What follows is very uncharacteristic of me and those of you you have seen my posts over the past few years will realize that while I have argued against the collection and sale of mimics, I've tried to keep a fairly even keel with regards to the industry. However, this thread pushed a button tonight that ignited some feelings that have been building in the back of my mind for some time. After writing this and rereading it, my first impulse was to hit delete. However, the more I think about it, the more concerned I am about the trend in the hobby to seek the rare and unusual, so I decided to go ahead and post my response. If flamboyants were sea horses and could be cultured with a sustainable market, I would not say a word, but they aren't, so here are my uncensored thoughts on this thread.
Yes, they are cool with great postures and color change. I have certainly enjoyed stalking and photographing them in their native habitats. However, they are also rare and getting rarer. To my knowledge Metasepia pfefferi has not been cultured and M. tullbergi has only been reared with difficulty. Given that 99% of the animals shipped will not make it to adulthood, is it really worth the cost to this species to promote their collection and sale?
In fact, I think it is perhaps a good time for elements of the cephalopod aquarists community to take a look at a disturbing trend. There seems to be increasing pressure to acquire ever more exotic and rare species. With mimics and wonderpus going for up to $500 and flamboyants for over $100, a market is being created that local collectors and exporters cannot ignore. I strongly doubt that the populations of these animals can withstand this level of harvesting for very long. Perhaps it is time to ask why you need to have an exotic cephalopod in your tank for a few weeks when there is essentially no chance of rearing it and when dozens died so that one could make it to your retailer.
Now that I have started getting this off of my chest, let me go one step further. Much of the initial support for Tonmo came from people who were fascinated by cephalopods and wanted an opportunity to interact with them. The site did a great service introducing these animals to people and educating them on how to maintain them. Do at least in part to sources of information such as Tonmo, we even go to the point where commercial ventures were launched trying to provide captive reared animals for enthusiasts. Well, we have all seen how successful that was. Unfortunately, when it was easy and less cool to have your own bimac, at least part of the market quickly dried up and moved on to more exotic species, so we are back to the days of "Hey, Bud, want to buy a flamboyant? They are really rare and hard to get."