That’s excellent information, sir!
A list of some the corals that would be safe and work well with abdominalis in a temperate tank is something that I am lacking, Chris. Normally, for live corals, I will set up a traditional tropical reef system, so I have no experience keeping live corals in temperate tank with cooler temperatures that would be appropriate for potbelly seahorses (Hippocampus abdominalis).
You are correct in your assumption, Chris – soft water corals of all kinds are typically safe for seahorses with one or two rare exceptions, and I do believe that would also apply to soft corals that would do well in cooler aquariums.
In general, it’s often much more difficult to locate specimens for temperate aquariums since relatively few outlets offer fish and invertebrates for cold-water aquariums.
With your permission, I will add your suggestions regarding compatible cool-water corals to my list of temperate tankmates and share it with other hobbyists who fancy the outstanding pot bellies or are maintaining temperate tanks.
With anemones, it’s usually best to play it safe and avoid them in an aquarium that will include seahorses, Chris, but much depends on the potency of their nematocysts and how powerful of a jolt they can deliver. As a rough rule of thumb, if the anemone feels “sticky” if you brush up against the, or if you can feel the sting from the tentacles on the delicate skin of your wrist, then it has no business in a seahorse tank.
This is what usually advise home hobbyists regarding anemones, whether in cold water or tropical tanks, Chris:
It’s best to avoid any stinging animals with powerful nematocysts when keeping seahorses. This means fire corals (Millepora spp.) and anemones in general should be excluded from the seahorse tank, and any corals with polyps that feel sticky to the touch should be used with discretion and only after careful planning. When a seahorse brushes up against them or attempts to perch on them, the nematocysts or stinging cells of these animals can penetrate the seahorse’s skin and damage its integument. Needless to say, this causes pain and discomfort and can leave the seahorse vulnerable to secondary bacterial and fungal infections, which may take hold at the site of injury.
With experience, seahorses will often learn to avoid anemones, so with due diligence and care, it can be done successfully, Chris. But for most home aquarists, the best approach is to eliminate the risk altogether and not to take any chances of an injury. Because they are relatively feeble swimmers, they cannot always stay out of their way and small seahorses may not be able to free themselves from the stinging tentacles of a large anemone. I have seen seahorses get in trouble and get their snouts stung when frozen Mysis landed on the tentacles of an anemone and the seahorses attempted to slurp up the tasty tidbits from the surface of the anemone.
In general, the larger the anemone and the more potent its nematocysts or stinging cells, the more dangerous it is to seahorses. Carpet anemones and tube anemones are especially dangerous in that regard and can capture or kill them.
On the other hand, a few Aiptasia rock anemones normally don’t pose a serious threat to any of the larger seahorses such as Mustangs and Sunbursts (Hippocampus erectus). The greater seahorses are quite impervious to the stings of hydroids, nor are they normally troubled by the small Aiptasia, which they can easily avoid.
However, Aiptasia rock anemones can rapidly increase in number and become a threat to seahorses when they are so numerous it is difficult for the seahorses to avoid coming in contact with them. For this reason, it’s best to keep even the relatively harmless Aiptasia out of your seahorse tank altogether, especially since they can be very tenacious and difficult to eradicate once they become established in an aquarium.
Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support