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Varys' babies (O. mercatoris)

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Now that Varys is gone, I guess it's time to start a journal for her babies. (Wonder where we got that idea? :wink: ) The original thread for Varys and our experiences during her brooding period and the subsequent hatch can be found here.

(3/31/08) The babies are now 1 month old and continue to eat live mysids as well as frozen mysids and cyclopeeze. There have been no signs of death so we assume there are still about 10 total, but it's hard to find more than about 6 or 7 at any given time. We pulled our Sony Handycam with Nightshot (near IR) out of storage and have been having a ball watching the babies' antics in the dark.

Over spring break we put together a 5 minute video compilation of them hunting and exploring, but it's kinda big (~47MB) so be warned. There's also a shorter clip (~5MB) of one hunting for those with less patience. The longer clip shows a number of interesting "behaviors". Heh.
 

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DWhatley

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Best video on the site (well, OK, Thales has some spectacular ones as well) for a behavioral view of a nocturnal species (enough adjectives not to offend anyone?). Kidding a side, I had to watch it twice!
 
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11 weeks old

Time for an update...

At one month, we had about 12 babies. We moved 7 to a separate 20 gallon tank (with a Rena FilStar xP1 filter) so there would be less competition. Now, at 2.5 months, it looks as though we are left with a single baby in the original tank and 2 in the 20 gallon. No dead bodies.

We are still using red LED spotlights to view the baby in the old tank at night, but for the 20 gallon, we bought a sheet of red vellum and a transparent red, plastic report folder and cut out several layers to fit under the fluorescent light. The back and one side of the tank (where the walls are) are covered with black paper. We leave the white light on during the day to help the red macro algae grow (nitrate removal) and then slide the red vellum and plastic in at night. It works great! It seems very bright to us, but the babies don't seem to mind and carry on business as usual.

In the 20 gallon, the active one (Tarzan) has a 3/4" mantle and is maybe 2" arm-tip to arm-tip when stretched out. It may be a male based on dwhatley's previous experience with merc behavior. The attached pic (taken with flash) is Tarzan when he stole the pipette this morning after being fed frozen mysis. The other baby in the 20 gallon (Shelby) stays in a shell and may be female. Both are eating pods, frozen mysis, cyclopeez, and small (1/2") live shore shrimp.

The single baby left in the 8 gallon (Solo) comes out and about at night, but is still relatively shy, and mostly eats pods and frozen foods. Could be another male.

It would be nice if we had a pair and could raise another generation, but only time will tell!
:fingerscrossed:
 

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DWhatley

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Greg,
The vellum over the flourescent has been better than the red LED's as well. Neither Sisty nor Medusa seemed to even know there were lights (if my theory is correct and white light hurts their eyes, this seems to completely remove that problem). I have red LED's on the 45 gallon tank and the octos come out at night but I have had better activity with the red filtered flourescent.

Super picture of Tarzan, I hope Nancy spots it if she has not chosen all the Merc pictures for the book yet.
 
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Good news!
I woke up at 2 a.m. because the dogs were barking and couldn't go back to sleep... so I got up to watch the 'podes. Tarzan was doing his usual swinging through the red macro algae thing and I tried to feed him a small piece of silverside that was handy. He had trouble getting it off the skewer and so gave up and scurried off. The smell brought Shelby out of the depths of her shell though... and it also brought out out baby #4! I'm going to guess that #4 might be female because it stays near its lair the way Shelby stays in her shell, but sex of the babies is still highly speculative at this point.

I realize now that I probably saw this one two nights ago, but just thought it was Tarzan since it was near the spot where he holes up for the night. However, #4 is definitely larger than Tarzan.

While I was watching them, Shelby and baby #4 each caught and apparently ate tiny hermit crabs that I added last night. I need to see if Sachs has any tiny fiddlers and more small shore shrimp. The adult shore shrimp are still a bit too intimidating for the babies to make any real effort for them.

Managed to get a super nice close-up of Shelby (below). The flash caused her to recoil into her shell, but she was looking back out a few moments later. She's doing the "arm between the eyes" that mercs are so famous for... makes me wonder if they always use the same arm or switch back and forth (left/right armedness?)
 

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DWhatley

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Great shots Greg!
Just thought I would point out (you being a teacher and all :wink:) that squid and cuttles have both arms and tentacles but octopuses have only arms.

I find it very interesting how different the diets of our two groups have been. None of my octos (Mercs(7 related) or Hummelincki (1) )- all originating or parents originating from the FL Keys - will NOT touch hermit crabs. Octane (Hummelincki) will eat some types of snails but both leave the NASSARIUS VIBEX snails (Carolina Coast caught) alone. Both will eat shore shrimp (at least I think 'Tane does - he may just play with them), the Mercs don't catch them well unless the shrimp are confined to a small area like a breeder net but will readily take them from a feeding stick if they are recently beheaded (a nightly :yuck: ritual). 'Tane will eat thawed market shrimp but the Mercs will have nothing to do with pieces of it frozen mysis. Fiddlers do seem to be commonly consumed by all octopuses, all of mine included except Little Girl (the tank bred Merc).
Your Mercs, however, have consumed the hermits and frozen Mysis (do the babies eat the frozen at all?).

Tell Paul that you need pencil eraser size or smaller for baby octos (he is used to request by Ceph folks). Sometimes he can get them (no discount though :sad:) but at other times (seem like winter is larger ones only so this may be the breeding season coming up) only large are available. Little Girl barely eats anything but survives on Cyclop-eeze and will occassionally take a beheaded shrimp if I can balance it on her doorway and she does not just blow it away or one of the hermits or live shrimp does not run off with it.

It sounds like Tarzan will be another "Sisturus" so keep working with him!!!
 
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dwhatley;118013 said:
Just thought I would point out (you being a teacher and all :wink:) that squid and cuttles have both arms and tentacles but octopuses have only arms.
Doh! Fixed it! :wink:

dwhatley;118013 said:
I find it very interesting how different the diets of our two groups have been.... 'Tane will eat thawed market shrimp but the Mercs will have nothing to do with pieces of it frozen mysis.... Your Mercs, however, have consumed the hermits and frozen Mysis (do the babies eat the frozen at all?).
Your mercs won't eat frozen mysis? Or they won't eat market shrimp? Or either? Our babies have eaten live tigger pods, live mysids, live baby shore shrimp, live baby hermits, frozen cyclopeeze, and frozen PE mysis. I haven't tried shrimp from the market because I'm not sure they are free of preservative solutions. (This is Oklahoma ya know?)

dwhatley;118013 said:
Tell Paul that you need pencil eraser size or smaller for baby octos.
Done. I spoke to a (young?) lady there yesterday and specifically asked for 1/4-1/2" fiddlers for baby octos. Along with more of the small shore shrimp. I haven't seen the babies really stalk the shore shrimp yet, but when I feed cyclopeeze or frozen mysis to the baby octos, the shrimp will approach to get some of the food and then after a flurry of ARMS :wink:, the shrimp become the second course!

dwhatley;118013 said:
It sounds like Tarzan will be another "Sisturus" so keep working with him!!!
I certainly hope so!
 

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