Perplexing octopus behavious - help needed!

Discussion in 'Octopus Care' started by Johan L, Jan 5, 2016.

  1. Johan L

    Johan L Larval Mass Registered

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    Hi,


    Although I have had fish tanks since I was a child, I am quite new to the business of octopus care. I live in Sweden and over here it is exceedingly difficult to get your hands on any specimen (or live food for that matter). So far, I have had two specimens (unknown species). The first one was almost dead when I got it from the Philippines, and I never got it to eat and consequently it died within a month or so.


    Now, I have a new one. Again, the species is unknown, but I got it as a ‘reef Octopus’ (whatever that means) from a local pet shop (the first one they ever imported); in turn, they got it from Dejong Marine Life. Anyway, the specimen has a diameter of roughly 20 cm and its mantle is unusually long and slender (I have not seen anything quite like it while browsing around the Tonmo homepage). I have only seen it in daylight once, and that was when it entered the tank. Even since, it has dug itself into the bottom sediments and currently lives somewhere under the sand (there are numerous places to hide also in the tank but it seems to live under the sand)… It comes (or came rather) out at night though and I fed it live ‘red-clawed crabs’ (Perisesarma bidens) – the only live food that I could get my hands on. Everything was going well for the first few weeks; it ate every night or every second night. Then, from New Year’s Eve, it is nowhere to be seen anymore. It does not come out and it does not feed… I assume that the hope is lost for this individual, but I am perplexed by the sudden and unexpected events for the worse… What happened?


    I was really keen on keeping the tank clean, and picked up the remains of the crabs every day. I also made water changes twice a week (amounting to totally 20 % of the water volume), and the water quality seemed (and seems) fine (no high nitrates, ammonium or cupper levels).


    Is there any way to get it going again (assuming that it is not already dead)? It is exceedingly hard to get any octopuses in Sweden and even harder to get your hands on high quality food… Octopuses have always been my favorite animals, and there is really no one to talk to about this matter in Sweden… Can anybody help me please!


    Many thanks in advance!


    Cheers, Johan
     
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  2. tonmo

    tonmo Titanites Staff Member Webmaster Moderator

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    Hi Johan - thanks for sharing - you've come to the right place!

    I'm no expert but I know a pic would help. Did you happen to snap one?

    Usually long spindly arms indicate a species that is not best suited for a tank (this is my own humble observation), but hard to know what we are dealing with without a pic. Burying itself is curious as well; perhaps it was exotic (eg wunderpus).
     
  3. Johan L

    Johan L Larval Mass Registered

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    Hi,


    Thanks for replying! Yes, it does have spindly arms but I do not think that it is a wunderpus (e.g., the mantle is too large in relation to the length of the arms). Sadly, it 'introduced' itself to the tank before I had any chance to take a picture of it (it literally ran into the tank as soon as I opened the transportation bag and then immediately dug itself into the bottom), and since then I have only seen it when it is pitch dark (and not at all since New Year's Eve)… In addition to my concern that it is not well (for whatever reason), I also worry about the corpse eventually degrading under the sand which means that I will have to dig it out and start all over again… Perhaps that goes with the territory…


    Cheers, Johan
     
  4. Nancy

    Nancy Titanites Staff Member Moderator

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    Hi Johan,

    Congratulations on finding an octopus! It does seem like you have a nocturnal species, so that's why you never see it in the daytime. Since you probably aren't there to observe the whole night, you can't be sure your octopus isn't coming out. You could try leaving a small piece of shrimp and remove it the next morning, if it isn't eaten.

    I don't know that all hope is lost. Octopuses tend to come out of their dens when they're dying.

    What do you mean by a "diameter of 20 cm"? It seems too big to be the mantle.

    And what about the tank temperature, pH and salinity? All OK, I hope.

    And when you bought the octopus and were acclimating it, what color was it? Did it have any stripes or patterns? I know they can change a lot, but we have to start somewhere.

    Good luck and I hope you see your octopus again.

    Nancy



    When you say
     
  5. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Have you noticed any objects being moved around the tank? The scenario is typical of brooding but am not sure where or how the animals that make sand dens brood since we don't seem many in captivity. However, there are many species that do this. Here is a description with photos of one I arbitrarily found Googling,"sand octopus".

    For nocturnal viewing, any red light you can find will be helpful. It gives poor photography but does allow you to view the animal without disturbing it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2016
  6. Johan L

    Johan L Larval Mass Registered

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    Hi,

    Thank you very much for your comments and suggestions! The water seems ok and the temperature is about 24 degrees Celcius. The octopus did not have any stripes or patterns of any kind; instead its skin was smooth and had a brownish tone to it.

    What I meant with 20 cm in diameter is the entire animal (sorry for being unclear); i.e., between the tip of the arms (I guess that the diameter is closer to 30 cm than 20... and that the mantle is about 7-8 cm long). I have not seen any signs of activity for almost a week. Before that it was pretty obvious every morning that it had been digging around in the bottom sediments. Anyway, this morning I finally saw it again! And it has been digging heavily during the night! So, I will definitely try with a piece of shrimp this evening (it must be a nochturnal species whatever it is).

    Also, I will definitely try to get my hands on a red light (BTW, thanks for the photos).

    Cheers, Johan
     
  7. Johan L

    Johan L Larval Mass Registered

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    ...and another thing: it looks exactly like the animal in the photos! :smile2: So, I guess that it is an Octopus kaurna!
     
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  8. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    or one closely related. :wink:
     
  9. Johan L

    Johan L Larval Mass Registered

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    For sure! :smile2: It had actually eaten again last night so it will be interesting to see what happens tonight...
     
  10. Jean

    Jean Colossal Squid Supporter

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    I wonder if it's a female? Denning maybe? But eating is a good sign, I think it can take them a while to get confident in a new tank, the red light should help. Best wishes!
     
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  11. Johan L

    Johan L Larval Mass Registered

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    Thanks! Now when I (kind of) know that species it is (or species group, at least) I realize that there are definitely room for improvements in my tank (for instance, the sand is too coarse and I also have more of a reef environment than the sandy bottoms preferred by sand octopuses - after all, I bought it as a 'reef octopus')... Anyway, it has eaten again tonight (another crab), so hopefully it will get adjusted eventually. Still strange though why there was no sign of he/she/it for almost a week (in any event, I am pleased to see that it, for now at least, seem to be back in business :smile2: )
     
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  12. Octavarium

    Octavarium Wonderpus Registered

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    Really glad it ate again Johan! Nocturnal species can be very tough, makes owners question if theres any life in there tank after a while lol! From Sweden...any chance your an Opeth fan :-D I've seen Mikael live many times, very, very good
     

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