How are the Aquarium’s marine animals fed?

Nutrition is a key factor in the animals' well-being. This is why the caretakers make sure that they receive appropriate and correctly distributed food every day.

The different types of distribution

At the Aquarium La Rochelle, four types of distribution are used. They vary according to the species and its way of life.

For pelagic species, i.e. those that swim in open water, food can be distributed on the fly. This method is used for most aquariums.

Other species are benthic, such as rays, dogfish or mullet. They live at the bottom of the aquarium. Biologists therefore use a wide pipe, reaching to the bottom of the tanks, to deliver food to them.

Plankton-eating species need to eat continuously. This is the case for filter-feeding organisms such as bivalves and sponges, but also for sessile species that cannot move (corals, barnacles, etc.). To meet this need, distribution pumps connected to the tanks supply phytoplankton and zooplankton on a regular basis.

Finally, some specimens are fed individually and using claws. This method makes it possible to stimulate animals such as octopus. Feeding is then approached in the form of a game. For bull sharks, it allows the distribution of more substantial food, since they feed on whole fish (conger eel, salmon, etc.).

Feeding content

The frequency of feeding depends on the nutritional requirements. The species presented at the Aquarium do not regulate their internal temperature, so their energy requirements are lower than those of mammals.

On average, each animal is fed between two and three times a week, with the exception of plankton-eating species (seahorses, bivalves, etc.) which are fed daily. Ninety kilos of food are distributed each week. The food is mainly composed of marine resources (hake, salmon, crepidula, algae, etc.) to which can be added peas, broccoli and salads for the herbivorous species.

The feed is mainly purchased from the La Rochelle fish auction and then frozen before being distributed to the various tanks. This manipulation allows the elimination of any bacteria that may be present.

The quantities distributed are calculated according to the needs of the animals and the observations of the caretakers. The preparation of food is considered according to the species: it depends on the size of their mouth and their jaw (some have teeth for grinding, others for cutting…)

The larvae resulting from reproduction benefit from a specific diet. They are fed with three different types of zooplankton: copepods, rotifers and artemia. These microscopic organisms measure between 160 and 650 microns, or between 0.16 mm and 0.65 mm only! Above all, the larvae's diet changes during their development, and biologists must ensure that the quality and quantity of the elements necessary for their growth are adapted.

Feeding is a privileged moment of observation for the caretakers.

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