- This topic has 2 replies, 2 voices, and was last updated 16 years, 11 months ago by flyinglantis.
March 24, 2007 at 11:09 am #1166flyinglantisMember
The past few days when I feed my seahorses they fight over the mysis. Both femals wrap their tails around the snouts or necks of their mates and pull them away from the clam shell that I use for their dinner table. Other times the females will dive bomb the males, nocking them out of the way. These attacks seem almost coordinated, as if the females have plotted against their male counter parts. Luckily I provide them with enough food that there is enough left over once the females are fat and happy and have lost interest in harrasing their mates.
I am assuming that this behavior is not very common, for I haven\’t read anything about it in any of the books, articles, websites, etc. that I have turned to for information. I was wondering if anyone else has seen such behavior, and if so, if it was short or long lasting.
HowardMarch 25, 2007 at 9:09 am #3507Pete GiwojnaGuest
Yes, sir, that is a bit unusual. As you know, highly domesticated Ocean Rider seahorses are ordinarily very gregarious, social animals that very much enjoy the company of others of their kind. But when mouthwatering Mysis are up for grabs, our galloping gourmets are not always big on sharing or waiting turns.
Occasionally the dominant seahorse in a herd will develop a bad habit like monopolizing the feeding station, and driving one or more of the subordinate seahorses away until it’s had its fill. In the aquarium, seahorses do often work out a dominance hierarchy of sorts within the herd, but it’s unusual for a pair of alpha females to emerge and indulge in a little bullying, as seems as seems to be a situation in your case.
Rest assured that, as long as the stallions are still getting their fair share of the Mysis when all is said and done, this sort of jostling and jockeying for position at the feeding station is nothing to be concerned about, sir. . Because of the seahorse’s bony plates and body armor, even when a tail is wrapped around the neck or snout of a herdmate, there is no real danger of strangulation, asphyxiation or injury. Seahorses breathe through their gills so their respiration isn’t impaired in such situations. They don’t like it one it, mind you, and will certainly struggle and do their best to break free, but they’re not really in any danger. (It’s not unusual for seahorses to use their tails aggressively as you describe under certain circumstances, Howard, and that sort of agonistic behavior is often seen when rival males are competing over the same female. Observers often referred to these harmless encounters as tail wrestling, but it is certainly uncommon for the female seahorses to be the aggressors.)
I suspect things will even out for your harassed males when the seahorses get serious about courting and breeding. When the hormones start flowing, the testosterone-crazed stallions will become more aggressive and single-minded in their attempts to breed, and the females will eventually submit to their advances and come to look on them more as mates and life partners and less as competitors for food.
In the meantime, Howard, there are a few things you could try to ease the tension at feeding time. For instance, you might try feeding your seahorses a little more often, if possible. That way, perhaps the seahorses won’t get us hungry between meals and the overeager females won’t be inclined to bowl over the males in order to get at the Mysis first.
Or you might try setting up a second feeding station (perhaps the other half of the clamshell you have been using as your feeding tray) away from the first feeding station, and putting about half of the usual portion of frozen Mysis in each station. That way, if the females insist on monopolizing one feeding station, the subordinate seahorses could gravitate to the other feeding station and still get their fill.
You might also consider target feeding the seahorses for the time being to assure that each of them gets enough to eat at mealtime. That’s a little more work, of course, but it can be a lot of fun and quite rewarding for both you and the seahorses.
Best of luck managing the matriarchy that has evolved in your seahorse tank, Howard!
Pete GiwojnaMarch 25, 2007 at 11:39 pm #3510flyinglantisGuest
Thanks for the informative reply. I wasn’t sure if this behavior was something to be concerned about or not. It’s a relief to hear that there really isn’t anything to be concerned about. I had thought about setting up another feeding station like you suggest, and I think I might just do that.
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