Dear Elle:

Pete Giwojna

Dear Elle:

Yes, that does sound like it could be a successful dwarf seahorse setup, but be sure you maintain a low level of the Panacur or you are going to be fighting a losing nonstop battle with hydroids and hydromedusae.

Here are some thoughts on peaceful scavengers that would make a safe, efficient cleanup crew for a tank of dwarf seahorses, Elle:

Most starfish must be avoided when keeping dwarf seahorses because they are a threat to the pigmy ponies and their young, but there are a couple of exceptions to this rule. For example, the Red Bali Starfish (Fromia milliporella) is a small, nonaggressive starfish that feeds primarily on detritus and meiofauna on sandy substrates. The Red Bali Starfish is a tiny species that doesn’t grow to more than 3 inches in diameter (most aquarium specimens are only 1-2 inches in arm span). They thrive in a well-established aquarium with macroalgae and a sand substrate.

Along with the Fromia sea stars mentioned above, assorted snails can serve as the cornerstones of the clean-up crew for dwarf seahorse tanks. The snail assortment may include bumble bee snails, trocha snails, margaritas, Astrea and Cerith snails, etc., but I always make sure to include a few of the smaller species of Nassarius snails.

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. But you must make sure that you obtained genuine Nassarius snails, and the species that usually works best is Nassarius vibex.

However, when you are considering Nassarius snails for a seahorse tank, you must be aware that they are often confused with whelks, which are active carnivores. Not only would the whelks pose a danger to the dwarf seahorses but they would also very likely predate the other snails in your cleanup crew as well. Whether as an honest mistake or perhaps as a deliberate deception, I have also found that some dealers market whelks as Nassarius snails, so the dwarf seahorse keeper must beware of this possibility. When you are purchasing the Nassarius snails, look for a dealer that offers Nassarius vibex snails and also includes a photograph of them. That way you can examine the photograph and make sure that the Nassarius vibex are not actually whelks masquerading as Nassarius snails.

Providing you get the genuine Nassarius vibex, you can be confident they will not be harmful to your dwarf seahorses in any way and make outstanding scavengers for your dwarf tank.

I also have a handful of Volcano shrimp or Hawaiian red feeder shrimp (Halocaridina rubra) in the tank, not as food for the dwarf seahorses but rather as their tankmates. These colorful little saltwater shrimp resemble miniature peppermint shrimp, and usually do well with dwarves because of their size. They are too big to be eaten by the seahorses and too small to be any threat to them, and as an added bonus, they will produce larval shrimp that are perfect treats for the ponies. They are omnivores that do a fair job of scavenging and complement the regular clean-up crew nicely (Giwojna, 2005).

In addition, Ellen, adult Mysis can be safely added to nurseries and dwarf seahorse tanks as aquarium cleaners, as discussed below in more detail:

In a message dated 1/27/2010 11:06:45 P.M. Central Standard Time, [email protected] writes:
The thread with the success of using mysids in with H. zosterae is here: ).

These are Americamysis bahia (Mysidopsis bahia) not the mysis stage of other shrimp. The experiment worked so well that we now inoculate all fry tanks, including the smaller pelagic fry tanks with them. They work great as a clean up crew and when the seahorses get large enough, they will ultimately wipe out the population. After several thousand fry, we have yet to see any mysids bother the fry.

The one downside to this is that you do have to add more food to the tank but they clean it up pretty good.


Okay, Elle, those are some good possibilities that you can consider as a cleanup crew for dwarf seahorses.

Good luck!

Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support

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