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Seahorses trained to get their snouts in the Torquay trough

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: August 31, 2012

One of the trained seahorses comes to the scallop shell for his lunch at Living Coasts in Torquay Picture: Richard Austin

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Rounding up a dozen of Britain's rarest seahorses for feeding time has been successfully achieved by the aquarists at Living Coast in Torquay.

Keepers at the coastal zoo are using scallop shells to feed their 12 short-snouted seahorses.

These strange looking fish take their turn at putting their nose in the old scallop shell that is full of shrimps, krill and mysis – tiny crustaceans.

Aquarist Adam Johnstone explained: "We use a plastic tube to direct the food down through the water and on to the shell.

"Dropping the food needs a steady hand and accuracy – it is quite an art!"

Using shells as plates helps to keep their tank tidy and avoids waste food falling to the floor of the tank.

Adam said: "This species can be found here in the Bay, which is why we need to protect our seagrass beds. They are part of a breeding programme – we hope in due course that they will breed here."

Native to the Mediterranean and the western coasts of Europe, the short-snouted seahorse, Hippocampus hippocampus, is found in shallow inshore waters.

It is thought that short-snouted seahorses could be susceptible to coastal development and to getting caught in fishing nets.

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