Octopus Hitchhiker in a Newbie Tank

Discussion in 'Octopus Care' started by terebear, Jan 21, 2010.

  1. terebear

    terebear Larval Mass Registered

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    I am setting up my first saltwater tank and ordered live rock and sand from Tampa Bay Saltwater. Other than the assorted tiny crabs I didn't think I got any hitchhikers until we noticed a gorilla crab, while we were getting him out of the tank we found we had other stow away that we didn't know about. I found a tiny little octopus who had wedged himself back into a little cave in one of my pieces of live rock. I haven't been able to see him out and he's really trying to hide. From the one time he moved a little to grab a piece of shell to hide himself with I think his tentacles are about an inch long and he is a reddish brown color. Every thing I have been reading and all the advice I've been getting is to get him out because he will eat my clean up crew and anything else I eventually put in my tank. Right now all that is in my tank is a serpent star, cucumber, peppermint shrimp, turbo snails and blue legged hermit crabs. I would like to eventually have two clowns and a goby. I think the octopus is really neat but it wasn't my intention to create an octopus tank. Any advice on if I can keep him and still have the reef tank I wanted or if not how to get him out nicely so I can take him to my LFS so he can hopefully find a nice home. I think he's been in my tank for about two weeks now since I think he came in my second shipment of rock. BTW my tank is a 14 gallon Biocube. Any advice would be great!
     
  2. OB

    OB Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    First of all, a hearty :welcome: to you! Second; you, through checking out the "octopus care" threads and such, by now will have gathered that the minimum size for an octopus tank is 50 gallons or over, even dwarf species need space to roam. Third, as you've just added the live rock to start cycling your tank, chances are you'll be in a real jam keeping water parameters at agreeable levels. In all, however great your luck is in receiving an octopus friend, the best thing on paper appears transfer to a cycled tank of adequate proportions. The good thing is he/she's so small, that the bioload will be reasonable, provided the hermits and such aren't beyond his grasp as yet. If so, he/she'll simply starve. So, choose wisely, the best solution might actually be finding someone close by with a desire for octo and a tank to match?
     
  3. terebear

    terebear Larval Mass Registered

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    Any recommendations as to how to get him out?
     
  4. OB

    OB Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    Lure him/her with a small shrimp near his/her den and capture with small net? Have you located a den at all? I am quite sure the experienced keepers will start chiming in, any moment..... now...
     
  5. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    For what it's worth, here are my thoughts and suggestions.

    I would almost guarantee you have a mercatoris (from your color, size and behavior observations as well as the rock vendor). Mercs only live 8 - 13 months so I would suggest that you entertain keeping it while your reef is maturing if you think you can keep the water quality up. Its fate if you take it to a pet store is not likely to be any better. A 14 gallon is small for water quality for a new tank but a single merc can live in it if you can keep the ammonia and nitrates to 0. Since it is a new tank, this means heavy and frequent water changes (I change 5 gallons weekly in my 15 gallon merc tank that is well cycled).

    If you want to attempt removal (or not), my recommendation is to find a small cluster of giant barnacle shells and leave a few 1-1.5 inch empty snail shells near by. My mercs have all chozen to den in them when available (it might take a week or more though). Once the merc takes residence (you will likely see the empty snail shell inside the barnacle, even if you don't see the octopus ), removal is simple. If you choose to try to raise it, the barnacle den can be place where you can view it as long as there is only indirect light during the day (I leave my red lights on 24/7 and only have ambient light on the tank during the day.

    Offering it very small pieces of thawed shrimp (like you get from a grocery store fish counter) on a bamboo skewer will will save your clean-up crew if you can get it to accept your offering. Otherwise the hermits and possibly the snails may become super. The serpent and cuc are not a concern.
     
  6. terebear

    terebear Larval Mass Registered

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    Ok so I caught him when he wasn't all barricaded in his hiding hole with a layer of shells and tried to feed him a piece of shrimp. All he did was blow jets of water at the shrimp...is this octopus for get that thing away from me? I haven't noticed any missing snails or hermit crabs so I don't think he's eating them. What should I do next?
     
  7. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Good diagnosis on the siphon exhibit but that does not necessarily mean he/she is blowing off the food, just the way it is offered (but they will reject food that way when not hungry too).

    If you have access to a fiddler or two (mithrax work too but are expensive food). Putting a live one in the new container should guarantee consumption within 2 days unless she was brooding and has eggs somewhere in your system. Since it left the den on its own, I am thinking this is not the case.

    Mercs are particularly shy and until this one I have said that they won't take thawed shrimp but Sleazy is taking a small piece every other night or so. I think they have to be hungry AND you have to keep approaching (use a VERY small piece - pea sized - at first). The most important part of getting them to try foreign foods is getting them to taste it. This involves contact with the suckers, the closer to the mouth the better as those seem more sensative. If you can find a small stick or pipette that the octo may latch onto with its arms, attach the shrimp to that. Fingers are too big and I think the size of the food is important initially.
     
  8. Nancy

    Nancy Titanites Staff Member Moderator

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    I agree with D that this must be O. mercatoris. Tampa Bay Saltwater does have mercatoris hitchhikers from time to time. This little octopus may be finding live food (inclluding small creatures like amphipods) in your tank. It's probably afraid of you and the stick - takes a little time to get used to you.

    Nancy
     
  9. terebear

    terebear Larval Mass Registered

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    [​IMG]

    Ok so here is a picture of the octopus, he finally came all the way out of his den! I think I caught him off guard when I turned the light on in the tank. I attempted to feed him again yesterday since he was looking a bit more active and this time my serpent star and peppermint shimp came over and atttacked the bit of shrimp I was offering him. The star ended up pulling the shrimp off the skewer and absconding with it! I haven't tried to get any fiddler crabs to put in the tank yet, if I do get them for him how small should they be?
     
  10. terebear

    terebear Larval Mass Registered

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    Sorry it looks like the picture didn't attach the first time let me try it again.
     

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  11. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Mantle size or smaller on any crabs. I usually clip off (with my finger) the top point on the male fiddlers. If it does not drop the claw, it give them additional food. I am afraid you will have to do better on the next photo for more ID suggestions though :wink:
     

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