Re:pony help please

Pete Giwojna

Dear seasons:

Okay, if your water quality parameters are all good and there are no incompatible tankmates that might be intimidating the seahorses, then your new Hippocampus erectus probably just need more time to adjust to their surroundings and settle down before they start to feel at home and are comfortable enough to resume their usual eating habits. (The color changes you noticed in your pregnant male are typical for H. erectus when a mated pair is courting or conducting their daily greeting ritual.)

Here’s what I would suggest: first of all, add an airstone or two anchored just beneath the surface of the aquarium to provide better oxygenation and surface agitation in order to facilitate good gas exchange at the air/water interface. This will help to raise the dissolved oxygen levels in the aquarium (low 02 levels can cause lethargy and a loss of appetite in seahorses), which is especially important in her aquarium with very minimal water flow. Seahorses do best with moderate water flow along with some relatively low flow (not stagnant water!) areas, and good circulation is as important for a seahorse tank as any other marine aquarium. The addition of the airstones will help to compensate for the low flow rate in the tank.

Next, get some choice live foods for the new seahorses to help ease them through the difficult transition period to a new aquarium. I always suggest the hobbyist have a supply of live food on hand whenever acclimating new additions to his herd. Live Mysis and the tiny red feeder shrimp from Hawaii (Halocaridina rubra) are ideal for this, but live Gammarus, ghost shrimp, or even adult brine shrimp will do. The live shrimp help them adjust during the initial acclimation period when you first introduce your seahorses to your tank. The live foods will give the new arrivals a head start, help them recover from the stress of being uprooted and transferred to strange new surroundings, and get them through the difficult period of adjustment in tiptop condition.

The Ocean Rider Aquaculture Facility in Hawaii ( is a good source for the following live foods:

Green Iron Horse Feed (Gammarus amphipods)
Red Iron Horse Feed or Volcano Shrimp (Halocaridina rubra)

Or the live Mysis from Sachs Systems Aquaculture would also be a great choice for your H. erectus. You can obtain 200 live Mysidopsis bahia for $35 from Sachs (priority shipping included) and your seahorses will love them:


Third, try to find out exactly what your Tiger Hippocampus erectus seahorses were eating at the LFS, and then try offering them the same brand of frozen Mysis that they are accustomed to eating after they have had a chance to settle down to their new home. I have noticed that seahorses can sometimes be very selective when it comes to the size of the prey they prefer. For instance, the jumbo PE Mysis relicta are of course quite large, and in it’s certainly possible that young seahorses may balk at the jumbos simply because of their size. Some seahorses are very particular in that regard, and tend to reject food items that are significantly larger or smaller than their preferred range of prey. For example, I’ve seen some seahorses that rejected the smaller Hikari Mysis with great disdain, yet which greedily gulped down the jumbo Piscine Energetics Mysis relicta. On the other hand, I’ve had small seahorses turn up their snouts at the jumbo PE frozen Mysis because it’s too large for their liking, and attack the small Hikari frozen Mysis or the tiny Mini Mysis by H2O Life with great gusto. So you will have better luck treating your new seahorses if you can offer them the same type of Mysis that they are accustomed to eating.

Finally, I would suggest that you enroll in Ocean Rider’s training program for new seahorse keepers. This basic training is very informal and completely free of charge. Ocean Rider provides the free training as a service to their customers and any other hobbyists who are interested in learning more about the care and keeping of seahorses. It’s a crash course on seahorse keeping consisting of 10 separate lessons covering the following subjects, and is conducted entirely via e-mail. There is no homework or examinations or anything of that nature — just a lot of good, solid information on seahorses for you to read through and absorb as best you can, at your own speed:

Aquarium care and requirements of seahorses;
Selecting a suitable aquarium for seahorses;
size (tank height and water volume)
aquarium test kits
Optimizing your aquarium for seahorses;
water movement and circulation
hitching posts (real and artificial)
Cycling a new marine aquarium;
The cleanup crew (aquarium janitors & sanitation engineers);
Water Chemistry
optimal parameters
water quality & water changes
aquarium maintenance schedule
Feeding seahorses;
Compatible tank mates for seahorses;
Courtship and breeding;
Rearing the young;
Disease prevention and control;
Hippocampus erectus
natural history
professional rearing protocols
Acclimating Ocean Rider seahorses.

If you’re interested, I will be providing you with detailed information on these subjects and answering any questions you may have about the material I present. I will also be recommending seahorse-related articles for you to read and absorb online. One of the lessons is devoted entirely to feeding seahorses and maybe especially useful for you.

In short, the training course will teach you everything you need to know to keep your seahorses happy and healthy, and it will arm you with the information you need in order to tackle your first ponies with confidence.

Also, I should point out that completing the training course in no way obligates you to purchase Ocean Rider seahorses now or at any time the future. You do not have to have Ocean Rider seahorses to be eligible for the training — it is open to all hobbyists regardless of where they may have obtained their seahorses, or whether they have any seahorses at all. Many of the trainees are simply doing long-term research on seahorses and have no plans to keep them in the near future; they just want to learn as much as they can on the subject for that fateful day when and if they decide to take the plunge…

If you want to give the training course of try, just contact me off list ([email protected]) with your full name (first and last) and I will be happy to get you started off with the first lesson right away.

Best of luck getting your new line seahorses (H. erectus) back onto a staple diet of frozen Mysis again.

Pete Giwojna

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