Dear Sue:

Pete Giwojna

Dear Sue:

I’m sorry to hear about the feeding problems you have been having keeping the frozen Mysis within your feeding station, Sue.

Your feeding station is certainly large enough and deep enough, so I don’t think that’s the problem. Rather, I suspect that the water currents are simply swirling up the frozen Mysis from the bottom of the feeding dish and whisking it away before the seahorses have a chance to slurp it up. That is a problem that we need to correct as soon as possible since it is wasteful and the uneaten frozen Mysis can degrade the water quality as it eventually decomposes.

Under the circumstances, the easiest solution for you would probably be to relocate your feeding station to another area of the aquarium where there is less water movement, Sue. Hopefully, you can find a convenient area in the tank where there is relatively little water flow in which to position the feeding station so that the frozen Mysis will stay put once you deposit them in your feeding dish.

If not, I have another suggestion for you that should work very well under your circumstances and does not rely on being able to position your feeding station in an area of the tank with little disruptive water movement. It’s a technique that Joe Lieberman developed for his finicky seahorses and passed on to me in the hope that it might be helpful to other hobbyists in a similar situation, Sue.

In a nutshell, Joe uses a porous black sponge to cover the intake of a powerhead, which he then places in the aquarium at a suitable position for the seahorses to reach it and use it as a feeding station. The intake for the powerhead creates a gentle suction as water is drawn through the porous black sponge, which means that any of the frozen Mysis that are released in the general vicinity of the powerhead art sucked up against the black sponge and held there for the ponies, after being released from the turkey baster or feeding tube. The suction is able to hold the frozen Mysis in place despite the water currents in the aquarium so that it doesn’t get whisked away, but the Mysis does jostle about a bit as the suction is holding it in place, which naturally triggers the seahorses’ feeding response since the individual frozen Mysis shrimp are moving as if alive.

This is how Joe describes his new feeding technique in his own words, Sue:

As to my new seahorses, they are doing remarkably well if they are indeed pen raised. I now have 9 out of 10 eating from feeding stations and all seem full bodied and lively (lively for a sedentary species anyway.) I’ll briefly describe my feeding stations experiment in case anyone ever finds difficulty with the others. I’m sure the grape kelp will prove better than my two methods, but I have found some advantage to an accidental method I stumbled upon.

A) glass dish on bottom of aquarium. This works well for some of my horses, but others seem very adverse to pecking off the very bottom of the tank. Also, the mysis shrimp often get stirred up and float up out of the dish and end up under liverock. Furthermore as you pointed out, there are some horses that are confused by the glass barrier and helplessly stare at the food inside and never figure out to swim up over the lip of the dish. Interestingly, the ones who are mostly feeding out of the dish seem to be the smallest and most frail of my lot. The 4 biggest, beefiest one almost seem to view the dish with disdain and won’t reduce themselves to eating off the floor.

B) As an experiment, I placed alongside of the glass dish, a large powerhead (aquaclear 901) hooked on one side to a long flexible spraybar tubing that simply is there to distribute the flow without blowing everything around. On the inlet side of this powerhead, I placed a large block of very loosely woven foam (i.e., with large pores and fibers that tend to cling to the mysis shrimp in a manner similar to how I intend to use the grape kelp.) This foam is black and the mysis shrimp stand out in great contrast. This tempts the seahorses who won’t go to the bottom to feed, to land on this sponge block and peck up all the mysis contained in the fibers. The sponge has very gentle suction and thus tends to catch any of the mysis that get kicked up out of the food dish by the squirming horses. Between the dish and the sponge/powerhead combo, all of the mysis shrimp wind up getting consumed with less than 5% loss to shrimp drifting away. Also, the gentle suction of the sponge allows me to release the shrimp almost half a foot above it without fear of them drifting away. The seahorses are attracted to this sponge by the movement to a much greater extent than they are by watching the shrimp drift down inside a clear tube (presumably because the smell is dispersed more freely). However, for someone who has tried the other methods, this might be another option for them to try after the usual methods are exhausted.

thanks again

Joe Lieberman

Okay, Sue, that’s the story on Joe’s new powerhead/porous sponge feeding technique. As you can see, this method should work well even in a tank with good water movement, so hopefully it will produce good results for you if you cannot find an area of the aquarium with slack water that won’t stir up the frozen Mysis from the bottom of your feeding dish.

Best wishes with all your fishes, Sue!

Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support

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