[Octopus]: o. Vulgaris, we named him Trevor

Discussion in 'Cephalopod Journals' started by Plasticmask, Apr 20, 2015.

  1. Plasticmask

    Plasticmask Blue Ring Registered

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    We are hoping for a boy, obviously we can't gender him with confidence yet.
    O.Vulgaris, about 3 months old we think? Found him at our local fish store, of all of the places in the world.
    We spent his quarantine checking discreetly on his status every four days or so. Never asked too many questions to seem pesky, just politely dug at them for information. We were given links, leads, other people as well as their OWN experiences with many octopus during this time.
    On the day that he went on sale, we had already decided to get him (his PRICE was appalling in it's affordability) and I think it was that same week that I met them unlocking their door one morning and asked for him, what do I need to go and buy to take him home in, et cetera.
    I was given the help eagerly and I left, bought a Pet Carrier, came right back and took Trevor home in it (in a baggie obviously).
    We are blogging the experience for two reasons.
    One, I'm dying. I ONLY TELL YOU THIS because it is why we now have an Octopus in our home. Seen the movie, or heard of, "The Bucket List"? :) Onward.
    Two, we never thought after all of the research that my wife and I had done on keeping an Octopus as a pet, we never thought that we would ever find one in our home town. We were certain that it would have to be shipped to us, and we flat refuse to be the direct cause of shipping an Octopus any place for any reason. Trevor was already shipped, survived that nightmare that you and I can only imagine, and it is not MY fault. You see?

    So.
    He's very interesting, so far he broke most of the rules because he doesn't HIDE so much as LURKS, although he's plenty of hiding places. We're told that simply means that he's confident.
    We have seen him "Clowning" one time, for several minutes actually, but we were FAR too transfixed to have even thought of a camera.
    Once he's just a little bigger, we are setting up the tripod and working out DIM lighting just to take out the reflections in the room... we will welcome EVERY advice on this.
    For that matter, we will welcome every advice PERIOD.
    There is not enough information out here, on keeping these brilliant things as pets, so we want to do what the others are doing and trying to blog it so that everyone can learn about this.
    Will it encourage an Octopus trade, eventually? I mean, if we all keep this up? I kind of pray not. But at the same time, I feel like I have to blog this so that it can be helpful.
     

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  2. Plasticmask

    Plasticmask Blue Ring Registered

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    He is barely eight inches from tip to tip probably longer if he was trying, so we keep him in a Pet Carrier, a clear plastic box with a very tight-fitting plastic lid. We are using cloth window screening to be a (so far) perfect layer of protection from escape, wedged in between box and lid very snugly. Once his little beak is too big, we'll stop needing that screen thank goodness and things will be really easy for -what? Two months, maybe? :) Then we'll be needing to "release" him into his 36g bowfront. This is where the Box is currently residing; he's an Octopus in a box in a tank. :)
    Oh and he's a PIG. Did I mention that yet? Yes. He's a pig. I have begun an above tank refugium, but I need to talk with someone in the Know about simple FILTRATION. Wow.
    Our Red Serpent Star is too big to put in with him, we don't know enough to be confident in that regard, although the LR that we DO have in his Box had a Brittle on it at some point. Haven't seen it today.
    But yeah, he either needs some partners or I'm going to be changing out his water too often and that makes me nervous.
    Side note, I made a "Gym" thing out of PVC, Trevor really does play in it and seems to be glad that it's in there.
    So he's got the little LR, a nice green and purple one, and the Gym and an amber colored antique snuff bottle.
    Sleeps in the bottle mostly, makes him easy to find with a flashlight and he still thinks he's safe in there. When he's out, he will sit ON it and be the same color as the bottle, has done it twice so far. It's amazing to me.
    Eats Krill and fresh frozen bits of "bait" shrimp from the store, right out of my fingers and stays out to eat and stares at me the entire time.
    Midden Pile seems to be the interior of that bottle, much to my sadness, it STINKS in that thing every DAY when I pull it out to rinse it clean.
     

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  3. Plasticmask

    Plasticmask Blue Ring Registered

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    Plans: YouTube Channel regarding Trevor, relevant videos involving his colorations and what they might mean, we are learning to make occasional puzzles for him, things like that. Upon "release" into the 36g bowfront, we understand that we have barely a year before his 55g long needs to be ready for him. We've already begun it's planning.
     
  4. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Welcome to TONMO, the fascination with the great critters and the limited ID knowledge of all pet stores :grin:

    I am 99% sure Trevor is not vulgaris. The arms appear too long as compared to the mantle (body sack that is often mistaken for the head). He/she and is most likely (but I can't be 100% sure without more info/pictures) Octopus briareus (arguably the most stunning of the local (meaning common US) octos - I could be a bit bias :wink:). Relooking at the photo I believe I see green/blue around the eye socket, this is also a potential ID characteristic that would point to O. briareus.

    As a rule of thumb, young octos generally won't allow themselves to be seen until about 4-5 months. I suspect two things with this observation. One, they have reached a predator vs prey size and two, sexual maturity is in progress or has been achieved. Briareus is a crepuscular species (early morning and early evening hunters) but will often be active at a human decided regular feeding time. You DO need to provide a very dark daytime place. His/her activity may be a stress reaction to not having a place to hide but it is not uncommon for a newly introduced animal to appear very friendly for the first month an then revert to a more natural (unfortunately) less active behavior. The good news is that once they are fully acclimated (about a month) they MAY become interactive again over a slow period of time IF a lot of gentle attention is paid to the aquarium. We keep our octo tanks in the eating area so that they see us (and we often see them watching) sitting quietly and on a regular basis and feed them either directly before or after our evening meal.

    You don't need (and should not) to put critters in his critter keeper. He/she will do well with the brittle once released to the main tank but the small environment needs to be his own (you can put a snail or two in the keeper that he may or may not eat). Hopefully, you do not plan to keep fish in the tank since you have not mentioned them.

    If you have not found it yet, there is a sticky titled Posts with Info for new Octopus keepers that groups a variety of getting started posts that are hopefully helpful and invite new questions.

    Looking forward to new pictures!
     
  5. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    For determining Trevor's sex, you will want to observe the third arm to the right (clockwise as you orient you eyes with the octos). The male will keep that arm curled most of the time. There is also a spermatophore channel running the length of that arm and a suckerless tip that is slighly funnel shaped but these two features are not easily identified with some species (photos often see more than you will with your eyes). There are several species with examples of the male hectocotylus in the Sexing an Octopus sticky in the Biology forum that should be useful to know what to try to observe. Unfortunately, there is no external dimorphic female trait.
     
  6. Plasticmask

    Plasticmask Blue Ring Registered

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    Wow I hope that he isn't stressing, I must have not been clear but he has plenty of hiding places. He LURKS, he will stay just out of my line of sight unless I lean WAYYY over but he can still see my monitor just fine, and has been binge-watching The Rockford Files with me.
    I'll glance over at his Box and I'll see his eyes poking up from behind a pipe, and they'll DUCK back down and creeeeeep back up to stare at me some more. I can't imagine that he's stressed, he's what I was told is a confident brown, with little white spots, when it's feeding time.
    :) I move around him and his tentacles might get lighter in color, but they go back to brown with little white spots, when I back off and just watch him from a distance. When I clean out his bottle it ticks him off, he turns dark red and goes elsewhere to hide until I shut his Box again.
    If he's going to get less social, that's going to be a shame. But I won't be trying to "make" him do anything please don't worry. If no light is what he gets, then no light is what he gets and I can't film him. Thanks, needed to know why I can't find vids on these guys.
     
  7. cuttlegirl

    cuttlegirl Colossal Squid Supporter Registered

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    Welcome,

    Since he's eating, is there a reason he needs to stay in the Critter Keeper?
     
  8. Plasticmask

    Plasticmask Blue Ring Registered

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    Ease of Keeping him. :) He's dinky, his beak fits through the slots in the plastic lid (at least, we are going to assume that it will and we are following the LFS instructions in this regard -they've kept four of these). So since he is so small at least for a few more weeks, he stays in there with the screen ensuring his containment.
    Once he's too big yes, I'll be losing sleep or at least having nightmares just like the rest of you. :)
     
  9. Plasticmask

    Plasticmask Blue Ring Registered

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    Oh and of course we plan on placing no fish with him, nor anything else that's even remotely complicated in the way of corals other than a mushroom or two. Worry thou not, in that regard. :)
    No, the thing about the Serpent Star is because our Serpent Star either really likes Trevor, or wanted to push his Box out of the tank. So to shorten the story, we looked it up and they aren't enemies but Natural Neighbors; Serpent Stars point out Octopus lairs just because they love to hang out near them and eat the Octopus' scraps.
    THAT was why I mentioned Red, our Serpent Star. But he's too big we don't CARE if he has fallen in LOVE even, with Trevor, they aren't living together for at least six or nine months maybe a year.
     
  10. Plasticmask

    Plasticmask Blue Ring Registered

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    Feeding time: Trevor acted more "Normally" to what is hopefully your collective relief, he played with me by reaching out of the PVC Gym and tugging on me, letting go and re-lasso, release, re-lasso, it was extremely creepy, and then after he took the shrimp he gave me a big sucker-kiss that pulled my fingertip down a bit and disappeared into his Gym to eat. The tentacles were brown. Definitely brown.
     
  11. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Yes, the reds seem to love hanging out with the octos and I keep one in every octo tank. I also think they have a bit of personality that is lacking in some of the other serpent/brittle stars. We name all of our reds Pesky :grin:

    A word of caution about the "maybe a year". The is a lot of misinformation about longevity and many sites will state several years as average without mentioning the species. As a rule of thumb, local warm water species live 12-18 months. With these anaimals, the female will die shortly after her eggs would hatch (she will lay eggs even if she has never mated). With my two briareus siblings born in the tank, the male outlived the female by several months (he lived almost 14 months) but I don't know if it is common for the male to outlive the female of this species as a general rule. We did mate them and Mama Cass did produce fertile eggs but the offspring did not survive. I had wanted to wait as long as possible to mate them but her mantle was clearly full of eggs at about 10 months and I was afraid to wait longer and have her lay eggs without the opportunity to attempt a mating.
     
  12. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    PICTURES! :grin:. O. briareus CAN show a brown color (as well as white, peach and fluorescent green spots) so a good mantle shot (especially showing the eyes) would help with a clear ID. There is another possibility because of your area but the coloration would be a red brown, not a deep brown. The white display is not a help since all octos can display white as well as a shade of brown (the brown varies a lot and can be somewhat helpful, unlike the white).

    Things to look for to help with a more positive ID. What color (you will not always see a color) are the rims around the edges of the suckers? What kind of patterns (lots of little bumps, no bumps at all, large somewhat scattered or even patterned spikes) does Trevor display when not showing smooth skin? Are the eyes set tightly to the head or do they stick up prominently in a Y?

    Look through some of the other journals (you can use the search feature. Type the species name and check the titles only checkbox. Most of our journals include the species name so you should get a good look at the list available. Alternately, if you look at the Lists of our Octopuses sticky (start at the end (newer) as older lists don't include links). The more recent years have links on the animal name to their journals. Another quick look will be the link I gave for looking for the hectocotylus as I tried to get pictures of all the common species we see.
     
  13. Plasticmask

    Plasticmask Blue Ring Registered

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    (rubbing hands together) Thank you, firstly, forgot to thank both of you.
    Okay, colors. Rims of his suckers, I got nothing. :) I SHALL be paying attention but I think he's not giving us that yet. HIS EYES. Wow what a great question. This guy has made himself flat, like some rude man squashed him against the wall of the Box just to be funny. He stays that way for minutes. HE CAN POKE HIS EYES OUT. When he is hanging around, seeming relaxed, being part of a bottle or something, HIS EYES DO POKE UP A BIT YES. At least one of them does. When he lurks he prefers to poke his eyes up over things to watch me so he can hide if I stare at him too long or turn my head too fast. So! Does that help at all?
    Here's my thing with all of this "Let's ID the Octopus" going on... in what pictures I can FIND of o.Vulgaris, he looks like those pictures. Simply, brown with small white round spots, the spots DO look like they are poking up. Small round white BUMPS. :) Sometimes.
    I've not noted anything about his eyes, other than I can tell when he is looking into MY eyes, and it's every time that I look at him.
    I will look for the ring, the blue, I want to help you in this regard.
    What else. Oh yes, his lifespan. I suppose when I say "A year" I have no idea WHAT I mean. This really all has to do with SIZE doesn't it. At least the questions, the answers, all involved the fact that he is going to grow. Get bigger. Not be dinky any more. :)
    I and my wife are fully aware and know that we are in NO way prepared, for the fact that Trevor is going to live to be TWO years in total, that no matter what WE might do if he is a male he is going to shut off like a light at 24 months no matter where he's spent those months. That's IF we are lucky.
    Also, if he is a SHE, then we expect eggs that won't hatch until she starves to death. Nice, we hope he is a male for exactly that reason.
     
  14. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    If it helps in the thinking, starving to death is somewhat of a misnomer. Yes, they do stop eating but the program for senescence is controlled by something called the optic gland (has nothing to do with sight). Multiple experiments with O. hummelincki have shown that removal (tricky operation) of the glad halts sexual maturity (no longevity extension observed if the animal was already sexually mature) and extends the life to about twice the norm. I have wondered with females (personal thoughts, not in the least bit scientific) appetite loss has to do with the eggs crowding the internal organs. This would not explain the male loss of appetite. We occasionally see animals continue to eat (albeit less than pre-senescence) throughout their lives. Two years is not realistic for a warm water animal. We have had a few cold water animals, kept below 60 degrees F, to live that long but not warm water species AND remember you are starting with an animal that is several months old.

    There are two O. vulgaris I remember and can point you to. Pay attention to the eyes. It is hard to describe them but they are much closer set to the body than in most of the other species. Also note the width of the mantle and the arm to mantle ratio. As I mentioned, there is another possibility but I have no examples and have not personally seen one. O. joubini is common in your area and has been mistaken for a young O. vulgaris in the past (note that it was my first guess with LittleBit). The oddity with this dwarf species is that it has been mislabeled for may years and I have never been able to find positively identified images to be sure I have a feel for what it looks like. From reading only, it has been described with longer arms than the false joubini (now tentatively identified as a more the common O. mercatoris - a large egg species where joubini produces small planktonic eggs). The one Texas article I have found suggests the red/brown colors are different but there are no photos. I wrote the authors without success in an attempt to get images.

    Here is a link to Ed Diablo's journal @Lmecher took lots of quality photos. Here is LittleBit, (note how red she could be as youngster but how that color does not show in the adult - the red is one of the reasons a young vulgaris and joubini have been confused) a major favorite of mine. She was much smaller than the typical vulgaris. The Gulf animal is much smaller than the Mediterranean version but a 55 gallon tank will be pushing it for this species. A 55 is a bit small for any of the larger animals we keep but usually doable with a large sump.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2015
  15. Plasticmask

    Plasticmask Blue Ring Registered

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    Confused as to how to obtain photographs when I cannot light his tank. We were considering a very small Betta tank light, again just for taking out the livingroom's reflections from the glass so that the interior of the tank is actually viewable.
    I've had people tell me that I can use Halides, and I am not going to do that. No flash either. That's the way it is. But I have to use SOMETHING.
    Confused as to what exactly you're telling me that LittleBit is. Because "she" looks enough like mine to make me think he's one of those. Whatever it is. And I mean the eyes, yes.
    The optic gland information is fascinating big time; thank you for sharing that!
     
  16. Plasticmask

    Plasticmask Blue Ring Registered

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    Caught this from across the room, 12x zoom with flash. It STILL pissed him off and I don't think I'll be trying it again.
     

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  17. Plasticmask

    Plasticmask Blue Ring Registered

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    Took the better part of a half-hour before he started poking his eyes up to watch us again. Yeah, going to leave him alone the REST of the night.
     
  18. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    You can use lights during the day (but keep it dark at night and provide a totally dark place in the tank (opaque container, cave, etc). For night lighting use red, not blue). Halides are too bright but PC's don't seem to be a problem. I have gone to all LED now though as I found a sale and the calculations suggested I would have the lights for free in 1 - 1.5 years with the electricity savings (not to mention the heat reduction).

    Here are links to several references about longevity (including more infor on the optic gland experiments).

    Ultimately, I decided LittleBit was O. vulgaris but was not fully convinced until she died (even thought about O. burryi but then I kept one and the differences were quite clear). My best guess is that she was just a small vulgaris (her growth rate is why I kept thinking not vulgaris). LMecher's el Diablo is more typical. Both of us enjoyed this species immensely and I would love to keep another but you will learn, you happily accept what ever species finds its way to your tank.

    Vulgaris are listed as nocturnal or crepuscular but several in situ as well as tank observations suggest that they hunt at any time, making forays to forage and returning to eat and nap. The little piggy appetite is also common with the few that we have seen. All the other species I have kept mostly leave the snails alone and would occasionally eat a seafood market clam. Almost anything in LittleBit's tank was consumed within 24 hours. She even tried to eat a Cowrie 1.5 times her size (one that had lived with two other octopuses without issue).

    If you feed live seafood from a market (Asian markets usually have more selection) set them in clean saltwater for 24 hours. Clams need at least an 8" bucket wall or they will be dry by morning :grin: as they often squirt out the nasty water from their previous captivity (and the reason I suggest keeping them quarantined for a day). There are a few places (sometimes you can find them on eBay and I can look up another retailer if you are interested) that sell very small clams that would be appropriately sized for Trevor now but they are quite expensive because of the shipping. Mussels are well accepted but I don't feed them (or oysters) because of the mess they make in the tank. You can offer a too large to open clam on the half shell and it should be taken. Clams are far less of a tank concern and I usually keep them in the tanks to help (albeit only a little) as clean up crew that may be consumed.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2015
  19. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    I only VERY rarely use a flash (but do, either by accident - harder to do with this camera - or with intent when I am very frustrated.). I keep the camera mounted on a tripod in the room with most of the tanks and have one of my presets set for shooting the tanks.

    Yep! Eyes do indeed look vulgaris! Koodos to your LFS, it is VERY rare for them to properly ID. However, a full mantle shot will still help. Octopuses can resemble each other in bits and pieces and the arm length still has me wondering (I keep going back to the first picture). It does look like the eyes are set close to the body, in a flattened disk shape (there is a better way to describe them - need to work on it) and not on a "Y" stem. I look forward to more images.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2015
  20. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Oh, one other thought (same as CG mentions) at 8" tip to tip, he really is large enough to be released whenever you are ready. LittleBit was a bit smaller and her first tank was a 37 gallon. We had no problems feeding her once we located her den. There was also a red brittle star in her tank. However, is your red a brittle or a serpent? The red serpents are bright orange and smooth where the brittles are a darker orange (sometimes with brown stripes) and look hairy. If it is a serpent, I would do more checking (I have only had the opportunity to keep one of these but have kept other morphs). The brittles we have kept with all sizes, including new hatch.
     

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