View Full Version : raising a baby cuttlefish

03/29/2011, 10:56 PM
How to keep a newly hatched cuttlefish alive for more than 2 weeks.

Steps are:

1. Most important! Locate a live source of food for your babies; they only eat live mysid shrimp. You will need a source that can supply you for a first 2 months .
2. Note! You can not use copepod or brine shrimp as a food source, they will eat them but they will die of malnutrition within 2 weeks!!!!!!!
3. Start the saltwater tank that they are going to be in well in advance so it is properly cycled and has:
0 nitrate
0 nitrite
0 ammonia
8.2 PH level
Salt level of 1.023
0 copper
Warning! Do not put a cuttlefish in with any coins to photograph them like photos you have seen; use a clear container.
Water temp 75 to 80 degrees for Sepia bandensis
Water temp 60 to 70 degrees for Sepia officinalis ( larger type)
4. Use no less than a 29 gal tank
5. Use a fish breeding net that hangs on the inside of the main tank.
6. Place the cuttlefish eggs in the breeding net until they hatch.
7. After a few days start placing 2 or 3 mysid shrimp in with them until the start eating.
8. After they start eating, feed them 3 to 4 mysid shrimp 3 times a day each cuttlefish
9. Increase food for cuttlefish as they grow in size and eat more.
10. After they are a month old you can start mixing in a few frozen mysid to try to convert they to dead food
11. Once they start eating the frozen staff, convert them to frozen food.
12. In the main tank for that first month, maintain your water levels.
13. Start a second batch of food for them that they can eat when you release them into the main tank
Small crabs (http://www.aquaculturestore.com/swinverts.html)
Saltwater shrimp and baby saltwater feeder fish (http://www.livebrineshrimp.com/ShrimpJanitor.htm)

This should help get you on your way.

Mike Bauer

04/10/2011, 06:07 PM
Thanks for this advice. One of these days, I hope to get a mysid culture so I can feed a group of 5 or more. When that day comes this advice will be good to know.

04/28/2011, 09:55 PM
I would add to the list above, keep your magnesium levels around natural sea water. I had a mag spike in my tank when I switched to ESV salt and my cuttles started 'missing' when striking prey. Apparently high magnesium levels make cephs a little tipsy.

So I'll chime in with my current setup, even though I haven't raised any to full adulthood yet.

I guess I'm the lazy/busy fish keeper type. I don't get too much into the high tech stuff and my basic philosophy is, keep your hands out of the tank as much as possible. So, my setup is sort of based around that personality trait.

For live mysis, I don't bother culturing them, seems too hard. I only order from MBL aquaculture now. They're a bit more expensive, but worth it in my opinion. I didn't bother ordering mysis until I had my first hatchings, they don't eat for the first couple of days and MBL will ship overnight, though you are taking a bit of a risk if your cuttles are born on Thursday night.

Parents are housed in a 20g simple cube tank with no sump. I do a 5g water change once a week. build thread (http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2006383)


I bought my pair when they were probably around 4 months old, I've had them about 4 months. They seem to do fine in this tank, though it's difficult to keep the water quality at reef levels, which explains the algea.

I feed the parents mostly gut loaded live feeder shrimp. I alternate between fresh and saltwater feeders. It's a bit expensive, but they go for live stuff with such gusto, not so interested in the dead stuff. I do occaisionally feed PE mysis, but they seem to only eat that stuff when they're really hungry. On rare occaisions I feed a guppy, which I'm also raising myself so I can be sure they're copper free.


I normally leave the eggs in the tank for 2 or 3 weeks before collecting them. I then move them to a 10 gallon grow out tank. No acclimation, just dump them in. That goes across the board though, I never acclimate anything. The tank has live rock and sand, in tank filter, and a ton of algae. I've never tested the water in this tank aside from an amonia alert badge and an in tank hydrometer. Again, that goes for all my tanks, I rarely test parameters.


I have 3 net breeders in the 10g. One for eggs, one for newborns, and the toddler net where I've got the 1+ month olds. I check the egg net daily, and sometimes will leave runts in there a couple of days if they look a little too small. After that they go into the newborn net, which at the moment has 12 babies in it of various sizes. I just dump mysis in with the newborns every morning and every night. I try to put enough in so that there's at least a couple left by the next feeding. I don't even try to get them on frozen, too much time involved in making sure each one eats. I have on 2 occaisions put frozen mysis in the newborn net and was succesful in getting one of the larger ones to eat, so I know it can be done. Sorry for the blurry pic, here's the newborn net.


Once they get about the size of a dime, I move them into the toddler net. The toddler is for weaning off of mysis, so I put the smallest feeder shrimp I can get in here. It also gets mysis every 3 or 4 days, but only about 10-15. I try to start them on freshwater feeder shrimps cause I think after some hours in salt, they tend to slow down enough to be eaten. Toddlers.


Other then that, I have a couple of 5 gallon holding tanks. One is a freshwater holding tank for my feeder shrimp and guppies. The other is for holding mysis, powered by a hang on back filter (intake completely covered in filter floss) and a bubble wand. That tank is lined with tiles from my old tank, which is what I'm using for live rock, and even has some red mushrooms hanging on.


I create my own feed for the mysis, which is an equal mix of frozen baby brine shrimp, cyclopeeze, and nutramar ova. I make a batch and then freeze it into cubes in an old plastic tray. The mysis tank is fed twice a day, once on the way out to work, and once when I get home. I always feed the mysis before feeding the cuttles, just to get a little more nutrion in them.

It's a pretty laid back setup, but it a bit more expensive this way since I buy my mysis rather then culture them. It's also a bit more expensive keeping the cuttles on live food, but I honestly enjoy them more watching them hunt down prey. They don't live very long, so I guess I can justify it that way.

Full setup shot.

I'm planning on moving my toddlers out to another 20g that I'm setting up as their grow out tank. I've got 7 rather large ones that I'm planning on keeping for now, hopefully I can get a good balanced group for a 50g I've got in the works.

Hope this helps any future cuttle keepers.
~ thumbsy

06/08/2011, 02:15 AM
Omg I WANT one lol

03/28/2014, 06:40 PM
I know his is an old thread but I had to say that is an interesting theory on elevated magnesium levels causing cuttles to miss their prey. I have some baby cuttles in a refugium like tank hooked to my reef. The magnesium levels have been a little high due to a bad test kit and I raised it a little too high. I noticed my babies were having trouble catching prey so I'm going to try to lower my mag a little and see if that helps. I thought it was just because they were young.

Are you still breedng cuttles? That looks like a promising setup. I'm hoping I can at least get a breeding pair out of the six I have now.

04/05/2014, 10:21 PM
It was anecdotal on my part, but there's apparently some science behind it.


I don't have them anymore. I kept a group of 5 from the original parents but at about the 7 month mark I lost them all, shortly after feeding them some full grown guppies. I had occasionally fed them baby guppies and that seemed fine, but I guess there was something wrong with the adults. These were guppies I was raising myself, so they should've been clean. But maybe as adults they had accumulated other impurities from the water or food. Like eagles and DDT.

So again anecdotal and speculative, but in hindsight I would only stick to feeder shrimp (either fresh or salt). I only did it because I was running out of shrimp and thought a few large meaty meals would be beneficial.

04/06/2014, 10:39 AM
Thanks for the info. I have noticed since mine have gotten a little larger that they are much better at catching food. Sorry about yours dying. I will definitely stay away from FW fish as a feeder then. I was considering raising guppies or mollies as an occasional treat but I don't think it is worth the risk.

04/07/2014, 10:54 AM
Very interesting read! Someday I would love to set up a system to be able to raise these guys!