Cephalopods | Cephalopoda

Cephalopods, or inkfish, are the most intelligent, largest, and mobile of all mollusks. Cephalopods are characterized by their body symmetry, prominent head, and set of at least eight arms or tentacles. Cephalopods earned the nickname inkfish because of their common ability to be able to squirt ink. There are two existing groups of Cephalopods: Coleoidea and Nautiloidea; Coleoidea has internalized their molluscan shell while Nautiloidea still has an external shell. Cephalopods live only in marine environments and are predatory creatures. Cephalopods are capable of changing color and they usually change color in complex patterns as part of courtship behavior.

How do cephalopods move?

The main way cephalopods move is through a form of jet propulsion. They do so by drawing water into their mantle cavity and over their gills. Once the cephalopod wants to move it contracts the muscles of the mantle cavity, and water is squeezed out with enough power to propel itself in the desired direction.

What do cephalopods eat?

Cephalopods are predators and are not picky carnivores. Cephalopods typically eat crustaceans, fish, bivalves, jellyfish, and even other cephalopods. They tend to hunt at the surface of water at night without the threat of predators seeing them. Once the sun rises, they go down to deeper and darker water.

How do cephalopods mate?

Mating for cephalopods is an event that only happens once in their life, as they both die shortly after mating. When females are ready to mate, they will display a certain color. The male will mate with her by placing his sperm in the female’s pallial cavity, with a tentacle called the hectocotylus. The female cephalopod then lays the fertilized eggs.

Cephalopods Guides
Browse through our curated Cephalopods Guides for additional categorizations, tips, details, variations, styles, and histories of Cephalopods. Guides provide additional insights into the unique properties and shared relationships between elements.
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9.8”-15” | 25-38 cm
.35-3.1 lb | .16-1.4 kg
.5-1 year
Bigfin Reef Squid
38.000
1.400
1.00
1600
3D
Bigfin Reef Squid
13’-26.25’ | 4-8 m
.35-3.1 lb | .16-1.4 kg
Bigfin Squid
800.000
1.400
55450
3D
Bigfin Squid
18”-23” | 46-58 cm (Arm)
4.4-8.8 lb | 2-4 kg
1-2 years
California Two-Spot Octopus
58.000
4.000
2.00
1500
3D
California Two-Spot Octopus
19.7”-23.6” | 50-60 cm (Arm)
2.2-3.3 lb | 1-1.5 kg
10-12 months
Caribbean Reef Octopus
60.000
1.500
1.00
1060
3D
Caribbean Reef Octopus
4.7”-7.9” | 12-20 cm
1-3 years
Caribbean Reef Squid
20.000
3.00
1590
3D
Caribbean Reef Squid
6.3”-8.3” | 16-21 cm
.88-1.3 lb | .4-.6 kg
15-20 years
Chambered Nautilus
21.000
0.600
20.00
15400
3D
Chambered Nautilus
9.8’-13.1’ | 3-4 m
2-3 years
Cockatoo Squid
400.000
3.00
730
3D
Cockatoo Squid
2.75”-3.5” | 7-9 cm (Arm)
.5-1.5 lb | .23-.69 kg
3-5 years
Coconut Octopus
9.000
0.690
5.00
4450
3D
Coconut Octopus
30’-49’ | 9-15 m
330-1091 lb | 150-495 kg
Colossal Squid
1500.000
495.000
137100
3D
Colossal Squid
6’-6.6’ | 1.83-2 m
~2.2 lb | 1 kg
3-5 years
Common Blanket Octopus
200.000
1.000
5.00
630
3D
Common Blanket Octopus
6”-10” | 15-25 cm
4.4-8.8 lb | 2-4 kg
1-2 years
Common Cuttlefish
25.000
4.000
2.00
9100
3D
Common Cuttlefish
29.9”-39.4” | 76-100 cm (Arm)
6.6-22 lb | 3-10 kg
1-2 years
Common Octopus
100.000
10.000
2.00
22300
3D
Common Octopus
39”-51” | 99-130 cm
44-66 lb | 20-30 kg
1 year
Diamond Squid
130.000
30.000
1.00
750
3D
Diamond Squid
7.9”-11.8” | 20-30 cm
2-13 lb | .9-5.9 kg
3-5 years
Dumbo Octopus
30.000
5.900
5.00
94040
3D
Dumbo Octopus
11.8”-19.7” | 30-50 cm (Arm)
.22-.88 lb | .1-.4 kg
1-2 years
East Pacific Red Octopus
50.000
0.400
2.00
660
3D
East Pacific Red Octopus
3.9”-5.1” | 10-13 cm
.66-.88 lb | .3-.4 kg
1.5-2 years
Flamboyant Cuttlefish
13.000
0.400
2.00
5800
3D
Flamboyant Cuttlefish
7’-13’ | 2.13-3.96 m (Arm)
22-110 lb | 10-50 kg
3-5 years
Giant Pacific Octopus
396.000
50.000
5.00
35000
3D
Giant Pacific Octopus
3’-5’6” | .91-1.68 m
33’-46’ | 10-14 m
440-2,000 lb | 200-907 kg
2-5 years
Giant Squid
168.000
1400.000
907.000
5.00
88000
3D
Giant Squid
15.75”-17.7” | 40-45 cm
.06-.07 lb | .025-.03 kg
Glass Octopus
45.000
0.030
14800
3D
Glass Octopus
11.8”-17.7” | 30-45 cm
.06-.07 lb | .025-.03 kg
1 year
Greater Argonaut
45.000
0.030
1.00
1320
3D
Greater Argonaut
4.7”-5.9” | 12-15 cm
.02-.22 lb | .01-.1 kg
2-3 years
Greater Blue-Ringed Octopus
15.000
0.100
3.00
650
3D
Greater Blue-Ringed Octopus
4.9’-8.2’ | 1.5-2.5 m
99-110 lb | 45-50 kg
1-2 years
Humboldt Squid
250.000
50.000
2.00
28600
3D
Humboldt Squid
11.8”-19.7” | 30-50 cm
.22-1.1 lb | .1-.5 kg
1 year
Japanese Flying Squid
50.000
0.500
1.00
1600
3D
Japanese Flying Squid
4.7”-5.9” | 12-15 cm
1 year
Japanese Squid
15.000
1.00
2100
3D
Japanese Squid
23.6”-27.6” | 60-70 cm
5-20 lb | 2.3-9.1 kg
.75-2 years
Mimic Octopus
70.000
9.100
2.00
16350
3D
Mimic Octopus
9.5’-11.5’ | 2.9-3.5 m
135-165 lb | 61-75 kg
2-10 years
Seven-Arm Octopus
350.000
75.000
10.00
1300
3D
Seven-Arm Octopus
.8”-1” | 2-2.5 cm
~.002 lb | .001 kg
.5-1.5 years
Star-Sucker Pygmy Octopus
2.500
0.001
1.50
1120
3D
Star-Sucker Pygmy Octopus
13”-39.4” | 33-100 cm
Strawberry Squid
100.000
17890
3D
Strawberry Squid
4.3”-10.6” | 11-27 cm
Telescope Octopus
27.000
2440
3D
Telescope Octopus
6”-12” | 15-30 cm
~1 lb | .45 kg
6-10 years
Vampire Squid
30.000
0.450
10.00
79600
3D
Vampire Squid
Common Blanket Octopus (Tremoctopus violaceus)
Scale illustration of an average Common Blanket Octopus compared to other cephalopod species

The Common Blanket Octopus (Tremoctopus violaceus) is a cephalopod that was named after the webbing between their arms. Females are much larger in size than males. Whenever the Common Blanket Octopus feels threatened, they stretch their arms to create a blanket-like silhouette to frighten any predators away. They generally can be found in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, easily adapt to different water temperatures, and never rest on the ocean floor. Common Blanket Octopuses are carnivorous and prey on fish by using a ripped tentacle from toxic jellyfish as a weapon. Common Blanket Octopuses are listed as least concern to extinction.

The Common Blanket Octopus has an overall length between 6’-6.6’ (1.83-2 m), mantle length of 7.1”-9.8” (18-25 cm), and weight of roughly 2.2 lb (1 kg). The typical lifespan of the Common Blanket Octopus is between 3-5 years.

Series of elevation illustrations of the Common Blanket Octopus
The Common Blanket Octopus (Tremoctopus violaceus) is a cephalopod that was named after the webbing between their arms. Females are much larger in size than males. Whenever the Common Blanket Octopus feels threatened, they stretch their arms to create a blanket-like silhouette to frighten predators.

The Common Blanket Octopus has an overall length between 6’-6.6’ (1.83-2 m), mantle length of 7.1”-9.8” (18-25 cm), and weight of roughly 2.2 lb (1 kg). The typical lifespan of the Common Blanket Octopus is between 3-5 years.

Series of elevation illustrations of the Common Blanket Octopus
Common Blanket Octopus (Tremoctopus violaceus)
Height:
Width:
Length:
6’-6.6’ | 1.83-2 m
Depth:
Weight:
~2.2 lb | 1 kg
Area:

Mantle Length: 7.1”-9.8” | 18-25 cm

Scientific Name
Tremoctopus violaceus
Lifespan
3-5 years

Drawings include:

Common Blanket Octopus side elevation, front

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Vampire Squid (Vampyroteuthis infernalis)
Scale illustration of an average Vampire Squid compared to other cephalopod species

The Vampire Squid (Vampyroteuthis infernalis) is a small cephalopod with a gelatinous body. Its coloring that ranges from jet-black to pale red depending on the location and lighting conditions. The Vampire Squid has globular eyes that appear red or blue depending on the lighting. It was named after its dark color, webbing between the arms, and red eyes. The Vampire Squid is found worldwide in tropical and temperate waters and tend to stay at deep water depths. They are filter feeders, not predatory, and eat bits of dead planktonic creatures and fecal pellets. The Vampire Squid conservation status is not known.

The Vampire Squid has an overall length between 6”-12” (15-30 cm), mantle length of 3.15”-4.72” (8-12 cm), and weight of around 1 lb (.45 kg). The typical lifespan of the Vampire Squid is between 6-10 years.

Series of elevation illustrations of the Vampire Squid
The Vampire Squid (Vampyroteuthis infernalis) is a small cephalopod with a gelatinous body. Its coloring that ranges from jet-black to pale red depending on the location and lighting conditions. The Vampire Squid has globular eyes that appear red or blue depending on the lighting.

The Vampire Squid has an overall length between 6”-12” (15-30 cm), mantle length of 3.15”-4.72” (8-12 cm), and weight of around 1 lb (.45 kg). The typical lifespan of the Vampire Squid is between 6-10 years.

Series of elevation illustrations of the Vampire Squid
Vampire Squid (Vampyroteuthis infernalis)
Height:
Width:
Length:
6”-12” | 15-30 cm
Depth:
Weight:
~1 lb | .45 kg
Area:

Mantle Length: 3.15”-4.72” | 8-12 cm

Scientific Name
Vampyroteuthis infernalis
Lifespan
6-10 years

Drawings include:

Vampire Squid side elevation, front

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Flamboyant Cuttlefish (Metasepia pfefferi)
Dimensioned comparison drawing of the Flamboyant Cuttlefish compared to other cephalopods

The Flamboyant Cuttlefish (Metasepia pfefferi) is a cephalopod with an oval mantle and broad arms. They have 2 tentacles, 8 arms, and skin changes between vibrant colors to attract prey, threaten predators, or mate. This species of cuttlefish can only float and typically swims for short periods of time. The Flamboyant Cuttlefish seems to walk on the ocean floor using their arms rather than swim and has a highly developed sensory system. They are found in Indo-Pacific Ocean including Northern Australia and the surrounding islands. The Flamboyant Cuttlefish is carnivorous and eats fish and crustaceans. Their current conservation status is unknown.

The Flamboyant Cuttlefish has an overall length between 3.9”-5.1” (10-13 cm), mantle length of 2.4”-3.1” (6-8 cm), and weight of .66-.88 lb (.3-.4 kg). The typical lifespan of the Flamboyant Cuttlefish is between 1.5-2 years.

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the Flamboyant Cuttlefish
The Flamboyant Cuttlefish (Metasepia pfefferi) is a cephalopod with an oval mantle and broad arms. They have 2 tentacles, 8 arms, and skin changes between vibrant colors to attract prey, threaten predators, or mate. This species of cuttlefish can only float and typically swims for short periods.

The Flamboyant Cuttlefish has an overall length between 3.9”-5.1” (10-13 cm), mantle length of 2.4”-3.1” (6-8 cm), and weight of .66-.88 lb (.3-.4 kg). The typical lifespan of the Flamboyant Cuttlefish is between 1.5-2 years.

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the Flamboyant Cuttlefish
Flamboyant Cuttlefish (Metasepia pfefferi)
Height:
Width:
Length:
3.9”-5.1” | 10-13 cm
Depth:
Weight:
.66-.88 lb | .3-.4 kg
Area:

Mantle Length: 2.4”-3.1” | 6-8 cm

Scientific Name
Metasepia pfefferi
Lifespan
1.5-2 years

Drawings include:

Flamboyant Cuttlefish side elevation, front

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Mimic Octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus)
Dimensioned comparison drawing of the Mimic Octopus compared to other cephalopods

The Mimic Octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus) is a small cephalopod with small horns that extend from each eye. Naturally it has a light brown color, but once it feels threatened it mimics the appearance of other poisonous creatures to scare off any potential predators. It is able to contort itself into various shapes as it does not have a rigid skeleton. The ability to impersonate various aquatic animals is what gave it its name. The Mimic Octopus is native to the Indo-Pacific Ocean and lives in shallow waters. Mimic Octopuses are carnivorous and their diet is made up of mostly small fish, crabs, worms and crustaceans.

The Mimic Octopus has an overall length between 23.6”-27.6” (60-70 cm), mantle length of 2”-2.4” (5-6 cm), and weight of 5-20 lb (2.3-9.1 kg). The typical lifespan of the Mimic Octopus is between 9 months and 2 years.

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the Mimic Octopus
The Mimic Octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus) is a small cephalopod with small horns that extend from each eye. Naturally it has a light brown color, but once it feels threatened it mimics the appearance of other poisonous creatures to scare off any potential predators.

The Mimic Octopus has an overall length between 23.6”-27.6” (60-70 cm), mantle length of 2”-2.4” (5-6 cm), and weight of 5-20 lb (2.3-9.1 kg). The typical lifespan of the Mimic Octopus is between 9 months and 2 years.

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the Mimic Octopus
Mimic Octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus)
Height:
Width:
Length:
23.6”-27.6” | 60-70 cm
Depth:
Weight:
5-20 lb | 2.3-9.1 kg
Area:

Mantle Length: 2”-2.4” | 5-6 cm

Scientific Name
Thaumoctopus mimicus
Lifespan
.75-2 years

Drawings include:

Mimic Octopus side elevation, front

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Caribbean Reef Octopus (Octopus briareus)
Scale illustration of an average Caribbean Reef Octopus compared to other cephalopod species

The Caribbean Reef Octopus (Octopus briareus) has eight arms that vary in length and diameter. The Caribbean Reef Octopus is able to quickly change both colors and textures to blend into its surroundings. Caribbean Reef Octopuses are highly intelligent and once they are camouflaged, they are almost impossible to distinguish. This octopus is native to warm waters and coral reef environments in Central and South America. The Caribbean Reef Octopus likes to live in hidden and rocky lairs. The Caribbean Reef Octopus uses their arms, 7 rows of teeth, and suckers to catch their prey which are crabs, shrimps, and fish.

The Caribbean Reef Octopus has an arm length between 19.7”-23.6” (50-60 cm), mantle length of 2”-4.7” (5-12 cm), and weight of 2.2-3.3 lb (1-1.5 kg). The typical lifespan of the Caribbean Reef Octopus is between 10-12 months.

Series of elevation illustrations of the Caribbean Reef Octopus
The Caribbean Reef Octopus (Octopus briareus) has eight arms that vary in length and diameter. The Caribbean Reef Octopus is able to quickly change both colors and textures to blend into its surroundings. Caribbean Reef Octopuses are highly intelligent.

The Caribbean Reef Octopus has an arm length between 19.7”-23.6” (50-60 cm), mantle length of 2”-4.7” (5-12 cm), and weight of 2.2-3.3 lb (1-1.5 kg). The typical lifespan of the Caribbean Reef Octopus is between 10-12 months.

Series of elevation illustrations of the Caribbean Reef Octopus
Caribbean Reef Octopus (Octopus briareus)
Height:
Width:
Length:
19.7”-23.6” | 50-60 cm (Arm)
Depth:
Weight:
2.2-3.3 lb | 1-1.5 kg
Area:

Mantle Length: 2”-4.7” | 5-12 cm

Scientific Name
Octopus briareus
Lifespan
10-12 months

Drawings include:

Caribbean Reef Octopus side elevation, front

Details & Downloads

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