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Am I doing something wrong??


Pygmy Octopus
Oct 1, 2012
So, as i said in my intro post I am fairly new to SW Tanks, just the owning part, i have done plenty of research and reading. However sometimes i doubt myself since i am a newbie so to speak and all this info just gets jumbled in my head :bugout: and i start reading others posts and applying them to situatuions that may not warrant these types of reactions. STILL, i would rather ask and get some expert opinion.


I have recently purchased a 30gal Bow front, this is an established tank and has been for over 3 years. The friend i bought it from had it as his starter tank for about a year or two, and then got a 125gal, after which he used it as a quarantine tank every now and then.
The tank has about 30lbs. of live rock that has been in there from the begining, a good protien skimmer and bio filter,(which i cannot name atm since i am at work and have a bizillion names running through my head), but when i picked this tank up since it was so established i pumped the water from it and transported everything of course, water rock a few crabs and snails, everything..... So when i set this tank up i checked all of my levels and everything was flawless i tell you.... amonia:0 nitrite:0 nitrate:0 pH:8.2 and salinity:1.024.

So after everything was up and running in the new location nicely, i drip acclimated and added Oscar,(my Adult A.Aculeatus, thanks to CaptFish
Welcome Octo friend. You are an A.Aculeatus from Indonesia. You are an adult and a very good healthy looking octopus. I cant tell if your a he or a she because you have all your arms curled up tight.
). He has been in the tank since this past saturday evening, has been eating well and shows signs of playfullness and personality.

So having said all of that, i checked his water levels again today at lunch and noticed his amonia was .5, and his pH was 7.8, no nitrite nor nitrate still. He is still acting fine but as i was planning my assault on the soulutions of remedy i came across a thread about someones Oct turning white. Oscar does have some white rock in there with him, and still changes color other than white, but is turning whiter than i have ever seen him before,(mind you i have only had him 3 days).

Do any of you think this is something i should worry about more so than normal, i planned on doing a 10 to 20% water change this weekend as scheduled maintenance, but should i move now??

Thoughts, Comments, Am I worrying for nothing?? :goofysca::goofysca::goofysca:

And sorry didn't mean to make it a review, not sure how i switched that, im guessing it was a flub up with the tab key.......
So far you seem to have a good handle on what you are doing though I would suggest that an octopus is not a beginner's animal. Going over your situation, I would suggest a few things.

FIRST, yes change out 20% (or portion there of that you have water for) NOW. You never want to see ammonia that you can read as your biofiltration (live rock etc) should convert as it occurs. There are a couple of likely reasons you are seeing it and you will need to monitor the water quality on a regular basis.

One is the tank size and the occupant. A 30 gallon tank is small for anything but a dwarf. Octos produce a lot of waste.

Two, how long was the tank empty of animals and regular feeding? Even though it was still set up, if the biological filter did not receive food, the bacteria that does all the work will have depleted. No trace of nitrates suggest this may be the case. Getting it reestablished won't take as long as with a new tank but an octopus needs lots of help with waste removal.

Three would be the move in itself, you have disturbed your bio filtration and it may take awhile to reestablish (this is usually minor but it depends a lot on how long the tank was broken down, from your description, I assume less than a day).

Four, are you removing the shells and remains from any food? Shrimp is particularly notorious for creating ammonia (try leaving one out no the counter for a day :biggrin2:). Removing shells and uneaten food on the same day you feed will help.

White is not a normal color for aculeatus and a gray white on most any of them is usually a sign of stress or aging. Getting the water parameters where they need to be may help but I always hold my breath for the first two weeks of acclimation. That being said, Oscar is not young and the activity that seems to suggest health may actually be a sign of natural senescence.
Thanks for the reply.....

I definitely agree that these guys are usually for more advanced tankers...however, if it weren't for my need of a challenge topped with Oscars need for a new home beyond the shoe box sized coffin he was in, and my uber determination to succeed, then we would be having seafood tonight and not Mexican in front of the tank watching an amazing creature warm up to us.


Got home a bit early this evening and went ahead with my water change. Also added some eight.four and Stability to the tank. I think you hit the nail on the head with the tank being empty for an extended period of time hence depleting the bio of good bacteria. And since the filtration was down literally less than an hour or two, the only logical reasons for the slight ammonia elevation, drop in pH and lack of nitrates are the lack of the proper bacteria along with the addition of a new occupant....ergo the stability addition and eight.four.

As far as the cleanup efforts I'm staying pretty much on top of that, and am most likely going to only feed him about every other day since i do see him ignore some of the food from time to time. Think I'm also going to pick up some more hermits to help do my bidding.

As far as the white color, i haven't really seen it unless he is on or near rock that is white since i have been keeping a close eye on him this evening. I checked the levels for the last time tonight just a bit ago and things are looking up already. pH seems to have climbed about .2 and ammonia is down to less than .25 and I'm sure will fluctuate over the next week with the additions of the two stabilizers and bacteria, so i will keep a weary eye on these for sure.

Also while doing the water exchange and after finishing Oscar seemed to be enjoying the experience, even grabbing my fingers from time to time to see just exactly what i was up to. He seems to be happy hiding and chasing me around.

DWhatley;193080 said:
That being said, Oscar is not young and the activity that seems to suggest health may actually be a sign of natural senescence.

Either way, I'de much rather him spend his days being cared for than sitting in a glass box with no toys. :boat:....:sink:
I am not being critical, so please, please don't misunderstand. If Oscar is not gray-white most of the time then I don't think you are seeing a problem. The typical symptoms are hanging out near the top of the tank with cork screwing arms and a pallor that even the newbie will id as unhealthy. I have a few photos (OK, so I have a lot of photos :roll:) but the ones of senescent coloration are of an animal that is typically white (O. briareus) much of the time and would not be of much help.

In general, we try to avoid chemicals to stabilize the water. Many are, at best, snake oil and others are harmful to inverts sometimes because they can coat and others because they contain metals. IMO, natural and mechanical filtration are simply your safest and best bets along with regular water changes. In my own tanks, the only chemical water treatment I use is deionizing sand to remove metals (the DI part of an RO/DI filter system), carbon at the sump and sometimes a buffer (we have very acid water in the south - early on I had to use it in all my water but after the tanks stabilized over time AND I replaced my very dirty RO filter, I don't have to use it regularly). I do add a vitamins, calcium and a touch of iodine to the invert tanks (I only have 2 fish but 8 sw tanks, three dedicated to cephs and another cephable should I need it :oops:, all very simple tanks though with very little hard coral) but I don't even add even those to the octo tanks. I don't get extended life from my octos but I do get the max expected natural life span and don't lose many inverts so I stay with and recommend what works for me. I would be the first to be interested in something where someone reports actual longevity results but avoid the labeled pitch.

I do appreciate your posts. And by all means i wasn't trying to come across rude. Your tips were so very insightful and benificial for me starting out, and some contstructive critisism is definitely worth listening to. I think that with my newbness :lol: I may have been jumping the gun just a bit on the interpretation of things.

I researched the chems, and they seem to be fairly safe, no metals and such, the one is supposed to simply multiple the bacteria for the bio in the tank. But as you said, I have always shy'd away from chemicals, never had any good repor with them.

I also forgot that anytime you introduce new life into the tank that you are going to have a bit of an ammonia spike, the only thing that concerned me as you said was the lack of the conversion to nitrates. But it looks as if we are getting that under control now.

I had also thought about introducing some iodine to the tank as well like you had stated, but will haven't checked yet to see what i should use, what are your thoughts and what are you using currently??

In conclusion, i hope to get at least the captive life expectancy from Oscar, but with not being able to tell just exactly how old he is we will just have to wait and see how we do....

Thanks again for all your help though, It really is appreciated!!!:heee:
i hope to get at least the captive life expectancy from Oscar, but with not being able to tell just exactly how old he is
This, of course, is almost always the case and I should have qualified my comment to say when age could be determined or within a good guess. I have been fortunate to have obtained several very young animals that have lived over a year in my tanks and on very rare occasions been able to raise a few tank born hatchlings. I also have a behavior change "theory" about determining 4-5 months of age that seems to be holding up (anecdotal to be sure).

Because iodine can be easily overdosed (to the point of lethal), I don't use it in the octo tanks. One of the reasons I don't put additives in with the octos is from observations of even the ones I do use on other inverts. I have a condylactis that I have kept for several years that seems sensitive to additives, even vitamins. She is kind of my coal miner's canary for what is detectable when it enters the tank. When she is "happy" she exceeds the size of both my hands. When something is off with the water, she looks like she is about to die and shrinks to as much as 3/4 of that size. I am a fan of vitamins/supplements for humans but not without an understood need followed by a demonstrable result. Determining the need is not always easy for humans and much more difficult with the critters. The condy does well in the tank and I continue to add vitamins even though she reacts on the day I add them. The reaction suggests the initial addition has a negative effect so I worry about the octopus gills and coating them with something that, unlike the condy, will cause continued harm rather than overall good. There is half decent ongoing experimentation and result for some of the animals we keep but cephs are very new to this relatively new hobby and their lifespans are so short that we simply don't know much. I am actually all for some degree of experimentation but heavily qualified by documenting observations, results (positive, negative and no effect) AND only after a keeper has successfully kept a number of animals under "standard" conditions to have an understanding of what might be considered normal. None of this is "scientific" but as hobbyists I feel we are allowed anecdotal reporting with hopes that positive results will lead to something we can add to the "standard". A major part of the problem is that octopus biology is so different from our own that even a starting place is a big question mark.

Since octopuses and squid have been plentiful in the ocean until recently, little has been done scientifically to study their needs. That is changing and we are seeing a few studies on trying to raise octopuses for food because the population in high consumption areas is in decline. All of the studies I have been able to find have been done out of the country since the are not a major food item in the US and the hobbyist has a hard time trying to find hints that might give pointers. We have learned that senescence if normal, that their starvation at the end of their lives is related to sexual maturity, the optic gland and not just a refusal to eat. What we don't know is if there is a way to delay sexual maturity and extend the lifespan. This can be done surgically by removing the optic gland with what appears to be a doubling of their lifespan but no reproduction AND that successful reintroduction of a small piece of the gland will restart the process. In the lab Roy has noted that bimacs seem to live longer if kept colder than most of our tanks and fed only a few days a week (allowing them to eat all they want during a single feeding on feeding days). I keep thinking his observation would make a great grad school project (for hobbyists info - not really practical for most students :sad:). BUT, Dr. Gilly recently observed that lack of food in humbolt squid territory produces small and faster maturing animals with much shorter lifespans. The commonality is that diet may be impactive but it is unclear as to what we can do to produce the desired extended longevity result. We have a lot to learn but experimentation with feeding may be the safest and most productive route for a hobbyist to pursue.

Oh my, I did not mean to be quite this verbose :roll:
LOL, keep in mind that I am a HOBBYIST and will rant as such. I am a computer programmer by profession and my biology does not go beyond high school (and that was a long time ago :old:). I try to take what I read and the information our better scientifically qualified staff reports and translate it into usable keeper information that I can use and pass on. I can miss a translation or put too much weight on a comment but welcome corrections that I will try to incorporate as we continue to learn.
I wondered where you got the word "verbose", I am in the computer profession as well...:biggrin2: All i can say though is as long as you keep passing that bio my way I will keep absorbing as much as i can.....
My dad and spouse accuse me of using esoteric terms too often in every day speech and I loose the argument (by way of majority vote) that the words they object to existed before computers even though I can prove it with my parents 100 year old dictionary. Yes, I accept the nerd title my kids insist on assigning. :roll: