Re:Altitude and sea horses

Pete Giwojna

Dear Chef:

Thank you for providing you the additional information I requested. Coralife compact fluorescent lighting would normally not be too harsh for your seahorses, but your 14-gallon Biocube is so shallow that the reduced water depth could make the lighting more intense than the seahorses prefer. Since you have two old 24-watt compact fluorescent lights, you may want to consider operating only one of them if there are no shady areas that the seahorses can retreat to when they would like to get out of the bright light.

Yes, if you can gradually reduce the water temperature from 77°F to 74°F, that may be helpful. Even lowering the water temperature a few degrees can sometimes make a big difference.

As a first-hand observer of the seahorses’ behavior, you are in the best position to determine whether or not the current is too overpowering for seahorses and is preventing them from eating frozen foods, so I certainly trust your judgment in that regard.

I am not quite sure what you mean when you say that it looks as though a "bit of sediment has settled on top of the seahorses." I am wondering if the sediment could actually be microalgae or diatoms, Chef. Algae often grows on the exoskeleton of seahorses, typically on their head and neck which are closest to the light source. That’s perfectly normal and usually nothing at all to be concerned about, in most cases. Seahorses often encourage algae to grow on them as a protective device to enhance their camouflage, and it’s often best simply to ignore any such growth.

If you have a digital camera, try to get a couple of pictures of the seahorses that show the sediment that seems to have settled on them, insert the photos into the text of an e-mail, and send it to me at the following e-mail address: [email protected]

I will examine the pictures and should be able to tell you if it’s just a little harm as algae growth or something more serious than you want to address.

When it comes to the ongoing feeding problems you have been having with the new arrivals, Chef, it is standard operating procedure to provide newcomers with choice live foods until they have had a chance to settle into their new home, and I suggest that you do so as soon as possible.

When it comes to good sources for live foods, you can get Gammarus amphipods (green iron horse feed) and Hawaiian volcano shrimp (red iron horse feed) from Ocean Rider and live Mysis from Sachs Systems Aquaculture. All of these live shrimp are what I’d like to call "feed-and-forget" foods. They are tough, rugged little shrimp that you can toss in your tank with no acclimation whatsoever. They are agile and elusive enough that your filters won’t eat them and the seahorses won’t be able to capture them all right away. Some will hide and evade well enough that your seahorses will still be hunting down the stragglers for the next day or two. Best of all, you can toss a nice batch of them in your aquarium, secure in the knowledge that they won’t perish and pollute it, but thrive and survive as real, live, "catch-me-if-you-can" prey items that seahorses cannot resist. Nothing stimulates a seahorse’s feeding instinct like the frantic movements and evasive maneuvers of natural, living prey.

The Ocean Rider Aquaculture Facility in Hawaii ( is a good source for the following live foods but the shipping costs from Hawaii can be considerable:

Green Iron Horse Feed (Gammarus amphipods)
Red Iron Horse Feed or Volcano Shrimp (Halocaridina rubra)

Or the live Mysis from Sachs Systems Aquaculture would also be a good choice for live Mysis shrimp. They provide live Mysis in lots ranging anywhere from 100 to 5000 for very reasonable prices which include the cost of priority shipping. For example, you can obtain 200 live Mysidopsis bahia for $35 (priority shipping included) from Sachs and your seahorses will love them. Or the or the very smallest (1/4") of the common shore shrimp (Palaemonetes vulgaris) from Sachs would also be a good choice:


All of the sources listed above are high-health aquaculture facilities that provide disease free live foods. You can buy be feeder shrimp or live foods in quantity and set up a small holding tank for them so that you can dole them out as live treats for your seahorses whenever it’s convenient.

So in your case, I would suggest ordering perhaps 100-200 of the live Mysis from Sachs Aquaculture for starters, and setting them up in a small tank of their own with a few small algae-covered live rock as for them to feed on and use for shelter. That would solve your feeding problems and give you a chance to enjoy your seahorses while they are stalking and hunting live prey, which is fascinating to watch, while you work making the adjustment to their strange new surroundings.

Another good possibility you can consider are the Tigger Pods, which are now carried by some pet stores, particularly if the seahorses are eating live amphipods well. Seahorses eat them very readily and if you can find a local fish store that carries them, that could be a very convenient option for you, Chef. Here is some more information about the Tigger Pods:

<Open quote>
Tigger Pods by Reed Mariculture

Receiving your Tigger Pods™

Receiving your Tigger Pods™
Tigger Pods™ are wonderful little creatures, full of energy, fun to watch, and great food for your reef tank.
When you receive your shipment, here are some steps that will help ensure their health and survival.
Upon arrival you may notice the Tigger-Pods™ aren’t very active. This is normal when cold shipped or cold stored. As the bottles warm up, the Tigger Pods™ will become more active. It is not uncommon to have a few of the oldest copepods to die from old age. We pack the bottle with all stages of life, but only count the adults. On average, we pack at least 10% more in every bottle to account for any DOA.
Personal Use
Upon arrival, open bottle cap and remove the inside liner. Let stand at room temp for 2 hours to allow temperature to rise. The Tigger Pods™ can be poured directly into your refugium and/or main tank. They can live several weeks in the bottle, as long as they are fed and the bottle is open to the air.
Tigger Pods™ feed on microalgae and we recommend feeding them with Phyto-Feast™. Phyto-Feast™ can be dosed directly into both your refugium and main tank. The recommended feeding rate is 1 to 5 drops per gallon each day, depending on the bio-density of your reef tank.
Store Use and Display
Open the bottle cap and remove the inside liner.
Leave the cap open for 1 hour or more to re-oxygenate the water.
Replace the cap on the bottle and close the flip-spout.
During the day put the bottles in a high traffic area to attract the customer’s attention, but keep out of direct sunlight. Light is ok, and needed.
At night put the bottles under gentle light so the accompanying Macro-Feast™ will produce oxygen. The flip-caps can also be left open to increase oxygen.
Every 2-3 days add 1 drop of Phyto-Feast to each bottle.
Longer Term Storage
Tigger Pods™ can be stored in a "warm" (40 F +) refrigerator to slow down their metabolic processes, which will increase store shelf life.
For more information about Tigger Pods™ please visit our website at
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Once you have the seahorses eating well and they are feeling more at home in your Biocube, you can work on weaning them back onto frozen foods are nonliving food. The best way to accomplish that would be to talk to the breeder that you obtained the seahorses from about the items they are accustomed to eating and then try to obtain the very same brand and size of those food items to offer to the ponies in your aquarium. Find out what type of Mysis, ova and dead amphipods they are used to eating and do your best to provide them with those exact foods.

I do think the 30-gallon Biocube would be much better suited for the seahorses, but it’s not a good alternative if it is housing an outbreak of parasites that you have been unable to eliminate. If you can let the 30-gallon Biocube go fallow for four-to six weeks, with no fish whatsoever in it during that period, any obligate parasites it may have been housing should have died off in the interim, and you can try the seahorses (or other reef-safe fish) in the tank at that time.

All of the soft corals and invertebrates you mentioned in a 30-gallon Biocube are compatible with seahorses, with the exception of the sea apple, which can release deadly toxins if it feels threatened or becomes unhealthy. I would relocate the sea apple and make sure the 30-gallon Biocube is completely free of any parasites before you consider transferring your seahorses to the larger tank.

Best of luck restoring the appetite of your new ponies and getting them back on a staple diet of frozen foods, Chef!

Pete Giwojna

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