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Getting Octopus to eat

Dec 3, 2004
Hi all, I'm wondering if I could get some advice and/or reassurance. Afew months ago I had asked a LFS owner if he ever got octopuses in. He said rarely as they didn't ship very well. He called me a few days ago to say the Octopus I had wanted had arrived and looked to be healthy. I explained to him that I was just inquiring before, however, I went to see the animal and fell in love. Now I currently have a 90 gallon that has had live rock/sand and a few soft corals for a couple of months after the teardown of my big reef. Complete with plexiglass cover weighed down (ugly looking).

The animal is much larger than it looked in the store. I will try and post some pics tonight, however, its head and mantle are about 4-5 " and each arm is about 12-14 " in length. It is mottled brown and does show an exaggerated whitening of its web when it "pounces" on rocks and then gropes for food within the rock. I have not yet seen an ocellus yet, but it is from the info-pacific and was labelled as brown octopus- maybe a cyanea?

My question is that when can I expect it to take food from me? I am not sure it is getting enough to eat. I have not seen it definatively eat yet. I bought several small emerald crabs for it yesterday (expensive) so it would have some natural food, along with the snails etc. in the tank. It so far will not take small silversides yet. Tonight I will pick up fresh shrimp with head etc. on as well as small clams and mussels.

Its been in the tank 24 hours now. How long before it will accept offered food? Thank you for your answers and help, this thing is incredibly beautiful and I just hope I didn't get a mature senescent octopus.
Sounds like he's doing well considering he's out hunting already. The shrimp is a good idea. If you followed my post on Gimpy, I feed him a 2" crab at least once a day. Gimp seems to be about the same size as yours and I've had him 4 months in October I think. I am sure he is eating as he's hunting what you currently have in the tank. Looking forward to the pics!

Thanks for the reply Carol. I had hoped he/she was finding things to eat in the rock. I know there were many unidentified "nuisance" crabs in the rock as I never had the heart to kill them in the reef tank. The pounce move is incredible to watch. The animal alternated between coming out in the open and hiding in its den looking at me with its eyes. My son was amazed to see the octopus come out, crawl along the back glass of the tank (painted black), change color to dark brown/black and then change color to resemble rock as it continued over the rocks. I think it should be named Mimius i.e., to mimic. Anyway, I will feel better when I actually see it eat crabs, shrimps, mussels etc. This is by far more interesting than watching fish swim around all day!
hi detritus, ive had good luck with useing thawed frozen shrimp on a skewer and slowly draging a few inchs from octo den. also u could try dropping a hermit crab in front of him as they seem to be slower den most crabs and cant get away. also one of the other members posted a nifty way to encourage dem hermits out of there shells useing a candle. (sorry i cant remember who posted that but thank you the idea worked great!)
Thanks everyone, I thawed a frozen silverside fish and suspended it in mid water via thick fishing line peirced through the body. This kept it away from the brittlestars. My son was watching the tank out of the corner of his eye when he said something jetted up to the fish really fast and grabbed it. He said the octopus pulled the fish into its den and ate it. The octopus (mimius) must have hit the fish pretty hard as the fishing line was back outside the tank from the recoil. Anyway, at least its eating! Last night I picked up some shrimp with the head and tail intact as well as some saltwater clams and will see how that goes. Sorry no pic, when I got home, half the neighbourhood kids were at the tank watching Mimius as it watched them. I told my son that in future he would have to be more careful around the tank as the octopus is shy and you can't have a load of people around the tank. I think my son is as impressed with the octopus as I am. Unfortunately I still have no idea what species it is. I have ordered the book by Norman on Cephalopods of the world but it hasn't arrived yet.

On another note, I know that octopuses do not repeat a forage path twice. I was wondering if in the confines of an aquarium if they eventually "give up" their foraging attempts as it seems that they are covering the same ground over and over again. Something they do not do in nature. Question is then if I continue to introduce live crabs and shrimp into the tank will the octopus still hunt for them.

Thanks for the support, I'll try hard to get some pictures tonight.
I'm not sure whether, in the total absence of live food, octos may 'give up' on re-checking areas of the tank they have searched before. I do know that when we put a few live crabs at once into the octo tank at the aquarium (enough for a few to hide while the octo catches the others), Mud will immediately begin to comb over the entire tank to ferret them out! It's great fun to drop in about 20 little crabs (~1"), watch them scatter in all directions and hide in the rocks, and then watch Mud systematically check every hole in every rock until she's found them all!
Thanks, I will make sure to keep the tank periodically stocked with crabs so the octopus has some fun hunting. I have started a collection of "nuisance crabs" from others who have reef tanks and catch the crabs out of fear for their corals.

Mimius did not want the clam, so now I have tried a fresh whole shrimp that is attached to a float so it bobs around. All hermits and several smaller crabs previously in the tank have been consumed.

Unfortunately, the tank is lit with a 250 metal halide light that is 4 feet above the tank. This was a quick lighting setup taken from the reef. However, I think most octopuses if not nocturnal still prefer to hunt during the dawn and twillight time, crepuscular. This weekend I will redo the lights into 2 40 watt fluorescents as I think the lights are a bit bright for its liking.

Thanks for all the help everyone.
Just an updat. Mimius is now out in the open most of the time. I have "played" with him and he is now not afraid of my hand. Today, he ate his first fresh shrimp from my tweezers. Wow am I relieved! I've tried at attach a couple of very poor quality pics. Thanks for everyones imput and the support and information provided by this great forum.


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