cuttlefish_bubbler

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is busily generating baby cuttlefish for its upcoming “Tentacles” exhibition, which will feature all sorts of cephalopods. Commercial incubators can cost a buttload, and OK, if you’re a large and well-funded aquarium you can probably manage to swing that. But what if you could build your own cuttlefish farm for $2.50 a day? It’s frugal, it’s responsible, and — bonus! — it’s recycling.

The incubator solution, dreamed up by aquarist Bret Grasse, requires soda bottles, netting, plastic tubing, and silicone glue. Here are the instructions from the aquarium’s Tumblr — in case you, like Grasse, want to produce literally hundreds of baby pharaoh, flamboyant, and dwarf cuttlefish.

The first step in making the world’s best egg bubbler is the easiest: drink the soda. That done, Bret cuts the bottle in half, and affixes a small screen between the two pieces. The bottom end, where the cap used to be, also has a screen. Then the whole thing is submerged. Next, a tube injects air into the top half of the bubbler, drawing water oh-so-gently up through the whole device, and aerating the eggs with the perfect fizziness — not too much, not too little.

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Why not just let the mom cuttlefish be in charge, like she would be in nature? Well, first, it turns out that cuttlefish are not especially attentive parents; “The mom sometimes forgets where she left the clutches, or neglects them.” Second, for peak cuttlefish production they want Mother Cuttlefish free to make more eggs, instead of worrying about gestating them. And third, if they weren’t growing cuttlefish in them, what would the aquarium do with all those soda bottles?