Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm and Tours | Kona Hawaii › Forums › Seahorse Life and Care › cleaner shrimp diet
- This topic has 5 replies, 2 voices, and was last updated 12 years, 5 months ago by Pete Giwojna.
December 18, 2010 at 6:17 am #1855caroprMember
sorry, I do have another question.
Well, first of all, Horsies (Clara and Snoopy) seem to be doing very good. They eat well, are very social and smoochy and funny as can be.
Still working on having them eat from a feeding station. So far they ignore it successfully and look at me for food. Guess, it’s gonna take a while, till they and us figure that part out.
We added a fire shrimp to the tank. However reading up on fire shrimp, it seems they want more than mysis. Because of the horsies, I’m a bit reluctant to have anything besides horse "feed" in the tank.
I guess a lot of people have "cleaner shrimp" in their tank, so maybe some of you have a suggestion on fire shrimp feeding? And do you apply fasting day to the shrimp too?
:))) ………… caroDecember 19, 2010 at 5:00 am #5231Pete GiwojnaGuest
It’s good to hear that you’re new Sunbursts (Clara and Snoopy) are doing so well. You have done a wonderful job of working with them and I’m happy to your that they are so friendly and really enjoy interacting with you and being handled.
With regard to using the feeding station, I should have warned you that once your ponies become accustomed to being fed by hand, they will often prefer handfeeding thereafter as opposed to taking their meals from a feeding station. The really sociable individuals, like Snoopy and Clara, seem to derive as much satisfaction from interacting with their keepers during the handfeeding sessions as they do from slurping up the gourmet Mysis relicta. In other words, as well as keeping the ponies well nourished, the handfeedings are a good source of behavioral enrichment for the seahorses that livens up their day, which is why they can become so clinging and "smoochy," as you so aptly put it. Sometimes they are reluctant to relinquish their grip and let you grow about your business, long after they have had plenty to eat.
Regarding your new Fire Shrimp (Lysmata debelius), they will happily eat a wide variety of meaty foods in addition to frozen Mysis. Like all of the decorative cleaner shrimp in the genus Lysmata, they will happily take meaty foods of all sorts, whether they are freeze-dried, meaty flake foods and pellet foods, or various frozen foods. This includes the Scarlet Cleaner Shrimp or Skunk Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis) and the Peppermint Shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni), as well as your fire shrimp.
And, although the Fire Shrimp in particular are often very shy and secretive at first, preferring to hang out in caves or beneath overhangs with just their antennae showing, once they become accustomed to their new surroundings and realize how altogether safe they are, they also enjoy being hand fed. So don’t hesitate to allow your Fire Shrimp to take food right from your hand once it settles in and makes itself at home. That way, you don’t have to worry about any uneaten leftovers degrading your water quality, since you can simply remove whatever food items the shrimp does not take from your hand when you’re done feeding the shrimp. I would suggest using a good quality sinking pellet food designed for carnivores rather than herbivores when supplementing the diet of your Fire Shrimp.
But feel free to experiment with any meaty freeze-dried, frozen, or flake foods that are readily available at your local fish store. In my experience, the decorative cleaner shrimp are not at all fussy eaters and can be quite gluttonous and very brazen at feeding time, to the point of snatching food away from the seahorses. I have never met a cleaner shrimp that did not enjoy the frozen Mysis, and enriched frozen Mysis makes a very good meal for the decorative shrimp as well as the seahorses.
Best of luck with your new Fire Shrimp, Carolina! Here’s hoping that you soon have him feeding right out of your hand.
Pete GiwojnaDecember 22, 2010 at 11:07 am #5234caroprGuest
thank you for your info!!!!
Yep, that would explain while they don’t want to feed from the coral and why it takes me sometimes a loooong while to explain to them that at some point they need to let go of my hand.
However, a big issue with the feeding is when we need to go away for a few days. I enjoy the hand feeding, but sooner or later I may have to do at least short trips out of town. And of course, somehow I didn’t think about that before. Maybe I can add a mini tank with shrimp or something.
Strange thing happened. Snoopy seemed rubbing against my hand, and a few times it looked like he was very lightly hitting his head against my hand, then he tried to pull Clara off my hand without any success; Clara has a ninja grip, so then he found a different finger on which to hitch and seemed happy there.
Just in case I checked him thoroughly. His body is clean; nothing on there that could make him wanna rub off anything. He doesn’t do that on plants or corals either.
Only did that with me one time. But just in case I’m hoping the shrimp starts grooming soon.
So, I’m keeping the shrimp on frozen mysis for now. I have freeze dried mysis here. Maybe I’ll try that too. The shrimp is still extremely shy. Seems ours is a neurotic one.
🙂 ………… caroprDecember 23, 2010 at 9:40 am #5235Pete GiwojnaGuest
It sounds like Snoopy just wanted a little extra attention from you. He may have thought you were spending a little too much time admiring Clara (or vice versa) and wanted your undivided attention for himself. I am thinking that he was just craving a little extra TLC rather than having any problems or unusual irritation. But keep a close eye on them for the next few days to see if he does any scratching or rubbing against inanimate objects just to be sure.
The fire shrimp (Lysmata debelius) are generally the most timid and shy of all of the cleaner shrimps from the genus Lysmata. Your new fire shrimp will become a bit bolder, and begin to show himself openly more and more, as he gets better adjusted to his new surroundings and is sure about his safety. In the meantime, he should be very happy feasting on the frozen Mysis.
Yes, I think keeping some live feeder shrimp in a small, separate aquarium to tide your ponies over for short trips out of town should work very well. This is what I normally advise the home hobbyist regarding feeding their seahorses when they will be away for short jaunts or for longer trips:
Unfortunately, there aren’t too many really good options for those times when you’re going to be out of town for an extended period. Automatic feeders just aren’t feasible for the frozen foods or live prey seahorses require, but traveling for a week or two is certainly not an insurmountable problem and I would be happy to suggest a couple of possible solutions for any seahorse keepers facing such a dilemma.
First of all, whenever you’re going away, underfeeding is vastly preferable to overfeeding. Your seahorses (and aquarium fish, in general) can fast for a long weekend with no problem at all. Well-fed seahorses in good condition can fast for 2-3 days with no ill effects whatsoever, and if the aquarium is well established, it often houses copepods and amphipods that the seahorses can graze on to supplement their diet, which they will happily do when the regular feedings of Mysis are not forthcoming.
So just adjust the seahorses’ feeding schedule so their normal fast day falls on the weekend, give them a generous feeding before you leave, and they will be just fine over the weekend. In short, getting away for a weekend is usually not a problem at all for the seahorse keeper. But of course that’s not an option when you’re going to be gone for a week or two.
In that event, I would recommend ordering some hardy live feeder shrimp, some of which can safely be added to the tank every couple days, knowing they will survive in the aquarium until eaten. Ocean Rider’s red feeder shrimp (Red Iron Horse Feed, Halocaridina rubra) are ideal for this as are the live Mysis (Mysidopsis bahia) From Sachs Systems Aquaculture. They are what I’d like to call a "feed-and-forget" food. They are tough, rugged little shrimp that you can toss in your tank with no acclimation whatsoever. They are agile and elusive enough that your filters won’t eat them and the seahorses won’t be able to capture them all right away. Some will hide and evade well enough that your seahorses will still be hunting down the stragglers for the next day or two. Best of all, you can toss a nice batch of them in your aquarium, secure in the knowledge that they won’t perish and pollute it, but thrive and survive as real, live, "catch-me-if-you-can" prey items that seahorses cannot resist. Nothing stimulates a seahorse’s feeding instinct like the frantic movements and evasive maneuvers of natural, living prey.
So if you are planning on being away for an extended period of time, I would suggest ordering a generous supply of the Red Iron Horse Feed From Ocean Rider or a 200-400 count of live Mysis from Sachs in advance, and setting them up in a small tank of their own with a small algae-covered live rock before you leave. That way, when your "fish sitter" checks in on your aquarium every so often, he or she can just add another netful of red feeder shrimp to the tank and that should take care of your seahorses’ feeding requirements until he or she stops by again.
Aside from adding the live shrimp, your fish sitter’s duties will be extremely simple, mainly just checking to see that everything is operating properly. Power outages, equipment failures, or the untimely death of a specimen can wipe out your tank if they happen while you’re away. Consider recruiting a friend, neighbor or coworker to look in on your tank at least a few times while you’re gone. They needn’t be aquarium savvy at all, since you will be assigning them only the simplest of tasks: (1) check to see if the equipment is on and operating properly; (2) add freshwater to replace water lost via evaporation; and (3) toss in a netful of live feeder shrimp. And that’s all. In fact, it’s a good idea to forbid them to touch anything or do anything other than those 3 very basic duties. And, of course, you will be familiarizing them with your setup beforehand, leaving them a plastic gallon jug of dechlorinated tapwater or RO/DI water with which to top off the tank, and providing a supply of live feeder shrimp and a net so all they have to do is scoop up some of the shrimp and dump them in the tank. (Stick with the live food if you recruit a fish sitter, Katie. That way they won’t have to deal with preparing frozen Mysis and there’s no danger they’ll overfeed it. I have learned the hard way that inexperienced seahorse keepers ALWAYS have a tendency to grossly overfeed, but that’s not a concern with live feeder shrimp.)
Ocean Rider’s red feeder shrimp are easy to keep on hand. They are extremely hardy and very easy to care for. They 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 tolerate a very wide range of salinity 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 and dine upon. However, the red feeder shrimp (a.k.a. Hawaiian volcano shrimp or "red iron horse feed") are costly because the shipping from Hawaii is expensive, and they are becoming harder to obtain it quantity.
For these reasons, the live Mysis from Sachs Systems Aquaculture are often a better choice for seahorse keepers on the mainland while they are traveling or on vacation. You can obtain 200 live Mysidopsis bahia for $35 (priority shipping included) from Sachs and your seahorses will love them. They are a natural food source for seahorses in the wild and fairly easy to maintain in a suitable holding tank for short periods:
Another option would be to hire a local aquarium maintenance business to service your seahorse setup a few times while you’re gone. Having professionals service your tank can be expensive, Carolina, but it shouldn’t be too costly as long as it’s just for a few service calls on those rare occasions when you’ll be away for an extended period, and it’s mighty reassuring to know your fish are in good hands. Might be worth it to have that peace of mind.
So that’s the story for looking after the seahorses when one is away from home traveling, Carolina. There are a few options that usually work well under those circumstances, as outlined above, but the simplest approach in your case would certainly be to give the ponies a good feeding before you leave and then allow them to fast for the 2-3 days while you are away. You can give them another good meal first thing when you return home, and they should be just fine in the interim.
Best of luck with your new fire shrimp and just relax and enjoy yourself what you must be away from home for short trips.
Pete GiwojnaDecember 29, 2010 at 10:16 pm #5238caroprGuest
Thank you Pete!
I think I’ll make a trial run with the volcano shrimp and see how we do with keeping them. Already set up a 10 gallon tank and are getting cycling fish this week. So I guess two weeks or so, until the tank is somewhat suitable.
If the shrimp tolerate a wide range of salinity then I can just have them in store bought reef water I guess. Cool!
Do you think I should add another fire shrimp? I have one right now. He seems actually still afraid of the horsies. They swim right up to him and seem to taunt him with their tails and he goes hiding. Takes some time I guess.
Also found him "hoarding" a big pile of food. Not good. Though didn’t impact Ammo nor nitrates, luckily.
Snoopy did the "scratching" once more a few days ago. But that was it. He seems to be looking for the the shrimp. Maybe when I’m not watching, but while I’m there nothing groomingly is happening. His body seems clean; I checked him close up again when he was on my hand.
I think he wants Clara more these days. He spends now more time holding tails with her and got even more relaxed with me too. That little guy loves his swimming at least twice a day.
🙂 ………… CarolinaDecember 31, 2010 at 9:24 am #5240Pete GiwojnaGuest
Sure — that’s an excellent idea to do a trial run with the red feeder shrimp from Hawaii (Halocaridina rubra) to see how well you can keep them. They are accustomed to low salinity conditions in the lava tubes that are their normal habitat, but they do indeed adapt well to a wide range of salinity as long as they are carefully acclimated. You should find them easy to keep and dispense as occasional light treats, and if so, they will be ideal for your fish sitter to dispense while you’re away on short trips.
The fire shrimp (Lysmata debelius) are stunning and are very unlikely to cause problems with the seahorses or to compete with them for the frozen Mysis, but they are also the most shy and inoffensive of the shrimp. They can be reclusive at first, and often prefer to hang out under overhangs or within the shelter of caves, at least initially, but they will normally become bolder and more outgoing when they get adjusted to the aquarium and realized they are safe. They are apt to be leery of the seahorses at first, but they will eventually realize that the ponies are not attempting to make a meal out of them, after which they will interact with the seahorses normally.
Adding another fire shrimp could be helpful, Carolina, since they are commonly found in pairs or large groups. The presence of another fire shrimp may help make them feel more secure and therefore more inclined to perform the grooming services they normally provide for their tankmates.
Normally all of the various decorative shrimp do very well with seahorses with the exception of Coral Banded Shrimp (Stenopus hispidus), which are a little too aggressive for the ponies. Most of the time cleaner shrimp do great with seahorses, but sometimes the cleaner shrimp cause problems at feeding time and, on other occasions, the seahorses may give the colorful shrimp a hard time.
For instance, Peppermint Shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni) and/or Scarlet Cleaner Shrimp or Skunk Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis) are popular additions to seahorse tanks to augment the cleanup crew and add a touch of color and activity to the tank. Peppermint shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni) are a favorite with seahorse keepers because they eat Aiptasia rock anemones, and both the peppermints and Scarlet cleaner shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis) will perform another useful service by grooming the seahorses and cleaning them of ectoparasites. As an added bonus, they reproduce regularly in the aquarium, producing swarms of larval nauplii that the seahorses love to eat.
Yet once established in the aquarium, those beautiful red shrimp species are much more active feeders than seahorses. They’ll come flying across the tank the moment that enticing scent of frozen mysids hits the water, raiding the feeding station and snatching Mysis right out of the ‘horse’s snouts. Does that mean they’re incompatible with seahorses? Heck no, you just shoo the pesky shrimp out of the way at dinnertime and target feed the seahorses, making sure each of them gets its fill.
Other seahorse keepers caution against cleaner shrimp not because the shrimp could outcompete the ponies for frozen Mysis, but because their seahorses don’t discriminate between feeder shrimp and decorative shrimp, and may be inclined to add the expensive cleaner shrimp to their dinner menu. When introducing decorative shrimp in a seahorse setup, it is important to select good-sized cleaner shrimp for this very reason. Live shrimp is the favorite food of all seahorses and, up to a certain point, they will not hesitate to attack shrimp that are too large to be eaten in one bite.
Okay, Carolina, those are some of the things to keep in mind when introducing cleaner shrimp to your seahorse setup. In my experience, peppermint shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni) are the least likely to cause any problems by being too overenthusiastic when grooming the seahorses or pursuing frozen Mysis, but they are also the most likely for the seahorses to regard as a potential meal. Large Scarlet Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis), also known as skunk cleaner shrimp, are the least likely to be considered a tasty treat by the seahorses, but are the most likely to cause problems by attempting to hog the frozen Mysis or to be too persistent when grooming the ponies. The gorgeous fire shrimp (Lysmata debelius) are a good compromise in most cases, since they grow big enough not to be regarded as a potential meal and are normally not at all inclined to become too boisterous when grooming or too greedy at mealtime. Fire shrimp are shy and reclusive, but I would not hesitate to add another fire shrimp since they are more comfortable when kept in small groups.
Okay, as long as Snoopy is not scratching himself persistently, I wouldn’t be concerned about his behavior. Let me know if you notice any more scratching or itching, but as long as he has a healthy appetite and a healthy interest in Clara, his mate, I don’t think there’s anything to be worried about…
Best wishes with all your fishes, Carolina!
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