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Cuttlefish vs. Squid: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Cuttlefish is a marine mollusk with a unique internal shell, the cuttlebone; Squid is a similar mollusk, but with a thin, flexible backbone called a pen.
Cuttlefish vs. Squid

Key Differences

Cuttlefish have a broad, flat body and a cuttlebone that aids in buoyancy. Squid, on the other hand, have a more streamlined body and a pen-like structure for support.
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In terms of movement, cuttlefish use their fin that runs around the body for gentle movements, while squid are known for their speed, using jet propulsion for rapid movement.
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The cuttlefish's skin is known for its ability to rapidly change color for communication or camouflage. Squid also change colors, but their display is more often used for evading predators.
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When it comes to size, cuttlefish generally are smaller than squid, with most species having a more compact form. Squid species vary widely in size, including some very large species.
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Reproduction differs as well; cuttlefish males often display complex behaviors to attract females, while squid tend to be more solitary and less behaviorally complex in mating.
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Comparison Chart

Body Shape

Broad and flat
Streamlined
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Support Structure

Cuttlebone
Pen
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Movement

Gentle, fin-driven
Rapid, jet propulsion
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Color Change Use

Communication, camouflage
Predation evasion
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Size Range

Generally smaller
Varied, includes large species
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Cuttlefish and Squid Definitions

Cuttlefish

A cephalopod with a unique internal shell, known for color-changing skin.
The cuttlefish camouflaged itself among the coral.
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Squid

An animal with a pen-like internal structure, aiding its streamlined shape.
Scientists examined the squid's pen to understand its hydrodynamics.
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Cuttlefish

Marine animal famous for its intelligence and complex behavior.
Researchers studied the problem-solving abilities of the cuttlefish.
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Squid

Subject of many deep-sea research projects due to its diverse species.
The giant squid remains one of the ocean's most elusive creatures.
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Cuttlefish

A delicacy in many cuisines, especially in Mediterranean regions.
Grilled cuttlefish is a specialty in coastal Italian restaurants.
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Squid

A common ingredient in various cuisines, often served fried or grilled.
Calamari, fried squid rings, is a popular appetizer.
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Cuttlefish

An organism used in studies of neurology and animal behavior.
The cuttlefish's brain structure offers clues to neural development.
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Squid

A fast-swimming cephalopod known for its elongated body and tentacles.
The squid darted away rapidly when approached by divers.
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Cuttlefish

A popular subject in marine biology due to its unique physiology.
The cuttlefish's ability to change texture is a wonder of nature.
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Squid

A device that measures minute changes in magnetic flux by means of one or more Josephson junctions, often used to detect extremely small changes in magnetic fields, electric currents, and voltages.
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Cuttlefish

Any of various marine cephalopod mollusks of the family Sepiidae, having eight arms and two long tentacles, a calcareous internal shell, and a broad body.
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Squid

Any of various marine cephalopod mollusks of several families of the superorder Decapodiformes (or Decabrachia), having a usually elongated body, eight arms and two tentacles, a reduced or absent internal shell, and a pair of fins.
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Cuttlefish

Any of various squid-like cephalopods (marine mollusks) of the order Sepiida that have eight arms, two retractable tentacles, and a calcareous internal shell, and can eject a dark ink when threatened
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Squid

Any of several carnivorous marine cephalopod mollusks, of the order Teuthida, having a mantle, eight arms, and a pair of tentacles
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Cuttlefish

Ten-armed oval-bodied cephalopod with narrow fins as long as the body and a large calcareous internal shell
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Squid

A fishhook with a piece of bright lead, bone, or other substance fastened on its shank to imitate a squid.
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Squid

A sailor in the Navy.
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Squid

A quid; one pound sterling.
Can you lend me five squid? I feel like a bacon sarnie.
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Squid

A motorcyclist, especially a sport biker, characterized by reckless riding and lack of protective gear.
"In my mind, a street squid is anyone who races on the street. Period."1
"squid: a cocky motorcyclist who darts very aggressively through traffic"2
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Squid

(angling) To fish with the kind of hook called a squid.
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Squid

(parachuting) To cause squidding an improper, partial, parachute inflation, that results in the sides of the parachute folding in on the center, and pulsating back and forth.
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Squid

Any one of numerous species of ten-armed cephalopods having a long, tapered body, and a caudal fin on each side; especially, any species of Loligo, Ommastrephes, and related genera. See Calamary, Decacerata, Dibranchiata.
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Squid

A fishhook with a piece of bright lead, bone, or other substance, fastened on its shank to imitate a squid.
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Squid

(Italian cuisine) squid prepared as food
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Squid

Widely distributed fast-moving ten-armed cephalopod mollusk having a long tapered body with triangular tail fins
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Squid

Known for its ink defense mechanism, used to escape predators.
The squid released a cloud of ink to hide from the approaching shark.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

Are cuttlefish or squid faster swimmers?

Squid are generally faster swimmers, using jet propulsion for rapid movement.
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Which is larger, cuttlefish or squid?

Squid can grow larger than cuttlefish, with some species being very large.
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Do cuttlefish and squid live in the same habitats?

Both are found in various marine environments, but their specific habitats can vary.
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What is the main body difference between cuttlefish and squid?

Cuttlefish have a broad, flat body with a cuttlebone, while squid have a more streamlined body with a pen-like structure.
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Can both cuttlefish and squid change colors?

Yes, both can change colors, but cuttlefish are more adept at it for communication, while squid primarily use it for evasion.
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Do cuttlefish have a longer lifespan than squid?

Generally, cuttlefish have a slightly longer lifespan compared to most squid species.
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Do both cuttlefish and squid lay eggs?

Yes, both lay eggs, but their breeding behaviors and strategies differ.
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Is the ink of cuttlefish different from that of squid?

The ink composition is similar, but the use and effectiveness can vary between the two.
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Can cuttlefish and squid be kept in aquariums?

Both can be kept in specialized aquariums, but cuttlefish require more specific care.
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Are cuttlefish considered more intelligent than squid?

Cuttlefish are often noted for their higher level of observed intelligence and complex behaviors.
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Can both cuttlefish and squid be eaten?

Yes, both are edible and are featured in various cuisines worldwide.
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Is it true that both cuttlefish and squid have three hearts?

Yes, both have three hearts - two branchial hearts and one systemic heart.
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Are cuttlefish and squid both cephalopods?

Yes, they are both cephalopods, belonging to the same class of mollusks.
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Is the eyesight of cuttlefish similar to that of squid?

Both have excellent eyesight, crucial for navigation and hunting in their environments.
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Do cuttlefish use camouflage more effectively than squid?

Cuttlefish are particularly known for their highly effective camouflage abilities.
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What is the main use of the cuttlebone in cuttlefish?

The cuttlebone aids in buoyancy control and internal structure.
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Do squid use their tentacles differently than cuttlefish?

Both use tentacles for feeding, but squid may use theirs more aggressively for capturing prey.
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Are squid faster at changing colors than cuttlefish?

Both change colors rapidly, but cuttlefish are more precise in their coloration changes.
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Do both cuttlefish and squid have a similar diet?

They both primarily eat small fish and crustaceans, but their hunting tactics vary.
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Are there more species of cuttlefish or squid?

There are more known species of squid than cuttlefish.
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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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