Editors note: This instructions are specific to the Exe Estuary in England, but will be applicable to most shorelines with similar conditions as many different species fill the same niche.
Most seahorses today do fine with frozen foods. However, live foods are still an excellent treat, and sometimes may be necessary with wild caught seahorses, or if one has a species of pipefish like the Alligator Pipefish Syngnathoides biaculeatus that only takes live food. If you live near the ocean shore, collecting mysis and other short shrimps can be a great way to provide live food.
This is a quick look at how to collect mysis and other shore shrimp.
Below is a photo of my favorite estuary.
Above is my favorite spot. I collect shrimp at Starcross in the river Exe Estuary. It’s about a mile upstream from the mouth. The general habitat is mud, sand and shingle. My best catches tend to be an hour or two before low tide.
The water drains from the estuary bed down a narrower channel, bringing with it mysis shrimp. This is where I lay in wait.
You’ll want a flat-ended net. Cover the face with wire mesh to filter out any large bits of weed and other flotsam. Place the net in the channel. Hold it there and let the ebbing tide do the work for you.
You can collect enough mysis for a month in an hour, easily.
The results of 30 minutes of hard graft:
There is another shrimp found at the Exe River Estuary. These are larger shrimp I call sand shrimp. To collect these little chaps, I find a pool in the sand at low tide. They are easy to spot and will bury themselves just under the sand when you approach. I use the same net for these. You will need to drag the net through the sand so as to make them jump out of the sand and into the net.
And a few pictures of by-catch thrown in for fun:
They appear to be seasonal. They tend to turn up in numbers in June and get more and more as the summer goes on. The season is really June to September for good number worth going for. In July they turn the water black! I normally have a proper go in July/August and thats enough to keep me going until next July.
Later in the year they can survive at higher temperatures. I’ve measured the temperature in the estuary were I collect them at 30c (80F) so our systems are no problem for them. I’ve kept them for months at tropical temps in the old seahorse system. When I raised seahorses I would put pregnant mysis into a plastic tank above the rearing tank with a couple overflow pipes running down into the fry tank. When the mysis shed their young, the seahorse fry would have a feast!
If you want to enrich the mysis you can feed them anything really. They will take flake, baby brine and even have a go at each other!
They’re not much good as a clean up crew though, sadly.
You can freeze them for use later. Give them a rinse with freshwater, put them into sandwich bags,smooth them out flat and freeze them.You just end up with a flat slab of solid mysis.One thing you will notice is the stuff you buy in the shops is white.This stuff i collect is the same colour defrosted as it was when it was alive. The reason for this is the white stuff was dead when it was frozen,were as mine is frozen live, fresh.
A Word Of Warning
Anybody that is going to have a go, please take care not to get stuck in the mud at low tide. It sounds daft but I know a few people have come a cropper, so stay safe take a mobile, and tell somebody where you are going. I was fishing the upper bristol channel one winter for cod and walking on the mud behind my mate. Next thing i know, I was up to my thighs! If he hadnt dug me out, I would have drowned, I was helpless and it really hit home with both of us.
That said most areas are a mix of shingle and mud and perfectly safe; just take care.