Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm and Tours | Kona Hawaii › Forums › Seahorse Life and Care › Compatability › Dear Jay:
You’re very welcome to any information I can provide that will help you to better care for your seahorses when you’re ready to stock the new tank, sir!
With an aquarium of 30 gallons up and running for your seahorses, I do think the captive-bred-and-raised Mustangs and Sunbursts (Hippocampus erectus) from Ocean Rider are the best choice for your first seahorses.
It would be difficult for you to maintain an adequate feeding density of copepods or newly hatched brine shrimp (Artemia nauplii) for the dwarf seahorses (Hippocampus zosterae) in an aquarium of 30 gallons, and even if you are able to do so, the swarms of copepods or baby brine shrimp could become a source of irritation for the mature Hippocampus erectus.
For instance, this is what Mildred Bellamy has to say regarding copepods in her famous book Encyclopedia of Seahorses:
“Although nonparasitic themselves, some copepods may still contribute to the death of fishes maintained in close-system aquaria by affecting respiration adversely. This condition is brought about by clogging of the gills or, in the case of the seahorse, the gill tufts, to a point were actual suffocation occurs in the fish involved. Copepods are prolific individuals indeed and, in the closed-system aquarium particularly, they may reproduce so rapidly as to almost stagger the observer who dips a sampling of water from the aquarium and examines it microscopically.
Likewise, Paul Anderson describes the sort of irritation that can result to the larger seahorse species when copepods are too abundant, Jay:
One of the problems I faced in my bare-bottom seahorse laboratory setup was numerous harpacticoid copepods that I often saw crawling around my seahorses. Though the copepods are not parasitic, I would see the seahorses rubbing up against holdfasts, presumably due to irritation from the copepods. I found an obscure reference that stated that harpacticoid copepod populations in tanks tend to be more numerous in bare bottom tanks than in gravel-bottom tanks, perhaps because the substrate is more difficult to navigate or otherwise not conducive to the life cycle of the copepod.
This might be something to think about when considering bare-bottom vs. gravel bottom tanks.
On the other hand, I agree with the cleaning advantages of a solid bottom, especially considering seadragons often have their snouts in contact with the bottom when feeding on frozen mysis.
So I do think it would be best for you to make your new 30-gallon set up a species tank for Hippocampus erectus, rather than attempting to mix the larger erectus and the diminutive dwarf’s (Hippocampus zosterae) together.
The zosterae are certainly fascinating in their own right, Jay, but would fare better in a smaller specialty tank all their own.
In the meantime, your copepod cultures and batteries of brine shrimp hatcheries used for raising your clownfish will be invaluable for you when you’re Hippocampus erectus begin breeding, sir. Mustangs and Sunbursts are prolific ponies, and if you are able to raise clownfish successfully, I do think you will eventually have good results rearing baby seahorses as well.
Best wishes with all your fishes, Jay!
Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support