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July 5, 2011 at 11:33 am #1892JillybeanMember
I received a 34 gallon red sea tank for my anniversary, and as soon as it cycles for about 2 months, I will be getting seahorses. However, my little one wants a nemo fish. If I introduce the clownfish after seahorses r in tank, will the seahorses do okay?July 7, 2011 at 8:01 am #5335Pete GiwojnaGuest
Yes, indeed – a 34 gallon aquarium is large enough to safely accommodate a pair or two of large seahorses such as Ocean Rider Mustangs or Sunbursts along with a pair of the clownfish that your youngster favors. In fact, it is only the "Nemo" clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris or Amphiprion percula) that do well with seahorses.
This is what I normally advise home hobbyists regarding keeping clownfish in their seahorse tanks, Jillybean:
Clownfish meet many of the criteria for suitable tankmates, but should generally be regarded with caution (Giwojna, Feb. 2004). Most species, such as Tomato Clowns (Amphiprion frenatus), Maroon Clowns (Premnas biaculeatus), and Skunk Clownfish are surprisingly aggressive and territorial, and should be shunned on that basis. Others do best when keep with anemones, which are a threat to seahorses. All clownfish are prone to Brooklynella and Marine Velvet (Amyloodinium), and should be considered Ich (Cryptocaryon irritans) magnets as well (Giwojna, Feb. 2004). The only species I would recommend as companions for seahorses are Percula Clowns (Amphiprion percula) and False Percula Clownfish (A. ocellaris), and then only after a rigorous quarantine period (Giwojna, Feb. 2004). Captive-bred specimens are best and the cultured A. occelaris or percula are not normally territorial or aggressive toward seahorses.).
The clownfish that Ocean Rider occasionally offers are Amphiprion occelaris that are born and raised at their High-Health aquaculture facility and they do indeed make fine tankmates for seahorses. (Think "Finding Nemo" — those are the clowns that do well with seahorses, providing you are willing to target feed the seahorses, as discussed below:
When keeping seahorses in an appropriately elaborate environment, it is imperative that you feed them properly! Domesticated seahorses thrive on enriched frozen Mysis as their staple, everyday diet. But the worst thing you can do when feeding the seahorses in a intricate reef or live rock environment is to scatter a handful of frozen Mysis throughout the tank to be dispersed by the currents and hope that the hungry horses can track it all down. Inevitably some of the frozen food will be swept away and lodge in isolated nooks and crannies where the seahorses cannot get it (Giwojna, 2005). There it will begin to decompose and degrade the water quality, which is why ammonia spikes are common after a heavy feeding. Or it may be wafted out into the open again later on and eaten after it has begun to spoil. Either outcome can have dire consequences (Giwojna, 2005).
The best way to avoid such problems is to target feed your seahorses or set up a feeding station for them. See my online article in Conscientious Aquarist for a detailed discussion explaining exactly how to set up a feeding station and train your seahorses to use it:
Click here: Seahorse Feeders
Personally, I prefer to target feed my seahorses instead. The individual personalities of seahorses naturally extend to their feeding habits. Some are aggressive feeders that will boldly snatch food from your fingers, while some are shy and secretive, feeding only when they think they’re not being observed. Some like to slurp up Mysis while it’s swirling through the water column, and some will only take Mysis off the bottom of the tank. Some are voracious pigs that greedily scarf up everything in sight, and some are slow, deliberate feeders that painstakingly examine every morsel of Mysis before they accept or reject it. Some eat like horses and some eat like birds. So how does the seahorse keeper make sure all his charges are getting enough to eat at mealtime? How does the hobbyist keep the aggressive eaters from gobbling up all the mouth-watering Mysis before the slower feeders get their fair share? And how can you keep active fishes and inverts with seahorses without the faster fishes gobbling up all the goodies before the slowpoke seahorses can grab a mouthful?
Target feeding is the answer. Target feeding just means offering a single piece of Mysis to one particular seahorse, and then watching to see whether or not the ‘horse you targeted actually eats the shrimp. Feeding each of your seahorses in turn that way makes it easy to keep track of exactly how much each of your specimens is eating.
There are many different ways to target feed seahorses. Most methods involve using a long utensil of some sort to wave the Mysis temptingly in front of the chosen seahorse; once you’re sure this has attracted his interest, the Mysis is released so it drifts down enticingly right before the seahorse’s snout. Most of the time, the seahorse will snatch it up as it drifts by or snap it up as soon as it hits the bottom.
A great number of utensils work well for target feeding. I’ve seen hobbyists use everything from chopsticks to extra long tweezers and hemostats or forceps to homemade pipettes fashioned from a length of rigid plastic tubing. As for myself, I prefer handfeeding when I target feed a particular seahorse.
But no doubt the all-time favorite implement for target feeding seahorses is the old-fashioned turkey baster. The old-fashioned ones with the glass barrels work best because the seahorses can see the Mysis inside the baster all the way as it moves down the barrel and out the tip. By exerting just the right amount of pressure on the bulb, great precision is possible when target feeding with a turkey baster. By squeezing and releasing the bulb ever so slightly, a skillful target feeder can keep a piece of Mysis dancing at the very tip of the baster indefinitely, and hold the tempting morsel right in front of the seahorse’s mouth as long as necessary. Or if the seahorse rejects the Mysis the first time it drifts by, a baster makes it easy to deftly suck up the shrimp from the bottom so it can be offered to the target again. In the same way, the baster makes it a simple matter to clean any remaining leftovers after a feeding session. (You’ll quickly discover the feeding tube is also indispensable for tapping away pesky fish and invertebrates that threaten to steal the tempting tidbit before an indecisive seahorse can snatch it up.)
In short, target feeding allows the hobbyist to assure that each of his seahorses gets enough to eat without overfeeding or underfeeding the tank. And it makes it possible to keep seahorses in a community tank with more active fishes that would ordinarily out-compete them for food, since the aquarist can personally deliver each mouthful to the seahorses while keeping more aggressive specimens at bay.
The key to keeping active specimens like firefish and occelaris clownfish or cleaner shrimp successfully with seahorses is to feed the other fish and inverts with standard, off-the-shelf aquarium foods first, and once they’ve had their fill, then target feed the seahorses.
Okay, Jillybean, that’s the quick rundown on clownfish as tankmates for seahorses. The "Nemo" clownfish your little one prefers happen to be the best choice in that regard. I would suggest false Percula clownfish (Amphiprion occelaris) as companions for your seahorses, since A. occelaris is both one of the most colorful and gentlest (least territorial) of the clownfish species. They stay small and do well without anemones, which must be avoided for seahorses because of their stinging ability.
In short, you can certainly obtain one or two Nemos (Amphiprion ocellaris) for your seahorse tank as long as you quarantine the clownfish beforehand to make sure they’re healthy and that you are willing to target feed the seahorses so that there won’t be any competition for the frozen Mysis at feeding time.
Better yet, if they are available when your tank is ready, you may be able to obtain cultured clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris) from Ocean Rider and have them delivered directly to your doorstep along with your seahorses when you place your order. And because the clownfish are born and raised at Ocean Rider’s High-Health aquaculture facility, the Nemo clowns you obtain from OR would not need to be quarantined before you introduced them to your aquarium. Unlike fish obtained from the pet store, which must always go through a rigorous quarantine period, Ocean Rider clownfish can be added directly to your seahorse tank without fear that you might be introducing pathogens or parasites along with your new additions.
Best wishes with all your fishes, Jillybean!
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