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Fly on the Wall 

September 13, 2010

A Flamboyant Courtship Results in Flamboyant Babies

Credit: Brian Freiermuth

Photo credit: Brian Freiermuth

In recent months, the Academy’s flamboyant cuttlefish (Metasepia pfefferi) successfully bred and produced eggs. These animals are often found in muck habitats (sandy mud) and tend to “walk” over the sea floor because they’re too plump to really swim. They perform this feat using their outer pair of arms and unique lobes on the bottom of their body. They are one of the most desired and beautiful of the cuttlefish, but also the most difficult to obtain and keep. Because of this, little is known about their husbandry and captive life cycle.

After eight years of trying, one of our biologists was finally able to get a group of brood stock. In the past, only single animals have been available. We are fairly certain that our eggs resulted from mating that took place here at the Academy. The mating was captured in this YouTube video.

Since Metasepia pfefferi often lay their eggs in coconut shells in the wild, Academy biologists cleverly put coconut shells in their tank, and the critters then laid their eggs inside. There is nothing like providing a comfortable environment for the fundamentals. Happy cuttlefish get on with making more cuttlefish. It’s the way of nature.

Recent research indicates that the flesh and bite of Metasepia are extremely toxic. Their flamboyance may be an aposematic (warning) coloration. Despite their small size and tiny tentacular clubs, their diet consists of fish and crustaceans, including the aggressive mantis shrimp.

Steinhart Aquarium is currently displaying a flamboyant cuttlefish in the Water Planet exhibit. It’s in the short corridor between the moon jellies and the Philippine Coral Reef, and it shares a tank with the featherduster worms. Come say hello to this spunky little cephalopod!

Do you like cephalopods as much as we do? What’s your favorite cephalopod? Post your comments below.

Filed under: Aquarium — Greg Farrington @ 2:02 pm


  1. I though it read “cutifish” and that’s my wife!

    Oh Well!

    Comment by David Young — September 13, 2010 @ 4:23 pm

  2. Hi I’m Benjamin. I’m in third grade and the cuttlefish has been my favorite animal since I was in kindergarten. My first grade class didn’t even know how cool they are until I told then during one of my sharing days – I know a lot about them from the video Kings of Camouflage. I’ve recently seen the cuttlefish at Monterey Bay Aquarium but I especially like the Flamboyent Cuttlefish at the Academy of Science – I’ve seen it twice. I loved the video.

    Comment by Benjamin Wescher — September 13, 2010 @ 5:20 pm

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