Re:Feeding Station

Pete Giwojna

Dear Brad:

As far as enriching frozen Mysis and target feeding with the baster or introducing the fortified Mysis to your feeding station goes, you’ll find that there are just about as many different methods for getting the job done as there are seahorse keepers. Before long, most everybody works out their own technique that works best for their busy schedule, timetable and needs. Many hobbyists like to carefully thaw the Mysis, rinse it thoroughly yet gently with RO, DI or distilled water (not chlorinated tap water), very carefully pat it dry, and then sprinkle on the Vibrance or enrichment formula. They find the powder adheres to the Mysis better that way. Some aquarists will then refrigerate the Vibrance-enriched Mysis overnight, before feeding it to their seahorses, finding that this helps the enrichment powder become encrusted to the Mysis.

Then, when they feed their seahorses the next day, they can mix the enriched Mysis with a little aquarium water to suck it up in the baster without worrying that all of the enrichment formula will get washed away in the process. Other hobbyists prefer to place the enriched Mysis into the barrel of the baster dry, and then suck up a little aquarium water to rinse the Mysis off the barrel of the baster and allow them to disperse it in the aquarium. And other hobbyists prefer to thaw the frozen Mysis in a small quantity of aquarium (saltwater) water, add the Vibrance or enrichment formula to this small amount of water so it can soak into the Mysis, and then suck up the Mysis and water in their baster from there, but I find that that’s a little too messy for my liking.

Some seahorse keepers use a fine net to deliver the enriched Mysis to their feeding station, simply dumping out the contents of their net over the feeder. But most hobbyists use a feeding tube of some sort to deliver the enriched frozen Mysis to their feeding station. The feeding tube is simply a length of rigid, clear-plastic tubing, perhaps 1-2 inches in diameter, that’s long enough to reach all the way from the surface down to their footing station. When it’s ready, they place the thawed enriched frozen Mysis in the top of the feeding tube, and it sinks slowly down the length of the tubing to be deposited in the feeding bowl or tray. Often the seahorses will track the Mysis all the way down the tube to the end and be ready to snap it up as soon as it emerges over the feeding station, which is an added benefit of this method since it eliminates the need to train the seahorses to come to the feeding dish. The hungry horses will just naturally follow the sinking Mysis to its destination.

It sounds like a feeding tube do a devised is perfect, sir. If you are having trouble getting your Mysis to sink, Brad, that may indicate that there is a problem either with your Mysis or the way you’ve been thawing it, as explained below.

Floating Mysis

Frozen Mysis tends to float for three primary reasons — it has not been completely thawed and is still partially frozen, the Mysis is inferior to begin with and/or it has been thawed improperly. Inferior Mysis often comes from places that don’t collect, prepare, and ship the shrimp as carefully as Mysis relicta from Piscine Energetics is handled and prepared, or from frozen Mysis that has gone bad. The later typically happens when the Mysis has been thawed for an extended period (perhaps while en route to the pet shop or the consumer) and then refrozen. The accidental thawing allows the process of decay to begin and, when the Mysis are subsequently refrozen, the gasses of bacterial decomposition are trapped within the tissue of the individual Mysis, making them buoyant. Such spoiled or inferior Mysis often have a tendency to float. It can also happen at home if the block of frozen Mysis is left out too long and accidentally flaws for some reason and that is refrozen after the damage has been done. That can happen all too easily if you take the Mysis out to thaw it and then get distracted by some other urgent matter; by the time you remember your block of Mysis has been removed from the refrigerator, large portions of the block may have thawed out in the interim.

Likewise, frozen Mysis that is thawed incorrectly in freshwater may float. This is because the tissue and bodily fluids of the Mysis are saltier than the freshwater, which thus tends to move into the Mysis via osmosis (passive diffusion). The swelling that results, and the fact that the freshwater that was absorbed while thawing is lighter (less dense) than saltwater, both tend to increase the buoyancy of the Mysis and may prevent it from sinking in a marine aquarium.

The best way to avoid this problem is therefore to use high quality Mysis and thaw it well and truly in full strength saltwater (or even hypersaline water if the problem persists). In my opinion, Mysis relicta from Piscine Energetics is a superior product with the best nutritional profile for seahorses. The suppliers who provide it normally ship it with dry ice to prevent accidental thawing.

It sounds like you are doing it right, Brad. Your feeding tube for delivering the enriched Mysis is fine and an artificial called coral makes a great feeding station. You’re using the top quality PE Mysis relicta and thawing it in chilled saltwater rather than freshwater. It may be that you’re simply not allowing it to thaw for a long enough period. Try allowing it to thaw in the salt water from your fridge until the Mysis actually begins to sink after it has thawed, as Kris has described. If you go ahead and enrich it and feed it to your seahorses at that point, it should also sink nicely in your aquarium.

Best of luck overcoming this glitch with the floating Mysis, Brad.

Pete Giwojna

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