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Advice for the novice?

Apr 3, 2003
Hello -

As a recent visitor, and a ceph-enthusiast for years, I've been reading quite a lot on this site regarding keeping an octo in a home aquarium. It's something I've wanted to try for years, but have been consistantly discouraged by every local fish store due to the apparent difficulty of maintaining the tank. :frown: Also, I am admittedly a novice in as far as I have only kept freshwater tanks.

Currently, I have two 55 gallon tanks. One is up and running, but it's a freshwater tank with a few tetras, pleco, angels, etc. Easy and fairly self-sustaining. The other tank is empty and I've been pondering starting a salt tank. Not having done so before, I'm reluctant to jump right into trying to care for an octo right away. I was wondering if some of you would be kind enough to set me on a path to eventually starting and caring for an octo tank.

Specifically, where should I start? Filtration, skimmer, rock, sand, species, etc.? I am willing to invest a fair amount of cash and time. I'm also patient....I want very much for this to be a learning expeince that will eventually (willing to wait years) lead to my own octo tank. How should I work my way up to caring for an octo tank? I plan on buying more tanks in the future as I learn and master the care of salt/brackish tanks. Any good books on the topic?

I'll definately spend a lot more time reading the MOUNTAINS of information on this site, which I'm sure will undoubtedly help as well.

Thanks to anyone with advice! :biggrin2:

Hey Matt:

Welcome to TONMO! :biggrin2: I don't know that it will necessarily take you years to get to the point where you can keep an octo. If you are looking for a good book on saltwater aquarium keeping I would recommend The Conscientious Marine Aquarist by Robert Fenner. I found it to be very helpful and easy to read.

In terms of filtration, substrate etc. there is a good octo keeping basics article on the TONMO main page. Most people use sand, Live rock, a wet/dry filter and, most importantly, a protein skimmer. However, those are not the only options by far.

I would do some research and maybe set up a saltwater tank with mostly inverts like crabs, snails, shrimp, starfish and maybe 1 or two fish. once you get comfortable with cycling and maintaining a saltwater tank it should be pretty easy to switch over to an octo tank. IMPORTANT: if you plan on ever putting an octo in a tank DO NOT ever medicate that tank, particularly with copper. If you do it will create big problems later on. The only reallly difficlt part about keeping an octo is being patient while the tank cycles and then letting it mature for a couple of months without rushing out and getting the octo before the tank is ready. Good luck and feel free to ask any other questions.


PS. BEWARE saltwater aquarium keeping can be addictive. :twisted:
Yes welcome to the site. The best advice I can give you is read every post on this site...especially the Ceph Care and the Tank Maintanience forums. After that go to reefcentral.com and read all the posts that interest you under the Cephalapod forum (That is, if Tony M. doesn't mind :lol: ) That's what I did, and afterwards I didn't have a single question left.
General guidelines...set up the 55 gallon(and make sure it has NEVER been treated with copper) because it will kill the octopus. If you're unsure on whether it has been treated for ich or anything, your better off to buy a new tank. Imagine spending months and tons of money getting the tank ready and then the octo dies from and old copper treatment and you have to trash the whole setup.
Add some sand and get the tank up and running. Get a protein skimmer and a power filter and lots of live rock for hiding places. Cycle the tank using a couple dead raw shrimp (don't use damsels b/c they'll harass the octo and you'll never get them out without tearing the tank down). Get some test kits and keep track of your cycle(get ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH) and get a salinity tester. A good book like lawfish said will help guide you. Get a cleanup crew(snails, stars, crabs, worms) to keep the tank clean and then add some other inverts. See how you do with these as the tank matures. If you do well after a few months and there is no flux in the water parameters, get an octo. Plan on getting a bimaculoides, a small intertidal daytime octopus. They won't get too big and rarely try to escape, so you don't have to turn your tank into Fort Knox. We'll help you when it comes time for the octo. The problem with buying one from the pet store is that the people there can rarely identify a species correctly. You may see a small octo and it could be a full grown pygmy with one week to live or a baby giant that will end up with 6 foot arms! So it's best to learn to ID them yourself or order one from a reliable place such as fishsupply.com. Good luck, read up, and ask any questions and we'll be glad to help.

Ps. you'll probably learn in time that most fish stores are not to be trusted with their information. Learn for yourself and you won't have to worry about whether the employee gave you good info. Since I started looking into getting an octo, I've had tons of people tell me that I was destined to fail. Well guess what, I read up, ignored them, and have been very succesful with my octo. If you have the knowledge, you won't make mistakes, and you'll find that it's a lot easier than you think.
Could someone possibly post a list of octo-friendly co-inhabitants for a tank? I plan on taking the above advice and starting my first salt tank with some live rock, snails, stars, & crabs. How do octos fare with anemones? Clams? Clowns? Tangs? What's going to be eaten? What's going to harass the octo? I don't plan on rushing to buy an octo until I am VERY comfortable with maintaining the tank. However, I want to ask how often does an octo tank require a water change? How much water? Ultimately, I want a colorful tank that as fun to watch as it is to keep. Thanks for any input!

Usually any echinoderms are octo safe. Starfish and brittle stars do well and are helpful with cleanup. Sea urchins are fine as long as they don't have the real long super sharp spines, you don't wan't the octo to grab it and hurt itself. A lot of ceph keepers also keep cucumbers in their tank, I don't know a whole lot about those. Any other inverts will eventually end up as food. It's fine to keep crabs and shrimp and snails in your tank, just don't get too attached to them. Anemones are likely to sting the octo so they are usually shied away from. As far as fish go... if they don't get the octo, the octo will eventually get them. Stay away from territorial fish such as triggers, lions, eels, damsels, etc. And any other peaceful fish will be eaten sooner or later. If you wan't fish you should consider setting up a seperate tank for those. A lot of corals are safe with octos but they need a lot of lighting which can stress the octo out.
I usually do a water change every two weeks. Most SW aquariums have water changes monthly but with an octo it's better safe than sorry. I usually do about a 20% change. This also helps keeps the nitrates down since octos are such messy eaters.
Wanting to start a octo tank also

I have a 72 gallon bow front tank, it was a reef tank of mine for about 3 years, i took it down about half a year ago, compleaty and brought everything to a local fish store and built up some nice store credit. The tank has been going little less than half a year with 4 dam. fish i it. i brought water samples to the fish store and they told me everything was ok about 4 months ago. I have been reading on octopus' for about a long time and feal i will be able to take care of one. But im not to sure about the tank top. I took some window screen (with my dad being a carpenter that was easy to find) and placed it over the top of the tank and set the glass on it, cut holes just big enough for the skimmer and filter intake, also the heater cord. I realized that covered everything but also left me NO way to get anything like food or even and octopus into the tank so i cut a small square into it by the lid. I cant think of a way to cover that so any idea's on that would be usefull. I read above that you cant get the dam. fish out, but i think if i dont feed them for a few days then feed them they should come up to the top for food and i can slip the net in from the other side to get them. Any tips on make'n octo proof tops will help alot. And with my dads occupation almost nothing is out of reach for me to get. Im waiting for a good healthy Octopus to arrive at a pet store near me, but untill then i keep reading posts and dreaming.

*also i was wondering if anyone has experience with ordering an octopus online, ive noticed that most sited wont offer anything on it being alive when it arrives, other than www.liveaquaria.com *

I would also like to thank all who have made posts on this site, and tho's who work to keep this site up and running.[/url]
Be sure to check out the buy/sell portion of Tonmo...there are cb bimacs for sale there!!! A way better thing than getting a wild caught one!
You might also want to check out Fishsupply.com (link at the top of this page) - many of us have bought bimacs from them with success. Sometimes they have wildcaught, sometimes captive bred.

As to the tank cover, make sure the screen you're using is plastic, not metal. I've become a fan of duct tape - you'll have to get into your tank once a week or so, so just keep a big roll around and replace the duct tape. Cheap, easy and convenient. The duct tape can't be used underwater, but is very good for covering holes where wires come through, securing the tank cover, and so forth.

It might be easier to have a two-part cover, with a smaller part towards the front that you can lift easily for feeding etc.

thank you for the advice

i tryed working with different tapes to hold stuff down, but it seems like even a small amount of salt on the lid caused the tape to fall off in half a min. The screen is plastic but i read a post about chemicals being in plastic somewere on this site, so it looks like a good scrub-down and a few roles of duck tape. The lid is a 2 part, and i got weights for the front im just worried about it geting out were cords/filtering intakes come in.

well tanks for the advice
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