confused about tank mates!!!

Discussion in 'Octopus Care' started by sedna, Jul 28, 2008.

  1. sedna

    sedna Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Supporter Registered

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    I know this subject has been posted before, "what can I keep with my octo?" and the general idea I've gotten is nothing, really, and that you should only keep one at a time. Then in reading the journals, it seems that there are fish and 2nd octos kept together. I am happy to keep Al by himself when he moves into the 55 gal if that's what is best for him (Al is an aculeatus). For right now I even took the mushroom polyps out and am nervous to get new live rock for interest in case unwanted hitch hikers come along. Am I being too nervous? What are the best kinds of polyps/ stars/ fish (if any) to keep with Al in order to enrich his life?
     
  2. gholland

    gholland Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

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    I think dwhatley and I are the only ones that have kept multiple-octo tanks recently... and that is only because we have both hatched out batches of O. mercatoris babies and raised them together. Mercs seem to be unusual in this "peacefully communal" behavior.

    As for fish... I'll let others speak to that, but you will find that it depends heavily on the species and size of octo as well as the species of fish.

    Mushrooms should be fine as well as any other hardy, non-stinging corals. Serpent stars and the thorny orange starfish have also been kept in octo tanks successfully.

    I don't think you need to worry about bringing in new live rock.
     
  3. Animal Mother

    Animal Mother Architeuthis Supporter

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    In my exerpiences with Abdopus, given they have been short, they are pretty tolerant of tankmates. I'm cautious giving advice on the subject because I don't want to give people the wrong impression or bad ideas.

    You might look at Domboski's Abdopus' journal. He kept Glove with seahorses, one or two(?) ribbon eels, and a variety of other generally peaceful fish for several months without incident. There was even another Abdopus in the tank which unfortunately didn't last long as it was apparently not in very good shape when it was received. We know from the professionals reports that Abdopus aculeatus has quite a different social lifestyle than most other octos we see.

    After following Glove's Journal I decided that I would try out keeping an Abdopus in the community tank at work. There were multiple gobies, Yellow Watchman and Firefishes. There were 2 Clownfish, one being a gold striped maroon which hosted a long tentacle anemone. One 6-lined Wrasse. A yellow Tang. An emerald crab, and a few serpent stars. This particular octopus hid soon after acclimation, built a den within a few days, and never came out in the open, at least during business hours. There was evidence for the first 2 or 3 weeks that it would leave its den and hunt down fiddler crabs that I had put in the tank, but none of the fish ever disappeared.

    An interesting observation that may have just been coincidence was that the emerald crab spent the duration of this time nearby the anemone. It was never touched, but the fiddler crabs were always gone pretty quick.

    I could not say for sure if the other inhabitants of the tank or the lighting had any impact on the octopuses lack of interaction. Honestly I believe it must have been a brooding female because it was very intent on keeping its den closed up, and it was about 3 times bigger than my current Abdopus. My understanding is that females are generally quite larger than males. It stopped accepting food and hunting food and died about 2 weeks later. I never removed the rocks from the den to see if there were or were not eggs and never observed any planktonic babies in the tank. So, like I said, it's undetermined what exactly happened with that one but I have my ideas.

    Grover, I admit, isn't the only inhabitant of his tank. I didn't add this to his journal because once again, I don't want someone that lacks research and experience with fish to get the wrong idea, and I know it's just not a popular way to do things here. If you watch all of the movies on my photobucket album though, you'll see them. There are two fish in the tank with him. One being an impossible to catch yellow Coris Wrasse (has a reputation of being a very well behaved Wrasse) and a small, very shy blue-spotted Rabbitfish (primarily an herbivore) I incorporated to remove my caulerpa nightmare (did a fantastic job too!). They have never shown any attention to Grover and vice versa, EXCEPT when food is involved. He will take food away from them. They never challenge him, they just move on to another piece. A few nights ago he put on quite the show. He was on the front glass, up high in the tank. I dropped in a few pieces of silversides (I always try to add a few extra pieces so the stars get some food too) and the fish started grabbing pieces for themselves. He jetted across the tank to the Rabbitfish, snatched the food from it, turned around, jetted over to the Wrasse in the opposite corner, snatched that food too, and then jetted over to the rocks where he then retreated into his usual dining area. It was quite an amazing sight. I've tried to recreate the scene so I could catch it on film but no such luck. The 3 peppermint shrimps are also still alive and he never shows any interest in hunting them down, but again, if they have food, he will take it from them. They are usually within 6 inches of his den. I see him perched in the back of the tank less than an arms length away from them very often, and he hasn't given me the slightest hint of aggression toward them. He keeps the hours I would expect him to being a diurnal species. He is out in the open in the early morning hours, before dawn, usually until just before noon. He might make another appearance later in the day for a couple of hours, and then he comes back out again before dusk and usually stays out for an hour or so after lights out. The fish are very active during the daylight hours and have no impact on his routine. He apparently feels comfortable enough with them to hang out on the glass fully exposed for long periods of time.

    It's always safest to avoid anything, if not for the sake of the octopus, for the sake of the fish. If you're familiar with certain fishes dispositions then you can make some informed and reasonable decisions on whether or not there are some you are comfortable enough to put in the tank with it. As long as they are well fed they don't seem to be much of a threat to anything that's going to pose a challenge. Honestly I'd love to have Grover in the 140 with the seahorses and pipes and all the "nanofish" we keep in there but the girlfriend says "No!" and I don't blame her. He could very well decide not to play nice.
     
  4. sedna

    sedna Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Supporter Registered

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    A.M.,
    Thanks for the great reply, I think you're right about knowing the individual fish's dispositions. I can't imagine that my maroon clown would make a good tank mate because she is so territorial, and the puffer and trigger are just mean. But the engineer goby might be worth a try, he's larger now and in the adult color phase, and used to having to scavenge for left- overs, but pretty docile. You've given me some good things to think about, plus it helps keep me pre- occupied as I wait through H2O changes to bring nitrates down.
     
  5. TrappedMetal

    TrappedMetal Cuttlefish Registered

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    I keep my abdopus in a 75gal with a good number of mushrooms (LR hitchhikers) a small finger leather and some green star polyps It wasnt my preferred setup but I simply didnt have any "clean" liverock with no softies on it and they dont seem to bother the octo one bit..

    There is also a banded serpent star and a small flametail blenny. I purposefully added the serpent star to pick up leftovers - the blenny was in the tank months before the octo was added and I cant get him out even when I remove all the rock! He doesnt bother the octo at all and Merlin is so lazy he wont even contemplate trying to catch him.

    I would be cautious about engineer gobies - I had one that enjoyed nipping the legs off my green serpent star though I dont know anyone else who has had these problems with them.
     
  6. Animal Mother

    Animal Mother Architeuthis Supporter

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    The same could be said about Blenny's. We had a Lawnmower that harassed our seahorses. Not intentionally, but since the ponies are slow movers, they tend to get a little algae build up on their skin from time to time. I can imagine a Blenny would possibly mistake an octopuses skin for algae. Then again, these creatures all seem to have a pretty good sense of what's what.

    That said, if I was an engineer goby I would try to discourage a green brittle star from coming anywhere near my home. And this might be the same as an octopus intruding on its home. Our Jawfish is cute, and small, and for the most part harmless, but it's mean when it comes to defending the area near its hole.

    I would pretty much suggest sticking to things considered seahorse friendly. My rabbitfish is questionable considering it has venomous spines, but in order to get stung, Grover would have to make a serious effort of attacking it. This is why I won't put it in Kalypso's tank. She would have no problem catching it and she would probably end up getting stuck.
     
  7. Joe-Ceph

    Joe-Ceph Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

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    I have very limited experience, so I can only speak about what I’ve specifically done, and how it’s worked out. I’ve been keeping a young wild caught Bimac in a chilled 60 gallon tank for about two months, with various tank mates, and I can tell you how the various pairings are working out. Since 100% of my experience has been with this one individual octopus, and 100% of the tank mates have been animals that live around bimacs in the wild, you (and I) should hesitate to draw more general conclusions from what I’ve experienced. My bimac has about a 2 ½” mantle (assuming you don’t count the eyes in that measurement) and I would guess it is about 30% grown. Here’s what I’ve tried, and how it’s going:

    Sunburst (or Solitary) anemone (about 5” total width when open)
    Totally compatible. Various things I have read on Tomo said “no anemones”, but these anemones are everywhere in the place I caught my bimac, so it seemed reasonable to assume that bimacs can deal with them. The Bimac tries not to touch it, but occasionally does anyway. He quickly pulls back, but not frantically, and there’s no damage, to the bimac’s skin, or change in behavior. The reaction is about the same as when I touch my heated plate at the Mexican restaurant. I pull my hand back quickly, remind myself not to do that, and then go on with my day. No big deal.

    a 6" rock encrusted with Strawberry anemone (3/8" each).
    he doesn't seem to mind touching these guys at all, and treats the rock like a rock. completely compatible.

    Peppermint striped shrimp, 1” long
    I can’t imagine why this shrimp didn’t become bimac food immediately, but the octo ignores the little shrimp

    Chestnut cowry – 1” long
    Bimac ignored it for a couple of weeks, but when I was experimenting with lower feeding amounts, and he was really hungry, he tried to eat the cowry. That was a big problem because the cowry’s defense was to put out a huge amount of slime into the water. It made a big mess in my 60 gallon tank. No cowries.

    Red gorgonian – 7” tall, 9” wide, 3” thick
    The gorgonian is a leathery coral that looks like a bush with tiny little polyps that make it look “fuzzy” when they are out. The octopus ignores it. He bumps into it sometimes, but does not react. Totally compatible

    Spiny sea cucumber – 6” long
    The octopus ignored it, so they are compatible, but my sand is wrong for the cucumber and it wasn’t getting enough to eat so I took it out. Also, I plan to get a leather star, and those eat sea cucumbers. Oh, I should mention that unlike some of the warm water sea cucumbers that can poison a tank, these southern California cold water varieties are safe (according to David Wrobel’s book)

    Norris’s Top Snail – 2” diameter
    The octopus didn’t eat it, but he bullied it a lot and kept pulling it off of the glass and dropping it to the floor of the tank. I think it was a fun game for the Bimac. This matchup might have worked in a much larger tank with lots of other things to keep the octo’s interest, but basically not a good match. However, I expected the big snail to be instant food, and it is interesting that it was not.

    Fish - Tide pool skulpin – 2 ¾” long
    This is a little bottom fish that is very abundant under the same rocks that I caught my bimac under. The bimac chased it around half heartedly for a couple of days, but the fish just jumped out of the way as if brushing a pesky fly away. After the first couple of days the bimac realized that it would never catch the skulpin and seldom tries anymore. I think the skulpin takes it all in stride. Totally compatible (at least with an octopus this size and age)

    Fish – opeleye perch – 3 ¼” long
    This fish swims all the time, and can easily keep away from the octopus. No problem

    Brittle Star 5” diameter
    They totally ignore each other – totally compatible.

    3” diameter thick shelled rock scallop
    I didn’t know if this would be a tank mate (too big/thick for the octo to open) or food. It was aggressively and successfully attacked. The bimac seems to find all clams to be irresistible food.


    purple sea urchin - 1 1/4" diameter
    This spiny little guy is perfectlly adapted to living with an octopus. The octo felt him gently a couple of times, and immediately gave up. They ignore each other - totally compatible.

    Note: things like this urchin, and the anemone, while not a danger to the octopus, take up tank space, and create no-touch, zones in the aquarium, so it is important to keep them small, few, and out of the octopus's way (in the corners). If a few of these things are spread evenly in the tank, then the octo's world becomes a bit like a mine-field, and he has to alwasy watch where he steps.




    That’s my experience so far. I don’t know how useful it will be for you. Since I’m putting species together which have lived together in the wild for millions of years, the likely hood that they will know how to live together is much higher than if I were bringing things home from the fish store. Also, my track record is only two months long, and my bimac is immature, so I may have a different story to tell in a few months. That being said, my experience does support the idea that there are exceptions to the conventional wisdom, which says things like “no fish”, “no anemones”, “and no sea cucumbers”. Before you start experimenting, remember that I had two unusual advantages:
    1) All the tank mates I tried had evolved right beside my species of octopus, and so the two had each evolved ways to deal with each other. Your results may vary.
    2) I get my tank mates for free, so I can afford to experiment, and if a tank mate turns out to be octopus food, or even if my octopus turns out to be tank mate food, it’s not the end of the world. Recovery from even a worst case scenario for me (everything dies) would literally be a day at the beach, catching a new octopus, and tank mates. (I am of course prudent and responsible, and take great care to prevent harm to the animals I collect (except the food animals, like shore crabs, for which causing harm is an integral part of the plan). I do lots of research before I bring anything home, to ensure that harmony in the tank is likely, and that animals are at least as safe in my tank as they would be in the big bad ocean, so please don’t think I’m advocating unethical or irresponsible treatment of animals.)

    I hope some of that is helpful, or at least interesting.
     
  8. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Joe-Ceph,
    I noticed that you did not have a dedicated journal for this octo :confused:. If you decide to start one, a link to your summary here would be useful :grin:
     

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