Re:how to get color back?

Pete Giwojna

Dear Pat:

Here’s one of Leslie’s previous posts that discusses her thoughts on keeping seahorses colorful:

Hi again,

I wish I could answer the color question with more certainty, but the
bottom line is that after all these years I have sort of given up on
trying to influence their color and resolved myself to the fact that
they pretty much do as they darn please. They do have a base color and
the colors they turn are based on that base color. This months FAMA
has a great article by Pete which explains why and how they change
color. I have had lots of horses over the years in lots of different
tanks. I have tried all the tricks from black sand and back to
different color backgrounds and on to changing from a natural setting
to an artificial setting and everything in between. Some of my horses
have stayed their original colors, others changed and others changed
and changed back again.

I get lots of compliments on my horses colors. The thing is they change
as much as anyone else’s’ horses do. When you look at one of my photos
it is of a single moment in time. I take tons of photos so you all see
lots of colors of my horses in all their different shades. When I get a
pretty horse, make that any horse, I take as many photos as I can. You
have to pretty much drag me from the front of the tank.

Here is my latest thoughts on influencing coloration for what they are
worth. Despite the fact that we fill our tanks with colorful corals,
live and/or faux, most of us have tanks filled with LR. Even though LR
can be colorful, unless you have had it in your tank for years or pay
big bucks for coraline covered LR, it is mostly shades of brown. So our
tanks are mostly shades of brown with lots of colorful accents. Our
eyes are drawn to the bursts of color not the background beige/browns,
so we see color.

I think the reason some of our pretty brightly colored horses turn
earth tones is because they are primarily surrounded by earth tones and
are trying to blend into the predominant color in the tank rather than
the bursts of color.

The breeders as I understand keep fairly barren tanks with colorful
hitches. There is no LR. So the horses are surrounded by a particular

Most of us do not want this type of tank and even if we did, our
systems are much smaller than most breeders systems and our tanks are
going to be more stable with all the things LR and sand have to offer.

Take 2 of my tanks for example……one is fairly barren with a piece
of orange Signature coral. What is the predominant color? Orange. The
horses in that tank are both yellow. They were both originally beige to
brown. They turned yellow and never went back.

The other tank is filled with LR, macros, mushrooms and a few pieces of
coral, as well as some pink and orange Signature coral . the colors in
the tank consist of lots of beige, peach, pink, lots of red, orange,
purple, and a bit of green. What is the predominant color? Shades of
brown because I started with dead rock. The Fire Red goes from red to
pink and back again on a regular basis. I do have quite a bit of red
caulerpa in the tank. The Sunburst was bright yellow. She changed to
peach, then pale yellow and seems now to have settled into a very
pretty earth tone as one might call it…….. a yellowish beige color. The
Mustang was brownish and has also settled into a pretty golden beige
color, no surprise if you consider what they are surrounded with. As a
matter of fact he blends in so well I usually cannot find him.

Interesting, I think!

Even though you have lots of colorful corals/gorgs. I would venture to
guess you have more neutral/earthy tones. What is the predominant color
in your tank?

You know after all these years I am not really sure that we have all
that much influence over what colors they turn. Is is definitely more
complicated than just adding colorful hitches and then again sometimes
colorful hitches do the trick. Go figure. I have had some change, some
stay the same and some change back again. I have done just about
everything I could, but stand on my head and beg and sometimes it does
the trick and other times it does not.

All that said I still think your best bet is to evaluate the overall
colors in your tank. If the predominant color theme is earth tones then
the addition of more color may help, surrounding them with as much
bright color as possible. The colors that I have had heard and
personally had the most luck with are the oranges, reds and yellows.
All and all I think it is mostly unpredictable and very interesting.
If I had the time, space and money I would set up several different
tanks and do some experiments. The topic of color comes up quite a bit
and I remember once quite a while ago Todd Gardner who was studying and
breeding seahorses, said the best way to get a seahorse to turn yellow
is to place them in a tank with lots of yellow seahorses.

HTH some,


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