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[Octopus]: Iris - O. Briareus

DWhatley

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Any and everything you think about trying is worth the experiment. Our (both public aquariums and hobbyists) success rates are abysmal even with the large egg species. The two exceptions (somewhat) have been for O. mercatoris (roughly 5 survivors per brood and several people as well as NRCC success) and O. bimaculoides (one hobbyist was able to raise 50) but still not high in count through adults and only the mercs have produced 3rd gen, tank mated offspring.
 

TMoct

O. vulgaris
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Feb 12, 2013
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My plan is as follows, trying to keep it simple:

I'll get several small breeding nets (with suction cups) and distribute them across the top front of the tank. I have an MP40 in there which gives good, broad, water flow, so should keep them well circulated. I'll also get a couple of the small critter keepers, weigh them down with a medium live rock each, and put them on the floor of the tank. I'll order a bunch amphipods when the hatch appears to be getting close, and populate the nets. I'll also get oyster eggs, cyclopeze, and live copepods on hand and ready.

*** Will the little octos stay in the nets, or just climb over the top? Are there nets available with zippered tops?

When the hatch happens, I'll try to capture as many as possible and distribute them in the nets, the critter keepers, the sump, and the sock filter. There will be many that I don't capture in the main tank.

*** Any suggestions on how to capture them? Just look for them on the glass? Any tricks that I should know about?

Then I'll try my best to feed them... In addition to the amphipods living in the nets, I'll attempt to feed them individually with a pipette. I'll take the critter keepers out of the tank during feeding (to eliminate water turnover for a while), and turn the main tank filtration system off for a while during feeding as well.

My favorite basketball coach said that a well thought-out game plan is great for about the first 6 minutes -- I have a feeling that I'll be completely winging it after about an hour. At least this gives me some hardware to prepare...

*** I've never "cultured" amphipods or copepods. Should I start now?
 

DWhatley

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Will the little octos stay in the nets, or just climb over the top? Are there nets available with zippered tops?
IME, every one of the little imps will escape but I am not sure how. All but one merc stayed until I put them in the big tank (5 months), none of the briareus stayed for 48 hours. I believe they went out through the netting holes. If I am correct, a net fine enough to contain them would not allow water flow. This does NOT mean don't try but lends itself well to your basketball coaching.

Any suggestions on how to capture them? Just look for them on the glass? Any tricks that I should know about?
I have used three methods, the most common (with others) and probably the most successful is to buy a good turkey baster (if you have one, get a new one if the bulb has saltwater dry rot. You might try both a glass -- if you can find it -- and a plastic). When they first hatch they will make for the wall in a swam and this is likely the very best time to catch as many as you are going to remove. They will do this for a couple of nights (but not many) before they become totally benthic and pretty much uncatchable. Once you get the hang of sucking them up, during the first day or two, you will pride yourself in your expertise. The biggest problem at this point is getting them OUT of the baster (hence the suggestion of trying two materials). They will stick to the side. Ideally, suck them up and IMMEDIATELY squirt them out -- go directly to the new jail, do not cross the room. When they stick, sometimes shaking the baster will get them to release but usually you will have to suck up more water. Sometimes you think you missed and they go into the bulb so if you THINK you got one and can't see it keep refilling the baster and flushing it. Make it a fun challenge or you will get very frustrated and damage your enjoyment of this whole experience.

Second method, not overly successful, more frustrating but when it works, it is gentler. Use a small cup to trap one on the glass and when it releases the tank side very slowly bring up the cup with water and octopus.

Last method, use you hand like the cup with a cup ready to receive the animal. This worked better with the mercs than the briareus.

My favorite basketball coach said that a well thought-out game plan is great for about the first 6 minutes -- I have a feeling that I'll be completely winging it after about an hour. At least this gives me some hardware to prepare...
Hence the hatching of brine, all the stuff on the counter I did not use and all the contraptions I prepared. The ones left in the tank did the best--keep in mind that my two survivors did spend some unintentional time in the filter socks and grew best there.

I've never "cultured" amphipods or copepods. Should I start now?
I would buy a starter group from Paul (or see if you can scrounge some from an LFS) and put them in the main tank right now (the more the merrier). I think I would also add a quantity to the filter sock in the sump if you are going to experiment with a socktopus :wink:. If you swap/clean the current sock before the hatching, capture as many as you find there and put them back in the new one (I always try to pick them out of the dirty socks and return them to different tanks on cleaning days to mix the breeding as much as possible even without hatchlings). I might clean the sock once (depending on your last cleaning) and then leave it to collect detritus for the pods to eat. The balancing act will be to keep the water flowing through the sock and not have it block up. If you have a larger micron material, that one may work better than a tighter weave. Once you have hatchlings, cleaning will not be desired so you will have to experiment with how long you can filter without overflowing the bag (that is when I initially discovered they could and did go through the overflow).

For culturing additional live food, I would suggest setting up a 10 gallon tank with a small cascade filter. Start with an order of mixed pods and seed the tank for food with a dirty filter sock turned inside out. You can add small amounts of algae and meaty fish food but the filter sock may be enough to keep them happy. Keeping a very fine net around the intake of the filter will collect detritus from the sock (and new waste) and make it easier to collect a few pods. Water quality is not of high importance but aeration is a must.

As the octos (octolets ? We have never agreed on any official name for hatchlings :roll:) grow, you will want to get begin feeding shore shrimp and the 10 gallon works well for keeping a quantity alive. Water quality becomes important so a larger weave intake net is recommended (no net is necessary but they are small enough to get caught in the suction). The shrimp would eat any remaining pods but a full water change should be made anyway since the shrimp require better water.

Once they are big enough and accept pieces of frozen table shrimp, you can do a dance and eliminate the baby food :biggrin2: but may still want to keep the tank around to house fiddlers for a bit of live food. A tank is over kill for fiddlers and they can easily be kept in an easier to clean bucket or smaller 2 gallon tank but if you have this set up, you can lower the water, eliminate the filter and add a central climbing rock (something easily washable). Be sure the climbing rock is in the center (of any container) or you will have your daughter discovering fiddlers in her bedroom. You will have to rinse out the tank weekly to keep everyone's nose happy and the water suitable. Fiddlers can actually be kept in anything from fresh to full seawater but I have found they seem to do best in tank salt. You can use the water you remove from the main tank during a water change if desired.

Whew!:fingerscrossed:
 
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TMoct

O. vulgaris
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From this morning:
DSC_0008b.jpg
 

DWhatley

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I think I see some chromatophores beginning to show, particularly in the left first four whose eyes are showing. :gin:

Nice focus!
 

DWhatley

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Yep, Yep, definitely chromatophores! :biggrin2:. They will probably be flipping soon. They should flip back to this position before hatchling.
 

TMoct

O. vulgaris
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I got the pod-farm set up (henceforth known as "the buffet") and put in the first batch of tigger-pods and phyto-feast. I probably overdid it with the phyto-feast to begin with, but oh well... eat up, little guys! This is just a cheap 2.5 gallon aquarium with built-in light and filter (without filter pad installed) from the big-box pet store. There are a couple of live-rocks and a clump of chaeto from my sump. More copepods and some amphipods are on the way from Sachs, and I'll put most of them in the buffet and some in the sump and main tank.

The buffet:
DSC_0005.JPG


The feeding & housing plan, as I've envisioned it so far, is to distribute the hatchlings in several places:
1. Breeder net in main tank
2. A couple of clear-plastic breeder boxes and small critter-keeper in main tank
3. Sump below main tank
4. Sock filter in main tank
5. In the buffet

For the hatchlings in the breeder net and boxes, rather than trying to hand-feed them individually, I'll just lift out the whole box and put it into the buffet for a while, and be sure that there are lots of pods that get into the box or net. It seems like this gives them more of a chance to find food and eat. The ones that live in the buffet all the time will have every opportunity to eat. The ones that live in the main tank and sump will need to fend for themselves, but I'll certainly feed them with a pipette if I can find them, and I'll keep the main tank as stocked as possible with pods.

Also, I'll exchange water very often between the main tank and the buffet, to serve two purposes. First, it keeps the water in the two systems as close to identical as possible, so that moving the hatchlings back and forth is not a shock to their system. Secondly, it keeps the main tank replenished with pods while keeping the buffet water simply cleaner, being the beneficiary of the main tank filtration system. Something like a quart at a time, a couple of times per day.

It seems like the primary problem with hatchlings is that they don't get sufficient food during the critical first several days, so I'm hoping that this plan addresses that problem.

The hatchery [main tank]: (Iris and the eggs are under the large rock on the right, where the sand is piled up.)
DSC_0009.JPG


The eggs, as of this morning:
DSC_0002b.jpg
 

DWhatley

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Notice anything, "different"?. Actually, I believe it started in the last picture and I missed the first signs. Hint, look at the position of the yolk (the white ball) sack on each of the eggs -start on the right and compare as you go left. :biggrin2:

Excited about your plans for both feeding and keeping the water consistent. Thanks so much for the frequent documentation. I am currently octopusless for the longest time in 6 years so vicariously experiencing your hatch is extra special.
 

TMoct

O. vulgaris
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Photos from this morning. As D pointed out, many of the yolks are now at the top of the eggs. Really clear chromatophores, and now arms visible! (The lower photo is just a crop/zoom of the upper one.)
DSC_0003b.jpg

DSC_0003c.jpg
 

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