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Seahorses and Mysis Shrimp

Picky Mustang seahorse and Mysis shrimp.

By Carol Cozzi-Schmarr and Guest, Alisa Wagner Abbott

Q. I have two pairs of Mustang seahorses. They all eat frozen Mysis shrimp, but I have noticed that a male of mine is not eating as much as the others. He has been this way since I received him. He also likes to hide a lot. I have had them for about two months and I am not sure if I should be concerned or not.
Thanks a lot!
Chris R.

A. It is not uncommon for the males to be less aggressive with feeding and often they can be secretive and shy. The main concern is that your seahorse is receiving an adequate amount of food. The best way to determine if they are getting a sufficient amount of nourishment is by looking at their bellies. If their bellies start to look concave, it means that they are not receiving enough food. A healthy seahorse should have a slightly rounded belly at all times.

At this point, your seahorses should be well acclimated to their new environment and pretty much should have developed their overall personalities. In my experience it is often the males that generally will be the ones to hide or eat with less vigor than the females. You may have noticed during feeding that some seahorses, especially the females, will come galloping off their hitching posts and snick up food without sometimes even a glance, while others such as some of the males may sort of slowly pace their way toward the food and check it out for several moments before even thinking of eating it. Sometimes this painfully long food glancing will even lead the seahorse to losing his morsel to his tankmate. This is often a frustrating moment for the hobbyist to observe and often they fear that their seahorse may be sick or may die from lack of food, unless your seahorse is ill, which in your case is probably not likely since he has been this way from the start. You probably just have one of those shy males who will often just take his time or wait until he is alone to eat. If his belly is slightly rounded, then you have no need to be concerned and this is just his way and he may be less active than his mates and may require less food. Or he may just wait until no one is looking before he starts grazing heavily. However, if your male is starting to look a bit concave in the belly, you will want to increase his feeding. There are a couple of things you may want to try or investigate.

With a picky male, he may be looking for that special piece of whole Mysis. If you are not using a good brand of Mysis shrimp, then this may be your problem. You should select a high quality brand of Mysis that has mostly whole pieces of shrimp. I have come across certain brands of Mysis that are mostly broken pieces and/or smell bad. I have even come across Mysis shrimps that are mostly skeletal remains. With these types of poor quality Mysis shrimp, only your very vigorous eaters will take to it and sometimes after awhile they will even begin to refuse them.

If you're sure about your shrimp, then you can try target feeding your seahorse. Sometimes they can be that shy and by target feeding your shy seahorse it may allow him the opportunity and time to eat. Just make sure that you also feed the others at the same time in their regular area. Another suggestion is to try offering him several feedings a day to fatten him up a bit. You can also wiggle some Mysis, shrimp by using a turkey baster in front of his nose. This will often give the appearance that the food is live and often will stimulate a hunting instinct.

Each seahorse has his or her own unique personality. Sometimes it takes awhile before hobbyists find the best way to feed their herd. Sporadically this will even lead to the owner having to step away from the tank before the seahorse eats. On some occasions a seahorse may fail to acquire a hearty appetite, but still live a "normal" life. And on rare occasions a seahorse may not fully get accustomed to its environment and fail to thrive. The reasons for this could be stress from other possible tankmates and many other environmental reasons, but this is generally seen in wild-caught seahorses and not farm-raised.

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