- This topic has 5 replies, 2 voices, and was last updated 13 years ago by Pete Giwojna.
November 3, 2010 at 9:19 pm #1847caroprMember
New here and just wanted to say hi and post a question.
Got 2 horses (Snoopy and Clara) and they are still settling in. Hopefully all goes well.
(Big applause for Pete please and his hard work, taking care of everyone and their horsies via forum and email)
I have not been able to find a feeding station for them. The link provided is sold out for the moment and I don’t know yet, when they will have new ones.
If anyone knows another vendor for sea horse feeding stations, I would appreciate it very very much. 🙂
🙂 ……. caroprNovember 6, 2010 at 12:43 am #5211Pete GiwojnaGuest
Other than the fish tray you mentioned, which is out of stock at this time, I don’t know of anyone else who is offering a ready made feeding station suitable for seahorses at this time.
However, there are a number of artificial corals available that look perfectly natural and lifelike in a marine aquarium, and which make outstanding feeding stations that require no modification whatsoever and can be used just as is.
For example, the beautiful Velvet Stone Coral (Montipora capricornis) in dark pink from Living Color (item #261) makes an ideal elevated feeding station for seahorses. It is a type of artificial plate coral that has the shape of a shallow bowl measuring 6" L x5.5"W x3.5"H on a short stalk. The rim of the coral formation provides convenient hitching posts for the seahorses, whereas the sunken interior neatly contains the frozen Mysis and keeps it from being whisked away by the water currents. It’s a very attractive coral formation that resembles nothing more than a giant rose in full bloom it is available from a number of retail outlets for retail price of $28.95.
Under the circumstances, I think your best bet for a ready-made feeding station that requires no further modification would be to obtain a suitable artificial coral with the proper shape such as the Velvet Stone Coral (Montipora capricornis) mentioned above.
Best of luck finding the perfect feeding tray for Snoopy and Clara!
Pete GiwojnaNovember 6, 2010 at 8:44 pm #5213caroprGuest
Thanks so much for the info!
This morning Clara actually used Snoopy’s head as perch to gain stability while waiting for her food. He did not like that too much and wiggled out quickly.
A lot of time they will hold on to each others tails for feeding time trying to get as close as possible to the feeding area. Talk about smart little guys.
Yeah, I’m gonna order one of those velvet Stone Corals. I had actually seen the catalog, but was kind of looking for something higher or bit taller. But I can always get a larger pipette or use the target feeder. They recognize both by now.
All your advise worked great!
Among others as soon as I tap lightly on the tank they come "running" and by now feeding is as easy as feeding my dog. Except that Clara of course is more determined to get her food quickly, just as you mentioned.
Keeps me wondering what else they gonna figure out.
:laugh: …………. CaroprNovember 9, 2010 at 7:16 am #5214Pete GiwojnaGuest
It sounds like you are doing a wonderful job with Claire and Snoopy and that they are quite contented under your diligent care.
Please let me know if you have any difficulty locating a retailer who carries the Velvet Stone Corals from Living Color that make such good elevated feeding stations. I would be happy to recommend a reliable source for them if you have any trouble locating them locally. You can reach me at the following e-mail address anytime: [email protected]
Don’t worry that the dark pink Velvet Stone Coral is going to be down too low or will be too inconvenient to use to full advantage, Carolina. It is only elevated a few inches from the bottom on the stock that supports the coral colony, but that’s plenty high enough to prevent pesky bristleworms, microhermit crabs, or nassarius snails from invading the feeding station. And you can easily deliver the frozen Mysis directly into the center of the feeding station even in a taller tank such as yours simply by using a feeding tube or feeding guide to place the Mysis where you want them.
In your case, I suggest trying a feeding tube or feeding guide for the feeding sessions, Caropr. At feeding tube or guide is simply a length of rigid plastic tubing (clear or transparent) that has been cut to the right length so that the will reach from the top of the aquarium to where the seahorses are accustomed to feeding, and a diameter of anywhere from 1/2 inch to 2 inches works well. The rigid plastic tubing is available in three-foot lengths from many pet stores and fish stores, or can also be found at the local hardware store, and is quite inexpensive.
To use the feeding tube, you simply thaw and prepare the frozen Mysis as usual, submerge the feeding tube in the upright position so that the uppermost end is just beneath the surface, and place a few of the Mysis in the open end of the tube. They will drift slowly down the feeding tube via gravity and you can place the other end of the feeding tube a couple of inches above the seahorse(s) heads and a short distance in front of them, where they can see it easily. The seahorses will be able to track the frozen Mysis as it moves all the way from the top of the feeding tube down to the opposite end you have strategically positioned near the seahorses heads. They will be able to see the Mysis coming as it progresses down the transparent feeding guide, and should be ready to strike at it as it emerges from the end of the feeding tube an inch or two above their heads and drifts down right past their snouts the rest of the way. (That’s why it’s sometimes necessary to turn off the pump/powerheads for target feeding — otherwise when the frozen Mysis friendly emerges from the end of the feeding tube nearest the seahorses, and the food is no longer protected from currents within the tube, the water flow may intercept the drifting Mysis and carry it away from the seahorses beyond their reach, or swirl it past them too fast to be eaten.) You can then repeat the process with the rest of the Mysis, introducing a few pieces at a time into the feeding tube and guiding them directly to the seahorses as the Mysis slowly drift down the transparent tube, until the seahorses have eaten their fill.
This method of target feeding usually works quite well, Caropr, especially since your ponies already recognize you as their feeder, and the appearance of yourself with the feeding tube will be quickly associated with good things — their gourmet goodies — after which feeding time should go very smoothly. Just be very diligent about plugging in the filters and/or powerheads again after each feeding session — it’s all too easy to forget to turn them on again, which can leave your seahorse tank without filtration or circulation, to the detriment of all the inhabitants.
One of the added benefits of target feeding the seahorses with a feeding guide is that it makes it easier to train the ponies to use a feeding station, once they have become accustomed to eating the Mysis as it drifts out of the end of the feeding tube. Here are some additional tips for setting up a feeding station and training the seahorses to come to a new feeder, Caropr:
There are a few factors to bear in mind when choosing the location for your feeding station.
First of all, it must be in a location that’s convenient for you to reach and observe, since you will be depositing the enriched Mysis in the feeding tray, watching closely to make sure that all your seahorses show up for chow and are feeding normally, with healthy appetites, and then removing any uneaten leftovers when the seahorses have eaten their fill, if necessary.
Secondly, the feeding station should be located in an area with relatively low flow so that the seahorses can approach it easily, and more importantly, so that brisk currents don’t whisk the frozen Mysis out of the feeding tray or make it too difficult to guide the enriched Mysis into the feeding dish in the first place.
Setting up your feeding station is simply a matter of selecting the type of feeding dish (the Velvet Stone Coral from Living Color, in your case, Caropr) you prefer and setting it in place in the desired location, which should meet all the criteria discussed above. All that remains is to train your seahorses to come to the feeding station and eat, which normally is a very simple process that they often take care of on their own.
For example, most hobbyists use a feeding tube of some sort to deliver the enriched frozen Mysis to their feeding station. The feeding tube is simply a length of rigid, clear-plastic tubing, perhaps 1-2 inches in diameter, that’s long enough to reach all the way from the surface down to the feeding station. When the food is ready, they place the thawed enriched frozen Mysis in the top of the feeding tube, and it sinks slowly down the length of the tubing to be deposited in the feeding bowl or tray below. Often the seahorses will track the Mysis all the way down the tube to the end and be ready to snap it up as soon as it emerges over the feeding station, which is an added benefit of this method since it eliminates the need to train the seahorses to come to the feeding dish. The hungry horses will just naturally follow the sinking Mysis to its destination.
When you set up a feeding station, most seahorse pick up on it right away and respond to the new feeding method very well, as described above. However, sometimes there is a slow learner that needs to be trained to come to the new feeder. There are a couple of fairly simple ways to accomplish that, which usually work pretty well.
One way to get your seahorses up to speed on a new feeding station station is to target feed them with a turkey baster, and once they are eating from the baster well, use it to lead them to the new feeding station. 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 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 theseahorse’s mouth as long as necessary.
If you can do that, it is an easy matter to hold a morsel of Mysis at the end of the baster, and use this tantalizing tidbit to lure the seahorse toward the new feeders by holding it just out of reach and leading the hungry seahorse in the direction you want him to go before you allow him to take the bait. This may have to be done in several steps, and it may take a while for you to get the seahorses accustomed to taking food from the baster before you start making much progress, but eventually you’ll have the pupil perched close enough to the new feeder for you to drop the dangling Mysis inside the feeding station before you allow them to slurp it up. This method takes time and patience, but it allows you to make sure the seahorses are getting plenty to eat while they make the transition to the new feeding station. And it’s a gradual conditioning process that will eventually work with even the slowest learners.
Best wishes with all your fishes, Caropr! I don’t think you’ll have any difficulty at all training Clara and Snoopy to use any particular feeding tray are feeding station you have in mind — they are already primed to take that step.
Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech SupportNovember 9, 2010 at 7:36 am #5215caroprGuest
Thank you for the wonderful advice!!!
Feeding is a breeze by now. They come running and eat with the biggest confidence. I love that little clack they do when they grab the mysis. Sounds like build in castanets. 🙂
The lightly tapping on the tank also works perfect. They notice that and let go of whatever they are clinging to and come to the corner where I feed them.
Well, by now they pretty much hang out with me. 🙂
They are extremely social. Wow.
I’ve been using a glove to leave one hand in the water sometimes while feeding them and and after a day or two of close inspection, effectively the female already curls around my finger. The male, I’m sure will follow in no time; he is already swimming close by while inspecting.
All your advice works. It’s absolutely amazing.
I do have a bit dumb question though. The feeding tube; you remove it from the tank after feeding them? It’s not a fixture to the aquarium?
As I had mentioned. The feeding station is more of a precaution in case I have to go on a trip and need to leave them in care of someone else.
:))) …………. caroprNovember 10, 2010 at 4:51 am #5216Pete GiwojnaGuest
Yes, that’s right — the feeding tube (just a length of rigid plastic tubing of appropriate size) is meant to be portable. You move it around within the aquarium as needed when target feeding the ponies or depositing the frozen Mysis in a suitable feeding station. Afterwards, the feeding guide or feeding tube is removed from the aquarium until it is needed the next time. Most seahorse keepers keep the feeding tube in their aquarium cabinet or on top of the tank, and it’s a good idea to rinse it out with hot water thoroughly from time to time to keep it clean and sanitary.
You could always use suction cups to mount the feeding tube inside the aquarium, if you prefer, but most aquarists do not want to include an unsightly piece of apparatus as a permanent fixture for their tanks when it’s not necessary…
Yes, indeed — the noise that healthy seahorses produce when slurping up their food is distinctly audible to the human ear and does sound rather like castanets or the sound produced by snapping your fingers.
Seahorses are capable of making noises both in and out of water, Caropr. All seahorse keepers are familiar with the "snick!" they make when slurping up prey, but they will also sometimes emit a series of staccato clicks or high-pitched squeaks when foraging or when held out of the water (Discovery of Sound in the Sea, 2004). What purpose these noises serve or whether they are a form of communication is unknown.
Hippocampus erectus in particular is well known for its ability to "vocalize." Seahorses produce sounds by two different mechanisms — drumming (vibrating their air bladders) and stridulation (scraping the back of the neuroskull against the bones of the coronet). Snicking is produced by stridulation whereas a growling or croaking noise is produced by drumming. If you are holding the seahorse at the time, you can actually feel this "growling" because the vibration of the air bladder is transmitted to the surrounding tissues and into the water through its body, as we’ll discuss in more detail below.
Marie Fish conducted a study of the significance of sound production in seahorses at the Narragansett Marine Laboratory, University of Rhode Island in 1953 (Bellomy, 1969, p190). She used a hydrophone to monitor and record the sounds produced by a large female northern seahorse (Hippocampus erectus) over a period of several months. She found that spontaneous sound production was limited to first two days in a new environment (Fish, 1953). The seahorse would cruise the length of the tank one or more times in an exploratory manner and then anchor itself to a holdfast and emit a burst of sounds (Fish, 1953). These consisted of sharp clicks in bursts of 2-5 with each snap spaced about one second apart (Fish, 1953). She would then repeat this behavior every 1/2 to 3/4 of an hour for the first day or two (Fish, 1953). After the second day she would fall silent, making no more sounds despite attempts by the experimenters to elicit them. However, each time she was transferred to a new tank, she would resume the same exploring/sound-making behavior for the first day or two (Fish, 1953).
Fish concluded, "…for this one fish at least, sound may be used in new surroundings for orientation, perhaps to find the whereabouts of others of its species (Bellomy, 1969, p190)." Fish notes that the female had spawned recently (Fish, 1953); it may have been searching for its mate. These findings beg the question of whether seahorses are able to locate one another in the ocean using sound. That would certainly be a useful ability for cryptic animals with very patchy distribution and very limited swimming ability.
Interestingly, there are several reports that mating in some seahorse species is often accompanied by clicking and snapping sounds, but I have never witnessed this first hand. For example, in 1970 Fish and Mowbray reported that Hippocampus erectus emitted a high-frequency clicking during courtship, which became louder and almost continuous during the actual mating.
These reports are intriguing because vocalizations in many other fishes are known to play an important role in intraspecific communication, including courtship and territorial behavior (Evans, 1998). There are several mechanisms by which fishes, including seahorses, are known to produce sound. For example, some fishes use their swim bladders as resonance chambers to produce sounds (drumming), using muscles on or near the gas bladder to vibrate the gas-filled membrane. Jorge Gomezjurado has found that Hippocampus ingens can make a "croaking" sound using their air bladder this way (Mann 1998). However, sounds made by drumming are low frequency, ranging from approximately 75 to 150 Hz, so that is definitely not the mechanism seahorses use to generate clicking noises during courtship and mating (Evans, 1998). Instead, the seahorse’s high-frequency clicking is thought to be produced by stridulation, which is simply rubbing or scrapping two parts of the body together to make noise (Evans, 1998). (Crickets, for example, produce their characteristic chirping via stridulation.) Sounds made by stridulating are usually concentrated at the higher frequencies, ranging from approximately 3,000 to 8,000 Hz (Evans, 1998).
Marie Fish identified the bones she believes produce the stridulation in seahorses. She found "…a loose articulation between the posterior margin of the skull and the anterior margin of the coronet, which is a star-shaped ossified crest mounted in a socket like base. When the seahorse’s head was extended moderately, the articulating bony edges could be seen to rub together, but when elevated more sharply, the coronet overlapped the other bone. Dissection showed adequate muscular equipment to permit such movement in the living fish. It is suggested therefore that the ‘finger-snapping sound’ results when the skull edge slips forcibly under the coronet, or, more likely perhaps, when it snaps out. Vibrations thus set up may be transferred to and amplified by the air bladder (Bellomy, 1969, p190)." In other words, seahorses use friction between the back of the neuroskull and the coronet bone (Mann 1998) to produce high frequency sounds via stridulation.
During the mating embrace, both male and female seahorses are thus said to produce high-frequency clicking sounds by scraping or "snapping" the bony edges on two parts of their skulls together (Discovery of Sound in the Sea, 2004). I should hasten to point out that these presumed courtship noises are distinctly different than the usual "snick" that seahorses make when feeding. They are not associated with eating and the clicks are made in bursts consisting of several snaps in quick succession (Fish 1953).
In short, the feeding noises that Snoopy and Clara make when enjoying their Mysis is music to the seahorse keeper’s ears, because it is a sure sign of a strong, healthy seahorse with a hearty appetite.
Best of luck with your new Ocean Riders, Caropr!
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