Raising H. erectus fry

By David Mulcahy

Feeding Babies:

These comments are based upon my experience raising 42 baby H. erectus from three different broods to adulthood. At this date (June '03) the oldest group is now one year old.

On day one the newborn fry were able to eat newly hatched artemia, baby brine shrimp (bbs). For this reason and because the literature I had read did not indicate a need for rotifers as a first food I did not offer rotifers. Because of my work schedule I was only able to feed twice daily at approximately 12 hour intervals, typically 6-7 am and 6-7 pm. I feel that a third midday feeding would be beneficial but my schedule prevents it. While there are numerous reports that it is necessary to remove uneaten bbs after a short feeding period I did not do this. I kept the fry in "flow through" type nurseries that slowly washed uneaten food out over a period of 1-3 hours. In some cases I left food in with the fry almost constantly, it didn't seem to affect survival rates.

As soon as the fry were large enough to take 24 hour old fortified brine shrimp I stopped feeding the fresh hatch and fed fortified exclusively. This varied somewhat with the size and growth of the fry but in all cases was within one week from birth.

Additionally I offered small amounts of frozen Cyclops-eeze to the fry from the first day. Most simply ignored it but some took it so I continued right up to the completed switch to frozen Hikari mysis.

As the fry grew I began to add newborn lysmata shrimp larvae to the diet. As soon as they were large enough to eat them I fed out as much as I could capture, typically once or twice per week.

At about six weeks many of the fry were large enough to eat fortified adult brine shrimp. I began to add these to the diet as well, all the while continuing with the bbs, Cyclops and shrimp larvae. After a few days of adding the live adult brine shrimp I began to mix in some frozen brine shrimp as well. Many of the fry began to eat the frozen as readily as any of the live foods offered. I always added all of the foods at the same time hoping that they would fall into a sort of "feeding frenzy" and start to eat the frozen even if by accident. This seemed to work. Shortly after a good number of the fry were eating the frozen adult brine shrimp I began to add Hikari frozen mysis shrimp, picking only the smallest ones sorted by hand.

As more and more fry took to the frozen brine and mysis I dialed back on the live bbs accordingly. I always offered the lysmata larvae if I had them. By the end of the eighth week the entire group had been successfully weaned onto the frozen Hikari though I still offered small amounts of the other foods for another two weeks or so. As the fry continued to grow I fed progressively larger Hikari mysis and made the switch to Piscene Energetics mysis shrimp quite easily.

Personally I feel that the addition of the Lysmata shrimp larvae helped greatly with the growth and survival of the fry, despite the fact that they were only given sporadically. I breed two species, Peppermint shrimp and Scarlet Cleaner shrimp. Both are commonly available, inexpensive and breed readily in home aquaria. Unfortunately they are too large for newly born babies. Recently I have begun collecting hermit crab larvae which are smaller and may be of great value. Also I now have a pair of Oscellaris clownfish that are spawning regularly, I have added these larvae to diet as well.

I hope the above information answers your questions and is helpful to your breeding program.

Most recent revision: June 2003

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David Mulcahey & Seahorse.org
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