First-time octo owner has a few questions...

Discussion in 'Octopus Care' started by Bio Teacher, Feb 12, 2008.

  1. Bio Teacher

    Bio Teacher Blue Ring Registered

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    Hi all,

    I recently purchased a small vulgaris for my classroom, and everything seems to be going well.

    I'm a little concerned, however, that he's not eating. Currently, the 75-gallon tank is full of live freshwater ghost shrimp, two scarlet hermit crabs, and a damsel. He's been in the tank for a week with no evidence of eating.

    About twice a day, I'll lift up the live rock he hides under to show my students. I know the light and other stimuli are stressful for him, but it's hard to resist the temptation when the students are begging to see the exciting new octopus.

    Here is my question:

    Will my octo eventually become accustomed to moderate light and interaction, or am I killing it with stress?
    Is it naive to think that I'll be able to teach him that the classroom stimuli (lights, students, etc.) are not a threat and that he's safe?

    The octo's health and well-being are my top concern, so I'd like to know what you think.

    Thanks in advance,

    Dustan
     
  2. Animal Mother

    Animal Mother Architeuthis Supporter

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    Welcome to our board.

    You shouldn't lift the rock, and you should probably remove the damsel. They have been known to pick out octopus eyes and are just really territorial fish.

    What kind of lighting is on the tank?
     
  3. Bio Teacher

    Bio Teacher Blue Ring Registered

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    Thanks for the reply Animal Mother, and the welcome...

    I just have a 15W florescent on one side of the tank for aesthetic purposes. The classroom lights add a bit as well.
    I initially took out the damsel, which was my starter fish, but put him back in. At this point, I would be relieved if my octo eats him :)

    -D
     
  4. fishkid6692

    fishkid6692 Vampyroteuthis Supporter

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    ...

    yea when you lift up the rock it just stresses him out. also try putting an emerald crab or fidler crab in the tank. i know it's hard to wait because i just recently got my octo about a week ago. now he is out all the time and explores the tank. just be patient and he will come out.
     
  5. daddysquoc

    daddysquoc Wonderpus Registered

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    i'll agree with Animal Mother about not lifting the rock and with permanently removing the damsel. you might want to try red lighting: octos can't see red, and therefor it appears to them that the tank is dark. the downside here is that the red lighting could affect growth of cyanobacteria, so more maintenance would be required in that aspect.
    how long has the octo been in the tank? it often takes a week or two to settle into a new environment, and lifting the rock is going to cause him to be reclusive for alonger period of time.
    make sure that the students don't EVER tap on the glass. the vibrations through the water will harm the sensitive octo.
    this kind of stress will cause even more hiding.
     
  6. daddysquoc

    daddysquoc Wonderpus Registered

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    ONE MORE THING:
    some octos are just naturally reclusive and/or nocturnal. they may not come out or become tame at all. personally, i don't think such a sensitive animal belongs in such an environment.
     
  7. L8 2 RISE

    L8 2 RISE Haliphron Atlanticus Registered

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    Have you cycled the tank, if so for how long, it usually takes 3 months for a tank to be mature enough for a ceph. also, fresh water animals are usually not good nutrition for salt water animals, you will want to use fiddler crabs, or salt water shrimp for food. If you could post pics of your octo, it might help us identify it, just in case its not vulgaris, companies more often than not have no idea what type of octo they have, and just name it some random name they find. If the octo is old, it could be going through senescence(sp?) which would explain its lack of eating. You might want to check water quality as well, just in case. octopuses are very sensitive to water quality

    oh yeah... :welcome:
     
  8. Jean

    Jean Colossal Squid Supporter

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    Also if you have fresh live rock, the octy may well be eating amphipods etc on the rock.

    We find that telling the kids (In a small public aquarium) that moving the rock all the time is like a mean giant lifting off the roof of their house to see what they're doing... it does seem to help the kids understand why they can't do it all the time. Make sure the dank is in the dimmest part of the class room and perhaps change any lighting on it for red lights (octis can't see that).

    If he's young he'll probably get used to the kids being around if his home is left alone (ours get used to many people around and being photographed!) and he can come out in his own good time. I've attached a couple of our classroom activities that the kids might like to do.

    Cheers

    J
     

    Attached Files:

  9. Bio Teacher

    Bio Teacher Blue Ring Registered

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    Thanks Jean, L8, daddy, and Fish for the replies and the advice,...

    Starting tomorrow, no more rock lifting (hopefully I haven't created any long-lasting anxiety in the little guy).
    Also, I'll order some fiddlers and marine shrimp for food.
    I'll work on getting a photo posted. I know he's some type of brown Atlantic octo.
    From arm to arm, he's about the size of my hand, so I assume that he's relatively young. I can't imagine that being the full size of a vulgaris, if that's the species.

    The tank's been up for about two months. It has live rock and carbon filtration, as well as a protein skimmer. Also, I've read that water O2 levels are extremely important, so I have multiple air stones and a (covered) power head with high O2 input.

    Again, thanks everyone for the help. If my octo could post, I'm sure he would thank you too for ending the live rock lifting :^D

    Great activities Jean, awesome, thanks!

    -Dustan
     
  10. Jean

    Jean Colossal Squid Supporter

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    Dustan,

    Air bubblers are an issue. Cephs don't seem to do well if there are bubblers in the tank. The air can get trapped in the mantle cavity and that's fatal. Get them out! Unless you can change them into air lifts which are essentially hollow tubes attached to the undergravel filter and the airstones go into the tubes. The idea is that water will be sucked through the filter and bubbles will be discharged at the water surface, hopefully out of range of the mantle. The power head should be fine and is probably capable of oxygenating the water with out the bubblers.

    J
     
  11. L8 2 RISE

    L8 2 RISE Haliphron Atlanticus Registered

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    Just curious, but what grade and subject do you teach
     
  12. Bio Teacher

    Bio Teacher Blue Ring Registered

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    Wow, didn't know that, so thanks for telling me.
    I'll take them out tomorrow morning.
    Looks like I have a lot to learn...

    Cheers,

    Dustan
     
  13. monty

    monty Colossal Squid Staff Member Supporter

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    :welcome: and I'm glad you're asking good questions. I'm concerned that the octo isn't eating, since although the freshwater shrimp aren't that nutritious for them, usually octos consider them pretty appealing. It's not unusual for a new octo to hide for a long time, weeks sometime (and lifting up its rock may extend that), often they will come out at night and eat. However, a very common reason for an octopus to not eat is that there are water quality problems. I didn't see an answer to whether you had cycled the tank for three months (although since you mention the damsel as a "starter fish" I expect you have) but sometimes adding a large octopus to the tank can cause even a stable tank to go through a mini-cycle, so it's probably a good idea to do a water change (maybe 20%), and it's certainly a good idea to check the water parameters.

    If it's that big, and it's U.S. Atlantic, it does sound like it's a vulgaris or briareus. If it is a vulgaris it is likely to outgrow the 75gal tank eventually-- they get quite large. Pictures might help us make sure of the ID, or look at pictures of briareus-- there were a lot of briareus for sale a few months ago, so a lot of people have them right now... I think the "Conan the Destroyer has Eggs" thread has some good pics.

    A few other things I'll mentioned, although you seem to have researched things well enough that they're more for completeness: if the tank ever had copper-based medicine used to treat fish diseases, that stuff stays in tanks pretty much forever and cephalopods are sensitive to the copper at even trace levels. Unfortunately, there's not really anything you could do about it, but you can test for it. Also, you don't mention your octo-proofing strategies, so I just wanted to make sure that you've taken care of that.
     
  14. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Dustan,
    Does your "brown" octo have false eye spots (blue)? Do his arms look almost stubby? This year has been a big one for Hummelincki which are more daytime oriented than the Vulgaris. Take a look through the Journals section and see if any of the photos look like your new student.
     
  15. gholland

    gholland Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

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    Just to clarify... are you using "arm to arm" to refer to the span from the tips of the arms, or the base of the arms (across the mantle)? Sorry if it was clear to everyone else and I'm just being dense.
     
  16. Bio Teacher

    Bio Teacher Blue Ring Registered

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    L8, I teach biology and marine science, 10th graders mostly. If you'd like to see what I have in the classroom, check out the link below:

    Classroom Pets

    Thanks for the welcome Monty.
    I'll take you advice and do a water change, just to be safe. I'm a little ashamed to admit that he's inked a few times, and I've read the ink can pollute the water somewhat.
    I cycled the tank for about two months before adding him, and I've tested for copper. Speaking of copper, I usually add a trace element supplement to my tanks. However, I noticed that this product has a small amount of copper, which is metabolically important for some animals, but is it worth the risk of using in my octo tank?

    As far as octo-proofing, I use mesh to cover all filter inputs/outputs, and blue duct tape to cover all other openings. So far so good....but I'm furiously knocking on wood right now :smile:

    "D," my octo looks exactly like your avatar pic. He doesn't have blue eye spots, and spends a lot of time with his arms wrapped behind his head.

    gHolland, good question, I wasn't very specific there. I would say, although it's tough to tell, that from arm tip to arm tip, he probably covers a 6-inch diameter.

    Thanks to everyone again for your posts. They are most helpful, and I can already tell that octo enthusiasts are a great bunch!

    Cheers,

    Dustan
     
  17. gholland

    gholland Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

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    First off Dustan, I just want to say what a wonderful job you're doing with the rapid-fire questioning! :wink:

    Thanks for the clarification on size... when Monty said, "If it's that big," I was thinking, "If it's that small"...

    So... could it be that you have an O. mercatoris... the same species that "D" and I have? "Arms over the head" or "arms between the eyes" seems to be a classic pose for mercs. You might check some of the photos and videos on our journals or the TONMO galleries and see how your octo compares:
    Trapper's Babies - Tank Raised Mercatoris
    Varys, our brooding O. mercatoris
    TONMO Ceph Image Gallery
    Good luck!
     
  18. Jean

    Jean Colossal Squid Supporter

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    Hi Dustan,

    Absolutely not! Octopus are very sensitive to copper and trace amounts can kill. I would imagine that if your other critters are getting a balanced diet the lack of the additive won't really matter!

    J
     
  19. Bio Teacher

    Bio Teacher Blue Ring Registered

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    gHolland, I'd say you're right about it being a merc. I checked out those links, and the merc images and videos match up to my octo really well, including color and movement.

    It looks like he ate 7 or 8 ghost shrimp last night, so that's a good sign and a relief.
    I feed the ghost shrimp marine flakes and spectrum pellets before the octo gets them, so I'm hoping they'll be nutritionally sufficient until I get some fiddlers and shore shrimp.

    Thanks for answering that question Jean. I won't add the trace element solution to the octo tank.

    So, he's eating now and not escaping, so I guess that's as good as it gets for an octo owner, yeah?

    If I do have a merc gHolland, what can you tell me about their personalities and inclinations, based on your experience with that species. I'm hoping they're not completely nocturnal.

    Thanks again all for the replies and info.

    Cheers,
    -D
     
  20. Animal Mother

    Animal Mother Architeuthis Supporter

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    Dwhatley's raising her 3rd generation of mercs right now. I kept one. I don't think any of us that have kept them have had any luck getting them to come out in the daytime hours. There are several threads loaded with details in the journals section if you have time to search them out and read. I really hope that's not the case. If it was sold to you as a vulgaris, you should contact the store and educate them :)
     

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