Unless you will be keeping one of the miniature breeds of farm-raised seahorses, such as Hippocampus zosterae, H. breviceps, or H. tuberculatus, it’s generally best to start with the largest aquarium you can reasonably afford and maintain (the taller, the better). In general, a tank of at least 40 gallons (150 L) is preferable if you’re an inexperienced aquarist since that’s the size when one begins to see significant benefits in terms of the greater stability a larger volume of water can provide. An aquarium of 40-gallons or more will be more resistant to overcrowding and to rapid fluctuations in temperature, pH, and salinity than smaller setups. The larger the aquarium the larger the margin for error it offers the aquarist and the greater the benefits it provides in terms of stability.
It is equally desirable to select an aquarium at least 20-inches high when keeping the greater seahorses. They need the vertical swimming space to perform their complex mating ritual and successfully complete the egg transfer, which is accomplished while the pair is rising through the water column or drifting slowly downwards from the apex of their rise. If the aquarium is too shallow, eggs will be spilled during the transfer from the female to the male’s brood pouch, and mating becomes increasingly difficult or impossible below a certain minimum depth. A tall aquarium can also help protect the seahorses from depth-related health problems such as bloated pouch and certain forms of Gas Bubble Disease.
For more information on complete aquarium systems that have been designed specifically for seahorses, see the assortment of seahorse tanks available from MyFishTank.com at the following URL:
They are beautifully designed aquarium systems that have the superior height (24 inches) and many of the features that are so desirable for a seahorse system. For example, they include a built-in a 3-in-1 filtration system with a wet/dry trickle filter that accommodates biological, chemical and mechanical filtration media, as well as built-in aquarium heater and an optional Clear-for-Life™ Venturi protein skimmer, all neatly contained and hidden behind a narrow false back. It also comes with a suitable hood and aquarium light, so it includes all of the equipment you need in one aquarium system. That’s an excellent filtration system for a seahorse setup!
If you are new to seahorse keeping, then the smallest tank I would suggest you consider four to pair of Mustangs (Hippocampus erectus) is a 30-Gallon Tall aquarium. In that case, for a very affordable aquarium with excellent height and reasonable size, the tank I recommend in that size range is the 30 gallon Extra-High All-Glass Aquarium (24"L x 12"W x 24"H). Any local fish store can special order one for you from All Glass Aquariums and it’s an economical tank with very good height for seahorses at 24-inches tall. You can then equip it with a simple, standard, off-the-shelf glass cover and an ordinary off-the-shelf strip reflector with a daylight florescent bulb, and that can form the basis of an inexpensive yet very solid seahorse setup for a pair of medium Sunbursts. That’s a seahorse tank that you can set up for a fraction of the cost of the complete aquarium packages designed especially for seahorses at MyFishTank.com.
When you order the 30 gallon Extra-High All-Glass Aquarium (24"L x 12"W x 24"H) from your LFS, it will come complete with the glass cover and strip reflector/light fixture or a hood for the unit, if you request it, so you won’t need to round up those items separately.
You want to equip the tank with a good external filter to provide good water movement and mechanical and chemical filtration ability, in addition to biological filtration. A good hang-on-the-back filter or canister filter would be adequate, and including a protein skimmer for supplemental filtration is also advisable.
Since you are new to all of this, windmountain, I would also like to invite you to participate in Ocean Rider’s training program for new seahorse keepers. My name is Pete Giwojna and I provide tech-support for Ocean Rider (seahorse.com). 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. All newbies are required to complete this basic training to my satisfaction before they can be certified and authorized to purchase Ocean Rider 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 your first experience with Ocean Rider seahorses is rewarding and enjoyable.
I think you would find the training course to be very helpful. For instance, the first lesson is devoted entirely to selecting a suitable seahorse tank and optimizing it to create ideal conditions for these amazing aquatic equines.
This basic training is very informal and completely free of charge, windmountain. 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 or examinations 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:
Aquarium care and requirements of seahorses;
Selecting a suitable aquarium for seahorses;
size (tank height and water volume)
aquarium test kits
Optimizing your aquarium for seahorses;
water movement and circulation
hitching posts (real and artificial)
Cycling a new marine aquarium;
The cleanup crew (aquarium janitors & sanitation engineers);
water quality & water changes
aquarium maintenance schedule
Compatible tank mates for seahorses;
Courtship and breeding;
Rearing the young;
Disease prevention and control;
professional rearing protocols
Acclimating Ocean Rider seahorses.
If you are interested, I will be providing you with detailed information on these subjects and answering any questions you may have about the material I present. I will also be recommending seahorse-related articles for you to read and absorb online.
In short, 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.
If you don’t have an aquarium for your seahorses as of yet, that’s just fine. I will be providing you with lots of recommendations and options in that regard so that you can pick out a tank that is just right for your needs and interests. And I will be working with you personally every step of the way 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.
If you would like to give the training program a try, just contact me off list ([email protected]) with your full name (first and last) and I will enroll you and send you the first lesson in the correspondence course right away.
Best wishes with all your fishes, windmountain!