New to the forum, and to octopi... :)


Nov 24, 2011
Hello all -- my name is Jen. I've lurked around here for a couple weeks, just reading up and such, and thought I should join in and see what more I can learn. :smile: I'm a former U.S. Army soldier, currently a full-time student on my GI Bill pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Technology, followed by my VTS specialty in zoo medicine and exotics. I hope to take over an exotic animal rescue/sanctuary with a close friend of mine who is pursuing his DVM, as his uncle currently runs it in Illinois. We hope to focus on big cats, reptiles, and potentially some aquatics, and possibly do some captive breeding for endangered species. I've been an animal nerd my entire life, loving the cute domestic furballs but always being drawn to the more exotic and out-of-the-ordinary animals. I currently have my own personal "zoo" at home (see my signature), and as for saltwater animals, have kept your standard reef fish as well as stingrays, moray eels, etc.

I have wanted an octopus for a long time, but have been wary of ordering one online sight unseen, even from Live Aquaria. I stopped into a LPS a few weeks ago to pick up a couple gift cards they had donated to our VT student club fundraiser, and I checked out the saltwater section as I usually do when I stop in. Low and behold, they had this gorgeous little octopus in a 10g display with nothing but one small rock. Upon seeing me in front of the tank, he immediately let go of his position on the back wall and came to the front, to check me out. He seemed to really be investigating me and was intrigued by my phone when I tried to take his picture. He reached his tentacle out to "touch" where my fingers were against the glass, and was very calm and curious. I fell in love, and knew I had to take him home. I asked them to feed him, and he took the krill they offered readily, which I felt good about. He had great color and was very alert, and had been there for almost 2 weeks. I have a 14g Biocube that has been set up and running for months, originally with my pair of gold-striped maroon clowns and their anemone, but I moved them to another tank and hadn't thought of what to replace them with. So I brought "Fred" home and set up the Biocube for him with PVC, live rock, and have added different toys and enrichment items. The pump chamber and center filtration chamber are blocked off with filter floss padding that he can't get through and doesn't like to touch, and the 2 holes in the back for cords are duct-taped shut. The only area he can get into is the intake chamber, which houses just the protein skimmer. There is nothing in there that can harm him, and he seems to like hanging out in there about 50% of the time to keep an eye on the comings and goings around the tank. He stays in the bottom chamber, which is separated from everything else, like an empty box. He spends a lot of time out in the tank, observing, checking things out, exploring, looking for his food, etc. I took one of my cats' plastic jingle balls, cut 2 bars out of it to remove the metal bell, and use that as a place to put his food so that he has to think and figure out how to remove it through the holes. I also gave him a bird toy which is a plastic ladder with beads at the top and a mirror, which he likes to look at himself in. I don't know if he recognizes that it is his reflection or thinks it's another octopus, but he touches it with his tentacles and caresses it gently. I also gave him different empty snail shells so that he has to forage and turn them over to look for food, and I rotate various legos so that he doesn't get bored with the same ones. He mainly likes to feel the bumps on them and check the hollow undersides for treats. I also offer him live ghost shrimp a couple times per week, which he absolutely LOVES to hunt and chase and catch. He does recognize me as the source of food, and comes out when he sees me near the tank and will come to the glass to investigate. Aside from giving him food in puzzles, I also offer him small tidbits on the end of the plastic feeding tongs so that he interacts with me. He takes these pieces readily and as the last week has progressed, I've been moving my hand closer to the end of the tongs so he gets accustomed to it. The other day he reached 2 tentacles out to touch me, to see if I was food or not, and didn't get frightened as I thought he might -- he seemed very curious. He kept munching on his piece of shrimp, but wouldn't let go of my finger either. He touched every part he could reach, tasting and feeling. I think my heart pretty much melted. I never thought I could love a little aquatic critter so much. :smile:

I have had Fred for just shy of 1 month now, and he is doing really great. I do know he needs a bigger tank, I just wanted to keep him somewhere safe for the beginning until I could observe his personality better and make sure he was healthy and established. That's why I make sure he has lots of enrichment and stimulation. I have been waiting for my overpayment refund check from school so that I can purchase a 60g cube tank like the 93g one I have currently, and can make a plexiglass top that will be safe and escape proof. Although he's never made any motion to look for escape, I would rather be safe than sorry.

The LPS just had him labeled as "octopus" and like most pet stores, had no idea what species he was. I've done a lot of research, and it seems tough to identify them. But based on the colors/patterns he produces and his body structure, I think he may be an Abdopus aculeatus. Here is a video I took of Fred hunting ghost shrimp, perhaps you all will be able to ID him for me:

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This group (Abdopus) always has me unsure on species. The initial look on the glass looks aculeatus but the webbing shown later and the lack of displayed papillae has me wondering about the possibility of something else in the complex. I will try to get Mucktopus or Roy to peek in (remember this is a holiday week).
Could it be that he's young? Looking at the overall size expected for adult A. aculeatus, and coloration, I'm 95% sure that he's a juvenile. His mantle is only 1" long, arm-span tip to tip unless he's extremely stretching is 4-5". Which is why I figured he would be comfortable in the Biocube for a little while, and perhaps feel safer.

Regarding the papillae, he does have them on the top of his eye stalks and his mantle. He flares them when excited or in curious/hunting mode. But generally he keeps them flat and subdued, although still visible. I got 2 new videos that I will upload to FB that may help. From what I saw looking at his 3rd right arm, no sperm groove, so "Fred" may be female afterall. :smile:
She does a full-body gray color when she's trying to seem non-chalant, right before she gets excited and goes more brownish gray with a bright white mantle stripe. As for a "passing cloud", not sure. She does roll/ripple her color flashes sometimes as a warning or attempt to seem more threatening to people she doesn't know. It reminds me of when fans do the wave in a stadium. She's also really good at turning only half her body a certain color, with a division right between her eyes down her mantle. I will upload a couple more videos so you all can see the various color displays. Oh, and she flared her papillae all over her body today in response to a new person looking at her. They were little spikes of flesh all over her proximal tentacles and her mantle, and one on top of each eye.

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