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Octopus Ink!!!


Colossal Squid
Staff member
Moderator (Staff)
Nov 20, 2002
Hey Colin!!

:? I came home, went into my room and Hermin (Bimac) was startled by my coming into the room. He shot out a small cloud of brown, like a mist and flashed all these weriod colors. Is this a small inking??? I seem to remember an inking octopus being more black in color and more substance to it. Now he's on his usual front of the tank pacing and watching. Just kind of freaked me!!!

Thank God for that Protien Skimmer if it was!!!!


PS Did you get the other pictures???
Hi carol

They can control how much ink gets ejected at a time. If it's just a quick bump that startkes them it is usually only a wisp of ink. BUT when you try to catch a larger octopus they let rip after a few smaller puffs of ink.

The ink is actually brown but sometimes looks black...

Nancy wrote an interesting piece about ceph ink a while back...
Is Octopus Ink Similar to Fountain Pen Ink?

You should have seen my big skimmer on ocassions when 7 cuttlefish (much more likely to ink) all inked at teh same time :smile:

A small bubble up corner filter with some carbon in it would help to adsorb ink too!

hope everything is okay
He seems to be fine!!! After that spent the afternoon pacing and watching us on the front of the tank! I always thought if they inked they were a goner. Wivestail??? I remember one of my first ones I had, years ago, I was too new to be attempting an octopus, didn't even know about acclimating, boy did he ink and of course died. I had put the bubble filter with carbon in about 2 months ago, and just changed it last week sooo guess that sure helped!


Congrats on having the hands-down best cephalopod pet, IMHO! Bimacs rock. Don't be concerned about your bimac's brown ink- it's one of the foolproof ways to discern O. bimaculoides from it's cousin bimaculatus: 'loides produce brown ink and 'latus has black.

Cephalopod ink is mucous-based, and if there's enough of it in the tank, it will foul the gills of your ceph and asphyxiate him. It takes a LOT of ink, though.

Cheers, Jimbo
:? Well, Hermin inked again last night. He was out pacing, and I quess didn't realize I was standing near the tank and freaked. Quite a bit more this time. Seems fine this morning. Is this normal? Do they just do this now and again?

I always thought it was their death when they inked in a tank. But this is #2 and I quess the carbon and protein skimmer are the saviors. Reading Jimbo's post above, seems like it's really not a big deal, as long as it's not tooooo much!

It really takes a lot of ink for a long time to hurt your pet....like, enough ink that you can't see anything in or through the tank at all, and then it has to be like that for a long time....which won't happen if you have a protein skimmer and good filtration.

My worst inking was with a 75 gallon tank with two cuttlefish in it. The cuttles failed to get along as they matured and fights broke out almost every day that resulted in an ink spray that turned the tank OPAQUE- and took the filtration about 6 hours to really clear up. I was concerned about that much ink fouling the water, but it didn't appear to affect the cuttles in the least. This went on for a little more than a week before I got them properly separated.

On another note, it's curious to me that your bimac is this edgy. Bimacs are the labrador retrievers of the cephalopod world, just lacking big floppy tongues and vacant stares. I've never had one that didn't tame, (a bimac, not a labrador) and there was one that was ok being physically removed from the tank in the palm of my hand. (still talking about the bimac)

Are you SURE Hermin's a bimac? :wink:

Cheers, Jimbo
I'm pretty sure he's a bimac!!! (Check out his pictures!) Think I just startled him. His tank is in the bedroom, and it was dark, and I kind of snuck up to see what he was up to, and I think he was startled I was there!

I like your comparison to a Labrador!!! He is very friendly when he knows we're watching! And is cool with my 5 year old daughtor. She is not the quietest when near the tank! So I really just think, he thought he had the tank to himself and when he saw me, freaked a little!!!

Good to hear it was the old "BOO!" reaction that got him. Bimacs are truly as chilled as cephs get. (well, of the cephs that wind up in our tanks anyway. Deep sea octos are so "chilled" you can hardly tell they're alive.

Anyway, to bend this thread just a bit, I have a few hypotheses that need scientific refining about cephalopods and external tank stimuli, based on my home experience:

The aforementioned 75 gallon tank was the main tank in a roughly 300 gallon ceph lab I was running on the brick bar in my basement. Across from this bar was my band practice area. Yup, in bold defiance of any sane aquarists ceph protocol, my rock band practiced twice a week at rehearsal volume (which means you only need ONE cotton ball per ear) for three or four hours each. The drumset was only about 6 feet from the tank.

Now, from everything we know about cephalopods, this should have freaked them out terribly and it'd be ink city. In reality, it was just the opposite. Every ceph in the system would emerge from it's den (or with cuttles, buried in the sand) and watch us INTENSELY at the glass. Octopuses usually "danced" on the glass. I wondered if this was a stress reaction, and decided unscientifically against it, because when I attempted feedings at band breaks, the octos and cuttles were universally highly reactive to food. They POUNCED on it! I think they're hyperstimulated by the whole thing.

As for the music, at every practice, the problem became the fact that all 5 musicians turned their attention from thing like rhythm and melody to watching the dancing octopuses and cuttlefish. The quality of our music sunk even below its usual low baseline :biggrin2:

Cheers, Jimbooooooooooo
That's really interesting, Jimbo... I've been worried that I will have to tone it down when I get my cephs... My roommate and I run a little indie record label and so the house is stacked with music gear - large DJ sound system in the front room, a recording studio in each bedroom; I'd been very worried that the Cephs would freak out from all of the heavy vibrations... I suppose I will find out when I get back from thailand in march (as my first priority upon reentry into the country is going to be setting up a tank)
Re: Octopus Ink!!!

Inking is primarly a problem in small tanks with inadequate filtration in stressful environments - IE during shipping.

Octopuses have control over the amount and viscosity of the ink they release. Some individuals blow off small amount sof ink from time to time and I do nöt worry about this. I will remove large globs of ink with a baster or siphon just as I#d remove uneatin food.

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