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Pygmy Atlantic Octopus care

Hannahhhh

Blue Ring
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Jan 12, 2020
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I am looking into starting a tank for a pygmy octopus.

Do any of you have experience keeping a pygmy octopus or even a larger sized one? If so, let me know.

I have a few questions off the bat. Please feel free to respond whether or not you have kept an octopus, but I will definitely pay a bit more attention to the people who have kept them before. Also if there are other important things you think I should know, please let me know.

1. Multiple sites have said minimum tank size is 10 gallons. For those of you who have kept this species before, did that feel large enough for you? I'm worried both in terms the octopus having enough room to move around and about the volume of water getting dirty too quickly. Octos seem to be very sensitive to water quality, if I need to do regular water changes after feedings (which I think I would need to do) will it be too disruptive to the animal changing over such a large percentage of the water.
2. My hope would be that I could modify my evo 13.5 into a suitable octopus habitat. In terms of escape, I can make a plastic cover to go over the top and attach sponges over the outtake. However, seeing as I keep reading that octopuses are "dirty," I doubt that the filtration that comes with the tank is sufficient. I am wondering if there is some sort of hang on filter of sorts that I can attach as a secondary cleaning source. Does anyone have suggestions on this?
3. For the people who have had pygmy octos before, did you keep any corals or fish in the tank with them? Since they're nocturnal, I think the tank would be a bit more interesting if there was something going on in there during the day as well. I was thinking of possibly adding some cheap, easy, non aggressive corals (leather corals or maybe an RFA). If the octopus moves them around or kills them, no big deal. I would also like to put in a few fish. Ideally something large enough that the octopus doesn't try to eat it but not so large that it would be unhappy in a 13 gallon tank. I was thinking maybe a larger clownfish pair, although I don't want anything that might be aggressive to my octopus. Also nothing super expensive, in the off chance that the octopus tries to eat it (I won't put anything in if I think that is a likely outcome, but you never know).
4. Lastly, in terms of feeding live food, where did you buy your feeder shrimp (or whatever else you fed)? LiveAquaria suggests feeding live feeder shrimp or freshwater ghost shrimp. Can feeder shrimp carry parasites? If not, I can store them in the refugium of my larger tank, but if they may carry parasites, I don't want to do that. I also don't want to give the octopus parasites, so should I quarantine the feeder shrimp too? Is it more cost effective to breed my own feeder shrimp or is that a hassle?

I am sure I will think of more questions in the future, but these are the big ones for now. Thanks in advance for any help!
 

DWhatley

Kraken
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1. Multiple sites have said minimum tank size is 10 gallons.
For O. mercatoris, it is possible to keep the animal in a well cycled 10 gallon but 15 would be preferable because of the water quality issues you have acknowledged. However, keeping a pair of siblings in a 15 works well and a larger tank is not needed. Mercs are one of the few octos that can be kept together in captivity but the known successes have all been with known siblings or animals caught together and assumed to be siblings.

2. I am wondering if there is some sort of hang on filter
I have used a hang on filter for mercs in a hex 15 but octo proofing can be a little tricky. I modified my make shift cover to go over the parts of the filter that might temp an octo to climb so that all it could climb onto was the cover.

3. For the people who have had pygmy octos before, did you keep any corals or fish in the tank with them?
I am strongly opposed to keeping any fish with any species of octopus. Fish will attempt to scavenge food while our messy (and somewhat slow) eaters break up their food. This leads, at best to pestering and at worse, out right attacks that can cause infection or worse.

4. Lastly, in terms of feeding live food, where did you buy your feeder shrimp (or whatever else you fed)?
Most octos will take pieces of frozen table shrimp from a feeding stick. It is harder with mercs but I have found that size matters and that often the issue is not offering a small enough piece. Mercs are pretty lazy. The young animals can catch live shrimp but I found I needed to kill and feed the shore shrimp (saltwater - freshwater will not last too long in the saltwater and may be slow enough for adults to catch). An alternate live food is fiddler crabs and are taken very well by all species. My favorite vendor for both shrimp and fiddlers is Paul Sachs (Sachs Systems Aquaculture) because he has always been reliable and has served water pet keepers for years. Yes, wild caught (and often pond raised) shore shrimp (salt and fresh) often have a specific kind of parasite that you can see as a black growth on the shrimp. It does not appear to be harmful to other animals. You cannot remove it/them while the shrimp are alive but if you feed just killed shrimp (my typical feeding along with fiddlers for the mercs) you can remove it at that time.

There is a collection of topics for prospective/new keepers linked here. All of the stuck threads (blue section of this forum) are suggested reading as you get started.

For a feel for keeping an octopus, look as some of the journals. We have not seen any Atlantic dwarfs for quite awhile so obtaining one may be difficult.
 

Hannahhhh

Blue Ring
Registered
Joined
Jan 12, 2020
Messages
39
For O. mercatoris, it is possible to keep the animal in a well cycled 10 gallon but 15 would be preferable because of the water quality issues you have acknowledged. However, keeping a pair of siblings in a 15 works well and a larger tank is not needed. Mercs are one of the few octos that can be kept together in captivity but the known successes have all been with known siblings or animals caught together and assumed to be siblings.


I have used a hang on filter for mercs in a hex 15 but octo proofing can be a little tricky. I modified my make shift cover to go over the parts of the filter that might temp an octo to climb so that all it could climb onto was the cover.


I am strongly opposed to keeping any fish with any species of octopus. Fish will attempt to scavenge food while our messy (and somewhat slow) eaters break up their food. This leads, at best to pestering and at worse, out right attacks that can cause infection or worse.


Most octos will take pieces of frozen table shrimp from a feeding stick. It is harder with mercs but I have found that size matters and that often the issue is not offering a small enough piece. Mercs are pretty lazy. The young animals can catch live shrimp but I found I needed to kill and feed the shore shrimp (saltwater - freshwater will not last too long in the saltwater and may be slow enough for adults to catch). An alternate live food is fiddler crabs and are taken very well by all species. My favorite vendor for both shrimp and fiddlers is Paul Sachs (Sachs Systems Aquaculture) because he has always been reliable and has served water pet keepers for years. Yes, wild caught (and often pond raised) shore shrimp (salt and fresh) often have a specific kind of parasite that you can see as a black growth on the shrimp. It does not appear to be harmful to other animals. You cannot remove it/them while the shrimp are alive but if you feed just killed shrimp (my typical feeding along with fiddlers for the mercs) you can remove it at that time.

There is a collection of topics for prospective/new keepers linked here. All of the stuck threads (blue section of this forum) are suggested reading as you get started.

For a feel for keeping an octopus, look as some of the journals. We have not seen any Atlantic dwarfs for quite awhile so obtaining one may be difficult.


Thank you so much for all the information.
I have another question. What do you think about ordering an octopus and having it shipped to you? Is that usually successful or do they ink in the bag and die more often than not?
 

DWhatley

Kraken
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Yes, I am inland and have all my octos shipped overnight. My preference is to have them shipped to the carrier distribution center closest to my house (in most cases this is FedEx) if the option is available. Shipping is always risky but, unless you live in a coastal city, it will have been shipped at least once. It takes about a month to really know how well the animal will survive in captivity ( I call it full acclimation).
 

tonmo

Cthulhu
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In our ceph availability program (there are some for purchase here), we encourage buyers to have their octo shipped to them at a FedEx drop-off center - that way, you can show up first thing in the morning, and transport them home yourself (vs. risking a long day on a truck with several stops).
 

DWhatley

Kraken
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Do note that the octopuses @tonmo mentions above are not suitable for your setup (neither are dwarf and both are cold water species) but he is making the point that it is common to request shipping to a center rather than a home.
 

Hannahhhh

Blue Ring
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Jan 12, 2020
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Thank you guys for all this info! It’s super helpful! Another question, is it common for shippers to say octos aren’t covered by an arrive alive guarantee? The only place I can find a brown pacific octopus in stock is your fish store.com but they won’t guarantee an alive arrival. Also I’m nowhere near ready to place an order, so it’s possible other sites may have availability once I’m ready.
 

Hannahhhh

Blue Ring
Registered
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Jan 12, 2020
Messages
39
Yes, I am inland and have all my octos shipped overnight. My preference is to have them shipped to the carrier distribution center closest to my house (in most cases this is FedEx) if the option is available. Shipping is always risky but, unless you live in a coastal city, it will have been shipped at least once. It takes about a month to really know how well the animal will survive in captivity ( I call it full acclimation).
That’s a great idea, I will be sure to do that!
 

pkilian

GPO
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Jul 31, 2019
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162
Because Octopuses are very difficult to ship, most companies do not have an arrive alive guarantee. Usually all you can do is just do your best to ensure that the distributor follows the best practices in cephalopod shipping.
 

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