Shipping Octopus!!!


Ok I have a few questions on Shipping Bimac or any Octopus in general. How is it done? I know that they should be shipped in a sturdy bag (or double bagged) with oxygen. What kind of oxygen? How much water do they need depending any given size. For example I would guess that a large one (3" mantle, 12" arms) would need at least two gallons? Can smaller octopus be shipped in a smaller volume of water? How much water per inch of mantle? Should a shipper not feed the octopus for two or three days, so that they will have time to excrete any recently eaten food, and have an empty digestive system for the trip. What all should be done for the safest delivery and what service is the cheapest and best to ship across North America overnight?


Staff member
Let me try again, I posted a long post and lost the connection. It is still thundering but here goes.

I can't give you a "best practice" senerio but I can tell you a little about how I have received successful shipments.

My preferred method is when the shipper places the octopus in a plastic jar with holes all over the jar, lid and bottom (to prevent trapped air). The holes should not have sharp edges and a hot poker seems to be the best way to make them. Sizing the jar is a guestimate but something as tall as the arms of a shorter armed octo (hummelincki) or roughly 3 times mantle length seems to work well. The jar is placed in a DOUBLED bag that will hold water to a depth of at least three times the longest side of the jar and filled 2/3 with water and 1/3 with pure oxygen (there is only one kind of gaseous oxygen that I know of :grin:). Jar size and coverage are guestimates but the idea is to ensure that it will always be submerged regardless of the orientation of the box. (saving periodically as the rains have returned with the thunder). The jar provides something solid that the octo can cling to while being tossed around during shipping. A side benefit is the ease of transfer to the aquarium. I have found that some are somewhat reluctant to leave the safety of the jar and O. briareus in particular may take several hours to explore the tank.

The more common method is using the standard, doubled bag but I have no good estimate of the amount of water vs mantle or the best width and height of the bag. Some shippers will place a black plastic liner between the two bags to ease the light exposure when the box is opened. I don't know that there is merit to this practice but it does not hurt anything.

Both methods use a hard sided insulated box as the outer shell (this can be a styrofoam box or a set of insulating boards (like house insulation), cut to tightly fit and placed inside a cardboard box. Shipping in the fall or spring is safer. Cold packs taped to the top of the container with newspaper insulation helps if the temps are warm, heat packs should be used very sparingly, both should be insulated so that they don't come in direct contact with the bag. Overnight is required, guaranteed early delivery desired. The only octopus I have lost to shipping arrived alive but died several hours later. She was an older animal and had been routed through a blizzard and extremely low temperatures.

It is a good idea to not feed for at least 24 hours when shipping ANY animal. In the case of an octopus, this seems about right as we notice ours eliminating just before feeding and they eat daily. I go a bit against the standard during acclimation and attempt to feed just before I release them to a tank. Many animals will eat from nervousness rather than any real hunger and this seems to be the case with many but not all octos. Getting them to eat before introduction removes my concerns if they don't eat for a few days while they continue to acclimate and may be more of a keeper salve than anything beneficial to the octopus.

Some of our members have shipped (vs only receiving) octos and will hopfully chime in with additional help or modifications.


Larger Pacific Striped Octopus
One thing that could help is if you look into air cargo shipping. Its actually same day shipping and it doesnt normally cost more than 80$ and isnt paid on your end but on the receiving sides end. I do not know what is required to ship this way so you might want to find out. I personally prefer this type of shipping as there is no sloshing around on a truck all day and I can just go and pick it up. Normally if you have it out by 9 they can pick it up by 6. Kinda cool if you ask me.

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