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IhatePhosphates 04-14-2010 09:36 PM

The Seahorse versus the Bristle Worm
I witness one of my H. erectus (Lined Seahorse) species today trying to ingest a bristle worm from the gravel. Of course I acted quick and got some tweezers, pulled the seahorse out and tried to remove the bristle worm. I got about 3/4 of the bristle worm out before the worm split in two. For about an hour I watched as the lined seahorse worked the last of the remaining worm into his rostrum, then swallowed him whole. He's been fine for about the past 5 hours and I haven't noticed an adverse affects.

What I would like to know is:

A: Do seahorses have an immunity to bristle worm venom?

B: Do I have anything to worry about?

Thanks all :-)

bettababy 04-15-2010 01:18 AM

Typically a seahorse won't attempt to ingest anything that may cause them harm... but I would keep an eye on the seahorse for the next few days just to be sure.

I will send an email off to some friends of mine who I know to be some of the best in the industry with seahorses. I have not found a question yet that they cannot answer. Unfortunately, I have never heard of a seahorse trying to ingest a bristleworm.

For future safety, I would suggest using a tweezers and removing any bristleworms you find in their tank as soon as you see them. This will avoid any future problems. I do know that bristleworms that grow large enough to wrap around a seahorse can cause it injury or death. Also, check your water params, water change and feeding schedules. Bristleworms only show up when they have ample food supply. If you eliminate their food supply you will find very few and they won't grow large enough to hurt anything.

IhatePhosphates 04-15-2010 08:58 PM

I talked to my buddy today who has an academic breeding facility. He reports over the years that he has witnessed seahorses grazing for amphipods and bristle worms and it appears to be normal. I viewed the seahorses today and noticed everyone was eating well so maybe it's part of their natural diet?

I have to feed them twice a day frozen mysis shrimp soaked in SELCO due to the research that has been done on poor nutrient absorption in the gut. Also, all 12 are females, which means a shorter intestinal tract. :cry:

Water Q seems good:

Ammonia=0 ppm
Nitrite=0 ppm
Nitrate=5 ppm
Calcium=300 ppm
TA=225 ppm
Salinity=31 ppt

Overall, I would still be interested in what your connections have to say. It would make me feel at ease knowing that other individuals have viewed this behavoir.

Thanks Bettababy

onefish2fish 04-16-2010 03:25 AM

i do not know for sure but i do know some fish graze on bristles, i dont see why a seahorse couldnt unless it was to large.
this post is from 4/14/10, updates on behavior? still swimming/acting normal? or even better, alive?

i have a few questions for you, how often do you feed? do you notice all livestock getting a share of food, and actually taking it, not spitting it back out? i ask because un-eaten food will result in more bristles and if the foods un-eaten that means the seahorse may not be getting ( well it could be getting, but not eating ) a sufficient amount of food and the only natural food source left is the bristle worm considering you speak of mulitple horses im going to assume the pod population is depleted, if not lacking.

IhatePhosphates 04-16-2010 05:39 PM

hey onefishtwo fish,

Haven't really noticed any weird behavoir lately. I have 0.12.0 H. erectus lined seahorses in the tank. The tank alone is 200 gallons with a 50 gallon sump full of bioballs with a protein skimmer and ehiem filter......I know I went a bit overboard.:-D But filtration is awesome!

As far as feeding, they pretty much mow down the food. A few bits of food can work their way to the bottom but the seahorses seem to graze even after the feeding. I typically feed them 5 grams of mysis shrimp soaked in SELCO twice a day. I count all 12 before I feed out and try to watch all of them eat. All seem well lately and are eating great, which is a relief.

Water changes are done twice a week with gravel vaccuming to ensure no detritus is building up. I usually top off with RO/DI water and add Kalwasser to insure they have calcium to build their armor.

I really don't mind having the bristle worms that much because they act like my clean up crew. And let's face it....the little jerks are in every system once way or another. I was just wondering if anybody came across an article discussing the venom resistence of seahorses. Might be something cool to research.

aunt kymmie 04-16-2010 09:11 PM

I have nothing to add other than can you share some pics of your set up? I'd love to see your seahorses!!

bettababy 04-17-2010 02:47 PM

Well, I sent out an email to my "connections" and have not heard a response yet... so either they're busy or away at the moment.

If by now the seahorse is still fine, I would say its nothing to worry about. My only further advice would be to remove any bristle worms that begin to get large, which would greatly reduce any chances of them causing harm to the seahorses.

If I come across any articles I will let you know.

IhatePhosphates 04-18-2010 07:26 PM


Thanks for helping me out, I tried looking around on the internet as well and really didn't come across much except the whole amphipod thing. Would make for an interesting research project though huh? Thanks all again for your advice.

And I don't have a digital cam :-( sorry, I'll try to score one of a buddy.

~Phosphate destroyer

aunt kymmie 04-18-2010 11:30 PM

That would be great, if you could. I can't recall ever seeing anyone's pics from a home tank w/ horses. I know they are not easy to successfully keep.

bettababy 04-20-2010 12:53 AM

This thread makes me miss my seahorses. I lost my last one about 3 yrs ago when we moved, as the water chemistry was so different the seahorses couldn't handle it. I haven't set up another seahorse tank yet, but this thread makes me crave it all the more. I've been looking for specific seahorses for my next tank of them... they are hard to find and quite expensive, so I haven't been in any rush.

At some point this summer I will be converting probably my 90 gallon to saltwater due to my need for more tank space. My biocube is so crowded with overgrowth and I've run out of places to go with it. I am not planning much of anything for fish, mostly just inverts... however I have been toying with the idea of either seahorses or pipe fish because the set up will be perfect for them. I wish I could afford the space to devote one of my 200 gallons to seahorses, cuz then I'd get a pair of kudas and breed them, lol.

Kymie, you are correct that seahorses are not the easiest of fish to keep, but don't let them intimidate you. If you know ahead of time the type of care they need, and you are able to devote and afford that easily, keeping them isn't really that difficult. They are very social animals and can be quite playful. I had a female that I bonded with once, and every time I worked in the tank she would hook her tail around my fingers and do everything with me. It made my job of maintenance much harder with a pony hooked to my finger, but it was so much fun I never minded. They're awesome, just a lot more delicate than most other fish. Even breeding them is relatively easy if you get a bonded pair, and if you can provide everything they need for the fry to survive.

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