Doing behavioral research on live joubini

Discussion in 'Behavior and Intelligence' started by burnthestatus, Aug 29, 2007.

  1. burnthestatus

    burnthestatus Larval Mass Registered

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    Hello everyone!
    I'm new to the forum and very new to maintaining octopus. I am a senior college student and me and my professor are designing a research project on octopus behavior. We want to purchase 5 pygmy octopus (joubini) and store them in 5 separate tanks. Can anyone give any advice as to what kind of species these are and if how possible it is to perform behavioral experiments on them? Their life spans? What to feed them? Whether they are nocturnal or diurnal? Thanks for any advice and help!!

    Regards,
    V
     
  2. robyn

    robyn Vampyroteuthis Supporter

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    Well I am certainly no expert but I had trouble getting joubini to even come out of their shelters during experiments, let alone complete any behavioural tasks. But that could have been due to any number of factors and I've only worked with them for a very brief period. I'm sure others can give you some more details about their own experiences, but from my experience they were not good for behaviour at all. I would recommend bimacs or briareus for behaviour.
     
  3. marinebio_guy

    marinebio_guy Vampyroteuthis Registered

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    Hello,

    It's hard to say if they would make good research subjects there short life span (1-1.5 years) might be a problem if you will be using wild caught animals. They eat shrimp and crabs, and they will mostly be nocturnal. One problem is finding a source for them unless you are collecting them yourself. I think there are a few places in Florida that can get them but I do not know how often and at what times of the year. Most octopus behavior research has been done on O. bimaculoides as they live longer and are easier to get.
     
  4. monty

    monty Colossal Squid Staff Member Supporter

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    :welcome: to TONMO! I'm not sure of the details for joubini in particular, but most dwarf species tend to be nocturnal, shy, and relatively short-lived (e.g. 6 months or so.) Dwhatley's "Trapper" was a mercatoris that broke a number of these stereotypes, though.

    Did you choose joubini because of particular requirements (like you only have space for 5 pygmies, or it's the only species you can get from your supplier)?

    I think the tendency to hide all the time has made the dwarf species rarely used in behavioral experiments, most of the behavioral work has been done in species like vulgaris, bimacs, and cyanea. Of course, that may mean that there is a lot to be learned in going off the beaten track, but I think a lot of the behavior of dwarfs tends to be "hiding a lot." A few folks have had some luck observing pet nocturnal dwarf species using red LED lights, but I don't know if that's been done in a lab setting. I've been researching a bit on the possibility of using laser diodes with diffusers to get red lighting that's monochromatic and outside the octopus spectral response but visible to humans, and it looks like it could work (not sure if lasers will cause weirdness with the octo's ability to perceive polarization, though, and the spectral response data I found is for GPOs anyway.)

    O. Rubsecens seems to be a species that is only slightly larger than the dwarfs, but tends to be a bit more "out and about." I think they'd need a chiller, though.
     
  5. cuttlegirl

    cuttlegirl Colossal Squid Supporter Registered

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  6. AD2U

    AD2U Blue Ring Registered

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    I had a Pygmy octo for about 6 months, they only come out at night and feed on live crabs and snails. You never see them unless you come to the tank at night with a flash light and then they run and hide. I also had mine eating silver sides off a feeder stick. And then he would only reach out with a arm or two and grab the food and that was it. I always had to shine a flash light at his hiding spot to make sure he was alive. They do not like any light what so ever. No MOON lights, no BLACK lights. ONLY PITCH BLACK!! Good luck with the research. Let me know how it go's.
     
  7. Nancy

    Nancy Titanites Staff Member Moderator

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    As I understand it, joubini and mercatoris are very similar (have different egg sizes) and what is sold as joubini is often mercatoris. Several other people online have kept mercatoris, and I hope they report their results here, but there was not a lot of interaction.

    Nancy
     
  8. Neogonodactylus

    Neogonodactylus Haliphron Atlanticus Staff Member Moderator

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    I have worked on both. O. joubini is a bit more likely to leave its crevis, but only at night. The chances are probably 99% that what you can order is O. mercatoris. The one interesting bit of behaviour that I've seen was mating. It is quick and violent with the male pouncing on the female.

    Roy
     
  9. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    I have raised one wild caught adult female Mercatoris and am raising five of her young. You are unlikely to find Joubini but very likely to find Mercatoris. If this is a consideration, they are usually readily available as adults in late December through early March. If, after your initial evaluation, you still find these attractive for your experiment, feel free to PM or email me and I will be glad to provide a short list of sources.

    Adults obtained at this time of the year are not likely to live more than a month or two since the higher quantity available seems to correlate with a breeding cycle (most octopuses only live through one breeding cycle). Additionally, dwarfs large enough to catch are usually adults as the young are very small. If later in the spring is better timing, you might look for a female with eggs and attempt to raise the young for your experiments. Using the adults may be an advantage because of their naturally short life span. Additionally, the older octopuses are less likely to be as shy as the younger fry.

    As has already been mentioned, behavior studies of the intelligence variety would be better done with an alternate octopus. If resources don't permit this (there are sources for some octopuses available for research that hobbiests cannot use but may prove useful) or you can't find the larger octos in the quantity you need, there are a few interesting things you might find acceptable to explore. Any work with the nocturnal octos will require a lab enviornment where you can control the ambient light. Since Mercatoris and Joubini (very hard to tell the difference except by egg size) are nocturnal, experimentation with changing the time of day, interior vs ambient lighting, red light (or varieties of red as Monty mentioned) vs blue light vs white light activity come to mind. My own limited, antidotal observations suggest that ambient light outside the tank may have more influence than the light inside the tank. A controlled experiment with this thought might prove interesting.

    Quick additional notes:
    I would recommend leaving a red light over the tank on 24/7.
    If your nocturnal octopus is out during the day, it is within a week (or less) of dying.
    Another behavioral thought would be to observer interaction/learning with other, non-octo tank mates.
     
  10. burnthestatus

    burnthestatus Larval Mass Registered

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    Thanks greatly for all of your comments.

    In response to Monty's question, I believe space is the one obstacle dictating us to house dwarfs. I don't know the space requirements for bimacs, briareus, or O. Rubsecens, and whether they need additional maintenance equipment, (i.e. chiller, as monty mentioned), but I would certainly like to find these things out as well as where and for what price these other recommended species can be purchased for research. For now, it seems that the dwarf species are the most cost and maintenance effective. And, they seem to be readily available. Any links out to suppliers of these other species would be greatly appreciated.

    Having said that, I am very interested in pursuing research on dwarfs as well (getting of the beaten track, as monty aptly suggested), especially studying its behavior with other non-octo mates, as dwhatley offered. I think monitoring their nightly escapades on video is another option. We’re thinking of bringing them in sometime late October—is that too early if we want them to live for several months?

    Again, thanks to everyone for their help and time.
     
  11. monty

    monty Colossal Squid Staff Member Supporter

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    Danthemarineman has a number of mercatoris he needs to sell before a move, see the "octopus availability" thread.

    Although there seem to be seasonal variations on availability, I haven't really worked out what they are for what species. One problem with dwarf species is that there isn't a good source for tank-raised ones, and since joubini is a small-egged species, it's unlikely there ever will be (although some species are sold by places like the NRCC only to professional researchers, which would work for you but not the hobbyists... but they only list bimacs at the moment.) Mercatoris has the advantage, as Dwhatley has shown, that it's possible to tank-raise them. If this isn't obvious, the benefit to this is that you would know the exact age of the octopus you're getting, while if you had a wild-caught animal, it is frequently very close to the end of its short lifespan. Collectors are also notoriously ignorant about this sort of thing; often, mature dwarf species are sold as baby vulgaris, for example.

    Another consideration for getting them at the end of October is what your resources are. Since you're at a university, I'm not clear if you're coming into an existing lab to do this work. If you're starting from scratch, we recommend a 3 month period for the tanks to cycle and stabilize before getting an octopus. If the lab already has the 5 tanks you mention cycled, stable, and running, or if you are plumbed into a fresh or recirculated water systems as part of a larger system (as is common in large research facilities) then this might not be an issue. Of course, you'll still need to octo-proof the tanks so your animals don't escape, and make sure that tank-mates, decoration, lighting, and such are appropriate. If you want to study dwarfs behaviorally, I suspect you'll want to minimize the tank decorations so that they have relatively few hiding places, but enough that they aren't stressed out by the lack of hiding places.

    I had some ideas for sneaky ways to study shy nocturnal octos, both as I mentioned above LED laser diodes with diffusers to get a very narrow-spectrum red light that (hopefully) will be invisible to the octos, and also, to go along with that, it might be possible to provide the octo with a den that's made of plastic that's transparent to red light but opaque to blue/green, something like the red acrylic tubing here:

    http://www.tapplastics.com/shop/product.php?pid=143&PHPSESSID=200708310920041268293209

    (note that I just found that with a google search, so I can't vouch for the quality or safety, although it's pretty hard to make plexiglass dangerous to octos... it might be worth asking what they dope it with to make it red, though, and make sure it doesn't leech out in water and that it's not copper-based.)

    I'd been meaning to mention my :madsci: ideas to you, too, Dwhatley, although you seem to have the dwarf-rearing thing down, so changing the lighting might add stress more than improve things any....
     
  12. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Monty,
    I'm ON IT! Loved the note and saw it just before pressing the link :tongue:

    Well that was a quick $60. No, the tubing is not expensive but they had acrylic hinges and a hasp set that I hope will work to replace my velcro hinge (worked well but won't say glued) and screw on lid locks and maybe fix a broken hinge on the nano and acrylic sand paper ...
     
  13. burnthestatus

    burnthestatus Larval Mass Registered

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    Update: I am already doing research on 5 mercatoris octos. each has its own 20 gallon tank enough live rock to satisify even the most curious of animals. each tank has two red diodes above its tank, over supple lighting for observations. right now, i'm trying to catalog a list of behaviors which I then can jot down in data collection spread over different observation times. right now I am hoping to collect data as to the activity of the octos during different light regimes, as well as their feeding/handling behavior.

    On Saturday night I actually got to see one of the mercs attack and eat a fiddler crab. It was spectacular! I had deposited a crab into each tank, and then when I looked back at the first tank, the crab had found itself into the entrance of the octo's den! The octo climbed up unto a wall, then jetted to the opposite wall, and moved up/down side to side for about an hour, darting between walls and watching the crab from above. Then it striked in a split second, and was eating the crab for about 2hrs. The fiddler was about the same size as the crab--so it was very interesting to see the pounce.
     
  14. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    In case I forgot to mention it, you might try to see if their eyes are closed or open in the different lighting. I have seen (when I can find them) my Mercs with open eyes during the day even though they are not out of their dens.
     
  15. burnthestatus

    burnthestatus Larval Mass Registered

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    Rapid update: three of our octos passed away (2 we couldn't locate after 3 weeks, and 1 was outside of its den). The other 2 we suspect are brooding (as evidenced on camera--blowing sand away and reaching out with tentacles, but never come out. When cyclopeeze is pipetted at the opening, they blow it out). I think we will soon lift the rock up to search for eggs.

    Yesterday, we accepted a shipment of 3 more octos (they all seem 2x larger than our first ones), and we noticed an interesting behavior I thought to run by everyone for input. If you download the linked video, you will see two of them rapidly curling and uncurling the tips of their tentacles as they sat in the bags acclimatizing. Have you seen that before? This was maybe 20min after we put the bags in the tanks to let the temperatures equilibrate (water temp, ca. 74F). This behavior was repeated when I pippetted some cyclopeeze on top of it, it twitched like that, but never ate. After we turned the lights off and let them sit for an hour, they retreated to a corner of the bag, turned white and pulled shells in front of themselves; much more normal. It looks to us like it might be an anxiety reaction, but that seems overly anthropomorphic...

    http://www.anselm.edu/homepage/bpenney/research/octopusbehavior/O3newDay1.mpg

    http://www.anselm.edu/homepage/bpenney/research/octopusbehavior/O2newtentcurl.mpg
     
  16. Animal Mother

    Animal Mother Architeuthis Supporter

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    :) The dark spots on the back of the mantle are hearts.

    I think Dwhatley has described that twitching motion on some of her mercs too.
     
  17. Jean

    Jean Colossal Squid Supporter

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    tentacle twitching/curling (especially in a corkscrew pattern) is a sign of stress. FYI if they do this in the tanks check your water parameters ASAP especially if they're near the water/air interface as it definitely seems to be correlated to a decrease in water quality.


    Writhing arms all over the body seems to be almost a "grooming" behaviour, they'll often shed sucker linings during this process....all quite normal :smile:

    j
     

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