[Octopus]: Oscar the ornery octopus (O. briareus)

Jean_R

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Got this beautiful, small O. briareus this morning from Philipp at KP Aquatics. Climbed right out of the jar, spent about 5-10 minutes exploring his new home and then proceeded to devour an emerald crab. Then went into hiding and take a siesta, so let's see.

I have 4 emerald crabs and 4 peppermint shrimp in the 40 gallon aquarium in case Oscar gets hungry. I have a tank full of asian shore crabs and grass shrimp we caught on the shore this past weekend to keep him fat and happy. I turned the lights to a reverse light cycle as I am hoping to get him out more during the day, let's see if it works.

Looking forward to the adventure!




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Got this beautiful, small O. briareus this morning from Philipp at KP Aquatics. Climbed right out of the jar, spent about 5-10 minutes exploring his new home and then proceeded to devour an emerald crab. Then went into hiding and take a siesta, so let's see.

I have 4 emerald crabs and 4 peppermint shrimp in the 40 gallon aquarium in case Oscar gets hungry. I have a tank full of asian shore crabs and grass shrimp we caught on the shore this past weekend to keep him fat and happy. I turned the lights to a reverse light cycle as I am hoping to get him out more during the day, let's see if it works.

Looking forward to the adventure!




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This is all so new to me. A beautiful animal. I had no idea that the eyes would be so prominent.
 
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I do not expect to ever want to go to the trouble of maintaining a marine tank; however, I am completing my SCUBA refresher course tomorrow. Maybe I’ll soon have a chance to watch them in their natural environment.
 

tonmo

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I do not expect to ever want to go to the trouble of maintaining a marine tank
I'm the same. It's clearly a ton of work and responsibility. Rewarding hobby by all appearances, though... If I were to do it, I'd intend to do it well, and I know that takes a bit more than I'm ready to give.
Maybe I’ll soon have a chance to watch them in their natural environment.
I've never SCUBA'ed but I've snorkeled a bunch; never had the pleasure of finding an octo, though, except for a local fisherman in Jamaica (no boat, just swimming out) who was returning with an octopus on his line; I met him in waist-deep waters. I got to touch it but was unsuccessful in convincing him to let it go!
 

Jean_R

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No sighting of Oscar since Wednesday. Am guessing he is hiding in the live rock somewhere. When I count the emerald crabs and peppermint shrimp they all seem to be there also, so Oscar does not appear to be eating.

Any advice on what to do? Sit and wait or go looking for him?

Thanks!
 

DWhatley

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IME, the young animals stay hidden until they are somewhere between 4 and 5 months. It seems that this is the time that they a) become sexually mature and/or b) become predator vs prey. It is usually helpful to (mentally and for feeding) to determine where it is denning and then try to lure it out daily with a small piece of shrimp on a stick. I never left live food in with the animals I kept so it may be much harder to encourage a regular feeding/observation time.
 

Jean_R

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Thanks for the advice! About an hour after posting this last night Oscar came out, devoured another emerald crab, and returned to what must be his den.

Just now I made a makeshift feeding stick out of fishing line and a plastic rod. I cut off a piece of raw shrimp, looped it onto the line and dangled it in front of the den. It took about 30 seconds for Oscar to reach out and pull the shrimp piece into this layer.

The shrimp I just fed him was what we had in the freezer - shelled and deveined so mostly just meat. I guess I have it in my mind that small whole shrimp (head and all) would probably be the best for nutrition as it represents the "whole" prey. Not sure where I find whole shrimp small enough for Oscar, but guess an asian market the likeliest place. What do people on TONMO recommend?
 

DWhatley

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Actually, I recommend feeding just a pieces about the size of its eye. They do not eat the same parts that we do not eat, raw seafood works well when live is not available or you are trying to monitor feeding and those parts will foul your tank if you don't relatively quickly remove the cast offs. I do use my Asian market often and buy their cheapest shrimp I just don't offer the waste. Blue crab claws (I ask for permission to collect the already separated claws from the live bins -- don't get frozen crab as it has been cooked and may not offer enough nutrients) are also a great food source. For little animals, you will need to remove the meat and stick feed but once it has grown, cracking the claws is enough (again, removal of the waste within a few hours of feeding is a must but the crab claws are less of a problem than shrimp shells). Until it is used to a feeding routine, I would recommend staying with either of these two items. Once it has grown and is used to a feeding time, you can try bits of fish, scallops and whole clams. Clams work well but you need to put them in a DEEP -- they will squirt all the water out of something shallow -- bucket of tank water for several hours to let them clean out their waste. If you leave them overnight, be sure to add an air stone so they don't suffocate. If the octo does not eat them, they will help keep your substrate clean. Pretty much anything that is native to the ocean is acceptable if it will eat it. Do not offer freshwater foods on a regular basis as the protein and fat contents are typically not in balance but crayfish and small live freshwater ghost shrimp can be offered on occasion.
 

Jean_R

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It was a quiet week. We cut some slivers of shrimp and offered them on the stick with mostly success. We also pulled the claws off some small local crabs and placed them at the entrance to Oscar's den. It took a few hours to overnight, but Oscar ate both crabs. Nothing photo-wise to share as there is really nothing to see, the den appears to be deep within a single piece of rock. I am thinking about abandoning the reverse light cycle lighting as, ultimately, it is never really dark in the room and so may only be discouraging Oscar from any exploration (but who knows).
 

Jean_R

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Things are still good here. I went away for 4-5 days and left a handful of live crabs/shrimp in the tank, when I returned there were mostly crab carcasses spread all over the tank. We feed Oscar pieces of raw shrimp from the feeding stick every night, which he mostly pulls off the stick within a minute. Hard to get photos as he hides from the light and mostly stays deep in the rock work.

I was up at 4am the other morning and decided to have look with the red light. Sure enough he was out and exploring the aquarium, looking like he is getting bigger.

Not really interactive other than pulling shrimp off the line, but hopefully that will change as he gets older/bigger and becomes more confident.

I'd be keen to get some thoughts on where to keep the aquarium temperature. On the one hand it is a Caribbean octopus and used to warmer waters, on the other hand I have read that lower temperatures are associated with increased lifespan. Since I work from home (these days) and we have central air the tank has been staying very steady around 74F. Is that fine or should I consider raising the temp to 77-78?
 

DWhatley

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IMO, 74 is fine, especially if you can maintain that without a heater or chiller. I have allowed my tanks to get up to 80 in the summer and overnight to 72 in the winter but my goal is 75.
 

Jean_R

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Very sad to announce I found my octopus dead under the couch this morning. I have a custom tight-fitting lid with very little squeezing space, but I was not weighing the lid down with anything heavy. I'm not 100% sure how he got out but think he must have lifted the lid just enough to squeeze through.

Very sad indeed as he was doing great! Eating shrimp off the line and live shore crabs, he had grown two or three times the size of when I got him. He still spent all his time denning but more and more time out at the opening to the den each evening, watching the world go by.

We will grieve for a bit before trying again, but I do think we will try this again as the whole family loved it. And would love to hear of some lid suggestions to octo-proof it. If I got some velcro strips to velcro/DualLock the lid to the tank would that do it? Also, I guess it would not look very elegant but could possible bungy the lid down...or maybe go with another lid design completely?

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