Re:For Pete G.- Kudas not eating mysis

Pete Giwojna

Dear ecogirl:

You’re absolutely right, you shouldn’t have to consider using live foods to coax captive bred seahorses to eat. Ocean Rider seahorses are typically taking minced Mysis as their staple diet from the time they’re a few weeks old. But the kudas are OR’s newest line of seahorses and they haven’t been selectively bred for aggressive feeding habits for nearly as many generations as Mustangs or Sunbursts, for example. The conditioning to accept frozen foods is evidently not as ingrained in the kudas yet, and it appears they can still sometimes break that conditioning and revert to their old preference for live foods under circumstances like yours.

It’s unfortunate that your pair got off to such a rocky start, but it sounds like you did it great job helping them recover from exposure to high ammonia levels during shipping and acclimation. You did very well to keep them going with the live feeder shrimp while they recovered, and now the trick is going to be getting them accustomed to eating the frozen Mysis again instead.

It sounds like you’ve already tried target feeding and all the other tried-and-true tricks that normally work so well when new arrivals are off their feed, including paying careful attention to any size preferences the kudas may have exhibited. In that case, I would suggest a two-stage approach to your feeding problems.

First, I would try fasting your new kudas for two days and then target-feeding them with half-sized Mysis relicta from Piscine Energetics. Dangle the Mysis halves right in front of their snouts and try to keep it moving enticingly. If they still don’t go for it, then we need to start them on inexpensive live foods and retrain them to eat the frozen Mysis.

I would suggest using adult brine shrimp that have been soaked in the juices from several crushed up PE Mysis relicta for this training process. Once your kudas are eating the juice-soaked adult Artemia well, try mixing in a few pieces of half-sized Mysis along with the brine shrimp. If all goes well, they will be very interested in the half-sized Mysis at this point and all you need to do to wean them off the live brine shrimp is to gradually increase the proportion of thawed Mysis you feed along with the shrimp at each meal.

The following article discusses training seahorses to eat frozen foods in more detail. It’s an old article that was written long before captive-bred seahorses became available, so the focus of the article is how to train wild seahorses to take frozen foods, but it should be equally helpful for helping to get your balky kudas back on track as well. It is available online from the Breeder’s Registry at the following URL:

Click here: FAMA Nov 1996. Seahorse Nutrition – Part II: Frozen Foods for Adults

Best of luck getting your new kudas feeding aggressively again, ecogirl! I’m very sorry that getting your kudas eating frozen fare again has proven to be much more trouble than it ever should have been, creating difficulties for you where there should have been none. I do know that that is quite out of the ordinary for Ocean Rider seahorses, and I dare say after another generation or two of further strengthening and improvement, no one will be having any feeding difficulties with their line of kuda in the future.

Pete Giwojna

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