- This topic has 3 replies, 2 voices, and was last updated 14 years, 11 months ago by Pete Giwojna.
December 30, 2008 at 7:42 am #1583mermaidMember
i was wondering if i could get different kinds of seahorses in one tank…?December 31, 2008 at 3:15 am #4566Pete GiwojnaGuest
Not all different kinds of seahorses are compatible with each other. For example, you cannot mix temperate (cool water) seahorses with tropical (warm water) seahorses for obvious reasons. It is never a good idea to attempt to keep warm-water and cool-water species together. That unfortunate experiment has been tried many a time and has always proven to be disastrous for one or the other in the long run. Ideally it is always best to have separate tanks for tropical, subtropical, and temperate species. So you can’t consider keeping temperate seahorses like Ocean Rider Brumbry seahorses (Hippocampus abdominalis), often known as big belly seahorses or potbelly seahorses or simply Pots for short, with tropical seahorses such as H. reidi, H. barbouri, or H. kuda.
Nor is it a good idea to keep miniature species, such as Pixies or dwarf seahorses (Hippocampus zosterae) to gather with larger seahorses, such as Mustangs or Sunbursts (H. erectus), due to their incompatible feeding requirements.
However, there are a number of large, tropical seahorses that have very similar aquarium requirements and which therefore make good tankmates for one another. For instance, H. erectus, H. reidi, H. barbouri, H. comes, or H. kuda seahorses can all be kept together in an aquarium with a stable water temperature of 75°F. But, for best results, when you are considering keeping seahorses of different species together in the aquarium, it’s best to limit yourself to specimens provided by the same breeder or aquaculture facility.
Among the Ocean Rider seahorses, this means you could safely keep Mustangs, Sunbursts, Pintos, Fire Reds, Barbs, and Brazileros together in a tropical aquarium with the temperature of 75°, providing the aquarium is large enough to safely accommodate all of the seahorses you are interested in, mermaid. The suggested stocking density for such seahorses is typically one pair per 10 gallons of aquarium water, meaning that a 50 gallon aquarium, for example, could hold up to five pairs or 10 individuals when it was fully stocked.
Mustangs (Hippocampus erectus) are great seahorses for beginners, mermaid. Commonly known as Lined Seahorse or either the Northern Giant or Florida Giant, Hippocampus erectus was the first seahorse to be commercially raised for the aquarium hobby. This species has been captive-bred and raised for more generations than any other seahorse, and have now achieved a level of domestication that makes them better adapted to aquarium conditions and life in captivity than other seahorses (Giwojna, unpublished text).
These are impressive animals. They are large, robust, deep-chested seahorses that will approach 10 inches in length when fully grown.
The first captive-bred seahorses I ever owned were Mustangs, and my original pair are still going strong after all these years. They quickly learned to recognize me as their feeder and were soon literally eating right out of my hands. (I know, I know — sensible aquarists should always strive to keep their mitts out the aquarium as much as possible, but handfeeding is a thrill I find difficult to resist, and hey — nobody ever said I was sensible!) Nowadays they head for the feeding station as soon as I approach the tank, a series of color changes betraying their excitement, and queue up at the dinner table looking their best and brightest. Of course, they both try to snap up the first morsel — even pair-bonded ponies are not big on sharing or waiting turns — so I no longer offer them one mysid at a time. I offer them a handful of individually thawed Mysis in my upturned palm instead. They know the drill and happily perch on my fingers while snicking up the shrimp as fast as they can. They genuinely appear to enjoy interacting with me and like to linger on my hand long after all the food is gone. They would allow me to lift them out of the water when I withdraw my hand if I didn’t gently shoo them away first. There’s a lot of puppy dog in your average seahorse and H. erectus is no exception. One almost expects to see them wagging their tails as they beg for handouts
Mustangs and Sunbursts are different color morphs of the same species (Hippocampus erectus). As such, they have identical aquarium requirements, interbreed freely, and are equally hardy. Sunbursts are a bit smaller than Mustangs on average, topping out at around 5-6 inches, whereas the ‘stangs can reach well in excess of 6 inches in length.
But they differ primarily in their coloration: Mustangs tend to be darker colored, displaying the dominant dark brown to black coloration lots of white diamonds and saddles that is so typical of wild erectus, whereas the Sunbursts tend to be more brightly colored, and typically display the much less common yellow to orange color pattern. But ‘stangs also have bright pigment cells and they can brighten up when the occasion calls for it, such as during courtship or when competing for mates.
Although yellow and orange pigments tend to predominate in Sunbursts, they are equipped with a full range of chromatophores and can display a wide range of colors. As their name suggests, Sunbursts are famous for their sunset colors (yellow, gold, peach and orange) when conditions are to their liking.
Pintos are an unusual color morph in which the base coloration of the seahorse consists of two different contrasting colors. The result is a beautiful piebald pony. Well-marked specimens sport the same sort of bold painted pattern as the Apache Indian’s famous pinto ponies from the wild West, and are referred to as such for that very reason.
The most striking aspect about the Pinto color pattern is the brilliant contrast between the light and dark areas. That eye-catching mottled pattern is completely random, so much so that no two specimens are exactly alike (Giwojna, Jun. 2002). The light areas and the darker portions of the piebald pattern can vary in coloration, from black through various shades of brown, or more rarely, to white, yellow, orange or any of the other colors commonly seen in captive-bred erectus (Giwojna, Jun. 2002).
The extent of the mottling varies greatly from individual to individual, and that, together with the differences in their coloration, makes each of these specimens truly unique (Giwojna, Jun. 2002). Many of the piebald specimens are black-and-white or brown-and-white, and others are pitch black mottled with beige or ash gray (Giwojna, Jun. 2002). A few are even more colorful, including striking orange-and-black and brown-and-yellow specimens. When these colors are at their brightest, and the orange or yellow mottling is well developed, such specimens rival the gaudy patterns of orioles (Giwojna, Jun. 2002). One of the most beautifully marked seahorses I’ve ever seen was a saffron yellow erectus adorned to great effect with snow-white saddles (Giwojna, Jun. 2002). As you can imagine, these piebald ponies are in great demand by hobbyists.
The ever-popular Brazileros (Hippocampus reidi) are sleek, graceful animals, perfectly proportioned with slender bodies, long tails, and long snouts (Abbott 2003). Their lithe appearance gives rise to their other common names, the Slender Seahorse or the Longsnout Seahorse (Abbott 2003). Whereas the robust H. erectus is a solidly built seahorse like a Mac truck, H. reidi shares the graceful curves of a Corvette Stingray (Abbott 2003). The result is an elegant warm-water seahorse that is everyone’s all-time favorite:
Long renowned for their brilliant colors, rapid color changes, prolific breeding habits, and huge broods of difficult-to-raise fry, all serious seahorse keepers are familiar with these breathtaking beauties (Giwojna, Jun. 2002). Often proclaimed the most attractive of seahorses, H. reidi is the crown jewel in many aquarists’ collections. These rather majestic steeds are long-lived, and with good care, they will be your companions for the next 8 to 10 years and may eventually reach a length of 7 inches (Abbott 2003; Giwojna, Jun. 2002).
This species regularly produces some of the most brilliant color morphs I have ever seen. Going from most to least common, these sports include bright yellow, orange, and red individuals, which are much sought after by aquarists. The yellow, orange, and red morphs of H. reidi have all been established by aquaculturists and are now readily available.
Prickly seahorses (Hippocampus barbouri), commonly known as Barbs for short, would make another colorful addition to or heard of large tropical seahorses. All seahorse keepers are familiar with these thorny beauties. They are the pretty, prickly, tropical seahorses we all used to know and love as Hippocampus histrix until the histrix complex was revised and taxonomists officially changed their name to H. barbouri (Abbott, 2003). They are readily identified by their sharp, very well developed spines, their prominent five-pointed crown, and their boldly striped snouts (Abbott, 2003). The latter is one of their most attractive features and is responsible for one of their common names — the zebra-snout seahorse. Cultured specimens range from pale yellow to a brilliant red-orange, often further adorned with reddish brown spots and lines.
So I think an assortment of Mustangs, Sunbursts, Pintos, zebra-snouted Barbs, and yellow or red Brazileros would make an interesting combination of seahorses with bold color patterns for a large aquarium.
However, remember that it’s not a good idea to add several pairs of seahorses to your new aquarium at one time. That would increase the bioload too much too fast for your biofiltration to handle, resulting in ammonia spikes and water quality problems that could be harmful for the seahorses. I would suggest adding a pair of Mustangs and a pair of Sunbursts, which can be purchased together as a special package for a substantial savings, to get your herd started. Give your filtration a few weeks to adjust to the increased bioload, and then you can consider adding another pair or two of different seahorse.
In other words, mermaids, build up your seahorse herd gradually and allow your biofilter a few weeks to adjust between each batch of new additions. If you can let me know how large your seahorse tank is, and the type of filtration it uses, I would be happy to advise you as to the appropriate stocking density for such an aquarium.
Best wishes with all your fishes, mermaid!
Happy Trails & Happy Holidays!
Pete GiwojnaJanuary 3, 2009 at 1:51 am #4569mermaidGuest
wow! thank u so much! i can tell u really care! that info was better than what i could find on the internet! so i got a 6 gal nano tank with 2 seahorses for christmas from my boyfriend. (his hobby is salt water tanks). so we’ve been doing everything right. one of the seahorses died. it kept getting sucked onto the filter. it has a grate in front of it and the suction is really low. we got a weaker pump so the flow isn’t pummelling them anymore. but that one kept getting stuck onto the filter. and i’d have to gently help her off. but by the 5th time, she couldnt regain her strength. ppl at stores would say to put some foam where the over flow is -in the backside. but i only hav filter floss and that didnt do anything. plus the flow is already slow. im thinking of some kind of cage like thing that sticks out kind of far -cuz the suction would be weaker out from the filter than right up close to it. you know? do u have any remedies???? so the other guy i hav im sure is lonely. eating. but he’s itching his head w his tail. and shaking like to get something off. i’ve tried to read up on it but nothing specific. i want to get him a mate but i want things to be secure first. plus i would love to have 4. just a little handful of seahorses. but im afraid my tank is too small. these questions i cannot find the answer anywhere!! thank u for helping me!January 3, 2009 at 7:01 am #4570Pete GiwojnaGuest
I’m very sorry to hear that you lost one of your new seahorses and at the other one is itching and scratching itself. Unfortunately, the problems you are having are due to the fact that your 6-gallon nano tank is not a suitable set up for seahorses.
Nano tanks are compact and convenient, but they are designed with reef keepers in mind and are therefore usually equipped with powerful lighting systems and strong water pumps that provide the vigorous water movement and intense lighting that live corals require in order to thrive. But that means they are very problematic for seahorses, which prefer relatively low lighting and moderate water currents, with plenty of slack water retreats they can retreat to when desired. Because of their limited swimming ability, seahorses can be overwhelmed by the powerful water circulation in most nano tanks, as happened with the pony that you lost. For this reason, nano cubes and nano tanks requires substantial modifications in order to make them marginally useful for seahorses. In your case, mermaid, I would not recommend that you even attempt the necessary modifications because the 6-gallon nano tank is way too shallow and far too small to be used for any of the larger seahorse species.
It is great that your boyfriend is experienced with marine aquariums, and, in my opinion, your best course of action would be for your boyfriend to set up a larger aquarium devoted to seahorses, while converting the 6-gallon nano system to an invertebrate tank instead. Live corals and compatible invertebrates would thrive in such an aquarium, whereas the seahorses will have chronic problems in a tank of that size.
Please contact me off list ([email protected]) and I will provide you with some detailed information and suggestions explaining how to set up a suitable aquarium optimized for seahorses that could easily and safely accommodate several large seahorses.
In the meantime, you have a more serious problem to deal with because the seahorse that is scratching himself has very likely developed a problem with parasites. Most often the itching and shaking you mentioned is due to ectoparasites, flukes, or protozoan parasites that attack the skin and gills of the fish. This causes them great irritation and can have fatal consequences if the parasites are not eliminated one way or another. The seahorse that is itching and scratching should be treated as soon as possible, as discussed below:
If the scratching is due to ectoparasites, mermaid, a dip is a good first aid measure to begin with. It is a good idea to provide the seahorses that are scratching with some immediate relief from the parasites by dipping them with freshwater, methylene blue, or even a diluted solution of hydrogen peroxide, or to administer a formalin bath for the itchy ponies. All of these options are discussed in more detail below:
A freshwater water dip is simply immersing your seahorse in pure, detoxified freshwater that’s been preadjusted to the same temp and pH as the water the seahorse is accustomed to, for a period of at least 10 minutes (Giwojna, Dec. 2003). It doesn’t harm them — seahorses typically tolerate freshwater dips exceptionally well and a 10-minute dip should be perfectly safe. Freshwater dips are effective because marine fish tolerate the immersion in freshwater far better than the external parasites they play host to; the change in osmotic pressure kills or incapacitates such microorganisms within 7-8 minutes (Giwojna, Dec. 2003). A minimum dip, if the fish seems to be doing fine, is therefore 8 minutes. Include some sort of hitching post in the dipping container and shoot for the full 10 minutes with your seahorses (Giwojna, Dec. 2003).
If you will be using tap water for the freshwater dip, be sure to dechlorinate it beforehand. This can be accomplished usually one of the commercial dechlorinators, which typically include sodium thiosulfate and perhaps a chloramine remover as well, or by aerating the tap water for at least 24 hours to dissipate the chlorine (Giwojna, Dec. 2003).
If you dechlorinate the dip water with a sodium thiosulfate product, be sure to use an airstone to aerate it for at least one hour before administering the dip. This is because the sodium thiosulfate depletes the water of oxygen and the dip water must therefore be oxygenated before its suitable for your seahorse(s).
Observe the horse closely during the dip. You may see some immediate signs of distress or shock. Sometimes the horse will immediately lie on its side on the bottom. That’s a fairly common reaction — normal and to be expected, rather than a cause for concern, so don’t be alarmed if this happens. Just nudge or tap the seahorse gently gently with your finger if it lies down on its side. Normally, the seahorse will respond to the slight nudge by righting itself again and calm down for the duration of the dip. However, if it does not respond, stop the treatment.
Most seahorses tolerate the treatment well and experienced no problems, but if you see continued signs of distress — twitching, thrashing around etc. — stop the treatment.
After you have completed the dip and returned the seahorses to the aquarium, save the dip water and examined it closely for any sign of parasites. The change in osmotic pressure from saltwater to freshwater will cause ectoparasites to lyse (i.e., swell and burst) or drop off their host after 7-10 minutes, and they will be left behind in the dipping water. Protozoan parasites are microscopic and won’t be visible to the naked eye, but some of the other ectoparasites can be clearly seen. For example, monogenetic trematodes will appear as opaque sesame seeds drifting in the water (Giwojna, Aug. 2003) and nematodes may be visible as tiny hairlike worms 1/16-3/16 of an inch long. Other parasites may appear as tiny dots in the water. Freshwater dips can thus often provide affected seahorses with some immediate relief by ridding them of these irritating pests and can also aid their breathing by flushing out gill parasites.
However, mermaid, freshwater dips and formalin baths can be stressful for seahorses that are experiencing respiratory distress and having breathing problems, so if you think the parasites may also be infesting the gills of your seahorses, giving them a quick dip in concentrated methylene blue or diluted hydrogen peroxide may be a better alternative for you.
Methylene Blue Dip
For best results, consider administering a very brief (5-10 seconds — no more than 10 seconds maximum) dip in a solution of methylene blue between 30-50 ppm, as described below. Prepare the solution of methylene blue using saltwater from your seahorses tank ahead of time. Time the very short Methylene blue dip closely — maybe keep each seahorse in your hand while you dip it in the blue so there’s no fumbling around to capture it when time’s up — pull the pony out after 10 seconds and immediately return it to the main tank afterwards.
If you can obtain the Kordon brand of Methylene Blue (available at most well-stocked local fish stores), their suggested treatment protocol for treating external parasites as a dip is as follows:
For use as a dip for treatment of external parasitic protozoans:
(a) Prepare a nonmetallic container of sufficient size to contain the fish to be treated by adding water similar to the original aquarium.
(b) Add 5 teaspoons (24.65 ml) per 3 gallons of water. This produces a concentration of 50 ppm. It is not recommended that the concentration be increased beyond 50 ppm.
(c) Place fishes to be treated in this solution for no longer than 10 seconds.
(d) Return fish to original aquarium.
See the following link for more information on treating with Kordon’s Methylene Blue:
Click here: KPD-28 Methylene Blue
If your methylene blue is not Kordon (KPD-28) Methylene Blue, then disregard the instructions above and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for using your brand as a bath or dip instead.
Another excellent option would be to perform brief dips in hydrogen peroxide as explained below, because they are easier on fishes suffering from respiratory distress and can be administered on a daily basis, if necessary.
Here are the instructions for performing the very brief hydrogen peroxide dips, mermaid:
Therapeutic Hydrogen Peroxide (H202) Dips
A very quick dip 10-second dip in a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution is effective in cleansing fish of Uronema and other protozoan parasites and will also help to disinfect bacterial lesions and promote healing of open wounds and sores. (Note: 3% is the standard concentration of hydrogen peroxide that you obtain at the drugstore or probably have in your medicine chest at home, but this is not the right choice for performing this procedure.)
Rather, it is customary to obtain the stronger 35% Food Grade or Technical Grade of hydrogen peroxide and then dilute it to the proper concentration instead. For example, 35% hydrogen peroxide was approved for aquaculture use by the FDA in January 2007 and is sold under the name of PEROX-AID(r). This is a much stronger solution of hydrogen peroxide which professional aquarists start with when performing such dips. The desired 3% hydrogen peroxide dipping solution is prepared by taking one gallon of dechlorinated freshwater and then removing 10-oz of the water and replacing it with 10-oz of 35% hydrogen peroxide (PEROX-AID) instead. This formula will produce a ~3% solution of hydrogen peroxide for the brief dip (Kollman, 2003).
You can also scale this formula down by starting with 1/2 gallon of dechlorinated freshwater for the dip, and then removing 5 ounces of the water and replacing it with 5 ounces of 35% hydrogen peroxide instead. That will again produce a ~3% solution of hydrogen peroxide and 1/2 gallon is enough for dipping seahorses if you put it in a relatively small container rather than a large plastic bucket.
The 35% Food Grade or Technical Grade hydrogen peroxide can be purchased from chemical supply houses and some online sources, but it is much stronger and more volatile than the drugstore hydrogen peroxide, and must therefore be handled with great care. Be especially careful NOT to confuse the 35% hydrogen peroxide solution with the mild 3% hydrogen peroxide solution from your drugstore when disinfecting wounds or performing the usual first aid measures that the weak solution is customarily used for around the house.
Once prepared, you can use the same dipping solution for dipping several seahorses in quick succession, but it should then be discarded and you will need to prepare a new solution of 3% hydrogen peroxide each day immediately before you perform the dips, if you will be doing them on a daily basis. This is necessary because the hydrogen peroxide dissipates fairly quickly and must be used immediately after it’s prepared for best results.
Dip the affected seahorse in the hydrogen peroxide solution for 10 seconds and then return it to the treatment tank. Cup the seahorse in your hand so that you can remove the seahorse quickly after 10 seconds of exposure in the dipping container. The hydrogen peroxide dip will disinfect bacterial lesions and abrasions and help promote healing. The dips have the added benefit of cleansing the fish from some ectoparasites and may help the seahorse’s breathing because the hydrogen peroxide greatly increases the dissolved oxygen levels in the dipping solution. The 3% hydrogen peroxide dips can be repeated once a day or once every three days as needed, depending on the severity of the infection/infestation.
In summation, the entire seahorse can be submerged in a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide for a period of 10 seconds to help disinfect wounds or rid them of ectoparasites. DO NOT use a stronger solution of hydrogen peroxide for this procedure! The very brief dips in 3% hydrogen peroxide are a treatment regimen that has been refined by Dr. J. Peter Hill , DVM, who serves as the veterinarian for the Newport Aquarium. He uses it to treat ectoparasites such as Uronema as well as to combat external bacterial infections and to disinfect open wounds or ulcers, thereby helping to promote more rapid healing. He has recommended such baths for seahorses for these purposes…
In a pinch, some hobbyists will use the 3% hydrogen peroxide from their drugstore, but for best results, it’s safer to start with a concentrated 35% Food Grade or Technical Grade, or better yet the 35% PEROX-AID designed for use in aquaculture, and then to dilute it to 3% H2O2 as previously described.
Another alternative would be to use formalin treatments at 1ml/gal for a 1 hour bath
every other day until the scratching stops for up to 3 treatments. However, unlike hydrogen peroxide which increases the level of dissolved oxygen in the dipping container, formalin consumes oxygen and can therefore be hard on seahorses that are having breathing problems of any type, so bear that in mind. The formalin does have the added virtue of working wonders with seahorses when they’re cloudy eyes are due to monogenetic trematodes or eye flukes. If you try the formalin baths, mermaid, be sure to observe the precautions outlined below:
Many commercial formalin products are readily available to hobbyists, such as Kordon’s Formalin 3, Formalin-F sold by Natchez Animal Supply, and Paracide-F, sold by Argent Chemical Laboratories. Or whatever brand of formalin is available at your fish store should work fine.
A formalin bath simply involves immersing the seahorse in a container of saltwater which contains the proper dosage of formalin for a period of 60 minutes before returning it to the main tank. Include a hitching post of some sort in the container and follow these instructions: place the fish in a three-gallon bucket or a similar clean, inert container containing precisely one gallon of siphoned, aerated tank water. Medicate the bucket of water with with the appropriate amount of formalin for a concentrated bath according to the directions on the label. Place an airstone in the bucket and leave the fish in the bath for up to 60 minutes. If at any time the fish becomes listless, exhausted or loses its balance, immediately place the fish in clean, untreated water in your hospital tank.
I want you to be aware of these precautions when administering the formalin bath:
Formalin has limited shelf life and degrades to the highly toxic substance paraformaldehyde (identified as a white precipitate on the bottom of the solution); avoid using any formalin product which has such a precipitate at the bottom of the bottle.
Formalin basically consumes oxygen so vigorous aeration must be provided during treatment.
Time the bath closely and never exceed one hour of chemical exposure at this concentration.
Observe the seahorse closely during the bath at all times, and it show signs of distress before the allotted time has elapsed, remove it from the treatment immediately.
If you can obtain Formalin 3 from Kordon at your LFS, Monique, these of the instructions you should follow for your formalin dip:
METHOD 2 (DIP) FOR THE PREVENTION OR TREATMENT OF FISH DISEASES
(a) To a clean, non-metallic container (i.e., a plastic bucket), add one or more gallons of fresh tap water treated with Kordon’s AmQuel . For marine fish use freshly prepared saltwater adjusted to the same specific gravity (or salinity) as in the original tank. Make sure the temperature in the container is identical to that in the aquarium
(b) Add 1 teaspoons of Formalin•3. This produces a concentration of 100 ppm. formaldehyde.
(c) Agitate the solution with an airstone and adjust for a moderately strong flow of air.
(d) Remove the fishes to be treated and deposit them in the container for a treatment period of not more than 50 minutes. Immediately after the treatment period, or if signs of distress are noted, remove the fishes to a previously prepared recovery tank. The fishes may be returned to their original tank, but the presence of the original disease-causing agents in the tank water may result in a reoccurrence of the disease condition.
(e) Observe recovering fishes. Make sure that tankmates do not molest them during recovery.
(f) Repeat treatment as needed, every week. Each treatment is very stressful to the treated fishes. Do not reuse the dip solution.
For additional information on treating fishes with Formalin 3 by Kordon, see the following web page:
Click here: KPD-54 Formalin-3
If you get another brand of formalin, just follow the instructions that it comes with for a concentrated bath or dip (not prolonged immersion or a long-term bath).
Any of the dips are baths mentioned above should provide your itchy seahorses with immediate relief and will serve as a helpful first aid measure to start with, mermaid. However, for a heavy infestation, it is also necessary to treat the seahorse tank in order to eradicate the parasites. There are a number of treatment options that would accomplish that goal.
For instance, the seahorse tank could be treated with quinine sulfate, chelated copper sulfate, Paracide-D, Parinox, praziquantel, or Osmotic Shock Therapy (i.e., hyposalinity) after removing sensitive invertebrates. However, if you have live corals in the aquarium with the seahorses, that limits the treatment options greatly, since almost all of the anti-parasitic medications are hard on live corals and invertebrates in general. Please let me know all of the specimens and invertebrates that the 6-gallon nano tank houses, and I will help you decide on an appropriate treatment regimen in your case.
Best of luck resolving this parasite problem and upgrading your seahorse tank to provide more suitable accommodations, mermaid. I hope to hear from you off list as soon as possible so that I can explain the proper conditions and ideal setup for seahorses in more detail.
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.