Keeping cephalopods in captivity

By Colin Dunlop November 2003 (also appears in the February/March 2004, Issue - 16 of Marine World Magazine)

”The most commonly seen cephalopods for sale in the UK are octopuses, cuttlefish and nautiluses. Their husbandry is not too far removed from caring for any other marine species but differences lie more in the misinformation and poor species identification.

As long as a few aspects are catered for, I'd argue that these are the most interesting, if short lived, marine animals we could ever maintain in the home aquarium.”


What is a Cephalopod?

The order cephalopoda consists of four main types of animals: squid, cuttlefish, nautilus and octopus, the latter having the largest number of described species (~200). The word 'cephalopod' means head-foot, which is in reference to the fact that their limbs are attached onto their heads. Cephalopods are all invertebrates and are closely related to other molluscs like slugs and snails. They are found all over the World's oceans from the shallow tropical reefs to down in the deepest sea trenches. They show incredible variety and can weigh in at only one gram for the smallest species and up to 200 kilograms for the largest member of the group the Giant Pacific Octopus.

Octopuses and cuttlefish can be cared for in captivity with relative ease, as can nautiluses if you can get a deep enough tank with a good chiller! Squid, however, are still considered impossible for the home aquarium, as they require a huge cylindrical tank that is not transparent. These pelagic animals are not suited to captivity.

The Cephalopod Aquarium[ATTACH type="full" align="right" width="425px"...
To continue reading, and to view / access full images and attachments, please sign in or sign up. You'll gain full access to all TONMO articles, and join the Internet's longest-running cephalopod community! Log in or register now.
About the Author
Colin is a Countryside Ranger with a background in Applied Biological Sciences and joined the staff in March 2002. Based in one of the UK's largest country parks he is responsible for the care, conservation and management of many natural waterways, woodlands, bogs and forests across Lanarkshire. He is a published author on cephalopods and experienced in keeping them in the home; this includes cuttlefish and octopuses, and has advanced diplomas in both ‘Fish Biology & Fish Health’ and ‘Water Quality & Filtration’. Colin is a licensed amphibian worker and currently lives just South of Glasgow, Scotland.


There are no comments to display.

Article information

Last update

More in Cephalopod Care

More from Colin