[Octopus]: Orion. Callistoctopus Luteus

MissPH

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I have only just stumbled upon this section of the forum and figured it would be a nice idea to document the progress I (hopefully) make with my first octopus, Orion. A lot of the pictures I post at this point are cross-posted from a different thread in the octopus care section - apologies for that but they were all the best ones :smile:

I got Orion on December 13th - 2 weeks ago. He was IDd as a Callistoctopus Luteus or "Starry Night" octopus from Indonesia. Upon arrival he had a mantle size of approx 1 inch. I have a tank which is approx 120 gallons with ~60kg of live rock and a few corals.

He was shipped with a little piece of pipe to hide in which he didn't care for at all and completely ignored throughout acclimatisation:


After being introduced to the tank he hid for the first 5 days. I tried feeding him half a frozen thawed mussel every other day - by leaving it at the front of the tank for him to take then removing it if he ignored it - and on day 4 the offering had disappeared by morning. There were plenty of crabs and other critters crawling about so I wasn't terribly worried about him rejecting the thawed food.

On day 5 I got home from work to find a beady little eye watching me from between the rocks and I caught his tentative first steps out on camera:


Straight after this video he hid in a tiny cave at the front of the tank before popping out and following my finger about on the glass for about 5-10 mins:


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He continued interacting for a good 20 minutes moving around the tank and watching me before he got bored and retreated to the rocks.

On day 6 when I returned from work he was already out and about exploring the top half of the tank. He was holding on to the back of my tank in the flow enjoying being wafted about by the looks of things! When he saw me walk in he curled up his tentacles and looked like he was mimicing seaweed? Once he realised he was fooling noone he jetted about the top of the tank a bit, had a look at the weir (had me worried he would try and squeeze thorough!) then came and settled at the bottom to interact some more.

It was lights off, but I turned them on after a few minutes to see if they bothered him (he didn't react, just carried on so I left them on). He followed my finger around a while again and climbed all the way up to the top and sat up in the corner watching me.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0Ehv9F9XkM

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I put a mussel in for him at this point but he didn't seem fussed about it at all. I didn't want to scare him by holding it right up to him (regret this decision now as it was an ideal opportunity). This was one he left all night and didn't touch.

This was the last time he interacted at length and the last time he came out with the main lights on. Since then he has fallen asleep on the back of the tank once (was still there when I went to bed about midnight) and he interacted once by going to a specific corner of the tank, looking at me and climbing on the glass a little, then shying away, climbing up, falling down then repeating the cycle over and over. In hindsight perhaps he wanted something to eat? But I was too afraid of scaring him to open the tank and give him something on a stick. Next time I will do this, though. I don't feel very good at knowing what's the best thing to do at the moment with him which is very frustrating.

On Day 10 he was sat in his corner all curled up, I think he may have been sleeping because when I came up close to have a look his pupil suddenly went all big then narrowed like he was startled, but he didn't get up. I attempted to offer him some mussel on a skewer and he gently touched it but then slinked off into the rocks and wasn't interested. Leaving the mussel in "his spot" didn't lure him back out. In fact I haven't seen him in that spot since! He came out a little later on at about 1am (this was a late night as I was crocheting a last minute xmas present for my nan) and was wandering across the front of the tank. When he saw me looking back at him he elongated his head, stood up tall and shimmied off into a hole and hid again! I don't really know what that meant, if he was being playful, or was scared, or aggressive?
I thought I'd try and get myself in his good books again by making him something fun so I put some frozen-thawed krill in a glass bottle for him to figure out.. The only thing that achieved was trapping a tiny crab the next morning who was happily attached to half a krill and didn't want to let go!

I haven't seen him for a couple of days now. I put in 2 live hermit crabs for his Xmas dinner (he didn't touch them though!), so put a mussel in last night to make up for it. That was a bit chewed this morning but who knows, that could have been his Xmas dinner having a munch! I also fashioned a "toy" out of a couple of straws with frozen-thawed krill attached for xmas but he didn't touch that, either.

Now at day 13 I am a little concerned considering how I haven't seen him in so long (2-3 days) and I am worried I have missed important opportunities when I should have interacted with him more but didn't for fear of crowding and scaring him off.. Or that I have inadvertently done something to make him afraid of me (spooked him without realising when I was cleaning the tank maybe??). I am going to try and get him some fresh shrimp after work today if the supermarket is open to try some variation, maybe he is tired of mussel. I am also looking into options for integrating more live food into his diet to keep him entertained, and some red lights for viewing at night. Fingers crossed I will see more of him soon!
 

sedna

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Hope all goes well with Orion! Beautiful animal, I've had one before and mine was VERY nocturnal. I'd go for the red lights, for sure. If there is a time of night when there are no lights on, he might be waiting until the to come out. I would keep a small amount of red light on all night to try to keep visiting opportunities from being completely in the dark.
 

DWhatley

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Orion's additional postings can be found here in Octopus Care forum and here in the Octopus Bites thread and here under the Sources for Food thread

When I mentioned that you could leave the red lights on 24/7 I did not mean that you HAD to or that you could not add other daytime lighting. I leave mine on all the time more to avoid yet another timer (that likely draws as much power as my red LEDs). I DO recommend leaving them on all night. Octopuses don't seem to mind them but CAN see them and nocturnals will tend to wait until they are off to come out if the option exists.

When you try stick feeding and see reluctance to eat a food, try touching the food directly to the most inner suckers you can gently reach. The suckers seem (anecdotal) to be most sensitive toward the mouth. This recent post (the same species I believe) has a list of suggested foods you can try.
 
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MissPH

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Thanks for the replies :smile:

Dwhatley the problem there with feeding is that (for the last 3-4 days at least) he hasn't been coming out at all while I am up and about so I haven't had the opportunity to try anything with a feeding stick.. Red lights are ordered and in their way though so perhaps that will help.

Early this morning at about 5am I was awake so went to check if he was up and BINGO - he was happily munching on a piece of king prawn I'd placed in the tank for him last night :smile: he was camouflaged with the rocks (changed shape so he was spiky and grey) and sat nibbling away. Put my mind at rest because I'd been quite worried what with not seeing him in so long.

Tonight I think I'm going to try him with a little fresh scallop my fella picked up for him this morning. Perhaps the variation will get him more enthusiastic for coming out to feed when I am around?
 

DWhatley

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VERY happy to hear that he/she is eating.

Note on the scallop, don't buy a mess of them :biggrin2:, with one exception, all the animals I have offered them to enthusiastically took exactly 1. No clue as to why but I am not the only one to have seen this odd behavior.

Eating at 5:00 AM fits well with my own experiences with this species. Both Puddles and Beldar were 3:00 AM (ish) active. This is really quite a nice species for longevity, interaction and observation but their active time is miserable for most keepers. I was able to interact with mine due to odd circumstances but Neal almost never saw them. If you know where he is denning, try offering food on a stick at the entrance to the den just before you retire. If an arm investigates, try to touch the suckers. If you can turn the white lights out earlier (and have them come on earlier to feed the corals), this may also help reset his clock somewhat.
 

MissPH

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Day 15: I had a big success this morning getting up at 5am to have a go at interacting!

We fashioned a red torch using some red quality street chocolate wrappers placed over a light which worked fantastically! When I came down to his tank he was sat in the corner and seemed to recognise my presence and begin climbing up the side (as seen in a lot of the videos I posted) so I skewered some thawed king prawn and slowly moved it down to him. When he realised I was in the tank with him he did his long head + stripe as seen in the photo. Once I got it next to him and gently nudged one of his legs he wrapped around the skewer with no hesitation and pulled the prawn off. I think he really loves them!

He sat with his dinner underneath him a few seconds then jetted off to the other side of the tank and hid - presumably to eat. Is it normal behaviour for octopus to not like eating out in the open or while being watched?

After feeding him like this a few times I think I will try a little interaction before food, especially if he is going to get into the routine of accepting food signalling the end of our interaction.

Well worth only getting 3 hours sleep!

image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg
 

DWhatley

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Looking GOOD! and would be what I would expect from this species. Yes, most of the animals we keep will take their food to a secure place and may take up to an hour to eat it. Once he knows you are bringing food and that the stick is not a threat (you will likely guess this when he wants the stick almost as much as the food :biggrin2:), you can start trying to make a regular feeding time but it will still likely be at an inconvenient hour. My guess is that light bothers their eyes, anecdotal thinking because they will come out with a bit of daylight near the end of their lives and most octos seem to lose much of their vision during senescence.

Great job with the red light, I have used purchased vellum for the same effect but have found some red "party" screw in fluorescent bulbs that work well even if my holder is more than a little ugly. One of my other tanks has an LED light we wired to the lid but the ugly light can be moved from tank to tank and can just sit on top or be clamped to any available post.

I suggest creating a play corner and a feeding corner and be sure your hands have NO food smell. You want him to approach you, not the other way around and you need to establish a "signal" to remove your hand from the tank (something they do naturally, like going to their den, going to the live rock or going to the other side of the tank). First interactions are usually a touch and go. You will know it when it happens but basically, he will come up to your hand quickly touch it with a tip of an arm then jet away. Each time the touch gets a bit longer. Keep your fingers away from the beak. This is usually simple resistance and he will learn not to try to bite. If he latches on, try rubbing the top of the arms (this will only work while he is learning, after he is familiar with play, not so much). You have 5 fingers and he will not use (generally :biggrin2:) all eight arms so you can usually manipulate a couple of fingers or use your other hand. The strongest advice I can give is to be patient and move slowly. Eventually, you should be able to gently pet the front section between the eyes and the mantle but note that they do have individual personalities and tend to change a bit over time.

Here is a series of interaction pictures with Puddles (note my hand does not change locations, he comes to me) and an early dawn video when he was entering senescence.
 
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MissPH

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That's a lovely interaction video, I hope Orion gets to trust me that much (and likewise!) at some point. Thanks for the pointers, I will see if he shows any interest in interacting before his feed next time I catch him awake! If he cannot see with red light and is getting around by feel how is he going to find my hand, though? I don't want it to startle him if he isn't expecting it and make him afraid or aggressive..

Day 15 Orion was up and about at 5am and had his first piece of scallop. I took a few videos (sorry for the poor focus - I was watching him and not the camera as always!)




As you can see he enthusiastically took the scallop as soon as he found it and toddled off to eat it (in plain sight this time!). I was very happy with this progress. There were a few scraps lying around the following morning so he didn't eat it all, but looking back I think I gave him too big a piece.


The following 2 days I have got up at 4am then 5am but no luck - no sight of him. However this morning some of my live rock has been moved about so I am sure he must have been around at some point before I came down to check. I know that a decent sized crab has its den around the rock which was moved so I am suspicious Orion moved it to get at him! Tomorrow morning I am going to get up at 3 to check if he is there to feed. My red lighting still hasn't arrived so I'm still using my temporary sweet wrapper torch!


Random question - today I noticed a small pile of really fine dark brown "sand"-like material next to a piece of live rock. While I was looking a trickle of it fell from a crevice inside the rock on to the pile, so something inside that crevice is producing waste.. My question is what does octopus waste look like..? Could this be where he is hiding? There are a few crabs in the tank but other than that no other sizable organisms (that I am aware of)..
 

DWhatley

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Do you have an urchin in the tank? What you describe sounds like urchin detritus (likely ground up rock) but there are other critters that will grind rock as well.

We see three kinds of waste from an octopus (all float), Here is one type after eating Cyclop-eeze (accounts for the red color) and a more typical look at the clump kind combined with the stringy. The third is more of an ink-like thin white cloud (may be closer to urine equivalent).

I agree that the scallop was probably too big. When over fed, they often do not eat for a day or two. We have various ideas (not quite disagreements) on how much and how often to feed and I believe the successes with the differences are species and age dependent. Everyday, every other day and even every three days are common schedules. I tend to go by when they are hungry :roll: but do fast once a week (but will often give in to a small "snack" if the animal is dancing around on the glass just after normal supper time).
 
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