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Growing an Octopus maya (inexperienced green novice)


Apr 6, 2018
Mérida México
Hello everyone!

I attached a video that I made, it's about my dream, in summary near my city of residence there is an octopus farm (Octopus maya) where for research and business they raise baby octopuses ... and my lifelong dream had been an octopus in a fish tank; Now, besides having and growing a beautiful Mayan octopus as a pet, my dream is to take my community to know them and maybe to the aquarium enthusiasts to adopt them, almost nobody knows they exist here.
I have many experts regarding the Mayan octopus to support me, but they are experts at a huge level (farm) they are not experts in having them in fish tanks. To prepare I have read in this forum, in other forums, asked experts in marine tanks and I have too much information (much is contradicted).

Basically I have access to thousands of baby octopuses, which are used for research or food, so in the process of learning to keep them, some deaths would not matter, and I understand that at a research level the collateral damage is high and expected, but I think that if I prepare; it is not necessary to take several octopi to the grave to learn.

According to the experts; The Mayan octopus is smaller and much more resistant than vulgaris, especially these that are grown in captivity for more than a decade, they are used to small spaces, housing changes, people and eating the pellets that they developed on the farm, they resist high temperatures and the Mayan octopus are very sociable and calm, from 5 grams they have them in open tanks next to the beach where they fatten them up to 120 grams ... and they do not escape !! the same adults in the fertilization tanks; they stay there !!

So in advance I apologize if I do not use the correct terms, my plan is: an exclusive fish tank for the octopus ... while it is very small (the first 2 months) to start with an aquarium of 40 lts (11gal) above and 30 lts (8gal) below (attached photo), as substrate I will use the crushed shells that are they natural habitat (part of the substrate of the Yucatan coast), and some rocks also same habitat, a mesh net cover with a velcro closure opening in the center, and I thought to leave it without a lamp, only leave the ambient lighting to see him.

Here I require your support, the man who built me and installed the fish tank swears to me that I will not require cycling because he will throw things into the water and the equipment and that will leave it immediately ready for the little octopus, he is a breeder and the whole family is dedicated to this and has aquariums and beautiful fish, but everything I have read says that I need to cycle, the times vary according to the author from a week to 3 months ... help here please!

Then the water, those of the farm use the sea water that passes through machines and they tell me to use that, I mean not to salt, only to use sea water, and the guy building the fish tanks tells me that water from drinking bottles that he will salt, because the sea water bring bad bugs, and also at home I have a reverse osmosis filter (that is the water I use to drink): What water and salt do you recommend?

After 2 to 3 months I will pass it to its final fish tank, (at the farm they recommend to start with 3 so that one is left), the strongest one, and that to pass it to the big tank, here if I wanted to make sure I have the equipment and supplies to give it a good habitat, could you recommend everything I need to buy and where to buy it for Mexico? I am in Merida Yucatan Mexico; I do not want to economize, I do not want to waste, I want to do it well.

I saw an aquarium fish Boyu of 246 lts yesterday in Petco ... the price is good but I do not know if it is useful to adapt it to Marina (attached photo).

All your help is welcome,
Thank you in advance for your support. pecera1.jpegWhatsApp Image 2018-04-06 at 7.04.04 PM.jpeg
Hi, no answers yes, but I Will Keep posting...
I will add a lamp, heater I do not think I need here in Merida it is always very hot, do I still require it? (The thermometer says 32 degrees C)

Here is already working my first prototype, filtration in the sump has first live rock (of a healthy and mature fish tank) I put it in and its water too (a half bucket 10lts) then sponge, with the skimer there are 2 sacks one of zeolite and another of coconut charcoal, and from there it goes back to the tank, so it is cycling from today, the very small octopus is delivered to me on May 2 (in 22 days)

Since the living rock and part of the water come from an established aquarium, do I let it run and that's it? Or do you recommend cycling with a little fish food?

Do I need to "feed" the bacteria that is already in the tank? ... or just let it run and that is enough?

Thanks for your support


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So sorry for the delay in responding. We were attending TONMOcon VII, our biannual conference and our days were filled with excellent talks about cephalopods that continued into evenings with ceph enthusiasts discussions.

I am so jealous! We have seen a few article about the culturing of the Maya but it is hard to find much information and they have not been made available to the US hobby aquarists. My biggest fear it that they will be too large for the typical hobbyist. Can you get mantle (that is the sack that contains the organs) and arm lengths of typical animals? This will help in determining what size tank would be large enough to be able to handle it waste as an adult.

Do you have either a test kit or test strips to check for ammonia and nitrite? The reagents in the kits are more accurate but they tend to expire and take a long time to run the tests. I prefer the test strips even though the numbers maybe less accurate. You need to acquire one or the other to check to see if your tank is cycled. You will need to feed the bacteria while you are waiting for your octopus. We do recommend 3 months active cycling but because you are starting with precycled rock AND tiny octos adding a dead shrimp to your tank once a week (and removing the prior week's shrimp) will continue to develop the bacteria. You MUST have a 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite reading (you can have your fish store check this if you don't have your own kit/strips) before placing an octopus into the tank.

The other thing you definitely want to include in the adult tank is a protein skimmer. It is an important filtration component but is especially needed to help keep any ink you cannot remove from causing a problem and killing your animal. Ink is not poisonous but it will coat the gills and can suffocate an octopus.

You do not need a heater -- over heating may be a problem in the summer if you do not air condition your house.

Lighting is totally optional as far as the octopus is concerned but it will add heat, ambient is fine for the octopus but not so much for photography or observation.
So after a rough start and two deaths... I finally have an octopus that I hope will survive my inexperience, I will share the details with you and maybe someone can learn from them... The first one died on its first day, when I compared salinity from the water I had in the tank vs its water, mine was to high, so I added some water from my osmosis filter, a few hours later the little octo died from the chlorine (the strips read cero) but nevertheless there was another kind that doesn’t show on the strips and I learned a lesson in the worst way ...



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@Carmen22, I assume you are talking about chloramine that is added to a growing number of water supplies. From what I have read, tap water PH keeps it from being poisonous to us but the higher PH of our aquariums makes it separate out and be lethal to our animals. It is very difficult to remove. From time to time I check to see if they are using it in my own water supply, so far, so good.

That being said and assuming your water is within normal parameters (salt, specific gravity, between 1.025 and 1.026) then you should be acclimating the animals to the tank and not the other way around. A minimum of 3 hours is recommended for a juvenile or adult octo, longer for a very young animal.

If the animal was shipped, its prior handling and the shipping experience may have been more to blame than your tank parameters. Either is possible and I am never comfortable that an animal will survive until it has been in the tank a full two weeks.
@DWhatley I get the octos from an Octopus Maya farm/research place close to my home (30min) they breed octopus there, they hatch the eggs in encubators and grow them for the gourmet market, so it wasn’t the shipping, I did drop by drop acclimating for several hours, in fact my second octo lasted several weeks; She was amazing: curious, active, every time I get close she will come out and like dance in the glass, when I fed her she tried to get a hold of my hand, sigh ...she was amazing, we had a leak and the fish tank supplier came to fix it, he used PVC glue and immediately turn on the water and that was it it was until later that I found out that you have to wait when using PVC glue.

Now I have a third octopus, he ...we think he is a he, but is to soon to know; he is not as active, but its pretty amazing too, I hope he makes it, it’s getting very hot here the water reads 32 centigrade! But he seems fine, he is eating fine and is like very territorial, so I will post about him in the journals section, thanks for all your help and input here

One question; How can I upload videos from my iPhone here? When I try, I get a logo of a paper with a folded corner, but when I click on that I can’t see the video I just uploaded

Thanks for uploading these and sharing. I am excited to see how much they look like O. vulgaris! I am so jealous of your access to this source. I have watched for news info to see how well the farm is doing but have no access. PLEASE do journal this species as we do not have another journal for it and I keep hoping they will become available to the hobby market.

The software for video upload is not as good as we would like and @tonmo has made requests for something more user friendly. You successfully uploaded the video but to get it to display directly on a post (what you are seeing is an option to download and run it locally which may not work with the phone but I can do it on my PC) you have to add another step. If you will look in the Photos/Videos section (tab at the top of all pages) you will see a left hand list with a link to "Your Media" There you will see your uploaded video (if you look there now you will see your video displayed because it is new and you can just click on it as well) . Look to the bottom right for a box labeled, "Share this Media". Right click and copy the displayed link under "Copy GALLERY BB code" then paste that to your journal post. Complicated, I know, and Tonmo continues to look for a cleaner solution.


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