Re:Adding Ocean Riders with store bought Reidi’s

Pete Giwojna

Dear Sam:

No, sir, there is typically no problem at all when keeping Hippocampus reidi together with Mustangs or Sunburst (Hippocampus erectus). The two species have comparable water temperature and aquarium requirements. In fact, H. reidi and H. erectus coexist in parts of their range and have even been known to interbreed in the wild. I know many hobbyists who keep reidi and erectus together successfully. The recommended stocking density for reidi and erectus is one pair per 10 gallons, so a well-filtered 30-gallon aquarium should be able to support 4 such seahorses with no difficulty.

If your 30-gallon aquarium is only 16 inches tall, then I certainly do think you would be much better off keeping only females, Sam. Ideally, I recommend that the seahorse tanks be at least 20 inches tall (24 inches tall or more is even better). The reason for this is that seahorses are prone to problems with gas bubble syndrome (GBS) in shallow tanks, and males are much more susceptible to pouch emphysema and other forms of GBS that female seahorses.

The physiologically dynamic brood pouch of the stallions, with its heavy vascularization and increased blood supply, makes them much more vulnerable to the various forms of Gas Bubble Syndrome (GBS) than mares.

Secondly, females obviously never have problems with prolapsed pouches. A prolapse or a partial prolapse of the pouch occurs when part of the lining of the marsupium becomes everted and protrudes through the mouth of the pouch. Prolapses can occur during or shortly after parturition as a result of the birth spasms during a strenuous delivery, or when courting males are performing their vigorous pouch displays and pumping water in and out of the pouch, or as a complication of recurring pouch emphysema.

Thirdly, males must occasionally deal with other complications of pregnancy, such as stillborn young that cannot be expelled, difficult deliveries that can sometimes extend over three or four days, and the inability to cleanse their pouch completely and flush out all the placental tissue fragments after delivering their brood.

Finally, aggressive males occasionally injure one another when sparring for the right to a female. In the aquarium, both males and females compete for mates, but there is a big difference in the way they go about it. Females compete with one another passively, each trying to outdo the other and be the first to attract a mate simply by increasing the intensity of their courtship activities and displays. Their competitive behavior is therefore directed at the eligible males rather than any rival females. Males, on the other hand, compete much more actively and much more antagonistically. Their behavior is often aimed directly at their rival(s) and includes aggressive behaviors such as tail wrestling and snapping or sparring, which are never seen in the fairer sex. In other words, females respond to the presence of rivals by getting more flirtatious, whereas males often react to rivals by getting surly and carrying a testosterone-induced chip on their shoulders.

Snapping is an aggressive maneuver in which the attacker stretches out his head and flicks his snout against his rival with a violent snap, thus delivering a nasty blow to the foe. The snap is often aimed either at the opponent’s eye or gills — the only vulnerable spots on an armor-plated adversary — and the force of a well-directed snap can momentarily stun the unfortunate recipient. On very rare occasions, when these blows are directed at the head, eye injuries can result (mostly in the form of unilateral exophthalmia or Popeye), and persistent bullying can be stressful to the other seahorses. This could be a problem if you were to keep only stallions in your aquarium, sir.

So if you want to maintain only female seahorses in order to reduce potential health problems, I agree that is the way to go in a shallow tank like your 30 gallon setup.

Fasting one day a week is recommended for all seahorses that are receiving the enriched frozen Mysis as their staple diet, Sam. Otherwise, in the long run, the seahorses may develop problems with hepatic lipidosis or fatty liver disease.

Because of their lazy lifestyle, our pampered pets are susceptible to a debilitating affliction commonly known as "fatty liver disease" or hepatic lipidosis when they are given a diet that’s excessively rich in HUFA (highly unsaturated fatty acids) and other lipids. Mature seahorses that are no longer breeding are at greatest risk from hepatic lipidosis. Young seahorses need a high-fat diet to sustain their rapid growth and development, and breeding pairs that are churning out brood after brood of fry likewise need all the energy they can get. But once they reach sexual maturity, their growth rate slows markedly, and nonbreeding adults that receive a high-fat diet will begin to store excess fat in specialized cells called adipose tissue (Tamaru, Sep. 2001). Eventually these fatty deposits will begin to infiltrate the liver cells, hence the name fatty liver disease (Tamaru, Sep. 2001).

In severe cases, adipose tissue can become so thick that it can literally hides the internal organs, cloaking them within a cocoon of fat, and distending the abdomen (Tamaru, Sep. 2001). When the seahorse’s liver or hepatopancreas becomes badly infiltrated with fatty deposits, it interferes with the organ’s ability to perform its vital role in digestion, food absorption, and detoxification of the blood, which has dire consequences for the affected seahorse.

Of all the necropsies Dr. Martin Belli has performed on hobbyist’s seahorses, fully 38% of them were found to be suffering from fatty liver disease (Belli, per. com.).

Hepatic lipidosis normally does not kill seahorses overnight without any symptoms, Sam. The condition develops gradually over months and years. Ironically, due to the impairment of digestion and food absorption it causes, fatty liver disease is typically associated with chronic wasting and emaciation. Most often, the affected seahorses literally wastes away and eventually succumbs to some opportunistic disease in its weakened state.

Avoiding overfeeding, fasting adults once a week and using relatively low-fat enrichment products such as Vibrance II for mature seahorses that are no longer breeding are simple ways to prevent fatty liver disease.

Judging from some of your questions, Sam, it occurred to me that you may still be relatively new to seahorse keeping. If so, you may be interested in participating in Ocean Rider’s training program for new seahorse keepers, sir.

This basic training is very informal and completely free of charge, Sam. Ocean Rider provides the free training as a service to their customers and any other hobbyists who are interested in learning more about the care and keeping of seahorses. It’s a crash course on seahorse keeping consisting of 10 separate lessons covering the following subjects, and is conducted entirely via e-mail. There is no homework or examinations or anything of that nature — just a lot of good, solid information on seahorses for you to read through and absorb as best you can, at your own speed:

Aquarium care and requirements of seahorses;
Selecting a suitable aquarium for seahorses;
size (tank height and water volume)
aquarium test kits
Optimizing your aquarium for seahorses;
water movement and circulation
hitching posts (real and artificial)
Cycling a new marine aquarium;
The cleanup crew (aquarium janitors & sanitation engineers);
Water Chemistry
optimal parameters
water quality & water changes
aquarium maintenance schedule
Feeding seahorses;
Compatible tank mates for seahorses;
Courtship and breeding;
Rearing the young;
Disease prevention and control;
Hippocampus erectus
natural history
professional rearing protocols
Acclimating Ocean Rider seahorses.

If you’re interested, Sam, I will be providing you with detailed information on these subjects and answering any questions you may have about the material I present. I will also be recommending seahorse-related articles for you to read and absorb online.

In short, the training course will teach you everything you need to know to keep your seahorses happy and healthy, and it will arm you with the information you need in order to tackle your first ponies with confidence.

Also, I should point out that completing the training course in no way obligates you to purchase Ocean Rider seahorses now or at any time in the future. You do not have to have Ocean Rider seahorses to be eligible for the training — it is open to all hobbyists regardless of where they may have obtained their seahorses, or whether they have any seahorses at all. Many of the trainees are simply doing long-term research on seahorses and have no plans to keep them in the near future; they just want to learn as much as they can on the subject for that fateful day when and if they decide to take the plunge…

if you would like to give the trading course a try, Sam, just send me a quick e-mail off list ([email protected]) with your full name (first and last) and I will send you the first lesson right away.

Best wishes with all your fishes, sir!

Happy Trails!
Pete Giwojna

America's Only Seahorse Aqua-Farm and One of Hawaii's Most Popular Attractions

Ocean Rider seahorse farm is a consistent Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence Award Winner and "Top 10 Things To Do" Kona, Hawaii attraction. Our "Magical Seahorse Tours" are educational and fun for the whole family.

Tour tickets are available for Purchase On-Line. Space is limited and subject to availability.

small seahorse Ocean Rider, Inc. is an Organic Hawaiian-Based Seahorse Aqua-Farm & Aquarium that Follows Strict Good Farming Practices in Raising Seahorses and Other Aquatic Life.

Seahorse Hawaii Foundation

Inspiring ocean awareness by saving the endangered seahorse and sea dragons around the world from extinction through conservation, research, propagation, and education.

Help us save the seahorse and the coral reefs they live in with a tax deductible contribution to the Seahorse Hawaii Foundation. You will be helping to protect and propagate over 25 species of endangered seahorses, sea dragons and friends.

Make A Tax-Deductible Donation Today!

A Different Kind of Farm (Video) »

Ocean Rider Kona Hawaii

Ocean Rider Kona Hawaii
Seahorse Aqua-Farm & Tours

73-4388 Ilikai Place

Kailua Kona, Hawaii 96740

Map & Directions


Contact Ocean Rider

Copyright ©1999-2023
All Rights Reserved | Ocean Rider Inc.

My Online Order Details

Purchase Policy

Site Terms and Conditions