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How to Set Up for a Pet Octopus


Intelligent and entertaining creatures, octopodes can be raised in home aquariums. With life spans as short as six months and as long as five years, octopodes are shy loners in their natural environment. A pet octopus should be housed in a species-specific tank dedicated to its existence. Though you'll invest a lot of time and money in setting up a tank for your octopus, the rewards of owning this special and intelligent creature are quite bountiful as well.


  1. Tank Dimensions and Containment Necessities

    • 1

      Determine the appropriate aquarium size. Most octopus enthusiasts will recommend a minimum of 55 gallons for a single, aquarium-ready octopus.

    • 2

      Choose a tank with a secure top. Using a lid that's immovable and secure will keep your octopus safe and contained. Opt for tops with small, doorlike openings that can be locked, but are easily opened for water changes and feedings.

    • 3

      Seal any openings in the aquarium or lid with mesh or sponges. The only hard part of an octopus is a piece of cartilage that extends between the octopus' eyes. An octopus can squeeze its body out of any opening larger than that one length of cartilage.

    • 4

      Measure a piece of glass or thick plastic to place between the tank and the hood. Adding this bit of extra precaution -- though some octopodes have been known to move them -- will add an extra layer between your octopus and unexpected freedom. Securing it properly avoids accidents.

    Filtration and Decor Requirements

    • 5

      Discuss your personal abilities and the size of the tank with a professional saltwater aquarist. Decide which filtration system will work best for you and your octopus -- canister or wet/dry filters. Wet/dry filters require work on the part of the owner to avoid nitrates building up.

    • 6

      Add a protein skimmer to your tank. This helps ease the burden on the filtration system by removing waste before it's sucked up, increasing the quality of the water and life of the carbon in your filters.

    • 7

      Buy live rock for the tank. Live rock is coral reef material or rocks that have small, living creatures like featherdusters and worms that help naturally clean and dispel waste within the tank.

    • 8

      Invest in few extra power heads or an air pump to the tank for increased circulation. This prevents algae buildup and increases oxygen flow, which can help bolster the octopus' immune system.

    • 9

      Include a competent tank heater. Though octopodes enjoy a wide range of comfort when it comes to water temperature, an ideal temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsuis) should be maintained.

    • 10

      Ensure that your octopus has plenty of hiding spots within the tank. These spaces will accommodate your octopus' need to create a den. Manufactured caves or pipes also provide hiding places for your pet to relieve stress.

    • 11

      Use regular aquarium sand for substrate. Any sand with gravel or coral pieces is highly discouraged as these rough items can damage a octopode's soft skin.

    Water Setup and Cycling

    • 12

      Select reverse osmosis deionized water (commonly referred to as RO). This water can be found in pet stores that sell saltwater fish or at your supermarket. Distilled water is also a viable option. Pure water choices like these avoid elements like chlorine, nitrate and fluoride that are commonly found in tap water.

    • 13

      Mix one-half cup of marine salt (found at saltwater pet stores) with 1 gallon of RO or distilled water. Test the water-salt mixture with a hydrometer to ensure that the salinity is 1.026 specific gravity (sg). This is the ideal salinity level for octopodes in a reef saltwater setup.

    • 14

      Arrange the live rock and decor items you've rinsed with RO or distilled water in the substrate. Add the saltwater you've created until the tank is full. Turn on your filters and heaters, ensuring that everything operates properly.

    • 15

      Start the cycling process. This refers to the growth and creation of levels of bacteria that contribute to the nitrogen cycle in a saltwater tank and are necessary for a healthy environment. Allow a full three months to pass before adding your octopus.

    • 16

      Monitor the levels within your cycling aquarium on a daily basis, paying specific attention to pH, ammonium (NH3) and copper.


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