Re:spilled eggs

Pete Giwojna

Dear seahorse love:

One packet of Vibrance last a long, long time when you are just using it to enrich frozen Mysis or other frozen foods. You just give the frozen Mysis a very light dusting of the enrichment powder, and a pinch of it goes a long way for this purpose. Depending on the size of your herd, I would say one packet of the Vibrance 2 should last you for several months if you are just using it to fortify frozen Mysis.

However, when you are gut loading live brine shrimp with Vibrance 1 on a daily basis, you’ll go through it much more quickly. Since each packet can be stored indefinitely, you may want to order several packets Vibrance 1 if you are rearing a brood of youngsters and gutloading Artemia nauplii at advanced instars everyday.

Artemia nauplii (baby brine shrimp) are filter feeders that will ingest whatever is suspended in the water with them. This makes it easy to enrich the nauplii with everything from Vibrance to yeast cells to microalgae to fatty acids and vitamins and minerals, greatly enhancing their nutritional profile in the process.

The problem with such traditional enrichment methods is that only older nauplii at advanced stages of development can be fortified this way. Newly hatched brine shrimp nauplii (1st instar) lack mouthparts and derive their nourishment from a yolk sac. They are incapable of ingesting particles in the water. Consequently, only bigger nauplii that have molted once or twice (2nd instar and beyond) are suitable for this type of enrichment. This is a serious drawback since these older, larger Artemia nauplii have already grown beyond the size that most newborn seahorse fry, including baby dwarf seahorses, are capable of swallowing.

As a result, some breeders prefer to feed seahorse fry with the tiny newly hatched brine shrimp (1st instar Artemia) that still have their yolk sacs intact and are therefore very nutritious without any need for enrichment. This works very well if you decapsulate the Artemia cysts and then feed the baby brine shrimp to the newborn seahorses immediately after the Artemia has hatched out. This is the method that Neil Garrick-Maidment, an extremely successful breeder in the UK, prefers for rearing seahorses, as he explains below:

<Open quote>
Rearing Seahorse Fry on Artemia.

Neil Garrick-Maidment
The Seahorse Trust.

It has long been thought that rearing Seahorse fry on Artemia is impossible because they do not hold enough nutritional value. This is partially true but if dealt with in the correct way then artemia can be used very successfully.

Artemia is highly nutritious when it is first hatched out but the nutritional value drops very quickly to virtually nothing within 3 hours; added to this the carapace (shell) hardens during this 3 hour period and makes it very difficult to digest by all but the most harden fish fry.

The traditional way of cultivating artemia is to put the eggs into a pot of seawater, aerated at 80’ and wait for them to hatch 24 hours later. This one pot of artemia is usually used for a 24 hour period and quite often is stored in a refrigerator until it is used; this is where the nutritional problems occur unless the artemia is enriched. Once enriched (often for another 24 hours as the mouth parts do not form until 10 hours old) it often proves to be a poor source of food as it is by this point either too large or the carapace (shell ) of the artemia is too hard. By being too large or having too hard a carapace it means that fish fry like Seahorses cannot digest it as they have an extremely poor digestive system; which is not long enough to allow it to digest the hard carapace and derive enough nutrition from the naupilli. .

By changing the protocol of hatching the artemia it is possible to use it as a highly successful form of food especially for Seahorses; the only draw back with this system is that it is labour intensive.

The set up:
We use a 5 pot system for the hatchery, each one labelled 1 to 5; all five pots sit in a glass fish tank with 4 inches of water in it. This water is heated by heater/thermostat to 80’ and each of the pots is heated in turn by this hot water. Each pot also has an airline with an airstone into it.

The protocol:
Start with pot 1 and fill it with saltwater and add your artemia eggs (you can use unshelled eggs to increase the nutritional value higher.). 2 hours later repeat the process with pot 2 and then each 2 hours after repeat with the rest of the pots; it is possible to use more pots if your needs require it.

If you have set up pot 1 at 8am then 24 hours later at 8am the artemia should have just hatched out, this is then the time to feed pot one to your fry; it is crucial that the time between hatching out and feeding is kept to a minimum.

Harvest the artemia by letting the pot stand and the artemia will sink to the bottom and the egg shells will rise to the surface. Use a siphon through a very fine mesh trap to siphon them out of the pot, once you have enough artemia then give them a quick wash under a freshwater tap and then feed the artemia to your Seahorse fry.

It is crucial that you only feed a small amount of artemia to the Seahorse fry; enough to be eaten by the time the next pot is fed to the fry (2 hours later).

Once you have fed this pot of artemia to the fry do not be tempted to keep what’s left over, use it for some other fish species but don’t be tempted to feed it later on to the Seahorse fry.

Once you have harvested pot 1 immediately set it up again ready for the next 24 hour period.

Every time you go to feed the next pot of artemia be sure to siphon the tank of any debris from the bottom of the tank and crucially remove any left over artemia from the tank. This can be done by putting a light to the side of the tank to attract the artemia to it then siphon them from the tank. This is important as you do not want the Seahorse fry to be eating older hardened and nutritionally low value artemia.

After feeding the artemia remember to top up the water you have removed from the fry tank, this way you will be changing water throughout the day lessening the build up of harmful nitrites and ammonia in the water which is better for the Seahorse fry.

As a side note we usually use water from the adult’s tank to replace and indeed start up the fry tank; this is already filtered and as we use natural seawater it is a better source of water for the fry; they appear to do better in natural seawater than artificial.

These steps should be repeated every 2 hours with pots 2 then 3 then 4 then 5 and any others you add to the system.

This process should be repeated on time every 2 hours as the age of the artemia naupilli is important for its nutritional value and carapace hardness.
<close quote>

In short, if you will be rearing baby seahorses and feeding them with older Artemia nauplii that you have enriched with Vibrance 1, then it would be a good idea to order several packets of the Vibrance 1. But if you will be rearing the seahorse fry by feeding them newly hatched Artemia nauplii with their yolk sac intact, that need no further enrichment, then one or two packets of Vibrance 1 should be plenty.

In summation, one or two packets of the no-fat Vibrance 2 should last you a long time. But if you are going to be enriching baby brine shrimp regularly using the lipid-rich Vibrance 1, then you’ll want to order several packets at once. Otherwise, if you’ll just be using the Vibrance 1 to enrich frozen Mysis for mature seahorses that are actively breeding, then one or two packets should hold you for quite a while.

Caulerpa can be difficult to obtain these days since it is now illegal to keep for aquarium use in some coastal areas, so it’s hard to say where you may be able to obtain any of the red grape Caulerpa. Where it’s legal, red grape Caulerpa will show up in local fish stores that carry a marine fish from time to time, and that’s where most hobbyists obtain it.

Inland Aquatics ( carries quite a variety of macroalgae, so you might try contacting them to see if they can provide red grape Caulerpa.

Best of luck with your new seahorses!

Happy Trails!
Pete Giwojna

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