Anesthetizing an Octopus

Just in case you’ve ever wondered how you would go about anesthetizing an octopus (and I’m sure that most of you have) you can do so by immersing your octopus in seawater that has had isoflurane added to it:

In a study published online this month in the Journal of Aquatic Animal Health, researchers report immersing 10 specimens of the common octopus (Octopus vulgaris) in seawater with isoflurane, an anesthetic used in humans. They gradually increased the concentration of the substance from 0.5% to 2%. The investigators found that the animals lost the ability to respond to touch and their color paled, which means that their normal motor coordination of color regulation by the brain was lost, concluding that the animals were indeed anesthetized.

I do not at this time plan on testing this with my cephalopods but it’s good to know.

3 comments… add one
  • steve Link

    Neat. This is also what they used to do, and might still do as far as I know, when working on those really expensive Japanese fish. By and large, vets are incredibly clever about anesthetizing their animals. My partner went down and helped the U Penn vet schools when they started doing bypass surgery on dogs. (I went once when he couldn’t.) The guys were really sharp and knew their stuff.


  • My nephew’s wife, who’s presently in vet school at Cornell, has said that this is the way they anesthetize fish.

  • CStanley Link

    We used to put snakes in the refrigerator to perform minor surgeries but they’re really only immobilized, not anesthetized. I think the current practice is to use isoflourane, but it’s been years since I’ve treated any reptiles so I’m not sure how it’s done. I would think they could be put in a chamber as we do for induction of fractious cats (or rodents or lagomorphs.)

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