[Octopus]: Dax, O. briareus

Just getting caught up on getting my videos posted. Figuring out the whole YouTube thing has been a tiny bit tedious, but my girls and my husband have been amazingly encouraging- and to be honest I’m just super lazy when it comes to tech stuff- I’d rather clean fish tanks! 🤣.

Dax seems to be doing well, but I’m getting the feeling that senescence is near... I haven’t seen obvious signs yet, just “that feeling” you get after living with them for so long that the time is near. Hopefully we still have a couple of months together, but we take things as they come!
 
Those of you who know me understand that I am superstitious for the first two weeks of octopus acclamation. 🤣. I don’t go public with them until I am sure they are healthy, but I still take lots of pictures. Here are some more shots from the last couple of weeks of DAX after dark, and the tank in general.
I did not know that the charming and hilarious Dax lives with you. I fell madly in love with him by way of those hysterical vids you put up on YouTube. The one of him showing really cracks me up, especially when it seems like he poses for the camera. So funny to watch. I am going to try to look up o.briareus to learn more about them. I will never be able to live with one myself, but i truly do appreciate being able to do so vicariously thanks to tonmo. 🤗
 
I got some great footage of Dax eating last night! He had found a chunk of raw shrimp in his glass jar, but decided to visit with me while eating it. I started taking the video because I wanted to get some clothes up footage of him actually eating the shrimp. I’m glad I kept filming longer than I normally do because at the end of the two minute video you can see where he actually pull the “mud vein” from the shrimp out of his mouth plays with it a little bit and eventually discards it! In the shorter one, I was able to get close up to the suckers around the mouth, and really see them moving the food into his mouth!

His colors still look good, he’s eating well and his regular motor movement seems normal. However, last night I noticed that when he’s sitting still on the glass “just hanging out,” his arms are starting to dangle more loosely at his sides...
 
There really isn’t anything very exciting or informative about this video that hasn’t been documented in previous videos, but it’s pretty... I put a meaty shrimp tail in the feeding jar while Dax was still in his den to see how long it would take him to “wake up” and take it. It was a good 15-20 minutes before he rousted out to take it- but it was between 4:30 -5pm, so that was pretty early for him.

Just for fun I got measurements on the jar- it’s 4in tall with a 3in diameter, and it’s volume is 13oz- so that gives a comparison for Dax’s size.
 
I have become a moderator on an octopus keepers page on Facebook. It’s one of those dubious things, I see so much misinformation it makes me want to spit, and I share information to try to help- but then there are so many people who blow off important facts! SO, I’m doing a little series of “public service announcements” about Octopus Keeping. In part, so I could have information already written up that I can copy and paste, Because so many of the same questions come up over and over. I decided I would start keeping them here! I would dearly love input from all of you on what else I should include or any edits I should make!


“True facts about Octopus keeping!”

I’ve seen lots of terrible information about Octopus keeping circulating. I am not an expert, but I do have 12 years of experience. I’m not trying to talk anybody into or out of having an octopus, I just want to share facts and information I have gained over a decade of keeping octopuses.

***If you want a pet that will play with toys, solve puzzles and be available at any point during the day- get a dog!***

-Keeping octopuses is an amazing experience, but it is not for beginners! You need a solid experience with marine chemistry and keeping water stable. A fully cycled, mature tank is required. TONMO.com has the most comprehensive information for researching cephalopods in the home aquarium. Start your research there!

-Octopuses do best in a dedicated tank, with clean up crew and corals as the only tank mates. They require lots of live rock to hide in and hunt ‘pods and CUC out of. Plastic tank ornaments aren’t sufficient.

-When you mix fish with octopuses, all are stressed out. While the fish might be eaten by the octopus, they can also cause damage to the octopus- especially by picking at their eyes. I have seen posts where people have them mixed together, but generally it “works until it doesn’t.”
-Octopuses require heavy filtration. You do not need a “special filter,” but you do need heavy filtration and a REGULAR WATER CHANGE routine.

-Octopuses do require a secure lid, but this is actually easy to achieve. Most often overlooked is the fact that they will climb out when you were doing water changes!!! When I am doing tank maintenance, I always make sure to have a second person on hand.

-Scientific names for IDs are important, common names don’t tell you much. There are several different species of octopuses that can be kept in a home aquarium- but just like fish, there are certain species that do not do well in a tank! Some need chillers, some don’t. The size of the tank you need is dependent upon the species of octopus you have. ID IS IMPORTANT FOR PROPER CARE!
-Most species of octopuses are crepuscular or nocturnal. This means you will not be seeing them whenever you want. Interaction is completely up to the animal!

-Octopuses are seasonal, and are not always available! They all have short lifespans, warmer water species only live a year or so. It’s close to impossible to know their ages. This means in addition to the heartache of losing them, you may not find another for a while. My tank sits”fallow” for a while every year.

***NOTE TO THE “HATERS”***

As with ornamental fish, the hobby gives an alternative to the food trade. Many octopuses in the hobby are by-catch. Most all octopuses in the hobby could have been sold for food!

If you made it through this post and are still interested in keeping an octopus, check out TONMO.com for all the information you need to responsibly keep a cephalopod in your home aquarium. It is a site that is staffed by professional marine biologists and longtime cephalopod keepers that are available to give you support! There are separate threads for tank set ups, ceph care, sources for cephalopods and food and identification. There are also several journals there that we octopus lovers keep on our pets. It can really help you make a decision!
 
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“My Octopus laid eggs, now what???”

That all depends on what type of eggs your species of octopus. There are “large egged” octopuses and “small egged” octopuses, the type of babies they produce are very different. Oddly, the actual size of the adult has no bearing on the size of the eggs!
“Small egged” octopuses lay thousands of eggs in strings called “festoons.” These babies hatch out into tiny pelagic paralarvae which then need float with other zooplankton to hunt and grow before they settle out into benthic adults. These babies can’t be raised in a home aquarium- they need an endless supply of live planktonic food. YOU CANNOT RAISE THESE IN THE HOME AQUARIUM. They are still trying to figure this out an a professional level.

“Large egged” babies are still incredibly small, but they are bigger and fewer in number than the smaller type. These can be laid singly and directly to the surface of the den rather than festoons. Large egged babies hatch out into fully formed, miniature benthic octopuses, ready to hunt larger foods such as amphipods and mysis shrimp. If you are lucky enough to have a fertile large egged brood, then please use the link below to start your research!


Raising Octopus Hatchlings Links

***Keep in mind that female octopuses will lay eggs WHETHER THEY ARE FERTILE OR NOT! Just because she lays eggs doesn’t mean there will be babies. To add to the confusion- after mating in the wild, a female can hold onto sperm packets until she’s ready to brood- so you just don’t know!!! Unfortunately, it does mean that she’s entered senescence, and you cannot prevent this natural process.***
 
“Why should I keep journal or log book for my Octopus?”

I was recently interviewed by a magazine about my experiences with octopus keeping, luckily I had my octopus journals to reread in order to prepare. I was amazed at the wealth of information I had amassed!
-As with all fish tanks, keeping a log of your regular water tests can alert you to a problem before it happens!

-Octopuses are “live fast, die young” animals that can go through changes rapidly. Keeping notes on their appearance and behaviors increase your knowledge of what is “normal” for that individual.

-Over time your journals become a wealth of information! They give you a way to synthesize your experiences to learn what has worked for you. If a problem arises, reviewing your log book can often help you figure it out.

-Keeping a journal on TONMO.com not only gives a place to log all of your information in one place- it gives you information from dozens of other people’s experiences, support from professionals AND gives you a chance to help out other new keepers!
 
“Senescence, octopus old age”

All octopuses go through a pre-programmed cell death called “senescence” at the end of their lives. This happens to both males and females, in the wild or in captivity.

During this period their motor functions weaken, their colors pale, they quit hunting and they often they become autophagic.

Females will lay their eggs and brood them- even if they are infertile- so you won’t see much of them at all. Some species will begin to fortify their dens, packing shells and ruble into any hole. If you see your female doing this, brooding is impending!

Males, on the other hand, may start spending more time out of their dens. You may see their arms “corkscrew” and their respiration increase.

When you reach this inevitable point with your friend, you cannot prevent it! What you can do is:

-Stick to your regular maintenance routine to ensure pristine water quality.

-Remove ALL potentially dangerous tank mates! As they weaken, those animals that used to be easy prey will begin to pick at them.

-Continue to offer their favorite foods, but don’t expect them to eat.
-Enjoy what time you have left with your friend, knowing that you’re providing a peaceful end to an animal that would otherwise succumb to a predator in the wild.
 
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