• 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.

Octopus health

Dec 3, 2004
Hello, just wanted to ask for some advice. I am currently waiting for my new custom "octopus proof" tank to be built si I am doing research into husbandry. My main concern is that where I live, the only octopuses available are at local marine stores. The availability is sporadic and usually the species and approximate age is unknown. I don't think Octopets is able to ship accross the border, so unfortunately that routre is unavailable. I have come across two octopuses in the past month. The first was kept in a clear "critter container" with no shelter in an invertebrate holding tank. The creature was blanched white/pink, curled in a corner and not moving. The second was listed as a "brown indopacific octopus" that I assume might have been O. cyanea. It died within a day of arrival.

My question then is how can one access the health of an octopus when it is kept in such stressful conditions? I understand the light color indicating stress, however, are there any other tell tale signs of an octopus that will likely not survive. I'm very familiar with judging health in fish and other invertebrates but not so much with cephalopds. Does anyone have any words of advice or suggestions. Thanks for your help.
I think one very clear indicator is the stressed out condition of the remaining octopus. Obviously the shop is not clear on what it takes to have these animals thrive. I have taken chances on octopuses over the years by figuring I am rescueing them from a certain death. Some have survived to last up to a year and others have died within the week. Other than knowing it is an adult and probably near the end of it's life, I really do not think there are any clear answers other than the shops knowledge and ability to house their animals in a way that supports them to go on and thrive in a home enviroment.

That's my :twocents:

And did I say :welcome: ?

Hi Detritus,

The signs that you should look for are activity and is the octopus eating. I've seen them at the LFS floating in plastic containers and the octo often looks fairly comfortable and healthy.

You might try working with the LFS to order an octo. Another angle might be to contact the centers of octo research in Canada - Dalhousie, for instance, and see whether you could get an octo or they could tell you how.

Really sick octi's often have skin lesions, and the eyes can look milky...almost like a cataract. But there is no real way to know...other than taking a risk. Colour can indicate stress but the actual colour the animal changes to varies from species to species. A pale (almost whitish) grey in P. cordiformis , for example, we take to be relaxed as this is the colour we see most often when our octi is snoozing after a meal.

Stress in this species is most often indicated by a dull mauvish purple with associated odd behaviours (not eating, frantic jetting, crashng into wals etc etc).

Thanks very much for the imput everyone. I guess there is always a certain amount of risk when purchasing any marine invertebrate. Unfortunately, my understanding is that Dalhousie University sells only to individuals associated with accredited institutions as part of their grant restrictions. Though I am affiliated with a medical research institution, I wouldn't want to mislead anyone. I guess the best would be to put a deposit on an octopus and pay for the food such as crabs etc., the individual eats and let it setle for a few days to make sure it is in reasonable health. Alternately, I guess I could make arrangements with a good shop in northern New York to order from Octopets and I could drive down and pick it up and walk it through customs myself. Too bad, my wife's relatives fish for squid off the east coast and routinely bring in octopuses. These are, however, deep sea creatures and though they throw them back into the sea I doubt they are viable after the rapid decompression. I will keep you posted and submit pictures for review and suggestions when I get the tank. Thanks again for your support, its appreciated.

Shop Amazon

Shop Amazon
Shop Amazon; support TONMO!
Shop Amazon
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites.