Keeping an octopus can be exciting and appealing, but they are not the easiest aquarium inhabitants to own. Octopi should only be kept by the experienced aquarist that have a great understanding of the function and problems common to saltwater aquariums is needed. If you are interested in owning an octopus, here are five things to consider before you make your purchase:
Lifespan: Octopi have tragically short lifespans – less than a year for most. Make sure you are prepared for the reality that you friend may not be around for years to come. One exception is the Giant Pacific Octopus which can live for 3-5 years in the wild.
Food: Make sure you know what types of food are preferred for the octopus species you are looking to buy as well as where to source the food. Most people are surprised to learn the cost of the food required to keep an octopus “fat and happy.” Unless you live near the ocean and plan to capture your octopus’ food yourself, be prepared that you will spend much more feeding your octopus than you will on any of your other aquarium inhabitants.
Care: Octopi require regular attention and skilled care. There are no shortcuts when it comes to caring for an octopus. Make sure you read, research and follow all instructions to the letter!
Safety: Regardless of what you may read on the internet, your octopus will try and escape. An octopus can escape through a tiny hole, no larger than its beak. Make sure you have a secure lid on your aquarium that is SEALED. You will also want to make sure that your outlets and intakes in the aquarium are protected with mesh or sponges that are secured with cable ties. Think of your octopus as a very active toddler. You will also need to make sure the rocks in your aquarium are stable. Even the smallest octopus is strong and will rearrange rocks with little effort.
Make sure you research the size aquarium you will need when your octopus is full size. Have lots of live rock in the aquarium as well as a sand bed. Never introduce an octopus to an uncycled aquarium and research the lighting requirements for your octopus. Most octopi do not require much light and the last thing you want to do is force it into hiding because it is too bright. You will also need to remember that most octopi enjoy colder aquariums, so observe the temperature of your aquarium before introducing your octopus, taking steps such as adding a chiller to your system if needed.