Having an octopus as a pet is quite different from having usual pets. It belongs to the cephalopod group, and is a creature found in the seas and oceans. It has eight arms which is the peculiarity of this creature. The arms have great flexibility and are equipped with "suckers". These suckers help it in killing the prey and getting a grip on things. Octopuses are found in deep as well as shallow waters. They are devoid of bones and can squeeze out of the tiniest gaps and spaces. They have the capability to change skin color depending on the surrounding. This adaptation helps them to escape danger.
Octopuses are of various sizes. They can be small in size or as big as a human being. The Giant Pacific Octopus is of the size of a man. O. bimaculoides and O. vulgaris are the most common species kept as pets. It is very essential to know which species of octopus you are buying, as every species has its own growth capacity. It should not happen that the species you have bought grows far beyond your expectation. Pet shop owners may or may not be aware of the species. It is recommended to buy your octopus from a pet shop that provides authentic information about the species. Lifespan of octopus also depends on the species. Such information can be gathered by the pet shop owner.
Before Buying a Pet Octopus
It is very important to know which species of octopus you are buying as a pet. Ask for the information from the pet store owner. Knowing the species of your pet will help you in maintaining tank water temperature and diet. It also gives you the idea about the size of tank required for your pet. The most common species of pet octopus in the U.S. is Octopus bimaculoides. This species is very interactive. It is found to be active during the day and grows to a manageable size. One must avoid buying blue ring octopus because this species does not survive well in limited surroundings. If bought, it may die due to incompatibility with the new environment.
Preparing the Tank
Octopuses cannot be kept in regular aquariums along with other fish. Special tanks known as species tanks are required to house them. Only one octopus can be housed in one tank. They require saltwater aquarium to live in. The tank size required must be discussed with the pet shop owner, and the recommended size of tank should be used for the set up. The tank should be set up around 3 months prior to plopping the pet in it. A mature tank is needed to house an octopus. Small fishes can be kept in the aquarium before adding the pet in it. However, once it is in, the tank should not contain any other creature in it.
Saltwater for the tank must be deionized water, filtered with reverse osmosis, and containing optimum salt concentration. The temperature of the tank water must also be regulated. Too high temperatures can cause harm to the octopus. The water must be 100% copper-free. Ammonia should also be absent as it is toxic for them. Keeping a hydrometer and test kit at home can help in regular examination of tank water.
Small octopuses feed on small crabs, shrimp and amphipods. Some also eat snails. Frozen shrimp can be included in diet. It is necessary to thaw frozen shrimp before feeding.
Octopuses have very flexible bodies. They squeeze and escape out from tiniest of places. It is therefore essential to properly seal the tank so that there is no place to escape. Octopuses love sitting in their hideouts. The tank must have a lot of hiding places and passages. Live rocks can be used to create hiding places for the pet. Be creative in making the hideouts so as to give your tank a nice look. Your pet might just love your creativity! Tank water filtration pump must be in place to filter the water of the tank. Octopuses produce wastes large enough to be handled with normal filtration pumps used for fish tanks. Therefore, a stronger and efficient pump is required to clean the tank water for their well-being.
From the above details, it is clear that having a pet octopus at home is not an easy job. A lot of time and management is required for keeping the pet healthy and alive. The costs are also high. Special arrangements have to be made which are not required in case of normal fish tanks. So if you think you will be able to give the required time and effort for taking care of your octopus, go and buy yourself this unique pet. No wonder, it will attract all the attention!