Seahorse Club
Aquarium & Livestock

Feed Ezy Frozen Mysis

Seahorse Club
Aquarium & Livestock

Feed Ezy Frozen Mysis

Seahorse Club
Aquarium & Livestock

Feed Ezy Frozen Mysis

Seahorse Club
Aquarium & Livestock

Feed Ezy Frozen Mysis

Seahorse Club
Aquarium & Livestock

Feed Ezy Frozen Mysis

Seahorse Club
Aquarium & Livestock

Feed Ezy Frozen Mysis

changing aquariums

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    I am going to change from a JBJ 28 gallon to a 38 gallon innovative marine…I would like to know what you think of this tank for my seahorses. How is the best way to transfere them to the new tank. I assume using the water from the other tank would be ok? I would like to use a thin layer of black substrate. How do I go about getting the tank ready for the seahorses I already have.

    Pete Giwojna

    Dear Tammy:

    I assume you’re thinking about the Innovative Marine 38-gallon Mini Nuvo aquarium system, Tammy.

    In general, it sounds like that would be a real nice upgrade, going from the JBJ 28-gallon biocube to the 38-gallon Mini Nuvo by Innovative Marine. The 30% increase in total water volume alone would make such a switch worthwhile and be beneficial to your ponies, and there are some nice features about the 38-gallon Mini Nuvo aquarium system that I really like.

    First of all, it’s a very attractive aquarium system with an ultramodern design that looks really nice once the tank is up and running. All of the filtration equipment is concealed behind a false back, which operates much like a sump. This design looks very nice since there are no cords, siphon tubes, pumps, hoses, heaters, or other apparatus in the main tank itself, all of which are hidden away behind the false back, so there is nothing to detract from the appearance of the aquarium inhabitants at the aquarium decor.

    More importantly, having all the filtration and equipment safely hidden away behind that false back is a big plus the seahorse keeper. Not only does it look nice and neat and uncluttered, but there are no cords, airlines, siphon tubes, or heaters hanging in the tank for seahorses to perch on high up in the water column. That makes it safer for the horses — no chance of heater burns and less risk of gas bubble disease from hanging high near the surface where there’s less hydrostatic pressure. Plus the filter intakes are all walled off from the seahorses — no way a curious seahorse will get sucked up against them or have its tall drawn into an intake tube.

    The built in filtration system for the Innovative Marine 38-gallon Mini Nuvo aquarium is efficient and very versatile. There are additional compartments in the false back that can accommodate an internal or hang-on-the-back protein skimmer, an optional built-in refugium, aquarium heater, and extra bags of Chemi-Pure Elite or other chemical filtration media, etc.

    The only complaint I have heard regarding this tank design is that it can sometimes be difficult to access and service the equipment behind a false back during routine maintenance, but having all of the equipment contained safely behind a false back is the safest arrangement for seahorses and gives the aquarium that polished "finished" or "prebuilt" appearance that you are looking for, Tammy. There’s no denying that the Innovative Marine 38-gallon Mini Nuvo is a handsome, futuristic-looking aquarium system.

    But I do have a couple of concerns about this particular tank when it comes to seahorses, Tammy. For one thing, it’s only 19 inches tall and I would prefer a taller tank for the benefit of the ponies. If possible, I like my seahorse tanks to be at least 20 inches tall and 24 inches of height would be even better. But 19 inches of height is sufficient to allow large tropical seahorses to mate comfortably, and you can compensate for an inch or two of height simply by maintaining optimum water quality at all times.

    My other concern is that the pump for the 38-gallon Mini Nuvo puts out 476 gallons per hour, which will create powerful currents that can be too overpowering for the limited swimming ability of seahorses. The pump will turn over the entire water volume of the 38-gallon aquarium about 12-1/2 times per hour (476 gph/38 gal. = 12.5).

    When it comes to water circulation and a seahorse tank, the pumps and filters need to turn over the entire vibe of the aquarium at least five times per hour or the aquarium is undercirculated. A turnover rate of 5-8 times per hour is normally acceptable for a seahorse setup, with a turnover rate of 6-7 times per hour being just about ideal. But you can expect seahorses to begin experiencing problems with the water currents when the turnover rate approaches 10 times per hour or more…

    In other words, Tammy, you would need to reduce the water flow from the filtration system by about 50% to create the best conditions for seahorses. I am told by the manufacturer that simply removing the flare nozzles and inserting the Spin Stream attachment by Innovative Marine into the return lines instead will accomplish just that. If that’s the case in actual practice, then that’s a very simple, effective, and highly recommended solution to this potential problem.

    The LED lighting system included with the 38-gallon Mini Nuvo aquarium system is an excellent choice for a seahorse tank, and there are no problems in that regard. It will produce plenty of light without causing any overheating problems, and makes it easy to keep live soft corals in your seahorse setup.

    Hobbyists who have purchased the 38-gallon Mini Nuvo aquarium system by Innovative Marine tell me that the aquarium stand designed for this particular tank is not worth the price, so I would recommend purchasing the tank only and not the aquarium stand, Tammy. I am told that the stand is made of pressboard and is none too sturdy, so you would be better off saving the $250 cost of the stand and finding a piece of furniture or a well-built aquarium cabinet that can support the aquarium instead.

    Okay, Tammy, those are my thoughts on the Innovative Marine 38-gallon Mini Nuvo aquarium system when it comes to seahorses. All things considered, I would say that it’s a very nice upgrade for you providing you address the water flow issue as previously discussed and skip the aquarium stand.

    Now, when it comes to getting the new tank ready and then transferring your seahorses from the old aquarium to the new 38-gallon Mini Nuvo, Tammy, that should be very easy if you are going to keep the JBJ 28-gallon tank up and running at the same time as well.

    In that case, you can set up the Innovative Marine 38-gallon Mini Nuvo aquarium system just as you would any other new marine aquarium, and take all the time necessary to cycle the aquarium and assure that the biological filtration is well-established before you proceed. When that has been accomplished, you can merely adjust the aquarium water in the 38-gallon Innovative Marine aquarium so that the water temperature, pH, and specific gravity match the conditions in your JBJ 28-gallon aquarium. The seahorses can then be transferred straight from the old tank to the new aquarium and released with no acclimation whatsoever.

    However, if you must take down the existing JBJ 28-gallon aquarium system that currently houses the seahorses in order to put up the new Innovative Marine 38-gallon Mini Nuvo aquarium system, Tammy, that complicates matters and I would need to provide you with some more detailed guidelines if that’s the case. So please let me know if you must first dismantle the 28-gallon JBJ tank before you can go ahead and set up the new 38-gallon Mini Nuvo aquarium system by Innovative Marine, and I will send you some comprehensive instructions explaining how best to proceed in that event.

    Best wishes with all your fishes, Tammy!

    Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support

    Post edited by: Pete Giwojna, at: 2013/07/02 23:21


    what is the best way to save as much copepod population as I can. I have a refugium unfortunately power goes out and I have tried everything to keep it from overflowing. But no success. I plane to run a small refugium in the back of the tank. To keep my mandrin dragonette happy. I was thinking I could do a big water change and transfere that water to the new tank to try and keep the population going…What do you think?

    Pete Giwojna

    Dear Tammy:

    It’s going to be a challenge to salvage the bulk of your pod population and transport them to the new Innovative Marine 38-gallon Mini Nuvo aquarium system once it has cycled, Tammy, because the pods are so small and insignificant and tend to colonize the rockwork and substrate rather than swimming freely in the open water column, but I can offer a few suggestions in that regard.

    As you know, the 38-gallon Innovative Marine Mini Nuvo aquarium system includes room in the back for a refugium, and Innovative Marine offers an LED light fixture for such a ‘fuge, Tammy. The first thing I would do would be to install a small refugium in the back of the new 38-gallon aquarium as soon as it has finished cycling, just as you’re planning on doing, and provide it with LED lighting. Then I would transfer the contents of the old refugium that you have tried so hard to keep thriving despite the power outages to the new refugium as intact as possible.

    Secondly, I would transfer the mechanical filtration media from your JBJ 28-gallon to the new 38-gallon Mini Nuvo aquarium system by Innovative Marine as soon as it’s up and running with newly mixed saltwater at the proper pH, temperature, and specific gravity, Tammy. That would be a great way to seed the new tank with beneficial nitrifying bacteria to help jumpstart the cycling process, and one thing I have noticed is that Gammarus and other amphipods love to colonize the mechanical filtration media in an aquarium, where they typically thrive and prosper and reproduce, feeding on the particulate matter and organic wastes it strains out of the aquarium water. So the mechanical filtration media for the filtration system in your JBJ 28-gallon aquarium is very likely the one location in your aquarium with the highest concentration of amphipods and copepods, and transferring the mechanical filtration media to the new 38-gallon Mini Nuvo tank will effectively relocate the bulk of the Gammarus amphipods to the new aquarium as well as seeding it with beneficial bacteria.

    Then if you want to perform a major water change in the JBJ tank in the hope of recapturing more of the pod population from the water column, it might help a bit as a finishing touch, Tammy. Hopefully, those measures will help to build up a thriving pod population in the new Innovative Marine 38-gallon Mini Nuvo aquarium system for your Mandarin and your seahorses as quickly as possible.

    But you must be prepared to provide your beautiful Mandarinfish with plenty of prepared foods to serve as its staple diet nevertheless, Tammy, even if the Mandarin will have an opportunity to graze on copepods and amphipods between meals.

    As we have discussed before, I absolutely love the spectacular coloration and peaceful nature of Mandarin dragonets, Tammy! There’s no disputing that they are gorgeous little fishes and make ideal tankmates for seahorses. They are docile, slow-moving, passive fish that are beautifully marked and very deliberate feeders. And they are quite hardy fish providing they can be fed properly.

    However, until quite recently, feeding mandarins and providing them with good nutrition in the aquarium was nearly impossible, and most wild-caught Mandarin dragonets were doomed to a depth by slow starvation in the aquarium, Tammy. For that reason, they were considered extremely difficult to keep and a fish that should only be attempted by expert aquarists with large tanks having sandy bottoms and live rock and a large population of copepods and amphipods in their aquariums.

    Nowadays, thank goodness, it’s largely a different story. Captive-bred-and-raised Mandarin dragonets from Oceans, Reefs and Aquariums (ORA) in Florida are trained to eat prepared foods and are hardy little fish that are relatively easy to keep in the right type of aquarium. They are every bit as spectacular as the wild-caught Mandarinfish, perhaps even more so, and infinitely easier to feed. ORA has even developed a reddish color form of the Mandarin dragonets, which as much more of the bright red orange swirling stripes than the normal psychedelic Mandarins do. So, as long as you can get the tank bred specimens that have been raised in captivity, Tammy, there is no compelling reason for you not to include a Mandarin Dragonet in your new, larger seahorse tank once it’s well established.

    It has been my experience that the captive-bred-and-raised Mandarin dragonets from ORA are quite hardy when they are maintained in a suitable aquarium with compatible tankmates such as seahorses and pipefish. I suspect that the home hobbyists who are unsuccessful with the tank-bred Mandarin dragonets are either attempting to keep them with incompatible fish that are active feeders and that outcompete the mandarins at feeding time, or they are offering them the wrong type of prepared foods, or both.

    Often, the best way to feed captive-bred-and-raised Mandarin dragonets is to set up a special feeding station for them, just as you would do for seahorses. One thing I have noticed about the captive-bred-and-raised Mandarin dragonets is that they tend to be lazy feeders. They are not great at hunting for food and seem to have lost some of the foraging skills of their wild counterparts. But they do really well when provided with a feeding dish they can come and go from as they please. When they are hungry, they will come and sit in the feeding dish and pick out choice morsels to eat, and then they will go off and about their business when they have had their fill, returning to sit in the feeding dish and pig out again the next time they are hungry.

    Also, I find the favorite food of the Mandrins is chopped frozen bloodworms. That’s what I would fill the Mandarin feeding dish with, Tammy, and you can be quite confident that your Dragonet will love bloodworms of suitable size. They also go for frozen baby brine shrimp, for a change of pace, but that’s messier to feed. For that reason, I prefer to provide them with live newly hatched brine shrimp from time to time, rather than the frozen baby brine shrimp. Aside from finely chopped Hikari Frozen Blood Worms and live baby brine shrimp, Mandarin Dragonets will often eat Nutramar Ova and other fish roe, as well as frozen Daphnia (which is messy to feed them), and if you can get them to accept the New Life SPECTRUM Small Fish Formula pellets, which some of them will do readily, then they will really thrive in the aquarium.

    So, I think if you set up your own Mandarin diner and then offer your Mandarin Dragonet the proper prepared foods, I think you will find that he will do very well, Tammy. Heck, I’ve even known the tank-red mandarins to visit the seahorses’ feeding station to clean up scraps of frozen Mysis!

    But before you can begin to think about building up a thriving pod population in the new aquarium, Tammy, you must first get it up and running.

    And when you are ready to set up your new Innovative Marine 38-gallon Mini Nuvo aquarium system, you must first clean up the tank. Cleaning a brand-new tank straight from the manufacturer is a fairly simple, straightforward process.

    The first step in preparing your new tank is to cleanse it thoroughly before you set it up, Tammy. Obtain a new cellulose sponge (which you will hereafter reserve for aquarium use only) and scrub out the tank inside and out using a little non-iodized salt and water to remove any potentially harmful residues. Rinse it well afterwards, and your corral will be ready for use. This step is especially important if the tank has been previously used as an aquarium.

    As soon as this initial cleaning has been performed, you can get started setting up the new 38-gallon aquarium, Tammy, beginning with the leak test.

    Prepare your aquarium for cycling by setting your system up with just freshwater at first, attaching the equipment and apparatus (filter, aeration, circulation, heater, skimmer, lighting, accessories) and testing it all for a day or so to make sure you have everything in place, and that it works correctly without any leaks or unforeseen problems. If all goes well and the tank holds water, and the LED light fixture, pumps, and filters are all working properly, you can drain the water from the tank and proceed with the installation.

    The next step is to install the thin layer of live black sand along with any rockwork or aquarium decor you would like to include. Of course, installing the substrate and aquascaping the aquarium are much easier to accomplish when the aquarium is empty, which is why you should drain the water from the tank after completing the leak test.

    After the shallow layer of black sand is in place, go ahead and install the rockwork and aquarium decorations. If you will be using live rock (or one of the manufactured or aquacultured substitutes), Tammy, try to select pieces with complex shapes and interesting textures that catch your eye, and experiment with different configurations until you achieve an arrangement that you find attractive as well as functional. Your goal should be to arrange interesting caves, overhangs, ledges, and structures that provide shelter and look nice, but also to make sure that the formations you create are anchored solidly in place so that they won’t shift suddenly and there will be no accidental collapses.

    When it comes to selecting rockwork for the new, larger aquarium, Tammy, in order to avoid introducing undesirable hitchhikers to the 38-gallon tank along with the live rock, such as mantis shrimp, bristleworms and fireworms, or Aiptasia rock anemones, which could pose a risk to the seahorses, I recommend using pest-free live rock such as the Real Reef Live Rock discussed below, Tammy. The Real Reef Live Rock has all the benefits of both genuine live rock AND pest-free dry rock such as Macro Rocks combined. It is man-made live rock and is therefore guaranteed to be free of unwanted hitchhikers, but it is bioactive and is already cycled, so it therefore houses large populations of beneficial nitrifying and beneficial denitrifying bacteria to seed the aquarium and provide it with instant biological filtration ability. So it is pest-free like the dry Macro Rocks and completely safe to use in your marine aquarium with seahorses, but is completely bioactive when you purchase it, so it accelerates rather than prolongs the cycling process of a new tank.

    But what I especially like about the pest-free Real Reef Live Rock is that it is made so that it looks as if it’s already encrusted with colorful purplish-pinkish coralline algae. That makes it ideal for use in a seahorse tank since adding the Real Reef Live Rock to your aquarium will not make the prominent background color in the tank be brown or tan or gray, like genuine live rocks tend to do, and the pretty coralline color is great for encouraging seahorses to look their best and brightest as well as making a good foundation for colorful live soft corals.

    So, in your case, Tammy, I would suggest that you guys start out with a shallow layer of live sand as well as a nice selection of Real Reef Live Rock to serve as shelter as well as providing a foundation and attachment sites for a nice selection of seahorse-safe soft corals (are colorful artificial corals and gorgonians).

    This is what I normally advise home hobbyists regarding such alternatives the live rock, Tammy:

    <open quote>
    Pest-Free Dry Rock

    Another good option, which is the safest and easiest procedure for most home hobbyists (especially those new to the hobby), is to start out with "dead" foundation rock instead of live rock. This dead or dry foundation rock is considerably cheaper than live rock and is, of course, completely free of undesirable pests and unwanted hitchhikers. But it will quickly enough becomes alive once it’s placed in the aquarium as it’s overgrown by algae and inhabited by copepods, amphipods and myriad microfauna. And over time the porous dead/foundation rock will become inhabited by a thriving population of nitrifying bacteria, giving it biofiltration ability. Eventually the oxygen-deprived interior of the "dead" rock will be populated by aerobic denitrifying bacteria, which convert nitrate to nitrogen gas, thereby helping to keep the nitrate levels in the aquarium under control.

    By this point, the foundation rock will be very much alive and can provide all the benefits of live rock with none of the risks. The inert foundation rock looks completely natural when surrounded by living, growing macroalgae, especially when it becomes encrusted by microalgae or coralline algae, as the case may be.

    The drawback to this approach is that it takes considerably longer for a new marine aquarium to cycle from scratch using dry rock than it does with live rock, and you must "seed" the tank with beneficial nitrifying bacteria from another clean source in order to start the cycling process. But the advantage of using dead foundation rock is the cheaper cost and, above all, the fact that it completely eliminates unwanted hitchhikers such as Aiptasia rock anemones, bristleworms, mantis shrimp, hydroids, and rock crabs. If they are patient, many home hobbyists feel the advantages outweigh the drawbacks.

    One good source for such dry foundation rock is Macro Rocks, which offers dead, dried ocean rock in a number of interesting formations and a wide variety of types (Florida, Fiji, Tonga, etc.). They offer many beautiful, unique and intricate formations of dried ocean rock that would be an asset to any seahorse setup Best of all, you can even purchase the Macro Rocks precycled and carrying a full complement of beneficial nitrifying bacteria, which allows you to cycle a new aquarium using the Macro Rocks as fast as an aquarium with live rock.

    Macro Rocks are available online at the following website:

    Even better is the Real Reef rockwork from Pacific East Aquaculture, which is pest-free, fully bioactive, and the color of coralline algae to make it even more attractive, as discussed in more detail below. Because of these benefits, it is the type of rockwork that I personally prefer for seahorse setups.

    A note regarding Real Reef rock:

    Pacific East Aquaculture is a coral farming facility, we also breed and raise clownfish and other reef aquarium animals. Our focus is on aquaculture and in this light we offer Real Reef. The other so-called live rock that is currently available is actually brought into the US via boat, a process that takes weeks and most so-called live rock that is sold in the US is in fact quite dead and has been sitting in a box for months. This is a fact and one that I know from seeing the process myself. I tavel to Los Angeles monthly to hand pick stock and I have seen the boxes unloaded and opened many of these boxes of so-called live rock and it is not live in any way. The so-called live rock available to hobbyists now is junk and I refuse to offer it for sale and this is why we are offering the Real Reef man-made alternative. I use it in my own tanks and am confident in its quality!


    Real Reef is an artificial man-made live rock alternative.

    Non-Toxic dye is added to the rock that appears similar to coralline algae.

    The rock is fully cured and totally reef aquarium safe, we have used this rock at our facility for over a year with no problems and use it in our personal tanks and recommend this rock to anyone starting a reef aquarium or Fish Only aquarium.

    It is an environmentally friendly alternative to live rock taken from the natural reefs. We keep the Real Reef rock in a tank system in which we keep baby tank-raised clownfish that we growout. Over time the Real Reef rock has natural coralline algae coverage just like any other live rock.


    Information about Real Reef provided by the manufacturer, Real Reef Inc.:

    REAL REEF a bio-active living rock.
    Saving the World’s reefs one piece at a time!

    With the increasing demand and environmental impact of the Live Rock trade, we developed REAL REEF in response. Real Reef is a trademarked patent pending American aquacultured bio-active living reef aquarium rock.

    Real Reef is a 100% environmentally friendly Live Rock substitute. It is a clean calcium carbonate rock with great buffering ability, shape, color and everything else you like in a great live reef rock. There is no curing required.

    Real Reef doesn’t have unwanted hitch hikers such as crabs, aiptasia, sponge, flatworms, bristleworms and other nasty creepy crawlies! Real Reef looks, feels and aquascapes like real live rock. Most Aquarists think it’s better than the real thing!

    It’s time as a hobby and industry we start looking into the future and protect this hobby we all love so much. Try aquascaping with Real Reef today.

    You can purchase Real Reef Live Rock online for about $7 per pound from the following source, Tammy, and it is the type of rockwork I would recommend for your 38-gallon Innovative Marine seahorse system. Just copy the following URL, paste it in your web browser, and it will take you to the right webpage to purchase the Real Reef Live Rock:

    Once the aquarium substrate and aquarium decorations are in place and you are satisfied with the aquascaping, Tammy, it’s time to fill the tank so that you can begin the cycling process.

    If possible, I recommend using reverse osmosis/deionized water (RO/DI) to fill the aquarium initially and for making regular water changes once the aquarium has been established. RO/DI water obtained from a good source is ultra-pure and using it to fill the tank will help prevent nuisance algae from ever getting started in the newly established aquarium.

    If you do not have an RO/DI unit of your own, you can always purchase the reverse osmosis/deinonized water (RO/DI) instead. Most well-stocked pet shops that handle marine fish sell RO/DI water as a service for their customers for between 25 and 50 cents a gallon. If your local fish store (LFS) does not, WalMart sells RO/DI water by the gallon for around 60 cents, and you should be able to find a Wal-Mart nearby. (Heck, even my drug store sells RO/DI water nowadays.)

    However, it’s not always safe to assume that RO/DI water purchased from your LFS or your drugstore or some other convenient source is as pure as you might expect. If the merchants selling the RO/DI water are not diligent about monitoring their water quality and changing out the membranes promptly when needed, then the water they provide will not be a good quality and will not produce the desired results. I suggest that you look for an aquarium store that maintains beautiful reef systems on the premises — that’s a good sign that they know their stuff and are maintaining optimum water quality at all times, so the RO/DI water they provide should be up to snuff.

    If you do not have access to a good source of reliable RO/DI water, then detoxified tap water will have to suffice for filling your new aquarium. In many areas, the municipal water supply has undesirable levels of amines, phosphates or nitrates, and in the United States, it is always chlorinated and fluoridated, so be sure to dechlorinate/detoxify the water using one of the many commercially unavailable aquarium products designed for that purpose when you add it to the aquarium.

    Once the new Innovative Marine 38-gallon Mini Nuvo aquarium system has been filled with suitable water, you can go ahead and add the artificial salt mix and adjust the specific gravity of the water to the desired range, and then cycle the aquarium as usual, Tammy.

    When the cycling process is complete, all you need to do is tweak the aquarium parameters so that the specific gravity, pH, and water temperature of the new 38-gallon Mini Nuvo aquarium system is the same as the current conditions in your JBJ 28-gallon aquarium, Tammy, and you’ll be back in business.

    That’s going to make the transition from the old tank to the new, larger aquarium extremely easy, Tammy, since there will be no need to acclimate your seahorses were Mandarinfish. You can literally scoop them out of the JBJ tank and release them directly into the Innovative Marine tank, Tammy, and nothing could make the relocation of the ponies simpler and less stress-free than that, which is very good news, indeed!

    In order to avoid any adverse impact when you relocate the seahorses during the move, Tammy, the main thing is to handle the seahorses with all due care and to take precautions to make the move as stress-free as possible. Separating and relocating seahorses to strange new surroundings is always a stressful experience for them to some degree, so you want to take whatever steps you can to minimize that stress and assure that the move goes smoothly. That’s why it’s so helpful to be able to simply transfer the seahorses from your old tank directly to the larger Innovative Marine set up without any delay at all. Just be careful when you are handling the seahorses and everything should go smoothly and without a hitch, Tammy.

    When handling seahorses, I do not like to use an aquarium net to transfer or manipulate my ponies, since their delicate fins and snouts can become entangled in the netting all too easily. I much prefer to transfer the seahorses by hand. Simply wet your hand and fingers (to avoid removing any of the seahorse’s protective slime coat) and scoop the seahorses in your hand. Allow them to curl their tail around your fingers and carefully cup their bodies in your hand to support them while you lift them out of the water. When you gently immerse your hand in the destination tank, the seahorse will release its grip and swim away as though nothing out of the ordinary has happened.

    Composed of solid muscle and endowed with extraordinary skeletal support, the prehensile tail is amazingly strong. Indeed, large specimens have a grip like an anaconda, and when a 12-inch ingens or abdominalis wraps its tail around your hand and tightens its hold, its vise-like grip is powerful enough to leave you counting your fingers afterwards!

    In fact, it can be quite difficult to remove an attached seahorse from its holdfast without injuring it in the process. Never attempt to forcibly detach a seahorse from its hitching post! When it feels threatened, it’s instinct is to clamp down and hold on all the tighter. When you must dislodge a seahorse from its resting place for any reason, it’s best to use the tickle technique instead. Gently tickling the underside of the tail where it’s wrapped around the object will usually induce the seahorse to release its grip (Abbott, 2003). They don’t seem to like that at all, and will quickly let go to move away to another spot. Once they are swimming, they are easy to handle.

    After you have introduced the seahorses to their new home, leave the aquarium light off for the first day and just give them as much peace and quiet as possible, allowing them to explore their new surroundings and get adjusted at their own speed. The next morning you can turn on the aquarium lights and feed them as usual, and all should be well. I think the seahorses are going to flourish in their new, more spacious home.

    Best of luck transferring the seahorses into the beautiful Innovative Marine set up, Tammy! Here’s hoping everything goes as smoothly as I anticipate!

    Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support


    So it has been just about 1 month.  The new tank is almost ready…Test are showing a cycle.  My plan is to do a 50% water change on the new tank and replace it with the water that comes out of the older aquarium.  I want to get as much as I can from the old to the new tank.  Move all the livestock and live rock into the new tank, then add the water from the old tank.  I am anxious because the seahorses are doing so well.  I really want to try and prevent new tank syndrome if I can.  Any other ideas would be a great help.  


    I have transferred the seahorses to the new tank with success.  They seem happier.  I have decided after a year of seahorse keeping, a Fowler tank works best for me.  I have dreamed of having the beautiful seahorse safe coral tank many times.  However keeping the algea at bay was a challenge for me.  I know there are a few ways to solve this problem.  Just did not have the luck I was looking for.  Now apatasia is my biggest concern.  I do not have to concern myself with hours of lighting.  A couple hours a day seems to be fine for them.  I felt like I just could not get the color in the tank I was looking for with live corals and alot of cash.  All my ponies seemed to turn black in the old tank.  The tank is beautiful and has become a real show piece without the beautiful coral I dreamed of.  Hopefully algea will stay under control.  With or with out the coral, live rock and a few beautiful fake plants I am totally loving this hobby.


    What is your advice on a HOB filter.  I have it filled with ceramic from my othe tank, sponge and charcoal  filter pad.  Do you think smaller water changes weekly are better then the 25% water change every 2 weeks? I get my water from a local fish store…so I want to be careful.  I have added a small refugium with cheato as well.  The stock pump with the Nuvo 38 seems to be fine.  I keep the water flow closes to the top.  The seahorses are able to track the myisis and hitch with no problem.  I find them hitching at the top closes to the water flow with no problem.  I have place very tall artificial plants in front of the water intake on both sides to prevent them from getting caught in the flow.  That seems to work as well.  I have kept the stock filter of the three pads going as well, phosphate sponge, charcoal sponge and a regular sponge.  Rinsed out with water changes.  Any ideas on this would be helpful.


    Pete Giwojna

    Dear Tammy:

    Okay, that sounds fine, Tammy!

    I think the way you are handling the hang-on-the-back (HOB) filter is more than adequate, and I am no further suggestions for you in that regard. The ceramic rings will provide excellent attachment sites for beneficial nitrifying bacteria to colonize, allowing the HOB to provide efficient supplemental biological filtration. And including a phosphate sponge, activated carbon sponge, and regular sponge will assure that the filter also provides efficient mechanical and chemical filtration for the aquarium water.

    And that was an excellent idea to use tall artificial aquarium plants to shield the intake and moderate the outflow of the HOB filter, Tammy. The tall plants will intercept the water flow, thereby deflecting, softening, and diffusing the water currents so that they are not too overpowering for your seahorses. The fact that the seahorses are able to swim normally and move from hitching post a hitching post really, and can target and eat their frozen Mysis without difficulty, is a clear indication that they are having no problems at all with the water currents. Well done!

    The only other suggestions I have to offer would be to train your seahorses to come to a feeding station for their daily meals (if you have not already done so), which will reduce wastage and spoilage of uneaten frozen Mysis, and to be sure to incorporate some aquarium janitors that like to clean up meatier leftovers in addition to a good assortment of herbivorous snails so the more carnivorous scavengers can police the tank for any frozen Mysis that may escape the seahorses initially. Nassarius snails and/or seahorse-safe microhermit crabs are good choices for such sanitation engineers, Tammy.

    Yes, in general, I much prefer smaller, more frequent water changes as opposed to larger, less frequent water changes. Performing smaller water changes more frequently is safer and easier on the seahorses, Tammy.

    When you find that performing a major water change seems to cause your seahorses distress, try adjusting your water changing schedule so that you are performing smaller water changes more frequently rather than larger water changes less often. For instance, if you have been performing 20%-25% water changes monthly, switch to administering a 10% water change every week instead, or even 5% water changes performed biweekly. You’ll find the smaller water changes are much less stressful on the aquarium inhabitants.

    This is especially important if you are switching the water source you have been using for the aquarium. For example, if you are switching from your municipal water supply (tap water) to reverse osmosis or RO/DI water instead, or switching from RO/DI water to natural seawater, or making the changeover from artificial saltwater to natural saltwater (or vice versa), it is extremely important to make the switch very gradually in order to avoid subjecting the aquarium inhabitants to osmotic shock or other sudden changes in water chemistry.

    We’ll discuss this in a bit more detail later in this e-mail, Tammy, since you mentioned that you will be using water from your local fish store (LFS) for your water changes. I presume that means you will be using ultrapure reverse osmosis or reverse osmosis/deionized water from your LFS when preparing new saltwater for the water changes. Unless you have been using RO or RO/DI water in your seahorse tank all along, be sure to make a series of very small water changes over an extended period of time rather than one large, abrupt water change so that you can make the switch to the new water source very methodically and gradually to assure the aquarium inhabitants are not stressed.

    In the meantime, here are some more water changing tips to keep in mind, Tammy:

    It is standard operating procedure to leave seahorses in the aquarium while you are making partial water changes. It is less stressful for the seahorses to stay put that it is to handle them and temporarily relocate them while you are performing maintenance on the aquarium.

    When you are siphoning out the water that will be replaced during a water change, most hobbyists find it beneficial to vacuum a portion of the substrate as they do so. This is helpful for removing fecal pellets and reducing the amount of detritus in the substrate. Often they will vacuum a different portion of the substrate each time they perform a water change, so that after several water changes, most all of the substrate has been vacuumed lightly at least once during that time. If you find the siphoning stirs up too much sediment or releases too much detritus, then you can use dip tubes for removing fecal pellets, uneaten food, etc., from the aquarium in lieu of a thorough vacuuming.

    It’s normal for some detritus and sediment to be stirred up during a water change, or when siphoning over the bottom or vacuuming the substrate, but normally the mechanical filtration in the does a good job of filtering out the suspended particles within a matter of a few hours. If not, you can hook up a diatom filter on the aquarium and run it for an hour or so to remove suspended particles and polish the water. As long as you change the mechanical filtration media regularly to remove the sediment and detritus it has collected, this is generally beneficial for the aquarium.

    Here are some additional water changing tips to keep in mind, Tammy:

    If the tap water or well water in your town is of dubious quality, and you don’t mind lugging containers of water home from the pet store, then purchasing pre-mixed saltwater from your local fish store is often a good option. Many seahorse keepers purchase reverse osmosis/deinonized water (RO/DI) for their water changes. Most well-stocked pet shops that handle marine fish sell RO/DI water as a service for their customers for between 25 and 50 cents a gallon. For example, WalMart sell RO/DI water by the gallon for around 60 cents.

    Natural seawater is another good option for a seahorse setup. Like RO/DI water, natural seawater can often be purchased at fish stores for around $1.00 a gallon, depending on where you live. It sounds expensive, but when you consider the alternative — paying for artificial salt mix and RO/DI water and mixing your own saltwater — then natural seawater is not a bad bargain at all. It has unsurpassed water quality and seahorses thrive in it.

    If you have any suspicions about the quality of your municipal water supply, Tammy, it’s a good idea to consider switching to a better source of water instead, as long as you make the changeover slowly and gradually. For example, you could switch to natural seawater only, or switch to using distilled water or RO/DI water from another source instead, and see if that produces better results and improves water quality..

    However, one thing I do know is that if you are going to change the source of water you are using for the aquariums, you need to do so very gradually in order to avoid stressing the aquarium inhabitants. Here are some of the things to keep in mind if you will be changing from natural seawater to well water, or switching from the municipal water supply to distilled water or RO/DI water, or some such change:

    Replacement water should be of the same source as the aquarium, whether it be reverse osmosis (RO), de-ionized (DI), distilled or municipal supply, in order to avoid drastic changes in water chemistry. In cases where one is replacing a tap water-based salt mix with a reverse osmosis-based salt mix, the replacement water should be added slowly over the course of several hours to avoid sending the aquarium inhabitants into osmotic shock. If using municipal water, one should check with the local utility company to find out the composition of that tap water. Water containing high levels of nitrate or phosphate should be avoided, and reverse osmosis or distilled water used in its place.

    Personally, I really like the convenience of mixing up a relatively large quantity of saltwater in a plastic garbage can, rather than mixing it by the bucket full on a weekly basis. A 30-40 gallon capacity plastic garbage can allows me to mix up enough saltwater for a whole month’s worth of weekly water changes at one time. Which assures that the freshly mixed saltwater will be well aged and thoroughly aerated, and that any chlorine or residual ammonia will have at plenty of time to have dissipated before it’s used. And it also allows you to preadjust the saltwater to match the exact conditions in your aquarium very accurately. It’s always a good idea to keep some premixed saltwater on hand in case of an emergency, when a quick water change becomes necessary. Here are some more suggestions for mixing your own saltwater and making regular partial water changes in your seahorse setup, Tammy:

    Water Changing Tips

    If you find that performing a major water change seems to cause your seahorses distress, try adjusting your water changing schedule so that you are performing smaller water changes more frequently rather than larger water changes less often. For instance, if you have been performing 25%-50% water changes monthly, switch to administering a 10% water changes every week or try making 5% water changes biweekly instead. You’ll find the smaller water changes are much less stressful on the aquarium inhabitants.

    Be sure to observe all of the usual water changing precautions as well. For example, it’s an excellent idea to use Reverse Osmosis (RO) or Deionized (DI) or RO/DI water for your changes because it’s much more pure than tap water. However, water purified by such methods is very soft and often must be buffered before it’s used so it won’t drop the pH in your aquarium when it’s added.

    When mixing saltwater for your marine aquarium, it’s important to fill your container with all the water you will need BEFORE adding the salt mix. In other words, if you are mixing up 5 gallons of new saltwater, fill the mixing containing with 5 gallons of water and then add the salt. If you do it the other way around — dump the salt mix in the container and then start filling it with water, the water can become saturated with salt to the point that the calcium precipitates out. This calcium precipitation will turn the water milky and can also lower the pH to dangerous levels.

    Water changes can also sometimes be a problem because of the supersaturation of gases in tap water. Tap water distribution systems are maintained under pressure at all times, both to insure adequate flow and to prevent polluted water from outside the pipes from entering in at leaks. Any additional gas introduced into these pipes (from a leaky manifold, for example) will be dissolved at these higher partial pressures, and will often be supersaturated when it emerges from the tap. Also, gases are more soluble in cold water than warm, so when gas-saturated cold water emerges from the tap and warms up in an aquarium, or is warmed up and preadjusted to aquarium temps prior to making a water change, the water can become supersaturated. This must be avoided at all costs because gas supersaturation is one of the contributing factors that can cause Gas Bubble Disease in seahorses and other fish. To prevent this, tap water should be allowed to sit for several days beforehand or gentle aeration can be used to remove gas supersaturation before a water change (just make sure your airstones are not be submerged greater than 18 inches while you’re aerating your freshly mixed water).

    There are a few accessories you should keep on hand to make water changing easier: one or more large capacity plastic garbage cans or Rubbermaid vats for mixing up new saltwater; a small powerhead for stirring and circulating the water while it mixes; a submersible heater to adjust the temperature of the newly mixed water; a large diameter siphon hose; a couple of new plastic buckets that hold 3-5 gallons.

    First use a clean plastic bucket to fill up the garbage can with 10, 20 or 30 gallons of water or however much you want to mix up at one time. Add the proper amount of artificial salt mix for that much water, and toss your small, cheap powerhead into the garbage can to stir it up. While it’s mixing, put the submersible heater in to adjust the water temp, and add dechlorinator or detox if using tap water (if using reverse osmosis deionized water, or another softened source, be sure to add a pH buffer to the new water). Let the new batch of water mix, aerate, and stabilize for 24-48 hours before you perform the water change and check to make sure the temperature and pH of the new water matches your aquarium. Some artificial salt mixes produce residual amounts of ammonia when newly mixed; aerating the freshly mixed saltwater for 24-48 hours will dissipate and remaining traces of chlorine or ammonia.

    If you follow the steps outlined above when mixing up new saltwater prior to performing a water change, the water cannot become saturated with salts, the calcium will not precipitate out, the newly mixed saltwater will be crystal clear and the water exchange should go smoothly.

    Best wishes with all your fishes, Tammy! Good luck working out a water changing regimen that is ideal for your needs and schedule.

    Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support

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