Wearing brick red eyes with brown mottling, I'm fairly convinced it's a vulgaris. If it was a Briareus- which also paint their eyestalks brick red sometimes, usually accompany that coloration with their trademark iridescent blue. Have you seen this animal wearing an almost otherworldly iridescent blue paintjob at all? If not, it's a Vulgaris.
The posturing isn't ID specific for any octo, though- they ALL do that.
Either way, he's a beautiful specimen....congrats!
An important note: Both of these species are notorious escape artists. Safeguard your lid system and your pump inlets and exhausts. Use exessive weights or latches to weigh down the lid, too- they're strong little buggers.
Well, its week or two later and have some more questions/observations.
No, I have never seen it become a blue color. It is remarkable how quickly they can change color/textures. You can actually see several "waves" of different colors pass over it in a second or two. When it is "threatened" by a noise or net/hand it has, several times, turn dark brown and then an almost perfect "racing stripe" forms down the length of its bell and splitting its eyes. Its lines are perfect straight and not fuzzy. Amazing. Though, I dont know what he is emulating to try to scare of the threat. Occasionally he'll change colors in reaction to something, but never runs and hides because of the perceived "threat".
It seems to love the cleaning magnet. Even though it is affixed to the glass and is very strong, he is constantly pulling it off. It started as as a jungles Jim that he would hang off of. Then I'll walk up to aquarium when I hear the other piece (outside piece) hit the floor. The octo will scurry over on top of the magnet, now lying in the sand. He'll turn white and make it look like him the magnet underneath him and him arent there. He has also taken (by force) 2 smaller nets from me. I stuck them in to clean and he'll bolt and grab them while I'm holding it. A little tug-of-war will insue, and when I dont expect it, he'll make a a huge pull and yank it from my hand and them completely covers it with his body and shuffles it back to his cave. Is he just looking for toys?
Also, he has a complete fascination with the powerhead (pump) that feeds the protein skimmer. Routintely he will remove all four suction cups (how I dont know, I cant even get them off plus they are slotted into the unit). Then he'll pile them up in the center of the tank. He is ALWAYS over fooling with it. Now hes figured out how to take the top (snap clip) to it off. Again, I dont know how. Luckily there are no moving parts exposed when he does that. Finally, he is CONSTANTLY getting on top of it...out of the water! I keep the water line about 3-4 inches low to discourage him from getting too close to the top. Consequently, about an inch of the powerhead (pump) is out of the water. He will get up on top of the pump with his 'bell' hanging over into the water. He'll then shoot water at the top of the tank or across the water line at me, if I am removing dead crayfish parts. Do you think he is just curious, or planning an escape by this action? I have never seen him look or feel for exits while there thoguh. I dont see any place he can get out easily. The most clearance around any incoming tubes/return is a 1/8" or 1/4". I know they can fit anywhere their beak can fit, but this seem more trouble than it would be worth. I also see many people touching their octo. When I stick a hand in either to feed or clean, he comes right out and towards my hand. He wont go to it directly but will hang around until it looks safe. Eventually after a few minutes he'll slowly extand a tentacle. Once he gets a few suction cups on me (freaky, they really stick...a lot). He suddenly bolt towards my hand and with more tentacles. The few times I've let him try this I freak out and remove my hand before he gets a chance to get any more on me. I keep expecting him to parachute my hand like he does the crawfish and powerhead. Is this curiousity and will do no harm, or do you think hes attacking me? He is never startled or alarmed it seems, no matter I do, even when I get my hand out quick.
OK, right off the bat, all this behavior means that your octopus is very comfortable in his home- congratulations! Tell you what though, it's not acting like any vulgaris I've known. Sounds more like the trademark monkeyshines of a bimac. Sounds a LOT like my now deceased Tomi. (poor guy shuffled off his mortal coil on Sunday.
Anyway, I still stand by my vulgaris ID, especially since you haven't seen any blue.
Watching your octopus hang out of the water is really unnerving. Thing is, many octopuses will haunt the tidal area where they get caught in tide pools. They have been known to cross dry rock to get where they need to. Vulgaris isn't at the top of the list of octopus that do this, but I sure wouldn't rule it out.
Unnerving or not, octopuses don't sit there and "plan" an escape. The intelligence of octopuses is subject of heated debate, but we all agree on one thing: They are fantastic problem solvers. It may be that octopuses escape from tanks simply as a manner of their habits.
The octos that are prone to escape are also chronic curious wanderers, and *I* think the escape behavior is more the unfortunate result of relentless curiousity.
Here's a prosective octopus algorithm: (exits water slightly) Hey, it's the lid. I wonder if I can pull it down. nope. I wonder if I can push it off? nope. I wonder if I can force an arm through here....hey, something out here moves! I wonder if I can pull it...etc etc etc. They're just bound to figure it out!
As for it's ability to tear apart aquarium equipment that we need tools to assemble, well... Octopuses are VERY strong. Everyone I've introduced to an octopus has been amazed at the little ball of muscle's strength. They also have suckers- great for getting a grip on those slippery plastic and rubber pieces.
I have seen octopuses do some funny and often mind boggling stuff.
Like yours, most octos I've kept really dug the magnet scraper. I know very well the THUNK sound of the magnet handle falling on the floor. Tomi was extremely posessive of anything entering the water- nets, arms, floating fish bags, and even my iguana's tail (a photo of which is posted somewhere over in the behavior section.) I had a briareus that often dragged a seahorse around like a balloon. Another Bimac used to get a kick out of pulling on the bobbing floating thermometer. Yet another seemed to enjoy waving the bubbler around the tank. Tomi religiously collected empty snail shells. Other Some octopuses will sort all the gravel in thier tank. Most completely rearrange the tank, even dragging around 10# chunks of liverock until they had the perfect den.
Your hand is just another thing for the octopus to check out. I have been bitten by octopuses twice. Usually your will only be "felt" by the beak. Again, it's unnerving. Have patience, trust needs to be built both inside and outside the aquarium.
You're doing well, and this sounds like an interesting critter. I hope you keep us posted!
Yes, I agree with Jimbo, you do have a good one! All these antics, and he's just starting!
Ollie, my recently deceased bimac, used to love to play with the cleaning magnet too. If she wanted attention, she would pull it apart to make the big "thunk". Then she might take her piece and hide it in her den. When I'd come to look, she'd dangle it out on the tip of one arm. But when I'd try to get it, she'd pull in it!
Your octo does seem to like his home and is getting to know you. Both of you have to learn to trust each other, but you're off to a good start. It's very rewarding to be able to touch and play with your octo. I'll attach one of my "Playing with Ollie" pics.