Dear Tom:

Pete Giwojna

Dear Tom:

Yes, sir – it’s a fair assumption that Hippocampus reidi seahorses are more delicate aquarium specimens than the relatively bullet-proof Hippocampus erectus and therefore somewhat more susceptible to problems with parasites and pathogens in general.

You see, Tom, each generation of cultured seahorses becomes better adapted to aquarium conditions than its parents were, so the relative hardiness of different seahorse species in captivity is correlated to how long (i.e., for how many generations) they have been captive bred and raised.

It’s a fact that Hippocampus erectus seahorses have been cultivated far longer and therefore become much more domesticated that Hippocampus reidi seahorses have. For example, Ocean Rider has been perfecting their strains of Hippocampus erectus (i.e., Mustangs and Sunbursts) since 1998, and with that many generations of strengthening and improvement under their belt, the Hippocampus erectus seahorses are now supremely well adapted to captive conditions. With good care, the regular Mustangs, Silver Mustangs, typical yellow Sunbursts, and Orange Sunbursts all enjoy a life span in excess of 10 years in the aquarium.

However, Hippocampus reidi is considered one of the most challenging of all seahorse species to raise for a few reasons. They produce very large broods of very small fry (0.6-0.8 cm in length) and the newborns go through a prolonged pelagic phase of development before they are ready to settle down and begin orienting to the substrate the way seahorses normally do. The newborns are phototactic and are attracted to the surface of the aquarium, and these tiny surface huggers experience high mortality rates, making the pelagic phase a very high risk period for the newborns.

Newborn Hippocampus reidi are too small to accept newly hatched brine shrimp (Artemia nauplii) as their first foods and must therefore be started out with copious amounts of rotifers and larval copepods, which are much more difficult and costly to provide in vast amounts on a daily basis.

Because of these difficulties, the multi generational rearing of Hippocampus reidi has been problematic and it is only relatively recently that some of the best aquaculture facilities such as Ocean Rider have been able to accomplish this feat successfully and sustainably.

Best wishes with all your fishes, Tom!

Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support

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