Re:thank you soooo much

Pete Giwojna

Dear Jules:

It’s good to hear that you are pleased with your new pair of Ocean Rider Mustangs (Hippocampus erectus), sir. You will find that they go through a number of interesting color phases and patterns from time to time.

But this is not the right time for breeding to be on the mind of your particular seahorses, Jules. Spring and summer constitute the normal breeding season for Hippocampus erectus, so you shouldn’t automatically assume that a mated pair of seahorses are going to immediately begin breeding once they have been successfully acclimated to your seahorse tank. The conditions in your home aquarium are no doubt much different than conditions the seahorses are accustomed to at the aquaculture facility. At Ocean Rider, the seahorses enjoy an open system featuring pristine water quality, natural ocean water and natural sunlight, and thrive in huge holding tanks with lots of room to roam. That means that your new parent of seahorses will be adjusting to a small, closed-system aquarium with artificial saltwater and artificial lighting. As a result, many times seahorses don’t immediately set up housekeeping and begin breeding in a home hobby tank. It may be several months before a given pair settle down and produce their first brood, particularly if you receive your seahorses when the breeding season is long past for Hippocampus erectus in the wild.

As you know, breeding in Hippocampus is often seasonal, regulated by cyclical changes in water temperature, day length, and salinity (monsoons). In the wild, both temperate and tropical seahorses breed best during the summer months and typically take a break from breeding during the offseason. For example, the breeding season for our native American H. erectus begins in April and lasts until the seahorses move into deep water with the onset of winter. Although domesticated seahorses that have been born and bred for aquarium life for generation after generation are no longer as strongly dependent on such environmental cues and will often breed year-round in captivity, even captive-bred seahorses sometimes experience a lull in the festivities at this time of year. That’s just their natural breeding cycle, the rhythm of life built into their genes.

But the genetic imperative to reproduce is very strong in Hippocampus and you may get lucky and have your new pair ponies take an immediate interest in breeding and mating if they find the conditions in your aquarium to their liking, Jules. If not, you may have to be patient and wait for the return of spring before your new H. erectus get serious about breeding again. It all depends on the hormonal levels of the seahorses — especially the level of gonadotropin, which is regulated by the hours of sunlight and other seasonal cues.

Best wishes with all your fishes, Jules! Here’s hoping that your seahorses are ready to produce young for you sooner rather than later, sir.

Happy Trails!
Pete Giwojna

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