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Brains Over Brawn

Sidebar: Caring for Cephalopods

common cuttlefish

Keeper Mike Henley checks water quality. (Jessie Cohen/NZP)

Keeping cephalopods in captivity poses significant habitat challenges. The biggest challenge when caring for any marine animal in captivity is recreating its natural habitat. At the Invertebrate Exhibit, the aquariums that the cephalopods live in have to be meticulously maintained. The water temperature must be just right.

Even more important than the temperature is getting the chemical composition of the water right. At the Zoo, there is no seawater on hand, and there is no ocean current to act as a natural filter in a tank. “So it’s up to us to refresh that water and check the chemical composition,” says invertebrates curator Alan Peters.

 

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Smithsonian Zoogoer 40(4) 2011. Copyright 2011 Friends of the National Zoo. All rights reserved.