04-18-2008, 07:37 PM
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Here's some valuable information that you may find useful. I'll post any additional info I come upon.
Originally Posted by Desiree Williams
I am going to list most if not all I know about seahorses to try to get some of most needed information out of the way so everyone has a reference. I will let everyone know I have kept most all species of seahorses with the exception of the cold water Australian Knights aka Potbellies. Although they are going to be a part of my collection soon. I have been keeping and breeding seahorses for about 10years now and have read what I believe to be every seahorse book/reference available. I do not consider myself to be a perfect authority but there are my credentials
Lets start with the type of seahorse you desire to keep:
There are many types of seahorses:
Safely a pair of each of these could be kept in a 8-15gallon aquarium (recommended aproximatly 8gallons to a pair of seahorses of this variety with exception to the dwarf zosterae). Zosterae could have 1 pair to every 2gallons so in a 5gallon you could safely house 2-3 pair.
Tropical seahorses should be maintained at a temperature of 74-78 degrees F.
Safely a pair of each of these species could be kept in a 15gallon aquarium except the Ingens which requires at least a 45gallon aquarium (again aproximatly 8gallons per pair of horses with exception to the Ingens which should have 13gallons per pair).
Subtropical seahorses should be maintained at a temperature of 70-74 degrees F.
Temperate Species - kept at 66-72 degrees F (19-22 degrees C)
Abdominalis, 1pair/13 gallons (50 liters)- minimum size 60 gallons (240 liters)
Capensis 1 pair/5 gallons (20 liters)- minimum size 10 gallons (40 liters)
Breviceps, 1 pair/5 gallons (20 liters)-
Safely a pair of each of these species could be housed in a 10gallon aquarium with exception to the Abdominalis which should have a 60gallon aquarium(aproximatly 1 pair to 6gallons with exception of course to the Avdominalis which should be 1pair to aproximatly 13gallons).
Temperate Species should be maintained at a temperature of 66-72 degrees F so a chiller is necessary for these species.
Wild Caught (WC) or Captive Breed (CB)?
This can be a hard decision when in many area's only WC are available. However although I neither advocate against or for one specifically. I do suggest CB when available. CB can be a bit more costly but they also can be more resistant to disease and hardier in the aquarium. Also, CB do not strip our oceans of this wonderful animal. For those that are unaware many species of seahorse have become endangered or protected in the wild although captive breeding has allowed us to keep them in the home aquarium still. Just a note if you are in a aquarium store and the owner or sales person assisting you is not sure if the seahorses are captive breed the most likely are not. Even if they tell you they are captive breed there is of course a chance that they are not. Look for a reputable source for your horses even if it happens to mean you have to have them shipped to you and pay quite a bit more I promise it is well worth it.
Now if looking in person here are the things you want to look for to make sure the seahorses are healthy:
1. Do they look skinny with a belly that is pinched looking or is it full?
2. Is the seahorse eating? Ask to see them eat and if not eating pass on the buy!
3. Are they hitched or grabbing onto something or are they laying in the sand dragging without hitching to anything ever? If they are not willing to hitch to something it could mean they are to weak or ailing from some illness. I'd pass on them too.
4. Is there active eye movement? If not this could be a bad sign too. Pass
5. Is the body of the seahorse free of sores? or is it missing chunks anywhere? If so again Pass
6. Is the seahorse gasping for air, now keep in mind they have what appears to be a fast movement of their "mouth" if you will but look at the "gill" area if that is a nice smooth calm respiration things are fine if not it could be a sign that something is wrong.
These are a few of the things I look for when purchasing a seahorse. If you are unsure you could ask a shop owner to hold them for you so that you could observe them for a few days or if you question the health all together and you are just not sure Pass. Most of this is common sense. If their are other seahorses in the tank that appear to be ill I suggest against purchasing other tankmates as their is a strong chance that the tankmate seahorses that appear to be healthy are likely carriers of whatever it is the ill seahorse is carrying. It is better to air on the safe side when it comes to seahorses.
Of course everyone suggest that you quarintine your seahorses. I personally will leave this up to you. It is safer but I understand that many of us dont have the space or extra money to set up a simple QT. Remember that if you do not QT that it is at not only your risk but your seahorses. Please do note that using a fish net on a seahorse is not recommended as it can damage the plates of the seahorse. Instead using a cup or hand transfer is best.
If you do decide to QT your seahorses here is what is necessary. If you purchased a WC the first thing that should be done is either a freshwater dip (RO/DI adjusted for temp and PH for 3-5min) or a formalin bath. If the seahorse shows any signs of distress such as lying on the bottom or violent thrashing etc use common sense here, immediatly remove the seahorse! Keep in a QT for 2-4 weeks then it is safe to add to either your new setup or existing setup. Acclimation should be easy if you have matched the parameters of the QT to the main tank. Please note if you receive a pregnant seahorse do not freshwater dip or formalin bathe!
My be careful rules:
You can make your choice on substrate sand, barebottom, or crushed coral. Although I prefer sand to see the occasional drawings they leave with their tails There is much controversy as to what substrates are safe and if a seahorse will snick (suck) up a peice of sand or rock and choke. I will say if it does happen it is rare and not really a worry of mine. If you use sand please dont take it from your reef. There may be bristleworms in the sand that could potentialy hurt your seahorses. If you end up using live rock and notice a bristleworm try to remove it. You can add a culture of pods to a tank but keep in mind they are a great treat to your seahorses and they will most likely pick the area clean of the pods before you blink LOL. Let's talk heater's. If it is accessable, in other words your seahorses can get to it you need to put a heater guard on it as they can get burned even though it feels cool to us. Filters...most of us will use some sort of filter and any intake will need to be covered with a sponge cover so that the seahorses do not either get sucked up into it or a tail may get caught in it etc. You get the idea. You need to make sure that you have good O2 concentration in your aquarium wether that means you use a airstone, powerhead, or if a filter running breaking the surface happens to be enough. If you go the airstone route make sure that the bubbles are large and not so micro as that can cause the seahorses to take on the air or get it trapped in a pouch. As for the powerheads and filters remember seahorses are not good swimmers so keep the flow low and where the seahorses can decide how much of it they prefer to be in. Allow them some sancturary away from the flow.
This is something I run into all the time. People think that feeding frozen brine shrimp is a sufficient diet. It is not. Now where do we go from there? Live brine that has been enriched for 24-48hrs is ok. Frozen or live mysids are a favorite of most any seahorse although not suitable for dwarfs. You could feed live ghost shrimp that have been gutloaded or even hawaiian red shrimp are very nutritious. If they find some pods around the tank they are likely to snick them up in a heart beat but will deplete the population in no time. Honestly that is the staple for them. They dont eat algea sheets or flake or any of the like. If you happen to have babies then you will need to hatch baby brine shrimp daily to feed.
You will need to keep stable parameters in your tank so remember the larger the tank the easier although a large tank is not suitable for dwarf seahorses unless a very large number is housed, they need heavy feeding and it could cause water quality to go sour quickly if most of the food is not eaten. Aside from that please use the following as a guide:
Temperature is dependant on species kept see above.
Tank size should be 2.5-3 times the height of the seahorse with tail uncurled. Keep in mind what the size potential of the species will be when fully grown. In my opinion it is a good idea to house seahorses in a tank that they can grow into. Some seahorses get quite large. The width of the tank is just as important. Although seahorses are not the best swimmers they do enjoy swimming about back and fourth just as much as up and down. I enjoy what I call the serpent dance or the little submarine dance. They do it quite often and especially when it is feeding time and you are late. If you keep seahorses you know what I am talking about and if you dont keep them but someday do you'll remember that comment Do keep in mind if this is your first attempt at seahorses that the larger the tank is the easier it is to keep the needed water parameters. Although on that note dwarf seahorse tanks are a little different and I will add a seperate post for them all together.
Of course this tank must be cycled. There are many options to do this, time and patience or the ammonia method that is of one of the newer methods considered safe and can be used in your seahorse tank as well as a reef. I will make a seperate thred to give instructions on this.
You first need to decapsulate any brine shrimp cysts you hatch. This can be done by using 1/4 cup of un-scented chlorine bleach to 2-4TBSP of cysts added to a 1 liter bottle filled with RO/DI. Use a airline to keep things moving and when the cysts turn from brown to white to orange they are ready to be strained threw a brine shrimp net and use a product to declorinate or rinse till there is no scent of bleach. You can store these in the refrigerator for 1-2weeks in a salt solution made as follows. Dilute as much table salt in water as you can until it no longer mixes in. That is your solution put the brine cysts in. Store in refrigerator preferably in a container with a lid
Next if you are planning on using live rock it is suggested that you treat it with Pancur. You can purchase the online many places or I am sure your local vet would be willing to help you out.
If you get hydroids anyway which is very possible you can treat with Pancur which can be easily found online and yes it is a dog dewormer. If using the liquid treat the tank with Pancur 10% solution. Use 0.1-0.2cc(ml) for every 10gallons of water every other day for a total of three treatments then make sure you do a large waterchange. Note Pancur will kill bristleworms and inverts and it is reported that Pancur has lingering effects for quite some time so dont expect to be able to plop them right back in anytime soon. If you are going to dose non liquid Pancur you will use 1/32 of a TSP per 10 gallons then remember a large water change recommended within 6hrs of treatment as supposidly hydroids release their own toxin?! Some people have been gutloading their brine with Pancur and believe that it might save our inverts? Time will tell this is still fairly new.
You only other choices I can suggest would be Keyhole Limpets that are known hydroid eaters. I am personally planning to start collecting these for seahorse hobbiests let me know if you are in the market. A species doto naudibranch which I find impossible to get these days but if you find a source let me know is also a hydroid eater.
Well let's keep this simple seahorses dont care They do however prefer subdued lighting vs say metal halide. I would recommend anything from white lunar/moon lights used as lighting to PC lighting.
I am not sure what else I may have missed here if there is more I will surely add it and if need be feel free to send me a PM anytime! I hope more of you will feel more comfortable someday if not sometime soon give these fantastic creatures a try and a loving home! They come highly recommended in my book! Good luck with the stables!