It may sound very exciting to own an exotic sea creature such as an octopus as a pet, but taking care of one is not as exciting. Before you buy a pet octopus, there are a few things you need to be careful about. Adopting a pet without knowing the consequences could make it extremely stressful for a new owner. These points will help you prepare yourself before you become the proud owner of a pet octopus.
1. Know Which Species To Get
Generally, fully grown adult octopuses are sold as pets. The size of an aquarium and the water temperature vary for each specie of octopus. The California two-spot octopus (bimac) is a well-known pet octopus that is sold in the Pacific coast areas. The Mimic octopus imitates other local species and is classified as a predatory octopus. The Atlantic Pygmy octopus is a tiny octopus that is usually preferred for its small size. If you’re planning to buy an octopus from local marine stores, ask about the species, the temperature it can adapt to, the tank size and the pH level the water needs to be kept at.
2. Know Which Species To Avoid
While most octopuses are non-poisonous, there are a few species that are poisonous and should not be kept as pets. The blue-ringed octopus is one such species which is found in Southern and Western Australia. It produces a toxin called Tetrodotoxin which can be harmful to humans.
3. Get The Right Aquarium Setup
The sizes of the aquarium will fully depend on the species of octopus you decide to get. The tank size for the California two-spot octopus would be 50 gallons. Octopus Vulgaris, the most common octopus, would require a much larger tank. You can either choose a glass aquarium or an acrylic aquarium. Ensure that the lids of your aquarium are fitted well as most octopuses are capable of escaping even through the smallest cavities.
4. Use Purified Water
Using tap water for your aquarium can pose a threat to your pet’s life, as it contains chemicals such as chlorine which is harmful for most sea animals. You can purchase a reverse osmosis water purifier to remove all the toxins in water which will make it safer for your pet. Ensure there is no trace of copper present in your aquarium as it could kill your pet. Octopuses also require high salt concentrations in water for them to survive. You can consider purchasing synthetic sea salt from any marine store near you to make it optimal for your octopus.
5. Invest In Filters And Air Pumps
Filters are important pieces of equipment that should be installed in an aquarium to keep the nitrogen cycle effective. Octopuses require a higher filtration rate than fish do as they produce more waste. You can also use live rocks for this purpose as they contain bacteria which can prevent contamination in the nitrogen cycle. Air pumps should be installed in the aquarium since octopuses require oxygen to survive. Air pumps eliminate all gases present in the aquarium except oxygen.
6. Consider Getting Heaters And Chillers
Installing heaters and chillers depends on which part of the world your pet is from. If your octopus is native to a place where the water temperature was higher or cooler than room temperature, buying these equipment will be helpful in creating the desired temperature. You can use a water thermometer to check the water temperature in your aquarium.
7. Put In A Lot Of Toys
Octopuses like to play hide and seek, so make sure there are enough places in the aquarium for them to hide. You can build caves using live rocks and use pipes so that your pet can hide in them. Installing toys in the aquarium will prevent your pet octopus from getting bored.
8. Pair Your Pets Wisely
Be cautious not to include fish, prawns and other octopuses in the aquarium as your pet will definitely eat them up. However, you can add pencil urchins and starfish. If you’re unsure about which creatures to include as their aquarium companion, ask the store owner for advice.
9. Feed Them Right
The type of food each octopus needs depends on the species and their natural habitat. If your octopus did dwell on sea beds, it is most likely to eat polychaete worms and other molluscs. If your octopus is from the epipelagic zone (open ocean), then it eats prawns, crabs and small fish. If your octopus is from bigger species, it preys on anything from shrimp and lobsters to bigger foods such as sharks, other cephalopods and birds.
10. Adopt Responsibly
Having an octopus as a pet requires as much attention as other domestic pets such as a cat or a dog. This could mean you might have to skip vacations to take care of it and also spend quite a bit on its food and supplies. Don’t adopt a pet octopus until you’re completely sure you can take care of one.