Re:Recommendation for 12gl DLX tank

#2756
Pete Giwojna
Guest

Dear Brian:

A 12-gallon aquarium is really too small for any of the larger breeds of seahorses but there are two smaller species you might consider for a tank that size.

The first of these are Pixies or dwarf seahorses (Hippocampus zosterae). As their common name suggests, these pint-size ponies are truly tiny. No bigger than your thumbnail when fully grown, I find their diminutive dimensions to be charming in the extreme! Whenever I set up a dwarf exhibit, I find it endlessly fascinating to witness the seahorse’s entire cycle of life taking place in microcosm — courting, mating, giving birth, newborns, juveniles and young adults all thriving and growing right alongside the old warhorses.

As Leslie mentioned, due to their tiny size, Pixies or dwarf seahorses are best suited for small tanks in the 2-10 gallon range. However, I know a number of hobbyists that keep them successfully in larger tanks up to 20 gallons with modified filtration systems and compartmentalization, so your 12-gallon nano tank is a workable option for this species in my opinion.

The suggested stocking density for dwarf seahorses (Hippocampus zosterae) is two pairs per 1 gallon (4 L) of water, so theoretically a well-filtered 12-gallon aquarium is spacious enough to house up to 24 pairs or 48 individual adults. If you wanted to try H. zosterae, your nano tank could comfortably house a whole herd of Pixies and all their progeny, Brian.

The dwarf seahorses are very prolific and breed readily in the aquarium, particularly when they are kept in groups, and their fry are considered to be the easiest of all seahorses to raise. Both the newborns and the adults subsist on copious amounts of newly-hatched brine shrimp (Artemia nauplii) as their staple, everyday diet, so if you are hatching out brine shrimp regularly for your reef tank anyway, Pixies might be a good choice for your nano setup.

However, these tiny seahorses don’t ship well during summertime heat waves, so you won’t be able to obtain Pixies or dwarf seahorses until the weather begins to cool off a little more in September. Another possible drawback to consider is the fact that a 30-gallon aquarium is really too large for them, and would make it too difficult to maintain an adequate feeding density of the live brine shrimp they eat, so it wouldn’t be a good idea to transfer these little jewels into your 30-gallon tank when you upgrade at the first of the year.

The second species you might want to consider for your 12-gallon nano tank are Cape seahorses (Hippocampus capensis) or Zulu-lulus (i.e., Ocean Rider’s captive-bred-and-raised string of domesticated H. capensis).

Also known as the Knysna Seahorse, Zulu-lulus (Hippocampus capensis) are also well suited for beginners. For one thing, these ponies are just the right size for the average home aquarium and are natural born gluttons — the easiest seahorses of all to feed. They are small seahorses, but they have BIG appetites and will eat most anything and everything the giant breeds do. They are aggressive feeders and, in an impressive display of voracity, even small specimens will unhesitatingly tackle large frozen Mysis that may take them two or three snicks to successfully swallow. A hungry Cape seahorse will often have more than half of a large mysid protruding from its snout, making it look like a sword swallower in mid-performance as it gradually works its gargantuan meal down with a series of mighty snicks! It is an amazing sight to watch an undersized capensis choke down several oversized frozen Mysis in quick succession and come hurrying back for more like it was starving with the tail of the last shrimp still sticking out of its mouth! They are capable of remarkable feats of sheer piggery, and everyone marvels at how rotund they are when they get their first good look at well-fed, captive-bred capensis.

Of course, they love frozen Mysis relicta and are accustomed to eating that as their staple diet, but these chow hounds are not at all picky when they put on the ol’ feed bag. These galloping gourmets also eat rotifers, brine shrimp, amphipods, copepods, red feeder shrimp (Halocaridina rubra), Caprellids — you name it and they’ll eat it. All the usual seahorse foods are taken with relish and these seagoing gluttons don’t seem to mind a bit whether they are live, freshly killed or frozen. They normally feed on nonmotile food in the wild (Garrick-Maidment, pers. comm.), so they thrive on frozen food in the aquarium. In short, feeding these fat little fellas is the last thing the hobbyist has to worry about, and they are much easier to feed than the dwarf seahorses which require live foods!

Hippocampus capensis are fat, pudgy little ponies with a very distinctive appearance. Short and stout, with a portly profile, stubby snouts, big bulging eyes, and perfectly smooth bodies — I can’t decide whether these captivating characters are more cute or more comical looking! They are very unusual for seahorses in that they have no semblance of a crest or coronet whatsoever.

These thick-bodied little seahorses are the perfect size for the home aquarium. They reach a total length of just over 4 inches, and are shipped to you at the modest size of 2-3 inches. That makes them around three times the size of dwarf seahorses — small enough to feel right at home in the average aquarium, yet large enough to make fine display specimens and to eat frozen mysid shrimp as their staple diet. Zulus are the ideal size for a 12-gallon nano tank, Brian. They have proven to be very hardy and easy to breed, and when you’re ready for the challenge of rearing, you’ll find newborn H. capensis are relatively easy to raise, much like dwarf seahorse fry.

However, they are temperate seahorses that prefer cooler temperatures than tropical seahorses. The do best at stable temperatures between a range of 70°F-75°F (22°C-24°C) and don’t tolerate temperature spikes above 75°F well at all. Due to the tendency of nano cubes to overheat, you will most likely require an aquarium chiller to keep your 12-gallon tank within the comfort zone for Zulus (H. capensis) at all times, Brian.

Fortunately, there are some very affordable mini aquarium chillers that could easily be mounted on your 12-gallon setup. For example, the CoolWorks Ice Probe and Microchiller units are ideal for small tanks (10-15 gallons) and will drop the water temperature up to 6-8°F below the ambient room temperature:

Click here: CoolWorks Ice Probe with Power Supply – Marine Depot – Marine and Reef Aquarium Super Store
<http://www.marinedepot.com/md_viewItem.asp?idProduct=CW1111&gt;

Click here: CoolWorks Microchiller – Marine Depot – Marine and Reef Aquarium Super Store
<http://www.marinedepot.com/md_viewItem.asp?idproduct=CW1131&gt;

If you equipped your 12-gallon nano with such a chiller so it can maintain temperatures in the 70°F -75°F range at all times, it would be a great setup for a pair of Zulu-lulus, Brian, and I think that’s something you should consider if you want seahorses for your 12 gallon tank before you upgrade to the larger tank.

On the other hand, if you decide you would be better off upgrading to an aquarium in the 30-50 gallon range of little ahead of schedule, before you try any seahorses, then I can unhesitatingly recommend the highly domesticated Mustangs (Hippocampus erectus) for your first seahorses, Brian. Commonly known as the Lined Seahorse or Northern Giant, Hippocampus erectus was the first seahorse to be commercially raised for the aquarium hobby. They have been captive-bred and raised for more generations than any other seahorse, and have now achieved a level of domestication that makes them better adapted to aquarium conditions and life in captivity than other seahorses. The Ocean Rider aquaculture facility in Hawaii that raises H. erectus selects them for traits such as adaptability, vigor, disease resistance, fast growth and aggressive feeding habits — traits that increase the fitness of each line over time (Abbott 2003). After numerous generations of strengthening and improvement, the current breeds of farm-raised erectus are tough as nails. Very hardy and very impressive, yet affordable, CB Mustangs are a great choice for a novice seahorse keeper who is still learning the ropes (Abbott 2003). They are very adaptable and have led the on-going trend toward keeping captive-bred seahorses only (Abbott 2003).

Mustangs are impressive animals. They are large, robust, deep-chested seahorses that can reach well in excess of 7 inches in length when fully grown. They tend to be cryptically colored, and often show earth tones such as beige, russet, charcoal black, gray, brown, ochre or olive over an underlying pattern of fine parallel lines that run down their necks and across their chest (Giwojna, Jun. 2002). White blazes, blotches, saddles, triangles, and diamonds are common markings for captive-bred erectus (Giwojna, Jun. 2002).

The lighter specimens that show their stripes boldly can be very striking, and they are apt to express a wide range of color phases as time passes, including everything from yellow to yellow-green, green, lavender, purple, maroon, magenta, pink, red, and orange from time to time (Giwojna, Jun. 2002). Like all seahorses, the coloration expressed by Lined seahorses can vary with their mood, environment, and social activities.

The first pair of captive-bred seahorses I ever owned were Mustangs, and my ‘stangs quickly learned to recognize me as their feeder, whereupon they would often interact with me at dinnertime by turning on their greeting colors. My original pair are still going strong several years later, and I have watched them go through a number of color phases from month to month. One has settled on gray-green as its base coloration for the moment, and the other ranges between rust, burnt umber, and orange, but always with contrasting beige bands (Giwojna, Jun. 2002). Last season, the male adopted a rich ochre yellow as his everyday attire (still with the same beige bands, though), while the female displayed a dark purplish ensemble with definite greenish highlights. When courting, they consistently brighten to a pearly white and a creamy yellow respectively (Giwojna, Jun. 2002). They make a handsome couple, and I find my erectus to be very attractive specimens in all their guises.

I set up my pair of these spirited steeds in a brand-new 30 gallon (tall) aquarium all their own, and that tank has been my most entertaining, trouble-free exhibit ever since. With a simple setup like theirs, I prefer to target feed my seahorses. That allows me to observe them closely on a daily basis, monitor their health, keep track of exactly how much each specimen is eating, and remove any leftovers immediately.

Led by the female-by far the bolder and most outgoing of the two-the Mustangs were soon literally eating right out of my hands. (I know, I know-sensible aquarists should always strive to keep their mitts out the aquarium as much as possible, but handfeeding is a thrill I find difficult to resist, and hey — nobody ever said I was sensible!) Of course, I’m very well aware of the risks involved and extremely diligent about taking all the necessary precautions beforehand. And besides, there are major advantages to handfeeding that more than offset any minor risks.

For one thing, the seahorses seem to enjoy the experience every bit as much as I do. They head for the feeding station as soon as I approach the tank, a series of color changes betraying their excitement, and queue up at the dinner table looking their best and brightest. Of course, they both try to snap up the first morsel – even pair-bonded ponies are not big on sharing or waiting turns – so I no longer offer them one mysid at a time. I offer them a handful of individually thawed Mysis in my upturned palm instead. They know the drill and happily perch on my fingers while snicking up the shrimp as fast as they can.

Secondly, feeding your seahorses by hand permits the aquarist to conduct a close-up, daily inspection of every specimen in his tank, and I like to use the opportunity to give ’em a good once over. These detailed examinations make it difficult not to notice any subtle changes in my seahorse’s appearance or behavior that might signal impending problems with disease or the water chemistry. That’s a big advantage, since the sooner such potential problems are detected, the easier they are to cure or prevent, and I recommend other hobbyists do
the same.

Take a moment to enjoy the show when feeding your seahorses. Make sure they’re all eating well, and use this opportunity to look them over closely for wounds, injuries, or signs of disease. Seahorses are natural-born gluttons. Ordinarily, these galloping gourmets are ALWAYS hungry, so when a seahorse is off its feed, that’s often an excellent early indicator that something’s amiss in the aquarium.. Early detection of a potential problem can be the key to curing it, so it’s a good idea for the alert aquarist to observe his prize ponies while they put on the ol’ feed bag. Make sure they all show up for mess call, are acting normally, and have a well-rounded abdomen when they’re done eating. Handfeeding makes it hard to miss when one these chow hounds is off its feed, tipping off the alert aquarist to a potential problem.

Best of all, handfeeding is pure, sure-fire, 100% unadulterated fish-keeping fun! Feeding time for my seahorses is always a high point in my day. Having your pet ponies literally eating out your hand is a very rewarding experience. These daily feedings tends to forge a close, personal relationship between the aquarist and his charges, and hand-fed seahorses often become special pets.

As much as feeding time brightens up my day, I have no doubt it livens things up for my seahorses even more. They genuinely appear to enjoy interacting with me, and I believe in enriching their captive environment as much as possible. No doubt it’s the food they’re looking forward to, not the food giver, but our daily encounters are always eagerly awaited and they like to linger on my hand long after all the food is gone. They would allow me to lift them out of the water when I withdraw my hand if I didn’t gently shoo them away first.

After I’d had them a week or so, my Mustangs were beating me to their feeding station whenever I approached their tank, betraying their eagerness and excitement by flashing through a series of bright color changes as soon as I opened the aquarium cover. Needless to say, I was delighted to find my Mustangs were such aggressive feeders. They have never had a health problem, and I’ve been equally pleased with the results of Piscine Energetics frozen Mysis enriched with Vibrance as a long-term diet.

The only thing I don’t like about this extremely nutritious diet is the obligatory fast day. The problem with fasting is that the Mustangs don’t seem to realize it’s good for them-that it’s absolutely in their own best interests, essential for their long-term health. Whenever I make an appearance on fast day, they insist on parading back and forth in front of the glass in their greeting colors, begging for a handout. Before my butt hits the upholstery, both of them will be dancing at the feeding station, impatiently awaiting their gourmet shrimp dinner. When it doesn’t materialize, they forlornly abandon their post at the lunch counter, and come up to stare at me through the front glass. When I still don’t take the hint, the female paces back and forth at the front, looking her brightest and most conspicuous, as though trying to attract my attention, while the male reverts to his drab everyday attire and dejectedly resumes his futile vigil at the feeding station. If not for their well-rounded cross-sections, one would think they were dying of hunger, making it difficult to resist their puppy-dog antics. Just sitting there ignoring them makes me feel like a first-class heel. Sheesh–talk about your guilt trips Dang! I hate fast days.

In short, Brian, if you can wait until your larger 30-gallon tank is up and running, I would recommend you try a pair of Mustangs as your first seahorses. After you.ve gained a little experience with your Mustangs, you could add a pair of Sunbursts to your herd next. Sunbursts are very similar to Mustangs in most respects, including their hardiness, and will even interbreed with them freely; the main difference is that the Sunbursts tend to be even more brightly colored, as their name implies. They are predisposed to display sunset colors (shades of yellow, gold, and orange) when conditions are to their liking.

When you make your tank upgrade, Brian, one other thing you may want to consider is going with a conventional aquarium in the 30-gallon range rather than a nano cube.
Nano cubes are very compact and convenient, but they are not always the best choice for seahorse keepers. A number of our other members have tried fairly large (24-gallon) Nano cubes for seahorses and found them to be unsatisfactory.

Other Club members who have tried the 24-gallon Nanocube for their seahorses report that it is quite unsuitable right off the shelf and requires substantial modifications in order to make it marginally useful for seahorses. For starters, the pump needs to be upgraded, it has no means of filtration so you must provide a biofilter of some sort, and small powerheads should be added to eliminate dead spots and improve the circulation. Even with those modifications, you must stock the Nanocube sparingly, be very careful to avoid overfeeding, and practiced an accelerated maintenance schedule, including weekly water changes.

As an example of what I’m talking about, here’s an exchange from the discussion forum regarding the 24 gallon Nanocube:

Hey everyone! I’ve read the posts about the experiences some people
have had with seahorses in nano cubes and I have a few questions for
them if they catch this post. I have purchased a 24 gallon nano cube
and have done alot of research on it and found out that you have to do
a ton of upgrades on it to make it suitable. The pump has to be
upgraded, there is no true filtration, you should add another power
head for water flow to elimate dead spots. Even then there isnt a
protein skimmer that you can purchase for the nano. So my questions
are where there any upgrades made to the tank? Were you able to keep
other fish alive in the setup or did you give up on it all together?
Thanks,
Nikki

Dear Nikki,

I don’t think that you should have a lot of problems and this is
why. Yes, all of my seahorses have died in a 24 gallon nano cube
setup and I have figured out why. I had a setup with sand, coral,
and two clown fish. I also had the normal cleanup crew snals,
shrimp, etc. I could not figure out why my seahorses kept dieing.

You must understand, that there should not be any other tank
inhabitants within the nano cube when you have seahorses. I would
not even advise sand. All you need is a few hitching post and
maybe, a few large pieces of liverock aligning the back of the
tank. You could add a few snails and only a few hermit crabs.
Note, the hermit crabs will clean up whatever the seahorses will not
eat. You could also add a cleaner shrimp or peppermint shrimp. You
may want to keep it a very low minimal when deciding about adding
anything else in the tank. You don’t want the seahorses deprived of
any mysis shrimp when they are feeding. You don’t want to add any
coral. Why? Because you want to eliminate any possibility of over
feeding and polluting the water. You will also want to do a water
change every week. 20% percent only, and afterwards check the Ph to
make sure it is stable.

I have 2 nano cubes. One nano I have houses
coral, two clown’s, two gobies, crabs etc. No seahorses. The other
nano is a new setup. It is about 2 1/2 weeks old. I am going to
wait about another two weeks to begin adding seahorse’s. At the
moment there are only liverock in the tank. I am not going to add
sand to this tank at all. The live rock are positioned at the back
of the tank. I want to try to leave a lot of open space toward the
front of the tank. Today, I will be adding two snails. I will not
be adding anything else but two hermit crabs only to cleanup after
the seahorses have eaten. The crabs will be added only after the
seahorses have been added. In a nano cube setup, the trick is to
not add too many inhabitants and to do a water change at least every
week or two weeks.

What you could do is add a lot of dead coral
liverock if you can find it. If not, try to find a lot of hitching
post that will work well. Sometimes you could even make them
yourself. So, I hope this has helped you and if there is any
information out there that you or anybody else have please forward
it to me because I am still learning things as I go along. [End quote]

For these reasons, I think you would be better off sticking with a more conventional aquarium such as a standard 29-gallon tall tank if you’re interested in the larger breeds of seahorses, rather than attempting a narrow tank, Brian. However, I’m not sure if a 30-gallon nano cube has the same shortcomings the smaller 24-gallon and nano cubes seem to, so if you feel you could make the necessary modifications it requires for seahorses, feel free to give a 30 gallon nano tank a try providing you keep it understocked.

Finally, there have been a few other threads on the Ocean Rider Club discussion board at seahorse.com from hobbyists who were just starting out with seahorses that you should very informative, Brian. They discuss setting up an ideal system for seahorses, filtration, feeding, lighting, circulation and so on. I’ve provided links to those discussions for you below, so please check them out. That would make a good place for you to start your reading and research into the care and keeping of seahorses:

Click here: Seahorse.com – Seahorse, Sea Life, Marine Life, Aquafarm Sales, Feeds and Accessories – Re:ok stocking density…
http://www.seahorse.com/option,com_simpleboard/Itemid,144/func,view/catid,2/id,1526/#1526

Re:Hello, newbie here! – O http://www.seahorse.com/option,com_simpleboard/Itemid,144/func,view/id,1004/catid,2/

Click here: Seahorse.com – Seahorse, Sea Life, Marine Life, Aquafarm Sales, Feeds and Accessories – Re:Setting up a 100gal for
http://www.seahorse.com/option,com_simpleboard/Itemid,144/func,view/id,1382/catid,2/

Re: Guidance on Keeping Seahorses:
http://www.seahorse.com/option,com_simpleboard/Itemid,144/func,view/id,639/catid,2/

Re: New to seahorses and I have lots of questions!
http://www.seahorse.com/option,com_simpleboard/Itemid,144/func,view/id,152/catid,2/

Re: Tank set-up advice
http://www.seahorse.com/option,com_simpleboard/Itemid,144/func,view/id,715/catid,2

Re:New with lots of questions 🙂
http://www.seahorse.com/option,com_simpleboard/Itemid,144/func,view/catid,2/id,1050/#1050

Best of luck with your ongoing research and interest in seahorse keeping, Brian! Please let us know if you have any more questions when you get your seahorse project up and running.

Respectfully,
Pete Giwojna


America's Only Seahorse Aqua-Farm and One of Hawaii's Most Popular Attractions

Ocean Rider seahorse farm is a consistent Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence Award Winner and "Top 10 Things To Do" Kona, Hawaii attraction. Our "Magical Seahorse Tours" are educational and fun for the whole family.

Tour tickets are available for Purchase On-Line. Space is limited and subject to availability.

small seahorse Ocean Rider, Inc. is an Organic Hawaiian-Based Seahorse Aqua-Farm & Aquarium that Follows Strict Good Farming Practices in Raising Seahorses and Other Aquatic Life.

Seahorse Hawaii Foundation

Inspiring ocean awareness by saving the endangered seahorse and sea dragons around the world from extinction through conservation, research, propagation, and education.

Help us save the seahorse and the coral reefs they live in with a tax deductible contribution to the Seahorse Hawaii Foundation. You will be helping to protect and propagate over 25 species of endangered seahorses, sea dragons and friends.

Make A Tax-Deductible Donation Today!

A Different Kind of Farm (Video) »

Ocean Rider Kona Hawaii

Ocean Rider Kona Hawaii
Seahorse Aqua-Farm & Tours

73-4388 Ilikai Place

Kailua Kona, Hawaii 96740

Map & Directions


808-329-6840

Contact Ocean Rider


Copyright ©1999-2023
All Rights Reserved | Ocean Rider Inc.

My Online Order Details

Purchase Policy

Site Terms and Conditions