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Update on shy Occy


Pygmy Octopus
Sep 15, 2007
Well Occy has come out of his/her lair there are no eggs that we can see she is right up the back of the tank up the top behind the power filter instead of her normal browny cream colour she is pure white and her breathing seems laboured she has been up there for about 8 hours now and hasnt moved at all, she is still alive as we can see her breathing so it is very disturbing to say the least, I just wish I knew what was going on with her.:cry:
Im not sure if it is a female or male but it is still up the back of the tank its tentacles are all spread out and it has tucked itself into the membrane in between. One of its tentacles looks like the end has fallen off and the is flesh hanging from it. It has not eaten for 3 days even when it is offered I think you are right I dont think it is long for this life which is really sad it is still pure white. We have the tank professionally serviced once a fortnight we only use proper sea water and other than the salinity being a little high the tank is perfect. I really miss him already :frown:
Unfortunately, most only live in an aquarium for about a year. It is believed that the life span in the wild is about the same. At eight months in captivity, the chances are high that is his/her time and is the natural way of it. Your symptoms definitely sound like old age. You might do a search on senesence on TONMO and octopus senesence with a search engine but here is a good article referenced by another member in an earlier post:

News about pets and animals

This is definitely the worst part of being a ceph keeper.
If your octopus is showing arm loss, I would guess that it is a male. Males and females both go through senescence and both show very similiar characteristics during during this time. The main difference is that females will remain in den brooding their eggs until they eventually expire while males will become very active and autophagy occurs. If that one arm looks severed, the octopus may have eaten it.

(As an aside, octopus have arms not tentacles. Tentacles are the feeding body parts of squid and cuttlefish.):sun:

I wonder if the male octopus display any preference towards specific arms during this phase?? ie, is the hectocotylized arm eaten first??

While I will not say that it occurs in every species of octopus, and in each individual male, it is quite common in regards to senescence. If autophagy is occurring and the specimen is not near the end of its life span, then you would begin looking for other possible reasons.

I have observed this to occur, at least in captive male GPOs, on multiple occasions while the animal was showing clear signs of senescence.

Greg :coffee:
Well firstly I apologize for calling them tentacles not arms :smile: But I have to agree with you it is the 3rd "arm" on the right that is falling apart and now the one next to it is going the same way. He is attached to the front of the tank and has not gone into his den for days he is not eating even when offered, he kind of held onto the crayfish at the end of his arm for a few hours then simply let it go untouched he seems to move but he is not suctioned to the tank from behind like he used to while he was checking out the goings on of the tank, he is face first against the glass with his arms just sort of hanging there just stuck on at the tops. How long will this go on do you think? I thank you for your information I wish I had of found you when we first got him, I have learnt more from you lovely people in the last week than I have from anyone here in Australia, I even rang Seaworld and they couldn't tell me anything so thanks again
I have kept one female pygmy through this period and observed the loss of grip and general weakening. She seemed to prefer "softer" things (the top of the pump, the acrylic or my hand) rather than walking on live rock or sand. If I put my hand under her she would crawl up on to it and sit until I gently placed her back on the tank wall. Fortunately, her skin never deteriorated but I don't know if this was because of an attempted preventative or just a natural occurance (I gut loaded her shrimp for a week or so with tetracycline after her babies were born). Trapper lived just over a week when she started her "final walk" (she was nocturnal and came out of her den permenantly both day and night, common for the end of a pygmy's life). It is too late now and you may not have wanted to extend his life if his skin is deteriorating but I discovered that the pygmy, at least, would filter feed long after she stopped taking other food. I kept the young in the same tank and would feed them Cyclop-eeze and notice that she was eating it as it floated around in the water column even though she would not eat anything else so I fed her directly with a pipette. Near the end she would come up the tank wall to eat and continued to feed this way until the end (possibly another reason her skin never "rotted"). She lived almost 12 weeks from the first hatching (thought to be a long time) but this is a one time trial. I will use the same procedure on her five surviving children (there were only 6 hatchlings) to further document the method.
Time frames of senescence vary greatly from species to species and even within species. Many factors may contribute to early onset of senescence; other factors may also speed up the senescence state or slow it down. If water quailty conditions are ideal, senescence should progress slowly. Poor water quality conditions can only add further stress to the already compromised immune system which would, in turn, promote increased bacterial infections and a decreased ability of the specimen to fight against the infection.

Some GPOs may be in the senescent stage of their life for a year. Given that these observations are from captive animals, a year is about 33-50% of its life. It really depends. If it is eating well and the tank still is in good shape then I would give it about 60 d tops. That is just a guess though.

Glad this forum was helpful. That is why it is hear.

Greg :tomato:

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