Tell me if this is a bad idea

Brad Olsen

Sep 23, 2014
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Phoenix, AZ
First of all I have really enjoyed viewing all the threads about pet octopus. This is a great site.

I need all of your opinions....

I have a 29 gal biocube and I am going to take the time to set it up right and get everything pristine before I even think about a pet octopus.

Question 1 will a 29 biocube support a small or Pygmy Octopus. Also we live in Arizona so I can't go down to the shore or bait shop to get crabs or other wild food that is readily available. A very small crab at out LFS is around $12 each. WIll it be ok with frozen foods.

Question 2 is am I just out of my league in thinking this is a possibility. I don't want to make a dumb mistake and take a wonderful creatures life. Thanks for any input!!


Staff member
Sep 4, 2006
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Gainesville, GA
We have an articles category that you should find helpful (Articles on the top tabs). I also try to collect some of the better discussions for new keepers and have listed the links in the Octopus Care thread as a sticky entitled Posts with Info for New Octo Keepers . Under the species heading in that list you will find briefs on the different animals we typically keep and their basic requirements.

As a direct answer to your initial question, yes a dwarf octopus (Octopus mercatoris is the only dwarf we commonly see but they have been scarce in the last few years) would do fine in a 29 gallon aquarium. In fact you could house a pair IF they were already living in close proximity (this is often the case when they are by-catch of live rock farming). However, new keepers are often unhappy keeping mercs because they are nocturnal, and typically rather inactive and shy. They are also harder to feed than the larger animals and often won't take frozen or seafood counter foods (you can get shore shrimp and fiddler crabs reasonably but not cheaply on-line - see the Food section of the New Keepers link list). Check out the costs before you decide. A merc will eat once a day or once every two days depending upon age and individual animal. Some will accept small pieces of table shrimp once they are adults but you cannot count on this being the case. This species is also slightly shorter lived than the larger animals but does have the advantage of being the easiest (easy is a relative term, none are easy) to raise from eggs should you end up with a fertile female.

An alternate consideration would be to keep a pair (other keepers would recommend only one in a 29) of dwarf cuttlefish (s. bandensis). These would be acquired as eggs and hatched in your tank using a breeder net. Unfortunately, cuttlefish are VERY expensive to keep for the first month (roughly an order a mysis each week if you are lucky) or so and continue to be expensive (live shore shrimp) until they can be weaned onto frozen (and then you will need frozen food for fish, not table food but the cost drops radically). Here again, if you end up with a mating pair, raising the young is possible.

We highly recommend that you have a full year of saltwater experience before trying a ceph. It sounds like a long time but you will begin to understand why you need to get your saltwater thumb as you learn to maintain your tank. Your tank will need to actively cycle for 3 months (ie, much longer than just meeting the initial 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite readings that mean you can start putting a light load on the tank) to be able to handle the bio-load of a messy animal.

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