Outstanding, sir! Needless to say, your background is exemplary and your 120-gallon tall aquarium, equipped with a 30-gallon refugium, and with both the main tank and the refuge teeming with copepods and amphipods, is a superb habitat for seahorses!
Your captive-bred-and-raised Red Mandarin Dragonets are ideal tankmates for seahorses as are the blue-stripe pipes and the gorgonians and Coco worms. In short, Christopher, I would be very pleased to enroll you in the Ocean Rider seahorse training program and send you all of the lessons, but it is a correspondence course conducted via e-mail, sir, so I need to know your e-mail address before we can begin. Please send a brief reply to the following e-mail address, and we’ll get started as soon as I receive your response: [email protected]
As we will discuss later in this e-mail, and considering your background, I do think that you could complete all of the lessons in time for a delivery shortly before or after Memorial Day, May 28, 2012 , but bear in mind that you must provide at least three days advance notice in order to have the shipment delivered to you on a specific day, Christopher. In your case, you must also allow for the fact that no shipments will be sent out over the holiday weekend. So please get back to me ASAP, and then strap on your reading glasses and buckle up your running shoes because you are going to be busy digesting a lot of information in the next few days!
Please allow me to formally introduce myself, Christopher. My name is Pete Giwojna and I provide tech-support for Ocean Rider (seahorse.com). As you know, sir, part of my duties in that regard include providing a quick training course for new Ocean Rider customers and first-time buyers to get them up to speed on the aquarium care and requirements of seahorses.
The purpose of this training is twofold: (1) to assure that the hobbyist has a suitable aquarium, completely cycled and with the biofiltration fully established, ready and waiting when his seahorses arrive, and (2) to assure that the hobbyist has a good understanding of the aquarium care and requirements of Ocean Rider seahorses by the time he or she has completed the training and been certified. All of which will help to ensure that things go smoothly and that the home aquarist’s first experience with Ocean Rider seahorses is rewarding and enjoyable.
This basic training is very informal and completely free of charge, yet quite comprehensive, Christopher. 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 and there are no examinations or classes to attend 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, working from your computer in the comfort of your own home. The training course consists of hundreds of pages of text with more than 230 full color illustrations, broken down into 10 lessons covering the following subjects:
Lesson 1: Selecting a Suitable Aquarium & Optimizing It for Seahorses.
Tank dimensions and specifications (why height is important);
Tank location and aquarium stressors;
Setting up a SHOWLR tank to create ideal conditions for seahorses;
titanium grounding probe
Test kits for monitoring water quality;
Aquascaping the seahorse tank;
artificial hitching posts
Basic aquarium setups for seahorses;
Lesson 2: Cycling a New Aquarium & Installing the Cleanup Crew.
The nitrogen cycle;
nitrification and denitrification
Step-by-step instructions for cycling a new marine aquarium;
Seahorse-safe sanitation engineers and aquarium janitors;
Starter seahorses (hardy, highly domesticated, high-health ponies)
Lesson 3: Reading Assignments (books, articles, and columns devoted to seahorses).
Lesson 4: Water Chemistry, Aquarium Maintenance, & Maintaining Optimum Water Quality.
Basic water quality parameters (acceptable range and optimum levels);
Advanced water chemistry for reef keepers;
Performing partial water changes to maintain good water quality;
Aquarium maintenance schedule;
Lesson 5: Feeding Seahorses.
Frozen Mysis serves as their staple, everyday diet;
brands of frozen Mysis
thawing and preparing frozen Mysis
enriching with Vibrance
Recommended feeding regimen;
how to tell if your seahorse is getting enough to eat
Feeding tips for seahorses;
preparing and serving the frozen Mysis
feeding new arrivals
setting up a feeding station
training the seahorses to use a feeding tray
artificial feeding stations
natural feeding stations
purchasing a ready-made feeding station
elevating the feeding station
Mysis relicta from Piscine Energetics
Broadcast feeding or scatter feeding — just say no!
Lesson 6: Compatible Tankmates for Seahorses.
Safe and unsafe companions — no guarantees;
fish to avoid
Feeding seahorses in a community tank;
Seahorse-proofing a reef tank
lighting the seahorse reef
managing water circulation for a seahorse reef
Lesson 7: Courtship & Breeding.
Courtship displays in Hippocampus (fully illustrated)
tilting and reciprocal quivering
pouch displays (pumping and ballooning)
copulatory rise and the egg transfer
Male brooding — a true pregnancy
Giving birth — dawn deliveries
Lesson 8: Raising the Young.
Determining ease of rearing
Setting up a basic nursery for benthic babies
Advanced nursery tank options for pelagic fry
the shaded nursery
kriesel and pseudokreisel nurseries
the divided nursery
in-tank nurseries (illustrated)
the greenwater "starter" nursery
hyposalinity for pelagic fry
Culling the fry (if necessary)
Feeding the fry
hatching and enriching brine shrimp (Artemia)
decapsulated brine shrimp eggs
culturing rotifers and copepods
Fry feeding schedule
Lesson 9: Disease Prevention and Control.
Captive bred vs. wild-caught seahorses
Importance of High-Health seahorses
Seahorse anatomy illustrations
Screening seahorses from your LFS
Quarantine protocol for pet-shop ponies and wild seahorses
Beta glucan boosts immunity to disease
Early detection of health problems
disease symptoms in seahorses
What to do at the first sign of a health problem
The seahorse-keepers medicine chest
first aid kit for seahorses
must-have medications to keep on hand
properties of the main medications
Hepatic lipidosis (prevalence of fatty liver disease)
Seahorse disease book
Lesson 10: Mustangs and Sunbursts (Hippocampus erectus) & Acclimating New Arrivals.
Nature of Mustangs and Sunbursts
multi-generational approach to rearing
Hippocampus erectus species summary
scientific name and common names
meristic counts and morphometric measurements (illustrated)
climate and distribution
color and pattern
onset of sexual maturity
ease of rearing
natural habitats and natural history
preferred parameters and aquarium requirements
suggested stocking density
successful rearing protocols
feeding the fry
nursery tank designs
rearing and grow out tanks
diet and nutrition
wide ranging species with different races
Acclimating new arrivals (step-by-step instructions)
Keeping and culturing red feeder shrimp (Halocaridina rubra)
The seahorse training program is a correspondence course that is conducted entirely via e-mail, Christopher, and once we begin the lessons, I will be providing you with detailed information on all of the subjects above and answering any questions you may have about the material I present so that everything is perfectly clear to you. I will also be recommending seahorse-related articles for you to read and absorb online. And, of course, once we begin, I will be working with you personally every step of the way through our ongoing correspondence until your aquarium is optimized for seahorses and you are well prepared to give them the best possible care, regardless of how long that may take.
All we ask in return is that you stick with the highly domesticated Ocean Rider seahorses when you are finally ready to stock your tank, Christopher. As you know, Mustangs and Sunbursts are the perfect ponies for the home aquarium. They are hardy, highly adaptable, easy to feed, and perfectly adapted for aquarium life — the world’s only High-Health seahorses, guaranteed to be free of specific pathogens and parasites. Even exotic Ocean Riders, such as the Pintos, Fire Reds, or Gigantes would do well in your tall 120-gallon seahorse setup.
How long this training will take to complete depends on your experience level as an aquarist to a large extent. For example, if you have never kept seahorses before and you do not already have a suitable saltwater aquarium up and running, it will take at least eight weeks for your training and preparations to be completed before you can be certified. It will take that long to learn the basics of seahorse keeping, set up a suitable aquarium, cycle the tank from scratch to establish the biological filtration, and optimize the tank to create an ideal environment for seahorses. Only then can you be certified ready to receive your first seahorses.
On the other hand, experienced marine aquarists and hobbyists that have had seahorses before and already have a suitable saltwater aquarium up and running can be certified much more quickly. I will run through the same basic information with them, but most of the information I provide will be familiar material for such hobbyists and they should be able to review it and get up to speed quickly, plus they should have well-established aquariums ready, fully matured that they can fairly quickly adapt in order to make them more ideal for seahorses. In a case like that, certification can be completed as soon as they have absorbed the material I provide and are confident they have a good grasp of the specialized requirements and aquarium care of the seahorses.
Of course, Christopher, you fall squarely in the latter category and the only limitation on how quickly you will be certified is the speed with which you can read through the installments in the training program. As an accomplished marine aquarist and an experienced seahorse keeper, no doubt you will breeze right through the training program with no difficulty at all. In fact, I feel I must apologize to you in advance for boring you with some rather remedial reading material during the first few lessons, sir, but I find it is always best to begin the training course by going over the basics of good aquarium management for the sake of the less experienced hobbyists, and then to build on those fundamentals in each subsequent lesson. You will find the lessons to be much more interesting and informative once we get past the basic review material in the first few lessons, so please bear with me in the meantime.
As soon as I have your e-mail address, Christopher, I will go ahead and send you the entire training course – all 10 lessons together in one file – in PDF format as an attachment to this e-mail. You can then download the attachment, save it on your computer, and read through the 10 lessons at your leisure, taking all of the time you need to go over the information and absorb the material. As you do so, it will be your job to contact me via e-mail whenever you have any questions or concerns about the material in the lessons, and I will answer all of your inquiries to the very best of my ability.
When you are done with all 10 of the lessons, and feel you have had a chance to thoroughly absorb the information and master the lessons, send me a brief e-mail to that effect and I will be happy to put your certification through with Ocean Rider right away so that you can order your seahorses. (In your case, Christopher, given the fact that you want to get up to speed so that you can place your order as soon as possible and make sure the seahorses have been acclimated properly and are well adjusted to their new surroundings while you have some time off over the holidays, I would be willing to put your certification through while you are reading through the lesson material. That would allow you to place your order well in advance of the Memorial Day weekend and assure that they will be delivered on the date you specify, and you could finish all of the lessons in the meantime.)
Be sure to save the PDF file with the seahorse training lessons on your computer for future reference, Christopher. It includes a detailed table of contents with page numbers, so that you can quickly locate the material or section you would like to go back and review at any time.
Just remember that the lessons are for your eyes only, Christopher. Please don’t share the PDF file with the complete training program or the individual lessons with any other hobbyists or individuals without first obtaining my expressed permission to do so. Thanks for your cooperation!
Please get back to me as soon as possible with a quick response so that I have your e-mail address, sir, and I will take care of everything from there.
Best wishes with all your fishes, Christopher!
Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Training Program Advisor