Yes, sir, I would be very happy to enroll you in the Ocean Rider training program for new seahorse keepers, and your extensive experience with marine aquariums should serve you well when keeping the ever popular ocean rider Mustangs or Sunbursts.
However, the training program is a correspondence course that is conducted entirely via e-mail, so before we can proceed we must first establish e-mail communication. If you will please send a brief reply off list to the following e-mail address, which includes your full name for my records, I will gladly send you all of the training material as soon as I receive your message:
The training program is designed so that you can proceed through the lessons at whatever speed is convenient for you and your busy schedule, Beemer, and an experienced marine aquarist like yourself will be able to breeze right through all the lessons, so there should be no significant delay in your case, once we have begun our correspondence.
Please allow me to formally introduce myself, Beemer. My name is Pete Giwojna and I provide tech-support for Ocean Rider (seahorse.com). As you know, 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.
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 the home aquarist’s first experience with Ocean Rider seahorses is rewarding and enjoyable.
This basic training is very informal and completely free of charge, yet quite comprehensive, Beemer. 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 several hundred pages of text with more than 250 full color illustrations, broken down into 10 lessons covering the following subjects:
Lesson 1: Selecting a Suitable Aquarium & Optimizing It for Seahorses.
Tank dimensions and specifications (why height is important);
Tank location and aquarium stressors;
Setting up a SHOWLR tank to create ideal conditions for seahorses;
titanium grounding probe
Test kits for monitoring water quality;
Aquascaping the seahorse tank;
artificial hitching posts
Basic aquarium setups for seahorses;
Lesson 2: Cycling a New Aquarium & Installing the Cleanup Crew.
The nitrogen cycle;
nitrification and denitrification
Step-by-step instructions for cycling a new marine aquarium;
Seahorse-safe sanitation engineers and aquarium janitors;
Starter seahorses (hardy, highly domesticated, high-health ponies)
Lesson 3: Reading Assignments (books, articles, and columns devoted to seahorses).
Lesson 4: Water Chemistry, Aquarium Maintenance, & Maintaining Optimum Water Quality.
Basic water quality parameters (acceptable range and optimum levels);
Advanced water chemistry for reef keepers;
Performing partial water changes to maintain good water quality;
Aquarium maintenance schedule;
Lesson 5: Feeding Seahorses.
Frozen Mysis serves as their staple, everyday diet;
brands of frozen Mysis
thawing and preparing frozen Mysis
enriching with Vibrance
Recommended feeding regimen;
how to tell if your seahorse is getting enough to eat
Feeding tips for seahorses;
preparing and serving the frozen Mysis
feeding new arrivals
setting up a feeding station
training the seahorses to use a feeding tray
artificial feeding stations
natural feeding stations
purchasing a ready-made feeding station
elevating the feeding station
Mysis relicta from Piscine Energetics
Broadcast feeding or scatter feeding — just say no!
Lesson 6: Compatible Tankmates for Seahorses.
Safe and unsafe companions — no guarantees;
fish to avoid
Feeding seahorses in a community tank;
Seahorse-proofing a reef tank
lighting the seahorse reef
managing water circulation for a seahorse reef
Lesson 7: Courtship & Breeding.
Courtship displays in Hippocampus (fully illustrated)
tilting and reciprocal quivering
pouch displays (pumping and ballooning)
copulatory rise and the egg transfer
Male brooding — a true pregnancy
Giving birth — dawn deliveries
Lesson 8: Raising the Young.
Determining ease of rearing
Setting up a basic nursery for benthic babies
Advanced nursery tank options for pelagic fry
the shaded nursery
kriesel and pseudokreisel nurseries
the divided nursery
in-tank nurseries (illustrated)
the greenwater "starter" nursery
hyposalinity for pelagic fry
Culling the fry (if necessary)
Feeding the fry
hatching and enriching brine shrimp (Artemia)
decapsulated brine shrimp eggs
culturing rotifers and copepods
Fry feeding schedule
Lesson 9: Disease Prevention and Control.
Captive bred vs. wild-caught seahorses
Importance of High-Health seahorses
Seahorse anatomy illustrations
Screening seahorses from your LFS
Quarantine protocol for pet-shop ponies and wild seahorses
Beta glucan boosts immunity to disease
Early detection of health problems
disease symptoms in seahorses
What to do at the first sign of a health problem
The seahorse-keepers medicine chest
first aid kit for seahorses
must-have medications to keep on hand
properties of the main medications
Hepatic lipidosis (prevalence of fatty liver disease)
Seahorse disease book
Lesson 10: Mustangs and Sunbursts (Hippocampus erectus) & Acclimating New Arrivals.
Nature of Mustangs and Sunbursts
multi-generational approach to rearing
Hippocampus erectus species summary
scientific name and common names
meristic counts and morphometric measurements (illustrated)
climate and distribution
color and pattern
onset of sexual maturity
ease of rearing
natural habitats and natural history
preferred parameters and aquarium requirements
suggested stocking density
successful rearing protocols
feeding the fry
nursery tank designs
rearing and grow out tanks
diet and nutrition
wide ranging species with different races
Acclimating new arrivals (step-by-step instructions)
Keeping and culturing red feeder shrimp (Halocaridina rubra)
The seahorse training program is a correspondence course that is conducted entirely via e-mail, Beemer, and once we begin the lessons, I will be providing you with detailed information on all of the subjects above and answering any questions you may have about the material I present so that everything is perfectly clear to you. I will also be recommending seahorse-related articles for you to read and absorb online.
In short, Beemer, 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. It will explain how to set up a new aquarium and optimize it to create ideal conditions for your seahorses.
How long this training will take to complete depends on your experience level as an aquarist to a large extent. For example, if you have never kept seahorses before and you do not already have a suitable saltwater aquarium up and running, it will take at least eight weeks for your training and preparations to be completed before you can be certified. It will take that long to learn the basics of seahorse keeping, set up a suitable aquarium, cycle the tank from scratch to establish the biological filtration, and optimize the tank to create an ideal environment for seahorses. Only then can you be certified ready to receive your first seahorses.
On the other hand, experienced marine aquarists and hobbyists that have had seahorses before and already have a suitable saltwater aquarium up and running can be certified much more quickly. I will run through the same basic information with them, but most of the information I provide will be familiar material for such hobbyists and they should be able to review it and get up to speed quickly, plus they should have well-established aquariums ready, fully matured that they can fairly quickly adapt in order to make them more ideal for seahorses. In a case like that, certification can be completed as soon as they have absorbed the material I provide and are confident they have a good grasp of the specialized requirements and aquarium care of the seahorses.
So in order to get started, Beemer, the first thing I need to know is how experienced you are with saltwater aquariums. Have you ever kept a marine aquarium before? If so, how long have you been involved with the saltwater aquarium hobby? Do you have one or more marine aquariums up and running at this time? If so, how long have the tanks been in operation?
Do you have an aquarium up and running at this time that you intend to use as a seahorse tank? If so, can you please describe the aquarium system you will be using for your seahorse tank? How large is the aquarium (length, width, and height)? What kind of filtration equipment is installed and running on the aquarium? What type of lighting system does the tank you? How long has the proposed seahorse tank been up and running? Please list all of the current inhabitants of the aquarium you will be using as your seahorse tank, if any.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a suitable aquarium for your seahorses up and running at this time, Beemer. 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, of course, once we begin, I will be working with you personally every step of the way through our ongoing correspondence 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.
All we ask in return is that you stick with the highly domesticated Ocean Rider Mustangs or Sunbursts when you are finally ready to stock your tank, Beemer, just as you’re planning on doing. As you know, Mustangs and Sunbursts are the perfect ponies for beginners. They are hardy, highly adaptable, easy to feed, and perfectly adapted for aquarium life — the world’s only High-Health seahorses, guaranteed to be free of specific pathogens and parasites.
Because the seahorse training program is a correspondence course that is conducted by e-mail, Beemer, we must first establish e-mail communication before we can begin. Please send a brief message with the additional information requested above to the following e-mail address at your earliest convenience, and I will get you started out with the lessons as soon as I receive the e-mail:
Best wishes with all your fishes, Beemer!
Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Training Program Advisor