Magellan: Pixie of the Reef

Those who follow my Facebook page have also followed the saga of Magellan, the Little Seahorse That Could, but in the interest of getting his story all in one place, I’m sharing it here today.


Last December, I purchased four baby captive-bred seahorses from Seahorse Source* in Florida (who I consider the best of the captive-bred seahorse suppliers in the United States). When the babies arrived, a couple of them hadn’t tolerated the shipping well, so after a brief introduction to the reef–in which the smallest and most curious baby acquired the name “Magellan”–

15B09 Magellan (first)

the group got moved to a hospital tank, for a prophylactic dose of antibiotics that kept them out of the reef for about 3 weeks.

15B09 Magellan Hospital

Shortly after Magellan returned to the reef, I discovered that he lacks the capacity to “snick”–a mechanical sucking process by which syngnathids (the family of creatures to which seahorses belong, which also includes sea dragons and pipefish) capture and eat their prey. This means he can’t eat mysis shrimp, like the other seahorses in my tank. Instead, Magellan “inhales” with his snout over a bowl of food (in his case, enriched frozen brine shrimp) until a piece gets sucked up into his mouth, and then slurps the food up through his snout like a person using a straw. It’s a difficult, time consuming process, but so far he’s managing to consume enough food to grow, and I’m hopeful that when he grows enough he may be able to slurp up mysis, too.

15B09 magellan and ghillie

His defective snick means Magellan can’t consume the same amount of nutrition as other seahorses his age. It’s kept him remarkably small compared with my adult male, Ghillie…

15B09 Magellan and Ghillie (first)

…and even compared with his siblings, Vega and Kirin. (The seahorses in this photo–Vega and Magellan–are the same age, from the same parents and same brood.)

15B09 Vega and Magellan

Despite his problems, and lack of size, Magellan shows a remarkable curiosity and determination. He eats different food than the others, at different times, and yet when the seahorse group is together, he’s always right in the thick of things.

15B09 Seahorse group


He’s a tough, happy little guy, and I’m happy he ended up in my tank. 

15B09 Magellan

*This story has one other Seahorse Source-related addendum. They stand by their creatures and their breeding, and offered to replace Magellan because of his physical defect. I told them they didn’t have to — I love him as he is and don’t care that he has special needs — but they did offer to send a replacement, who arrives via FedEx special delivery this morning. In other words: the saga isn’t finished … stay tuned!

One thought on “Magellan: Pixie of the Reef

  • February 10, 2015 at 5:20 pm

    I think I gush enough about these babies. But I too am in love with Magellan. He has fans lol. 🙂 Thank you for sharing. I love them all.

Comments are closed.