matures in the egg, the yolk sack, attached
at the front of the cuttle where the arms are/
will be, shrinks and then finally disappears.
The cuttle will even start to swim inside of
the egg just prior to hatching.
Fertility of eggs can range from high to
low. I have had entire clusters that have
frustratingly failed to develop. It is also
possible for hatchlings to emerge from
the egg with a yolk sac still attached. This
is probably caused by some stressor, and
these premature hatchlings rarely, if ever,
survive longer than a week.
A young S. bandensis stalking prey; the two arms that are up are thought to be used to distract
prey during the approach to striking. The “W”-shaped pupil of the species is clearly seen, as are
some of the many textures and colors of the animal’s skin.
can also check with local bait shops, which and it appears that males can use their
may have live shrimp ready to sell. If you funnel to flush other males’ sperm out of
live away from the ocean, you can order the female’s pouch. Females can lay several
live fiddler crabs or appropriately sized clutches of eggs, up to 250 and can live for
shrimp from online vendors. If you have months after the first egglaying.
weaned your cuttles onto thawed frozen Mating begins around the fifth month,
food, any live food, bought or collected, can while male displays begin around the third.
be obtained in bulk and frozen to use when It is unclear how long it takes from mating
needed. Frozen bait shrimp or prawns can to egglaying.
also be bought or ordered, and even raw, Ingroups, Sepia bandensis will mate readily.
unshelled, and unflavored shrimp from the Males will know when a female is receptive
grocery store can be used. to mating and will start to display towards
It is important to note that freshwater eachother with the black-and-white patterns
feeder fish are not a suitable food source for mentioned above, as well as stretch out their
cuttlefish. Not only do they lack fatty acids of arms to intimidate their rivals. The male
saltwater animals, but they are often treated that wins then mates with the female. Oddly
with copper, which is deadly to cephalopods. enough, sometimes when several males are
There is no real consensus among cephalopod displaying towards each other, another male
enthusiasts regarding the suitability of using will mate with the female while the other
freshwater crustaceans, like ghost shrimp, as males are occupied with each other. It is
food for saltwater animals, so I would suggest also possible for mating to occur with no
limiting their use as cuttlefish food. preamble—the male just swims up to the
female, grabs her, and mates.
After a successful mating, the female will
choose a place to lay eggs. She might lay her
eggs on a rock, on the side of the tank, on
some macroalgae, or on tubing. I have had
females lay eggs directly on powerheads or
eggcrate tank dividers. The eggs are laid one
at a time and will form a cluster that looks like
a bunch of rubbery grapes. In Sepia bandensis,
the female adds a little bit of ink to each egg,
giving them the reddish/black color.
Assuming you have healthy eggs, I suggest
leaving them in place until you start to see the
yolk sac disappear. I like to use a small pair
of scissors to snip the material that holds the
eggs to where they have been laid, taking care
to cut as far away from the egg as possible. Be
gentle; the eggs can be quite fragile, and it is
easy to accidentally puncture or break the egg.
Usually the cluster is held in place only at one
or two points, so removal is not that difficult.
Once the cluster is free, use a cup with tank
water, not a net, to move the eggs to their
nursery area or net breeder, and then leave
them alone until they hatch.
Even though cuttlefish can tell each other’s
sex on sight, it is very difficult for us to
accurately sex them if they aren’t actually
seen mating. In general, Sepia bandensis
males tend to adopt high-contrast black-and-white patterns when faced with another
male, while females tend to keep the more
relaxed mottled colors that a resting cuttlefish
adopts. However, males sometimes display
like females and females sometimes display
like males, so to be really sure, you need to
see them mating.
Cuttlefish mate by coupling head to head.
In this position, the male deposits a packet
of sperm called a spermatophore into a
pouch in the female’s mantle. The mating
can last from 10 seconds to many minutes,
Raising the Hatchlings
It is common for hatchlings not to eat
the first few days after hatching, so after
a few days you can start to offer them
their first live foods and be well on your
way to continuing your population of
When you’ve successfully bred your
Sepia bandensis, it’s time to trade brood
stock with other successful breeders. By
doing this conscientiously, we can avoid
inbreeding and the potential fecundity
drop-off that often accompanies the captive
breeding of cephalopods.
I have found keeping and breeding Sepia
bandensis to be fulfilling and rewarding,
and I look forward to more and more
people having success with these amazing
Hatching the Eggs
Healthy eggs will start off with a slight
point on the end and slowly expand over
three to four weeks, becoming thinner
and more transparent, so much so that it
becomes possible to see the baby cuttlefish
while it is still in the egg. As the baby
References & Resources
Daisy Hill Cuttle Farm:
Dunlop, Colin, and Nancy King. 2009.
Cephalopods: Octopuses and Cuttlefish for
the Home Aquarium. T.F.H Publications.
Neptune City, NJ. 239 pp.
The Octopus News Magazine Online: