© 2015 The Authors. We study cluster mass dark matter (DM) haloes, their progenitors and surroundings in a coupled dark matter-dark energy (DE) model and compare it to quintessence and λ cold dark matter (λCDM) models with adiabatic zoom simulations.When comparing cosmologies with different expansions histories, growth functions and power spectra, care must be taken to identify unambiguous signatures of alternative cosmologies. Shared cosmological parameters, such as σ8, need not be the same for optimal fits to observational data. We choose to set our parameters to λCDM z = 0 values. We find that in coupled models, where DM decays into DE, haloes appear remarkably similar to λCDM haloes despite DM experiencing an additional frictional force. Density profiles are not systematically different and the subhalo populations have similar mass, spin, and spatial distributions, although (sub)haloes are less concentrated on average in coupled cosmologies. However, given the scatter in related observables (Vmax,RVmax), this difference is unlikely to distinguish between coupled and uncoupled DM. Observations of satellites of Milky Way and M31 indicate a significant subpopulation reside in a plane. Coupled models do produce planar arrangements of satellites of higher statistical significance than λCDM models; however, in all models these planes are dynamically unstable. In general, the non-linear dynamics within and near large haloes masks the effects of a coupled dark sector. The sole environmental signature we find is that small haloes residing in the outskirts are more deficient in baryons than their λCDM counterparts. The lack of a pronounced signal for a coupled dark sector strongly suggests that such a phenomena would be effectively hidden from view.