We recently put four lined seahorses onto exhibit that were bred on-site at the VLM. Aside from simply raising them to adulthood – which is a task in itself – we also “train” them to feed in a particular location. This is a process that requires a lot of patience but ultimately helps in multiple ways: it allows us to control the amount of food given each day, it allows us to observe them at feeding (and see if one is not), it ensures the food is being eaten and not falling through uneaten into the substrate, and therefore it also prevents excess food buildup which can lead to disease and water quality issues.
The process begins early while we raise them in our nursery tanks, only after the seahorses are finally on a non-live diet (months before exhibit size). Once they are eating mysis regularly we then feed only at a “station” or particular spot designated specifically for feeding. Food is delivered via a clear plastic rigid tube (old gravel washer) directly to the station, which in this case is a clam shell. Eventually, they become accustomed to the routine and not only come to the station just prior to feeding time, but will line up side by side and feed, similar to regular horses at a trough as seen in the video!