Well, sir, a 36-gallon aquarium with an efficient filtration system could make an excellent habitat for seahorses, and it would be well suited for large tropical seahorses such as Mustangs or Sunbursts (Hippocampus erectus).
Unfortunately, Charles, many of the current inhabitants of your 36-gallon community tank are not good companions for seahorses, and whether or not you would like to proceed will therefore likely depend on how willing you are to relocate the specimens that would present a risk to the seahorses.
The flame Hawkfish is a splendid tankmates for seahorses, sir, and the Nassarius snails and blue legged hermit crabs can form the basis of an efficient cleanup crew, and are fine with seahorses. A small six-line wrasse also often does well with seahorses, but the remaining specimens would not be safe to keep with the ponies.
The pink bubble tip anemone should be removed because of its stinging ability. Seahorses are bottom dwellers that orient to the substrate and they will grasp onto any handy objects on the bottom with their prehensile tails in order to use them as convenient hitching posts. Sooner or later, the ponies would encounter the tentacles of the anemone and be stung. This would be painful for the seahorses and could damage their integument, leaving them vulnerable to secondary infections at the site of the sting.
Maroon clowns are way too territorial and aggressive to be kept with seahorses, Charles. They are very scrappy for clownfish and have a well-developed cheek spine on their gill cover that they use for fighting, just as marine angelfish do, and they can do a lot of damage with this weapon if they are so inclined. Moreover, they are especially feisty and territorial when they have paired off. Your pair of maroon clowns are very likely to regard any seahorses as unwelcome intruders, with unfortunate consequences…
The blue spot puffer might be a good candidate for seahorse setup except that they are notorious fin nippers and often cannot seem to resist the seahorse’s well-developed dorsal fin. The puffer should be relocated as a precaution for that reason.
A small high hat (cubbyu or jackknife fish) usually gets along very well with seahorses, but it sounds like your specimen has been thriving under your diligent care and growing accordingly, and may now have reached the size where it would be problematic. I would relocate the high hat to be on the safe site as well.
Some blennies do well with seahorses, but many of them can become aggressive toward the ponies over time; I am not sure which category the harp tail blenny may fall into, Charles, but I would play it safe and relocate the blenny rather than take a chance that it might cause trouble down the line.
In other words, sir, in order to convert your 36-gallon tank into a suitable seahorse setup, most of the current residents would need to be relocated. If you are okay with that, Charles, then I would say the chances are good that Mustangs or Sunbursts would thrive under your care and I promise you will find them to be tremendously more hardy than the parasitized seahorse fry that fared so poorly for you in the past.
If that sounds good to you, sir, then I would like to invite you to participate in the Ocean Rider seahorse training program, Charles, which will teach you everything you need to know about successfully keeping Mustangs and Sunbursts in your home aquarium.
This basic training is very informal and completely free of charge, yet quite comprehensive, Charles. 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 from your computer in the comfort of your own home. The training course consists of a total of over 200 pages of text with more than 220 full color illustrations, and if you would like to give a try, just send me a brief message saying so to the following e-mail address, and I will get you started out with the first lesson in the training program right away:
(The Ocean Rider seahorse training program is a correspondence course conducted by e-mail, and we therefore need to establish e-mail communication in order to proceed with the lessons.)
Best wishes with all your fishes, sir!
Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support