Reply To: Dwarf Seahorse Plan

Pete Giwojna

Dear Mr. Smith:

You have the right idea regarding using an air-operated sponge filter for biological filtration with your Hippocampus zosterae, sir, but you need to rethink the hang-on-the-back filter, which will “eat” all of your newly hatched brine shrimp before the dwarves have the chance to do so.

The live marine plants and macroalge you mentioned would be fine additions to a dwarf seahorse tank and the pigmy ponies would certainly appreciate them, so I don’t foresee any problems in that regard.

There are a number of small invertebrates that are compatible with dwarf seahorses and which can serve as scavengers or the cleanup crew in your dwarf tank, John.

For example, Nassarius snails and Scarlet Reef hermit crabs (Paguristes cadenati) can serve as the cornerstones of the clean-up crew for your dwarf seahorse tank. Nassarius snails are terrific detritivores and amazingly active for snails. They’ll bury themselves until they detect the scent of something edible, and then erupt from the sand and charge out to clean it up.

The Scarlet Reef micro-hermits are colorful and interesting in their own right, and these harmless herbivores are the only hermit crabs I trust with my dwarf seahorses. One of the colorful Scarlet Reef crabs could make nice addition for a dwarf seahorse tank, as do the Nassarius snails, which are very active, efficient scavengers that handle the meatier leftovers from your feedings. In a five-gallon tank, you would need only one Nassarius snail or dwarf hermit crab, sir.

With a couple of exceptions, starfish should be avoided in a dwarf seahorse tank since most species will present a risk to the adults or their young. However, the Red Bali Starfish (Fromia milleporella) is a colorful exception that makes a nice addition to a dwarf tank. It is a harmless herbivore with an arm span of only 2-3 inches that will do well in a well-established dwarf seahorse setup.

Also worth considering are the tiny brittle starfish commonly known as Micro-Stars and often marketed as aquarium scavengers or sanitation engineers under that name. They start small and stay small, with a leg span that never exceeds the diameter of a 25-cent piece even when they are fully grown (most of these miniature brittle stars cannot span a 5-cent piece). Their legs are often attractively banded and they are very active and agile scavengers, moving more like miniature octopus that slowpoke sea stars. The micro-stars are fascinating in their own right, but it’s best to limit yourself to one or two of them, since they reproduce very quickly when conditions are to their liking. Adding one of the micro-stars can round up your cleanup crew for the dwarf tank.

If you want to try adding any shrimp to your dwarf tank, than the red feeder shrimp (Halocaridina rubra), a.k.a. Hawaiian volcano shrimp or lava shrimp, would be a great choice for a dwarf tank. They are very small, colorful shrimp that will scavenge on detritus and film algae.

Fenbendazole is an inexpensive anthelmintic agent or dewormer and it will not harm shrimp or other crustaceans, but it may not be safe for the starfish I mentioned, so keep that in mind, sir.

Your proposed feeding regimen is not adequate for the long-term health of dwarf seahorses, John. They need to be fed several times daily, with feeding breaks of a couple of hours in between to allow for proper digestion. The newly hatched baby brine shrimp is not sufficient to maintain dwarf seahorses, sir. You will need to provide them with a much more varied diet, which will require culturing other types of zooplankton as well.

I can provide you with detailed information on how to culture and raise the necessary species of zooplankton to assure that your dwarf seahorses will get a nutritious, varied diet and thrive, but that material is far too voluminous to post on a discussion forum like this, so please contact me offlist at the following e-mail address, Mr. Smith, and I will send you a ton of useful information on the care and keeping of dwarf seahorses:

[email protected]

Best of luck with your ongoing research into the needs of dwarf seahorses, sir!

Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support

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