Re:Pixie help

Pete Giwojna

Dear geek:

Pixies or dwarf seahorses often breed year-round in captivity, so if you were to order a pair at the end of October, there is a chance that the male may be pregnant. If you wish, you can order a pregnant male for a little extra in order to jumpstart your herd of Pixies.

Two of the right type of sponge filters will provide all of the filtration you need for your 10-gallon Pixie tank. I would forget about the whisper power filter since it is too apt to suck up all of the baby brine shrimp you need to feed the Pixies (Hippocampus zosterae).

Do a Google search online for "Paguristes cadenati" and you will find lots of online sources that sell Scarlet Reef Hermit Crabs.

If you don’t have them already, you will need some saltwater test kits to cycle your tank, monitor conditions in your aquarium, and keep track of the water quality. The basic test kits you’ll need to keep track of the aquarium parameters are pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate, plus a hydrometer to check specific gravity and an aquarium thermometer (if you don’t have one already). You’ll need to get separate test kits for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate, and I recommend fasTest or Salifert kits for saltwater. I also like the SeaTest hydrometers–convenient, easy to read, and reliable. Here’s a list of what you’ll need for starters:

10 gallon gallon aquarium
Cover for aquarium
Strip Reflector with bulb (a fluorescent bulbs is better than an incandescent bulb since it will give off less heat)
fasTest Ammonia test kit for saltwater (by Aquarium Systems);
fasTest Nitrite test kit for saltwater (by Aquarium Systems);
fasTest Nitrate test kit for saltwater (by Aquarium Systems);
fasTesT pH test kit for saltwater (by Aquarium Systems);
or the Salifert Nitrogen Cycle Package of test kits (Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, & pH)
Click here: Salifert Test Kits:
Instant Ocean artificial salt mix
Safe or Prime declorinators by Sea Chem for detoxifying tap water;
SeaTest Hydrometer (by Aquarium Systems) for checking salinity;
Aquarium thermometer.
Brine shrimp eggs (Artemia cysts)
Brine shrimp net
Brine shrimp hatcheries (at least two)
2 air pumps (one to operate the sponge filter in the tank and one to aerate the brine shrimp hatcheries)
Airline tubing
Set of Gang Valves (to connect the airline tubing from your air pump to the brine shrimp hatcheries)
Macroalgae (to provide a lush letter of plants for the Pixies to live in)
Sponge Filters (one or two depending on the size of the aquarium)

The prices for these items vary considerably depending on what part of the country you are in, as well as from source to source. The items can often be found for bargain prices online, but then you have to pay for shipping and handling, which adds to their cost. For this reason, it’s usually best to get the large equipment at least (the aquarium, cover, reflector, etc.) from your local fish store. I suggest you print out this list of items and then compare prices at fish stores in your area as well as various online sources to determine where you can get the best deals.

The sponge filters I find that work well are the Oxygen Plus Bio-Filters (models 2, 3, 4, or 5) or the Tetra Brilliant foam filters. They have no metal components, making them completely safe for use in saltwater, and just one of these foam filters will do the job on a tank of 5 gallons or less. They do not have a weighted bottom but are equipped with suction cups instead. Two of the smaller models can be used on larger tanks like a 10-gallon aquarium, but one of the larger models, like the one at the link below, should be sufficient for your a 5-gallon aquarium:

Click here: Foam Aquarium Filters: Oxygen Plus Bio-Filter 2

Avoid the Oxygen Plus Bio-filter 6, 11, and the Multi sponge, which all have a weighted bottom (metal), that rusts when exposed to saltwater. If you want more filtration, you’re better off going with two of the smaller suction cup sponge filters rather than any of the models with weighted bottoms. For instance, for a 10-gallon tank, I’d suggest using two well-established foam filters, one at either end of the tank for the biofiltration.

All you need to operate sponge or foam filters is an inexpensive, diaphragm-operated air pump (whatever is available at a reasonable price from your LFS will do just fine), a length of airline tubing to connect the air pump to the foam filter(s), and a set of air valves (gang valves) to regulate the air flow to the filters. That’s all — nothing to it! The inexpensive Apollo 5 air pumps work great for sponge filters, but whatever air pump you have on hand should certainly do the job.

Be sure to pick up a copy of Alisa Abbott’s guidebook (Complete Guide to Dwarf Seahorses in the Aquarium, 2003, 144 pages), too. That’s one book every Pixie owner and dwarf seahorse keeper should have on hand. I proofed Alisa’s dwarf seahorse book for TFH publications and wrote the preface for it, so I’m quite familiar with her guide, and I highly recommend it.

Hey, geek — send me a quick note with your e-mail address and I will fix you up with loads of additional information on keeping dwarf seahorses and setting up an ideal aquarium for them. You can reach me at the following e-mail address: [email protected]

And don’t forget to check out those discussions I referred you to in my previous post. They will answer a lot of your questions about Pixies or dwarf seahorses.

Best of luck with your plans for Pixies, seahorsegeek!

Happy Trails!
Pete Giwojna

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