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What if my shipped octo has inked in the bag?

Mr Blobby

Feb 25, 2009
I am probably going to have to have one shipped to me, so I am wondering about acclimation if the octo has inked a bunch in it's shipping bag. Still slowly drip acclimate, or get it out ASAP? I searched the forums and didnt find this particular question. Thanks.
In the event that your newly arrived octopus has inked excessively in its bag you would probably be best getting it out immediately. Be cautious when you open the packaging, do it in a dimly lit room so as to not startle the octopus. Make sure what you are seeing is actually ink, and not just a black bag. Some shippers use blackout bags along with the clear bags to keep them from being disturbed and they can look very much like black water. Inking during shipping is possible, but it isn't as common as one might expect.
Fortunately, this does not happen often and I have not had the panic situation to deal with so my suggestions are second guessing. Hopefully you will hear from someone who has successfully dealt with the problem.

The concern about bag inking is coating the gills so the attention is an immediate issue if the animal is still alive. I am not a fan of slow drip acclimation on high stress animals and the only one I have lost on shipping day was one that was exposed to extreme cold and I purposefully took 3 hours to attempt acclimation. That animal may not have survived with a faster attempt. Prior readings (and not my experience) on TONMO lean towards getting the octopus out of the ink as quickly as possible. Doing this, however, needs consideration on the differences between the shipping water and tank water in both temperature and PH and salinity. If you can alter a bucket of water to be close (usually shipping PH is low so adding unbuffered RO might accomoplish this part), I would do a bucket transfer and then a 1 - 1.5 hour acclimation from there. I always add an air stone while acclimating an octopus and would think this would be even more important in an inking situation.

Simultaneous efforts here overthehill man :sagrin:. Good point about the black bag insert.
You need to get the animal out asap but not expose it to salinity or temperature shock. We receive a fair number of shipments and I try to anticipate problems that I can solve. First, I have received octopus from 28 to 36 ppt. Acclimation can take awhile if the shipping water is very different from your tank. You can ask the shipper what salinity will be used, but that is not always what you will receive. We keep a supply of hyper-saline water (36 ppt). We also have access to DI water. When an animal arrives, in literally seconds we can measure the salinity in the bag using a refractometer and if necessary, calculate how much DI to add to the hypersaline water to achieve the correct salinity.

Temperature is more difficult to deal with quickly and in a case of inking, changing water should be the first priority. However, I do have a supply of sea water in our cold aquarium room (15 C) and if necessary, I can mix cold seawater with that at room temperature to quickly match 33 ppt at the desired temperature.

This is probably overkill for the average home aquarists, but it probably has saved a few animals that we have received.