Keeping Cephalopods as Pets: Tips From the Experts

Unusual pets have been growing in popularity in recent years. People are looking for something different, something unique to add to their family. And cephalopods, the group of marine creatures that includes octopuses and squid, are filling that role. While they may seem strange and exotic, more and more people are getting them as pets. They are intelligent and curious, and they love to play. Keeping a cephalopod as a pet can be an amazing experience, however, it’s not for everyone. If you’re thinking about adding a cephalopod to your family, there are a few things you need to know first. Here are some tips from the experts to help you decide if this is the right pet for you.

octopus

Which Species Are Best To Own?

Let’s start with the basics. The first question you need to ask yourself is, what type of cephalopod do you want? It’s a hard choice between octopus vs. squid vs. cuttlefish. Each has its own unique personality and quirks. So, which one is right for you?

Octopuses are probably the best known of the cephalopods, and they make popular pets. They are very intelligent and can be taught to do tricks. They are also very active and need a lot of room to play. If you’re looking for a cephalopod that will keep you entertained, an octopus is a way to go. However, since they’re large in size, there are only a few species that you can get as a pet. These include Caribbean Dwarf Octopus, Caribbean Reef Octopus, California Two-Spot Octopus, Algae Octopus, and Common Octopus.

Squids are also very intelligent and can be trained to do tricks. They are usually smaller than octopuses, making them a good choice for those with limited space. Pygmy squid is a popular species for a pet, however, they only live for about six months.

Cuttlefish are smaller than both octopuses and squid and are the prettiest of the cephalopods. They are also very curious and playful. Cuttlefish make good pets for those who want something that is active but doesn’t require as much attention as an octopus.

squid

Requirements

It is possible to keep octopuses at home, but they require certain features of care in order to survive. Here are some of them.

Tank Size

Cephalopods can get quite large, so you’ll need a tank that is at least 30 gallons. If you’re keeping more than one cephalopod, the tank size will need to be larger. Also, they can fit their boneless bodies through the smallest openings in their environments, making them superb escape artists. They’ve even been known to cross short swaths of land in order to investigate. That implies that, in addition to providing them with a big tank, you must ensure that the tank is totally safe. Unfortunately, the only method to determine whether or not your tank is truly safe is to discover it empty.

Filtration and Life Support

In order to keep the water clean, you’ll need a good filtration system. Cephalopods are messy eaters and they produce a lot of waste. The life support system is also important because cephalopods need a steady flow of oxygenated water. Cephalopods have copper-based blood, so they are very sensitive to changes in water pH. The water should be between pH 7 and 8.5.

Aquascaping

When it comes to aquascaping your tank, it’s important to remember that cephalopods are very curious creatures. They like to explore their surroundings and play Hide-and-Seek. You’ll need to provide plenty of hiding places for them, as well as something for them to climb on. The majority of the octopus species available in the trade originate from diverse rocky settings, thus reproducing this habitat is critical if the animal is to feel safe, exhibit natural behavior, and perform properly. Make sure there are lots of nooks and crannies for the octopus to explore.

Water Temperature

The quality of the saltwater you offer is critical for maintaining cephalopods, and they don’t fare well in certain low-cost ‘fish-only’ salt brands. To be on the safe side, use RO water for make-up and a decent, reef-quality salt.

cuttlefish

Entertainment

Cephalopods, octopuses mostly, are inquisitive creatures who like exploring their surroundings and frequently engage with their human caretakers. As a result, enrichment is critical for the long-term health and wellbeing of octopuses. There are a variety of things you may do to stimulate the animal. Try varying meal schedules, having your octopus work for its food, and simply engaging with it – don’t overdo it, but be creative.

Feeding

They require living foods. For the most part, this implies that you’ll need two tanks: one for the cephalopod and another for raising their food. They must be fed on a regular basis (daily or every other day); feed them frozen crustaceans (crabs or prawns) or adequately sized fish. However, because they are nocturnal, you will have to feed them at night, which adds another inconvenient duty to your list.

Health

The life of a cephalopod is one of heartbreaking brevity. They don’t live long, even in the wild, so you’ll have to hold a pet funeral every six months to a year. Some tiny  (tropical species may only live six months after hatching, and individuals may be several months old when they enter the trade. A male octopus can die abruptly and without notice, whereas a female will age normally through a process called senescence. She produces eggs (which may or may not be viable depending on whether she has mated) and then spends the rest of her brief life caring for them. She’ll refuse meals and gradually deteriorate, maybe over several weeks.

Do You Really Need It For a Pet?

When all is said and done, cephalopods are a lot of work. They are not the type of pet you can just leave in a tank and ignore. If you’re willing to put in the effort, they can be fascinating creatures to watch and interact with, but if you’re looking for an easy-care pet, cephalopods are not the right choice. Cephalopods are difficult to maintain, and there’s always the risk of pushing them into a profound depression by keeping them in captivity.

Caring for a cephalopod as a pet can seem intimidating at first if you’re not familiar with the requirements, but it is possible. We recommend that before getting one of these creatures home with you, do your research and make sure to meet all their needs. Be aware that they may be more expensive than other pets like cats or dogs because they require specialized care such as filtration equipment, saltwater tanks, etc.