Sleazy - O. mercatoris

Discussion in 'Cephalopod Journals' started by DWhatley, Dec 18, 2009.

  1. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    In case you missed it :wink:, Ken had three octopuses he asked me to post to see if someone would take them before the holiday shutdown. Two are briareus (nice small size) and one,

    :roll:

    Ken is getting better about identifying octos in spite of himself and I volunteered to take the little guy. I was half hoping for a joubini just because I really have not kept one (other than an overnight post hatch female that I THINK was joubini). This little one is all mercatoris though. It has been almost a year (Wiley died December 23, 2008) since I have kept a merc so I need to go back and read Greg (GHolland)'s and my own journals as a refresher. This one is well formed and looks so tiny compared to the briareaus. It fit into my smallest barnacle shell during acclimation and my tank raised group used the large ones at 5 months so I am guessing 4-5 month and possibly not yet sexually mature (otherwise we have a female, no enlarged suckers and no curled arm but Medusa was a late blooming male so I won't stand on the missing signs yet but I will call it a her for convenience).

    Neal wants to name her after one of the 7 dwarves but they were all male. He did suggest Sleepy's infamous cousin but I'll not name her Sleezy.:tomato:

    She got tired of me taking pictures after I released her to the tank and wandered off into the LR. I have not seen her since and have discovered that the switch is bad on her light. That we should be able to fix this weekend but I also failed to remember that I took the Skilter off the tank because (we have had 3 to do this) it was leaking at the pump connection and replacing the O ring does not solve the issue. Unfortunately, I will have to buy a fourth because it is the only filter and small skimmer that will fit the tank (it does a decent job on the 15 but the pump connection leak is a headache, I think I will try putting teflon tape on it this time). Needless to say my Xmas present is a new one (fortunately my brother and sister-in-law are furnishing the PH meter - at least I think they are - as a gift to both of us this year) but she will be fine for a couple of days with just water changes and an air stone.
     

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  2. sedna

    sedna Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Supporter Registered

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    O.K., I'll take it back, you're not a hoarder for keeping a merc. It's sort of like keeping that one small tank of clownfish after years of tanks. Ir I hadn't switched the 20 gal over to fish for the kids I'd go back to keeping one even though you rarely see them! Welcome to your new friend (hope it's a girl)! I like Neal's name suggestion....
     
  3. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Still no name for this one mainly because we have not seen her since she entered the tank. Fortunately, the small fiddlers I have been putting in have started showing up as empty shells so I know she is eating. I altered the light fixture because it had burned through the vellum and it no longer gives appropriate light. I will paint the white light leaks this week to provide night time viewing and hope to start seeing her soon.

    Edit: Added for ID reference
     

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  4. sedna

    sedna Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Supporter Registered

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    D, will you paint the lights or the top of the tank? What kind of paint will you use? I have lights sitting on top of red vellum, but I never thought of just painting the clear plastic top. We had to cut a piece of plexiglass to fit on the top of my tank (have to do that custom because of the bow front shape), I have an extra that I could paint. Sometimes the lights slip off of the velum ( or it burns through like yours) and painting it would make more sense. You're a genius!
     
  5. CaptFish

    CaptFish Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    OH OH i have an idea! I build model cars and the hobby store I use sells transparent acrylic paint. The paint is used to tint windows, taillights, and turn signals. It comes in two forms both spray on or brush on. I think it would work perfectly. Two unknown variables, I'm not sure how heat resistant it is, two I'm not sure if it has any unfriendly chemicals in it, anyway I was reading this thread and just thought of it.
     
  6. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    The light I am using is an outdoor fixture with a florescent type bulb (they call it Flourex). It gets hot but not like an incandesent. I will leave the velum on the flat "bottom" but paint the sides. The set up I have had for 2+ years just had the velum loose on the inside but curved to cover the sides, unfortunately this resulted in it actually touching the bulb. I have some red spray paint (not high temp unfortunately) that I think I am going to use on the INSIDE of the cover so that any light that escapes should be red tinted but if it is totally opaque, that will be fine. By painting the inside, I am hoping to avoid chipping. The velum only burned where it actually touched the bulb so I am hoping the heat will not effect the paint on the lens but I probably would not try this if I did not have a spare cover.

    If you are going to try to paint a piece of acrylic and allow the light to sit on top, the paint CaptFish mentions sounds like something that might work with several coats (spray would less likely be streaky I would think). MacGyver experiments are always fun but tentative:gigas:
     
  7. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Unfortunately, this little one refuses to be seen and the LR in the tank gives plenty of cover. I really should get another as I think they are more active when kept in pairs. Since we have not seen it since acclimation, the unfortunate first suggested name stuck. I know it is alive as the unfortunate mithrax that was kept in the tank (I forgot to remove it) showed up missing it's innards (but with both claws still in tact) and the fiddlers I intentionally feed are showing up as shells. Oddly Sleazy seems to be eating better since I turned on the red light (vs a totally dark tank at night). I was afraid my new alteration was going to be to bright but so far the crab shells are appearing more frequently since I put it in place.
     
  8. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Sleazy finally showed up two nights ago. She has taken a den in a larger barnacle I had placed high in the LR. I had noticed that the smaller barnacle group on the sand had been moved around and noted crab remains in front of it but never saw her use it. The one she has now chosen is larger than something I would have expected her to take but she has gathered up snail shells to help fill in some of the extra room. We see her peering out at night but not leaving the den. She seems to be eating still and will be the first merc I have had to accept frozen shrimp IF she actually ate it (she did take it from the stick and we don't see remains in the aquarium). I am guessing she is preparing to brood since both my other females chose large barnacles for their brooding chamber (Miss Broody took over her birth barnacle the day she was released to the tank and, to my knowledge, never left it, her mother chose it just before brooding). There is a good chance that she has mated so I am hoping to raise at least one new generation of mercs again.
     
  9. sedna

    sedna Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Supporter Registered

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    Let the fun begin! Good luck, I hope you're in for an influx of mercs!
     
  10. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    I finally got an almost in focus picture of Sleazy tonight. Since moving to the barnacle we can see her most anytime with a red flashlight and she is coming to the front of her den at night and watch the activity. I think she is eating since she is grabbing the offered pipette but it is hard to be sure as she insists on keeping the pipette for quite some time and is strong enough to dislodge the barnacle if I try to take it before she is ready to give it up. I hope I don't make her decide to take another den since this one is nicely viewable.
     

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  11. Lmecher

    Lmecher Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Registered

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    Oh what a cute little one. :grin: I would love to try keeping one, maybe some day.
     
  12. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    They are adorable but never acclimate to light. I had quite an exceptionally personality in Sisturus (one of the offspring from Trapper) and he would come out at 11:00 each night to be fed but my others were far less interactive. Neal would look in the tank before bedtime every night and call me away from the computer with, "Someone is looking for you".
     
  13. Lmecher

    Lmecher Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Registered

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    What live food if any do mercs eat?
     
  14. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Fiddlers (of course :wink:) and I keep a selection of live shore shrimp that will occassionally get too close. They can catch them from about 3 months to 6 months but are pretty much too slow before and after. We are trying Sleazy with a pinched of portion thawed shrimp about the size of a small shore shrimp and we feed a mixture of Cyclop-eeze and thawed mysis to the tank. I have raised the young on Cyclop-eeze and shore shrimp but have not had a lot of success with the regular shrimp or mysis. I have to admit that I am not altogether sure what she is eating other than the crabs. I pipette feed the thawed and she grabs and keeps the pipette. Usually the shrimp is gone when she releases it but that does not guarantee consumption. I don't see the live shore shrimp gathered under her den though so I am hoping she is eating it.

    Sleazy does not seem to come out of her den but does come to the front and watch the world every night. She will grab my fingers if I try to offer food (but ignore the food) as well as the afore mentioned pipette. She is less aggressive with my fingers now (fortunately, they would not have fit into her barnacle anyway) and hold rather than pulls for a few seconds. She still keeps the pipette for 15 minutes or so.

    I put a few more small pieces of shell and LR in her tank. Two pieces were place in a barnacle below the one she has chosen for a den and others are on the substrate about 6" below her den. I have seen her locate and lift some of the shells and I believe she exchanged on that we in her den for the one I place in the barnacle (now empty of both pieces I placed there). Because of her current den location, she has turned out to be far more interesting than I expected after the first two weeks of not seeing any signs of her other than crab remains.
     

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  15. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Sleazy continues to stay at home watching TV and eating bon-bons (or at least stays put in her den). She has become quite comfortable with being fed a small piece of thawed shrimp that she grabs for the stick as soon as Neal approaches her den.

    I have been attempting human contact the last few nights and she will reach out for my offered finger and try to pull it into the den. Some days she just makes gentle contact but others are aggressive (all less than at first though). Once she releases my finger if I try to encourage her to touch again she blows water at it and I stop aggravating her. I am hoping she will acclimate to what I am sure is annoyance and become more curious.

    The first photo is of the classic mercatoris arms between the eyes pose. Notie the black snail (I can never remember the species of this very neat critter, this is a second generation from my original and I have one baby in another tank) above her den. I had planned to remove it but they don't detach easily and it has managed to survive her residency.

    The second and third are attempts at photos of me trying to interact (annoy is likely a better word at this stage) with her.

    I mentioned that she is secure enough in her den to have released all her doorway shells and leaves the den open all day and evening. This morning, after I took the flash photos last night, she had once again placed a shell at the entrance of her barnacle AND pulled two other doorways within better reach. The last photo is from tonight and she has removed the doorway shell again but you can see the two "emergency" doorways she hauled up to the lower banacle.
     

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  16. Lmecher

    Lmecher Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Registered

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    Very cool interaction, I am learning so much. Your threads are like watching a documentary. What size tank is Sleezy in? My biocube has that curved glass too, it makes me dizzy. I am really Jones'n now. Great one-handed photos I might add.
     
  17. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    The tank is a 15 hex acrylic with a Skilter combo skimmer cascade filter (the only skimmer we could find to fit the modified (with a hack saw) tank, the light is an outdoor fixture with a plug added so that it is not hardwired and the lens is painted red on the sides with red velum on the bottom surface. I change out 5 full gallons weekly.

    Sometimes I worry that people will expect too much from the octopuses, especially the mercs because the time lapse is not naturally obvious. Just this one page is over a two month period but reading through seems like she has accepted humans after a much shorter period and has interacted a lot. I try to stess that mercs are shy and many (most) don't interact at all. It also takes a lot of time that seems unproductive before you see any results and people give up too quickly. I think having them in the eating area helps. None of my briareus have been as interactive and touch responsive as some of the others but the ones in the breakfast room have all at least come out at dinner time after awhile.

    She took my finger again last night but this time did not pull at all. Only one exploratory touch and then she blew for me to go away (I use this for her sign for hands out of the tank - something I establish with each octo but is different for each one). I am never sure where the interaction will lead but it is always a thrill to get past the grabbing and see that they recognize they can send me away.
     
  18. Lmecher

    Lmecher Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Registered

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    Sort of empowering them, using psychology, let them think they are in charge. I like it.
     
  19. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Linda, you have a long way to go yet. They ARE in charge, we are the slaves. We buy, prepare and bring the food, clean up their homes and spend untold amounts of money all in hopes they will accept us. Have you not seen this as an aspect of all pets yet?
     
  20. Lmecher

    Lmecher Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Registered

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    :lol::lol::lol: Wait, are you talking about octopuses or childeren?? I guess that applies to both. (and all pets except for dogs, they live to please us) You got me, what a stupid thing for me to say. I actually believed it when I typed it. :roll:
     

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