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Zebra Octopus For Sale In The Bay Area (a good thing?)

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Aug 10, 2006
I went to Atlantis Aquarium to pick up some corals for my reef tank (I live less than 2 minutes away) and was just browsing........then I saw it! As amazed as I was to see this incredible species right in front of me, it breaks my heart to know how this story will most likely end. It will either perish at the store due to the price of $400, or some rich guy will go "cool" and buy it on impulse only to have it die 2 days later. In this case, it may be better to stay in the store like it has for the past month or so as it actually looks to be doing pretty good in there even though it should be in a bigger enclosure. I mean, how would even an Octo enthusiast (let alone the average Joe) know how to take care of one of these when very very few have been studied by experts. We still have so many questions about the most common species let alone the needs of a Zebra or even the Mimic or Wonderpus for that matter.

I may have a talk with the manager and ask him if it is even worth it for him to be ordering these since it will most likely never get bought at that price and would be better for this rare species to be only studied by experts at this point. I actually hold this store in pretty high regard because they are very knowledgable, helpful, and friendly but mostly specialize in reefs. They do get their share of Octopus though. I wish there was something I could do but I don't have that kind of money for that, and my only Octopus tank has well.......an Octopus in it.

Check out this article at: www.thecephalopodpage.org/mimic.php

This article mainly deals with the Mimic but also talks about Zebra and Wonderpus as well. It urges people to keep other common species and not these few mostly unknown delicate species. Near the bottom of the page, it lists the pros and cons of keeping the rare species. This page was somewhat depressing to me though by discussing the probable demise of the super rare Octos due to demand, and with collectors not giving a crap cause they can get really good money for them.

It's just too bad that something like a Documentary on the Discovery Channel meant to provide knowledge has inadvertently sparked interest in something that at this point, should be left alone by everyone except researchers and scientists.

Here are a few pics of the Zebra Octopus:

Taken with my camera phone:

Another one with the camera phone:

I went to their website and this is one they took of it:


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That's so cool, and so sad at the same time...beautiful specimen. You should ask the owner to give it to you if it perishes, and you should preserve it. That would be cool. Get all "taxidermist" on us, and make him look like he's grabbing a fish or something. Well, I guess you said he was doing good, lol. I thought that zebra octos WERE mimics...
Brock Fluharty;81275 said:
I thought that zebra octos WERE mimics...

As far as I know, "zebra" is just a name that LFSes and collectors use to refer to both mimics and wunderpuses. In the lowest picture, that one looks like a wunderpus, based on the sharp delineations of the stripes and the think stripes at the edge of the thick ones, but I'm mainly going on Norman's book descriptions.
Oh, I see now. I think that that particular specimen is beautiful, but I think that these types are the ugliest of all octos. Regular octopuses are much more attractive IMO. If I saw that in an LFS, I would think it was a basket starfish or something like that.
monty;81290 said:
In the lowest picture, that one looks like a wunderpus, based on the sharp delineations of the stripes and the think stripes at the edge of the thick ones, but I'm mainly going on Norman's book descriptions.

All pictures are of the same octopus. The First 2 are taken on my camera phone. The last picture is the same Octo taken with their camera. I always thought Zebras, Wonderpus and the Mimic were different but I could be wrong. As Quoted in the article at:

Mimic Octopuses: Will we love them to death? - The Cephalopod Page

"I had been offered twice before a chance to buy a zebra octopus. The first two times it turned out to be wonderpus."

I'm not sure if that means he expected a Zebra Octopus and got a Wonderpus, or like you said "Zebra" implies both species and when he was offered a Zebra, he was expecting a Mimic? Either way, they shouldn't be in pet stores until we know more and have been able to breed them in captivity for the pet trade. They could be critically endangered and we don't even know it.:cry:
We put that piece together at least a couple of years ago and today there are several times as many zebras coming into the US as there were then. I've said it before and I will say it again - the only way that the trade in zebras will stop is when they all die in LFS because no one will buy them followed by them all perishing in the wholesalers' tanks because no retail outlet will buy them.

Zebra is a trade name for Wunderpus, the mimic and occasionally the white V (blandopus).

Here's another zebra octopus at a Dallas LFS - looks like a different species from the one posted. (I'm phoning the LFS owner this afternoon.) Interesting, though- the word seems to be getting out and other people are complaining when they see any zebra octopus, not just me. Maybe this will make a difference.

The Zebra was sold to an online buyer. For $400 and being a delicate shipper and extremely rare, hope it survived the trip and went to someone experienced.

You probably just told several LFS managers that there is real profit to be made trafficing in Mimics and Wunderpus. I don't know what this store paid for a "zebra" that went for $400, but from what I have seen of wholesale prices in the past, the selling price was probably 4-5 times what they paid for it and probably 20 times what the Indonesian collector received. To put this into perspective, $300 dollars profit is a drop in the aquarium for a large shop like Atlantis, but $20 to an Indonesian marine collector could be a weeks wages. With the pipeline open in the U.S. and Europe, you can be sure that the collector will be actively searching for more.

One of the exporters I know in Bali sells them for $18.50 and the price for them from the importers here in L.A. are around $100 and then most store sell them for ~$300. There is still a high depand for them the exporters only get in a few a week and they go quickly from what they say.
That pretty much is in line with what I see in the Bay Area, although the price lists out of Bali vary quite a bit with availability. I had been told by friends in Indonesia that collectors were getting up to $20. If you are seeing price lists at $18.50, it is probably a quarter that - but still a day's wages.

I've been told that mimics sell for 5-6 times what the LFS pays for them and that mimics are now appearing on the wholesale livestock lists and can be ordered.
Unfortunately, that's the way things go as long as someone will buy it they will collect them in the case of the stores them selling them for 3-6 times what they pay for them if 2-4 of them die in the store before one is bought it is still profitable for the store and they will keep trying to get them. Even if we stop the importation into the U.S. there are still plenty of buyers in Europe and Asia. There still is a lot of research that needs to be done on them as far as population distribution and density. Once we get that data you can proceed to try to get collecting regulations passed, which is the only real way to stop the majority of the collecting. The only other way would be to captive raise them which as we've seen is no easy task and even with that it would only slow the importation.
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