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Old 04/15/2016, 12:15 AM   #30
Seahorse Wrangler
TamiW's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Greater Milwaukee Area, WI
Posts: 917
Some of this has been covered but I thought I'd share what I know and clear up some misconceptions. It's not illegal to keep weedy seadragons and you don't need special permits to own them. The weedies that have been available in the past year were going for about $2000 dollars. They are tank raised; pregnant makes collected from the wild with a permit.

Most public aquaria have stopped feeding frozen food to their seadragons due to the risk of bacteria on dead food leading to illness in a high dollar value animal. Sea dragons are more prone to bacterial illnesses than other fish. Seahorses have a greatly reduced adaptive immune system, and it follows that seadragons likely do as well, as they are equally susceptible to bacteria frozen food is forgone as a way of protecting a fish worth thousands of dollars.

Weedy seadragons have been bred in captivity by a few public aquariums, but it is still a difficult task that no one has mastered. For now, only tank raised weedies have been available outside public aquariums and will likely be the case for the near future. The limited number available last year in the US and EU were tank raised, but there was a lot of misunderstanding and claims that they were captive bred.

I'm not aware of any credible reports of leafy seadragons successfully breeding in captivity. The few claims I've heard of have turned out to be confusion with tank raised leafies (pregnant males captured and giving birth in captivity). There are rumblings it's happened in Asia, but nothing confirmed.

Weedies are prone to spooking and darting, injuring themselves and should be kept with decor that makes it hard to do so- no sharp edges and ideally a round tank. They need a good flow rate and are temperate. Lights need to be turned on and off gradually with a dimming system. They need a 500 gallon tank at minimum. I've been told that keeping them is essentially a full time job. I was speaking to an aquarist at a large aquarium on the subject, and was told that they essentially have people working with the sea dragons the same number of hours that would be a full time job. They have them spread across a few people, so it's not one person that only managed the seadragons, but that's more because you want redundancy, should someone leave. I've heard similar tails of the large time investment being a literal full time job.

It's not really known how at risk weedy or leafy seadragons are in the wild, the laws regarding their regulation and capture in Australia are both a preventative measure and a way of protecting a resource that no one else has. They are not on any formal endangered species list. Up until the late 90s, Australians could collect them for personal use. That's probably how philter4 was able to get them; the majority of the restrictions for seadragons and seahorses in Australia came in the late 90s. I want to say 98, but I may be confusing that with another date.

Leafies have more protections than weedies. They cannot go to private sellers. As melsteve said, the permits to collect pregnant males had been revoked. No pregnant males have been collected for the past 3 years. This happened because these captive raise leafy seadragons were ending up in the hands of private aquarists, and AU only allows their collection to be for research and educational institutions. Weedy seadragons do not have the education and research requirement limitation.


It's all about the snick!

Current Tank Info: I have a fish room.
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