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[Octopus]: LittleBit - O. vulgaris

DWhatley

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I am going with Little Bit being O. joubini. I reviewed the excellent article (Clarification of the Western Atlantic Ocean Pygmy Octopus Complex: The Identity and Life History of Octopus Joubini (Cephalopoda: Octopodinae)
Authors: Forsythe, John W.; Toll, Ronald B.)

I had located and posted in the biology forum for joubini and the orange color is described several times as the primary non-invasive way to distinguish O.joubini from O.mercatois. If Little bit is O. joubini, I would say that they do not look or act anything like O.mercatoris. In addition to the coloration, Little Bit is much more delicate in structure (at least at this stage) and FAR more social. From recent activity, this is an excellent choice for a 20-30 gallon tank. She is becoming quite sociable (albeit a bit fiesty but interested in making contact). This week she is coming fully out of her den at supper and will spring out to the feeding hand. Her intent is not quite clear. Sometimes she seems more interested in the offering hand than the food but always accepts the food. After dinner she seems interested in playing a game of "Taunt the Octopus" and will reach two arms out for my fingers in a game of tag. Sometimes she plays for 10 or 15 minutes but once she touches she seems to lose interest but will remain visible. She will almost let me touch her between the eyes when she is not trying to capture my fingers.
 
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This one looks promising. Mark walked by as I was watching the video of you taunting the octopus. He asked a question, "why does she keep pulling her hand away?" I assume the answer is that you don't trust Little bit as of yet and so not want to get bit. Am I correct??
 

DWhatley

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LOL, No if I thought an octopus would bite I definitely would not taunt it! I normally would not begin interactions this way but each one is different and I try to adjust to the personality. Because Little Bit (Neal wants to rename her Little Jo :roll:) is just starting to show herself and if I let her "catch" me she will go hide (it becomes a touch and hide game then), I kept my fingers just out of reach to extend the interaction time and to encourage her out of her den. She can go fully inside the rock from her new den but the cut out in the rock allows her a small cave and she is spending more and more time there (where we can see her if we lean over and look up) as well as just outside the den in clear (for a well disguised octopus) view. I am really impressed with this little species and wish we could find more as they are far more interactive than the mercs (assuming the one Sedna had was also joubini). We are not yet into touch without fear but she will tollerate my finger at the overhang entrance now and does not go back into the rock. If I leave it there very long she will blow me away (and I obey) but I expect her to advance further with the interaction. As it is, I am delighted that we can see her most of the time now. I took a chance and flashed her last night she did not react at all but the photos did not come out well enough to keep.
 

DWhatley

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Octopus Adornment

Little Bit seems to "wear" shells while in her den. We have seen octopuses (especially the dwarf O. mercatoris) use shells for doors many times but Little Bit's usage is a litte different. For no obvious reason she collects as many as she can hold and sits with them attached to her suckers. She does not use them as a door (but did when she was much smaller) but just holds them in a semi-circle like a shell necklace. It took me awhile to get a photo because she would drop them when I showed interest with the camera :hmm:



Little Bit has really grown. She came out for a brief and unusual swim this week and I was surprised to see how big she had gotten. She is still dwarf sized but as large as a fully grown large mercatoris. When she is not wearing red (her favored color) she looks very much like O. vulgaris. We see the white with brown eye accents a lot but when she came to the front of the tank she wore a light tan for a few seconds. The resemblance is so convincing I wonder if it is actually a biologically passed mimic designed to make the dwarf appear to be a more aggressive species.
 

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DWhatley

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I have not heard (nor observed) of an octopus using external props to disguise itself but I don't have a better explanation
 

devi

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Maybe she's invented octopus jewellery?
iAlex, my urchin is a show off too, wears my corals! Sometimes he kidnaps my snails too, they don't look impressed.
 

DWhatley

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I attempted to capture some of Little Bit's colors tonight and made a collage of some of her normal attire


She is starting to initiate interaction but plays differently than the others I have kept. For a while now at dinner she will often fly up and grab for Neal's hand. She takes the food but is more interested in touching the hand and will sometimes drop the food. She will do the same fly by with my hand without food and will follow it around until she touches it (much like the taunt the octopus video I took earlier). Now, however, she is initiating the interaction and will pounce to the front of the tank when she wants to play. Tonight she played for the better part of an hour. Once she manages to touch the hand she will fly down behind the LR but will poke up her eyes quickly if she wants to play more. She will let me pet her a little bit but after a few strokes will grab my finger. So far she has not bitten and Neal and I think some of the aggressive suckering is to help them shed. Sadly, her new found playfulness has me concerned that she is about to produce eggs and the socialization is part of a biological change that in the wild would mean looking for a mate. I plan to take advantage of her frolicing but it is still sad suspecting that it will only last a week or two before she starts to brood. She will not have fetile eggs since she has been with me as a very small animal but joubini is a small egg species so there would be no hope for hatchling survival even if she had mated.





 

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iAlex

Vampyroteuthis
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The bottom row of pictures looks like a Vulgaris to me.

It also amazes me how wrong I am in judging sizes; Bit looks big in the pictures alone, but when you add a hand, she looks way smaller.
 

DWhatley

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Good observation. From her initial preshipment pictures, I expected her to be O.vulgaris and she has may O.vulgaris looks (especially the all white and large brown circles around the eyes look in one of the previous pictures) so it took me awhile to determine what she was. When she arrived, I was pretty sure she was not vulgaris based on the eyes and proportions but it took me awhile to figure out her species. Her growth rate was a guarantee that she was a dwarf and the arm proportion nixed my first guess. Ultimately, I remembered reading the above paper and reread it to confirm my final guess. Here is a video that will give a size prospective, she is in a 37 gallon tank and has been with me for 3 months. Her red coloring is a major tip off and although she has tripled in size, she is no where near the size she would be if she was a non-dwarf species.

 

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