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Feeding Crabs in puzzles... they die - rancid smell


Nov 10, 2019
Raleigh, NC
Hey guys, sorry I am new here and I wanted to give my octopus a little extra stimulation
so I put a live emerald crab in a glass bottle with some raw salmon in it
I come back and look five hours later to see if the octopus has killed it
and he hasn't,
the crab had died
and the smell was absolutely rancid when I poured out the bottle

Earlier, I did the same thing with an easter egg that I had poked holes in
I put a tiny piece of shrim in it, a live emerald crab, and a rock - let them all float to the bottom, covered the egg with shrimp juice
and waited for the octopus to hopefully eat it

He didn't. He let it sit there,
I bring it up after 24 hours
dead crab, rancid smell.

Does anyone know any tricks to this? I was always putting a little piece of meat in there so the crab would have something to eat before death,
but I am wondering if the crab pooped itself to death both times, or if the meat had decayed or if crabs don't do well in these puzzle traps

Do you guys have tricks for enrichment?
First of all, what does your octopus like to eat best? Put only that one food item in the bottle. If the octopus hasn’t eaten it after a couple of hours, get rid of it! If your octopus doesn’t ever take the food from the bottle then THAT IS OK!

Maybe your octopus isn’t bored and doesn’t need that for stimulation! Over 12+ years of keeping octopuses, only a few of mine have ever actually eaten from a bottle like that- my current one Baby Kraken does, you can read her journal to find out how we went about adding the feeding bottle as behavioral training.
I'll second what Sedna said here. If your crabs are well fed before being offered to your animal then they will be just fine for a few hours while they are in the tank without food. I'd imagine the raw fish or shrimp you added with the crab is what was causing problems.

I think that enrichment is best provided in the form of a habitat that recreates the animals natural environment as close as possible. In the wild, the octopus would likely never come across a crab in a bottle or a plastic egg. Toys and puzzles, while interesting to us, are not something that an octopus would ever interact with in their natural environment. I would say they are closer to human enrichment than octopus enrichment when given to the animal. If you want to "enrich" your animal the best, I would recommend changing their exhibit aqua scaping every month or two to give them new places to explore and hide, and make sure they have plenty of rocks and plants and various nooks and crannies to root around in.
^^^ makes a lot of sense! ...would a "slow evolving change" make sense to the aqua scape be more rewarding? i.e., instead of a foundational change every month or two.... making a point of making smaller changes on a more frequent basis (like a couple times per week maybe).
...or maybe that's too disruptive.
...or maybe that depends on the personality of the ceph

Whatever the case, focusing on natural enrichment tactics vs. human toys and puzzles seems like a great ideas, both for the ceph and the owner. As an owner I imagine it would help me better understand what stimulates them naturally, and then lean into that... vs. enrichment via human-made things... which can probably work sometimes in terms of being engaging, but instead of bringing them closer to you, why not bring yourself closer to them.
I'm just going to add here that enrichment involving the slow, stressful death of another animal is not ideal, and second the points made above that abiotic environmental enrichment is a much better, more sustainable option. Feeding live food to captive octopuses is not at all necessary.

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