Re:or breeding horses questions

Pete Giwojna

Dear Tracey:

Welcome to the Ocean Rider discussion forum! That’s an interesting group of seahorses you’re keeping in your Ocean Rider tank, and I would be happy to do my best answer your questions one by one below.

1. i have an or tank, their are several species, erectus, barbs, procerus,whitie
when they start to breed will they breed with their own kinds or do i need to
seperate them?

Crossbreeding or intraspecific hybridization does occasionally occur, but it is quite uncommon, especially when seahorses have potential partners of their own species available to them. The prolonged, elaborate courtship ritual that seahorses go through before mating occurs generally prevents seahorses from different species from breeding successfully. Suffice it to say that seahorses are much, much better at species recognition than we are, and that given a choice, they almost always prefer to mate with their own kind. Almost always.

However, the urge to reproduce is very strong in seahorses. For example, solitary males often go through the motions of courtship when there are no other seahorses present in their aquarium. They may court their own reflection and sometimes even direct their courtship displays toward their keepers. Dwarf seahorse stallions in particular are irrepressible in that regard, and a hitching post may suffice for them as a surrogate, when no better alternative is available! Homosexual mating attempts (both male and female) are also common when no member of the opposite sex is present. (Fielder reported a case where two male Hippocampus hippocampus courted one another for over two hours and unsuccessfully attempted at least 20 copulatory rises together.)

Now, where a male and female seahorse of different species are confined together, they may simply ignore one other. But many times the instinct to breed overwhelms any interspecific inhibitions, and with no other available partner, the male will attempt to flirt with the female regardless of their differences. For example, H. erectus will interbreed freely with H. reidi under those circumstances and I also know of at least one case where it a female H. barbouri mated with a male Tigertail seahorse (H. comes) and produced inviable offspring.

In your case, Tracey, none of the species you are keeping are likely to interbreed and I see no need for you to separate your seahorses. When your seahorses pair off, it will almost certainly be males and females of the same species that bond.

However, if you will be keeping the species you mentioned in the same aquarium, be sure to keep the water temperature between 70°F-75°F at all times. If you separate any of the seahorses, I would provide your H. whitei with a tank of their own, since they do best at somewhat cooler temperature than the other seahorses, all of which are tropical species.

2. without seeing egg transfer and all males being blowed up due to trying to
mate when and how can you tel if your male is prego?

Here are some other indications to look for that indicate mating has occurred and that the pregnancy is progressing normally:

Indications of Pregnancy.

If you witness the copulatory rise and exchange of eggs there is no doubt that mating has occurred and, knowing the date of conception, you can confidently begin the countdown toward the maternal male’s delivery date. Knowing approximately how long the gestation period will be allows plenty of time to prepare nursery tanks, set up a battery of brine shrimp hatcheries, and culture rotifers and ‘pods for the insatiable fry.

But what if you missed the big moment? How do you proceed if you missed the actual mating and transfer of eggs, and you’re not sure if you will soon be dealing with a gravid male and hordes of hungry newborns?

There are no aquatic obstetricians, underwater ultrasounds, blood tests or over-the-counter pregnancy tests to perform, and I shudder to think how one might go about collecting a urine specimen to dip! No worries. Fortunately, there are subtle signs and suggestions that indicate a pregnancy is underway. There are number of changes in the parents’ appearance and behavior to look for. For instance, the male and female will still continue to flirt, but the nature a their displays will change from full-blown courtship to regular greeting rituals.

After mating, in subsequent days the couple will continue to change colors and brighten up when in close proximity and dance together in an abbreviated version of courtship known as the Morning Greeting or Daily Greeting. The pair exhibits the same basic behaviors and maneuvers as when they were courting with one big difference — the male never "pumps" and the female does not "point."

In addition, as the pregnancy progresses, the male’s pouch darkens due to the proliferation of epithelial and connective tissue and the placenta-like changes taking place in the wall of the marsupium, and the pouch gradually swells and expands according to the number of young developing within. The latter is not always a reliable indicator, however. Inexperienced couples often spill eggs during the exchange and a male’s first few broods are often inordinately small. The brood pouch of a male that is carrying only a few fetal fry is hardly any larger than normal, and hobbyists have often been surprised by unexpected births under such circumstances.

On the other hand, an experienced male carrying a large brood can be easily distinguished by his obviously expanding pouch. These mature breeders may carry broods numbering over 1600 fetal fry, depending of course on the species. A stallion incubating hundreds of fry will have an enormously distended pouch by the time his due date approaches.

Gravid males often become increasingly reclusive and secretive as their pregnancy advances. When the onset of labor and birth is imminent, the male will begin to shows signs of distress and his respiration rate will increase to 70-80 beats per minute. The fully developed young become very active and shake loose into the lumen of the pouch shortly before delivery. In some cases, the writhing of the young can be detected through the stretched membrane of the pouch, which causes the male considerable discomfort. He may become restless and agitated as a result, swimming slowly to and fro and pacing back and forth like, well — an expectant father. The fry are usually born in the early morning hours between midnight and dawn, arriving all at once or in multiple batches 24 hours apart.

So if you happen to miss the exchange of eggs, watch closely for the following indications that mating has occurred:

(1) A change in the physical appearance of the parents. The gravid male’s pouch will change from a light opaque color to a dark brown due to the elaboration of the internal structures and thickening of the walls of the pouch. It will enlarge steadily over the next few weeks as the young grow and develop, and the aperture will change from fully dilated to a tightly closed vertical slit. The female’s trunk will change from rotund, full with ripe eggs, to noticeably shrunken and pinched in immediately after the exchange of eggs.

(2) A change in the seahorses’ courtship displays. The pair will continue to flirt and dance and brighten in coloration as part of their Daily Greetings, but the male will no longer pump (no pouch displays) and neither the female nor the male will point. The pair will make no more copulatory rises.

(3) A change in the behavior of the male. He may become increasingly shy and reclusive. Gravid males may go off their feed as the delivery date approaches, missing meals or even going into hiding. When birth is imminent, he will become agitated and distressed and his respiration will increase markedly.

When you notice these telltale signs of pregnancy, it’s time to kick your brine shrimp hatchery into high gear and start some microalgae and rotifer cultures brewing.

3. of all species listed btw i have two female pintos which are the easiest fry
to raise?

I would rates the seahorses you are keeping as follows in terms of ease of rearing, Tracey, going from the easiest to raise to the most difficult to raise:

(1) H. whitei — temperate seahorse with large benthic babies;
(2) H. barbouri — tropical seahorse with large benthic babies;
(3) H. procerus — tropical seahorse with large benthic babies;
(4) H. erectus — subtropical seahorse with babies that undergo a brief pelagic phase;
(5) Pintos — tropical seahorses with pelagic babies.

H. whitei, H. barbouri, and H. procerus are all among the easiest of seahorses to raise. They all produce fairly large fry that are able to take newly-hatched brine shrimp as their first food and that do not go through a high-risk pelagic phase. H. whitei, in particular, is a joy to raise, but H. barbouri fry are not far behind, and H. procerus babies are also among the least challenging to rear.

H. erectus and Pinto babies are moderately difficult to rear. They produce babies that are large enough to accept newly-hatched brine shrimp (Artemia nauplii), but the fry undergo a pelagic period during which losses are frequently high, as explained in the article below.

All of the species discussed above can accept newly-hatched brine shrimp (Artemia spp.) right from birth and are thus suitable for the "easy" rearing method, as described in the following online article, which will also explain why some seahorses are easier to raise than others and discuss how to culture live foods for the fry:

Click here: – Seahorse, Sea Life, Marine Life, Aquafarm Sales, Feeds and Accessories – Nutrition – Feeding & Rear Nutrition_-_Feeding_%26_Rearing_the_Fry_-_Part_IV/

In addition, the following threads on this discussion forum are also devoted to raising seahorse babies and should have a lot of information you will find useful in your quest:

Click here: – Seahorse, Sea Life, Marine Life, Aquafarm Sales, Feeds and Accessories – Re:I had Babies!! – Ocean,com_simpleboard/Itemid,/func,view/catid,2/id,1299/#1299

Click here: – Seahorse, Sea Life, Marine Life, Aquafarm Sales, Feeds and Accessories – Re:Babies – Ocean Rider Cl,com_simpleboard/Itemid,/func,view/catid,2/id,1316/#1316

Click here: – Seahorse, Sea Life, Marine Life, Aquafarm Sales, Feeds and Accessories – Reuitable Fry Container,com_simpleboard/Itemid,/func,view/catid,2/id,863/#863

Best of luck keeping and raising your diverse group of seahorses, Tracey!

Happy Trails!
Pete Giwojna

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