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What's A Hitching Post and Caulerpa?

Hitching posts can be either live or artificial marine sea grasses, algae and corals. If you decide to try an assortment of colorful artificial corals, seahorses often prefer red, yellow or orange pieces. Many hobbyists report good results using artificial finger sponges, staghorn coral, octopus coral and pillar coral in the appropriate colors to keep their seahorses looking their brightest. They look entirely natural and lifelike, with lots of branching projections that make great hitching posts for seahorses. Oh, and faux cup coral makes a great ready-made feeding station!

For live hitching posts, I prefer decorative marine plants or macroalgae in a variety of shapes and colors and color--reds, golds, and yellows in addition to green varieties, some tall and feather, some short and bushy--to provide them with natural hitching posts and shelter. I like to start with Hawaiian Ogo (Gracilaria sp.) and Bonzai Ogo (Gracilaria sp.) along with any of the plumed (feathery) or long-bladed Caulerpa, such as Caulerpa sertularioides, Caulerpa mexicana, Caulerpa ashmedii, Caulerpa serrulata or Caulerpa prolifera. They will do fine under normal aquarium lighting.

The aquarist should also be diligent at harvesting any fast-growing Caulerpa in the tank on a regular basis. Periodically removing a portion of the Caulerpa is a very effective way to export nitrates, phosphates, and other nutrients from the aquarium.

When pruning back or harvesting the Caulerpa, take care not to cut or sever the plants. Cutting it or breaking off too many fronds causes the Caulerpa to leach undesirable substances from the cut or broken ends into the water. Not only is this bad for the water quality, it can sap the colony and perhaps trigger one of the dreaded "vegetative events," during which the main colony dies off. The best way to harvest the Caulerpa is to carefully extract unbroken continuous fronds. The idea is to thin out convenient strands of Caulerpa from the colony, gently pulling up entire fronds, intact and unbroken. This is a wonderful way to remove nitrogenous wastes (which the plants utilize for growth like fertilizer) from the aquarium, and if done consistently, it will prevent the colony from going sexual.

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