There are also several challenging aspects of octo-keeping. Providing adequate food is the most difficult task for many, especially because favorite octopus foods like crabs and other crustaceans are expensive and hard to come by. Octopuses need some live food for enrichment and nutrition, but most also accept frozen shrimp and a few other foods.
The staple for octopus diets is often thawed frozen shrimp, supplemented with live crabs. Octopus-keepers living along the coast have an advantage because they have easier access to foods. Some find food along the shore, while others buy from bait shops or seafood stores. Octopus-keepers living further inland must rely on crabs and shrimp being shipped to their location. This can be expensive and incur delays.
Octopuses are available from a number of sources. Local fish stores sometimes carry octopuses, or can at least order them. Occasionally, owners raise hatchlings and sell them publicly, which makes them the best source for tank-raised specimens. Live-rock farmers, usually in Florida, often have octopuses for sale and are a good source for dwarf octopuses.
Octopus mercatoris, a dwarf octopus from the Gulf of Mexico, is the best octopus for smaller tanks. A 30-gallon tank makes a good home for this small, nocturnal octopus. It can live in a shell or a small den, and can be viewed using a red light at night. Keep it at 74 to 76F.
Locate sources for food before you acquire an octopus, and price the cost of live crabs. You may be surprised at the expense of feeding, considering that you should provide some live food. You will spend much more on food than the cost of your octopus (unless you can catch your own octo food).
Regardless of what you might read, octopuses do try to escape. Make sure the lid on the tank is well sealed (duct tape is your friend). Also, intakes and outlets within the tank should be protected with a sponge or mesh secured by rubber bands or cable ties.
Nothing is sacred within your tank. Be prepared for your octopus to romp around the tank, rearrange rocks and shells, dig through the sand down to the glass, and generally change the overall setup. They do this more as they get older.
The first sign an octopus-keeper may see is den building. The female builds a den for herself and her eggs, and her behavior may seem odd. When the eggs are laid, the female retreats to the den to protect and take care of the eggs. She may or may not eat during this period, but food should be offered. Around four to six weeks later the eggs hatch and the female usually dies within a few weeks.
Some octopuses like to play with toys. Most will play tug of war with a feeding stick and maybe even your hand. Others prefer a pile of shells to sort through, various baby toys such as a string of plastic rings, toy building blocks, or a construction of drinking straws. Octo-keepers have taught their octopuses to open a jar or container with a crab inside, starting with the lid barely screwed on. The hand of its keeper is also a favorite toy for the octopus.
Keeping an octopus enables you to experience one of the most intelligent animals in the sea, one that is interesting to observe and offers the possibility of interaction. Keeping an octopus tank is much different from keeping a reef tank, which is fascinating in its own right.
Many people are intrigued by these animals and want to know more about them. I found that by introducing others to my octopus tank I promoted a real appreciation of intelligent marine life, which might lead to more care and concern about all sea life.
Given this cryptic behavior, the Mote Marine Laboratory's aquarium in Sarasota, Fla., where the octopuses hatched, has decided not to try to display them to the public yet. But their cephalopod specialist Brian Siegel is currently looking into the best way to show off these and other nocturnal (or otherwise shy) ceph species.
Keeping an octopus as a pet has become more common as interest in new and varied aquarium creatures and setups increases. Their popularity has grown since the tank creation of comedian Tracy Morgan's octopus was featured on the television show Tanked. These fascinating creatures have very specific care needs and are not the best choice for novice fish keepers.
An octopus is an invertebrate animal of the scientific order Octopoda. The octopus does not have a spine, skeleton or any type of protective coating. The only part of their body that is not soft is their beak which is found at the base of their tentacles. These tentacles are actually arms which are covered with suction cups and about 66% of the neurons for an octopus are located in their arms. This allows them to use their arms to sense their environment and explore, and they can even \"taste\" using the suction cups on their arms. They also have three hearts and blue blood which is high in hemocyanin, a protein that contains copper, unlike the hemoglobin which contains iron.
There are over 300 species of octopus today and none of them thankfully are on the endangered species list. There are currently no laws regarding keeping a pet octopus and you don't need a permit in any states. However, you may have trouble keeping one if you live in an apartment or condominium. Many buildings have strict rules about tank size and you cannot keep them in a small tank.
Many species of octopus are unsuitable as pets, either due to their size or the fact that they can be toxic to humans. For example the blue-ringed octopus emits a dangerous venom when it bites that cannot be cured. There are a few species of octopus that are safe and commonly sold as pets. These include the:
Octopuses live in reefs in the wild and need a tank with live rock that simulates that environment. They are nocturnal and need to have a tank with formations where they can hide in the daytime. In addition to live rock, they like large shells or PVC pipes for hiding in. They are also very strong and can move rocks and other hiding items around, so make sure your setup is very secure before adding your octopus. Because the octopus has a high metabolism, they need to have a high oxygen content in their water. They also need strong filtration as they are messy eaters and shed their skin often into the water, making it get dirty faster. A high quality protein skimmer will help keep the water clean and well oxygenated.
Your tank temperature will vary based on the species and some will prefer waters around 60 degrees while others can go as high as 80. The pH should be about 8.2 and ammonia at zero. If these levels are off, they can easily make your octopus ill or kill it. Because they are so sensitive to the water quality, you must also cycle your tank for at least three months prior to adding your octopus. You should also regularly test salinity which should be around 1.022 to 1.023.
Because the majority of their body is soft, they can squeeze through some incredibly small openings and their arms are strong enough to push open a tank lid and escape. Because of this you need to make sure your aquarium lid is tightly secured and there are no openings they can break out. Some octopus keepers have astro turf or velcro along the top of their tanks as the scratchy feeling is a deterrent for their arms reaching to the lid. Others keep the lid secured with duct tape, bungee cords or even heavy items like weights or bricks. One of the other problems with the tank set-up is finding a way to set up your various filters and skimmers without giving the octopus access to them where they can either break them apart or find a hole to squeeze into.
The octopus is a highly intelligent animal that is thought to have the same level of intelligence and reasoning as a cat. They have been known to open shut jars with food inside and figure out how to escape tanks. Some keepers relate that they can distinguish between different people. In fact they are so intelligent that hobby keepers report that it's not unusual for an octopus to break out of their tank, slither over to one nearby and eat the fish and crustaceans, and then return to their own \"home\" tank. One of the reasons the octopus has become popular with aquarium hobbyists is that this is one creature you can truly interact with. They can be trained and can learn to be hand fed. You should also spend time learning about octopus body language and \"coloring\" as they can change colors and their choice of hues actually indicates whether they are excited, stressed or scared.
The downside to the intelligence of the octopus is that this is an animal that can quickly become very bored. Providing them with toys, live food to hunt, and training can help alleviate this boredom. Any plastic, water-safe, non-metal item can be a toy and some octopuses in captivity will play with small balls and toys made for cats and small animals. They also enjoy playing with shells and even your hands, although you should be careful to make sure they don't pull you too close to their beak and get bitten. Making them work for their food also reduces boredom, such as putting some live ghost shrimp in a jar and closing the lid and giving it to them.
Your octopus should be fed once a day. Most octopus species will prefer to have live food though you can try to see if they will eat frozen.If you do feed frozen make sure the food is thawed first. Even if they're willing to eat frozen, live is better as this provides them with mental and physical enrichment. They are carnivorous and can eat clams, crabs, crayfish, fish, scallops, shrimp, and squid. Do not feed them freshwater feeder fish like goldfish as these can make them ill.
Since the octopus is a carnivore and aggressive, they cannot live in a tank with other aquatic creatures. They will actively hunt down and eat any fish or crustaceans that you add to a tank. They also are shy creatures so having tank mates would make them anxious and stressed. An octopus that is stressed can emit ink to defend itself and this can be toxic to the octopus in such a small space. The only creatures you can safely put in the tank are a starfish or a non-spiked sea urchin. Even placing two octopuses together will not work as one will eventually kill and cannibalize the other. 59ce067264