Ocean Rider’s new cultured banded pipefish (Doryrhamphus dactyliophorus) are very hardy and much easier to feed than wild-caught pipes, and they make wonderful companions for Mustangs and Sunbursts (Hippocampus erectus).
Once they have settled into a new aquarium, they will accept a variety of frozen foods and nonliving foods, but they are not dish trained. The food for them needs to be carefully dispersed or you can target feed the pipefish with a baster or something similar. As you know, seahorses are accustomed to plucking small invertebrates from the vegetation are the substrate, which is a feeding habit that makes it easy to train them to take frozen Mysis from a feeding station. But the pipefish are accustomed to plucking zooplankton suspended in the water column while they are swimming, and they therefore need to be target fed rather than coming to a feeding station. They do readily accept small frozen Mysis or minced Mysis once they are accustomed to their surroundings and feel at home, but their food needs to be presented to them from above so that it drifts down right in front of their snouts, whereupon they will snatch it from the water column and dart around cleaning up the remaining pieces that drift down.
Both the seahorses and pipefish may accept the non-living Reef Nutrition products such as Tigger Feast and Arctic Pods if they are presented to them properly, so that they drift down from above right in front of their snouts, and the longer that you can keeps them suspended in the water column, the more likely they are to be slurped up. As we discussed in the previous post about the Watchmen Goby, this is best done by using a turkey baster, pipette, large eyedropper, or similar feeding wand to present the food items from above via target feeding.
But both the pipefish and seahorses are more likely to accept suitable frozen Mysis that is presented to them properly, and a good brand of frozen Mysis is more nutritious and more easily digested than either the Tigger Feast or Arctic Pods. You will therefore find that offering the frozen Mysis properly results and must less wastage and spoilage, making it a great deal easier on your water quality.
Another prepared food that is bite sized and which the red banded pipefish (Doryrhamphus dactyliophorus) usually eat very readily is called Instant Baby Brine Shrimp and is manufactured by Ocean Nutrition. It consists entirely of sterile newly hatched baby brine shrimp that have been preserved for use as a fish food, and seahorse keepers tell me that dwarf seahorses (Hippocampus zosterae) and pipefish typically eat the Instant Baby Brine Shrimp very well.
This is what I normally advise home hobbyists regarding feeding the red banded pipefish, Don:
Feeding and Diet:
The Red Banded Pipefish is a carnivore that needs a meaty diet but it’s tiny, tubular mouth severely limits the size of the prey items it can consume. In the wild, its diet consists primarily of copepods and in the aquarium it will thrive in a well-established tank with lots of live rock and macroalgae that houses a large pod population. Hobbyists will find it convenient to supplement its diet with Nutramar Tigrio Bottled Live Copepods, which are an ideal food for this fastidious feeder. Over time, as it becomes accustomed to its new surroundings, the Red Banded Pipefish will be content eating nonliving food such as frozen CYCLOP-EEZE®, very small frozen Mysis, Ocean Nutrition Instant Baby Brine Shrimp, and Nutramar Ova. The Ocean Rider Red Banded Pipefish are trained to eat frozen Mysis as their staple diet, and they will do so in your home aquarium, as long as the Mysis are small enough.
When it comes to prepared foods for your pipefish, stick with the smallest brands of frozen Mysis (e.g., Mini Mysis by H2O Life), Instant Baby Brine Shrimp by Ocean Nutrition, and perhaps bars of frozen Cyclop-Eeze for best results. Bars of frozen Cyclop-Eze usually work better than other forms of Cyclop-eeze because they will shed copious amounts of the bite-size frozen cyclops, but it’s a messy food and I recommend offering your pipefish small frozen Mysis instead. Brands of larger frozen Mysis can also be used for feeding the pipefish, and hobbyists tell me that their red banded pipes can even handle the jumbo Piscine Energetics frozen Mysis relicta, looking a bit like a sword swallower in the process, as they gradually gulp down the king sized Mysis shrimp in several bites. But the brands of bigger frozen Mysis often work better after they have been minced or shaved. The frozen Mysis that works best for most hobbyists when minced is Hikari in frozen blocks rather than trays. The Hikari Mysis is much smaller than Piscine Energetics Mysis relicta and that makes it easier to shave off bite-sized pieces for the pipefish.
When it comes to shaving the Mysis, a technique that works well for many home hobbyists is to use a potato peeler to shave off bits of the Hikari Mysis from a frozen block, and then use a single edged razor blade to further mince the frozen bits the potato peeler has removed.
Small, frequent feedings are best. Try to feed your pipefish at least three times daily and be careful not to overfeed at any single feeding, especially with the frozen Cyclop-eeze, which tends to be messy because significant amounts of it go uneaten.
As we discussed briefly earlier, there is another type of prepared food that is bite sized and which the red banded pipefish (Doryrhamphus dactyliophorus) usually eat very readily. It is called Instant Baby Brine Shrimp and is manufactured by Ocean Nutrition. It consists entirely of sterile newly hatched baby brine shrimp that have been preserved for use as a fish food.
As you know, the pipefish love to eat live newly hatched brine shrimp, so it makes sense that they will also like these perfectly preserved, intact baby brine shrimp as well, and one of the neat things about them is that the Instant Baby Brine Shrimp are buoyant so they stay suspended in the water column, which is exactly where the pipefish like to feed, rather than settling down to the bottom of the tank quickly, like the frozen Mysis does.
Likewise, reefkeepers tell me that their live corals absolutely love the stuff, and that the instant baby brine shrimp remain suspended in the water column fairly long in reef tanks with brisk circulation. (They also caution that it is very concentrated and easy to overfeed, if you’re not careful.) Other hobbyists report that small, active fish — especially planktivores — also take to it very well.
In short, if you have any difficulty locating Marine Mini Mysis by H2O Life, I suggest that you obtain some of the Instant Baby Brine Shrimp by Ocean Nutrition and carefully offer it to your new pipefish in an area of the aquarium where it will not be sucked up by the filters before the pipefish get a chance to eat it. Here is some more information about this product that you may find the helpful, Don:
Ocean Nutrition “Instant Baby Brine Shrimp”
Ingredients: 100% baby brine shrimp (Artemia nauplii)
* Use as food during the first stages of many delicate fishes and for invertebrates
* Brine shrimp immediately ready when your fry need it
* As natural as if you had hatched your own baby brine shrimp
Identical to freshly hatched Brine Shrimp – your fish will never know the difference! Ideal for delicate fish, fish fry, and invertebrates. Stays buoyant for longer feeding time. A convenient alternative to cumbersome and time-consuming brine shrimp hatching systems. For freshwater and marine fish. 100% baby brine shrimp (Artemia nauplii).
Once again, Ocean Nutrition is leading the innovation wave by introducing a revolutionary food concept: Instant Baby Brine Shrimp.
Baby Brine Shrimp (nauplii of Artemia salina) are widely used in the aquarium hobby as food during the first stages of many delicate fishes and as food for many invertebrates.
Until today, there has been little or no progress in the use of Baby Brine Shrimp in the hobby. The whole process of hatching the brine shrimp cysts at home is cumbersome, noisy, and messy. More often than not, not everybody in the household is pleased with the setup. Also, for reasons typically due to sub-optimal storage and handling of the cysts, many of the hatching results are often extremely low. The hatching takes 24 hours and it can be a problem to match this timing with the moment the fry need their first meal.
This is all over now. Ocean Nutrition has developed the Instant Brine Shrimp, a revolutionary product that allows you to use Brine Shrimp when and where you need them. The product consists entirely of sterile newborn nauplii in a water solution. Nothing else has been added, no preservatives or colorants. The product is natural, as if you would have hatched the Brine Shrimp yourself.
The product can be kept and stored at room temperature for many years, as long as the container is not opened. Once open, the product needs to be kept cool in the refrigerator and can be kept for up to 6 weeks, like the Baby Brine Shrimp you would have hatched yourself. The packaging of the product has a metal cover clearly showing whether or not the product has been opened, to avoid any surprise. It contains a net weight of over 20g (0.7 oz.) drain weight, or in excess of 1.5 million nauplii.
Okay, Don, that’s the rundown on the Instant Baby Brine Shrimp by Ocean Nutrition. It should work well for your new red banded pipefish (Doryrhamphus dactyliophorus) but use it sparingly because it’s very easy to overfeed.
If it’s not available from any of your local fish stores, you can purchase the Ocean Nutrition “Instant Baby Brine Shrimp” online from Drs. Foster and Smith for a cost of about $10 from the following website (just copy the following URL, paste it in your web browser, and press the “Enter” key, and will take you directly to the right webpage for the Instant Baby Brine Shrimp:
In the meantime, the best frozen Mysis that I have found for feeding the red banded pipefish is Marine Mini Mysis by H2O Life, Don, so perhaps you can obtain some of the Mini Mysis from one of the local fish stores or pet shops in your area, while you are waiting for the Instant Baby Brine Shrimp to be delivered.
If you cannot obtain the H2O Life Marine Many Mysis locally either, Don, then try to leave the heads of the frozen Mysis you already have a complete and intact when you cut it up for the pipefish, and offer the pipefish the anterior ends or pieces of the chopped up Mysis that include the eyes, because the head with the eyes is quickly recognized by pipefish and seems to trigger their feeding instinct.
Those are some feeding tips for the red banded pipefish (Doryrhamphus dactyliophorus), sir, but if you contact me off list I will be happy to send you the species summary for the pipefish, which includes detailed information on feeding, breeding, and raising the pipefish, as well as a detailed file with lots of full-color illustrations that explains the best techniques for feeding frozen Mysis to seahorses, including target feeding, handfeeding, and the use of feeding stations.
You can always reach me at the following e-mail address:
As for the seahorses, sir, you will find that they have very little interest In the Cyclop-Eeze, which is simply too small and insignificant for any but the smallest seahorses, and even juveniles and dwarf seahorses usually ignore it because it does not move in an enticing manner and therefore fails to stimulate a feeding response. Stick with the frozen Mysis when feeding your seahorses and you should have no problems.
Best of luck with the new pipefish, Don! Be sure to let me know if you have any other problems or concerns.
Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support