Octo in a 25g or less?

Discussion in 'Octopus Care' started by Radix, Dec 6, 2011.

  1. Radix

    Radix Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Are there any that can be in a tank that size? I don't care I it's nocturnal I just prefer ones that will interact with toys, and myself preferably.
     
  2. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    O. mercatoris is the only one we commonly see (there is also a Pacific "version" O. digueti but we have not IDed one on TONMO though Roy has said they are common) that can be housed in a tank this small. The good news is that, if you can find a pair that have been living in close proximity (often the case when they are available from a Live Rock supplier), you can keep two in a 25 and I find that they are more active when kept this way. Mercs are, in general, are pretty lazy and IME, the females don't move much once they find a den to her liking (I find the purple barnacle clusters to be readily accepted and they can be placed where you have easy viewing). My most active and interactive pair were two tank born males I housed together (actually hoping one was a female).

    Very few will interact with toys, at least for very long. My mercs never took an interest at all. The most common "toys" have been stolen cleaning tools and they were not so much played with as coveted and placed where the keeper could not retrieve them. Linda did have success with a vulgaris experimenting with a couple of baby toys and Legos have been an off and on hit with some of the smaller animals (but not mercs).

    The amount of human interaction will depend a lot on the individual animal, its age and your patience and persistence. Of the ones we keep, O. mercatoris is the least interactive and often a disappointment to the keeper. That being said, I don't shy away from recommending them as a first octopus. If you can learn to enjoy this shy nocturnal and work with it daily you will likely come to appreciate their uniqueness. I kept mercs for several years before going on to the larger animals and still keep a tank for one.

    The bad new, they have not widely been available for a couple of years.
     
  3. Radix

    Radix Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Tampa Bay saltwater is selling 'dwarf' octopus, would that be considered ok? Or where should I be looking?
     
  4. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    They are a live rock farmer and this is most likely O. mercatoris. They should also have multiples that have been living in the same LR but ask to be sure and ask for animals of the same size (this is likely already to be the case). You can be daring and ask for a male and a female if you want to try to raise hatchlings or two males if not but they are unlikely to be able to sex them for you.

    If your tank is ready, find yourself a red light that you can leave on 24/7, I have found this to be a way to encourage them to be seen earlier than providing total darkness at night. Also find a cluster of giante purple barnacles (available in most shell shops and almost always on eBay). You will want a cluster with various sizes but get the smaller vs the larger shells (openings of 1 - 1.5 inches would be my suggestion).

    I suspect this might be a good year for the mercs just because of the numbers of O. briareus we have seen from in situ observations (both from CaptFish's report as well as from the finds at SealifeInc). My only concern is that they might confuse a small O.briearus for a merc and then you would have serious housing problems very quickly.
     
  5. Radix

    Radix Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    What equipment should I get? Is there a good list of specifics somewhere? I've read on this site (not the forums, too many subcategories) and have a general idea but I'm hoping to find specifics. Thanks for the huge help so far!
     
  6. ieatfalalfel

    ieatfalalfel Wonderpus Registered

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    You want to make sure you have gone through this list:
    http://www.tonmo.com/cephcare/checklist.php
    FILTRATION FILTRATION FILTRATION, you need a lot. Also, make sure you have a good food source, i thought i did then i went to get it and it was gone.
     
  7. ieatfalalfel

    ieatfalalfel Wonderpus Registered

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  8. Cuddlycuttlefsh

    Cuddlycuttlefsh Vampyroteuthis Registered

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    I'm sure someone else was going to say this, but. As for filtration,

    A Protein Skimmer is a must for octopuses!

    Do not forget this vital piece, this would probably save the life of your octo. Thousands have relied on these when used in an aquaria to maintain and improve the welfare of their animals. Bigger is better, don't get small ones. They just circulate the water basically.
     
  9. Radix

    Radix Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    If I have no sump, how should I go about filtering? Canister, hob? Hob protein skimmer?
     
  10. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    HOB protein skimmer with filtration is my first choice.

    If you can arrange to have a 2" rim around the tank top, the cover over the tank top can provide easy access and is still "merc" proof. You will also want to kee your water level about 2" below the top and may need to extend your filter intake. With the mercs ONLY, I found that a cascade filter with a lip behind the return and a 2" drop in the water level was quite adequate for escape proofing the tank. I will reitterate that this is for mercs ONLY (they have short arms).

    It is difficult for us to know each new member's experience level so coaching needs a little background. One concern I have is your experience with saltwater environments. You need to understand that your tank needs to cure for a minimum of 3 months (not just when you see the water parameter reach the zero ammonia, zero nitrite stage). If this is your first saltwater tank, you need to take a year to understand and care for the environment before adding a ceph. Your LSF will tell you you are ready to add "fish" after the initial cycle but there is a well known phrase for what happens if you do this (Google "New Tank Syndrome"). Curing a saltwater tank is a slow deliberate process. Placing any saltwater animals in a new tank will result in early deaths, frustration for the aquarist and lots of wasted money. Octopuses produce more waste than small fish so a longer cycle time is necessary. If you are not familiar with the nitrogen cycle, do reseach on setting up a saltwater tank, explicitly looking up how to cycle a tank for a successful environment. There is another saying in the hobby that is more than just rhetoric, "Nothing GOOD happens quickly in a saltwater aquarium".
     
  11. Radix

    Radix Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    I've had several tanks, but none with a sump so far, and all nanos. After the initial cycle shoul I leave the tank be, or add a damsel or something to create waste? Also, I know that I can add starfish and a pencil urchin but is there any other CUC I can use?

    What kind of top should I have? Glass?
     
  12. Cuddlycuttlefsh

    Cuddlycuttlefsh Vampyroteuthis Registered

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    To me glass tops with small-and-numerous amount of air holes would do, but see what the others say. Also when you pick out the material for the top avoid rough textures that may cause dermatology problems that may harm or be a potential into harming your octo.
     
  13. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    There are dozens of different ways to secure a tank and I have tried to list a few of the more complete threads in the Tank Buildouts sticky at the top of the Tank Talk forum. The best configuration I have found is to use an acrylic surround that is about 2" wide and sits in the small lip of a framed aquarium. Unframed tanks are a bit more difficult but you can achieve the same effect by gluing support rods on the inside of the tank, creating a support lip. (I also use acrylic rods for this and find that the 3M automotive double stick tape works reasonably well as long as the surfaces are VERY clean and VERY dry and left alone for 24 hours). A somewhat complicated version of the arrangement is shown in my going larger thread here. The lids over the access holes are also acrylic and recessed to be flat with the top (overkill for a merc tank but esthetically pleasing) by attaching thin acrylic to the underside of the surround at the openings to support covers cut to fit the openings. We drill our tops (but not the surround) using a peg board as a template, time consuming but again, they look nice. The holes are to help release heat but serve no other purpose.

    If you use acrylic for any of the top, take the time to sand all exposed edges smooth. This is not for the octopus, it is for your hands and arms. Cut acrylic is VERY sharp and the 30 minutes it takes to sand it makes all the difference in the world and is easy to do with simple sand paper (it also looks nicer, just keep the sand paper to the edge and avoid the clear surface).

    CuddllyCuddlefish, if you are aware of glass with vent holes, please reference it as I have never seen anything that would be appropriate.

    Most common clean up crews are acceptable. Snails and hermits will likely be reduced in numbers initially but most octos prefer the foods we offer and will leave them alone once they learn feeding time. I have read of mercs eating one or the other of these but have never had mine to eat any of them (the larger ones have but have never completely emptied the tank - with the exception of Little Bit :grin:). Any serpent star (I would avoid the greens though as they become aggressive at some point in their lives) or brittle star will be fine. After a tank is fully mature (about a year) I particularly like the thorny sea stars because they are diurnal and often brightly colored and do well in an octo tank (I can keep them for several years without problems in spite of reading otherwise). Start slowly with the CUC, adding the hardiest first (hemits and snails) and slowly work toward adding any that are more water sensative and need algae (stars and cucumbers). You can also include pencil urchins in the CUC and they do a nice job cleaning off the rock but be aware that they will also attack gorgonians and sometimes soft corals if they don't find enough to eat (Kara has seen them eat the wood in their holding tanks).

    After your tank is mature, sponges and gorgonians can be added for color. Gorgonians need to be placed where the octo does not normally traffic. Octopuses don't go around things, they just amble over them. This is more of a concern for the larger species than for mercs though. I also occassionally add rooted macro algeas but they don't survive long and are often eaten by the clean up crew (one reason I add them). A few low stinging polyps will work but it is hard to know which will and will not affect the octopus. If you add polyps, attach them to a rock of their own and be prepared to remove it if you see the octo jerk away. Mushrooms and leathers are fine as well once the tank will support them.

    Provide loose shells and light pieces of coral rabble for the mercs. They will use these as doorways to close off their dens when they sleep and sometimes when they eat. Finding an out of place shell will often lead you to a den if you can't find the merc.

    Cycling and continuing a cycle once established is the topic of many forums and threads, the following is my personal recommendation and hopefully others will chime in with their own. If you are using live rock (my choice 100%) to cycle your tank, once you see a spike and then reach the zero nitrite, zero ammonia stage (or in 2 months if you see no spike), start adding your hearty cleanup crew and over feeding the tank. Keep your bottom substrate clean though as you do not want to build up nitrates. Many people add fish at this point, I do not and don't see a need. I recommend not keeping any fish with any octopus, regardless of some of the successes you may read. There are a number of reasons for this, the most important one being that most fish have been treated by the suppliers and if the octo should eat it, it may kill the octopus. Never feed it live freshwater fish as that is almost guaranteed death. If you want something swimming around, order a quantity of shore shrimp. They are a good food for the ceph (when they can catch them), can be left in the tank and will increase the bacteria when they die.
     
  14. Radix

    Radix Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    How much light should I have if I use a 20g tank?
    How much flow? Will the canister an skimmer be plenty? What about extra aeration? Where should I put the diffuser? At the top surface layer?

    Do they prefer more rock, or less?

    What should I get for food, an how much of it? How much would I be spending monthly?
    How much shoul the octo be fed? Can it be over fed to death?

    What should I use for a den, the barnacle clusters and PVC, or is there a better option using rocks or a cup?
    Should I add carbon, and ammonia and phosphate removers?

    What heat level does the merc like? What should I do to octo proof the tubes and such? Tape it?

    Sorry if I ask questions twice better safe than sorry
     
  15. Radix

    Radix Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Also, is a ~100g rated (360gph) canister filter overkill for the 20? Should I invest in a 50-60g rated?
     
  16. Radix

    Radix Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    My last post said it needed to be approved by a mod (not the filter one) so please allow it:)
     
  17. Radix

    Radix Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Not sure if this got forgotten... hoping someone will reply
     
  18. asid61

    asid61 GPO Registered

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    A 100 gallon canister seems good for an octopus. There is no such thing as too much filtration with an octopus. I remember one person had a 110 gallon rated filter on a 10 gallon tank.Mercs like a temperature of 79 degrees, +/- 1 degree.
    As for food, live food will be a must for the first month or more, as it will no doubt be wild caught. You can buy mysid shrimp and shore shrimp from Sachs Systems Aquaculure, here: http://aquaculturestore.com/swinverts.html
    All cephs eat a lot, but I cannot find any definite value on how much mercs eat. Amin for 3-4 mantle-sized foods each day. I would get a picture of the octopus you are purchasing so you can get the appropriate food. You will need a seperate tank for the ffeder, with a filter 2x the size of the tank as you will have a lot of animals in it at once. According to Cephalopods: Octopus and Cuttlefish for the Home Aquarium, a 15 gallon tank can support 100 shore shrimps, or about 250 mysid shrimp.
    Also, if you live near the beach, get some small crabs.

    In your original post, you said you wanted one that will interact with you. In that case, I would get a 50 or even an 80 gallon aquarium and purchase an abdophus aculeatus or an octopus briareus. AA for the 50 and the OB for the 80.
    Bimacs are also cool in a 50 gallon, but you can only get them captive bred since catching them is illegal now.
     
  19. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    I fed the mercs freshly killed shore shrimp (mine would not eat hermits or catch live shrimp) and fiddlers crabs. The fiddlers are more or less a universal live food for any octopus (also available from Paul). I only had one female merc (Sleazy) that would accept table shrimp pieces but it may be that they will take table shrimp as adults and we did not retry offering it as the other ones aged. I have not been successful with krill, snails or hermits in their shells but others have used them as food. Hermits out of the shell have been easily accepted by all my small octos but getting the animal whole (dead or alive) out of the shell is not an easy task. For the mercs, one large shore shrimp or one fiddler a day is about all they will eat.
     

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