• Looking to buy a cephalopod? Check out Tomh's Cephs Forum, and this post in particular shares important info about our policies as it relates to responsible ceph-keeping.

Octopus eggs help

Mar 8, 2013
My Octopus (species unknown) has lain eggs in its den which is a small hole in a piece of live rock. She stays there all the time and it has been a couple weeks since the eggs have been lain. I don't know if they are fertalized, however tonight when I was looking at the eggs I saw white dots on the end of all of the eggs and small brownish blobs on the inside as well as two spots on either side of each egg. I don' t know if this is what then normally look like, but I think that they are going to hatch. I'll upload some pictures tomorrow of them when I get the chance to take them with my good camera. If they are going to hatch, and this stage of their incubation sounds familiar, are there any estimates on the time until hatching? And if they do hatch, what do I do? I have couple small tanks that I could put them into, but I'm not even sure if these are small eggs or large eggs nor if they are rear-able or not! The eggs are pretty small, probably about 1 mm wide and 2-3 mm long (VERY rough estimates). So in conclusion, are these eggs likely to hatch, and if so, will I have any luck in rearing them as well as how.
Your eggs are fertile. The two dots are eyes and the first sign we look for for confirmation. Egg hatching times vary with temperature and species. In general large egg and cold water animals hatch later than small egg species. Two to three weeks seems to be about normal for the warm water small egg species and about twice that amount of time for the larger egg animals (the GPO, though small egg, may take 6 months or more). If the eggs don't hatch in the next week (assuming they are 2 weeks old now), there is a shot that they will be born benthic and potentially raisable. Unfortunately, if your guestimate on sizing is accurate, they are likely to be planktonic and not benthic when they hatch and we still have no home aquarium success getting the small egg hatchlings to mature enough to become benthic. Once the hatchlings take to the substrate they are somewhat easier to raise but even the animals born benthic have very high rates of mortality. The best successes (and there are VERY few) with the small egg species is to provide crab hatchlings as first food. Unfortunately, live new hatched crabs are not easily acquired. We have seen appararent consumption of new hatched brine but there is not enough nutrition and the octo hatchlings fail. The longest success rate we have seen is about 21 days and the shortest about 2. Thales has been working with a relatively robust (or so we think) small egg species but has yet to have a success (unless his latest batch are surviving and he is not posting). Because of the lack of success, any food attempt is acceptable and being creative not shunned but there is little else we can offer. Of note, hatchlings left in larger tanks seem to live the longest (for either size), Cyclop-eeze may be accepted (I raised a few large egg animals starting with Cyclop-eeze), frequent feedings my be helpful and water changes seem to have a negative impact. One thing I have wanted to try with the larger egg animals but can't hurt to experiment with the smaller hatchlings is to place a couple in a filter sock that receives run off from the main tank (seeding with very small pods would be a good idea and leave the sock dirty). If your tank happens to be set up this way and you want to try the experiement, please post. The problem is that the animals are so small and moving them is counter productive so you would need to leave them in the sock for a couple of weeks without confirming their continued existence. Please DO post photos, approximate counts and longevity. Here is a photo collection of egg progress for O. briareus​


  • conv_339172.png
    823.4 KB · Views: 178
I'll post photos and updates. I took some pictures of the eggs with my thumb in the picture as a referance to size and uploaded it here http://s1311.photobucket.com/user/JasonRashall/media/IMG_7589_zps02494210.jpg.html?sort=3&o=0, although I couldn't get my camera to focus very well :-/. I do have a few questions though. Unless I am confused, the problem in raising small-egged species is the feeding? Where might one get hatchling crabs? Does SSA breed their fiddlers? Maybe they could overnight some new babies if so. Also, you said that they will eat baby brine shrimp, although there is no nutritional value in this. What is missing from the brine shrimp that the octopuses need? Perhaps there is a way to inject, infuse, soak into or otherwise hide the nutrients in the baby brine shrimp so that they are nutritious. Of course I don't know what has been tried and what is just plain not doable, so I'll see what everybody else has to say about my ideas :lol: I would be happy to try your idea, however I am a tad bit confused on it, so could you elaborate some more :oops:? Another thing, will I know when the eggs are about to hatch or have hatched, or do I need to just keep checking? I'll try and get some better pictures later.
Photobucket says you have moved or deleted the photo using the link so I did not get to view it.

If you can find a source for crab hatchlings via mail order, PLEASE post. I have never found one. Thales is trying some that are local (they come from the SF bay area) and spawning in the aquarium but most of us don't have this opportunity. It is the most likely food that will get us somewhere as we have seen a few minor successes in public aquariums where this was the food.

Baby (new hatch) brine is both a warning and a note of interest. Brine have NO food value but new hatch (12 or fewer hours after hatching) still have a yolk sack that provides some nutrition, but not enough for a growing ceph. The size and movement (because the octos appear to eat them) is more the reason for the reference. You can't gut load the brine because they don't eat at this stage (hence the yolk sack) and we are not at all sure what is missing from their diet to to try to coat brine with anything that might work. Feel free to try (Selcon has not been successful) anything that comes to mind though because there are no successes.

Here is a link to Kooah's hatchlings: http://www.tonmo.com/forums/forum/c...from-eggs/14595-kooah-s-hatchlings-o-briareus
You will have to read through the text to try to understand some of the things I tried (these were briareus and only two survived through adulthood but that is two more of this species than anyone I know so I count myself very lucky) One of the attempts was to add egg white as a member studying another species had a hunch about albumin (available in pure forms but egg white is something we all can get). Adding it to the tank water was unsuccessful but if you want to mess with new hatch brine and trying to "coat" them, this might be a substance to try.

I also tried using a foot bath to experiment with current. I tried constant current and a make shift on/off timer for intermittent. This is still a thought but the food bath did not produce a directional flow and I could not turn it down very far. I think the force of the bubbles was far to great. This was probably the shortest lived tank.

My filter sock suggestion will only be viable if you use one in your current set-up. My tanks are set up to gravity drain to a sump below. The water that leaves goes to the sump is first filtered through a polyester sock containing a bag of charcoal. If you use a canister, this won't be an option you can easily experiment with unless you can feed a filter sock after the canister. This is what the sock look like: http://www.marinedepot.com/Berlin_S...ent_Parts-Berlin_Sump-BS1123-FIFRBSRP-vi.html (7", 4" overflow in a day) and I make PVC hangers from pipe and elbows to suspend them.

Unfortunately, hatching time is a guessing game. Often the eggs will hatch over a period of days and you will see a few the first day and the majority on the second followed by a few more over anywhere from 2 to 7 days (10 days has been the longest I remember). You will notice tiny white "ticks" either swimming or on the glass as they start hatching. The WILL go out the overflow and preventing all of them from taking this route requires creativity. If you can screen off you overflow, this will help. If you are using a canister, they will not survive the trip. If you use gravity to a sump and pump up, the return trip will be fatal but you may be able to cordon off the pump. I have used large breeder nets with success for O. mercatoris but O. briareus would not stay in the net. If you are using an skimmer in the display tank, I would shut it down when you see hatchlings as they will find their way into the pump. Tony made some size adjustments for the photos so I will try again to post the not so clear picture of the stages
Sorry, I moved the picture into an album with my other few aquarium pictures, but this link should work: "http://i1311.photobucket.com/albums/s674/JasonRashall/My%20aquarium/IMG_7589_zps02494210.jpg". I'll get better quality pictures when somebody at my house can help me because holding the rock up in one hand and trying to focus and zoom with the other is difficult! I'll ready through your journal and see if I can gleam any ideas from your trys.

My tank is set up to try your filter sock suggestion, I originally got the sock at your suggestion :lol:. The DT is sitting on my dresser, and the water is pulled over the edge via a home built overflow box, then down into the dresser (I removed the right 3 drawers and made it into a cabinet where the sump is) and passes through a filter sock which doesn't currently have any charcoal in it. If I understand you correctly, the idea is to put some hatchlings in the sock? My tank doesn't have any copepods, so I don't know if this will work.

As for the albumin in egg whites, do the egg whites need to be cooked or left raw? I think that if I use a 30-gauge needle, I might be able to inject the newly hatched brine shrimp with a drop or two of egg white and see if they are able to keep swimming and thus attract the attention of baby cephs. The shrimp would need to continue to swim to be eaten I think, so it would have to be in a place where it doesn't kill them quickly or make them incapable of swimming while also being substantial enough to provide nutrition. I will try this before the eggs hatch if I have that much time.

Another question I have is how long can the baby octopuses live without being given another diet, because I don't want them to hatch while I am away only to get back to the house 8 hours later and them already all be dead.

Anyways, if I'm correct, all I need to do before these eggs hatch at any random time is I need to make sure that no cephs can escape the main tank to the sump so that they are not killed in the return pump, I need to find a food source which very few have done at home, and I need to take lots of pictures and record what I try and what works/doesn't. Easy right? Maybe not, but if my endeavors can possibly help the hobby and other baby octopuses, its worth it!
Jason, you have the right idea on using the filter sock as a nursery. Pods may be required and if it works at all it may only be for benthic hatchlings but give it a go anyway as ATM there is nothing to lose. Don't clean the sock at this point. Even if you don't intentional try some in there, you will likely get visitors :biggrin2: so when you do, flip it in a bucket of salt water and look very closely at the water and all along the sock.

The eggs look like a small egg species. I have raised two generations of O. mercatoris from eggs and have never seen merc eggs but iAlex posted a photo here: O. mercatoris and they look a lot like O. briareus eggs where yours appear smaller and rounder and remind me of the one clutch of O. hummelincki (small egg species) I have seen (that sadly did not hatch so I did not get to experiment). My guess is you will see hatchlings this next week if they are already 3 weeks old.

Good luck on attempting to inject new hatch :biggrin2:. Keep in mind (you really won't get it until you see them, I sure didn't) the hatchlings are TINY and new hatch is the food so they are much smaller). I was thinking more on the order of placing them in raw egg white a few minutes before feeding but any experiment you try is worth recording. The egg white might kill them quickly so diluting with seawater would be an additional experiment.

I found an on-line accessable copy of the egg stages that I have been trying to show you (not sure it will help much but I have become over focused on presenting the image). Try: http://dwhatley.com/slideshow/images.../EggStages.png:roll:

If you enlarge the image with your browser, you should be able to see where the octopuses flipped in their eggs between May 13 and May 14. They are supposed to do this twice (so they are oriented as they started) during incubation. We don't know why they flip but the second reorientation is a precursor to hatching.
Last edited by a moderator:
I'll go to the LFS tomorrow if I have time and see if they can set me up with some pods. I took some more pictures tonight as well as a video of her guarding her eggs, but they are all on my phone so they aren't very good, but I will be able to have help taking the pictures tomorrow.

I think you are right about the baby brine shrimp. I read online about them being 0.4 mm long at hatching, so the needle I was thinking of wouldn't even work for that! I'll try and soak them in solutions of varying concentration and not the mortality rate in each solution for the baby brine shrimp, as well as exposure time. I'm not sure of the effectiveness of this experiment, but I have nothing better to do, so might as well!

So when the eggs do hatch, will they all hatch at once or will it be over a couple days? I read from other journals that they hatch over the course of a few days, but I may be mistaken. Would it be good to move some hatchlings to a smaller tank in order to check their progress easier, or would that not be a good idea?
See my last paragraph in post #6 about hatching days.

In post #4 I snuck in a sentence that mentions the longest lived hatchlings of either size have been the ones kept in the main tank. I say "snuck" it in because I am not sure why this has been the case every time. It could have more to do with water changes or food supply than the tank size. I would still place a few in one or more smaller tanks if I had hatchlings. I suggest using only water from your primary display for initial fill AND any kind of water change, minimizing the amount of water added at one time and being sure there is oxygen. You might add an air stone. Note though that there have been issues with air stones in the past with adults with air getting up into the mantle. I suspect keeping the water well oxygenated is more critical and bubbles larger than the hatchlings may eliminate this problem.