• Looking to buy a cephalopod? Check out Tomh's Cephs Forum, and this post in particular shares important info about our policies as it relates to responsible ceph-keeping.

Brooding Mimc


Oct 3, 2006
Hello all,

I have just joined the group and am contacting you to get educated. My daughters and I are marnie enthusiasts and through the process of earning various dive certifications with my older daughter over the past couple of years we have all become deeply enchanted by cephalopods. Through interacting with cephs, particularly various octopuses, we have developed a deep respect, affection, and fascination for them.

We are also aquarists, and while normally I would not be comfortable keeping a ceph in an aquarium, I recently saw a mimic octopus for sale at a local aquarium shop. As those of you who are serious aquarists will appreciate, there are some who come to the hobby with little respect for marine life and even less personal discipline in terms of doing what is needed to properly care for marine animals, so I feared for the octopus' safety.

Long story short, I brought the octopus home, hoping to make a good home for her. We put her in a 30-gal species tank, where she seems to have settled in well. She was eating voracioulsy and appeared to be following natural behaviors, at least to the degree that this is possible in captivity.

Last week she began exhibiting actions that I believe are indicative of laying and caring for eggs. She has "holed up" under one of the live rocks (which is resting on live sand) that has a small concavity on its underside, no longer comes out from under the rock for any reason, and has ceased eating all together.

Alarmed that she might be ill, I briefly removed the rock last week. Between her and the top of the "cave" was a white milky substance. She swam out from under the rock, looking healthy and active, ignored alll food and other stimulants in the tank, and after less than 5 minutes moved back under the rock and has not reappeared since for any reason.

I have attempted to reasearch the mimic on the Internet, but have found precious little. Hence, my various pleas:

1) How can I be sure she has laid eggs and is caring for same?
2) Back to original causes and despite my repeated use of the feminine pronoun in this missive - how does one sex a mimic (or any other octopus)?
3) Assuming she has laid eggs and is ignoring her own health to ensure that of her brood is there anything I can do to ensure the highest possible hatch and survival rate amongst the eggs (best temperature, increased water oxygenation, any "food" I could suspend in the water that she might ingest directly or indirectly, increased/decreased minerals/vitamtins/whatever, changing the pump infrastructure so as not to suck newly hatched cephs through the system, etc.)?
4) Anyone know the gestation period of mimic octopus eggs? By the way, I have no way of knowing when she was in the open ocean last, but if she came to me by the quickest possible route she has been out of the ocean at least 45 days - how long can a female ceph carry fertilized eggs before "laying" same?
5) Is there any kind of small fiber-sized (yet "affordable") underwater camera that I could insinuate into the "cave" to observe the process?
5) I understand that often octopuses will "work themselves to death" by not eating while caring for their gestating eggs, is there anything I can do to arrest this process and give her a chance to survive and the eggs a better chance to hatch and survive?
6) Please ask and answer any other questions that my current ignorance prevents my even knowing to ask.

Sorry for the length of this communique, but any help you might provide would be much appreciated.


First and Foremost, :welcome: David!

Secondly, keeping mimics is considered as somewhat controversial in this group (just to warn you :wink:), but you already indicate your perfectly legit reasons for keeping her. Between allowing it to waste away or being taken care of properly,..., most cephheads will chose the latter, but by an ironic twist this keeps the LFS buying more: you really can't win.

I can't help you with regards to the mimic's specific brooding parameters: there's no experience with breeding them in captivity that I know of. Hopefully your experiences may help establishing that knowledge base further, and the fragile wild populations will be in less peril because thereof.

PS: I am not sure whether the mimic's hatchlings are planctonic, or not, in which case chances of rearing them to an adult stage are minimal, will check literature for you!
I've already expressed my views on purchasing mimics and wunderpus, so I will simply say that for every one that is sold for a high price, many more will be caught. Please resist the urge to "save" a mimic that you see for sale - and while you are resisting, explain to the owner or manager why you will not buy it.

That said, there are at least two striped (zebra) octopus coming out of Indonesia and the Philippines, so this could be either the true "mimic" or wunderpus. If I remember correctly, both are small egged species with planktonic paralarvae. Several people have had females lay eggs in the aquarium and some have had the eggs hatch, but I have not heard of any larvae that survived more than a couple of days. Also, both appear to be iteroparous and the females die at the time of hatching.

Hi and welcome to TONMO.com! :welcome:

Well, some of your questions have been answered.
You could try to offer food while's she in the den. Some species seem to refuse it entirely, some will accept food from time to time.

Her behaviior does suggest that she'll be laying eggs soon or has already done so by nowl. Forty-five days is no problem - she could lay fertile eggs.

There's not much you can do in this process. Keep the lights low (at least not really bright), offer food, and wait - guess the average for eggs is about 6 weeks.

I think we should look into that little camera - surely one is available. I've had the same idea for my tank. It would be better mounted outside the tank on the glass - your octo is sure to play with it or remove it if the camera is in the tank.

Obviously I'm having a bad day. I said eariler that mimics and wunderpus are iteroparous. They are not. They appear to be semelparous and die after brooding their only clutch.

Roy, I'd like a clarification of whether it's "wunderpus "(must be from the German) or do we anglicize the name to "wonderpus" - or both.
Originally I saw only "wunderpus" in print, more recently I'm seeing a lot of "wonderpus".

Both spellings are in general use. When it is described, we should be able to settle on one spelling. Personally, I would prefer to use Wunderpus. There are others out there who know more about this than I do. Mucktopus?

Neogonodactylus;80393 said:
Both spellings are in general use. When it is described, we should be able to settle on one spelling. Personally, I would prefer to use Wunderpus. There are others out there who know more about this than I do. Mucktopus?


Norman's Cephalopods: A World Guide uses Wunderpus. Not really canonical, but it is in actual print. Funny this came up, because I just snatched up the "wunderp.us" and "wonderp.us" domain names today, since I noticed they were available, but I'm not sure what I'm going to do with them yet...

We need a wunderpus/mimic smiley...
You got it, Roy. Both spellings are used and have been printed in various formats (such as Asian Diver and other mags), although Wunderpus appears to be the more common of the two.
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