View Full Version : Dwarf SeaHorse tank!

10/23/2015, 06:05 PM
Hello! I thought i'd come say hello and introduce myself in this forum now as I am starting up a dwarf seahorse tank now and will most likely be asking for tips and advice down the road. This is my 3rd saltwater tank, I have my 65 gallon reef system going, a 55 gallon aggressive tank and now this is my nano 5 gallon dwarf seahorse tank. For anyone that is going to comment and say don't do dwarfs to do a larger kind, I do not have the space currently for a larger tank as much as i would love to. I do know that they need daily hatched brine shrimp and am aware of all the daily needs of them. It will be a learning experience that i am very much so looking forward to! If anyone here has had them, or currently does, any advice? The tank is currently cycling and should be ready for them soon! The picture was before i added decorations to the tank ;)http://imgur.com/PoNLlN7

10/23/2015, 09:40 PM
I've had no problem with up to 50 dwarfs in my 5g using sterile contents only.
Main reason for sterile system is to lessen the chances of ending up with deadly hydroids which seem to follow when continuous feeding of artemia nauplii occurs.
I use open ended air lines for aeration. Some use air powered sponge filters.
I used a mini filter (hang in tank) placed on a timer, to remove uneaten nauplii after the dwarfs have fed and before the next feeding.
Then each feeding is only going to supply newly enriched artemia and they won't be able to feed on artemia that have used up the nutrients in them.
I use Dan's Feed from seahorsesource.com for enrichment, in two twelve hour stages with new water and new enrichment for each stage.
First stage gut loads the nauplii, second stage the nutrient is assimilated into the body as well, making them even more nutritious.

10/24/2015, 12:18 AM
I'm currently plan to start with about 10 in my 5g, i hear they breed fairly quickly so im sure i'll end up with 50 soon enough haha. I'm using the basic mini filter that came with the tank and now looking at it wish it wasn't hooked up to the same power source as the lights, cause i love the idea of having the filter on a timer so you don't have to worry about there being too much flow during non-feeding time. I'll be feeding BBS daily so i'll have a hatchery going full time, i am a bit confused on this enrichment process though...Could you explain that a bit more? im too lazy tonight to research it on my own haha

10/24/2015, 08:25 AM
First off, I use pop bottle hatchers, cheap and efficient. Hatcher/Enricher (http://www.angelfire.com/ab/rayjay/Hatcher.html)
I use water softener sodium chloride and epsom salts mixed 10 to 1 with a dash of baking soda added for buffer.
I decapp a batch of cysts first to lessen the chances of hydroids/nasty bacteria problems.
Add the needed amount of cysts to the salt water mix and aerate with open ended air line. Depending on temperature, hatchout will begin in about 8 to 20 hours but they don't all hatch at once, meaning by the time the last ones hatch, the first ones have consumed a lot of the nutrients in the egg sack.
At 24 hours, I rinse and do a water change and let grow out for another 24 hours so they molt to the Second Instar Stage where they can now feed. (with incomplete digestive tract, Instar I stage cannot feed other than directly from it's egg sac)
Now I rinse again and put them in new water with Dan's Feed for enrichment. Don't overdo the amount of enrichment as it can kill the nauplii off if too much. Better to add sever times if needed rather than over feed.
After enriching for 12 hours, the nauplii are now gut loaded and can be fed to the dwarfs at this point.
However, by rinsing again and placing in new water and new enrichment for a second 12 hour period, the nutrients assimilated into the body of the nauplii make the food much more nutritious than just gut loading.
The frequent water changes help control bacterial growth which really can be a problem once you add enrichment which the bacteria also feeds on.

10/24/2015, 09:57 AM
so then for the enrichment process, do you do it in fresh or salt water?

10/24/2015, 10:32 AM
Always salt water. You can rinse with tap water but artemia will not live long term in fresh water.
You can use the cheap water as I already mentioned or you can use your reef mixture which is more expensive. Don't use old tank water as it already contains bacteria.
You can go even cheaper with the water by using rock salt instead of water softener sodium chloride mixed with the epsom salts but the rock salt usually has higher solid contaminants.
Use a mix with similar s.g. to your tank water but it's not real critical as artemia can live in a great range of salinity.

10/24/2015, 05:54 PM
So in total it'll take about 48 hours give or take to have a batch of food all good to go, i think i might want to make a 3rd hatchery xD So what i plan to do currently...Have about 3 pop bottle hatcheries, start the first one 2 days before i get my ponies, after 24 hours put the hatched brine shrimp in a 2.5 gallon tank for enrichment, and start the next batch of bbs in the second hatchery, when there done 24 hours later the enrichment process should be done, i'll do the 12 hours then water change and another 12 hours in enrichment process, and i'll put the 2nd batch of bbs in the enrichment and start another hatching session in the 3rd bottle, Just to keep them rotating so they stay....'clean' xD Do you see any issues with that or anything you'd recommend on changing?

10/24/2015, 06:24 PM
Well many hobbyists have various proceedures but for me, I hatch out enough for at least a weeks feeding because they have no problem feeding on even older ones than that. I can hatch out a tablespoon of cysts in one pop bottle but you won't need to do that much with so few dwarfs.
If you have to use the 2.5 I would use it after hatch out of the weeks supply.
Then take enough out to enrich, after they have ongrown for a day first, and do the two 12 hour stages for enrichment.
This should take you two bottles for the enrichment stage, using one day one and enriching another batch on the second day when bottle two is being used up.
I wouldn't use the 2.5 for enrichment because it's too costly to use that much enrichment each 12 hours, but to use it for ongrowing the hatched ones BEFORE enrichment, all you have to do is add phyto, or a little cryopaste, or even greenwater made with spirulina powder, just adding small amounts and adding more as the water clears.
Remember that after hatching, the nauplii CANNOT feed for a day so don't add food for that day.
The other point is for if you use the 2.5g tank for ongrowing, make sure you have enough open ended air lines to keep any non live food in suspension.

10/24/2015, 06:47 PM
I didn't know that you could hatch a full weeks supply and there still good come the end of the week...that'd make life so much easier haha, So new plan! Hatch a weeks worth in pop bottle #1, put them in 2.5g tank, with good open ended air lines, and take out the food for say tuesday on monday and start enrich in pop bottle #2 after 12 hours new water in pop bottle #1 and enrich for another 12 hours. Then feed and start the enrich process over again for the next days food. Whats this greenwater stuff you speak of ;3 haha, is it pretty much just water rich in food for bbs? sorry for asking so many questions, I like to have a sound plan and know whats going to happen before i begin.

10/24/2015, 10:10 PM
You might want to start decapping and hatching right away to get some experience before you get the dwarfs. Once you have the dwarfs coming it can be too late to find out something isn't working out right.
Are you decapping the cysts yourself or buying decapped that hatch?
Decapped come in hatching AND NON hatching forms.
Greenwater is basically live or non live food.
I use live nanno at first but switch to greenwater made by mixing some spirulina powder in water in a blender and storing in the fridge to use as needed. Actually, I add Algamac 3050 (DHA) as well to make the nauplii even more nutritious. There is Algamac 3050 and Spirulina in Dan's Feed, along with many other beneficial things but I can buy spirulina and 3050 in bulk to make it much cheaper.
I save the Dan's Feed just for the further enrichment.

10/25/2015, 12:35 AM
i'm buying decapped, i'll have to look into just using greenwater for the 2.5

10/25/2015, 08:12 AM
Best place I found for spirulina powder was Brine Shrimp Direct. One pound for $10.95.
While they sell Selco as an enrichment, I personally dislike the product as it's an emulsion that doesn't store well, and doesn't have the same level of DHA that Algamac 3050 has in Dan's Feed. Dan's Feed being a powder, stores for a much longer period of time.
While they don't mention it, the Selco should ALSO be mixed in a blender just as the powdered Dan's Feed.

10/27/2015, 03:28 PM
I am going to go greenwater route in the 2.5 to keep a weeks worth of bbs in there. I am ordering some spirulina powder from brine shrimp direct, and am trying to find this algamac 3050 but can't seem to find a place that sells it, where do you get yours from?

10/27/2015, 04:00 PM
I'd suggest just using the spirulina greenwater without the algamac 3050 just for ongrowing the artemia nauplii because they will get the algamac product from the enrichment if you buy Dan's Feed from seahorsesource.com.
I buy the algamac direct from manufacturer because of the amount I was using and was buying several kilo's at a time.
I have scaled down my systems now so I no longer need those large quantities so when I run out I can buy the 3050 by itself also from Dan Underwood of seahorsesource.com.
Again, I recommend getting this operation going ahead of time so you can find out what bugs you run into and have them corrected before you actually need the enriched nauplii, at the least a week but better two weeks ahead of time.

10/27/2015, 06:29 PM
Yea, i tested my water in the tank today and it's nearly perfect, I'd say about a week out from being ready so i'm going to start hatching some shrimp when i get the spirulina which should be friday, or early next week. Then give that a few test runs before i order the horses. For enrichment, would you suggest using Dans feed in the 2.5 or strait algamac 3050? I havn't gotten any enrichment supplies yet, will be placing that order in the next day or two.

10/27/2015, 07:54 PM
First of all, while test kits can tell you certain things are good or bad, they cannot tell you when the water is not up to what is needed for seahorses as everything you can test for as a hobbyist may be all well and good, but seahorses can still be dying from water that is supporting nasty bacteria and conditions that lead to chemical imbalances within the seahorses that lead to organ failure. This is why preventative maintenance is so much more critical than a normal reef tank.
As for enrichment, you are getting confused. DO NOT USE THE 2.5g for enrichment, only for growout with the spirulina or maybe live nannochloropsis if you are growing some.
Use a pop bottle hatcher for the enrichment process.
Dan's Feed is the best enrichment as it has many different things that are good for the seahorses, including the algamac 3050.

10/27/2015, 07:58 PM
so as far as the bacteria in the water, anyway to find out before you put them in there....? and i knew about the enrichment not in the 2.5....i don't know why i said that xD haha, the 2.5 will have the spirulina, will be enriching in a pop bottle for 12 hours before feeding.

10/27/2015, 09:38 PM
No there is no test to do to measure bacteria for a hobbyist to do.
The bacteria are ALWAYS present. It's just that when conditions are suitable then the bacteria multiply to the point they become problematic.
By proper husbandry techniques, we keep the water clean enough to limit the growth of the bacteria. Bacteria is also the reason many of us keep the water temperature between 68 and 74 F as the bacteria multiply exponentially above that range.
For the enriching, TWO twelve hour stages with new water and enrichment will work better than one twelve hour stage.

10/27/2015, 10:47 PM
Sounds good. I'll order some Dan's feed in the morning and we'll be one step closer to being ready :)

10/28/2015, 05:26 PM
Id really like to thank you for all the help and information youve given me rayjay, I feel like now im going into this more prepared then ever, will be hatching a weeks worth of bbs, storing in a 2.5g tank with spirulina, then enriching there daily food in 2 12 cycles with dans feed. Im curious, do you have a dwarf seahorse set up going currently? If you do could I see a picture or two of it? :)

10/28/2015, 09:03 PM
No, I no longer have my dwarf tank going. I quit after 2 yrs finding it a PITA.
It's much easier looking after all my regular seahorses.
There is a picture of my dwarf tank on my website as it used to be.
At the time of the picture taking there was only about 25 dwarfs in it but they are quite hard to see.
Scroll down to bottom. Some of my seahorses (http://www.angelfire.com/ab/rayjay/seahorse.html)

10/29/2015, 03:16 PM
So i feel very confident about the enrichment process, i just want to go over the hatching process if you don't mind. I'll be using the pop bottle hatcher that you posted about earlier. You use fresh water with some rock salt and a pinch of baking soda then have the open ended airline in the bottom of the bottle and a light pointing at it correct? anything wrong or something i should change about that?

10/29/2015, 09:42 PM
I use 10 parts sodium chloride to 1 part epsom salts by weight and THEN a little baking soda for buffer. The epsom salt I buy at Walmart in 4K jugs.
I haven't personally used just sodium chloride without the epsom but maybe others can chime in here if they have had success without the epsom.
I would aim for s.g. around the same s.g. the dwarfs will be kept at.
You only need the light source until they have completed the hatch. After that ambient lighting is sufficient.
I don't think I've mentioned that you need a mesh bag or net that can capture the nauplii as standard small nets don't work. I personally use a mesh bag from Brine Shrimp Direct, the 150 mesh one. I use the 250 mesh for rotifers if you get into those for any reason.
It may take some practice to perfect the separation of nauplii from cyst.

10/29/2015, 10:57 PM
Yea I ordered a net for them from brineshrimp direct with the spirliuna. Once all that arrives ill do a test run of hatching.

10/30/2015, 09:14 AM
If it's the same net they had a few years ago, I bought one and they work great for juvenile or adult brine but are no good for nauplii.
Check out these:
And my favorite one:
http://www.brineshrimpdirect.com/c9/Mesh-Bag-c65.html the 150 mesh bag.
They are quite large and I can cut one and make two nets with a bag or I can just insert one in a two litre pop bottle with the bottom cut out and use it like a filter in a funnel. With the bag in the bottle, I fold the top of the bag over the outside of the bottle.

10/30/2015, 12:31 PM
I had ordered the AquaLife brine-shrimp net, i'll look into seeing if a local shop has something like the sieve.

10/30/2015, 12:34 PM
One other question i have now, The Spirulina powder came this morning, how much should i use for in the 2.5g holding tank?

10/30/2015, 01:15 PM
There is no set amount as everyone is feeding different quantities of nauplii in different volumes of water.
To start, add about 1 tablespoon of spirulina to a cup of water in a blender and blend for a minimum of two minutes.
Then pour into a suitable bottle (pop bottle works fine for me) rinsing residue into bottle and topping up to about a quart total. (or litre, doesn't have to be exact) Store in fridge.
To use, shake up to mix settlement and add sparingly to the tank until you can see some green colour to the water. As the water clears, add more.
Keep watch for settling of spirulina as a tank doesn't work as well as a bottle. Cones are the best shape containers but they are too expensive for me.

10/30/2015, 01:37 PM
Any pics in the future

10/30/2015, 01:49 PM
Ok, that seems simple enough haha. I think its time to start a test run of hatching them. I don't have the Dans Feed to enrich them yet, but then again, i don't have seahorses yet that need them enriched

10/30/2015, 01:51 PM
Any pics in the future

There will definitely be pics, Here is one of my tank currently, no ponies yet :P

10/30/2015, 02:14 PM
I dont suppose that for hatching them ray you could just use pre mixed saltwater? Using just instant oceon, not reef crystals?

10/30/2015, 04:19 PM
Many people have just used something like I.O. or another.
For me, I think it's just a waste when something so cheap will do instead.

10/30/2015, 07:23 PM
Hmm....Im just thinking for simplicity, since i have containers of I.O. just sitting to the side for my other tanks that i could just grab some of that.... but yea otherwise the sodium chloride and epsom would be cheaper in the long run... I'm going to start to hatch a batch later tonight since i get off work at 1 am tomorrow, or i guess it'd be 1 am on Sunday....but you get the point haha, so i'll start it about midnight tonight so they'll have 24 hours

11/01/2015, 10:30 PM
Maybe you know this ray, Saw this on a site, don't plan on using it at all just curious if something like this works for seahorses, http://www.amazon.com/Ocean-Nutrition-Food-Instant-Brine/dp/B00176GU32/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1446442174&sr=8-1&keywords=instant+brine+shrimp

11/02/2015, 07:20 AM
Believe me, if there were an easier way to feed dwarfs someone would have found it and the word would have gotten around almost instantly.
However, Dwarfs, like fry of standard seahorses for the most part won't partake of non live food. They want to see their food moving around.
Also because it is an inert food, settlement will occur meaning more and frequent cleanup to prevent bacterial infections.
In addition, nutrient level will not be as good as enriched live nauplii.

11/02/2015, 11:24 AM
Yea i had assumed that no matter what, enriched live bbs would be better then the 'artificial' foods, Would be nice if there was an easier food for them ;) there still going to be worth the work though!

11/02/2015, 02:18 PM
I want to see you posting the same words two years from now. Not to many last that long before it becomes a big PITA and most even sooner.

11/03/2015, 10:31 AM
I feel silly having to ask again, i know it was mentioned somewhere in the thread here, In the 2.5g tank that the bbs will be in with spirulina powder, Should that tank be have an open ended airline in it aswell?

11/03/2015, 11:58 AM
In addition to needing air lines for oxygen for the brine, you need enough lines to keep the food in suspension, especially for containers that are not cone shaped.

11/03/2015, 12:50 PM
i have two air pumps rated for 10 gallons that'll be used in the 2.5, so i think it should be good ;)

11/03/2015, 01:40 PM
I started the hatching a bit later then i had planned, but non the less after 24 hours i moved them from the pop bottle hatchery to the 2.5g tank with green water. It appears to be a very successful hatch, Used a turkey baster to remove the shrimp with minimal eggs/unhatched shrimp. I think i am ready to start looking into ordering the seahorses.

11/03/2015, 09:57 PM
I MUCH prefer to remove the air line after hatchout, let sit for 4 minutes, and siphon off the nauplii into an ice cream container. Then I pour through the mesh to capture the nauplii, rinse to remove all traces of hatching water, and then add to the grow out container. If not using decapped cysts then I also treat with a 5 minute hydrogen peroxide bath before the rinse.
Remember, they can't feed on the greenwater until they are about a day old when the molt into instar II stage. This means you will end up with exoskeletons in the container that many people think are dying nauplii. Roughly speaking they will go through about 15 of these molts by the time they mature.
These molts are another reason for cleanout of the containers as the food settles and decays and the molts decay along with nauplii feces decaying, providing perfect conditions for nasty bacteria to thrive. Usually when a brownish tinge starts to the water it indicates the molts and feces have decayed.

11/03/2015, 11:00 PM
Yea i took the airline out for a good 10 minuets, let everything settle, then moved them, i didn't rinse them before putting them into the holding tank but will be rising them before starting any enrichment process. With the feces and molts decaying just complete water changing and cleaning between batches in the holding tank?

11/04/2015, 07:13 AM
IMO, rinsing should occur at every step of the way when it comes to brine.
Bacteria can be transferred just so easy you need to minimize the possibility as much as possible. Even better if you can use hydrogen peroxide.

11/04/2015, 07:36 PM
For any batch after, and anymore steps with this one ill be rinsing inbetween. What is a good source for dwarfs if you know of any.

11/04/2015, 09:04 PM
There is no better source than seahorsesource.com.

11/06/2015, 10:48 AM
Now one more question, Tank mates i know are a no-go, has anyone had luck with corals with dwarfs? i know the lights on my tank wouldn't be good enought for most, but im thinking a smaller nps gorgonian, would that cause issues? i know the big thing with adding corals would probably be the risk of hydroids.

11/06/2015, 04:04 PM
I can't help with corals as I've never had any with dwarfs. However, you would have to consider whether or not the corals needs were compatible with the dwarfs needs. i,e, waterflow, feeding, temperature
In a small tank it would be especially hard to provide sufficient light for many corals without overheating the small tank to above the recommended range of 68 to 74F

11/06/2015, 05:09 PM
Right, I'll just stick with the artificial plants ;P I recieved my order of dwarfs today, Got 8 healthy looking sea horses and one actually gave birth in the shipping bag so there are 3 little ponies swimming around :)

11/06/2015, 05:32 PM
Ray you may be able to answer this one, I think another one may be pregnant :P http://imgur.com/V9Xi1kf Thats the best photo i could get with my phone

11/06/2015, 09:17 PM
Can't tell for sure as in the pic the pouch sticks out in front well but appears to be sunken in the side.
Swollen pouches sometimes just indicate the male is inflating the pouch to show the female he is ready to accept eggs.

11/09/2015, 06:25 PM
Well it's day 3 with the seahorses lost 1 in shipping and 2 shortly after, so the final count currently is 7 adults and 7 babies, that i can see atleast haha, they like to hide in between plants. Brine shrimp has been going pretty well, there eating good from what i can see. Thank you for all the help and advice getting things ready for them ray!

In honor of you, http://i.imgur.com/dFtdSrh.jpg Meet ray the seahorse! :P

11/10/2015, 06:12 AM
Cute pic!

11/18/2015, 10:58 PM
Don't know if anyone here can answer this, When a dwarf seahorse has the ponies how small are they, i say this because i had one that i thought just gave birth in shipping, had some really small seahorses but could clearly tell they were seahorses. Now looking in the tank i see what looks very similar to one, but very small...way smaller then the then thought to be babies. Its so small i can't get a picture that you'd be able to see anything to verify.

11/19/2015, 08:01 AM
Any I had were fairly uniform in size but occasionally I would get some smaller ones. Those smaller ones though never seemed to last long.
You will definitely be able to tell that they are seahorses though.
I've never actually measured one but the smallest I've seen were larger than the reidi and erectus fry I've raised.
You could probably fit about 8 dwarf newborn on a dime.