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Octopus food


Pygmy Octopus
Jun 5, 2003
My first post here so I will introduce myself. My name is Steve; and after wanting an octopus for over 5 years I am finally able to get one now that I just bought my own house. I ordered a 50 gal pentagon corner tank, stand, canopy, light, wet/dry, skimmer and all of that good stuff, and it should be here next week.
I have done a lot of reading on this forum but I still have a couple of questions.
Even though it will be a couple of months before I can actually get the octopus, I was curious as to what is the most cost effective food of choice? And is a feeder tank going to save me money in the long run?
Any other tips for a first timer would be appreciated.
Thanks in advance,
Hi Steve! Welcome to TONMO.com.

I'll be watching the answers to this question closely; I'd like to return to providing live food for octopuses on the site again when I can get a devoted provider for it.

Also note that our sponsor FishSupply.com supplies several tasty octopus treats including snails and hermit crabs.

Congrats on the new house!!
Feeder Tank

Steve, I have only been an octopus keeper for 6 days but I have kept aquariums for many years. With every animal that feed live food I use a seperate tank to keep food because in the past I had to order food from places online. Buying in bulk is better when it is shipped next day every time but if you have a sorce in town or close only keep a week. You need to keep the feeder tank well maintained though for the same reason you keep your others maintained, you dont want to feed your animals sick food. I would start out slow though estimate what you would need for about a week or so and see how that works. When I had a porcipine puffer I kept 2-4 weeks worth of feeder shrimp and fish. With my new octopus Ajax I am feeding him hermit crabs, snails and some shrimp from the market until he is big enough for crayfish. Once he is eating crayfish I will only keep a few days worth of food because I live very close to a lake chuck full of them and I am an avid scuba diver and will enjoy collecting them. It all depends on you supply. I hope this answers part of your question. Have fun and good luck.

Live food is great if you can get it. Feeding an Octo hermits, etc can work out to be a bit pricey. So small feeder shrimp are much more economical. But even these can be expensive, my vulgaris used to eat about 50 a day! I have often use prawns frozen or fresh from a supermarket. Most Octopus are also keen (amongst other things) on cockles in shells. I use gamma irradiated ones, the left over shells are ideal for Octopus to build dens from. Make sure if you use any frozen it is always thouroughly defrosted. The use of a supplement may not be a bad idea if you end up using a lot of frozen food.

Hey Steve:

Welcome to TONMO! :smile: Once you get it set up be sure to enter your tank in the OCTO database.

As to Octo food, It seems from the posts here that different Octos have different tastes. There are Octo-keepers (is that a word??) here at TONMO who feed frozen food, shrimp,crabs, snails and crayfish. Everyone seems to have a different story as to which their octo prefers.

My bimac, Tralfaz, has refused to eat just about everything but snails and crayfish. This works out for me because my LFS stocks crayfish on a regular basis. I keep a 10 gallon tank just for them and tend to buy about a weeks worth at a time.

You may have to experiment with several different types of food before you find success. If you search the back posts you will find that I was driven to distraction before I figured out what Tralfaz would eat on a regular basis. (I had several pieces of frozen food spit back in my face in the process). If you try a variety of foods I'm sure you will find something that your octo loves (some seem to be willing to eat just about anything).

Good luck and keep us posted.

I think the feeding experience has been different for each one of us, due to the preferences of our octopuses and what's available. It would be wonderful and much simpler to live near the sea!

I've been trying to reproduce some of the variety in foods that a bimac would find in the ocean, but at the same time tried to get Ollie interested in at least some food that was less expensive and more available.

Fresh scallops seemed to be a good choice, and he likes them. He has eaten fresh scallops since he arrived to live with me. Sometimes I will supplement this with a small piece of fresh fish or frozen shrimp. He used to eat snails, but thinks they're too much work now.

What he really likes is live food he can capture, such as fiddler crabs and shore shimp, which I have sent in from Florida - this does add expense, but seems to be entertaining for him, too. He also likes crawfish, which are available in season.

Sometimes I feed him freshwater shrimp (ghost shrimp) and these are good for a younger octopus, but it takes a lot to make a meal for a bigger bimac!

I've got a Bimac right now that is behaving very different than any I've kept before. Keeping in track with the food/feeder discussion, this is the first octopus I've ever kept that bothered to drill my cleaning snails open. For the first time as a cephalopodologist (a word more fun to write than say) I have to clean algae off the aquarium glass manually, because Tomi Undercoral eats all the snails. I now have a collection of turbo snail shells with a little pinhole where the adductor muscle used to attach.

For those that may have raised an eyebrow to that, many species of octopus are extremely fond of other mulloscs as food. Sometimes the octopus is strong enough to rip the shells apart or manually pull a snail out, but most often they drill a tiny hole in the shell with their radula. What fascinates the scientifically minded is that the octopuses seem to know exactly where to drill every shell they find- bivalve or gastropod- to hit the adductor muscle responsible for holding the shells together (or tethering the animal in it's shell.) Amazing.

Cheers! Jimbo
Hi Jim

what species of snail were they going for? I havnt had an octo go for turbos yet...


Colin, Tralfaz goes for the Turbos as well. An unfortunate side affect of this is that he now will eat any snail that I put in the tank :x Ah well, it just means that I have to clean more often.

I've had a slightly different experience. The first thing my bimac Ollie did when he arrived last March was to kill the large turbo snail that was cleaning the tank. For a long time I could hand him a snail as a treat, and he worked hard to open it. But more recently, Ollie has come to prefer other food, so I have 6 snails cleaning the tank now and Ollie shows no interest.

The snails falling victim to Tomi's whims are standard turbos, bumblebee snails and other basic cleaners. I've had octopuses tear snails out of their shells, but Tomi is the first one that is actually drilling them. Usually he eats them, but he did kill one seemingly just for the sake of killing it.

Yeah, I had to invest in one of those magna-scrapers to de-algafy the glass. Which led to an interesting behavior: I just "park" the scraper at the top back corner of the tank but lately Tomi routinely pulls the scraper away from the magnet at some point during the day. He lets it go and it floats around the tank- it's mate on the dry side having fallen to the floor without the magnet to hold it in place. I wish I could catch him in the act.

Cheers, Jimbo
Octos and cephalopods arent cheap to feed. If you think you can cut corners, think again.

I'd say Tomi's weekly chow budget is around 15 bucks, not including his tendency to snack on tank inhabitants. I chiefly feed Tomi frozen paneid shrimp from the supermarket. A bag of roughly 45 shrimp costs about 6 bucks and lasts a month and a half. He'll eat one or two a day. I supplement Tomis meal plan with weekly infusions of live crayfish and fiddler crabs. Fiddlers cost 3 bucks a pop and I generally buy three at a time, so they "inhabit" the tank and Tomi can be stimulated by the opportunity to hunt. Crayfish can usually be had for $1.00-$1.50.

Occasionally I'll make my way out to the bait shops near the chesapeake bay and buy up a couple boxes of live grass shrimp (Paleomonetes pugio) While they are a bit small for a big honkin' bimac like Tomi, watching him go nuts catching them is worth the hour drive. At a typical bait shop a box of about 100 "live" shrimp is about three bucks, but despite my best efforts to acclimatize them, usually only 50-60% of them live.

Rock on, Jimbo

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