A bare-bottomed, 10-gallon aquarium with plenty of hitching posts will suffice for a Quarantine Tank (QT). Ideally, the hospital tank should have one or more foam filters for biofiltration along with a small external filter, which can easily be removed from the tank during treatment but which can hold activated carbon or polyfilter pads when it’s time to pull the meds out. It’s important for the hospital ward to include enough hitching posts so that the seahorse wont feel vulnerable or exposed during treatment. Aquarium safe, inert plastic plants or homemade hitching posts fashioned from polypropylene rope or twine that has been unraveled and anchored at one end are excellent for a hospital tank. No aquarium reflector is necessary. Ambient room light will suffice. (Bright lights can breakdown and inactivate certain medications and seahorses are more comfortable and feel more secure under relatively dim lighting.)
So just a bare 10-gallon tank with hitching posts is all you need for your hospital ward, Kim. No heater. No reflector. No lights. No substrate. You can even do without the sponge filters or external filter if you wish, just adding a couple of airstones to provide surface agitation and oxygenation. That’s it.
In a pinch, a clean 5-gallon plastic bucket (new and unused, NOT an old scrub bucket!) can serve as a makeshift hospital tank. It should be aerated and equipped with hitching posts and perhaps a heater, but nothing else. This makes a useful substitute when the Quarantine Tank is occupied or in use and a seahorse needs treatment.
Stay on top of water quality in the hospital tank/bucket with water changes as often as needed during treatment, and redose with the medication according to directions after each water change.
It is not necessary to quarantine Ocean Rider seahorses. This is because Ocean Rider is a High-Health aquaculture facility, and its livestock are certified by independent examiners to be free of pathogens and parasites.
However, it is absolutely vital to quarantine any seahorses or compatible fish that you obtain at your local fish store (LFS) as tankmates for your Ocean Rider seahorses. By the time they reach the hobbyist, fishes from your LFS have run the gauntlet from collector-to-wholesaler-to-retailer, which means they have been exposed to all manner of parasites and pathogens at every stop along the way (Giwojna, Jan. 2002). All of those facilities feature holding tanks that share common water supplies and house fish from all over the world, so during their stay at those holding systems, pet store fishes are exposed to a long list of dangerous microorganisms at the very time when their immunity is lowest. That makes it imperative to quarantine such specimens and make sure they are not carrying any diseases before you introduce them to your seahorse tank.
And, of course, having a quarantine tank/hospital ward is important whenever health problems arise in the aquarium. So while it’s not necessary to have a hospital tank set up and running before you order your Ocean Rider seahorses, it’s always a good idea to have one handy just in case.
It’s also advisable to put together a First Aid Kit for your seahorses that includes a few basic medications and useful tools to have on hand should problems arise. When you’re ready, I would be happy to discuss the items you should include in your fish room Medicine Chest.
Best of luck with your ongoing research and preparations, Kim!