• Looking to buy a cephalopod? Check out Tomh's Cephs Forum, and this post in particular shares important info about our policies as it relates to responsible ceph-keeping.

Can you Overfeed.......?

Mr. Fishy

Jul 14, 2007
Is it possible to overfeed an octo? This is assuming water conditions are not a factor.

I am new to the octo keeping world and I have had a tank bred bimac for about a week now. He is a wonderful pet...although still pretty shy...He has a 55 gallon with plenty of hermit crabs and feeder shrimp to munch on, as well he eats frozen krill which I have started feeding to him.

So I wonder can I feed him until he stops taking the krill or does he need a regimine i,e lionfish if fed too much can die prematurely of liver failure. I love Benny (my octo) and very much enjoy feeding him, but do not want to harm him at all.

By the way I understand the more food the more mess, I keep an eye on my nitrates and already have waterchange water standing by.

When I had cuttlefish last year I would "saturation feed" them twice a day: I would offer food until they were full. I believe this dramatically increased their metabolism and shortened their lives. They lived about half as long as some of their siblings elsewhere, albeit my water was a few degrees warmer.

I suspect the lesson can be extrapolated to octos. My tank-raised bimac is approaching one year of age and is never fed more than one fiddler crab per day. I would very much like to hear other keepers' opinions as well.

Roy (Neogonodactylus) Caldwell has posted numerous cautions about over feeding shortening the lifespan of octopuses. There was one post in the last year that I tried to locate and failed to find where he specifically says to cut back on what we feed in general but I can't locate the thread. I remember asking for some guidelines on size vs quantity but I don't believe he respoonded.
In thinking about this overfeeding issue, Spike used to eat daily and I did have a higher tank temp which I believe led to a quicker life cycle. Now Biddle, eats a little every day and sometimes I will give him a full scallop,a piece the size of a silver dollar, which lasts him about 3 days before he looks for food again.
There is plenty of literature that details diets of laboratory cephalopods and I believe that most can be found at cephbase.utmb.edu (nrcc.utmb.edu is also a great site). The diet of cephalopods amongst aquaria and research institutions varies greatly. Some GPOs are fed everyday (twice daily even) and some are fed every other day. I am not of the opinion to feed a specimen less, in order to prolong its life span. One fiddler crab per day is sufficient for bimaculoides. The best method is to play it by ear. If the octopus is very active after or before a feeding time, give it a little bit more food and see what happens. Temperature is the main parameter that will begin to affect the life span of at least the coleoid cephalopods. Water quality may be a good parameter in order to analyze your diet. Substantial increases in nitrates may mean that you are overfeeding the animal; but you also have to take the animal's size and growth rate into consideration as well. The type of food may also affect growth and life span. Fatty foods may decrease the life span if overfed to the octopus. Most, if not all, of the cephalopods I have worked with are fed to satiation. They do not continually eat and eat; once satiated they do not feed anymore.

If you notice, there are a lot of "may"s in that paragraph. Many factors in cephalopod husbandry are intertwined so it is difficult to imagine that merely overfeeding (which is very hard to do with cephalopods as long as you are providing the correct prey items) will be a sole cause of decreased life span.

I should not post so early in the morning. I hope I answered the question well enough.

Thanks guys for all your responses, as usual for me I am now pretty confuse:confused: but I am getting used to that with this hobby:biggrin2:

So I guess that a proper question would be to see how many times a week do you all feed your octos? Since I would like to continue supplimenting my bimac with frozen krill, I can't just leave crabs in the tank to allow Benny the Bimac to choose when to eat.

Most of our Tonmo octo keepers feed - and in the past have fed - their octopuses once a day.

Some have used the free feeding approach, at least at times, and it seems to work out OK.

Remember the longest-lived bimac we found in a California public aquarium - two years old? It received plenty of good live food, but also lived in ideal conditions - flow through sea water from the area in which it was caught and at the temperature of the local waters, huge tank, etc.


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