I have become a moderator on an octopus keepers page on Facebook. It’s one of those dubious things, I see so much misinformation it makes me want to spit, and I share information to try to help- but then there are so many people who blow off important facts! SO, I’m doing a little series of “public service announcements” about Octopus Keeping. In part, so I could have information already written up that I can copy and paste, Because so many of the same questions come up over and over. I decided I would start keeping them here! I would dearly love input from all of you on what else I should include or any edits I should make!
“True facts about Octopus keeping!”
I’ve seen lots of terrible information about Octopus keeping circulating. I am not an expert, but I do have 12 years of experience. I’m not trying to talk anybody into or out of having an octopus, I just want to share facts and information I have gained over a decade of keeping octopuses.
***If you want a pet that will play with toys, solve puzzles and be available at any point during the day- get a dog!***
-Keeping octopuses is an amazing experience, but it is not for beginners! You need a solid experience with marine chemistry and keeping water stable. A fully cycled, mature tank is required. TONMO.com has the most comprehensive information for researching cephalopods in the home aquarium. Start your research there!
-Octopuses do best in a dedicated tank, with clean up crew and corals as the only tank mates. They require lots of live rock to hide in and hunt ‘pods and CUC out of. Plastic tank ornaments aren’t sufficient.
-When you mix fish with octopuses, all are stressed out. While the fish might be eaten by the octopus, they can also cause damage to the octopus- especially by picking at their eyes. I have seen posts where people have them mixed together, but generally it “works until it doesn’t.”
-Octopuses require heavy filtration. You do not need a “special filter,” but you do need heavy filtration and a REGULAR WATER CHANGE routine.
-Octopuses do require a secure lid, but this is actually easy to achieve. Most often overlooked is the fact that they will climb out when you were doing water changes!!! When I am doing tank maintenance, I always make sure to have a second person on hand.
-Scientific names for IDs are important, common names don’t tell you much. There are several different species of octopuses that can be kept in a home aquarium- but just like fish, there are certain species that do not do well in a tank! Some need chillers, some don’t. The size of the tank you need is dependent upon the species of octopus you have. ID IS IMPORTANT FOR PROPER CARE!
-Most species of octopuses are crepuscular or nocturnal. This means you will not be seeing them whenever you want. Interaction is completely up to the animal!
-Octopuses are seasonal, and are not always available! They all have short lifespans, warmer water species only live a year or so. It’s close to impossible to know their ages. This means in addition to the heartache of losing them, you may not find another for a while. My tank sits”fallow” for a while every year.
***NOTE TO THE “HATERS”***
As with ornamental fish, the hobby gives an alternative to the food trade. Many octopuses in the hobby are by-catch. Most all octopuses in the hobby could have been sold for food!
If you made it through this post and are still interested in keeping an octopus, check out TONMO.com for all the information you need to responsibly keep a cephalopod in your home aquarium. It is a site that is staffed by professional marine biologists and longtime cephalopod keepers that are available to give you support! There are separate threads for tank set ups, ceph care, sources for cephalopods and food and identification. There are also several journals there that we octopus lovers keep on our pets. It can really help you make a decision!