Surprise Hitchhiker

Discussion in 'Octopus Care' started by JunoOfSal, Apr 8, 2013.

  1. JunoOfSal

    JunoOfSal Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Hi I recently began keeping a reef tank and within the first few weeks I have found a wonderful little octopus I would love some help figuring out what the little guy is. He is also quite shy so far. I have only seen him twice; once at 6 a.m. and once at 4 a.m. Both times the lights were off.
    Here is a video I took of him. Sorry for the bad quality I was a little rushed.
     
  2. JunoOfSal

    JunoOfSal Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Hitchhiker that I want to care for

    I recently found a hitchhiker octopus in my new reef tank. He is extremely shy. I have only seen him twice; at 4 a.m. and 6 a.m.
    I have tried to feed him some frozen krill and he hasn't eaten any. He also hasn't eaten any of my clean up crew.
    How do I get him to eat and be less shy?
    I also haven't gotten an ID on him yet so if you recognize him please let me know
    Thank you all so much.

    EDIT: Threads merged
    No double posting OK? In addition to keeping all your acquired information in one place so you can find it, our staff and members try hard to answer all posts timely and doubling our work makes us grumpy

    :gigas:
     
  3. gpx1200

    gpx1200 GPO Registered

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    try useing a red light to look for him at night. for feeding try fidler crabs
    looks like it has some prety big eyes wich sujests a nocturnal species
     
  4. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    I am also guessing this is a nocturnal dwarf species. Which species will depend upon what it hitchhiked from. Did it come in your live rock (the most common way we see them)? Do you know the origin? The common Caribbean dwarf, O. mercatoris is not usually quite that active so I am wild guessing it originated elsewhere. From the Pacific, O. digueti would look similar and from the Philippines, O. bocki (O. bocki has very distinctive eyes after reviewing the video this would be my first guess). I have only kept the mercs so am not well versed on others except for through photos.

    Dwarfs are typically less interactive than their larger cousins but sometimes they will accept a little human attention. Most will learn to accept food at a regular feeding time. I have had good success feeding O. mercatoris around 11:00 PM if I turn out the room lights at 9:00. We did have one female that would accept food at our normal 6:00 - 7:00 tank feeding but only one. The other nocturnal I have kept ate at 3:00 AM and neither of the two I that I enjoyed could be trained to eat sooner.

    First though, you do need to be sure it is eating. Gpx1200 suggestion of a live fiddler at night is an almost guaranteed feeding success if the animal is not senescent and does not start to brood. From the speed of its evasive action, I would guess that it is not senescent and its refusal of the krill is hopeful that brooding is not eminent. With the mercs, with one exception, the only food I have been successful with is fiddlers and freshly killed shore shrimp on a feeding stick (ghost shrimp should work as well but they are freshwater and can't be put in the tank live). As youngsters, they can catch small live shrimp but seem to have difficulty catching them as adults. Additionally, they seem to eat pods in the tank and possibly thawed Cyclop-eeze. I am never quite sure if they eat the Cyclop-eeze or the critters that eat the Cyclop-eeze but their elimination definitely shows red from the small crustacean. I am inclined to think they eat it directly.
     
  5. JunoOfSal

    JunoOfSal Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    The live rock I got is from Fiji. However the place I got the rock from said that they had one of their octopuses go missing and this may be it. They called it an "ordinary octopus."
    From what I have seen of him he looks like O. mercatoris.
    He is not eating anything to my knowledge, however, there are plenty of copapods in my tank.
    I have a friend who has kept a blue ringed octopus. He suggested that I go to the beach and collect some crabs to feed to the octo.
    Is there a way to have him be visible during the day without harming him?
    Thank you so much for the responses.
     
  6. cuttlegirl

    cuttlegirl Colossal Squid Supporter Registered

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    Where are you located? Make sure the water is not contaminated from the beach where you are planning to collect. Also, you may need a permit to collect in your area.
     
  7. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    The short answer is, No. You will not be able to convert the nocturnal nature of the animal and I suspect part of the reason is that too much light affects their eyes. What you can do is to use a red light on the tank and start offering food an hour or so after you remove all ambient lighting. This is easier to do in a non-central windowless room but turning off the room lights around 9:00 PM (tank red lights can stay on 24/7) should give you opportunities around 11:00. Much earlier than that is unlikely in a windowed room during this time of the year.

    Do not try to remove it to a tank that provides no hiding spaces. This will most assuredly stress it to the point of dieing.

    Any small crab should be accepted BUT as CG mentioned, they must be collected from unpolluted waters.
     
  8. JunoOfSal

    JunoOfSal Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    I want nothing more than the octopus to be happy and healthy. I am setting up a tank with plenty of access to hiding spaces.
    I've checked the water quality of my area from a number of sources and all check out as unpolluted and safe.
    Thank you all for the advice.
     
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  9. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Keep in mind that octopuses life span is quite short and this is not a hatchling. Most dwarfs only live between 8 and 10 months (I have had a couple of tank born mercs to exceed that but a year is asking a lot and unlikely for a female).
     
  10. JunoOfSal

    JunoOfSal Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Ya, I don't expect much more than a few months. Still they are very cool creatures and I feel very lucky to get the chance to take care of one.
     
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  11. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    If you have a bit of reading time (you need to read through the end of page 3, there are some remarkable human aspects after that but the primary tale is in the first three pages), my all time favorite (but sad) Reef Central post is here. I happened upon it in 2006 when it was actively being updated. Posts have been added through the years as people discover it.

    I suspect you will enjoy the different takes on what to do when an octopus is discovered in your tank. As an aside, and not part of the story, you will see a picture of a second stow-away and warnings about removal. The second animal is O. vulgaris, the primary being O. briareus, both much larger than your dwarf.
     
  12. JunoOfSal

    JunoOfSal Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Thanks for the link. I came upon this in my initial searches for what to do but did not read all the way through.
    O. briareus is beautiful!
    I feel so bad for that guy though. What an amazing tank to just have crash.
    I'm feeling more comfortable with the octopus being in my reef tank as he hasn't damaged any corals. He seems to have a cave that he likes and is comfortable in so he isn't out searching. My new set up for him is about to be ready for the transition. Now I just have to get him to eat something I put in for him.
     
  13. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    If you scan to the end you will see that he eventually started over, replacing his entire system with a brand new, larger one. He had many offers for frags from RC members but I believe he populated the new tank on his own with some help from his LFS (thanking all that offered to help). Somewhere near the last page, he shows his new, populated tank.

    An octopus won't directly hurt corals but it will climb on them and ink can suffocate them but most importantly, the corals can sting the octopus and is the reason for minimizing and carefully selecting low stinging (mostly softies) life stock in an octopus tank.
     
  14. JunoOfSal

    JunoOfSal Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    I am stocking the new tank with some basic softies.
    Nothing to fancy.
     
  15. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Leathers, most mushrooms and gorgonians (placed for their own safety) are about all I would recommend. Some polyps work but it is important to observe the octopus' behavior when it touches them and for a nocturnal, this is difficult so I recommend not using them. Serpent stars, brittle stars, seafood clams, snails, hermits, small shrimp and small crabs are all fine but the clams, snails, hermits, shrimp, and crabs (especially the crabs) may become dinner.

    I don't recall a merc ever successfully opening a clam (the kind you eat) but I would not place an ornamental clam in the tank. Clams from the grocery are fine and will provide a small amount of filtration but are not much to look at. I keep them in a bucket of tank water over night to help remove the shipping water. If you use them, be sure you bucket is relatively tall (not a bowl) as they will empty it by morning and you will have dry clams and a wet counter.
     

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