Friday, August 14, 2009

Keeping Our Animals Well Fed

I think it is safe to say that my maternal instincts have set in this year. Upon accepting this position I inherited the responsibility of caring for and feeding the hundreds of animals in our tanks. Initially I felt overwhelmed with this job; not sure how I would ever be able to learn what each animal needed to survive...let alone keep each animal happy! Luckily I had wonderful mentors to aid in my growth as an aquarist! I'd like to go into a little detail about what it takes to keep my critters fed:

We feed our animals 3 times a week (not counting the filter feeders like clams, barnacles, plumose anemones etc... who are constantly taking in plankton). Most of the animals eat more than one type of food, thus we must constantly update a long feeding chart that gives specific instructions on what to feed to each animal. On a normal feeding day we defrost about: 4-5 Pollock fillets, 30-50 clams, 1 cup of krill and any extra fish we may have (such as previously dissected herring or squid). Additionally, if the kelp is fresh, we collect a few feet of it to feed to our urchins and abalone.

With the aforementioned food we create a feast that could feed a small army. We cut the fish into a variety of sizes, create a fishy "milkshake" with half of the defrosted krill and cut up the smelly herring to feed to our crabs and shrimp.

Prepping the food does not even compare to the joy I experience when feeding each animal. Some of the fish, such as the Walleye Pollock are gluttonous, thus we have to monitor how much we feed them while other fish seem to be much more picky. Getting to know the habits and preferences of each critter has been rewarding this year!

Today I will spend some of my workday making krill ice cubes for our daily feedings, accept an 80lb frozen fish delivery of Pollock and smelt and add check on the bryzoan/anemone food level in our nudibranch tank. The job never ends, but it is worth it to see the animals happily graze away! I only wish I still had someone to dote on me like this.

Squat Lobster Crab anxiously awaiting lunch

Photo by Allison Gravis

Join us for formal and informal feeding programs by checking our events calendar! We generally feed our animals throughout the day on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Perhaps you will get a sneak peak at them snacking when you visit the Marine Exhibit!

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