[Octopus]: Orion. Callistoctopus Luteus

Discussion in 'Cephalopod Journals' started by MissPH, Dec 26, 2013.

  1. MissPH

    MissPH Cuttlefish Registered

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    I have only just stumbled upon this section of the forum and figured it would be a nice idea to document the progress I (hopefully) make with my first octopus, Orion. A lot of the pictures I post at this point are cross-posted from a different thread in the octopus care section - apologies for that but they were all the best ones :)

    I got Orion on December 13th - 2 weeks ago. He was IDd as a Callistoctopus Luteus or "Starry Night" octopus from Indonesia. Upon arrival he had a mantle size of approx 1 inch. I have a tank which is approx 120 gallons with ~60kg of live rock and a few corals.

    He was shipped with a little piece of pipe to hide in which he didn't care for at all and completely ignored throughout acclimatisation:



    After being introduced to the tank he hid for the first 5 days. I tried feeding him half a frozen thawed mussel every other day - by leaving it at the front of the tank for him to take then removing it if he ignored it - and on day 4 the offering had disappeared by morning. There were plenty of crabs and other critters crawling about so I wasn't terribly worried about him rejecting the thawed food.

    On day 5 I got home from work to find a beady little eye watching me from between the rocks and I caught his tentative first steps out on camera:



    Straight after this video he hid in a tiny cave at the front of the tank before popping out and following my finger about on the glass for about 5-10 mins:



    View attachment 58309 View attachment 58311 View attachment 58313

    He continued interacting for a good 20 minutes moving around the tank and watching me before he got bored and retreated to the rocks.

    On day 6 when I returned from work he was already out and about exploring the top half of the tank. He was holding on to the back of my tank in the flow enjoying being wafted about by the looks of things! When he saw me walk in he curled up his tentacles and looked like he was mimicing seaweed? Once he realised he was fooling noone he jetted about the top of the tank a bit, had a look at the weir (had me worried he would try and squeeze thorough!) then came and settled at the bottom to interact some more.

    It was lights off, but I turned them on after a few minutes to see if they bothered him (he didn't react, just carried on so I left them on). He followed my finger around a while again and climbed all the way up to the top and sat up in the corner watching me.





    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0Ehv9F9XkM

    View attachment 58315 View attachment 58316 View attachment 58317

    I put a mussel in for him at this point but he didn't seem fussed about it at all. I didn't want to scare him by holding it right up to him (regret this decision now as it was an ideal opportunity). This was one he left all night and didn't touch.

    This was the last time he interacted at length and the last time he came out with the main lights on. Since then he has fallen asleep on the back of the tank once (was still there when I went to bed about midnight) and he interacted once by going to a specific corner of the tank, looking at me and climbing on the glass a little, then shying away, climbing up, falling down then repeating the cycle over and over. In hindsight perhaps he wanted something to eat? But I was too afraid of scaring him to open the tank and give him something on a stick. Next time I will do this, though. I don't feel very good at knowing what's the best thing to do at the moment with him which is very frustrating.

    On Day 10 he was sat in his corner all curled up, I think he may have been sleeping because when I came up close to have a look his pupil suddenly went all big then narrowed like he was startled, but he didn't get up. I attempted to offer him some mussel on a skewer and he gently touched it but then slinked off into the rocks and wasn't interested. Leaving the mussel in "his spot" didn't lure him back out. In fact I haven't seen him in that spot since! He came out a little later on at about 1am (this was a late night as I was crocheting a last minute xmas present for my nan) and was wandering across the front of the tank. When he saw me looking back at him he elongated his head, stood up tall and shimmied off into a hole and hid again! I don't really know what that meant, if he was being playful, or was scared, or aggressive?
    I thought I'd try and get myself in his good books again by making him something fun so I put some frozen-thawed krill in a glass bottle for him to figure out.. The only thing that achieved was trapping a tiny crab the next morning who was happily attached to half a krill and didn't want to let go!

    I haven't seen him for a couple of days now. I put in 2 live hermit crabs for his Xmas dinner (he didn't touch them though!), so put a mussel in last night to make up for it. That was a bit chewed this morning but who knows, that could have been his Xmas dinner having a munch! I also fashioned a "toy" out of a couple of straws with frozen-thawed krill attached for xmas but he didn't touch that, either.

    Now at day 13 I am a little concerned considering how I haven't seen him in so long (2-3 days) and I am worried I have missed important opportunities when I should have interacted with him more but didn't for fear of crowding and scaring him off.. Or that I have inadvertently done something to make him afraid of me (spooked him without realising when I was cleaning the tank maybe??). I am going to try and get him some fresh shrimp after work today if the supermarket is open to try some variation, maybe he is tired of mussel. I am also looking into options for integrating more live food into his diet to keep him entertained, and some red lights for viewing at night. Fingers crossed I will see more of him soon!
     
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  2. sedna

    sedna Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Supporter Registered

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    Hope all goes well with Orion! Beautiful animal, I've had one before and mine was VERY nocturnal. I'd go for the red lights, for sure. If there is a time of night when there are no lights on, he might be waiting until the to come out. I would keep a small amount of red light on all night to try to keep visiting opportunities from being completely in the dark.
     
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  3. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Orion's additional postings can be found here in Octopus Care forum and here in the Octopus Bites thread and here under the Sources for Food thread

    When I mentioned that you could leave the red lights on 24/7 I did not mean that you HAD to or that you could not add other daytime lighting. I leave mine on all the time more to avoid yet another timer (that likely draws as much power as my red LEDs). I DO recommend leaving them on all night. Octopuses don't seem to mind them but CAN see them and nocturnals will tend to wait until they are off to come out if the option exists.

    When you try stick feeding and see reluctance to eat a food, try touching the food directly to the most inner suckers you can gently reach. The suckers seem (anecdotal) to be most sensitive toward the mouth. This recent post (the same species I believe) has a list of suggested foods you can try.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2013
  4. MissPH

    MissPH Cuttlefish Registered

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    Thanks for the replies :)

    Dwhatley the problem there with feeding is that (for the last 3-4 days at least) he hasn't been coming out at all while I am up and about so I haven't had the opportunity to try anything with a feeding stick.. Red lights are ordered and in their way though so perhaps that will help.

    Early this morning at about 5am I was awake so went to check if he was up and BINGO - he was happily munching on a piece of king prawn I'd placed in the tank for him last night :) he was camouflaged with the rocks (changed shape so he was spiky and grey) and sat nibbling away. Put my mind at rest because I'd been quite worried what with not seeing him in so long.

    Tonight I think I'm going to try him with a little fresh scallop my fella picked up for him this morning. Perhaps the variation will get him more enthusiastic for coming out to feed when I am around?
     
  5. tonmo

    tonmo Titanites Staff Member Webmaster Moderator

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    Great videos and love the name. Thanks for sharing!
     
  6. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    VERY happy to hear that he/she is eating.

    Note on the scallop, don't buy a mess of them :grin:, with one exception, all the animals I have offered them to enthusiastically took exactly 1. No clue as to why but I am not the only one to have seen this odd behavior.

    Eating at 5:00 AM fits well with my own experiences with this species. Both Puddles and Beldar were 3:00 AM (ish) active. This is really quite a nice species for longevity, interaction and observation but their active time is miserable for most keepers. I was able to interact with mine due to odd circumstances but Neal almost never saw them. If you know where he is denning, try offering food on a stick at the entrance to the den just before you retire. If an arm investigates, try to touch the suckers. If you can turn the white lights out earlier (and have them come on earlier to feed the corals), this may also help reset his clock somewhat.
     
  7. MissPH

    MissPH Cuttlefish Registered

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    Day 15: I had a big success this morning getting up at 5am to have a go at interacting!

    We fashioned a red torch using some red quality street chocolate wrappers placed over a light which worked fantastically! When I came down to his tank he was sat in the corner and seemed to recognise my presence and begin climbing up the side (as seen in a lot of the videos I posted) so I skewered some thawed king prawn and slowly moved it down to him. When he realised I was in the tank with him he did his long head + stripe as seen in the photo. Once I got it next to him and gently nudged one of his legs he wrapped around the skewer with no hesitation and pulled the prawn off. I think he really loves them!

    He sat with his dinner underneath him a few seconds then jetted off to the other side of the tank and hid - presumably to eat. Is it normal behaviour for octopus to not like eating out in the open or while being watched?

    After feeding him like this a few times I think I will try a little interaction before food, especially if he is going to get into the routine of accepting food signalling the end of our interaction.

    Well worth only getting 3 hours sleep!

    image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg
     
  8. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Looking GOOD! and would be what I would expect from this species. Yes, most of the animals we keep will take their food to a secure place and may take up to an hour to eat it. Once he knows you are bringing food and that the stick is not a threat (you will likely guess this when he wants the stick almost as much as the food :grin:), you can start trying to make a regular feeding time but it will still likely be at an inconvenient hour. My guess is that light bothers their eyes, anecdotal thinking because they will come out with a bit of daylight near the end of their lives and most octos seem to lose much of their vision during senescence.

    Great job with the red light, I have used purchased vellum for the same effect but have found some red "party" screw in fluorescent bulbs that work well even if my holder is more than a little ugly. One of my other tanks has an LED light we wired to the lid but the ugly light can be moved from tank to tank and can just sit on top or be clamped to any available post.

    I suggest creating a play corner and a feeding corner and be sure your hands have NO food smell. You want him to approach you, not the other way around and you need to establish a "signal" to remove your hand from the tank (something they do naturally, like going to their den, going to the live rock or going to the other side of the tank). First interactions are usually a touch and go. You will know it when it happens but basically, he will come up to your hand quickly touch it with a tip of an arm then jet away. Each time the touch gets a bit longer. Keep your fingers away from the beak. This is usually simple resistance and he will learn not to try to bite. If he latches on, try rubbing the top of the arms (this will only work while he is learning, after he is familiar with play, not so much). You have 5 fingers and he will not use (generally :grin:) all eight arms so you can usually manipulate a couple of fingers or use your other hand. The strongest advice I can give is to be patient and move slowly. Eventually, you should be able to gently pet the front section between the eyes and the mantle but note that they do have individual personalities and tend to change a bit over time.

    Here is a series of interaction pictures with Puddles (note my hand does not change locations, he comes to me) and an early dawn video when he was entering senescence.
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2013
  9. MissPH

    MissPH Cuttlefish Registered

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    That's a lovely interaction video, I hope Orion gets to trust me that much (and likewise!) at some point. Thanks for the pointers, I will see if he shows any interest in interacting before his feed next time I catch him awake! If he cannot see with red light and is getting around by feel how is he going to find my hand, though? I don't want it to startle him if he isn't expecting it and make him afraid or aggressive..

    Day 15 Orion was up and about at 5am and had his first piece of scallop. I took a few videos (sorry for the poor focus - I was watching him and not the camera as always!)







    As you can see he enthusiastically took the scallop as soon as he found it and toddled off to eat it (in plain sight this time!). I was very happy with this progress. There were a few scraps lying around the following morning so he didn't eat it all, but looking back I think I gave him too big a piece.


    The following 2 days I have got up at 4am then 5am but no luck - no sight of him. However this morning some of my live rock has been moved about so I am sure he must have been around at some point before I came down to check. I know that a decent sized crab has its den around the rock which was moved so I am suspicious Orion moved it to get at him! Tomorrow morning I am going to get up at 3 to check if he is there to feed. My red lighting still hasn't arrived so I'm still using my temporary sweet wrapper torch!


    Random question - today I noticed a small pile of really fine dark brown "sand"-like material next to a piece of live rock. While I was looking a trickle of it fell from a crevice inside the rock on to the pile, so something inside that crevice is producing waste.. My question is what does octopus waste look like..? Could this be where he is hiding? There are a few crabs in the tank but other than that no other sizable organisms (that I am aware of)..
     
  10. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Do you have an urchin in the tank? What you describe sounds like urchin detritus (likely ground up rock) but there are other critters that will grind rock as well.

    We see three kinds of waste from an octopus (all float), Here is one type after eating Cyclop-eeze (accounts for the red color) and a more typical look at the clump kind combined with the stringy. The third is more of an ink-like thin white cloud (may be closer to urine equivalent).

    I agree that the scallop was probably too big. When over fed, they often do not eat for a day or two. We have various ideas (not quite disagreements) on how much and how often to feed and I believe the successes with the differences are species and age dependent. Everyday, every other day and even every three days are common schedules. I tend to go by when they are hungry :roll: but do fast once a week (but will often give in to a small "snack" if the animal is dancing around on the glass just after normal supper time).
     
  11. MissPH

    MissPH Cuttlefish Registered

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    I don't have an urchin that I am aware of! That is I have never seen one out and about. But new critters are always turning up out of the woodwork... Rockwork.. :)

    The waste didn't look anything like the pictures you link to there, it doesn't float and is just a fine dark powder. Mysterious.

    Orion seems to have taken to a feeding schedule of once every 3 days, however this is possibly due to the fact I tend to give him large portions so I have started giving him a bit less. Partly because I would like to see him more often and partly because I don't want uneaten food polluting his tank.

    On day 19 he fed well on some prawn. I also tried putting a couple of large lego blocks in for him to investigate. He seemed to like them enough to take his food and sit next to them to eat (I will add videos later today). I tried interacting with him with my hand but I think he got a little confused and thought I was dinner - he approached me fairly quickly and latched on with one leg and I flinched, which in turn caused him to jet off. He didn't hide though, so instead of risking spooking him again I just fed him. I was expecting him to approach more slowly and was worried he would latch on fully and bite. I know he can move quick when he wants to!

    This morning - day 21 - I was very surprised that he was up and about at dawn waiting for me dancing on the glass when I came down to get ready for work. Not an ideal time when I have half an hour to get dressed, eat breakfast and be ready to set off! I don't think he liked that I had turned the living room light on which I think contributed to the shortness of the exchange. I tried interacting again and he came straight up near my hand but wouldn't touch. He seemed curious but nothing more. He soon retreated beneath a rock (possibly because of the lights?) so I held some prawn close for him and he latched on to it but nibbled the stick then let go instead of taking the food. I did skewer it a bit further than I have in the past so perhaps that confused him? Or maybe he wasn't too hungry? I will make sure food isn't skewered as much from now on.

    I am not too worried he didn't take it - I'm sure if he was really hungry he would have had it! Tonight/tomorrow morning he should be ready to eat. I hope he isn't bored of prawn, he loved it the last few times!

    Videos to follow :)
     
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  12. tonmo

    tonmo Titanites Staff Member Webmaster Moderator

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    MissPH this is a great journal. Thank you for keeping it! Will promote it on our FB page soon. :thumbsup:
     
  13. sedna

    sedna Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Supporter Registered

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    Glad things are going well- it's hard to establish a routine with such a nocturnal animal, but you're doing great! Love to see the video!
     
  14. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Don't worry about how you skewer the food, Orion will get it off the stick if he wants it :grin:. They often find the stick as interesting as the food and will "claim" it. Occasionally you may be forced to relinquish it and retrieve it later when it loses his interest.
     
  15. MissPH

    MissPH Cuttlefish Registered

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    Thank you very much! Here are the videos from earlier this week when he took the prawn and sat with his lego:









    Today my red LED lights arrived - they are the waterproof flexible tape style lights which some people use inside their cars or for ambient light. I attached them to the underside of my tank lid next to the regular day time light and they looked fantastic, but after about an hour or so started flickering so I think I will need to send them back anyway. Disappointing. They were brighter than I was expecting - perhaps too bright- see attached photos. So I am stuck with the quality street wrapper over a torch until I either get these lights working or buy some different ones! Does anyone have any recommendations?

    red lights 1.JPG red lights 2.JPG
     
  16. sedna

    sedna Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Supporter Registered

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    Marine and auto paint. Good with higher temps, too.
     
  17. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Oddly, I don't think we have anyone who has indications of any red lights being too bright (I have one that I put on a 15 gallon that is an outdoor light with a painted lens). Just be sure he has a den that is well shaded and can be completely dark. These do look very nice. If they work out (ie the replacement does not have a problem) Please post them to this thread for others to find.
     
  18. MissPH

    MissPH Cuttlefish Registered

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    Well the red lights are still on the blink (pun intended), looks like it's a problem with the adaptor I am using. Still working on fixing that.

    I have a few more feeding videos from this morning (3:30am, day 23)

    I tried the interaction thing again wiggling my fingers near him and he appeared to be watching and curious (I think?) but wouldn't come closer or investigate. Here's a video of his reaction, my hand is just out of shot above him:



    He fed well on some prawn and looked pretty excited when I was lowering it down for him! He still waits for me to nudge him with the food before taking it which makes me wonder how good his eyesight is in the dark. Perhaps if he can't see well this is why he isn't interested in coming closer to my hand? His pupils definitely dilate and squint with changes in light.



    Today I dug out some shells I collected on holiday in Mauritius earlier this year, boiled them and put them in the tank to play with. I am really dubious buying larger ornamental shells to put in there in case they are painted or lacqered.. Whenever I see them in shops and ask about this the vendor never seems to be able to tell me if they are or not and I never want to take the risk. Does anybody know if there's a simple way to check if a shell is lacqered/painted and safe to put in the tank?
     
  19. MissPH

    MissPH Cuttlefish Registered

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    Quick update

    Day 25 - 1st night with red LED's installed and working (turned out I needed a very specific plug to get them to work right). Orion was up and about at 3am sat on the glass beside where I enter the room. After I approached him he jetted off to the other side of the tank - he seems to have adopted this corner as his favourite place to feed the last few times. He definitely reacted to me a lot more under the red LEDs - like he could see me much better than before. Unfortunately he appeared more cautious than usual, trying to camouflage in his feeding spot while watching me. I slowly put my hand in to see how he would react and he watched it then slowly slinked into a cave, he didn't seem to want to investigate. I decided not to pester him and just let him feed. He reacted to being fed more actively than usual - in the past he has always waited for me to nudge a tentacle with it before readily taking the offering but this time as soon as it was lowered as far as the cave opening he pounced up and took it from the stick! He was too shy to eat out in the open, instead blowing some sand from beneath a rock and crawling underneath with it.

    Last night - Day 27 - At 1:30am I came down to see if he was up and he was! This time he looked very happy and not shy at all. He was all stretched out dancing on the glass in his "feeding corner". I have kindly been allowed the use of my partner's tripod and digital camera so I quickly turned that on and pointed it in his direction, in which time he had settled nearer the bottom of the glass watching me. Sadly the video came out VERY grainy - it is obviously way too dark to get a decent video with this camera. I haven't even bothered to upload it because of the quality. Somehow my camera phone takes better pictures and videos than a proper camera under the LEDs!
    Last night did however feel like a huge breakthrough. Again I put my hand in and slowly wiggled my fingers just above him. He watched them for a few seconds then slowly extended upwards and touched a finger with one tentacle for a couple of seconds before letting go. He changed colour to what looked like might have been white (hard to tell under the red LEDs) and shied away a little bit. He didn't jet off or hide, just moved a bit lower on the glass. I didn't want to push my luck (and wanted to reward him for being so brave!) so fed him straight away while he hung on the glass. He was climbing back up to me as I started lowering the stick so if he was spooked it couldn't have been too badly. He took the food very happily and wouldn't let go of the stick for a minute or so. I had heard anecdotally about the "tug of war" often experienced while stick feeding, very fun! He didn't hide when he ate, just snuggled up underneath one of my circulation fans beside a couple of floating lego bricks. He has eaten here 3 times now and it appears to be a favourite (2 of the 3 times was when the lego were there).

    I am thinking of crafting a few different toys for him, I have a nice open area at the front of the tank I could utilise for a sizable toy. Will get my thinking cap on!

    I would love to get some more good photos and videos of Orion but he never comes out while the regular white lights are on any more. I'm going to research and buy a decent camera for an upcoming diving holiday to Bali later this year, is there anything in particular I should look for in a camera which could help taking good pictured under red LEDs? I have read about the use of a flash/strobe for taking photos of nocturnal creatures but I don't know how you could do this without causing distress! Would a camera that allows you to adjust white balance allow good photography in such dark conditions? Any links or info would be greatly appreciated!
     
  20. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    I wish I had a suggestion but don't. My Canon had a feature to adjust white balance using solid white background for adjustments. I finally acquired the perfect white backdrop (the top of a scanner) but destroyed the camera shortly thereafter and never got to try the feature under red LED's. My replacement Nikon does not have the custom white balance feature (but I have saved the white plastic :grin:).

    You may be able to get less grainy videos by forcing a lower ISO. My Canon allowed me to disallow the highest ISO setting and the images and videos were less grainy but dark. Some octos will tolerate a flash for a still or two but it is unlikely Orion will stay out for a video under white lighting.
     

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