Octoguard - O. Mercatoris

Discussion in 'Cephalopod Journals' started by sirreal, Feb 23, 2013.

  1. sirreal

    sirreal Vampyroteuthis Registered

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    About 4 months ago I set up a 90 for an octo. I let it cycle and put many hiding spots. 5 weeks ago My lfs got me what they called a common atlantic. Or at least thats what I wanted. I know this tank is not big enuff for a Octopus vulgaris but I have a 150 that he will go in when he is bigger. anyways I got him and he was tiny. Size of a penny and about 3" long. I saw him for a couple days hiding then I couldnt find him for about the last 4 weeks. I have tried many dif things to get him to come out but nothing worked. I feed grass shrimp and put a dozen green chromis in the tank. well the chromis have been taken about 1 everyother day. I put a bunch of snails and crabs. I have most of them left. I was starting to think that the octo died. Well I found him today. He has not grown much at all. Now I am starting to think he might be a dwarf specias. I took a couple pics of him. there not great but maybe some one will know. thanks in advance
     
  2. sirreal

    sirreal Vampyroteuthis Registered

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  3. sirreal

    sirreal Vampyroteuthis Registered

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    Sorry the pics are so bad. I cant get him out of his hidy hole to take a pic in the water. this is the best I can do. as you can see he is tiny and has not grown in the 5 weeks I have had him. I know that vulgaris grow very fast.
     

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  4. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Very young octopuses are much harder (except for O. briareus) to ID than the adults. They are also VERY timid until somewhere around 4 months old (IME) so the behavior is not a giveaway. I'm afraid I am not going to be of much definitive help but I will tell you what I see, direct you to a couple of journals and articles and take a shot at guessing.

    O. mercatoris, Caribbean dwarf: The eyestalks appear to be separate and not short and close to the mantle and the arms appear to be quite thin and about 1.5 times the mantle length. Anecdotally, O. mercatoris love giant barnacle clusters, especially placed about 1/3 of the way up from the aquarium floor. This would lead me to think you are right about it being a dwarf and likely O. mercatoris BUT the color is not right for a merc. Mercs are a reddish brown or white or speckled with red and white. The photo shows sort of a tan color and not one that is in the color patterning of the mercs and I am going to guess this is NOT O. merctoris.

    O. joubini. It is said that they look very much like a young O. vulgaris but I have never seen one. There is a good chance Sedna kept one a couple of year ago . There is a good paper on them here.

    O. vulgaris has a close eyestalk but CAN extend the eyes to make the stalks appear longer and this little one is hanging and not at rest so that may discount the eye look. Their eye sockets appear sort of squared off and I see this in the left eye of the bottom picture. Coloration is well within the range for a vulgaris but the arms look short and you can usually see webbing on the vulgaris that extends to the arm tip but often only visible near the top of the web.

    Up until this week, I have only had one O. vulgaris and LittleBit started out very small so you might look at her journal. I took a long time making a definite call on her species because she grew VERY slowly and I was fairly sure she was O. joubini. She lived in a 37 gallon tank for 7 MONTHS. After FINALLY outgrowing the 37 and moving her to a 60, she did grow much more rapidly than when she was younger but she never got larger than an O. briareus.

    Sooo, I will venture a gues of EITHER O. joubini or O. vulgaris :sagrin:

    I also will make some suggestions that might help you see it more often:

    1. Remove ANY fish and don't put any more in the tank, regardless of size. Fish are not particularly good food and do not constitute much of their diet. Attempts at raising octopuses on fish have shown poor growth and high mortality (at least two studies that were done trying to find a cheap food to raise octopuses as a food source).

    2. Remove ANY fish and don't put any more in the tank (intentional redundancy). Fish pester octopuses, I have personally seen this with a wrasse in the wild, noted it in many videos and we have a great article by CapFish that is recommended reading for anyone who insists their octopus "gets along" with their fish. In the open ocean octos can escape the pestering but even there they may kill the fish to eliminate the pest if it won't stop picking on it. There is concern for the eyes but any place a fish picks can leave a cut that is
    susceptible to infection. I also believe your animal will learn to be less afraid of its environment if there are no perceived threats.

    3. Place the discovered den about 1/3 of the way up the aquarium stably embedded in the rock work and facing out toward the front of the tank. Hopefully, it will return to this set of shells. For animals that like the barnacle collection, this seems to work quite well as you will be able to find them but they still have confidence in their den.

    4. Attempt to feed dead food by hand instead of live food for it to hunt in the tank. Arrange a daily time for your attempts and allow yourself 1/2 hour every day, regardless of the outcome. I recommend trying around 7:00 PM but anytime after/before the sun is up should work as long as it is consistent. Use a feeding stick and a piece of thawed, shell on shrimp (once it starts taking the shrimp easily you can remove the shell before offering it but sometimes the shell makes a tactical difference but the octo will not eat it). Bamboo skewers work well but a standard feeding stick is just as acceptable. If you have access to shore shrimp, this is often a good starting food but store bought shrimp is very often accepted. Initially, you may only see an arm coming out to grab the bait but eventually, it will expect food and be waiting. Expect the animal to want the stick :sagrin: in addition to the food once it starts accepting the food. You will find O. vulgaris to be very strong even when very young. It is the only species that has left sucker marks on my hands. I would also recommend small crabs for live food once or twice a week. Fiddlers are the most commonly used but any crab smaller than the mantle with disabled claws is a good choice. You can disable the claw by breaking the top or bottom section (only the large claw on the fiddler needs to be disabled) so that it can't puncture. The crab may throw the claw so be sure you are holding it by something else. Don't feed the dismembered claw as it is not worth the clean up and usually gets ignored if not attached to the crab. Snails and hermits may or may not be eaten. They will happily take shelled hermits if you can remove them from the shell but this is quite a challenge.

    5. Keep a red light on over the tank all night (I just leave mine on 24/7) and turn the normal tank light off somewhere around 9:00 PM (you can extend this later). The purpose of the red light is to never fully darken the tank (they don't see red but will detect the lighting somewhat). This will let you see some of what goes on without being a stressor to the octopus. O. joubini is nocturnal and O. vulgaris is crepuscular (hunting early AM and early PM). O. joubini will not likely be active during the day but we often see active O. vulgaris after they are adults.

    Good luck with this little one. I hope you will continue to journal the experience.
     
  5. sirreal

    sirreal Vampyroteuthis Registered

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    thank you for all the info. I read all about littlebit. I will do the things you recomend. This is not my first octo. I had a volgaris about 12 years ago and yes He eat raw peel and eat shrimp. this guy is so small that I have tryed pieces of shrimp. frozen silversides, krill ghost shrimp,"I know no freshwater food" but I had to do something. The grass shrimp look just like ghost shrimp. but live on the grass flats around here around tampa bay. the fish are something that he would eat. I also have a few crabs in there but he wont have anything to do with them. I will keep trying froze thanks again. if and when he comes out I will take more pics and post them.
     
  6. sirreal

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    the one thing I notice much dif then your volgaris is the legs of mine are much shorter. Might just be how young he is
     
  7. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    The short arms are one of the things I mentioned that would suggest something other than vulgaris. However, keep in mind that the arms are often food for other animals all during their lives so it is not something you can depend upon for initial ID. If you can get him to den where you can easily offer food, this may help solve the feeding problem.
     
  8. sirreal

    sirreal Vampyroteuthis Registered

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    well this morning hes not in the same den. I was wondering if I should limit the amount of dens I have for him. I didnt want to because I wanted him to be happy. This tank is in my waiting room of my transmission shop so It does go sunday with no one around. This also means no one is around at night. I have stayed late "midnight" and came in early "2 am" several times to see if he was out. I did not have lights on on those times. I was really shocked when I read about little bit and such a short life. When I had my past vulgaris I had him for 14 months. I do think it was a male and I dont know if that is the reason for the longer life. I also could be off on the 14 months. 12 years ago computers were not so common and there wasnt the amount of info that there is today. Funny how the set ups everyone says to have for an octo today is how I had my old one set up on complete accident. hob filter with a in tank skimmer,lots of water changes. all in a 65g which he could reach end to end if he wanted to. I know today the tank was to small. but it worked and he was happy. we played all the time and he was never skiddish. I just wanted to do the same thing with my tank at my shop so I could show my customers something dif. I was just going to do a reef like one of the ones I have at home. the posibility of the arms having been food for some other fish or crabs could be. how long does it take for them to grow back? thank you so much for getting back to me. I feel much better about my octo then I did fri. I was so stressed about this that i got my friend to get me another. I havent picked him up yet. I know they cant go in the same tank. The pic I have of the new one seems to be blue all the time. I did read that is has a lot to do with atinic lighting but the one I have now "Octoguard" came through the same place. Yes his name is Octoguard. My GF named him that because he is saposed to guard the shop. I am going to post pics that I got of Octoguard when he was in the holding tank and A pic of the new one in the same holding tank. I am told that the new one is bigger. this is octoguard the day I got him. 01-12-13
     

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  9. sirreal

    sirreal Vampyroteuthis Registered

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    I know you said no fish but I am down to 2 fish left. I do have a couple small what look like porciline crabs in there for him to eat but I didnt break there claws off. I will find them and pull them off.
     
  10. sirreal

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  11. sirreal

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    this is octoguard at the lfs before I got him. this is the other one I told the lfs to get for me. he is in the same tank and lights as the pic before. as you can see this one looks blue and my buddy says he always looks that color. I know I am not to put both in the same tank but could I do it wile I cycle my other tank?
    prob a month to cycle. they are both tiny. Also the new octo is missing 3 legs will they grow back and about how long until they do
     

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  12. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    NO! Don't put the O. briareus (the new one) in the same tank, even in a separate container! The new one will definitely kill Octoguard or another of the same species. This species is especially known NOT to say in any kind of small holding facility and considered highly cannibalistic.

    Under the circumstances, I would suggest putting Octoguard in a small environment with materials from your existing tank. At this size a 20 gallon (larger would be better, but not smaller) will work for a temporary housing and give you time to properly cycle something else. If it turns out to be a dwarf, the tank will suit it for its lifetime. If you can hold off getting the O. briareus (Common Caribbean Reef Octopus) for a week or so and only use materials from the existing tank, you should be OK in a pinch. The O. briareus will be well suited for the existing tank. From your initial pictures, I will cancel my not O. mercatoris thinking. Notice the red color and white speckled look and go back and read my comments about coloration. I think this may indeed be a merc and a 20 will work for its life time. They also respond well to red lighting and the choice of a set of barnacles is an odditiy we have noticed about this species (the barnacles are not native to the Caribbean and come from the Pacific).

    We don't know much about when an octopus' body decides to brood. Sadly once this happens, the female will die when the eggs hatch or would have hatched (recently two species of octopuses has been discovered to lay multiple clutches but only two at this point). There is a gland that determines sexual maturity and aging called the optic gland. Experiments have found that removing the gland before sexual maturity begins will double the life of the octopus (if it survives the delicate operation) but it will never sexually mature. If a piece of the gland is successfully reimplanted, sexual maturity will commence. Oddly, scientists have also discovered that a few animals do not have this gland, never sexually mature and live longer.

    Females will lay eggs if they have mated or not. In LittleBit's case, I removed the eggs as soon as she laid them in hopes she would continue to remain active (I read that this might have an impact) but the experiment was not successful and she remained in her brood den as if they were still there to be tended.

    I would guess that your first octo was a male. If you have photos, look at the third arm to the right as you orient your eyes with the octos and move clockwise. If he was male you should notice that that arm was curled. Fourteen months in an aquarium is not unheard of for this species, we have a journal of 18 months and a pair at Mote lived two years in captivity but none were female.
     
  13. sirreal

    sirreal Vampyroteuthis Registered

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    wow ok thank you. I have a 30 tall ready to go. so tomorrow I will do a water change on my 90 and move octoguard and water in to it with some of the things from the 90. I have a lot of the barnacles so I can move a bunch of them. I have prob 60 of them. I have many spare tanks and equipment. "kind of a hoarder when it comes to aquariums". I thought I would need a bigger tank then 30 so its coverd then in a few days I can get the O. briareus. I am really happy to know what species I have. I really think your right about octoguard being a merc. but I will pay close att. Now I can research the 2 of them and make sure I can give them a happy healthy life
     
  14. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Here is a picture of Dusa (originally Medusa but he turned out to be male) that is likely the best I have showing the typical spots and eyes on an O. mercatoris. Compare it with your acclimation picture of Octoguard and I think you will see the commonalities.



    I would suggest setting up one - three collections of barnacles placed so you can see the openings, about 1/3 up from the bottom. You can vary the heights of course but try to get at least on off the bottom but snuggly ensconced in some live rock. You might even put two straight on the substrate. Look for a red light you can place over the tank. There is a sticky for some suggestions in the tank talk thread, it does not have to be anything special but if you leave it on 24/7 you are increasing your chances of seeing it.

    Sorry, this does not make you unique in the aquarium crowd :wink:

    For a few journals on O. briareus, look at the list of our octopuses stuck to the top of the Octopus Journals and Photos forum. Here is a direct link to the 2012 animals and there is a still short list for 2013 in a separate thread. You will see the species listed and the animal name is a link to the journal. We have not seen many mercs in the last couple of years but it looks like they are making a come back. O. briareus has been the primary animal for two years.

    With your permission, I would like to move this thread to the journals in hopes that you will update your adventure with Octoguard and start a new one for the O. briareus. I think Tranny would be a great name BTW :gigas:
     

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  15. sirreal

    sirreal Vampyroteuthis Registered

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    please do move this to the journals. Thats A great name. I cant thank you enuf for all your help. I love this site. I am in really excited about having the 2 octos and that they are 2 dif species. I will continue to read as much as I can about them and I will also post about them both
     
  16. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    For feeding Octoguard, look for any dime sized small crab. Porcelain, mithrax and female fiddlers don't need claws disabled. A good test is if the crab can break your skin, the claw needs to be removed or broken. If you can find shore shrimp or any small shrimp and can get them on a skewer (they are too fast for the octo once the octo is adult), these re also usually accepted. I have had trouble getting the mercs to eat table shrimp and swore for years they would not take it but with the last one we found she would accept a small piece with the shell on but not with the shell off so that is also worth a try. I think I also mentioned they love hermits if you will take them out of the shell and offer them directly but this is difficult to do. I froze some larger ones to kill them in the most humane way I could come up with and then cracked the shells. With patience you can usually get them out in one piece. Kara mentioned that they accidentally left some out of the water once and the hermits evacuated their shells. I gave this a brief try without success but was concerned about them suffering a slow death by drying out and probably did not leave them out of the water long enough. If you try to remove them you will see why the octos often don't bother, even dead their tails are tightly ensconced in the shells and they do not remove easily.
     
  17. sirreal

    sirreal Vampyroteuthis Registered

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    Thank you for moving the thread. I set up the 30 tall and will be moving octoguard today or tomorrow. I was looking over my 90 and saw octoguard in a barnacle and snaped a pic. This might be a common thing with mercs, I think I read it somewhere but I dont have the time to look it up right now. he likes to pull things on him to cover himself up or hide.
     

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  18. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    There the possibility she is about to brood but making a door from shells is typical.
     
  19. sirreal

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    this is not the first time he or she has done this. the first week I got him he did this. I got him to take and eat 2 frozen krill today. never would have thought that he would eat them but he did. I know he is a dwarf but wouldnt she be a little bigger then this? I mean the body is no bigger then my thumb nail. If you go back and look at the pic of where I have him out of the water hanging off the barnicale you can see my thumb at the top of the pic. I havent researched the sizes of a merc yet but if this is full size then damm there tiny.
     
  20. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    I would guestimate the average mantle size for a mercatoris to be about the size of your thumb to the first joint.

    We have seen a really large variance in the size of all species we have kept. LittleBit was tiny for a vulgaris (and one reason it took a long time to accept her species). I have kept O. hummelincki the size of an O. mercatoris and others with a mantle the size of O. briareus. Muctopus (Dr. Christine Huffard) has mentioned that their is a large in situ variation of A. aculeatus and discounted food availability. We have also seen quite a variation in appetites. For a long time I believed that you could use the size of O. briareus to get a feel for age but, that too has gone out the window.
     

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