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Sepia bandensis Breeding

Bonus content from the May 2010 FAMA magazine article Coddle Some Cuttles.

By Richard Ross

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Freshwater and Marine Aquarium Bonus Content
Sepia bandensis eggs are about the size of small grapes, laid one at a time and are of a dark color, which is from the ink incorporated into their outer layer during laying. As the eggs get closer to hatching, they swell and become transparent, allowing you to see the cuttle inside. If you have a macro lens on your camera, it is very interesting to watch the hatchling develop.

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Sepia bandensis eggs can look like bunches of grapes due to the ink in the outer layer
Sepia bandensis eggs look like clusters of grapes due to ink incorporated into their outer layer during laying. Sometimes the ink is not incorporated, which does not necessarily mean the egg is infertile. Photo by Richard Ross.

After hatching, the cuttle will spend a few days to a week on the bottom of the hatching enclosure, not moving that much and perhaps not eating. Both behaviors are normal, so don’t try to force them to eat or stress them by poking them to make sure they are alive.

Most cuttlekeepers get more eggs than the number of animals they eventually want to keep, so plan on selling, trading or giving away the extras. This practice also allows the cuttlekeeper to select the number of males and females they want to keep in their group.

Telltale Behaviors
Males tend to fight with each other, while it seems that females fight with each other much less. While cuttles can tell each other’s sex on sight, humans can only determine a cuttle’s sex by its behavior. At around 3 months of age, males will begin displaying toward each other, flaring their arms, elongating their bodies and making their skin a dramatic black-and white-pattern. The females don’t often perform similar behaviors. Keeping groups of S. bandensis still isn’t well understood, and the current recommendation is to try for a trio, one male and two females, or a similar ratio.

Breeding occurs head to head with the cuttles’ arms intertwined, and it can last for as little as seconds and as long as minutes. Eggs are generally laid a month after mating, and they are laid in clusters of three or four to 50 or 60. A healthy female can lay hundreds of eggs over her life, so be prepared to find a home for them — www. TONMO.com is an excellent place to trade eggs with other cephalopodkeepers to maintain genetic diversity in breeding populations.

Want to read the full story? Pick up the May 2010 issue of Freshwater And Marine Aquarium, or subscribe to get 12 months of articles just like this.

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