View Full Version : Seahorse questions

Scott B
02/28/2017, 09:18 AM
So I have had saltwater tanks for 10 years or so, but never have cared for seahorses. I currently have a 150 g mixed reef and a 28 gallon jbj nano cube that will house the seahorses. So my questions are: so I need to setup anything different? Flow? Sand? Live rock? And can you put any other kind of fish with them? Ive heard they are slow eaters, so probably not? Any advise would be appreciated, I think they be fun and fascinating watch! Thanks again any responses :)

02/28/2017, 12:24 PM
I started my Seahorses in a cube just like yours. I have since moved to a 47G cube. Set it up just like a regular tank, but with plenty of places for the ponies to grab. I used some dead coral and some plastic plants. There are a pair of Orange Spotted Filefish, a pair of Red Scooters and a Cowfish and a Multi-Banded Pipefish in with my 2 H. Erectus. I have the same flow as a reef tank but I shut it off twice a day for feeding.

02/28/2017, 03:58 PM
Seahorses do best if they are captive bred. Unfortunately a CB seahorse does not have immune protection from the pathogens of WC (wild caught) fish. At the very least you should QT any fish that are going in with the seahorses. Only very gentle fish like gobies, mandarins and such should go in with seahorses.
They need at least 10Xs turnover and 20 is better.
When aquascaping, I suggest free standing rock with nothing touching the sides, including the back wall. You try not to allow food to get stuck in corners, or crevices because it can fuel dangerous bacteria which can be deadly to seahorses.
Sand is ok, but a bb is easier to keep clean.
A really big difference in a seahorse tank and a reef tank is temperature. Seahorses do best long term if the temperature is 70-74. Also husbandry must be much more diligent, bigger more frequent WCs, cleaning filter medium or socks faithfully and keeping excess food and detritus syphoned out.

Scott B
02/28/2017, 07:08 PM
Thanks for the responses, I love gobys so I'll go with one or two of those. Maybe a Mandarin down the road sometime. Do the seahorses do best in pairs or 3 or 4??

02/28/2017, 10:07 PM
Your 28g is just barely large enough just for one pair of seahorses. It is especially not large enough for a mandarin unless you have one that can survive on frozen foods, or can culture externally the enormous qty of pods to add to the tank for it.
Minimum recommended size is 29g for one pair, AT LEAST 15g for each additional pair, but Dan Underwood of seahorsesource.com has posted it's better to have 29g for ALL pairs, not just the first.
Some of those nano type tanks have lighting systems that don't allow for water temperatures to be kept in the recommended range of 68 to 74F.
When you set up, make sure that extensive cleaning can be done very frequently and easily as the harder the chore, the more likely it will be left undone longer than it should be and eventually problems can lead to infections and/or death.
Seahorses need extremely clean water, better than a reef IMO, but their eating habits make for a much dirtier tank that will also feed and bed nasty bacteria.
Best chances of success come from species only tanks, started sterile and cycled properly.

Scott B
02/28/2017, 10:11 PM
Not too worried about water quality, I do regular wcs, yeah the Mandarin probably won't happen, I'll keep one in my bigger tank. As far As lighting, I have the professional led system. That lower temp shouldn't be a problem, thank you for the advice :)

03/01/2017, 08:00 AM
Not too worried about water quality, I do regular wcs,
Not to pick on you Scott, but if you only do husbandry/water changes similar to what you do with a reef tank, you GREATLY reduce your chances of success.
Seahorses, in addition to their frequent problems with exposure to pathogens they haven't grown up with, are VERY susceptible in the most part, to nasty bacteria like the vibrio species for instance.
THERE ARE NO test kits that can tell you when the conditions have deteriorated to the point the bacteria are going to get to problematic levels, even though test kits we DO have available don't show any problems.
This water quality degradation is a slow progressive situation that time length will depend on feeding situations and just how intensive your husbandry actually is, but can take 2-3 months or it can take a year or so.
The first indication may be bacterial infestations on the outside of the seahorse, but for the internal chemistry problems you won't see anything until progression has moved along drastically and you see changed habits of the seahorse like not eating, or lying on it's side, or bloated body.
The problem in part is due to the eating habits of the seahorse where they don't eat anything but what looks to them like the perfect piece, leaving the remainder to provide the food and bedding the nasties need.
Seahorses snick their food up with a vacuum like suction and then "masticate" the food before swallowing and in the process expel clouds of minute particulate matter that sometimes you can actually see like a cloud emanating from the gills which further degrades water quality.
Because of no test kits to help us with this, the best way is to do more extreme husbandry for seahorse tanks in order to keep the bacteria at bay.
First thing is to keep the water temperature at no more than 74 above which the bacteria are multiplying exponentially for each rising degree. In the wild it's not a problem for them because the water is continually changing. In our display tanks, we cannot replicate this.
We need mechanical filtration and/or hands on removal of some kind to be able to keep ahead of deterioration so making it for a simple chore means less likely to skip a procedure once in a while that again in time leads to problems. Clean up crews alone will not normally be sufficient long term.
Mechanical filtration needs to be cleaned out frequently (no less than once a week IMO) and water changes should be larger and more frequent than you would do for a reef. When doing water changes, vacuum out any debris not caught up in filters or removed by the CUC, paying special attention to anything trapped in macro or decor and between and under rocks.
There are seahorses that survive in less than ideal conditions, but you don't know in advance what your specific seahorses are capable of handling. It's much like humans where some are extremely tolerant and seldom have health problems, with many others mid range, but a large portion of people seem to always have health problems.
Sorry to be so "wordy" but I don't know how to explain in a short blurb.

03/01/2017, 08:40 AM
+1 on water changes and temperature. I used to do 25% a week, despite having reef quality water, zero nitrates and phosphates.

Also, when you look to purchase your seahorses buy them all at once from the same supplier and try not to mix species as they can come from different tanks even at the same dealer, which can lead to infections, even if they look otherwise healthy, sea horses have a slow immune system. Seahorsesource.com is where I got mine from.

I used a petri dish surrounded by fake plastic plants to feed them, made it less messy.

03/01/2017, 11:34 PM
Even with LED lighting you are going to need a chiller. I keep my Seahorse tanks 68-72. 28g is on the small size. I have a pair in a Temp. 37g while their 60g cube is cycling. They cover the entire 37g tank....and they are Juvi's, not even full grown. On the 60g cube I have a mag 7 return pump hooked to a seaswirl, and mag 5 for the 1/4 HP chiller. There is plenty of flow, but there is also low flow areas for sleeping or just relaxing. Even in the current 37g tank I will see them playing in higher flow areas, but they tend to hunt in the lower flow areas. The love the pods in the rubble piles I made just for that purpose.

I believe the bigger the tank the better. You COULD live in a bathroom your whole life, but would you want to? We are responsible for them once we bring them into our homes. It is our duty make them as comfortable and as well cared for as possible. A skimmer is also a must have. Seahorses are Messy...VERY messy! Training to a feeding dish helps, but they are still pigs lol. I also tend to remove tons of amphipods from the sump of my reef tank to add to the seahorse tank. They love to hunt them. It keeps them stimulated and active. They do eat both frozen Hikari Mysis and PE Mysis.

Make sure they are captive bred and research seahorse safe tank mates and corals.

I have been keeping and breeding seahorse since late 2003/ early 2004. They are addicting. I work from home and am in my office up to 10 hrs a day on the phone. I have 2 Seahorse tanks in there. One on the right side of my desk (60 cube) and one on the left (37g). IF I have to work...at least I have a nice view.

03/01/2017, 11:52 PM
Seahorsesource.com is where I got mine from.

I spoke with Abbie from SeahorseSource and she said they do not have a problem mixing their H. Reidi and H. Erectus together. Other species may not mix well, but theirs can go together.

Scott B
03/04/2017, 04:30 PM
Wow, all great advice! Thanks everyone for the comments. I look forward to getting the tank up and running, which will still be month or so before it is ready to house them.

03/14/2017, 03:59 PM
What do you guys suggest for mechanical filtration? Just a filter sock or something else?

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03/14/2017, 04:45 PM
What do you guys suggest for mechanical filtration? Just a filter sock or something else?

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Filter socks are a great way to capture excess mysis that isn't eatten. You should clean them twice a week and never let excess food sit in them too long or dangerous bacteria will grow there.