Re:breeding Hippocampus Kuda

Pete Giwojna

Dear AC:

Congratulations on your new Hippocampus kuda! Starting out with captive-bred-and-raised seahorses was absolutely the best choice you could have made.

Once you’re new H. kuda have matured and begun to pair off, and have had a chance to adjust to their strange new surroundings, they usually breed quite readily. They tend to be rather promiscuous in the aquarium and will breed year-round in captivity if conditions are to their liking once they begin to feel at home.

True kuda fry can indeed be difficult to rear. Large broods of small 6-8mm fry that undergo an extended pelagic phase make this a challenging species to culture. They have been raised commercially for Traditional Chinese Medicine at large seahorse farms in South East Asia, but success rates appear to be very low at public aquaria (Bull and Mitchell, 2002, p47) and home hobbyists typically struggle when attempting to raise true kuda.

The gestation period of H. kuda is strongly influenced by temperature. Gestation for true kuda is a mere 9-10 days at water temperatures of 82°F-86°F (28°C-30°C) (Truong and Doan 1994), but increases to 20-28 days (Mi 1993) at cooler temperatures. A gestation period of around 15-18 days is pretty typical at standard aquarium temperatures of 75°F-77°F. With three pairs of H. kuda, they are very prolific once they begin breeding and you will have new broods to work with at least every month, so you have plenty of time to practice your rearing techniques and get to the point where you can eventually raise some of the fry.

Broods are normally around 250-1000 (Mi 1993), but exceptionally large broods of over 1400 fry have been recorded (Truong and Doan 1994). As with other tropical seahorses that produce such enormous broods, the fry of true kuda are quite small at birth. Newborn H. kuda are about 5 – 8 mm in height and weigh roughly 2.5 mg (Mi 1993; Mi, Kornienko and Drozdov 1998). The fry of true kuda are pelagic and remain at the surface of the water for the first few weeks of life, only descending to the bottom after 19-22 days (Bull and Mitchell, 2002, p48). During the first week of their lives, only 20% of fry are capable of attachment to holdfasts (Mi, Kornienko, and Drozdov 1998).

The newborns are surface huggers that gradual begin to settle out and take up a bottom dwelling existence over a period of weeks. Only about 1 in 5 fry begin to seek out hitching posts and orient to the substrate within the first week (Mi, Kornienko, and Drozdov 1998). Most of the true kuda fry are not ready to descend to the bottom until they are around 3 weeks old (19-22 days) (Bull and Mitchell, 2002, p48).

True kuda fry grow rapidly, quadrupling in size within the first 2 weeks (Bull and Mitchell, 2002, p48). They reach sexual maturity between 6-12 months (Mi, Kornienko, and Drozdov 1998; Jiaxin 1990), and typically reproduce successfully for the first time when they reach a length of 3-4 inches (8-10 cm) (Truong and Doan 1994). The average height of the adults is about 5 inches (11-13 cm) (Bull and Mitchell, 2002, p47).

Unfortunately, newborn H. kuda are not suitable for the easy rearing method and require the more complicated "food-chain" method of rearing, as described in the following online article, which will also explain why H. reidi fry are harder to raise than others and discuss how to culture live foods for the fry:

Click here: – Seahorse, Sea Life, Marine Life, Aquafarm Sales, Feeds and Accessories – Nutrition – Feeding & Rear
<; Nutrition_-_Feeding_%26_Rearing_the_Fry_-_Part_IV/

In addition, the following threads on this discussion forum are also devoted to raising seahorse babies and should have a lot of information you will find useful in your quest to raise H. kuda:

Click here: – Seahorse, Sea Life, Marine Life, Aquafarm Sales, Feeds and Accessories – Re:I had Babies!! – Ocean,com_simpleboard/Itemid,/func,view/catid,2/id,1299/#1299

Click here: – Seahorse, Sea Life, Marine Life, Aquafarm Sales, Feeds and Accessories – Re:Babies – Ocean Rider Cl,com_simpleboard/Itemid,/func,view/catid,2/id,1316/#1316

Click here: – Seahorse, Sea Life, Marine Life, Aquafarm Sales, Feeds and Accessories – Re:suitable Fry Container,com_simpleboard/Itemid,/func,view/catid,2/id,863/#863

In particular, be sure to check out the following discussions regarding the best methods for raising H. reidi fry. Newborn H. reidi also go through an extended pelagic period so the tips and suggestions for increasing the survivorship of H. reidi babies will be especially helpful in raising your kuda fry:

Click here: – Seahorse, Sea Life, Marine Life, Aquafarm Sales, Feeds and Accessories – Re:raising redi – Ocean Ri,com_simpleboard/Itemid,/func,view/catid,2/id,1164/#1164

Click here: – Seahorse, Sea Life, Marine Life, Aquafarm Sales, Feeds and Accessories – Re:reidi fry no survivors,com_simpleboard/Itemid,/func,view/catid,2/id,1054/#1054

That should get you started off on the right foot with your efforts to raise this challenging species, AC. Contact me off list at the following email address and I will be happy to send you some additional information about keeping and raising Hippocampus kuda: [email protected]

Best of luck with your new H. kuda, AC. G’day, mate!

Happy Trails!
Pete Giwojna

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