Setup questions for possible octopus?

Capt’nJack

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Howdy,

Been in the Reefing hobby for about 12 years. I was cycling a new frag tank, when the thought occured to me that I could do something I’ve always wanted to try, keep an octopus! I’ve been reading your forums, thank you, but still have a couple of questions.

Is setup fundamentally sound?
The tank is a 36” x 24 x 12 Advanced Acryics. Roughly 41 gallons, The sump is a 20 gallon. Realisticall, total volume is about 55 gallons. I have access to a CNC machine for a good tight lid. Sump includes a Nyos 160 skimmer, roller matt, with an Ecotech M1 pump as the return. Under the roller mat is tons of bio media (brightwell). The tank is monitored by an Apex fusion (new) with a Trident for testing and a two part Apex Doser. Spectrapure Auto top off. Dual heaters. Cooling fans. This was after all about to be a “frag” tank. Lighting will be over kill as well but is adjustable Ecotech Radion gen 3 supplemented with adjustable T5’s.

How small of a hole is too big?
Its common that octopus are escape artists. But how small a hole? 1/8, 1/4, 1/2? I sure it all depends on the beak? How big is an octopus beak? I’m sure they vary with the size of the octopus. The wiers on my overflow box are 1/4 inch. Too big for a dwarf? Get a bigger octopus? I understand that I could screen the wiers, but that’s going to restrict flow. (not good for a guy who travels). Ideas? Insight?

What type?
Also, even though I just put new air conditioners on the house, living in Phoenix, running them at very low settings is going to be ”economically prohibitive”. So looking for a warm water octopus 78 degrees. ( hardy, non toxic) that is active and visible. I’m reading through the information, but there’s a lot of it. Can someone help me narrow down the search? Or am I looking for a unicorn?

Capt’n Jack

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pkilian

Wonderpus
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189
Hi Jack
Your setup looks great! Very professional. As far as octopus proofing your tank goes, can you send a photo of where the wires come out the top of your tank that you are worried about? It'll help me get a better idea of what solution will work for you. My only other concern would be the top part of that baffle on the left hand side of the tank. A smaller octopus would probably be able to squeeze between the slots on the top of the baffle if you have a lid going across the entire width of the tank. It may be in your best interest to screen off the top of that baffle. It will be more annoying to clean and can potentially get blocked up over time if you don't scrub it, but its a much better option than having your octo end up in the sump. I can give some octo-safe screening recommendations if you'd like. Again, this depends on the size of the octo you get. Maybe you can also send a picture of the baffle slots with a quarter for scale so I can get a better idea.

As far as animal recommendations go, I've only ever kept cold water species or toxic warm water species, so unfortunately I won't be much help in that department. Maybe someone else can chime in?

Keep us updated with your setup!
 

Capt’nJack

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Thanks for the reply.

I agree with your thoughts on the weirs going to the overflow box, I believe most smaller octopus could make the escape. I would love to hear what you guys use for such a problem. clogging shouldn’t be as big an issue as I was thinking. The material doesn’t have to be too fine. Please share!

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Question about flow. How much flow does an octopus need? Right now I have two power heads in the tank. I have the return pump, an MP-40, and a small Sicce pump. Plenty of flow! If an Octopus doesn’t need that much flow, I could pull the Sicce pump and there would be no wires going into the inside of the tank. But most things in the ocean like a lot of flow. Especially random flow. Either way, I can build in a small notch matching the cord size into the custom lid for that one wire. Do these critters like to get into power heads? If so, will sponge covers be enough?

Also, would an octopus prefer bare bottom tank or sand? I’m assuming sand. Obviously a good rock structure is mandatory.

As far as the octopus itself, are most warm water octopus toxic? Cold water non toxic? Other than the blue ring, which I think can be deadly, Is a toxic bite equivalent to a bee sting? Much worse? I was just hoping to interact physically Since so much of the sensory is physical in their arms. Last piece of the puzzle.

Thanks for your help.
 

pkilian

Wonderpus
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189
Hello,

About the baffle: I would recommend attaching a screen that covers the baffle. Something like this:
screen.png

You can find plastic screening that you can cut to fit on amazon. Most mesh sizes should work for any octo species as long as you don't plan on having any baby octos. You can attach the mesh with aquarium safe coral frag glue (here's the brand that I use) or maybe zip ties if you don't want to glue anything to your tank.

As far as flow goes, you shouldn't need that much flow. Too high of flow and it can irritate your animals skin. I would strongly recommend against having a power head in the tank with the animal, it's a really good way to end up with an animal getting tangled in the impellor and losing arms. A makeup line from the sump should be enough flow to keep the water turnover high enough that your octo will be happy without getting agitated by excessive flow.

All the octo tanks I have had have not had any sand. That's just my personal preference as it makes cleaning and maintaining the tank easier because I have lots of tanks I need to keep clean. If you only have the one and don't mind siphoning the sand out every week or so, feel free to put sand in. I don't think the octopus will mind either way- its more your personal preference. Maybe someone else can chime in if I'm mistaken on this point.

Something you will want is to have (which you mentioned in your post) is lots of rocks and spots for them to build a den for themselves. I would also recommend having some smaller rocks around the tank that they can move around and use to build whatever den structure they like.

On the topic of cold vs warm species and their relative toxicity I don't have much information for you unfortunately. I believe most octopus species have some level of tetrodotoxin which they use to immobilize their prey. When it comes to being bitten, the reaction you will have is dependent on a few things. The first is how much toxin they produce and the strength of said toxin. Being bitten by a bimaculoides can be compared to getting stung by a bee, and being bitten by a blue ring can be quite deadly. The other factor is your bodies immune system. Some people are deathly allergic to bee stings, while some hardly react at all. I believe the same goes for reactions to octopus bites. Again, maybe someone who knows more about this than me would be able to give more advice.


Finally, a word about octopus interactions.

As someone who works in research with these animals- I have to caution anyone against interacting with them by putting your hands in the tank and letting them touch you. They are wild animals and we can never be quite sure what their reaction to us will be. You put yourself and your animal at risk for harm every time you let them touch your hands. But on a personal note- I know it is a lot of fun and very interesting to be able to touch and interact with your animals and there are a lot of success stories out there of people having wonderful and safe interactions with their animals. I just recommend using some caution and making sure you are prepared if your animal decides you might be dinner, or that they want to crawl up your arm and out of the tank. It's hardly a fair fight with their 8 arms vs your 2, so if the octopus decides they want something, it can be hard to prevent them from getting whatever they want without hurting them.

Let me know if you have more questions and I'd be happy to keep talking about more safe ways to interact with your animal.
 

Capt’nJack

Hatchling
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Nov 1, 2020
Messages
6
Hello,

About the baffle: I would recommend attaching a screen that covers the baffle. Something like this: View attachment 73299
You can find plastic screening that you can cut to fit on amazon. Most mesh sizes should work for any octo species as long as you don't plan on having any baby octos. You can attach the mesh with aquarium safe coral frag glue (here's the brand that I use) or maybe zip ties if you don't want to glue anything to your tank.

As far as flow goes, you shouldn't need that much flow. Too high of flow and it can irritate your animals skin. I would strongly recommend against having a power head in the tank with the animal, it's a really good way to end up with an animal getting tangled in the impellor and losing arms. A makeup line from the sump should be enough flow to keep the water turnover high enough that your octo will be happy without getting agitated by excessive flow.

All the octo tanks I have had have not had any sand. That's just my personal preference as it makes cleaning and maintaining the tank easier because I have lots of tanks I need to keep clean. If you only have the one and don't mind siphoning the sand out every week or so, feel free to put sand in. I don't think the octopus will mind either way- its more your personal preference. Maybe someone else can chime in if I'm mistaken on this point.

Something you will want is to have (which you mentioned in your post) is lots of rocks and spots for them to build a den for themselves. I would also recommend having some smaller rocks around the tank that they can move around and use to build whatever den structure they like.

On the topic of cold vs warm species and their relative toxicity I don't have much information for you unfortunately. I believe most octopus species have some level of tetrodotoxin which they use to immobilize their prey. When it comes to being bitten, the reaction you will have is dependent on a few things. The first is how much toxin they produce and the strength of said toxin. Being bitten by a bimaculoides can be compared to getting stung by a bee, and being bitten by a blue ring can be quite deadly. The other factor is your bodies immune system. Some people are deathly allergic to bee stings, while some hardly react at all. I believe the same goes for reactions to octopus bites. Again, maybe someone who knows more about this than me would be able to give more advice.


Finally, a word about octopus interactions.

As someone who works in research with these animals- I have to caution anyone against interacting with them by putting your hands in the tank and letting them touch you. They are wild animals and we can never be quite sure what their reaction to us will be. You put yourself and your animal at risk for harm every time you let them touch your hands. But on a personal note- I know it is a lot of fun and very interesting to be able to touch and interact with your animals and there are a lot of success stories out there of people having wonderful and safe interactions with their animals. I just recommend using some caution and making sure you are prepared if your animal decides you might be dinner, or that they want to crawl up your arm and out of the tank. It's hardly a fair fight with their 8 arms vs your 2, so if the octopus decides they want something, it can be hard to prevent them from getting whatever they want without hurting them.

Let me know if you have more questions and I'd be happy to keep talking about more safe ways to interact with your animal.
Thank you so much for replying to this thread.

i will order the screening tomorrow.
 

Capt’nJack

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6
Thank you so much for replying to this thread.

i will order the screening tomorrow.
Flow will be easy, just pull out the power heads.

Not going with sand for the very reasons you talked about.

Plenty of rock available for multiple dens/caves and leftover rocks for the octopi to finish decorsting.

im not to worried about bites. Hell, I think I’ve been stung/speared/bitten by everything else in the hobby without allergic reactions. But I hear you loud and clear about personal interaction. There’s a lot I don’t know about these animals. I have great respect for anything that I don’t know. As this is my first octopus, I will adjust my expectations of interaction for the animals best interest. i would love to hear better ways to interact that are good stimulation for the octopus.

Now to just find a suitable warm water octopus that is diurnal, if that exists, that is actually for sale.

Capt’n Jack
 
Joined
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Start by gently placing one fingertip on the water surface and let the octopus come to you...Let it explore your fingertip with one or two suckers and then withdraw...If you are lucky to come across a "social" octopus, it will soon get used to this contact and even ask for it. Getting bitten is not so easy provided that you do not let the octopus entangle your hand...
 

sedna

Larger Pacific Striped Octopus
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Sorry I’m late to the party, but you are in great hands with these guys! I’m not going to comment on your set up, it looks great!

Your tank size, 41 gallons is a little small. You want the main tank to be big enough for lots of live rock and have space for exploring and hiding. It should be ok for octopuses in the Abdopus complex (many of whom are diurnal!) or ones about that size. My main tank is a 55 gallon bow front and I wouldn’t go any smaller than that, and I don’t keep octopuses that get larger than a briareus. An Abdopus aculeatus would great, very friendly and diurnal.

When it comes to interaction I’ve developed my own habits over 12 years of keeping. First of all I NEVER hand feed. I use tongs or a skewer to feed so that my hands don’t become associated with food or feeding time. When the octopus is new to my home I spend a lot of time sitting in front of the tank so it can get used to me. Once it’s been in the house for a week or so and has established a routine, then I do what Seeker does- put a couple fingers in the water and allow the octopus to come to me. I usually have someone else standing by the first few times that I’m case I’ve got an overzealous one.

In 12+ years I’ve only been bitten once. They can give you an infection, so I washed it well and kept bacitracin on it for a few days.
 

Capt’nJack

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Sorry I’m late to the party, but you are in great hands with these guys! I’m not going to comment on your set up, it looks great!

Your tank size, 41 gallons is a little small. You want the main tank to be big enough for lots of live rock and have space for exploring and hiding. It should be ok for octopuses in the Abdopus complex (many of whom are diurnal!) or ones about that size. My main tank is a 55 gallon bow front and I wouldn’t go any smaller than that, and I don’t keep octopuses that get larger than a briareus. An Abdopus aculeatus would great, very friendly and diurnal.

When it comes to interaction I’ve developed my own habits over 12 years of keeping. First of all I NEVER hand feed. I use tongs or a skewer to feed so that my hands don’t become associated with food or feeding time. When the octopus is new to my home I spend a lot of time sitting in front of the tank so it can get used to me. Once it’s been in the house for a week or so and has established a routine, then I do what Seeker does- put a couple fingers in the water and allow the octopus to come to me. I usually have someone else standing by the first few times that I’m case I’ve got an overzealous one.

In 12+ years I’ve only been bitten once. They can give you an infection, so I washed it well and kept bacitracin on it for a few days.
Thank you so much fir the info. Haven’t pulled the trigger yet, but getting close!
 

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