What Do Seahorses Eat In Captivity

Seahorses are wonderful creatures to have in an aquarium. What makes them so unique and unlike other marine creatures is that seahorses don’t have a stomach.  This intrigues most people and makes them wonder what do seahorses eat in captivity?

Seahorses in captivity eat mostly live foods that are found in their natural habitat.  This includes brine shrimps, ghost shrimp, red shrimp, Mysis shrimp, and daphnia.  Seahorses on occasion do eat plant matters too such as seaweeds, kelp, seagrasses, and algae.

Best Types Of Food To Feed Seahorses In Captivity

Seahorses do not have teeth like most other marine animals.  To eat, they just suck the food in and swallow it whole.  For that reason, the types of food they eat will need to be small, very small to be exact.  Some of these foods are plankton, small fish, insects, and baby shrimps.

There are different types of food you can feed seahorses, which include live foods, frozen foods, pellets, and flakes.  However, live foods and frozen foods should be included as their main diet.

Pellets and flakes can be used as an alternative when other types of foods aren’t available.   For seahorses, since pellets and flakes are not natural to them, they won’t recognize it so they won’t eat it.  However, seahorses can be trained to eat pellets and flakes though.  It’s going to take a lot of training to get them used to it.

For captive-bred seahorses, live foods will be the best types of food to give them.  It’s what is natural to them.  In addition, live foods have the highest amount of nutrition in them, especially shrimps.

Some live foods are seasonal and you may need to switch to frozen foods.  This includes baby shrimps and daphnia.  During the winter season, these live food will be scarce or not available at all.  If that’s the case, frozen foods will be a great alternative.

Live Food To Feed Seahorses

Live food is the best type of food for seahorses in captivity because it’s natural and contains a lot of nutritional content.  This is what you should feed the seahorse daily, especially when they are a baby.

When purchasing live foods, make sure they are of high quality and free of diseases.  Live foods carry the highest risk of diseases and parasites, especially those caught from the wild.  To ensure you’re getting quality live foods, always purchase from reputable pet stores and online stores.

Besides pet stores and online stores, live foods are also available at your local supermarkets and seafood marketplace.  Live food at these places is usually cheaper, which is why most people buy from them.  If you are planning to purchase from these places, look at the live foods carefully before purchasing them.  Check them for parasites and other illnesses.  Usually, when live foods are ill or have parasites, they will not be active and they will be discolored.

Feeding Seahorses Baby Brine Shrimp

Baby brine shrimp is the most common diet used in an aquarium. When it comes to feeding seahorses, it’s the most effective one.

Baby brine shrimp have naturally high levels of proteins, which is especially great for seahorse fry. Besides proteins, it’s rich in other nutrients such as lipids and unsaturated fatty acids.

In addition to the above, baby brine shrimp can easily be digested by the seahorses. Since seahorses don’t have a stomach, baby brine shrimps are a great feeder for them.

Baby brine shrimps can survive in the aquarium tank for several hours. This ensures that the seahorses are provided constant supplies of food. Great for seahorses because they require a lot of food daily. For adult seahorses, they will eat almost 50 times daily. As for seahorse fry, they will consume more than 3,000 food pieces daily!

Feeding Seahorses Ghost shrimp

Another great feeder for seahorses is ghost shrimps, or glass shrimp (due to their semi-transparent body). This is a freshwater crustacean popular with fish keepers.

Ghost shrimp contains a lot of nutrients which are great for the seahorses. They are high in proteins and fats. Ghost shrimp are easy for the seahorse to digest, especially when they don’t have a stomach.

Ghost shrimps are not only great feeders for seahorses, but they make efficient tank cleaners as well. Dirty water is usually due to leftover foods fish waste, and dead plants. Having a lot of ghost shrimps in the tank will help prevent the water from getting dirty.

These shrimps are usually for adult seahorses. They will be too big for seahorse fry to eat. You can release as many ghost shrimp into the tank at once. They will go hide in the plants and other aquarium decorations. Do this will keep the seahorses active all day.

Feeding Seahorses Mysis Shrimp

Mysis shrimp is another great live food for seahorses. These are not as popular as the above 2 types of shrimp. They can be hard to find and most pet stores don’t usually stock them.

If you can find some, seahorses love them. They have a higher fat content than brine shrimp, which makes them great for seahorse fry.

Mysis shrimps are not a popular live food type, but they are popular and common as freeze-dried foods. You can find most freeze-dried foods to contain Mysis shrimps.

Feeding Seahorses Daphnia

Daphnia is small aquatic crustaceans great as a live food feeder for seahorses. They are small and easy for the seahorse to catch.

Daphnia provides the necessary vitamins for seahorses, especially protein content. Great for adult seahorse and excellent for seahorse fry that needs all the nutrition they can get to help them grow.

They are easily found at most pet stores which makes them popular as a feeder for seahorse and other marine creatures.

Daphnia doesn’t make the water dirty so you can put as much in the tank as you want. They can live a long time in the tank and provide the seahorses with plenty of supply of foods.

Frozen Food To Feed Seahorses

Frozen food or freeze-dried food is a great alternative to live foods.  They are a great supplement to live foods and makes a great backup food for seahorses as well.

It’s important to know that seahorses do not eat things that are dead in the wild.  If you purchased adult seahorses and it was captured from the wild, they might not eat frozen food you give to them.  You’ll have to condition them to get them to eat frozen foods.  It’s going to take a few weeks to even a couple of months to train them to each frozen foods.

On the other hand, if you have raised the seahorse from a baby, you can get them to eat frozen foods by training them.  As they grow into an adult, frozen food shouldn’t be a problem when feeding them.

When purchasing frozen foods, make sure it’s of high quality.  There are a lot of low-quality frozen foods out there and feeding them to the seahorses can pose a health risk.  Seahorses get sick very easily and why you need to pay attention to the quality of the foods you buy for them.  To make sure you’re getting the highest quality frozen food products, buy from reputable pet stores or online stores.

Feeding Seahorses Frozen Mysis Shrimp

Mysis shrimp is the preferred frozen food for seahorses. It’s recommended due to their availability all year round and the nutrition value that has.

In their frozen stage, they still contain a high level of protein and amino acids as live foods. Frozen Mysis contains between 5 percent and 10 percent protein, depending on the size of the shrimp and the manufacturer.

They are available in frozen cubes and freeze-dried flakes. Feeding Mysis shrimps to seahorses can be given daily. Seahorses are more likely to eat cubes rather than flakes. However, to get them to eat flakes, you’ll need to train them first. It’s best to train to eat flakes when they are a baby. Training an adult seahorse to eat flakes will be nearly impossible, especially those that are wild-caught.

Feeding Seahorses Frozen Plankton

Plankton is used as a food supplement for most aquatic creatures, including seahorses. Freeze-dried plankton is rich in lipids, proteins, and beta-carotene.

Great for feeding seahorse fry that needs the nutrition to help them grow. When feeding them, feed them freeze-dried planktons once every 2 days or so.  This will ensure they get enough of lipids and beta-carotene which isn’t found in shrimps and other crustaceans.

Feeding Seahorses Frozen Krill

Krill are small marine crustaceans, usually found in the cold arctic waters.  These crustaceans are very rich in protein and should be fed to the seahorses sparingly.

In freeze-dried form, it usually comes in the shape of a cube. The krills are bundled tightly together into a cube. This makes them easier to handle and to feed the seahorses.

What Plants Do Seahorses Eat?

Seahorses are an omnivorous animal, which means they eat a mixture of plant and animal matter.  Seahorses enjoy eating plants like seaweed, kelp, and seagrasses.  Usually, they’ll nibble at it until they’ll full.   

In addition, there’s one other plant that seahorses enjoy eating and that is algae.  Algae are in the plant kingdom, but technically they are not plants.  They are a diverse group of eukaryotic photosynthetic organisms living together. 

What Do Seahorse Fry Eat?

Seahorse fry must be fed strictly live food. This is to ensure they get the most nutrition out of the foods they eat. The staple food to feed seahorse fry is baby brine shrimp. They are readily available at pet stores and it’s easy for the fry to eat.

A baby seahorse can eat up to 3,000 food items each day. For that reason, you should set up the tank where you can accommodate that amount of feeding each day.

Sometimes, live foods are not available due to the season or the local pet store is out of stock. If that’s the case, an alternative to live foods is freeze-dried foods. Freeze-dried baby brine shrimp is the recommended choice to feed them. Before you feed them, put them in a cup or bowl of water first to get them to thaw first.

When feeding them freeze-dried foods, you might experience difficulty at first.  Some will eat the foods and some will not.  In order to get them to eat freeze-dried foods, mix them with live foods at each feeding.  After a couple of days, the seahorses will get used to seeing the freeze-dried foods.  You can also give them different varieties of freeze-dried food too.

Do Seahorse Eat Their Own Babies?

As strange as it may seem, yes some species of seahorse actually do eat their own babies.  The male is the one who carries the babies until they are born.  When the male seahorse is ready to give birth, he will violently jerk around to squeeze his babies from his pouch.  Some species can give birth to over 1,000 babies at once!

As the baby seahorses come out, they will usually head straight for cover.  Usually, this will be under plants and rocks.  From the moment they leave their father’s pouch, they are on their own to survive.

As for the male seahorse, they will not eat for a couple of hours after giving birth.  After a couple of hours, they will start looking for food.  Those baby seahorses that are still around the male seahorse will get eaten.

For that reason, most aquarists who are planning to breed seahorse will keep the male seahorse in a separate tank until it gives birth.  After giving birth, the male seahorse will be moved back to their original tank.  This is to prevent the male seahorse from eating their own babies.


Seahorses are great to have as a pet. To keep them healthy and strong, you’ll need to feed them the correct type of foods. They eat a lot and you need to be prepared to handle the daily feeding that they require. As long as you feed the quality foods and feed them enough each day, they will be healthy and live for a long time.

1 thought on “What Do Seahorses Eat In Captivity”

  1. Very interesting article! I did tell me that I really don’t want to keep seahorses, as they sound like quite a job! I’ve successfully kept salt and freshwater tanks, shrimp etc but was interested in seahorses until I read about them needing so much care, especially the part about the gaseous issues with males. I hate to be responsible for killing any creature, so I think a person would need to read allot of articles like this one before undertaking a seahorse tank. I’d love to keep them, but maybe it’s best left to experts. Thanks for the informative article!


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