• 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

Glad to hear things are going well! Nautiluses are surprisingly sensitive and tough! It's a strange combination but with a genealogy that spans 500 million years, they've learned a few tricks....:biggrin2:

The white of Doggy's shell is beginning to look dirty, as if it is possibly developing a coat of algae. Is there any concern about this? I am contemplating scrubbing a small portion with a toothbrush to verify but don't want to do anything that may stress him out if it isn't necessary.

I worry about the nautilus equivalent of a turtle's shell rot.

He is otherwise acting as usual and has a good appetite. He continues to seem to adapt to the confines of the tank - he moves more carefully, moves through the caverns of the live rock better and finds his dropped food without me needing to hand it back to him.
Some pictures of the coat of algae would help...:smile:

Definitely looks like algae - water parameters test good.

Temp - 65F
Calcium - 450ppm
pH - 8.3
Phosphate - undetected
Ammonia - Undetected
Nitrate - Undetected
Nitrite - Undetected

I have some calpura and chateo growing in the refugium under more intense lighting - which doesn't grow all so much, and some codium in the DT that hasn't really changed at all in the months I have had it. Tank is skimmed heavily and I run a cannister filter with Phosguard, Purigen and Cuprisorb (no floss/filter etc) that feeds from the return chamber through the chiller and back into the drain/skimmer chamber. Cannister stays nice and clean, no buildup in there. :wink:
Unfortunately, the site is in Japanese but @gjbarord posted a link to this saying it is the oldest known tank born naut at 5 years (hatched on July 10, 2009). Note the black in the growth pattern.

Also, it occured to me that neither Greg nor I mentioned his FaceBook page for nautilus education, journaling of events and glimpses at efforts to study and preserve the species

Last edited:
Yep, looks like algae to me too. I'm guessing it's the lighting. I don't think any scrubbing would affect the nautilus all that much. Just depends on how quickly it starts to grow and how much you'd have to do it. Juveniles, like the one you have there (you can tell it's a juvenile because the stripes go all the way to the aperture or end of the shell) also have a periostracum on their shell that is yellowish. But that green looks like algae definitely.

Periostracum for the biologically handicapped (like me):

Periostracum is often yellowish or brownish in color. In some species it is black. The periostracum is very often a different color than the underlying layer of the shell.
In the shells of species which have periostracum, this shell layer is quite often physically worn away or chemically eroded in the parts of the shell that are older, thus it may only still be visible in the more recently formed areas of the shell. ...

Googling nautilus periostracum shows a number of articles about the shell and shell growth that may be worth reading (no time to review tonight)
Some interesting readings for sure.

I scrubbed a bit off the shell with a soft toothbrush and it came off easily - should I actually be concerned about the algae for any reason? Doggy never holds a grudge - I grabbed him with the tongs and scrubbed a bit while he was eating a shrimp, which he never bothered to let go - but the same time, would rather not piss him off too badly. :wink:
For today's feeding, I slightly buried his Selcon-soaked shrimp in the substrate. He instantly sensed food has been added to the tank and detached from his wall, and began swimming around slowly with his tentacles extended. It took him a bit of time time and exploration to find the spot the shrimp was buried - I imagine his sense of smell isn't so accurate in a small tank with good circulation. Within a few minutes he had located the spot. A serpent had already found it as well. Doggy blew the substrate away and took the shrimp away from the serpent, and happily retreated to a corner to feed.

I'll repeat this on Friday and hopefully capture it on video. Knowing my luck, he won't cooperate at all.

Watching Youtube videos of nautiluses feeding in the wild, they usually start jetting away pretty quickly after finding a meal. Doggy seems pretty aware of his surroundings and is cautious in his movements. The only time we ever really see him bumping into the tank walls now is when he is eating, although it is very slow. I have to imagine he has a bit of a one-track mind and gets a bit distracted by his tasty foods. :wink:
BTW - I also found a good source for dried Cyclops, now that Argent has discontinued (or been unable to harvest) their Cyclops-Eeze. Anyone keeping reefs or other filter-feeding creatures would probably be familiar with how excited animals seem to be with this food. I stuffed a bunch beneath the shrimp's shell, and Doggy ate a considerable larger amount of the shrimp than normal. Not sure if there is an actual correlation but will keep an eye on his feeding habits and repeat.
I found a twin pack of frozen Cyclop-eze (frozen cubes combined with cubes of frozen mysis) at Drs. Foster and Smith but the Cyclop-eze is not the same (but IS frm Argent) and I suspect it may be reconstituted from the dehydrated. I am using the dyhydrated (seems to be easy to find) to feed the feeder shrimp but have not found a source for frozen.
I actually like frozen more, but stock the dried as it goes in the autofeeder for the crinoid tank (they're all 1+ years old, EVERYONE CALM DOWN). I read that Argent hasn't been able to harvest for over a year and their inventory has been reduced to what frozen is left.

brineshrimpdirect.com sells freeze-dried Cyclops, albeit without whatever enhancements Argent made to their stock, and everything seems just about as happy. Couldn't complain with the $50 price on a pound shipped to my door.