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Horse Forum - July 2004 Part II

I would like to welcome back Neil Garrick-Maidment, the world-renowned seahorse expert from the United Kingdom! Neil has a mixed animal background from Lions Tigers, Elephants, Dolphins, and Wolfs etc right down to insects and small rodents. For the last 17 years he has worked with Seahorses and has bred 18 species successfully, all to at least 3 generations, with some like H.capensis to multiable generations!! Neil is also Director and Founder of The Seahorse Trust and the British Seahorse Survey. In addition he has designed and set up two public aquariums, his own Seahorse Nature Aquarium (now closed since he recently moved to the National Marine aquarium) and The National Marine Aquarium. Neil runs the trust on a day to day basis and is just about to embark on a multi million pound project working not just with Seahorses.

He has had three books printed now and the forth is just about to be taken up by a publisher. As well as working in Zoos and aquariums he has also worked for the BBC Natural History Unit filming on the Living Planet and Life on Earth series.

After all this Neil still has time for his wife Max whom he has been married to for 10 years and his two adult children Rachael and Daniel!

WOW!! We certainly are honored to have Neil take the time out of his busy schedule and chat with us here at Horse Forum!

You can contact Neil at The Seahorse Trust Tel: 01392 875930 www.theseahorsetrust.co.uk or at the The British Seahorse Survey Tel: 01392 875930 www.britishseahorsesurvey.org

Dear Neil,

I am not sure if my source was reliable, but several seahorse-keepers had the experience of adding Erectus to their mix (ALL CAPTIVE-BRED)& then all the horses becoming sick EXCEPT the Erectus. There is a theory that Erectus may carry pathogens that they themselves, are immune to. Is this possible? I keep my tank at 78-80F. Could it be that Erectus like the tank warmer than the others?

Thanks, Paula T

Dear Paula,

It is quite feasible that H.erectus carry a pathogen that is exceptional to just themselves, even if they have been in captivity through several generations. This does happen in many species and forms the basis for selective breeding in captivity. In this case though, I doubt it. Many species of Seahorse will cope with quite a wide range of temperatures bearing in mind where they come

from in the wild, which is usually at the seabed where the temperature can be several degrees cooler than the surrounding temperature. We all keep our Seahorses too hot and I feel this is why diseases get such a hold in captivity and are so prevalent.

Neil

Dear Neil,

I recently added some H capenis to my tank of seahorses this winter. They have done really well until this summer.. Suddenly the my male capensis is showing a white spot on his tail. What should I do? Is this because my tank is slightly warmer in the summer??

Thanks, Zachery H

Dear Zach,

It is important to identify the cause of the white spot first, is it vibrio or is it a burn, or is it a parasite. If it is vibrio you could lower the temperature, this will have the effect of stopping the vibrio in its tracks and arrest the spread. H.capensis are an amazing species of Seahorses and live in extremes. The lagoons where they live are prone to very cold freshwater floods and they have adapted to this varience in their environment.

Neil

Dear Neil,

I have always wanted to keep sea horses but have never kept a salt water tank. It seems to be easier these days than in the past so I'm seriously considering it. If I want, say two pair of the mustang sea horses; plus a few other little things like maybe a blenny (sp?) little fish who scoots around on the bottom and plays with sand; a shrimp or two. How many gallons of water do I need; what kind of filter and pump; how much sand and so on? What size tank should I get? Is a tall one better than a wide one?? How should I set up their habitat? Do they need lots of room on the bottom? What about microbs (what kind and how many) and water testing kits?

Thank you, Karen

Dear Karen,

My first piece of advice would be to get experience with a hardy species of marine fish like a Damsels first. When you have gone through learning about saltwater, mixing your own or natural and the problems with marine tanks and learning which are your preferred forms of filter, mine is undergravel even with corals and then it is worth trying Seahorses.

A golden rule of thumb with them is have as much bottom area as possible, they need to move across the bottom as much as going up and down in courtship displays. When you set up the tank make sure there are plenty of good sized holdfasts and lots of areas they can get away out of sight of the other Seahorses. Never put in a tank companion that will dominate the food, for

Instance a Damsel fish and keep a close eye on the quantity and quality of food the Seahorse eats. Make sure you buy captive bred Seahorses and get the fish shop to show you them eating dead food.

They are one of the most difficult marine fish to keep, do not take them on lightly they require a lot of work and time.

Dear Carol,

I have been feeding my seahorses frozen mysis daily. I thought it would be a good idea to feed them frozen brine shrimp as well. Is this a good idea?

Thanks, Gene

Hi Gene,

If the frozen brine shrimp are large enough for the seahorses to get interested in that is fine as long as this is not all you feed them. A little variation in the diet is probably a good thing. I would also make sure that the brine shrimp are enriched with something beneficial such as fatty acids, algae, vitamins and minerals. There are some good products on the market these days that use different types of enrichment for their frozen adult artermia or brine shrimp. One is from Argent and another is San Francisco Bay brand. Adding additional boosters like Vibrance or Selcon is excellent too. That way you make sure the seahorse is getting a well-balanced food that is not short on some essential nutrient.

Just make sure that they actually eat the frozen brine so you do not destroy the water quality in your tank. Occasionally a change in the food confuses them so much they stop eating all together. This sometimes happen when the seahorses are new arrivals and are still acclimating to their new home in your tank, but they should be able to take a wide variety of feeds after they are well adjusted.

Of course I am talking about captive bred seahorses here. Wild caught seahorses will require live foods and that is a whole different issue that we can talk about later. It is mostly Public Aquariums that have wild caught seahorses anyways since the new CITES law went into effect in May of 2004. All hobbyists should be talking about these days are farm raised Hippocampus.

Aloha, Carol

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