Waldo - Macropus Complex

Dools

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I brought home my octo (Waldo) 3 weeks ago and he appears to be healthy and eating. I am pretty sure he is an A. aculeatus as he is usually red in color and has two very long tentacles compared to his other six. His mantle is about 1 in long and his longest tentacles are close to 4 ins long. Thus far he is only coming out when the aquarium lights are off. Does this species eventually adjust to being out under the lights? Are there any steps I can take for this transition? Understand I am happy Waldo is healthy and active, but it woud be nice if I could watch him w/o having to use a flashlight. Any advice or sharing of similar experiences is greatly appreciated.

Dools
 

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DWhatley

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Dools,

From your description, I would guess that Waldo is the Macropus (exact species unknown but often referred to - probably erroneously - by divers as luteus but look up that name for similar pictures) we see that comes from the same area. If I am correct, these are great little animals, hearty and interactive ... at 3:00 AM. I have kept two. One male (Puddles) and one female (Beldar) and there are several other journals (Google: macropus site:tonmo.com)
 

DWhatley

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If you decide Waldo does highly resemble the Macropus, you will need to invest in a red light fixture to enjoy him/her. One of the simplest and least expensive lighting fixtures is to rig a shop light like this and a red screw-in fluorescent bulb (links are to Wal-Mart but most home improvements will have something similar). I leave the red light on 24/7 and then use my normal low wattage lighting during the day for the other things in the tank and daytime viewing of non-nocturnals. This is for convenience only and elminating an additional timer. However, if you turn the red light off at night, Waldo may decide to wait until it is off before coming out where he/she will adjust to it if it is on all night. I never succeeded (but did not try very hard) in getting either of them on an earlier schedule but playing with the lighting may allow for a more reasonable activity pattern. Unfortunately, when Waldo does start coming out into the daylight it will signal the end of his life. They seem to be less light sensitive during senescence (see posts at the end for Puddles journal).
 

Dools

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Waldo ID

Hi DWhately,

After reading your replies, I believe you are right about Waldo. He (or maybe she) has displayed the flourescent green tentacles and elongates his mantle quite often. You cannot really tell in the picture, but he has displayed a white stripe down the middle of his body much like a skunk. His movements are similar to what you described with your two macropuses; stretched out flat as he glides along the sand bottom. He is eating very well, so far he has eaten one of the two black mollies that were in the tank for a bio-load and several small hermit crabs. He has also eaten several freeze-dried krill shrimp I have put in the tank. I will definitely invest in some dimmer lights. Do you think a blue actnic light will work instead of red lighting? I will definitely keep you posted on his progress.

Thanks for the info,
Dools
 

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DWhatley

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LOL, the skunk stripe is seen on all octos so you can't use it for ID but the rest holds. If you have more mollies in the tank, please remove them. Fish in general are a bad idea on several levels but freshwater fish are particularly bad as all (or at least most) have been treated with copper for parasites. Copper is lethal and we have lost at least one octo from eating gold fish.

Your easiest dead food will be regular seafood counter or frozen shrimp (start by offering with shell on and then remove the shell once Waldo accepts it easily (you can buy shell off once they accept it that way but we find the shrimp seem to be less dried out if purchased shell on). They don't eat the shell but we have noticed that young octos seem to take shell on shrimp easier - be sure to clean up the discards ASAP to keep your nitrates in check). Be sure to thaw anything frozen for at least 15 minutes in tank or new saltwater. Second on the list and our personal number one choice is blue crab claw but you cannot find uncooked crab frozen. We go to the Asian market and paw through the fresh crab bins for loose claws (start by separating the claw and arm, feeding each separately as a meal the full claw and arm will be too much food). These CAN be frozen safely and are excellent food. You can feed any part of a fresh uncooked crab but don't freeze anything but the claws. If you can find live clams, these will sometimes be eaten but they do well in aquariums and can be a minor clean up crew until consumed. I put them in a bucket of tank water (make it fairly deep as they will drain something shallow and leave your counter wet with their spitting) over night to eliminate the water they have been kept in while out of the ocean and to be sure they will survive. Check them from time to time to be sure that they are alive but they don't pollute much. You can also offer mussels and oysters but these are heavy polluters and any uneaten remains are hard to remove and messy. Scallops are a healthy choice, however, IME, they will eat exactly one thawed scallop and no more so don't load up on them. You can offer pieces of raw saltwater fish from the market (again, avoid pet store fish). Any kind of small live crab is acceptable and fiddlers are a universal favorite. They are expensive in the pet stores but much more reasonable purchased on-line (Paul Sachs is an excellent supplier, used by many TONMOers).

Freshwater animals are not recommended but you can give an occasional treat of crawfish. Here again you cannot freeze the body but can freeze the tails and claws if you remove them from a fresh animal. The whole live animal can be offered but be sure it is eaten and remove it immediately if ignored and it dies in the tank (roughly an hour or less). As I mentioned above, avoid feeding any kind of pet store fish because of the copper treatments.

You can keep hermits and snails for your clean up crew. In most cases (there are exceptions but not likely with this one) once they are accustomed to being fed, they will leave the hermits and snails alone but these are also acceptable food in a pinch if the octo will eat them.

There are differing opinions on the use of blue LED lighting (ie moon lights but NOT actinic any PC is too bright for a nocturnal regardless of lowered wattage). I use red because it is almost invisible to the octos (in fact my young ones usually den directly under the red but often migrate to darker areas when they become adults). Blue may appear as bright as white light and keep your octo in hiding, however, some people have reported success with normal moon lights. IMO, go with the red, it is not expensive (albeit not attractive) and easily set up with a little thought. I've kept two fully nocturnal species (the Macropuses and O. mercatoris) and usually have a resident O. briareus that is crepuscular as an adult (early evening early morning hunter) but nocturnal as a juvenile and believe the red does provides more viewing (lousy photography though). The cheap, ugly light is easily removed for a diurnal species (who need total darkness at night IME) and can be upgraded to something more attractive if you continue to keep nocturnals. Keep in mind that the life span is very short (a year or less) and you are not starting out with a hatchling so make the best of your time with Waldo (size wise I think you may have lucked out on a fairly young one but size is not a consistent factor of age).

With your permission, I would like to move Waldo to our journal area in hopes that you will continue to log your experience.
 

DWhatley

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Quick tutor on terms :roll: Often arms and tentacles are used interchangeably but in the case of cephalopods, there is a strong visual and usage distinction. Octopuses have 8 arms and no tentacles. The decopods, Squid and cuttlefish, have 8 arms and two tentacles. There is some discussion about octos arms vs legs but the official term for all is arms. :biggrin2:
 

Dools

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Thanks for the excellent advice and the education regarding arms vs tentacles. I will remove the mollie as soon as possible. I have no problem having Waldo moved to the journal area.
 

DWhatley

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LOL, at least they are not damsels (as far trying to catch them but the copper concern is greater with the freshwater animals)
 

DWhatley

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Oh, also, most octopuses will hand feed with a feeding stick (easiest with a piece of shrimp but start with a small piece). If you have an acrylic stick, this is fine but a bamboo skewer works well and a pack of 100 is less than an acrylic and they are handy for other things - I have and use both). Once they start investigating the feeding stick you can try direct hand feeding if you are so inclined. It can get adventurous after that though but this species is not very aggressive (caveat each animal is an individual and always keep that in mind when discussing behavior).
 

Dools

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The first week I had him I was able to hand feed him a piece of freeze-dried shrimp, but have not tried since. I will try to feed him some fresh shrimp tomorrow. I'll keep you posted. Also, I got Waldo from one of my LFS, Aquatic Solutions
 

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