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Da Vinci Decoded

Making Waves

(Sea)Horse Whisperer
Argo and the Drifters
Triton Spidermen
Carry On
These Shoes Were      Made for Running

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Features May 2004: Volume 1, Number 2
   

(Sea) Horse Whisperer

 
     

In the wild, seahorses are ambush predators, using their tails to cling to coral and their long snouts to suddenly suck in unsuspecting prey. But in an aquarium, baby seahorses are finicky, fragile animals requiring specific conditions for survival.

Leslee Matsushige, assistant curator at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, has led its seahorse breeding program for four years and has learned valuable tricks that have contributed to the success of the seahorse breeding program.

The corners of rectangular tanks create dead zones in the water circulation, which causes baby seahorses to get trapped by the surface tension at the top of the tank. Matsushige uses a piece of 10-inch PVC pipe to round out the corners of the seahorse tanks and increase water flow.

Matsushige also has experimented with feeding regimens. Seahorses require food that is small enough to fit in a baby seahorse’s snout, yet nutritious enough to help them grow. Newborn brine shrimp, still covered in nutritious egg yolk, have proved to be a perfect seahorse snack.

Birch Aquarium now breeds 13 seahorse species, which have been sent to 66 aquariums, zoos and research institutions around the world.

Contributors to Making Waves: Malinda Danziger, '00, Jessica Demian, Karla DeVries, '04, Inga Kiderrra, Paul Mueller.

RELATED LINKS

Birch Aquarium at Scripps
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Secrets of the Seahorse
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"Birch Aquarium now breeds 13 seahorse species, which have been sent to 66 aquariums, zoos and research institutions around the world."