Beldar - Callistoctopus aspilosomatis ?

DWhatley

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Bel has been aggressive once during our interactive play time. He came up to the play area but attacked my fingers with the intent of pulling them into his webbing. I decided he might be hungry but was not sure that he was aware that I am the one that brings food. To avoid this behavior, I have been feeding him an hour before I attempt to interact.

Tonight I put a crab in the tank even though he was not visible hoping he would eat a little early. To my surprise, he flew across the tank from out of nowhere :shock:. He did not immediately attack the crab (he never does) but sat there and watched it as if to analyse the best approach. After his
reconosince the pounce and web trap is very fast.

Bel seems to be on track for becoming voluntarily interactive. With the hummelincki, I would see a major break-through (not as long lasting as Bel's first play period) followed by reluctance or no interaction for maybe a week and then consistent, nightly interaction. We have not quite reached nightly yet but tonight he started running his mantle under my fingers and returning for more. For the last week he would only come up to play for one little pet just before going to bed and only just before sunup. Tonight we played for about an hour starting at about 3:00 AM.

He seems to enjoy the power he has to go to the bottom and remove his arms from the glass (our sign for my hand out of the water and lid closed). I wish I could video the interaction as you cannot help but laugh when the intent is so obvious. He will play then glide to the bottom (very different style glide from the hummelincki - arms float everywhere and at all angles) and sit with his arms still touching the glass. Sometimes he comes right back (in his sailboat tacking manner) and sometimes he puts all eight on the sand but squeezes the long front arms right up to the glass. If he still wants to play he will sit on the bottom and wait until I remove my hand and close the lid then he climb back up and wait in his petting corner. I don't sit down every time I close the lid any more. :razz:

If a hummelincki is dog-like then this luteus is cat-like. I suspect they are close in abilities but Bel shows that independent streak that cats are so well known to express. I expect he may add his own twist to play time as he becomes more trusting.
 

DWhatley

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I swear Bel has the sole of a cat. He never runs into the walls (the hummelinckis would on occassion and had longer tanks) and always lands gracefully. Tonight we successfully fed recently terminated (my fault) shore shrimp by hand. When Neal offered a third shrimp while he was eating the first two, he twitched ONE of his arms like a pissed off cat (he did finally accept and eat the third shrimp).

I normally clean his tank during the day so we have had not interaction during his weekly cleaning. His circulation pump is a power head attached to a pipe that is in turn attached to a net covered circle of drilled pvc that sits under the LR. Overtime and octos, the piping underneath has been disturbed in some way and it sucks in air - we think from the return but we are still wondering exactly how this happens. This causes a shower of tiny bubbles to be blown out of the powerhead. I found I can minimize the problem by reversing the powerhead during my weekly cleaning and forcing the air out through the piping underneath. I forgot to do this last week and the small bubbles were getting obnoxous again so I pulled the pump and reversed it at night. Not unlike my hummelincki, Bel did not like me messing with his tank. I got the same warning arm on the hand that the hummelinckis would give. I don't quite trust Bel yet (and did not see him near me) so I jumped a little and in doing so lost a part that needed to be put back on the pump to direct the waterflow. I decided to use a set of tongs to retreive it but had to use my hand to replace the part. Putting the part on the pump proved to be no proboem, however, after the pump was back to normal Bel flew over to it and checked out not only the pump but was very detailed in checking out the piece that directs the water flow. He did not try to remove it but was very intent on inspecting it. Most odd. He would not come to play for two days afterwards. Tell me this is not cat behavior :roll:

I have also noticed a distinct difference in how this octopus uses its arms. The hummelinckis used the full arm and often used the suckers on the tip to attach and pull upward. Bel never attaches more than the suckers at the end of the webbing and only uses the thicker front four arms, leaving the majority of all arms loose and moving in the water (like seaweed or boiling spaghetti). He never moves in a straight line but alters direction in a back and forth pattern like a tacking sailboat, raising one side and then the next in more of a pushing motion rather than a pulling effort. He will use the thin back arms to "stand" and support himself on the substrate (rock and sand) but otherwise, I don't seem him using the back four at all. When he does use them to stand (rising about up about twice his web height, including the webbed area) they move and bend as if unstable on unable to take his weight (not the case but this is the appearance).

I don't believe he is luteus as described by Norman but I do believe this species is often called luteus because of comments by several divers agreeing on a the id of an octo that appears to be the same species as Beldar. I posted Norman's description and pictures on Lennon's journal along with the information on an octopus that is a better match. Interestingly, Forever27 feels that the luteus is a better match for Lennon but Sedna thinks Artemis was more like the match for Beldar.
 

DWhatley

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Beldar did not show up at all last night:goofysca: but was out at his normal time tonight:smile: and took a piece of frozen shrimp more or less from my fingers. He had refused shrimp from the stick but since Neal was able to hand feed the shore shrimp, I tried offering regular shrimp by hand. I say more or less because he came to investigate what I was holding and I made a lucky drop to the mouth. It appears that he ate it so I am feeling good about having food that doesn't move.

An hour after his dinner I went over to see if he wanted to play and tried reintroducing my straw star. He slowly came over to it and wrapped arms around it but when it moved he jetted (inkless) away. I wanted to leave it in the tank but not where it would interfer if he wanted to come to the petting corner so I pushed it over to the overflow, very near the pump. He rushed over to the pump and wrapped all his arms around the piece that I dropped (diverter) the other night. It looked like he was making sure I was not going to take it away (no, really! He has never done this while I was watching and it seemed to be in direct reponse to my hand being near the pump). Most strange and entertaining to second guess why.

I saw him move in a staight line tonight. He went up one corner backwards, using the back arms to hold the tank wall and then pushed up with the front arms extended downward. I remember seeing both hummelinckis do a backwards walk but not pushing with the front arms pointing downward.
 

DWhatley

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Octavarium;135043 said:
Beautiful macropus!
I certainly think so :biggrin2:

I just realized that his little old man picture also shows the stripe to the observer coloring he does. What appears to be a stripe on the left is a snail shell, the dark streak is only on my side and is not the normal skunk stripe others have shown.
 

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I honestly think that in the (hopefully) near future, Beldar will start coming out to visit at more random times throughout the day. Lennon has started coming out even more now, coming out to play sometimes are early as two PM. When I wake up for class and take out my dog, usually around 9ish, he's always out and likes to play for 5 minutes or so. When I get back from class, every few days he'll be out and comes to the glass to great me. Nighttime is still his favored playtime though, but even when the lights are on in the room late at night he'll come out to play. In time, I think Beldar will do the same. But we'll see!
 

DWhatley

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I don't have a lot of hope for that. Bel is never out with the lights on and is pretty regular with timing as long as the lights are off. I may try leaving the kitchen overhead light on for awhile (I leave the kitchen over counter light on now). It is open to the living room but set back so the light would be less than direct room light. Perhaps the trick will be to get him accustomed to light and then work on the hours.

He took another shrimp from my fingers but would like my fingers with it if I am not careful. Now that he is taking the shrimp, I will try a stick again as I think hand feeding interfers with trusted play, more so with Beldar than my two hummelinckis who were extremely gentle from the start.
 

DWhatley

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I was late feeding Beldar last night and when I got to the the tank with the goodies I would swear he was pouting :roll:. (Sorry, but I have absolutely no problem with making anthromorphic comparisons and conjectures. It is how I relate to my animals and try to understand their needs. :wink:). In stead of his normal cilmbing on the glass and sashaying around at feeding time, he was sitting quietly on the bottom substrate, just below the play corner and was showing his stars on the arms (not on the body or mantle). He did not climb up to greet me even when I opened the tank.

I have not attempted stick feeding again until tonight since he would not eat the shrimp-on-a-stick during prior attempts. I do not like to hand feed because the food remains on the fingers and is an invitation to bite so I am moving to using a stick now that he has decided frozen shrimp are edible. I put the stick about 2" from his mantle and he slowly decided to explore it. He found it interesting enough (I still say he has the sole of a cat and the hummelinckis the sole of a dog :wink:) to play capture the stick in a manner that put the shrimp at his mouth - it was about 1.5 inches from the bottom - and reached up the full length of the stick (total length just shy of 12") to touch and pull my fingers with the tips of those two very long front arms. I let the stick float freely holding just the very end and it was unusual to see the end 1.5" fully enclosed in the webbing.

NOTE to self always remember to blunt the end of the bamboo (I usually do this anyway but this is the first time it could have been important),

Beldar seems to need "something to do" when he is up (restless behavior that does not appear to be senescent in nature - I hope :hmm:) so I have returned the floating straw star to the tank. It had floated to the front and when the stick was allowed to float he wrapped his arms around the straws and released the tank walls (but not the stick) so that he was floating on the toy and still touching my fingers. This suggest that he has become familiar with the straws (vs being afraid of them as he was when they were initially placed in the tank) so I am hoping to see some form of interaction with them without food.

He has not come to his play corner for petting in about a week so I am disappointed but not discouraged about how much human interaction he wants to enjoy. That being said, his cat like nature will do the unexpected. :mrgreen:
 

DWhatley

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I have decided to stop experimenting with Beldar and lighting. It may be that I did not try for long enough but he became recluse, would only come out to get food and wanted little to do with me. I turned the lights off and my beginning to be friendly octo came up to his petting corner and sashayed around for mantle pets for the first time in a week. I had noticed that with the kitchen light on his eyes would remain only half open but with the lights off they are open wide. I have second guessed that light bothers the merc's eyes and think the same is true of Beldar.

When Bel is awake he likes to root around in the front sand with his arm tips or hug the LR and put his arms in all the nooks and crannies looking for goodies. I have been looking for snack items for him to find when he hunts like this, more for enrichment than for food needs. I found a very promising vendor on eBay that raises her own clams, oysters, scallops and snails and had her send me a mixture to try (she also has some grasses that are promising). The clams are dime sized and would likely have been perfect but did not acclimate and died overnight. I will try them one more time as the size is ideal (he totally ignores the larger ones in his tank). The scallops are about the same size and survived well except the ones I didn't put in with Bel (and were eaten over night) are now in other tanks just because they are cute :roll:.

Bel had a good time digging up a buried oyster (I thought he was going to buy himself when I saw him digging agressively until he wrapped his webbing over something) but gave up on opening it after an hour. There are still two in his tank but he ignores them. Last night I realized she also included some mussels (that also acclimated did well in the food tank) so I threw a couple in and he eventually (he looks at live food from multiple angles before deciding to try it - even crabs) took one under his webbing. He stayed covering the mussel for 2 full hours but when he released it there was not a scrap of clean-up crew food left.

Bel likes to keep the feeding stick like most octopuses so I have been experimenting with a straw toy at feeding time. The straws just happen to be the right diameter to hold the bamboo feeding stick and will float with the weight. They have a bendable section and I turn one so that it points down and slide the stick with the octo attached into the floating toy. I took a few photos tonight (and you can see him migrating to the back of the tank becaus of the flash) and he managed to get the stick out of the straw for the first time but without the flash he was content to leave the stick attached. I am hoping he will play with the straws but they have been a handy holder that he does not mind.
 

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DWhatley

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Dad-gum-it! Let me start again.

I think Bel is female. I was really happy the night I saw her keep the third right arm nicely curled but it has been straight ever since. When she first came she would make some incredible changes to the length of her mantle and I would see it in a long tube at least twice the resting length. Lately, she has not been flexing the mantle and I have noticed a slight groove about 3/4 of the way back. When she is active, the section behind the groove does not flex much (you can see the indentation in the above photos and how much fuller her mantle stays). I also noticed in one of her rare pictures (she just does not like light and will pout for a day when I use the flash) that there seemed to be a thinning or transparency on the very back, just beyond the indentation. Tonight when she came up to play, I could feel a slight lump in this area where the rest of her mantle is soft and squishy and I had not noticed it until recently.

She likes to come up to my fingers and put her mantle in my cupped hand so that I can tickle the underside. Some nights she will actively come for this kind of petting for over an hour, other nights just for a few minutes, rarely none at all.

I have been thinking that she has grown quite a bit being in my care. While she was capturing the stick in the straw (and eating the shrimp piece at the end), I put a tape measure up to the closest point and even if my measurement was off half an inch, she has definitely grown. I went back and looked at her acclimation photo that noted a mantle (eyes to tip) length of 3/4 of an inch. Tonight I loosely measured 2.25 inches.

Now I am in a quandry about feeding. I have been trying to allow her to eat daily but quite small portions. There are difficult to eat things (live clams, mussels and oysters) in the tank if she gets really hungry but they are there more for her entertainment (she like to dig them up and wrestle with them even if she fails to get them open). If she is getting close to brooding, she may need more food to survive the starvation period (which seems to be only about 3 weeks with the small egged species). On the other hand I have wondered if part of the reason octos so often brood soon after entering an aquarium is the availablity of easy food. If there is merit to that thought, then keeping her hungry might put off the brooding.

She dens somewhere under the LR and I have never found where she goes during the day (there are all kinds of underground areas and she digs as well) so when she does brood, I will not likely see her again. It breaks my heart when I think about it as she has really started to enjoy coming up to her play corner (even Neal mentioned that it would be hard to deny that term when he watched her playing tonight).
 

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