Squid vs. Octopus: What’s the Difference?

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Are you curious what the difference between squid vs octopus is? The squid and octopus are cephalopods, a group of marine mollusks animals, including cuttlefish and nautilus. In this article, we’ve gathered the research to help answer all the pressing questions about these two unique creatures.

squid vs octopus

Cephalopods are characterized by their well-developed heads, prominent eyes, and tentacles.

Though they share these common features, some key distinctions still separate octopuses and squid. So, what sets these creatures apart? Read on to find out.

Squid vs. Octopus

Squid and octopus may look similar at first glance, but they are two very different creatures. They both dwell in the ocean depths and look like they could be related. However, these two animals are quite different.


school of squid
Squid have beautiful colors.

Squids and Octopuses live in different habitats. Giant squid live in open water, often near the coast. They live in the open ocean and deep ocean because they travel in schools or solitary lives.

Which means they are often found in groups. On the other hand, octopuses live on the ocean floor.

They live in reefs, under rocks, and in crevices. Octopus is often found in coral reefs. They can easily find food and places to hide from predators.


Squids are carnivorous predators. They eat small fish, shrimp, and other squids. Octopuses are also carnivores, but they prefer to eat bottom-dwelling crustaceans like crabs, lobsters, and other shellfish.

The octopus catches its prey with its eight arms and inject paralyzing venom, while the squid uses its long tentacles with sucker rings to grab prey and bring it to their mouths.

How They Hunt

octopus underwater
A beautiful octopus underwater.

Squids will often hunt in groups, using their tentacles with sucker rings to herd prey into their mouths. The squid will then either tear the prey apart with its beak or drill a hole through the shell of crustaceans to get to the softer flesh inside. 

Octopuses tend to be solitary creatures. They will stalk their prey on the ocean floor and then attack by pouncing on it and pulling it into their dens with their arms. The octopus injects paralyzing venom into its prey before eating.

Also, squids and octopuses evolved a mechanism to protect themselves. Squids have tough beaks and ink sacs that they can use to deter predators. The ink sacs release a dark cloud of ink that can obscure the squid’s escape.

Octopuses have poison in their saliva to paralyze prey, but they can also use it as a defense against predators.

Physical Features

squid swimming backwards
Seeing squid swim backwards is a treat.

There are some obvious physical differences when looking at a squid and an octopus side by side. Squids have a long, tubular body with eight arms and two specialized tentacles used to catch fish. The octopus has a shorter, compact body with eight flexible arms and no octopus tentacles.

The squid also has a sharp beak made of chitin, which it uses to tear apart its prey. The octopus has no internal skeleton and hence has a soft body that can squeeze through tight spaces.

The octopus also has chromatophores in its skin, which it uses to change colors and camouflage itself.

A squid has a triangular head and two fins that runs along its entire body, unlike octopuses that have a round head and no fins, except one specie called the Dumbo octopus that has fins.


octopus on a rock
Octopuses blend into their surroundings with ease.

One of the biggest differences between octopus and squid is their appendages. Squids have eight arms and two tentacles, while octopuses have eight long arms and no tentacles.

The squid’s tentacles are longer than its arms and have one or two rows of sucker rings, which they use to catch prey. The octopus’s arms are all the same length and have suckers on them, which they use to catch prey and move around.


The male octopuses transfer sperm using a specialized arm called a hectocotylus. Once the female squid lays eggs and attaches them to a hard surface using a sticky thread, they form a beautiful decorative string and look like a work of art. The female octopus then guards her eggs until they hatch.

The squid mate in larger groups, and the male will often mate with more than one female. When a male and female squid meet, they will wrap their arms around each other and spin around in a mating dance. Squids lay their eggs in a safe place and then abandon them.


squid harvest
Squid make great bait as well as meals.

Squids live longer than octopuses. The average lifespan of a squid is five years, while the lifespan of an octopus is only three years. The species of squid or octopus determine the lifespan. Some species of squid can live up to ten years.

The giant squid in the deep ocean can live up to 15 years. Though most adult octopuses, male octopuses, and squid die soon after mating, the females often live to take care of their eggs.


Squids and octopuses have very different senses. Squids have excellent eyesight and can see in bright light and dark water. They also have a light-sensitive organ on their long tentacles to detect movement.

Octopuses, on the other hand, have very poor eyesight. They rely on their sense of touch to find food and mates. Octopuses also have a perfect sense of taste.


An average squid can grow to be very large, with some squid species reaching up to 60 feet in length. At the same time, you can also find a giant squid reaching up to 66 feet. The smallest squid is the pygmy squid, which only grows about an inch long. 

The largest octopus is the giant Pacific octopus, which can weigh up to 600 pounds and have a length of 15 feet.

But normally, octopuses range from 12-36 inches and weigh 6.6 -22 lbs. The smallest octopus is the Californian octopus, which only grows about an inch long.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is an octopus and a squid the same thing?

The squids and octopuses may look similar, but they are two different creatures. The main difference is that squid has eight arms and two tentacles, while octopuses have eight arms and no tentacles.

Is calamari a squid or octopus?

Calamari is often confused with octopus, but it is made from squid. Calamari is an Italian word that means squid, and it refers to a dish made from squid that is popular in Italian cuisine.

Which is better between the octopus or the squid?

Although there is no answer as to which is better between squids and octopuses. It depends on your personal preferences. Some people prefer the taste of squid, while others prefer the taste of octopus.

What’s bigger, squid or octopus?

Certain squid species can grow up to 20 meters in length. On the other hand, the octopuses are much smaller, with the largest species only reaching up to 5 meters in length.

Final Thoughts

Although the squid and octopus might look the same, they are different. The octopus is a smarter creature but tends to live shorter lives. Both are harvested for food. However, lately, people have been less inclined to eat octopuses due to their perceived intelligence.

The octopus is my favorite due to its incredible ability to camouflage into its surroundings. It’s a real treat to see while diving.

Diana Nadim
Fishing Expert
Diana began fishing at the age of seven, as it has been a long-time family tradition. From catching small bullheads to catching strippers on the backwaters of Bighorn, she loves to get out in the wild and have a marvelous day on the water. Her dad was an expert angler, and he taught her fishing along with her two siblings. They used to go to the Bighorn River in Montana and Henry’s fork, Idaho. As a pragmatic person, she is obsessed with creating well-researched and practical guides and reviews of the best fishing methods and gear.
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