[Octopus]: O. briareus or O. vulgaris?

Dec 6, 2009
Herndon, VA
Ordered an O. vulgaris in yesterday from the Florida Keys as I have been looking for my next octopus adventure and wanted something bigger that would also live longer (I have to admit I also wanted to be able to buy blue crabs at the market as food as that would be a neat way to watch feeding behaviors). While not necessarily unhappy I am a little disappointed that I received a very small octopus which I think may actually an O. briareus. While this species does get to be a good size it is not as big as what I was looking for. Fortunately it is very small right now, resting position is showing a mantle about 2-3" across, so I know it is young and hopefully I will have lots of time with it. This one inked in the bag after unpacking the box so it was speed acclimated (aka moved immediately to new water without any acclimation) and spent the day in a bucket with a chunk of rock until I got it home. Tossed in a few emerald crabs in case it got hungry but it didn't show any interest but I can't blame it for that. I floated it in the tank and poked a few holes to allow it to acclimate and crawl out when it wanted to as I had to go to soccer practice and when I got back a couple of hours later it was still in the bag. No signs of distress or anything concerning so I released it into the tank and it went into hiding but fortunately where I could observe it. ID is not certain so if you think I actually have a different species please chime in. I know for certain it was collected in the Keys and that seems to narrow it down but the general appearance of these two species seems to be similar enough to allow for confusion. Color does appear to be more of a greenish-brown but it has been mostly pale or an angry dark color so far only, no real calm colors yet.

Received verification that it is an O. briareus. He said I am probably the first person to purchase from him that actually knows the difference between them. He said they usually just lump them under the same description but will correct that moving forward. He also said he would collect a small vulgaris for me so looks like I might be a two octopus guy again soon. 😁
Signs of life but no sightings of the octopus. Here is the "midden heap" even though those are all just shells that were in the tank, although perhaps the Cerith shells are former hermit crabs.
Looks like this one likes to be out early in the day, need to find a controller for my light (threw and old Kessil on there for the corals but really hate how these lights require a separate controller to be functional). Startled it but got a few photos before it retreated. I have always noticed that these animals seem to know when you are taking a photo of them, I am guessing their vision allows them to see or at least sense the light that comes from the cell phone camera to identify the object in the photo.

This is my first sighting of the octopus since before the end of October. I did some rearranging at one point in time and figured that it was under the largest rock and decided not to bother it. I did see some evidence that it was in there as I put a coral banded shrimp into the tank and a day later it was missing a claw. I have seen consistent signs of eating as the fiddler crabs that I have added to the tank have been rapidly disappearing and the same can be said for the emerald crabs. That being said, my morning trips down to look for it have been on eventful until today. I am tentatively going to say that she has grown about 3 times as large as when I last saw her. I did not get a good look at her arm but it did not have the appearance of being rounded at all so I am guessing this is a female. She did not want the piece of shrimp that I offered but fortunately I have a very large supply of crabs to give her. Going to see if she is still out after work today but I doubt it. So far she has been very crepuscular or nocturnal, not sure which of those she is being as I only see her early in the morning when everything is dark in the room.
I am not sure of the size but I would be leaning more towards briareus as an ID

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