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Questions about my new octopus


Nov 28, 2002
I am reposting this message as many people didn't see my questions in my response on the other thread.

Well, I didn't have much say in the matter, but my friend bought us a new vulgaris as a holiday gift.

I am pleased to report that I think I may have the friendliest octopus I have ever seen. He has been out most of the day (even with the lights on), dancing around, entertaining us, flashing different colors, etc. He already recognizes me and comes right up to the glass when I put my face close to it.

All the stores are out of ghost/glass shrimp, so we have been feeding him freshwater fiddler crabs. Is this OK? The LFS told us that they like these just as much as the shrimp. He has eaten three of them thus far, and seems to really like them. How do I go about weaning him to frozen shrimp? We put a couple of them in the tank but he hasn't gone near them.

Also, we checked the NO3 levels last night and noticed that it was a bit high (even though we just got him last week). We did an immediate 25% water change. On that note, do I have to be concerned about the stress or shock of a 25% change? We aerated and warmed the water, SG was off one point from the tank. It is now at 1.025. How often should we be changing the water?

Any recommendations for good toys for him to play with? We have been having trouble finding good items that have no metal parts and will sink.

Hi Josh,
yeah i think that sometimes it is better to start a new thread. the focus of the thread does tend to wander a lot of the time :)


Thats great about the new octopus, just keep us up to date and keep posting pics!

Fiddlers are ideal food for them... as long as you can vary the diet too, why not try clams and mussels or things like that... maybe some fresh fish?

I dont beleive that frozen shrimp is the best thing to give an octopus as its staple diet, if they are hungry they will take them but they are not as nutritious as fresh food, so maybe just use them in emergencies?

Try for fresh (uncooked) prawns, shrimps, crabs and fish. Basicly search through the seafood counter!

As long as the temp, salinity and pH of the new water matches the tank water a 25%change is fine. I do a 20% or thereabout water change every week or two.

A good toy that gets mentioned several times in papers is the plastic pill bottle that floats.... I also have lots of empty snail shells that they sepend a lot of time searching through and moving about.

Thanks Colin! Great ideas!

About the fresh fish, how long should I leave it in the tank if he doesn't eat it immediately? I don't want it to start decaying.

Last night he shot out a little bit of ink when we lifted our camera. How much ink does he need to release for me to do an immediate water change? I am assuming that a small bit is ok for the time being.

Last night he grabbed my finger for a split second and then ran away. I think we were both a bit unnerved by it. I'm going to try to get him to grab my hand again tonight, he seems to want to climb out of the tank onto our laps!

We gave him a crayfish tonight after we clipped it's claws. I think he really liked it, he ate the whole thing in 15 minutes. When he came out of his cave to throw away the shell, we grabbed it immediately to throw it out. He bit right through the back of the tail and ate everything out from the inside without damaging the rest of the crayfish. He even left the GI tract intact inside.

Here is a picture of him eyeing his dinner a couple of nights ago:

...and i bet the fiddler didnt last too long!? :)

Well, remove uneaten food as soon as you realise it is uneaten. What i mean is that if they ceph doesnt eat it straight away they normally dont eat it at all so i would leave it just for an hour or so to see if it changes it's mind.

Normally the octo will just eat the same bit we do; the tail and discard the head.

I would say that a small puff of ink is no problem, just change the carbon every couple of months and keep the skimmer going well! No problem!

Once they get used to your hands..... the tricky bit is getting them back off again! LOL Have fun!

It sounds like you're having a great time with your new pet! I love reading stories like that. One thing I noticed- you don't need to clip the claws off your crayfish and crabs. In the wild, octopuses were engineered by nature to eat crustaceans. To us silly humans it looks like a hideously mismatched fight: a mass of soft flesh vs. an armored set of living scissors. If you want a show, find a BIG crayfish- bigger than the matle length of your octopus, and let them fight it out.

You'll immediately see what I mean. Not only do cephalpods instinctively know how to grab crustaceans the right way, their pliable flesh lets them slip right out of those pincers.

Interesting that your octos don't clean out their food- mine usually clean them out so perfectly that what's left behind looks like a snap-together model of a crayfish that someone spilled in my tank! :lol:

One tip on acclimating your creature to shrimp: get a "feeding prong" - a long thin plastic stick that's sharp on one end. Spear the shrimp and make it "scoot around on the bottom of the tank" -that usually evokes the predatory response and at least gets the octopus to attack it.

Cheers, Jimbo
Well, we only clipped the claws on the crayfish, not the fiddlers. Next time I will leave them on to see what he does. I know what you mean about him being able to grab the crustaceans just right. He usually sticks a tentacle near the crab to get it scared and force it to run a certain way, knowing exactly which way it is going to run he has an easy time grabbing the claws and positioning the crab so he can eat it from the back without being caught by a claw.

Do you recommend feeding frozen shrimp from an aquarium type package or fresh whole shrimp?
He he he, wait until you see a CUTTLEFISH do it! They fly around a crab like a flying saucer and then strike from exactly the right angle! I once fed a mantis shrimp to my cuttlefish and the cuttle just KNEW which angle to hit it from.

I buy headless frozen shrimp from my supermarket and thaw them briefly under regular old tap water before feeding to my octos. Sometimes it takes a while for them to accept such peasant food ( :roll: ) but they come around after a while.

Thinking again the advice I gave before might have been a touch reckless: as with anything in nature, a really big crayfish CAN rip an outclassed cephalopod opponent literally arm from arm from arm from arm from...well you get the picture. The point I was shooting for was that you might be surprised at what your little kraken is capable of tackling. If you think the challenge is pushing it's limits, by all means keep an eye out.

You're doing well, keep up the good work! Cheers, Jimbo

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