[Locked]: Controversial thread on low-end ceph keeping

Discussion in 'Octopus Care' started by alexfevery, Oct 19, 2006.

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  1. alexfevery

    alexfevery Cuttlefish Registered

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    Hello, I have looked over this forum for a while and have seen alot of people asking about getting their first octopus tanks. Im not sure if this forum is only for questions. Or if I can start a new thread for this. Many people ask about if the cycling is needed and how to set up their tank, here is how I did it with bimacs.

    how to sucessfuly set up a tank and got an octopus without the 3 months of cycling and for under $300 without killing anything(but the octopus will kill stuff). I did this sucessfully for 5 tanks. Unfortunatly this method is conpletly impracticle if you live more than 20 miles from a beach.

    First the tank.

    at petco or petsmart you can buy an aquarium package which includes 29 gallon tank, filter, hood, light, heater, and net for only $117. Some people say that you need at least a 50 gallon tank for an octopus, I have researched and tryed thru personal experiance and found this to be not true. an octopus that will fit inside a tissue box will be very happy in a 30 gallon tank.


    when you buy it, make sure to look in the box to make sure the tank is not broken, happened to me first time and I had to drive back and exchange it.

    then buy a steel frame 275lbs supporting stand-$48 probably only at petsmart.

    buy 1 10lbs bag live sand-28$ and 1 10lbs bag ground coral substrate.
    buy 1 40 gallon tank air pump and airstone with 8ft of tubing - $35

    Many people say you MUST have protien skimming, I have found this to be not true so you can save yourself a 120 bucks but it will take a little more work. after feeding your octopus if you use a net to scoop out any debris protien skimming is not needed.

    ok set up the tank acording to instructions, get rid of the heater, the bimac does much better in water under 70 degrees farenheight.

    make sure to mix the coral and live sand when you put it in.

    you should now have an empty aquarium with some live sand and ground coral in it.

    now you can fill it.
    Here is the part that can eliminate the 3 month cycling. Get a large container(same gallon capacity as your aquarium) and drive down to the beach. fill it with water that is colected in tumultous water 5 feet deep or less. 2 -3 feet is best. -leave the 29 gallon container in your car and use a bucket to make trips back and forth with water. fill the tank. - you can get the octopus on the same day as the water but I recomend waiting a day to make sure there are no problems. make sure the filter is cleaning the water properly and the air pump is oxygenating the water properly. do not worry if there are small shrimp or larvae swimming in the water you collected.

    the next day wait until the sun has set and coordinate the time so you get to the beach right at low tide. bring a headlamp, a flashlight is harder but will work. Find the tide pools(usualy at points). search the tide pools for a california 2 spot octopus. You can be 90% sure that any octopus you find will be a California 2 spot. but just look for the 2 blue spots on either side of the head. find one with a bulb the size of a lemon. this means its about half way thru its life. If you can find a smaller one, even better but small ones are harder to spot. You will most likely spot it in the middle of the tidepool hunting, it will look like an out of place rock. Shine your light on it so it freezes. aproach it and grab it. they almost never even budge until you touch it. be gentle while you remove it not to damage the arms or suckers. Place it in a secure container until you get it home. Collect a few submerged rocks with as much stuff growing on them as possibe, these are live rocks and you should gather about 30 lbs worth, this will save you a few hundred dollars, find ones with good crevices or that fit together to form a nice cave. keep them wet until you get home. you will need one more thing. A tide pool sculpin. They are very interesting fish. They also helps to double as a protien skimmer by eating any debris the octopus leaves, they are easy to capture with a net. find one no bigger or smaller than about half the leanght and half the girth of the octopus you have captured, they get along great with octopuses and will not bother each other at all. It is critical to have one as an indicator to the saftey of the water, they are sensitive to water that is not safe. If the water is not right they will breathe eraticly, saves you money on buying water test kits.

    Sculpin: http://www.crystalcovestatepark.com/Images/sculpin.gif

    the last thing you will need is crabs, california 2 spot will eat crabs anywhere from 1/4 mantle size to 3/2 mantle size. They eat about 1 a night but you can switch them over to frozen shrimp 3 days after capturing it.

    when you get home, put the rocks in and the sculpin, then wait 1/2 hour, if the sculpin is looking healthy it should be safe to put the octopus in. make sure to put him in carefully so he dosent ink in the water, ruining it. Ive never had one ink on me. after adding your octopus he will be very distraut and will look disoriented, breathe rapidly, and change to a dark color, and move around the tank climbing up the sides. Do not worry, turn off the lights in the room and leave. let him calm down. He will after about an hour settle down and find a hiding spot. I have never had any problems with escaping or even seen an octopus trying to escape, My current octopus tank has a large hole in the back where the filter goes the octopus could easily fit thru. but he never trys to leave. after a few hours and he has ajusted put a crab in, if he sees it and grabs at it that means he has ajusted, if he ignores it, take it out and leave the lights off another hour. then try again. I feed all of mine 1 crab or frozen shimp each night, they have large apitites. If for the first few days the octopus stays in its cave 24 hours a day that is normal. after a few weeks it should come out when it sees you or at night. feed the sculpin pieces of the frozen shrimp.

    using seawater to keep your tank from having to cycle.
    after the initial filling, every week take out 5 gallons of water and replace it with either more sea water or water you have mixed yourself. the water from the sea is already been cycled for millions of years so no initial cycling is necesary.

    avoiding a protein skimmer:
    the sculpin should eat some of the mess the octopus makes but whenever you see crab shells on the ground or octopus waste, scoop it out with a net.

    remember, only 1 octopus per tank

    I would like to hear if anybody has any conflicting information. And how other people have set up their octopus tanks. From my experiece they are not extremely hard creatures to keep and I am very happy to say I have never had one die on me. good luck on setting up your tank.

    Im sorry if this kind of posting is not allowed. I am new to this forum.

    alex
     
  2. DHyslop

    DHyslop Architeuthis Supporter

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    :welcome:

    Its not so much about "conflicting information" but how much margin for safety you have. It seems to me your technique is full of "ifs:" you can get by without a protein skimmer if the octopus never inks. You can get by with a tiny tank if the octopus doesn't grow very big. You can get by without sealing the top if the octo doesn't try to escape. Those things have happened to TONMO'ers in the past and just because they haven't yet happened to you doesn't mean you're safe (I wonder how many times Cory Lidle made the 'tight turn' at 120 knots before ever hitting a building?).

    Preparing for these contingencies requires patience, maturity and husbandry; encouraging aquarists to be professional is good for them and above all for the animal. We have a responsibility to the animal to give them as good a home as reasonably possible. You can do the bare minimum to scrape by most of the time, or you can go all the way. Most of us on TONMO advocate the latter.

    Dan
     
  3. Nancy

    Nancy Titanites Staff Member Moderator

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    Hi Alex and welcome to TONMO.com! :welcome:

    Yes, it's OK to post your experiences in keeping octopuses. I don't doubt that you've been able to keep octopuses in this manner, but you've been very lucky. Most of us have experienced octos inking. Not many have expereinced their octos crawling out, but this is because we advise the tanks to be well sealed. We began to take this approach after losing a few bimacs (two-spot octopuses) to excape in the first years of this forum.

    Yes, you could get away with a 30 gallon, provided your octopus doesn't grow too large, and some of our TONMO.com bimacs have grown large. However, if you live near the ocean, you always have a way out - return your octopus to the sea. Most of our octo keepers are too far inland and must rely on a tank set up designed with some margin of error.

    Nancy
     
  4. cthulhu77

    cthulhu77 Titanites Supporter

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    I will keep my trap shut on this one. Suffice to say, the conditions are less than perfect, which is what we actually strive for, so we can observe the octopus in it's natural habitat.
    I suppose you could keep a hundred cats in one trailer too, and they would live...but...


    Greg
     
  5. Illithid

    Illithid Vampyroteuthis Supporter

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    This seems to much like the "Mimic Babies for sale-cheap" thread.

    "an octopus that will fit inside a tissue box will be very happy in a 30 gallon tank."

    Could you please elaborate on this statement. If an a ceph eats more than a grouper, has high surface area skin without the protection of scales, and one of the highest metabolic rates in the animal kingdom -how can a shoe box size animal live in a 30 gallon?

    30 gallon sump of a wet/dry -maybe.

    I will discuss more if and when I get a response. I applaud everyone for being so nice and considerate, but I have to address this.
     
  6. marineboy

    marineboy Wonderpus Registered

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    I think people are taking the wrong approach on this by trying to defend the old fashioned way of keeping. everybody believes that just because it is not what we have all been told that it is automatically wrong. But in truth, have any of you even tryed this method before? You probably have just tryed the way everybody before you has done so you wouldn't know if it was the truth or not. So maybe you should give it a chance.
     
  7. cthulhu77

    cthulhu77 Titanites Supporter

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    Oh, sure. Despite the fact that most of us:

    A: do not live near the ocean
    B: have decades of experience with different marine animals
    C: have kept and maintained and even bred cephs

    We should listen to :

    Loss of filtration, lack of oxygenation, lack of space for normal healthy octopus lifestyle, etc, etc, etc.

    I guess it comes down to whether you want to be an "octopus keeper" or someone who actually cares about them.

    Your choice.
    Mine is made.

    Greg
     
  8. DHyslop

    DHyslop Architeuthis Supporter

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    He doesn't have a special technique or method to be tried; rather he's going cheap and so far hasn't killed anything (or has he? Many adult bimacs are larger than that attained by the ones he's kept). You could probably put an octopus in a five gallon bucket with a power filter and it might survive for a couple months: should you try this "method" before concluding that its not the right way to do it?

    It comes back to what Greg said: You can keep 100 cats alive in a trailer, but should you? Is keeping that many cats in a trailer a valid husbandry technique? Do we have the right to condemn the cats-in-the-trailer method without trying it? Get my drift? :wink:

    Dan
     
  9. alexfevery

    alexfevery Cuttlefish Registered

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    very active forum,

    I do not wish to get into arguments with people about what makes octopuses healthy. Some of you say I have been very lucky, I dont believe so.

    When I first started octopus aquariums about 12 years ago, I knew nothing, I did not look at the internet, and got all my information from working at the marine institute where I live where I was in charge of feeding the institues 2 bimacs. I wanted my own so i tried the expensive method. 500$ and a store bought octopus. and while I dont doubt that it works, I kept my first octopus alive for 1 year before it died of old age. I have found, over years of trial and error that allot of the stuff that people claim is an absolute necesity is not so necesary.

    The tank is among the worst of it. I have kept the same type and size of octopus in a 100, 50, 30 and even 20 gallon tank and they all do fine. Smaller than that and they become stressed which I noticed thru color diference. The rule I use is, place a thin(1mm- a dull pencil) line exactly at water level and then add the octopus, if the water is more than 1.5 mm heigher than when you added him then the tank is to small.

    One person said I recomended not oxegenating, I did not. oxygen is one of the most important aspects to the well being. I think I recomended a pump for a 40 gallon tank.

    protien skimming, does nothing for the octopus that the sculpin and a little work with your net after feeding wont do. I have tried with and without, I am not confirming this yet, because I have not tested enough, but skimming may have detrimental effects in the long term health of the octopus.
     
  10. Scruffy

    Scruffy Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    As far as I knew, part of the 50 gallon minimun 'rule' was because of the mess that gets made and not all down to the size the octopus will grow to? Although that must be a large factor.
     
  11. cthulhu77

    cthulhu77 Titanites Supporter

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    *Crash Stop*

    In the case here, where many people learning about reefkeeping and the care of cephs, please, please, please, give this line absolutely no credit.

    So, if you vacuum your house, it effects your health? I suppose so does flushing the toilet or doing the dishes? Come on, get real.
     
  12. monty

    monty Colossal Squid Staff Member Supporter

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    :welcome: And I think you've leapt into an interesting discussion. I think you have hit a nerve a bit (your initial post suggested that you expected that to happen.) I think your results are interesting, and worth considering, although I also agree with the responses that it's better for the animals to avoid encouraging people to do the "bare minimum." Without meaning to question your experience, there are a lot of people who post here having bought an octopus without any preparation at all, so there is a lot of evidence that octos die often in some setups, and the recommended setups have largely evolved from that information. The fact that your setup seems to work as well is probably worth looking at, but as one person comparing your experience to the collective knowledge, you're in a bit of a strange position.

    I think it's worth asking questions like "what is Alex doing that's better than the unprepared folks whose octos invariably die quickly?" and "Is it possible that some of the recommendations are more apocryphal than proven?" as well as "has Alex just been lucky?" On the other hand, Alex, you proposed a checklist that's an alternative to the traditional TONMO approach, rather than suggesting your experience be integrated into it somehow, which turns out to be a bit confrontational. I understand that you read a bunch of stuff here and found that it doesn't match your experience, so you wanted to present the alternative, but now that you have, I would encourage discussion of "how can we continue to give the best recommendations we can to octo owners."
     
  13. Brock Fluharty

    Brock Fluharty Haliphron Atlanticus Registered

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    The sculpin will eat the food, and waste from the octo(debatable, IMO), but he will excrete that as waste himself. If he eats, that, then he isn't getting nutrients. Also, many beaches have laws about removing live rock, and living creatures. I'm sure if I saw a guy with a bucket, and a light attached to his forehead at midnight along the beaches, i'd be a little freaked out.

    Cheap usually isn't better (if not worse) than going all out and doing things correctly. We are trying to mimic the ocean, and the ocean's protein skimmer is waves, which create foam, etc.
     
  14. cuttlegirl

    cuttlegirl Colossal Squid Supporter Registered

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    :welcome: Alex,

    I have a couple of questions... what is the temperature of the tank? You are recommending keeping Southern California marine life (I used to live in Long Beach for 14 years...). Cold water marine life is very different from the type of tanks that most people keep. This may account for some of the discrepancies on this thread. I know, I had a cold water tank for 10 years. I will say this about protein skimmers. I was unable to keep red sea urchins (Stronylocentrotus franciscanus successfully (longer than a week) until I added a protein skimmer. This also extended the life of sea hares (Aplysia) and sea cucumbers in my tank.

    Other than that :welcome: and you will find us to be a lively bunch, dedicated to keeping cephalopods healthy and happy.
     
  15. alexfevery

    alexfevery Cuttlefish Registered

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    Ok, first off about the protien skimmers, I DID NOT SAY that I am sure it hurts your tank. I am just stating that I have not noticed any diference in the longevity or behavior of octopuses with them, then those without them. and this is a cold water tank setup not a tropical, PS's function diferently depending on the water temperature

    and cuttlegirl makes an excelent point, I absolutly do not recomend this setup for anything but a cold non tropical tank. You will almost definately kill any tropical water fish or octopuses if you use my set up with warm water.

    Yes, I would expect sea urchins need good skiming because of how their resperation system works.

    the tempereture in all my octopus tanks at this moment is 68 degrees farenheight.

    Sculpins do eat octopus fecal matter, and they also eat, pieces of food the octopus leaves, the reason I sugest them is that when they excrete waste, it is in a small solid clump that sinks to the botom and stays together which is very easy to scoop out with a net.

    some beaches do have laws about removing animals, and I dont advocate breaking the laws. Live rock is extremly expensive though, and there is several hundred tons of it at the tide pools where i live.
     
  16. cthulhu77

    cthulhu77 Titanites Supporter

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    Cold water means you don't have to keep the tank water clean and pure?
    Hogwash.

    Look, I am not attacking you in a personal sense at all, and the fact that you have had some limited success with your methods is fine and dandy, but we do have to flavour the topic with hard won experience. We have had members keep octopus's (you can spell the multiple any way you want, it's all correct) in a variety of tank setups...some going very, very frugal and being happy with six months, to those of us who have decided to make sure we are providing the BEST POSSIBLE habitat for the captive octopii.

    Are your experiences valid? Of course. Is it a guideline for people who are new to keeping cephalopods? No. You have to remember, there is nothing wrong with new ideas (remember the use of skimmers in the 70's?), but they have to be proven, lest they kill off a number of captive animals and frighten away new ceph keepers.

    Greg
     
  17. alexfevery

    alexfevery Cuttlefish Registered

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    you know thats not what I said,

    and this is in no way a minimum,

    If anybody wants the tank setup for how to keep an octopus from dying I can give it to you but the point is this is not the minimum at all.
     
  18. cuttlegirl

    cuttlegirl Colossal Squid Supporter Registered

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    Here is one thing I have learned from being landlocked for the past year and a half... Before living in Long Beach, I lived in Hawaii for three years. I have had a salt water tank since I was about 12 years old (I won't tell you how long ago that was :shock: ). It is sooo much cheaper when you live near the beach. It is also very easy to go to the beach quickly if something goes wrong (you run out of food, you need to do a water change, you need some more seaweed, the list goes on...)

    When you are landlocked, you have to plan in advance. For example, I knew that my cuttlefish eggs were going to hatch, so I bought mysids online and had them shipped to me about a week ago. Meanwhile, the mysids are cannabilizing each other and the eggs haven't hatched. There's $35 down the drain, but I didn't want to take a chance and order the mysids after the cuttle eggs hatch and have to wait a couple of days. Also, I ran out of shore shrimp and while I ordered them on Monday, they aren't arriving until tomorrow. Luckily my adult cuttles eat frozen krill, but they were eating several shore shrimp a day and are a little upset that they aren't getting their favorite food. While the initial set up costs can vary, the biggest cost of keeping a ceph, at least for me, has been feeding it...
     
  19. DHyslop

    DHyslop Architeuthis Supporter

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    This is absurd. I guess if anyone would like to follow Alex's advice; get a bimac and put it in a 20 gallon tank, go for it! Caveat emptor!

    Perhaps Nancy would be so kind as to post the picture of Ollie before he climbed the Empire State Building?

    Dan
     
  20. cthulhu77

    cthulhu77 Titanites Supporter

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    Then why did you post it?

    Once again, you must realize that people read these forums to learn about octopus, octopus's, octopii (or whatever makes you happy)...and you can not present unfounded information and expect everyone to go "oh, o.k.".

    I understand that you have had some success with keeping your octo's in tanks that were not done to the normal standards. Fine. But you have to think about the bulk of the Tonmo crowd not having the same access to natural seawater, natural food, etc that you do.
    Like Cuttlegirl has stated, living inland changes everything. Our care charts and articles are based on a vast amount of knowledge, spanning a lot of years, for the best results in keeping cephs.
    Anyone can keep a bichir. Not everyone can breed them.



    Greg
     
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