Aquarist: Feeding Time

4 minutes

Welcome to Career Connections at the Aquarium of the Pacific. My name's Alie. Food is important to our animals' lives. We're going to meet our aquarist, Angelina, and learn how she takes care of them and feeds them. Angelina, one thing we haven't talked about yet is food. Food is important. We all need to eat. You make sure animals get the food they need. There are over 12,000 animals here. How do you make sure that everybody gets fed? It's a lot of mouths to feed and takes a team to feed them. Restaurant-quality seafood is prepared for our animals. A variety of fish, shrimp, squid, clam, mussels, oysters. A little of everything is thrown into the mix. The food is prepared, weighed, measured out, and then delivered to specific exhibits or specific fish. So you get nice and smelly and squiddy, and you have these buckets of raw seafood. The exhibit behind us, we have big and little fish. How do you make sure you get everybody there? This exhibit takes an entire team to feed it. Aquarists at the surface target-feed animals, like our sharks, stingrays, and sea turtle. We have divers that go underwater, and they are scatter-feeding, basically dispersing food out for a big group of fish, whether it's large schooling fish or small fish that they'll squirt worms into the rockwork to eat. Then some of our divers will go swimming around to target specific fish.

(Alie) It is an orchestrated effort, with scuba divers in the water, people on the surface, making sure that everybody's eating. We make sure all the animals eat, and it takes our entire staff. How often does this happen? Every day. Behind us are sea dragons. These are a really unique animal. People love seeing them here. Can you tell us about the challenges in keeping them fed?

(Angelina) They have a small mouth. We need to feed them very small food. Lucky for us, they do eat frozen food, but we do feed them live food, something called mysids, that we go out scuba diving to collect locally. And mysids are those little shrimp-like crustaceans. Really, really tiny. Really, really tiny shrimp.

(Alie) And there is a place where we raise and grow them.

(Angelina) We do have a full-time aquarist dedicated to taking care of our live-food culture, where we have different plankton, we have those mysid shrimps, and we also grow algae to feed some animals.

(Alie) Little algae, little shrimps, little pieces of food. I bet that's what some of your babies eat. Exactly. When a fish first hatches, it doesn't look for frozen food. We start them on baby brine shrimp or an even smaller plankton called rotifers. Thanks for joining us for Career Connections today. Hope you enjoyed learning about feeding animals. We look forward to seeing you again.

Funding to purchase and make this educational production accessible was provided by the U.S. Department of Education:

PH: 1-800-USA-LEARN (V) or WEB: www.ed.gov.


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What’s on the menu? Find out how aquarists feed some of the largest and smallest aquarium animals under their care. Understanding marine food webs, animal behavior, and nutrition are important skills needed for this science-based career. Part of the "Aquarist" series.

Media Details

Runtime: 4 minutes

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Episode 1
5 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
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Episode 2
3 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
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Episode 3
4 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12