[Octopus]: LittleBit - O. vulgaris


Staff member
Moderator (Staff)
Sep 4, 2006
Cape Coral, FL
I posted an ID request on this little guy thinking an odd looking O.briareus or a very long armed O.vulgaris from the initial preshipment photos. This is definitely not a species I have kept but I am still in a quandry as to what it might be. O. defilippi fits the long arm to mantle ratio and the small mantle size but I have not been able to determine if the third arms are longer than the second pair (the first pair are definitely shorter than the second and third). The mantle is tiny maybe 1/2" long and less than that wide. I am guessing the arms to be about 4" long and very delicate (but good strength). The suckers seem to be off set but I can't tell yet whether there are one or two rows. Atleast two arms have provided food for another animal (L1 and L4 I think), the back one being considerably and newly shortened. The photos I am finding of O. defilippi show a much more robust animal (particularly the arms) so I have not confidence in my suggested species. I believe it is a very young animal and it has shown a range of color from white to brown to orangish red and nice camo.

I hand released (literally) this little guy and he immediately found Monty's night time den (Monty has been moved to another tank).


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CaptFish, you definitely have Neal's number :biggrin2:, it is the first thing he said. The photos just don't show how tiny his mantle is.

I can't find him tonight but there are LOTS of places for an octo that small to hide inside the rocks. I don't see a congregation of brissles and the serpents are all in different places and I looked behind the tank ... First two week paranoid setting in for sure.

Whatever he is, it is not one I have kept before but that is two now that I can't ID and that drives me crazy.
I DID find Little Bit after my last post and found it again tonight around 12:00 AM. Last night it did not want the mysis but took it quickly tonight.

Looking up Macrotritopus defilippi, I found an interesting Hanlon article that gathered evidence of flounder mimicry in this species as well as a reference to a 1989 article that was written as an in situ guide for identifying cephalopods (that I have not been able to locate but have not given up).

Interesting to my ID search, Hanlon makes the following comments about the species:

This species is small and delicate in construction compared to other shallow-water octopuses in that region
(I noted the delicate appearance of Little Bit in the first post)

All dives were completed in daylight at depths ranging from 10 to 15 m. One individual of M. defilippi was found in mid-afternoon on a sand plain at 12 m... ...The Florida octopuses (n > 5) were relatively easier to find in that location (higher population density, shallow water) and were often out foraging in the sandy shallow (2-m) habitat
(a GOOD thing if I have a species match because it has only been out at night so far)

white leucophore marking at the distal end of the mantle
The small dark arm bars (characteristic of the species
I Need to look for a mantle white mark and arm bars (arm bars are common to a lot of species though)

I noted tonight that the siphon looks disproportionally large for the tiny mantle and one of Hanon's photos gives the same appearance. The mantle, however, is elongated where Little Bit's has a more square appearance in the photos.
Me too, when it is someone elses octopus :roll::wink:

Neal found and fed her/him tonight but it is still not coming out for inspection. He laughed at me for not following my own guidance about patience :biggrin2:
Strong pattern of arm stripes confirmed (this is a weak diagnostic though).

Neal feeds the tanks between 6 and 7 nightly. For the first time, Little Bit started waving his (male until further observation) arms around when the Cyclop-eeze/meaty bits hit the water and all but jumped on his pipette offered mysis (or similar from the Korean Market) shrimp. He has been taking the shrimp well but this is the first time he has
a)been seen during the day
b)made himself known voluntarily.

He remained visible (in a new den) the rest of the evening. Every time I see him I am amazed at his delicate tiny mantle. I am fairly sure he is a juvenile but the delicate look goes beyond just being young, more of a fine crafted look of a miniature.
Tonight we saw more of Little Bit than we have since he enter the aquarium. He has been easy to find (once you know where his den is located) and will pop up his eyes if he sees you looking for him but has not come out in the open at all until tonight (and then only briefly but still showed more of his mantle above the den than any other feeding time). We were late feeding him tonight and he has been eating every night but I don't know if being tardy with dinner was the main cause for the exended visit.

I tried to get a few pictures to show how tiny and delicate this little one appears. You will have to click on the first two pictures to even find him.

You will note in the video that the crab is larger than his mantle, that he has no fear of it and that it does not struggle long. The later point suggests being extra careful about not being bitten. Also note the quick arm movements. He is VERY fast. Shortly after I turned off the camera, he managed to drag the entire crab down the hole into his den with nothing left to see from above.


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umm, There is Cassy, Tatanka, Monty, Diego and LittleBit now in residence. Sadly, I will likely lose the first three all about the same time. Monty is blind, Cassy brooding and Tank (Cassy's brother) has become shy but is still eating and comes out to see us (but ducks behind the rocks if he thinks we are paying attention). Hopefully, a couple of Cassy and Tank's hatchlings will stay with us but there are only about 17 eggs still maturing.
Just when we thought he might start coming out, he has become super reclusive. I can't believe he is a full grown she and about brood. The weather has turned cold at night and I have turned off the heaters for the tanks so I am hoping that the cooler water is the reason.

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