Lighting and Corals


Dec 13, 2013
New York City
I would like some clarification on what lighting requirements are OK for an octopus, and if corals are OK. I've done a lot of research by reading past threads, but have seen mixed reports.

I know that Octopuses need prefer low light, and any kind of stinging coral is definitely a know. NPS corals should be fine, as well as leather corals, gorgonians, mushrooms and certain ricordea.

My question is, if you get a species that can be more active during the day, is it OK to have VHO lights for corals on during the time when the octopus would not be out anyway, and then make sure it's dark during their hours of activity?

My plan is to have a programmable light slowly increase in intensity and then dial it back down again, switching to red at night. Hoping this will allow me to grow photosynthetic corals as well as have the octo. Some people seem to do this with it a bad idea? If so, why?


Oct 23, 2012
Port Richey FL. 30 miles north of Tampa
I did this with much success. I used a pair of D120 leds and 2 red curly lights. The red were on 24/7 and the Leds were on about 10 hours per day for the corals. This tank was in the waiting room of my transmission shop. I had an O.Briareas named Tranny in there. I got him pretty young so at first I did not have coral in the tank and was asked all the time why the tank was bare. I would have to explain that there is an octo and point out his den. So I then filled the tank with corals I felt looked good and would not harm Tranny. I made a couple mistakes but it seemed that it gave him something more to do and he would check out the corals a lot. Yes I put some polyps in there that stung him and I pulled them out right away. My idea is if you have a second tank that you keep coral in then try it if the corals are a problem then you can remove them.
where is a vid of when I first stared putting corals in his tank. You will see about 2/3rds through is when I found that the polyps were stinging Tranny. I also removed the 2 bubble tips."I put 1 in the tank and it split the first night"
Then here is a pic of what I had in the tank when Tranny passed.


Certified Ceph Head For Life
Staff member
Sep 4, 2006
Gainesville, GA
One caution on your corals. As you can see from Tranny's video, octopuses do not go around anything (in fact they hunt by putting their arms in any crevice that feels interesting) so benign corals that may be sensitive to being crawled on would be an issue for the coral (some leathers are like this as well as many gorgonians. In many cases, placing these out of a path solves the problem so mounting them on their own rock that can be relocated is recommended.

Octopuses don't "need" lighting and are sensitive to bright lights but as long as you provide ambient and night (red, not blue) lighting, you should see most any species during its normal hunting cycles. All do NEED a totally dark area during highlight times for a den.

As an aside (ie something you did not ask but I will volunteer), I am a major opponent to any kind of fish in an octopus tank. Fish tend to stress the octo and eventually will either damage or kill the octopus or be killed by it. Serpent and brittle stars are great clean up crew (I particularly like the red brittles and keep them in all my octo tanks, avoid the green brittles as they can become very aggressive when they reach a large size). Urchins are fine but pencils are recommended (note we have not seen damage to the skin with other urchins and the recommendation is only a caution. Pencils can be a problem with corals). Snails and hermit can also work as clean up but may become food. I have found that most species will leave them alone after they are accustomed to being fed (O. vulgaris is the exception I have experienced)

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