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Aggressive or playful?

Jan 5, 2016
so my new octo is either very aggressive or very playful? Thoughts?

If I come to the tank or close to it he starts going to where I am at... I put a finger against the glass he strikes at it.

I have been using a feeding stick but he keeps attacking it and won't let go. I try to pull it away and today he picked up 2 almost football sized rocks with. Himself pulling against me and wouldn't let go.

I can't open the lid of the tank for 1 second without him trying to go straight out.

I was going to add more rock and sand but I don't think he will let me.

I know some of you touch them and what not... I touch my sting ray and shark, but no way in hell would I put my hand near this dude.

Is this normal behavior? If he stretches all the way out he is long, tip to tip is just over 18" when sprawled.

I'm a nun be so maybe he is normal, but he kinda seems like he wants to eat my face lol.


Haliphron Atlanticus
Staff member
Dec 31, 2003
It sounds like it is in hunting and foraging mode. It might also confuse your finger for the feeding stick, so good call in not putting your hand near it. If it's not letting go of the feeding stick, it's possible it's hungry. Try giving more food. If it's trying to get out of the tank, it's possible it's maturing and in the phase of life where it would normally be out there looking for mating opportunities and hunting a lot. If that's the case there might not be a lot you can do to get it to settle down. If it's a species that normally dens up in rock and sand, you can try adding more denning material. If you need to keep it from crawling out during any tank modifications, you might try:
1) put some of the tank water in a bucket with a bubbler before you stir up the tank
2) put the octopus in a mesh bag (I use nylon drawstring party favor bags for small spp., and zippered mesh laundry bags for bigger spp.)
3) transfer the octopus-in-bag to the bucket of water + bubbler while you work on the tank.
4) I'll let others chime in on how long to let the tank settle before putting it back in.

Do you have pics?

Does anyone else have any advice?


Staff member
Sep 4, 2006
Feeding stick capture is probably the most universal behavior we see. My recommendations is to simply allow him/her to have the stick. It will get bored with it and allow it to be retrieved later. How often, how much and what are you feeding?

Overt escape attempts are less common but do happen (I have lost two this way but not while I was attending the tank). The first thing I recommend is to check your water parameters, including temperature (species ID needed for best temps - photos and description will help) to be sure environment discomfort is not driving the behavior. Besides water parameters, a too small tank seems to drive escape behavior. How big is the enclosure? What is the water volume of the setup? How often do you do a water change and how much do you change at a time? Depending on your routine and set up, additional water changes may help but each animal is different.

I've yet to have an octopus who reacted positively to tank cleaning. They seem to know you are messing with "their" environment and will show displeasure by either trying to stop the process (grabbing cleaning tools, hands, etc) or by sulking for a day (hiding afterwards and not eating for a day). Most adapt but may continue to give warning touches (often, even shy animals may come out to observe/supervise maintenance) but at least one other keeper has used @mucktopus ' suggestion and removed the animal for maintenance or used another person to create a distraction.

I've only kept one animal (O. vulgaris) that I classified as aggressive at the time. Later I downgraded the description to aggressively playful as she clearly wanted attention/interaction but played aggressively. I did not provide (and would not today) the opportunity to be bitten when she wanted to play so there was very little physical contact but a lot of facetime. She allowed me to clean her tank without (much) interference but always came out of her den to observe.

If your avatar is a picture of your octopus, then I suspect it is Octopus vulgaris as well so the aggressive behavior is somewhat typical (or as typical as individuals can be classified. Here is a link to another vulgaris (Penelope) adventure with noted aggression. @Lmecher 's experience with El Diablo, however, was quite different (note the tank upsizing she needed for this species).
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Feb 9, 2008
Mine used to play tug of war with feeding stick AFTER she ate the scallop or whatever I fed...I think it honestly became a little feeding time conditioned behaviour/or game. But the striking the glass part as someone said sounds like it may be a hunting method its trying out too. Mine changed her behavior after first 2 weeks and stayed very consistent after that to the point I knew things she did was playful/or out of curiosity. Give it time, I was scared to touch mine at first too lol. the thoughts of those strong suckers and that sharp beak hidden away kinda scared me for a while (and she was tiny!)

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