Octopus Q & A

Discussion in 'Octopus Care' started by Scruffy, Oct 13, 2006.

  1. Scruffy

    Scruffy Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    I've been reserching how to take care of an octopus for a short while now. Probably about 4 to 5 months. This is by far the best site I have come across. The octopus I have in mind, like so many others, is a bimac.

    I've read all of the care articles on this site, and have browsed these forums and have learnt alot, even printed off alot of information which is now stapled together and has it's own folder :smile: hehe.. But I still need help.
    While I've found these articles and forums very helpful, everyone seems to know what everything is, and therefore they don't feel the need to explain what something is. For example, skimmers. As far as I can gather they are a type of filtration system? This is just an example, but it seems the case with alot of the equipment needed.
    In another thread I read that there's no point in having an eqipment checklist and there are so many different kinds of setups. Fair enough.
    But what are the essential things to have? And could I have a short description of what they are and do?

    I also have some other questions, ones that I haven't seen any info on.. they may sound silly and maybe obvious to some experienced people.. but I have never owned any sort of marine animal before.

    So, here goes:

    1. I've read that I should do 10% water changes every week, or 20% water changes fortnightly. How often, if ever, do I need to do a full water change? This also brings me to my next question..

    2. Where do I put the octo while i'm doing a full water change? Should I just fill a container or smaller plastic tank with some water from the octo's tank and just leave it in there untill i'm done?

    3. What should I use to remove the octo from the tank before i'm confident enough to use my hands?

    4. I've read that after 3 months you should feed once a day. Is that one shrimp or crab once a day, or a couple once a day? And how much, and how often do I feed it when it is under 3 months old?

    5. Before I put my hand in the water, should I wash my hands with anything specific or just water?

    6. If I was to get a license to fish for crayfish in canals would that be a suitable food source for the octo? Every so often I will give it treats for a change, what osrt of things would you recommend?

    7. May sounds silly, but can they hear? My boyfriend and I are very into music.. and like it loud. But I wouldn't want it to startle or annoy the octopus.

    8. I've read about using glue on some of the larger rocks so they don't hurt the octopus by falling on them as they move them about, is it best to glue the larger rocks together or to the base of the tank? Obviously I won't glue the smaller rocks as I know they like to play with them and make little caves etc.

    9. I know the minimum for a bimac is about 50 gallons, so i'll aim to get a tank that is 50-60 gallons. Thing is.. I have no idea how big tanks that hold this much water are. So if possible.. anyone with tanks these sizes, could you tell me the measurements in inches so I know how much space it will take up?

    Sorry for all the questions, I just want to be as educated as possible before getting an octo as a pet.

    And ANY other information that anyone thinks might be useful would be excellent! Also.. If anyone who thinks they could help me out would add me to msn that would be great.. I don't want to make threads everytime I have a question. I'm friendly - I promise! My msn address is nihility.illuminati@gmail.com
    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Animal Mother

    Animal Mother Architeuthis Supporter

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    Wow! That's a lot of questions...haha. You're pretty thorough though, that's good.

    I suggest going to a local fish/aquarium store, and check out the equipment. This will give you a good idea what skimmers are and what they are for, and help you visualize how big a 50-60 gallon tank is.
    You might should even Google a few of the things you are asking about.
    Since you haven't maintained a marine tank before, I would suggest not starting with an octopus. I waited 2 years after starting with a 10 gallon, moving to a 30 gallon, and then up to a 75 gallon... which is actually kind of backwards considering the larger the tank, the easier to maintain.

    I wouldn't do a full water change, ever. With the exception of something seriously contaminating the tank, ie. batteries fell in. This being said, you shouldn't have to remove the octopus, ever. If you did however, I would suggest trying to get him into a plastic container of sorts, instead of a net, as I understand their skin is sensitive.
    Hand sanitizer and a quick rinse should do the trick when it comes to washing your hands.
    Crayfish are probably okay. You might not leave their big pinschers intact, or rubber band them. Wouldn't want prey turning predator, though I doubt it would happen. I used to keep snakes and had one killed by a rat... so never doubt the underdog.
    I don't know if they can hear. I imagine they "feel" what they hear instead. Soundwaves. I could be wrong.
    Glue rocks together, not to the tank. You might not like the placement of the decorations, and the tank will last much longer than the octopus.

    Well, I imagine someone else can answer these questions much better for you than I can, as I'm a new owner on my first attempt, but I think those answers are fairly accurate to what you were wanting to know. Honestly I would have just left this thread alone and let someone more knowledgeable than myself answer you, but I'm bored.

    Someone else, please fill her in and don't let me misinform her!
     
  3. monty

    monty Colossal Squid Staff Member Supporter

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    :welcome: to TONMO. I expect you'll get some more great answers to your great questions shortly...
     
  4. Nancy

    Nancy Titanites Staff Member Moderator

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    Hi and welcome to TONMO.com! :welcome:

    It's OK to break up your questions into a number of posts. Put a relevant title (like Protein Skimmers) on the thread, and it will help others when they search.

    I'm taking a last peak at posts before turning in and don't have time to answer much until tomorrow evening - but here's a quicky.

    Animal Mother has already answered this - you don't have to remove your octopus during a water change. In fact, he'll enjoy it!

    And take his advice about visiting an aquarium store. You need to have a look at the products and think about them.

    The advice to start with a smaller, non-octopus aquarium is good. At least take a long time to set up and cycle your tank, learning all the while.

    Feed your octo several times a day until it's three months. When you feed it once a day, you'll know how much because your octo won't overeat.

    Make your your hands are clean when you put them into the water and you have no cuts on your hands. Make very sure that all soap residue is rinsed off.

    OK, that's all I have time for tonight....if you don't get more good answers by tomorrow night, I'll chime in again (I'm in a conference all day tomorrow).

    Nancy
     
  5. shipposhack

    shipposhack Haliphron Atlanticus Registered

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    How do you execute the water changes? What kind of equipment do you need, and do you just put in more RO water for the amount you took out? Also, I plan to buy my water from my LFS and if it already comes with salt in it do I need to do anything to get it out before adding it?

    Sorry for more questions when the first ones haven't been fully answered :silenced:
     
  6. Scruffy

    Scruffy Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Carry on man ^^^ the more info the better:)

    I understand what you mean about not getting an octopus as my first marine pet.. but there isn't really anything else i'm interested in keeping at the moment, and I don't want to use money on something i'm not particularly interested in at this time.
    If I don't feel confident enough to keep an octopus after cycling the tank for 3 months, i'll wait longer untill I fully understand how to maintain and take care of it properly.

    I'd love to go to a LFS but unfortunatly there isn't any local to me :(
    But i'm moving soon and I have the number of a store, so i'll give them a call sometime soon and ask about equipment and if they ever stock octos.
     
  7. corw314

    corw314 Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    :welcome: Not sure that I did! :smile:

    I must commend you on your questions. I can see you have been very thorough in your research on this site!

    Protein skimmers are used to remove not only the extra waste octopuses produce, but if you have an inking episode it removes the ink very quickly. You would be amazed at the amount of "gunk" that it pulls from a seemingly sparkling tank.

    Water changes, I have a python I hook up to my kitchen sink to remove the old water. If you mix your own, I have several garbage cans I use just for mixing water. My octopuses in the past have used this time to harrass me and the equipment I use. They consider any activitiy in their tank as a prime opportunity to disrupt our schedule by stalking the utensils, grabbing and playing with them, and most times you have to wait till they are tired of whatever they have their grips on to continue.

    That's my 2 cents...I am sure more will chime in!

    Carol
     
  8. Animal Mother

    Animal Mother Architeuthis Supporter

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    I don't think a person can truly understand how to maintain and take care of a marine tank without some hands on experience. Sure, if you read it and put it together it sounds good in theory. But really, there is no substitute for the actual process of it all. Just get a couple of Chromis or Damsels, they are usually around $5 apiece, and that's not much to spend on something just to make sure the tank is habitable and they will help get your biological filtration going. After feeding them you'll see how the whole process works and it will help you prepare for working with an Octopus.

    By the way Nancy, I'm a He, not a Her...hahaha :lol: I get that a lot though so no offense taken. Animal Mother is a nickname of a character in a movie, Full Metal Jacket. My roommates gave it to me after I started bringing orphaned and injured wildlife home from my work until I could get them to rehabilition.
     
  9. Jean

    Jean Colossal Squid Supporter

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    Hi Scruffy and :welcome:

    Use a soft net to remove the octi, although unless you have something catastrophic happen, you shouldn't need to for 10 or 20% changes. Hands are not really a good way to shift an octi....ever! While the octis can become very interactive and apear to enjoy touching us (wet hands always!) their skin is very delicate and easily damaged, our hands are rather hot and abrasive to them.

    Prior to 3 months have food always available in the tank, mysids or similar. One or two crabs a day after that should suffice! I work in a public aquarium and we tend to have live food available in the octopus tanks at all times (just so you're aware that my take on octopus care is a little different to others on this forum!!! :grin: )

    Hand wash in just water, this should hold for ALL tanks soaps, detergents etc are bad for our stock and also for the necessary bacteria in your filters.

    Is the canal freshwater? If so then your crayfish are no good as a staple diet, they'll be low in protein and high in fat compared to marine ones (good as treats tho!). If marine then they should be great! (as an aside in NZ typically the crayfish we talk about are marine- AKA rock lobster, and the lobsters are fresh water!)

    There is quite a bit of dipsute about whether or not octis can hear, BUT they certainly feel vibration, so I'd keep the music down until your new buddy gets used to his/her new home!!

    Check with Nancy or Colin about what sort of glue to use......some would be very toxic (avaoid anything with copper in it for example!) alternatively aquarium silicon will glue rocks together!

    Cheers

    Jean
     
  10. Nancy

    Nancy Titanites Staff Member Moderator

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    Lots of good information in these answers!

    My apologies, Animal Mother for assuming you to be a "she" - have corrected my post.

    It is possible to go directly to keeping your first octopus, but it's not easy and it helps to have someone around to advise and assist (like someone who's keeping saltwater tanks).

    Another thing I might mentiion - use the salt water for water changes, but when it comes to topping off (replacing water that's evaporated), you need to use RO/DI water (with a small amount of buffer added to bring the pH up to the same level as your tank).

    Nancy
     
  11. Illithid

    Illithid Vampyroteuthis Supporter

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    My 2 cents... These may be obvious, please don't take offense.

    Your filtration system and the amount that it overfilters will determine that amount and frequency of water changes. Get a good test kit and learn how to use it.

    DO get Chromis and Damsels to cycle the tank for at least 3 months. You can get used to them and what they need, just remember a Octo will be much more demanding in terms of how quickly the water fouls, stability, etc. Damsels are to Octos as cappuccino is to espresso.

    I have been doing salt for many years and just lost a Octo this last weekend (Oct. 7th) because of water quality issues. It is not a science, it's an art. You don't just say "okay do this -x times a day, and this x times a week" like most books say - thats okay with freshwater. Getting the whole picture together and flowing to sustain itself is the goal. I am going to a large eel in the big tank because I am so frustrated. Save yourself some time and money by getting the tank smoothly running for months before getting a octo. I had mine for 9 months cycling-but it wasn't a smooth bioload. When a large blue crab died behind a rock, the tank crashed. The huge volume of bioballs held the ammonia, but the Nitrite spiked and I lost the octo after 1 1/2 days. The time period shows it wasn't a acclimation issue or wild capture problem. The tank is pristine 1 day later (with higher nitrate), but I lost him.

    Hint-you can't mix saltwater in the tank with the animals. You mix it in a seperate tub, let it mature for up to a day (get fully mixed, temp and ph stabilized), and drain off 10-20% of the water in the main tank. Always unplug the heater or it will explode in the tank(everyone here has probably done that once in thier lives.) Salinity has to be the same in the old and new water -so check both first. As the water evaporates you replace it with freshwater becasue the salt doesn't evaporate.

    Get a good starter marine aquarium book. I like most of the "For Dummies" books, but you are no dummy. Dummies are the ones who buy a ceph and a tank - fill it with water and then look up this site for instruction.

    When you have a tank running well with fish for 3 months, perfect water conditions, and you can look at these threads and others (reefcentral, wetwebmedia, etc.) and know what they are talking about in the answers (you don't have to know all the correct answers, just how to implement them) - then you will be ready to take the pebble from my hand. :wink:

    Ceph keeping can be the most rewarding, fulfilling experience interacting with an intelligent, problem-solving pet. Or a downward cyclonic spiral of frustration as you kill off intelligent animals that are depending on you for survival that would otherwise be do fine in the wild. As you can tell there is never any emotion involved, (notice how everyone says "I'm sorry" threads for loss of a animal - they all know what's involved.)
     
  12. monty

    monty Colossal Squid Staff Member Supporter

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    :notworth: That is the the best post I've ever seen on this issue, to the point where I'd like to see it either written up as an article, or incorporated into one of the existing ones. Bravo.

    :cry: :angelpus: and thanks for taking the moment to write up the details so that others may benefit from this costly wisdom and knowledge.
     
  13. sorseress

    sorseress Colossal Squid Supporter

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    Monty said it, and I concur. Bravo! :notworth:
     
  14. Nancy

    Nancy Titanites Staff Member Moderator

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    Yes, Illithid wrote this up very well. I don't know how many times we've gone over this information, but it can't be expressed enough.

    The main point that's hard for new people to grasp is this: there is no definitive list you can follow that guarantees things will turn out OK. You have learn as you go and keep learning as long as you're keeping cephs - or saltwater tanks. You have two things to learn about: how to set up and maintain a salt water aquarium, and how to keep a ceph. To do this, you'll need to read a lot and ask questions as you go along, and we expect that.

    Monty made a good point about being able to make sense of the threads on reefkeeping websites. Read, visit LFSs, keep working at keeping your tank better. Read about live rock, about calibration of measuring tools, about anything that will help you be a better ceph keeper - keep doing this every week.

    Not a bad idea to buy the Saltwater Aquariums for Dummies book to start with- you'll outgrow it eventually, but it presents information in a simple, clear way and has a good index.

    Illithid, I especially like your last paragraph -elegantly put.

    Nancy
     
  15. cuttlegirl

    cuttlegirl Colossal Squid Supporter Registered

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    :welcome: Many people have already given some excellent advice but at least I can answer one of your questions!

    I have a 55 gallon tank. It is 12 inches deep, 21 inches high and 48 inches long. With the tank stand, it is 54 inches tall.

    Good luck, find a LFS and start asking some of these questions, sometimes it is easier to see the equipment and set ups, rather than read about them! Time to take a field trip!
     
  16. Scruffy

    Scruffy Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Thanks so much for all your great answers. I will get a Damsel or something similar to cycle my tank with, my only concern is i'll have no where to put it once I get an octo! I won't be hasty and get an octopus as soon as the tank is cycled, I will wait untill I fully understand everything involved.
    Thanks again, I really appreciate it!
     
  17. shipposhack

    shipposhack Haliphron Atlanticus Registered

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    Is it true that you can keep starfish and sea cucumbers with your octo and they will be fine? If you can would you be able to just buy a couple of those and let it cycle with them, or do you need fish? Would the cucumbers crush up the sand into a finer grade that would be better for the octo?
     
  18. Animal Mother

    Animal Mother Architeuthis Supporter

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    I wouldn't add any living creatures until the ammonia levels are at 0. I'd wait about 6 weeks after initial setup, then add something to jump start the biological filtration.
     
  19. Jean

    Jean Colossal Squid Supporter

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    We keep stars but not cucumbers with ours. The cucumbers have a distressing tendency to toss out their alimentary tract if harassed............very hard on your filters!

    I don't think stars or cucs will be enough to cycle your tank. As for what to do with a fish once your tank has cycled? Check with your LFS often they'll take them back........or perhaps you have a friend with a tank who would appreciate a donation?

    Cheers

    J
     
  20. seamonkey

    seamonkey Larval Mass Registered

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    Octopodes can only sense very low frequencies-- below about 20Hz.
    Just don't put a subwoofer underneath the tank, and you shouldn't have any problems.

    Elron
     

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