Re:What Seahorse can I get?

Pete Giwojna

Dear Akamu:

You’re very welcome!

Of those three seahorse species, I would say that Hippocampus erectus is the best suited for a beginner, particularly if you are interested in eventually breeding and raising their babies. (Both H. reidi seahorses and genuine H. kuda seahorses are considered much more difficult to raise.)

But as long as the seahorses are captive-bred-and-raised you really can’t go far wrong when choosing your ponies, sir. If raising the young is not a consideration for you, then I would say to just go with whichever one of the three you find the most colorful and attractive.

When it comes to your seahorse setup, Akamu, I would take the Red Sea Max 130D aquarium system over the Oceanic Biocube 29 every time as a habitat for my ponies. This is what I normally advise hobbyists in that regard, sir:

<open quote>
The new "plug-and-play" complete aquarium systems are also becoming increasingly popular with marine aquarists because their convenient design includes everything you need to get a new aquarium up and running, including the lighting, filtration system, aquarium hood and accessories, and equipment, all built into one neatly designed tank, ready to go right off the shelf. This eliminates the need to do any drilling or modifying of the tank before hand and does away with any concerns that the protein skimmer or filter or light fixture that you pick out will fit properly on the tank and do an adequate job, making these new plug-and-play aquarium systems very easy to install and operate. But most of the plug-and-play biocubes and nano tanks have one big drawback when it comes to keeping seahorses, and that is that they are all designed with the reef keeper in mind. As a result, they typically include high intensity lighting systems and powerful circulation pumps that provide the type of illumination and strong water circulation that many live corals require in order to thrive. Unfortunately, seahorses do best under somewhat different conditions, preferring low to moderate light levels and moderate water movement with some areas of relatively low flow where they will not have to fight the current constantly. Worst of all, the high intensity lighting included in the biocube and nanocube reef systems tends to cause problems with overheating, and seahorses have very little tolerance for heat stress. For these reasons, the biocube and nanocube reef setups are not a good choice for the seahorse keeper and should generally be avoided.

But Red Sea Max has come out with a terrific new plug-and play aquarium system that is a notable exception. It is known as the "Red Sea Max 130D Plug & Play Coral Reef System 34 Gallon Aquarium," and it is loaded with wonderful features that make it a very adaptable aquarium system. For one thing, it includes an excellent lighting system that will work well for seahorses, complete with two Power Compact lamps (one regular and one actinic), as well as moonlights, with a 24-hour programmable timer for turning both the main lights and moonlights on and off, built right into the Hood Control Panel. Outstanding! That will make it easy to provide your seahorses with a simulated dusk and dawn, which is always a bonus for a seahorse tank.

The moon lights are a sort of night light designed especially for fish tanks. Seahorses in particular often appreciate the moon lighting and respond positively to it. Mating in some seahorses with pelagic fry is synchronized to coincide with the highest tides (hence moon phases), so the moon lights may even help stimulate breeding as they are said to do with some types of corals.

The Red Sea Max 130D Plug & Play Coral Reef System 34 Gallon Aquarium measures 24"L x 20"W x 23.8"H, giving it the extra height that is so important for a seahorse tank. One other feature of this new aquarium system that I especially like is the Power Center or Main Control Panel. It keeps all of the cords for the various pieces of equipment organized and out of the way, and provides separate switches for controlling each of the main components in the filtration system: two separate switches for the aquarium pumps (one switch for each circulation pump), one switch for the protein skimmer, one switch for the lights, and one switch for the heater. That’s very important because it allows you to operate one of the circulation pumps (i.e., have its switch turned on) and not the other circulation pump (leave its switch off), controlling the amount of water flow and circulation in the aquarium.

That’s crucial because the only thing I don’t like about this particular set up is that with both of the circulation pumps on, the filtration system will turn over the entire volume of the aquarium 10 times every hour. That’s great for live corals, but would create powerful water currents that can overpower the limited swimming ability of seahorses. The ideal amount of circulation for a seahorse tank is a filter that turns over the entire volume of the aquarium approximately 5 times per hour, which is exactly what the Red Sea Max 130D Plug & Play Coral Reef System 34 Gallon Aquarium would produce if you leave one of the circulation pumps turned on and one of the pumps turned off. That makes it easy to provide your seahorses with just the right amount of water movement and circulation when using this innovative plug-and-play aquarium system.

Another nice feature of this aquarium system is that it includes three cooling fans in the hood to help prevent overheating. With one of the circulation pumps turned off, the aquarium system will generate even less heat, making it that much easier to keep the aquarium cool.

Best of all, the Red Sea Max 130D Plug & Play Coral Reef System 34 Gallon Aquarium is available with a classy stand designed specifically for this particular tank as well as a Max Starter Kit, which includes 15 lbs Coral Pro Salt, Hydrometer, Nitro Bac bio starter, and an upgraded Marine Lab master test kit with Alkalinity Pro test, Calcium Pro test lab, Magnesium test lab, Coral Buff, Calcium & Magnesium Supplements. This makes it even easier for a newcomer to get this aquarium system set up and running properly, since he or she can purchase the Red Sea Max 130D Plug & Play Coral Reef System 34 Gallon Aquarium along with the aquarium stand and Max Starter Kit, and wrap up his aquarium shopping with a single purchase.

All things considered, the Red Sea Max 130D Plug & Play Coral Reef System 34 Gallon Aquarium provides another good option for seahorse keepers to consider. The complete system, including stand and Max Starter Kit is available online at the following website:

Especially nice for beginners, the aquarium kit comes complete with a 55-minute instructional DVD to guide the hobbyist through the setup and maintenance of the Red Sea Max 130D Reef Aquarium System described above, making it even easier for hobbyists to get the tank up and running properly.
<Close quote>

Okay, Akamu, that’s my thinking regarding the two aquarium systems you are considering. If you decide to go ahead with a Red Sea Max 130D, then two pairs or four large seahorses would indeed be a sensible number of ponies for a beginner to keep and care for in that particular tank.

Microbubbles from a protein skimmer are a concern for seahorses, sir, but not so much because they can get caught in a male’s pouch. Rather, they can pose a threat to seahorses if the microbubbles contribute to gas supersaturation of the aquarium water. If the water in the aquarium become supersaturated, gas emboli can come out of solution and form tiny bubbles in the seahorse’s blood and tissue. This can result in gas bubble syndrome (GBS), which can take different forms depending on where the gas bubbles accumulate in the seahorse’s body. In one form of GBS, known as chronic pouch emphysema, gas does build up within the male’s pouch, and GBS in any form is a fatal, progressive condition if left untreated.

In short, sir, a few microbubbles in the aquarium are ordinarily not a cause for concern. Such microbubbles are only problematic when they contribute to gas supersaturation. If the aquarium water become supersaturated, gas emboli can form in the blood and tissues of the seahorses, resulting in various forms of gas bubble syndrome (GBS).

On small, closed-system aquariums, supersaturation is often due to the entraining of air on the intake side of a leaky pump, which then chops the air into fine microbubbles and injects it into the water (Cripe, Kowalski and Phipps, 1999). Water and air are thus mixed under high pressure and forced into the water column, which can result in gas supersaturation. An air leak in inflowing or recirculating water that enters the tank below the surface can cause the same thing (Cripe, Kowalski and Phipps, 1999).

Microbubbles in the aquarium that are released from a protein skimmer can sometimes contribute to gas supersaturation in a similar fashion if they are sucked into the water pump and then pressurized as they pass through the filtration system. So that’s the potential problem that can result if a protein skimmer is releasing clouds of excess bubbles into the aquarium. If you cannot prevent the protein skimmer from doing so, you will generally be better off operating your seahorse tank without a protein skimmer.

Best of luck with your new seahorse setup, Akamu!

Pete Giwojna

America's Only Seahorse Aqua-Farm and One of Hawaii's Most Popular Attractions

Ocean Rider seahorse farm is a consistent Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence Award Winner and "Top 10 Things To Do" Kona, Hawaii attraction. Our "Magical Seahorse Tours" are educational and fun for the whole family.

Tour tickets are available for Purchase On-Line. Space is limited and subject to availability.

small seahorse Ocean Rider, Inc. is an Organic Hawaiian-Based Seahorse Aqua-Farm & Aquarium that Follows Strict Good Farming Practices in Raising Seahorses and Other Aquatic Life.

Seahorse Hawaii Foundation

Inspiring ocean awareness by saving the endangered seahorse and sea dragons around the world from extinction through conservation, research, propagation, and education.

Help us save the seahorse and the coral reefs they live in with a tax deductible contribution to the Seahorse Hawaii Foundation. You will be helping to protect and propagate over 25 species of endangered seahorses, sea dragons and friends.

Make A Tax-Deductible Donation Today!

A Different Kind of Farm (Video) »

Ocean Rider Kona Hawaii

Ocean Rider Kona Hawaii
Seahorse Aqua-Farm & Tours

73-4388 Ilikai Place

Kailua Kona, Hawaii 96740

Map & Directions


Contact Ocean Rider

Copyright ©1999-2023
All Rights Reserved | Ocean Rider Inc.

My Online Order Details

Purchase Policy

Site Terms and Conditions