Caligula: My First Octopus - O. Briareus

Discussion in 'Cephalopod Journals' started by Hayek, Oct 7, 2009.

  1. Hayek

    Hayek GPO Registered

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    Caligula - Octopus Briareus from Tom's Caribbean

    After a several month long planning/setup/cycling process, I finally got my hands on an Octopus yesterday. The octopus, O. Briareus, came in at 9:30 am from Tom's Caribbean.

    Temp: 72.5
    ph: 7.2

    Acclimation
    The bag was covered in newspaper. I opened it slowly - removing a bit more every couple of minutes so as not to scare the new arrival. Once uncovered, I cut the top off of the bag and set it in a critter keeper (pics will be posted when I stop being lazy). I didn't drip acclimate like many of you. Instead, I added about an ounce of water every five minutes. Once the ph in the bag and my tank were within .05 of each other, I placed the bag in the tank and snagged it on the glass lid such that the open side of the bag was in the tank. It took him all of 30 seconds to realize that he could get out of the bag. He crawled on the glass for a moment before disappearing into the rocks.

    As is usually the case, the octopus was a bit stressed during acclimation. The only movement I observed during the entire 2.5 hour acclimation was heavy breathing and repositioning of several tentacles.

    side note:
    The digital ph tester I bought a couple of weeks ago was very helpful. It allowed me to see exactly how far along I was in the acclimation. It was also instrumental in ensuring standard increases in ph. When you drip acclimate something, the rate of change is greater towards the beginning of acclimation than the end.

    size:
    He or she, I don't know at this point, is fairly large - 2 to 2.5 inch mantle with probably a 20 inch arm span, it was hard to tell from his brief walk on the glass.


    Since acclimation - first 24 hours
    The octopus has found a nice spot in the rocks which cannot be seen from the front of the tank. I only know it is there because it kicks up sand periodically. It appears he has chosen that spot for his den.

    There were 4 shore shrimp, 6 fiddler sized crabs in the tank (2 "assorted" and 4 emerald crabs), 15 hermits, and a damsel. This morning, 18 hours after being introduced into the tank, I noticed the remains of one of the crabs strewn about the tank six inches from the octopuses den. I surmise the octopus had himself a meal while I was asleep, but it is possible it lost a fight with one of the other crabs and was "cleaned up". The total number of crabs seems to have dwindled, but of this I am uncertain.

    I will be updating this with pictures when it finally feels comfortable enough to come out. Most of the pictures I took during acclimation didn't turn out well due to the purposeful lack of lighting in the room.

    I am interested to hear comments from those of you that have owned briareus concerning age and size. Tom said he was probably six months old, but his size guestimate was a bit low (1.5 inch mantle, 7 inch arms). How long do you think it has left?

    What are some common signs of senility? I have read on some journals that the octopus tried to get out of the bag/bucket during acclimation. I saw no such behavior, and I haven't seen much movement.
     
  2. bluespotocto

    bluespotocto Haliphron Atlanticus Registered

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    :welcome: new octo with no name. Pics??:confused: I will leave the answering to the pros.
     
  3. CaptFish

    CaptFish Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    :welcome: Newguy!

    As for age its hard to tell. But I would say 6 months is a fair guess. Legs is about the same size, alittle bigger, and she is six month old.
     
  4. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    For links to journals on briareus, look in the List of octopuses 2008 and 2009 listed in the Journals forum (I will stick them to the top eventually). Eventually, I will play with putting the data into a little database and generate additional posts with ordering by species but I am still thinking about the best way to accomplish and maintain this idea.

    Great job on the acclimation entry. I am a bit surprised that the PH was that high as most of the Keys collectors do not buffer their water and the over night shipping usually drops the PH close to 6. I use the strips though and your observation may be a good argument for an electronic instrument.
     
  5. Hayek

    Hayek GPO Registered

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  6. Hayek

    Hayek GPO Registered

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    I see no new crab carcasses today, but the octopus has made a new den. The tank is stable at 78-79 degrees with a specific gravity of 1.024-1.025 and ph of 8.15-8.2. It has only been 36 hours, and the octopus is still learning its surroundings. It has not yet come out into the open while the lights are on.

    The above video (previous post) suggests leg span might be closer to 24 inches.
     
  7. Hayek

    Hayek GPO Registered

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    Dwhatley - I have read each of the journals quite a few times. I spend waaaaaay too much time on tonmo.

    I have found there isn't enough difference between colors in the liquid and paper tests in order for me to make an accurate reading. For example, the liquid ph test that I own uses very similar shades of brown for 7.8, 8.0, and 8.2. I use the HM Digital PH-200 ph meter. It reads to two decimal places and is currently on sale at eseasongear.com - $69 includes shipping. It is a bit finicky, and it apparently must be stored in ph 4.0 solution which isn't included except for what is already in the cap.
     
  8. Hayek

    Hayek GPO Registered

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    I observed the octopus while the room was dark with an unobtrusive red light for several hours last night. It was parked in a den near the front right corner of the tank which I could easily see. He was in an accessible position so I offered him some krill which he rejected. After rejecting the krill several times, he released the empty shell of my horseshoe crab before retreating underneath the rock. While it was eating the crab, it probed outside the den with several arms.

    I still have not seen it move in the open, and I now attribute this to the ease with which he can feast. There is much food in the tank, and the octopus probably won't explore much until the easy prey is gone. So far, I know the octopus has eaten two crabs - one assorted and one emerald and a horse shoe crab. I also think some of the hermits were eaten as I don't remember there being any empty shells when I placed them in the tank.
     
  9. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Unscientific observation suggest that they do a lot of nervous eating the first week or so. Some keepers have seen octos kill and not eat the animal during this time (Maya caught a live shrimp, removed the shell and then left it for the clean-up crew but she eats the thawed shrimp offered on a stick). This behavior seems to go away after they are fully acclimated to tank living. The briareus (likely do to its crepsecular life style) seems to show the most shyness during its younger age than others and seems to need to reach an undefined size before it will be daytime visable (review the beginings of the other briareus journals to verify).

    We have still not seen Kaysoh out at all but he does go to the wall at the back of his cave at about 6:00 PM (feeding time). Oddly (because SueNami liked catching them), I don't think he has eaten any of the live shrimp in the tank but he will take the thawed with encouragement and finds the fiddlers on his own.

    I have wondered about horseshoe crabs and suspected one would not survive an octo tank but am glad you posted that he ate it as well.
     
  10. CaptFish

    CaptFish Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    I think it's in my journal, shortly as soon as she was of size, about two weeks, Legs killed my Gobie.



    I hade two both about 3" across and Legs snacked on them not that long ago.
     
  11. Hayek

    Hayek GPO Registered

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    Update:
    Tonight, I saw the octopus out in the open for the first time. After the lights had been out for a couple of hours, I decided to see whether there was any activity. I spotted the octopus on the top of the rock structure out in the open. It did not like the red light I was shining on it, and when the room lights were turned on, even dim, it retreated. At 2am, I checked again, and the octopus was behind the rocks on the back glass. This is a definite improvement over the first two nights during which I was lucky to spot an arm or two.

    I also noticed another emerald crab claw in the crab pile. I am certain the octopus is eating the crabs and not just killing them because I was able to remove the carapace of an emerald crab which was entirely cleaned out. The horseshoe crab was also cleaned out thoroughly and remains in the tank. I am unable to reach it without seriously disturbing the octopus.

    The octopus' adroit retreat has calmed my fears that this was an already senile octopus. It also has quite an appetite and I plan to order some fiddlers from Sachs System tonight.

    Are there any good alternatives to live fiddlers? I have heard octopuses can be fed oysters and shrimp bought at the supermarket.
     
  12. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Anything raw at the seafood counter is fair game, live is even better but don't buy a bunch of anything unless you plan to eat it if the octo doesn't :wink:.

    Raw shrimp is the most accepted dead food that is almost universally accepted and used as a staple. All but my mercs would eat thawed frozen shrimp (they at shore shrimp but not the larger eating shrimp) but we only buy 8-10 at a time so that they don't get too dehydrated from being in the freezer. You can offer it on a stick (bamboo skewers are great for this) and are likely to be successful on the first attempt. If the octopus does not grab it (she/he will want the stick too) gently touch the suckers with the shrimp. If it is hungry it will take the meal.

    You can offer a live clam but put it in the front and monitor it (the small neck seem to do better than the larger ones with thick shells). Clams will work as clean up but need to be removed ASAP if they die (they will open when they die). I usually bring them home and place them in a bowl of tank water for 24 hours to clear the grocery water from the animal. A small container with tall sides is best because they will spit and empty something shallow.

    You can offer a clam or oyster on the half shell but remove it before you go to bed if it is not eaten. SueNami ate one and only one offered clam.

    Scallops would seem to be attractive but I can't remember anyone having success with them (they are fine if the octo will eat them).

    Live crayfish can be offered as an occassional treat but because they are freshwater, there is concern about proper fat contents and advised against for part of the regular meals.

    Avoid freshwater fish. Marine fish (raw) can be offerred as a change but your octo may reject it. Studies on octos being fed fish have show that they don't grow as well as when fed crustaceans and should be fed only to offer a change.

    Canned crab and most canned fish have been cooked. I have never been able to find out why the octos should not be given cooked seafood but the recommendation is to avoid it.
     
  13. Hayek

    Hayek GPO Registered

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    Thank you very much!

    I just placed an order with Sachs System for some fiddlers. I'll try some of your suggestions while I wait for them to get here.

    I believe the octopus has eaten a couple of shore shrimp as I have only seen one today. Yesterday there were four. It also took down the remaining two emerald crabs last night and another hermit or two. The octopus has eaten better than I have over its first three days ~$40 worth of live stock ... I don't know if I am going to be able to keep up with its appetite as my budget is that of a (perennial) college student.

    I haven't been able to get any pictures yet. The octopus is quite aversive to light. It won't come out unless the room is pitch black. It hid last night (3rd night after acclimation) when I was at my computer ~5 feet away with all other lights off. It has, however, placed itself in position to watch me on several occasions. Despite giving in several times, I have been trying to resist watching it with a flashlight until it is more settled.
     
  14. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    You will likely find that he/she (a name would be helpful!) will eat between 1/2 an 1 thawed shrimp a day once it is settled in. We feed the shrimp as the main diet and supplement about 3 times a week with the crabs so the cost gets more reasonable.

    It is likely to take a month or more before you will start seeing it out with the lights on. You can look (once again :wink:) at the briareus journals to see when pictures started being taken.
     
  15. Hayek

    Hayek GPO Registered

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    Ok Ok, I'm now certain the octopus is healthy so I guess it is time to choose a name. My octopus shall now be known as Caligula! Please make sure he is added to the 2009 list of tonmo octopuses.

    I don't have much time to post, but I will say that tonight continued the positive trend in sociability. Caligula was quite a bit less averse to my flashlight, maybe even a bit curious, and he explored more of the tank. I wouldn't be surprised if I see him out in the open before that.

    I have been taking some video with infrared, but I have no way to get it into my computer until my firewire card gets here. I got some good video tonight.
     
  16. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    I hope your mailman brings the card soon :grin: Caligula is now on the list.

    (I how you meant NOW certain and not NOT certain)
     
  17. Hayek

    Hayek GPO Registered

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    Caligula is now eating frozen shrimp that I bought at the grocery store. This is a positive development as I think it will get it to associate me with food.

    I think Caligula was fairly hungry - I watched him try to catch shore shrimp last night, and I'm fairly certain he didn't catch any. The damsel, however, is no longer in the tank.

    Of note: hang on overflow boxes are incompatible with an octopus setup. I epoxied and duct taped the overflow box down, and it now needs to be re-primed as there is air in the tubes. I am unable to do it correctly without ripping the entire thing off of the back of the tank. Hopefully the tank doesn't overflow while I'm at work tonight.
     
  18. CaptFish

    CaptFish Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    Hmm, I use one and have had no problems. to get rid of the air bubbles, shake the tube violently and you can get the air to pass through as long as there is a slight flow of water.
     
  19. Hayek

    Hayek GPO Registered

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    I can't shake the tubes because I have everything secured... I should have used netting instead of epoxy and duct tape.

    Anyway, the lack of good live food has caused Caligula to take a step backward. I haven't seen much of him lately. I fed him yesterday at 5 pm and noticed the shrimp, with only a bite or two taken out of it, pushed a couple of inches from his den. A couple of the shore shrimp appear to be missing so it is possible he caught one or two that were lured by the smell of rotting shrimp.

    Fiddlers come tomorrow morning!
     
  20. ceph

    ceph Wonderpus Staff Member Moderator

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    Good advice on foods above. The seafood section of your grocery store is a great place to get food. Shrimp is one of the easiest.

    Your octopus has it made - live crabs!

    LOL Also keep in mind that your octopus might just train you if you let it!

    The trick is to get Caligula to associate you with food as you noted above. This is easiest if you start with live food, then switch to frozen food on a stick - "swim" it around. You might be able to go right to the stick method now. After a few weeks your octopus will likely come out for food when you enter to room. CRO are strictly nocturnal in nature but will acclimate in captivity to daytime feeding.

    As for age, size is very a poor indicator. However, the CRO that I collected in the Fl Keys all seemed to reproduce in winter.

    Something to look for: If you wake up one day and find a pile of rocks pulled to one side of the tank she (if you have a she) is likely to lay eggs in a few days. While these octopuses have lairs deep in the reef, the ones I've kept have laid eggs in clear view on the side of the tank in captivity.
     

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