I would be happy to help you with this problem, but it sounds to me like much of the difficulty stems from the fact that the guys at your pet store are not too knowledgeable about the specialized requirements of seahorses and that they therefore have not been caring for their ponies properly while they were at the pet store, nor have they been providing you with healthy seahorses that are in good condition to begin with…
For one thing, they should not be forcing the seahorses to subsist on pelletized foods. The seahorses are most likely to simply ignore such foods and stop eating; if they do sample the sinking food pellets out of desperation, they are not easy for the seahorses to digest properly and they do not provide the right type of nutrition for these specialized feeders. Frozen Mysis shrimp that have been enriched should constitute the staple, everyday diet of the seahorses, and if the pet shop did not know this or could not provide the ponies with frozen Mysis to eat, then they have no business selling seahorses in the first place.
Secondly, most marine fish do not make suitable tankmates for seahorses. The seahorse keeper must be very selective in selecting any fish or invertebrates that are intended for the seahorse tank. They must be passive, docile specimens that are not aggressive eaters or territorial it anyway towards their tankmates. That’s a subject for another time, Kara, but once you have the current issues resolved, I would be happy to provide you with a list of suitable tankmates for seahorses that you can consider once you have gained a little more valuable, first-hand experience as a seahorse keeper.
Thirdly, it sounds like they have provided you with some shoddy equipment, particularly the malfunctioning light fixture for the aquarium. If you had problems with the light fixture they sold you, they should have simply replaced it with a new unit, rather than attempting some dubious repairs…
Finally, they have provided you with some horrible information regarding the effects of the short-circuiting light fixture they attempted to repair. It is obviously still not working properly and it is a serious threat not only to your seahorses and aquarium specimens but also to yourself, Kara! Unplug the unsafe, malfunctioning light fixture immediately and leave it disconnected! Demand that the pet shop either replace the light fixture with a brand-new one in an unopened package, or that they refund the cost of the faulty light fixture to you, so that you can purchase a decent aquarium light from a more reputable fish store.
Stray voltage from a faulty piece of equipment (malfunctioning aquarium heaters and aquarium lights are the most common culprits) can most certainly become a serious stressor to fishes in an aquarium. Just how stressful and how dire the consequences depends on the amount of voltage involved.
Low voltage will be a source of chronic, low-level stress to seahorses and other aquarium specimens, which can be very debilitating in the long run. Higher voltages are increasingly stressful to the point where the aquarium inhabitants are actually getting jolted, which can even result in fish trying to leave the water in order to escape this painful stimulus. And, of course, a catastrophic heater failure in which the heating element is exposed to the water and certain other electrical failures, such as a short circuit in the aquarium light, can pose a risk of electrocution to both the aquarist and his fishes.
If you’re having a problem with stray voltage, installing a simple titanium grounding probe in your tanks will protect your seahorses and other wet pets from the harmful effects, Kara.
But the best way to protect you and your loved ones from electrical accidents around the fish room is to make sure all the outlets are equipped with Ground Fault Interrupters. And it’s a good idea to make sure all your electrical equipment is plugged into a surge protector as well to further protect your expensive pumps, filters, heaters, etc. from damage. An ounce of prevention… "D" has had good success using a surge protector style wall plug-in unit (five outlets) that has GFCI protection called the "Shock Buster" that is available from Lowes. It will protect any electrical components that are plugged directly into the Shock Buster, and with five separate outlets, that should be enough to accommodate most all of the equipment on any given aquarium.
My best advice for you would be to stop patronizing this particular pet shop at once, Kara. They are not providing you with healthy livestock and they are not giving you sound advice. I will give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they are simply uninformed rather than deliberately attempting to deceive or misinform you, but either way you need to rid yourself of this particular establishment and its products.
If any of your seahorses survive this incident, Kara, find another pet store that sells frozen Mysis and use that to feed your ponies from now on. Frozen Mysis is available in several different brands from a number of different sources. Gamma brand frozen Mysis is good, Hikari frozen Mysis is quite acceptable (although often fragmentary) as is San Francisco Bay brand frozen Mysis and the Omega One Mysis, whereas the Mini Mysis by H2O Life is great for small seahorses, and Piscine Energetics frozen Mysis is no doubt the best in terms of nutritional content and quality control. Any good local fish store should carry one or more of these brands.
In addition, Kara, I would like to invite you to participate in Ocean Rider’s training program for new seahorse keepers. If this accomplishes nothing else, it will at least assure that you are very well informed regarding the aquarium care and requirements of seahorses, and that you have access to reliable information in that regard from experts in seahorse husbandry.
Allow me to introduce myself, Kara. My name is Pete Giwojna and I provide tech-support for Ocean Rider (seahorse.com). 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.
This basic training is very informal and completely free of charge, Kara. 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 or examinations 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:
Aquarium care and requirements of seahorses;
Selecting a suitable aquarium for seahorses;
size (tank height and water volume)
aquarium test kits
Optimizing your aquarium for seahorses;
water movement and circulation
hitching posts (real and artificial)
Cycling a new marine aquarium;
The cleanup crew (aquarium janitors & sanitation engineers);
water quality & water changes
aquarium maintenance schedule
Compatible tank mates for seahorses;
Courtship and breeding;
Rearing the young;
Disease prevention and control;
professional rearing protocols
Acclimating Ocean Rider seahorses.
If you are interested, Kara, I will be providing you with detailed information on these subjects and answering any questions you may have about the material I present. I will also be recommending seahorse-related articles for you to read and absorb online.
In short, the training course will teach you everything you need to know to keep your seahorses happy and healthy, and it will arm you with the information you need in order to tackle your first ponies with confidence.
If you would like to give the training program a try, Kara, just send me a brief e-mail ([email protected]) off list with your first and last name, and I will get you started off with the first lesson right away.
In the meantime, get rid of the faulty aquarium light immediately and obtain some frozen Mysis to feed your seahorses ASAP!
Best wishes with all your fishes, Kara!