Re:Pregnant or not

#2495
Pete Giwojna
Guest

Hi, Nigel!

We have discussed whether or not your male Zulu may be pregnant on a few occasions now, sir, and I should explain that when you order a mated pair of seahorses that does not mean that you will receive a male that is pregnant. It simply means that you will receive a male and female of the same species that have pair bonded. As a rule, they are inexperienced pairs that have been paired up for one or more breeding cycles, but that does not mean that the male is already carrying a brood when he is shipped to you, nor does it guarantee that a mated pair will produce offspring immediately after being introduced to the aquarium.

On the contrary, after the rigors of long-distance shipping and the stress of being handled and introduced into a strange new environment, most mated pairs do not reproduce right away. Most often, new arrivals have to go through an adjustment period during which they become accustomed to their new surroundings and their tankmates before they set up housekeeping. As a result, it often takes newcomers several months before they settle down and get serious about breeding and mating. You may have to wait for the right time of year (i.e., breeding season) to roll around and/or for the new arrivals to become comfortable and make themselves at home before they produce any babies.

That’s especially true in your case, Nigel, since you’ve transferred your mated pair of Zulus multiple times since they arrived and experienced problems with ammonia spikes and problems keeping the water temperature in their preferred range. When they were delivered, you first acclimated them into your seahorse tank, which was being treated with copper sulfate, so a short while later you transferred them into your nursery tank instead. Without an active biofilter, the nursery tank experienced ammonia spikes, so you transferred them back to your seahorse tank again a day or two later. Since then you have been struggling to keep the water temperature in your seahorse tank at or below 75°F, and, as you know, heat stress is one of the factors that can prevent Zulu-lulus (Hippocampus capensis) from breeding. All things considered, sir, there is a good chance that your mated pair of Zulus have not bred since you received them and that your male is not pregnant at this time.

However, having said that, anytime you keep a healthy pair of seahorses together under favorable conditions, breeding is pretty much a foregone conclusion at some point. If you provide your Zulus with a nutritious diet, optimal water quality, and a stress-free environment, you can be sure that sooner or later they will produce offspring for you. Keep your water temperature stable between 72°F-75°, and it’s only a matter of time before they mate successfully in your aquarium.

If you want to jumpstart your breeding program, you can indeed order a pregnant male, in which case you’ll receive a gravid male that is carrying young when he arrives. But ordering a pregnant male and ordering a mated pair of seahorses are two different things.

When you do order pregnant males, they are generally in the early stages of pregnancy when they are shipped. That’s because long-distance shipping is too stressful for males that are approaching their delivery date. Unless you actually witness the egg transfer, it takes a week or so for a male who’s carrying a large brood to become noticeably pregnant. So I’d venture to say that most gravid males are shipped out when they are about a week into their pregnancy.

So if you order a pregnant Zulu (Hippocampus capensis), the mail you receive will probably be perhaps 7-10 days pregnant. Gestation times for H. capensis can be anywhere from 14-45 days, with around 21 days being about right at 72°F. But none of that applies in your case, Nigel, if you didn’t specify a pregnant male when you placed your order. If you simply ordered a mated pair of Zulus, chances are your male was not pregnant when he was shipped, and under the circumstances, may not have mated successfully since he arrived.

Best of luck with your Zulu-lulus, Nigel! Here’s hoping they will soon provide you with many broods of healthy newborns!

Respectfully,
Pete Giwojna


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