Dave Wolfenden checks out a fabulous but rather challenging cuttlefish...
Scientific name: Metasepia pfefferi.
Common names: Pfeffer’s flamboyant cuttlefish or Flamboyant cuttlefish.
Habitat: Shallow waters on ‘muck’, muddy or sandy substrates and sometimes reef associated around the rubble zone.
Adult length: Females have a mantle length of up to 8cm/3.1”, males slightly smaller.
Tank size and set-up: 120 x 35 x 35cm/48 x 14 x 14” to include a fine sandy substrate with limited live rock aquascaping. Substrate surface area is more important than depth.
Water conditions: Standard tropical marine conditions and temperature at 25°C/77°F. Maintaining optimal water quality is essential.
Diet: This species has a seemingly insatiable appetite and needs feeding several times a day! Start with live prawns and it’s often possible to wean M. pfefferi to frozen meaty foods.
Is it reef safe? They won’t feed on sessile invertebrates, so it’s possible to keep them in a tailored ‘reef’ environment — one with limited rock aquascaping and ample substrate area.
Tank mates: They are best kept in a species tank, without any other cephalopods or any fish species. However, they tend not to attack hermit crabs.
Sexing: Females grow larger and males possess a modified arm known as a hectocotylous.
Breeding method: The male transfers a spermatophore (sperm parcel) into the female’s mantle cavity. She lays a bundle of eggs, and both individuals enter senescence (a prolonged degenerative phase) after breeding. This species has been bred in public aquaria, but it’s a rare event in captivity.
Notes: While appealing, these animals can only be recommended to very dedicated and experienced aquarists, as they are extremely challenging and expensive!
They have a lifespan of usually less than a year and by the time many of the few specimens in the trade reach their owners, they are already on borrowed time. They may exhibit cannibalism in aquaria if insufficiently fed or crowded.