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Seahorse-Safe LPS Corals

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Seahorse-Safe LPS Corals

While soft corals are generally fine, and SPS corals are generally inappropriate due to the high flow requirements, it sounds like LPS corals are approached more using a case by case basis. For instance, based on the lists at seahorse.org and fusedjaw.com, it sounds like the following LPS corals generally do okay with seahorses (whereas things like Hammer and Bubble corals harm seahorses):

Maze Brain (Platygyra sp)
Sun Coral (Tubastrea sp)
Lobophyllia (Lobophyllia hemprichir)
Cup/Pagoda Coral (Turbinaria peltata)
Fox Coral (Nemenzophyllia turbida)
Acan Lords (Micromussa lordhowensis)
Pagoda Cup Coral (Turbinaria frondens)
Raspberry Coral (Blastomussa merletti)

Have you experienced any issues with any of the listed corals bothering/injuring seahorses that would lead one to reconsider their suitability? What other LPS corals that haven't been addressed as good or bad on the referenced lists have you found to be okay with seahorses? For instance, can I assume that Tubastrea relatives, like Dendros and Duncans are fine? Any experiences or thoughts about the suitability of Pectinia, Stylocoeniella, Symphyllia, Oxypora, Echinophyllia, Australomussa, Plesiastrea or other LPS corals that haven't been addressed as good or bad with seahorses? I don't really know what has sweeper tentacles and what doesn't and it would be nice to learn more LPS corals that would likely do fine with seahorses. Thank you!

Pete Giwojna
Dear hobbyist:

Dear hobbyist:

I'm not the best person to answer this question, since I am a dedicated seahorse keeper, rather than a reefer. I do like to keep live corals in many of my tanks, but when I do so, I limit myself largely to seahorse-safe soft corals along with perhaps a few hand-picked LPS corals I know to be safe.

But I generally avoid the LPS corals because, in order to thrive in the aquarium, they typically require lighting that is more intense and water movement that is more vigorous than I prefer in my setups, which are tailored primarily for the needs of the seahorses.

But glancing at the list of LPS corals you mentioned, I do think you have the right idea, and I can provide you with some rough guidelines to keep in mind when trying out LPS corals. Always remember that the seahorses orient to the substrate and habitually cling to any convenient perches or hitching posts on the bottom of the tank, which includes the live corals in modified reef tanks.

In other words, you must count on the fact that, sooner or later, the seahorses will come in contact with all of the live corals in the aquarium. They do learn to avoid stinging corals quite quickly, as you would imagine, but the problem is that they can sometimes be injured by the first encounter with a coral that has powerful stinging nematocysts.

In general, any live coral that feels sticky to the touch or that causes irritation (or any notable sensation) to a sensitive part of your skin, such as the back of your wrist (i.e., the area on your wrist where you might test a warm bottle of milk to make sure it isn't too hot for a newborn baby) can potentially be harmful to your seahorses. Our own epidermis is much thicker than a seahorse's skin is, and when a coral or anemone feels sticky to the touch, it is because its nematocysts are actually penetrating the outermost layer(s) of our skin.

You might consider posting your question about suitable LPS corals for a tank that will include seahorses on one of the discussion boards that caters to reef keepers, such as Reef Central, for example. Many of the reef keepers are familiar with seahorses, and keep ponies as well or have at some time in the past. They will be able to give you a better idea of which other LPS corals they have found will work well in a tank with seahorses.

Good luck!

Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support


We have zoas in our seahorse tank that do quite well. Also for some additional color, we added some Rock Flower Anemones.  All do well and do not trouble the ponies.

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