Re:thanks Pete

Pete Giwojna

Dear Jan:

Ugh — I know just what you mean when you say that your seahorse’s preferred hitch unfortunately seems to be the heater. I don’t know how many times over the years I’ve had seahorses ignore all my artfully arranged aquascaping and handpicked, thoughtfully placed finger sponges, colorful branching corals, lush beds of macroalgaes, and gorgeous gorgonia, only to adopt an unsightly siphon tube or the dang heater cord as their favorite hitching posts instead!

As you know, our amazing aquatic equines — especially the stallions — will often choose one particular hitching post as their home base and spend much of there time perched right there (think of your Dad hunkered down in his favorite easy chair in the den). Once they adopt a favorite base of operations like this, they will often proceed to change coloration to match their preferred resting spot. So I always take great pains to encourage my ponies to adopt one of the more vivid pieces as a favorite holdfast. Needless to say, it’s tremendously frustrating and annoying when they eschew all the primo hitching posts I’ve so carefully selected and arranged for them in favor of some piece of mechanical apparatus haphazardly dangling inside their tank!

You’ll want to break them of the habit of perching on your heater, of course, Jan. Not only to avoid the slight risk of a heater burn, but more importantly, to encourage them to perch near the bottom of the aquarium where the extra hydrostatic pressure will help protect them from depth-related problems such as certain forms of gas bubble disease. Perhaps you can shield the heater from the seahorses by placing it in the corner of your tank and screening it off behind a tank divider or a piece of window glass cut to size that you have placed diagonally across that corner of the aquarium.

Seahorses can be susceptible to heater burns under certain circumstances. Such accidents are most likely to happen during the winter when the heater is running more or less continuously. I should think that the risk from a heater burn this time of year would be pretty low. A heater guard is a wise precaution nonetheless, and if you want to play it safe and leave your heater turned off until you can obtain a heater guard, that should not be a problem, Jan.

Mustangs and Sunbursts (Hippocampus erectus) can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, and handle cooler temperatures better than high temperatures. They would not have any problem at all if the water temperature in their aquarium gradually dropped to below 70°F. In fact, this species is often kept in temperate aquariums at temperatures in the low to mid 60s.

Of course, it’s always best to maintain stable temperatures and if your aquarium typically holds at 72°F -73°F, that is ideal for Mustangs and Sunbursts. Once you get your heater guard, your seahorses should thrive at that temperature. In the meantime, don’t worry if the temperature of the aquarium dips below 70°F at night.

Best of luck with your new seahorses, Jan! Here’s hoping they will soon adopt new favorite hitching posts at the bottom of the aquarium.

Happy Trails!
Pete Giwojna

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