SEAHORSE KEEPING

AS OF NOVEMBER 2009 -rewritten the following April, hopefully for better cohesion.

As I've had numerous occasions to explain my thoughts on seahorse keeping, I figured it best to put this on my website to save repetitious posting.

Seahorse keeping can be fraught with numerous problems which can be mitigated somewhat by following certain recommendations as noted by the many posters on seahorse.org.

Unfortunately, there are too many hobbyists like me that figure they are going to be the one to do what so many others can't, namely, keep seahorses in reefing conditions. (that's especially true of long term reefers)

A few have great success in so doing, but, the majority of seahorses sold in stores, perish within about a year or less.

I started keeping seahorses in early fall of 2005 after having been a member of seahorse.org for over three years.
As mentioned, I tried to do it in reefing conditions albeit in a species tank.

I kept my H. Reidi seahorses in a tank at the room temperature of my basement which due to the numerous salt water tanks, brine shrimp culture tanks, and approximately 130g of phyto production, keep my basement temperatures around 78 to 80 in winter. In summer, that rises to well over 80.

When summer arrived, so did the first of my problems. I lost a seahorse and couldn't see what was wrong with it. Then another got tail rot which I spent a lot of money on meds to save.

Reason for problems is almost always due to temperatures of 75 and above,coupled with the exponential growth of nasty bacteria when temperatures rise, especially above 74F

While seahorses kept in aquariums are normally found in waters ballparked around 80, the bacteria in those waters is not contained in any way. In aquariums, we have captive, inherent bacteria that seahorses are extremely susceptible to, like vibrio to name probably the worst.

At temperatures of 75 and above the bacteria multiply exponentially so that the seahorses most times cannot deal with it using their immune systems, and they die or become damaged as a result. My female never produced eggs again after this bout from 3 summers ago. I lost her the following summer when temps got too high again, along with the replaced male I purchased.

Another thing I did was to purchase pipefish and placed them in the tank with the seahorses.

To make the story short, I ended up losing the pipefish and some of the adult Reidi's.

There is a protocol to use to lessen the chance of problems arising from mixing the syngnathids but it is no guarantee of success.

IMO,the problem stems from an inability of most seahorses to be able to handle pathogens they haven't been exposed to while growing up.

When introduced to others with differing pathogens, the immune systems of both types may be compromised to the point where one type or both, will succumb to the pathogens of the other.

Keeping the seahorses at a lower specific gravity DOES NOT remedy this problem.

There is a slim chance that you may introduce something that has only the same pathogens that your existing seahorse has, or, that your existing seahorse may be able to handle the new pathogen(s), but it is just that, a slim chance.

A year ago, I set up another tank and purchased H. Angustus and H. Barbouri true captive bred tank raised sourced from Seahorse Sanctuary in Australia.
I lost all but one female Angustus when the heat got up this summer.
It has taken a lot to get through my skull but I will now keep the seahorses at temperatures below that 75.

Most seahorses purchased from stores are NOT true captive bred tank raised using hobby salt water or properly filtered/treated ocean water, although they are labeled captive bred and/or tank raised.

Originally, most seahorses were wild caught and with the extensive pathogens they inherently carried plus they needed live food made them a very low success rate purchase. These are still being sold.

Next came "NET PEN" raised seahorses where seahorses have been raised in nets but still in open water and subjected to the same pathogens that wild caught have. These are still being sold and many times advertised as captive bred

The only advantage was that they have been usually, but not always, trained to eat frozen foods.

Now, seahorses many times are cultured in cement vats/containers using re-circulatory systems, as many Vietnamese growers are doing, but still, the water used MOST times is usually untreated or not properly filtered ocean water, even though they are not flow through systems. Again, many times these are sold as captive bred

Complicating matters is the fact that there are offshore breeders using appropriate methods and feeding but it's VERY hard to find out the true source of seahorses being sold so it's very difficult to know if you are purchasing a true captive bred. Again, the only advantage is that they eat frozen foods most times.

Stores selling these seahorses have been told that they are captive bred and/or tank raised, which while technically it can be true statements, is misleading hobbyists into thinking they are purchasing a recommended seahorse.

THEY ARE STILL RAISED IN OCEAN WATER that has not been properly filtered and treated and fed on foods not properly cultured/sterilized!!!

While these seahorses are sold for much less than those NOT grown in suitable ocean water, is the cost worth it when you stand a much greater chance of losing the seahorse?

Many seahorse.org members recommend buying only TRUE captive bred stock raised in water made from commercial salts, or in ocean water that is properly filtered and treated. Also, live foods used need to be cultured or properly treated as well. Seahorses raised this way will very much decrease the chance of major pathogenic problems arising.

I have been fortunate enough to acquire seahorse fry from another fellow hobbyist and have been able to raise them to the 14th month mark now, and the temperatures have been maintained at 72 to 74 for the duration. I had to have an air conditioner pointed right at the nursery but it has been doing remarkably well in growing these H. Reidi fry.

To summarize my thoughts:
Number ONE recommendation is to buy ONLY true captive bred stock.
Number TWO recommendation is to keep a species only tank for best chances of success.
Number THREE recommendation is to keep water temperatures in a range of 68 to 74F to minimize effects of bacteria on the susceptible seahorses.
Number FOUR recommendation is to not mix syngnathid species, again, to increase the odds of success.

I have purchased some Vietnam H. Comes tigertail seahorses as well as some of their H. Kuda.

Because they likely come from unsuitable ocean water I had to put them through a fairly long and expensive treatment to take care of the pathogens they have been found to carry, coming from untreated ocean water.
None of the Kuda survived the treatment, and two of the comes are still with me and doing fine.
Reports on the org show survival hasn't been all that good for most of these cheap asian imports.


I also purchased 5 erectus again said to be captive bred but I couldn't confirm that and I lost two of these in doing the deworming process.


PART II - click here for MY HUSBANDRY FOR SEAHORSE TANKS




LINKS BELOW ARE TO VERY INFORMATIVE INFORMATION ON SEAHORSE KEEPING

Please read the information on this Care Guide from seahorse.org. Also make note that in the table, the first pair of seahorses needs the MINIMUM tank size, and the requirement per pair is for each additional pair of seahorses
SEAHORSE CARE GUIDE pdf




A MODERN GUIDE TO BUYING SEAHORSES - Tami Weiss

If the link doesn't work just copy and paste her address: http://www.fusedjaw.com/aquariumcare/a-modern-guide-to-buying-seahorses/


FUSEDJAW.COM - Tami Weiss's Website


A COMMENTARY BY DAN UNDERWOOD


VIBRIO/TEMPERATURE DISCOURSE by PLEDOSOPHY see post #5 in this thread on RC


THIS IS A LINK TO ELF'S ADVICE TO SEAHORSE BEGINNERS


THIS IS A LINK TO ANN'S ADVICE ON CHOOSING THE RIGHT SEAHORSE


THIS IS THE "ORG'S" TANKMATE GUIDE



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