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Try putting a red flashlight to one spot in the tank and leaving it on for, say, 15 minutes. If you do see some drawn to the light, add a little Cyclop-eeze if you still have a little. If you don't have red find a red something (t-shirt, plastic coffee can) and put it over a white one (Folgers can may be too opaque though but you get the idea). Sedna noticed that they would come to a flash light at night and I was able to attract shrimp spawn that way the other night.
I have a red led strip on it for like the past three hours, we're fearing we may have lost them all...... I will keep updates if anything shows up, as well as updates about moving the small male to his larger tank.
I was able to find some 99% alcohol and moved the mother to it, her arms twisted up and her skin turned kinda rubbery. Her color stayed pretty well as well.
I did not see a clear gathering of the shrimp spawn under my overhead red light (although they were in the general area and is how I spotted them). They only gathered (and the gathering was very strong with the shrimp) when I focused a beam along the side of the tank. Worth a try but not a guaranteed method.
I am assuming you put her in formalin first since you said she was rubbery. The texture is really quite amazing after formalin as it does not feel like live tissue but like a rubber toy. You may want to change out the alcohol in maybe 2 weeks if you see a yellowing. Don't do it immediately but once all the formalin and any remaining tissue leaches out, the alcohol will stay clear.
I am not sure if you are asking about keeping or trying to raise hatchlings. Most of my wc animals live a full lifespan and I have been lucky to have raised a few hatchlings into natural senescence so when you refer to deaths I assume you mean the short lifespan and the high die off rate at hatching. Part of me gets frustrated, yes. I know this is how it is and I have seen it over and over and am not going to be able to change the way nature works. Loosing a particularly interactive animal is especially hard. However, not having an octopus in the house is worse. At this point, if I could not keep them I would likely give up my tanks. There is something magic about octopuses and the house feels sort of lonely without one. Neal has also noticed this hard to describe emptiness during the few times we have not had them around and is likely the reason I rarely keep fewer than two at a time.
I will be in the market for a few in the near future hopefully I will find a species people know a little bit more about or at least know the species name. Definitely want a young species seem to only be able to find full grown adults.
It is still a very new hobby animal and we know little about octopuses in general. In recent years, work is being done on growing them out for food and I am hoping the pet world will benefit from some of these studies. The most scientific work has been done with O. vulgaris (mostly outside the US). Unfortunately, they are often larger than most can accommodate as pets (although LittleBit was just about right for a 65-75 gallon tank, had she gotten any bigger, I had a 140 alternate but most people don't) and they are small egged so raising young is a long way from being practical. O. mercatoris is a nice size but very shy and nocturnal. However, they are large egg and likely the easiest to raise. Mucktopus has a series of publications on A. aculeatus, and it is a good size but most are adults that come in from the Philippines and don't live long (also a small egg animal and often has hatchlings in keepers' tanks).
At the present time, if you have the room for O. briareus, it is the most successful IMO. We are starting to see more and more young ones, they are crepuscular as they become juveniles (pretty much nocturnal until about 5 months old) and seem to survive through senescence in an aquarium (65+ gallons needed, CaptFish will argue that this can be too small but most do not get as large as his Legs). They are an abundant Caribbean species and usually come directly from collectors (either caught directly or as by-catch from the crabbing/lobster industry) so they miss the wholesale handling and overseas transport. O. briareus is also a large egg species so there is the possibility of raising a few hatchlings (this is not easy to do for any species so don't take the possibility as will happen but know that it has).
There are other possibilities that we just do not see in the trade. If they become a bit more main stream, we may see others over time. Somewhere along the line I think I decided I wanted to keep at least one of every species I have seen (GPO excepted) I have kept one that I will never know for sure its ID unless it starts showing up more often (Monty was an excellent aquarium animal) and that was probably my biggest frustration. I have one now that I think is not what I initially guessed and won't know if he is what I now think he is until he gets bigger . Fortunately, I DO know where he came from so his environment should be satisfactory.