Pete Giwojna

Dear Tammy:

Wow, you are really doing a terrific with your latest broods of young! It’s wonderful that you have been able to get so many of the juveniles from the first brood to the 8-week mark, and it’s very encouraging that so many of the four-week-old youngsters are doing so well with the frozen Mysis.

With so many fast-growing juveniles on your hands it’s a good idea for you to split up the brood into a number of less crowded nursery tanks or larger grow-out tanks for further rearing, Tammy, just as you are planning. It’s a good idea to upgrade to a Marineland 400 Biowheel for the older juveniles in order to provide them with more efficient biological filtration providing you can screen off the intake for the biowheel so that it doesn’t suck out any of the youngsters or their food, and assuming that you can adjust the output from the filter so that it doesn’t create too much turbulence or water movement for the juveniles.

It’s not necessary to scoop out or ladle the youngsters when you do that transfers, since they are no longer newborns and will not be harmed by gulping air, but I still prefer ladling the juveniles rather than using the net because there is less chance of injuring the ponies’ delicate fins when you scoop them out.

The best way to handle any of the youngsters that are hitched, and therefore difficult to scoop up and ladle out, is to induce them to release their grip on their holdfasts and then scoop them up while they are swimming, as described below:

Handling Seahorses

I do not like to use an aquarium net to transfer or manipulate seahorses, since their delicate fins and snouts can become entangled in the netting all too easily. I much prefer to transfer the seahorses by hand. Simply wet your hand and fingers (to avoid removing any of the seahorse’s protective slime coat) and scoop the seahorses in your hand. Allow them to curl their tail around your fingers and carefully cup their bodies in your hand to support them while you lift them out of the water. When you gently immerse your hand in the destination tank, the seahorse will release its grip and swim away as though nothing out of the ordinary has happened.

Composed of solid muscle and endowed with extraordinary skeletal support, the prehensile tail is amazingly strong. Indeed, large specimens have a grip like an anaconda, and when a 12-inch ingens or abdominalis wraps its tail around your hand and tightens its hold, its vise-like grip is powerful enough to leave you counting your fingers afterwards!

In fact, it can be quite difficult to remove an attached seahorse from its holdfast without injuring it in the process. Never attempt to forcibly detach a seahorse from its hitching post! When it feels threatened, it’s instinct is to clamp down and hold on all the tighter. When you must dislodge a seahorse from its resting place for any reason, it’s best to use the tickle technique instead. Gently tickling the underside of the tail where it’s wrapped around the object will usually induce the seahorse to release its grip (Abbott, 2003). They don’t seem to like that at all, and will quickly let go to move away to another spot. Once they are swimming, they are easy to handle.

Best of luck with your juveniles, Tammy! Keep up the great work!

Happy Trails!
Pete Giwojna

Post edited by: Pete Giwojna, at: 2008/01/07 22:43

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