I Need a Cuttlefish! :)

Discussion in 'Cuttlefish Care' started by Juniper, Apr 10, 2010.

  1. Juniper

    Juniper Larval Mass Registered

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    A little introduction first. I've been keeping freshwater aquaria for ten years. Over the last two years, I've also started keeping brackish water. I've got four 20-gallon freshwater tanks and a 29-gallon brackish tank. I've never wanted to "mess with" saltwater... until today.

    I met a cuttlefish at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga today, and I fell in love. I'm amazed by how intelliigent and communicative they are. The pharaoh cuttlefish I met was responding to my hand gestures, changing colors to get my attention, "dancing" in front of me. He was wonderful! I've now decided to save up to get myself a cuttlefish. I'm assuming it'll be roughly an $800 start-up cost if I'm going to start with a 200-gallon tank (the minimum, if I understand correctly). I could have that within a few months.

    Anyway-- I need some serious help and don't know where to start. Can someone answer these questions, possibly with links?

    1. I understand that cuttlefish only live about a year. Have you cuttlefish keepers had a hard time handling this emotionally? I can lose a betta or a tetra and not sweat it, but these critters are so sentient that I imagine I'll have trouble coping with their short life spans. Has this held anyone else back from keeping them?

    2. I'd like to start with eggs. How hard is it to do this?

    3. What's the best species to keep? Which are the least demanding? Which live the longest?

    4. I raise feeder mollies for my puffers. Are these a good choice for cuttlefish? I also raise crickets. Will cuttlefish go for those? Will they eat frozen food or do they insist on food that's still wriggling?

    5. Tell me about dwarf varieties. Could I keep those in a relatively small tank (maybe 55 gallons)?

    6. Water parameters-- what specific gravity do most cuttlefish need? Can any live in brackish water? How sensitive are they to nitrates? Ammonia?

    7. Given a cuttlefish's naturally short life span, what do most keepers do when their cepholo-pals die? Start with new eggs/babies?

    8. What about tank set-up? Lighting? Rocks? Special substrate requirements.

    I'm sure this has all been discussed somewhere. Feel free to provide links with answers to any questions not answered elsewhere.
     
  2. CaptFish

    CaptFish Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    :welcome: to TONMO


    Here is a great article on keeping cuttles
    http://www.tonmo.com/cephcare/cuttlefish.php

    I am an octopus keeper but I have hung around long enough to answer a few of your questions.

    OHHHHHH it hurts so bad, I am dealing with the last few days of an Octopus now and its killing me. Some of us have found that it best to keep a few tanks with a few different animals to help you through the hard times


    This is how cuttles ar usually purchased. The eggs are not diffbut once they hatch the cuttles are eating machines that require very specific food. culturing and purchasing the food can be the hardest part

    Sephia Bandensis or dwarf cuttles, are the most common. not sure. and 12 months all that should be expected.


    NOOOOO! never feed freshwater species as feeders (except crayfish, and still some risk)

    S. Bandensis - 20 gallon to 100 gallon is good, if the tank is too large it can be hard to interact with them. 40-55 seems to be the perfect size


    Not sure if brackish is OK but i dont think so. Cephalopods are very sensitive creatures and maintaining proper water quality is very important.

    Sand substrate, Liver preferably, then lots of Live rock with plenty of places to hide, typically about one pound of rock for gallon of water.



    I would really suggest that you start with a regular saltwater Aquarium, with some cool fish so that you can get time to adjust to the specifics of keeping saltwater aquariums, build some experience before jumping into cephalopods.
     
  3. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    I am also an octo keeper (but I am sure you will hear from bandensis keepers soon) and can only add a little to CaptFish's comments. There are NO brackish water/freshwater cephs and even typical lowered salinity fish marine enironments (for parasite control) will not do. Full ocean salt is one of the requirements.

    Nancy and Colin (staff members) have a book published, Cephalopods Octopuses and Cuttlefishes for the Home Aquarium that you may want to pick up.

    Since cuttlefish are not native to north America, ALL are imported and it has been observed that eggs survive better than animals. Unfortunately, the only eggs we see are bandensis so TONMO experience is almost soley with this species for the last 4 years (at one time Sepia officinalis was occassional found/kept and could be sourced at least for research but even the educational supplier is gone now). I think you will enjoy reading some of the current Cuttlefish experiences. Unfortunately, the most current are a bit scattered but the titles will give them away. It is worth the effort but here are a couple of our most recent frequent cuttle posters with a link to threads they have started MAKOOKAM, snowmaker, corpusse, Almondsaz and hoboqato

    Thales is our resident expert but he is overly busy gaining a reputation for the captive breeding program he started at Steinhart and has not been keeping them at home of late.

    One additional reference I can send you to is our Article section.

    :wink::read:
     
  4. Juniper

    Juniper Larval Mass Registered

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    Thanks for the help, guys. Is the 20-55 gallon minimum for badensis a minimum for one critter or two? If I wanted two, would 55 gallons do?

    I'm gradually acclimating my green spotted puffer to full marine. She'll be in full marine by the time I'm looking at getting a cuttle. Does anyone know if they can live together? She's just under 5 inches.

    Since I'm a saltwater noob, could somebody explain to me why live rock is important?

    Captfish, mollies aren't a freshwater species. They're brackish, but they can live in any salinity between 1.000-1.026. Mine are raised in 1.018. What makes freshwater/brackish species inappropriate for cuttles?

    I really appreciate all the links and help.

    One more thing-- if I order eggs, do I need to anticipate that some may not survive? Should I order more than i intend to keep?
     
  5. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    I don't attempt too many cuttle questions since I have little experience (as of this decade :wink:). As a general rule for cephs (and any saltwater critter) it is the food value (protein and fat content) that makes fw/brackish water animals undesirable as regular food for sw animals. That being said, there are numberous debates on how fw crustaceans actually differ. Octo studies have established that a fish (sw) diet for octopuses is not acceptable but those (for consideration of raising them for food) are the only studies I have found in my web searching. Cuttles and octos need crustaceans as their primary diet but whether or not fw shrimp and crayfish are equal to their sw cousins is not established. Fish show definite differences in fat content and avoidance is recommended (emergency feeding or occassional snacks don't seem to harm if it is known the fish have never been exposed to copper).

    You are likely familiar with seasoning an aquarium and biological filtration using an undergravel filter. In the marine world this has not proven to be overly successful for anything other than fish (and even then many people set up FOWLER - Fish Only With Live Rock) tanks. Live rock serves the same purpose. I recently posted some basic info and included a link to a fairly lengthy article that my help with getting the basics but, as CaptFish mentions, getting some SW experience (SW is VERY different from FW) is recommended so taking extra time to establish your tank and learning to care for it is preferred.
     
  6. corpusse

    corpusse Vampyroteuthis Registered

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    1. I understand that cuttlefish only live about a year. Have you cuttlefish keepers had a hard time handling this emotionally? I can lose a betta or a tetra and not sweat it, but these critters are so sentient that I imagine I'll have trouble coping with their short life spans. Has this held anyone else back from keeping them?

    It sucks but its life.

    2. I'd like to start with eggs. How hard is it to do this?

    its easier to start with eggs. you get their full lifespan and don't have to worry about poor shipping and acclimation.

    3. What's the best species to keep? Which are the least demanding? Which live the longest?
    sepia bandensis seems to be the only species readily available at least in north america.

    4. I raise feeder mollies for my puffers. Are these a good choice for cuttlefish? I also raise crickets. Will cuttlefish go for those? Will they eat frozen food or do they insist on food that's still wriggling?

    Salt water acclimated mollies could make up a portion of their diet. Gutload them and the babies may be good once they get to the point where they eat eating a couple of mysid shrimp a day. I don't know of anyone using fish as their main diet but that's not to say it can't be done.

    5. Tell me about dwarf varieties. Could I keep those in a relatively small tank (maybe 55 gallons)?
    yes. smaller seems better actually. I have a 90 and they do tend to a hide. I'd recommend a 40 gallon breeder

    6. Water parameters-- what specific gravity do most cuttlefish need? Can any live in brackish water? How sensitive are they to nitrates? Ammonia?
    nsw conditions. 1.026 salinity. You really shouldn't keep any inverts in anything less then 0 ammonia. If you have any ammonia in an established tank something is wrong. Same with high nitrates, although I wouldn't concern myself with them if its 10 or less.

    7. Given a cuttlefish's naturally short life span, what do most keepers do when their cepholo-pals die? Start with new eggs/babies?
    new eggs new babies.

    8. What about tank set-up? Lighting? Rocks? Special substrate requirements.

    1-2 lb of live rock per gallon, lighting depends on what you want to keep with them. If no corals normal output bulbs are fine. If you want corals, T5 or MH. I'm using a slightly courser sand in my cuttle tank but any size grain seems fine. I also keep them bare bottom in a holding tank.
     
  7. monty

    monty Colossal Squid Staff Member Supporter

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    :welcome: I see you got a good set of answers already!
     
  8. Almondsaz

    Almondsaz Wonderpus Registered

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    Juniper: You have most of the answers, but I just wanted to chime in on the eggs vs hatchlings. I purchased eggs from Paradise in Texas and had very good luck. I got 5 eggs and 4 survived. One thing to note is that while the hatchlings are in the egg and for the first 6-8 weeks they will need to be in breeder nets - or something similar. You keep them in the nets because you need to monitor them and their feeding to make sure that they are eating. Also, it makes the transition from Live mysid/amphipods to common shrimp to frozen mysids much easier. You have a much better ability to observe them. You will need a little macro algae in the breeder net for cover. It is very important that the tank is cycled completely and that the water parameters are stable. While you keep your brackish water mollies at 1.018 salinity, I keep my cuttle system at 1.025. There are several other key parameters as well such as nitrate, nitrite, ammonia, ph. I still have the orp probe on my tank because it was a reef not too long ago but don't use the reading for anything since the switch over. Hope this is a little more information that you might find useful.

    A personal point: I would not consider keeping cuttles, even sepia bandensis without the benefit of a charcoal reactor and a protein skimmer. Just my opinion but as my cuttles have gotten older and inking is a bigger deal - they have both come in handy.

    Also, I second D's recommendation on the book by Nancy and Colin - it is well worth it especially if you are new to cephs.
     

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