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[Old Board Archive]: New Octopus Nervousness


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Site Owner
May 30, 2000
Some of you may remember this classic thread from the "old" message board system (pre-November 2002). Enjoy!

-- tonmo


New Octopus Nervousness|geoff_brediger|
I am very nervous! I finally got the octopus that I have always wanted. I've been cycling my new marine tank for 2 months now. After testing (myself and with the local aquarium store), we determined that my tank was ready. So, I ordered (from fishsupply.com), and got my octo yesterday. As soon as I eased it into the water (those of you who have done this before know what I mean by that), the bimac oozed his way all around the tank, exploring each nook and cranny. Finally, he discoverd one of my marine snails, wrapped around it, and sucked it out. He then took his food and went inside of a rock hut. Then, I went home for the night. (I keep my tank at school.) When I came in this morning, he was still in the rock. I turned the rock over, and he sort of plopped out. Now, he's been in the same place for about 8 hours. It's right out in the open, the front of the tank. He's breathing (normally, it looks like), moving his tentacles from time to time, and changing colors (reacting to my movements), but he still won't budge from that spot.
Am I over-reacting, or should I be worried? I'm wondering if he's stressed out? Or maybe just digesting? Or maybe he ate a bad snail? Or maybe the water chemistry is not right (even though I know it is)? Or maybe he's sick? Do bimacs just sort of sit in one spot all day, or are they usually moving around a lot more?
Someone with experience please help me out...soon!

Re: New Octopus Nervousness|octomonkey|
Hi Geoff

Well, i can offer a few points to see if we can figure this out....


1) can you list water parameters for me? ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, SG, pH temp etc...

2) Is the octo sitting on top of its arms? I have seen unhealthy ones do that.

3) Can you tell me how you cycled the tank? is it live rock? fish cycle? fishless cycle?

I think the octo may be having some problems, a bimac would normally be moving about and a newly introduced specimen would not be sitting out in the open like that.... any other info you can give would be a great help...


Re: New Octopus Nervousness|geoff_brediger|
1. What's SG? Anyway, the Everything (ammonia, nitrate, nitrite) is at Zero right now. The nitrite may be a slightly higher than zero, but not nearly enough to be the next step up on my color chart. pH is at 7.8. Temperature is at 77. I even did a copper test, and it came out nil.
2. The octopus was not really sitting on his arms. One or two might have been under its body, but not purposely (I don't think). He was just stuck up against the side of the rock. He shifted his arms around and adjusted his body position a few times, but that was about it. Like I said, his breathing looked very normal.
3. There is about 10 pounds of live rock (for maybe 3 weeks). Also, a big bag of live sand. There have been 4-6 damsels in the tank for about a 6 weeks now. Two damsels died: one because I was foolish enough to feed the fish too much and leave the uneaten food at the bottom of the tank; i.e. ammonia out the wazoo, and the other because I left the filter off for a weekend right after the ammonia problem. Everyone seems to be breathing and living much easier in the past couple weeks for sure.

Any other essential questions? Thanks for the help!

Re: New Octopus Nervousness|geoff_brediger|
Came into work this morning and my octo was almost upside-down. The undersides of his arms were up, and he was on the side of his head, right in front of where he was yesterday when I left. He changed colors again when I was near, and he still doesn't seem to be having problems with breathing. It must be something else. I feel so helpless, cause it's not like I can just put him in some better water somewhere else. This tank is all I've got! So do I just sit here and watch him die? What can I do?

Re: New Octopus Nervousness|octomonkey|

sorry to hear about what is happening, Im afraid it doesnt look good, I have seen octos do that and they never recover...

SG is specific gravity, ie how much salt is in the water. should be 1.025 or 1.026, cephs need full strength sea water.

Your pH is way too low, it should be 8.4 or thereabouts, can you get hold of any buffers?

How many gallons is your tank? My initial response is that i dont think the tank is mature. Live rock may take longer than 3 weeks to settle out and those damsels will need longer as a "test pilot" to mature a tank too, 2 months is a bit short for maturing a ceph tank. Should be at least 3. Do you use a skimmer? They are an essential item of ceph equipment.

lastly, it may be worth your while checking your water at another LFS or buying new test kits, I cant imagine that the water is reading clear, maybe the test kits are passed their best maybe????

Hope your octo pulls through

Re: New Octopus Nervousness|geoff_brediger|
I'm the first to admit my foolishness: Looking into the whole "SG" thing, I discovered that my SG was up to 1.030! After figuring out that as the water evaporates, the salt stays in the tank, I then realized why. Genius, I know. I took the octo out of the tank and put him in a big glass jar of "fresh" salt water that I had. Then, I did a 30% water change in the tank and added some tap water(for emergency purposes only!), and have brought the reading down to 1.025. He seems to be doing better in the jar, so I'm considering putting him back in the main tank. I put some 8.2 buffer into the tank, as well.
I can't believe all of the knowledge you have to have to keep one of these things! And...I'm a Biology teacher! How does everyone else do it?
P.S. Thanks for the help.

Re: New Octopus Nervousness|octomonkey|
Hey geoff,

yeah, all of these things would affect a newly aquired specimen in a bad way. Especially the SG and pH. I need to add over one litre of water each day to make up for evaportation in my system!

Just a note on "fresh" salt water mixes. Just in case...... make sure the salt solution is heavily aeriated for a couple of hours at least before use; this makes sure all the salt is dissolved. Undisolved salts will also harm the octo.

LOL at the knowledge side..... I dont know, I'm still learning too! My biology background also helps but as your finding out, experience is the best. although it can be hard at some times. Dont be put off, just keep learning and researching octoaquariums!


Re: New Octopus Nervousness|geoff_brediger|
Just an update, if you were wondering. He's still alive; but he's still stuck to one place. I put him back in the tank yesterday before I went home. I also gave him a krill to eat, and he ate some of it. He moved around the tank a little at first, then hid himself among the rocks. That's where he's camped out now. At least he's not on the ground upside-down though, right?
Just wondering, what internet sites have you found useful in octopus care and info? Obviously, I try to utilize this site as much as possible, but sometimes I've needed stuff not on these message boards. Could you give me some useful sites? If you would rather not post them here, could you email them to me? (That goes for everyone out there!)
Another question...Why do I get a cloudy reading with my ammonia testing? It still turns to the indicated color, but the solution becomes cloudy. My local aquarium store didn't even know what that meant. They said they'd never seen that before. Does anyone have any ideas?

P.S. To answer a previous question: Yes, I have a protein skimmer in my tank. Also, I get my R/O water from the store, so I don't really have to worry about waiting long enough for salt to dissolve.

Re: New Octopus Nervousness|octomonkey|
well, if he is eating that is a good sign, perhaps you caught this just in time. best thing to do is give it plenty peace and quiet! leave the lights off and just let it reast. Make sure you dont leave any uneaten food in the tank... it may not be eating what you put in???

re ammonia test kit.... if a brand of ammonia test kit meant for freshwater is used on salt water then it may turn cloudy, i have seen that before. How old are your test kits?

If there is nothing on the boards you are looking for; just ask.......


Re: New Octopus Nervousness|geoff_brediger|
Success! (I think)
He got off the rock, slowly made his way up the side of the tank, and snatched another snail off the side. He's currently munching away as I type. That's gotta be a good sign. The true test will be this weekend. I won't be able to get into the school building until Monday, so keep your tentacles crossed!
A couple more questions:
1. Can you keep 2 octopi in the same tank? What are the benefits and downsides? I am pretty sure that there is plenty of room for 2 of my little bimacs.
2. Is there a rule of thumb on how much freshwater should be mixed with salt water to lower the SG to a desired level? In other words is there some equation involving size of tank, current SG level, and desired SG level? Just wondering for future reference. 3. How about some pointers on foods? Cheapest? Coolest to watch eat? Recommendations? So far, mine has eaten 2 snails and 1 krill in three days. How often and how much should they be fed? So on and so forth. Let's talk about food!
Thanks for the continued help. I hope other people are getting as much help as I am.

Re: New Octopus Nervousness|octomonkey|
Okay I'll make saltwater 2 words from now on... SALT WATER!

em, foods you say?
well, crustaceans are teh best to feed them, along with soem molluscs and fish.. I have tried crabs, fiddler crabs, prawns, shrimps, goldfish, mollies, trout, cod, plaice, haddock, whelks, mussells, cockles etc etc, favourites are definetly crabs. are you near a beach?

There isnt really a rule about adding water to a tank. it just comes down to experience! being a biologist you should be able to very quickly figure out the ratios needed, hey, at least you dont have to write a dissertation about it?!
I dont think you've mentioned how big your tank is yet? remeber they are gonna grow! I would think you would need at least a 200 gallon tank for two bimacs and there are still no guarantees they will get along well, they are naturally a solitary animal. Apparantly batched reared young will suffer through constant contact. I kept two individuals of the same species together for a while and it was obvious they didnt appreciate each others company!

Re: New Octopus Nervousness|geoff_brediger|
Thanks for the info.
Well, Omar (my bimac) is still alive. It looks like he ate a couple hermit crabs over the weekend, so that's good.
By the way...I have a 38 gallon tank. Looks like one bimac will have to do, then.

Questions of the day:
1. Hey, I just changed my carbon media, and it looks like I didn't rinse it off enough (even though it was like 10 minutes). My water turned darker because of the carbon. How bad is this? Will it clear up as the filter runs? How long will it take? Is there a secret to rinsing carbon?
2. What are your recommendations on buying A/O water filtration units? Is it a must? How much will they run me? Where should I look for them? My local store has one for like $200. Is this normal? I imagine that I'll get pretty tired of lugging 5 gallon buckets of water from the store every week or two.
Thanks again.

Re: New Octopus Nervousness|octomonkey|
Hi geoff,
seems like you pulled it off then, eating is the best sign, try using a piece of rigid airline with a shrimp skewered on it to feed it. A bimac should do that.... you can make sure that way. I always really slowly get my cephs used to feeding from me, that way i know exactly what they eat and when.... makes them more friendly in the long run, its not long before they spot you and start "begging" at the glass.

I'm surprised the carbon was so dusty. Perhaps you can get carbon pads from your LFS?? apparantly they are not so dusty or just trying running water through the carbon for longer..... shouldnt bother the tank at all though.

An R/O unit (reverse osmosis) unit should be cheaper to find on the web. If you do a few searches. www.reefgeeks.com may be a good place to start, not sure about price but you'll do better than $200!

hope this helps.....


Re: New Octopus Nervousness|geoff_brediger|
Well, it looks like success. Omar is eating well. He actually came out of hiding this morning when I came in and turned the lights on. He then moved all around the aquarium for like 10 minutes. It was fascinating...reminded me of why I wanted to get one in the first place.
Anyway (you know me) I've got a new question of the day.
1. Continuing the R/O water discussion:
I looked all around the Net, and I found all sorts of sizes, styles, stages, and prices. I guess I need to know what is necessary to mainain my 38 gallon tank. I obviously don't need one to put out 100 gallons per day. But do I need one with 2 stages? 3 stages? 4 stages? etc. Please clue me in to the requirements that I need and also the ones that would be good to have. Keep in mind, this will be the only salt water tank that I plan on having.

Re: New Octopus Nervousness|octomonkey|
All that's necessary is a 3 stage RO unit, without a DI unit......

The Best Whole-House Water Filters for a Clean Water Supply

there's a good start :smile:


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