Re:Seahorse course

Pete Giwojna

Dear David & Sheena:

Okay, that sounds fine! I would be happy to enroll you in the Ocean Rider seahorse training program and I have all the information I need to get started. The training course is very comprehensive and it will explain how to set up your 25-gallon aquarium in order to create ideal conditions for your ponies.

Please allow me to formally introduce myself, David and Sheena. My name is Pete Giwojna and I provide tech-support for Ocean Rider ( As you know, part of my duties in that regard include providing a quick training course for new Ocean Rider customers and first-time buyers to get them up to speed on the aquarium care and requirements of seahorses.

The purpose of this training is twofold: (1) to assure that the hobbyist has a suitable aquarium, completely cycled and with the biofiltration fully established, ready and waiting when his seahorses arrive, and (2) to assure that the hobbyist has a good understanding of the aquarium care and requirements of Ocean Rider seahorses by the time he or she has completed the training and been certified. All of which will help to ensure that things go smoothly and that the home aquarist’s first experience with Ocean Rider seahorses is rewarding and enjoyable.

This basic training is very informal and completely free of charge, David and Sheena. 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 and there are no examinations or classes to attend 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, working at your computer from the comfort of your own home. The training course consists of a total of over 200 pages of text with more than 200 full color illustrations, broken down into 10 lessons covering the following subjects:

Lesson 1: Selecting a Suitable Aquarium & Optimizing It for Seahorses.

Tank dimensions and specifications (why height is important);

Tank location and aquarium stressors;

Setting up a SHOWLR tank to create ideal conditions for seahorses;

filtration options

protein skimmers

UV sterilizers

titanium grounding probe



water circulation

Test kits for monitoring water quality;

Aquascaping the seahorse tank;

artificial hitching posts


Basic aquarium setups for seahorses;

undergravel filters

sponge filters

Lesson 2: Cycling a New Aquarium & Installing the Cleanup Crew.

The nitrogen cycle;

nitrification and denitrification

Step-by-step instructions for cycling a new marine aquarium;

Seahorse-safe sanitation engineers and aquarium janitors;


microhermit crabs

cleaner shrimp

Starter seahorses (hardy, highly domesticated, high-health ponies)

Lesson 3: Reading Assignments (books, articles, and columns devoted to seahorses).

Lesson 4: Water Chemistry, Aquarium Maintenance, & Maintaining Optimum Water Quality.

Basic water quality parameters (acceptable range and optimum levels);





specific gravity

dissolved oxygen

Advanced water chemistry for reef keepers;

Performing partial water changes to maintain good water quality;

Aquarium maintenance schedule;




Lesson 5: Feeding Seahorses.

Frozen Mysis serves as their staple, everyday diet;

brands of frozen Mysis

thawing and preparing frozen Mysis

enriching with Vibrance

Recommended feeding regimen;

how to tell if your seahorse is getting enough to eat

Feeding tips for seahorses;

preparing and serving the frozen Mysis

feeding new arrivals

secretive feeders

morning feedings

setting up a feeding station

training the seahorses to use a feeding tray

artificial feeding stations

natural feeding stations

purchasing a ready-made feeding station

elevating the feeding station

fasting seahorses

target feeding


Mysis relicta from Piscine Energetics

Broadcast feeding or scatter feeding — just say no!

Lesson 6: Compatible Tankmates for Seahorses.

Safe and unsafe companions — no guarantees;

Tropical tankmates;

fish to avoid

seahorse-safe fish

seahorse-safe invertebrates

Feeding seahorses in a community tank;

Seahorse-proofing a reef tank

safe corals

unsafe corals

lighting the seahorse reef

managing water circulation for a seahorse reef

Lesson 7: Courtship & Breeding.

Courtship displays in Hippocampus (fully illustrated)


tilting and reciprocal quivering



pouch displays (pumping and ballooning)


copulatory rise and the egg transfer

Pair formation

Morning greetings

Male brooding — a true pregnancy

Giving birth — dawn deliveries

Lesson 8: Raising the Young.

Seahorse fry

Determining ease of rearing

Setting up a basic nursery for benthic babies

Advanced nursery tank options for pelagic fry

the shaded nursery

kriesel and pseudokreisel nurseries

the divided nursery

in-tank nurseries (illustrated)

the greenwater "starter" nursery

hyposalinity for pelagic fry

Delivery day

Culling the fry (if necessary)

Feeding the fry

hatching and enriching brine shrimp (Artemia)

decapsulated brine shrimp eggs

culturing rotifers and copepods

Fry feeding schedule

Lesson 9: Disease Prevention and Control.

Captive bred vs. wild-caught seahorses

Importance of High-Health seahorses

Seahorse anatomy illustrations

external anatomy

internal anatomy

Screening seahorses from your LFS

Quarantine tank

Quarantine protocol for pet-shop ponies and wild seahorses

Beta glucan boosts immunity to disease

Early detection of health problems

aquarium stressors

disease symptoms in seahorses

What to do at the first sign of a health problem

The seahorse-keepers medicine chest

first aid kit for seahorses

must-have medications to keep on hand

properties of the main medications

Life expectancy

Hepatic lipidosis (prevalence of fatty liver disease)

Seahorse disease book

Lesson 10: Mustangs and Sunbursts (Hippocampus erectus) & Acclimating New Arrivals.

Nature of Mustangs and Sunbursts

multi-generational approach to rearing

hybrid vigor

genetic diversity

selective breeding

Hippocampus erectus species summary

scientific name and common names

meristic counts and morphometric measurements (illustrated)

climate and distribution

color and pattern

breeding habits

breeding season

gestation period

brood size

pelagic/benthic fry

onset of sexual maturity

ease of rearing

natural habitats and natural history

preferred parameters and aquarium requirements

suggested stocking density

successful rearing protocols

feeding the fry

nursery tank designs

rearing and grow out tanks

diet and nutrition

color variations

temperature requirements

wide ranging species with different races

recommended reading

Acclimating new arrivals (step-by-step instructions)

Keeping and culturing red feeder shrimp (Halocaridina rubra)

The seahorse training program is a correspondence course that is conducted entirely via e-mail, David and Sheena, and once we begin the lessons, I will be providing you with detailed information on all of the subjects above and answering any questions you may have about the material I present so that everything is perfectly clear to you. I will also be recommending seahorse-related articles for you to read and absorb online.

In short, folks, 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. It will explain how to set up a new aquarium and optimize it to create ideal conditions for your seahorses.

How long this training will take to complete depends on your experience level as an aquarist to a large extent. For example, if you have never kept seahorses before and you do not already have a suitable saltwater aquarium up and running, it will take at least eight weeks for your training and preparations to be completed before you can be certified. It will take that long to learn the basics of seahorse keeping, set up a suitable aquarium, cycle the tank from scratch to establish the biological filtration, and optimize the tank to create an ideal environment for seahorses. Only then can you be certified ready to receive your first seahorses.

On the other hand, experienced marine aquarists and hobbyists that have had seahorses before and already have a suitable saltwater aquarium up and running can be certified much more quickly. I will run through the same basic information with them, but most of the information I provide will be familiar material for such hobbyists and they should be able to review it and get up to speed quickly, plus they should have well-established aquariums ready, fully matured that they can fairly quickly adapt in order to make them more ideal for seahorses. In a case like that, certification can be completed as soon as they have absorbed the material I provide and are confident they have a good grasp of the specialized requirements and aquarium care of the seahorses.

As experienced marine aquarists, David and Sheena, I am sure that you will breeze through all of the lessons with no trouble at all. In fact, I feel I must apologize to you in advance for boring you with some rather remedial reading material during the first few lessons, but I find it is always best to begin the training program by reviewing the basics of good aquarium management for the sake of the less experienced hobbyists, and then to build on those fundamentals in each subsequent lesson. You will find the lessons to be much more interesting and informative once we get past the preliminary material in the first few lessons, so please bear with me in the meantime, guys.

Please let me know how often you would like to receive the lessons, David and Sheena. Many hobbyists prefer to receive a new lesson each weekend, since that’s when they have a little free time to catch up on their reading. But with your background, I would have no qualms whatsoever about sending you daily lessons so that you could complete the training program as quickly as possible. If that’s not convenient for your busy schedule, just let me know what works best for you and we’ll proceed accordingly.

However you would like to schedule the lessons, I will be working with you personally (through our ongoing correspondence) every step of the way from now on until your new aquarium is ready for seahorses and you are well prepared to give them the best of care, regardless of how long that may take.

All we ask in return is that you stick with the highly domesticated Ocean Rider Mustangs or Sunbursts when you are finally ready to stock your tank, David and Sheena. As you know, Mustangs and Sunbursts are the perfect ponies for beginners. They are hardy, highly adaptable, easy to feed, and perfectly adapted for aquarium life — the world’s only High-Health seahorses, guaranteed to be free of specific pathogens and parasites.

Best wishes with all your fishes, folks! I will get you started out with the first installment in the training course, which is a two-part lesson, right away. Look for in your e-mail inbox later today!

Pete Giwojna

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