Yes, of course — I would be very happy to enroll you in my Ocean Rider seahorse training program, but it is a correspondence course that is conducted entirely via e-mail, so before we can get started with the lessons we need to establish communication via e-mail off list. We’ll be all set if you can just prepare a very brief e-mail message that includes your full name (first and last) stating that you would like to participate in the seahorse training course and send it to me at the following e-mail address: [email protected]
I will then respond to that e-mail, enter you in the training program, and send you the first lesson right away. From then on, I will be working with you personally as we go through the lessons and I will be answering any further questions or concerns you may have until you are ready for your first seahorses.
Yes, when you place an order for seahorses with Ocean Rider you can certainly request seahorses of a certain sex or with the desired coloration, Leeanna. When you place an online order for highly domesticated, High-Health seahorses with Ocean Rider (seahorse.com), just be sure to fill out the "Comments" section of the online order form. That is the place where you can request seahorses with special traits when you place your order. This includes coloration, gender, or perhaps requesting a pregnant male, if you so desire. The "Comments" section on the online order form is also for any such special instructions you may have regarding your order, such as delivering the seahorses on a specific date.. When Ocean Rider subsequently fills your order, they will look over the current crop of seahorses and do their very best to select specimens that meet your specifications from their available livestock.
Be sure to point out specifically what you’re looking for in your seahorses. If you want active specimens that tend to swim a lot and explore their surroundings, say so. Or if you want ponies with lots of personality that will interact freely with their keeper, tell them that. If your main goal is to obtain colorful seahorses, then ask for yellow or orange Sunbursts was the most vivid, intense coloration. If you want two pairs of seahorses with different coloration, then I would suggest ordering a pair of Mustangs with bold markings and a nice lined pattern as well as a pair of brightly colored Sunbursts. (Mustangs and Sunbursts are different color morphs of Hippocampus erectus, so they have identical aquarium requirements and will even interbreed freely but typically have different coloration.)
You can always get male/female pairs, and you can usually get either males or females, and if you’re willing to pay a little extra, you can often obtain a pregnant male. Ocean Rider will then try their hardest to pick out the seahorses that are the closest possible match for your preferences, although there may not always be specimens available with all of the particular features you are looking for when your order is filled. It’s the next best thing to handpicking the seahorses yourself.
When it comes to babies, Ocean Rider seahorses are prolific breeders and Mustangs and Sunbursts are considered moderately easy to raise, although that is always a challenge for the home aquarist. There is a always a steep learning curve when it comes to rearing newborn seahorses, and it’s quite common — perhaps even the rule — for the home breeder to lose the entire brood during his first few attempts at rearing. But as you refine your methods and become more proficient at providing suitable live foods for the newborns and work out the feeding regimen that’s most efficient for your particular circumstances, your results will get better. You will have more of the fry surviving for longer periods, until eventually you are able to raise a few of the fry from a few of the broods to maturity. That is a realistic goal for any home hobbyist working with Mustangs and Sunbursts who is willing to put in the necessary time and effort, which can be accomplished using a basic nursery tank and a staple diet of newly hatched brine shrimp. (Lesson 8 of the seahorse training program is devoted entirely to raising the babies and includes comprehensive information and instructions in that regard.)
If you feel that you are not up to the challenge of raising the babies, Leeanna, Mustangs and Sunbursts can easily be prevented from breeding by adjusting the environmental parameters in the aquarium (i.e., water temperature and the photoperiod). Just gradually reduce the water temperature to 74°F or below and keep the aquarium lighted for 10 hours a less each day, and the seahorses will not breed because these environmental cues affect their hormonal levels. If you want to stimulate breeding in your Mustangs and seahorses, on the other hand, gradually raise the water temperature to 77°F-78°F and keep the aquarium lighted for 12 hours or more daily and your seahorses will respond accordingly.
Best wishes with all your fishes, Leeanna! I hope to be hearing from you via e-mail off list very soon so that we can begin the training program.