Yep, its springtime again ! Remember, these are going to be adults, so have your tanks ready to go, and hopefully you can get some eggs before they die off...if you can establish a community, there would be quite a few members who would be interested in juveniles, I'm sure.
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."
the point of getting them is to breed them and relive the stress on the natural population. you should try to sell them to people with intent to breed them and the people who just want one can get the next generation. they could save a lot of money by getting a tank bred one. i for one would love to breed them and see if you can get some to righty.
Since the very beginning of the cephalopod husbandry area of this site, it has been a high priority to emphasise the importance of captive breeding and we have always encouraged people to have a go if possible and if not, then to at least buy captive bred stock.
This has however, mostly been in reference to Octopus bimaculoides, a non-threatened octopus from the USA.
I have lost count of how many posts I have submitted trying to dissuade people from buying a cephalopod on impulse and from others buying species such as Mimic, Wunderpus, Blue rings and of course, Metasepia flamboyant cuttlefish.
Nothing has changed.
I currently work in conservation and I have also worked in the exotic animal trade for many years. It gives me a fairly unique view, and as i have said before; we should not encourage the collection of animals like this.
I am 100% with Roy on this one.
Metasepia are not the way forward as a captive cephalopod breeding programme. There is a LOT more ground work that has to be done before anyone could justify buying in several specimens for a breeding project.
The presence of a market does not justify the animal as candidates for a breeding project.
I don't think we have gotten to the bottom of what happened with OctoPets but they are not the only example of cephalopod breeding businesses that have gone bust pretty quick. CephSource anyone?
Yes, it would be nice to get some and have them breed so that CB specimens could be sold but these are certainly not an easy subject and remember, even Sepia bandensis has only been taken past F1 generation a couple of times. It doesnt take much to lose an entire batch!
In closing, this is a specialist group of marine invertebrate and as a special interest group we should not be part of the problem that these cephalopods face from the ornamental aquatic hobby.
Well, I'm certainly glad you didn't delete your post, Roy ! My answer was meant to be sarcastic, as it's been made quite plain about how I feel regarding captive wild caught animals.
I am happy as get-out that I am no longer involved in the wild caught animal trade, all the death is depressing.
Someday, when we have learned the basics of rearing Sepia, it will be possible to maintain and rear Flamboyants...until then, buying one only supports wiping them out in the wild...where they actually belong.
Hats off to those who are working with Sepia at the moment, I know Sir Righty has certainly influenced me on the care of cuttles, and I've become very, very enthused about trying to rear them here.
Colin, as always, you are spot on.
I am interested in Flamboyants too, like everyone on this list for one reason or another. My heart stopped when I read the initial post. I immediately thought of getting 4-6 for my 240 and starting a breeding project that would be in the interest of everyone (conservation, exotic, etc.) Unfortunately my dreams were quickly squashed because my tank isn't ready or mature, and wouldn't be ready in time-no matter what.
Then I thought, who is doing the "research" of flamboyants to get this captive breeding information?
On one side you have losses. The NRCC isn't breeding them, they tried and stopped. Righty, one of the best individual cuttle breeders I have heard of, tried and lost his. This can't be ignored.
On the other side -in the reptile industry the individual breeders ARE the forefront. They are the ones who find the habitats and care regimes. They study the natural history and duplicate the environments to get captive breeding. Who does this in Cephs? Are there any articles like Righty's about bandensis written by anyone in the scientific community? The honorable James Wood is the only one that comes to mind, whose work I read every chance I get, but he isn't working with flamboyants.
In a perfect world-rare animals wouldn't be collected until they weren't rare, novices wouldn't get animals they would undoubtedly kill, and you could get captive bred everything. I do not believe that we are the problem in driving rare flamboyants to be rarer. I see us as the only people as having a chance at unlocking the secrets of captive breeding. The flamboyants that end up at the LFS will die in the hands of rich novices trying to add them to their reef tanks.
If you successfully reared flamboyants-would you sell them to the local fish store? or sell them to pre approved homes. I might even make a test to qualify the new owners! The few people on this list can't stop the collection in the wild in Indonesia, but we are the best hope of saving what is collected next year.
I remember this is what it was like 15 years ago with a bimac. No source of knowledge was available, and now it is. How many octos has this list saved? Check out the lurker population.
How many years have we tried to stop blue ring sales? And they can kill you!
My opinion is to get people like Colin, Righty, Greg, etc. as many flamboyants as they can hold, rather than shooting flamboyant husbandry in the foot by limiting them by doing the "right" thing.
I know you are the ones saying not to get them. I just respect your knowledge and experience and would like to see it go towards saving something we all appreciate-flamboyants. I hope not to offend you in the previous post.
The question is whether anyone buying them would really have the opportunity. As far as I'm aware, Righty has more experience with cuttle breeding than anyone in the US outside the NRCC, and even he is empty handed right now. Would it not make sense to become experts at every other non-threatened cuttle before charging blindly into a project with flamboyants that is bound to fail?
If we can't stop or have any effect on the importation, I suppose it would have to do with how endangered you feel they are and how much help they need.
(Disclaimer- The following is a example and not meant to be acted upon)
What if everyone that reads this thread -that has ever had any success with cuttles- buys 5 flamboyants for $100 each. I don't think that it would cause any more indoneisian natives to get one extra cuttle than they wouldn't already catch if they had the opportunity for the world-wide market. (i.e. We preach and preach about blue rings -and still they come.)
But say that Righty (he is the best example that I can think of) buys 5 and trys to breed them. Let's say he loses all 5 for 2 years running. and on the 3rd year looses them again but gets a already pregnant female and has captive hatched eggs. 15 dead cuttles, but 15 hatchlings.
Now these cuttles I feel are alot like the panther chameleons I had bred. Madagascar is facing the highest deforestation of any rainforest. The panthers are difficult, rare jewels that stress easily and are facing endangerment in their native habitat-alot like flamboyants. Once these animals were captive hatched the resulting animals were easily bred because they weren't stressed, damaged while wild caught, and full of parasites. Now panther chameleons are available from many breeders across the southeast U.S. because they are expensive and beautiful. Therefore lucrative to produce.
Flamboyant and octo breeding is different because you can only get so much for a dwarf octo, or you competition will just wild catch one-so you have a $ cap. People pay $600 for a captive hatched adult panther and $150-$300 for hatchlings because they will succeed with captives, rather than wild caught that will fail.
I will not be buying any this year because I don't have any success with cuttles yet. My tank is not properly matured and setup for cuttles. I am not yet worthy of a flamboyant.
I do respect anyone's opinion not to get a flamboyant. I feel they should have the experience to help the species, rather than satisfying their craving for a exotic pet.