Back in the old days when dealing with wild-caught Hippocampus erectus, it was often more difficult to wean juveniles onto frozen foods, but nowadays, the offspring of the domesticated Hippocampus erectus are generally weaned much more easily and at a much younger age than in the past.
So I haven’t known any cultured erectus offspring that could not eventually be weaned onto frozen foods, Sherry, but I sure can understand why you might think that could happen. Some of them get the idea much sooner than others, and some require a great deal of patience and persistence to wean.
I suspect that’s the case with your 5-1/2-week-olds, Sherry. They are still fairly young and it’s certainly not unheard of for erectus juveniles of that age to still be dependent on live foods. I would be patient and keep trying with them as they grow; eventually, your patience is going to be rewarded.
If not, there is one technique that is almost always successful even when all other attempts at weaning the youngsters have failed. When you’re juveniles have reached the size where they can handle live Mysis, Sherry, you can invest in a nice quantity of live Mysis from Sachs or Drs. Foster’s and Smith, switch your youngsters onto live Mysis for one of their daily meals, and then gradually begin mixing in lifelike frozen Mysis that you have carefully thawed out whole and intact (I find that the Marine Mini Mysis by H2O Life works very well for this), as explained below in more detail.
Since your 5-1/2 week olds are displaying no interest whatsoever in the frozen Mysis, you’ll have to rely on a little trickery to get your juvenile erectus to accept them. By this I mean that you could try offering them live Mysis to begin with, which all seahorses find irresistible. Once they are scarfing up the live Mysis with gusto, you can begin mixing in some frozen Mysis along with the live. I would use Mini Marine Mysis by H2O Life for this purpose, since they are small, like the Mysidopsis bahia.
The Mysidopsis offered by Sachs System Aquaculture are small enough to be eaten by a relatively young juveniles, and they are inexpensive enough that you could set up a small tank to hold the live Mysis, and then begin offering them to the young erectus regularly once the ponies have grown to suitable size. If they eat them readily – and you can bet that they will – then you can gradually begin mixing in some of the H2O Life Mini Marine Mysis that you have carefully thawed and prepared, among the live Mysis. In their eagerness to slurp up the live Mysis, the juveniles will also begin slurping up the lifelike frozen Mini Marine Mysis as well, and then you can gradually increase the proportion of the frozen Mini Marine Mysis that you add to their feedings over the next couple of weeks until they are eating primarily the H2O Life Mini Marine Mysis.
Once one of the juveniles begins accepting the frozen Mini Marine Mysis readily, the other will often learn to do so simply by following his example, and when that happens, you will have this problem licked.
Sachs Systems Aquaculture offers live Mysis in lots ranging anywhere from 100 to 5000 for very reasonable prices which include the cost of priority shipping. For example, you can obtain 200 live Mysidopsis bahia for $35 (priority shipping included) from Sachs and see if your juveniles gobble them up or not.
The Mysidopsis bahia from Sachs will survive for 10 days or two weeks simply in a plastic bucket or a small tank with an airstone for aeration. When the live Mysis arrive from Sachs and you acclimate them to the bucket or a small aquarium with clean saltwater, use a strainer to remove the Mysis from their shipping bag so that you don’t get any of the polluted water from the shipping bag in the bucket or tank you will be keeping them in.
When you’re juveniles are large enough, which shouldn’t be long now, I think that this method should work very well for you, Sherry, and you needn’t be concerned that you’re going to end up with a bunch of juvenile Hippocampus erectus that are suddenly hooked on live Mysis. Once they begin eating the live Mysis, it should be fairly easy to wean them onto the frozen H2O Life Mini Marine Mysis instead.
Best wishes with all your fishes, Sherry! Here’s hoping you soon have your juvies eating Marine Mini Mysis like champs.
Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support