"Wha, me attitude?" Not Ossie, the Octo


Mar 14, 2006
Hi there people...

This week was a nail-biter for Westina and I. On Sunday, the crabs seemed listless, Ossie didn't make an appearance and we got really worried.

For the next three days, we could see Ossie moving in her den, but never out nor showing any tentacles. I started doing daily water changes of 20% on Saturday, but the ammonia levels still remained high.

Sunday through Wednesday, every day, twice a day, I'd stare into her tank, removing any thing that might produce ammonia in hopes of trying to control the levels. Tuesday, I decided to leave the light on inside her tank while we were out in hopes that some bacteria would start growing. Tuesday, I also stopped the daily water changes.

Finally, Tuesday, I got the ammonia levels down to .25 but the nitrate levels were rising (seemed to have skipped the nitrite stage). But further good news occurred. Her tentacles batted away a nearby shrimp that was close to one of her entrances.

Both W. and I breathed better that night and the next day, W. saw her tentacles when she was cleaning out the tank.

However, we were most concerned because we couldn't really find any evidence of feeding. Yes, it seemed like the hermit crab population was dwindling, but was it because we couldn't find some of the crabs? Yes, the ghost shrimp we were putting in seemed to disappear too, but was it cause they were drowning and bristle worms were getting to them?

By Wednesday night, we had convinced ourselves that Ossie was doing worse, even though the levels of ammonia had remained at .25, the nitrate and nitrite wasn't rising and I was buffing the water to ensure the ph at above 8.0. Sad and disheartened we went to bed.

The next morning, after a little disturbance, we finally saw a tentacle, proving that she was alive. (It's amazing how pms will work to convince one of the worst possible scenario).

Last night, we had decided to buy some frozen shrimp since we weren't convinced she was hunting for herself (despite the fact that we can only find 7 of the 15 crabs). W hovered over the top of the tank for half an hour, holding a shrimp with chopsticks, near the various entrances of her den. Suddenly, she let out a shriek. "Ossie grabbed the shrimp!"

A tentacle had darted out, grabbed the shrimp and was trying to drag it down the crevice. Excitedly, W. waited for a while, but the shrimp was too big for the hole. So, I took over, and got a smaller shrimp. Sure enough, Ossie grabbed that and pulled it into the hole as I tried to stuff it down.

10 minutes later, W got another shrimp and was waving it around the entrances. The older shrimp comes flying out the bottom entrance (we realized that that's her trash chute) and a tentacle reaches out and drags the new shrimp into a hole, effectively plugging it up.

Then when we put the older shrimp near the crevice again, a tentacle darts out, pulling that one into and plugging that hole up. As we continued watching, two tentacles came out the bottom hole, and pulled two shells over the entrances.

Well, that told us!

Laughing, we left her alone, feeling much better. Three hours later (after SEVERAL rounds on Fight Night Round 3), I went to go check on her. And there Ossie was, hanging in her crevice, giving me the eye. I shook W. awake and we watched her hanging there for about 5 minutes before letting her sleep.

This morning, ph was down but everything else was the same. I will try to get some pictures this weekend.

Your octopus sure is a hardy one! If your ammonia levels are staying the same any variation that you have observed in nitrates may just be within the error of the test. See if you can find a saltwater hobbyist in the area who'll give you a used filter pad: It will be covered with denitrifying bacteria and will give your cycle a big kick.

I hope your good luck continues :smile:

It's normal that pH is lower at night - something I worried about for a long time until I put a contant-read-out pH monitor on my tank.

I've enjoyed very much reading about Ossie. Please keep posting reports like this!

Thanks for keeping us posted on Ossie, I was beginning to worry about her. Good job on keeping on top of the water quality issues. Keep working on getting the ammonia down. You are lucky to have such an engaging octopus.
The New Princess in the House

I don't know what it is about my karma - I seem to attract animals with a princess quality about them. People have been saying that about my cat, Ashley, for years.

Well, I think Ossie is about to usurp that throne.

When I got home tonight, I did my usual job of inspecting the tank, testing the ammonia (.25), cleaning out the dead things when I spied movement behind her den near the entrance we call the trash chute. The shell that W. thought was a snail was being moved. As I took a longer look, tentacles soon followed the movement, then eyes, then a full mantle. Ossie looked directly at me, let the shell go, then undulated herself back inside her den.

I dutifully removed the offending shell.
It seems Ossie is far smarter than the humans who are her servants.

We have been trying to entice Ossie out of her den for the past few days with no success. She is very responsive still; when W. puts a stick near her when trying to clean behind the den, tentacles come out and wrap themselves around the stick.

And it seems she enjoys shrimp much more than crabs. The crab population has remained stable, as have the snails. However, one to three shrimp are disappearing - whenever our backs are turned or our eyes are shut.

Saturday night, W. stayed up about 3 hours past when she usually goes to bed, just to outwait Ossie. But she waited until we turned off all the lights, including the red one inside the tank before devouring 2 shrimp that night. So, then I had the bright (get it?) idea of leaving the red light on all night.

The first night, all three shrimp were alive by the morning. By the time I got home from work, all three were gone. The second night, I had placed one large ghost shrimp and one small one in her tank. In the morning, W. spotted the large one.

She turned off the red light, and went back to bed. 15 minutes later, we were at the tank, doing the morning tests and examination. Apparently, within those 15 minutes, Ossie had hunted down the large one!

And yes, we see her moving inside the den - breathing very slow and steady. But, she thwarts our every attempt at catching sight of her, much less another photo.

I'm still thinking the red filter on your light is letting enough of the white through for Ossie to see it as bright (probably because I've been reading all the "ceph color vision" sections in the Hanlon and Messenger book that arrived from amazon yesterday :read: :biggrin2:)... maybe if you want to be sneaky, you could get a red LED flashlight, so you can spy on her with monochromatic red when the light's off... Unfortunately, most red LED lights I've seen don't put out that much light, though... I've found that Fry's electronics carries a lot of LED flashlights, although most of them are the white LEDs rather than the red; I don't remember for certain if they have a bright red one... anyway, both an idea to "decloak" your stealthy friend, and an experiment I'd be interested in, since it sounds pretty likely ossie can see your red tank light somehow!
Thanks for the good thoughts and encouragements!

Not much to report except that today, we tried to feed her frozen shrimp because we noticed that she didn't get any of the shrimp we had put in yesterday, though an empty crab shell was atop her den. Ossie pulled the frozen shrimp into her den, and less than two minutes later, a chewed-on frozen shrimp was stuffed out the back entrance. We're beginning to realize that frozen shrimp apparently doesn't taste as good as the fresh ones. We're slow learners. :lol:

Monty, will take your advice this weekend to search out red LEDs. Dang it, we WILL get a picture of her for you guys one way or another.
After weekend update: W. decided she didn't like our seascape and if she didn't like it, why would Ossie? So, she rearranged our live rock to create paths and caverns and I'll be darned if she didn't entice Ossie into gracing us with her presence.

We turned off the lights and after about 1/2 hour, she goes to see with a small flashlight and startled both herself AND Ossie! Earlier that day, prior to the rearranging of the live rock, we had bought Ossie 5 new red-legged hermit crabs as a change in diet. Compared to the blue-legged variety, these were HUGE! (okay, okay, I'm a little prone to exaggeration, it's only about 1/3 bigger - but I digress).

Well, Ossie apparently came out of her den to check out the new landscape AND to sample the new menu. She was perched atop her den, having just caught one of the new crabs and was in the process of eating when the flashlight found her. Apparently, she didn't enjoy the interruption, and she took her dinner down into the den, to be indulged privately. Also apparently, Ossie has grown quite a bit since she's been in our care - W. claims that her tentacles are about 3 inches long now, compared to the 1-1/2" that she was when she first entered our lives.

I do have a question for you all. I suspect that there is a huge harvest of decaying shells under her den. The fact that bristle worms are swarming near the base gives off a strong indication as well. The ammonia levels have zeroed out (YAY!), so have the nitrites and the nitrates have been pretty steady between 2.5 and 5 even with frequent 20% water changes. Also the fact that I've only found about 5 shrimp shells and 5 crab shells (despite a diet of approx. 2 shrimp and 1 crab every 2 days) tells me there's more decaying things in the tank.

Should I try and move her den to get at the shells underneath? She seemed rather unperturbed by all the shifting rocks this past weekend.
Octopuses usually don't keep decaying food in their den. They're tidy housekeepers and throw out shells and leftovers for you to pick up - like the piece of shrimp she got rid of. Could the shells be somewhere else? Octos are messy eaters, so maybe the bristleworms are just enjoying the scraps left behind.

Oh, and glad to hear that Ossie is doing so well!

I read about midden mounds (is that the name?) and that's how some people find octopi in the wild. Hmm, then what could account for the swarming bristle worms near the base of her den? The den is about 4-1/2 inches tall with a base of about 3-1/2 inches. She resides near the middle section and the swarming bristle worms are near the base at one end? Could she have chucked the shells there? Just worried about decaying things in the tank and those darned bristle worms. (accidentally stabbed two in half and now there's 4!)

Thanks for the help!


I got us a red led on Monday evening AND put in an order for a red UV light with nm of 350 which should be totally dark for Ossie to see.

After waiting around for about half an hour peering into the aquarium with the red led, W. saw Ossie.

I think instead of calling her the princess, we're going to be calling her Ossie the Sneak. Apparently Ossie is VERY shy. W. caught her coming out of the back entrance, then swimming along the path of rocks that W. had rearranged for her. At the end of the path in one corner, is a little skull sculpture where the shrimp like to hide, and the other corner is where the crabs like to converge to sleep. I've now decided that the crabs just like that corner because that is where the most amphipods and copapods scurry around; not because Ossie was stacking them.

The first hint we had of her being in that corner was yesterday morning, the pump had been tilted down (the two top suction cups had come off). W. thinks she'd been trying to squeeze behind there for hunting purposes. I think she was just seeing what it was and pulled it down, then it scared her.

Anyway, W. saw her swimming along the path, and then Ossie perched herself on the top of a rock near both the shrimp (which was atop the pump) and the crabs in the corner. At this point, she woke me up to see, but all I got to see was a tentacle behind the rock because Ossie figured out she was getting attention and decided to lurk behind the rock instead of on top of it.

After about 5 min. of not seeing her but an occasional tentacle around the rock, I went back to sleep. The next thing I knew, W. had called out, "The sneak! She swam back to her den along the back and slipped back into her den!" Also, the previous report of her legs being 3 inches was wrong. Ossie's more like 2" long, but still has visibly grown since we first got her.

Hopefully, with the UV light, we'll be able to see more.

Ossie seems to be doing well and she seems to LOVE the red legged hermit crabs more than the blue legged variety. As for ghost shrimp, they're all gone and I'll have to get more for them. Now if only she'd be less shy like your pets.

We can't be food goddesses because she hates the frozen shrimp (having been spoiled on a smorgasbord in her house). Any suggestions as to how we might get to see her instead of staying up to all hours so that we end up missing work cause of oversleeping?

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