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[Octopus]: Pablo - O. Hummelincki First time First Octo

KA&KA

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Last night when we said good night he was sitting inside his bird house peering out with one eye visible. Today he spent most of the day perched on the roof and then retreated to his favorite hide tucked down behind a rock under the house where he is almost invisible. seems to me there are plenty better options but that seems to be his favorite.

I prepared a tank for the damsels and with back up help at the end of the day we managed to catch them. Pablo seemed to help in that every time they tried to hunker in his hide he stuck out an arm to wave them away. I thought we would not see him out after but he did reappear and we fed him a piece of shrimp. Now he has the tank to himself, and can focus on us for interaction. If we ignore him all day will he come bounding out like a puppy dog when we come home from school, and work?

Now I am in love with hummelincki. I had not really considered it or briareus. I am not crazy about importing creatures from the other side of the planet. I prefer getting to know animals I am likely to see in the wild so I was thinking vulgaris because it is more temperate. On my next trip south I was planning to check out the fish houses along the coast to see what I would find.

Our tank is a 65 gal and Pablo seems to have plenty of space. He does seem to bed down at night and is usually somewhere to be seen during the day. So far I have not noticed a specialized arm but have not had a good opportunity to look today since we were so focused on the fish. Hopefully its there and we won't have to change his name to Paula.

It would be great if they could be bred reliably as perfect as they are. It would be nice to be able to predict what kind, when and how long you would own an octopus and it would take some of the stress away from captured animals.

So I have a few more questions though I certainly understand if they go unanswered. Is O hummelincki very rare or possibly endangered? WHy is Haiti a primary source and did the earthquack affect their population directly or the people doing the collecting. Do they live in any kind of specialized habitat? What is, if anything, known about the habits of the juvs? And finally, could they have a toxin or mild venom?
 

DWhatley

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I'll start with toxins and include touching. To our knowledge, all octopuses have some form of venom. There is only one genus of octopus that is known to be deadly to humans and it is unknown (last I read, @Neogonodactylus please correct me if this has changed) if Blue Rings (genus Hapalochlaena) actually manufacture TTX (tetrodotoxin) or if it is something acquired. The venom of many others has not been well studied but the venom of animals we typically keep are not generally a long term or life threatening concern UNLESS the person bitten has serious allergies (similar to bee stings for some people). We have no journaled long lasting effects or serious illness but I invite you to entertain yourself with our Octopus Bites thread. Be sure to read Neogonodactylus' entry and envision a remake of the movie Airplane :biggrin2:. It is best not to tempt being bitten but it takes awhile (and a few octopuses) to get a feel for how they interact. I am very guilty of hands on with mine so I won't even suggest that part of my enjoyment does not involve touching. What I do try to promote is a very slow approach to interaction if this is part of the keeping experience you want to pursue. The first step is letting the animal come to you and allow it to be curious. It usually involves a "touch and go" during feeding or tank clean-up. As the animal gains confidence, grabbing and pulling follow. Touch and goes usually surprise and scare the octopus and the keeper :biggrin2:. Avoiding jerking (usually not possible the first time) and being firm (with a only the necessary backward pulling of the hand) about not allowing fingers to be brought to the mouth are important. Over time the pulling becomes more of an exploritory tickle. If multiple arms are too much or the octopus insists on trying to taste, usually a light stroke on the top of the arm with a free finger (you have 5 and the octo won't use all eight arms) will accomplish a voluntary release.

There is little study done on O. hummelincki and nothing I have seen that is recent. It is not considered endangered but we really don't have studies. Unlike known animals, habitat is not a known problem (earthquakes, oil spills and changing oceans excepted) and it is not hunted for food. Here are links to the few articles I have found. At one time we saw quite a few animals for sale but they have been few and far between in the last couple of years (even before the earthquake but almost no existent since). Haiti is likely a source simply because fish collectors import from there with little restriction. Not many local collectors care to deal with octopuses because of the difficulties with housing and shipping. I suspect the disruption to daily life in Haiti may have more to do with not seeing the imported animals than the earthquake itself but that is just a guess. Several I have had were caught in the FL Keys explicitly for me but I have not kept one for a number of years. Pretty much anyone who keeps one wishes we could captive raise them but so far there does not appear to be a large egg warm water cousin (the Pacific cold water bimaculoides is a large egg cousin of the small egg bimaculatus. O. hummelincki is often mislabled as a bimac).

Currently the most common local animal offered for sale is O. briareus. They are more than plentiful and the bane of the crab collectors. Fortunately for us a few crabbers have found they can sell these crab thieves but most become bait.

All octopuses need a dark place to hide. I prefer to use live rock but any kind of dark cave will be accepted. This species definitely needs it beauty sleep but you can light part of the tank with a red light at night. However, these are usually very diurnal and with or without a light, you are not likely to see night time activity.
 

sirreal

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You have a great octo. Its great how we fall in love with our octos. They can be very interactive and like you said they will act like a dog and dance around like hey over here i am out and want attention. I have not had a hummelincki yet but I look forward to having one in the future. I had a Vulgaris many many years ago and he is the reason i like them so much. To be honest if my first octo would have been a merc I prob would not be as interested in octos today. Not that mercs are bad but being so nocturnal that you almost never see them during the day makes it hard to create that bond. I hope you have a long time with pablo
 

KA&KA

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Thank you! and Thank you! You all are so generous with your knowledge and support. I am sure Pablo wont be our first and I hope we'll have the opportunity to pay it forward some day.

Our octopus seems to be doing fine and settling down a little. Not quite as exploratory but not so easy going about our presence yet. I meant to get the lights timed so they would go off later in the evening after we all have had time to be home but they went off early anyhow. When I turn them back on at 8:30 he came out for us and just sat on his house. We fed him a section of shrimp. and after a while he went back down.

I have been feeding him one or two sections of shrimp a day. Is that enough? Maybe he will start begging for more when he gets more comfortable.

Here is a photo of his habitat. I expect he'll rearrange things. Though we have not seen him explore many of nooks and crannys available. We invested in a few pieces of live rock and we plan to add more. Its pretty expensive up here. There is one long piece of PVC with corners to provide at least one truly dark confined place. He is visible at the top of the bird house which is a favorite spot.
upload_2014-10-21_15-14-46.png
 

DWhatley

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There are multiple opinions on feeding. I won't say they are contradictory since quantities may average out and/or there may be a difference in species or cold vs warm water animals. Some people feed every two to three days. @Neogonodactylus feels this may increase life span. I feed 6 days a week with one day fasting (and will sometimes give a small snack if the octopus actively dances after normal feeding time). My animals seem to live a natural lifespan but not an extended one. In either feeding scheme, the animal is given as much as it wants to eat during meal time. This varies highly from animal to animal (and is not explicitly species dependent) as well as the age and maturation of the animal (increasing as it grows then decreasing as it reaches senescence). We have had hummelincki to eat full medium sized shrimp during most of its life (this one ate much more than others). IME, during senescence, hummelincki often only want food every other day, eventually not eating at all and their lives ending somewhere between one and two weeks after they stop eating. I would suggest offering a whole shrimp and seeing if there is left over then guessing about how much it ate and offering slightly more the next feeding until it fully consumes the offering. Since I believe this one to be an adult, you can watch for left overs and reduce again as needed. I don't believe they will over eat but, again, there are other opinions.

Do try to offer a variety. If you fast the animal but worry about it being hungry, you can keep a clam or two in the tank (and you get a bonus of a little bit of extra filtration). I use seafood counter clams but put them in an aerated bucket of tank water overnight (usually I change the water at least once) to be sure they are really alive and to flush pollutants. Pablo may eat it right away but once he/she is accustomed to being fed, clams require more energy to open and are not usually (note the hesitation) bothered unless the animal is quite hungry. If she is a female getting ready to brood she may consume anything she finds in the tank. You can also offer live fiddler crabs (any small live crab is fine but disable any serious claws by removing them or breaking off the pointed portion or lower section), occasional silver sides (small whole fish), pieces of raw salmon, claws from live blue crabs (we scrounge the Asian market live bin for claws and freeze them) and clam on the half shell (other mussels are fine as well but the clams don't make as much of a mess in the tank). Pretty much anything raw from ocean is acceptable but crustaceans are better than fish for daily feedings. You can also offer a live crayfish on occasion but be sure it is eaten and does not die in the tank. Being fresh water animals, they can usually survive about 2 hours - so I am told - but are usually hunted within minutes. Feeding live is considered a good idea for their health but this may be a mental issue with you or your daughter and is not totally necessary if Pablo is already accepting dead (keep this in mind for the next one though that not all accept dead immediately).

If you could pile your rocks more into a den like structure, Pablo might find that more appealing. Some species are quite active about rearranging their tanks but I have not seen this with O. hummelincki (however, Maya did insist on having a gorgonian planted in front of her brood den). I have seen them excavate under rock to clear sand to make a den though. Many like to use small shells (large snail shells or bits of live rock) to make doors but I have not seen hummelincki move larger rocks to create a den (O. vulgaris and O. briareus on the other hand have moved quite large rocks in both my and other keeper's tanks).
 

KA&KA

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Just a quick note to say things seem to be OK so far. The main concern is that the ammonia spiked a little. It is two much of a jump from bits of bloodworms for the damsels to chunks of shrimp. I think I have it under control with 5 gal water changes and have not seen it go much above .25.

Pablo gets pretty active in afternoons and evenings and visiting more places in the aquarium. He touched my fingers 3 times over the last two days and I used D's strategy to be firm. Last night when I fed him he ignored the shrimp which was on the end of a stick and came up the edge to get at my fingers. After letting go he still ignored the shrimp. I was worried but I let he stick go and then he went for the shrimp. Maybe he was happy to have both the stick and the shrimp where as on previous feedings he would continue to tug on the stick and I would not let him have it. I offered a second helping but he did not take it so I fished it back out after a while. I guess its good if we do not need to be putting too much in right now. Maybe he is not a female with eggs which is also good.
 

DWhatley

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The ammonia is a cycling issue that we try to warn people new to saltwater about. Octopuses are messy eaters and will stress an aquariums biological filtration. If a member joins early enough we stress cycling longer than when the standard tests show a cycle has occurred (a minimum of 3 months with heavy feeding is recommended). I suggest additional water changes often as any detectable ammonia is a bad sign and can kill the occupants. The heavy biological load of an octopus is another reason for a species only tank. Removing the fish will also help as well as adding clean up crew but you need to concentrate on keeping ammonia and nitrite to zero (nitrate, the end product of the ammonia->nitrite->nitrate cycle is far less of a concern). Your tank has minimal biological filtration (the live rock) so staying on top of water changes will be very, very important. The other rocks and substrate will slowly take on the needed bacteria (the more porous the better). After Pablo and before the next occupant, adding more live rock (and letting it cycle) will improve the environment for future residence (octopus or otherwise).

"Capture the feeding stick" is one of the "games" I failed to mention that we see in most octopuses. There are no good suggestions on why this seems to be universal. Occasionally we see other items that take their interest as well. LittleBit would take possession of my cleaning siphon, El Diablo had a toothbrush that he seem to covet and another animal (O. briareus) claimed the bulb of a turkey baster. I keep wanting to get a video of Shiitake taking her supper, casually attaching the offering to her suckers and slowly moving the food to her mouth while insisting on exploring my hand. Unfortunately she is still feeding when the lights are too dim to film her.
 

KA&KA

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I wasn't suprised there was a problem but I did forget to check ammonia until 3 days into and I also forgot to stay on top of the skimmer. I got caught up in other issues like the octopus escaping, feeding and generally the new experience of having one.

We started checking out Tonmo even before we joined and from what I was reading it seemed like we were in for a long wait anyhow. It seems people aquiring them mail order and only if they are lucky to contact the right place at the right time. Back in July I tried calling a few places not intending to buy but just sampling to see if they actually had one and they did not. I wanted to see what i could expect but it seems its a matter of luck.

Pablo was a suprise and the instant I saw him I strong feeilngs running in opposite directions. However this was our plan and the tank was more then 3 months old and so momentum carried us forward.

Anyhow, I did a 5 gal change and then 10 more this evening. I have been comparing the samples to contols where you can see a slight difference. Otherwise, against the chart, it would be easy just to say its zero. I'll keep changing water keep it as low as possible.

But I am worried it was too high for him the past few days. Tonight he was not out. No one was home until after 9 and he was already in hiding. I was not planning to feed him anyhow so I did not try to coax him out. We'll see what tomorrow brings.
 

DWhatley

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I definitely would like to see more biological filtration for your set up. After I posted I reviewed your tank and noticed you could help by adding more porous items. Live rock is (IMO) indispensable but anything porous will eventually culture bacteria. While you have an octopus, adding new live rock is not an option since it will need to cycle out the dead material but you can add dead rock (still a little risky) or other porous substrate (this would include man-made items, preferably made for aquariums to avoid toxicity). There would not be an immediate help but will slowly begin to help process the ammonia. Daily, smaller water changes will help keep the environment more stable than large ones as long as your ammonia AND nitrite show zero. PH and temperature changes are almost as stressful as traces of ammonia or nitrite so it is a balancing act. Keeping your new water in the same room as the tank overnight will help with the temperature match. I do this in the winter since my water mixing area is in the unheated garage. Some people use an aquarium heater if they mix in a colder environment but just keeping it in the same room overnight seems to work pretty well.

It looks like you may have a companion hummelincki to follow. I am not as confident with the species call but check out @MikeHoncho 's new classroom addition
 

KA&KA

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I well definately work on the aquarium habitat in the future.

Pablos seems to have changed his habits. He has been staying in hiding much more. It is usually the very same place he chose his first night and at certain angle you can make eye contact with him and he reacts by either squinting or raising an eye bulge in a funny way. Even at the usual feeding time he may or may not come out.

Friday night he did not come out at all so I let him fast.

Saturday evening when I peered in at him he did come out to eat and he moved about the aquarium until sometime after 11pm. The next day you could tell he moved some furnature and positioned some rocks so that you can no longer make eye contact. But usually we can at least see an arm and a mass. Occasionally this spot appears empty so its possible he is in another place altogether completely hidden or tucks himself in enough to be hidden.

Sunday night he did not come out to meet us. He did come out when we put food in and he stayed out again until fairly late. He moved around and explored but did not take any opportunities to interact. He did ink suddenly as he was reaching out for the shrimp on a stick. I am not sure what triggered it and it was the first time I had seen it but he does seem less bold then the first few days. We had a water changed staged so after he took the shrimp I proceeded with the change and was able to vacuum up some of the threads of ink. I actually fed him a second piece which he took. I have not tried a whole shrimp yet not wanting to push the system any more then necessary.

At the moment (Monday evening) I cannot see him in his spot and no where to be seen anywhere else. I think I will let him fast again unless he comes out and acts hungry, like he is trying to get my attention.

Since Saturday morning we ammonia levels have been zero. We have been doing water changes daily but I am considering reducing that a little while keeping an eye on the ammonia. Nitrite has not been a problem so far.
 

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