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What is the cheapest way to keep an octopus?

ieatfalalfel

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#1
I have never had a saltwater tank before, but would like to keep an octopus that I can interact with some. I just want to know what the cheapest setup I can do is. What is the smallest tank requirement and how do I get whatever octopus works with this tank? I am open to whatever advice.
 

djkaty

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#2
I'm just starting a saltwater tank too - also my first - to keep an octopus. I'm in no position to give you advice, but what I will warn is this: there is no such thing as cheap when it comes to this. I'm already $2000 out of pocket (although I admit I broke something expensive en route) and I haven't even got anything in my tank yet except water. Get ready for a lot of expense, messing about, hair tearing and testing of your patience :)

There's lots of good articles in the Cephalopod Care section on the site, also you can read www.thecephalopodpage.org and you will probably want to get some books on the subject. The New Marine Aquarium deals with setting up a saltwater tank quite thoroughly, and Octopuses and Cuttlefishes for The Home Aquarium is I believe the defacto book on octopus keeping. You really must read them in conjunction though as the latter book assumes former saltwater aquarium knowledge.

Others will know better but as far as I know the smallest tank you need is about 50 gallons for a non-pygmy species - it varies by species of course, some will need much larger tanks, and you will need an oversized protein skimmer because octopuses generate more waste than fish of the same mass. The octopus will turn everything in the tank into a toy so it's better to have a sump and put all your equipment in that. The tank has to be aged for about 3 months before you can add an octopus. Don't buy a blue ring as they are deadly to humans.

Probably the best thing I could say though, from my last 4 weeks of trials is, don't think about the actual octopus yet; just get the equipment you need for it and practice setting up the tank and maintenance - getting the octopus comes way, way later.
 

djkaty

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#4
Someone else will have to answer that as I don't know (if you read the thread 'Complete newbie requesting help with first octopus setup' that I started you can see some of the trials and tribulations I've gone through so far - hopefully you won't have the cracked tank problem though - and there are some video entries). I am sure the pygmy question is answered in one of the articles on here, just do a little search :)
 

DWhatley

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#5
Great post djKaty, the only thing I would add is a link to your experience thread :grin:

would like to keep an octopus that I can interact with some
This pretty much rules out the dwarf species (O. mercatoris) that are commonly available. Mercs are not typically social and are nocturnal. On a very rare occassion, one will accept human interaction but most people don't see them at all.

Octopus keeping is very different from keeping other animals. Their natural lifespan is only about a year (dwarfs between 8 and 12 months and some of the larger one between 11 and 18 months). Captive bred are not available so the WC animals are often close to the end of their lives. Maintaining a saltwater aquarium is a learning curve that must be tackled first and with the longevity of the animals (or lack of it) the experience needs a long term commitment.
 

CaptFish

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#6
edit: ^ Right what she said ^


30 gallons is the best for the pygmy, or dwarf species of octopus. If you are looking for interaction these are not that great of a choice. The dwarf/pygmy species are nocturnal, and very sensitive to light. There is one staff member Dwhatley who has managed some interaction with hers, but this is not normal. I have one now that i saw once or twice in the few months I have had it. The advantage of the smaller species is that they can be kept in pairs.
 

ieatfalalfel

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#7
Thank you for replying so fast

I have never been on a forum where people are so fast to respnd to a newb. I will maybe get a 50 or so and a bimac.:smile:
 

djkaty

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#8
I replied fast because I'm a newb coming here every day to soak up the information so I'm around alot :P

I don't think you can get bimac anymore because that was my original plan too. Also the pet stores don't know what species of octopus they have anyway, so it's pot luck, at least where I live, it's so hard to find any octopus at all that you just get what you're given.

Personally, if bimac isn't available, I'm hoping I get something like Abdopus aculeatus which will fit the same tank size (I think), and is out during the day for interaction.
 

DWhatley

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#9
ieatfalafel,
I highly recommend that you read djKaty's thread (the blue writing in my prior post is a link). She is about a month ahead you and a lot of the correspondence will be very timely.
 

ieatfalalfel

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#10
thank you

I read djkaty's thread It is very helpfull. I will be watching for bimacs as the year goes on. I am going to try to setup a tank for a Bimac and I hope I can get one eventually.
 

Nancy

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#11
We would all like to find bimacs for sale, but I haven't seen any for a couple of years. They were plentyful before that time, but that was because some of the LFSs carried them and we had two diffent people breed and sell them. I can't say they won't appear on the market again, but it seems unlikely. The members who keep them are in California and catch their bimacs themselves.

At least, all the other octopuses available live in warmer water and you don't have to worry about the tank getting too hot or having to buy a chiller.

Nancy
 

djkaty

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#12
ieatfalalfel: if in doubt, ask questions. Lots of questions. Check FAQs/books/Google of course, but there are no stupid questions. That's how the other thread got to be 10 pages long. Better to be sure than guess.
 

DWhatley

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#13
ieatfalalfel:
To reenforce Nancy's comments about the lack of bimac availability, click Forums->Journals and Photos and look at the top stickies. You will see post entitled List of our Octopuses followed by a year. Any of the lists from 2008 forward have links back to their journals. You will find the few bimacs we have had, are all hand caught by their keepers.
 

Joe-Ceph

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#14
I hate spending money, so I understand where you are coming from. I'm one of those guys who lives in southern California and catches his own bimacs (for free). I also catch food for them sometimes (for free) or else I feed them frozen scallops (pennies per week). I use (free) natural sea water. I paid a few hundred dollars up front to buy a used chiller (bimacs live 2 years in 56 degree water) and have a 70 gallon custom starfire glass tank built ($400 from glasscages.com), but my ongoing costs are almost zero, except for electricity to run my chiller. Do you live near the coast in NC? Do any octopuses live there too? If so, you can keep the costs low, especially if you get a used tank for cheap (sell the nice high powered reef lights), and don't need a chiller.

But don't just jump in. Do tons of research and study, to avoid discouraging disappointments. Ideally, have some marine aquarium keeping experience before you try to keep an octopus.
 

ieatfalalfel

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#15
thank you

because of the lack of bimacs and the cost of everything (I'm in middle school so I don't have much $$$) I am looking into cuttlefish.
 

DWhatley

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#16
There are advantages to starting with cuttles but one of them is not cost. Keeping a saltwater aquarium is an expensive hobby and you need to research the on-going costs (special fresh water for filling, water top offs and mixing your saltwater as well as purchasing artificial salt on a regular basis to do water changes, food), in addition to the cost of the initial setup. Hatching cuttles from eggs has been the most successful way of raising them but the food cost is very high for the first couple of months.
 

ieatfalalfel

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#17
my lfs has amphipods at a reasonable price. Is teh the expensive food? and i found a good deal of instant ocean in my garage even though nobody in my household had ever kept an aquarium but me, and I have only kept freshwater. I was looking for a screwdriver and there it was.:roflmao:
 

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