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Nautilus black shell syndrome and Eggs


Colossal Squid
Staff member
Moderator (Staff)
Jan 22, 2004
Steinhart is opening on the 27th and we have moved the GPO and Nautilus to the new facility. In moving the Nautilus I found a single egg. I have no high hopes for this one, but am excited they even produced one, so we'll see what happens in the future. Any links about raising eggs would be welcomed. I already have this one:

page 42 or 43

The Nautilus also have black shell developing. Does anyone have experience with it and making it go away? I have found some info about scrubbing the shell, which makes me nervous, and some about feeding fish heads, but thought I would ask for pointers before trying anything.

Hi Thales,

How often and on what is it being fed?

My experience with black shell is that it's diet-dependent. We used to feed our animals on freshwater fish heads and the black shell and shell deformities were very common. We feed now on whole, fresh shrimp and the shell is still an issue but less so. I also think its a matter of over-feeding - as though the shell is laid down so quickly that it is thin and weak. I've noticed improvement changing from a once-per-three-days schedule to once a week or so. I doubt that scrubbing would help, and might actually cause more fractures to appear on the growing edge.

At Woods Hole (where I've kept Nautiluses over the summers) they feed them on frozen, whole shrimp with some kind of powdered nutrient supplement, and they are the healthiest captive animals I've seen, even after more than a year of captivity.

I should add that all of this is anecdotal, and I've never undertaken a systematic test of these factors.

For eggs - have you tried contacting the Waikiki aquarium?
If you want to contact the Waikiki Aquarium, let me know and I will PM you the info for a good aquarist... I would start with Waikiki Aquarium. Also look up articles by Bruce Carlson, he was the director when the eggs hatched. Basically, they just left the eggs alone in a behind the scenes aquarium (that they let algae grow over the sides of the tank) and one day they noticed one hatching... They have a flow through system, so I don't know if there is a difference with a closed system...
Thanks guys,

Actually one of the biologists from Waikiki (for 13 years), Charles Delbeek, is at the Steinhart now, and our curator is good friends with Bruce.
Thats the info about eggs that I was able to find, I was just wondering if you all found something I hadn't.

Interesting stuff about feeding. These guys have been getting fed peeled shrimp 2 or 4 times a week. Were when you say whole shrimp do you mean not peeled with the heads on? Thats what I am assuming but clarification is always nice.

I just love TONMO. The ability to get fast responses from knowledgeable people rules. :biggrin2:
yep, definitely unpeeled, either heads on of off. Crustacean moults are a big food source in the wild so I recommend feeding the shells. Heads-off are a lot cleaner in the tank, but that's less of a problem if you're on an open system.

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