Re:Family addition

Pete Giwojna

Dear Jeff:

Thanks for the additional information, sir! That sounds like an outstanding set up for seahorses and a sump is always a big advantage. With live rock, a good protein skimmer, and an ultraviolet sterilizer, it has an efficient filtration system to maintain optimum water quality and stability.

A manderin goby makes a splendid tankmate for seahorses and all of the invertebrates you mentioned are compatible specimens that do fine with seahorses, so I can foresee no problems in that regard.

The recommended stocking density for large seahorses such as Hippocampus erectus and H. reidi is one pair per every 10 gallons of water in the aquarium. Ordinarily, your 29-gallon aquarium could thus safely house up to three pairs or six adult individuals of these species when fully stocked, but the sump increases the total water volume of the system and gives you a little more leeway than normal.

All things considered, Jeff, I think a Pinto would probably be best suited for the next addition to your system. It is an excellent set up for seahorses with a sophisticated filtration system, but the Fire Reds get a pretty big (8-10 inches) and require a little more elbow room than your 29-gallon main tank would allow, as discussed below..

Two characteristics set Fire Reds apart from other Ocean Rider types: their substantial size and their unusual coloration. These blazing beauties are very large, solidly built seahorses, and boast the sort of fiery colors rarely seen in other seahorses. Think rhapsody in red, for the flaming finery sported by these ruddy rarities comes in various crimson colors such as scarlet, rust, ruby, maroon, purplish and the whole spectrum of reds. Their reddish base coloration is often highlighted with white diamonds, flecks and dots. Like the Brazileros, they are long-lived seahorses when provided with good care.

Several individuals that I have seen were a deep, rich, mahogany red with a lovely luster that made them look almost as if they had been polished to a high sheen. Some specimens are lustrous brown seahorses, a shade of auburn or henna, which appear to be blushing red over their entire bodies. Many show a strong orange component to their coloration, having a rusty radiance, while others are a bright red-orange or a russet red. Fire Reds are quite very well in the shade of red or orange they display.

Fire Reds are one of OR’s most exotic types and are highly prized by aquarists because of their brilliant colors and exceptional size. As a result, they are always in limited supply, and Ocean Rider prefers that they go to dedicated hobbyists and advanced aquarists who are experienced seahorse keepers that can provide them with suitable surroundings and excellent care. Fire Reds get big, 8-10 inches when fully grown, and their price tags are equally hefty. Ocean Rider doesn’t want new seahorse keepers to get discouraged if they invest a lot of money in such a costly specimen and then it fails to thrive when kept under less than optimal conditions. It’s just better for the hobbyists and better for the seahorses if these prized ponies go to accomplished aquarists and knowledgeable seahorse keepers with sophisticated systems at their disposal who can do them justice, rather than to a casual hobbyist with a spare 20-gallon tank who thinks he might like to try his luck with seahorses and wants to start out with the most impressive stallions available.

There’s never enough of the most exotic types — the rare jewels like Fire Reds and Gigantes and Pintos and Sun Fires — to go around, so Ocean Rider tries to match them up with dedicated hobbyists and experienced aquarists OR knows can provide them with a good home.

Ocean Rider doesn’t want first-time seahorse keepers to be discouraged by a negative experience; on the contrary, OR tries hard to make their first venture into seahorse keeping a richly rewarding experience, so they will want to try more seahorses of different kinds as they gain more confidence and experience with these amazing aquatic equines. So Ocean Rider tries to gently steer first-time seahorse keepers toward bulletproof Mustangs, which are super-tough and more affordable, and away from the more costly exotic types, which do best in bigger tanks with more efficient filtration systems.

Fire Reds are big, beautiful, massive animals when fully grown, and Ocean Rider therefore prefers to see them placed in tall aquaria of 55 gallons or more that are equipped with an efficient protein skimmer and hopefully a UV steriizer. The casual aquarist simply doesn’t have the knowledge or the resources to provide the exotic Ocean Riders with the type of system they deserve.

In short, you are just the type of experienced seahorse keeper that Ocean Rider likes to pair up with their more exotic ponies, Jeff, and you have an outstanding seahorse setup with a sophisticated filtration system, but your 29-gallon maintained may not be spacious enough for the jumbo Fire Reds to thrive over the long run. I think it’s better suited for a Pinto that will remain around 5-6 inches in length when fully grown.

The exact genetic makeup of Pintos is considered to be proprietary information, but they are an unusual color morph in which the base coloration of the seahorse consists of two different contrasting colors. The result is a beautiful piebald pony. Well-marked specimens sport the same sort of bold painted pattern as the Apache Indian’s famous pinto ponies from the wild West, and are referred to as such for that very reason.

The most striking aspect about their color pattern is the brilliant contrast between the light and dark areas. That eye-catching mottled pattern is completely random, so much so that no two specimens are exactly alike (Giwojna, Jun. 2002). The light areas and the darker portions of the piebald pattern can vary in coloration, from black through various shades of brown, or more rarely, to white, yellow, orange or any of the other colors commonly seen in captive-bred erectus (Giwojna, Jun. 2002).

The extent of the mottling varies greatly from individual to individual, and that, together with the differences in their coloration, makes each of these specimens truly unique (Giwojna, Jun. 2002). Most of the piebald specimens are black-and-white or brown-and-white, and others are pitch black mottled with beige or ash gray (Giwojna, Jun. 2002). A few are even more colorful, including striking orange-and-black and brown-and-yellow specimens. When these colors are at their brightest, and the orange or yellow mottling is well developed, such specimens rival the gaudy patterns of orioles. One of the most beautifully marked seahorses I’ve ever seen was a saffron yellow erectus adorned to great effect with snow-white saddles (Giwojna, Jun. 2002). But the unusually colored Pintos are exceptionally rare and hard to come by. As you can imagine, these piebald ponies are also in great demand by hobbyists.

After careful consideration, I would recommend that you consider adding a Pinto to your collection next, Jeff.

Best wishes with all your fishes, sir!

Pete Giwojna

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