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Cuttlefish Raising- Looking for advice

KD5054

Wonderpus
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Feb 22, 2017
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203
Hello all,
I am currently working on trying to start up a cuttlefish breeding program for a small public aquarium in my hometown. I am quite familiar with cephalopods and cuttlefish but the raising new generations is a new hands on experience for me. I am excited none the less.
Currently my female cuttlefish started laying eggs yesterday from which I found roughly 3 eggs she had laid and was hoovering around. But upon coming in this morning I found her back away from her laying ground and her eggs scattered. This is her first eggs she has laid-has anyone experienced this and thoughts on what to do?
I had read that it is best to allow her to stay around her egg clutch for as long as possible-is this still true? Can I also hope that she will lay more?
IMG_20200526_085043025.jpg This is a photo of her when she had her clutch started. But today all her eggs were off of the fake coral and scattered. I collected them and put them in a small dish. But am not thinking they will be good.

On that side-is there a trick to determining if an egg is viable or not.

Thanks!
 

pkilian

GPO
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Jul 31, 2019
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132
Hello! I am assuming these are sepia bandensis? That coral looks like a good place for her to lay eggs. What you could do first is to structure a more appropriate "den" for her by propping some rocks up around and over that piece of fake coral to block out some light and give her a more comfortable and sheltered place to lay the eggs.

I have never left cuttlefish eggs with the parents for fear of a few dead eggs going bad and fouling the whole clutch. What you can do is gently remove the eggs, either with a large turkey baster or being very careful with a pair of tweezers to grab onto the part of the egg where the mother attaches it to the coral. Take these eggs and put them into a small mesh basket (think a small plastic colander or something similar) attached to the top part of your tank with a suction cup. This will allow the eggs to get proper flow and prevent them from fouling or being preyed upon by other critters in your tank (amphipods, copepods, etc.)

The most reliable way to tell if the eggs are fertile or not is if you can see a yolk start to form after about 2-3 weeks. It will appear to be a more opaque small (about the diameter of a grain of rice) sphere near one side of the egg. (you can check this by shining a flashlight through the egg to see how the internal structure is developing) If the egg remains dark colored with no changes to the internal structure after about a month, it is likely infertile. Additionally, fertile eggs will be large and will continue to swell and become more see-through as the animal inside develops.

Are there any other cuttlefish in the tank with this female?

Raising baby cuttlefish is very time consuming and can be stressful, but the payout when you have a bunch of small cuttles zooming around the tank is well worth it. Have you thought about where you will put the babies after they hatch out, assuming the eggs are fertile?
 

pkilian

GPO
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One small addition- I mentioned that I don't leave eggs with the mothers, but if you are checking for eggs every day, I would leave the eggs to develop for a couple days after they've been laid just so that when you remove them from the coral to move to your egg basket, you can check to see if they have begun to develop or not. Additionally, when you move the eggs they shouldn't be taken out of the water. You can transfer them into a small bucket under water, take the bucket out of the tank and shine a flashlight underneath the bucket to see how the eggs are developing, then put the eggs into your incubation basket. Do not remove the eggs from the water at any point during this process. It probably won't cause any harm but better to be safe when it comes to such delicate things.
 

KD5054

Wonderpus
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Feb 22, 2017
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203
One small addition- I mentioned that I don't leave eggs with the mothers, but if you are checking for eggs every day, I would leave the eggs to develop for a couple days after they've been laid just so that when you remove them from the coral to move to your egg basket, you can check to see if they have begun to develop or not. Additionally, when you move the eggs they shouldn't be taken out of the water. You can transfer them into a small bucket under water, take the bucket out of the tank and shine a flashlight underneath the bucket to see how the eggs are developing, then put the eggs into your incubation basket. Do not remove the eggs from the water at any point during this process. It probably won't cause any harm but better to be safe when it comes to such delicate things.
Thank you for getting back to me. Currently she is alone in a tank. I had 2 other adults with her that have since passed away. I was planning on getting more but with the pandemic things kinda went to a pause.
But I did see breeding with one of them which is why I am hoping for them to be fertile.
As for grow out- yes indeed. I have that all planned. I have a specific designed 350 gallon tank and sump that is attached to several 10 gallon tanks for grow out. I also have a 20 gallon tank with small hatcheries attached to it for the little guys as well. Trying to be ready for anything. I've been researching a ton (still am) on these guys with the hopes of being successful in breeding them. But I do not have yet the hands on experience which is what Im trying to work on. So any and all tips is always appreciated. I enjoy learning and diving deeper into these amazing and challenging creatures.

I have so far checked on her every day and she has not laid any more eggs-is this also common to have a pause?

I appreciate the tip of making it a cave like spot for her and will be sure to do that today. The tip of the plastic colander is also a new one! That is a great idea!
 

pkilian

GPO
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You could try checking on her less often. Even if you don't catch the eggs on the first day they are laid they will still be okay to remove from the rock, and letting the mother have a less disrupted tank would probably go a long way towards encouraging laying behavior. I know it can be hard to be patient, especially when you are so prepared to have hatchlings, but you probably only need to look for eggs every 3-4 days, and giving the mother more space could help her be more comfortable and lay more readily.

I haven't experienced pauses in egg laying like you said, but I have had mothers that did lay a few wonky eggs before laying a more successful clutch later. All you can really do right now is be patient and cross your fingers that she lays more eggs again. Additionally, depending on how much she has been eating, you could increase her feeds a bit to encourage egg laying.
 

KD5054

Wonderpus
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Feb 22, 2017
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203
Hi KD, how is this going?
She hasn't done anything further. But she is still eating and appears active and healthy. So a bit puzzling for me. The water is currently testing low in ALK as well as the water temp is 78.8 so I am wondering if the levels are not right for her laying.
The system is connected to a multi-fish tanks set up. (this is with a small public aquarium I work with) Which does make it a bit tricky to match the needs of a ceph system to be precise.
 

pkilian

GPO
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Jul 31, 2019
Messages
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78.8 is probably warm enough. You could try pushing it to 80 but as you said, there are other animals on the system and the 1.2 deg difference is probably not enough to really change the laying chances of the mother. You could try fussing with the alkalinity but sometimes I feel that is a fruitless endeavor depending on what your levels are. What is it at right now? And what is your pH? Do you have a way to measure total dissolved solids?
 

KD5054

Wonderpus
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Feb 22, 2017
Messages
203
So the only thing that we have been fighting is the Alk. The salt we have on hand seems to have too low an ALK in it. Could this have been a cause?
We have been working on increasing it. DO was at 6. Nitrite has always been 0
Unfortunately the little girl has since passed away. Was hoping she would lay more but it seemed like she just wished to lay the small few she had. But any advice is still good to help me learn. The other mention might be worth stating is she came from a research lab so I don't actually know if she was an inbred line of many generations or not.


CuttlefishPhosAmmoniaNitriteNitratePHSalinityMgCaAlk
6/5/2020​
0.1​
5​
1600​
529​
6.2​
6/8/2020​
0.07​
5​
7.68​
1.026​
1520​
434​
6​
6/10/2020​
0.02​
10​
1.026​
1520​
500​
7.1​
6/18/2020​
0.08​
10​
7.85​
1.025​
1400​
400​
6.1​
6/22/2020​
0​
25​
7.54​
1.025​
1500​
500​
7​
 

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