Whats the best octopus for me?

Discussion in 'Octopus Care' started by Missnano, Jan 2, 2011.

  1. Missnano

    Missnano Blue Ring Registered

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    Hi there, i am new and am looking for some info! I am wanting to get a octopus but need some direction on what breed would be the best for me. I have a 55g tank that i am cycling no; i dont want anything angressive or deadly either. What would be the best first time octopus for me?
     
  2. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Unfortunately, obtaining an octopus is not as simple as ordering a particular species. Most vendors don't know anything about octopus species and most LFS have no clue what they get when they order one. Typically you will see "Brown", "Common" and "Bali" as species indicators where the animals are purchased from a wholesaler (usually because that is how the wholesaler lists them). The names are meaningless. Over time, we have seen some (but only some) consistency with certain suppliers and can say that usually an octopus from them will be one of two species.

    That being said, there are a couple of commonly found octopuses that will be happy in a 55 gallon aquarium. Of the diurnal (daytime) group there are Abdopus aculeatus from Indonesia, Octopus hummelincki(formerly filosus) from the Caribbean (usually Haiti), Octopus bimaculoides or bimaculatus from the Pacific (chiller recommended 72 degrees max temp). There is a sweet little nocturnal in the macropus group (species unclear, sometimes shipped by Live Aquaria) from Indonesia. Lastly, you can keep several nocturnal Octopus mercatoris (often called joubini, a far less commonly found Caribbean nocturnal dwarf) dwarfs in a tank that size but you will never see them and I recommend a much smaller tank for them.

    In the last year, Octopus briareus has been the most common to locate but they require a 65+ gallon aquarium. Some are smaller than others and the smallest ones could make do in a 55 but you can't count on the size when you obtain one.

    There really is not "starter" octopus but there are ones to avoid. As you suggest, blue rings are for the experienced in both deadly animals as well as aquaria but also Wunderpus photogenicus (often misnamed Mimic) should be avoided because of the habitat requirements, poor aquarium success and shrinking population.

    To get a feel for the different species, go to Forums->Journals and Photos and look at the top of the forum. There are several stickies entitled List of Our Octopuses 20xx. The lists contain the species, member keeper, vendor (if known) and from 2008 forward links to the journals.
     
  3. Missnano

    Missnano Blue Ring Registered

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    Wow, thank you so much for your quick reply! I think i might be more interested in the bimaculoides , but i am also slightly interested in the hummelincki. i will do as you suggested and go look in the journals. Thanks again!
     
  4. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Both are good choices. HOWEVER, it is unlikely you will find a bimac. California has collection rules that make it difficult to obtain them. On a rare occassion someone will have hatchlings but you could wait years to find one. It is legal to collect them for your aquarium and most of our member who have them have collected them directly. If you have an affiliation with teaching, it is sometimes possible to obtain them through educational channels but the primary supplier to educators closed earlier this year. An advantage to hummelincki is that it does not need a chiller, the disadvantage is that females often start to brood about 2 weeks after being placed in an aquarium. The reason is unclear but may be that the prebrood female is out foraging (there is increased hunger at this time) and is more easily caught rather than anything directly to do with being placed in an aquarium environment.

    Another way to search for journals on a species would be to go to advance search and search titles only for the species name. Not everyone titles their journals with the species but we have encouraged having it there.

    It might help with finding resources if you edit your profile to display a location (it does not show automatically). You may put whatever you like in the location field but at least a state reference is helpful.
     
  5. Missnano

    Missnano Blue Ring Registered

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    hmm thank you for that info! Now, where can i look for info on caring for the hummelincki, like what it eats and can you reach into the tank and pick them up? Do they bite? Also what does brooding mean, you said that a female will brood after about 2 weeks?
    (btw thanks for helping me out, i know noobs gotta get annoying lol)
     
  6. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    I will have to admit that sometimes they are a challenge but many of the members I now know as dear friends were newbies once :grin: and, of course, I must have been one too :roll:

    Food and housing don't vary much by species (tank size and temperature being the primary differences for the commonly kept critters) so what you want to learn is the basics of keeping an octopus and a little about their biology. An excellent place to start is with a book written by two of our staff members, Cephalopods Octopuses and Cuttlefishes for the Home Aquarium written by Nancy King and Colin Dunlop. We also have a few Cephalopod Care Articles available on the forum. If this is your first saltwater tank (freshwater experience does not count), I highly recommend you age your tank well beyond the minimum to learn how to keep, adjust and monitor a saltwater aquarium before adding your primary occupant. It will delay acquiring an octopus but will be well worth additional time in money, mental anguish and success.

    A few facts that may unsettle you:

    Octopuses small enough to keep in an aquarium only live from 8 months (dwarfs) to 18 months with a very few individual exceptions exceeding 2 years. The short lifespan is natural and not related to aquarium life. With proper living conditions, we have a limited opportunity to extend their natural lives by removing predators. Typically, mating signals the final stages of life for both male and female octopuses. Mating is not the cause of their end but signals the natural conclusion of their lives. Females can retain the spermataphores for up to 4 months before laying eggs so a female may bare fertile eggs in an aquarium. However, a female will lay eggs when it is time whether they are fertile or not. Once she lays the eggs, she will rarely, if ever leave the den and will eat very little (we see an increase in food consumption just before egg laying) and ultimately stop eating. It was once thought that they starve themselves to death but further investigation finds that they are simply programmed to die and not eating is a symptom of the aging process and not the cause of death. There have been at least two studies that show removing a gland (called the optic gland) can double the age of an octopus but it will never lay eggs. Interestingly enough, reintroduction of part of this gland will start the clock ticking and allow fertility. After a female lays eggs she will remain with them until they either hatch or disintegrate (the later being the result of infertile eggs). Kooah's journal gives an example of what to expect when an octopus starts brooding (laying and caring for her eggs).

    Males also fall victim to this odd aging process. They also stop eating and will be seen doing odd things, most notably they will wander about with no rhyme or reason for their actions. They are most likely to escape the tank at this time (in the wild they have been known to come up on land and to swim into fresh water) but oddly, in an aquarium, they are often more outgoing and human friendly during senescence. If a female lives beyond the hatching (most die within a day or two but if the eggs are not fertile some will come out of the den after the eggs are gone) she too will show this senile behavior.There are two groups of hatchlings that we commonly classify as large egg and small egg. The actual egg size is not the important consideration but typically the large egg species have benthic young, immediately crawling on available substrate, that are viable (but not easy) to raise and the small egg species hatch into planktonic young that live in the water column for roughly a month and have no potential for being raised by the home aquarist.

    Interaction is an interesting topic and varys greatly for individual octopuses. Scientists will argue about whether or not octopuses have individual personality but there is no such argument among keepers. Some species tend to be more human friendly than others but each individual animal is different. No, you can't pick them up and hold them but some will accept being petted and will interact in otherways that may involve voluntary touching. Interaction times are usually limited to anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour and will be mostly on the animals terms but I have found placing them in an eating room that gives regular daily exposure to humans seems to help (our octopuses are in our breakfast room where we eat all our meals) but not guarantee interaction. My two briareus hatchlings (now 7 months old) have very, very different personalities and are housed in the same room. One (Mama Cass) comes out, provides marvelous displays, shows a lot of curiosity (and timid aggression) every evening around 6:00. Her brother (Tatanka) is rarely seen, sneaks his food from behind the rocks or waits until dark to eat. My third, unknown species, Monty, in the same room is awake at dawn, naps during the day and is very active from about 6:00 PM until around 8:00 PM. Neither Cassy nor Tank will allow petting but Monty will accept petting and squish himself between my fingers for half an hour or more at a time. There are videos in both Monty and Mama Cass's threads that you can find by going to the advance search and looking for their names with a the titles only search. I have an additional interaction video with Puddles and some stills with Octane and OhToo.

    Do they bite? Humm, yes they can bite and we have a forum to record being bitten. Will they bite is very dependent upon the individual animal, the animal's health, how much it trusts you, what you are doing and how well you read the warning signs it will project.

    Read, Read and Read more :read: to get the best understanding of what to expect.
     

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