More and more people are asking in online forums and local pet stores about having an octopus as a pet. While not as cute and fluffy as a golden retriever, these unusual animals are fascinating and it can certainly be very meaningful to take care of one.
The first thing a would-be owner must do is verify that they are legal in their particular state. Some people get excited after seeing videos of domesticated octopuses (yes that is the proper plural form) and don’t realize the YouTube video they are seeing could be a family in China or a country that has very little domestic animal enforcement.
There are also items like cost, time and energy to properly care for them. Most tropical species live 1 to 2 years at most and have very special needs. You can’t just look at fish tanks at Target and see one that is good for this particular animal. If you are familiar with water quality requirements in reef aquarium, you would be aware of the importance of filters and PH levels to your pet’s life. Many octopuses are nocturnal so the large saltwater aquarium you have for them should be away from drafts and sunlight.
Another main issue a person should consider before purchasing an octopus is that aquariums have no room to hide. Octopuses tend to eat all their neighbors including mollusks, crustaceans and even fish. This is a big problem since in a reef tank you normally use herbivorous snails, hermit crabs or small crustaceans to control nuisance algae and these “clean-up” crews are fairly expensive. Lastly, octopuses do need a lot of clean-up. Even a pygmy octopus produces a great amount of nitrogenous waste, resulting in a significant increase in algal growth.
However, if you are an experienced fish hobbyist, skilled in proper tank maintenance, water quality and would be dedicated to proper care, an octopus certainly would make a wonderful pet.