because of all the respiration that the animal has been doing in a small volume of water during shipping. According to what I read, raising the PH from say 7.7 to 8.0 will DOUBLE the concentration of ammonia (at 77 degrees F). Yikes! If the ammonia is already very low, then doubling it might be no problem, and the higher O2 and PH might be life savers. This is a good argument for testing the bag water, and making wise choices based on the readings, and an understanding of water chemistry. I can see that it would be a lot of work to write up a comprehensive guide showing how to proceed based on each possible set of readings, but it would be very useful. Maybe adding an ammonia binder, to bag water would be a good standard policy, but that might cause the PH to crash if there's not enough buffer in the water. Might there be a recipe for treating all bag water (ammonia binder + buffer + ???) that can't hurt but might help, no matter what the water conditions in the bag?

    BTW, increasing temperature also increases the toxicity of ammonia. For example, raising the temperature from 60 F to 72F will about double the concentration of toxic ammonia. Maybe that was a factor in the death of some of the octopuses that died recently after arriving very cold.

    There's a lot more to this than I suspected.
     
  13. SabrinaR

    SabrinaR Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Registered

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    I wonder if, in the event that the water is super cold (for a warm water octopus)... and the ammonia is some what med/high if its not better to just put them in a warmer tank. Which is the lesser evil?
     
  14. Thales

    Thales Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    I would get it out of the ammonia asap. Temp shock can be a problem, ammonia burn is a problem. :D
     
  15. Thales

    Thales Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    Some people advocate putting a product call ChlorAmx in shipping water to deal with toxic ammonia. Seems like a good idea to me, but its never caught on. I suspect because it usually isn't really needed, and because it costs money.
     
  16. Thales

    Thales Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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  17. Joe-Ceph

    Joe-Ceph Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

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    Great job Thales, and thanks very much for taking the time to write this. It's very concise, but still covers the important points, and debunks two big "myths". Very useful. Thanks!
     

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