Seahorses are such majestic creatures, but they take a little more TLC than many other fish. Don’t be discouraged though; the reward is well worth the trouble. They’re a strange mix of bony fish and serpent unlike any other creature in the ocean. Couple their horse-like head with their dragon-esque look, and they’re a beautiful and awe-inspiring addition to many aquariums.
Unfortunately, Seahorses aren’t as comfortable in the water as most creatures. Compared to other fish, their gills aren’t as strong. Their grace and dexterity isn’t the best, and they don’t even have a true “stomach”. While none of that’s a problem, they do mean you need to give your Seahorses specific conditions to really grow well.
Most importantly, you’ll need to be picky about choosing the best live food for Seahorses. Feeding them isn’t like feeding other fish. Their lack of a proper stomach means food passes through them faster than other creatures. Think of their digestive tract more like an open pipe, where food drops straight through the middle.
Why does that matter? Basically, food just goes right through them, sometimes without them getting the full nutritional value of it. They need a steady supply of quality, nutrient-rich food to keep their energy up.
Seahorses, as such, are slow and steady grazers, not one-and-done feeders. They like to spend most of their time scavenging for food, even if they aren’t really hungry. You can see where an aquarist might run into problems trying to feed them conventionally.
Many enthusiasts go the erroneous route of feeding their Seahorses frozen or dead food, once, twice, even three to four times a day, but that’s just not the best way to go. Seahorses like to graze all day on living food in the wild. If you want yours to be happy, you have to replicate and respect that in your aquarium.
The way Seahorses like to hunt and graze is a direct reflection of the foods they love to eat. You’ll tend to find that, during the day, your Seahorses wrap their snake-like tails around various fixtures in your tank. Instead of actively hunting their prey, they just sit there and wait for slow, drifting foods to come to them.
Seahorses are technically “vertical movement creatures”, meaning they like to explore the water column to its full extent. In addition to finding all the tasty tidbits floating around in the middle of the water, they like to look for food down at the bottom of the tank as well.
Up until recently, Seahorses were only fed living food. Only with the recent explosion in their popularity did enthusiasts start to train them to eat frozen or dead food. But when you have to train your seahorse to eat something, doesn’t that seem a little unnatural?
In fact, some breeds of Seahorses will refuse to eat anything but living food. Dwarf Seahorses, for example, are notorious for their finickiness around food quality.
In a perfect world, everybody would be feeding their Seahorses live foods, like Tisbe Copepods. If you want to make life easy, Copepods are going to be the best food choice. Available to eat round-the-clock, self-sustaining, and packed full of the nutrients your Seahorse needs to thrive, Pods are a simple way to take the hassle out of feeding.
Since Seahorses are such selective grazers, it’s nice to have a large colony of copepods in your reef habitat for them to choose from. If you have a separate culture in another tank, you can easily target feed them just as easily with a turkey baster.
It’s critical to have a well-established colony of pods for your Seahorses to feed from. Seahorses have been known to gnosh copious amounts of copepods every single day. If you don’t have a large enough colony to recover or support your Seahorses, you risk a culture crash.
If your culture is too young, you can try target feeding them at set times every day. Seahorses are smart animals, and are excellent at picking up feeding schedules. At the same two or three times every day, target feed your Seahorses via a pipette or turkey baster. Consistency is key if you want them to understand that they’ll be fed at the same time every day.
So how do you choose the right copepod for your Seahorse? There’s so many out there, it could be a nightmare to test them all out.
When choosing live food for seahorses, here’s no one-size-fits-all answer, as much as we wish there were. The ideal copepod for each seahorse is different. As a safe bet though, many breeds prefer a good, quality batch of live Tisbe Pods. They’re a great size to fit in their small, toothless mouths and are a tantalizing treat for them.
Sometimes, depending on the size and age of your Seahorse, they’ll prefer to feast on some live, protein rich Tiger Pods. Just take some time to study your Seahorse and figure out what they prefer.
Seahorses are stunning animals, and a little extra attention to detail shouldn’t stop you from enjoying them in your aquarium. As long as you give them a steady supply of nutrient rich, living food, it’ll be a breeze. You’ll wonder why you didn’t start raising them sooner!