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Is a plastic toy OK in an octo tank?


Pygmy Octopus
Feb 25, 2003
I have been viewing the posts on this site and Reef Central and this is my first post on either site. Yehh! Am at the start of setting up a species only tank for a Bimac. Am very excited about it and expect to purchase one in July or August. Have not read a lot about other owners putting toys in the tank, but a lot of posts about the octos playing.

What do you think about some plastic toys from a toy store? I assume the paint is safe because it is for kiddies. Should I toss them in when I start the rock cycling? Should I just keep them for myself? :D

Please let me know what you think. Thanks in advance for your help.
What is safe for us is not NECESSARILY safe for an octo. But may be. I'm not sure how to tell you what to choose here...sorry...might help if you could say a bit more about what sort of toys we're talking about? On the principle of "when in doubt, keep ANY potential chemicals to a minimum" I'd be more suspicious of anything with paint...paint, presumably, could somehow dissolve or flake off. Colored plastic might be okay...I don't know if dyes have a tendency to diffuse out of plastic or not. I DO know that the human safety of soft, flexible plastics is being debated right now--most of these plastics contain "plasticizers," chemicals which keep the plastic soft (in fact, almost in a "semi-melted" state) and which gradually leak/evaporate out of the plastic.

Another member of these boards has apparently had an octo die due to contact with a tank decoration...it was a coral which may have been dyed blue, which in turn may have been a copper-based dye. Copper is an extreme no-no (so no pennies in the tank! :P ) But it may have been something else in the coral too, so, again...a bit of paranoia is reasonable when it comes to cephs. They're very tolerant of some things, but not everything. I'm speculating that nearly anything plastic is probably okay (since PVC, acrylic, and some other things are constantly used) but a little extra caution would be good.

There are lots of other things that can be used as toys. A few traditional ones are a pile of small shells, a snail shell or a little bottle with a cork in it that floats.

I'd be interested in hearing what other octo owners are using as toys, to get some more ideas.

Thanks for your thoughts

Thank you both. I'll keep them out of the tank and toss them in the bathtub. :D To answer a previous question they are plasitc marine animals I got at ToysRUs. A big pile of sharks, dolphins, rays, etc and one really cool plastic octopus.... but they do have that new Barbie doll reek of plastic....so I appreciate the warning.
He he he, Cephalopods are so interesting and complex that it's easy to anthropomorphize them. When I visted the NRCC several years ago, they had a tank set up for an Octopus cyanea that featured several toys just for the octopus to exercise it's curiousity with. There were snap-together bristle blocks, floating thingy, random peices of coral, and other things. Here's a pic of the tank in it's early stages:

Notice the shark shaped cupholder near the bottom left. That turned out to be the thing the octopus "played with" the most- which inspired a comment from John Forsythe: "so much for innate predator recognition"

Hands down, the coolest toy you can give your octopus are Lego. Build a clear-windowed Lego submarine, imprison a shrimp or crab in it, tether it to a piece of live rock and watch the show when your cephalopod notices it. It's better than anything on TV.

Cheers, Jim
Octo's have no problem pulling Lego apart. Mine no longer tries to find an opening it just pulls it apart, it learned it is a quick way to get to food. It has also learned to use this skill to open plastic containers with a screw top lid. If intelligence does not work, brute force normally does!

Jason Scott

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