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[Octopus]: Inky the Octopus hummelincki

Joined
Feb 8, 2020
Messages
12
Well, I’m seeing more really odd behavior and I just thought someone else might have had the same experience.

As I shared Wednesday, Inkie hasn’t eaten since last week (Thursday or Friday). I’m still offering her thawed shrimp a couple of times a day. She pushes/squirts them away. There are also 4 hermit crabs living in the tank and a small blue crab. She ignores them if they practically crawl over her.

She's still spening the day sleeping, and completely ignores her dens. Yesterday she had cleared the sand away in a narrow space between a big pile of rock and the back wall of the tank, below the filter intake, and stayed there attached to the wall in a flattened circle without moving the entire day and early evening.

She has been active very late at night/early morning the last few days so I checked on her at about 1:30 AM. She was out and moving around on the glass in the front of the tank. When I sat by the tank, she went to the left front corner, the place where she most likes to interact with me. In the past few months, she has never spent more than about 45 minutes interacting with me. Last night she not only stayed almost continually in the corner for more than an hour and a half, but she seemed much “less inhibited” for lack of a better term.

For example, in our normal routine, I always usually wait for her to rise up in the corner until she meets my hand. If I moved toward her, she would “freeze” and back up. She initiated the contact. She would come to my hand briefly, them move a short distance away, and then return over and over. I would also gently stroke her arms as she pulled away, but she didn’t want my hand following her.

Last night she stayed in the corner, and stayed almost constantly in contact with my hand. She has always seemed to most enjoy having the underside of her mantle gently massaged. Last night she positioned herself so that I could keep rubbing her as she slowly went up and down in the corner. She also let me rub her tentacles, front and back, pretty vigorously.

Sorry for all the detail, it was just a VERY different experience. I was so happy to have the contact, given the situation, that I would has stood there for hours. But things took a much weirder turn. She all of the sudden put her arms over the side of the tank and began to pull herself out, crawling toward me. I gently guided her back in. She then moved even closer ,right in front of me, and slowly started out of the tank again. I guided her back in again. Then in a minute or so she quickly pulled herself over the edge of the tank and was almost all in my hand! Her mantle was over the edge. I placed her back in the tank and quickly put the glass cover on the tank. I made sure the tank was secure, I have an odd mix of glass covers in the front and mesh with heavy duty Velcro securing the back.

She has never made any effort to leave her tank! When she was smaller, she ate snails found in the area she would snag them along the top edge, where they hid. And she would occasionally check the rim for hermit crabs clinging to a filter pipe, often squirting them down. But she never even showed any interest in exploring the tank top edge.

I’m not sure what to do now if she reappears in her favorite spot. I will be very difficult to ignore her, but the climbing onto me from the tank really freaked me out and I don’t want her getting hurt, even in her final days.
 

pkilian

GPO
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Jul 31, 2019
Messages
162
I have experienced a lot of octopuses trying to "haul out" as I put it. It's important to stay vigilant whenever you have the lid of the tank removed. You could also use a net or a piece of plastic to keep her from reaching over the lip of the tank.

As you've said earlier in the thread, Inky may be starting to under go senescence. Her lack of interest in eating, ignoring prey in the tank, strange behaviors, and that she is no longer spending time in the dens she has previously made are all signs of senescence.

Make sure to spend some quality time with Inky while they are still around. It's a pleasure to see all the photos and text write-ups you do.
 

sedna

Larger Pacific Striped Octopus
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Jul 13, 2008
Messages
1,306
I too have noticed that my octopuses become more interactive as they move through senescence. It’s a tough thing to go through, but enjoy it while you can! If you can have another person around when you are handling her, that can be helpful if she tries to haul out again- it’s a step I take with my more social octopuses.

It’s hard because it feels like you become more “bonded” with your octopuses during senescence, only to loose them. I just remember that I’d rather have them die at my house and make me sad, than get eaten by predators out in the ocean.
 

DWhatley

Kraken
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Sep 4, 2006
Messages
20,973
First, let me say that I love being able to physically interact with my octos. However, I have come to think that their willingness (desire) to be petted may have something to do with itchy skin and our petting makes a great, soft scratching post. Anecdotal observation suggest that as they become senescent, their skin my itch more than normal (possibly to the point of biting their arms and bringing on infection that heightens the itch). They are also bothered by bristle worms more often (they smell the flesh beginning to decay) and don't seem to be able to keep them away (possibly the reason for not using her den). These is ONLY anecdotal observations and conclusions but fit what I have seen after keeping over 20 animals.

Her symptoms are common for senescence and your captivity time is not overly short (they are a small egg species for for the first month they live as plankton then settle and grow exponentially). However the fact that she is no longer happy with her den makes me suggest that you double check your PH, salt levels and ammonia, either one being an issue can cause senescent like behavior. Since you are using untreated water, there may be something natural that is causing discomfort. If your salt is low, buy or make some slightly heavily salted water using RO/DI or distilled fresh. Bring up her salt level over a 24 hour period (similar to acclimation - slowly add new and take our an equal amount of old). PH is a little harder but you can still use RO/DI or distilled fresh and add a saltwater buffer to correct the PH and then do water changes. If ammonia or nitrite are the issue, do a large water change ASAP but check your water source first. If your normal water source is OK, use it, if not, back to the RO/DI or distilled base and add commercial salt mix.
 
Joined
Feb 8, 2020
Messages
12
I have experienced a lot of octopuses trying to "haul out" as I put it. It's important to stay vigilant whenever you have the lid of the tank removed. You could also use a net or a piece of plastic to keep her from reaching over the lip of the tank.

As you've said earlier in the thread, Inky may be starting to under go senescence. Her lack of interest in eating, ignoring prey in the tank, strange behaviors, and that she is no longer spending time in the dens she has previously made are all signs of senescence.

Make sure to spend some quality time with Inky while they are still around. It's a pleasure to see all the photos and text write-ups you do.
Thanks for the advice. It's just good to talk to folks who have been through this.
 
Joined
Feb 8, 2020
Messages
12
I too have noticed that my octopuses become more interactive as they move through senescence. It’s a tough thing to go through, but enjoy it while you can! If you can have another person around when you are handling her, that can be helpful if she tries to haul out again- it’s a step I take with my more social octopuses.

It’s hard because it feels like you become more “bonded” with your octopuses during senescence, only to loose them. I just remember that I’d rather have them die at my house and make me sad, than get eaten by predators out in the ocean.
Thanks for sharing your experiences. I am happy that we still have the interaction.
 
Joined
Feb 8, 2020
Messages
12
First, let me say that I love being able to physically interact with my octos. However, I have come to think that their willingness (desire) to be petted may have something to do with itchy skin and our petting makes a great, soft scratching post. Anecdotal observation suggest that as they become senescent, their skin my itch more than normal (possibly to the point of biting their arms and bringing on infection that heightens the itch). They are also bothered by bristle worms more often (they smell the flesh beginning to decay) and don't seem to be able to keep them away (possibly the reason for not using her den). These is ONLY anecdotal observations and conclusions but fit what I have seen after keeping over 20 animals.

Her symptoms are common for senescence and your captivity time is not overly short (they are a small egg species for for the first month they live as plankton then settle and grow exponentially). However the fact that she is no longer happy with her den makes me suggest that you double check your PH, salt levels and ammonia, either one being an issue can cause senescent like behavior. Since you are using untreated water, there may be something natural that is causing discomfort. If your salt is low, buy or make some slightly heavily salted water using RO/DI or distilled fresh. Bring up her salt level over a 24 hour period (similar to acclimation - slowly add new and take our an equal amount of old). PH is a little harder but you can still use RO/DI or distilled fresh and add a saltwater buffer to correct the PH and then do water changes. If ammonia or nitrite are the issue, do a large water change ASAP but check your water source first. If your normal water source is OK, use it, if not, back to the RO/DI or distilled base and add commercial salt mix.

Thank you so much for all of your advice. I double checked her water parameters again, just in case. My salinity was fine, it tends to run a little high if anything. The Mosquito Lagoon water fluctuates, depending on rainfall, but it's 1.026 right now. With evaporation it can creep higher, but adding distilled fresh keeps things lower. The lagoon PH is 8.3. Mine looked slightly lower so I did use a little of the buffer I have used in the past, it will bring it up to 8.3 without going higher. My ammonia is always undetectable, but the nitrite was slightly elevated, not enough to measure with my API saltwater kit. I did do another water change just in case (I checked my water source again last week, everything was perfect). Her water was pretty close to is where it should be to begin with, but it’s on target now.

Inkie's dens are actually both food-safe pottery forming the "cave", with lots of live rock surrounding it. When she was smaller and outgrew the dens that were naturally occurring in the live rock, I was paranoid about a rock collapse if she moved a rock, so I first introduced a big ceramic glass (from an art show years ago). I surrounded it with rock and she moved right in. I have just added bigger pieces of pottery as she has grown. She lines them with shells and small pieces of rock. She slept in the smaller one she barely fits in and hung out in the bigger one, usually attached to the top. As I said before, she stopped eating and stayed in her den without leaving (as far as I know) for two days and then left without returning. I have seen in the larger one for brief periods, but she’s still sleeping in odd places around the tank. There definitely aren’t bristle worms in her den, but there are in the live rock.

I also bought a half dozen live shrimp at the bait store. She has never been very good at catching them, but they bury themselves in the sand and she spreads herself out on the bottom probing with her arms. She does eventually snag one. She didn’t pay any attention to them when introduced, but they are in the tank if her appetite returns, along with the crabs.

Inkie really seems to like to have the area “under” her hood, where it joins her legs, rubbed. It’s the one thing she reacted to from the first time I did it. She stays a lot longer now, and quickly returns for more. I have wondered if that’s something other octopuses have enjoyed.

Thank you again. I will keep a very close eye on all the water parameters. At least I can eliminate that as a cause.
 
Joined
Feb 8, 2020
Messages
12
Inkie is not doing well today. She has very labored breathing and her syphon is extended more than usual. The tips of her arms are curled. She briefly came to the corner and would rise to my hand, but didn't really want to be touched. Her movements are somewhat uncoordinated, her legs are crossing one another. I'm leaving the lights really low and just hoping she doesn't suffer for a long time.

I'd like to share a recent funny story. Inkie's tank is behind my desk in my classroom. A have a small table where I work with students, it abuts the counter her tank sits on. Her habit is to rise and fall in the front corners of the tank when she's seeking contact. Often, she would emerge from her den about the time the school day ended. She would hover in the corner and, whenever possible, I would hang my hand in the tank providing contact, while working with a student.

One evening, a couple of months ago, I was sitting at that table grading papers that needed to be submitted that night, and I had ignored several of her appearances in the corner. I was then surprised by a stream of water from the tank that landed squarely on the papers I was grading. After quickly drying the papers, I took a break and gave her some attention. She had never squirted anything but the odd unwelcome adult who approached the tank (and never me). She never squirted the table again.

Two weeks ago, I was sitting at my desk planning some long-distance lessons that needed to be posted. Again, working against a deadline, I ignored her bobbing in the corner behind my back. I was surprised by an unexpected stream of water that went across my left shoulder and landed on the top left corner of my computer screen. Message received. I dried my screen and spent some time with her.

It’s this kind of thing that will make it so tough when she’s gone. I am lucky that I teach at a public charter school that is willing to give us a higher degree of freedom. I live 40 miles from the school and have basically been camping out in my classroom taking care of several tanks, mostly Inkie. My administrators know how attached I am to these guys, and how much my students get out of having them here.
 

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