Re:Feeding Question

Pete Giwojna

Dear Howard:

No, sir, it’s generally not a good idea to provide a large feeding in the morning so that excess Mysis will be available to the seahorses throughout the day. There are two primary reasons why that is undesirable.

First of all, if the Mysis sits around on the in a tropical aquarium for eight or nine hours, bacteria can begin to grow on the uneaten Mysis and cause problems if the seahorses happen to ingest a bacteria-laden piece of Mysis later in the day. This is especially risky if you are not using a fleeting station and the uneaten Mysis lays in contact with the dirty substrate. That’s a little like making yourself a tuna fish sandwich and eating half of it in the morning before you leave for work, and letting the other half sit on the sunny countertop in your kitchen all day while you are at work, and then coming home and eating the other half of the sandwich. You might be all right doing so much you might also suffer gastrointestinal upset or even food poisoning.

99 times out of 100 your seahorses might be all right if you provide them with a big feeding in the morning and they are still cleaning up leftover Mysis eight or nine hours later, but that one time out of 100 when they end up eating a contaminated piece of Mysis could be disastrous. It’s just best not to take that chance.

The second problem with providing a big feeding like that with lots of excess Mysis is that the uneaten Mysis will begin to degrade your water quality. This can contribute to excess nutrient loading and the gradual accumulation of dissolved organics and detritus in the aquarium. The high nitrate and phosphate levels that could result are likely to contribute to problems with nuisance algae and the leftover Mysis is apt to fuel a population explosion of bristleworms in the tank, all of which are very undesirable and difficult to deal with after-the-fact. This wouldn’t happen all at once but would be a gradual process that could eventually reach a level where it becomes problematic if you were to continue to provide those heavy morning feedings day after day.

So in your case, Howard, morning feedings may not be your best option. Go ahead and give your seahorses a light feeding in the morning before you leave for work, but save the heavy feeding until you get home and can monitor their feeding more closely. Don’t worry if your female, who is a more aggressive eater, gets most or all of the frozen Mysis you offer for that light morning feeding. That’s okay — the male will be all the more hungry in the late afternoon when you return, and thus be more likely to eat well for the second feeding.

So I would feed your seahorses lightly in the morning wait until you get home to give them a generous feeding of frozen Mysis. Your male seahorse may be hungry enough to eat with gusto in that case, and if not, you can monitor his eating and allow him to take plenty of time to get his fill as long as you be sure to clean up any of the remaining Mysis when he’s done.

Your seahorses are still fairly new, so it’s possible that your stallion will begin to eat more aggressively when he feels more at home in your tank. But it’s quite likely that he is just a deliberate feeder by nature, and you may simply have to deal with his inconvenient feeding habits.

Best of luck with your new seahorses, Howard! Here’s hoping that used to work out a feeding regimen that works well for both your seahorses and yourself.

Happy Trails!
Pete Giwojna

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