14 Extraordinary Types Of Octopus Species

Discover 14 exceptional types of octopus species, each revealing a captivating array of behaviors and distinct characteristics that make these marine creatures truly extraordinary.

The most venomous.
Blue-Ringed Octopus

Night photo of a jetting Blue-Ringed Octopus
A species with quite the reputation, showing its famous glowing blue rings.

Renowned for being one of the world's most venomous marine animals, the blue-ringed octopus can inflict total body paralysis – even to humans.

This psychedelic looking octopus has upwards of 60 blue rings, these can vary in size of up to 8 millimeters in diameter which cover its entire body and arms. When provoked, these octopuses will flash their 40 to 60 glowing blue rings to warn off predators.

The blue-ringed octopus usually hunts during the day. When prey is located, they leap into action using tentacles to pull their catch towards their mouth, they then use their beak to deliver a paralyzing venom.

They usually eat small crabs and shrimps, but will occasionally feast on small reef fish when given the opportunity.

While resting, the blue-ringed octopus are a beige, dark yellow or sometimes gray with a soft sac-like body and sucker-covered tentacles.

On average, adults can reach 1.5 to 2.5 inches (4 to 6 cm), with arms extending upwards of 2.5 to 4 inches (7 to 10 cm) long.

Scientific Name Hapalochlaena
Common Name Blue-ringed octopus
Size (Max) 5 - 8 inches (12 - 20 cm)
Weight (Max) 25 – 30 grams
Habitat Pacific and Indian Ocean

The deepest dwelling.
Dumbo Octopus

Night photo of a Dumbo Octopus looking at into the camera
Grimpoteuthis Umbellata - A rare type species of dumbo octopus.

The dumbo octopus gives its name to a collective of 15 different species. Famous for being the deepest dwelling octopus species, found at extreme depths of up to 13,000 feet (4,000 m).

This almost sightless octopus is also noted for their unusual appearance. Their protruding ear-like fins resemble that of "Dumbo the Elephant’s". Some Dumbo species also resemble umbrellas when their arms are spread open due to their connective webbed tentacles.

Unlike most octopus species, the dumbo octopus moves in a unique way, slowly flapping its ear-like fins, and using their webbed arms to steer.

Living so deep, the dumbo octopus does not have an abundance of food source. They are foraging predators with a diet that consist mostly of bristle worms, copepods, isopods and amphipods.

Much of the food they consume is located close to ocean vent ecosystems or floating along in the current.

Scientific Name Grimpoteuthis
Common Name Dumbo octopus
Size (Max) 8 - 12 inches (20 - 30 cm)
Weight (Max) 1 kg
Habitat North/South Pacific and Atlantic Oceans

The best imitator.
Mimic Octopus

Night photo of a white and brown Mimic Octopus
A mimic octopus showing its engaged coloration.

The mimic octopus is the master of disguise and imitation. They have been known to mimic 15 different marine species including anemones, mantis shrimp, jellyfish, feather stars, giant crabs, seahorses and more.

Many octopus species can change color and texture, but the mimic octopus takes this deception to another level by also changing the way it moves its arms to impersonate other nearby marine animals.

Like many other octopus types the mimic octopus also has color-changing cells covering its skin. In its natural state, they are a light beige color, however, they will take on a more engaging dark brown hue and striped white combination to intimidate predators.

Its preferred habitat is in murky water, therefore the mimic octopus’s natural diet consists almost solely on worms, crustaceans and occasionally small fish. Whilst hunting, the mimic octopus will scower crevices in coral, when it finds prey it will grab hold of it with its arms, extract it and eat it.

Scientific Name Thaumoctopus mimicus
Common Name Mimic octopus
Size (Max) 23 inches (60 cm)
Weight (Max) 0.5 kg
Habitat Indo-Pacific

The smallest eggs.
Atlantic Pygmy Octopus

Atlantic Pygmy Octopus specimen on black background
This particular octopus specimen is just 5 centimeters in length.

Like its name suggest, the Atlantic pygmy octopus is a small octopus species, very small in fact, fully grown this octopus only reaches approximately 6 inches (15 cm) in total and at least 3 inches (8 cm) of that is its arms.

Atlantic pygmy octopus are carnivores by nature and can be very selective about food. They almost solely consume clams and other small crustaceans in large quantities.

Their usual feeding method involves digging through the hard shells and paralyzing their victims with their poisonous saliva. Once their catch is fully immobilized, they gobble them up.

The eggs of the Atlantic pygmy octopus are one of its distinguishing characteristics due to their very small size. In fact a fully matured egg from this species can be just 2.3 mm.

Scientific Name Octopus joubini
Common Name Atlantic pygmy octopus, small-egg Caribbean pygmy octopus, dwarf octopus
Size (Max) 6 inches (15 cm)
Weight (Max) 28 g
Habitat Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico

The biggest.
Giant Pacific Octopus

Pacific Giant Octopus in its den sitting on rocks
A giant Pacific octopus resting inside a rocky cave.

The giant Pacific octopus is the largest octopus species in the world, with one specimen found at an enormous 600 pounds (270 kg) with a length of more than 30 feet (9 m).

This truly massive octopus inhabits the northern Pacific Ocean and resides in a range of different depths. These range from shallow tidal pools to great depths of about 5000 feet (1500 m), but is most commonly found only 15 feet (5 m) from the ocean surface.

The giant Pacific Octopus is largely nocturnal, adults hunt at night for prey which consist mostly crustaceans, such as snails, shellfish, clams, crabs, scallops and lobsters.

From time to time they will also eat other smaller octopuses and have also been known to eat small sharks, using their beak-like mouths to fatally wound their prey before consuming it.

Young giant Pacific octopus are scavengers and feed almost entirely on dead animals.

Usually, this species appears in a mixture of red and brown hues. An average size of an adult is 16 feet (4.9 m) across with a weight of around 132 pounds (60 kg).

Scientific Name Enteroctopus dofleini
Common Name Giant Pacific octopus, North Pacific giant octopus
Size (Max) 10 - 20 feet (3 - 6 m)
Weight (Max) 15 - 75 kg
Habitat North Pacific

Shallow water lovers.
East Pacific Red Octopus

East Pacific Red Octopus camouflaged on sea grass
This individual is beginning to blend in with its grassy surroundings.

The East Pacific red octopus is super intelligent and have very good short term and long term memories. Through testing, marine biologist have proved that they are able to solve complex problems.

The East Pacific red octopus is the most commonly occurring shallow-water octopus on much of the North American West Coast.

Their resting color is usually a reddish-brown with white speckles and streaks but to evade predators they can change skin color and texture to blend in with their surroundings.

Although this species has superb eyesight, they use touch and smell to find prey. Not being a picky feeder, they will eat anything from crabs, crustaceans, shrimp, mollusks and fishes (hermit crabs are favourites).

This species is relatively small in size with the average adult measuring approximately 20 inches (50 cm) in overall length and usually only weigh about 150 grams.

Scientific Name Octopus rubescens
Common Name East Pacific red octopus, ruby octopus
Size (Max) 1 - 1.3 feet (30 - 40 cm)
Weight (Max) 150 - 400 g
Habitat East Pacific

The human walkers.
Coconut Octopus

Coconut Octopus on sandy sea-bed
A vibrant colored octopus wandering about the sea floor, hunting for prey.

Commonly known as the coconut octopus because of the way it makes dens out of discarded coconut shells, this intelligent octopus will also carry and use trash or various types of shells for defensive tools.

What makes this octopus even more unique is their ability to move on two limbs (bipedal locomotion), a method similar to how humans walk. The only other octopus species known to move this way is the algae octopus, although recent evidence has shown this behavioral repertoire is also found in the common octopus.

The coconut octopus is a carnivore and eats mostly shrimp and crustaceans which they gather from the mud holes, it will also eat small reef fish if it can catch them.

The hunting technique of coconut octopuses can be described as foraging, it uses an active predatory style as well as a passive approach to catch prey. This is displayed in the way that they appear to wander about the sea floor whilst they are in hunting mode, until it encounters suitable prey. Simply put, this octopus does not stalk prey.

Adult coconut octopuses usually weigh between 200 to 300 grams and are just 6 inches (15 cm) wide, including the arms which usually make up half of that length. It’s brightly colored white and blue suckers contrast greatly with the dark brown hue of its body and even darker color tones found on the edge of its arms.

Scientific Name Amphioctopus marginatus
Common Name Coconut octopus, veined octopus
Size (Max) 6 inches (15 cm)
Weight (Max) 300 g
Habitat Pacific and Indian Ocean

The most colorful.
Caribbean Reef Octopus

Photo of lilac coloured Caribbean Reef Octopus on grass
It’s rare to see a Caribbean reef octopus during the daytime.

The Caribbean reef octopus is a warm water species and common throughout the waters South Florida, the Caribbean, and Northern South America. They are rarely seen during the day but are frequently seen at night in shallow saltwater reefs.

Appearance wise they are up there as on of the most colorful of all octopus species, typically a bright blue-green iridescent with red-brown specks across their bodies.  

These octopuses are usually rather bulky in appearance but are in fact relatively small, with an overall size measuring up to 60 cm across, its mantle making up around 2 to 4.7 inches (5 to 12 cm).

Crawling around the reef, this octopus is actively hunted by many large fish and sharks. In order to escape, the Caribbean reef octopus will eject a cloud of foul tasting ink towards its attacking predator.

Whilst in a passive hunting mode they will usually be in their den, burrowed in the sand or a coral crevice with only its eyes sticking out.

Scientific Name Octopus briareus
Common Name Caribbean reef octopus
Size (Max) 2 feet (60 cm)
Weight (Max) 1.5 kg
Habitat Western Atlantic, Bahamas, Caribbean, and Northern South America

The cutest.
Flapjack Octopus

Cute photo of a Flapjack Octopus at night
Capturing photos of this cute species is few and far between.

First discovered in 1949, the flapjack octopus hasn’t been studied in great detail, however, robotic submersibles have frequently observed this cute little octopus resting on the seabed.

The flapjack octopus belongs to the group of umbrella species, a type of pelagic octopus characterized by a web of skin between their tentacles. Adding to the cuteness of this charming species are their distinctive fluffy orange body and short tentacles.

flapjack octopuses get their name from the intriguing way they deflate themselves to appear more flat, thereby giving the illusion that they are non threatening to would be prey.

During the day and night they hunt for their prey which consist mostly of crustaceans, small worms and other invertebrates. They hunt for prey using surprise, suddenly pouncing on them and using their hardened beaks to kill, before devouring them.

The habitat for this species is on the seafloor, approximately 1600 to 5000 feet (500 to 1,500 m) deep, because of this great depth, they are very rarely spotted.

Scientific Name Opisthoteuthis californiana
Common Name Flapjack octopus
Size (Max) 8 inches (20 cm)
Weight (Max) 25 - 30 g
Habitat East Pacific Ocean

The prettiest.
Blanket Octopus

Female Blanket Octopus in deep ocean
An unforgettable sight of a female blanket octopus during a blackwater dive.

Discovered in 1830, the beautifully strange and elusive blanket octopus can be found in both subtropical and tropical oceans. They spends their entire life in the open ocean and are occasionally seen by deep see divers.

Unusually, female blanket octopuses are much bigger than males, up to 10,000 times bigger and can reach up to 6.5 feet (2 m) in length, whilst males only grow to a mere 1.5 inches (3.8 cm).

It’s obvious to see how this octopus got its name, their sheets of flesh stretched between their arms give the appearance of a beautiful opalescent blanket. These elegant blanket like sheets are not to look pretty, instead females use this web to warn off potential predators.

Spreading her ams out to greatly increasing her apparent size, the web forms a silhouette which makes her appear much more intimidating. However, if this deceptive trick does not succeed, they can detach these fleshy sheets, causing the predator to be entangled in her web, giving her time to escape.

Like many other octopus species, the blanket octopus also uses ink to intimidate predators. But unlike other species, the males employ one of the most bizarre methods of hunting prey – ripping a stinger from the Portuguese man o' war, to use as a weapon.

Scientific Name Tremoctopus violaceus
Common Name Blanket octopus
Size (Max) 6.5 feet (2 m)
Weight (Max) 10 kg
Habitat North and South Atlantic Ocean

The most common.
Common Octopus

Beige colored Common Octopus on rocky sea-bed floor
The vulgaris octopus is common but no less special.

As its name suggest, the common octopus is widely distributed in tropical, subtropical, and temperate seas throughout the world. It is a well-known medium sized species of octopus, that lives between the surface and a depth of 500 feet (152 m).

Recent observations have shown that the common octopus also has the ability to travel whilst walking on just two arms. A behavior only found evident in two other species of Octopus.

They are found frequently relaxing in holes along the sand-bed or crevices in the reef, and can squeeze through any hole that's larger than its beak.

They prefer to hunt at dusk, are extremely fast swimmers and have an average life span in the wild of 1 to 2 years.

A typical adult common octopus grows to about 1 to 3 feet (30 to 92 cm) overall and has a saccular body, large bulbous head, big eyes, and eight distinctive arms.

This species was also the star in the award winning documentary – My Octopus Teacher.

Scientific Name Vulgaris octopus
Common Namo Common octopus
Size (Max) 3.3 feet (1 m)
Weight (Max) 5 – 10kg
Habitat Pacific, Indian, Mediterranean and Atlantic Ocean

The friendliest.
Bimac Octopus

Night shot of a Bimac Octopus crawling on coral
An octopus species with deceiving eyes.

The bimac octopus is short for its scientific name "Octopus bimaculoides", also known as the California two-spot octopus.

They have a reputation as being one of the most tolerant, friendliest and intelligent species, which has led to an increase of them being kept as pets.

The bimac octopus can be found residing in depths of up to 65 feet (20 meters) in Baja, California. It prefers rocky reefs, debris, holes or crevices for hiding.

This species is commonly a mottled brown color, covered with small yellow spots in various sizes. Yet the most distinctive feature of the bimac octopus is its two large bright blue spots on either side of its body that resemble eyes.

These Glowing blue spots on each side of its head, located just beneath each of its eyes, serve to deceive both its predators and prey into believing that these markings are its actual eyes.

In the wild this species has a lifespan of between 1 to 2 years.

Scientific Name Octopus bimaculoides
Common Name Bimac octopus, California two-spot octopus
Size (Max) 2 feet (60 cm)
Weight (Max) 2 - 4 kg
Habitat Baja California

The smallest.
Octopus Wolfi

Macro photo of a tiny Wolfi Octopus at night
The worlds smallest and lightest octopus.

Discovered in 1913, the Octopus wolfi, also known as the star-sucker pygmy octopus is the world's smallest octopus.

On average the this species weighs less than a gram and measures just 0.6 inches (1.5 cm) in overall length.

Found throughout the Western Pacific Ocean, the Octopus Wolfi does not stray too far from the coastline as it prefers shallower depths of water.

Being the worlds tiniest species, Octopus Wolfi are also among the shortest lived with an approximate life span of just six months.

Scientific Name Octopus wolfi
Common Name Wolfi octopus, star-sucker pigmy octopus
Size (Max) 1 inch (2.5 cm)
Weight (Max) 1 g
Habitat Western Pacific ocean

The spottiest.
Atlantic White Spotted Octopus

Large adult White Spotted Octopus on sand
This large adult Atlantic white-spotted octopus is out hunting at night.

Discovered in 1826, the Atlantic white-spotted octopus also goes by the name "Macropus Octopus" or is sometimes referred to as a "Grass Octopus".

They are found in shallow, warmer areas of the eastern and western Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the Indo-Pacific region.

This species grows relatively large with an overall maximum size of 60 inches (150 cm), however most individuals are 30 inches (76 cm) long.

The Atlantic white-spotted Octopus is easily recognizable with their elongated body and long arms which have an intense red coloration and are covered entirely in white spots.

Hiding from predators during the day and coming out only at night to hunt, make this species a rare spectacle to all but night divers.

Scientific Name Callistocopus macropus
Common Name Atlantic white-spotted octopus, macropus octopus, grass octopus
Size (Max) 47 - 60 inches (120 - 150 cm)
Weight (Max) 2 kg
Habitat Temperate and tropical waters

How to tell them apart

There are now an estimated 300 different types of octopus, each vastly different in personality, appearance and abilities. A highly intelligent marine animal which can crawl, jet, swim and even walk on two arms. They are extremely fast learners with an incredible ability to deceive and mimic.

Different Types of Octopus Infographic
This infographic showcases the variety of octopus species and how they can be recognized.

Share image – copy and paste this code on your website.

The main types of octopus

Octopuses are divided into two types, which includes the finless (shallow-water) octopus and the finned (deep-water) octopus.

Finless, shallow-water octopus

Finless octopuses are widespread and make up the majority of octopus species. These octopuses are commonly found in coral reefs and contained where the waters are shallow.

Finned, deep-water octopus

These finned octopuses, consist of about 40 known species, not much is known about them due to the depths that they live, ofter miles deep. They are distinguished by the notable ear-like fins that they possess on either side of their mantles.

Male or female octopus

The gender of an octopus can be determined by checking the suckers on the octopuses arms. Females will have suckers that go all the way to the tips of each arm. If it's male, the third right arm will will be different to the rest, the suckers stop some distance from the tip.

Octopus vs squid

The key difference between octopuses and squid is their limbs. Octopuses have eight arms, while squid have eight arms plus two tentacles for grabbing prey. Squid also tend to be more mobile, with some squid species forming large schools.

If you love octopuses

Octopus Rings
Shop our tentacle-tastic collection now! From $15, Buy Now.

A portion of every purchase made at Citrus Reef goes towards coral reef conservation efforts, the natural habitat for many octopus species.

Wear your love for octopuses with our latest collection of octopus rings here.


i am doing a science fair project, and this piece of info is so helpful! Octopus are awesome!

Riley March 19, 2024

This strip of info is so so so SO helpful! I love octopi!

Jude March 05, 2024

I would like to order an octopus ring gold. I do love octopus 🐙

Debbie Easterling July 21, 2023

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published