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,
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
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,
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
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
'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
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 whole thing took about 6 minutes,
so the video is a cut down version
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
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
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
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
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
noticed the arms actually changing
their cross section, rather it
seems the deployment of the webbing
that can make the arms look very
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
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
What a difference a flash
While I am at it, here are
two more shots - swimming,
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.
It is Wunderpus
not Wonderpus :D
Here is the paper (a good read! Originally from this thread
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
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
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
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?
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
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
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
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
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.
I caught him digging again
last night, but he didn't go
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
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
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
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
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
He is out and about this morning,
and it looks like he dug a
little bit last night - not
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
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
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
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: http://www.tonmo.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2033
After a bunch of discussion
in these threads -
goes my wonderpus journal.
Oh - here is a nice link to
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
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
Fontanelle) is small. The mantle
is only about an inch long and
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
The first night, Fontanelle
was out and about in the tank
immediately. I dropped in a bait
shrimp that I also feed to the
and the next morning there was
half a shrimp left still inside
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.