Spike - O. Burryi

suboc

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I was wondering if any one of you can ID this littleguy for me. It was captured during the day on a jetty in South Padre Island TX. Its abou the size of nickle and has been eating blue leg hermits and ghost shrimp. If you need better pictures let me know. This is my first ceph and am keeping it in a critter keeper in my 210 reef untill i determine species, so i can set up the proper size tank for it.
 

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DWhatley

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Better pictures would be most helpful if you can get them. Given the location and what I can see of the arms, I will GUESS O. mercatoris but the photos do not show enough to make a well educated guess.

Mercs should have an arm:mantle ratio of 2-2.5 : 1 (arms twice the mantle size but not much longer). They are nocturnal, will appear red/reddish brown or white (sometimes red with white markings), are often seen with one or two arms thrown back between the eyes and over the head and mantle. The show very little skin texture but sometimes you will see small cirri below the eyes.

I think this link will display a group of mercs from our gallery (if not click on the gallery link in the top menu and search mercatoris). We have not seen too many of these little guys in the last couple of years but if you go to the top of the Journals and Photos forum and click on one of the List of Our Octopuses 20xx stickies between 2008 and 2010 then search (using your browser) for mercatoris, you should find journals linked by the names.
 

suboc

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Heres the best i could do with my camera, and it didnt want to cooperate. I thank you for your help.
Note the stomatella under the container in the second picture, should give you a bit of a size reference.
 

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DWhatley

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Humm, the color markings would be odd for a merc but I have never put one on black gravel :biggrin2:. The mantle looks twice the width I would expect, the green is not normal but I have seen blue on a merc once, there are more cirri than mercs usually show but they are very low, and the webbing looks too deep as well. However the photo angle may forshorten the mantle and account for the appearance of the webbing.

I do think it is a dwarf species and likely nocturnal but am less inclined to think merc from these last photos. Keep taking photos and watching colors and skin texture. I had an absolutely lovely animal that was a diurnal dwarf and was never clear on its species. See what photos your can find for O. burryi (other than Monty's as that ID is not strong).

OK, my best guess is O. burryi. There are not a lot of pictures but it would be local to your area and fit the second set of pictures well. Here is one photo I did find.

Here are two papers I found while trying to ID Monty. When you go to the linked abstracts, click on the PDF icon. They are free to view.

If Monty WAS O. burryi (and I am inclinded to think so, especially after rereading the abstract that mentions a poorly defined eyespot - except his was only poorly defined most of the time, at others it was quite clear :biggrin2:), this is an excellent octopus for the home aquarium and I would like to have others. It works well in a 35 - 40 gallon tank (possibly smaller but he used all of his tank but never attempted escape (IMe escape attempts are often because a tank is too small). Patterning and colors were exceptional for a dwarf and he was diurnal. The paper mentions burying but Monty lived in the LR and I never saw him attempt to bury.
 

suboc

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From what info that ive found on that species, I belive you are correct. But every thing i found says that O. Burryi max size is 1.6 feet, Is this a normal size for a dwarf?
 

DWhatley

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Check where you found the measurements and see HOW they measured. The best method is to measures the arms and the mantle (behind the eyes to the tip of the body sack) but often the numbers are given arm tip to arm tip. We have encouraged final photos to help with measuring (laying the dead animal on a flat surface next to a ruler). This will be somewhat smaller than when they are alive (if they lived a full life, they will have become a bit smaller during their final fast) but live measurements can vary excessively, especially with arm length and for smaller animals. My guess is that the 16 inch measurement is arm tip to arm tip, making the arm length about 7". Unfortunately, I did not take a final photo of Monty (no clue as to why, likely sadness in his passing) but I would guess that his arms were about 6 inches. Also keep in mind that even octopuses from the same brood, in the same environment can vary greatly in size and this one has not been studied very much.

In additon to the eyespot not matching the description (his eyespot was not frequently visible and in situ observations might never see it ) I referenced, Monty's papaillae were branchy and not bumps but this again can be a variation not seen in situ but observable in an aquarium.
 

DWhatley

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For size, yes and no. As I mentioned, animals from the same brood, living close to where they hatch (or in an aquarium) can be quite different in ultimate size. The yes is because it is believed that copious quantities of food, especially early in life, may impact ultimate size and growth rate (studies for growing octos as food) but you will still see size large variances among the individuals.

For color, not likely. I have noticed that the number of patterns changes after they have been in an aquarium for awhile (and more so as they age with little patterning in senescence). You need to remember that the current environment WILL effect color (where you have a black bottom, you might notice that Monty would turn white when out over his white sand bottom). I have been trying to come up with ways to add color in a natural looking environment without putting in objects that are harmful for this reason. For instance, I know Octavia can turn yellow (from her first in situ photo) but I have nothing in the tank to promote that color and have not seen my other O. hummelincki show it. I have also seen very young octos of numerous species turn very a true red (not brown red) but not after they are a few months old.

Flip through Monty's pictures, you will see a number of colors and patterns but those are based upon immediate surroundings not where it was raised. A recent study suggests that they choose a particular object to resemble and not the general environment so placing distinctive rocks (I have seen coraline algae help show purple) in the tank may provide a wider range of coloration.
 

suboc

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Hey D I was able to get some better pictures as he/she becomes more used to me. These came out pretty good. Its coming out more and taking frozen food.
 

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