How to preserve an octopus?

Discussion in 'Education and Employment' started by SabrinaR, Jun 4, 2010.

  1. SabrinaR

    SabrinaR Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Registered

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    Ok so I know this may be a little morbid but I was thinking of preserving my octos once they have passed... not to display at home or anything. My daughter goes to a very small private school and I would like to donate the specimens to promote interest in cephs.

    I have looked and found a very confusing thread from 2006 here...
    http://www.tonmo.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-6161.html

    I need KISS (keep it simple stupid) I am not a chemist so the simpler the better.

    Can anyone help with this?
     
  2. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    #1 Buy formalin (10% or higher solution). Do not store where it will go below 40 degrees. DO store in a child safe place. It is safer than straight formaldehyde but not safe.

    #2 Buy 91% isopropyl alcohol enough to fill the permenant container (you may want twice this much). Read the labels. Most drug stores will have a cheaper and a more expensive bottle the cheaper will be the ~70% solution and the slightly more expensive will be ~90%

    #3 Buy/find a clear sealable, air tight container that will house the octopus permenantly. I prefer plastics for the kids.

    #4 After you take a photo next to a ruler for final posting on its thread, place octopus in a SEALABLE bag/disposable container and completely cover with formalin. If you use a stronger than 10% solution, you can dilute it with water if you are a little short. Use with caution. Avoid on hand and rinse quickly if there is any splashing (try to avoid and don't inhale much of the stuff). It is very hard to get them to pose so a container (bag) that will accomodate the full length seems to work best but keep the final container in mind before starting. The pose will be frozen within seconds of adding the formalin and they are so limp that it is not easy to set them well.

    #5 Seal the container or bag or bag in an air tight container and put out of harms way for a week. At some point (no hurry and a week is likely more time than needed) before you gift the animal, remove it from the formalin (disposal is a bit ecologically sensative, I put it in places in the yard that will not get to the lake and I don't want things to grow but NOT down the sink). Rinse well with buffered salt water to remove as much of the formalin as possible.

    #6 Place the rubberized animal (you will be amazed) into the permenant container and fill completely with alcohol. Seal the container. The alcohol is much safer again than the formalin but still not safe so storage and sealing are important. If you failed to remove all the formalin, the fluid in the container may take on a slightly yellow tinge, it can be replaced with new alcohol and resealed at any time.
     
  3. SabrinaR

    SabrinaR Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Registered

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    Thank you... this was VERY helpful! I will do as you say exactly.
     
  4. CaptFish

    CaptFish Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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  5. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    NO!!! alcohol is NOT preferred to preserve the body. The reason Gill wanted just alcohol is because the carcass will be discarded (he only wants the beaks). Alcohol only will not preserve the animal well but it will keep it preserved once the formalin displaces the tissue that can rot.
     
  6. Nikki

    Nikki Larval Mass Registered

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    Hello, I'm a bit of an outsider here, but have a question if anyone has the time to answer. I am trying to preserve an octopus for my son's school class. They are covering the ocean this summer. I bought a baby octopus from our local asian market. I read that it could be preserved in alcohol, but it is turning clowdy. I have soaked the octopus for maybe an hour before I found your thread. Is it to late to soak the octopus in the Formalin since it has been exposed to the alcohol? Also where would I find the chemical Formalin? I need to have this ready in 8 days. If I could start this now, it seems like I could have it finished. I am open to any feedback. Thank you for your help, Nikki
     
  7. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Nikki,
    I have never tried it this way but would think it might work. Finding 10% formalin in your timefame may be difficult though (I get it on-line) unless you have a very well stocked fishstore nearby. At one time you could get it from the pharmacies (sign for but not prescription) but my recent check here showed that it is now prescription and outrageously expensive. You will probably find the weaker solution by Kordon (Formalin III, I think - don't quote me - it is a 3% solution) in either a pond supply store or in a quart container in almost any pet store and I have used successfully with a freshly opened bottle and extended soaking (5-6 days should be OK). BE SURE YOU FLUSH THE ANIMAL AND REPLACE THE FORMALIN WITH ALCOHOL after it is preserved (buffered saltwater is the perferred rinse, easy for us with sw tanks but more difficult to come up with if you don't make saltwater). The alcohol is a much safer substance and the formalin will have changed the body parts that will decompose (you will be amazed at how it feels like a rubberized toy). Since you will have to go out for the formalin anyway, you might pick up a new specimen.

    If worse comes to worse, discard the current alcohol, rinse the animal with fresh alcohol and then fill the permenent container with new clean alcohol. I am not sure how clear it will remain but it will be better than what you have now.
     
  8. Nikki

    Nikki Larval Mass Registered

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    Thank You!

    dwhatley, Thank you for taking the time to respond to me! I appreciate it. I have replaced the clowdy alcohol with fresh and it seems to be doing well. I did locate a chemical store that sells the formalin 10%. I will see how the octopus looks in the morning. If it is looking poorly I will go get some formalin on Monday. Thank you for your help! Nikki
     

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