Merkury - O.briareus

Discussion in 'Cephalopod Journals' started by Cerulean, Aug 10, 2010.

  1. Cerulean

    Cerulean GPO Registered

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    Day 1

    Hello,

    A little background info about me. I'm a lifetime hobbyist (first freshwater aquarium received as a birthday gift when I was 10, and except for a few short months during my "dark periods" lol! I have had one ever since). I graduated to saltwater in my early 20s, and have had as many as 7 going at one time ( I do not reccomend!) I am now 40, and I currently am down to only one tank (technically) at this writing (90G Bowfront Reef with Fish). I have wanted an octopus for at least the last 10 years,. but due to living inland, and other factors, I was unable to make the plunge. That all changed on Saturday. This is my first octopus. I believe she (for now) is a Briareus. I am fortunate enough to have first hand knowledge of her origins (the middle Florida Keys) where she was collected by a commercial diver/wholesaler. According to him she made her way up his well pump and through several feet of plumbing where she was able to find his cache of live snails (lunch!). When I found her, she was sitting in an open top tank staring out at me from atop her perch on a piece of PVC pipe. Of course, I knew I had to have her.

    So, with no foreknowledge of her species, age or anything else, I took her home with me (15 hour drive bagged in a styrofoam cooler with a half frozen bottle of water keeping her metabolism down for the trip) along with a few other species that I procured from the same location. Not too shabby for $20 and gas money home (I must admit, I was heading that way anyway, so I can hardly count the latter as a cost of acquisition). :)

    But I haven't named her yet, she has only been in her species tank for about 12 hours. It's a 46g bowfront half filled (safety precaution) and taped shut with a Fluval 350 running in it. It's the biggest tank and best filter I had at the time that wasn't in use.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The tank is pretty bare right now. I put about 17 gallons in it from my reef tank, and gave her a big fake rock to hide in as well as a few live rock from my host tank. I gave her a Nassarius snail, a hermit crab, and an emerald crab to eat. She devoured the emerald crab within minutes of introducing it to the tank (remains seen in the foreground of the second picture).

    I also have a video I will upload as soon as You tube Mobile stops acting up on my home network.

    As I said, I believe she is a Briareus due to her mottling, green coloring and underlying iridescence, but I am open to suggestion. Her mantle is about the size of a quarter right now and she has a full armspan of almost a foot when fully stretched out.

    Thanks for reading about my new little Briareus. :)
     
  2. OB

    OB Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    First and foremost, :welcome: Cerulean!

    One emerald crab at least can no longer attest of your new found friend having definitely survived its trip in good shape; so far, so good. The quasi/non cycled tank you are housing it in, might spell a problem, however. Did you prepare it impromptu, or was it already (partly?) up and running? Your post suggests the first, rather than the latter, henceforth query. This is where the experienced keepers will chime in, no doubt...
     
  3. Cerulean

    Cerulean GPO Registered

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    Thanks, I hadn't thought of the quasi cycling as being a problem yet, but you are correct. I do need a little more in there than the water and rocks. And no, you are also correct regarding the impromptu nature of all this. I did not go to the Keys looking for an Octopus! I just couldn't resist when presented with the temptation though.

    For some reason the links are not working to my images.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  4. Cerulean

    Cerulean GPO Registered

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    at rest for the night
     
  5. Cerulean

    Cerulean GPO Registered

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    just after eating
     
  6. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    :welcome:I see you found the direct post for photos. It is the preferred method as we lose pictures when people change hosting sites. Your new ward definitely looks briareus.

    Getting a larger stable environment should be an immediate priority (and adding more water and O2 to her temporary home). My immediate concern is for the amount of oxygen in the water and your ability to remove the ammonia that will follow shortly. If the canister return is underwater, raising it above the water line to create a cascade will help but octos need lots of O2 (more than an equivalently sized fish) and you need to create CO2 exchange quickly. While she is in an enviornment that cannot convert the ammonia, daily water changes will help with both issues.

    She will need something around 65 gallons in a short time (larger is great, smaller will not work well). She will also need more than a single mithrax in a day immediately. The easiest inland available food will be raw frozen table shrimp. Most of our octos will take this from a feeding stick (either the official acrylic kind, or a plain bamboo skewer) once they are old enough (she likely is but offer a piece about half her mantle size to start). The live staple we inlander's feed is typically fiddler crabs and she should get as least some live food each week. If you don't have a local source, Paul Sachs is a very reliable on-line supplier. There are a few other suggestions and suppliers listed in the Sources for Cephalopods and Food forum.

    Just so you are not tempted to put her in the 90 gallon, I recommend CaptFishes new article as part of your reading. If you will explore the Journals and Photos forum you will see several "List of Our Octopuses" stickies. The lists show the species of octopuses and from 2008 forward contain links to the individual journals. For general considerations, look through our articles section (from the front page) and the Tank Talk forum for set up discussions.

    Hopefully this will get you started on a successful path. We like to see people do some reading first but are glad to help when spontaneity leads people here.
     
  7. Cerulean

    Cerulean GPO Registered

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    Thanks for all your suggestions. I did install the tank return about a foot above water level, so there is movement in the tank. I hadn't planned on doing a water change until next week, but I will test the amonia levels to monitor the spike (if I get one). I think I will add some filter media from my 90 gallon to the Octo's canister filter, and add a little live sand to the bottom of her tank as well. Beyond that, I'm not sure what else I can do.

    By the way, she is hiding this morning and I can't find her anywhere in the tank. The giant plastic rock I have in there is hollow inside with holes on the underside, so she is probably in there.

    Thanks, again
     
  8. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Briareus are considered crepuscular (early PM and AM active) but I have seen most of mine active through the night. Getting her trained to eating at regular time will work well toward both seeing her and interacting. Young octopuses of all species are typically very shy. Some grow to be very interactive while other stay aloof (the younger they enter an aquarium the more interactive they seem to become, since I have two tank born hatchlings, it will be interesting to see if this remains true). All seem to learn feeding time but time and patience (lots of patience) are required as they don't change overnight and they don't act like fish.

    I would suggest that you do water changes before you see ammonia. Octopuses are more sensitive to ammonia and nitrite than fish or corals and can be permenantly damaged or die if exposed to detectable amounts of either for even a short period of time. I hope you are planning a larger tank for her. We have never had a successful briareus in your current configuration. If she will be in this tank awhile, adding water volume and giving her more places to den are a minimum. I would also suggest adding a koralia for more circulation. I am not sure that adding sand will be a benefit and could easily make the situation worse by trapping food particles but not providing much in the way of conversion. The octopuses we keep in aquariums - including the large public ones - are benthic animals and rarely swim. They need plenty of hiding, crawling and hunting places. The stuctures can be man made but you can't keep the water quality at a healthy level without strong biological filtration and regular water changes.

    There are two long running journals on briareus that were placed in aquariums very young (younger than this one) that you might want to read. The oldest is Kalypso's journal, kept by Animal Mother and the more recent is Legs, kept by CaptFish. Going though these two journals will give you a condensed picture over the lifespan and help visualize the growth rate, some of the needs and interactions for this species.

    To enjoy viewing nocturnal activity, you may want to add a red light to the tank. They will disappear if you turn on white light at night but seem to tolerate the red with little difficulty and I leave one on in one tank 24/7 (I have not replaced the red light over the second tank but plan to do so soon, for the moment, I use a red flashlight to find and feed the little hatchling in that aquarium). It is interesting to note that the hatchling in the tank with the constant red light currently chooses to den on the side with the lighting even though a totally dark area is available.
     
  9. Cerulean

    Cerulean GPO Registered

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    Thanks again for the suggestions. I was planning on a bigger tank, but not immediately. Ideally, I was looking for an old discontinued Oceanic 60 hex as I really like that look. Do you think a difference of 20 gallons will make that big of a difference, and if so, could I make up the difference with a 20 gallon sump in the interim? When you say no one has successfully kept a Briareus in my current setup, do you mean tank size or a short-cut cycled tank?

    I also took part of the water out and added more new back in than I took out today (2.5 gallons) removed the dead crab pieces, and added the filter media from the established reef tank to the canister of the 46. No live sand added at this time. Thinking of adding more live rock instead.

    I tested the water as well and it's still within the parameters of the host tank (zeros across the board). Do you think daily water changes are best? If so, I will have to get more water from my LFS. I only use RO (no DI). :octopus2::octopus2:

    Keeping my fingers crossed.
     
  10. CaptFish

    CaptFish Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    The sump will help as octopuses require a lot of filtration but they also need room to move around. My briareus had a arm spread of over 4'. I had her in a 125 gal. tall.

    That size.
     
  11. Cerulean

    Cerulean GPO Registered

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    Wow! :shock: I have read they can get up to 2 feet, but haven't heard 4 feet yet. That's amazing! :grin:
     
  12. CaptFish

    CaptFish Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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  13. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    I like hex tanks (and have three, two for octopuses, I still keep 8 marine tanks :wink:) but have not tried one for a briareus that was healthy. Creepy was an odd acquisition and she had had 7 of her arms severed midway through life so I knew she would never out grow the tank. They like to "dance" along the glass more that the other species I have kept so length (note CaptFish's mention of normal adult arm length) and height are things you want to consider. However, the hex shape, with the LR in the center does give a lot of surface area and nice height. It may be more appropriate than my thinking.

    I would definately add the sump while you are preparing for her larger tank.

    No one would project a 2' span for briareus (that is the size of your juvenile) so I think you read single arm length vs arm span which make the numbers match.
     
  14. Lmecher

    Lmecher Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Registered

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    :welcome: Cerulean!
     
  15. Cerulean

    Cerulean GPO Registered

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    Day 2

    Thanks for all the welcomes and ideas.

    Tonight the Briareus is hiding out on the underside of a large plastic rock. She has no interest in eating either the blue cleaner goby, the blue leg hermit, nor either of the snails I have in the tank as they are all still alive and doing fine.

    I could not see exactly where she was perched, so I stuck a small piece of thawed raw shrimp on a wooden skewer and wedged it into her large rock. It has been approximately 30 minutes and she has not approached or eaten it.
     
  16. Lmecher

    Lmecher Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Registered

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    My Ollie (also an O. briareus) usually took his sweet time to come and take what I offered, especially in the begining. When I left a shrimp on the feeding stick in the tank as you just described, he never took it. In the begining especially it seemed like I would stand there holding it forever. Some are just more apprrhensive than others. I would not leave it in there too long, good luck, will be :fingerscrossed: for you.
     
  17. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    It is important to get her eating. Briareus, more than any of the other species I have kept, seem to be very far sighted and literally can't see something in front of their face. They seem to be tactile hunters so touching the food to the suckers is often necessary. Once she tastes it, she will likely quickly figure out what to do. To get mine curious, I have found that rubbing the stick on the rock to cause a small vibration will often bring a curious arm. If you accomplish this gently touch the shrimp to the suckers on the investigating arm and she should take it (expect a 1/2 hour process, not a 5 minute one. Neal gets restless sometimes when our little guys don't come out immediatly). She may withdraw rapidly but if she got a taste the arm should reappear. Initially I would attempt feeding with the lights OFF (a red flashlight, not shown directly on the animal works well for feeding my hatchlings). Eventually, you will likely see her during the early evening if the room light is not bright but I would suggest starting around 11:00 PM until she is eating well. If you can't get her to take shrimp (I think she is old enough though), you can try freezing one of the hermits and removing it from the shell after you thaw it (or any other way you can get it out without breaking off the meaty body). I use a pipette to feed these and it gets a bit tricky to attach them but they are very well received this way even though rarely eaten when they climb around in their shells. A straw will work as well (sometimes I will use a straw with fiddlers, pushing the claw into the straw opening) if the crab and straw are sized right (a lot of hit and miss). The goal is to have the hermit's body exposed and dangling.

    I have a couple of videos of SueNami missing shrimp but they were posted on our no longer available video download and I have not put them on YouTube. While checking, however, I found one Dave (CaptFish) took of Legs that shows the same aspect of briareus natural hunting techniques.
     
  18. Cerulean

    Cerulean GPO Registered

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    I left the shrimp in there all night and she never ate it. When I did offer it to her, she touched it a few times and pulled on the stick a little (she is very strong!) but never took it. Subsequent attempts to give it to her only resulted in her retreating further and further away until she was out of my reach.

    Sigh, I guess I will go back to the LFS and buy her another $5 happy meal (emerald crab)...

    Additionally, I did another water change today. Amonia still reading at zero. The tank is approximately half full now.
     
  19. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Fiddler crabs have been the "universal" food (not sure why but all octos seem to recognize and eat them). They are also way cheaper to feed if purchased on-line than happy meals , ship well via USPS and don't require much in the way of a holding tank.

    Once a shrimp has been thawed and in water for more than an hour or so, it seems to loose its appeal. Even shrimp that have been a long time in the freezer will be rejected by animals that will take them regularly so we only buy 1/4 at a time (you do get some odd looks at the seafood counter). Since all the inland shrimp are frozen (including the stuff you see in the "fresh" window) sometimes it is "old" when you bring it home but flash frozen is less impactive than the impact of frost free home freezers. The fresher you can find the better (oriental food markets seem to have the freshest).

    Guessing from his/her size it needs to be eating daily. Having recently had the opportunity to go through egg laying and hatching for this species, I spent time surfing and found a little info on growth expectations that I posted in our Cephalopod Science Forum.
     
  20. skywindsurfer

    skywindsurfer Architeuthis Registered

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    When I had my briareus I used to find her using my wife's flashlight application on her IPhone. Since her flashlight app could change colors I did a test to see what colors my octopus would tolerate. White and blue made her flinch and hide, red caused her to flinch a little but she tolerated it and stayed out, and under green light she made no visible signs that she could detect the light. I was just curious if anyone else has tried colors other than red and what their reactions were. I'm posting this because everyone seems to except red as the universal lighting to use on nocturnal animals, but maybe if you have success with green or a blue/green mix it might look better or more natural than washing your tank in red.
     

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