Beginner!

Discussion in 'Octopus Care' started by m1sfits21, Dec 10, 2010.

  1. m1sfits21

    m1sfits21 Larval Mass Registered

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    Hello everyone! I just joined the TONMO world. Ever since I can remember I have always been fascinated by these amazing animals! I am hoping to talk to some experts and get some good advice on how to keep a healthy and happy octo. I have done some research, but not nearly enough to feel comfortable purchasing one yet. I figured the best way to gain knowledge would be to talk to people online who have experience, and go into fish stores and talk with owners who are experienced with salt water tank maintenance. Hope to talk to you soon!

    -Matt
     
  2. tonmo

    tonmo Titanites Staff Member Webmaster Moderator

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    :welcome: - you've come to the right place!
     
  3. Joe-Ceph

    Joe-Ceph Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

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    I'm glad to hear that you're doing your homework and preparation to keep an octopus before you get one. Have you ever kept a marine aquarium before? If not, you've got two areas to educate yourself in: octopus keeping, and general aquarium keeping. I suggest that you first read all the articles (not just forum posts) here on Tonmo. Then go learn about how to keep a marine aquarium. You especially want to understand the "nitrogen cycle" which governs how your tank processes animal waste into less toxic substances. You should find several articles online about the nitrogen cycle, and try to hear it described in different words, so that collectively, they will cause you to have more complete understanding. Be careful not to trust any single person's opinion about anything, but instead try to find out what the most common opinion on each topic is ("trust but verify" - the Gipper)
    Be patient, and thorough, and try to think of every relevant question, and get it answered, before you take any action. That will save you the time and money of needing to backtrack after going down the wrong road.

    go read, and then come back with questions to fill in the blanks.
     
  4. CaptFish

    CaptFish Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    :welcome: to TONMO
     
  5. SabrinaR

    SabrinaR Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Registered

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    Ditto.

    And welcome to TONMO!
     
  6. Green_Tree

    Green_Tree O. vulgaris Registered

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    Glad to hear that more are joining the ranks. :welcome: to TONMO
     
  7. Lmecher

    Lmecher Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Registered

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  8. PUNISHER

    PUNISHER Larval Mass Registered

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    Hello everybody,
    This is my first time posting anything to the TONMO website. So i've been reserching for a new pet and decided on an octopus for about four months. This website was extremly helpful, i even researched where to buy my octo from on this website, so i thought that only the people on TONMO could help. I have a 10 gallon tank so the only octo i could possible get was a pygmy, most likely a O. mercatoris. I went out bought a protein skimmer, filter, live rock, crushed shells , pvc pipes for caves, and ghost shrimp for food, the whole nine yards before. I then checked the saltnity 1.025(standard for a reef tank) and the ph about 8.0. The temp is about 78F. Then i ordered my octo from Tom's Carribean and he arrived alive and scared i can only imagine (red and looked like small spikes).I put him in my tank at 5pm and left him alone in the tank till about noon the next day then introduced the ghost shrimp for food. That day i couldn't find him which i expected since o. mercatoris is nocturnal and at night i spotted him a couple of times (color was a white and when accidently tapped the glass turned dark red again. my assumption i scared him and/or pissed it off) also the ghost shrimp was gone.The next day i woke up and he was still crawling around at like 10am, my tank is located in bedroom and i keep my bedroom pretty dark cause i like sleep i can only assume he thought it was still night. So i turned the lights on and got going on the day, introduced more ghost shrimp incase he was still hungry since he was out and about.(color was white). Then notice he was acting funny, i noticed that his tenticals were constantly curled up close to his body, also spotted him on his head a while ago with tenticals moving, and now he is laying on his side still moving his tenticals. I'm at my parents house for the night and will check on him when i return to my house tomrowo, hopefully he is still alive. I always wanted an exotic pet and i think octopus are extremly interesting so i will be purchasing another one if he passes aways so If anyone has any insight to what i could have done wrong any tips or comments i would greatly appreciate it. Remeber Any tips and any advice would be great.
    thanks alot
     
  9. iAlex

    iAlex Vampyroteuthis Registered

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    Congratulations on your new octopus. :octorun: Good job researching them before you bought one, but I do believe that 10 gallons is a little small, even for a merc. You will have to do some hefty water changes often (at least once a week?). Fiddler crabs are the accepted by all octopuses, I believe, and many members order them from Sach's AquaCulture Store. Be sure to go through other's Journals, if you haven't already, to read about their experiences with O. Mercatoris. Hope I've helped. :grin:
     
  10. cuttlegirl

    cuttlegirl Colossal Squid Supporter Registered

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    How long has your tank been up and running? Sorry about your octopus, it doesn't sound like he is going to make it.

    Oh, and octopus have arms not tentacles...
     
  11. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Before you source another, please consider a minimum of 15 gallons for the tank and even then a 5 gallon a week water change is in order. To find a few of the prior journals for this species, look at Forums->Journals and Photos->List of our Octopuses 20xx. The List of posts will all be at the top of the forum and they contain the species and a link back to the journals for all lists 2008 and forward.

    As Cuttlegirl suggests, seeing a octopus upside down on it mantle with arms not attached to a substrate (rock or glass) is a strong indication that the animal is dieing. I have seen this in one natural death but to avoid a repeat should it have been cause by the environment please help us help you by mentioning your tank cycle time and procedures, what you have in the tank, how you treated your water and your acclimation time and method. You will want to bring your PH up a bit as well to about 8.3

    Saltwater animals need saltwater foods to properly balance the kinds of fats their system needs so finding foods that your animal will accept that are from the ocean is always a challenge when you are inland. Not all octopuses will accept the same foods but fiddlers are as close to universal as we have found. I have only had one mercatoris accept thawed grocery shrimp but until Sleazy took that (and she ate it regularly), I would warn people that they would not eat it so all saltwater foods are worth a try with each octopus. It is also worth trying a rejected food a few weeks later. Another food I have found to be readily accepted is hermit crabs removed from their shells. I freeze them and then crack the shells to remove the whole animal. The Korean food markets often offer a number of fresh or frozen food items that can be tried (abalone, squid, scallops, muscles, etc.).

    Also, as a double check just because I have not seen Tom offering mercs yet this year, you did order O. mercatoris and not O. briareus, right?
     
  12. Joe-Ceph

    Joe-Ceph Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

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    You never mentioned that you ever "cycled" your tank. Did you? Do you have water test kits? You need test kits for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. If your ammonia or nitrite is too high, it would mean that your tank hasn't yet built up a sufficiently large population of denitrifying bacteria to consume as much waste as your octopus is producing, which would kill it. If your ammonia or nitrite test too high, I suggest that you read all you can find about the nitrogen cycle, until you fully understand it, and also that you not only "cycle" your tank, but that you maintain a population of hearty inexpensive fish for a couple of months, to get the population of bacteria living on your live rock used to processing a steady supply of animal poo. Then swap the fish out at the same time that you put your octopus in. Try to build up to a population of fish that eats about as much per day as your octopus will eat, so that the amount of waste they produce per day will be roughly the same as what you expect your octopus to produce. If your water tests clean consistently with that many fish, it'll test clean after you swap out the fish for an octopus. If not, you'll only be risking some inexpensive fish, not an expensive hard to get octopus.
     
  13. PUNISHER

    PUNISHER Larval Mass Registered

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    Well my octo did pass away and i guess i need to study up more before i purchase another octo. I have read some of the comments and appreciate the help. I am pretty positive that my octo was a merc from tom because i was contacting him for a couple of weeks and i had to get lucky for tom to catch one. And regarding the test kit i was holding off till next paycheck to purchase it which was the day he died. Due to complications i did not have my octos tank set up very long before he came so i never got a chance to cycle the water. Just curious tom mention that he only get pygmy octos during the winter months and i want to see if i could get my tank running with a salt water fish or two before i try again, does anyone know where to purchase a pygmy during the spring or summer months
     
  14. Lmecher

    Lmecher Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Registered

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    I am sorry but reading that you never got a chance to cycle your tank properly is very disturbing :sad:. Since you have no experience keeping saltwater aquariums it would be better for you to concentrate on that subject before you consider looking for another octopus. With out a good understanding of keeping a healthy environment, you will only experience further loss.
    You will find reluctance from members here to help in your search until you can demonstrate some genuinity. We take the responsibility of caring for our cephalopods very seriously.
    If you need help understanding how to properly keep a saltwater aquarium, cycling and maintaining, you will find many willing to lend a hand.
    I am sorry if I come off as cold and heartless. You came to the right place if you are looking for friendly folks with good advice who are always ready to lend a hand. First things first though... get the help you need to get you and your tank going and then one day when you have enough experience, start looking for an octopus. :smile:
     
  15. cuttlegirl

    cuttlegirl Colossal Squid Supporter Registered

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    Keeping a cephalopod requires patience. You have to be patient while your tank cycles and matures. You have to be patient while your cephalopod gets used to its new environment.

    That said, I think you will do a better job preparing for your next octopus. Instead of adding fish to your tank, why don't you add some invertebrates that might be good food for your octopus. Things like hermit crabs, inexpensive shrimp, small crabs. You could also add a brittle star (although some are aggressive). Invertebrates are often more sensitive to water chemistry than fish, so if you can learn to care and maintain your tank with invertebrates, you may be better able to care for an octopus later on.

    See if you can find a salt water club (or reef-keepers club) in your area, there are often experienced people who are willing to help newbies. Is there a public aquarium in your area? Maybe you could volunteer and gain valuable experience.
     
  16. Joe-Ceph

    Joe-Ceph Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

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    the reason that I suggested that you initially stock your tank with "hearty inexpensive fish" was to recommend that as a method of "cycling" your tank, not as a way of developing your aquarium keeping skills. Both of those are good things to do before you get an octopus, but some method of completely cycling your tank is mandatory. I think that you need to read several complete articles or book chapters that describe the nitrogen cycle in detail, so that you can come to fully understand it. I have some words of warning about what you might find online about "cycling" your tank:
    The phrase "cycle your tank" is unfortunate, because it implies that after you watch (using test kits) the ammonia level rise, and then fall, over a period of days, followed by the nitrite level rising, and then falling (those two events constitute a "cycle") that your tank is ready for animals. A better term than "cycle" would be "grow a colony of denitrifying bacteria that is large enough to consume all of the waste my animals will produce per day". You see, at the end of a "cycle" you will have grown a population of denitrifying bacteria, but it might be a small population. The bacteria multiply in numbers until they run out of either "food" (animal waste) or surface area to live on (the pours on the surface of live rock for example). Assuming you've supplied enough surface area to live on (live rock (1 to 1.5 pounds per gallon?) or other bio-filter media (like the sponges in an Aqua-Clear hang-on filter) with good water flow over it's surface) you need only to supply a steady daily amount of animal waste for the bacteria colony to eat. Over a period of a week or two (or five) the bacteria colony will reproduce (or die off) and stabilize at a population level that matches the amount of food available. When your ammonia and nitrite levels measure consistently at zero, you will know the population size has stabilized to match the amount of waste that is entering the system every day (that marks the end of a cycle). The reason I suggested that you keep a few tough inexpensive fish after your first "cycle" is so that the fish will provide a steady amount of fish poop every day to keep your bacteria colony alive and fed. It's not a lot of fun for the fish to live in a tank while the ammonia and/or nitrite levels are above zero, but if they are tough, they'll get through it, and if they are cheap, you won't go broke if some of them ie along the way (I know, this is a harsh method, but it works, and I'm okay with it). After the ammonia and nitrite levels stabilize to match the rate of incoming fish poop, you can add another fish. That will increase the amount of poop per day beyond what the bacteria colony is able to handle, which will start another little cycle (rising, then falling levels of ammonia, and then nitrite) as the bacteria colony multiplies and grows enough to match the new higher amount of available food (fish poop). Then, after the ammonia and nitrite levels stabliize again, you add another fish (or two), and measure, and wait, and after a days/weeks, the levels will stabilize again. You keep doing this process of adding fish, and waiting until for the next little cycle to finish, until the amount of waste that your total population of fish is producing per day, is roughly equal to, or greater than, the amount of waste that you expect your octopus to produce (assume that an octopus produces about 1.5 times as much waste as an equal weight of fish would produce). Then, remove all the fish, and put your octopus in the tank, all on the same day. The octopus waste will replace the fish waste as a source of food for your colony of denitrifying bacteria, and since the size of the colony is already large enough to handle at least that amount of waste, your octopus wont' have to live through another cycle (toxicly high ammonia and nitrite levels). Get it? Just "cycling" your tank is not enough. You need to increase the amount of animal waste per day, which will trigger a series of cycles, until your bacteria colony is large enough to deal with all the octopus poop (and uneaten food, etc) that your octopus will produce per day. Most descriptions of how to cycle your tank don't explain that, and it's easy to miss the point of cycling, and put sensitive animals like octopus through a potentially deadly cycle (ammonia spike).

    I didn't mention it, but you need to also test for nitrate (in addition to ammonia and nitrite) and do regular (weekly?) partial water changes to keep the nitrate level below 15 (and eventually below 10). So you need to buy at least these three test kits to be able to "cycle" your tank. You'll need to work out a procedure of doing regular partial water changes, and a routine for water testing, and other regular tank maintenance. It can take a while for many people to get these habits and procedures worked out, and until you get good at doing these things on schedule, without fail, your animals might have to live through some hard times. That is why Tonmo people recommend that you get some marine aquarium experience before you get an octopus. That way you can make your mistakes and learn the ropes without risking expensive delicate animals like octopus (and without getting discouraged as a result). So, after you get all finished with all the little cycles, and you are ready to swap your large population of hearty inexpensive fish out and put an octopus in, consider waiting on the octopus, and instead getting some other, less expensive, inverts to practice on as CuttleGirl suggested.
     
  17. PUNISHER

    PUNISHER Larval Mass Registered

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    First question is about the live rock during the cycling process, should the live rock be present during the process. I've read that it shouldn't be present and i have read that it is important for it to be present during the process. It said on an online article that if i have the live rock present it will kill the seeds possiblitly. I understand the rock is important to the bacteria but is there any point in time that my cured, seeded, pours live rock not be present. Also another thing i found online that contradicts itself is doing a water change at the end of the cycle. It's seems redundents to replace a large amount of saltwater after spending 4 to 6 weeks building up the bacteria. I would assume doing this could possibly kill some of the bacteria. Finally there seems to be different mentions about have the filter and protein skimmer on during this process.

    I am researching more about the cycling of the tank and found many different methods and have read that there is no exact science to this. I understand that you need to raise the amonia levels to start, then the nirtrite, but is there any definate markers to when the reaction is finished?The process stated above about purchasing sounds like a great idea but what do you do with the fish when you put the octo into the tank? just flush them?I also understand that there is solutions you can purchase at pet stores that simulate and even start this grow of these bacterias. Has anyone had experience good or bad with using these? It says that there will need to be constant weekly treatments does this sound like it might work. link --> http://www.petsmart.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3433706
     
  18. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    In most cases the live bacteria in a bottle are close to snake oil. I say close because IF you actually get live bacteria (it usually dies quickly and most bottled products do not actually contain anything alive when you get it), it still has to be fed to grow. There are a few products harvested by the manufacture and shipped direct that might have an advantage but there is no real reason to use any additive. The one exception might be an emergency new tank condition where livestock might die because of a tank failure but even then I would not likely use anything from a store.

    As you are finding out, there are about as many ways to cycle a tank as there are tank keepers and many of the methods work.

    IME, if you are using live rock (the only way I will do a saltwater tanks, and I only use very fresh live rock) the live rock needs to be in the tank from the beginning it will provide the bacteria to begin your cycle and it is where your bacteria will grow. With fresh or uncycled live rock, you do not need fish at all (and there are other ways to cycle a tank without live rock that don't require fish but it takes much longer to build the bacteria base). Joe-Ceph does not use LR but creates it by raising the bacteria levels (any porous surface will become the equivalent of live rock over time and Joe also uses bio balls to help accomplish the bacteria build up where I rely on the LR I start with for all my biological filtration).

    The water is not part of (or at best a tiny small part of) your bacteria culture, it is the substrate (all surface area, including rocks and anything you place on the aquarium floor) that nurtures the bacteria growth and it is fed by decaying matter, hence the need to add something live to feed (I use a clean up crew for this continuation of the cycle). The ammonia->nitrite->nitrate process leaves nitrate waste and that also needs to be reduced so clean as the tank becomes mature. Sand contributes little to the cycle but an argonite sand will help stabilize your PH. I never use live sand and refresh my sand after two or three years. Most people leave the skimmer off and don't stir up the sand the first few weeks, but again that depends a lot on what you start with. If you use uncycled LR, I recommend running the skimmer even at the beginning.
     
  19. Joe-Ceph

    Joe-Ceph Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

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    This is an over simplification, but it helps to imagine that there are two, and only two species of bacteria that will inhabit your live rock. Let's call them species A and species B. They both need a lot of surface area to live on (like porous live rock), so it makes no sense to cycle a tank without providing lots of available surface area for bacteria to live on, but there is one big difference. Species A eats ammonia (animal poop, rotting food, etc.) and converts it to less-toxic nitrite. Species B eats nitrite and converts it to not-very-toxic nitrate (then you do partial water changes to keep the nitrate level low). So feeding your animals produces food for species A, and species A produces food for Species B. Very high levels of ammonia are great for species A, but toxic to species B (and most marine life). That is why you will hear people say that you don't want to put live rock (that already has a good bacteria colony on it, and maybe a bunch of little marine animals too) in your tank while it is cycling, because the initial spike in ammonia, which will cause species A to rapidly increase its population, will kill a lot of the species B bacteria (and other life) on the live rock. Some species B will survive, and the spike of nitrite that results from species A consuming all of that ammonia will provide enough food for species B to rapidly increase its population back to where it was before it died back, and beyond. Let's use the term "base rock" to mean "dead live rock" or very porous rock (limestone) that could support a large colony of bacteria, but isn't right now. It's obviously okay to cycle your tank with lots of base rock, because there are no species B bacteria, or other animals, to kill anyway. On the other hand, it's also okay to cycle your tank with real live rock, as long as you only gradually increase the bio load (amount of animals living in your tank). That will produce only a moderate and gradual increase in ammonia, not a big spike.

    I think you should listen to D. She knows what she's doing, and articulates it well. As she said, I don't use live rock, so I'm just talking theory, to help you understand the process. Her real world experience is a better practical guide. I use bio-balls in a wet/dry trickle filter, because I thought tropical live rock would look wrong in my bimac tank, and I wanted to use local rock (non porous, so useless for bio-filtration). I'm also a tight-wad, and a dIY guy, and not paying $5 - $9 per gallon for a tank full of live rock appealed to me (bio balls are almost free on the used market). The principal is the same, regardless of whether you use live rock or bio-balls (although I think live rock has distinct advantages if you want to use it and can afford it)

    As far as "seeding" the bacteria colony is concerned, I've read that the only seeding products that are alive, and work, are super expensive, and shipped to you cold, and overnight. Even if they work, at best they just save time, and are certainly not required. The bacteria species (A and B) are in the air all the time, in small numbers, and will reproduce wherever the conditions are sufficient to support them (space to live on, and a steady source of food). You should think of "fresh live rock" (as D puts it) as being a bustling bacteria small town, and as such, it is a great way to save some time, and jump start the process. In essence, starting with live rock, from an established tank, or recently from the ocean, will start you bacteria population through mass immigration, as opposed to starting with just a hand full of settlers (from the air) and waiting for them to reproduce several generations to build up their numbers. Either way (or both ways) the bacteria will eventually reproduce until they either fill up all the space or use up all the food per day. Then you're cycle is done.
     

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