Conditioning an octopus?

Pennyworth

Wonderpus
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#1
Has anyone tried this? I couldn't find much on it, but it is something I am interested in trying.

I am actually thinking if I can have some sort of stimulus in the tank (they don't hear...maybe something that vibrates?) linked to a button outside of the tank, which if I press every time I feed it it may start coming out on demand when a button is pressed.

Has anyone tried something similar, or would have any tips before I proceed?
 

DWhatley

Cthulhu
Staff member
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#2
When I read the first papers that discovered they could hear I looked for some kind of inexpensive tone generator to try something similar but never found a reliable device to use. Here is a link to discussion on the topic with additional links to discussions about the discovery that they CAN hear.

Conditioning to something else is quite likely possible. You can do something simple like knocking on the glass but just your presence (particularly if you feed at the same time each day - recommended) my bring the animal out to feed.

Octopuses are known by researchers for their independent behavior and have frustrated many of them. I don't think there is much question about their ability to learn and respond but their willingness at any given time makes it hard to prove. With the ones that are quite interactive, I have been successful in creating a play corner where either of us can go to the corner to request attention (my hand in the tank in that spot or the octo moving up and down in that spot). This has been the most rewarding but takes A LOT of patience and reinforcement (as well as an animal that shows a desire to interact ... I think, it maybe more the amount of consistent time I spent at the tank).
 

Pennyworth

Wonderpus
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#3
Thanks D. Looks like I have some reading to do. I want to dig into my species a bit more to see if there is research specifically to tone range it responds to.

Otherwise, some experimentation will be in order. I'm going to try and get some sort of underwater tone generator (assuming one exists) and see if I can get a response at all.

This is further down the road though. At present, I feed my octopus via a toothpick and it tends to take it and run...I haven't seen any desire to interact just yet.
 

DWhatley

Cthulhu
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Moderator
#4
I am not sure there is any reason for an "underwater" noise maker. Something to generate the proper tones on the other side of the tank should work just as well (or so I would think). Note in the link that I was looking for something I could use on my Nook note pad but I never found something that would give a reliable frequency. There is quite likely something better out now.
 

Pennyworth

Wonderpus
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#5
I am not sure there is any reason for an "underwater" noise maker. Something to generate the proper tones on the other side of the tank should work just as well (or so I would think). Note in the link that I was looking for something I could use on my Nook note pad but I never found something that would give a reliable frequency. There is quite likely something better out now.
My thinking was that the glass may be too much of a barrier if they already have weak 'hearing', but if that's not the case I'll start experimenting with an app on my phone. Also that if the noise generator were in the tank the vibrations may go through the water instead of reverberating across the glass, which is what I would assume would happen.
 

Nancy

Titanites
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#6
As D mentions, there are many ways to get this effect. I tried waving vigorously with my right hand each time I sat down to spend some time with my octopus. This type of greeting was successful, so much so that, after a few months, she began waving back!

Nancy
 

Pennyworth

Wonderpus
Registered
#9
Thanks Nancy, I've incorporated that into my feeding ritual as well. I hope to have a similar experience.

Not sure about a theramin...I had thought there little underwater buzzer things, but I can't seem to find any so far.
 

DWhatley

Cthulhu
Staff member
Moderator
#10
I had thought there little underwater buzzer things, but I can't seem to find any so far
That was my problem as well and I was not even looking for something to put inside the tank. I found a few cheap buzzers but they varied too widely on the frequency and I had no way to validate. If you come up with something, be sure to mention it.
 

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