1. Brian says

    By mighty Thor! She’s a beauty! Until now, I’d only imagined beauty, now I understand.

  2. says

    I hear that stripes are the new polka dots. Either that or it may be that smart Cephalopods know that vertical stripes have a slimming effect on the tentacles.

  3. MarkH says

    And yet, if the stripes were going the other way, it would make it look fat. A cephalopod with a sense of style (if that’s a male Sepioloida lineolata, it has to be gay).

  4. Rob says

    I have a question re: cephalopods…..what is the front?

    On cuttlefish, it seems like the tentacles are in front, sort of like they hang down from its face. Octopus and squid seem to usually travel in the opposite direction, with the tentacles sort of being like the animal’s tail(s).

    Or is this just a meaningless question?

  5. CCP says

    Say, has that cuttlefish lost weight? It looks fabulous!!!
    And cephalopods don’t need no stinkin “front”!

  6. says

    I never though of cephalopods as having a front and a back. to me, they just have a business end (tentacles, beak) and a blunt end (shell/head).

  7. Ribozyme says

    I want one for my aquarium! Where can I get one? (Please, please, please, PZ… tell me!). I’ve read that cephalopods make great pets, the smartest animals you can keep in a home aquarium. As smart as a dog or even more. At least some octopodes get excited and happy to see you when you arrive (like a dog… specially if they have learned to associate your presence with the arrival of a yummy morsel).

  8. Ribozyme says

    I hate to contradict you, PZ, but just yesterday I sent this link to a friend of mine who calls himself “El Pulpo” (the Octopus) and who, as a graphic designer, uses this very neat text design at the end of his e-mails (you might like to try it):


    The page focuses on octopodes, and even links to some other sites. But, living in Mexico, as I do, the resources available for purchase are not available to me. They do say that octopodes are not long lived, and the most one can expect is on the order of 2 years (which isn’t far from the life expectancy of a pet rat or hamster. Perhaps a breeder could develop breeds with a longer life expectancy). Anyway, in that, you are the expert, I just wanted you to know the information sometimes one stumbles on… Still, I want the fabulous striped cuttlefish!

  9. says

    I used to keep marine aquaria and I can tell you that the biggest problem with keeping octopods is that they are the consummate escape artists.

    Short of sealing your tank shut, you can reasonably expect that your pet octopus is going to try to join you at the table or wherever on a regular basis. They already have short lifespans but exposure to air renders that somewhat irrelevant.

    The second problem is that they are fierce predators. In the tank, they will voraciously consume any other meaty life form. That gets expensive :)

    A third problem is that some species (like the pretty blue ringed ones) are poisonous. Many amateurs try to keep such things, but those people soon pick up new nicknames like “the victim” or “the deceased”.

    And of course, they are invertebrates, which, in the style of pretty much all invertebrates, makes them highly susceptible to water chemistry issues. If you are not an EXPERT marine aquarium keeper, an octopus is not for you.

    On the flip side, you can probably train it to open peanut butter jars for you.

  10. Ribozyme says

    Thanks, Evolving Squid (I guess the evolving isn’t being done in an aquarium, huh?). The scapiness (is that right?) and predatory habits of octopodes you describe coincide with what is said at the link I give. And no, I don’t want a blue ringed miniature octopus. In Mexico we have several Centuroides species of scorpion, the most poisonous there are, and I would rather have an Emperor scorpion as a pet. What is quite interesting of the link is that the author says there is a misconception about the water quality requirement for octopodes. It says they do require a lot of oxygen and are very sensitive to heavy metals, but their requirements on what is usually considered the main water quality parameters (I know this because for some time I did molecular biology work on sea urchin eggs, and I had to take care of the urchins, which are rather delicate in this respect), the different nitrogen and phosphorous forms levels, and the pH, need to be controled less tightly for an octopus than for a standard reef aquarium. The link also gives tips on how to avoid scape, on not having other animals in the aquarium (for several reasons), only rocks and toys (it makes sense, the way you would do with a dog, a cat or a parrot), and that good inexpensive food can be saltwater shrimp (bought frozen) and live crayfish that can be raised in an accessory freshwater aquarium).

    Saltwater reef aquaria aren’t unusual in Mexico, all the equipment is easily obtained, and the fish and common invertebrates can be easily purchased (it might be that since we have an important tropical reef in the Yucatan penninsula, domesticated forms of the species found there are easy to come by… I don’t know). But I have never seen octopodes or other cephalopods offered for sale (can you imagine having a Humboldt squid in your aquarium!).

  11. says

    As you might imagine from my name, keeping some kind of cephalopod was high on my list of things to do back in the day, but it really wasn’t practical.

    To get my fill of tentacles, I had to settle for anemones. The most important thing I learned about anemones is that they can walk around (well, slide around like a snail, sort of). This was something I didn’t know with the first bunch I put in…

    I placed them in nice spots where they’d look pretty and were easy to deal with. A few hours later, like the scenes at the beginning of Poltergeist, they were all rearranged. There were a number of iterations of this little game before I clued in to what was happening. So it went in the early days of my aquarium keeping.

    Also, like cephalopods, they would occasionally try to make a break for it, although they are not very effective at doing so.

    Metal poisoning is a big issue for almost all invertebrates. The tiniest amount of copper can zorch a whole tank full of inverts.