Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm and Tours | Kona Hawaii › Forums › Seahorse Life and Care › Help Training WC Seahorses
- This topic has 3 replies, 2 voices, and was last updated 15 years, 10 months ago by Pete Giwojna.
July 24, 2007 at 6:18 am #1248Amberly98Member
We are not new at keeping saltwater tanks. I have successfully kept a 100 gallon reef tank for years. Recently I wanted to try my luck at keeping seahorses again. I kept a 30 gallon octagon tank with seahorses quite a few years ago but gave up when my heater had shorted out and fried my entire tank! I was so heartbroken I just called it quits. 🙁
Now that I am older and, somewhat more experienced in saltwater tanks, my husband and I decided to give it a go. I had purchased two female “black” seahorses from the LFS and they have been doing well for about 4 months. I just recently lost one of my females, to what I don’t know, but in a panic I did a water check…everything looked good, so I put my lone female into a hospital tank and treated her with a course of antibiotics just to make sure. I am happy to report that a month has passed and she is doing well. My husband recently came home with 2 beautiful seahorses. He wanted to surprise me so he bought them not knowing anything about them. I don’t know what species they are but they are yellow with pinkish spots and the tips of their decorative appendages are pink. They are just magnificent!
The problem is I believe that they are WC because they only show interest in live ghost shrimp. To make matters worse the day after they came home the male gave birth to 7 babies. :ohmy: One of the babies was born dead but the rest are about 5 days old, eating, and growing. Can anyone offer me advice on how to train these new horses? Also has anyone heard of the “white” shrimp that you can buy online? Please if you have any advice at all I am all ears…My husband paid $140 for the pair and I am afraid that I will not be able to meet their nutritional need if I don’t figure how to feed them frozen. Even now when I feed them live I have to chase the ghost shrimp around until they are in sight of the seahorse….what a task! I am leaving on vacation in 3 weeks and I do have a house sitter that is going to feed the tanks every day…however I’m not sure what type of patients they will have for chasing shrimp around……! Any advise I am all ears and willing to try anything!
AmJuly 25, 2007 at 6:03 am #3745Pete GiwojnaGuest
Welcome to the Club!
As successful reefers that have had some experience with seahorses in the past, I’m sure you’ll be quite successful this time around. I suspect that your new seahorses may be the yellow color phase of the Brazilian seahorse (Hippocampus reidi), which is commonly called the Spotted Seahorse for obvious reasons. The courtship coloration of the species often includes pink highlights and they are famous among seahorse keepers for two things: brilliant colors and making babies. The Brazilian breeding machine is the most prolific of all the seahorses (Abbott 2003). They have a well-deserved reputation for churning out brood after brood every two weeks with relentless regularity, and hold the world record for delivering ~1600 young in a single brood (anecdotal reports of broods up to 2000 fry are not uncommon)! Not bad for a livebearer.
The other thing Brazilian seahorses are prized for is their intense coloration (Abbott 2003). Many aquarists consider H. reidi to be the most colorful of all seahorses and the vivid yellow, orange, and red specimens are in great demand among hobbyists. These bright base colors are usually decorated with many small, dark spots, giving reidi one of its common nicknames — the Spotted Seahorse (Abbott 2003).
Brazilians are sleek, graceful seahorses, perfectly proportioned with slender bodies, long tails, and long snouts (Abbott 2003). Their lithe appearance gives rise to their other common names, the Slender Seahorse or the Longsnout Seahorse (Abbott 2003). As Alisa Abbott so aptly describes them, while the robust H. erectus is a solidly built seahorse like a Mac truck, H. reidi shares the graceful curves of a Corvette Stingray (Abbott 2003). The result is an elegant seahorse that is everyone’s all-time favorite:
Long renowned for their brilliant colors, rapid color changes, prolific breeding habits, and huge broods of difficult-to-raise fry, all serious seahorse keepers are familiar with these breathtaking beauties (Giwojna, Jun. 2002). Often proclaimed the most beautiful of seahorses, H. reidi is the crown jewel in many aquarists’ collections. These rather majestic steeds are long-lived, and with good care, they will be your companions for the next five to seven years and may eventually reach a length of 7 inches (Abbott 2003; Giwojna, Jun. 2002).
Unfortunately, Amber, wild-caught (WC) H. reidi are notoriously finicky eaters. Very often, they disdain frozen foods and outright refuse adult brine shrimp (Artemia) and guppy fry, which are the only live foods most hobbyists can readily provide. Consequently, many proud owners of wild-caught Brazilians go to a great deal of trouble and expense to provide them with live ghost shrimp, grass shrimp and Gammarus on a daily basis (Giwojna, Jun. 2002). Captive-bred H. reidi, of course, readily accept frozen Mysis as their staple diet, a tremendous boon for long-suffering supporters of this much-sought after species (Giwojna, Jun. 2002).
Wild H. reidi are perhaps the most difficult seahorses to wean away from their dependence on live foods. With patience and persistence, most specimens will eventually learn to take high-quality frozen Mysis, but some of the wild reidi can just never make the transition to frozen foods.
I think your best bet for training them to eat frozen foods is to try target feeding them with high-quality frozen Mysis, Amber. Piscine Energetics frozen Mysis relicta may indeed be your best bet for this because individual Mysis thaw out whole and lifelike, with all of their appendages intact, and have natural odor attractants that act as appetite stimulants. The superior PE Mysis relicta is available in smaller quantities online from Premium Aquatics (see link below). The Piscine Energetics frozen Mysis relicta is now available graded for size. You can get the usual jumbo Mysis relicta or smaller Mysis depending on the size of your seahorses.
Click here: Frozen Foods: Premium Aquatics
You can also contact Piscine Energetics and obtain a list of the retail outlets that carry their Mysis relicta. Depending on where you live, you may be able to obtain the PE Mysis relicta from a local fish store in your area:
Click here: Mysis Relicta — Natural fish food,for finicky saltwater and freshwater fish, by Piscine Energetics
The best approach for weaning them onto frozen foods is often to carefully target feed the seahorses using a turkey baster or a similar implement to impart movement to the frozen Mysis and make it appear alive. The old-fashioned ones with the glass barrels work best because the seahorses can see the Mysis inside the baster all the way as it moves down the barrel and out the tip. By exerting just the right amount of pressure on the bulb, great precision is possible when target feeding with a turkey baster. By squeezing and releasing the bulb ever so slightly, a skillful target feeder can keep a piece of Mysis dancing at the very tip of the baster indefinitely, and hold the tempting morsel right in front of the seahorse’s mouth as long as necessary. Or if the seahorse rejects the Mysis the first time it drifts by, a baster makes it easy to deftly suck up the shrimp from the bottom so it can be offered to the target again. Or you can use the baster to impart some tantalizing movement to a piece of frozen Mysis after it has settled on the bottom by giving it a gentle squirt of water or a series of squirts.
I wrote an article that explains how to go about training wild seahorses to eat frozen foods, which may be helpful in your case. It is available online from the Breeder’s Registry at the following URL:
Click here: FAMA Nov 1996. Seahorse Nutrition – Part II: Frozen Foods for Adults <http://www.breedersregistry.org/Reprints/FAMA/v19_nov96/giwojna_pt2.htm>
It should give you a pretty good idea of how to proceed, but bear in mind that in several years old; the article was written before the advent of captive bred seahorses and doesn’t apply to farm-raised ponies. Captive bred seahorses are trained to accept frozen Mysis as their staple, everyday diet and should not go on hunger strikes or require live foods at all except as an occasional treat.
In the meantime, Amber, the live white shrimp that are available online would be an excellent alternative and your new seahorses should really love them. Seawater Express is an excellent source for post-larval white shrimp. They provide bite-sized white shrimp (Penaeus vannamei) in batches of anywhere from 50 to 1000 each. They are hardy, easy-to-keep and disease free. I recommend getting the smallest of the "Snicking Shrimp" they offer:
Seawater Express Inc.
Organic Shrimp Farm / Hatchery
Best of luck weaning your finicky seahorses onto frozen foods, Amber!
Pete GiwojnaJuly 25, 2007 at 6:39 am #3746Amberly98Guest
Wow…Thank You Pete!
I will try everything that you suggested! 🙂 As far as the type of Seahorses, thanks for the suggestion. I will do some research to try and figure out how to best care for these guys. The one thing that makes them stand out from all the other seahorses I have seen in the LFS is they have "spines" and a little 3 prong looking top-knot on the top of their heads. You are right they are built stocky and thick looking though…..! They are by far the healthiest appearing seahorses I have encountered (at a LFS). I do know with seahorses though looks can be deceiving when it comes to health so I am keeping my fingers crossed! But thanks again…..I really do appreciate the advice and welcome any more you may have!July 25, 2007 at 9:01 pm #3748Pete GiwojnaGuest
Hey, that’s good news! If your yellow seahorses are stocky and thickset in build, have well-developed spines, and a crownlike coronet with distinct tines, then they are definitely not the notoriously finicky Brazilian seahorses (Hippocampus reidi). The colorful H. reidi are slender, lithe seahorses that are smooth bodied and lack sharp spines or a spiky, crownlike coronet.
It sounds like your yellow seahorses may be Prickly Seahorses (Hippocampus barbouri), or at least belong to the histrix complex of spiny seahorses from the Indo Pacific, Amber. That’s an encouraging development for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, H. barbouri are less picky feeders than H. reidi and it should be easier for you to wean your prickly seahorses away from their dependency on live foods and train them to eat frozen fare instead. Secondly, H. barbouri babies are much easier to raise than H. reidi babies. The barb babies are benthic fry that are large enough to accept newly hatched Artemia nauplii as their first food. That makes them a great deal easier to rear than the pelagic fry produced by H. reidi, which go through an extended pelagic period and usually need to be started on smaller foods such as rotifers or larval copepods. That should improve your chances of raising the handful of babies that were born recently, since they will be easier to feed and you should have fewer problems with floaters and surface huggers.
Best of luck weaning your new acquisitions onto frozen foods and raising their babies, Amber!
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