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12 gallon seagrass and mangrove aquarium

Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm and Tours | Kona Hawaii Forums Seahorse Life and Care 12 gallon seagrass and mangrove aquarium

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  • #2161

    Hello All!

    This is my first post here, and I’m looking for some recommendations on what is appropriate to put in the 12 gallon seagrass and mangrove aquarium I’m setting up. The dimensions are about 23.5″ long x 7.5″ wide x 16″ deep. It has only been running for a few days, so I’ve got a while before I can put critters in.  Right now it has three mangroves and some star grass (Halophila engelmannii), but I’ll be getting turtle grass in about a month.

    I really like the idea of a pair of captive bred H. erectus, however I’m not sure they’d be happy in such a small space. I also like the idea of a pair or more of H. zosterae, and I can handle the live food requirement, but I’m concerned about hydroids since the aquarium has actaul mangroves and sea grass that are likely contaminated and that are also dependent on a sand bed with live worms and other critters in it, meaning I can’t add panceur.

    So I’m looking at not having any seahorses, unfortunately, but maybe one of the companion fish would work. Does anyone have a recommendation of an interesting species that natually lives in seagrass and would be appropriate for my tank size?


    Pete Giwojna

    Dear MJ:

    I’m thinking that your mangrove and seahorse setup is too shallow to make a good habitat for large seahorses such as Hippocampus erectus, which would be vulnerable to problems with gas bubble syndrome in such a setup.

    Likewise, if you cannot treat the tank with fenbendazole or Panacur to inhibit the growth of hydroids, it would become problematic to keep a colony of dwarf seahorses in the tank.

    However, MJ, a long shallow tank such as yours would be a good habitat for pipefish. You may wish to consider keeping dwarf pipes, or banded pipefish, or Gulf pipefish in such a setup.

    I will send you a couple of documents off list that you may find helpful for your project. The first of these documents is devoted to pipefish whereas the second document discusses compatible tankmates for seahorses, and may give you some ideas regarding this sort of inhabitants that might do well in a tank like yours, MJ. Please feel free to download the documents, save them on your computer, and then read through them at your convenience.

    Best wishes with all your fishes, MJ!

    Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support


    Dear Pete,

    Thanks so much for your thoughtful reply. I will definitely be reading up on pipefish as the tank approaches maturity and becomes ready for fish. Right now it’s still developing, mostly cycled and with some happy star grass, but I’m going to keep waithing until I get the turtle grass in and growing.

    Thanks again!



    Hi Pete,

    I saw some seahorses at the fish store yesterday, and I really enjoyed watching them, and I’ve decided I’m going to adjust my setup so I can have some. This means I need to find a way to either keep the hydroids in check and keep H. zosterae in the tank I am currently developing, or get a bigger tank for one of the larger species (I really like the look of H. comes).

    In your experience, are H. zosterae able to learn where food comes from? It sounds like what enables to hydroids to grow is the constant supply of baby brine shrimp in the entire tank. If I was able to slowly pipe them into the tank through a tube, do you think H. zosterae would learn to hang out by the mouth of the tube? I could adjust the influx to try and match consumption, and thus greatly reduce the food going to hydroids. I know some other fish could learn this, could a seahorse?

    Also, as a means of controlling the food going to hydroids, what if I fed something other than baby brine shrimp? Copepods and amphipods are capable of clinging to objects and controlling their movements, making them less easy pickings for the hydroids. If the H. zosterae can hunt, and learn to hunt near a tube where the ‘pods enter the tank, maybe that would limit hydroid growth?

    If those don’t work, I need a larger tank, which will take time to save up for and mature (turtle grass needs a sand bed that has developed for several months). My current tank’s sand bed came from an older tank, and the turtle grass arrived today, so it will be in full force soon. If I got some young H. comes that are 2-3 inches, how soon would I need to have the new tank ready?

    Thanks again for you help!

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