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AQWA Facts: Gloomy Octopus

Scientific name: Octopus Tetricus

Home is where the heart is
This species of octopus is a truly unique and complex creature due to its natural instincts and intelligence. The gloomy octopus is a territorial octopus and does not often move far from its den. You might think that this octopus in the wild would explore vast parts of the ocean.  However, by instinct and nature, they choose to inhabit very small caves in reefs, only leaving to hunt for food. It is non-migratory and inhabits a small ‘home-range’ in the wild. In other words, it doesn’t like to travel- It stays in its own street, in its own neighbourhood.

Never fear…
Although very inquisitive, they are a very cautious, solitary, wary and nervous animal (with a lot of natural predators!)

The smaller the better
It chooses its habitat because;

  • This particular type of octopus (the Gloomy) are not an overly social animal and choose to live a solitary life
  • They do not want to share their cave with anything else, which is why they often choose the smallest size possible to squeeze into and
  • It is easier to defend itself from the number of natural predators from a small cave

Size matters
The Gloomy Octopus exhibit at AQWA is over 1,500 Litres, it looks very deceptive from the front. However, housing him in a larger tank may cause undue stress, due to the species preferring to inhabit smaller, tighter places without large bodies of open water (such as reefs, intertidal plains).

Did you know
Due to the Gloomy Octopus’ high intelligence, the aquarists dedicate a lot of time every morning, before the aquarium opens, interacting with the octopus to keep him mentally stimulated (known as species behavioural enrichment).

The current display also houses the Breaksea Cod. The octopus and the cod have developed a great symbiotic relationship, they work together to man the den and have a great understanding of each other.

Fast facts
Size: maximum body size of 60-80cm
Diet: Crabs, lobsters and small fish
Main predator: Large fish, fur seals, dolphins
Habitat: small caves in reefs
Found: Subtropical eastern Australia and northern New Zealand