Re:Help Training WC Seahorses

Pete Giwojna

Dear Amber:

Welcome to the Club!

As successful reefers that have had some experience with seahorses in the past, I’m sure you’ll be quite successful this time around. I suspect that your new seahorses may be the yellow color phase of the Brazilian seahorse (Hippocampus reidi), which is commonly called the Spotted Seahorse for obvious reasons. The courtship coloration of the species often includes pink highlights and they are famous among seahorse keepers for two things: brilliant colors and making babies. The Brazilian breeding machine is the most prolific of all the seahorses (Abbott 2003). They have a well-deserved reputation for churning out brood after brood every two weeks with relentless regularity, and hold the world record for delivering ~1600 young in a single brood (anecdotal reports of broods up to 2000 fry are not uncommon)! Not bad for a livebearer.

The other thing Brazilian seahorses are prized for is their intense coloration (Abbott 2003). Many aquarists consider H. reidi to be the most colorful of all seahorses and the vivid yellow, orange, and red specimens are in great demand among hobbyists. These bright base colors are usually decorated with many small, dark spots, giving reidi one of its common nicknames — the Spotted Seahorse (Abbott 2003).

Brazilians are sleek, graceful seahorses, perfectly proportioned with slender bodies, long tails, and long snouts (Abbott 2003). Their lithe appearance gives rise to their other common names, the Slender Seahorse or the Longsnout Seahorse (Abbott 2003). As Alisa Abbott so aptly describes them, while the robust H. erectus is a solidly built seahorse like a Mac truck, H. reidi shares the graceful curves of a Corvette Stingray (Abbott 2003). The result is an elegant seahorse that is everyone’s all-time favorite:

Long renowned for their brilliant colors, rapid color changes, prolific breeding habits, and huge broods of difficult-to-raise fry, all serious seahorse keepers are familiar with these breathtaking beauties (Giwojna, Jun. 2002). Often proclaimed the most beautiful of seahorses, H. reidi is the crown jewel in many aquarists’ collections. These rather majestic steeds are long-lived, and with good care, they will be your companions for the next five to seven years and may eventually reach a length of 7 inches (Abbott 2003; Giwojna, Jun. 2002).

Unfortunately, Amber, wild-caught (WC) H. reidi are notoriously finicky eaters. Very often, they disdain frozen foods and outright refuse adult brine shrimp (Artemia) and guppy fry, which are the only live foods most hobbyists can readily provide. Consequently, many proud owners of wild-caught Brazilians go to a great deal of trouble and expense to provide them with live ghost shrimp, grass shrimp and Gammarus on a daily basis (Giwojna, Jun. 2002). Captive-bred H. reidi, of course, readily accept frozen Mysis as their staple diet, a tremendous boon for long-suffering supporters of this much-sought after species (Giwojna, Jun. 2002).

Wild H. reidi are perhaps the most difficult seahorses to wean away from their dependence on live foods. With patience and persistence, most specimens will eventually learn to take high-quality frozen Mysis, but some of the wild reidi can just never make the transition to frozen foods.

I think your best bet for training them to eat frozen foods is to try target feeding them with high-quality frozen Mysis, Amber. Piscine Energetics frozen Mysis relicta may indeed be your best bet for this because individual Mysis thaw out whole and lifelike, with all of their appendages intact, and have natural odor attractants that act as appetite stimulants. The superior PE Mysis relicta is available in smaller quantities online from Premium Aquatics (see link below). The Piscine Energetics frozen Mysis relicta is now available graded for size. You can get the usual jumbo Mysis relicta or smaller Mysis depending on the size of your seahorses.

Click here: Frozen Foods: Premium Aquatics

You can also contact Piscine Energetics and obtain a list of the retail outlets that carry their Mysis relicta. Depending on where you live, you may be able to obtain the PE Mysis relicta from a local fish store in your area:

Click here: Mysis Relicta — Natural fish food,for finicky saltwater and freshwater fish, by Piscine Energetics

The best approach for weaning them onto frozen foods is often to carefully target feed the seahorses using a turkey baster or a similar implement to impart movement to the frozen Mysis and make it appear alive. The old-fashioned ones with the glass barrels work best because the seahorses can see the Mysis inside the baster all the way as it moves down the barrel and out the tip. By exerting just the right amount of pressure on the bulb, great precision is possible when target feeding with a turkey baster. By squeezing and releasing the bulb ever so slightly, a skillful target feeder can keep a piece of Mysis dancing at the very tip of the baster indefinitely, and hold the tempting morsel right in front of the seahorse’s mouth as long as necessary. Or if the seahorse rejects the Mysis the first time it drifts by, a baster makes it easy to deftly suck up the shrimp from the bottom so it can be offered to the target again. Or you can use the baster to impart some tantalizing movement to a piece of frozen Mysis after it has settled on the bottom by giving it a gentle squirt of water or a series of squirts.

I wrote an article that explains how to go about training wild seahorses to eat frozen foods, which may be helpful in your case. 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 <;

It should give you a pretty good idea of how to proceed, but bear in mind that in several years old; the article was written before the advent of captive bred seahorses and doesn’t apply to farm-raised ponies. Captive bred seahorses are trained to accept frozen Mysis as their staple, everyday diet and should not go on hunger strikes or require live foods at all except as an occasional treat.

In the meantime, Amber, the live white shrimp that are available online would be an excellent alternative and your new seahorses should really love them. Seawater Express is an excellent source for post-larval white shrimp. They provide bite-sized white shrimp (Penaeus vannamei) in batches of anywhere from 50 to 1000 each. They are hardy, easy-to-keep and disease free. I recommend getting the smallest of the "Snicking Shrimp" they offer:

Seawater Express Inc.
Organic Shrimp Farm / Hatchery

Best of luck weaning your finicky seahorses onto frozen foods, Amber!

Happy Trails!
Pete Giwojna

America's Only Seahorse Aqua-Farm and One of Hawaii's Most Popular Attractions

Ocean Rider seahorse farm is a consistent Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence Award Winner and "Top 10 Things To Do" Kona, Hawaii attraction. Our "Magical Seahorse Tours" are educational and fun for the whole family.

Tour tickets are available for Purchase On-Line. Space is limited and subject to availability.

small seahorse Ocean Rider, Inc. is an Organic Hawaiian-Based Seahorse Aqua-Farm & Aquarium that Follows Strict Good Farming Practices in Raising Seahorses and Other Aquatic Life.

Seahorse Hawaii Foundation

Inspiring ocean awareness by saving the endangered seahorse and sea dragons around the world from extinction through conservation, research, propagation, and education.

Help us save the seahorse and the coral reefs they live in with a tax deductible contribution to the Seahorse Hawaii Foundation. You will be helping to protect and propagate over 25 species of endangered seahorses, sea dragons and friends.

Make A Tax-Deductible Donation Today!

A Different Kind of Farm (Video) »

Ocean Rider Kona Hawaii

Ocean Rider Kona Hawaii
Seahorse Aqua-Farm & Tours

73-4388 Ilikai Place

Kailua Kona, Hawaii 96740

Map & Directions


Contact Ocean Rider

Copyright ©1999-2023
All Rights Reserved | Ocean Rider Inc.

My Online Order Details

Purchase Policy

Site Terms and Conditions