accidental squid keeper

Mar 13, 2018
Hi, so I was out in the water catching prawns with some friends recently, and we netted an extremely strange creature... like a baby squid or cuttlefish. I vetoed the efforts to fry the little guy and eat him whole, and thought that I might try and keep him as a pet of sorts... upon returning home and looking up the specifics... yeesh. obviously the whole "cycle your tank for 6 months" is kinda out the window, as I had to setup the tank after the fact! I sort of regret not throwing him back where he came from, once I realised that I was dropping him in the drink 6 months ahead of schedule!!!! Yet, here we are, I suppose a shot at life is better than being fried alive and eaten whole in a single bite? Perhaps that is debatable.... anyway he/she is a Euprymna tasmanica or southern bobtail squid....
The bobtails have a very short life span. You will need to work at keeping the water very clean since you have no bacteria to convert the ammonia (waste from eating) to nitrite (still deadly) to nitrate rapidly enough to keep from poisoning your little ward. If you can manage it, daily water changes are recommended. Photos? We rarely get to see these little guys.
Yes, its going to be quite a difficult task! Most of my aquarium experience is with freshwater, the few salty ones I have kept have been cycled properly so I am breaking new ground here... hopefully the oversized skimmer helps a bit with keeping the dreaded nitrogens at bay, I collected basically "live sand" from beyond the low tide mark at the beach so there should in theory be some bacteria present to kick things off, I dont anticipate it will be enough though so water changed will be the order of the day for sure! I will try get a pic, of course it hides in the sand all day so I have to ambush it at night with a torch, caught it last night chasing a small white free swimming bivalve! It tends to bury itself as soon as the torch hits it though... I am preparing a larger tank for it at the moment so when I do the change over I shall snap some pics for you all.
It is so difficult to recommend how to make the best out of the situation. On one hand, the "live" sand is likely full of things that died just in the transport, creating its own ammonia and nitrite. On the other no, beneficial bacteria makes is really difficult to manage even a small amount of urine in a small tank. My initial gut thought was to use an empty, bear bottom tank and suggest culturing the sand in another shallow vessel where you could monitor the die off. HOWEVER, then I remembered what kind of animal you have and it might well kill it with stress without a substrate to bury itself. If you can't control the ammonia with water changes, then I think I would buy dead sand, remove the live but culture it separately (ie don't dispose of it, the original small tank with water movement might be perfect and you might also add a little dead shrimp to encourage bacteria) and then add it back when you don't see ammonia or nitrite.
yeah its a tough one, thats good thinking on the sand... I collected it by basically skimming the top few cm's off the ocean floor, trying to avoid grabbing too much "stuff" and hopefully just getting mostly sand and bacteria, I guess all I can do is monitor closely... the temporary tank is quite small (80L) so I can do fairly large regular water changes if needed.... the new setup will be a standard 4ft tank with a standard 3ft as a sump that i have lying around, so he/she will eventually get a good volume of water to inhabit. I will be changing it over this weekend and can use sterile sand in the new tank and continue to culture the ocean sand in the old tank as you suggest...
Dr gs bacteria in a bottle works well. you can even put a sponge filter in a bucket with tank water and bacteria and let it soak overnight to seed it and put the recommended amount in tank. Thanks
I never had much luck with those bacteria in a bottle things... perhaps they have advanced the technology these days?

last night I had a peek at the tank, and the squid seems alive, well and disgruntled at my presence. I also saw something incredible, there is another ceph of some kind in the tank, except its like 2-3mm big! Not sure if squid or octo but possibly another tiny dumpling squid... I guess the race is on now to get the "big" guy into its own tank before it eats the tiny one?


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I think this behavior this morning confirms its a bobtail squid... not sure where it came from... must have scooped it up with the sand perhaps? Though I got the sand several hours away from where I got the adult sized squid...


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first "confirmed kill" this morning... a small green porcelain crab. Fortunately, there is literally millions of these at my local beach, and being an introduced species I can pretty much help myself to as many as I like...
thanks, thats a great article. it seems to suggest that squid over 30 days old dont engage in cannibalism, but this might have been due to them not keeping multiple generations in the same tank at the same time... so far the tiny squid has survived, it actually swims around in the water column at night while the big squid rolls around at the bottom of the tank... of course the little guy might be actively trying to not get eaten, but so far so good...

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