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Seahorse Care


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#1
ecogirl22

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I am not an expert on seahorses, but thought a very basic primer on seahorse care might be beneficial for the community. The best source of information on all things related to seahorses can be found online at SEAHORSE.ORG, a fantastic online community devoted to care and husbandry of these beautiful fish. Their SEAHORSE BEGINNERS CARE GUIDE is an excellent beginners reference source. In their library you will also find guides related to tank-mate selection, breeding, and care of the tiny dwarf seahorse.

Tropical Seahorses (Hippocampus sp.) generally require 71-74 degree aquariums of 29 gallons or more for 1-4 fish. The exception being Dwarf Seahorses or Hippocampus zosterae, the tiny 1” species that requires live BBS feedings and can be kept in small groups in 2-5 gallon tanks. Both standard and dwarf seahorses require careful tank-mate selection as they are slow deliberate feeders and poor swimmers who can be easily out competed for food or become food themselves. Due to these factors, many suggest the best way to truly enjoy these fish is to set up a species specific tank. For example, a 55 gallon tank filled with macro algae and seahorse-safe corals (such as leather, soft coral, and gorgonians) with 2 pairs of captive bred seahorses and chilled to 74 degrees will provide a fantastic habitat for your seahorses. Providing a good environment for your seahorses will hopefully encourage breeding which is not uncommon and a spectacular sight as the males give birth!

Captive bred seahorses are widely available and are trained to eat frozen mysis. Frozen mysis should be feed daily, and most brands soaked in nutrients before feeding. This means no automatic flake feeders when you go on vacation! Wild caught seahorses may not eat frozen food and require live mysis. They also often carry diseases and frequently die in aquariums. One of the most commonly available captive bred seahorses is Hippocampus erectus or the Lined Seahorse. It is considered one of the hardiest species and excellent choice for beginners.

All of this information is of course a generalization of norms, and people may have experiences keeping seahorses at higher temperature reef tanks, in smaller tanks, with generally considered un-safe fish etc. When you make these choices, be aware you are potentially putting your ponies at risk, and for every positive experience, there are probably 10 poor outcomes.

Read Read Read! It is your best defense against loss of...what not uncommonly will cost $200-$400 for two pairs of quality captive bred seahorses. These fantastic fish deserve appropriate tanks for them to carry out their normal behaviors, and provided such, will provide you with years of enjoyment.

I invite anyone to share their personal experiences, along photos of your ponies and seahorse tanks! It would be especially helpful if you post details on your setup, tank-mates, and seahorse longevity.

Edited by ecogirl22, 20 March 2012 - 05:56 AM.

Sep 25 2007, 04:13 PM PeachesInMich "I still say that mushrooms do not sting seahorses they might eat a dwarf but they don't sting."

#2
ecogirl22

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I'll go first :)

seahorse_tank.jpeg

This is a photo of my 46 gallon bowfront reef tank (retired). I kept 4 "captive bred" (probably net pen raised) H. Kellogi (many think cross breed). All of the coral in this tank is seahorse safe with the exception of the meat coral. Even with a filter, PS and a tank FULL of macros, frequent water changes were required to keep stable tank params. Ponies are messy eaters! These horses ate frozen mysis shrimp and bred in the tank. I was unsuccessful raising fry. Unfortunately, I left town for a weekend and a warm spell increased tank temps to 80 while I was away. All four seahorses developed disease (probably vibro) within a week and died despite QT tank and medication.

If I ever keep seahorses again it will certainly be with an aid of a chiller.
Sep 25 2007, 04:13 PM PeachesInMich "I still say that mushrooms do not sting seahorses they might eat a dwarf but they don't sting."

#3
M@!

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Great info ecogirl. I hope nano-reefers thinking about seahorse will see this before taking the plunge into seahorse keeping. I had a trio of H. Erectus a few years back and recently picked up a pair of H. Reidi.

I sold my Erectus when I started traveling for work. Travel and seahorses do not mix! I purchased them as juveniles and they eventually became a breeding pair. I tried raising the babies but was only able to get them to 17 days. Work, apartment and seahorse baby raising also doesn't mix!

My Reidi are currently in a QT while my DT finishes cycling. I like to take advantage of QT time to train my horses to eat out of a shell. This helps immensely with cleaning up after feeding. My new DT is a 30G cube with a few softies, zoas and macro. I keep my apartment at 72 degrees so I am able to keep temps under 74 with a fan blowing over my sump.

Here is a some crappy iPhone pics of the horses and their future home.
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#4
ecogirl22

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Gorgeous Reidi's! Where'd you get them from? They're going to love those macros! So jealous you can keep your apt at 72! I'm lucky if i can keep mine below 80, that's with "AC" unfortunately old building and no individual temp control. bah >:

Did you go with black sand to show off the ponies colors? good choice:)

Edited by ecogirl22, 22 March 2012 - 04:50 AM.

Sep 25 2007, 04:13 PM PeachesInMich "I still say that mushrooms do not sting seahorses they might eat a dwarf but they don't sting."

#5
123kid

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Great read! Thank you

#6
joann

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I'll go first :)

seahorse_tank.jpeg

This is a photo of my 46 gallon bowfront reef tank (retired). I kept 4 "captive bred" (probably net pen raised) H. Kellogi (many think cross breed). All of the coral in this tank is seahorse safe with the exception of the meat coral. Even with a filter, PS and a tank FULL of macros, frequent water changes were required to keep stable tank params. Ponies are messy eaters! These horses ate frozen mysis shrimp and bred in the tank. I was unsuccessful raising fry. Unfortunately, I left town for a weekend and a warm spell increased tank temps to 80 while I was away. All four seahorses developed disease (probably vibro) within a week and died despite QT tank and medication.

If I ever keep seahorses again it will certainly be with an aid of a chiller.


What pump where you using. I have a biocube 29, it has a 243/gph which is way to strong for searhorses.

#7
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I had seahorses and they got "constipated" :( that is what an expert told me.

I put "skewer sticks in the sand around the filter because they would get sucked to the filter. With the sticks they would have something to "catch" them and they could swim away.

Mine ate live brine and of course try to have a minimal amount of water movement. I had them in a 29Gal TALL, the Sea horse LOVE to swim "up" and doing the "Mating" ritual they will swim up together.

For the record I DID NOT use powerhead. and BE CAREFUL about corals that can sting them.
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#8
Sun_Queen

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I had a question about dwarf seahorses, I know it is widely accepted to only feed BBS, but what if I had copepod cultures going and a large population in the DT would that work?

#9
Caronte

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I had seahorses and they got "constipated" :( that is what an expert told me.

I put "skewer sticks in the sand around the filter because they would get sucked to the filter. With the sticks they would have something to "catch" them and they could swim away.

Mine ate live brine and of course try to have a minimal amount of water movement. I had them in a 29Gal TALL, the Sea horse LOVE to swim "up" and doing the "Mating" ritual they will swim up together.

For the record I DID NOT use powerhead. and BE CAREFUL about corals that can sting them.

I have a 40B display and a 10gl Fuge tank. Do you think the 10 gallons eill be too small for lets said 3 or 4 dwarf seahorses?

#10
Dasani

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I was told captive bred seahorses can survive in 78-80* water. Is this true?

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#11
altolamprologus

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I had a question about dwarf seahorses, I know it is widely accepted to only feed BBS, but what if I had copepod cultures going and a large population in the DT would that work?

Yes! Copepods fed phyto are the best possible food for dwarfs

I have a 40B display and a 10gl Fuge tank. Do you think the 10 gallons eill be too small for lets said 3 or 4 dwarf seahorses?

I don't think you realize how small dwarf seahorses are. I have 3 adults and about 20 juvis comfortably housed in 3 gallons. 10 gallons is actually much too big for just a few dwarfs because of the sheer amount of food you would need to add to achieve an ideal concentration. Also if the tank is already set up, it's most likely unsuitable for dwarfs. Hydroids, which easily go unnoticed in regular tanks, are lethal to dwarfs. Dwarf seahorse tanks need to be specially set up with 100% dry rock and sand, new equipment that has never touched another tank, no coral, and all macro algae has to be given a 3 day bath in a fenbenzodole solution to kill any hydroids.

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#12
TheKleinReef

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I had a question about dwarf seahorses, I know it is widely accepted to only feed BBS, but what if I had copepod cultures going and a large population in the DT would that work?


This is what I'm thinking about doing for dwarfs. Still undecided about starting though.

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#13
SantaMonica

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Building upflow scrubber, maybe on the back wall, would provide gentle rolling water as well as filtration, and a place for pods. Would be an alternative to a macro-filled tank, and would allow a more open scape.

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#14
Coach1993

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Can I put a sea horse into a IM 16 gallon nuvo with other non agressive fish and corals?



#15
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Yeah you should be able to as long as they are trained


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#16
ShadowLurker

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Can I put a sea horse into a IM 16 gallon nuvo with other non agressive fish and corals?

 

The only fish that can probably fit into that criteria would be dragonets such as mandarins and scooters. Some corals might sting seahorses, so if you're reef-heavy, I wouldn't recommend it. I personally think seahorses need a tank on their own. Adding gorgs, macros and mandarins are okay, but they're such delicate creatures that I wouldn't risk putting one in an actual reef tank full of LPS or SPS. But that's just me. 


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#17
Han Solo

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anyone know where to get those floating yellow chains I've seen around in some people's tank?

 

here is an example :) (not a seahorse if you weren't sure)

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#18
clownfitch

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I have seen similar chain at Lowes and HomeDepot. Less the penguin of course. :)

#19
Han Solo

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I wonder if my refrigerator .... wow that's a good amount of gallons actually. I'll check Petco.



#20
Halo_003

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Hmm... 

 

How low flow would you need for dwarf Seahorses? Could I get a Spec II for some on my desk? Maybe start with 4 and see how they do? What equipment would they need otherwise? I already have some dry rock I could utilize. Would a PAR 30 work for a few gorgs & macros? What temp would be needed for dwarfs?

 

What do you need to hatch BBS?

 

Interested.



#21
vlangel

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Hmm... 
 
How low flow would you need for dwarf Seahorses? Could I get a Spec II for some on my desk? Maybe start with 4 and see how they do? What equipment would they need otherwise? I already have some dry rock I could utilize. Would a PAR 30 work for a few gorgs & macros? What temp would be needed for dwarfs?

 
What do you need to hatch BBS?
 
Interested.

I don't have dwarf SH but I think they do best in same temps as greater SH which is 71-74 degrees. Also hatching bb is easy. Most LFS have kits that comes with brine eggs and a base to screw the 2 liter bottle into. Just attach airline tubing that is hooked up to air pump, cut the bottom of the 2 liter bottle off, screw bottle in base, add salt water, brine egg and put under a light for 24 hour. Tada, bb!
Someone else knowledgeable about dwarfs will have to answer your flow questions.
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