Cuttlefish vs Calamari

Cuttlefish vs Calamari

Cuttlefish and calamari are often confused because they belong to the same family. However, this article aims at shedding light on how these marine animals differ. An in-depth explanation of the differences will be given so that you can easily tell them apart with just 1 blink of an eye.


Cuttlefish is a marine mollusc that is in the same family as the octopus and squid.  A cuttlefish has a unique internal shell that is known as a cuttlebone. Cuttlefish has 8 arms and 2 tentacles. It has eyes that have a w shape. This is mainly due to the fact that they are colour blind so they only see black and white, so these unique eyes help them to recognise prey considering that they are carnivores.  They eat other marine animals like fish, crabs and even shrimp. Cuttlefish can actually be consumed by humans and they are commonly used when making stews since the meat is kind of tough.


A calamari is also known as a squid. It is a mollusc that is in in the cephalopod family just like octopus and cuttlefish. A calamari has an elongated shape and round eyes. It is commonly fried and served as a dish known as squid. Calamari has a cuttlebone that helps to keep it under water and it is has the potential to move fast in water as compared to its counterpart cuttlefish. It has round shaped eyes and is quite expensive as compared to cuttlefish. This is mainly because it is always on demand.

Differences between cuttlefish and calamari


Cuttlefish is smaller than calamari. The size of a cuttlefish can measure up to 16 inches whereas calamari can measure up to 24 inches in length. However, it is important to know that there are giant species of calamari that can grow up to 50 feet.

Cuttlefish is oval shaped and slightly flattened whereas the body of a calamari is elongated and it has a cylindrical shape

To add on, if you look closely at the eyes of a cuttlefish and a calamari you will notice a big difference. A cuttlefish has eyes that are shaped like a W whereas a calamari has round eyes.

Physical structure

Calamari has 2 tentacles and 8 hands that can suck whereas cuttlefish has 10 tentacles and they are smaller than those of calamari.

Internal structure

One of the things that can help you differentiate a cuttlefish from a calamari is by looking at the internal structure at a closer range. You will notice that the internal shell of a calamari is thin, flat and transparent made of cartilage. On the other hand the internal shell of a cuttlefish is spoon shaped.

Furthermore, inside the body of cuttlefish there is what is known as a pen. This is a flexible, feather shaped body whereas a calamari has what is known as a cuttlebone and this is a broader inner shell found in a calamari.


Cuttlefish tastes better than calamari. Cuttlefish is known to have a sweeter taste as compared to calamari.


A calamari is faster as compared to a cuttlefish. This is mainly because of its structure. It is very elongated and it has a torpedo shaped body, so it uses jet propulsion to move in water that is why it is very fast. On the other hand the structure of the calamari restricts it from moving very fast in the water.


Cuttlefish is cheaper as compared to calamari which is expensive. This is mainly due to the fact that calamari is usually on high demand so that is why it’s a bit pricy as compared to cuttlefish.


Calamari is tender whereas cuttlefish is tougher. That is why it is often cooked differently. Calamari is suitable for frying whereas cuttlefish is suitable for stews because of its tough texture.

Similarities between cuttlefish and calamari


Cuttlefish and calamari both belong to the same family and that is the cephalopod family. Furthermore cuttlefish and calamari both have 8 short arms and 2 long tents as compared to the octopus which has 6 arms only considering they are in the same family.

Cuttlefish and calamari can both do active camouflage. This means that they are able to change colour and texture.

How to clean cuttlefish and calamari

NB: buying cleaned cuttlefish or calamari comes with an extra charge, therefore if you are running on a budget then cleaning your own calamari or cuttlefish is your best option.

Step 1

Start by removing the head from the cuttlefish or calamari. To do this simply hold the tail using one hand and the head with another hand. Start pulling the head from the rest of the body using the twisting motion. The head will eventually slip off together with the innards.

Step 2

Remove the head and innards and throw them away. Make sure you only remain with the tentacles and the body tubes, these are the only edible parts on the cuttlefish or calamari.

Step 3

The next step is to cut the tentacles of the cuttlefish or the calamari. Make sure you remove the beak as it is simply a bone. It adds nothing when cooked. To remove the beak simply squeeze the connective tissue at the top and the beak will come off since the head would have been removed.

Step 4

When you have finished removing the head and the tentacles the next step is to remove either the cuttlebone or the pen depending on whether you are cleaning a cuttlefish or calamari. You can simply use your fingers to pull it out, it should come out easily.

 Step 5

Remove the skin membrane from the cuttlefish or calamari. Simply use your fingers to do that the skin should just come off easily. When you have peeled off the skin wash the insides of the cuttlefish or calamari and pull out any residual innards that could be stuck inside. When you have done that you can cut your calamari or cuttlefish and cook it as desired.

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