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soft corals safe for octo


Pygmy Octopus
Jan 4, 2006
ok, i have a relatively small tank that will not be able to accomodate a skimmer. i was wondering what kinds of soft corals would be appropriate for a tank with a pygmy octo. the line of thinking was to use macro algae and softies (mushrooms, xenia, and zoanthids) to help utilize exta nutrients. additionally since octos apparently need higher concentrations of oxygen, the photosythesis should release oxygen into the system.

additionally i'm running into temp. issues. i come home at night and the tank is about 84 F. what is a safe temp for tide pool species of octos?
Hi and welcome to TONMO.com! :welcome:

A temperature of 84 degrees is very hot - too high for an octopus.

Soft corals that don't sting would be OK, but there are no guarantees that they would survive an octo as a tankmate. Octopuses tend to rearrange things in thier tanks.

What species are you thinking of getting? You mention pygmy octo, then tide pool species.

i am getting either a Hapalochaena maculosa or lunulata. not entirely sure b/c species name was not given when i placed the order. i was reluctant to give the name since most people urge strong amounts of caution at best, though more often express their dissatisfaction when individuals keep such creatures. i realize the potential for disaster if things were to go wrong, though i also see the possibility to learn more about them by caring for one.
The dangers of keeping blue rings are realistic, and I usually recommend that someone has had a lot of previous experience with caring for venomous/poisonous animals prior to obtaining one.
They are notoriously short lived, and at 84 degrees, you'll be lucky to get a month out of it. We did manage to keep one for almost six months a few years back, but as they are usually shipped as adults, the life expectancy is very minimal.
I'm not knocking you, blue rings are fascinating animals...but hasty decisions in buying deadly animals can only spell disaster...I'm sure that if you read the ceph care articles by Nancy and Colin here on Tonmo.com, you will find out exactly what you need to keep octopus in captivity, and hopefully have an enjoyable experience with them!
i think it may be nessessary to describe in more detail my setup.
i decided to run a 6gal nano cube, as i read in other articles that 5-10gal would be appropriate for a dwarf specs. i ripped out all of the bioballs and ceramic rings that come standard with the nanocubes. i replaced the stock pump with a rio600. the 1st chamber of the sump has the sponge that comes standard. chamber 2 is running carbon with sponge over it so the octopod cannot find it's way into the sump area, chamber 3 has the return pump and airstone, again covered by more coarse sponge. all of the water and live rock was transfered from my reef tank which has been running since jan05. i used aragalive indo-pacific sand. tank has been cycling for a month. ammonia=0 nitrite=0 nitrate=20 alkalinity=120-180 PH=7.8-8.0(my other tank has had low readings for alkalinity and PH despite calcium dosing) phosphate was at .2 on the 21st but has dropped to.1. i do have corals growing on many of the pieces of live rock. these include mushrooms, random button polyps, xenia and other zoanthids. typically softies like xenia don't like high temp but corals have remained open. i realize that 84F is way too high. problem was that AC in house wasn't on and tank is upstairs. i think i can run some fans and keep room temp down (or come to the realization i prolly need a chiller). if this tank continues to be problematic, i can tansfer most of the inverts from the 24g reef into the 6 (these being a hermit crab and various snails), and just put said octopod into that tank. temp wise it runs 74-78 depending on when lights are on. i do have some stinging coral frags in the 24, but those could also be transferred or traded away etc.
as far as keeping the tank on lockdown....i've read octopods don't like the feel of astroturf. if i silicone the edge of the tank with said material (or burlap) is that a deterrant? the tank has a hood, but there are small cracks that can be slipped out of. i've also read that if well occupied the octopus will be less inclined to escape.
Well, anyone who wrote an article saying that blue rings can be kept in a small nano cube is waaaaaaay off base to begin with ! I used 30 gallons and 55's for all of mine, and they did o.k., but as stated before, they almost always arrive as adults, with no more than a few weeks of life left in them.
I wouldn't bother getting rid of corals, etc, that you have kept for quite a while just to keep an octopus for a couple of days. This sort of situation invariably leads to keepers "burnout", where they decide to never keep cephs again...which is something we really try hard to fight against.
The rewards of having a bimac come up to you and ask for food while playing with his new lego block outweigh the problematics you run across...
I would encourage you to cancel your order, and set up a species specific tank...then get your octopus and really enjoy the experience.

My personal opinion is that if you have a blue ring you need to secure the top, not just use deterrents. I had a bimac pry his way out of a weighted top and proceed to climb the vertical blinds next to his tank. They don't flop around on the ground like fish, they move.

I would treat a Blue ring like a viper. I have reptiles and have friends who have "hot" animals - snakes and gila monsters. Redundant locks, safety systems and routines for safe maintenance.

Blue ring venom has no anti-venom, but you won't need it if you can get mouth-to-mouth or a ventilator until the effects wear off so maybe always having someone there to help would be a good idea, because you couldn't drive to the ER with no motor coordination.
Illithid said:
My personal opinion is that if you have a blue ring you need to secure the top, not just use deterrents. I had a bimac pry his way out of a weighted top and proceed to climb the vertical blinds next to his tank. They don't flop around on the ground like fish, they move.

I would treat a Blue ring like a viper. I have reptiles and have friends who have "hot" animals - snakes and gila monsters. Redundant locks, safety systems and routines for safe maintenance.

Blue ring venom has no anti-venom, but you won't need it if you can get mouth-to-mouth or a ventilator until the effects wear off so maybe always having someone there to help would be a good idea, because you couldn't drive to the ER with no motor coordination.

I agree with this, only more so... the implication of the last paragraph is a bit milder than I think is good; if you are bitten, you may not have enough time before complete paralysis to pick up the phone and call for an ambulance; driving to the ER certainly cannot be assumed. As pointed out, the only treatment that can lead to recovery from injected TTX envenomation is to provide artificial ventilation until the respiratory paralysis wears off (typically about a day, I think, I'm not bothering to check references now). If you are bitten and there is no one else there to support you immediately, it is probable that you will die from respiratory paralysis.

As far as astroturf escape-proofing, I read an article that said that was effective a public aquarium for the GPO tank. I think it's quite possible that the reason for this is that the GPOs suckers, which are mostly more than a half inch across, can't get a good seal on the astroturf with any sucker big enough to support the weight of the octopus. A dwarf octopus like a blue ring has suckers that are more like half a millimeter across, which I could easily imagine could get a pretty good seal on a "blade of plastic grass," and the weight a dwarf octopus has to support to climb is a whole lot less than a GPO. Considering that the lives of you and your family are at stake, I very much discourage you from assuming that astroturf is a solution that is "known to work." Of course, I'd be very interested to hear if anyone has tried it with smaller octos, but I think it's crazy to try it with a lethal dwarf octopus without a lot of solid evidence it works well for the non-lethal ones.
i appreciate the concern towards keeping one of these little guys. it's not as if i am unknowing of the potential risks involved. i understand full and well what the maculotoxin does to one's body. i suppose right now i'm sorting out the precautionary measures to take. it was my impression that octos didn't like the texture of astroturf/burlap and they avoided it. so we'll assume now instead then that it won't work. i've read posts here saying people duct tape things shut. it won't be difficult at all to seal up and cracks and secure it that way. how strong are blue rings (knowing that larger species will lift the tops of tanks)? for those of you that have kept them, how did you secure the tank?
additionally, what specific gravity and temp did you keep them at? i've found tons of information about their venom, their diet, reasons to avoid keeping them, but not a lot on how to effectively maintain them in the aquarium. if that information is available i would love to read it over, rather than repeatedly be told that i'm going to get killed or that i will kill the animal in a matter of days. if i am so hopeless and naive (which i'm not nessessarily disagreeing) then at least point me in an informative direction for care specific to blue rings.
Fair enough. I've never kept a blue ring, but I've followed many discussions about them.

Most octopuses prefer the sg near to that of natural seawater, 1.026. They are sensitive to pH - you should aim for 8.2. Two other important water parameters are nitrites (0) and ammonia (0), but some nitrates are tolerated (
yeah, the first thing is GET A BIGGER TANK!!!!!!!!!!! 6 gal is liek trying to keep a whale in a bathtub... it ant gonna happen ... the octo could get stressed and eat him/her self.

Dwarf species are sometimes kept in 10 gallon tanks in labs, but these tanks are very well cycled and over-filtered. You'll do much better with a 30 gallon - that gives your octopus room to explore and offers you a bit more margin for error.

I certainly hope I didn't come across as calling you "hopelessly naive"...I enjoyed my times with the blue rings, but as Nancy stated, it is more fun to work with an animal that you can really interact with.
That being said, the blue rings that I've kept were maintained in medium sized tanks, with wetdry systems and skimmers, a lot of live rock, and power compact lighting.
The plexiglass lids were secured using nylon thumb bolts, cutouts for overflow and return pipes were wrapped with black duct tape.
Salinity was 1.025, temperature was 78 daytime, 75 nightime.

I never had any problems with them, other than a streak of aggression that is common in all the dwarf species...raising the two front tentacles is a prelude to biting behaviour. Of course, you can't clean the tank with your hands at any time, and will have to rely on sponges on sticks, etc...to me, it was just too much of a pain in the rear, so I moved to more placid species.

Anyway, best of luck, and be sure to keep us posted.

I hope I didn't come across as overly harsh either; in fact, the emphasized "this animal can kill you" part was really aimed at people who might be looking through the archives later for information to decide on whether to keep a blue ring or not. I'm not horribly opposed to people learning the details and deciding they'd want one with full knowledge, but I've now seen a number of sellers who either downplay or don't mention at all that if this animal bites you, it is far more likely to be fatal than, say, a rattlesnake or a scorpion. In 1987, I was looking into getting an octo tank, and the store I went to said "the one you really want is the blue ring, it's prettier." I was fortunate enough to know (in those pre-internet days) to ask "isn't that the kind that can kill you?" And he just had sort of a "well, yeah, but it's prettier, and most people aren't bothered by that." I really got the impression that some sellers care a lot more about the "pretty costs more" markup than they do about not killing their customers.

Anyway, if you, or any one else, have read all the articles like Death in a Pretty Package: The Blue-Ringed Octopuses - The Cephalopod Page and want to keep one knowing that, I just want to help make sure it's done responsibly. (Pragmatically speaking, since that article says that 1000 blue rings are imported to the US anually, apparently they don't actually bite and kill their owners too often, so owning a blue ring is probably statistically less likely to kill you than riding a motorcycle, but trying to hedge your bets seems like a good idea if you're interested in either of those hobbies.) I actually thought the blue-ring video that Clownfish (I think) posted the other day was pretty nifty, but I don't think they're any cooler than any other octopus. And they're not agressive enough to put in the moat to ward off attackers; I think a school of humbodts would be much more effective as a burglar deterrent and to dispose of your enemies, so what's the fun of having a toxic animal if you can't dispose of pesky British agents trying to foil your world domination plans?

Actually, that does raise the question of what the appeal is for keeping blue rings... I know I'm fascinated by dangerous animals, but I don't have much interest in having them around my house. (But I do want to scrape together the time and money to dive with humboldts, so clearly I'm as much of a Darwin Award candidate as the next guy...) I'm curious what the appeal is, not just for Hobokin but Greg and Roy (and anyone else who's interested in them).
It's also really important to keep stressing how toxic they are because a lot of kids read these pages. Every time the subject of blue rings come up we need to assume that the person interested is juvenile and irresponsible, (and sometimes that can describe a 24 year old).. It's better to risk offending someone than to inadvertently encourage someone who should not be encouraged.

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