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Fontanelle died on September 20, 2007 after over seven months in my care. I journaled the experience with observations, video and photographs. This page has the newest entries at the top, so if you would like to read the story from the beginning, please go to the bottom of the page and scroll up. If you click on any of the images you will see a larger version of the image.




Fontenelle died on September 20th. It was pretty quick. I noticed his arms being eaten on the 19th (the pic of the crab eating his arm was taken that day) and he was dead the next afternoon. The middle pic was taken in the morning (I had never seen him drape/flop his arms that way before), and I found him dead, the last pic, that afternoon.

An arm tip has already been given to Crissy Huffard's associate at the California Academy for DNA work, and his body is fixing in formalin so he can be sent to where he will be the most useful.

I do miss seeing him every morning and every night, but I am not too upset that he is dead. Keeping and breeding cephs for the last 4 or 5 years has conditioned me to enjoy they while they are alive and to expect them to die. Its part of the game, and I feel bad if I have done something stupid to cause a ceph death, or if the death is mysterious. In this case, I think he lived a natural lifespan that I was able to document, and I can only feel proud that I was able to pull that off, and even prouder that his remains will be useful - and we really have TONMO to thank for that.


He is definitely heading into senescence. The tips of some of his arms have been missing for several weeks and today I saw bristle worms and a hermit crab eating the tip of one of his arms. I try to post the pics later this week. Gruesome. He just sat there and was letting them much away. I have to decide if I should move him, euthanize him, or try to remove the bristle worms and the hermit from his tank.
But all in all a good run. I have had him for over 7 months and he was an adult when I got him.



Fontanelle is still fine.

Had a scare the other day, I couldn't find him. The tank is pretty overgrowin (see pic), and I didn't want to scare him if he actually dug himself in. At the same time, I wanted to make sure he wasn't dead. I finally found him partially dug in under a rock beneath the over growth. Tried to get a pic, but you just cant see him in it.
I am hand (tweezer) feeding him now. I tap on the tank twice and arms come out from behind the intake of the HOT overflow and the shrimp goes into the arms. Pretty fun and sometimes we play tug of war with the tweezers.
I am prolly going to harvest a good bunch of the macro soon. He isn't really using it, and it makes finding him harder.

I did also try a mirror see if he would react to it, but he ignored it.



If I knock on the tank, he now throws arms out from behind the hang on overflow where he dens, looking for food, and I, being the nice guy I am, use my long tweezers to put a shrimp in his arms. We play a little tug of war too. Kinda fun.


I have gotten two emails from people who 'just got' wunderpus. The first had an established tank and paid 199 for the pus. It seemed to be doing fine for about a week, then it hid in a rock and was dead a day or two later. The second email was from a person who has had one for 8 days but it hasn't been eating. I gave some advice on food choices and feeding strategies, but I haven't hear back on how its doing or about the general questions about how the animal was obtained - where, how much, etc.



Fontanelle is still going strong. He made it through the tank upgrade with out a problem. I used a tupperware container to catch him out to the holding bucket and back to the refurbed system. A few times, he turned his mouth towards the container instead of simply running away, kind of like the defensive postures in some dwarf species.

I put a shrimp in his arms this morning while he was swimming around and he ate it up. I used 10 inch tweezers because I feed live shrimp - though I did see him kill a shrimp, drop it, and get back to it about 8 hours later. Now that I have filmed most of the predatory behaviors, I might try to train him to eat from me.




Quickie update:

Fontanelle is still going strong. Eating, swimming, and quasi denning. I've had him just over 4 months is my math is right.



I have found the wunderpus to not be the most 'intelligent' seeming of the octos. Fontenelle hasn't seemed very interested in any 'enrichment' - balls, legos, squiddy fishing lures are all ignored.

Some of the feeding behaviors I have seen:

'Blundering' - When there is food in the tank and he is active, sometimes a wandering arm will bump into the shrimp and then he will pull it up and start to eat it. Sometimes he bites it till its dead (venom?) and then drop it a few minutes later, seeming to have eaten little or none of it. I am unsure if he goes back for it later, or if the scavengers in the tank get it. This type of feeding happens often.

'Fishing' - He will sit behind the HOB overflow with arms dangling down. When food comes buy and touches an arm, he will pull it up. See first pic below.

'Active Fishing' - When he is a little hungry and a shrimp is dropped in the tank, he will snake out a questing arm that seems to feel around for the shrimp. When he touches it he touches it lightly and only pulls it up when he has a good grip. It seems like he doesn't really try to catch the shrimp until he has a good grip, but he is sneaking that good grip so the shrimp doesn't even know he is caught until too late. He doesn't seem to be using eyesight for this, often his eyes are up behind the HOB overflow.

'Pouncing' - this only happens when the octo seems really hungry. Once and I while I withhold food for a couple days just to see if I can prod him into doing something that seems active. Its pretty neat when he is actually hungry, but waiting that long worries me. There have only been a handful of times where he has seemed to be actively looking for food. See the second pic for one of the times he was actively looking for food (evidenced by the pounce directly after dropping in a shrimp), and the third pic is a composite of the pounce sequence that I posted earlier.



After 3 or 4 weeks trying to get video of the 'pounce' I finally got it.
I walked into the ceph room and saw him looking out from under the HOB overflow, so I figured he was looking for food. I dropped a shrimp in and he went for it. Great! He hardly ever seems to take food head on, preferring to kind of wiggle arms around towards it, grabbing it gently but having a firm grip before the prey knows its been caught. There were actually two shrimp in the tank at the time, so you can see him do the arm catch later in the vid.
If only I could have gotten to the tripod!
The whole thing took about 6 minutes, so the video is a cut down version of events.

Click here for the video



Here is a shot of him dug in from the side of the tank.

Now, he is back in his old 'den' behind the HOB overflow.


I caught him digging and pulling substrate over to his new den area. Pretty neat stuff. I set up the video, but haven't had time to look at the footage yet.

Here is a sequence of pics showing changing color while he is partially dug in. They were taken within 20 seconds of each other. As always, click on the pic to see a larger version.


I dropped some fishing lures into his tank for the wunderpus to play with. They float, but he did have some interest in them for a day or two. Since they float, they ended up near the intake of the hang on back overflow. I don't know if this had anything to do with him not making his den behind the overflow anymore, but the timing matches up. The upshot is, Fontanelle is not staying on the other side of the tank during the day, plastered up on the glass or in the corner or digging. Earlier in the thread I posted some pics of him 'sleeping' on the class where you see him from underneath, but I was able to get some of him on the side glass so we can see what he looks like when he is sleeping.

The first shot shows the dark mantle coloration with the arms being lighter in color.
The second is just neat.
The third shows the light color evenly over all of the skin.

More often than not, I see the dark mantle and light arms when he is 'sleeping'.


A swimming pic that shows the mantle nicely.


I also caught him about 4 inches above the substrate with 2 or 3 arms still slowly digging in the substrate.


I walked into the ceph room just now and caught him dug in to the corner of the tank in the miracle mud. He has been digging in the corner and about 2 inches away from the corner.


Every time he does something different than his normal routine, I worry he is heading towards senescence.


He seems to be doing just fine.

He may have eaten the local crab. I found a carapace, but I didn't actually see him eat it.
I caught him displaying on the front glass and thought it was interesting enough to post.


Fontanelle is still plugging away. Eating, sleeping and moving around. Been sick and bad back so I haven't been taking too many pictures, but I 'll try to post something soon.



Here is a shot of him swimming.

Not much new to report. His life goes on as before. Swimming, eating resting. He seems totally uninterested in any food that isn't shrimp, he is totally uninterested in any toys (but I am going to try again soon), no more digging...I dunno


I haven't noticed the arms actually changing their cross section, rather it seems the deployment of the webbing that can make the arms look very elongated.

The 3rd right arm is pretty short showing he is a male.


Holy Cow. I happened to come home late, and when I walked into the ceph room, Fontanelle saw me and reacted with this crazy pose. I supposed I scared him by breaking his routine.


I have been busy taking pictures for an upcoming article. I've learned a lot about what a photo needs to be good for print vs the web. I have also been involved in this discussion about the ethics of keeping wunderpus:

Fontenelle is dong fine. He has eaten several times since I last wrote, though I haven't had any shrimp small enough to get him to pounce. Also, I realize that there has been a hermit crab in the tank with him since the beginning and he hasn't given it a second glance.



Fontenelle continues to only dig into the mud an inch or so at a time. However, he can do it very quickly, so I still have some hope that he may build a den. I am considering adding more mud to see if this entices him to do so.

I was unable to get any live shrimp for a couple of days, so I collected some local crabs that I used to feed cuttles. I was also able to get a couple of small fish. Fontenelle looked at each quickly and then proceeded to ignore them for a couple of days. Then, when I was able to get shrimp, he snagged and ate one immediately.



What a difference a flash makes.


While I am at it, here are two more shots - swimming, reflection:


Speaking of color -

Here is a shot of him in cammy mode, with different lighting.

Since he seems to have adapted nicely, I am finally learning the camera and willing to mess with the setup and risk peeving the occy. This shot was taken with my video dive light as the extra source. I have also switched to shooting in RAW (wow what a difference).



The occy does change color, from pale to vibrant (forgive me for not being more specific, but I am partially color blind as well). In the pounce pose the color is very different than 'normal'. There have also been aquarium lighting changes that may account for some of it, and he may be changing color less as he gets used to captivity and me looking in on him both with and without a looming lens.
He has become much less reactionary when I walk into the room and the spectacular flaring arm poses have become much more infrequent which makes me happysad.



I fed him last night and was able to shoot still of the 'pouncing' behavior. The shrimp I fed was very small, so I am hoping that when I feed him next, if I feed him a small shrimp, I can get him to pounce again. I have more pics of the event (3 a second!), but I think these 8 give a fair representation of the pouncing.


Oh yeah,

It is Wunderpus photogenicus, not Wonderpus :D
Here is the paper (a good read! Originally from this thread thanks marinebio_guy and Monty!):



I also caught him digging in the mud. You can see the excavation to his right going down. He was doing this during the day, so hopefully he will continue today.

I have also never seen him even think about escaping. I have never seen an arm break the surface tension of the water (though he will prowl at the water line), and the few times I have seen an arm moved (or pulled by the water flow) into the overflow intake, where it would be exposed to air, he has quickly jerked it away.



Here he is swimming across his new house, and another of him sleeping on the glass. This is exactly the kind of position he sleeps in behind the overflow intake. Not sure what the sleeping in the open might mean - not worried about predators? Senescing? I hope not, and don't think so as he is pretty active when he isn't sleeping.


Fed him today. He took the shrimp, killed it and ate some if it. I came back in the room 1/2 hour later and the shrimp was on the floor. I went to take a pic of the shrimp to get a better look at the feeding pattern. As I came up with the camera, Fontanelle swooped down onto the shrimp from across the tank as if he was getting it before I could get it. Anthropomorphic? Maybe!



I saw him digging his arms about 1/2 an inch into the mud. Hopefully he'll go deeper. I am gonna keep an eye out for mud sales and see if I can pick up some more. I am off to a couple industry trade shows this summer, so maybe I can convince a manufacturer to gimmie some. :D



He seems to be doing fine in the new tank. Today I fed him again and he grabbed the shrimp, killed it, ate its locomotive paddles and dropped it.
He is spending lots of time on the front glass, making picture taking not so great. I may move the sump return to point in a different direction to see if that changes where he hangs out. I am waiting though to see what he does. I am nervous. I am still wondering if the height of the old tank was better for him than the width of the new tank.



He's in the new tank.

I was taking pics of the new top when he came swimming out and right into a tupperware that was sitting in his tank to make catching him easy. It did! He has been in for about 10 minutes and has been checking out the new digs. He went behind the overflow intake, but didn't stay there. He has not eaten yet either. The new tank isn't as tall but it much wider.

Below is a pic of the 'octo proof top' I made. Either end of the tank has a custom cut and fitted piece of acrylic glued in place with super glue. Any small openings were filled with epoxy putty. The removable center piece has overlapping lips on either side for stability, to cover any potential spaces and to make it easy to tell if the lid is in place or askew. The round black thing on the top is the top of a plastic jar that I cut and glued into place. Then I cut a hole under the screw on cap and voila, a way to drop food into the tank without removing the lid. Great for vacation tank minders, and I don't think he will be able to unscrew the lid from the inside because it locks down pretty tight (if I get scared, I can drill a locking pin into it).
Now all I need is a new light that goes the entire length of the tank for picture purposes!



I was able to pick up some 'Fiji' mud. This stuff is really mud, so he might like it. It holds its shape if you stick your finger in it. It does cloud the tank so we'll see how it goes. I also picked up some bio bale, and put it in mineral mud on the side of the tank opposite of the 'Fiji' mud.



I dropped in a shrimp tonight and he went right over and caught it, pulled it to his mouth. It twitched twice, and he let it go. It floated to the bottom dead. No bite marks that I can see. Did it die from shock or poison - I don't know.

Picking up the substrates tomorrow for the new tank. I am thinking of adding shredded plastic, like some people use for biological filtration in wet dry systems, in the substrate to possibly give them greater digging structural soundness.

D - The location of the new tank is right next to the old one, but at a 90 degree angle. The view will be the same/different. If I feel lucky, I might make the move tomorrow night as I octo proofed the tank today. We'll see.




I caught him digging again last night, but he didn't go too deep.
I also thought this arm pic was nice.



However, tonight as I was removing the cubes and installing the 30 gallon (36x12x16) for the new Fontanelle home, I fed him. I tapped on the glass and dropped in a shrimp. Immediately, he came out to check it out, grabbed it with one arm, and then did this crazy umbrella like shrimp enveloping pose. He held the pose for about a minute. I was able to grab a camera and get one shot showing the pose - pic below.

As for moving him to the new tank, I have to order some mud for the substrate tomorrow. I have also installed a CPR overflow on the new tank so his favorite hiding spot is kind of in the new tank. I am however worried about moving him because he seems to be doing well in the current tank. Anyone have any opinions?



I decided to try a couple of different buried tube homes. One is pvc, the other two are different filter intake strainers. One has slots and the other has holes. I think the pvc will feel too confining so the idea with the strainers is to allow the den to feel more 'open'.

We'll see!



For what its worth, the mineral mud settled out as quickly as new sand does, and it doesn't seem to fly around any more than sand does.

Heres a nice full body against the glass pose.


I am going to be ordering a couple of different substrates to try in the new tank, I'll let you know how they go. I don't run 'filters' so I am not so worried about them becoming fouled.

Fontanelle is still digging, but I haven't been able to capture it on film again. I am going to sink a couple of tubes into the substrate and see if that make him happier. My thinking is that the tubes can have the substrate dug out of them, but will stop the hole from collapsing in on itself.
He does seem to be more comfortable with me and happier to hunt for for rather than stumble on it. When I tapped on the tank just now (like I always do before I feed) he perked up and went right after the shrimp.




Nothing new and exciting. He is eating, and sleeping and hiding and wandering. Starting to think about giving him a bigger tank.
I did get some footage of an interesting hunt though...when the shrimp came near the occy, he made a slightly showy display of arms, then promptly grabbed and started eating the shrimp. I'm trying to wait to get more footage before making another video.

I did talk to the guys at a LFS that has sold several 'zebras' about who they are selling these too and what kind of success they have had. Seems that it was mostly what TONMOers have called 'yuppies with tanks' bought the last few - they had service companies keep up their tanks. Both of the occys did not live very long at all. The current one the store has has not sold, but looks healthy, and was the other one that came into the country when Fontanelle arrived.




He is out and about this morning, and it looks like he dug a little bit last night - not very deep.

I did catch him in this interesting eyes up under mantle pose this morning. He moved before I could get a better shot.



Just a nice shot of him doing his display.


The Carib-Sea Mineral Mud arrived today. I put some in a bowl and it felt a lot like the muck I dove in in PNG, so I added it to the tank. Here is a before and after shot. I made a rock wall and backfilled it with mud about 5 or 6 inches deep. We'll see what the occy does with it.


Fontanelle likes to hang behind the overflow with some arm dangling like in the pic (though it is usually only an inch or so of 1 or two arms).

Today, I dropped in a shrimp and it started swimming around, as it got closer to where Fontanelle was hanging out below the overflow, a few more arms came out, and next time the shrimp came by, he reached out and grabbed it. This is the first time I have seen him hunt rather than stumble upon food.



I just got home, about 10 pm, and went to check on him. I turned the room light on and looked into the tank and would have sworn he was dead. He was upside down, light colored and twisty. I tapped on the tank, he flipped over and looked at me like I was interrupting something private (anthropomorphizing I know). Then he dropped the shrimp he had been eating and started to prowl the tank. Very very weird.



ot some video of him digging into the substrate in the middle of the night using 'super night shot'. He was nice enough to dig in against the glass in the front corner of the tank. Pretty neat, editing now. I think the problem with the substrate is that if you dig a hole, the sides fall in filling the hole - something that muck doesn't do. So, I used a credit I had for a gallon of caribsea Mineral Mud. My plan is to section off a side of the tank with rock and back fill it with the mud. Hopefully, it will have some structural integrity. Oooo, I guess I'll try it in a bowl first to see if it works before I go stressing the critter.

I emailed the Miracle Mud people but didn't hear back.

Here is a pic of him digging in - the video is better.


I watched him hunt and eat today. He snags prey with a tentacle, but he doesn't constrict it the way I have seen other occy's constrict food. He just grabs it, pulls it to his skirt and eats it. He does bring his legs in, but not to wrap around the food.



Panic tonight. Got home and couldn't find him. Looked in all the usual spots. Nada. No water around the tank, no drips, no holes. So I started digging. Turns out he dug a den under the rock in the tank! I put the rock back, but he ended up coming out of the den, so I fed him, then he went behind the intake of the overflow.

First pic is him just before leaving the den.
Second is him munching on a shrimp.
Third is him wrapped around the shrimp.

Hopefully he will dig himself back in!


Fontanelle ate again last night. Yesterday (ooo distracted by cuttlefish sex!) I dropped in a shrimp in the hopes of seeing him stalk and catch. I left the room for a few minutes only to come back and fine him in his 'den', shrimp in arms. Discarded carapace on the sand this morning.

If anyone has any ideas about something to make artificial 'muck' for a substrate, let me know.



He has very much claimed the area behind the intake of the external overflow as his den. He was out, and I dropped in a practice softball - the kind with the holes - and he displayed at it, then moved quickly back to his den.

Also, I waited a couple of days to feed him. Last night I dropped in a shrimp hoping to film him stalking and eating. No dice. This morning the shrimp was gone. I must have missed the morning stalking.



Looks like its a male:





After a bunch of discussion in these threads - goes my wonderpus journal.

Oh - here is a nice link to mimic/wonderpus id:

Getting this occy was an easy/hard decision for me. Easy because I was in the right place at the right time (I would not have bought it from and LFS) and happened to have a tank ready. Hard because we simply don't know enough about the species in the wild and have little idea if they are being overfished or suffering from habitat destruction. They sell for 300-600 dollars at LFS and this is a mixed blessing; they are expensive so they will continue to be collected, but not many will buy them because they are expensive.

I have a good relationship with some local wholesalers, and I was able to pick up a Wonderpus photogenicus from one of them on 2/16/07. This is the same wholesaler that called me last year with about a wonderpus that I brokered to Dr Roy Caldwell at UCB. This time, two came in from Sulawesi, but I only had space for one and I have zero experience with the species so both of them was out of the question. I was please to be able to obtain the animal at the wholesale level, as it went from shipping straight to my tank.

The wonderpus, named Fontanelle (I think all octos should be named
Fontanelle) is small. The mantle is only about an inch long and the
arms when spread out from tip to tip maybe 16 inches. Currently, it is an 18 gallon tall, the top of the tank is covered and weighed down, that is and has been connected to my larger cuttle
system - I'll see how it does. I don't want to stress it by moving it from system to system too quickly. If I do decide to move it, I will either plumb a new tank into the existing system, or talk to Tru Vu about slightly modifying a standard system they build for occys - something I have been interested in talking to them about for over a year.

The tank has a 1 inch 'white' sand bed that I covered with black sand on the idea that wunderpus live in the 'muck' and that the darker substrate might be better for it.

The first night, Fontanelle was out and about in the tank almost
immediately. I dropped in a bait shrimp that I also feed to the cuttles
and the next morning there was half a shrimp left still inside the
shrimps shell.

Fontanelle has made its home behind the cpr overflow (stuffed with foam to prevent the occy from climbing through the overflow) and has been out and about parading on the glass every morning and often during the day. Last night, it was curled up sleeping in the vertical middle of a corner of the tank essentially in the open. Sometimes it likes to hide between the side of the magnetic glass cleaner and the side of the tank. It doesn't seem to be scared of me at all, and has eaten 3 times since I got it.

It doesn't seem particularly strong, and I haven't seen it even try to
push its arms out of the water or dig very much. There are some rocks and some pvc in the tank, but they have so far been ignored.

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