• Looking to buy a cephalopod? Check out Tomh's Cephs Forum, and this post in particular shares important info about our policies as it relates to responsible ceph-keeping.

Random thoughts on captive raised cephalopods


Staff member
Moderator (Staff)
Dec 20, 2002
West Palm Beach, Florida
1) I fully support efforts to raise cephalopods in captivity and am available (email works best) to advise anyone who wishes to attempt to raise large egged octopuses or cuttlefish to supply the aquarium industry. Please read the articles on TCP and those on TONMO first and feel free to email me to help fill in any gaps.

2) Hobbyists have been raising clownfish and some species of cleaner shrimp for some time now. There is no reason why this can’t be done with large egged octopuses. Unlike the shrimp and fish, you only get one shot per female octopus but baby octopuses hatch out much larger, eat things you can actually see with your naked eye, and really shouldn’t be that hard. It might take several tries to get it down but is doable. It will take time and a very understanding SO.

Eggs can be artifically brooded but do best under octomom's care.

3) Cuttlefish are even easier, you don’t have to worry about brooding and the eggs are laid over a period of time so with just one female you have a chance to learn from your mistakes. Also, relatively recently laid cuttlefish eggs ship very well.

Cuttlefish, at least the common cuttlefish, do take up a lot more space. When I worked at the NRCC I swam in their tanks to photograph the cuttlefish.


Originally Posted by The Cephalopod Page
It's not that people or institutions on this list have to adhere to strict government-controlled spending practices or that they could lose their grant money if they sold you a cephalopod, it's just that they don't like you, and they'd rather you not have the opportunity to have one for a pet.

The JOKE in response to persisteant emails asking us to do illegal activities; I suspect it was written by Jim N although it could easily have been mine. To clarify, the NRCC won’t sell to you because it it ILLEGAL TO DO SO. Really. Tax dollars heavily subsidize the place and there are strict rules in place to protect (the non-existent) private industry. If you want to by from them you need to do it though some sort of institution – a museum, public aquarium, school or research institution. There is nothing the folks at the NRCC can do about this and they won’t make exceptions because they could lose their job or worse if they break the law. If you want to fight this, you need to fight the law, not NRCC staff, me, etc. The irony that these laws are protecting a non-existant industry is not lost on me. I'm on your side.

5) If raising cephs is attempted by someone that lives by the ocean where they can collect mysid shrimp and/or amphipods the project will be *a lot* easier. Lets say 500 hatchlings, eating 3 amphipods/mysides a day at first and MORE as they grow doubling their weight every 10-20 days.

The problem I’ve found with relying on cultured food to feed hatchling cephalopods is one of scale – it takes a lot of space and time to produce 1500 amphipods or mysid shrimp per day! I find it hard to convince people of how many that is, how much floor space it takes to culture that amount, how much hatchling octopuses eat, and how fast they grow (and then eat even more!). I suspect most people that are able to obtain viable eggs fail due to food supply issues.

In the right areas, and right times of the year, you can easily collect huge quantities of mysid shrimp and especially amphipods. But this has it’s drawbacks to, sometimes storms etc. clear out all the mysids/amphipods in an area. If you are dependant on being able to collect food then mother nature will teach you some lessons that I’ve already learned. . . more than once.

I found that a combined approach of collecting a lot of food and keeping them happy in big fiberglass holding tanks was the best approach. I created artificial tidal cycles for the amphipods and they did breed but no where near as fast as I needed them.

While at UF I was able to get my hands on mysid shrimp that were used as controls in toxicology experiments. That is another option for food.

6) Many of the questions about mysterious octopus death would be a lot easier to answer if I had some very simple basic information such as what species was it and how old it was when it died. That information alone is worth a lot.

7) If you consider the costs of equipment, electricity, floor space, and pay yourself minimum wage for the time involved, there is no way that this will be profitable. That doesn’t mean it isn’t the right thing to do for a number of ecological and ethical reasons.

For what it’s worth, anyone that can fill this need will have my respect and I will be pleased to shamelessly promote them.
Thanks for all the tips on breeding and raising cephs. It appears that we'll have to be doing more of this in the future and any advice is much appreciated.

Greetings Good Dr. Wood!

So very good to see the digital echoes of your voice on these hallowed halls! Thanks for quoting me, and on my birthday no less! That's one of the best birthday gifts I got!

I hope you're doing well- After Bonaire I kind of dropped out of the scene for a while, and haven't kept in touch with anyone. Big life changes over the last few years. Anyhoo.

The timing of your message is quite amazing, too. Last weekend, my Bride (the lovely and talented Suzanne) and I became the foster parents of another clutch of octopus eggs- Small eggs this time! We thought the mom was a bimac- then she laid about 20 festoons of approximately 25 gazillion eggs. Ha!

We are, of course, making the irresponsible decision and will attempt raising them. The silicone is drying on the Jimbo/BoomTown Labs Mk VIII Planktonic Suspension System, which is actually a design ripped off from something I saw at the National Zoo housing comb jellies.
It's a rough approximation of their no doubt expensive custom acrylic setup, but the first tests looked promising, but there were too many leaks in critical areas. We test it again tonight. If there is interest here on Tonmo, I may be talked into publishing a diagram of how it works.

Igor! Bring me some tubing! Mua huh huh huh huh!

I certainly intend to weblog the experience as I did with my baby mercs back in the day, but I may not get as into it as I did the first time around We'll see what happens.

Hope you're doing well!

Cheers, Jimbo

PS: Tonmo is cool, but I really miss the cephlist.

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