feeding/id-ing wild octo?


Pygmy Octopus
im hoping someone can clear up some octopus questions for me. these pics are off of key west. the first is of an octo we call gertrude who lives on a wreck in about 80 ft of water. when i first encountered her, she(?) was trying to camo herself on the side of the wreck. i stroked her gently, she flashed colors a few times and then reached out with a tentacle wrapping it around my finger. we held hands for a few moments. this was in february. now i see her about 2x a week and have tried pulling off some of the crustaceans from the wreck to feed her, but she doesnt seem interested. i cleaned all the old shells away from her lair thinking it may have been an easy trail for her predators, but i have noticed no new shells. is there something i can buy at the store to feed her that would be safe? also wondering what type of octo she may be: common or caribbean reef and how i can tell the difference!



Pygmy Octopus
i should clarify that the first pic above is the same octo! when i first saw him, he went down into a dark crevice and i was taken by surprise so i took a crappy shot. same octo same day same spot- he really went thru some color changes!


Colossal Squid
Staff member
:welcome: to TONMO, thanks for sharing those great pics! She looks like vulgaris(common) to me based on the texture, colors, and eyes. The briareus(Caribbean reef) aren't as big, tend to be more blue-green (although in that lighting, everything looks blue-green), and have pretty thin arms and lots of webbing. I'm far from certain, though, and I can't really tell the size from the pictures.


Staff member
It's possible that Gertrude is guarding eggs so isn't interested in food. Amazing that she let you pet her and "hold hands" - she must not be afraid of her. A live crab would be the best food treat.

The divers who visit giant pacific octopuses report that the big guys are interested in flashy things, like a yellow glove and the divers have to be careful that they return with all their gear! Octopuses do sometimes seem to have possessions.

If you mean the difference between O. vulgaris (common octopus) and O. briareus (sometimes called the caribbean reef octopus, the vulgaris is much larger. The briareus often has a blue-green glowing color, has deep webbing. Look at some photos of briareus under Journals and Photos. Kalypso is a briareus.

Nice to have you on the site!


Animal Mother

dreadhead;118377 said:
I would think the reason her siphon is always pointed at you is so she can jet away if she feels you are a threat.
That and/or she's aiming at you as the syphon is also used to blast water at perceived nuisances, like a water cannon.

Those are some great pictures. I wish everyone that asked for an ID could get good shots from that angle in the 2nd and 3rd picture in your second set. I don't believe it is an O. briareus, that's some pretty heavy texture in the 3rd picture, and I don't see the glow. No matter what color her body is, the skin around my Kalypso's eyes always glows green.

I think I see an eyespot. Between the eyes and webbing there is a consistent dark spot in both picture 2 and 3. Have you noticed eyespots and approximately how large is this octopus? Pretty sure it's vulgaris or at least vulgaris complex.


Pygmy Octopus
thanks for the quick responses!!
im not sure what an eyespot is, perhaps the tiny dark dot?
is this indicative of vulgaris?
as for size, the head/body would be the size of a honeydew melon and arms could be stretched out about a little over a foot to a foot and a half.
after reading much more than i ever hoped to know on this site, i think she may be waiting on eggs/ waiting to die : (
does anyone know if shell come out to play again or is this it?
a crab was suggested as an appropriate gift- i try to find crustaceans which are already there- dont suppose arrow crabs, banded coral shrimp or pederson shrimp are known prey for these octos? they are usually associated as cleaning stations for for fish... maybe a hermit crab?
otherwise i may try to buy something at the store? live blue crab maybe?
im so upset that they live for such a short period; im disguted by reading the stanley cup tradition of throwing octopuses and find myself completely happy that i found a site with like minded people!!
ill post more pics later, i have some and an take some more while shes here


Pygmy Octopus
wow animal mother!
i love your pics of kalypso!!!!
makes me want to get a pet one, but i think i see enough in the wild (for now ;)
the color pattern looks more to me like the ones ive seen at night on the reef
i really need to take more pics- the guys i work with are always calling me octo-magnet and i think its true!! ive seen more in the last two weeks than some of the guys have in four or five years!!
when i see their trash lying outside of their lairs, i start to look around the reef/wreck for them and i usually find one
is it common for them to stay in one place for a long time?
ive never had one use its siphon on me, but they only have ONE, right? ive noticed it pointed at me no matter which side i see them from. someone said they will spray it at me if theyre annoyed.
i still want to know if i can get gertrude- my main octo- to come out again
also does anyone know if jewfish, aka goliath grouper, are predators? there are three who hang out/live exclusively on the same wreck where she lives. i dont want to lure her out to be eaten!!


Pygmy Octopus
thanks also nancy and monty
i believe vulgaris may be correct!
im so happy to have found this site- spent most of today reading and looking at all the other posts, and learning ALOT!!

~~~~ > ~~~~ >


Staff member
Unfortunately, our search engine is sometimes difficult :sad:. I thought I posted several of my not so great pics from the Mote aquarium (TONMOCON II - Sarasota, FL) but can't seem to locate them so I am posting them here. As I understand it, these two were caught together as juveniles and had been at Mote for over a year. The size you mention almost mandates that Gertude is a Vulgaris as the others found in the Keys (and the East Coast) are much smaller. Additionally, not all octos have midden piles but the Vulgaris is famous for them (and using them to locate octos)

Diving Molassas? It would be a dream come true for me to have a "pet" that I visited like that so I hope she will interact more. With the aquarium kept, we often use a feeding stick and you might try something similar. A common bamboo skewer with a dead 3-4 inch shrimp on the end could be offered. When Octane (Hummelincki) is being stubborn, sometimes we place the shrimp under his webbing rather than just on the arms (octos have arms only - squid and cuttlefish have arms and tentacles).

Octos have only one siphon but most can move it to either mantle opening (I believe the GPO's - Giant Pacific Octopus - is different)

Yes, Grouper find octos an excellent meal and after the eggs hatch she will most likely meet her end that way. One of our members in Italy posted this link to an excellent German version of Octopus Volcano. It is rather long but well worth watching and features Vulgaris living near a live volcano in Italy:



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