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[Featured]: Tankmates - What Works and What Doesn't


Staff member
Moderator (Staff)
Sep 4, 2006
Cape Coral, FL
It Works Until It Doesn't

With a small amount of arm twisting :wink: CaptFish has written a detailed paper about about his experience with placing fish in an aquarium with O. briareus. Ultimately, I hope to provide it in a better format but chose to retain the pictures and created an all graphic presentation as the Word document was larger than we can currently accomodate. Clicking on the thumbnail and then a second time on the first enlargement will present the full article.

Edit: This has been promoted to an Article HERE <--tonmo edit 9/2/14, fixed the link :smile:

Also see a list of successful tank mates below


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Good read. Maybe it interacted with the fish just to study them and gain there trust until it was big enough to gobble them down. Just a thought. Premeditated I say!:bugout:
Great article. Despite all the dying, I found it quite amusing. After each death, you could insert "And then there were (#)." Although I am not sure how big Legs was, I am impressed with the puffer killing. Pufferfish, at least freshwater ones that I am more familiar with, are notoriously aggressive tank mates. I am surprised the puff didn't try to take a piece out of the octopus earlier. Also, I am surprised that the octopus didn't succumb to the toxins. Here is a little link for you regarding your puff's toxicity.
When she killed the puffer her mantle was about the same size as the puffer. When she killed him I was very concerned with her getting sick, I am well aware how toxic they are. Interestingly its the same toxin the blue ring has Tetrodotoxin (TTX). I then learned that puffers raised in captivity do not produce the TTX until they eat certain fish, which mine had certainly never eaten, I forgot what it was that they had to eat

Puffer fish grown in culture do not produce tetrodotoxin until they are fed tissues from a toxin producing fish
from this article TETRODOTOXIN - Molecule of the Month - November 1999
Also puffers only have the poison in their intestines (correct me if I'm wrong). This is a problem when preparing it in sushi (like in Japan), however if she only ate the tail...
D, I had to put this here as well it was a great post! I'm not going to put it in quote bubble but DWhatley wrote this for another thread and I copied it to here for future reference.


My List of Successful Occupants

* Brittle stars - great choice, great cleaners. I keep one red one in each of my octo tanks. Both these and serpents can be hand fed if you feed daily at the same time.

* Serpent Stars - another personal favorite housed with my octos. Avoid greens as they will become aggressive once they are a few year old, personal verification

* Caribbean Common Starfish - not a problem with octos but even large tanks have a hard time supporting them food wise (anticdotal, they my just get old and shrink after several years as I can't seem to verify the natural lifespan).

* Most Gorgonians - They need high flow areas. IME these do well in the larger tanks (50+ gallons) but not as well in the smaller.

* Mushrooms - Getting them to attach is the only problem, the red ones from the Caribbean seem to be octo-proof and have stayed in place even when senescent animals have worked at trying to remove them.

* Leathers, Xenia, Kenya

* Feather Dusters - place where they won't be molested.

* Low Stinging Polyps - It is hard to know the impact of the polyps, if you add polyps observe the octopus. If it touches the polyps and reacts by quickly removing the arm, take out the cluster before it spreads.

* Common Clams from the seafood market - These are not pretty, might help filter your bottom substrate, are hardy and may ocassionaly go missing - as in eaten. They are a lot of work for the octopuses and when octos know there is easier food, mine have ignored them. If eaten, they are far less messy than oysters or muscles and I have never had one detectably pollute a tank. Forget any kind of attractive clam, it will not survive.

* Peppermint Shrimp - I have found that starting with a pair before there is an octo in the tank and then introducing an octopus usually lets me have one shrimp over several octopuses. Anecdotally, it appears one will observe the other being eaten and then learn to avoid the octopus. The reason one survives and the other is eaten is conjecture but I have experienced it more than once. Peps are not particularly attractive - almost creepy - but will help keep some forms of small aiptasia from heavily populating a tank. They don't seem to like the larger ones and some varieties but for the ones they will eat, they do a great job. I don't recommend keeping more than two in a tank because they can pack and become aggressive. I have seen them try to pick on an octo but that is usually short lived and only during acclimation or when an octopus is dying.

* Snails or Hermits - Add a handful or more at a time. Some will become food but they make a decent clean up crew. Typically, I will keep one or the other but often keeping both eliminates the snails. I often wonder if the reports of octopuses eating snails is actually consumption by hermits.

* Pencil Urchins - Good rock cleaners but they will munch on some forms of soft coral if there is not enough algae.

Usually OK List(animals to watch because of water quality but won't harm the octopus):

* Cowrie - (I keep one in one of the 65's and am very fond of it. Joe-Ceph reported a major problem with one sliming and I did have some slime the first year I had this one but no problems at all since and he has been kept with numerous octopuses.

* Cucumber - I have not kept a cuc in with my octos but many have. Keep away from the exotics as many are responsible for the infamous cuc nuke syndrome but the commons are harty and don't seem to pollute like the exotics even when they do die. I recently had one to find a power head intake in the sump or our nano - obviously he should not have been IN the sump - and mutilate the animal but the tank did not suffer. There is at least one from the Caribbean that don't bury and are enjoyable to watch.

* Low Stinging Anemones - I hesitate to add this one and don't keep them with mine but a couple seem to be tollerated in a larger tank. Typically these will sting if contact is made and stings can damage the skin, setting up a potential infection.

* Ricordea - these do have a slight sting and should be used sparingly and in places the octo would not typically travel. I have only kept one ric and one flower with any of my octos. The small ric does not seem to be a problem but I have seen Diego react strongly to the flower (it was in the tan before he came and removing it would mean killing it so I am monitoring).

* Pincushion Urchins - There are warnings against using this kind of urchin but I have seen many people keep them in an octo tank without a problem and suspect the warnings are unfounded. However, I do not keep them with my octopuses

Avoid list most anything not listed above but especially:
* Any kind of fish. Sooner or later one will be a problem for the other.

* Seahorses. Guaranteed meal, they have no defenses and even if not actively attacked will ultimately be touched and then consumed.

* Long Spined or Rock Urchins - the spines on these break and embed easily and can be another source of unnecessary infection risk.

* High Stinging Corals - the list includes most hard corals and anemones.

* Aggressive Sea/Serpent Stars - Green brittle star and any meat eating star that can trap its prey. Anticdotally, we may have lost one octo to a Bahama Star that trapped and killed a sleeping octo. It is possible that the apparently healthy animal died and the star was scavenging but I keep it on my no list because of its behavior.
Dave, Thanks for the copy on my extemporaneous work of art :biggrin2: It likely needs a little work for an official post since it was off the top of my head (staff members feel free - better to edit than add comments I think) but a good idea to post a list where we can reference it and not have to write a new one for an often asked question.
Video of a puffer and cuttlefish - this time the ceph didn't survive

The following video from shunt1 shows the unfortunate demise of a cuttlefish at the hands of a puffer fish. Per shunt1, The Cuttle was large enough that I did not think that it would be a problem for these two to live with each other. To my horror, this is what I captured on video. That Puffer was almost served for dinner tonight! -- Steve (shunt1)
Video that over dramatically explains (painful to watch) why I strongly recommend "NO fish" with an octopus and counters the often stated, "they live together in the wild"


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