First octopus and first post on Tonmo

Discussion in 'Cephalopod Journals' started by frankpayne32, Apr 16, 2011.

  1. frankpayne32

    frankpayne32 Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Hello everyone, my name is Frank, and I just signed up for Tonmo, though I have read the articles in the past. I have always loved octopus and wanted one as a pet since I was a kid and read about what Jacques Cousteau and later my invert bio professor had to say about them. I finally got one today. I have been keeping marine aquaria (reefs) for about four years. I was also a senior herpetology (reptiles/amphibians) and am now a high school science teacher. So, I have a lot of experience keeping literally hundreds of species of animals but I am completely inexperienced with octopus so I would appreciate all the help I can get!

    Recently I plumbed two 20 long tanks into my main 125 gallon display. The bottom one I converted into my new octopus set up. Here are some pics of my main reef and fish room.

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    Below is a pic of the octo's tank. To secure the top I used gasket around the top rim of the tank and used a reptile cage screen lid with clamps to hold it in place. The pressure from the clamps creates a tight seal. Hopefully it will be sufficient, I know what houdinis these guys are...

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    Next are some pics of the octopus itself. I would love some help identifying it. It was sold to the fish store only as "reef octopus". They were 90% certain it came from the Caribbean. It's mantle is approximately 1" long. It's arms are about three times the length of it's mantle. He was in the store for several weeks on hold for me and he already eats from hand and will feel my hand when placed in the tank. It almost never tried to hide and is used to human traffic. It is usually a whitish color and mottled but it flashes darker brown when bothered (when I moved it to his new home). Here are some pics of him/her:

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    Right now he is eating live hermit crabs. I work part time at the LFS so I have no problem getting cheap hermits in bulk but I would appreciate it if someone could point me to a good thread on here that describes the best process for training them to eat frozen food.

    Well, that's all for now. Thanks for taking the time to read and I look forward to talking with the members here about my new octopus and to learn more.

    Frank
     
  2. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    WELCOME to TONMO!

    For pictures of the different species, find the List of our Octopuses 20xx green stickies at the top of the Octopus Care
    Forum
    . The lists show the species and contain links to the individual journals and photos.

    Typical Caribbean animals that we see are as follows:

    Arm to mantle ratio is too low to be an unmolested O.briareus (Common Caribbean Octopus or CCO - this is my first guess but with reservations) and the they are usually VERY shy until about 5 months old (and I think the animal is too small for a 5 month old CCO but the coloration is one of the looks they can have (arms are never unmolested though). Can you tell if the front arms are shorter than the next two pairs? Do you see green/blue fluorescent spots at night with a light shining on the animal? If it is a CCO, a 20 gallon tank will soon be way too small. Plumbed to the other tanks, water quality should not be a problem but space will be.

    The arm to mantle ratio is too high to be typical of the O. mercatoris (dwarf species) and it does not look like this species.

    Still using the arm to mantle ratio, the O. hummelincki would fit but the color is not typical. Look for two false eyespots on the webbing just below each eye. Again a 20 is likely to be too small for the full life of the animal. Hummelincki, however, have the widest range in sizes and can be as small as a large dwarf or large enough to require a 50 gallon tank.

    Needless to say, more photo please, preferably in a relaxed state.

    As far as feeding frozen goes, no real weaning is required. Pickup up a pack of the bamboo skewers used for grilling (or use a regular nylon feeding stick) and put the shrimp on the end. If the animal does not approach it on its own try to touch the shrimp to a sucker (the closer to the mouth the better). If this is a very young animal (it appears to be), then it may not yet be able to eat regular table shrimp (my guess is that is it too tough for them). If it won't take table shrimp yet, you can try feeding shore shrimp or any kind of crab (I freeze fiddlers when they die and I find them before there is any odor). You can also try dead hermits out of the shell (a bit tricky if you can't find larger ones). Getting the smaller animals to stay on a feeding stick can be tricky and I usually use a pipette for the small foods (or if it is taking live food from your fingers then you can offer dead the same way but I tend - but don't make it a strict rule - to prefer to interact without food and use a feeding stick for dinner time. When you try table shrimp and if it is not accepted, try again in a week or two and continue trying every couple of weeks. Offer it in 1/2 mantle size (or less) chuncks. We have also found that at least one of ours would not take table shrimp without the shell (even though the shell is immediately discarded).
     
  3. sedna

    sedna Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Supporter Registered

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    Hello and welcome to Tonmo! Posting a few more pics will help identify your friend. In that pic, it looks more like an aculeatus, not Caribbean but an awesome octo. Congrats!
     
  4. CaptFish

    CaptFish Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    :welcome: to TONMO

    definitely need some more pics. I'm with sedna looks a lot like an Aculeatus to me too, but they have really long arms and you said this guy had short arms. I'm looking forward to following your progress.
     
  5. frankpayne32

    frankpayne32 Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Thanks to all for the replies and warm welcome. I will try to get more pictures but I haven't seen it since the first night. It immediately disappeared into the rock work when put into the tank. I caught a glimpse of it later that night but didn't see it at all yesterday. I am going to try to feed this afternoon and hopefully will be able to lure it out to take some better pictures. If it turns out to be a bigger species and it outgrows this tank I would have no problem setting up a bigger tank. I have plenty of extra aquariums and protein skimmers laying around. I will keep everyone updated on this octo and hopefully will have better pics for you to try to identify. Thanks again!
     
  6. Nancy

    Nancy Titanites Staff Member Moderator

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    Hi and welcome tonthe site!

    It's not unusual for your octopus to disappear for a while after first being introduced to its new home. And, as you get more accustomed to looking for your octopus, you'll develop "octopus eyes" and will be able to spot it more easily.

    Nancy
     
  7. frankpayne32

    frankpayne32 Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Thanks Nancy, hopefully he will come out soon, he was very calm in the store but he also was in a very tiny tank with almost nowhere to hide. I usually have really good eyes for hidden animals, I go "herping" all the time (reptiles) but I can't find this guy! With how good it's camo is it's probably sitting right in front of my face.

    I'm sure I don't have to tell you all how exciting this is for me. I have wanted one for around 20 years. It's a great feeling to finally have one in my home. I hope he does well.
     
  8. frankpayne32

    frankpayne32 Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Great news, the octo came out this afternoon! Here are some pics of how I found it on the glass. Hopefully this will be better for ID purposes. I was definitely wrong about the arm length. They are quite long. Based on what I've seen on this site it does look like aculeatus (although I have no idea really).

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    When I approached he went underneath a rock but didn't hide completely.

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    I then offered a live hermit which he took right away. I got a video of it which I will post later.
     
  9. tonmo

    tonmo Titanites Staff Member Webmaster Moderator

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    Cool! :cool:
     
  10. frankpayne32

    frankpayne32 Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Here is the video of the octopus eating a hermit crab from feeding tongs. He is also visible all the time now. He has taken up residence in one of the empty barnacles but he has his eyes poking out surveying things.

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  11. CaptFish

    CaptFish Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    Very cool. I'm still think A.aculeatus for species. If so these are fun little octos from Indonesia.

    Not that you have to since you method seems to be working, but D takes her hermits freezes them then cracks the shell off and feeds them just the crab. My aculeatus waldo used to love snacking on hermits, but sometimes recollecting all the shells can be a pain in the ...
     
  12. frankpayne32

    frankpayne32 Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Thanks for the tip. I'm also going to try to offer frozen crustaceans as well to see if he takes to that.
     
  13. Level_Head

    Level_Head Vampyroteuthis Registered

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    Welcome, Frank!

    The little one seems to be adapting very rapidly. I'm an old herper also, and was very active in this arena in Florida decades ago (which is also where we hand-caught an octopus while diving).

    I've not had a reef tank for a couple of years now, and miss the "think tank." But this way, I can vicariously enjoy your adventures. And write about these fascinating animals.

    Best wishes!
     
  14. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Do you see "horns" frequently above each eye. There are more than one species that show these but they are typical of A. aculeatus.
     
  15. frankpayne32

    frankpayne32 Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Thanks, if you're interested here is a link to my reef tank thread at reefcentral.

    http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1723217
     
  16. frankpayne32

    frankpayne32 Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Yes, he definitely has "horns" about his eyes all the time. Also, his skin is almost always "horny" and rough in appearance.
     
  17. sedna

    sedna Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Supporter Registered

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    glad to see that you're having fun with your new friend! I love aculeatus, they are more diurnal and out a lot- friendly and interested in what is going on around them. I like to sit by the tank with the laptop, and they love to watch the screen!
     
  18. frankpayne32

    frankpayne32 Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    Thanks, it is definitely great. I also sit in front of the tank with the computer.
     
  19. frankpayne32

    frankpayne32 Pygmy Octopus Registered

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    How worried do I have to be about being bitten my my octopus?

    I've started working with him by putting my hand in the tank near him. He stays calm and eventually grabs onto my fingers pulling himself towards my hand. I've pulled away when he does this as I was worried about a bite. When I pull away he gets startled and swims away. I don't mind a little scratch of a bite but I'm worried about the envenomation. I've read through the octopus bite thread and most seemed to be harmless but some were more serious. What do you guys do? What do you recommend I do? I really want to get friendly with him but also don't want a potentially dangerous bite. Thanks!
     
  20. CaptFish

    CaptFish Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    There is a possibility of being bitten, as there is when playing with most any wild animal.I have a dog that goes a lot places with me a people always ask before petting him: "does he bite" my simple response to the question is: " He doesn't Bit ME" That being said, it is not very common. And for the most part biting is not a typical behavior for most species of octo. Some are more prone to biting, like O.rubescens. When I'm playing/petting mine I make sure to be very conscious of where my hand is and where the octopuses beak is. I make sure not to allow and untrusted octopus to crawl all the way onto my hand where my flesh is within reach of the beak. I just keep rotating and lifting my hand straight up out of the water to keep the octo at bay. A feeding stick works well to move arms that are getting to close for comfort in the early stages of contact.

    The tugging you are describing is very typical. both D and myself have found its best not to pull back but to just stand your ground. hold your hand still, dont let him pull you towards hium, but also dont pull your hand away. eventually the octo will stop trying to pull and begin to investigate more. the biggest thing is to take your time with them dont rush it. be prepared to just hold your hand in the tank for at least five minutes to as long as 20 minutes while the octo just dances around investigating.

    Another tip is to play with your octo on one corner and always that corner then feed the octo in the other corner. This helps seperate play time and feeding time.

    :sink:
     

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