You’re very welcome to the information, sir! The February 2007 issue of Tropical Fish Hobbyist magazine just hit the newsstands recently, so you should have no trouble obtaining a copy of part two of my article on keeping seahorses in reef tanks. Hopefully, you’ll still be able to pick up a copy of part one in the January 2007 issue of TFH at your LFS too, or perhaps a bookstore or library that carries periodicals. If not, just let me know I’ll get the manuscript to you ASAP.
Yes, sir, ordering your seahorses directly from Ocean Rider and having them delivered to your doorstep is not a problem at all. Ocean rider has been shipping seahorses throughout the continental United States all year round since 1999 with no difficulties whatsoever. In my opinion, is always better to order your seahorses directly from the breeder rather than to go through any middlemen or to shop for specimens at your LFS.
The problem with obtaining seahorses from your LFS is that they are typically maintained in aquaria that share a common filtration system with all of the other fish tanks in the store. Of course, those other fish tanks house a wide selection of wild fish that have been collected from all around the world, and any pathogens or parasites those wild fishes may have been carrying can be transmitted through the common water supply to the seahorses. That makes fish from your LFS seahorses potential disease vectors for a whole laundry list of disease organisms and makes it mandatory to quarantine such specimens before they are introduced to your display tank. There’s no telling for certain whether the seahorses you obtain from your LFS are captive-bred-and-raised, pen raised, or collected from the wild. The pet shop staff are often unfamiliar with the specialized needs and requirements of seahorses, and the pet shop ponies are often fed poorly, if at all.
In general, you’re much better off ordering your seahorses directly from the breeder — particularly if they were raised at a High-Health aquaculture facility such as Ocean Rider — in which case you can be sure that they will reach you well-fed and in top condition. One of the greatest advantages of Ocean Rider seahorses have over pet shop ponies (or other cultured seahorses, for that matter) is that they are born and raised at an aquaculture facility with High-Health certification. You may not be fully aware of what that means or why that’s important, Mark.. High Health certification is very difficult to achieve, which is which OR is the one and only seahorse farm to be awarded High Health status. In order to earn High Health Certification, an aquacultural facility must first prove that it enforces a strict biosecurity program with rigorous quarantine protocols, and that at no stage in the breeding and rearing process are its livestock ever exposed to open systems or wild-caught seahorses. Secondly, it must withstand intense scrutiny by outside agencies — in this case, primarily from the Controlling State Aquatic Veterinary industry. The monitoring done by these Aquatic Health Specialists includes regular sampling of Ocean Rider livestock for complete necroscopic examinations. Periodically, OR seahorses are selected at random by the State Controlling Vet, euthanized, and autopsied. Their internal organs are examined, tissue sections are taken (multi-organ histopathology), and examined microscopically, along with other laboratory analyses.
In short, you needn’t be concerned about ordering your seahorses from Ocean Rider and having them shipped directly to your doorstep on the day that you specify, sir. Let me know when you are ready to place your order and I will provide you with detailed instructions explaining how to acclimate your new arrivals in order to assure that all goes well.
Best of luck with your new reef system, Mark!