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Jul 1, 2015
Cape Town, South Africa
Hi All !!

I've been into reef keeping for the past 12 years, and have always wanted to keep Cuttlefish. After many (MANY !!), calls and e-mails to the public aquariums, as well as all the LFS's in the country (South Africa), I eventually managed to find someone that can import some Sepia Bandensis eggs for me (the eggs will be arriving in two weeks time). A new tank has been set up and plumbed to the main display tank's sump. I've read all the articles on Cuttle breeding/husbandry I could find, but none of them has gone into details on the hatching of the eggs, so here's a few questions I hope someone can assist me with:
  1. Will a normal net breeder suffice, or do you need an egg tumbler (as used by Monterey Bay Aquarium)
  2. Do the eggs need to be separated from the "bunch" to have individual eggs ?
  3. What is the best way to get flow around the eggs, air stone from below (using net breeder), or by using a powerhead in the tank ? Also what would ideal flow be ?
  4. Will the eggs get damaged if they rub against the net in the breeder, caused by the flow ?
  5. Do the eggs need light to hatch, and if so will a 150 watt 14K Metal Halide light over the tank be too much ?
Thanks in advance !!
@Thales (Richard Ross) has written quite a bit about breeding and egg care for this species, you might seek out his posts on this forum and check the Web for other articles I may not have gotten around to publishing. I'm sure others will chime in to help as well. Good luck!
  1. Will a normal net breeder suffice, or do you need an egg tumbler (as used by Monterey Bay Aquarium)

Normal net breeder should be fine.

  1. Do the eggs need to be separated from the "bunch" to have individual eggs ?

Don't need to be separated.

  1. What is the best way to get flow around the eggs, air stone from below (using net breeder), or by using a powerhead in the tank ? Also what would ideal flow be ?
Powerhead should be fine.

  1. Will the eggs get damaged if they rub against the net in the breeder, caused by the flow ?
Can you get a breeder that has slots instead of net? But eggs should be fine with gentle bumping.

  1. Do the eggs need light to hatch, and if so will a 150 watt 14K Metal Halide light over the tank be too much ?

Don't need too much light, but can't answer you if that is too much...

Lastly, please make sure you have access to appropriate live food (mysids, amphipods, tigger pods) before you get the eggs and make sure you have live foods by the time the eggs arrive, in case they hatch right away.

Good luck!

Last edited by a moderator:
Hi All !!

Thanks so much for the assistance (@DWhatley ) !!

I just ran into another problem.....aarghhh ! On Friday I went Mysid catching with the collection team from our local public aquarium. The Mysid were transferred to a large plastic bag, the water properly aerated, and oxygen pumped into the bag. On arrival at home I started a process of acclimatising them to a separate 60 Gal. tank connected to my main display (local ocean temperature was at 57 Fahrenheit, display tank at 78). I tried three batches, acclimatising the first batch over 30 minutes, and the last for almost 6 hours. Not a single shrimp survived, they die within 20 seconds after being added to the tank (even after 6 hours of drip acclimatisation) !! So now I'm back to square one !!!! I'm not going to give up though, so would really appreciate help with the following please:

  • According to almost all of the research I've done, the survival rate of hatchlings being fed on Brine shrimp/Amphipods, Copepods are dismal. Would it maybe be wiser to try and have sub/adult specimens shipped in (from Philippines to Cape Town South Africa) ? (also know that they don't travel well)
  • Has anyone had any luck with other feeding techniques ?

You are correct about the almost impossibility of raising hatchlings on any kind of pods (and an absolute on brine shrimp). I am not the best for suggesting help with the mysis but here is what I occurs to me. My best success with mysis was using a round tank (in my case a 15 gallon bio-orb but I think any round, container would work the same way) with a very gentle soft tube air stone laying in a circle at the bottom, a pile of live rock in the center and fed them frozen daphnia twice a day. Until trying this method, I would loose the mysid within a day or two, after they survived at least 2 weeks (some over a month, with no water changes).

The container is clearly not your only issue though as the shrimp are not likely to tolerate the warm temps. Is there a way to keep their tank water cooler? I have shrimp caught in our FL keys (so natural temps of 75-80) that I have introduced to a coldwater tank (65 F) with better success than prior attempts keeping them in a warm tank (100% have been alive and growing for about 6 months where in warm tanks I have only been able to keep them for a couple of months with about 50% mortality) but reversing the process is not likely to work, especially for the very small animals. If you can keep their tank cool and only introduce them to the warm at feeding time, you might have success for the month or two you need them Often it is hard to get cuttles to start eating and they only seem to see live animals as food. Once they start recognizing food, the time between water entry and death will be less critical. IF you can get the mysis to survive, you may need to take a great deal of time adding a few, watching and adding a few more to keep live shrimp in the warmer tank.

If you have experimentation time and easy access to mysis, you might start them out in their natural sea water (and I highly recommend a round container with gentle airstone only, no filtration other than pieces of well cured live rock, no other movement) and let it warm to room temperature on its own (not using any tank water and not changing the water). I have no clue if this will help but would be what I would try extrapolating from my own experiences.
LOL, It won't be help unless you have success :wink2: but please do report back with your experiments AND their successes or failures as it will help others.

Since I have a coldwater tank now (but no longer a primary residence) and plan to keep the tank cole, your information so far make me curious about our warm water mysis and if they would fare better in colder water. I don't have a good way to chill the small tank (nor do I have anything to feed mysis to) but may experiment in reverse (with artificial water since I don't have access to seawater) just to see if cooler temps even help keep the ones we have issues keeping alive (I may put the small tank in the basement to help with temp rather than trying the cold tank). Even learning about the extended life of the larger shrimp never made me stop and think about the possibility that temperature could be a major factor in longevity for the mysis (of course it may kill them :roll:). We know keeping octopuses at the bottom of their range (I am not sure about young hatchlings or animals under about 4 months though) tends to extend their lives but they are much less active. Some coldwater octos (explicitly bimaculoides) can survive at 72-75 F temps where their natural 62-65F will close to double their life expectancy (but they are far less active). In the case of food (very expensive if you have to have it shipped) this may be a relatively simple consideration we have overlooked. Keeping them sluggish should minimize predation (a problem with the ones we get here). Definitely something to think about.

The other thing I have been playing with is a freshwater crayfish that is a hermaphrodite and self fertilizing. I have not tried putting one in saltwater yet to see how long it will survive but plan to do so once I have several large enough to feed to my current octopus. The hatchlings are quite small, too large for cuttlefish but may work for baby octopuses. In general, crayfish are the closest freshwater (would love to find a saltwater version but I don't know of one) animal that we know of that may provide most of the nutritional octopus needs. There is also a freshwater shrimp (glass shrimp by common name) that can be fed to cuttles and likely small octopuses but my one experiment failed to produce surviving hatchlings.

Please let us know what you try and if you have any better results!
Ok, an update. I've tried acclimatising the Mysis again (over a 20 hour period) no luck !! About 90% of them died during this period. The left over shrimp I added to a net breeder in the tank, where they all died within a minute. I don't think that the baby Cuttles will have enough time to get to them before they die. I then went out and collected some local (temperate) amphipods (Talorchestia Capensis) from the shore. These guys seem to be much tougher, as I've acclimatised them to the warmer tank water, and almost all of them are still alive (3 days).

From what I've researched Cuttle hatchlings can be fed amphipods as first foods, but it seems like the survival/growth rate is much lower than being fed with Mysid. Seems like this is going to be my only option.
There has been some success with pods but never a clear (or easily obtainable) answer on which species. The variety that we typically see here, have not worked as they are either too fast or simply not identified as food. There has been a bit of research that has not seemed to be repeatable in unofficial attempts by members that suggests placing a food in with the eggs (where the unhatched animals can "see" them as they develop sight) might influence food preference. As I recall, the experiment was done with crabs and shrimp but you might try it with the local pods. I will try to find the article and post a link if I can locate it.

To be sure that the mysis problem is with the temperature (and I suspect it is) have you tried placing a bag of mysis in their own water into the aquarium and letting it come to temperature?
Thanks again !
I managed to catch some ghost/grass shrimp from the ocean this weekend. Interestingly they also acclimatise well to the warmer tank water (only 1 of 12 died with the experiment), and they are actually eating (Ocean Nutrition pellets). So maybe one can "gut load" the shrimp before feeding. The Amphipods are also still alive, but they aren't eating (tried flake, pellet and dried seaweed).

Another question,: What should the light intensity/photoperiod be over the hatchling tank ? (eggs are arriving on Wednesday)

Thanks !!
The shrimp won't need gut loading and will be fine as food when the cuttles are large enough but are way too big (and often aggressive) for new hatchlings.

We have not seen any issues with lighting that can be attributed to health problems. Cuttlefish eggs are laid in dark recesses so no lighting is required (this is true of most cephs throughout their lives but most of us do add lighting to enjoy the tank). The more lighting you have on their breeder net, the more issues you will have keeping it algae free. Anecdotally, adding a good sized clump of cheato to the hatchling tank seems to be helpful for giving them a place to hide as well as possibly an easier way to spot and catch food.
Herewith some pictures to gauge the sizes.

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