Varys' babies (O. mercatoris)

Discussion in 'Cephalopod Journals' started by gholland, Mar 31, 2008.

  1. gholland

    gholland Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

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    Now that Varys is gone, I guess it's time to start a journal for her babies. (Wonder where we got that idea? :wink: ) The original thread for Varys and our experiences during her brooding period and the subsequent hatch can be found here.

    (3/31/08) The babies are now 1 month old and continue to eat live mysids as well as frozen mysids and cyclopeeze. There have been no signs of death so we assume there are still about 10 total, but it's hard to find more than about 6 or 7 at any given time. We pulled our Sony Handycam with Nightshot (near IR) out of storage and have been having a ball watching the babies' antics in the dark.

    Over spring break we put together a 5 minute video compilation of them hunting and exploring, but it's kinda big (~47MB) so be warned. There's also a shorter clip (~5MB) of one hunting for those with less patience. The longer clip shows a number of interesting "behaviors". Heh.
    [​IMG]
     

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  2. monty

    monty Colossal Squid Staff Member Supporter

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    great videos! hee!
     
  3. hallucigenia

    hallucigenia O. bimaculoides Supporter

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    Wow, they sure are cute...funny watching them do that arm-waving behaviour in that clumsy sort of baby way. Adorable.

    (I like babies, after all! Just not HUMAN babies.)
     
  4. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Best video on the site (well, OK, Thales has some spectacular ones as well) for a behavioral view of a nocturnal species (enough adjectives not to offend anyone?). Kidding a side, I had to watch it twice!
     
  5. gholland

    gholland Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

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    11 weeks old

    Time for an update...

    At one month, we had about 12 babies. We moved 7 to a separate 20 gallon tank (with a Rena FilStar xP1 filter) so there would be less competition. Now, at 2.5 months, it looks as though we are left with a single baby in the original tank and 2 in the 20 gallon. No dead bodies.

    We are still using red LED spotlights to view the baby in the old tank at night, but for the 20 gallon, we bought a sheet of red vellum and a transparent red, plastic report folder and cut out several layers to fit under the fluorescent light. The back and one side of the tank (where the walls are) are covered with black paper. We leave the white light on during the day to help the red macro algae grow (nitrate removal) and then slide the red vellum and plastic in at night. It works great! It seems very bright to us, but the babies don't seem to mind and carry on business as usual.

    In the 20 gallon, the active one (Tarzan) has a 3/4" mantle and is maybe 2" arm-tip to arm-tip when stretched out. It may be a male based on dwhatley's previous experience with merc behavior. The attached pic (taken with flash) is Tarzan when he stole the pipette this morning after being fed frozen mysis. The other baby in the 20 gallon (Shelby) stays in a shell and may be female. Both are eating pods, frozen mysis, cyclopeez, and small (1/2") live shore shrimp.

    The single baby left in the 8 gallon (Solo) comes out and about at night, but is still relatively shy, and mostly eats pods and frozen foods. Could be another male.

    It would be nice if we had a pair and could raise another generation, but only time will tell!
    :fingerscrossed:
     

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  6. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Greg,
    The vellum over the flourescent has been better than the red LED's as well. Neither Sisty nor Medusa seemed to even know there were lights (if my theory is correct and white light hurts their eyes, this seems to completely remove that problem). I have red LED's on the 45 gallon tank and the octos come out at night but I have had better activity with the red filtered flourescent.

    Super picture of Tarzan, I hope Nancy spots it if she has not chosen all the Merc pictures for the book yet.
     
  7. gholland

    gholland Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

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    Good news!
    I woke up at 2 a.m. because the dogs were barking and couldn't go back to sleep... so I got up to watch the 'podes. Tarzan was doing his usual swinging through the red macro algae thing and I tried to feed him a small piece of silverside that was handy. He had trouble getting it off the skewer and so gave up and scurried off. The smell brought Shelby out of the depths of her shell though... and it also brought out out baby #4! I'm going to guess that #4 might be female because it stays near its lair the way Shelby stays in her shell, but sex of the babies is still highly speculative at this point.

    I realize now that I probably saw this one two nights ago, but just thought it was Tarzan since it was near the spot where he holes up for the night. However, #4 is definitely larger than Tarzan.

    While I was watching them, Shelby and baby #4 each caught and apparently ate tiny hermit crabs that I added last night. I need to see if Sachs has any tiny fiddlers and more small shore shrimp. The adult shore shrimp are still a bit too intimidating for the babies to make any real effort for them.

    Managed to get a super nice close-up of Shelby (below). The flash caused her to recoil into her shell, but she was looking back out a few moments later. She's doing the "arm between the eyes" that mercs are so famous for... makes me wonder if they always use the same arm or switch back and forth (left/right armedness?)
     

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  8. L8 2 RISE

    L8 2 RISE Haliphron Atlanticus Registered

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    wow, great picture!
     
  9. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Great shots Greg!
    Just thought I would point out (you being a teacher and all :wink:) that squid and cuttles have both arms and tentacles but octopuses have only arms.

    I find it very interesting how different the diets of our two groups have been. None of my octos (Mercs(7 related) or Hummelincki (1) )- all originating or parents originating from the FL Keys - will NOT touch hermit crabs. Octane (Hummelincki) will eat some types of snails but both leave the NASSARIUS VIBEX snails (Carolina Coast caught) alone. Both will eat shore shrimp (at least I think 'Tane does - he may just play with them), the Mercs don't catch them well unless the shrimp are confined to a small area like a breeder net but will readily take them from a feeding stick if they are recently beheaded (a nightly :yuck: ritual). 'Tane will eat thawed market shrimp but the Mercs will have nothing to do with pieces of it frozen mysis. Fiddlers do seem to be commonly consumed by all octopuses, all of mine included except Little Girl (the tank bred Merc).
    Your Mercs, however, have consumed the hermits and frozen Mysis (do the babies eat the frozen at all?).

    Tell Paul that you need pencil eraser size or smaller for baby octos (he is used to request by Ceph folks). Sometimes he can get them (no discount though :sad:) but at other times (seem like winter is larger ones only so this may be the breeding season coming up) only large are available. Little Girl barely eats anything but survives on Cyclop-eeze and will occassionally take a beheaded shrimp if I can balance it on her doorway and she does not just blow it away or one of the hermits or live shrimp does not run off with it.

    It sounds like Tarzan will be another "Sisturus" so keep working with him!!!
     
  10. gholland

    gholland Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

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    Doh! Fixed it! :wink:

    Your mercs won't eat frozen mysis? Or they won't eat market shrimp? Or either? Our babies have eaten live tigger pods, live mysids, live baby shore shrimp, live baby hermits, frozen cyclopeeze, and frozen PE mysis. I haven't tried shrimp from the market because I'm not sure they are free of preservative solutions. (This is Oklahoma ya know?)

    Done. I spoke to a (young?) lady there yesterday and specifically asked for 1/4-1/2" fiddlers for baby octos. Along with more of the small shore shrimp. I haven't seen the babies really stalk the shore shrimp yet, but when I feed cyclopeeze or frozen mysis to the baby octos, the shrimp will approach to get some of the food and then after a flurry of ARMS :wink:, the shrimp become the second course!

    I certainly hope so!
     
  11. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Nope, I have tried over and over with the frozen (I still have a supply of PE mysis from keeping seahorse and feed it to the other tanks) of all sorts. I have tried every thing from frozen clams, krill, squid to a mixed assortment and it all gets blown back. I have even tried soaking the mysis in Cyclop-eeze - no takers.
     
  12. gholland

    gholland Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

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    Here's a shot of Solo this morning as he was chowing down on a frozen mysis... He's still very skittish and ran away when I tried to feed him a second one. He ate his second tiny hermit last night and I know he hunts pods on his own. He also seems to be missing several arm tips. I think I remember someone saying bristleworms were known for that... it may be time to wage war on them.
     

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  13. Nancy

    Nancy Titanites Staff Member Moderator

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    You're getting such wonderful photos - how are you taking them? They don't seem to be at night.

    Nancy
     
  14. gholland

    gholland Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

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    Thanks Nancy! All of the photos have been taken during "no-light" or "red-light-only" periods in the tanks. I use a Nikon Coolpix 4500 with a single flash and manual focus on the close-up setting.
     
  15. gholland

    gholland Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

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    Just a short clip of Solo eating the mysis... this was taken at the same time as the photo above.
    NOTE: Your browser may still be downloading even though it says "Done" at the bottom, so give it a minute.

    [​IMG]
     
  16. dreadhead

    dreadhead Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

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    nice video.:smile:
     
  17. gholland

    gholland Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

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    Thanks Dread. :grin:

    Here's another short clip of me petting one of the baby mercs several weeks ago. I was cleaning the tank and removing some of the excess macro algae when this little-one came from somewhere and spent a few minutes out while the lights were on. I think they were about 6 weeks old at the time?
     

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  18. dreadhead

    dreadhead Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

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    Cool. I can't believe how trusting it is. At that size I would think that it would want to hide all the time.
     
  19. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Do you have any idea if that was Tarzan or at least one that is still alive? The only confirmed dead in my CB brood (i.e. the ones whos bodies I found) were the ones that I had high hopes for being able to be out in the early evening lighting.
     
  20. gholland

    gholland Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

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    Unfortunately, I have no idea if that was one of the survivors at all. However, Tarzan has let me make very brief touches before he slides away in a similar manner. The baby in that clip only spent about 5 minutes out before it headed back under the rock. It was buried deep in the mass of macro under a rocky overhang for the day and I just happened to shake it out. It wouldn't have been out otherwise. I didn't include the entire session in that clip, but we actually did three of those "pettings" in a row before I decided to quit and the baby crawled under the rock. It never spooked though... just crawled away.

    I should probably note that when I moved some of the babies to the new tank, I was specifically grabbing those in shells (Shelby) and those that were on the walls who didn't run from me when I tried to feed them (Tarzan). They are both very easy to feed. The more cryptic ones simply weren't as easy to catch, and I guess I really shouldn't be surprised that the 3 in the big tank are less shy than Solo. I have to be very careful when feeding him so that he doesn't get scared, drop his dinner, and go hide.

    Here's another short clip from around the same time as the petting video. If you look closely, you can see the baby reaching up into the pipette and scooping out the cyclopeeze. I hope to be getting tiny fiddlers today, so we will see how the babies react to a "gourmet" meal. :wink:
     

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