Re:how much is too much?

Pete Giwojna

Dear Laurie:

Hex tanks have nice height, which is very important for seahorses, but their unusual shape and footprint does limit the bottom space they provide somewhat.

If you will be relying on the live rock as the primary means of biological filtration for your seahorse tank, then as much as 1-2 pounds per gallon of the rock is desirable to provide plenty of nitrification and denitrification. But if your aquarium will have a mother filter (canister filter or a hang-on-the-back filter of some sort) that provides biological filtration, then you can get by with much less live rock. In that case, just add enough live rock to create aesthetically pleasing arrangements and sheltered spots without making the tank too cluttered in the process.

I like the large piece of rock with the inward curve you describe — that should provide excellent cover for the seahorses and the shady retreat they can use whenever they would like to get out of the light. That large piece of live rock should make a nice foundation around which you can arrange the rest of the rockwork to perhaps create some arches or overhanging ledges.

If you contact me off list, Laurie, I would be happy to e-mail you a couple of photographs of entire aquariums that have been decorated and aquascaped specifically for seahorses. You can reach me at [email protected] anytime.

A 33-gallon aquarium with lots of live rock can certainly accommodate more than one pair of Zulu-lulus (Hippocampus capensis) or Mustangs (H. erectus). Both are good choices for a beginner, but the species you choose may be determined by the water temperature you are able to maintain in your seahorse tank. The optimal temperature for Mustangs is 75°F, whereas Zulus like it a bit cooler and usually do best at temperatures between 68°F-72°F, which often require an aquarium chiller to achieve, particularly during those summertime heat waves.

In either case, starting out with one pair while you gain viable firsthand experience with your seahorses is an excellent approach. If all goes well, you will have plenty of room to add another pair and increase your herd as your confidence grows.

Best of luck with your new seahorse setup, Laurie!

Happy Trails!
Pete Giwojna

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