Re:Ok, here we go… awaiting arrival

Pete Giwojna

Dear Christine:

Thanks for the update. It sounds like your female is settling in just fine, but I am a little more concerned about your male. Ordinarily, they can’t resist those live red feeder shrimp (Halocaridina rubra) so it’s unusual that the stallion didn’t go right after some of them. If he is obviously interested in them, that’s encouraging, but I would like to hear that they has begun eating.

How is his breathing this morning, Christine? Is his respiration rate similar to that of the female, who is doing well? Let me know if his breathing is significantly slower or faster than the female. Or if his breathing is labored or he’s exhibiting any signs of respiratory distress. If his breathing still hasn’t returned to normal, he could still be having some lingering aftereffects from exposure to ammonia while in the shipping bag, in which case I might benefit from a bath or dip in methylene blue.

How was he acting otherwise, Christine? Is he able to switch normally and perch on the hitching posts with the usual upright seahorse posture? If he is alert, with good eye movement, and swimming and acting normally with a respiration rate that similar to the female, then perhaps only needs is a low more time to get adjusted to his new surroundings.

Of course, the die off of your red feeder shrimp is also a cause for concern. Those little buggers are pretty darn hardy, but they shouldn’t be kept in the original shipping water. When they arrived, they should be acclimated and introduced to a holding container with good water quality as soon as possible. This doesn’t need to be anything fancy at all — just a clean plastic bucket equipped with an airstone will do nicely.

If the red feeder shrimp are still in their original shipping water, then they are beginning to die off due to pH shock and the build up of ammonia within the shipping container. If that’s the case, Christine, I would immediately acclimate the survivors and transfer them to fresh saltwater in a suitable container as described below.

ACCLIMATION PROCEDURES for red feeder shrimp:
Be Sure to Check the specific gravity to 1.0114!!
Prepare NEW water. Do NOT rely on the water the animals are shipped in for holding these shrimp. Check that the salinity of your holding tank is the same as the shipping water. If it is not adjust your holding tank so it is the same as the shipping water BEFORE acclimating. If you do not do this you will kill the shrimp. All other parameters must be within acceptable ranges.
Please acclimate slowly. The best way is to:

1. Float the bag in your tank for about 20 – 30 minutes to equalize temperatures.
2. Then partially open the bag and add 1 cup of tank water.
3. Wait 10 minutes.
4. Remove 1 cup of water and add another cup of water from the tank.
5. Wait 10 minute.
6. Gently release the animals into the tank, discarding the water left in the bag.
7. Do not feed until the day after arrival and acclimation.

As you can see, Christine, your red feeder shrimp should be acclimated and transferred to a holding container within 20 minutes or so after you open the bag. This abbreviated acclimation procedure protects them against pH shock or ammonia poisoning. So if you left the feeder shrimp in their original water, please correct that at once to save as many of the survivors as possible. Don’t worry about acclimating them for temperature — they should be at the ambient room temperature by now. Just skip that step and follow the others.

Here is some additional information on Volcano shrimp or red feeder shrimp that you may find useful, Christine:

You will find the red feeder shrimp (Halocaridina rubra) to be easy to keep and relatively undemanding to culture, although their numbers build up very gradually due to their naturally slow rate of reproduction.

Red feeder shrimp or volcano shrimp, as they are sometimes known, prefer brackish conditions and breed best at reduced salinity (1.0145-1.0168) but they adapt well to full strength saltwater and will survive indefinitely is a marine aquarium. They are a perfect "feed-and-forget" treat for large seahorses! As a rule they don’t need a great deal of room. The size of the tank you’ll need depends on the number of shrimp your dealing with and whether you want to maintain and ongoing culture or simple keep them alive until needed. A 5-10 gallon tank will generally suffice for 500-600 of these shrimp and biological filtration of some sort is desirable for keeping them long term. A simple sponge filter will do.

Here is some additional information about these shrimp that may be of interest to those of you who are interested in keeping or culturing these colorful little crustaceans:

RED FEEDER SHRIMP from Hawaii (Halocaridina rubra)

* Excellent nutritional value
* Irresistible to all the greater seahorses.
* Feed-and-Forget — lasts forever in saltwater!
* Easy to enrich.
* Simple to gut-load.
* Can be cultured using simple techniques and the most basic setups.

* Reproduces slowly; difficult to build up a large population.

Collecting Tips:

Culture Instructions:
Specific gravity: 1.0145-1.0168; pH: 8.0-8.3
Temperature: 68 degrees F – 73 degrees F (20 degrees C – 23 degrees C)

These fabulous little feeder shrimp can be kept indefinitely in a spare 2-10 gallon tank, or even a clean, plastic bucket, that has be filled with clean saltwater and equipped with an airstone for aeration. Neither a heater nor a fancy filtration system is required. They thrive at room temp and reduced salinity (1.015-1.016), and all they require is an airstone (or a simple air-operated foam filter at most) to keep the water oxygenated, with perhaps a little coral rubble as substrate and a clump or two of macroalgae (sea lettuce, Ogo, Gracilaria) to shelter in. They’re easy to feed — they feed primarily on algal mats and bacteria — but they will accept vegetable-based flake foods and pellets such as various Spirulina products. They are filter feeders and can also be fed with yeast or commercially prepared foods for filter-feeding invertebrates. Many people find an easy way to feed them is to place a small piece of algae-encrusted live rock in their holding tank; once they clean it off, simply replace it with a new piece of algae rock. But if you want to culture them, I’d recommend ordering the special shrimp food formulated just for them when you order your feeder shrimp from Hawaii. It’s designed to meet all their needs and requirements.


These tiny red feeder shrimp (Halocaridina rubra) are native to Hawaii where they inhabit underground lava tubes. Brackish pools collect in the cracks, crevices and depressions in the lava below the water table, thus forming the habitat for the shrimp. The brackish water that fills these pools consists of intrusive seawater diluted by freshwater that percolates downward. Because of their lava-tube habit, they are sometimes called Hawaiian Volcano Shrimp.

Native Hawaiians call them Opa’e-ula, and they are unique among the several different species anchialine pond shrimp in being small, social, herbivorous shrimp that feed mainly on algae and bacteria. They are known to feed on insects that drown in the lava tubes. When conditions are favorable, they may feed en masse at the surface in swarms of countless individuals that turn the water red.

Halocaridina rubra look like miniature, bite-size Peppermint Shrimp, and all seahorses save the miniature species go absolutely nuts for them! They are very nutritious and eat a varied, omnivorous diet. They are perfect for seahorses in every way.

Unfortunately, it is very difficult to culture these shrimp in any quantity, since they reproduce slowly and the females only carry 12 to 14 eggs. They spawn but 4 or 5 times and produce an average of only 5-10 larvae per spawn. The larvae hatch as free-swimming, yolked zoeae after a brooding period of 38 days. Larval development is abbreviated with four zoeal stages and one megalopial stage occurring before they reach the first juvenile stage. Duration of the larval stages in the aquarium is 24 to 27 days at 22 to 23 degrees C.

However, they can be purchased in quantity (up to 500 shrimp) at very reasonable prices from Hawaii, and they are easy to keep alive indefinitely, making them ideal to keep around as an occasional treat for your seahorses.

So that’s the rundown on your red feeder shrimp, Christine. I suspect that they have simply been left in the original shipping water too long, and that you can stop the die off if you acclimate them and place them in new saltwater at the salinity suggested above.

Since your supply of live feeder shrimp has been depleted, it’s important for your new arrivals to begin eating frozen Mysis again as soon as possible. The following link will direct you to some detailed feeding suggestions which should be helpful in that regard, Christine The feeding suggestions are listed in my response to a discussion on the Ocean Rider Club under the subject "Not feeding? Or just pods?" You can read them online at the following URL:

Click here: – Seahorse, Sea Life, Marine Life, Aquafarm Sales, Feeds and Accessories – Re:Not feeding…,com_simpleboard/Itemid,144/func,view/id,684/catid,2/

Check your current aquarium parameters (temperature, pH, and the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrite readings) and let me know those readings when you update me regarding the male’s breathing rate and behavior, Christine.

Best of luck with the newcomers, Christine! Here’s hoping you’re able to salvage some of the red feeder shrimp and that both seahorses are back on their staple diet of frozen Mysis very soon.

Pete Giwojna

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