Can You Own A Pet Squid?

Can you own a pet squid? The short answer: Squids make terrible pets, you better opt for another species. These wonderful creatures aren’t made to live their short lives in a small aquarium tank. Therefore it is unbelievably difficult to make them thrive let even stay alive.

Bobtail Squid

As well as sea dragons, squids are very fascinating and beautiful animals.

They can release ink into the water as an escape mechanism. [1] And some can even change their colors for camouflage or mimic other fish.

I can fully understand that it would be tempting to have such a fish in your tank.

But there is more than one reason why you better let them stay in the ocean.

What Are Squids?

Squids belong to the cephalopods which are mollusks. 

They have long bodies, two tentacles and eight arms. All squids are predators and use a beak to cut their prey into small digestible pieces.

Some hunt for fish that are more than their own size.

But squids themselves are prey for sharks, sperm whales and other large predators. They are an important link in the food chain of the oceans.

While most squids can change their colors for camouflage, some are even bioluminescent. No wonder that people want to have such colorful fish as pets.

There are several species such as:

  • Arrow squid
  • Bobtail squid
  • Pygmy squid
  • Bigfin reef squid
  • Humboldt squid
  • Giant squid
  • Flying squid

The family of cephalopods also contains species like cuttlefish and octopus. Especially the latter make significantly better pets. [2]

Is It Legal To Have A Pet Squid?

Yes, squids are not prohibited in any state of the US including California.

That being said, it might be, that it is illegal to catch the fish in the waters where it lives.

Some species are very rare and even experts have to search for weeks or months to discover one individual.

Imagine what it would mean to the stock if divers catch all the rare squids. These species would be on the edge of extinction rather soon.

However, there is one other big reason why you still shouldn’t aim for a pet squid: cruelty.

Under no circumstance, you should catch a squid at the beach and keep it in captivity.

Arrow squid at the beach

In the next sections, I’m going to tell you more about why they absolutely don’t fit into an aquarium.

Why Squids Don’t Make Good Pets

So what exactly makes squids so poor pets?

I carried together five facts that show how unsuitable aquarium tanks, no matter the size, are for these fish.

Let’s start!

#1 Most Species Are Pelagic

That means squids live in the open sea. You can imagine what that means for the tank size you would need.

The concept of corners and walls is something that doesn’t exist in their world. Additionally, they can move very fast with their jet propulsion.

In captivity, they would always swim into the aquarium glass. And that with high speed.

They get small injuries with every clash and after some time this can get very serious.

It is not uncommon for squids in tanks that they literally clash themselves to death.

The already short lifespan is even more shortened through this.

Professionals and institutions are keeping them in round tanks for this reason.

Colorful squid in open waters

#2 Very Sensitive To Water Quality

The quality of water is another aspect that is often underestimated.

Squids need a constant supply of fresh saltwater. The optimum would be that you have your squid aquarium beneath the ocean so that you can solve this problem with some pumps.

If not you would have to make frequent water changes and install a high-quality filter together with a good protein skimmer.

So even the few species that are not pelagic would be a real hustle to take care of.

#3 Visual Mimicry Doesn’t Happen In Captivity

Suids need to be in their natural environment to use their camouflage tactics.

In captivity, they are too stressed to change colors. Instead of that, they immediately want to hide and use their jet propulsion to catapult themselves against the next tank pane.

This very sad, especially when you managed to get a bobtail squid which is famous for its luminescent properties.

#4 Need Loads Of Food

 You won’t believe how much food these animals need.

Due to their fast growth, they can eat loads and loads of small fish and shrimp. This is even for the tiniest and smallest squid species you can find.

Of course, they need life food that you would have to buy frequently. 

#5 Short Lifespan

The life span of squids in nature and captivity is very short.

For small species, it can be six months while larger ones like the giant squid can get two or three years old.

With that comes another problem: sometimes the species are hard to distinguish from each other.

So if you buy a wild squid you would never know if it is a small species at the age of 5 months that can live another month in your tank, or if it is a baby squid of a large species that would grow into an enormous size.

Where To Buy A Pet Squid?

If you still really want to have a pet squid, you should look if your local aquarium store has a squid for sale.

Even if that is not the case, the stores often have the ability to order one for you. In most cases, this is much cheaper than ordering one yourself.

Overnight transport is expensive and the whole process very stressful for the fish. As squids are very stress-sensitive it might be that your fish is going to die on the journey.

Especially species that have their natural habitat far away and are caught in the wild should be avoided.

Only very few of these poor fish survive the transport to the US.

Pet Squid Alternatives

Squid in aquarium

So, squids make terrible pets and I bet you won’t have much fun with one of them.

But if you want to have a pet cephalopod there are two other possibilities: cuttlefish and octopus.

Both a not a good choice for beginners but octopuses definitely make better pets than cuttlefish as it is easier to take care of them.

Octopuses are very intelligent and have character. You can play with them and they often bond with their owners.

That being that, it is important that you spend time with them on regular basis. They need playtime, games and riddles to stay happy.

If you are interested you can learn a lot about octopuses at

Wrapping Things Up

It is possible to own a pet squid but you are better off leaving these creatures in the ocean where they belong.

Keeping them in an aquarium tank can be considered cruelty and they soon will hurt themselves what can lead to injuries and even death.

Only experts and institutions with large resources can manage to take care of a squid.

That being said, there are other reasons like the short lifespan why you should better choose another fish. 

If you definitely want a pet cephalopod check out octopuses instead.