Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm and Tours | Kona Hawaii › Forums › Seahorse Life and Care › Altitude and sea horses
- This topic has 3 replies, 2 voices, and was last updated 12 years, 10 months ago by Pete Giwojna.
August 11, 2010 at 4:31 am #1835bleuchefMember
Someone please help! I have two h. erectus in a 14g bio cube. They have been home for only 6 days now. She is yellow and he is orange. They are both tank breed and raised. They were raised eating live pods, mysis, ova and dead arctic pods. Although i have seen them hunt in my tank, I have only seen them eat amphipods and only a few times. They seem to have no interest in any of the frozen foods. The female has been rather inactive compared to the female. Their bellys seem to look fine but Im not entirely sure what Im looking for. Also, they both have seemed to get quite a bit darker. All my tank specs are right on ( nitrates, ph, ect….) I live at about 7,200 ft. could altitude be playing a part? PLEASE HELP!!August 11, 2010 at 6:52 am #5171Pete GiwojnaGuest
Don’t panic! It’s not a usual for new arrivals to take a week or two to make the adjustment to strange new surroundings before they settle down and resume their normal feeding habits. For this reason, it is a common practice to provide newcomers with choice live foods for the first few days after they are introduced into their new home, in order to help ease the transition to the strange environment. The live foods keep them eating well and help ease the stress involved with long-distance shipping and adapting to new conditions. Captive-bred-and-raised seahorses will normally resumes feeding on quality frozen Mysis shortly after they start to feel at home in your aquarium.
You mentioned that your new Hippocampus erectus were raised eating live pods; in that case, they are bound to have a preference for live copepods and amphipods initially and you may have to patiently wean them back onto frozen foods again. As long as they do not look emaciated (i.e., their belly plates or abdomens are not "pinched in" or "sunken in") and they are producing normal fecal pellets, then they are still getting enough to eat by scrounging up the amphipods in your Biocube. Talk to the breeder that you obtained the seahorses from about the items they are accustomed to eating and then try to obtain the very same brand and size of those food items to offer to the ponies in your aquarium. Find out what type of Mysis, ova and dead amphipods they are used to eating and do your best to provide them with those exact foods.
I do not believe that the altitude at your elevation is causing problems for your seahorses. The reduced atmospheric pressure at 7200 feet could conceivably cause their swim bladders to balloon somewhat or become somewhat hyperinflated, but that would give the seahorses positive buoyancy problems and you would notice that they are struggling against the tendency to float. If your ponies have been feeding on amphipods from the bottom of your tank, it doesn’t sound like they are having any buoyancy problems and I do not see how else the elevation might be affecting them…
However, I am concerned that you are keeping your new H. erectus seahorses in a 14-gallon Biocube. Your seahorses are one of the larger species that can grow to well over 8 inches in total length when fully grown and your Biocube is going to be too small for them in the long term. More importantly, it’s a shallow aquarium and will leave the seahorses (especially the male) prone to problems with gas bubble syndrome, which is a common affliction for seahorses in aquariums less than at least 20 inches deep.
Secondly, the Biocube aquariums are designed for reef keepers with the needs of live corals in mind. In other words, the Biocubes are designed to provide intense lighting, very strong water movement, and relatively warm water temperatures. That is simply not the best environment for seahorses, which prefer moderate lighting with dark areas they can move into as they desire, moderate water currents with some relatively slack water areas they can retreat to when necessary, and moderate water temperatures (optimal water temperature for H. erectus is 72°F-75°F). It’s quite possible that your yellow and orange seahorses have darkened in your aquarium in response to the intense lighting or in response to heat stress, if the tank is running on the warm side.
For instance, seahorses don’t like excessively bright light and they may go into hiding, seeking shaded areas amidst the rockwork, if the lighting is too intense for their comfort level. And the seahorses won’t look their best and brightest under high-intensity lighting such as metal halides because they will produce excess melanin (black pigment) in order to protect themselves against the harmful ultraviolet radiation they associate with intense light, and darken as a result. For instance, Jorge Gomezjurado reports "…I have exposed yellow seahorses to strong metal halide and they have turned black in few hours." (Jorge served as the head curator at the National Aquarium in Baltimore and operated Draco Marine, an aquaculture facility devoted to captive-bred-and-raised seahorses, so consider him to be an expert on the subject.) Some hobbyists who keep a selection of handpicked live corals with their seahorses like to use metal halides or other high-intensity lighting systems for the sake of the corals, but it would be a shame to display brightly colored seahorses under such strong lighting and cause them to darken.
Likewise, Chef, if the water movement in the Biocube is too overpowering, that alone can sometimes present seahorses from eating nonliving foods and effect their behavior in other ways as well. As with anything, too much of even a good thing can be undesirable, and too much current can overwhelm the limited swimming ability of Hippocampus. One indication that you may have too much water movement in your seahorse tank is if the seahorses are getting buffeted around by the currents, and whisked away uncontrollably when they tire of fighting the current. Or alternatively, they may stay perched in one place all the time and refuse to swim around and explore their tank for fear of getting swept away by the current if they relax their grip on their hitching posts. So you can get a pretty good gauge of how well the seahorses are able to cope with the water movement than their tank by observing how the current affects the swimming ability.
Likewise, if a mated pair of seahorses is consistently spilling eggs during the copulatory rise, that’s another pretty good indication that there may be too much turbulence or water movement in the upper reaches of their aquarium.
If the seahorses are having difficulty tracking their prey and eating because the current whisks the frozen Mysis past them too quickly to target it accurately and slurp it up, that’s another red flag. Often that situation can be corrected simply by adjusting the output from your filter to reduce the current during feeding time or turning it off altogether while the seahorses are eating.
If you can let me know what type of lighting you have in your 14-gallon Biocube, what the water pump for the filtration system is rated at (i.e., it’s output in gallons per hour), and what the water temperature is at during the day when the weather is warmest, I can advise you whether or not the water circulation, lighting, or water temperature is going to be problematic for your ponies and should be adjusted.
You need to be aware that heat stress is very debilitating for seahorses and is associated with many disease processes, such as tail rot and other bacterial infections.
Best of luck getting your new H. erectus seahorses to brighten up and resume their normal feeding habits, Chef!
Pete GiwojnaAugust 11, 2010 at 7:57 am #5172bleuchefGuest
Wow…Thank you Pete! I apreciate the help. I really want these little guys to be happy! Okay…..here are the specs on the biocube The tank is at about 77F. I read your post and immediatly put a different, adjustable heater in there to slowely bring it down to 74f or so.
(2) 24 watt CF lamps with a durable (Fulham – UL Approved) remote electronic ballast w/ disconnect cable. Offered with our powerful 50/50 lamps for marine tanks and 6500K daylight for planted tanks. Both lamps include UL Approved German "Snap-In" lamp sockets for easy bulb install and removals. Installed with splash guard lens for lamp protection
L 15.8" x W 13.8" x H 14.8"
Power: 48 total watts
Flow: 106 GPH
Freq: 60 Hz
11 watt power consumption
I dont think current is much of an issue. I have the output aimed toward the top of the water so it keeps the surface going. The male is able to hang on with the tip of his tail and stretch out while hunting. The amphipod population is pretty much gone and that seems to be all they are interested in eating. There are other pods in there and I havent seen them eatin on any. ( I watch them A LOT )! In the tank I have the following
Live sand, 15-18lbs live rock, two fairly large kenya trees, a medium sized cluster of pipe organs, a sand sifting star, hermits, snails and a few zoas.
I also have another option…..I have a 30 cube set up as a reef tank. It has (6) 18 watt T-5 bulbs, an aquavia multi skimmer with uv. At the moment, it is packed with soft coral, a yellow goby and pistol shrimp, polyps and zoas, and a sea apple. I would have no problem removing any creatures that would pose a threat to my ponies and put them in there ( I am dedicated to these guys). The only problem and concern with that tank is that it has manages to kill a purple tang as well as a flame angle in the past month do to a parasite we can seem to figure out or kill!
I have not seem my female eat anything in a day or so and she has really just posted up and isn’t moving much. the male is all over the place but only eating sparely! The both seem to have what I can only describe a a bit is sediment that has settled on top of them.
Please help Pete!!
Thanks……Chef!August 12, 2010 at 8:45 am #5173Pete GiwojnaGuest
Thank you for providing you the additional information I requested. Coralife compact fluorescent lighting would normally not be too harsh for your seahorses, but your 14-gallon Biocube is so shallow that the reduced water depth could make the lighting more intense than the seahorses prefer. Since you have two old 24-watt compact fluorescent lights, you may want to consider operating only one of them if there are no shady areas that the seahorses can retreat to when they would like to get out of the bright light.
Yes, if you can gradually reduce the water temperature from 77°F to 74°F, that may be helpful. Even lowering the water temperature a few degrees can sometimes make a big difference.
As a first-hand observer of the seahorses’ behavior, you are in the best position to determine whether or not the current is too overpowering for seahorses and is preventing them from eating frozen foods, so I certainly trust your judgment in that regard.
I am not quite sure what you mean when you say that it looks as though a "bit of sediment has settled on top of the seahorses." I am wondering if the sediment could actually be microalgae or diatoms, Chef. Algae often grows on the exoskeleton of seahorses, typically on their head and neck which are closest to the light source. That’s perfectly normal and usually nothing at all to be concerned about, in most cases. Seahorses often encourage algae to grow on them as a protective device to enhance their camouflage, and it’s often best simply to ignore any such growth.
If you have a digital camera, try to get a couple of pictures of the seahorses that show the sediment that seems to have settled on them, insert the photos into the text of an e-mail, and send it to me at the following e-mail address: [email protected]
I will examine the pictures and should be able to tell you if it’s just a little harm as algae growth or something more serious than you want to address.
When it comes to the ongoing feeding problems you have been having with the new arrivals, Chef, it is standard operating procedure to provide newcomers with choice live foods until they have had a chance to settle into their new home, and I suggest that you do so as soon as possible.
When it comes to good sources for live foods, you can get Gammarus amphipods (green iron horse feed) and Hawaiian volcano shrimp (red iron horse feed) from Ocean Rider and live Mysis from Sachs Systems Aquaculture. All of these live shrimp are what I’d like to call "feed-and-forget" foods. They are tough, rugged little shrimp that you can toss in your tank with no acclimation whatsoever. They are agile and elusive enough that your filters won’t eat them and the seahorses won’t be able to capture them all right away. Some will hide and evade well enough that your seahorses will still be hunting down the stragglers for the next day or two. Best of all, you can toss a nice batch of them in your aquarium, secure in the knowledge that they won’t perish and pollute it, but thrive and survive as real, live, "catch-me-if-you-can" prey items that seahorses cannot resist. Nothing stimulates a seahorse’s feeding instinct like the frantic movements and evasive maneuvers of natural, living prey.
The Ocean Rider Aquaculture Facility in Hawaii (http://seahorse.com/) is a good source for the following live foods but the shipping costs from Hawaii can be considerable:
Green Iron Horse Feed (Gammarus amphipods)
Red Iron Horse Feed or Volcano Shrimp (Halocaridina rubra)
Or the live Mysis from Sachs Systems Aquaculture would also be a good choice for live Mysis shrimp. They provide live Mysis in lots ranging anywhere from 100 to 5000 for very reasonable prices which include the cost of priority shipping. For example, you can obtain 200 live Mysidopsis bahia for $35 (priority shipping included) from Sachs and your seahorses will love them. Or the or the very smallest (1/4") of the common shore shrimp (Palaemonetes vulgaris) from Sachs would also be a good choice:
All of the sources listed above are high-health aquaculture facilities that provide disease free live foods. You can buy be feeder shrimp or live foods in quantity and set up a small holding tank for them so that you can dole them out as live treats for your seahorses whenever it’s convenient.
So in your case, I would suggest ordering perhaps 100-200 of the live Mysis from Sachs Aquaculture for starters, and setting them up in a small tank of their own with a few small algae-covered live rock as for them to feed on and use for shelter. That would solve your feeding problems and give you a chance to enjoy your seahorses while they are stalking and hunting live prey, which is fascinating to watch, while you work making the adjustment to their strange new surroundings.
Another good possibility you can consider are the Tigger Pods, which are now carried by some pet stores, particularly if the seahorses are eating live amphipods well. Seahorses eat them very readily and if you can find a local fish store that carries them, that could be a very convenient option for you, Chef. Here is some more information about the Tigger Pods:
Tigger Pods by Reed Mariculture
Receiving your Tigger Pods™
Receiving your Tigger Pods™
Tigger Pods™ are wonderful little creatures, full of energy, fun to watch, and great food for your reef tank.
When you receive your shipment, here are some steps that will help ensure their health and survival.
Upon arrival you may notice the Tigger-Pods™ aren’t very active. This is normal when cold shipped or cold stored. As the bottles warm up, the Tigger Pods™ will become more active. It is not uncommon to have a few of the oldest copepods to die from old age. We pack the bottle with all stages of life, but only count the adults. On average, we pack at least 10% more in every bottle to account for any DOA.
Upon arrival, open bottle cap and remove the inside liner. Let stand at room temp for 2 hours to allow temperature to rise. The Tigger Pods™ can be poured directly into your refugium and/or main tank. They can live several weeks in the bottle, as long as they are fed and the bottle is open to the air.
Tigger Pods™ feed on microalgae and we recommend feeding them with Phyto-Feast™. Phyto-Feast™ can be dosed directly into both your refugium and main tank. The recommended feeding rate is 1 to 5 drops per gallon each day, depending on the bio-density of your reef tank.
Store Use and Display
Open the bottle cap and remove the inside liner.
Leave the cap open for 1 hour or more to re-oxygenate the water.
Replace the cap on the bottle and close the flip-spout.
During the day put the bottles in a high traffic area to attract the customer’s attention, but keep out of direct sunlight. Light is ok, and needed.
At night put the bottles under gentle light so the accompanying Macro-Feast™ will produce oxygen. The flip-caps can also be left open to increase oxygen.
Every 2-3 days add 1 drop of Phyto-Feast to each bottle.
Longer Term Storage
Tigger Pods™ can be stored in a "warm" (40 F +) refrigerator to slow down their metabolic processes, which will increase store shelf life.
For more information about Tigger Pods™ please visit our website at http://www.Tigger-Pods.com.
Once you have the seahorses eating well and they are feeling more at home in your Biocube, you can work on weaning them back onto frozen foods are nonliving food. The best way to accomplish that would be to talk to the breeder that you obtained the seahorses from about the items they are accustomed to eating and then try to obtain the very same brand and size of those food items to offer to the ponies in your aquarium. Find out what type of Mysis, ova and dead amphipods they are used to eating and do your best to provide them with those exact foods.
I do think the 30-gallon Biocube would be much better suited for the seahorses, but it’s not a good alternative if it is housing an outbreak of parasites that you have been unable to eliminate. If you can let the 30-gallon Biocube go fallow for four-to six weeks, with no fish whatsoever in it during that period, any obligate parasites it may have been housing should have died off in the interim, and you can try the seahorses (or other reef-safe fish) in the tank at that time.
All of the soft corals and invertebrates you mentioned in a 30-gallon Biocube are compatible with seahorses, with the exception of the sea apple, which can release deadly toxins if it feels threatened or becomes unhealthy. I would relocate the sea apple and make sure the 30-gallon Biocube is completely free of any parasites before you consider transferring your seahorses to the larger tank.
Best of luck restoring the appetite of your new ponies and getting them back on a staple diet of frozen foods, Chef!
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