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Octo NOT eating yet alive....help!

Jan 10, 2007
This is my 3rd octo overall. It's a Dark Purple/Brownish octo from Bali (i suspect a Vulgaris). My other octo is a CA 2-spot and it eats like crazy, chasing down local shore crabs and eating them virtually once a day & leaving me with the carcasses of course.

This Bali one has eaten once in the 2 weeks i've had him. once that i've seen, so what is he eating??? i use a feeding stick to stick krill down there since the store i bought him at said he's tank raised and they claim they were feeding him krill there (also fed other animals there krill from what i could see). They told me to hold the krill at the surface and he'll get it, yet i've tried that tirelessly with NO results. he looks happy and healthy which amazes me because i can't fathom what he's eating! whenever i stick my hand in the tank his tentacle emerges from the rock he's under almost waving to say hello.

he's even played tug-of-war with me whenever i use the feeding stick withOUT krill. i put 2 saltwater fiddlers from tropical water (bright orangish-red kind), 1 camel shrimp, 1 fin-fish & 2 shore crabs from local Southern California waters here and he hasn't touched any of them.

any ideas? what i'm witnessing is amazing, i'm shocked he hasn't died of hunger! Many Thanks in advance!
I am going to put my foot in it here because what I am suggesting comes from positive experience with exactly one animal and two that died within 1`week of being housed in an aquarium. Trapper, the one still living was my first octopus ever. The other two were caught at breeding season and neither ate.

I believe that, at least the smaller ones (or at least the Mercatoris) filter feed even as adults (in addition to consuming crabs and shrimp). The filter food that I have found to be very successful for a non-eating Mercatoris is Cyclopees (frozen, I have not tried the dried). Once Trapper would no longer take even dead shrimp, I noticed she was eating the Cyclopees that left the breeder net so I tried feeding it directly. She is so weak now I actually use a pipette (plastic squeeze bulb kind) and place the end under her webbing, directly in front of her mouth. Prior to her age advancement, I would put it in the water near her and she would catch as much as she could with her arms (it will sink if squirted GENTLY into a shell or other curved recepticle). She actually goes into a feeding frenzy when a large squirt surrounds her arms.

I am hoping others will experiment with this idea but I fully believe that the arms up pose of the Merc is primarily for feeding and has less to do with defense. There are a pair of swimming octos on CephBase that may add some food to this thought:

Of note, each time Trapper stopped eating I successfully tried easier food to eat. When live fiddlers didn't work, I tried fresh killed. When that stopped working I tried fresh killed shore shrimp (these I super saturated with a small amount of Tetracycline). The dead food was suspended above her den opening, initially using an air line tube but eventually, she preferred me to hand feed the offerings.

Good luck and please post whatever you do, successful or not.
I would call it filter feeding as that's a pretty passive thing, basically the mussel or whatever sucks water in over a sieve and whatever sticks is eaten. Seahorses and I'd say the smaller octopus are micropredators, they still hunt, it's just that they hunt small stuff! But it's much more active than filter feeding. Even some of the bigger squid I 've dissected had large quantities of krill in the gut suggesting that even in these bigger cephs zooplankton is still important.

Socal Saltwater if you have live rock in your tank, perhaps your octopus is dining on amphipods present....this seems to be something they do at least initially. Live pods may be more interesting than dead krill and the other stuff could be too large (if he's a small/juvenile one).

D, thanks for your careful observations and reporting. You've been very resourceful and will serve as a model for future dwarf octo owners in caring for their little octopuses. You've proved that they can be interesting and do respond to your care.

Yours is the first photo I've see of physical interaction with one of these species.

We've all followed your Trapper journal with great interest. Thanks for sharing all of this with us.

Social saltwater, my bimac hunted amphipods when even when she was quite large and until she had eaten the last one in the tank!

Keep trying different foods. You might try a piece of good quality frozen shrimp, thawed, on your feeding stick.

we have great Asian seafood stores and have recently added frozen then thawed raw shrimp (small one), slipper lobster tail (uncooked) + a fresh manila clam that i've read they can open themselves. he hasn't touched either of the 3 new additions. we'll see though, and i'll post whatever good data i collect.

i work from home so im in touch with what he/she does and doesn't do. thanks to all for the tips!

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