Catching Wild Bimacs

Dr. Idso

Pygmy Octopus
Nov 9, 2003

A few of you have asked how I go about catching my bimacs down in Mexico. This is basically how I do it. At low tide, I venture out to a coral reef that basically is devoid of living polyps. This "reef" is essentially comprised of rocks that are covered with algae, barnacles, mussels, and various gastropods. Nonetheless, I wade trhough various tide pools and along the edges of this reef armed with a 5-gallon bucket and an 8-inch hand aquarium net.

I basically lift these rocks up and look underneath them for octopus. I usually find all kinds of ghost shrimp, hermit crabs, snails, and small drab-colored gobies and blennies beneath them and hiding in their crevices. Occasionally, I'll find brittle starfish, nudibranchs, sea cucumbers, feather dusters, and sea anemonies. But if I am lucky, really lucky, I'll lift up a rock and I'll spot something sliding down the vertically-lifted stone like a blob of octopus! :mrgreen: I then quickly try to net the octopus. Oftentimes, the octopus will ink when I lift up a rock its hiding under and then I have to carefully watch for any attempted escape!

It is very exciting collecting your own bimacs in this way. Plus, I always collect some other creatures for the bimacs to pal up with. One IMPORTANT note, :grad: I ALWAYS carefully turn all lifted rocks back over to their origional positions. If rocks are left overturned, any living elements upon them will die and the rocks will appear "bleeched" white in color. If you collect from the wild you have to be careful to leave as little disturbance as possible when you are finished. Sadly, I have come and gone to this particular reef for over 20 years, and at times I have found entire tide pools lifeless, with all rocks having been overturned and not replaced properly.

On my last trip to this location, which was July 2003, I caught the two bimacs whose pictures I have been posting in approximately 2 hours time, and I was alone. On other trips, I have taken friends or relatives down and we have caught 2 or 3 bimacs in half the time, as there were more hands turning over rocks. And back when I was in junior high and high school, we collected as many as 12 bimacs on one particular weekend trip to stock our 4,000 gallon salt water pond we built in our backyard in Arizona! My father also built a 10-foot long aquarium back then that had 10 bimacs living in it!

I hope that answers your questions about collecting wild bimacs down in Mexico. And yes, after catching one, I place a lid on the 5-gallon bucket and aerate the water using a battery operated bubbler whose airline is fed through a small opening I previously drilled in the lid. And no, I have never had an octopus die on me at the beach or during transport back to the USA. They usually live from an average of 6 months to about 18 months in my home aquariums. Typically, I'll catch a bimac or two each July in preparation for the upcoming school year. I'll keep one in the class, and one at home as a reserve just in case the classroom bimac dies during the school year. However, that has only happened twice in five years, and again, it was after 6 or 7 months.

So, I hope you now understand the process of how I go about collecting wild bimacs. As a final note, I would just like to say that I know there are critics who oppose the wild collection of any animal, and they are entitled to their opinions, just as I am to mine! And I love collecting sea creatures for my aquaria!! :smile:


Dr. Idso
Absolutely fascinating!!! Your students are very lucky!! I locally collect food for my bimacs, with my daughtor, but I can only imagine the excitement at collecting your own bimacs!!!

Any pictures of your outdoor saltwater pool??

And welcome!!

How interestiing!!! 12 Bimacs in one weekend! Wow you could give Fishsupply a run for their money :wink: Ten bimacs in the same tank :o wow, did they manage to coexist?
:shock: That is SO not fair!!! :P
what do you teach? I just got finished with biology last year and the most interesting thing we have is a whale skull full with leaves (it was outside for a season :roll: ) which is cool in itself, but you can't beat a bimac!
My favorite is the second picture, is it black and white?
:shock: Perhaps I can talk dad into converting our goldfish pond into a tide pool(all of our fish died from the freezing winter we just had...hmm, maybe not a good idea :talker: )
I was thinkin, (oh no, now your in for it!) would you be interested in breeding bimacs, cause it sounds like you can get a lot of em and the chances are of getting a female with a male are pretty good, cause if ye are then I'm sure you'll get a lot of takers...
Just a thought
Something I'm curious about: when you had this 4000 gallon salt water pond, did you ever go swimming in it with your bimacs?

Some Answers to Your Questions

Hello All,

I'll go ahead and address some more of your comments. For starters, I am 34 years old, and the 4,000 gallon saltwater pond was built back when I was about 12 and we maintained it as a saltwater pond until I was about 17, then we converted it to fresh water. My father finally had enough of the "salt" costs due to heavy evaporation in the Arizona southwest! In fact, I remember, the initial salt supplies that were unloaded from a UPS truck. They left stacks of boxes about 6 feet high in a rectangle that was about 6 by 8 feet in size! It looked like the "Christmas List" left by the FedEx trucks on the movie the Santa Clause! Back then the initial salt costs were about $2,100 and my dad put in another $150 a month from evaporation. I realize that the evaporation leaves behind the salt, but still it was never enough to match the correct salinity, as some of it always was lost, so we were always adding more salt

My father made a 35-mm slide show of the pond construction and the sea creatures it contained. I think my brother transferred it to a DVD and if so, I can try to get some images from it and post them at a later time.

With respect to all the bimacs in the 10-foot long tank, we never had a problem with them fighting, becasue we kept them well fed. We would net minnows from a local urban lake and keep them stocked in a smaller freshwater pond in our backyard. We would just feed the octopuses in the tank by hand everyday! So they never fought because they were well fed and there were plenty of rocks for all of them to hide amongst. But again, this was all when I was a teenager and we were actively catching bimacs for the pond and this big tank. That big tank has been retired for about 15 years.

Over the past 14 years, the most bimacs I've ever collected in a weekend at Mexico has been 2. And that is because two bimacs is all I've ever had use for recently. So I wouldn' give Jack at Fish Supply any competition with my collecting! :smile: It is illegal to bring things back across the border for commercial use. We once got searched by custom agents who found several ice chest and buckets full of sea life. They did ask us if it was for our own private use or commercial use. After telling them it was for our own personal use in our salt-water pond and fish tanks, they waved us on through.

The octopus that is black and white changes to that pattern every once in a while. It does so especially when it is excited. I love the zebra look, for it reminds me of a "wonderpus." It normally has a light brown skin color, as is common with most of the bimacs I've collected in Mexico. But like all octopuses, they can change their color and skin texture at the drop of a dime in less than a second! Such amazing creatures!

About bimac breeding, I'd like to try it, but have never experienced it. I would not attempt it unless I had all the food resources available for the hatchlings as I've seen suggested by others who have hatched out eggs. It looks like quite a project getting all the food resources available, but there probably is nothing cuter than a baby bimac, except for a baby human! :biggrin2:

And finally, to Nancy. I could pull out my journal that I wrote in when I was 13 or 14 and read to you about the time I went "swimming" not only with the bimacs, but with the sand sharks, 5-pound halibuts, and foot long corvinas, pompanos, and sea basses! I was on the bridge spanning the pond and was leaning over to try and see if a bimac was actually hiding in one of our underwater tunnels. I leaned to far over and flipped in head first doing a complete forward summersault! I'll never forget how cold it was, nor how scared I was! It was also on a Christmas Eve, no less! I flew up out of that water and pulled myself back onto the bridge in 2 seconds flat! And that was the only time I swam with the bimacs!

Best Regards,

Dr. Idso
Thanks for posting so much information Doc... i really appreciate it as I'm sure many other members do!

Keep it coming
Hi Dr. Idso,

I second what Colin says - we all have enjoyed your postings very much, and you have some unusual experiences with bimacs, both past and present. Please continue to share your interesting photos, too.


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