What’s the Octo-squid Showdown? Understanding the Difference

The ocean is a world full of wonders, and some of the most interesting creatures found in the sea are the octopus and squid. These creatures are often mixed up due to their similar appearances, but in reality, they are very different from each other. While both belong to the class Cephalopoda and possess similar characteristics, they have specific features that set them apart. In this article, we’ll explore the octo-squid showdown and understand the difference between them.

Physical Appearance

Octopuses have eight arms with suction cups and no tentacles, while squids have eight arms and two longer tentacles equipped with suction cups. The arms and tentacles of a squid are retractable, while those of the octopus are not.

Squids have large fins on their mantle used to propel themselves through the water, while octopuses use a jet propulsion system created by their mantle. Squids possess a triangular-shaped mantle, while the octopus has a rounded one.

Behavioral Differences

Social Behavior

Squids are more social than octopuses, often living in schools, whereas octopuses are solitary creatures. Squids are known to communicate through changes in their skin colors, while octopuses communicate through body language and the release of chemicals.


Octopuses are mostly found in areas with rocky terrain, while squids prefer areas with deeper water and soft sediments. Squids are also known to migrate, while octopuses stay in one spot or move to new locations over small distances.

Dietary Differences

Food Preferences

Squids mainly consume fish, while octopuses eat crustaceans, mollusks, and bivalves. Squids are also known for their cannibalistic tendencies and can eat other squids.

Feeding Techniques

Squids use their tentacles to capture prey, mainly by striking far away and then pulling it back to their mouths, while octopuses use their chameleon abilities to blend in with their surroundings and ambush their prey.

Intelligence Quotient (IQ)

Octopuses are known to be highly intelligent creatures, possessing problem-solving skills and the ability to use tools. They also have the ability to escape from enclosures, navigate through mazes, and memorize their environment. Squids, on the other hand, are also intelligent creatures but not as smart as octopuses.

Size Differences

Squids are generally larger than octopuses. The largest octopus recorded was the Giant Pacific Octopus, which measured up to 30ft in length and reached about 600 pounds. In contrast, the largest recorded squid was the Colossal Squid, which measured up to 46ft in length and weighed about 1,600 pounds.


While octopuses and squids share many characteristics, they are indeed different creatures. From their physical appearance to their living habitat, diet, and behavior, these creatures have unique features that set them apart from each other.

Most Common Questions and Answers about Octopus and Squid

  • Q: What is the primary difference between octopuses and squids?
  • A: Octopuses have eight arms with suction cups, while squids have eight arms and two longer tentacles equipped with suction cups.
  • Q: Are squids social creatures?
  • A: Yes, squids are social creatures and often live in schools.
  • Q: Are octopuses intelligent creatures?
  • A: Yes, octopuses are highly intelligent creatures and possess problem-solving skills and the ability to use tools.
  • Q: What is the largest squid recorded?
  • A: The largest squid recorded was the Colossal Squid, which measured up to 46ft in length and weighed about 1,600 pounds.


1. “Octopus.” National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society, 7 Apr. 2016, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/invertebrates/group/octopuses/.

2. “Squid.” Encyclop√¶dia Britannica, Encyclop√¶dia Britannica, Inc., 15 Feb. 2021, https://www.britannica.com/animal/squid.

3. Wasserman, David. “Octopuses and Squids: How to Tell the Difference.” Ocean Conservancy, 5 Feb. 2020, https://oceanconservancy.org/blog/2020/02/05/octopuses-squids-tell-difference/.

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