The term enrichment is used quite frequently at the aquarium. It is used to enhance the quality of life of our animals as well as for training purposes.
We use enrichment almost daily for Anang our North American River otter, Leo the Green wing Macaw and Pica the Magpie. But can you believe we do enrichment for our fish as well?
This month, we’re using live crickets for fish enrichment. We’re feeding them to our Arctic Grayling (Thymallus arcticus). Normally, we feed our grayling a mix of pellets and krill. But this enrichment is a little more like what they would eat in the wild.
Arctic Grayling are in the salmon family so, like many of the species in this family, they love insects. If you happen on a trout stream you may see little rings in the water which is more than likely the trout “sipping” an insect floating on the water.
This video gives you an idea of what it looks like under the water as these beautiful fish aggressively go for the crickets.
As you watch this video you can really see how fish use their senses to find food.
One of the senses the grayling are using is sight. Like many, fish are visual predators and have excellent eyesight; in fact, their vision is very close to ours. The other specialized sense organ the grayling use is their lateral line. The lateral line goes along the body of the fish and is a small hole in their scales. This organ allows the fish to feel pressure changes and vibration in the water so the second the crickets hit the water the fish can feel and see them.
This is just one of several different enrichment opportunities we provide for animals at the Aquarium. They change with the seasons, just as food sources and experiences would change for them in the wild.