It’s December, and Squidmas is coming. Maybe you’re like me, and the kids have all moved out, so you’re thinking having a little intelligent life at home would be nice. Or maybe you’re kids are still home, and you think they’d love a pretty pet. Or maybe you just love cephalopods, as do we all, so you’re thinking, hey, let’s get an aquarium and an octopus! What a fun idea!
One word of advice: NO. Don’t do it. You can’t just rush into these things.
Here’s a positive suggestion, though. Start reading TONMO, the octopus news magazine online, regularly. If you haven’t been reading it already, you aren’t worthy of owning a cephalopod anyway. If you start dreaming about tentacles, then maybe you can consider feeding your obsession by planning to get a cephalopod of your own.
Second positive suggestion: buy a copy of Cephalopods: Octopuses and Cuttlefishes for the Home Aquarium(amzn/b&n/abe/pwll) by Colin Dunlop and Nancy King. This is essential. All in one place and in a very practical way, it describes all the important information you’ll need to successfully keep a cephalopod in your home, and it may discourage all but the most fervent. Here are a few of the reasons you should not try to keep cephalopods, gleaned from this book and my reading of TONMO.
They are difficult to raise. You will need a well-maintained salt water aquarium, which with all the apparatus required can be quite expensive, and you will need to invest a fair amount of time every day in maintenance. This is a job for a serious aquarist.
They need live foods. What this means for most of us is that you’ll need two tanks — one for the octopus and another to raise the octopus’s food.
A cephalopod’s life is one of heart-breaking brevity. They do not live for long, even in the wild, so no matter what, you’re going to have a pet funeral every six months to a year.
There are few species that you can keep. Most can’t live in the confines of a tank, a few are very dangerous, and many are rare, and it would be unethical to strip natural environments of these precious specimens.
It will eat just about anything else you try to put in the aquarium. The cephalopod and its food will be the only creatures you will have.
Forget keeping one as a pet—a cephalopod in the house is your Lord and Master, and you will serve it everyday. Forget those silly ideas that this will be your little pal, it is going to rule you.
If you aren’t yet discouraged, then you know your proper place in the universe and can consider getting a cephalopod. In order to figure out how to do so, you will first have to buy this book: it contains all the information you will need to proceed. Plus, it’s beautifully illustrated with photographs of the beloved class, so you’ll enjoy reading it, and it therefore makes an excellent Squidmas gift. Then what you may do is purchase a salt-water aquarium and supplies, but at first you should only raise something boring, like damselfish. Master the art of maintaining a stable aquarium for at least a year, and then you may consider obtaining a cephalopod for it. Conceivably, then, you could have one for next Squidmas. But don’t even dream of it yet.