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Seahorse Care


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
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I'll go first :)

 

post-21395-1332252120_thumb.jpg

 

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.

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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.

photo-23.jpg

IMG_6395.jpg

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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
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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...
I'll go first :)

 

post-21395-1332252120_thumb.jpg

 

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.

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  • 2 weeks later...

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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  • 3 weeks later...

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?

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  • 2 months later...
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?

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altolamprologus
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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  • 8 months later...
TheKleinReef

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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  • 1 month later...
SantaMonica

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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  • 2 months later...
  • 11 months later...

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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  • 4 weeks later...

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.

  • Like 1
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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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  • 3 years later...
  • 3 months later...
On 3/22/2012 at 7:49 AM, M@! said:

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.

photo-23.jpg

IMG_6395.jpg

Beautiful! i personally have no plans to keep seahorses, but that might change. how big does the tank need to be?

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  • 7 months later...
TheKingInYellow

I have a cube without a home and my wife and I were thinking it could be a decent little Seahorse tank, but in the summer, during peak hours of the day my living room can reach 77.  The tank would be out of the sun but I don't know if just a fan would be able to cool it sufficiently 😕

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  • 9 months later...
Pete Giwojna

Free Seahorse Training Course offered by Ocean Rider!

 

For those of you who may not know, Ocean Rider (the world’s premier seahorse farm) in Kona, Hawaii, offers a free seahorse training program to all of our clients and customers.

 

The seahorse training program is a correspondence course conducted entirely via e-mail; I personally wrote the seahorse training manual and I personally administer the training program on behalf of Ocean Rider, so I can assure you that the training is very comprehensive.

 

For example, the Ocean Rider Seahorse Training Manual alone consists of several hundred pages of text with more than 250 full-color illustrations, and it explains everything hobbyists need to know in order to keep Ocean Rider seahorses successfully in a home aquarium.  Ocean Rider provides a free copy of the seahorse training manual to all first-time buyers and customers to assure that home hobbyists are well prepared to give our ponies the best possible care before they make a purchase.  As you go through the 10 lessons in the seahorse training manual, I will provide you with additional guidance and personally address any questions or concerns you may have about the information you are reading in the training course. There is no charge whatsoever for this training.

 

All we ask in return is that you stick with the highly domesticated Ocean Rider seahorses when you are finally ready to add ponies to your tank or add any new ponies to eat or more.  As you know, Mustangs and Sunbursts are the perfect ponies for beginners and experts alike. They are hardy, highly adaptable, easy to feed, and perfectly adapted for aquarium life -- the world's only High-Health seahorses, guaranteed to be free of specific pathogens and parasites.  Ocean Rider will ship seahorses directly to your doorstep anywhere in the Continental United States and live delivery is ALWAYS guaranteed! 

 

Anyone in the USA who is interested should contact me at the following e-mail address, and we’ll get started right away:

 

petegiwojna@aol .com

 

In case you’re wondering if the seahorse training course is well-suited for your needs and interests, or if it is worth your time, I should explain that the first few lessons are geared very much towards beginners and cover the basics of marine aquarium keeping in detail in simple language, for the benefit of newbies who may have little or no experience with seahorses or saltwater aquariums.  But subsequent lessons cover increasingly advanced material and the information provided becomes more and more complex as you progress through the training.  Even the most advanced seahorse keepers and expert breeders will find plenty of useful information and gain new knowledge as they go over the final five lessons and correspond with me regarding their particular seahorse setups.

 

In short, the seahorse training is a crash course on seahorse keeping consisting of 10 separate lessons covering the following subjects, and is conducted entirely via e-mail.  There is no homework and there are no examinations or classes to attend or anything of that nature -- just a lot of good, solid information on seahorses for you to read through and absorb as best you can, at your own speed, working from your computer in the comfort of your own home.  The comprehensive seahorse training manual is broken down into 10 lessons covering the following subjects:

 

Lesson 1: Selecting a Suitable Aquarium & Optimizing It for Seahorses.

        Tank dimensions and specifications (why height is important);

        Tank location and aquarium stressors;

        Setting up a SHOWLR tank to create ideal conditions for seahorses;

                filtration options

                protein skimmers

                UV sterilizers

                titanium grounding probe

                substrate

                lighting

                water circulation

        Test kits for monitoring water quality;

        Aquascaping the seahorse tank;

                artificial hitching posts

                macroalgae

        Basic aquarium setups for seahorses;

                undergravel filters

                sponge filters

 

Lesson 2: Cycling a New Aquarium & Installing the Cleanup Crew.

        The nitrogen cycle;

                nitrification and denitrification

        Step-by-step instructions for cycling a new marine aquarium;

        Seahorse-safe sanitation engineers and aquarium janitors;

                snails

                microhermit crabs

                cleaner shrimp

        Starter seahorses (hardy, highly domesticated, high-health ponies)

 

Lesson 3: Reading Assignments (books, articles, and columns devoted to seahorses).

 

Lesson 4: Water Chemistry, Aquarium Maintenance, & Maintaining Optimum Water Quality.

        Basic water quality parameters (acceptable range and optimum levels);

                ammonia

                nitrite

                nitrate

                pH

                specific gravity

                dissolved oxygen

        Advanced water chemistry for reef keepers;

        Performing partial water changes to maintain good water quality;

        Aquarium maintenance schedule;

                daily

                weekly

                monthly

 

Lesson 5: Feeding Seahorses.

        Frozen Mysis serves as their staple, everyday diet;

                brands of frozen Mysis

                thawing and preparing frozen Mysis

                enriching with Vibrance

        Recommended feeding regimen;

                how to tell if your seahorse is getting enough to eat

        Feeding tips for seahorses;

                preparing and serving the frozen Mysis

                feeding new arrivals

                secretive feeders

                morning feedings

                setting up a feeding station

                        training the seahorses to use a feeding tray

                        artificial feeding stations

                        natural feeding stations

                        purchasing a ready-made feeding station

                        elevating the feeding station

                fasting seahorses

                target feeding

                handfeeding

                Mysis relicta from Piscine Energetics

        Broadcast feeding or scatter feeding -- just say no!

 

Lesson 6: Compatible Tankmates for Seahorses.

        Safe and unsafe companions -- no guarantees;

        Tropical tankmates;

                fish to avoid

                seahorse-safe fish

                seahorse-safe invertebrates

        Feeding seahorses in a community tank;

        Seahorse-proofing a reef tank

                safe corals

                unsafe corals

                lighting the seahorse reef

                managing water circulation for a seahorse reef

 

Lesson 7: Courtship & Breeding.

        Courtship displays in Hippocampus (fully illustrated)

                brightening

                tilting and reciprocal quivering

                carouseling

                promenading

                pouch displays (pumping and ballooning)

                pointing

                copulatory rise and the egg transfer

        Pair formation

        Morning greetings

        Male brooding -- a true pregnancy

        Giving birth -- dawn deliveries

 

Lesson 8: Raising the Young.

        Seahorse fry

        Determining ease of rearing

        Setting up a basic nursery for benthic babies

        Advanced nursery tank options for pelagic fry

                the shaded nursery

                kriesel and pseudokreisel nurseries

                the divided nursery

                in-tank nurseries (illustrated)

                the greenwater "starter" nursery

                hyposalinity for pelagic fry

        Delivery day

        Culling the fry (if necessary)

        Feeding the fry

                hatching and enriching brine shrimp (Artemia)

                decapsulated brine shrimp eggs

                culturing rotifers and copepods

        Fry feeding schedule    

 

Lesson 9: Disease Prevention and Control.

        Captive bred vs. wild-caught seahorses

        Importance of High-Health seahorses

        Seahorse anatomy illustrations

                external anatomy

                internal anatomy

        Screening seahorses from your LFS

        Quarantine tank

                Quarantine protocol for pet-shop ponies and wild seahorses

        Beta glucan boosts immunity to disease

        Early detection of health problems

                aquarium stressors

                disease symptoms in seahorses

        What to do at the first sign of a health problem

        The seahorse-keepers medicine chest

                first aid kit for seahorses

                must-have medications to keep on hand

                properties of the main medications

        Life expectancy

        Hepatic lipidosis (prevalence of fatty liver disease)

        Seahorse disease book

 

Lesson 10: Mustangs and Sunbursts (Hippocampus erectus) & Acclimating New Arrivals.

        Nature of Mustangs and Sunbursts

                multi-generational approach to rearing

                hybrid vigor

                genetic diversity

                selective breeding

        Hippocampus erectus species summary

                scientific name and common names

                meristic counts and morphometric measurements (illustrated)

                climate and distribution

                color and pattern

                breeding habits

                        breeding season

                        gestation period

                        brood size

                        pelagic/benthic fry

                        onset of sexual maturity

                ease of rearing

                natural habitats and natural history

                preferred parameters and aquarium requirements

                suggested stocking density

                successful rearing protocols

                        feeding the fry

                        nursery tank designs

                        rearing and grow out tanks

                diet and nutrition

                color variations

                temperature requirements

                wide ranging species with different races

                recommended reading

        Acclimating new arrivals (step-by-step instructions)

        Keeping and culturing red feeder shrimp (Halocaridina rubra)

 

Once we begin the lessons, I will be providing you with detailed information on all of the subjects above and answering any questions you may have about the material I present so that everything is perfectly clear to you. I will also be recommending seahorse-related articles for you to read and absorb online. And, of course, once we begin, I will be working with you personally every step of the way through our ongoing correspondence until your new aquarium is ready for seahorses and you are well prepared to give them the best of care, regardless of how long that may take.

 

Anyone in the Continental United States who would like to participate in the seahorse training course should send a brief message expressing their interest to me at the following e-mail address:

 

petegiwojna@aol .com

 

Stay safe and stay healthy, everybody!

 

Happy Trails!

Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Training Program Advisor

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