Octopuses, Parrots, Cycling, Stress and Glue

Discussion in 'Octopus Care' started by Fabuoctolous, Oct 18, 2005.

  1. Fabuoctolous

    Fabuoctolous Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Hey to all!

    You've got a complete newbie here, but one who will do months and months of research before providing a home for an octopus...so I'll probably have some really inane questions at first...and this may be the first in the Inanity Series!

    Here's the scoop: In reading many posts about cycling a tank (thank you, Dan, for pointing the way to that wonderful post on Reef Central about maturing a tank!), I understand that the tank can become malodorous...and a stink in any animal environment usually means bacteria.

    I live in a small apartment, and I have two African Grey parrots. And those parrots, who I love as much as I will love the octopus when it finally comes home, are susceptible to bacteria. My question is this: Can I leave the tank completely enclosed as it cycles (with the exception of pulling samples for testing) and is the smell pervasive enough to indicate an extreme concentration of bacteria?

    I already have a 30 gallon tank (freshwater) with three Black Moors, and a five gallon with one betta, and the birds LOVE the fish. One of the parrots, Jimmy, seems to think the betta is his. He HAS to help feed King Louie the Fishteenth every day, and says, "food, Louie, FOOD!" when he "helps" feed him. He also flies frequently to the back of the couch, and watches the Black Moors in their tank. When I change the water, he says, "shower, shower, fish...get clean!"

    I can't wait to see what he thinks of an octopus! But I am concerned about the airborne smell of a tank as it is cycling...has anyone else here ever dealt with this problem with parrots and cycling a tank?

    Also, I'm wondering about the placement of the tank. If it matters, I plan to adopt a bimac, because I am such a newbie. I don't want to cause stress to the octopus, but I'd like to have the tank, against a wall, in my tiny living room along with the birds. Does a lot of movement beyond the world of their aquarium bother the octopus?

    Also, does the octopus prefer a darker background in the back of the tank as opposed to clear? And does anyone know if they prefer the much darker black to the brighter blue? With any animal, I think it's important to reproduce their natural world as much as possible, so I am thinking they might like the black better. I want the little creature to be happy, so any advice you could give on this would be welcome.

    Lastly, I've read on several posts that some people keep "critter cages" to house living food in the main aquarium. Could this possibly cause stress to the octopus?

    The reason I'm asking is this. I used to keep Old World chameleons--animals which also hunt by sight. Keeping their food in a clear container within their living space would have stressed those green, scaly, wily gypies immensely...they have no concept of glass or clear plastic and being unable to get to food they could obviously see would not have been a good thing for them...stress can kill those shy creatures.

    Do you think this same type of set up could cause stress to an octopus? If so, is it a good idea set up a separate "food" tank prior to setting up the tank for the octopus? How large should I go on the food tank? With the chameleons, I used to feed their crickets really good food, so they'd be "charged up" with nutrients--and I'd like to do the same for the octopus. I live in Seattle, so there are LFS here, but I'd prefer to feed the octopus's food myself to ensure good nutrition.

    Another recommendation mentioned gluing the live rock in the aquarium so the octopus doesn't cause an avalanche if he or she wishes to rearrange the tank. Is there a certain type of glue that should be use? I know some glues contain zinc (bad for birds!) and that makes me worriy about any copper elements that may be used in glues, but of which I would be unaware...any recommendations would be much appreciated.

    Thats about it for now...the ending of the first query in the Inanity Series. I hope you've been able to stay awake through it! I so want to do what's "right," so any advice from your years of experience is very, very welcome!

    Thanks in advance,
    Miss Scribbles
     
  2. Brock Fluharty

    Brock Fluharty Haliphron Atlanticus Registered

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    I would think, that if the parrots were to fly over to the tank, or even jump in front of it, it would stress the octopus out very much. he would probably ink, which could cause water quality problems if you do not have an efficient skimmer. You can net out most of the ink, if you get to it in time. Even if you egt the ink out, that would be the least of my worries. My worries would be the stress upon the octopus. It can take several months for an octopus to get used to a human, much less a parrot, that flies around the room, jumps around, etc. Hope this helps.


    Brock
     
  3. monty

    monty Colossal Squid Staff Member Supporter

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    I wonder if bimacs have to worry about avoiding seabird predators much in their normal habitat... that might be a factor in how they react to parrots...
     
  4. Fabuoctolous

    Fabuoctolous Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    my thanks

    Thank you both!

    This is exactly the type of feedback I need, in trying to mesh a new animal into the household, or even if it's appropriate to bring an octopus into a room with parrots.

    That being said, the birds are not out of their cages all the time, even though I work out of my home. (They try to help me "write" at the computer, which doesn't "help" much!)

    And even when they watch the fish, they simply watch them. The parrots are preyed upon in the wild, and are not predator themselves, so they retain the wild characteristic of watching their own back, instead of watching the back of a smaller animal.

    On the other hand, your comments about the stress on the octopus are telling. The parrots are extremely interested in other animals in my home, and would to peer into the tank.

    Perhaps off the kitchen is the best place...again, it is a small apartment, so I am limited...the octo could see the birds from a distance, but I don't let them fly into the kitchen--too dangerous. Would a bedroom that is closed-off to the general animal population be better? Do you guys have your tanks in an out of the way place like that?

    There are couple of caged crippled canaries in the bedroom (my animals are adopted rescue animals, most of which have been abused--didn't want you to think I crippled them!) so the canaries don't hop around much. Perhaps this is the best location...Once the octopus gets bigger, he or she might view the canaries as prey!

    Thanks again for your observations--it's stuff I need to know!
    Miss Scribbles
     
  5. Feelers

    Feelers Vampyroteuthis Registered

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    Just a suggestion seeing as you live in Seattle, you should go check out the giant octos at the aquarium, or better still go diving and see them in the wild. I would love to do that, sorry a bit off topic.

    With the food in critter cages, I would imagine that it might be a chance to enrich the octo's environment. Perhaps when you feed it just unlock the lid, let the octo do the rest.? Dhyslop is right about about why lots of people keep them outa the system, they tend to die alot and will pollute the water. However I intend to do this, just personal preferance, and the only option available to me.
     
  6. DHyslop

    DHyslop Architeuthis Supporter

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    I, too, would worry about the octopus inking in response to the parrots flying over to the tank unexpectedly. Can the birds be trained or encouraged to stay a distance from the tank, or at least to approach slowly?

    I wouldn't be worried too much about the bacteria or the smell. The only thing I've ever really been able to smell is uncured live rock.

    I recommend a black background. I think it looks really nice. I've never tried a blue or other color background, but I tell you having the back opaque really makes the tank seem nicer. If you have a glass aquarium you can go ahead and mask off the trim and the other sides with newspaper and masking tape then spray paint the back flat black. As always, use many light coats! If you ever change your mind, it comes right off with a razor blade.

    You should be able to find reef-safe epoxies in a decent fish shop. These can usually be put in place and will cure underwater--will the wonders ever cease?

    As for keeping your feeders, I think you're right the main tank wouldn't be the best place for them. Some people keep them in an unfiltered habitat with regular water changes. I intend to keep them in my new-and-improved refugium.

    You'll have to forgive me for this aside: My fiancee and I went to our new favorite fish shop this weekend and scored some good stuff. One of their used 30 gallon display tanks for $10 with a no-copper-guarantee (I'm still going to test it, but its the sump/'fuge I've always wanted!), a 36" power compact housing and bulb for my 30 gallon clownfish tank, $25 (bubble-tips ahoy!); and a slightly used Aqua-medic TF1000 skimmer (sans powerhead~$35) for $5. Oh, and did I mention half off on buckets of Oceanic salt? 200 gallons worth for $29.99. :grin:

    Dan
     
  7. Feelers

    Feelers Vampyroteuthis Registered

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    Wow dan thats a fantastic deal!!!!
     
  8. Fabuoctolous

    Fabuoctolous Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Feelers, Dan and all others:

    Merci encore for all the feedback...really mean that...it is invaluable.

    Because of it, have finalized two locations--the rather isolated bedroom, and a little alcove just off the kitchen. Am dithering on both. The bedroom might be best for the octopus comfort level, but I wouldn't be able to readily notice any changes of behavior that might indicate problems. The alcove gets more human traffic passing by it, but it is within line of sight of my working area, and the parrots don't do fly-bys...so perhaps that is best for all-around considerations.

    Is a five gallon hexagonal acrylic Eclipse (biowheel, filter--with an added heater) okay for the food tank? As long as I do suction cleaning on the substrate once a week?

    And Dan, that does sound like quite a deal. I can only keep my fingers crossed for coming into such a deal when I get ready to set up my tanks!

    One other question...I know a 50 gallon is a minimum for keeping a bimac...will he or she be "happier" in a larger set-up? If so, what size would you recommend? If a 50 gallon tank is minimal, does a larger size than 50 gallon automatically provide less stress for the octo?

    Miss Scribbles, aka Elaine
     
  9. Fabuoctolous

    Fabuoctolous Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Feelers,

    Thanks for the direct to the Aquarium, but I am already all over it like a bad rash!

    I live within six blocks of the aquarium and have been many times to visit that marvelous octopus...have beaten a path between the octopus and the leafy sea dragon and sea horse exhibit...Just can't get enough!

    Would love to do the diving, but regrettably I don't. I am a bit (well, more than a bit) claustrophobic and diving friends have always told me that fear doesn't mesh well with diving...so I am confined to watching captive species...sigh...

    Next time I visit that cephalopod red wonder at the Aquarium, I'll say hello for you!

    Elaine
     
  10. DHyslop

    DHyslop Architeuthis Supporter

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    To be honest, I think this is a real slippery slope. Just about everyone on TONMO is in agreement that, say 30 gallons for example, is a cruelly small place to put a bimac. However, given the maximum size one of these critters can grow to and how much they like to look around, I wonder if even the 75 gallon I'm setting up is too small to truly keep one content. If you had a 150 gallon would it really be happy? If you had a square tank that was five or six feet on a side would it really be enough? I would like to hear opinions about this from others. If someone were to tell me it was cruel for me to keep the animal in a 75 gallon tank, I don't know what I'd argue.

    Experience by TONMO members is that you can keep the creatures consistently and succesfully in a 55-75 gallon tank. But I think everyone would agree to go as big as you can afford. Given that, remember the tank is the least expensive part of the setup--so don't blow all your money there!

    Dan

    (edit - 300th post!)
     
  11. Feelers

    Feelers Vampyroteuthis Registered

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    Oh, I havent ever been to Seattle(im in NZ), just heard heaps about it, you're in the enviable position to be able go there and see the GPO's.

    You can still say hi tho, they might just give funny looks. :)
     

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