Octopus at altitude?

Discussion in 'Octopus Care' started by hungryhank, Jun 20, 2009.

  1. hungryhank

    hungryhank Larval Mass Registered

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    Hi all, long time reader, first time poster. I've been reading everything I could get my hands on about raising and keeping a ceph but have found nothing about the effects of altitude on their physiology/behavior. I live in Boulder, Co at about 5,500ft above sea level. I know that some fish have to have their swim bladders punctured with a hypodermic needle in order to avoid having them pop like a balloon. Does anyone know if this is the case for an octopus? I only ask because I just read the article on ceph's hearing ability being associated with a fluid filled sack and am worried that this sack may rupture if subjected to lower pressure.

    I'll list my supplies and initial plan for everybody to look over, constructive criticism is greatly appreciated!

    tank: 50gal glass 48Lx23Hx13W
    cover: plexiglas drilled with 1/32" holes all over the place, strip magnets will be running along the outer edge as well as on the top of the tank to keep the cover securly in place (clamps will also be put at 2' intervals on either side too).
    lighting: 2x24W flouros
    filter: ehiem 2213 classic cannister filter w/ bioballs and carbon (do I need to put chemipure in there too? or will the carbon serve as the chemical filter?)
    skimmer: coralife super skimmer 65
    sand: 2x50lbs of homedepot play sand (my reefer father and uncle both told me this would be fine, but they've never kept a ceph. does anybody know if this stuff has any type of heavy metal that I should be worried about?)
    rock: 30-50lbs of live rock from lfs (if I can only afford 30lbs live rock I'll add another 20lbs of dead rock)

    I'm also planning on running some ventilation ducts from my window AC unit to the top of the tank. My hopes for this setup will be to keep the water cool (67-72) as well as oxygenate the water a little bit more. Good idea? Horrible idea? let me know!

    I'm planning on getting a bimaculoides but cant seem to find them anywhere online and my lfs said that them ordering an octo is a crap-shoot, I could get anything...

    Anyways, I've been having a lot of fun reading all the stuff on this site, keep up the good work and give me some tips/hints/criticism!!

    -Hank
     
  2. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    From everything I have read, octos and squid don't have any altitude or pressure issues (and is why some of the squid can swim quickly from great depths). If I remember correctly, the new info on hearing was related to a sac with hairs and explicitly not a bladder type arrangement so I believe you are safe in assuming they can live a mile above the ocean.

    You might want to consider arranging a hinge on you lid either by splitting it in 1/3, 2/3 long ways or hinging the back. You will need to feed daily and having to completely remove the top is a pain. I am not sure how advisable magnets are around salt water unless they are fully sealed in a very good plastic. Saltwater rusts iron very quickly.

    Interesting thought on the AC unit and my only negative thought would be controlling the cooling effect so that it was even across the tank (avoiding cold spots). I used a small water chiller in one of my tanks and the cold spot had a negative impact on the 8 gallon aquarium but only when there was a extreme difference with ambient air. You might have better luck in finding and maintaining a warmer water species (hummelincki, aculeatus, briareus) since the two Pacific cold water (rubens and bimac(s)) species are difficult to find and it is easier to heat a tank than cool one. I don't think the venting will help much with oxygenation. If you can drill your tank (or have it drilled) you might consider a sump and run your vents across the open water area. This would provide cooling without cold spots, additional water volume and an easier to maintain filtration environment. I use carbon (in a mesh bag) placed inside a filter stock for all my octo tanks and no other chemical filtration. The cost of setting up a small sump (if you have room) is roughly equivalent to buying a good cannister (assuming you do not already have the cannister filter) and is much easier to maintain.

    I like the Coralife skimmers above any others I have tried and now have two of them on octo tanks.

    I have never used play sand but there are multiple posts about successfully using it. You might search the journals and tank forums for any precautions but I know Animal_Mother used it for Kalypso's tank. I do remember someone suggesting that some of the newer sand might contain an undesireable ingredient missing in older play sand and a search my bring up that precautionary post.

    Your LFS is being honest about trying to order an octo and you are likely to have slightly better results ordering one on-line. We have a new member (lene_harbot) who is raising bimac young but I do not know if selling them is in the game plan or the timing on your tank (you will need at least 3 months to cycle).

    Hopefully others will chime in.
     
  3. hungryhank

    hungryhank Larval Mass Registered

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    Okay, so I think I'm going to try to get a hummelincki from my lfs. I'm just waiting on a little bit more cash so I can get close to 50lbs of live rock. Once I get the liverock I'll fill my tank and begin the cycling. Do you guys think my cycle time will be shorter with the live rock (purchased from an established tank) than if I used dead rock with a few pounds of live rock to seed?

    In any case I'm going to use the cycle time to secure the top, and maybe get a sump running. I just have a few more questions though; how much flow should I have for a 50gal? also, will a humelincki mess with airstones/heaters/filter intake tubes/etc if they're inside the display?
     
  4. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    IMO, let your tank cycle at least three full months either way you go. Getting LR from an ACTIVE established tank will likely give you a better cycle than half live and half dead (more bacteria throughout) but a lot depends on the LR. If the half LR/half base starts with uncycled LR, it may establish the tank equally or better. A lot depends on the rock when it enters the new tank. In either case, I would suggest using new bottom substrate (I like a thin - 1 to 1.5 inch - layer of argonite sand the best). Using old (from another tank) bottom substrate is more likely to be problematic with your nitrates than any benefit you would gain from the existing bacteria.

    I have only kept my larger octos in a sumped tank (the mercs did not have a sump) so can't promise the hummelincki won't mess with the equipment but they are less likely to do so than a briareus. Do remember that the life span is short and you may want to try different species over time (or may receive something other than what is ordered) so setting up a generic octopus tank is wiser than setting up a tank for a specific species.

    I would avoid a heater in an octo tank altogether if at all possible, usually they are not necessary but if your tank will be located near a window and the winter temperatures in the house fall below 70 for an extended period and you don't use a sump (I have to use a heater on one tank but have a sump and GA winters are not as cold as in CO), be sure you isolate the heater so that the octopus cannot touch it. Jacques Cousteau mentions that the vulgaris would burn themselves on the lights because they had no concept of being burned.

    Air stones should not be a problem, any form of impeller needs sheilding, extending the intake tube with a piece of PVC pipe with small holes drilled around the tubing some distance from the original intake seems to work. For water movement only, the smaller Koralia's have been very successful without additional shielding.
     
  5. Joe-Ceph

    Joe-Ceph Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

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    I think you should assume that any octopus will mess with everything that it can inside its tank, and that it will escape if it can. It would be best to design everything so that it is impossible for the octo to do any damage. A local public aquarium learned this the hardway a few months ago. Story

    I have a bimac that I caught myself, but if I were going to buy an octopus, I'd get a hummelincki because of the added expense and failure risk involved with a chiller.
     
  6. Joe-Ceph

    Joe-Ceph Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

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    Great question about the altitude by the way. It shows that you are really doing your homework and preparing well.
    I know that octopuses are sensitive to the oxygen level in the water, and thinner air in Denver might mean a little less oxygen disolved in the water, so just make sure that you've got some good method of oxygenating the water, like lots of surface agitation and/or a skimmer.

    As for cycling your tank, remember that the size of the bacterial colony in your tank will rise and fall to match the amount of "food" (animal waste) that is regularly present in the tank, so a long cycle time isn't much good unless you are supplying a level of waste that will be close to what your octo will produce. Otherwise, when you put your octo in the tank, and the amount of waste per day goes way up, it will take time (another cycle) for the bacteria colony in your tank to grow enough to be up to the task. Ideally, after the tank finishes its first cycle, start increasing the fish population (slowly) with cheap fish until they collectively produce about as much waste as you think your octopus will produce. Then, once the tank stabilizes, on the day you plan to put your octopus in, take those fish out.
     

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