Re:Help. She died.

Pete Giwojna

Dear Grant:

Rats! I’m sorry to hear that you lost your female — all my condolences, sir!

It’s possible but unlikely that your female may have run afoul of the pistol shrimp. The concussion from the shock wave they produce with their pistol shots can indeed stun and kill small fish and invertebrates. Pistol shrimp are quite territorial towards other shrimp, and it is therefore small live shrimp that are at the greatest risk of running afoul of a pistol shrimp in the aquarium. They are quite capable of killing cleaner shrimp and peppermint shrimp such as Lysmata wurdemanni and Lysmata amboinensis.

In general, however, pistol shrimp typically do well with large seahorses. I would never trust them with dwarf seahorses (Hippocampus zosterae) but the larger breeds such as Mustangs and Sunbursts (H. erectus) usually coexist with pistol shrimp very well. They are too large to be considered potential prey by the pistol shrimp so the little sharpshooters are generally quite content simply to clean up their leftover Mysis.

I would hesitate to introduce decorative shrimp to an aquarium with the pistol shrimp, but in my experience, seahorses and pistol shrimp most often merely ignore one another. If you heard any pistol shots the night before your female’s demise — pistol shrimp are nocturnal and more active after dark — there may have been a confrontation between the two, but that would be unusual.

As we’ve discussed before, Grant, your 14-gallon Biocube is really too small and lacks sufficient water depth for the larger species of seahorses. The Oceanic BioCubes are nice aquarium systems with a very efficient filtration system, but like all of the nanocubes, they are designed with reef keepers in mind and have strong pumps that produce strong water flow and high turnover rates. The output from the pump often needs to be toned down a bit so it doesn’t overwhelm the limited swimming ability of Hippocampus, if you will be using a Biocube as a seahorse tank.

One good way to accomplish that is by adding a spray bar return positioned above the surface of the water to provide better surface agitation and oxygenation, which will effectively diffuse the discharge from the filter, allowing you to maintain a relatively high turnover rate without generating too much turbulence or water flow for seahorses. For example, this is how Estefano recommends modifying BioCubes and nano tanks to make them more suitable for seahorses with regard to the water flow:

<Open quote>
I recently bought a nanocube 24 (for a different reson other than a seahorse) but here are some of the recommended upgrades I would strongly consider if I were to house seahorses in this setup…

1) skimmer – Sapphire aquatic is comming out with a very high quality venturi skimmer that fits perfectly in on of the back compartments of the biocube. check; then click on skimmers, you will see the biocube29 skimmer there. there are others available, however this is one of the top quality skimmers out there.

2) SPRAY BARS!!! very important, all these nanocubes have very powerful pumps that are designed to turn water over 10-15 times per hour, as you may have read from previous recommendations from Pete you will know that this is not suitable for seahorses, adding spraybars (from loc-line, 1/2 inch; available at is a very good upgrade. they also have a check-valve available which you can use to slow down the water flow.

3) UV sterilizer – CADLIGHTS has created an in chamber UV steralizer I would strongly consider adding to a setup like yours. go to and click on the UV steralizer from the list, its only $55 and a really nice upgrade for your new tank.
What I would recommend you do is the following:

Go to your local fish store and buy a Mini-jet 606, These pumps have a flow controller built right into them. They are rather inexpensive and readily available in every fish store out there.

This is the link of the pump so you know what to look for…

As a long term solution you should install some spraybars, I must advice you that you will need to sand down the original nipple that comes with the biocube in order to make the spraybars fit. Its really easy and only takes 5 minutes with sanding paper.

Here are the links of the spraybars so you know what to look for…

and the elbow you will need to make it go across the top…

and the regulator ball-valve…

I hope this help,

<close quote>

So if you want to try seahorses in your 14-gallon Biocube again, Grant, I would suggest making the modifications outlined above and then sticking with one of the smaller Shetland pony class of seahorses, rather than any of the larger breeds.

These include Zulu-lulus or Cape Seahorses (Hippocampus capensis), which are temperate seahorses that require an aquarium chiller to maintain suitable temperatures, or the Black Seapony (H. fuscus), which is a tropical species that would do well at standard aquarium temperatures.

Both these species are small enough to do well in a 14-gallon aquarium, and they are both considered among the easiest of all seahorses to breed and raise. Please contact me off list ([email protected]) and let me know if you would be interested in keeping either of these species, and I will be happy to send you a species summary that explains everything you need to know about them in considerable detail.

Best of luck with your Biocube, Grant!

Pete Giwojna

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