• Looking to buy a cephalopod? Check out Tomh's Cephs Forum, and this post in particular shares important info about our policies as it relates to responsible ceph-keeping.

Care for Nautilus


Blue Ring
Apr 23, 2003
Hi guys,

I've just gotten a Nautilus and is hoping to get as much info possible on its care. You know stuff like diet, water salinity and make-up, temp, lighting, current flow etc. It seems to have settled in quite nicely so far as I managed to hand feed it with fish.

Oh yes, it has a cuttlefish as a tankmate. Wondering if it is a good idea coz the cuttlefish had the shock of its life when it 1st saw the Nautilus.

Hope to hear from your experience, at the mean time I'll be anchoring all my corals from being knocked over!

hi LS, welcome to tonmo.com :smile:

the nautilus can be a tricky one to keep in an aquarium, mainly due to its prefered temperature, which really should not be above the mid sixties F. To be honest not many people I know have tried to keep them (I havnt) and that is mainly temp related reasons (so get a chiller) and also they require a deep aquarium (at least 3 feet).

I think that a cuttlefish would out-compete the nautilus for food and again the temp requirements will dictate whether they are suitable as tank mates.

What species of cuttle is it?

I made the artificial decorations for a nautilus tank at a local musuem once...the tank was 3.5' deep x 5x5, 1.023 salinity, with marginal water movement ( no surge devices), and a huge chiller. The nautiluses did not last very long though ( maybe they cooled them too much? I think they had the water in the mid 50's) and they disconnected the chiller and obtained some cuttlefish. I hope yours works out better! Good luck!
Hey guys,

Thanks so much for your advice. Looks like a chiller is a must here coz my water temp is maintained around 78 - 80F. The headache I have is that to bring it down to mid 60F, I would need a big chiller as the ambient temp is in the mid 80 here in Singapore.

For the Nautilus' comfort, I'm also trying to shorten the lighted period as much as possible without affecting the corals. Created a dark cosy corner in the tank as well, that has become it's favourite hangout.

The cuttlefish has certainly got used to the tankmate, occassionally coming right up to the nautilus to check it out. Colin, I have no firm idea what species it is. It doesn't have the stumpy look of a Bandensis coz even when it was agitated the skin remains quite smooth. The closest match is a Sp. Plagon. If I managed to upload a pic hopefully you have some idea. :smile:

Hi posting a pic will help but no promises LOL 8)

I checked out info on S. plagon and they seem to be from the East of Australia with no mention of anywhere even near Singapore, so maybe not that one...

here are some spcies from your neck of the woods...

All Sepia...

esculenta, kobiensis, latimanus, lycidas to name a few dont know how many of them you can find pics of online? hope it helps a bit though

My nautilus' pic, and its passing on....

Hi guys,

Finally managed to get around posting pic for my Nautilus. Most unfortunately, I'm very sad to say that it has passed on :cry: Was doing fine on Friday, taking food from my hand. Next morning it was gone. No warning sign at all. I wondered what went wrong. For some strange reasons my PC crashed last Friday when I tried posting, maybe it knew it was time..........

Will be thinking hard again before trying again. Even though some of the books say that it is viable to keep them in an aquarium, I'll probably leave this beautiful creature in the deep blue ocean.

Oh well I have posted two pics.
Don't give up! Maybe after a while, you could have a dedicated Nautilus tank...they are so particular! The director of a zoo I worked for once said a fairly impassionate view of death...we had just recieved two red deer, and after releasing them into the exhibit, one just ran around in three circles and fell down, not breathing. This guy had a terrible temper, and we were all holding our breath for the yelling that was about to start, but he just sighed, pushed his hat back on his head, and said "well, you have livestock, and then you have dead stock." Cephs are so tough to keep...I get bummed everytime I lose an animal. Sorry about the critter...
Sorry to hear about your Nautilus... Thanks for sharing the pictures, that was a beauty.

Handsome cuttlefish as well. Let us know how you decide to proceed... Either way, we don't have many people with experience owning nautiluses on TONMO.com, so we're glad you're here!
Yap, it was a good experience. Guess my cuttlefish will get my undivided attention from now! Oh yes I can start lengthening the lighting time for my corals too. 8)

Amazing photos! Terribly sorry to hear that it died...any ideas as to why? Must have been wonderful to have while it was alive. Where did you get it, by the by?
I really did not why it died. Perhaps it was to do with the water or pressure. Got it from a LFS. I have it lucky coz we have a few well stocked LFS that I visit on a regular basis, and sometimes they do have very nice suprises. It's quite common to come across octopus here but none of the shop owner really have any clue what species they are.

L S :biggrin2:
I have never kept Nautilus, but see plenty of recently imported specimens. I'm working towards a custom built set up, In the mean time I'm finding as much info as I can.
Nautilus seem to be able to tolerate low water pressure, although captive hatched specimens survive less than a year, possibly due to lack of pressure. Obviously a deep tank to allow some vertical migration would be a benefit.
The biggest problem in my opinion with keeping a Nautilus is temperature. They normally occur in deep water, around 300m, and rarely come up above 100m This means although the areas they come are tropical the water is very cold. I know when specimens were collected for Waikiki aquarium they shipped them at close to freezing!
I often see Nautilus at a supplier I visit, as they are kept in tropical conditions they look unhappy. But occasionally the odd one seems to be OK. A healthy specimens will often have it's tenticles extended and can be quite active. See picture. If the Nautilus has it's hood permantly down, this is a bad sign.
Feeding a healthy Nautilus should not be a problem, the are primarily scavengers and should take dead prawns.
Hope this helps potential keepers.

i've never kept a Nautilus myself, but some years ago I worked for an aquarium in southern florida where we had a deep benthic exhibit including Nautilus for a while.

you are absolutely correct about the pressure. the aquarium had set up a very special tank with considerable amount of donor money. the tank provided several atomspheres of pressure and contained an airlock for feeding. unfortunately they had to keep it undecorated since cleaning was troublesome.

i realize that's a bit extreme for a normal person's home, but just thought i'd share. :smile:

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