• 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.

Doggy - the Chambered Nautilus

A little history might help understand the forum's organization and recording of exotics. Some years ago we had a major ethics split of opinion about animals that, for reasons of care and safety, caused us to visit how to handle journaling of certain species. Some groups wanted all ceph keeping open while others wanted no journaling of exotics. After much discussion, @tonmo came up with a compromise and created the exotics forum to allow posting of animals that
a) were dangerous to keep (aka blue ring octopuses)
b) should not be collected because of unknown numbers in the wild AND unsuccessful aquarium confinement or reproduction (aka Thaumoctopus mimicus, Wunderpus photogenicus, nautiluses). This forum is restricted to members (ie you must be signed in to see it) and will not show up on a Google scan but still allows unrestricted member posting.

As a general rule of thumb, we are pretty heavy handed on the blue rings (because of safety) and would highly prefer they be reported on from labs rather than individuals, allowing information and photos but limiting potential lethal accidents. Most individuals don't continue their journals because of the gentle discouragement.

Wunderpus and mimics don't reproduce successful young in an aquarium so the argument of propagating a potentially declining species has no merit at least until we can devise successful ways of growing out more common small egg octopuses. Like the blue rings we dissuade keeping them but, not unlike Doggy, occasionally members come across one that is going to die if someone without experience does not acquire the animal. Many of these are given to the members (free or at cost) because they were fill items that were not ordered.

Nautiluses fall into the category of unknown numbers but suspected declining counts in the wild (as @gjbarord is studying), lack of successful long term aquarium survival (2 years tops in most aquariums but with an expected 20+ year life expectancy in the wild). Over collection for the aquarium industry is not the focus of the decline and the current excessive take is for shells without regard to husbandry. Reproduction has occurred in large public facilities but survival of the offspring (as of my last reading, this may be more successful now) has not been accomplished.

The unfortunate thinking (unfortunate because it is true but wished otherwise) is that if these animals are ordered and die without being purchased, it will discourage collection. For keepers, the choice is always hard and not always consistent. It is my personal hope that when we chose to go against our better judgment (or acquire one of these animals without profit to the seller) that they get journaled for the full lifespan.
Here is the latest paper @gjbarord found on lab investigation for the reasons for the continuing occurrence of the black substance on aquarium kept nautilus. The link is to a copy of the abstract with an additional link to ZooBiology but a subscription is required to view the final paper. You might see if you can find/borrow a "free" copy to read the entire paper.
@DWhately -

First, sorry if my comments came across wrong! I understand the forum ethics and support them 100% - and not attempting to encourage others to have a nautilus in the home aquarium. I was more or less acknowledging there isn't a lot of concise material on how people care for them, and thus would like to make sure that I am able to document interesting and useful observations, and that if people have an interest and questions that I'm not answering - that I'd be happy to be able to focus on those matters and report back.

Right now I'm mostly focused on his feeding and observing his behaviors in the tank. He seems to become increasingly familiar with his tank - I can't remember the last time he bumped into a wall. He maneuvers the rock work without issue, and I've recently seen him steal his leftovers back from hungry brittle stars.

Originally I had planned on moving the LR to a different tank and plumb it to the system, as many observations are that the nautilus is a clumsy beast and will damage their shells if there are any obstructions. He genuinely seems fine. I will end up adding another tank to the system, as previously planned. It'll have additional LR/LS without any new display animals, just existing for additional biological filtration. My water quality remains immaculate, I just am a bit more paranoid than normal with giving Doggy the best conditions I can.

I'll take better pictures next week and start with a weekly shell measurement. My plan is to grab him with the large tongs and hold a tape across the length of his shell, underwater, and get a good picture or ten - easier to observe the shell growth and discoloring.

...and just snagged a copy of Greg's paper - hopefully those bastards at Wiley give him some money from the purchase (they screwed me over on a book deal many years ago in a very different field, and I'm exceptionally good at holding a grudge :wink:.
The paper is not @gjbarord 's but one he recommended as the most complete he has seen (I'm just the messenger :biggrin2:). No insult or determent intended (in fact I personally highly encourage and love your posts. If you can't keep 'em a vicarious experience is second best :biggrin2:. I believe most of us agree that a dedicated, experienced aquarist can improve our understanding of best practices and without a forum, the information can be lost) but I wanted you to have a bit of the history as to why we separate nauts from the octo and cuttle journals.
Went to the market this morning and bought some more shrimp and some fresh calamari. As soon as I got to the office, found that Doggy had already helped himself to a fresh horseshoe crab molt and was happily munching away in the corner!

So, will make sure to watch the other tanks to see if I can snag other horseshoe molts for him!
That is cool and the only info we have had that would suggest tank mates that molt could be clean up crew and beneficial. One item I could suggest is a small lobster. I have one that does not grow very large from the FL keys. I have had him for over a year and he seems to be thriving and has not come close to outgrowing his 45 gallon tank. KP aquatics gets them occasionally so you might write Kara and Philipp to request a couple when they see one while collecting (explain that your critter eats molts, they would appreciate the use). Live bait shrimp might also be beneficial. They don't ship really well but can go overnight or (as we have done) be carried home in an areated bait bucket if you happen to be driving back from a coastal vacation.
Apparently the molt wasn't very filling (they are smaller crabs) - he's enthusiastically mowing down on a piece of fresh squid right now!

@DWhatley - I'll see about the lobsters. I have a 75 gallon tank that is cleaned by a variety of cannister filters (very stable water, cannisters do work for sw! to all the critics) that I have purely for keeping live food. My plan was to raise penaeid shrimp in it once I figure out how to get rid of some of the aggressive feeders (fundunlus grandis) which I'm having a bit of trouble capturing right now. I've considered borrowing a lion or something to rid my tank... :wink: Right now the minnows, despite their size, would rip apart any shrimp pretty quickly. It's fun throwing food in there and watching them tear it up as a group though!

I thought buying 100 or so penaeid and growing them out to size would be an effective and healthy food source, especially since they have such incredible appetites it'd be easy to enrich them with cyclops and Ulva. I wonder how much it matters, as with other predators, to have meat sources that are raised on primarily vegetarian or carnivorous diets.

And unfortunately I live in Michigan and there isn't a good local source of saltwater food. I generally buy shrimp for the cuttles from Paul Sachs (aquaculturestore.com - great family business!) or livemarinebaitfish.com. And my coastal journeys are always by plane...

Some Doggy pics, eating fresh squid. Blue lighting makes photography tricky and/or I am a terrible photographer.

@cuttlegirl, it is not all that uncommon for humans to eat monkey meat where monkeys are local so I can't cringe at the cephs for cousin consumption. It is the live conspecific diet that is confusing with octos.

@ngdo, If you can source a couple of the lobsters and Doggy ignores live food, it would seem these might be ideal to leave in the tank. The same might go for bait shrimp. You might find someone to ship some (lots of water and cool weather). If they don't make it, they would probably still be able to be frozen as they should survive most of the way. I have tried this once with a shipment of other things as was partially successful.
@cuttlegirl - so far squid is the food he seems to show the most enthusiasm for! He only gets it after his shrimp shell though.

@DWhatley - will definitely get some lobsters soon. Having a little color will be nice! Going to get some sponges too, I think.
@gjbarord - I've read enough articles that suggest copepods are problems to the nautilus in the wild. Any thoughts or input here? I am considering plumbing my other chilled tank to this same system (overkill on LR/LS). It is kept at the exact same parameters but heavily stocked with pod cultures as it is the big belly seahorse display tank. :wink:
Keep in mind that the one I keep (and should remain an ideal tank mate if Doggy does not eat it live) is smaller than the spiney lobsters caught for eating in FL. I believe the scientific name is Panulirus guttatus (common name Spanish Spotted Lobster). These are not commonly eaten and I have read that they are not regulated but finding them is luck.
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Doggy's last two feedings have both been minnows.

I think I mentioned it before, but just in case - the minnows we keep are Fundulus grandis from www.livemarinebaitfish.com and are fed on a combination of frozen Cyclops and fresh Ulva in their tank. I net one out, club him on the head (they're very muscular and powerful, escape Doggy very easily) and immediately present to him in his tank.

He accepts them very greedily - much more enthusiasm than he has had for his shrimp+shells these last few weeks, and eats them much quicker. I'm wondering if he wasn't getting quite enough protein from how I was feeding him shells + shrimp tails? Obviously projecting a lot from my own personal experience with nutrition and how my body craves food groups that I cycle around (ie: how bad my craving for meat gets after a veggie-only week).

He also always manipulates the minnows so that he is eating them head first.

I might consider switching one weekly feeding to a minnow and the second feeding to be the shrimp shell+tail meat.
He may have shared some of our sashimi lunches at work more than once :wink:

I keep meaning to try the chicken skin/fat. I understand it definitely won't be his most nutritious meal but I am intrigued by the reports of how much the Nautilus supposedly go crazy for bits of chicken.

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