Re:new to this

Pete Giwojna

Dear Johanna:

It sounds like you are doing your homework and researching the aquarium requirements of seahorses before you take the plunge, which is always the best approach.

When setting up a new seahorse tank, there are a bewildering array of aquarium options available these days, including an enormous variety of filtration equipment and accessories from many different brands, models and manufacturers. Often the easiest approach for a beginner is to obtain a complete aquarium system, rather than simply purchasing a bare aquarium or empty tank and then searching for suitable filtration equipment and accessories that are the right size and design for your needs, and that’s something that I would suggest you consider, Johanna. However, I would advise you to avoid the biocube and nanocube aquarium systems since they are designed as reef systems rather than with the much different requirements of seahorses in mind, as discussed below.

The new "plug-and-play" complete aquarium systems are also becoming increasingly popular with marine aquarists because their convenient design includes everything you need to get a new aquarium up and running, including the lighting, filtration system, aquarium hood and accessories, and equipment, all built into one neatly designed tank, ready to go right off the shelf. This eliminates the need to do any drilling or modifying of the tank before hand and does away with any concerns that the protein skimmer or filter or light fixture that you pick out will fit properly on the tank and do an adequate job, making these new plug-and-play aquarium systems very easy to install and operate. But most of the plug-and-play biocubes and nano tanks have one big drawback when it comes to keeping seahorses, and that is that they are all designed with the reef keeper in mind. As a result, they typically include high intensity lighting systems and powerful circulation pumps that provide the type of illumination and strong water circulation that many live corals require in order to thrive. Unfortunately, seahorses do best under somewhat different conditions, preferring low to moderate light levels and moderate water movement with some areas of relatively low flow where they will not have to fight the current constantly. Worst of all, the high intensity lighting included in the biocube and nanocube reef systems tends to cause problems with overheating, and seahorses have very little tolerance for heat stress. For these reasons, the biocube and nanocube reef setups are not a good choice for the seahorse keeper and should generally be avoided.

But Red Sea Max has come out with a terrific new plug-and play aquarium system that is a notable exception. It is known as the "Red Sea Max 130D Plug & Play Coral Reef System 34 Gallon Aquarium," and it is loaded with wonderful features that make it a very adaptable aquarium system. For one thing, it includes an excellent lighting system that will work well for seahorses, complete with two Power Compact lamps (one regular and one actinic), as well as moonlights, with a 24-hour programmable timer for turning both the main lights and moonlights on and off, built right into the Hood Control Panel. Outstanding! That will make it easy to provide your seahorses with a simulated dusk and dawn, which is always a bonus for a seahorse tank.

The moon lights are a sort of night light designed especially for fish tanks. Seahorses in particular often appreciate the moon lighting and respond positively to it. Mating in some seahorses with pelagic fry is synchronized to coincide with the highest tides (hence moon phases), so the moon lights may even help stimulate breeding as they are said to do with some types of corals.

The Red Sea Max 130D Plug & Play Coral Reef System 34 Gallon Aquarium measures 24"L x 20"W x 23.8"H, giving it the extra height that is so important for a seahorse tank. One other feature of this new aquarium system that I especially like is the Power Center or Main Control Panel. It keeps all of the cords for the various pieces of equipment organized and out of the way, and provides separate switches for controlling each of the main components in the filtration system: two separate switches for the aquarium pumps (one switch for each circulation pump), one switch for the protein skimmer, one switch for the lights, and one switch for the heater. That’s very important because it allows you to operate one of the circulation pumps (i.e., have its switch turned on) and not the other circulation pump (leave its switch off), controlling the amount of water flow and circulation in the aquarium.

That’s crucial because the only thing I don’t like about this particular set up is that with both of the circulation pumps on, the filtration system will turn over the entire volume of the aquarium 10 times every hour. That’s great for live corals, but would create powerful water currents that can overpower the limited swimming ability of seahorses. The ideal amount of circulation for a seahorse tank is a filter that turns over the entire volume of the aquarium approximately 5 times per hour, which is exactly what the Red Sea Max 130D Plug & Play Coral Reef System 34 Gallon Aquarium would produce if you leave one of the circulation pumps turned on and one of the pumps turned off. That makes it easy to provide your seahorses with just the right amount of water movement and circulation when using this innovative plug-and-play aquarium system.

Another nice feature of this aquarium system is that it includes three cooling fans in the hood to help prevent overheating. With one of the circulation pumps turned off, the aquarium system will generate even less heat, making it that much easier to keep the aquarium cool.

Best of all, the Red Sea Max 130D Plug & Play Coral Reef System 34 Gallon Aquarium is available with a classy stand designed specifically for this particular tank as well as a Max Starter Kit, which includes 15 lbs Coral Pro Salt, Hydrometer, Nitro Bac bio starter, and an upgraded Marine Lab master test kit with Alkalinity Pro test, Calcium Pro test lab, Magensium test lab, Coral Buff, Calcium & Magnesium Supplements. This makes it even easier for a newcomer to get this aquarium system set up and running properly, since he or she can purchase the Red Sea Max 130D Plug & Play Coral Reef System 34 Gallon Aquarium along with the aquarium stand and Max Starter Kit, and wrap up his aquarium shopping with a single purchase.

All things considered, the Red Sea Max 130D Plug & Play Coral Reef System 34 Gallon Aquarium provides another good option for seahorse keepers to consider. The complete system, including stand and Max Starter Kit is available online at the following website:

Especially nice for beginners, the aquarium kit comes complete with a 55-minute instructional DVD to guide the hobbyist through the setup and maintenance of the Red Sea Max 130D Reef Aquarium System described above, making it even easier for hobbyists to get the tank up and running properly.

In short, Johanna, perhaps the best way for you to sort through all of the confusion and the overwhelming variety of aquarium equipment might be to consider the Red Sea Max 130D Plug & Play Coral Reef System 34-Gallon Aquarium. That way, you can get everything you need to get started in one beautiful aquarium package, and simplify the whole procedure. The Red Sea Max 130D would make a splendid aquarium for a pair of two of Mustangs or Sunbursts and some compatible tankmates.

If that’s not a good option in your case, or it simply doesn’t fit your aquarium budget, let me know and I would be happy to help you pick out and assemble an economical aquarium system with all the necessary components. In that case, Johanna, please contact me off list ([email protected]) and I will go over the entire Ocean Rider seahorse training program with you via e-mail (it’s a correspondence course that is completely free of charge). It will teach you everything you need to know about the care and keeping of seahorses in the home aquarium. And, once we begin the training lessons, I will be working with you personally every step of the way until your new aquarium is ready for seahorses and you are well prepared to give them the best of care, regardless of how long that may take.

Best of luck finding the perfect aquarium system for your needs and interests, Johanna!

Happy Trails!
Pete Giwojna

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