"pygmy" bimac?


Nov 27, 2006
I spoke to my contact at the LFS today who was checking with their wholesaler for a bimac.

When we spoke early in the week he was quick to assume i was looking for a bimaculatus, so i spelled it out for him (B-I-M-A-C-U-L-O-I-D-E-S) and today told me that "that is a pygmy species... about 7 inches."

This isn't consistant with what I've read here... are there dwarf bimacs? I wouldnt mind that if it is the same amiable, diurnal species we all know and love... but this seems off. perhaps it's just a juvenile.

He went ahead and ordered it already so I will hopefully be going to check it out tomorrow evening and i'll see if it has the characteristic blue eye-spots. I'll be sure to bring a camera and hopefully i can post pictures tomorrow night for a proper ID.

I just wanted to know if what this guy is telling me is even possible; a "pygmy" o.bimaculoides??
You're right; they're approximately the same size, and it's very hard to tell them apart except by egg size. There's an article or thread that describes slight differences in pigmentation of the eyespots, but it's pretty tough.

According to Norman's book, bimaculatus is larger than bimaculoides and has smaller eggs... also the eyespot "...contains an iridescent blue ring in the form of broken chain links with spokes extending to the edge..." while bimaculoides has a ring that is an unbroken chain.

I suspect that the LFS person is thinking of Octopus hummelinki (the octopus formerly known as filosus) which is smaller and has two spots. I wonder if some suppliers are pushing this as a "pygmy bimac" to boost sales because bimacs have a reputation for being good pets...

I've noticed that there are a lot of suppliers claiming to have bimacs (or even tank-bred bimacs) but I believe no one on TONMO has obtained a bimac (either species) from a supplier other than Zyan or marinebio_guy in over a year.
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SandV;108951 said:
I have one and it was labeled "tank raised common octopus"

He came from a wholesaler called Underwater World

oh, I thought yours was a briareus or aculeatus.

do you know if it's bimaculatus or bimaculoides or anything about it's history (where it was caught or if it was tank-raised)?
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you mean suppliers are just straight up lying about the species deliberately? i guess i shouldnt be surprised.

Haha well if all goes to plan i'll have a glance tomorrow and put some pics up so we can determine what i'm dealing with...
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I don't know but from your discription of the rings it would be a bimaculoides...

it said tank raise and I have no reason to doubt it... he was SO small when I got him... and he wouldn't have survived in the wild... he is a little slow... he needs much help with his food (he can't kill his own crabs, he now has once WHA WHOO!!!)... he also ate frozen food the day I got him...
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I didn't mean to suggest that they were necessarily lying for profit (although I can't completely rule that out) but there often seems to be a belief that it's better to make up something plausible, or guess from hearsay or memory, rather than saying "we don't know what species this is." So maybe someone read that "bimac" means "two-spot octopus" and decided that a pygmy with two spots should therefore be sold as a "pygmy bimac"-- so it might be more not knowing that taxonomic terms are very specific, or assuming that people don't care, or mixing informal with formal naming (many sellers seem to equate the fact that "Octopus vulgaris" literally means "common octopus" with the idea that if they don't notice anything unusual about the octopus they're selling, it's OK to call it a "common octopus" and then write "Octopus vulgaris" under it.) I think it would be more sensible to put "octopus sp., collected in bali" or something similar, and so "Bali Octopus" or "Caribbean Small Brown Octopus" seem preferable when they don't actually know the species... since they at leas acknowledge that you will be getting an unknown octopus species.
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Thanks for the input so far. I went to the LFS today to take a glance at the octopus in question, who had just arrived and been acclimated within the hour. Obviously he was still pretty spooked and was curled up under a rock in a critter keeper , pale white. His mantle was only about an inch wide and when the employee moved the rock so i could view him better (to check for eye spots) he turned crimson/brown. I didn't see any traces of eye spots (albiet he was flashing) and he was very very small for anything but a very young bimac.

I took a few photos while i was there but now my memory card is graciously "corrupt" I'll have to return another day this week with a different memory card.

I really have no way of knowing whether he's an adult dwarf or a baby bimac. The manager who placed the order told me openly that he really doesnt know the difference; that he just ordered what i asked him to and "who knows what goes on at the dealers."

All i can say is i looked really closely and didnt see any traces of the usual false eyes, and his colors were white and deep reddish brown. not the usual tan-biege that i have seen in photos of bimacs. Maybe next time i see him he will be a little more chilled out

More updates when i go back again. What do you guys think?
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I have discovered that you can see more in a photo than you are aware of at the time of observation. I did not see the false eye spot on Octane until she flashed it brightly but when I reviewed her acclimation photos, it was quite clear so I think you have the right idea by going back and taking pictures. Also, you might ask if they see the octo foraging during the day while they are keeping it.

One thing I do notice on the Mercs when they are deep red is a faint white star like pattern centered on the mantle starting close to the eyes and continuing maybe half way up the mantle. The deeper red/maroon they are, the more it seems to show. In their relaxed white coloring, you don't see it at all. I have never seen the black brown or orange brown on the Merc, just shades of the reddish brown to very white (the young that select white shells are impossible to make out except for their eyes).
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Okay so i made it back to the store today with my other memory card and got some more pictures! For the record, the mantle is about an 1 1/4" and his arms looked about 5" (she uncurled them a couple times but not when i had the camera up). The LFS employees said she's not active during the day and seemed confident that she is some dwarf species. apparently what happened is their dealer couldnt find a bimac and simply sent a "substitute." without letting them know. tsk. tsk.

She still seems pretty spooked, pale and curled up in the top of the critter keeper there. these are the best shots i could get since she wasnt willing to budge even when they threw a little emerald crab in with her.

a shot for scale:

She alternated between this pale color...

and this darker coloration...

So what do you guys think? mercatoris?
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it certainly looks like a merc to me, and the behavior makes sense for a merc, since it's probably terrified, or at least profoundly uncomfortable, to be without shelter in bright light. I bet it would be considerably less stressed if it had a shell or small clay pot or bit of pcv pipe to hide in...
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