Re:New Pipefish

#4260
Pete Giwojna
Guest

Dear JetMech:

Sounds like your new seahorse tank is really progressing nicely — it shouldn’t be long now, sir!

Chaetomorpha spaghetti algae is generally loaded with all manner of pods and microfauna, so a large clump will probably keep your banded pipefish going for a while, but sooner or later he is bound to deplete the pod population faster than it can replenish itself. Plan on supplementing the pipefish’s diet at some point.

Many hobbyists have good luck persuading pipefish to accept frozen Cyclop-eze, so look into lining up a supply for your banded pipe.

You might also consider equipping your seahorse tank with the refugium that can provide larval shrimp to your main tank on a regular basis, thereby providing your ponies and your pipefish with bite-size snacks. This can be accomplished by establishing a population of Gammarus amphipods, copepods, feeder shrimp, and other live foods species in a refugium that’s connected to the seahorse tank, JetMech. That way the Gammarus and copepods and other small crustaceans can build up a very large population well they are safely protected within the refuge, and some of them will be released into the seahorse tank to provide tasty treats for the pipefish and seahorses.

A refugium is simply a self-contained protected area, isolated from the main tank but sharing the same water supply, which provides many of the same benefits as a sump. A refugium can help newly added fish or invertebrates easily acclimate to a new tank. It can provide a safe haven for injured fish or corals to regenerate damaged tissue without the need for a separate quarantine tank. But perhaps its main benefit for the seahorse keeper is provide a protected area where macroalgae can be grown and small live prey items (copepods, amphipods, Caprellids, etc.) that will eventually become a food source for the inhabitants of the main portion of the tank can be cultured safely, allowing their population to build up undisturbed.

For instance, Charles Delbeek likes to use large groups of glass shrimp and cleaner shrimp in the refugium for his seahorse tank, where the regular reproduction of these hermaphroditic crustaceans will provide a continuous supply of nutritious nauplii for his ponies: "There is a method that can be used to offer an occasional supply of live food for your sea horses. By setting up a separate system housing several species of shrimp such as the common cleaner shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis), peppermint shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis), or Rhynchocinetes uritai or R. durbanensis, you can get a fairly regular supply of live shrimp larvae. These species are best to use since they can live in large groups and spawn on a regular basis. Such a system is commonly called a refugium. A refugium is a small (10-20 gallon) aquarium that contains live sand, live rock and/or macroalgae such as Caulerpa or Gracilaria. It is plumbed such that water from your main system is pumped to the refugium and then returns via an overflow to the main tank. Some of the pods and larval crustaceans will then be carried from the refugium into the sea horse tank in the water that overflows from the refuge. For this type of arrangement to work, the refugium must be slightly higher than the main tank. Shrimp are added to the refugium and within a few months they should start spawning and hatching eggs every few weeks. The larvae are then carried back to the main tank by the overflow, where they become a food source for your sea horses. Of course other life will also thrive in the refugium and it is not unusual for copepods, mysis and crab larvae to also be produced on a regular basis. The key to the refugium is to keep predators out of the system so that the smaller micro-crustacean population can thrive. You would need a fairly large and productive refugium to produce enough food to maintain even a pair of sea horses, so at best, a typical refugium can provide a nice source of supplemental live food; the basic daily diet still needs to be provided by you in the form of the frozen foods mentioned above." (Delbeek, November 2001, "Horse Forum," FAMA magazine)

Aside from the one Delbeek favors, refugia are available in a number of different designs. For example, there are easy-to-install external hang-on refugia and in-tank refugia as well as sump-style refugia that are mounted beneath the main. Here are a couple of online sites where you can look up more information on refugia, including articles explaining how to set up and install a refugium of your own:

Click here: Refugium Setups Information – From About Saltwater Aquariums
http://saltaquarium.about.com/od/refugiumsetups/

Click here: Refugiums
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm

Best of luck with your seahorse tank and your new pipefish, sir!

Happy Trails!
Pete Giwojna


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