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Unread 04/02/2020, 02:42 PM   #1
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Smile Red banded pipefish (Doryrhamphus dactyliophorus) now on sale at Ocean Rider! *

Good news, gang – the Ocean Rider red banded pipefish (Doryrhamphus dactyliophorus) are available again from Ocean Rider ( and are being offered to home hobbyists at this time. As you know, these hardy farm-raised pipefish make wonderful tankmates for our ponies and will add a lot of interest and activity to your seahorse tank to brighten up your days a bit in these dark times. These beautiful banded pipefish have been born and raised at the Ocean Rider aquaculture facility in Hawaii for many generations now and breed readily in captivity. They are trained to eat frozen Mysis of appropriate size, as well as other commercially available foods, making them easy to feed.

If you follow the link below, it will take you to the right page on the Ocean Rider website to place an order for the banded pipefish, guys:

If you want more information on the care and feeding, breeding habits, rearing recommendations, and aquarium requirements of the pipefish, just let me know, and I can provide you with lots more info and any additional details you desire. You can always reach me by e-mail at the following address:

Best wishes with all your fishes, everybody! Stay safe and stay healthy!

Happy Trails!
Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support


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Unread 04/30/2020, 01:38 AM   #2
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Any chance you will be able to breed Doryrhamphus janssi in the foreseeable future? The wild ones are extremely hard to find and usually arrive so sick that few make it even with the best care and plenty of live food. Those would be great to be available as tank bred, especially since they are a reef species that can be kept in high flow reef tanks.

BTW, the banded pipefish are not in the genus Doryrhamphus but rather Dunckerocampus. Aside from general morphological and behavioral differences there is also a difference in the way males carry the eggs: Doryrhamphus have an open pouch that partially covers the eggs while Dunckerocampus males carry the eggs fully exposed.
Dunckerocampus dactyliophorus @

Pairs: 4 percula, 3 P. kauderni, 3 D. excisus, 1 ea of P. diacanthus, S. splendidus, C. altivelis O. rosenblatti, D. janssi, S. yasha & a Gramma loreto trio
3 P. diacanthus. 2 C. starcki

Current Tank Info: 200 gal 4 tank system (40x28x24 + 40B + 40B sump tank + 20g refugium) + 30x18x18 mixed reef + 20g East Pacific biotop + 20g FW +...
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Unread 04/30/2020, 05:05 PM   #3
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Yeah, Ocean Rider is always looking for new species of seahorses and pipefish to culture. The seahorse farm would love to work with Doryrhamphus janssi, but one major obstacle to all such breeding projects is first and foremost the need to obtain sufficient healthy broodstock from throughout the natural range of the species to eliminate any concerns about inbreeding.

It’s important to realize that Ocean Rider's captive-breeding program is geared toward increasing the heterogeneity of their livestock, not producing homozygous recessives. As intraspecific hybrids, Ocean Rider farm-raised seahorses and pipefish enjoy increased vigor and benefit from enhanced genetic diversity compared to wild seahorses and pipes or other domesticated seahorses.

Basically, when they begin working with a particular species, Ocean Rider's approach is to obtain sufficient broodstock from throughout their range to completely eliminate any concerns about inbreeding, and then to pair males and females from different bloodlines in order to achieve intraspecific hybridization. That way, each pairing actually increases the genetic diversity of the offspring, and providing you avoid brother-sister crosses when you subsequently select your breeders for the next generation, each new generation will actually be strengthened (more genetically diverse than their parents) through the phenomenon of hybrid vigor.

This is especially true considering the primary traits Ocean Rider selects for are adaptability, disease resistance, vigor, aggressive feeding habits, and rapid growth. Far from being recessive characteristics that could eventually result in inbreeding, these are all adaptive traits that increase the line's fitness and improve survivorship. In fact, they are the same sort of traits Mother Nature herself selects seahorses for in the wild to assure survival of the fittest. When nature culls out the weakest and least fit, it is known as "natural selection." It is nature's way of keeping a species strong, vigorous, and adaptive (i.e., evolving to better fit its niche). The only difference is that Mother Nature is selecting for suitability to their natural habitat, whereas Ocean Rider is selecting seahorses for fitness to captive conditions. In both cases, the selection process assures that the specimens become ever stronger and better adapted to their environmental niche, whether that is the aquarium or the ocean itself.

Practiced in this manner, selective breeding actually strengthens and improves a strain generation by generation, producing seahorses that are progressively hardier and better suited for aquarium life.

Initially, Ocean Rider's goal is not to rear the maximum number of offspring from each brood, but to assure that the weaker offspring are weeded out at every stage, and that only the fittest fry are selected for further rearing. As a result, it typically takes Ocean Rider several generations to strengthen a new type in this manner before they consider bringing it to market. Even then, before the seahorse farm makes a new captive-bred line available to the public, they do a test offering in which they sell a limited number of specimens to knowledgeable hobbyists that are experienced seahorse keepers in order to determine how well the new line handles shipping from Hawaii and how well they fare in hobbyists' tanks. If the new type does not perform up to expectations, it's pulled off the market for another generation or two of further strengthening and improvement before it's re-released (each generation takes 6-12 months to become sexually mature, depending on the type).

It's a good system, and it assures that Ocean Riders will only continue to get stronger, hardier, and more trouble free over time as they are become ever better adapted to aquarium conditions. When it comes to selective breeding, nobody else goes to such great lengths to avoid inbreeding and instead increase the genetic diversity of their livestock, and that's a big part of what makes Ocean Rider seahorses superior to all the rest.

The other primary aspect that makes Ocean Riders so much better than any other seahorses is the fact that Ocean Rider is the one and only aquaculture facility to earn High Health Certification.

In order to earn High Health Certification, an aquacultural facility must first prove that it enforces a strict biosecurity program with rigorous quarantine protocols, and that at no stage in the breeding and rearing process are its livestock ever exposed to open systems or wild-caught seahorses. Secondly, it must withstand intense scrutiny by outside agencies -- in this case, primarily from the Controlling State Aquatic Veterinary industry. The monitoring done by these Aquatic Health Specialists includes regular sampling of Ocean Rider livestock for complete necroscopic examinations. Periodically, Ocean Rider seahorses are selected at random by the State Controlling Vet, euthanized, and autopsied. Their internal organs are examined, tissue sections are taken (multi-organ histopathology), and examined microscopically, along with other laboratory analyses. Only then can Ocean Rider seahorses be certified free of pathogen and parasites.

As I mentioned, there is a reason that Ocean Rider is the only High-Health seahorse farm and that is because high health certification is very difficult and expensive to attain. It is very costly in terms of the time, energy, resources, and the increased size of the aquaculture facility it requires to meet the demanding high-health standards. You must provide a biosecure area for each species you are working with, follow very rigorous quarantine protocols, and periodically sacrifice a portion of the healthy, mature seahorses you have raised for so many months -- just when they are ready to go to market -- for complete necroscopic examinations in order to make certain they are free of pathogens and parasites. All of which makes achieving and maintaining High-Health Certification a very expensive proposition. Ocean Rider does it to assure that they are providing the best possible livestock for hobbyists. As always, their primary concerns are not profits but the health and welfare of their seahorses and the benefits cultured seahorses provide in terms of conserving wild populations.

I'm sure you can appreciate the fact that raising seahorses in captivity requires a great deal of time and hands-on effort, and that seahorse ranchers necessarily develop an attachment to the 'horses they raise as a result. For instance, here's a quote from Carol Cozzi-Schmarr (co-owner and operator of Ocean Rider) that appeared in an article about seahorses and FAMA magazine in 1990: "The fact is that raising seahorses on the scale we do requires a tremendous amount of work, love, and energy. Seahorse farming is not like a ketchup factory where there is no relationship between the workers and the end product they deliver. Imagine carefully collecting thousands of seahorse babies, feeding and caring for them every day, and watching them grow for 12 months or more! Believe me, you get very attached to them! We want them to go to good homes where they will get the same care and where they will reward the owner with as much happiness and joy as they bring ourselves and our staff."

I can assure you that once you've painstakingly raised a seahorse to maturity and provided it with the best possible nutrition and TLC for six months to a year, just as you did with its parents and grandparents and great-grandparents before it, all the way back to its original Adam-and-Eve, which you personally handpicked, you do everything in your power to assure that it thrives once you send it off to the eagerly awaiting aquarist. And when something goes wrong and a seahorse is lost despite your best efforts, it's every bit as devastating to the folks that raised it as it is to the hobbyist.

That's why Ocean Rider goes to such great lengths to provide the hobbyist with such a wealth of information and resources on the care and keeping of seahorses completely free of charge. There is no other breeder or aquaculture facility that provides the kind of detailed information on every aspect of the seahorse's life and care that Ocean Rider does. And that, in turn, is why I'm pleased and privileged to be involved with Ocean Rider. I feel strongly that combining the vastly superior Ocean Rider livestock with the best possible tech support is in the best interests of the hobbyist, the seahorses, and seahorse conservation in general.

A perfect example of this is the fact that all newbies and first-time customers are asked to complete the Ocean Rider Seahorse Training Manual to my satisfaction before they can earn their certification and become authorized to purchase seahorses. I should explain that the seahorse training manual – which I personally write and administer on behalf of Ocean Rider – is very comprehensive, consisting of several hundred pages of text with more than 250 full-color illustrations. It explains everything that a home hobbyist needs to know in order to keep seahorses successfully in a home aquarium. In this way, Ocean Rider assures that all of their customers are well prepared to give their seahorses the best possible care before they make a purchase.

And thank you for correcting me regarding the species name of the banded pipefish. I was under the mistaken impression that all of the flagtail pipefish were in the genus Doryrhamphus. I will correct my information regarding the red banded pipefish to state that the correct nomenclature is now Dunckerocampus dactyliophorus.

Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support

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Unread 05/03/2020, 01:01 AM   #4
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any chance these will do well in a mixed reef? all tank mates are reef safe fish... just wondering if it has a chance in such a reef or not?

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Unread 05/03/2020, 01:25 PM   #5
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Dear Coral Cruze:

Yes, sir, as long as you feed them properly, I believe the Red Banded Pipefish (Dunckerocampus dactyliophorus) would feel right at home in a mixed reef. Such an environment would be a good approximation of their natural reef habitat and they are much stronger swimmers than seahorses, so the water flow shouldn’t bother them at all.

A well-planted "Fish-Only-with-Live-Rock" (FOWLR) seahorse setup or seahorse-safe reef tank is the ideal habitat for the Red Banded Pipefish. Plenty of live rock, lots of macroalgae, and seahorse-safe soft corals and/or SPS corals are all very appropriate forms of decor. Is In the wild, these pipefish can be found swimming under rocky overhangs, corals, or close to the floor of its reef habitat, and in the aquarium they will appreciate live rock arrangements that form caves, arches, and overhanging ledges. (Pipefish will often swim upside down along the roof of a cave or overhang.)

In a tank with lots of live rock and a thriving pod population, you may sometimes see the red banded pipefish slithering along the bottom of the tank in a very serpentine fashion, as it hunts for copepods and amphipods in all the nooks and crannies in the rockwork.

The Red Banded Pipefish is one of the highly prized reef pipefish or flagtail pipefish from the tropical IndoPacific. It is a relative of the seahorse with a very long, slender, cylindrical body that resembles a colorful pipe cleaner (hence the name pipefish). This species is boldly marked, with dark reddish to maroon vertical rings running the length of its body and a very striking flag-like tail that is used to propel it horizontally through the water. The tail is a bright red oval with a brilliant white margin all around and a distinctive yellow mark in the center that is often shaped like a cube or rectangle rather than a round dot. This brilliant tail fin makes the Red Banded Pipefish a faster, stronger swimmer than its seahorse cousins and it rarely comes in direct contact with the substrate. Unlike the slowpoke seahorse, which moves through the water vertically (head up and tail down) with a stately, dignified swimming style, the Red Banded Pipefish propels itself horizontally through the water like a torpedo with powerful strokes of its oar-like tail and sinuous body when swimming.

My main concern would be that the pipefish might be out completed by the other reef fish at feeding time, but that is easily circumvented by target feeding the pipefish. And, of course, if your reef tank has a healthy population of copepods and amphipods, the pipefish will actively hunt ’pods on their own.

Once they have settled into a new aquarium, they will accept a variety of frozen foods and nonliving foods, but they are not dish trained. The food for them needs to be carefully dispersed or you can target feed the pipefish with a baster or something similar. As you know, seahorses are accustomed to plucking small invertebrates from the vegetation are the substrate, which is a feeding habit that makes it easy to train them to take frozen Mysis from a feeding station. But the pipefish are accustomed to plucking zooplankton suspended in the water column while they are swimming, and they therefore need to be target fed rather than coming to a feeding station. They do readily accept small frozen Mysis or minced Mysis once they are accustomed to their surroundings and feel at home, but their food needs to be presented to them from above so that it drifts down right in front of their snouts, whereupon they will snatch it from the water column and dart around cleaning up the remaining pieces that drift down.

However, several hobbyists that keep their red banded pipefish with their seahorses have reported that the pipes eventually learned to take frozen Mysis from the feeding station by following the seahorses' example.
The Red Banded Pipefish is a carnivore that needs a meaty diet but it's tiny, tubular mouth severely limits the size of the prey items it can consume. In the wild, its diet consists primarily of copepods and in the aquarium it will thrive in a well-established tank with lots of live rock and macroalgae that houses a large ’pod population. Hobbyists will find it convenient to supplement its diet with Nutramar Tigrio Bottled Live Copepods, which are an ideal food for this fastidious feeder. Over time, as it becomes accustomed to its new surroundings, the Red Banded Pipefish will be content eating nonliving food such as frozen CYCLOP-EEZE®, very small frozen Mysis, Ocean Nutrition Instant Baby Brine Shrimp, and Nutramar Ova. The Ocean Rider Red Banded Pipefish are trained to eat frozen Mysis as their staple diet, and they will do so in your home aquarium, as long as the Mysis are small enough.

When it comes to prepared foods for your pipefish, stick with the smallest brands of frozen Mysis (e.g., Mini Mysis by H2O Life), Instant Baby Brine Shrimp by Ocean Nutrition, and perhaps bars of frozen Cyclop-Eeze for best results. Bars of frozen Cyclop-Eze usually work better than other forms of Cyclop-eeze because they will shed copious amounts of the bite-size frozen cyclops, but it's a messy food and I recommend offering your pipefish small frozen Mysis instead. Brands of larger frozen Mysis can also be used for feeding the pipefish, and hobbyists tell me that their red banded pipes can even handle the jumbo Piscine Energetics frozen Mysis relicta, looking a bit like a sword swallower in the process, as they gradually gulp down the king sized Mysis shrimp in several bites. But the brands of bigger frozen Mysis often work better after they have been minced or shaved. The frozen Mysis that works best for most hobbyists when minced is Hikari in frozen blocks rather than trays. The Hikari Mysis is much smaller than Piscine Energetics Mysis relicta and that makes it easier to shave off bite-sized pieces for the pipefish.

When it comes to shaving the Mysis, a technique that works well for many home hobbyists is to use a potato peeler to shave off bits of the Hikari Mysis from a frozen block, and then use a single edged razor blade to further mince the frozen bits the potato peeler has removed.

Small, frequent feedings are best. Try to feed your pipefish at least three times daily and be careful not to overfeed at any single feeding, especially with the frozen Cyclop-eeze, which tends to be messy because significant amounts of it go uneaten.

As we discussed briefly earlier, there is another type of prepared food that is bite sized and which the red banded pipefish (Dunckerocampus dactyliophorus) usually eat very readily. It is called Instant Baby Brine Shrimp and is manufactured by Ocean Nutrition. It consists entirely of sterile newly hatched baby brine shrimp that have been preserved for use as a fish food, and seahorse keepers tell me that dwarf seahorses (Hippocampus zosterae) and pipefish typically eat the Instant Baby Brine Shrimp very well.

As you know, the pipefish love to eat live newly hatched brine shrimp, so it makes sense that they will also like these perfectly preserved, intact baby brine shrimp as well, and one of the neat things about them is that the Instant Baby Brine Shrimp are buoyant so they stay suspended in the water column, which is exactly where the pipefish like to feed, rather than settling down to the bottom of the tank quickly, like the frozen Mysis does.

Likewise, reefkeepers tell me that their live corals absolutely love the stuff, and that the instant baby brine shrimp remain suspended in the water column fairly long in reef tanks with brisk circulation. (They also caution that it is very concentrated and easy to overfeed, if you're not careful.) Other hobbyists report that small, active fish -- especially planktivores -- also take to it very well.

In short, if you have any difficulty locating Marine Mini Mysis by H2O Life, I suggest that you obtain some of the Instant Baby Brine Shrimp by Ocean Nutrition and carefully offer it to your new pipefish in an area of the aquarium where it will not be sucked up by the filters before the pipefish get a chance to eat it.

In short, Instant Baby Brine Shrimp by Ocean Nutrition. It usually works well for feeding red banded pipefish (Dunckerocampus dactyliophorus), but use it sparingly because it's very easy to overfeed.

If it's not available from any of your local fish stores, you can purchase the Ocean Nutrition "Instant Baby Brine Shrimp" online from Drs. Foster and Smith for a cost of about $10 from the following website (just copy the following URL, paste it in your web browser, and press the "Enter" key, and will take you directly to the right webpage for the Instant Baby Brine Shrimp:

In the meantime, the best frozen Mysis that I have found for feeding the red banded pipefish is Marine Mini Mysis by H2O Life, so perhaps you can obtain some of the Mini Mysis from one of the local fish stores or pet shops in your area, while you are waiting for the Instant Baby Brine Shrimp to be delivered.

If you cannot obtain the H2O Life Marine Many Mysis locally either, then try to leave the heads of the frozen Mysis you have on hand complete and intact when you cut it up for the pipefish, and offer the pipefish the anterior ends or pieces of the chopped up Mysis that include the eyes, because the head with the eyes is quickly recognized by pipefish and seems to trigger their feeding instinct.

If you contact me off list at the following e-mail address, Coral Cruze, I can send you an illustrated species summary on Ocean Rider Dunckerocampus dactyliophorus pipefish that explains all about their aquarium requirements and breeding habits:

Happy Trails!
Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support

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