[Octopus]: Asian Food Market Octos - Take 2

I wonder if there is a place to inquire on-line (will check momentarily). Few of the employees speak English and many can't communicate with each other as their originating home lands vary (many Spanish speaking and variations of other languages, I suspect only a few that actually speak Korean but many of the customers do) and I would venture to say very few have strong enough English skills for me to be able to communicate (there is a lot of pointing in the fish market). The better English speakers are the cashiers. Needless to say, I am a typical US born and only speak English. My smattering of Spanish and high school/college French do not contain the needed vocabulary (an old adage goes something like this: If you speak 3 languages your are tri-lingual, two languages, bi-lingual, one language, American).

Edit: I found a place to email them and ask if any of the Atlanta stores offer them. It will be interesting to see if they respond.
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When I have trouble communicating with them over the phone I just speak in English and toss in the word "pulpo" if the guys behind the counter only speak Spanish. Often you'll see the signs for what they sell even if they are not currently in stock.

On a side note, lost the female octopus yesterday and the male is not looking great but is still moving around. I put a crayfish minus the claws in the other day and it was in there for the day without being eaten - saw it hanging out and doing fine (always amazed me how long crayfish could survive in saltwater for) but have not been able to locate it today. Could be that it simply is hiding or died in a crevice, but it's pretty large and there's a lot of room in there so I should be able to spot it at some point. Hoping to see a midden heap as a sign of health but doubting that will happen.

Anyway, when I lost the female I left it there overnight just in case something improved or it had a miracle turnaround. In cold water like that, it won't foul the tank and won't cause many issues with water chemistry. This morning it was still in the same state, hadn't moved at all, and there was zero sign of respiration. I poked it to see if it had any sort of response at all but nothing - not even in the arms. I pulled it out and decided that I would do a closer examination and dissection to see if I could gain any clues about what this octopus was. I documented the dissection with my cell phone, pictures to follow. Interestingly enough (or perhaps sadly enough) the arms began to move a bit shortly after I opened up the mantle that covered the abdomen. It's amazing that the arms can still continue to move after being severed and that they can continue movement when the animal is dead. The pigment also returned as I did the dissection, typically when I had to grab the body or arms to facilitate the dissection.
Mantle cavity opened up, eggs at the top of the cavity (removed the membrane around them).

Measuring the egg mass. Spread them out (again, membrane was removed).

Measurements of one individual egg (I probably should have looked to see whether they were fertilized and viable - who knows, maybe they could have been hatched even after the death of the female if they were ready to be deposited).

Close up of the eye - these octopuses hide their eyes completely by pulling their skin over them or pulling them into their mantle when they are stressed out - I have seen this on the ones in the market and when I bring them home.

Measurement of the mantle and some of the internal organs.

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More measurement of the internal organs.

Arm span of the octopus, was somewhat smaller than the others that I have found at the markets.

Clearer picture of the organs with the mantle pulled all the way back.

As you can see from the picture above I ended up cutting the ink sac as I removed the mantle the rest of the way. One of the things I have noticed is that these octopuses seem to be in such bad shape that they never ink - last time I tried this several of the octopuses would ink but these seem too worn out to do even that.
Some observations I made as I dissected and examined:

  • Suckers are staggered and in two basic lines along the arms
  • Definitely a female
  • Attempts to open up what I believed to be the crop, stomach, and also the digestive cecum revealed that there was some undigested food - looked to be the shrimp that I saw it eat
  • Hearts looked to be in good condition although that means relatively little since I don't know what healthy octopus hearts should look like!
  • Didn't notice any blood in the gills at all, would have thought that they would be pretty blue but they lacked coloration and were the same color as the digestive cecum and its contents
Good stuff, I wish I had the skill and heart to do this when they die. I DO photograph and measure (@sedna started this some years ago and several of us have continued the practice). The measurements are always notably smaller than when they are alive but gives a consistent state for measuring. The chromatophore firing after death is seen most of the time and always a little freaky when trying to set them up for final photos. In one animal, I videoed the the reaction.

I never (and really regret it - tried to take it as my lab in college but nursing students filled the classes and had top priority) took more than one year of high school biology so would have a hard time identifying anything inside since the real animal does not look a lot like the sketches :roll: BUT there is one additional clue that you have uncovered, this is a large egg species and raising them in an aquarium may be viable IF one could get the female to lay eggs. I did not see any spermatophores but am not sure what it would look like if they were spermatangia (out of the casing - my new word from the Giant Squid dissection). As far as we know most squid and octopuses (but this may not be true of all species) don't fertilize eggs until they are laid so it is not likely these were fertile (and she may not have even mated).

I am not sure you would see blood the blue coloration is very faint and I don't know if it changes like ours (or to what color) when exposed to oxygen in the air.
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Lost the male a few days ago and stopped by the store again this morning.m they had a new shipment in and there were a couple of octopuses at had crawled out of the shipping bag and were wandering around the tank. These were exhibiting more movement than any I have seen there so far so I picked up three that were moving around a lot and am acclimating them to the system now.
Just released them, identified two males and a probable,female (arm is missing the tip, but regrowth appears to be regular arm versus a hectocotylus. Two hid immediately on release and the third went I to a corner behind a shell. Previous attempts in this round of octopuses have pretty much gone in and fallen to the bottom.

I turned the lights off and left some red lighting on, will see how they appear later on. Some good signs beyond the hiding and one crawling out of the bag are that their eyes are not hidden away and coloration looks good, too.
Found a video of a guy catching nakji on a mudflat in South Korea. Nakji is the term for small octopus that are eaten alive in Korea, not sure if it refers to a species name, but now I am thinking this is not a cold water species but should be kept in the 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit range. Have not had a mud tank before and probably will not attempt to change the substrate out at this juncture, but am slowly adjusting the temperature up for these guys to see what the result is. I would rather not change it drastically, but a degree every day or two might be in order. The temp I recorded from their store was around the mid 50s and the bag was 56 when I got home so I am setting it to 57 and will raise it up again tomorrow another degree. Hopefully this will not prove to be too much but if they are being kept colder than they are able to handle, I think e dangers might be the same. Unfortunately, trial and error is probably the only way to do this for the time being with a lack of any species identification or information...
I was worried last time and this as well that the temps you are seeing with them are more for shipping than habitat but without species info I think your approach is about all you can do. Thinking out loud, we know they have survived with temps in the 50's so they are probably not warm water (75-80) animals but they have been listless and not survived long at shipping temps so your guess at an appropriate range seems to be a good target. If your chiller is like mine, there is a 4 degree variance (2 on either side) allowed so I would set the temp +2 or +3 degrees to start the upward temps.
I set it to a +/- of 1 degree as I don't want it to swing that much. If it misses the mark and chills too far down, it makes for a temperature swing of up to 3 degrees. Will have to wait and see, though. What's your thought on maximum change in a day? You mentioned +2 or 3 but is that potentially too much in a day?
I am guessing that a normal day/night temp swing should be a good choice. I made an assumption that the ocean temps change at least 2 degrees but realized I did not "KNOW" that from anything other than perceived cooling that can be more air temp than water temp. I found a NOAA site that should be somewhat helpful to get a feel for the daily range. 2 degrees turns out to be a pretty good guess but there is more info there that might be helpful. This is for the US and you can click on the various areas to get more info. Clicking on the given temps will give you a daily range chart (where available). I briefly looked at the East coast but the West may be more similar.

There is also NOAA site mentioning Korea (see right panel) and their link to a Korean site but don't see the mentioned temps. Further investigation of either site may yeild more info.
Found a site that gives average sea temps indicating that at the coastal city of Busan where they eat a lot of these the low is around 55 in March to a high of almost 80 in August.

One male that is missing an arm and has another that has some significant damage about halfway up looks like it will not survive. It is not moving a lot and doesn't respond much to stimuli.

The other male looks to be doing pretty well. It was out and about and exhibited so e deeper coloration than the others which extended to below its arms as well. Not necessarily what I believe to be angry colors, but certainly not the flat greyish white that most have exhibited.

The female seems to be doing okay as well but not sure of this. She is, however, digging down into the substrate and pushing a lot of sand around. If this is the species from South Korea found in burrows in the mudflats, then this could be natural behavior.

There are two crayfish living in the system with them right now, neither has been touched yet. I have offered a red claw crab, pieces of shrimp, and the aforementioned crayfish. I may also try a piece of smelt or small silversides as well. Clams and snails don't seem to have fallen prey to any of his batch so far, either.

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