Biology Student with a question | The Octopus News Magazine Online
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Biology Student with a question

tlasz24

Pygmy Octopus
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Mar 20, 2007
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13
#1
Hello. I'm a sophomore in an advance biology class at my high school. For a project, my teacher wants us to raise and take care of an invertibrate of our choice. It could've been anything from a sea sponge to a fiddler crab, really, as long as it was procured legally.
I decided on some form of an octopus because frankly, they've always fascinated me.
Now this puts me in a bit of a pickle because I really know nothing about how to get an octopus, or pricing, or anything of that nature. I need some guidance.
Here's what I'm looking for:
-A relatively hardy creature (something that won't die easily while I'm still learning how to care for it)
-Somewhat small as an adult, but still larger than a golf ball.
Now, on that, what species should I get, and where would I get it? Also, what tank size is best, what's the best food source and environment? Those kinds of things. A general estimate of total price would be helpful too. Any information you guys could find would be fantastic. Thank you!
 

marinebio_guy

Vampyroteuthis
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Nov 22, 2004
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351
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Ocean Springs, Mississippi
#2
Honestly, I think you should choose a different animal :). I think it may be a little difficult for you to get everything you need in what probably is a short period of time. If you still are interested finding a octo will take a while as they are not something most pet stores get. However, if you ask around you might find one that can special order one for you or maybe there is someone on this site that has an extra. Generally they will cost from $40-100 depending on the source and species. As far as species you will probably be wanting a bimaculoides or dwarf caribbean species. But there is a lot that goes into keeping octopus so make sure you know what you are getting into before you start.
 

WhiteKiboko

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#3
yeah, I'd say an octo isn't going to be feasible (even ignoring tank cycling)... but if you're interested in keeping one, check out the articles (in blue, top of the page) we have on ceph care...
 

zyan silver

O. bimaculoides
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Aug 31, 2006
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#4
if you were ready to go and had a tank cycled i would be happy to send you a bimac- Octopus bimaculoides. it is getting late in the schoolyear with only 2 more months of school. for a first marine animal its not a great choice, although you're right--they are fascinating. i wonder where in the country are you. zyan
 

monty

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#5
:welcome: to TONMO!

I'd agree that it's a long-term project to keep an octopus. If you want to get a feel for it, though, the "Ceph Care Articles" at the top of the page are the best place to start. Also, the ceph care forums are probably a better place to ask for help with ceph keeping, just because the "ceph species" forums are more aimed at ceph science...
 

Steve O'Shea

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#7
I'm with a number of those before me, and think you should try something different. believe it or not, keeping a sponge alive in captivity is one of the trickiest problems you could face, and you would learn a tremendous amount trying to do so. I vote sponge, honestly.
 

Taollan

Vampyroteuthis
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Aug 17, 2005
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#10
I am going to side with O'Shea on this one. Sponges are way harder to keep alive than octopuses. Before working with octopuses I did some research on freshwater sponges found in the Columbia River. I will put it this way: I have never had an octopus die on me in captivity that hadn't first laid eggs 3 months previous. I have never been able to keep these freshwater sponges alive more than 4 weeks.
 

Taollan

Vampyroteuthis
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Walla Walla University
#11
P.S. I didn't mean that as an endorsement that you should take on an octo. I have to go with everyone else on this. Its probably a bit much considering the scope of that project. HOWEVER, by all means, keep a few octopuses, fall in love with them, become a marine biologist and dedicate your life to understanding them and helping the world to do so as well.
 

Steve O'Shea

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#12
Taollan;90272 said:
I am going to side with O'Shea on this one. Sponges are way harder to keep alive than octopuses. Before working with octopuses I did some research on freshwater sponges found in the Columbia River. I will put it this way: I have never had an octopus die on me in captivity that hadn't first laid eggs 3 months previous. I have never been able to keep these freshwater sponges alive more than 4 weeks.
Heavens!! We are looking at ways to keep these alive in captivity ourselves (scoping the problem first; we have not tried to do it yet, given the problems I know that we'll face). I see a freshwater sponge thread coming along!!!

Just finding them is proving to be a major problem; there is so much habitat deterioration that their range (and quite likely diversity) have contracted considerably.
 

Taollan

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#13
If you find any solutions to keeping them alive, let me know. I would love to continue my research and propagate them in captivity for that purpose. And I know exactly what you mean about degredation of habitat. From what I can tell about the populations here, the sections of river under dam influence is no longer suitable habitat (stagnant water, and too much siltation). If this is true, it means only 51 miles of the 1,232 miles of the mighty Columbia are still habitable to these sponges. Even within that 51 mile stretch of river, they don't seem to be doing well, as there are still pseudo-tidal fluctuations in river level that seem to hamper colony growth (these species seem to rely heavily on photosynthetic symbionts for nutrition, however they have to be low enough so that they aren't nightly left high and dry, which means in the day they are deeper than would be optimal for photosynthesis). Yes, perhaps I feel a thread coming on.. I could go on about this for a while....
In the mean time I will simply include this pretty little picture of our Columbia River sponges....
 

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marinebio_guy

Vampyroteuthis
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Nov 22, 2004
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351
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Ocean Springs, Mississippi
#14
Freshwater sponges are really interesting. A long time ago I tried to import some from the African rift lakes but the collectors we used where never able to find it or didn't know what they where looking for and would just sent rocks with green algae on it :)

Back to the topic another animal that would be really cool and can be difficult to keep is nudibranchs.
 

DWhatley

Certified Ceph Head For Life
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#15
tlasz24,

I have an alternate suggestion that you might find more appealing if you will do some research first. Given your parameters, the octo is out, however, if you are interested in starting a small Pico marine tank and want something that not only long time enthusiasts find interesting, look on Reef Central for postings about mantis shrimp.

http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?forumid=37

There is an expert (understatement) who visits us here and also contributes to that forum who may be very helpful in stirring your interests. Roy has claimed that they are smarter than octo's, their habitat is less demanding, they are very colorful and they are entertaining.

Look for posts by Neogonodactylus and if you are really lucky and dedicated he might give you some quotable info for your project ;>).
 

tlasz24

Pygmy Octopus
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Mar 20, 2007
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13
#17
Thanks for all your suggestions, everyone. I have in fact raised some marine animals before, with mostly successful results. I've raised things from artemia to daphnia (both of which are easy to raise, I know), and also some random things like diving spiders and crayfish.

tank size shouldn't be a problem, as the local Walmart stopped selling fish and other animals like that and have donated all of their tanks to my bio teacher.
I really came on here for advice on what to get and such, not to be given alternate ideas.
 

tlasz24

Pygmy Octopus
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Mar 20, 2007
Messages
13
#18
From what I can see, the Bimaculoides is the best choice size and price wise. I started looking into this a few months ago, and have a basic tank system set up (not big enough, but just to get the basic idea down).
 

DWhatley

Certified Ceph Head For Life
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#19
tlasz24,
Somehow I don't think Walmart donated a chiller ($300 min, usually needed for a bimac, Carribean octos are usually warmer water critters but the bimac should not exceed 72 deg and your equipment will raise the temperature above ambient. It is possible to use fans if you can keep the ambient below 72), food ($40-$70 per MONTH unless you can collect it yourself or the school can provide live food), an escape proof top (customized to the tank), a skimmer ($50+), a filter system ($40-$150 + filter media for the initial setup and regular changes - usually carbon), salt ($50 for 160 gallons - heavy water changes required), RO water ($1.00 per gallon if purchased needed for the saltwater and as fresh to top off daily. Daily requirements for the needed 50 gallon tank will be +/-1 gallon), live rock ($40++), substrate (20+) and some way to test your water quality ($20 min + replacement reagents/strips). The list gets longer (check the forum on what people have spent and what they have). The only inexpensive thing for an octopus tank is the lighting. You can do without lighting altogether for an octo tank and use your ambient light. The tank itself can be at the lower end of the expense especially for those who already have one or buy used so even though that part is free, the rest needs consideration and the cost goes up with the volume of water.

The other concern is the cycling of the tank during your project time. It takes 3 months to cycle a marine tank. Does your project allow for that much time BEFORE you get a critter? Unfortunately, there just are not short-cuts for what you would like to do for the class. Part of my suggestion for a small tank critter is that you can change a large percentage of the water to help with the minimized cycle time problem (it won't minimize the cycle time). You can't do this for an octopus.

What is practical is to design your project so that you bring your current basic understanding to the next level and see if keeping a marine aquarium at home (where there are not the time limits of a class project) is something that would interest you.

It isn't that forum members don't want to give you advice. The advise given is based upon years of experience, including failures that they would like to help you avoid.
 

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