1st Grader: Do Octopuses really create gardens?


Mar 24, 2008
My daughter, Sophie, is in 1st grade. The class is learning about coral reef creatures, and the teacher told about Octopus collecting shiny objects to create "gardens".

We've all heard the song "Octopus's Garden", and it looks like Ringo Starr was led to believe this alleged Octopus behavior, according to the Wikipedia article:

Octopus's Garden - Wikipedia

Sophie and I are wondering if it's true that Octopus engage in this sort of behavior, or is it merely an Octopus myth?


-Dorian and Sophie
I have thought of several answers but most would be hearsay so I will tell you what mine do and you can determine if that constitutes a "garden". I have two types of octopuses.

My dwarves (O. Mercatoris) like to find a shell or other backside protected area (ie only one opening) and then collect shells to use as "doors" when they sleep or are inactive, or in the case of a female, brooding eggs. They will keep a variety of shells in front of their favorite sleeping spots or drag shells inside other shells and I can sometimes locate them because shells have moved around.

My larger octopus, O. Hummelincki, finds a premade nitch in the live rock and rarely moves anything around in the aquarium. Unlike reports of some of the other species, he does not keep a collection of consumed critter shells at the opening of his den and unlike my Mercs, he does not manufacture a door, nor sleep with his mantle protected.
It's not a behaviour I've seen in our octi's. They do move shells and rock around a bit, but it's more to create a den than a garden and I haven't seen them target shiny objects more than non shiny. I think it's more of a nice story that's come about from the habit of some species to have a midden at their front door.......so more of a rubbish dump than a garden really :shock:

Cheers and :welcome:


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