Science Research project

Discussion in 'Cuttlefish Care' started by thatfishnerd, Jun 6, 2014.

  1. thatfishnerd

    thatfishnerd Cuttlefish Registered

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    Hello,
    My name is Sean and I go to Francis Scott Key high school and I own a year old reef tank with zoas, mushrooms and a torch. There is a course at my school called Science Research and I want to do a project on Breeding Dwarf Cuttlefish (Sepia Bandensis). Just a quick thing, I understand the costs and complexity of keeping and raising cuttles but I am 100% up to the challenge. I plan to get the cuttlefish from bluezooaquatics.
    My cousin has a 35 gallon tank that he used to keep turtles in and he is going to give the tank to me and I am planning to fill it with vinegar and let it set for a few days to clean it. After I clean it, I am going to use some of Dr. Tim's One and Only nitrifying bacteria to do a quick start up on the tank, the directions for the nitrifying bacteria say to immediately put a fish in the tank or else it won't set up properly, so I'm probably just going to put a green chromis or some damsel in it(when the cuttles get big enough, they will eat things that are almost as bug as themselves so the chromis/damsel will make for a nice, live snack when they get bigger. I am going to order the cuttles and some live brine shrimp and bigger feeder shrimp for later feeding as the cuttles are shipped as babies because they don't ship well as adults. I am keeping them at my house for the majority of the summer and for a small portion of the school year so I can get them to adult size so I can get them to breed as much as possible while in lab. I plan to purchase 6 cuttlefish from Blue zoo aquatics they are sold as hatchlings so they will arrive to me at .25-.5 inches, they don't specify the size of the brine shrimp or even the number they are selling, they just say they are going to ship 4 oz of brine shrimp, the feeder shrimp are sold at the same size as the cuttles which will not be a problem as the cuttles grow very quickly, I will keep the feeder shrimp in my quarantine tank (I'm not going to get any fish while I am doing this project at home. As for housing the brine shrimp, I think I am going to put about half into the cuttle tank and the other half I am going to store in a spare 2.5 gallon tank with an air pump and stone and maybe they will breed in storage so that might be going for me). For the tank set up, I will have a half inch of sand, if blue zoo has any macroalgae in stock at the time I order, I will try to get some of it and I will run a single 17 watt t5 on the tank as anything else will be too powerful for the eyesight of the cuttle and should grow macro algae just fine at the same time. For filtration, I have an extra protein skimmer and I will be buying an oversized hob filter which I will be putting a sponge on the bottom of the filter so there are no compatibility issues with the cuttles and I think I will get some filter bags and put some GFO, activated carbon and maybe Phos-ban for extra filtration almost forgot to mention, I will also have to buy myself another heater.
    I have spoken to my teacher and she is ecstatic about my project as it is more complex than anything ever done in the program and the fact that I am planning this so far in advance. If I have any facts wrong, please correct me. Is this a good setup for a cuttlefish tank? What are your tank setups like? What is your experience with this? Also, does anybody know where I could find some published studies done with Sepia Bandensis (my teacher wants me to find some other sources that I might be able to replicate in my project)?
     
  2. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    I am new to cuttlefish keeping but not so new to cephs :grin:. I am currently keeping my first batch of successful eggs so you may want to follow along with my journal and avoid my mistakes (specifically, doughy gunk in the macro may be a live cuttle). Our cuttlefish journals are no longer separated from our octopus journals so they are a bit harder to identify but I spent a little time trying to title mark some of them in the first set of pages (yellow or blue highlighting). I'll recommend that you read this one(@FishFreak218) and this one (@Paradox) as they have a lot of very good start up information with detailed photos. This one and this one both by Paradox contain mating and egg laying photos and videos.

    I will suggest you nix the idea of feeding brine. They will eat it but will not likely survive long. The only hatchling food we have found to be fully successful is feeding live mysis shrimp for about the first month. It will cost you an arm and a leg (I also added frozen Cyclop-eeze to the net) but seems to be necessary. I will also highly suggest that you feed at least twice a day and 3 times a day for the first couple of weeks. The mysis will need to be ordered weekly as they don't survive longer and have proven to be all but impossible to culture (culturing brine is also not for the aquarist and only slightly more successful). Once they are about a month old, small shore shrimp work well (and are a LOT cheaper and keep longer) and after about two months you can attempt to wean them onto frozen.

    Hopefully some of our experienced cuttlefish keepers will chime in soon but @Thales has a website the captures his many years of experience figuring out how to keep cuttles (one of if not THE first to raise bandensis from eggs). TONMO hosts one of his older articles, Keeping and Breeding Dwarf Cuttlefish. @cuttlegirl has not been keeping cephs lately but follows the cuttle posts and will likely make a few suggestions as well :grin:.
     
  3. thatfishnerd

    thatfishnerd Cuttlefish Registered

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    The mysid shrimp are quite discouraging. Although, I will not let this effect my project. Where is the cheapest place to get the mysis shrimp? I am spending a lot of my own money on this project as the science research program has a VERY limited budget, my teacher told me that $25 would be the most given to anyone for the project budget. My teacher said she has some brine shrimp eggs that just need water to be added to bring them to live, I will talk to her on Monday or Tuesday about them and see if the company that sells the brine eggs has any mysis eggs. How many mysis am I looking at getting for 6 baby cuttles? How many feeder/shore shrimp am I looking at for the 6 cuttles? Should I get macro algae for the tank? Should I be keeping them in a breeders net for a while once I first get them?
    Thanks
    ~Sean
     
  4. Thales

    Thales Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    Sadly, brine shrimp have been shown over and over again to be an inadequate food for cuttles, so please don't 'try' them to see if they work - they don't work.

    Food is the single biggest expense in keeping cuttles. For hatchlings, who sometimes don't eat for the first few days/week, you are looking at 2-4 live mysis per day per animal. When they get larger you are looking at 1-3 larger shrimp per day per animal depending on the size of the shrimp.

    You can also try to get them on frozen mysis after a couple of weeks of them eating. Basically, making sure there is enough flow in the nursery tank to keep the thawed mysis moving, you start to add thawed mysis in with the live. You have to trick the cuttles into deciding they want to strike at the dead food. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

    Most of the cost of live mysis is in the shipping, and there seems to be nothing to do about that, so cost may be related to where you are located. https://www.aquaculturestore.com/Mysid-Shrimp.html has them but doesn't include shipping in the price on the website. They are prolly your best bet if looking for small amounts.

    I don't keep the Daisy Hill site updated any more and have moved to a different site. Please take a look at the three following articles:
    http://packedhead.net/2009/sepia-bandensis-husbandry-and-breeding/
    http://packedhead.net/2010/display-husbandry-and-breeding-of-dwarf-cuttle/
    http://packedhead.net/2005/keeping-and-breeding-the-dwarf-cuttlefish-sepia-bandensis/

    RR
     
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  5. thatfishnerd

    thatfishnerd Cuttlefish Registered

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    Thanks for the quick reply!
    Trust me, the idea of using brine shrimp to feed my growing cuttles is completely out of my head, I was just saying maybe where ever my teacher gets the brine eggs from might have some mysis eggs for cheaper than what I could get already living mysis. Does anybody know of any places in Maryland that sell living mysis shrimp? What kinds of macro algae would be suggested for a cuttle tank?
    Again, Thanks!
    ~Sean
     
  6. cuttlegirl

    cuttlegirl Colossal Squid Supporter Registered

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    TFN,
    I am not trying to burst your bubble, but what if all the cuttlefish die? What if you only have males or females? What if they don't lay eggs?

    I will tell you, that if you could figure out a way to breed mysids, without them all eating each other, you would have a lot of new friends :).

    It costs a LOT of money to feed baby cuttles, I need to look it up, but something like $50 a week, for many weeks. If you want to breed cuttles, you are better off feeding them live food for their entire lives.

    Also, you probably want a bigger tank. With 6 cuttles, I don't think that 35 gallons will be adequate.

    And, I would recommend cycling with some other animal than fish. The fish may prove difficult to catch and/or bother the cuttles too much.
     
  7. thatfishnerd

    thatfishnerd Cuttlefish Registered

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    Cuttlegirl,
    Your are in no way bursting my bubble you are just presenting a new obstacle for me to find a way to overcome. What do you suggest for me to cycle with? As for the bigger tank, I'm pretty sure I would have to move out of my house as my parents aren't all that thrilled that I'm getting another 30 gallon, I already have a 30 gallon reef and a 10 gallon quarantine tank. I plan to keep 6 .25-.5 inch cuttles in a 30 gallon for about two months during the summer and if all of them survive (which would be fantastic) I will move them to my research lab at school, where I can have another tank or two. There are already people breeding mysids and from what I can see, there are two solutions to mysis cannibalism:
    1. place a net in the tank with holes in it just large enough for the weaker/ smaller shrimp to escape the larger ones (but I have found a few issues with this method)
    2. keep the mysis very well fed so they don't eat each other as often
    If there is a way to breed mysis without any cannibalism, I can't think of it and wish luck to the great mind that can. The all male/ female scenario is just a matter of luck I guess but statistically what are the chances of me getting all of the same gender if I am to order 6 of them, Blue zoo aquatics is a rather large marine livestock supplier, so they should have approx. 75-100 cuttles at any one time and every embryo has a 50-50 chance of being male or female so therefore if the cuttles are selected at random, theoretically I should get 3 males and 3 females but that probably won't happen, I will probably get 4 of one gender and 2 of the other or something like that. I haven't had time to look at any cuttle breeding methods as I have to study for finals and I am now starting up swim season. Another thing, your bio on the side of the page says you are in PA, if that's true, maybe you could help me with my project as I'm down in Maryland, If you have any cuttles I could buy off of you or if you could tell me where you got all of your supplies for cuttles that would be extremely helpful.
    Thanks for the things to think about.
    ~Sean
     
  8. cuttlegirl

    cuttlegirl Colossal Squid Supporter Registered

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    Sorry Sean, no cuttles, been a few years... What happens if your cuttles die, will that affect your grade? How big is the tank at school? Cuttlefish have to be fed several times a day when they are young, what are your plans for the weekend when they are living at your school?
     
  9. thatfishnerd

    thatfishnerd Cuttlefish Registered

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    If the cuttles were to die, it would not effect my grade, there is classwork and a final for the grades, the project is a big part of the class and there is at least one person per semester whose project goes up in flames, the fish dies, skewed data, ect. I will have the cuttles at my house for at the least of a month so I would like to be able to get them eating and off of the live food in that time period. Now the weekend thing is something I have not yet thought about yet but I think I could either get one of the timer things that plug into the wall and work with a smartphone and have a container with mysis/ krill and put a pump in that container then turn on the pump and send the food into the main tank (this is for when they are on frozen food) and I will position pumps to keep the food in suspension so the cuttles will be enticed to eat or my parents said they would be willing to drive me up once during the weekend so I can feed them but this might not work out so well on breaks or long weekends. Any suggestions on the feeding method?
    Thanks
    ~Sean
     
  10. cuttlegirl

    cuttlegirl Colossal Squid Supporter Registered

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    I'm not sure of a suggestion for feeding, how would you keep the mysis frozen over the weekend? If you want the cuttles to breed, it is best to feed them live food for their entire life. I guess you could put lots of extra live food in on Friday and hope for the best. Then you could drive up on Sunday and feed them again. When they are young, they eat more than once a day (sometimes 3-4 times a day) and then gradually decrease to once a day.

    I don't think you could transport them back and forth to your house every weekend, they would get too stressed. Other option would be to find a trustworthy classmate to help you out on the other weekend day. No idea about longer breaks. Cuttlefish are a big time commitment... one of the reasons I don't have any at the moment.
     
  11. thatfishnerd

    thatfishnerd Cuttlefish Registered

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    I don't think the bringing them back and forth every weekend would be very effective as this could mean temperature and lighting changes as well as adding unneeded stress to animals that I am trying to get to breed. Have you breed cuttles before? This time when they are young and eating a lot, how long does this last? I know for sure, I don't have the resources to keep the cuttles on live food for their entire lives and I'm not sure if my teacher has the resources to feed living food to the cuttles either, so I know I have to wean the cuttles onto frozen as soon as possible and maybe even trying to get the cuttles to take freeze-dried vitamin enhanced krill. If I can get the cuttles to start taking the freeze-dried krill, I could get an auto feeder to feed them. Do you know if that pet place has feeder shrimp or mysis? I need to call up there soon to find that out if you don't know. how would you suggest to get the tank to start cycling? How early would you suggest getting the tank set up if I want to get the cuttles by the end of July?
    Thanks for all the insight!
    ~Sean
     
  12. cuttlegirl

    cuttlegirl Colossal Squid Supporter Registered

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    Well, you should set your tank up now... I don't think they will take freeze dried krill, but you can always try. Raising healthy cuttles is expensive, there is no way around that... You might want to consider a back up project. I need to look back at my threads to figure out how long mine at multiple times a day. I raised three cuttles from hatchlings, 2 males and a female.
     
  13. thatfishnerd

    thatfishnerd Cuttlefish Registered

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    I just talked to the people at that fish place and they said they get cuttles in on occasion. As well as they feed them some ghost shrimp that have been gut loaded and cost a whole lot less than mysis shrimp, it is .15 cents per ghost shrimp and $12.99 per cuttlefish so I will no longer be trying to have them shipped to me by blue zoo aquatics. I gave them my email so they could email me when they get them in stock, I will be gut-loading the ghost shrimp with thawed mysis. Are there any potential problems you might see with the ghost shrimp? The ghost shrimp are about .25-.5 inches long.What should I cycle the tank with?
    Thanks
    ~Sean
     
  14. Thales

    Thales Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    Adult cuttles? They don't ship very well and there are ethical considerations around that.
    You don't need to cycle the tank with anything other than time and a piece of shrimp. There is really no reason to cycle a tank with live animals in it.
    Have you kept a saltwater tank before?
     
  15. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    You might watch my journal (see post 2) to see when I was able change foods.

    Ghost shrimp are freshwater but they are less cannibalistic than mysis or shore shrimp and may breed in captivity but not enough to keep your cuttles fed. The same is true for mysis but all attempts at breeding them have produced quantities of live animals too small to consider the offspring as primary food. Be careful of hearsay, if someone claims to breed them, find their direct journal, our experience with multiple aquarists, has not produced the needed success rates.
     
  16. thatfishnerd

    thatfishnerd Cuttlefish Registered

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    YES!!!! I have kept a saltwater tank before as stated in the intro. I will attach a picture of it. I cycled my tank with live rock and live sand so I am not familiar with any other cycling methods. I was not looking to breed the ghost shrimp as they are $0.15 per shrimp and I thought this would work better with my budget than mysis would. When I was talking to the people at That fish place, they said when they raise cuttles, they put them in the refugiums of one of their larger tanks and they would survive on the copepods and amphipods living in there should I start of buying some pods and feed them that first and then switch to the gut-loaded ghost shrimp?
    Thanks
    ~Sean
     

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  17. thatfishnerd

    thatfishnerd Cuttlefish Registered

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    DWhatley,
    Where can I find your journal, I tried doing a search on Tonmo but I couldn't find a thread you created
     
  18. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Here is a link to my current journal but check the second post to this thread (my first response, you may have missed it with all the other responses). The highlighted words are links to various threads that should be helpful as well as my own attempt.
     
  19. thatfishnerd

    thatfishnerd Cuttlefish Registered

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    Ok, thanks. Sorry I haven't replied in a while as it is exam week and I have been studying quite a lot, this weekend, I should be able to get the tanks and start washing them with the vinegar and getting the filters and substrate, should I start the cuttles on copepods/ amphipods/ triggerpods when I first get them and after a while start giving them the gut loaded ghost shrimp? How did the cyclop-eeze work for you?
    Thanks
    ~Sean
     
  20. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    I used FROZEN (NOT dehydrated) Cyclop-eeze (the brand name) IN CONJUNCTION with mysis for the first month, then some tiny red Hawaiian shrimp and then shore shrimp (their current diet). I do think it is key to feed them at least 2 and possibly 3 times a day over the first month and then twice a day until they leave live food in their breeder container.

    You may be able to find some very tiny shore shrimp from a new vendor I am trying but I don't know much about the life cycle of these shrimp (ie when the very small ones are common). His website is no active yet buy you can contact him through his eBay auctions to ask about availability of tiny shrimp. The small ones should be much cheaper than the Hawaiian. I also got some tiny crabs from him and am experimenting but so far they have not shown an interest in the one in the net. This is Kevin's current auction. Note the ask a question at the bottom. He is excellent with communications and can modify orders to suit needs.
     

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