The Complete Guide to Scuba Regulators and Octopuses

The Complete Guide to Scuba Regulators and Octopuses

When it comes to scuba gear, there is a lot of information that you need to know. Knowing as much about your equipment as possible will make your dives more pleasant and a lot safer. Today, we are taking a look at the scuba regulator and the scuba octopus.

So, let’s get into it. (I was very close to saying let’s dive in…but that would have been a gratuitous Dad joke!)

What is a Scuba Regulator?

The scuba regulator is a device between the connection of your cylinder, your BCD, and your mouthpiece. It depressurises the gases from the cylinder to make the air breathable and safe. The scuba octopus is a backup regulator that should be used in emergencies.

A scuba regulator delivers air from your scuba cylinder to your breather (mouthpiece) and your BCD. However, it’s a bit more complicated than that. The scuba regulator runs through a series of steps that depressurises the air in the tank and then delivers it at low pressure to the diver and the BCD.

Without your regulator, you wouldn’t be able to breathe underwater.

So yeah, it’s a very important bit of kit!

Scuba octopus regulators hanging

How does a Scuba Regulator Work?

  1. The 1st stage pulls air from the cylinder.
  2. The air is depressurised to a moderate level.
  3. The 1st stage passes the air to the hose.
  4. When the diver breathes, the air is passed to the 2nd stage.
  5. The 2nd stage depressurises the air to a safe level.

There are two stages to your regulator setup. The 1st stage is connected to your cylinder, where it receives air from the tank and depressurises it.

The air is still at too high a pressure. It needs to pass through the 2nd stage.

The 2nd stage of the regulator is the piece that you breathe through. The air is passed through from the 1st stage through the hose and then to the 2nd stage. While at this point, the 2nd stage further depressurises the air.

Now, the air is safe to breathe. The 2nd stage is also called the demand valve. When you “demand air from the cylinder, the demand valve releases.” Hopefully, that makes it easier to understand.

How much Does a Good Scuba Regulator Cost?

A Scuba regulator ranges from $150 to $1600. For a great mid-range regulator, you should spend approximately $350 to $700. If you can spend more, it is advisable to do so. 

Scuba diving can be an expensive hobby, but in my opinion, the most expensive time is during your initial investment.

So, going for training, getting certified, and buying all the equipment necessary for the first time are included in that initial investment.

You could argue that the scuba regulator is costly. However, you would have to do that for almost all of your equipment. In my experience, I think the cost is well justified, especially when you consider the work that they do and how they allow you to breathe while underwater safely.

How Long Should a Scuba Regulator Last?

Your scuba regulator can last up to 20 years if you get it serviced regularly. The average life span is around 15 years, and I recommend replacing it every ten years. The better you look after the regulator, the longer it will last (and the longer you’ll live!).

I always like to talk about how long specific pieces of equipment should last.

I do this because not many people answer these questions, and I think it is essential when you work out the cost of your scuba diving adventure to factor in how often you will need to replace your equipment.

Man on a boat leaning on tank and regulator

What Is a Scuba Octopus?

The scuba octopus is a secondary regulator. It is more basic than your main regulator because it serves as a backup in case of emergencies. If your scuba regulator fails (or that of your dive buddy), you know that you have your backup secondary regulator.

We have written an extensive article about the dangers of scuba diving. We concluded that it is disingenuous to say that it is dangerous when you compare scuba diving to other hobbies and sports.

However, scuba diving does have its hazardous factors, and therefore safety is required. This is where equipment such as the scuba octopus comes in.

The scuba octopus will often be a bright yellow or red. It will always be close to the divers hand so that if there is an emergency, you can quickly grab it, and the colours are there to make sure that it is distinguishable from all your other equipment.

The scuba octopus can also deliver air to your BCD.

What are The Main Uses for a Scuba Octopus

I could be lazy and state that the scuba octopus is there primarily for emergencies. That statement would be true, and I could finish this section. However, I want to talk about the two specific use cases for the octopus. Remember, not all emergencies are the same, and it is best if you are prepared. 

  • If your primary regulator fails
  • If someone else needs air.

If your regulator fails, stay calm. You want to grab your scuba octopus and use it as you would your primary.

All scuba divers should be familiar with the “buddy system.” Essentially, you should never dive alone. If your buddy needs air, you should let them use your backup regulator.

Make sure that both of you have discussed what to do in case of this emergency. It may seem obvious, but trust me, logic does not always apply in a crisis. If you discuss what to do beforehand, it helps keep people calm.  

How much Should A Good Scuba Octopus Cost?

For a good mid-range scuba octopus, you are looking at paying between $80 to $250. The good news is that the scuba octopus is not a very expensive piece of equipment. However, regardless of what it costs, it is an essential part of your scuba setup.

Mares Octo MV

In my opinion, that is not a lot of money when you consider what the scuba octopus does for you while out in the water.

Safety should always be a priority. If you don’t want to spend money on safety equipment, that is your own decision, but I implore you to take safety seriously.

Personally, I use the Mares Octo MV, it’s relatively inexpensive and has a slimline design, so it doesn’t get in the way!

Don’t Forget Your Dive Insurance!

Before you go out on any dive trip or holiday, it is essential to make sure you have insurance that covers you if something goes wrong. Check out our dive insurance article for more information.

Or go straight to these dive insurance company websites:


Diver Alert Network (DAN)

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How Long Should a Scuba Octopus Last?

Much like your scuba regulator, the Octopus should last at least 15 to 20 years; however, I recommend replacing the octopus once every 8 to 10 years.

The scuba octopus has a similar lifespan to your primary scuba regulators. We have already discussed the cost of the octopus, and I’m sure that you want to have peace of mind that spending that amount of money, as budget-friendly as it is, that you aren’t going to have to pay that every few months.

Remember, the better you look after your equipment, the longer it will last. So, as long as you conduct proper maintenance on all of your scuba gear, you can be saving yourself a lot of money in the long run.

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Paul Fulbrook

Paul Fulbrook is a writer, scuba diver, ex-science teacher and marine biologist. He has a passion for coral reef biology, diving on coral reefs and writing about diving. He also loves cats and his children (sometimes).

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