Differences between Cuttlefish, Squid and Octopus

From top to bottom, cuttlefish, squid, octopus.


Where do I begin?

I am Asian and I grew up in east Asia. My knowledge of these tentacle ocean creatures in my childhood was all about cuisine. The only difference back then was adding spicy sauce or not.

Later when I learnt about their intelligence part, the question came to me “What did I eat all those years?” So I started to do my homework. Here in this post I would like to share some key information of these tentacle creatures.


Cuttlefish have large, W-shaped pupils, eight arms, and two tentacles furnished with denticulated suckers, with which they secure their prey. They generally range in size from 15 to 25 cm (6 to 10 in), with the largest species, the giant cuttlefish (Sepia apama), reaching 50 cm (20 in) in mantle length and over 10.5 kg (23 lb) in mass.

Cuttlefish has relative short and round body shape. There is a shell/bone in its body. The cuttlefish shell/bone is called Sepia Esculenta. It is a traditional medicine for stopping bleeding and some gynecological issues.

Sepia Esculenta

Moreover, cuttlefish has ink storage and is able to camouflage. It has to be fully cooked before consuming.


True squid are molluscs with an elongated soft body, large eyes, eight arms, and two tentacles in the superorder Decapodiformes. Like all other cephalopods, squid have a distinct head, bilateral symmetry, and a mantle. They are mainly soft-bodied, like octopuses, but have a small internal skeleton in the form of a rod-like gladius or pen, made of chitin.

Squid and cuttlefish are close. However comparing to cuttlefish, squid has no shell/bone. It has slender and slim body shape. It has no ink storage. I believe squid has the best taste of all. Human like it. Sharks like it. Every ocean predator likes it. The giant squid is even the favorite meal of sperm whale. When sperm whale consumes giant squid, there would be parts that are hard to digest. Those body parts of giant squid will get out of whale by its bowel movement. The “waste” floats in the sea, exposes under the sun and blows by the wind. Eventually, it transforms into Ambergris, the most expensive fragrance material in the world. Yes, the whale poop is in perfume, the most luxury one.

The famous character in squid family would be the mythology creature Kraken. Surprisingly it is not an octopus.


An octopus is a soft-bodied, eight-limbed mollusc of the order Octopoda. The order consists of some 300 species and is grouped within the class Cephalopoda with squids, cuttlefish, and nautiloids.

I bet octopus is the smartest among these three creatures. It is master of escaping. It can push its body through a bottleneck size hole or a tine gap. If you recall the movie “Finding Dory (2016)”, it is also master of camouflage and has three hearts. In sci-fiction or fantasy tales, octopus often relates to aliens or mystery sea monsters.

Octopus has ink storage to squirt 6 times straight before restoration. As a delicious seafood, it can be served raw as sashimi. Believe it or not, it is a popular dish in South Korea.


I made a table of comparison so it is easier to read than paragraph. ✔️ = Yes. ❌= No.

Number of arms8 (short)+2 (long)8 (short)+2 (long)8
Body shapeShort and roundSlender and slimAny
Pupil shapeW🌙
CamouflageMasterCan doLegend
Bone or not ✔️
Ink or not✔️ (thick)✔️ (thin)
Sashimi or not✔️
Taste SmoothCrispyChewy
Difference between cuttlefish, squid and octopus


Please identify the main ingredient for these following dishes.

Each species has 3 dishes. Have you figured it out? 😋

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My paintings are an outlet to express the imagination I have inside my head that I can not put into words. After trying many mediums, I always find myself coming back to paint and brushes. In my current artistic practice, I use oil paint and mainly create portraits of mythical creatures and animals transfixed in the shifting colours of seascapes and landscapes. There is a natural spirit and magic to these creatures and their energy draws me in. Choosing to paint these creatures as real living wildlife rather than abstractions, I use bold and vivid colours to express the imaginary intertwined with reality, finding magic between the seams. Using a saturated colour palette, I create bold and striking imagery, contrasted between foreground and background, subject and landscape, and light and darkness. Weaving their bodies and the surface of the landscape into each other through organic forms and flowing brush strokes, I find beauty, strength and innocence in these creatures that reflect my inner world.