Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
News Splash

What’s on CMA’s Menu?

Animal s are fed by CMA’s Aquarists Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from a specially prepared selection of food that includes krill, squid, clam, shrimp, smelt and mackerel. All the fish are also fed a gel-type of vitamin mix that is designed specifically to meet the nutritional requirements of omnivorous fish. But not all fish are fans of eating this greenish and very nutritious supplement.

“Some animals don’t like to take their vitamins,” explained Aquarist Carin Latino. “But it’s important to keep everyone healthy and replace nutrients they would normally get in the wild, so another way we trick animals into taking their vitamins is by soaking all the food in a vitamin-mix.”

The vitamin mix is packed with protein, minerals and vitamins, including things like fish meal, spinach, carrot powder, fish oil, shrimp meal, spirulina algae, dried kelp, calcium, zinc, copper and vitamins C, D, E, B and K. Yum! Sharks and rays also get a special vitamin tablet with extra potassium iodide stuffed into their food.

Once the vitamins are taken care of, things start to get a little bit more complex. Each animal is slightly different when it comes to their dietary requirements, for example the sea anemones are only fed once a week. Sharks and rays are scatter fed to replicate how they would eat in the wild. There isn’t really one rule that sums up the eating habits of all the animals.

“The sea horses and pipefish are fed twice a day seven days a week because they don’t have true stomachs to hold and digest food, so they have to be fed more frequently,” explained Latino. “The grazers and browsers are fed four days a week because through experience we’ve learned that sea hares need a lot of food. It’s complicated.”

Most of the animals eat frozen food bought locally, but sometimes the Aquarists will catch live animals to supplement CMA’s animals’ diet and allow them to eat like they are used to doing in the wild. Some of the fish are fed live brine shrimp and grunions while the predatory sea stars and California spiny lobsters are fed live mussels and urchins. The octopuses are given live crabs and spot prawns and for an extra challenge, one of the crabs was placed in a jar and the octopus opened this never before seen contraption in less than 30 seconds!

Then there are very passive eaters such as the monkey-faced eel. He loves hanging out in his little rock home so much that Aquarists have to put his food on a fork and wave it in front of his face to make sure he eats. CMA Aquarists are always trying new things too. Recently, Chief Aquarist Jeff Landesman placed a live snail at the top of the mantis shrimp’s burrow to see if he would eat it. The mantis shrimp came out of his burrow to investigate the snail and then proceeded to sweep it away, like he was cleaning his doorstep. Apparently, he wasn’t interested; it’s shrimp or nothing for this picky eater.

Post Date: Thursday, August 23, 2012


Facebook icon  Linkedin icon  Twitter icon 

    News Archive

          8/4/2022 School & Group Field Trips (Featured)
          2/2/2022 Sensory Inclusivity
          1/1/2022 Register for Upcoming Events Here!
          5/20/2021 Opening Update
          5/15/2021 Help us "Blow Up" Whale Education - VOTE today!!
          5/1/2020 Discovery Lecture Series
          4/22/2020 Earth Day Poster Contest Sponsored by the Port of Los Angeles
          2/14/2020 Agents of Discovery
          4/5/2018 Grand Grunion Gala Honoring Two Conservation Leaders
          6/4/2017 Pied For A Porpoise
          3/22/2017 Honoring Russ Lesser
          10/18/2016 Sea Star Wasting Syndrome
          9/20/2016 Sustainable Seafood Expo
          4/14/2016 CMA in the News
          3/15/2015 CMA Staff Member on Ship-Based Research Expedition to Antarctica
          11/3/2014 One Million Pieces of Trash
          7/10/2014 Midnight research studying grunion
          6/12/2014 Stay Connected to CMA
          6/3/2014 Tesoro Donates $50,000
          3/12/2014 Delving into Sustainable Seafood
          3/3/2014 Ocean Discovery Kits
          1/29/2014 Sustainable Seafood Event
          1/1/2014 Let's go whale watching!
          11/13/2013 Sea stars wasting away
          10/27/2013 Sharks belong in the ocean
          9/16/2013 CMA Receives Top Honor
          8/19/2013 FRIENDS Announces Marine Science Scholarship Winners
          8/5/2013 Robots Storm CMA
          6/28/2013 Summer in the Aquatic Nursery
          6/3/2013 Stung! Jellyfish blooms
          5/23/2013 Students celebrate Earth Day the CMA way
          4/15/2013 Student Research Highlights
          3/15/2013 World Ocean Network
          2/17/2013 White Abalone Spawning
          12/31/2012 Books about CMA
          12/21/2012 Exploration Center: You oughta be in ocean pictures
          12/7/2012 Camouflage: the art of blending in
          11/26/2012 Announcing a new species!
          11/13/2012 Ocean Children's Books
          10/31/2012 Exhibits and Collections Curator elected SCAS President
          10/12/2012 Aquatic Nursery: A new role for red abalone
          9/23/2012 The CMA Gift Shop: A personal shopping experience
          9/10/2012 SEA Club is a great way for kids to spend an afternoon
          8/23/2012 What’s on CMA’s Menu?
          8/10/2012 Congratulations Scholarship Winners!
          7/19/2012 Become a FRIENDS of CMA Community Sponsor!
          6/8/2012 Underwater Park System
          5/3/2012 A Career in Marine Biology
          1/6/2012 Cabrillo Marine Aquarium Is Accessible to All
          11/14/2011 Inner Cabrillo Beach Survey: You Never Know What You Might Find!
          10/3/2011 Practice Safe Whale Watching
          2/10/2011 New Animal Care Center
          1/2/2011 A Tribute to John M. Olguin