- This topic has 6 replies, 2 voices, and was last updated 17 years, 4 months ago by Pete Giwojna.
May 14, 2006 at 1:01 am #813nigelseahorseMember
how do you raise redi fry?
What do they eat?
Is the food able to be raised at home or bought here?
What does this fry food eat, How long does it live?
Can I move the male into a fry safe tank?(I\’m afraid the fry will be sucked up by the siphen that goes to the wet/dry filter)
How long do they stay at the surface?
When can I feed them BBS?
Do I need to lower the salinity?
Can the adults be in a lower salinity?
i have a 5gal nersery w/fake plants and sand, would this be ok to raise them in?
How old do the fry have to be to live with their parents and eat frozen food?
Post edited by: nigelseahorse, at: 2006/05/14 14:50May 14, 2006 at 10:13 pm #2510Pete GiwojnaGuest
Hippocampus reidi fry are best raised in kriesel nurseries at reduced salinity and the proper degree of turbidity to keep the pelagic fry away from the surface. The fry are very challenging to raise because they are too small to eat newly-hatched Artemia as their first food and undergo a lengthy free-swimming or pelagic phase that lasts several weeks.
For best results, the fry need to be started on live rotifers for the first week or two before you wean them on to first-instar baby brine shrimp. The rotifers in turn must be fed on microalgae or phytoplankton, also known as greenwater. So in order to raise reidi fry, you must first culture rotifers and phytoplankton. These cultures can be continued indefinitely, but they are prone to crashing for various reasons.
If you look up the previous thread on this discussion board titled "reidi fry — no survivors," my responses in that discussion should answer most of your other questions raising reidi babies, Nigel. You can look up the discussion at the following URL, and it will direct you to an article that explains one good way to culture rotifers and the greenwater/microalgae they feed upon:
Click here: Seahorse.com – Seahorse, Sea Life, Marine Life, Aquafarm Sales, Feeds and Accessories – Re:reidi fry no survivors
You could transform your five-gallon nursery into a kriesel by using a bubble wand or bubble curtain to establish the circular flow, Nigel.. Sometimes the most effective pseudokreisel nurseries are also the simplest. One such design uses a bubble wand or air bar positioned tightly against one side of the aquarium to disrupt the surface tension and create a slow, circular current. If the tank is rectangular in shape, the bubble wand should be secured at the bottom of one of the long sides of the aquarium.
Aside from its simplicity, the beauty of this system is its versatility. It can be scaled up to whatever size nursery is required or desired. For example, Jorge A. Gomezjurado used this exact type of pseudokreisel for a 90-gallon nursery at the Steinhart Aquarium, where it proved to be very effective for raising huge broods of pelagic Hippocampus ingens fry. Jorge notes the circular current (the kreisel effect) works well for keeping the fry away from to top and keeps the developing young and their food dispersed uniformly through the nursery tank (Gomezjurado, pers. com.).
A variation on this type of nursery adds drip bars or spray bars positioned just above the water level to create additional surface turbulence. When used in conjunction with the back-mounted bubble wand, the spray bars enhance the effectiveness of the circular flow pattern in nudging the fry away from the surface. This combination of surface agitation plus the kreisel effect is very efficient at preventing pelagic fry from getting stuck to the sides and entrapped by surface tension (Bethany Watson, pers. com.).
As you know, it’s never a good idea to transfer a pregnant male into a paternity tank with strange, new surroundings. If you must do it because the filtration in your reef tank will "eat" the newborn fry, proceed very carefully, make the nursery tank as stress free as possible for the gravid male, and make sure you stay on top of the water quality to prevent any ammonia spikes! It’s a much better idea to time his pregnancy so you can be present when he gives birth and gather up the fry from the main tank before they’re at risk from the filters. Gestation in H. reidi is typically about 14 days at 78°F-80°F.
In short, Nigel, I suggest you install a bubble wand or bubble curtain and perhaps add a spray bar to your 5 gallon nursery as described above, and then reduce the specific gravity in your nursery tank to around 1.016 in order to reduce your problems with surface huggers and floaters. Make sure you don’t expose the newborn fry to the air when you transfer them and you will start off on the right foot.
H. reidi fry grow relatively slowly, so I wouldn’t consider transferring any juveniles who managed to raise into the main tank with their parents until they are around six- month old and have put on some size. Transfer the juveniles from the nursery tank into a larger grow-out tank after you have wean them onto frozen foods.
Best of luck with your pair of H. reidi, sir! Here’s hoping they produce many healthy broods for you in the months to come!
Pete GiwojnaMay 15, 2006 at 5:11 pm #2511nigelseahorseGuest
Thanks for the advise but I have two mare questions:
Can the adults survive in a 5gallon tank that has a lower salinity?
Can the babies eat copepods?
I know they are hard to raise but is it impossible for someone who has never raised any fry before?
Post edited by: nigelseahorse, at: 2006/05/15 13:22
Post edited by: nigelseahorse, at: 2006/05/15 20:54
Post edited by: nigelseahorse, at: 2006/05/15 20:57May 16, 2006 at 1:03 am #2512nigelseahorseGuest
I have noticed that my male’s pouch has gotten bigger. It is also softer and more jelly-like.Maybe I missed the egg pass off. If he is pregnant it will be his first brood and most likely will be very small.His pouch used to be a small flap of skin between the anal fin and the base of the tail, now sinse he is interested in his filly and has been dancing and showing off ,his pouch has seemed to grow in the last few days.
Hope it’s a pregnancy!
By the way, where can you buy rotifers?
Post edited by: nigelseahorse, at: 2006/05/15 21:13May 16, 2006 at 10:35 pm #2514Pete GiwojnaGuest
Don’t count your chickens before they hatch, errr — your reidi babies before they are born, sir. The changes in your stallion’s pouch may simply indicate that he’s getting ready to breed, not that he’s already pregnant. Allow me to explain.
In some seahorse species, adult males and females can be very difficult to tell apart when they are not breeding because the male’s pouch shrinks to almost nothing in the offseason and does not become obvious again until hormonal changes triggered by courtship and mating cause it to grow and expand (Bull and Mitchell, 2002).
For example, this is how Michael Payne (Seahorse Sanctuary) describes this phenomenon:
"Temperature may effect whether or not you can see the pouch of a male. In H. breviceps, it is very difficult to sex adults that are not in breeding condition. At low temperatures (17°C), the males’ pouch deflates such that you can hardly see it. Increase the temp (22°C) and the brood pouch appears and mating starts."
During the breeding season, the male’s brood pouch undergoes elaborate changes to prepare it for pregnancy. Often called the marsupium, this remarkable organ is much more than a simple sack or protective pocket or a mere incubator for the eggs. Think of it as an external womb, which undergoes placenta-like changes throughout the pregnancy in order to meet the needs of the fetal fry. Its internal architecture is surprisingly complex. In fact, the male must begin preparing his pouch to receive his next brood long before gestation begins (Vincent, 1990). The elaboration of the internal pouch anatomy that is necessary to support the developing young is triggered by the male hormone testosterone. The four layers of tissue that comprise the pouch undergo increased vascularization at this time (Vincent, 1990) and a longitudinal wall of tissue or septum grows up the middle of the pouch, separating it into left and right halves. This increases the surface area in which fertilized eggs can implant, and enriches the blood supply to the lining of the pouch in which they will imbed. Just before mating occurs, this is enhanced by a surge in the active proliferation of the epithelial tissue that forms the innermost layer of the pouch (Vincent, 1990).
In the offseason, the levels of gonadotropin, testosterone and adrenal corticoids in the bloodstream are reduced, and the pouch deflates and shrinks accordingly, reversing these placenta-like changes. So the changes you have noticed in your male’s pouch are good signs, but the enlargement of his pouch could merely indicate that your reidi are getting serious about courtship and breeding now, so their hormones are flowing and he is preparing his pouch for eggs. It doesn’t necessarily mean that your male has already mated successfully, just that he is ready to breed..
Also, don’t assume that your Brazilian seahorse (H. reidi) will produce a small brood. It is indeed true that virgin males often produce inordinately small broods of fry the first time they mate, but "small" is a relative term. 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.
Large well-fed males routinely produce broods in the 1000-1200 fry range, and an average brood for H. reidi consist of several hundred young. So even a young, inexperienced male’s first brood could easily run into three figures. If he is already pregnant, or becomes so in the near future, don’t be surprised if you are looking at well over 100 fry when your reidi stallion delivers.
Best of luck with your prolific ponies and all of their future progeny, Nigel!
Pete GiwojnaMay 16, 2006 at 10:43 pm #2516nigelseahorseGuest
Alright so he might not be pregnant but now his pouch has turned a lighter color and is fuller than it was yesterday. I want to be prepared for the babies. Last time I was not prepared. When there are babies I want to be able to feed them, does OR sell rotifers?
he still has a split pouch divided in two
Post edited by: nigelseahorse, at: 2006/05/17 10:35May 17, 2006 at 8:30 pm #2523Pete GiwojnaGuest
Lining up your food sources and preparing for your reidi fry ahead of time is an excellent idea. If the pouch changes you have noticed don’t indicate that your male is pregnant at the moment, they certainly do indicate that he is preparing his pouch for breeding, and that he will be mating soon. Either way, you’re absolutely correct that it’s best to get your nursery tank and live food cultures ready in advance.
Yes, sir, your adult reidi can survive in hyposalinity at a specific gravity of 1.016 without any difficulty whatsoever. In fact, you can transfer them from the normal salinity in your reef tank to water of reduced salinity at 1.016 without any acclimation needed at all.
However, that’s not the best way to go about it if you are planning on using your five-gallon nursery tank as a paternity ward, Nigel, because your stallion would need to be very carefully and gradually acclimated back to the normal salinity afterwards in order to avoid the danger of dehydration. I would adjust the specific gravity in your 5 gallon nursery tank to the same specific gravity as a reef tank if you are going to briefly confine your male reidi in the nursery tank while he gives birth. That way, your stallion can be returned to your reef tank immediately after he gives birth without any need for acclimation, which should minimize the stressful effects of transferring him around like that.
However, your adult H. reidi are not going to be able to survive in a five-gallon tank without any biofiltration for any length of time regardless of what the salinity of the water is. They cannot make in an aquarium that shallow and there are going to be ammonia spikes that you will need to control with water changes as often as necessary (at least once a day). So if you’re going to try to use your five-gallon nursery tank as a paternity ward, Nigel, wait until birth is imminent so that your stallion isn’t cooped up in that tiny aquarium for any more than a day or so, and make sure the tank has plenty of shelter and hitching posts so he won’t fill vulnerable and exposed. Keep the nursery tank at the salinity of your reef tank so your stallion can go back into your reef tank immediately after he delivers his brood.
Then, after the male has been returned to your reef tank, you can reduce the salinity in the nursery tank to 1.016 to reduce the buoyancy of the newborns and help keep them away from the surface.
Yes, newborn reidi can eat copepods that are at the right stage of development, and copepods are the most nutritious food that seahorse fry can eat. Marine copepods are the ideal food for rearing seahorses fry. They are a natural prey item that constitutes a large portion of the diet of fish larvae in the ocean, and many marine fishes have evolved efficient feeding strategies for preying on them as their primary foods. This includes seahorses, whose tubular snouts are adapted specifically for feeding on tiny crustaceans such as ‘pods, and which have developed a sedentary lifestyle as ambush predators that allows them to capture them with maximum efficiency and a minimum expenditure of energy. The tiny size of the copepod nauplii allows even the smallest seahorse fry to eat them, and they are a feed-and-forget food that will survive in the nursery tank until eaten. The distinctive swimming style of copepod nauplii triggers a strong feeding response from seahorse fry, and ‘pods have naturally high levels of essentially fatty acids. They are superior to rotifers in all these respects (seahorse fry often reject rotifers because they don’t move in the "right" way and simply don’t trigger their feeding instincts) and I recommend that aquarists who are raising pelagic fry concentrate on culturing copepods.
Seahorse fry alter their diet as they grow (Vincent, 1990). This may be due to the fact that they change microhabits as they develop (e.g., when pelagic fry complete their planktonic stage and begin to feed at the bottom as they begin orienting to the substrate). Or it may simply be due to the fact that they become better hunters and perfect their feeding skills as they grow, thus enabling them to tackle larger, more active prey (Vincent, 1990). Whatever the cause, one good way to keep up with the fry’s changing dietary requirements is by providing them with cultured copepods at progressively later stages of development.
Step 1: Providing Marine Microalgae (Phytoplankton).
Marine microalgae or phytoplankton is available from many sources. It can be cultured at home, and if you have a green thumb and are experienced with such greenwater cultures, that may be your best option. However, home culturing may not be for everyone. Greenwater cultures can be tricky to maintain. They are easily contaminated and are prone to "crashing" suddenly and unpredictably, which can have dire consequences if you are relying on the phytoplankton to provide food for your seahorse fry.
Alas, I am one of those unfortunates who cannot seem to maintain a decent greenwater culture for any length of time no matter what I try. Consequently, I now much prefer to obtain live marine phytoplankton from other sources rather than attempting to culture my own. Commercially available phytoplankton tends to be more concentrated than homegrown cultures as a rule, and I find purchasing it to be far more convenient, efficient, and productive. Given my repeated failures and the time I spent for naught on my own greenwater cultures, I’m certain that buying live phytoplankton is more economical for me in the long run as well. If you are inexperienced with greenwater culture or simply lack the time to culture your own, I recommend buying your live phytoplankton instead (see the Resources page for suppliers). Whichever source you decide to use, home grown or store bought, make sure you use it strictly according to instructions to prevent contamination and spoilage of the phytoplankton.
The type of phytoplankton or microalgae you use is not that crucial. Chlorella is one of the most popular microalgae used in mariculture (Wilkerson, 1995), but Dunaliella also works extremely well and is recommended by Dr. Amanda Vincent (Vincent, 1995c), an authority on the breeding habits of seahorses. Serious breeders often use a mixture of different types of phytoplankton to feed copepods or rotifers, rather than a microalgae monoculture, with the goal of enhancing the nutritional profile of the ‘pods or rotis as much as possible (David Warland, pers. com.).
There is a great deal of merit to that approach, but in the past, maintaining separate cultures of different species of microalgae was beyond the capabilities of most home hobbyists, myself included. I prefer to keep things simple and I have always used Nannochlroposis as the phytoplankton I feed to copepods, both because it produces good results and because it is commercially available from a number of sources. To simplify things all the further, I purchase my Nannochlroposis in quantity as needed, rather than struggling with phytoplankton cultures.
The product I like best at the moment for this now includes a concentrated mixture of live marine phytoplankton (two species of Nannochlroposis, N. oculata and N. salina, as well as a Chlorella sp.) in every bottle (DT’s Live Marine Phytoplankton, 2003). That makes it a simple matter to provide my ‘pods with a diversified diet to maximize their nutritional value as fry food — I just unscrew the cap on the bottle and pour the requisite amount of this phytoplankton mixture into my culture tank whenever it’s losing its greenish tinge, and I’m in business (DT’s Live Marine Phytoplankton, 2003)! No muss, no fuss. Quick, easy and effective — just the way I like it!
Step 2: Culturing Zooplankton (copepods and/or rotifers).
We will be using standard 10-gallon glass aquaria as our batch culture tanks. It’s a good idea to run at least 2 such tanks simultaneously; that way, if one of the cultures falters, the other tank can pick up the slack and you won’t miss a beat. Depending on how many seahorse fry you are rearing, you many need to operate several such tanks to assure you will be producing sufficient food for them all.
Fill each of these culture tanks slightly less than half full with synthetic saltwater, adjust the salinity of the culture tank to match the salinity of your nursery tanks, and maintain the pH at 7.9 or below (Rhodes, 2003). This will assure that the copepods (or rotifers) we are culturing do not experience any salinity shock when we feed them to our seahorse fry. No heater is necessary — the cultures will do just fine at room temperature (24C-28C is optimum). Provide very low aeration (Rhodes, 2003). Airstones are unnecessary — a naked bubbler stem is sufficient. Adjust the airflow so it produces a slow, steady stream of coarse air bubbles (slow enough so that you can count the individual bubbles). Ambient room lighting is adequate or you may provide low wattage fluorescent lighting if you prefer.
Add enough greenwater (either commercially produced phytoplankton you’ve purchased or your own homegrown microalgae) to tinge the culture tanks green, and you’re ready to start culturing copepods. All that remains at this point is to "seed" the culture tanks with copepods. Add a starter culture of marine copepods to each tank, acclimating the ‘pods if necessary exactly as you would acclimate a new aquarium fish. They will do the rest.
To nurture the copepods, simply maintain a nice green tint to the culture water by adding more phytoplankton whenever the water in the tanks begins to clear in color. (Be conservative with these phyto-feedings. One dose of phytoplankton every 7-10 days is generally adequate, depending on production and your copepod harvest rates; Rhodes, 2003.) The ‘pod population in the culture tanks will double every 2-3 days, depending on the temperature and how well they are fed (Rhodes, 2003), and as soon as the population builds up sufficiently, we can begin to harvest copepods to feed to our seahorse fry. When you begin to notice numbers of copepods gathering on the tank glass, that’s a good indication that their population density can support daily harvesting.
The best way to harvest copepod nauplii is to strain the desired amount from the culture tank using a 35-micron sieve and then rinse or backwash the strainer in the nursery tank (Rhodes, 2003). Alternate which culture tank you harvest the copepods from for each feeding in order to avoid depleting the ‘pod population too much in any given tank.
Periodically, it will be necessary to restart the copepod culture tanks to filter out the detritus that accumulates on the bottom. This is typically done every month or two (Rhodes, 2003) and is a surprisingly simple process. Just siphon out the water from the culture tank, straining the water in the process in order to retain the copepods. A 125 -micron sieve works well for a strainer. That size mesh will retain all the reproductive adults you need to restart your culture (Rhodes, 2003). It’s a good idea to use a small diameter siphon at first, being careful to suck up as little of the detritus as possible since it will clog up your strainer and your goal at this point is to recover as many copepods as you can. Once you’ve strained out most of the ‘pods, backwash them into container of clean saltwater and set them aside to seed the culture tank after you’ve finished cleaning it. Having saved as many pods as possible, switch to a larger siphon and drain the culture tank completely, removing all of the accumulated detritus. Fill the tank half way with freshly mixed saltwater you’ve prepared in advance and adjust the aeration. Then return the copepods you strained out previously and add enough concentrated phytoplankton to tinge the water green, and your culture is ready to begin producing again. If you restart your culture tanks on alternate months, one or more of them will be in full production at all times, and you can keep a thriving copepod population going indefinitely in this manner.
If you so desire, rotifers can be cultured in exactly the same manner. The only difference is that the 10-gallon culture tanks should each be seeded with a quart of live rotifers initially (Giwojna, Jan. 1997). When necessary, add enough concentrated phytoplankton or greenwater to keep the rotifer culture tanks slightly green. As long as the rotifers are being fed algae, about 25% of the rotifer cultures can be harvested each day to feed to your seahorse fry (Wilkerson, 1995). Try to keep more than one rotifer culture going at all times in case of crashes, and be sure to keep the bottom of the culture tanks scrupulously clean (Giwojna, Jan. 1997).
In fact, you can even maintain a dual culture of copepods and rotifers in the same tank if you wish. But you must avoid cross-contamination of your culture tanks with brine shrimp at all costs! Newly hatched brine shrimp (Artemia nauplii) are considerably larger than either copepods or rotifers, and the Artemia will happily fed on them as well as the phytoplankton. So if any brine shrimp ever find their way into your culture tanks, you will very shortly thereafter be culturing Artemia instead of ‘pods or rotis, leaving you with nothing but live food that’s too large for pelagic fry to eat.
Harpacticoid copepods such as Nitokra lacustris go through 6 naupliar stages as they grow, followed by 6 copepodite stages, before they become reproductive adults. They range in size from 45 microns (smaller than rotifers) up to 270 microns as full-sized adults. The many different stages of development copepods undergo is actually a blessing for the aquarist since it makes it possible to provide progressively larger ‘pods to the seahorse fry as they grow simply by using sieves with different sized mesh to harvest them. For instance, a 35-micron sieve will gather up even the smallest copepod nauplii for newborn fry, while a 125-micron will collect only adult-sized pods for older fry and juveniles, leaving the smaller ‘pods behind to develop further. An 80-micron sieve will take intermediate-size ‘pods along with the adults.
Whether you’re culturing rotifers or copepod nauplii, pelagic seahorse fry should be fed continuously starting 6-12 hours after birth (Giwojna, Jan. 1997). Dr. Amanda Vincent recommends feeding 2 plankton nets of rotifers (or ‘pods) 5-7 times daily or whenever no plankton is visible in the nursery tanks (Vincent, 1995c). In addition, she keeps a drip of diluted plankton (i.e., rotifers or copepods) going at the rate of 10 liters/day at all times (Giwojna, Jan. 1997). (A bucket of copepod-laden or rotifer-rich saltwater set on top of the nursery tank will suffice for this–just use a length of airline tubing as a siphon and adjust the drip rate with a valve; Vincent, 1995c.)
Ocean riders doesn’t sell rotifers, but starter cultures are available from a number of places online. You should be able to get greenwater (microalgae) and/or copepod starter cultures from the same place you get your rotifers.
Best of luck rearing your reidi babies when they arrive, Nigel!
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