Saturday, March 18, 2006

A New Addition

I know it's been a while since I wrote, but the world's been a bit discouraging, y'know? I mean, with a government that admits to law-breaking, and getting away with it, with all this injustice in the world, I just felt that if I kept writing about it, I'd just never stop being in a rage.

But this past week, something took me away from all that.

We have a new addition to the house: Ossie.

See her lurking there behind the rock near the glass? The eyes are on top and the mantle (a bulbous shape) is towards the bottom.

She's an octopus. Why did we get an octopus? Beats me. But we did end up with one, and we're loving every second of it. We've been having a bit of trouble getting the levels just right in the tank, but we're apparently doing something okay today.

One of the things I did this afternoon was let the sun hit the tank directly for about an hour. This seems to have stimulated some growth on the rocks which seems to have stimulated the crabs.

Another reason we think things are going to be okay is, we got to witness Ossie hunting!

After we had turned off the lights for about 1/2 hour, we decided to check on her. Bratworse went to use the flashlight, covered with red cellophane and discovered Ossie outside her den. I convinced her to turn on the inside lamp, which was still the red bulb and to our surprise, Ossie didn't budge. After about 20 minutes of observation, we think we figured out why she wasn't moving. She was munching on something - we think it was a snail that had been hanging out near her den.

Well, I tried to snap a few shots of her but one time, I left the flash on. Three seconds later, she was back in her den. We turned off the lights for about 15 minutes, then turned the red light back on, and found her poking her tentacles out of her rock playfully, as if to entice the ghost shrimp we had put in earlier. That trick didn't work as the ghost shrimp had found a safe haven in a little plastic cage ball I had put in for Ossie to play with.

As we watched, Ossie came out of her den to hang inside an enclave in her rock. From what we can tell, this is her favorite place to hang out, so to speak. She must've hung there for 40 minutes (yes, we watched the entire time) before deciding to move.

One of the things we had done was add backing to the back of the aquarium. She seems to have loved this. She glided along the back of the next rock until she reached an overhang I had set up. Slipping up the back, she perched there, tentatively reaching a tentacle out to inspect the plastic cage ball. A shrimp hung near the top of the ball, seemingly oblivious to her presence.

Ossie gripped the ball with one tentacle, then struck at the shrimp at the top of the ball. Twice, she attempted this, but both times, the ball thwarted the attempt. She flung the ball away from the rock so that it could float around the tank (it had been hung up by the top of the overhang, thus giving the shrimp a stable haven).

For a while, Ossie perched behind the overhang, waiting for the shrimp to swim by. One shrimp found safety above the pump; the other swam with the floating ball. At times, the shrimp would swim close to where Ossie was waiting to spring into action but never stayed long enough or near enough for her to strike. She moved closer to the top of the overhang but by the time she was near the tip, the floating ball had gotten hung up near the pump.

To my eyes, it looked as if one of the shrimp was actively swimming to hold the ball in place.

With both shrimp hovering safely out of reach at the water pump, it seemed Ossie reached the end of her patience. She glided along the back wall, then lept for the side of the pump. A strike of the tentacles was followed by a brief struggle, then Ossie swam back to the overhang with two quick flicks of her mantle.

Bratworse and I quickly assessed the situation. One of the shrimp was still safely on top of the water pump. The other was swimming around the top of the now freed ball. It seemed it was three strikes and Ossie was out.

Ossie didn't even bother to slide along the rocks. It definitely looked as if she was miffed and was stalking off along the back wall towards her den. She hung in her crevice for a few seconds, then slid insided her den. Bratworse was about to turn off the lights when I said wait a few.

Sure enough, our sulking Ossie slid back out, and hung in her crevice for about 10 minutes. Then she went to hang out back and that's where the photo comes from. A few minutes after the photo, we decided to leave her alone.

There are plenty of crabs for her to eat. It seems that she has taken to grabbing all the crabs and throwing them into a corner. How else to explain that when we turn off the lights, they are scattered, and when we wake up, they are stacked in the corner. Alive, but stacked.

She seems to be enjoying herself for now. I had the eeriest feeling, she was watching me as much as I was watching her, and that somehow, we had passed the test.

Will keep you all updated.



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