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questions for study


Oct 13, 2004
I am a research technician looking into an octopus for a project. Before anyone gets all crazy activist on me, the research done is measuring a stress hormone in the feces. No harm will ever come to the octopus to do this research. In fact most of the time it will do nothing more than sit around an be pretty. I have been looking into the subject for my boss, a research doctor, to see if the venture will be acheivable in any way. We already have a tank set up. It has been set up for several months and has no other marine life (save algae) in it. what I need to find out is how much feces does an octopus produce. I understand they produce a lot of waist but waist does not mean feces. Can anyone describe to me what octupus feces is like? There is no imminence in this, we have yet to even pick a species though we are leaning toward either a bimac or a day octopus right now. We are pretty much just looking for one that meats our needs. Any help or info would be appreciated. We do have protein skimmers and canister filters available that can be used. We also have an exotics vet that checks our lab once a month to make sure everything is going as should be.
the most obvious waste that an octo produces is actually ammonia. Just like fish a lot of that is excreted through respiration.

As Greg and I already said, it will be difficult to catch octopoop unless you have a glass, bare bottom tank with no substrate... but you will need a buffer for the water so it would be a good idea to plum thi stank into a sump with live rock and coral gravel.

A sterile tank with bare bottom, plastic pipes and easy to clean surfaces would be best.

In fact, if you are handy with a silicone gun and glass cutter you could make a false bottom on the tank at a slight angle to encourage faeces to gather at one side.

would waste gathered from a filter do?

bimacs are aquacultured, diurnal and i guess the best choice for you

Colin said:
A sterile tank with bare bottom, plastic pipes and easy to clean surfaces would be best.

Hmmmmm. I agree with you Col, but would this not contribute to stressing the octopus. Tough one. It does depend on what 'stress' retech is actually trying to measure.

Perhaps taking blood samples might provide better indication of stress levels, rather than liquefied faecal material, and then you could keep the octopus in a much happier environment. Unfortunately this will require a certainly level of handling, and sticking a syringe into any ceph is going to stress it (as much as it stresses me; right up there with spiders!!!); a lot of confounding variables (environmental and traumatic stress). Hmmmm. Not nice. (I'm one of those crazy activists you fear ..... )

I get nice consolidated faecal pellets from squid (Sepioteuthis), and they're not that difficult to keep live or grow from eggs (just a lot of labour). They also hang around off the tank floor, so a suspended net or syringe could be used to catch/collect faecal material (you cannot have any substrate on the bottom of the tank as they're such messy eaters; and they don't seem to mind a glass or acrylic floor).

Where are you based? You can purchase live squid (Sepioteuthis) in the US, although I'm not sure what is available elsewhere.
Hmmmmmmm......our display octi produce a string like waste product, which is quite sticky ( it adheres to seaweed, rock, gravel, nets................!) It is jetted out of the funnel periodically.

Hopefully size shouldn't be a problem for him as he collects from smaller fish all the time. We may just have to store up until we can get enough to sample. He also collects on choral reefs in the wild so we shouldn't have to keep the tank bare, not that we would want to. Again we only take samples once in a very long while, so we could just watch him and get a feel for the situation long before anything actually comes up.
just so you know if you are still watching this discussion. Our lab received two bimac octopuses and have had them alive for about a week now. They seem to have adjusted well, eating moving, being curious and sometimes downright rotten. They haven't even hidded since we put them in the tank even though they have numerous places to do so. We have also had little to no trouble collecting feces from them and already have a hefty sum gathered (the tank is not bare I assure you. I just watch everyday for poop and suck it up in a tube) THe only original problem I had was getting to poop near the bottom without getting inked at by the larger of the two bimacs. He has calmed down however(thankfully as he ran himself out of ink one day, I saw him try to ink and only a little puff come out). He is much better with me being in his tank no matter what I'm doing and will even come over to investigate if he's feeling adventurous.

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