Re:how to tell

Pete Giwojna

Dear Sammie:

Excellent — your zebra-snout seahorses are of course Hippocampus barbouri, commonly known as barbs for short here in the US. That’s good news since H. barbouri is among the easiest of all of the seahorses to raise.

Barbs are perennial aquarium favorites. All seahorse keepers are familiar with these elegant beauties. They are the pretty, prickly, tropical seahorses we all used to know and love as Hippocampus histrix until the histrix complex was revised and taxonomists officially changed their name to H. barbouri (Abbott, 2003). Barbs are one seahorse that the average hobbyist can easily recognize. They are readily identified by their sharp, very well-developed spines, their prominent five-pointed crown, and their boldly striped snouts (Abbott, 2003).

In order to thrive, Hippocampus barbouri requires warm temps, low nitrate levels, and good water quality (Goedegebuur, pers. comm.). But the biggest advantage of the Barbs is that they produce large benthic babies that are a bit easier to raise than the pelagic H. erectus fry.

Newborn Barbs are suitable for the easy rearing method, Sammie. H. barbouri produce modest broods (about 100 fry on average) of large, well-developed, benthic fry. They will orient to the substrate and seek out hitching posts from the very first day. They can take newly hatched brine shrimp (Artemia nauplii) as their first food and enriched Artemia alone is generally sufficient to sustain them through the fry stage (Goedegebuur, pers. comm.). They are not quite as easy to raise as H. zosterae, H. capensis or H. fuscus, but they are far behind those species in terms of ease of rearing. All in all, barb babies are fairly easy to rear.

The gestation period is 14-21 days, depending on the water temperature. (The warmer the water temperature, the shorter the gestation period.) As with most seahorse species, extending the pregnancy by maintaining relatively cool aquarium temperatures gives the embryonic young and fetal fry more time to develop, and results in larger newborns and increase survivorship of the babies.

This species is very well suited for the "easy" rearing method described in the article I referred you to in my previous post.

Best of luck rearing Ed and Snowflake’s offspring, Sammie! More information on keeping and raising Hippocampus barbouri that should be very helpful in that regard is already on its way to you off list.

Happy Trails!
Pete Giwojna

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