[Octopus]: Pablo - O. Hummelincki First time First Octo

KA&KA

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Hello Ceph friends. After lurking for 4 months while our tank cycles we found an octopus. I am a nervous wreck and though I am confident it will be happy in the tank I am not completely sure we have it baby proof.

It is from That Fish Place in Lancaster PA and its given ID is vulgaris though seems small so maybe a young one. Its head about 2.5 to 3 inches long with legs about 5 to 7. right now it is in a plastic critter carrier with a ceramic bird house to hide in within the larger habitat, which is similar to the situation it was in at the store.I need to I fast track a few remaining Octo proofing details. It is very active and does not seem shy. It spends most of its time outside but has entered the house numerous times exploring.

We have the top of the tank sealed but my main concern is the vertical slots at the top of the corner over flow. I feel like they may be just a touch too wide. A 16th of an inch. Is that cutting it too close? I just can't think of a way to use a finer mesh or sponge that would not slow the water flow too much.
 

DWhatley

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:welcome: KA&KA (I assume you are a cohabitating pair? :biggrin2:),

Do you have a strainer on your bulkhead fitting? Overflows are generally a containment problem, especially for small octos. I have had hatchlings go through to the sump but a strainer has kept animals this size contained within the overflow (here is an example. They come in both threaded and slip styles depending on the inside of your bulkhead). This won't keep them out of the overflow box but will likely keep them in the tank. If you can light the area over the overflow box, this is also helpful. In one tank I keep a light directed into that area 24/7. If you can't isolate the overflow box from the top, a water proof light placed inside will help (the brighter the better).

With a few exceptions, you can almost count on the animal escaping a critter keeper within a week. Also note that the first couple of weeks the animal will display much different (often more active and more "friendly") behavior than after it is fully acclimated to the new environment.

Most vendors have no clue as to species and some species are very hard to guess from a casual look but a photograph should at least eliminate some and possibly ID your new ward. Unfortunately, it is impossible to guess the species from your description but if the arms are about twice the mantle length than it is not likely a briareus (FL species). Since you are in PA, it is most likely an imported animal but asking your supplier the origination will help to narrow the possibilities. I collected a few new keeper discussions in the Posts with Info for New Octo Keepers sticky that may be helpful with determining potential species.
 

KA&KA

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Thank so much for your feedback! We are a father\daughter team, Kevin and Kathy.

Its not tiny, just not as large as I figure a vulgaris could be. Maybe about half the size. I have seen them in the wild a number of times in Florida where I lived many years. I don't think its a briareus since the mantle is not large and its too big to be a pygmy, I think. Since it came with the name vulgaris I am hoping that is with some certainty. The people I talked to at the store could not say where it came from. Anyhow, vulgaris is what we have been hoping for when we began researching our project many months ago.

We just fed him and he ate the last two sections of a shrimps tail. I wish I could see his beak to get a good idea how big it is. If I could just be sure he can not fit through the slots I was worried about. It did not take long to make the shrimp disappear including the shell so I cannot imagine its all that tiny.

I did find a block of filter sponge that I believe will work. I cut a slot along its length so it slides over the fence to cover the slots from both sides and also fills the space above the over flow. It seems secure at the moment but I think I reinforce it from inside the over flow to reduce the chance it can be shifted around.

He ate from inside the critter carrier but I left the top unsecure so he can leave it when he is ready to explore the rest of the aquarium. He is a really neat!
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KA&KA

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I just noticed he dropped the pieces of shell from the shrimp. They are picked clean though he did not evidently eat it that quickly.
 

DWhatley

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OK, I'll make a 90% confidence call that this is O. hummelincki (frequently mistaken for O. vulgaris when not observed closely and for O. bimaculatus when the source is unknown. The thin ring at the tips of the suckers would be orange for bimaculatus and the siphon a bright orange and no ocellus for vulgaris. I see neither of these). Probably from Haiti (but I would love to know we are seeing them again in the Caribbean). Great diurnal octopus but this one is probably full grown so your time will be limited. I don't think you will have a problem with your overflow as this species does not seem to compress as much as other species and it is sized large enough that I would not worry (famous last words). If you look carefully just below the eyes you should see two matching circles. When it is excited you will see a target looking set of concentric rings or yellow, blue and yellow. You can use the search for titles only and the word, Hummelincki, to find journals but here is a link to Maya's, journal as I think the images and videos show her eye spot (ocellus) in various degrees of display. The first still image in post #14 shows the most vivid coloration.

As for the shrimp, the octopus will not eat (and does not need) the shell or head. If it will take a peeled shrimp all the better as it will not foul the tank. Occasionally I have had to start with the shell on and start removing the shells after it became accustomed to being fed but this is the exception and not the norm. We even had one that would devein its shrimp :roll:

I've attached a panel from my OctoId talk at TONMOcon VI for a quick reference (O. vulgaris is not represented because we don't see many of them in the trade) but keep in mind that these are octopuses, masters of disguise, and they can take on different characteristics at any given time. You obviously have seen both smooth and rough skin already.
octoCollectionCommonFromTalk.jpg
 
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KA&KA

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We noticed the ring and you can see it in the second of my photos above. The lighting is low but the ring was prominent at the time. I had the feeling it was a field mark of some kind. Its behavior is much like you described for Maya, at least in the beginning. We are calling him Pablo. I hope its a male. I am not ready to go through the stress of caring for a brooding octopus this time around.

Thanks so much for all the info. This is all really great!
 

DWhatley

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O. hummelincki is highly favored but hard to find young. Most come from Haiti but since the earthquake, few have been imported. They are also native to the FL Keys but we have not seen them from there in a number of years (the extreme cold snap of 2010 seems to have effected all octopuses except O. briareus in that region and the Gulf oil spill may have impacted O. vulgaris in the Gulf. We have never seen many vulgaris though so I suspect the spill comments are unfounded). Many have been female and brood after less than a month in the tank and it has been my conjecture that the females are more easily caught just before brooding because they are out hunting to prepare for the brood fast.

Unfortunately, this is a small egg species and we (collectively, including public aquariums and labs) have not been successful raising any hatchlings to adults. The small egg animals are pelagic for about a month and the failure to grow them to the benthic stage is thought to be a food issue. A VERY few animals have survived to the benthic stage in a lab type environment (I have read of one Alaskan and one Spanish vulgaris species) by feeding new hatched crabs.

Research continues but acquiring live crab zoea is a challenge. I have a captive blue crab female (long story but the kids only brought a female instead of the pair I wanted from the in-laws in Savannah) and a smaller male (serendipitously showing up shortly later from a different source). Once the male is large enough, I will put the two together and see if I get one dead male or if they will live harmoniously and produce offspring. My plan is to catch the offspring (they are not likely to survive) and freeze them. If and when I have a brood (small or large egg), I will try feeding the frozen and allow any live that may be born during their hatching to circulate the tank.

Large egg species (O. bimaculoides, O. mercatoris and O. briareus being the most common and listed in success order) have success stories but in very small numbers. These take longer to hatch, are fully formed at birth and immediately (within a day or two) hide in the substrate.

We encourage members to try anything that they dream up when working with the hatchlings and I will be glad to point you to some of the threads if you end up in this situation.

Lastly, I recommend that you, "release the Kraken" to the tank :wink:
 

KA&KA

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So O. hummelincki is the Bumble bee two-spot? That's a great common name to throw around. My guess is that we will have more then the normal amount of visitors for a while.

I did not notice it so much at the time I took this but the spot is very blue in this instance. It would have made me nervous thinking of the blue ringed. He is out of the carrier now and exploring. He already found one of the snails and is carrying it around. Two damsels that have been enhabiting the tank are still there. They are up for adoption though there is no telling how long they we be here.

Is there any concerns about having them together other then that Pablo may eat them eventually?

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KA&KA

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I know raising hatchlings would be near impossible given my resources but I would be compelled to ate least give it a try if it came to that. Just hope its a male.

When I was a kid it was common to see O vulgaris along the north gulf coast. I have to assume thats what they were since they were fairly large sized. We would find the little pygmys as well picking up cans and bottles.

Are there frequently seen in the atlantic? It thought they showed up as a by catch as far north as South Carolina.

A lot has changed, not just oil spills but water quality in general and temperature as well.
 

DWhatley

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Octo keeping is relatively new and identification is still the odd man out so relatively few fishermen would know a species. O. vulgaris is commonly known as the "Common Octopus" but the term is more European. In some small country languages there is not a separate name for squid, octopus or cuttlefish. Many octopuses have been placed in and out of the vulgaris name and it has become a "complex" more than a specific species and found in some form all over the world. O. hummelincki is one originally named O. filosus (Howell, 1867) then denied the name placing it as vulgaris and rediscovered as O. hummelincki (Adam 1936).
There has been a taxonomic argument for years on which should be the proper name. The current officially accepted (except by many scientists) name is O. hummelincki. :biggrin2: There are several others with the same scenario. To add to the confusion, the Common Caribbean Octopus often gets called the Common Octopus and then is translated to O. vulgaris. The CCO is O. briareus and very easily distinguished. Sooo, in answer to your question, I don't have any feeling for how common O. vulgaris is or was along the Eastern seaboard but do know there were fairly common in the Gulf. I have been lucky enough to have one (LittleBit) and would dearly love another. @sirreal also had one some years ago and is hoping to find more this year to offer to our community (I have called first dibs though :sagrin:)

Yes, Bumble Bee is a common name for O. hummelincki and oddly, the size on this animal varies greatly (per a study I read that collected several hundred). They were once described as a dwarf but are now classified as medium. This could mean there are actually two species. We simply don't know. I wondered about the Bumble Bee name until Maya displayed a behavior none of my others ever showed (you may have read the note in her journal). I felt that it was an attack behavior but did not leave my hand in the tank to find out.

To discover Pablo's sex, you will want to observe the third arm to the right (clockwise as you orient your eyes with the octo's). If Pablo carries that arm mostly curled up it is a sign that this is the specialized arm used to transfer spermatophores to the female. Not easily seen on many species (and I have never been able to observe it on O. hummelincki while alive) there is a channel running the length of this arm to convey the packets. The tip is also modified and funnel shaped without suckers but is quite small on this species and not easily observed. However, the curled protection is usually obvious once the animal is comfortable in the tank. We've collected a few photos in this thread to help visualize the identifying arm.

I am a strong opponent of any fish being housed with an octopus, damsels being the worst of the lot. At best fish will pester an octopus (this is also true in the wild) for scraps as it eats. At worst, they will be territorial and either attack the animal or stress it badly. Octos can die from stress and we have seen one recent case where this was likely the cause of an animal's demise. Here is a link to some suggested tankmates as well as a documented case why we suggest no fish.
 
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