Stocking the Octopus Tank | The Octopus News Magazine Online
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Stocking the Octopus Tank

Sea Witch

Apr 26, 2011
Hi All:

I wasn't sure which sub-forum to ask this in, so I'll try here. :grin:

I'm preparing to set up a first reef tank (with long experience in FW). I've read as much as I can, but I still have questions about stocking. If I hope to eventually have a species Octo tank, is there *anything* I can have in there along with the octo that he/she won't eat or destroy? Anything? Corals, Zoas, Anemones, clean-up crew? Anything?

Thank you for any and all comments.


Colossal Squid
Staff member
Jul 9, 2009
South Florida
You are going to want a clean up crew with your octo.

Serpent starfish are favorite of many keepers here on TONMO
I also have brittle starfish

Snails and hermits are great but they can be eaten as a snack, mostly by smaller species, my larger octos never paid any attention to them. but I never saw this a a problem snails and hermits are cheap so if that what they want to eat I'm happy to get them.

I also have cucumbers, just the regular brown ones that look know. and they seem to get along great with my octos. I forget exactly what the problem is with them, I recall someone saying that when the cucs die they become toxic or release something toxic into the tank. I'm sure buut I have had some of mine over 5 years now with no issue.

Some corals are ok just stay away from stinging corals, and also be mindful that octos are very rude and will walk all over your corals. Mushrooms and leathers seem to work best.

Anemones most people would advice against them especially the more aggressive species; however I have kept anemones with two octos and they did not seem to care at all.

No fish, as they will all get eaten or even worse hurt the octopus trying to be defensive.


Staff member
Sep 4, 2006
Gainesville, GA
While you are making your "shopping" list, be sure to check how much lighting a coral requires. Even if a hard coral has limited sting and can be placed where the octo won't "trample" it, it will likely need very high lighting and should probably be avoided altogether in an octo tank (and for ecology, only aquacultured corals make sense for a reef tank without an octopus). We don't have a good handle on how much is too much light for octopuses but even the diurnals will not come out much if the light is bright enough for hard corals to survive. Most of the softies that have low sting (mushrooms and leathers as CaptFish points out as well as Xenia and Kenya and SOME zoeanthids - zoe being the most risky with sting) and can tolerate a range of lighting in addition to taking the abuse from octo hunting.

I have found that gorgonians do well with octos and add a lot of interest and color. They need to be place in high flow areas (like near your water return or water moving pump). However, I don't recommend adding them until your tank is at least a year old. They are filter feeders and seemed to need an aged tank for best polyp extension and survival.

Sponges are octo safe but are very hard to keep. I add them from time to time but even the hardiest only seem to live about a year in my tanks.

I keep a large cowrie in with my O. briareus without problems but another member has had serious (as in dangerous to pumps and water quality) sliming from the combination (a different species of octopus though).

I keep cucumbers in my other tanks but have yet to try one with an octopus. If threatened they will extrude their insides (and then regrow their digestive track) but this does not seem to be an issue. The serious problem with them, known as cuc nuke, is having them die undetected and poisioning the tank. From my own experience, not all cucumbers are a risk for poisioning a tank upon death but which ones (with the exception of the "sea apple" - avoid this one completely) are a concern is not clear.

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