Of Cuttlefish and Protein Skimmers
Ok, this might be another tale of woe from the aquarium world of Joel, but this one will be relatively quick, I promise. As well, I promise that there is no real moral of the story, other than sometimes bad things happen for no good reason. I guess that would count as the moral.
Anyways… back on topic. So yeah, a couple years ago, I happened to be looking through one of Maritime Reefs fish lists when I noticed something pretty cool; Cuttlefish Eggs! I was sold immiediately, and in late April 2015, I finally had some eggs in my posession!
So, acclimation really wasn’t an issue, however, making sure that they were setup for success was key. I had to fashion several sectioned chambers in order to house all the eggs, as well as the juvenile hatchlings, once they hatched. Hatching took about a month, and I had 17 out of 30 eggs hatch. A very successful hatch for a first attempt!
The thing is, young cuttlefish are interesting little creatures. They are very shy, and require live foods for them to hunt. Mysis Shrimp and large copepods are ideal for the first month of their life, and thankfully I had some giant pods on hand in my tank.
Here is the kicker though, you can’t just dump a bunch of them into the holding sections for the baby cuttlefish. No, that would be too simple. Instead you need to put a single little pod/mysid in near the cuttlefish (Without freaking it out, causing it to ink and hide… although it is pretty adorable) so that it can hunt it. If you put too many in, the cuttlefish gets overwhelmed and goes and hides. I had read about this in my research, but still, when it happened to me, I was like, “Seriously? This is your food. Why are you afraid of it? You eat it!”. Needless to say, I quickly adjusted my feeding, and was immiediately much more successful with them. It was actually pretty awesome to watch these little guys hunt, and it is one of the few things I never did manage to catch on camera. I always got too caught up watching it myself!
Pretty soon I had had these adorable little buggers for a couple months (Post hatch), and they had really grown on me. They weren’t quite ready for free reign of the larger tank, but they were doing well and had started transitioning to frozen mysis. I was feeling pretty proud of myself. I had managed to not only hatch, but nuture and keep something alive for more than a week afterwards! That was amazing! So naturally, the aquarium gods had to intervene and punish me.
One morning in mid-July, I came downstairs to a tank that was suddenly murky and brown. Upon investigation, all the cuttlefish were either in hiding and angry (Very possible, one of their cooler traits is the ability to colour change), or (And this was more likely, and the case) were dead. I started looking around and quickly found my old Vertex In-80 skimmer that I had acquired used about a year before was not working....
I removed the skimmer to inspect it, and quickly discovered that somehow, water had managed to get into the pumps internals, rusting it out. That rust/metals eventually managed to build up enough pressure in the pump to cause it to release into the impeller area and get pumped into the water through the skimmer, quickly spreading throughout the tank.
This has got to be the most gut wrenching tank crash I have ever had to go through. Cuttlefish are an incredibly intelligent little creatures (With very short lifespans, unfortunately), and make for very interesting tank inhabitants. In the short time that I had these guys, I had become quite attached, which is not normal for me. I’m the guy who has had his clown fish for 4.5 years and they still don’t have names, but losing these guys really got to me. In the time since this happened, I’ve tried to line up cuttlefish a couple times, but for now, I think I’ll hold off before I get any more eggs and try again.
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