Preparing For a Fleshy Minion *cue mad scientist laugh*

Discussion in 'Tank Talk' started by cuttley, Jun 24, 2011.

  1. cuttley

    cuttley Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Hello all, I have been a lurker up to this point, but I've been given the go-ahead to get an octopus, so I'm going to make the process as cheap (and beneficial) as possible for my new fleshy friend.
    Info: I love cuttlefish, but I'm starting with an Bimac Octopus. I live in Northern Oregon, so it shouldn't be too difficult to at least get my hands on one.
    Question: To be as financially conscientious (cheap, ha!) as possible, I found a 50 gal. tank on Craigslist w/out lid for 40. It housed a Iguana (never other fish), but it passed a leak test. I am surprisingly handy for a female, and I have a fellow when my efforts are nigh, so I think it wouldn't be a huge problem to make a lid with a light fixture and then use a Sump to house all that lovely equipment.
    My animalia experience is a bit slim, mostly canines and parrots, with a rather recent brackish aquarium (my dear puffer) and maintenance of an O. Vulgaris aquarium in school. So, I will welcome all the advice I can get. I hope this is also a nice support group as I watch all my meager funds disappear before I can even greet my accomplice--errr, pet. :)
    So! Should I go with the 50 gal? it comes with a 25 and I thought I could convert it to a sump or use it to store live food, do you think the reptile compromised the tank at all? Any/all advice/comments/ramblings appreciated. :D
     
  2. tonmo

    tonmo Titanites Staff Member Webmaster Moderator

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    Welcome cuttley! I definitely encourage you (and anyone thinking about becoming a ceph keeper) to deeply consider your finances before committing to ceph-keeping. You would absolutely not want to be in a situation where you need to compromise the basic well-being of your ceph due to financial limitations.

    It's a tough call for many -- and definitely worthy of an explicit pause before you take any next steps. If you are sure you have it covered (with overhead for any emergency), then move ahead! You've come to the right place - I'm sure our resident experts will offer some guidance soon.
     
  3. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Hopefully, Joe-Ceph will see your post soon (if not, you can PM him . He is more or less in your southern back yard and has caught several of his own animals as well as my Diego. The 50 is a bit of a concern but Joe-Ceph can better answer the sizing concerns (are you sure it is a 50 and not a 55, 50 is an odd size check the dimentions). Diego is in a 45 hex and will need to be transferred to a larger environment in about a month. In GA I have to use a chiller, in Oregon, you might be able to cool it without one. Joe-Ceph also calls himself "cheap" when it comes to figuring out how to efficiently keep a tank so he has several suggestions on economically insulating a bimac tank.
     
  4. OB

    OB Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    :welcome: Cutley! What a splendidly articulated entry into our fray. I hope and expect we'll be able to support your endeavours to the fullest. As I do not keep any cephalopods myself, it will as always be fascinating to follow your experiences vicariously.
     
  5. Joe-Ceph

    Joe-Ceph Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

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    Be very careful about using a reptile tank. While glass cages made for reptiles look like aquariums, and might pass a water test, they are made of thinner glass, and are much more likely to break. They aren't designed to handle the weight of the water. If it's an actual aquarium that is being used for a reptile, then no problem, but if it's a reptile cage, don't try to use it as an aquarium. If the top rim is designed to accept a sliding screen top, then it is definitely not an aquarium. Try to measure the glass thickness, and compare it to real aquariums of equal depth.

    I don't think bimacs occur north of Pt. Conception (Santa Barbara County, California), so you won't be able to catch one up in Oregon. they have the Red Octopus up there (O. rubescens) but they are nocturnal, and I hear they are prone to bite, and have a venom that has been a big problem for some people. You can also find GPO's up there, but the G stand for Giant, and they're not kidding, so forget that.

    They say that 50 gallons is the minimum for bimacs, and I won't dispute that. I keep mine in the equivalent of a 60 gallon (30 x 18 x 25), which works, but I think most bimacs, especially a large one, would much prefer to be in a larger tank (like a 90 gal). Also, it's not just about gallons, it's also about having room to walk and swim around, so the shape is important. I think a 50 gallon hex would be too cramped, and any 50 that is overly stuffed with live rock, or anything else, would be a problem because of restricted space.

    In this economy, especially if you live in a big city (Portland) it should be easy to find a large used tank for cheap on craigslist. People are dumping their large tropical tanks because they cost too much to maintain. Cold water tanks can be cheap to keep because you don't need to worry about most of the ongoing costs of a tropical reef tank: fancy food from the LFS, expensive light bulbs, exotic animals. On the down side, you'll probably need a chiller for a bimac, unless you can keep your tank temp below 72 degrees no matter how hot it gets outside (either good room AC or a water chiller.) You can probably offer much less than they are asking, and still get it. You can also buy a whole system, and sell the parts you don't need (lights) to recoup some of the total cost.

    Bimacs in the wild live in water that is 58 degrees F in July/Aug. Your bimac (probably) won't suffer at 72 degrees, but will probably burn through it's natural life faster (50% faster?) and die earlier. Ideally you would have a 75 - 90 gallon tank, and a 1/5th to 1/4 horse power chiller to keep it at 62-65 degrees, but you can get away with a 50 gallon tank at 70-72 degrees (keep a fan blowing over the water to cause evaporation which will cool the tank about 4 or 5 degrees, but require frequent additions of fresh water to replace what evaporates. You can probably also find used chillers on craigslist in Portland for $250 - $350 for a 1/4 or 1/5 hp chiller.

    Bimacs will happily eat thawed pieces of frozen raw shrimp and scallop, and don't need to eat every day, so feeding is quite cheap (can you afford 1 or two frozen shrimp per week? - yes) I get my water free from a local public aquarium (very lucky) but you'll probably need to buy salt mix, and an RO/DI filter, so you could easily spend $5 - $10 per week on water (is that accurate folks?)

    if you do lots of study and prep before you get a bimac, then you can pull it off, but if you cut corners, take chances, or just "go for it", you'll probably waste time, money and effort, not to mention killing a bimac, so keep asking the right questions, and don't be in too much of a hurry.
     
  6. cuttley

    cuttley Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Thank you so much, all of you! It turns out i dont need your help after all! I found a biggish red octopus or squid in a tide pool and it seems to stretch out nicely in my bathtub, i just turn on the shower when it doesnt move or change colors, i really think i figures out this octopus stuff!!!
    Heheh... I'm afraid playful banter is difficult to decipher online, finances aren't a problem, I'll just have a lot less ice cream money :) I would not compromise the comfort of my favorite animal, let alone harm it by cutting corners, however, I hope you all don't mind me asking advice, I do like to pinch pennies when I can ;)
    So! Here's the update! I went to look at the first tank, and you were spot-on, joceph! The glass was uncomfortably thin and it had no lid, I did, however, find (and buy) another tank that I'm pleased with- it's a hex (groan), but it's noticeably larger than the 55 gal I was going to buy. I have outlined the phases of tank set-up and I didn't actually trust my abilities to catch my own octopus, but there is a shop on the California coast that sells bimacs. once I'm ready, I'll either ship or take a weekend trip down yonder. My next post may be droll, basically an equipment list and the phases to get things to save the possibly unnecessary items for last. It's lovely meeting fellow cephalopod lovers on here! My beau doesn't see it, but I'm glad others do :)
     
  7. cuttley

    cuttley Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Ugh, and it kills me to see typos, please kindly ignore them, my phone's auto-correct is slowly ruining my reputation as a grammar Nazi (in a good way) ;)
     
  8. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Bathtub, hummm. Water changes would be easy, hooking up an RO/DI unit with auto top off simple but octoproofing for a biggish red octopus would require very good show doors and a lot of fighting to keep him in when you had the doors open. A hot tub now, that could be interesting if it were not for the jets that would provide escape holes :wink:

    Pictures of your build out would be great for the tank talk forum for both a record of what you do and to solicit suggestions as you go.
     
  9. Joe-Ceph

    Joe-Ceph Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

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    Be careful not to waste a trip. I don't see how they could legally sell bimacs, unless they've figured out a way to import them from Mexico. Scientific/Educational institutions can buy them, but it's not legal to collect bimacs in California for sale in the pet trade. Are you talking about getting them through the education/science channels?

    What are the dimensions on your hex (flat side to flat side, and height)? Is it literally a hexagon, or is it an irregular shape? Glass or acrylic? I'm a big believer in chilling, and insulating bimac tanks. I use styrofoam insulation board on the bottom, back, and sides, and attach a second pane to the front, with an air space in between. A second pane is difficult to do with a hex, but you can still insulate the rear three sides and the bottom easily enough.
     
  10. cuttley

    cuttley Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Ha! @DWhatley! Or a nice deep-freeze! Chilling and containing would not be a problem, can you imagine the insulation?! ;)
    Thank you for the insulation advice, Joe-Ceph, I didn't think of using styrofoam, maybe a bit of that "ocean scene" glass sticker would shield the styrofoam and make for a "convincing" octopode environment? ;)
    Here's the site that I found for sources of live cephalopods:
    http://www.thecephalopodpage.org/sources.php
    and here's the one that sells bimacs: http://www.fishsupply.com/
    I also have a friend in Loma Linda, CA who said (while he was buying inverts for his tank) that he saw both cuttlefish and octopi at the store he was at. I doubt they regularly sell them, but I think I'll somehow be able to nab one. Are both these ways illegal? O_O I doubt I'd be able to pull off getting a cephalopod as a nursing student, though... One can always dream! ;)
    As for the hex, I worked out the volume this morning (late night last night retrieving the tank from the land of Port) and it is 60 gallons. It is also glass, the only problem with it is a small crack near the top that migrates to the edge of the next pane (so it is not going to keep expanding down) The person I bought it from said that he kept fresh-water fish in it, never treated the water with chemicals (especially fin rot) and that the crack happened in transit when he ordered it and used aquarium silicone to keep it strong (he never had it leak). So! that's that. :)
     
  11. cuttley

    cuttley Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    And now for the droll! You don't have to read through, I doubt it's anything any of you haven't seen before, but if you do have oodles of time and see a problem with priorities in my planning, or ways to make it more efficient, feedback is always welcome! I also found retail values for most items to see how much money I can save in the process. :)

    Octopus Supplies:

    Phase 1:
    Aquarium (>50gal)/Lid (good seal): 300.00 (40.00)
    30 Watt daylight spectrum lamp: 20.00
    mesh/netting (prevent escape)
    Sump: 300.00
    RO unit: 150.00
    Over-spec filtration system (3x)
    wet-dry filter: 200.00
    Carbon
    Powerhead: 20.00 (per unit)
    Protein skimmer: 150.00
    Test kits for: pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, phosphate, Calcium, alkalinity, copper, oxygen: 40.00
    Air pump: 50.00
    Thermostat: 22.00

    Phase 2:
    Sandy substrate: Silica sand (untreated)
    Rock caves/pvc pipes/upside-down flower pot (hiding places)
    Sea salt-synthetic: 15.00
    Swing arm hydrometer 10.00
    Live rock
    live aragonite

    Phase 3:
    Tank for live food
    Chiller (get tank set up, see average temp to deem necessary chiller or heater and strength): 350.00
    Heater: 50.00
    Domino Damsel

    Phase 4:
    Frozen shrimp
    live shrimp/crayfish
    Octopus! :D
     
  12. Joe-Ceph

    Joe-Ceph Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

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    The source information on thecephalopodpage.org is very out of date. Fishsupply.com was a good source of bimacs back in 2004, but they've long since stopped selling them. Their web site still sells "octopus", but almost certainly not bimacs. Your friend in Loma Linda may have seen an octopus in a LFS, but again it almost certainly wasn't a bimac. The supply chain is set up for tropical animals, and so is 99.99% of the customer base, so even if there were a source for bimacs, there is very little demand, and the LFS typically doesn't have a cool enough place to put one anyway. I had two wild-caught baby bimacs to give away a few months ago, and it took me weeks to find two people on tonmo who were willing and able to get a chiller and take one, so I can tell you that demand for bimacs, even free ones, is very low.

    Unless you can get an educational or research institution to buy one for you, I don't think you'll be able to buy a bimac. I can collect one for you (maybe) and if you pay shipping I'll box it up for you and give it to you for free (it's illegal for me to sell it). Let me know when you are ready, and I'll keep you in mind and give you a call if/when I find one. If you want adults it'll be easier - but no promises. The best time of year for me to find them is November thorugh February (lots of day time minus tides).

    Do you only want females? There's a good chance that any adult female that I find will have already mated, and will lay fertilized eggs.

    Does anybody know how I can distinguish a female bimac in the field? I know about looking for the male's hectocotylus on the third tentacle, but that's super hard to do in the field. Any tricks?
     
  13. skywindsurfer

    skywindsurfer Architeuthis Registered

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    As far as I know that's pretty much it. The hectocotylus is actually rather easy to locate. There are two arms in the front that are parallel with the eyes. If the animal is facing you, start with the arm to your left and count clockwise to three. This may be easier if you have the animal around its bucal mass or by pinning it to a rock.
     
  14. Joe-Ceph

    Joe-Ceph Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

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    I cover the 1.5" thick 3M Styrofoam sheets (from Lowes?) with black vinyl from the fabric store. It's cheap, waterproof, and looks good. When laying flat on the styrofoam, on a stand with a rigid flat top, the styrofoam can easily support the weight of your tank without being crushed (only 1.25 pounds per square inch)

    A standard 60 hex tank (24" diameter x 29.5 tall) has an internal diameter (flat to flat) of about 23 3/8", and a true volume (using internal dimensions) of 50.5 gallons. That's pushing it, but if you don't load it too full of live rock, plants, or stinging anemones that take up space, you can keep an average sized bimac in it, but I think the bimac would have more fun in a larger tank. If the crack is near the top, where the water pressure is low, you shold be safe, but it could easily crack there all the way through and leak water down to the lever of that crack, so I hope you got a super good deal. Are you planning to get a chiller? (there's one for sale now for $200 on Craigslist Portland that would be big enough if you insulated your tank. Talk them down to $150 and it's a screaming deal)

    Since bimacs really should have chilled tanks, and are very hard to find, you might want to consider getting an O. hummelincki. They are a little smaller than a bimac, don't need a chiller, and are said to have just as good a personality. They are also available from certain suppliers (although I hear that females tend to die very soon, but males last, so it's a 50/50 gamble)

    Since you're new to keeping marine aquariums, you would benifit from studying several detailed explanations of "the nitrogen cycle" in a marine aquarium. A very thorough understanding of that will guide you toward having sufficiently good water quality to keep an octopus, while an incomplete understanding will lilely leed to mistakes that cost you time and money, and rob you of the enjoyment you would otherwise have.
     
  15. Joe-Ceph

    Joe-Ceph Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

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    In theory sure, but I'll bet you haven't tried to sex a bimac.
    I think you can only count the arms if looking at the top or the bottom (sucker side) of the octopus, I'm not sure what "facing you" means. I think a more clear way to describe it would be:
    Imagine that the octopus is stuck to the wall, with its eyes looking up at the ceiling, and it's "head bag" hanging down toward the floor (you are looking at the "top" of the octopus). The two arms pointing up are called L1 and R1 (Left-1, Right-1). R1 is at 1 O'clock, L1 is at 11 O'clock. Count clockwise from R1, to find R2, R3, and R4. Count counter-clockwise from L1 to find L2, L3, and L4. The hectocotylus is at the end of R3.

    Bimacs are particularly hard to sex because the hectocotylus is very small (2% of arm length) and only developed in adults, so sexing a small one is impossible (so I've read). Add to that the fact that the bimac is squirming and slippery. In a tank, at home, I had to take lots of pictures of my bimac before I was able to find one showing the tip of R3 that I could blow up. In the field I've found it close to impossible short of snipping off the end of R3 and studying it (which I haven't done). I've read that females say "excuse me" after they ink, while males just snicker, but I haven't observed that myself.
     
  16. skywindsurfer

    skywindsurfer Architeuthis Registered

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    I've only sexed O. Hummelincki, O. Briareus, O. Rubescens, and E. Dofleini. What I mean by facing you is imagine the animal sitting on a table with it's mantle flopped over away from you with it's eyes looking directly at you and arms L1 and R1 pointing at you. That's what I mean by facing you.

    You're right, you did a much better job at explaining it.

    I've sexed my E. Dofleinis but that was in a 1000 gallon system of course. I pulled it to the surface and wrestled it's arm from the others to sex it. It wasn't too difficult, but their hectocotylus is very prodominant.
     
  17. skywindsurfer

    skywindsurfer Architeuthis Registered

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    You'll need a professional institute or a fish store to help you, but you can get a bimac from Sea Dwelling Creatures.
     
  18. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Not quite. The ligula is the "spade looking" tip at the end of the hectocotylus. The hectocotylus is actually the whole specialize arm that has a channel for the spermataphores and the ligula at the tip (initially named and thought to be a worm when found inside a female from what I read). Additionally many males have enlarged suckers on two or more front arms (bimaculoides has them on two R2/L2, R3/L3 :wink: - will try to add photos of Diego to my sexing thread. The most obvious sign is observing the hectocotylus being carried curled (see photos in the thread linked above). However, looking into the water without a mask or if the animal is upset it would be hard to detect. You might be able to tell by letting it sit in and investigate a bucket (remember I knew Diego was male and he was relatively small). I could not make distinctions with either species of hatchlings I have raised until a couple of months but still fairly early.
     
  19. Joe-Ceph

    Joe-Ceph Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

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    D, thanks for the clarification, and the info about the other clues (enlarged suckers, curled carry of R3).
     
  20. cuttley

    cuttley Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Thank you for the input, Joe-Ceph, I'm a little disappointed that I'm so behind the times! As I was visiting the page, the name of the town I live in caught my eye and it turns out a educational distributor of Dofleini is right down the street, at least it was in 2004... Anywho! As for O. Hummelincki, it seems like a great little animal, and I wouldn't want to cramp a bimac, but would I be "cheating" if I asked the distributor to sex the octopus and only send a male? Also, isn't it a Atlantic species? It just seems like a far way to ship, I'm worried he wouldn't make it to little old Oregon.
    I can understand the difficulty of catching one for me (thank you for the consideration!) I see that bimacs and octopodes period don't have a high demand and then there's the keeping them alive, contained, happy, etc... etc... If you do happen to see a young one by the time my tank's cycled and if I don't have an octopus by then, I would welcome him with open arms (as would he..?). It's just a lot of "what-if's" Do you, by chance, know of any Hummelincki distributors?
    Also! You have figured out my master plan, eBay and Craigslist are the two places I'm scoping out for the "big" items, I thought I posted my 4-phase plan yesterday, but it must not have posted. Will have to re-type that later.
    And the last part, Joe-Ceph, I read up and stalked all (or most) of the posts on here about the Nitrogen cycle, I'm also thankful for all the biology classes I took. :) I think I might put the live sand and rock in a section of the sump to save room in the aquarium, still thinking on it, though. :)
    Sea Dwelling Creatures.... will have to look into that, thank you skywindsurfer!
     

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