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Adventures in Octo Ordering...

Bio Teacher

Blue Ring
Feb 2, 2008
I ordered a "common brown octo" from my LFS and received a mercatoris (small, shy, nocturnal).

This is not an actual pic, but it looks exactly like this:


My students were disappointed that the new octopus was hiding under a rock all the time, so I decided to order a vulgaris.

An online site advertised several species of octopus, including a vulgaris. I got the personal assurance of the owner that I would be sent a vulgaris.
Much to my dismay, I was sent another mercatoris :banghead:

So it seems that the "you never know what you'll get" principle is entirely true.

Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy the mercs, but it would be nice to spend $120 bucks and actually get what I ordered.

Also, if you need live food like fiddlers and shrimp, this company is awesome:
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What nighmares! I was so shocked when my LFS had 2 octos in that I had to jump on it (hummelinckis). But I dread the day when I might have to...order...one. Ugh! Watch me get a baby GPO.
sigh, sorry to hear it. We've had some good luck with suppliers that can send briareus or hummelincki fairly reliably recently, although I'm not sure if they're still "in season." Check out the "octopus availability" thread from a month or two ago...
The funny thing is, you're much more likely to get a too-small octopus rather than a too-large one (based on experience over the last few years).

Thanks for the replies all...

I guess I'll just experiment with suppliers until I find one that can differentiate between a merc and a vulgaris.

Monty, what's been your experience with the briareus and hummelincki? Are they day-active?

Thanks again,
I have a Briareus,He is alittle of both,always comes out when the lights first come on,and when they first go off.Then he roams around in the middle of the day and sometimes at night.But each octo is different,another Briareus may not be so active.

I almost ordered one of those, but read that they were also completely nocturnal.
Again, I'm finding there's a whole range of accuracy with the information out there.
Glad to hear that about your briareus.
The pics I've seen of those are really neat. Kind of green and ghostly. Is yours like that?

The Hummelincki is a diuranl species. I have had mine for several weeks and he generally comes out about 2:30 in the afternoon and retires around 9:00 PM. The schedule is not ridgid and seems to alter slightly through the week but then repeat again.

The problem with the species to date has been longevity in captivity. There were several purchased from one supplier that lived a very short time. Octane is an adult so we are concerned about how long he will be with us but his pattern changing is terrific and frequent. One of the things I will recommend is to have a lot of contrast in your aquarium. Mine has a black backwall, light stand and bumpy liverock. As Octane visits the different medias, his color and texture change accordingly without any other stimulus.
Small Vulgaris and Mercs have similar coloration so most divers will not be able to tell the difference. If you try for a Vulgaris again, request one that is larger than an adult Mercatoris, and you will hopefully have more luck getting one.
D, I'm definitely interested in a Hummelincki, since you're one of several who have said they're diurnal and have good personalities.
The question is, what supplier has them? I've yet to see an online shop advertise them specifically.

Ship, that's understandable, and I definitely wouldn't fault the divers there. However, personally, if I were running a business and guaranteeing a particular species, I would find a way to accurately classify my octos before selling them.
I wasn't really disappointed when I ordered a "common octopus," because I expected a surprise there. The second order was frustrating, and a lesson learned the hard way.

Since you're doing this for a school, you may be able to meet the "educational" requirements for ordering from education/research only sites. This link on the cephalopod page, Sources of Live Cephalopods - The Cephalopod Page may have some old information, but it has contact information for the NRCC and Woods Hole and some other suppliers, who are more likely to be able to guarantee specific species. Also, investigating the hobby sources list may be helpful, but who has octos tends to change rather often, so the "octopus availability" thread here at TONMO is a "living document" that is both up-to-date but also hard to find things in.
IF you find any actually listed as Hummelincki, the chances are it will be one as they are, fortunately, quite distinctive. Mine was acquired somewhat serendipitously as I am doing some work for a Florida collector and asked that he find me an non-pygmy in the next 6 months or so, expecting that he would have to get it as a by-catch from local crabbers or another collector (octos are definitely NOT his fortay). By chance and within a week he phoned his wife from the collection site and asked her to email me that he found and captured a non-pygmy octopus ;>). I was full of questions, of course and he made several trips to the holding area to try to answer them but could only tell me that it changed everytime he went to look at it ;>). Octane turned out to be an adult Hummelincki but has been wonderful and healthy so far even though I know he will be short lived.

One suggestion I will make (since my own experince is not repeatable) is to look for local, licensed collectors (they know how to ship and the catch will not go through extensive environment changes or long term holding) in the FL Keys or in South FL. eBay or just website searching is not a bad way to find them. Email them your position and need and explicitly state that you do not want a pygmy/dwarf/Mercatoris/Joubini. If you get enough of them looking, one of them will come up with something suitable, none of them will recognize the name Filosis or Hummelincki. You must understand that the collectors are small, family companies. The divers (especially the ones with years of experience) have had to switch from collecting coral/fish to inverts/oddities and from selling wholesale to retail over a rather short period of time. Most are skilled at not destroying the environment and safe capture techniques but demand and legal changes have presented a new learning curve.
Mother, you're the second person that's recommended that site for hummelincki octos.
They're currently out, but I definitely plan on trying them when they're restocked.

Monty, great links and information. I'll definitely research those options and keep my eye on the availability thread. I'll let everyone know if my teacher status gets me ordering access.

D, I've read a lot about Octane while skimming through the threads. Great name, and it sounds like he/she? is a great octo!
The local collector option does sound appealing. I've found one, but one drawback was having to pick up the package at my local airport. That's one appeal of big retailers that are certified in shipping live products. They safely deliver directly to my classroom where the tank is. The drawback is the topic of this thread =^D
By the way, the owner of the company that mistakenly sent me the merc was very apologetic and offered a heavily discounted vulgaris for the next order. He also spoke highly of the Tonmo community. It's nice to see companies that care about customer satisfaction.

On another note,...
I certainly don't criticize divers for what they collect. I can't imagine how difficult it is to safely catch a wily octopus without damaging the environment.
Maybe during my summer vacation I'll fly down to Florida and try my luck at catching an octo during a dive!

Thanks again to all for their insight and information.


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