Congratulations on your surprise brood of Sunburst babies, sir!
Late spring through late summer is the heart of the breeding season for Mustangs and Sunbursts (Hippocampus erectus) so a lot of seahorse keepers will be dealing with newborns in the weeks and months ahead, Adam, and I would be happy to share a few brief dips with you below and then to direct used to some in-depth on rearing your Sunburst fry.
All seahorses are challenging to raise, and Mustang and Sunburst (Hippocampus erectus) babies are no exception. There is a always a steep learning curve when it comes to rearing the newborns, and it’s quite common — perhaps even the rule — for the home breeder to lose the entire brood during his or her first few attempts at rearing. But as you refine your methods and become more proficient at providing suitable live foods for the newborns and work out the feeding regimen that’s most efficient for your particular circumstances, your results will gradually get better. You will have more of the fry surviving for longer periods, until eventually you are able to raise a few of the fry from a few of the broods to maturity. I know many home hobbyists who have accomplished the feat, and a very few of them are so successful that they end up with more seahorses than they can handle and have to adopt some of the youngsters out to surrogate parents.
The following is a gross oversimplification, of course, but basically in order to attempt to raise seahorse fry at home, you must accomplish the following:
(1) set up one or more suitable nursery tanks to receive the newborns (kreisel nurseries in one form or another often work well for Hippocampus erectus fry);
(2) maintain optimum water quality in the nursery tanks (usually accomplished by performing daily water changes while siphoning off the bottom of the nurseries);
(3) provide the voracious newborns and juveniles with copious amounts of bite-size live foods (primarily newly hatched brine shrimp for Mustangs) on a daily basis. In order to keep up with the endless appetites, you’ll need to set up a battery of hatching containers and feed the young several times every day, which is time consuming and labor intensive, although not that difficult in actual execution with practice and experience.
If you contact me off list ([email protected]), I will provide you with detailed information and instructions explaining how to accomplish all of the above, including illustrations, along with a great deal of additional information on breeding and rearing Hippocampus erectus, Adam. But that material is contained in files that are much too large to post here on this forum.
In the meantime, if you do an Internet search for the phrase "rearing Hippocampus erectus," you’ll find a lot of useful information online as well.
Best wishes with all your fishes!
Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support