Pet Octopus Complete Guide to Care, Breeding, Tank Size, and Disease

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An Octopus is an intelligent saltwater animal that holds its supremacy in the wild and at-home water tank. Most aquarists love keeping octopuses as pets in a tank at home. Some hobbyists keep pet octopuses in their office aquariums as well. Octopus petting in the aquarium is not an easy task, and it is certainly not something that can be easily accomplished by a novice. Keeping octopuses in aquariums requires a lot of care and observation, which only experienced people can successfully perform. For instance, you may need to provide a dim-lit home for the octopus to enjoy its stay in captivity. Octopuses also need to live in well-maintained water that is clean.

Pet Octopus Overview

Octopuses are incredibly interesting creatures with unusual behavior and astonishing intellect in their ranks. Having your octopus aquariums is simple, provided that you follow the instructions in this article.

An octopus is one of the most satisfying aquatic species to raise in a home aquarium, but it is difficult. In addition to their behavior and ability to learn, we are mesmerized by their incredible shape- and color-changing powers. Notable is that each octopus possesses a distinct personality. So, if effort and time aren’t a concern, an octopus may be the best option for you.

One of the disadvantages of octopus keeping is its limited lifetime. In reality, most octopuses survive for less than a year on average. Additionally, food (mainly crabs and shrimp) can be prohibitively expensive, and they have a predisposition to hide or remain hidden. Not to mention the extremely restricted list of acceptable tank-mates, which means you will certainly not be able to maintain your favorite coral or fish in the same tanks as your octopus.

Despite these drawbacks, octopus tanks and octopus husbandry are straightforward. They don’t require as much light as reef invertebrates but just basic wet-dry filtration. They also don’t require the same precise climatic conditions as reef invertebrates.

What To Consider When Purchasing A Pet Octopus?

It is critical to understand the species of octopus before purchasing it as a pet from the wild or pet store. Inquire with the proprietor of the pet store for further information. Being aware of your pet’s species will assist you in keeping the appropriate tank water temperature and nutrition for your pet. It also provides you with an estimate of the tank size requirement necessary for your pet. 

Octopus bimaculoides is the most often encountered species of pet octopus in the United States. These species have higher levels of interactivity. It stays active throughout the day and grows up to a manageable size. Avoid the purchase of blue ring octopus because it doesn’t do well in restricted environments. If purchased, it may die due to incompatibilities with the new tank or home-aquarium surroundings.

Appearance of Pet Octopus

Pet Octopus

Octopuses belong to the mollusk family and are usually closely related to squids, snails, and clams. Still, it is quite interesting that they don’t have an outer shell like their counterparts. The animal has got up to eight tentacles, all of which are attached to its body. The animal has two eyes placed on the head, and much of its movement is done through the tentacles. 

Most octopuses in captivity will not exceed 15 inches in width, but it is not uncommon for those in the wild to grow as big as over 30 feet wide! Those who specialize in octopuses will tell you that they come in a wide variety of colors, some appearing dull grayish and others showing elegant striped patterns.

There are many different varieties of octopuses found in the seas and oceans in their natural habitats. Most of these have successfully been captured and kept as pets in aquariums at homes. It is amazing to note that most of these octopuses can change their body color using their pigment sacs. Most octopuses have special yellow, red, orange, black, and brown pigment sacs. They will use this special ability to attract a mate when they want to mate, scare away potential predators, or simply convey their moods. Mostly, when the octopus appears white, it is scary or thoroughly frightening. When the octopus is agitated, it will show a deep red color on the outer skin.

Pet Octopus Behavior

We have observed extraordinary intelligence in octopuses. Providing enough plants, pebbles, and other items in their aquariums encourages them to spend a lot of time hiding. These mollusks are also highly gregarious. It is adapted to hunting at night because it’s when it’s most active.

Pet Octopus Natural Habitat and Origin

Octopuses are naturally salt water-dwelling creatures commonly found in oceans and other tropical seas. Octopuses like to live along coral reefs near the bottom part of the oceans, where they easily create dens to hide and remain undetected by predators. Octopuses also like to hide in small crevices or rocks that they will find in oceans. Octopuses like to live just on the bottom-most part of the ocean, on the ocean’s floor, hidden amongst the coral reefs. Only experienced people who are well trained in capturing them will be able to get from their hiding places on the ocean floor.

Pet Octopus Size

Most pet octopuses grow as big as 24-36 inches, but can also be small up to 12 inches.

Proper Tank Set-Up For A Pet Octopus

Keeping an octopus in the aquarium is not an easy task because it takes more care for the keeper for the animal to survive in captivity. Because the animal is a saltwater dweller, the water placed in the tank must be salty.

Proper Tank Set-Up For A Pet Octopus

Below are some tank requirements that can be followed to successfully keep pet octopus in the aquarium:

  • salinity between 1.022 – 1.023
  • pH value of 8.2 with lots of oxygen
  • temperature around 76 – 78 degrees Fahrenheit

Octopuses are generally delicate to keep in a captive enclosure and therefore require a safe and pristine environment to survive. It is therefore imperative for the keeper to ensure water quality at all times.

Tank Specifications 

Octopuses require a tank with a capacity of approximately 50 to 75 gallons and a temperature of the water of 78 degrees Fahrenheit on average. Other species are considered amiable and good for keeping as a pet. Octopuses are commonly seen in sizes ranging from 12 inches to 24 to 36 inches in length. It will require a tank with a minimum capacity of 50 gallons.

An adolescent would weigh approximately 5 ounces and measure approximately 20 inches in total length. Because they originate from the cooler waters of the Pacific, they require water temperatures ranging from 60° to 65° degrees Fahrenheit on average.

Tank Filter

This is likely the most crucial component of the octopus aquarium, if not the most important. Consider it to be similar to a life-sustaining mechanism. The octopus will perish if the filtering system fails.

The nitrogen cycle serves as the foundation of a filter’s operation. Given that an octopus may create three times the amount of waste produced by a fish of equal mass, the filtration of such an octopus aquarium must be three times more than that of a tank intended just for fish!

Tank Landscape

Ordinary plastic balls as well as cat toys — which do not contain any metal — may be used to keep a caged octopus occupied. Many octopuses find food-hiding games to be amusing as well. In the event that you don’t have the time to commit to interacting with your octopus, you should avoid keeping one in your tank. You can also add stones or some artificial plants to make it more like a natural aquatic environment. 

Decoration

The rocks in the tank must be stable. Even a little octopus may bring your rock construction. An octopus with its immense power can bring your rock construction to a halt. Nothing in the confines of your tank is sacred. You must have stable rocks.

You should never mistake them for being non-violent, just because they’re calm and appealing. Make sure you are ready to see your octopus run around the tank, rearrange rocks and shells, dig through the sand until it reaches the glass, and mess with the entire layout. As they grow older, they engage in this behavior that becomes prevalent in them.

Water Parameters Of The Tank

Due to its sensitivity to ammonia & nitrites, your octopus must be kept in a tank with water conditions of specific gravity of 1.026, pH up to 8.2. There are no shortcuts procedures to set up the tank for octopuses. Avoid using freshwater for octopus.

You really would like to make sure that the water temperature in your octopus’s tank is between 76 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit and that the pH is consistently 8.2. Octopus is a less maintenance animal; it doesn’t require much care. The best circumstances for your octopus pet can result from maintaining their water tank regularly. Most of them tend to become inactive if their natural habitat fades away. Hence it’s important to keep their natural habitat intact and well-nourished.

Because octopuses are highly intelligent and will easily craft ways to escape, a lid needs to be placed on the tank. Also, ensure that holes and filter tubes are not so big enough for it to use as an escape route from the tank. If one octopus is kept in a tank, it requires at least 55 gallons. Your animal must adapt to the water to live peacefully.

As octopuses have a high metabolic rate, the water they live in should have a high oxygen content. They are heavy metabolic consumers, so their water needs to have a high oxygen level. Octopi are messy eaters, and they shed their skin into the water, causing the water to become dirty more quickly. A high-quality protein skimmer will help keep the water clean and well oxygenated.

Octopus Tank Lighting

The room should be dimly lit, pristine, and quiet. The octopus takes time to adjust to new environments, and therefore, lots of hiding places should be made available in the tank for it. Large shells and rocks could be provided to the octopus as mini-caves in the tank.

Octopuses like to live in shadows; therefore, the aquarium should be dimly lit, preferably with a low-wattage fluorescent tube during the daytime. You can turn it off during nighttime. Direct sunlight should not be allowed in the tank.

The tank also needs to have sufficient oxygen flow as the animal needs lots of this resource for its survival, and any deprivation could lead to its early demise.

Care For Pet Octopus

The Octopus Escape Artist 

Since most of their anatomy is soft, they can fit through extremely small gaps, and their arms are powerful enough to force open a tank lid and make their way out. As a result, you must ensure that your aquarium’s cover is properly locked and that there are no holes through which they can possibly pass. 

Care For Pet Octopus

Some octopus keepers use astroturf or velcro to line the top of their tanks because the scratchy feeling deters their arms from reaching for the lid. Others use a combination of both. Others use duct tape, bungee ropes, or even heavy materials such as weights or bricks to keep the lid in place. 

One of the major difficulties with the tank setup is figuring out how to set up different filters and skimmers without allowing the octopus access by breaking them apart or fitting through small openings.

Providing Octopus Enrichment

Other parts of octo-keeping are difficult to master. Most people find it challenging to provide appropriate nourishment, particularly when favorite octopus foods like crabs and other crustaceans are pricey and difficult to come by. 

In order to enrich and nourish themselves, octopuses require some live food, although the majority of them will eat frozen shrimp and a few other things.

Thawed frozen shrimp are frequently used as a mainstay for octopuses diets, with live crabs being supplements. Octopus-keepers who live near the seaside have a distinct advantage since they have better access to various food sources. 

Some people forage for food along the shoreline, while others purchase it from bait shops or seafood markets. Octopus-keepers who live farther inland might rely on crabs and shrimp delivered to them from other parts of the world, which can be expensive and time-consuming.

Feeding Pet Octopus

Octopuses are avid hunters and therefore should not be kept in the same tank with other aquarium animals or else it will feed on them. Octopuses eat crustaceans, small crabs, small fish, mollusks and live shrimps. They are basically carnivorous creatures who will prefer being fed live food. Feeding the animal at least once a day will help keep it healthy and strong. You can occasionally feed the octopus frozen food but live food is best for it. Because the animal is quite messy with food, you may need to remove any food left in the tank quickly. This will help to ensure the tank remains tidy and clean.

You can experiment to see if they will consume frozen food by ensuring the food is completely thawed before feeding. Even if they consume frozen food, live food is highly preferred since it provides greater mental and physical stimulation. Octopus are carnivorous; they consume clams, crabs, crayfish, fish, scallops, shrimp, squid, and other shellfish. It is not recommended to give them freshwater feeder fish such as goldfish because they might make them sick.

It is mollusks and crustaceans that they prey on the most. They are also estimated to consume various fish and snails, among other things.

When they cannot locate enough alternative food sources to sustain themselves, they will occasionally feed on lesser species of octopuses that are already in their immediate vicinity.

They have an extremely strong beak on their jaws, which they utilize to capture prey and rip them apart once captured. They will gulp huge portions of food without chewing them.

Many of the octopus’s items have shells on them, which makes sense because they are omnivorous. They can remove their food source from the shells before ingesting the contents.

If they cannot disintegrate the connective tissues that hold the clam to the shell with their poison, they will soon lose their ability to function.

Somehow, these critters can determine whether or not they require the poisons and how much they require. When dealing with some prey, they will make two holes in it and inject the venom into them. Others merely drill a single hole in the ground. Some think that they have an intuitive connection to what they should do to profit from the food in front of them, which is supported by research.

Most of the time, Octopuses will feed throughout the night hours. They have excellent vision in the dark, muddy water, which provides them an advantage over their prey and allows them to escape detection. They will hunt throughout the day if they are really hungry and if there is a suitable chance. They are incredibly effective predators. They can blend in so effectively with their environment, allowing them to approach prey without being noticed.

Another method by which they can catch their prey is by using their suction cups on their arms. Among the webbing lies a sticky substance that makes it nearly impossible for the victim to escape. It is believed that the nutrients they swallow pass right through their esophagus into their brain region. After that, they are transported back down into the digestive tract.

Is It Legal To Own An Octopus?

Octopuses, as a rule, are not a great option for a companion animal. For starters, they are highly bright and don’t seem to grow bored quickly. Despite being kept in tiny aquariums loaded with flower pots, stones, beads, and shells, octopuses still displayed discomfort, including self-mutilation and self-harm. Aside from that, most octopus species are considered acceptable to keep as pets in the United States.

What Species of Octopus Are Kept as Pets?

Unlike the big, gigantic Pacific octopus (that is more typically found on exhibition in zoos as well as municipal aquariums), smaller octopuses (including those located on California’s mudflats, the California mudflat octopus (Octopus bimaculoides) typically survive for a year or two.

Toxicity in an Octopus Tank

Although it is not very prevalent, the ink could be a source of contention. The octopus may respond by flying across the tank, smashing the glass there at the end, while squirting forth a cloud of ink if startled or stressed beyond its tolerance level. Injuring oneself on the glass is a problem in and of itself; however, the ink alone may be fatal if not addressed in a reasonable amount of time. This isn’t because it’s poisonous; rather, it can cover the squirter’s gills, causing them to suffocate (Wood, 1994). A substantial water change, the use of activated carbon, and the operation of an aquarium skimmer are highly recommended if an octopus is found in the tank.

Breeding Pet Octopus

The female octopus lays eggs that she guards and cares for until they hatch in a special den. When the eggs get hatched, it is interesting to note that the female animal will soon die, leaving the newly hatched young ones to fend for themselves. It should not be difficult for an experienced keeper to breed a pet octopus at home.

The unfortunate aspect of owning an octopus is its short lifetime. The majority live just under a year as pets since they are already a few months old when they are brought in. Even though biomass has been known to survive for up to two years in optimal conditions, most home aquarists find that they reach the end of their life at around 12 to 14 months.

Dwarf octopuses live for 6 to 8 months, and bigger octopuses such as O. Vulgaris survive for considerably longer periods. Huge Pacific octopuses such as the Enteroctopus dofleini, which require a large tank and cold water, can survive for up to five years.

The fact that octopuses lay their eggs at the end of their lives is a strange fact. A male may transfer a sperm packet to a female relatively early in life, which explains why eggs are deposited in a tank with only 1 octopus.

The first clue that an octopus keeper could notice is the formation of a den. The female constructs a cave for herself and her eggs; therefore, its behavior may appear unusual at first. As soon as the eggs are deposited, the female goes inside the den to guard and care for the young. She may or may not eat during this time, but food should be available. The eggs hatch around four to six weeks later, and the female normally dies within a few weeks of the eggs hatching.

You should watch for male octopuses since they will eventually turn senescent and later die.

Tank Mates For An Octopus

An octopus cannot share a tank with other aquatic species since it is a carnivore and can turn violent toward other aquatic creatures. They will actively seek out and consume any fish or crustaceans that you place in a tank, regardless of their size. In addition, because they are timid creatures, having tank mates might cause them to become worried and stressed. 

When an octopus gets stressed, it might release ink to protect itself, which can be poisonous to the octopus itself in such a confined environment. The only species you can securely keep in the aquarium are starfish and sea urchins that are not studded with barbs. It is impossible to keep two octopuses together because they’ll ultimately kill and consume each other.

Health And Lifespan Of A Pet Octopus

Octopuses have extremely flexible bodies, which allows them to move about freely. They strain and squeeze their way out through the smallest of openings. For this reason, it is critical to adequately seal the tank so there will be no way for them to escape. Octopuses love spending time in their hiding places. 

There must be several hiding spots and routes throughout the tank. It is possible to utilize live rocks to create hiding spots for your pet. Use your imagination when creating the hideouts to ensure that your tank looks pleasing. Your pet may appreciate your originality! 

An appropriate tank water filtration pump should be installed to filter the water in the tank. Octopuses excrete enough waste to be handled by standard filtration pumps used only for fish tank filtration. As a result, a more powerful and effective pump is necessary to clean the tank water for their health. The lifespan of a pet octopus varies between 1 to 5 years. 

Cost Of An Octopus

They could range in price from $20 to $1,000 or more. Furthermore, consider the expense of a tank, which could also run into hundreds of dollars, particularly if you want a tank that meets precise specifications to avoid egress from the tank itself.

FAQs

Do Octopuses Have A Biting Mouth?

Octopuses are capable of biting. They are defensive biters. The sensation of an octopus bite has been compared to that of a bee sting. If you have an open cut on your hand, avoid putting your hand in any octopus aquariums since you can contract an infection. Many octopuses kept as pets never bite their keepers. Please, however, proceed with caution.

Should You Keep An Octopus As A Pet?

There’s no denying that the octopus is a fascinating species that may be more entertaining and engaged than other usual aquarium residents when given the opportunity. Nevertheless, they do not survive for very long periods, they are expensive to maintain, and you must be certain that your tank setup is safe and escape-proof. 

Your octopus will also require regular attention, so you will have to locate a pet sitter familiar with caring for and feeding these creatures if you ever need to travel. Also under consideration is whether it is humane to confine such an intellectual creature to a limited place and if it is feasible to offer them adequate mental stimulation to prevent them from becoming bored and upset in their confinement.

Conclusion

Keeping an octopus allows you to get personal with one of the most intelligent sea animals on the planet. Octopuses are fascinating to watch, and it works strategically, which can be jaw-dropping to watch. When it comes to aquarium maintenance, keeping an octopus tank is much different than maintaining a reef tank, which is intriguing in its own right.

It is no surprise that many people are fascinated by these animals and wish to learn more about them. After showing people my Octopus tank, I discovered that it helped to foster an understanding of sentient marine species, which may, in turn, lead to greater care and compassion for all sea life in the future.

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