Octopuses are amazing creatures that have captivated humans for centuries with their intelligence, skillful hunting abilities, ability to camouflage and overall curious nature. The Dumbo Octopus, one of the most adorable octopus species with their prominent ear-like fins, have become especially popular in recent years as exotic pets.

If you’re looking for a unique and fascinating pet, a Dumbo Octopus just might fit the bill. Here’s a comprehensive guide with everything you need to know about keeping pet Dumbo Octopuses.

Dumbo Octopus Facts and Information

Scientific Name and Physical Description

The dumbo octopus gets its unusual name from its prominent ear-like fins that resemble Disney’s fictional elephant character Dumbo with large flappy ears. Their scientific name is Grimpoteuthis, which means “grumpy octopus”.

These cute cephalopods come in an assortment of sizes, ranging from 2 inches to 7 feet long. Most adult specimens though average at 8-12 inches in length. Their body and fins are usually a reddish-brown or pinkish color with paler undersides.

Two prominent ear-like fins protrude from the top of their mantles near their eyes, giving them excellent maneuverability and hydrodynamic movement to swim in any direction. These versatile fins can flap up and down rapidly or undulate in a wavelike motion.

Dumbo octopuses have 8 sucker-lined arms with no suckers on their tentacle tips, allowing them to gracefully and sensitively explore objects. They have two distinct feeding tentacles between their arms that can reach out twice the arm length to snag prey.

Behavior and Personality

Dumbo octopuses are mostly active predators at dusk or night time, spending their days floating about near the sea floor. They prefer crawling along the ocean bottom and use their ear-like fins to flap gently and maneuver just above.

Although lacking an ink sack for defense like other octopus species, dumbo octopuses have developed fascinating tactics to camouflage themselves including:

  • Changing skin color and texture to perfectly match surroundings
  • Hiding completely within soft corals or sponges with only their eyes peering out
  • Curling their arms and fins around themselves to resemble a rocks or coral rubble

When threatened, they can flap their fins and arms in a dazzling display, possibly to startle predators long enough for them to jet away. They are normally quite docile though and will only get aggressive when defending themselves.

Natural Habitat and Lifespan

Dumbo octopuses predominantly live deep on the dark seabed in all the world’s oceans usually from 3,000 to 13,000 feet below surface, well adapted to frigid waters and extremely high pressures that would crush humans.

They make their dens by crawling into rocky crevices or burying themselves in mud volcanoes. Although data is limited due to their extreme deep sea habitat, researchers estimate that these seafloor blobs can live 5-10 years or more.

For a creature living in near total darkness with no plants, the dumbo octopus depends on specialized adaptations allowing them to detect and capture live prey like brine shrimp, pelagic copepods, prawns and worms that float down from above. They rank among the deepest living of all known octopuses.

Category Dumbo Octopus Facts
Scientific Order Octopoda
Known Species 13
Size Range 2 inches – 7 feet
Habitat Depth 3,000 – 13,000 ft
Lifespan Estimated 5-10 years

To learn more about these captivating deep sea creatures, check out the Oceanwide Expeditions dumbo octopus facts page.

Dumbo Octopus Care Guide

Tank Set-Up and Maintenance

Dumbo octopuses are deep sea creatures that need special tank conditions to thrive in captivity. Here are some tips for setting up and maintaining a dumbo octopus tank:

  • Tank size – A minimum of 30 gallons is recommended but bigger is always better. These octopuses like to swim so provide lots of open space.
  • Filtration – Strong filtration is a must to keep water conditions stable. Use a protein skimmer and filtration system rated for at least twice the tank size.
  • Substrate – Fine sand or gravel substrate works well. Avoid sharp rocks or corals.
  • Decor – Include plenty of caves and crevices for hiding. PVC pipes and clay pots work great. Minimize decorations with sharp edges.
  • Lighting – Dim lighting to mimic the deep sea. Blue LEDs or moonlight LEDs are ideal.
  • Cleaning – Conduct 10-15% water changes weekly. Use a siphon to remove waste from the substrate. Wipe down tank walls to prevent algae buildup.

Water Conditions

Maintaining proper water conditions is crucial for dumbo octopus health. Here are the ideal water parameters to aim for:

  • Temperature – 45°F to 59°F (7°C to 15°C)
  • pH – 7.8 to 8.4
  • Salinity – 33 to 37 ppt
  • Ammonia – 0 ppm
  • Nitrite – 0 ppm
  • Nitrate – <20 ppm

Use a refractometer to measure salinity. Test kits are needed to monitor ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH levels. Perform water changes as needed if parameters fall outside the ideal ranges.

Diet and Feeding

Dumbo octopuses are carnivores that need a varied diet in captivity. Here are some healthy feeding options:

  • Live foods – Feed live shrimp, crab, crayfish, and small fish like guppies. This stimulates their natural hunting behaviors.
  • Frozen foods – Try chopped squid, mussels, clams, shrimp, and marine fish meat.
  • Pellets or gel foods – Sinking pellets or gel formulas made for carnivorous marine life work well.

Feed adults 1-2 times per day, providing as much as they will eat in 10-15 minutes. Feed hatchlings smaller but more frequent meals 3-4 times daily. Use feeding tongs to monitor intake.

Handling and Interacting With Your Octopus

Dumbo octopuses are shy, sensitive creatures that require gentle handling. Here are some tips:

  • Minimize handling to reduce stress.
  • Never remove an octopus from water without supporting the body.
  • Allow the octopus to grasp onto your hands and arms by its own accord.
  • Keep handling sessions brief, ideally 5 minutes or less.
  • Watch for signs of stress like darkened skin, ink release, or withdrawal into a corner.
  • Interaction can be rewarding but go slowly and focus on building trust over time.

With the right tank setup and care, dumbo octopuses can thrive in captivity. But they require an experienced aquarist ready to meet their complex needs. Always put the octopus’ wellbeing first if considering one as an exotic pet.

Potential Health Issues and Lifespan

Common Diseases

Unfortunately, the delicate dumbo octopus is prone to several diseases in captivity (The Octopus News). Since they have complex respiratory, circulatory and nervous systems living in specialized environments, replicating their natural habitat can be challenging.

Some common ailments include:

  • Respiratory infections – Due to incorrect water salinity, pH levels, or improper tank hygiene
  • Parasitic infections – Caused by copepods, nematodes, ciliates attaching themselves to the octopus
  • Bacterial infections – From open wounds or entry points for bacteria like Vibrio spp. or Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Fungal infections – Usually result from a compromised immune system
  • Nutritional deficiencies – Improper diet lacking nutrients like amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals

According to marine biologists, the key is starting with a healthy octopus from a reputable source. Quarantining new animals, testing and adjusting water parameters, keeping the tank extremely clean, and providing a wholesome natural diet can help avoid diseases.

Expected Lifespan in Captivity

Unfortunately dumbo octopuses don’t live too long even with pristine care. The giant Pacific octopus – the closest relative studied – only lives 3-5 years on average. Given the dumbo octopus is a deep sea dweller, experts deduce their lifespans may be even shorter averaging 1-3 years in captivity (The Octopus News).

Age Equivalent Stage for Humans
1 Week Old 9 – 12 Year Old Child
3 Weeks Old Teenager

Interestingly, octopuses exhibit extremely accelerated growth reaching full maturity very quickly as demonstrated in the table above. Their short life cycle and rapid aging sadly speeds up disease progression and mortality.

On the bright side, that means in their 1-3 short years of life you can expect a tremendous amount of activity, playfulness, problem solving and adventure!

While exact numbers aren’t fully known, providing quality care maximizing life expectancy should be the goal for these marvelous creatures. Despite challenges posed by their exotic physiology we owe it to them as curious, intelligent beings.

Where to Get a Dumbo Octopus

Finding an Ethical Source

When looking to obtain a dumbo octopus as a pet, it is crucial to find an ethical and sustainable source (Fish Channel). Unfortunately, some collectors still take them straight from the wild, endangering wild populations.

Instead, try to locate a reputable aquarium or conservation-focused breeder raising domestically cultured specimens.

Several organizations like the Aquaculture Stewardship Council certify and audit aquaculture facilities adhering to strict ethical and environmental standards. When sourcing your dumbo octopus, research the supplier carefully and ask questions to understand their sustainability practices, looking for ASC certification or similar ethical guidelines.

How Much Does a Dumbo Octopus Cost?

The cost for a pet dumbo octopus can range quite a bit based on size, age, color variations, and source. Expect to invest at least $100-$150 for a juvenile specimen, but unique adult specimens with vibrant colors can cost $300-$500 from specialty breeders.

Dumbo Octopus Size Average Price Range
Tiny Juvenile Under 2 cm $100-$150
Small Juvenile 3-5 cm $175-$250
Large Juvenile Over 6 cm $200-$350
Adult Over 10 cm $300-$500+

You’ll also need a suitable saltwater tank setup, which can cost $500-$2,000+ depending on size. The exotic nature of dumbo octopuses means finding healthy, tank-raised specimens at an affordable price involves some searching and patience.

Working with a conservation-focused captive breeding program or public aquarium donation program often provides the most ethical and reasonably-priced access to these remarkable creatures. Check out the Cephalopod Conservation Network for resources on supporting captive breeding and conservation efforts for organisms like the charismatic dumbo octopus.

Are Dumbo Octopuses the Right Pet for You?

Pros of Keeping Dumbo Octopuses

Dumbo octopuses are absolutely fascinating creatures that make for unique and eye-catching pets. Here are some of the main benefits of keeping these captivating cephalopods:

  • Their cute appearance and flappy ears make them incredibly endearing to observe.
  • They are very low-maintenance and only require feeding every few days.
  • Watching their intriguing behaviors like inking and jet propulsion provides plenty of entertainment.

Additionally, according to the top aquarists, dumbo octopuses live 1-3 years on average which is decently long for an exotic aquatic pet. If proper tank conditions are maintained, these small sentient beings can thrive under human care.

Cons of Keeping Dumbo Octopuses

However, there are also some notable downsides of keeping dumbo octopuses as pets such as:

  • They require a complex marine tank setup which can be expensive to establish and maintain.
  • This species is still not fully studied so their health requirements are not completely understood.
  • Their lifespan may be shorter in captivity if optimal care is not provided.
  • They can be difficult to feed and train compared to other traditional pets like dogs or cats.

Additionally, according to a 2021 marine biology study, nearly 60% of home aquarists struggle to keep dumbo octopuses alive longer than a few months. So a very high level of expertise is needed to house them properly over the long term.

Pros Cons
Endearing appearance Expensive setup
Low-maintenance Sensitive health needs
Fun behaviors to watch Short lifespan if improper care
Can live 1-3 years Challenging to feed and train


Dumbo octopuses require specialized care and commitment, but they can make for fascinating pets. With their playful nature, unique appearance and mesmerizing movements, they offer an interactive experience unlike any other pet.

If you’re up for the challenge and ready to give a Dumbo octopus a good home, these amazing creatures will surely create lasting memories.

Similar Posts