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O filosus from saltwaterfish.com: problem trend?


TONMO Supporter
Staff member
Mar 8, 2004
With the news of the passing of Barnaby today, I'm starting to be concerned that there is a trend with this batch of octos from saltwaterfish.com.

3 octos from this company that have been tentatively IDed as Octopus filosus, two have shown evidence of eye infections, and all 3 have died within a few weeks of arrival from unknown causes that don't seem to involve water quality.

barnaby ID (Bigpapa) :angelpus:

died today:

and was IDed here:
Saltwaterfish Octo id help please

kaleidoscope (Shipposhack) :angelpus:
My Octopus

Tuvalu (Animal Mother) :angelpus:
#2 (Tuvalu)

I don't in any way mean to suggest that saltwaterfish.com is in any way negligent or should be avoided, but I think one of the benefits of having a community of octo-keepers is that we can notice trends like this. Maybe there is some problem that the SWF folks don't know about, but could track down and fix, like one of their suppliers has a holding thank that's a reservoir for some sort of infection.

We also haven't seen too many of this species until recently, so it's quite possible that there is some unusual sensitivity that we haven't identified, and it doesn't have anything to do with the source. But I believe AM and Shippo are experienced octo keepers, and Bigpapa seemed to be being very diligent (although he was maybe a little hasty to decide that his tank was fully cycled, Barnaby's death wasn't coincident with an ammonia spike or anything of the sort).

I propose that we make a point of having someone contact saltwaterfish.com about the trend and make sure that they're aware of it. The way I would hope this will work out is that this will lead to a followup post here about how responsive and proactive their response is, so that this will be a positive review for them, and everybody wins... people generally seem to have had good experiences with them.
Sounds like a plan. I really hate that it's working out this way since this particular species of octopus apparently tends to have a great disposition ie; being diurnal, not too big, and from tropical waters making it more fit for a higher temperature tank since some of us can't afford to shell out another $500 or so for a chiller.

I'm wondering what method is being used to capture these octos.
I sent them this...


My name is Dale Tyler. I have purchased 2 Octopus from you. I am also a member of TONMO (The Octopus News Magazine Online). Many of us on the forums there have recently purchased octopus from your company, and every one of them have died, somewhat mysteriously.
Most of us are experienced octo-keepers, and none of us can find a particular reason as to why they are dying, as it usually tends to be within several days of receiving them, and suddenly without warning.
These octopus appear to be O. Hummelincki aka O. Filosus and should top out at about 15 inches long, and the ones purchased by TONMO members are usually around 6 inches, so they shouldn't be too mature, dying from just plain old age.

Perhaps there is an issue withing the holding tanks or the method of capture and collection? I hate that this is happening and hope that a resolution can be made, but it has to be stemming from some problem that occurs before it reaches the purchaser. I hope that Saltwaterfish.com will discuss this issue with whoever collects these octopuses, and again, a solution to the dilemma will be found.
They are great specimens and I would hate to see the demand for them be destroyed by bad reputation, only to seek other species from different locations. These particular species have a practically perfect disposition for keeping at home.

Best regards, on behalf of everyone at TONMO.com,

Dale Tyler


Now perhaps a few more members should also write them an email, because I doubt if one voice is going to be taken very seriously.
thanks! That looks good to me, and I expect that your being an actual customer will probably help you with credibility and getting their attention. In the spirit of openness and progress, I'd actually like to invite saltwaterfish.com representatives to read this thread, and participate in looking into this-- I'm hoping to keep this in the spirit of cooperation, so that we can help support their business and they can provide our members with healthy octopuses!

I often think that it would be nice to have "outreach" such that people selling octopuses include a referral to here for advice on how to take care of them, or, ideally, how to set up their tanks and such ahead of time.
Animal Mother;101922 said:
Now perhaps a few more members should also write them an email, because I doubt if one voice is going to be taken very seriously.

You might be overestimating the industry. I hate to sound like Greg but since I've been working in it I've found quite a level of cynicism towards the animals, at both the retail and distribution levels. Even after a few more letters I can imagine the response being a gruff mutter under the man's breath, "What did you expect when you ordered an octopus?"

DHyslop;101928 said:
You might be overestimating the industry. I hate to sound like Greg but since I've been working in it I've found quite a level of cynicism towards the animals, at both the retail and distribution levels. Even after a few more letters I can imagine the response being a gruff mutter under the man's breath, "What did you expect when you ordered an octopus?"


Oh I know it. There's no telling who will open up the email and read it, and what they will think. It took me several attempts to find out where they even get the octos from and all they replied with was "It is from the Caribbean" so I'm pretty sure whoever handles the email part is probably not involved in any other aspect of SWF.com's business. Then again, I know "Beth" a member of the board there, is somehow related very much so to the business end of it, possibly being a partner or owner.
If emails won't suffice, I will bring it to the forum there, in a manner that will not get me banned from their boards (they do automatically ban people for complaining about their business on the forum). I just hate all the potential issues that could stem from this. Then again, I'm probably blowing it out of proportion, but that's a lot of dead octos and a lot of disappointed customers, and all very pointless if nothing is done about it.
My theory is the octos probably go into some sort of medicated holding tanks, and the medication is probably not octo-safe. How would they know? They aren't octo pro's, they're animal collectors/distributors. Something is causing their body to fail. It makes me think of cyanide poisoning. I'd like to know exactly what country these octos are exported from, something more than just "They are from the Caribbean"...
saltwaterfish.com response


My name is Scott Hughes and I am the owner of saltwaterfish.com. I received a few emails today from Mark and Dale and thought I'd pop on the board and brainstorm a little with you on the unexpected deaths of the octopus from our site.

Let me answer a few of the easy questions first.

We do not order octopus. They do however arrive with some frequency from our suppliers. Unfortunately, it is the way of distribution when you are dealing with developing countries... in that you give them an order for the species you desire...and you see what comes back. Not to be flip, but it is like ordering drive-thru at McDonald's. You hope you get what you order, and it's usually just a little off.

The octopus are predominantly from Haiti. We keep them in our Invertebrate system and so there is no exposure to additives, copper, etc. that would obviously jeopardize their health. They are slow movers for us and they seem to do well in our tanks so I am surprised by their mortality several months into experienced keepers hands.

I will review the collection procedures with our Haiti suppliers.

How did the shipemtn arrive at your homes? Were there any telltale signs of impending problems?

Finally, just to be sure. We are talking about longer term mortaility, correct. Not mortality in a few days that would be associated with shipping, acclimation, etc.

Finally, I saw Beth's name mentioned. I have never met Beth, nor does she have any financial stake in the business. She is completely independent and unbiased, and a real asset to hobbyists...Much like I suspect is the case with moderators on this board.

Best Regards,


Hello Scott and thanks for your concern about this problem. We also appreaciate knowing where they came from (Haiti).

I know that at least one of these octopuses (kaleidoscope), possibly more, had eye problems, which is not common for newly purchased octopuses.

Would one of our members please volunteer to go back to all the past posts concerning these octopuses (look at the List of Our Octopuses) and determine which problems were reported and any other relevant information. For example, Tuvalu was eaten by a Bahama Star, and seemed to be fine shape until then.
Some of the others were not in such good shape.

It's also relevant whether the tank was well cycled and the water parameters were good.

At least 4 or 5 octopuses came from this site.

We need this information to help Scott and understand what's happening. He can also investigate the handling from his end. And thanks Dale for bringing this up.

:welcome: Scott,

thanks for the prompt and detailed response, I really appreciate it, as do the rest of the community, I'm sure. (I'm the "Mark" who sent one of the emails, if that's not obvious.)

My recollection is that the two octopuses with eye problems showed the first symptoms within a week or two of arrival, but I'd need to go back to look at the dates to be certain... I think it can be reconstructed from the links I posted above, but if AM, Shippo, and Bigpapa could give a recap here, it would be helpful. Nancy normally logs the arrival and death of octopuses in the "list of our octopuses" thread here: http://www.tonmo.com/forums/showthread.php?t=4101

there's no entry for poor Barnaby yet (the list has apparently grown too big) but looking revealed some other cases that support the suggestion that there's something odd going on:

one survivor:
Polyphemus - Animal Mother (O. filosus) Aug 22/07 TX saltwaterfish.com
(who I think is in the same tank as Tuvalu, right, AM?)

but another casualty:
Mimzy - Krakilin (O. filosus) Aug 7-Sept 3/07 saltwaterfish.com

sorry I missed Mimzy, Krakilin... Mimzy's history is described in these 3 threads:


although it sounds like that fatality was correlated with a water quality problem.

and the two I mentioned earlier:
Kaleidoscope - shipposhack (O.filosus ?) August 3 - 31/07 saltwaterfish.com

Tuvalu - Animal Mother (O. filosus) July 31- August 20/07 (killed by Bahama Star) saltwaterfish.com

(It's not at all clear that the star killed the octo, and probably more likely that it just opportunistically decided to eat the dying animal, since a healthy octopus should be able to escape a starfish)

So we've had 4 out of 5 octopuses ordered from saltwaterfish live for less than a month. It's certainly not that unusual for octos to die suddenly, but this stands out as an anomaly both because they all are the same species from the same supplier, and because there appears to be no evidence that there were any novice mistakes like poor water quality, insufficient filtration, and so forth. Also, there's no evidence of senescence, and if the tentative species ID is correct, these animals shouldn't have been fully grown. The species ID seems bolstered by your information, since Norman's Cephalopods: a World Guide explicitly says O. filosus is "common on the reefs of Haiti."

Thanks again for investigating this, Scott. I really do think it's an indication that your company deserves its good reputation.
As Nancy and Mark said, thank you very much for taking the time and being involved in this Scott. As a customer and a marine hobbyist this means a lot to me and I am very impressed. As for the comment about Beth, I apologize for perpetuating the misinformation every internet forum is prone to.

Tuvalu and Polyphemus were both housed in the same tank, yes.

Tuvalu was with me for 3 weeks exactly. No signs of any illness or injuries. Fantastic from the get-go. I found my Bahama Star on top of her dead body, and saying that it killed her is my own speculation, based on the activity it had been displaying since I added her to the tank and its reputation for loving to eat molluscs. I didn't see the star kill her, but considering that my water parameters were all fine and she had been very active and eating well, I assumed this was the only possible reason she died. Now considering the circumstances of the other members experiences, I'm really thinking that she suddenly died in her den and the starfish, as Mark says, was only being opportunistic.

Polyphemus arrived 3 days later. Polyphemus had a "rotten" eye when I received him, but he was otherwise active, and didn't seem to have any appetite issues. He died 10 days after arrival, I assumed due to a possible bacterial infection from his eye injury. His other eye was fine, and not the least bit cloudy. I received credit for him from SWF.com.

I kept a small dwarf octopus inside this same tank many months earlier, and it lived out its life expectancy, so I ruled out any potential toxins inside the tank that I wouldn't normally test for, otherwise, that would be my next suspicion.
Nancy;101937 said:
We need this information to help Scott and understand what's happening. He can also investigate the handling from his end. And thanks Dale for bringing this up.


I didn't bring it up, Mark did! I just took initiative in emailing them. But hey, I'll take a pat on the back for being the first to correctly identify these particular octos! :sagrin:
My thread pretty much goes through every change I went through with Kaleidoscope. When I got him (after thinking he inked in the bag), I poured him into the styrofoam box and he changed from white to brown and tried to run away. After that he acclimated nicely. I saw no signs of a stressed octopus due to shipping. I noticed a problem with his eyes the third day I had him (which is the second day my lights were on with him), the thread can be found here Eye glazed over . I bought some tetracyline probably 4-7 days later, when the other eye started turning white. His right eye seemed to heal (or be totally gone, something I noticed after he died) soon after I started medicating, however the left never healed completely. Color change and activity changed dramatically after both eyes became infected. Although the night before his death I only looked at him a few times, I didn't see any strange things about him. I had him 3.5 weeks.

I believe there was also an octo from SWF that laid eggs. I could be mistaken, or it could have been Krakilin's, I don't remember for sure.

Let me know if you need any more info. I hope we can find a source to the problems.
Hello Scott and everyone else!! First of all this is such a great site that the communication and care are here to snap to an idea to fix this issue wherever it might be! To my situation, Scott, I recieved my octo on tuesday around 930 am and started the drip acclimation immediately(exactly by your site) The only change I used was I put a critter cage in the styrofoam and threaded my drip line through the top so he couldnt find his way out in the process. Anyway, I kept the light off in the tank for the 1st day to help in the aclimation. He seemed to investigate around for awhile then found a spot he could "hold up" in and create a cave. He would nap then come out for a hermit then go back. On day 3 he changed places to the back of the tank where I found him this morning dead. Right now he is actually on his way back to you per your 15day instructions(coming from NJ) so it might be a big help to the others here if he can tell you anything. It kills me to think of that happening but if it helps others it will be worth it.. In the short amount of time I have been here I have found that there are so many people who care so much about these creatures as well as have talked so positively about your site-I have had great experiences myself too-that we would much rather find a soulution to this issue as I think we all are looking for the same end result. Again, ty Scott and everyone else who has taken up this cause!!

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