Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm and Tours | Kona Hawaii › Forums › Seahorse Life and Care › Eating habits
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September 17, 2009 at 3:54 am #1743Pete GiwojnaModerator
I have noticed over time, My females eat considerably more than my one male.
Has your research concluded that? Or do I just have a male that watches his figure for the girls?
Dear Moon Valley:
In general, females tend to be more active than males (particularly when the males are pregnant and carrying a brood of young). Both in the aquarium and in the wild, the stallions tend to be real homebodies while the fillies tend to be more venturesome.
For example, in the wild, pair-bonded seahorses spawn repeatedly and exclusively with one another (Vincent and Sadler, 1995), remaining in the same location so they can stay together. Pair-bonded males take up residence at a small home base, perhaps a square meter or so in size, within their chosen mates’ much larger territory and seldom stray from that spot thereafter (Vincent and Sadler, 1995). Researchers thus speak of these males as being "site-specific," meaning that day after day they can be found at the same tiny patch of the vast seagrass beds (Vincent and Sadler, 1995). In reef dwelling species such as Hippocampus comes, pair bonded males can often be found clinging to the very same piece of coral day after day throughout the breeding season (Perante et al, 2002). The female, meanwhile, roams and hunts over an area perhaps a hundred times larger, which is centered around the male’s home base (Vincent and Sadler, 1995).
As a result, mature males are often naturally more shy and retiring than females, which can be quite brazen at times. I suspect this is due to their parental duties — during the breeding season, pair-bonded males are ordinarily ALWAYS pregnant, and they can’t risk exposing their precious cargo to any more risk than absolutely necessary. And, of course, a greatly distended brood pouch full of developing young both limits their mobility and makes them more conspicuous to predators, so it behooves gravid males to lay low while they are gestating) So normally the unfettered females tend to be far more footloose and fancy free, a little more on the frisky side, while the males are often a bit more reclusive.
Because of their increased activity level and brazen attitude, female seahorses may indeed be more aggressive eaters than the males. Pregnant males, in particular, may go off their feed temporarily and eat sparingly or even skip a meal now and then, failing to show up at the feeding station at the appointed time. So it’s not uncommon for the fillies to eat a bit more than the stallions, but this varies from individual to individual.
Seahorses definitely do have distinct personalities. Females generally tend to be more active and outgoing than the males, as we have discussed above. They will often swim around more and explore the aquarium to a greater extent than the males, which tend to pick out a favorite perch or home base and hang around in the same general area most of the time. Just like people, some seahorses are shy and retiring (introverted, I guess you could say) while others are real busybodies, that insist on being right in the thick of things and helping you out whenever you are working in the tank or performing aquarium maintenance. These extroverts will often perch on your hand or whatever aquarium utensil you may be using and watch intently as you finish your chores, apparently enjoying the ride and the company. Others will gladly interact with you at feeding time, but prefer to keep their distance otherwise.
The individual personalities of seahorses naturally extend to their feeding habits. Some are aggressive feeders that will boldly snatch food from your fingers, while some are shy and secretive, feeding only when they think they’re not being observed. Some like to slurp up Mysis while it’s swirling through the water column, and some will only take Mysis off the bottom of the tank. Some are voracious pigs that greedily scarf up everything in sight, and some are slow, deliberate feeders that painstakingly examine every morsel of Mysis and stare it down forever before they accept or reject it. Some eat like horses and some eat like birds.
In short, much depends on the individual personality of the seahorses. Many times females do eat more greedily than the more reserved males, but it’s not unusual for hobbyists to have a stallion that proves to be more gluttonous than his mate. With time, you will come to recognize the particular personalities of your ponies and how much they are accustomed to eating so that you can tell what is normal and proper for each individual seahorse.
Best of luck with your frisky female and finicky stallion, Moon Valley!
Post edited by: Pete Giwojna, at: 2009/09/17 05:38
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