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

looking to start a tank

Viewing 7 posts - 1 through 7 (of 7 total)
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    Greg B

    I know there\’s probably 50+ threads just like this one, but I want specific advice so I decided to make it 51+ good luck answering (or finding for that matter) all my questions

    ok, I will start off by saying I am a COMPLETE novice in aquariums, and while I know seahorses, and even saltwater, tanks can be extremely hard, it has been a dream of mine to own some for probably 10 years ( that says a lot since I turn 20 in a month), I\’ve started learning as much as I could about seahorses, which is how I found this site, and I\’ve been reading these forums to get a grasp on some of the knowledge out there….

    So I just moved into my apartment a few months ago, I plan on living here for a few years more at least, and I want to finally start my aquarium. My sister got me a \"starter\" tank (3 gallon tank that comes with a little bubbler (<– see novice talk) uh, I think it\’s technically an aerator… or something like that… a \"Lung GX100\" air pump, a \"under gravel filtration system\" whatever that is… I can\’t find it…. a plastic rock and a couple plastic plants, along with a hood and that has a feeding slot and a 15w bulb (fixture in the hood) the water, when full, is about 10 and a half inches deep which I read is about an inch and a half shallow for the optimum for pixies.

    now that I got that out of the way here\’s my plan, I know that I have to get this tank properly set up before I can get any seahorses in it, and I\’m in college so I\’m short on cash anyways, so I\’ve decided to take it really slowly, looking at buying the actual seahorses in 6 months or more, so I will have a well set clean up crew and mini-ecosystem all ready for them.

    I\’ve already got plain filtered freshwater (from a city tap, and filtered in a Brita (little R) drinking filter system, it\’s been sitting there empty with the air pump running for a few days now, and it\’s a nice temp, my guess is 70 F or more, need to by a thermometer for it still I plan on going out and buying a test kit and a salinity kit (to make it saltwater) along with a thermometer and sand or gravel for it, so, any suggestions on what to put as a substrate, anything besides those mentioned above I should get right away (like should I get another filter for it)

    so in this little tank I plan on throwing out the cheap plastic rock and plants, and I\’ve read on this forum about \"live rock\" and \"live sand\" not sure what the sand is, but I think the live rock is like ocean plants and possibly coral… I don\’t know if someone could fill me in that\’d be great.. if it\’s what I think it is, I actually want to obtain some live rock and start the tank by growing that. now I realize to do this I\’ll have to tear off the hood (a pretty easy thig to do) and make a new lighting set up that will be good for the animals I plan to have in the future, the plants I will have, and the audience (<– ME!) but is it good to have a small bit of live rock in such a small tank, will it take over my tank, will I constantly have to prune it back? at about the same time as I get the live rock, I also plan on starting my clean up crew, I\’m thinking I\’ll get a couple zebra hermit crabs, and some other stuff, uh.. yea suggestions on what my crew should consist of would be great, keep in mind I\’ll probably have had my tank running with saltwater for a month or more by this time.

    at about 3 months I plan on getting a couple fish, no more than 4, and I noticed the clownfish on this site said good with \"greater seahorses\"… are pixies (oh yea I plan on getting pixies if ya didn\’t realize) considered greater seahorses, or will clownfish be a problem for them.. also will 2 clownfish survive in such a small tank, and will they reproduce (I noticed they have what looks to be a high reproduction rate) so much and so often that they\’ll quickly overpopulate my tank? also noticed banggai cardinals were being offered on this site for a time, would they be good to add to this tank or no? any other suggestions for fish? then I figure I\’ll have my hands full with just the fish and the live rock for a while

    next I plan on getting an old glass 10 gal (I think) tank from my parents house, which I plan on keeping in my room out of the way and guests\’ veiws, which I will use for either a 2 section nursery (1 section for equipment, the other for the seahorses/fish, or as a holding tank for live food, or use it as an all purpose tank… w/e I\’ll set that one up much the same way, even using some live rock probably, and then comes the fun part, at around 6 months I will hopefully be purchasing my first pair of pixies, I plan on gettin the package that is currently up here on (the christmas gift set) though I\’ll probably have to buy it all seperate by that time, but hopefully not (hint, hint, wink, wink, to the owners of Ocean Riders) I don\’t plan on mating them right away, I\’ll still be making sure my nursery is all set, and if they do give birth I\’ll probably let nature take it\’s course in the tank…

    I can\’t think of anything I\’ve missed in my plan… if there is I\’ll update you, thanks in advance for any and all help and hints, and thanks for taking the time just to read this massive missuse of type 😛

    Greg B

    DOH realized I missed a couple things, so here’s an update that includes those things…

    When I buy the live rock, I also plan on purchasing a "reef ball" from Ocean Riders, figure, though I might hold out on that until I start my clean up crew…

    also, where would I find "live rock" or "live sand" for sale? my LFS? or from Ocean Riders? or would I have to find an aquarium enthusiast around my hometown?… or even online?

    Pete Giwojna

    Dear Greg:

    A 3-gallon aquarium equipped with an undergravel filter can make a successful Pixie (Hippocampus zosterae) tank if it’s maintained properly, but other than that, you will need to revise your plans somewhat in order to achieve the best results, sir

    Let’s begin by discussing the undergravel filter. It sounds like your undergravel is operated by an air lift, which just means that the bubbler stem should be attached to the undergravel filter plates, and the air bubbles going up through the lift tube are what moves the water through the bed of gravel. The bed of gravel thus has well oxygenated water passing through it continuously, which allows a good population of aerobic (oxygen-loving) nitrifying bacteria to build up in it and provide biological filtration for the aquarium. In such a small aquarium, there will probably be only one undergravel filter plate that covers pretty much the entire bottom of the tank. The undergravel filter plate is just a plastic grid that creates a false bottom under the gravel in the aquarium. It will have perforations or fine slits that allow water to pass through freely but that are too small for gravel to fit through. You just cover the undergravel filter plate with one or two inches of coarse calcareous gravel designed for use in a marine aquarium, connect the air pump to the air lift or bubbler stem with a length of airline tubing, and it is ready to operate. An undergravel filter is a very simple, foolproof device that has no moving parts. (Of course, you will need to cycle the aquarium and build up an adequate population of the beneficial nitrifying bacteria in the gravel bed before the aquarium can sustain any life, but we’ll discuss that later on this message.)

    For the substrate with your undergravel filter, use a coarse bed of good calcareous aquarium gravel such as dolomite, aragonite, or crushed oyster shell 1-2 inches deep, since the buffering ability of such substrates will help maintain good pH. Your local LFS can provide you with commercially prepared calcareous gravel for a marine aquarium.

    You will also need some saltwater test kits to cycle your tank, monitor conditions in your aquarium, and keep track of the water quality, Greg. The basic test kits you’ll need to keep track of the aquarium parameters are pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate, plus a hydrometer to check specific gravity and an aquarium thermometer (if you don’t have one already). You’ll need to get separate test kits for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate, and I recommend fasTest or Salifert kits for saltwater. I also like the SeaTest hydrometers–convenient, easy to read, and reliable. Here’s a list of what you’ll need for starters:

    fasTest Ammonia test kit for saltwater (by Aquarium Systems);
    fasTest Nitrite test kit for saltwater (by Aquarium Systems);
    fasTest Nitrate test kit for saltwater (by Aquarium Systems);
    fasTesT pH test kit for saltwater (by Aquarium Systems);
    or the Salifert Nitrogen Cycle Package of test kits (Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, & pH)
    Click here: Salifert Test Kits:
    Instant Ocean artificial salt mix
    Safe or Prime declorinators by Sea Chem for detoxifying tap water;
    SeaTest Hydrometer (by Aquarium Systems) for checking salinity;
    Aquarium thermometer.
    Brine shrimp eggs (Artemia cysts)
    Brine shrimp net
    Brine shrimp hatcheries (at least two)
    2 air pumps (one to operate the undergravel filter in the tank and one to aerate the brine shrimp hatcheries)
    Airline tubing
    Set of Gang Valves (to connect the airline tubing from your air pump to the brine shrimp hatcheries)
    Macroalgae (to provide a lush letter of plants for the Pixies to live in)

    The prices for these items vary considerably depending on what part of the country you are in, as well as from source to source. The items can often be found for bargain prices online, but then you have to pay for shipping and handling, which adds to their cost. For this reason, it’s usually best to get the items you need from your local fish store. I suggest you print out this list of items and then compare prices at fish stores in your area as well as various online sources to determine where you can get the best deals.

    As for live rock, it doesn’t sound like you have a good grasp of what the live rock actually is and the benefits it provides in a marine aquarium, but that’s all right because it’s best to avoid live rock and live sand in a Pixie or dwarf seahorse setup anyway, Greg. This is because stinging animals such as hydroids and Aiptasia rock anemones are common hitchhikers on live rock and live sand, and it’s important to keep them out of your dwarf seahorse tank at all costs.

    Because of their diminutive dimensions, dwarf seahorses are susceptible to the stings from hydroids and Aiptasia rock anemones, which normally do not present a risk to the larger breeds of seahorses. Hydroids in particular are especially problematic for dwarves because once they find their way into a dwarf seahorse setup or nursery tank, the dreaded droids can explode to plague proportions very quickly because conditions are ideal for their growth: perfect temperatures, an abundance of planktonic prey that is renewed every few hours, and a complete absence of predators. As they proliferate and spread, they will soon begin to take a toll on the seahorse fry and even adult dwarfs can succumb to multiple stings or secondary infections that can set in at the site of a sting (Abbott, 2003). To minimize the chances that you will introduce hydroids or Aiptasia rock anemones into your new aquarium, I would avoid using live rock or live sand in your Pixie tank, Greg.

    Rather than live rock, I prefer to use a lush bed of macroalgae, which closely simulates their natural seagrass habitat, in my dwarf seahorse tanks. Assorted Gracilaria and Caulerpa are my favorite macroalgae to use for this purpose. The Caulerpa consists of various long-bladed and plumed or feathery varieties such as Caulerpa sertularioides, Caulerpa mexicana, Caulerpa ashmedii, Caulerpa serrulata and Caulerpa prolifera. The center of the tank is aquascaped with more macros — mostly red and gold species of Gracilaria (Hawaiian Ogo), plus a seahorse tree centerpiece and yet more Caulerpa. Other decorative macros are arranged in the foreground of the aquarium where the light is brightest: a cluster of Merman’s Shaving Brushes (Penicillus capitatus) and a stand of Halimeda sea cactus, interspersed with Udotea palmate fans. The result is a colorful macroalgae garden with a very nice contrast of colors (reds, yellows, greens, and brown) and interesting shapes. A tank heavily planted with macros such as these is a lovely sight and mimics the dwarf seahorse’s natural seagrass habitat well.

    As an added benefit, the macroalgae act as an excellent form of natural filtration, supplementing the sponge filters, and reducing the available levels of phosphates and nitrites/nitrates. When we prune and trim back the fast-growing Caulerpa regularly and remove the clippings, we’re actually exporting phosphates, nitrates and other nutrients from the tank, thereby helping to maintain good water quality.

    Once you have all the equipment for your new dwarf seahorse tank setup, Greg, you will need to cycle the aquarium and establish the biofiltration before it will be able to support seahorses or any other life. Here are some instructions on how to proceed when you’re ready to cycle the aquarium and establish the beneficial nitrifying bacteria in your sponge filter(s):

    Cycling the Aquarium

    Until it has cycled, your aquarium will be unable to support life. Cycling simply means to build up a healthy population of beneficial bacteria in your tank that can carry out the nitrogen cycle and breakdown your fishes’ waste products.

    Ammonia (NH3), nitrite (NO2), and nitrate (NO3) are all nitrogenous (nitrogen containing) wastes. All living aquarium animals whether they be fish or invertebrates excrete these wastes, and they are also produced by the decay of protein-containing organic matter (uneaten food, detritus, dead fish or inverts, etc.). The nitrogen cycle breaks down these wastes in a series of steps into nitrogen gas (N2) which leaves the aquarium as bubbles.

    The nitrogen cycle begins with ammonia, which is highly poisonous. In the first step of the cycle, Nitrosomonas bacteria reduce ammonia to nitrite, which is also very toxic. In the second step of the nitrogen cycle, Nitrobacter bacteria convert the nitrite to nitrate, which is relatively harmless but becomes harmful when it accumulates in high enough levels. In the third and final step of the cycle, denitrifying bacteria then convert the nitrate into completely harmless N2, which of course bubbles out of the tank as nitrogen gas. In this way, thanks to the nitrogen cycle, dangerous wastes are converted into progressively less harmful compounds and finally removed from the aquarium altogether.

    When we set up a new aquarium, and wait for it to cycle, we are simply allowing a big enough population of these different types of bacteria to build up in the biofilter to break down all of the wastes that will be produced when the aquarium is stocked. If we don’t wait long enough for the cycle to complete itself and the biofiltration to become fully established, and hastily add too many specimens to a new aquarium too soon, they will die from ammonia poisoning or nitrite toxicity. This is such a common mistake among us impatient aquarists, that when fish get sick and/or die from ammonia/ntrite poisoning, it is commonly called the "new tank syndrome."

    When your aquarium has completely cycled, the ammonia levels will stay at zero because, now that your biofilter is fully established, there is a large enough population of aerobic (oxygen loving) nitrifying Nitrosomonas bacteria to reduce all of the ammonia to nitrite as fast as the ammonia is being produced. The nitrite levels will likewise stay at zero because there is also a large enough population of aerobic (oxygen loving) nitrifying Nitrobacter bacteria to convert all of the nitrite to nitrate as fast as the nitrite is being produced.

    The nitrate levels ordinarily continue to build up, however, because there are simply not enough anaerobic (oxygen hating) denitrifying bacteria to convert all of the nitrate that’s being produced into nitrogen gas (N2). Since nitrates are being produced faster than they can be transformed to nitrogen gas, the excess nitrates accumulate steadily in your aquarium. That’s perfectly normal, since the denitrifying bacteria that carry out that final step, the conversion of nitrate (NO3) to nitrogen (N2), are anaerobes that can only exist in the absence of oxygen. For our aquariums to support life, and for the fish and invertebrates to breathe and survive, our tanks must be well aerated and well circulated so that there’s plenty of dissolved oxygen in the water at all times. That means there are normally very few areas in our aquariums where anaerobic denitrifying bacteria can survive, limiting their population accordingly (which is generally good, since some anaerobes produce deadly hydrogen sulfide gas during the decay of organic matter and would poison our tanks if allowed to proliferate).

    Consequently, most aquariums lack a sufficient population of anaerobic denitrifying bacteria to complete the nitrogen cycle and convert nitrate to nitrogen as fast as the nitrates are being produced. The only way to keep the nitrates from building up to harmful levels in such setups is with regular water changes and by harvesting Caulerpa or other macroalgae periodically after it has utilized nitrates for growth. Overcrowding, overfeeding, or under filtration exacerbate the problem by resulting in more nitrates being produced and more frequent water changes being required to control the nitrate levels. You will keep nitrates at harmless levels by performing regular water changes, harvesting Caulerpa macroalgae periodically, and good aquarium management.

    Prepare your aquarium for cycling by setting your system up with just freshwater at first, attaching the equipment and apparatus (undergravel filter, air pump, lighting, accessories) and testing it all for a day or so to make sure you have everything in place, and that it works. Once assured that everything’s operating properly and there are no leaks, go ahead and add the substrate, salt mix, and aquarium décor, and leave everything running for a good week, allowing the various components and water to "settle in" before adding your microbes and "seeding" the tank with beneficial bacteria that will eventually establish your biofilter.

    There are a number of different ways to seed the tank with bacteria and feed it with ammonia so cycling can proceed. Two popular methods are the fishless cycle, which I recommend, and the use of hardy, inexpensive (i.e., expendable) fish to produce ammonia and cycle the aquarium. Often used for this method are marine damselfish or mollies, which can easily be converted to saltwater. Both are very hardy and generally survive the cycling process, but I find this method to be needlessly hard on the fish and exposing them to the toxic ammonia and nitrite produced during cycling certainly causes them stress. Damselfish are far too aggressive and territorial to leave in the aquarium afterwards as tankmates for seahorses. Mollies are a possibility, but they really look out of place in a saltwater setup.

    So all things considered, I suggest you try cycling your tank without fish. It’s really very easy. To use the fishless cycle, you need to add something else that will increase the ammonia level so the nitrifying bacteria can build up. I like to use a piece of cocktail shrimp (regular uncooked eating shrimp from the grocery store) and leave this in the tank to decay during the whole cycle. The decaying shrimp produces plenty of ammonia to kick-start the cycling process. This method should work great for cycling your dwarfs seahorse tank, Greg.

    After about 3 days after you add the shrimp, you will notice a spike in ammonia levels until the Nitrosomonas bacteria build up enough to break down the ammonia. When that happens, you will notice the ammonia levels rapidly dropping. (If for some reason your ammonia does not hit the top of the charts initially, you may want to add another piece of shrimp.)

    The byproduct of ammonia is nitrite, and during this stage of the cycling process, as the ammonia falls, you will have a corresponding increase in nitrites until the population of Nitrobacter bacteria builds up. Nitrite levels will then fall as the Nitrobacter convert the nitrite to nitrate.

    It is important to use your test kits every day or two when cycling your tank to monitor the progress of the process. As described above, at first you will see a rapid rise in ammonia levels with no detectable nitrite or nitrate. Then, as Nitrosomonas bacteria begin converting ammonia to nitrite, the ammonia levels will fall and nitrite readings will steadily rise. Nitrite levels will peak as the ammonia drops to zero. Next, Nitrobacter will begin converting the nitrite to nitrate, and your nitrite readings will fall as the level of nitrate rises. Finally, after the nitrites also read zero, you are ready to stock your tank. At this point, your ammonia and nitrite levels should both be zero, nitrates will be building up, and algae will usually begin to grow. This will tell you that your biofilter is active and functioning properly, and that you can now safely begin stocking the tank. It generally takes about 3-6 weeks to cycle a tank this way from scratch.

    Once the tank has cycled, you can introduce a lush bed of macroalgae and your cleanup crew and then order your seahorses. Forget zebra hermit crabs for your Pixie tank, Greg — they are not safe tankmates for these pint-size pigmy ponies!

    Nassarius snails and Scarlet Reef hermit crabs (Paguristes cadenati) are the cornerstones of the clean-up crew in my dwarf tanks. The Scarlet Reef micro-hermits are colorful and interesting in their own right, and these harmless herbivores are the only hermit crabs I trust with my dwarf seahorses. A few of the colorful Scarlet Reef crabs make nice additions for a dwarf seahorse tank, as do a handful of Nassarius snails, which are very active, efficient scavengers that handle the meatier leftovers.

    No, sir — Pixies are miniature or dwarf seahorses and clownfish (Amphiprion occelaris) are not suitable companions for them. They would outcompete the Pixies for the live brine shrimp that is the seahorses’ staple diet. In any case, a three-gallon aquarium is much too small for the clownfish to thrive and survive, and they would never breed in such cramped quarters.

    However, if you read the discussion titled "can I put a Mandarin in the pixie tank?" in the post a short distance below yours, Greg, you will see a variety of tankmates that do make good companions for Pixies or dwarf seahorses.

    The only drawback to setting up your miniature tank for Pixies or dwarf seahorses is the eating habits of these miniature marvels, Greg. Because of their small size and sedentary lifestyle, dwarf seahorses cannot be consistently trained to eat frozen foods without risking polluting the aquarium with uneaten food. As a result, the adults must be provided with copious amounts of newly-hatched brine shrimp (Artemia nauplii) at least twice a day and the fry must have access to bbs throughout the day.

    This means maintaining a battery of brine shrimp hatcheries and hatching out large quantities of brine shrimp on a daily basis. If you are not proficient at hatching out brine shrimp or consider that to be too much of a hassle, then dwarf seahorses are not for you!

    Here are some guidelines and instructions on hatching the brine shrimp you need to feed dwarf seahorses or Pixies so you’ll have a better idea what that requires:

    Hatching Brine Shrimp

    Brine shrimp are hatched in saltwater, not freshwater. Be sure to set up an array of at least two brine shrimp hatcheries so you can hatch out more baby brine shrimp each day before you run out. Many commercially made hatcheries are available or you can easily improvise your own from 2-liter soda pop bottles or quart jars. Fill the jars or bottles about 4/5 full with saltwater and equip each container with an airstone connected to a length of rigid airline tubing that reaches all the way to the bottom. An inexpensive vibrator air pump with a set of gang valves with put out enough air for the entire battery of hatching containers. Add 1/8-1/4 teaspoon of brine shrimp eggs to each container and adjust the valves so the airstones bubble vigorously, keeping the eggs in suspension at all times. Shine a light directly on the hatching bottles and keep them illuminated 24 hours a day.

    The eggs will begin hatching after 18-24 hours, and the emerging nauplii should be harvested and used as soon as possible after incubation while they still retain their full nutritional value. (The yolk supply lasts about 1-2 days after hatching, and the food value of the nauplii deteriorates steadily as the yolk sac is consumed. Once it has been exhausted after about 48 hours, the nutritional worth of the nauplii drops drastically.)

    However, before they can be used as food, the nauplii must first be separated from the indigestible egg shells. Otherwise the empty shells may be accidentally ingested by the seahorses, which has been known to cause intestinal blockages and death.

    The brine shrimp nauplii can be separated from the eggs simply by turning off the air for a few minutes and allowing the water to settle. The unhatched eggs will sink to the bottom of the hatching jar while the empty egg shells will float to the top. The nauplii can then be concentrated in the center of the jar by darkening the room and shining a flashlight on the jar’s midsection. (Brine shrimp are attracted to light and will be drawn together in midwater where the light is focused.) Harvest the nauplii by using a siphon or turkey baster to suck up the concentrated mass of shrimp. The shrimp-laden water can then be strained through a plankton screen or fine-meshed brine shrimp net.

    Return the strained water to the hatching container, add more eggs, and readjust the aeration. The same hatching solution can be used for a week’s worth of hatchings before it has to be replaced.

    Alternating the hatching container from which you harvest each day’s supply of nauplii will assure that you have a nonstop supply of newly hatched brine shrimp available at all times. For best results, you should decapsulate the cysts before hatching them, as explained below.

    If you’re still uncertain about how to proceed, Greg, the information at the following link should make everything perfectly clear:

    Click here: Brine Shrimp Technical Information 1

    If you’re serious about keeping Pixies, Greg, the first thing you should do is pick up a copy of Alisa Abbott’s guidebook (Complete Guide to Dwarf Seahorses in the Aquarium, 2003, 144 pages) and study up. That’s one book every Pixie owner and dwarf seahorse keeper should have on hand. I proofed Alisa’s dwarf seahorse book for TFH publications and wrote the preface for it, so I’m quite familiar with her guide, and I highly recommend it.

    In the meantime, just do a search on this forum for "Pixies" or "dwarf seahorses," and you will find lots of useful suggestions in the discussion threads that are found. That would be an excellent place for you to begin, sir.

    Please contact me off list and let me know if you are still interested in trying Pixies, Greg, and I will fix you up with loads of additional information on keeping dwarf seahorses and setting up an ideal aquarium for them. You can reach me at the following e-mail address anytime: [email protected]

    Best of luck with your new aquarium, sir!

    Happy Trails!
    Pete Giwojna

    Greg B

    Hey, thanks Pete, there’s a lot of info there, I appreciate the time it must have taken you to type it all out, I’ll be sure to do that search, and will probably be emailing you in the near future.

    I’ll be buying that book ASAP also, and I’ve started to search the local scene for fish stores, I found one just a couple of miles from me, and this place is AMAZING, I’m so glad I got lost and found it randomly B) (honestly I got lost and passed it a week or so ago and went back today when they were open). I think they will be another good asset for me, both in supplying my aquarium with food and supplies for my creatures, but also with good information. They have a site, which I’ll put here if anyone wants to do a bit of a look around to check them out (lemme know if they aren’t as good as I feel they are) or if anyone else is on here from mid-Michigan, this place looks excellent, half of the store is dedicated to aquariums, both fresh- and salt-water, have a huge tank full of just cultured choral, and even captive bred Banggai Cardinalfish which I see work well with dwarf seahorses.

    Thanks for clearing up my confusion with liverock, glad you guys are here to help newbies like me, and I’ll be sure to set up my brine shrimp hatcheries soon… also, if I plan on having a well established hatchery well before I buy my seahorses, any ideas on what to do with the large amounts of excess brine? would it be useful to throw them in my main tank for my clean-up crew and bio-filter to take care of? or would that end up making me need to clean my tank way too often :S … again thx for any comments and thanks Pete for all that info… going to have to print it all off and read it often…

    Pete Giwojna

    Dear Greg:

    You’re very welcome, sir!

    Yes, if you will be keeping Pixies for dwarf seahorses (Hippocampus zosterae) you’ll need to maintain a couple of brine shrimp hatcheries in order to provide them with copious amounts of newly-hatched brine shrimp on a daily basis. However, it’s not necessary to put the hatcheries into operation until a day or two before the seahorses are due to arrive. That will provide ample time for the first hatch of baby brine shrimp to emerge so you can feed the new arrivals.

    If you want to practice your brine shrimp hatching technique ahead of time to make sure you’ve mastered the process, that’s fine, but there’s no need to add the newly hatched brine shrimp to your aquarium until the seahorses are there to eat it. The snails and micro-hermit crabs that comprise your cleanup crew are scavengers and don’t eat the live brine shrimp.

    There really aren’t any hard and fast rules regarding the proper feeding density for Pixies or dwarf seahorses (Hippocampus zosterae). However, when you’re feeding them, bear in mind that these miniature marvels are strictly ambush predators that wait for their prey to come to them and blunder within striking distance, rather than chasing after live prey at all.

    Because they are so sedentary and because there are almost always newborns and juveniles present when you are maintaining a colony of dwarf seahorses, I tend to feed my Pixie tanks much like I would feed a nursery tank. In other words, I provide them with many small feedings throughout the day, and try to add enough brine shrimp so that the water has a "snowy" appearance at first but not too much, so that most of the Artemia nauplii have been eaten within about a half an hour. If I had to try to quantify this, I would say that you should try to maintain a density of approximately15 nauplii/ml when newborns or juveniles are present.

    Otherwise, if there are no fry in with the adults, or if you prefer to raise the newborn Pixies in a separate nursery tank from the adults, a couple of large feedings daily will usually suffice for the main tank. Pixies or dwarf seahorses do not need to be fed any particular time of day, but it’s best to provide them with copious amounts of newly-hatched brine shrimp (Artemia nauplii) at least twice a day. A feeding schedule that works well for most folks who keep Pixies is to give them a heavy feeding of baby brine shrimp before they leave for work or school in the morning, and then another heavy feeding when they return from work or school in the afternoon.

    Newborn dwarf seahorses eat the same food as the adults and can be raised right alongside their parents in the same aquarium if need be, but for best results, you need to alter your feeding regimen and maintenance schedule somewhat when you are raising the fry. For example, the adults do well with two feedings a day, but the babies require more frequent feeding and will do better if they are fed 3-5 times a day. Ideally, newly-hatched brawling shrimp should be available to the young at all times so they can feed at their leisure throughout the day. And when you are feeding more often, you will also need to perform more frequent water changes and siphon fecal pellets up regularly in order to maintain water quality, as discussed below.

    Cannibalism is unknown in H. zosterae, and one of the neat things about them is that the fry can be reared in the main tank right alongside their parents since the newborns eat the same foods as the adults. However, to maximize growth and improve survivorship, the fry should be reared in a separate nursery tank where the hobbyist can maintain better control over their feeding, growth and development (Bull and Mitchell, 2002, p57). A basic benthic nursery with sponge filters works great for this and can be set up in much the same way as the adult tanks.

    More frequent maintenance is required for the nurseries, however. With heavy, continuous feedings in such a small volume of water, regular siphoning is necessary to maintain water quality (Bull and Mitchell, 2002, p57). Fecal pellets and debris should be siphoned from the bare-bottomed nurseries at least twice a day with the deficit made up with new seawater (Bull and Mitchell, 2002, p57). The sponge filters must also be cleaned often.

    The benthic Pixie fry thrive on newly hatched brine shrimp (Artemia nauplii) with small, frequent feedings that provide live prey throughout the day. They seek out hitching posts from birth, meaning the fry rarely gulp air, floaters and surface huggers are virtually nonexistent, and they are largely immune from the buoyancy problems that so often plague pelagic seahorse fry.

    Experienced aquarists often achieve good success rates (better than 20% survival) in rearing H. zosterae to adults using these simple methods (Bull and Mitchell, 2002, p57).

    Further details on feeding and breeding and rearing your Pixies are available in Alisa Abbott’s guidebook titled Complete Guide to Dwarf Seahorses in the Aquarium, Greg.

    Actually, I wouldn’t recommend keeping Banggai Cardinalfish with your dwarf seahorses. They make great companions for any of the greater seahorses, but they require a larger aquarium than the Pixies and would not do well in a three-gallon aquarium over the long-term. Flame Cardinals stay smaller than the Banggai Cardinalfish, so you could consider keeping one or two of the Flame Cardinals in your pixie tank providing you quarantine them first, but I would avoid the Banggais or Banner Cardinalfish.

    It sounds like found a good fish store. It’s always a good idea to cultivate a good relationship with your LFS as long as they have reliable, knowledgeable staff. They can be very helpful in getting you started off on the right foot as an aquarist, although they may not be very experienced when it comes to seahorses.

    Best of luck with your new Pixie tank, Greg!

    Happy Trails!
    Pete Giwojna

    Greg B

    Well, it turns out every time I decide I’m settled on something, something else comes up that changes my mind… :blink:
    This time it happened to be my girlfriend, she decided she wanted to start a freshwater aquarium, just a simple one mind you, plastic plants, and a few small fish. (it seems I have enough fire about my own aquarium as to pass it on to her) so I decided that I’d cycle this 3 gallon aquarium as a freshwater tank for her (which I just began doing today after using some "Prime") and I will end up using an old glass tank that is in storage in my parents’ attic somewhere.
    I have to check up on the condtion of it, and it will probably require some deep cleaning, but it’s bigger, around 30-50 gallons I believe (been about 10 years since I’ve seen it) and it has a stand and everything, so I’m not sure whether I’ll be making this a dwarf seahorse tank anymore, though I may do so.. I guess I have yet more decisions to make. :pinch:
    But yes this LFS is great, and someone there has seahorse experiance, because they have about 10 there of a couple different species. (breeds??) I picked up 2 books to start my reading when I’m not on the computer, they are "Seahorses: A Complete Pet Owner’s Manual" which seems to be written by a guy named Frank Indiviglio, and "The New Marine Aquarium: Step-by-step Setup and Stocking Guide" by Michael S. Paletta, both look great, and the second one has some great checklists of everything I need to start up my tank, so I guess I’ll read this over some, write down all my thoughts and plans, and repost here in a couple of weeks..
    Thanks again for all the time assisting my, and you guys for sure have a seahorse lover for life here, and probably a dedicated buyer of your animals 😉

    Pete Giwojna

    Dear Greg:

    Those books are in excellent way to get started and should certainly point you in the right direction, sir.

    I like your idea for the aquariums, too — the three-gallon aquarium should make a fine home for a group of colorful guppies or a fancy betta and a 30-50 gallon aquarium would work great for a couple pairs of large seahorses such as Mustangs or Sunbursts (Hippocampus erectus). The larger breeds of seahorses eat enriched frozen Mysis as their staple, everyday diet, and are therefore easier to feed than the dwarf varieties, which require copious amounts of live brine shrimp on a daily basis. (An aquarium of that size — 3050 gallons — would be a very poor choice for the tiny Pixies, since they would be all but unnoticeable in such a large volume of water, which would also make it very difficult to maintain an adequate feeding density of newly-hatched brine shrimp.)

    But I can certainly give you a big thumbs up on your plans to dust off that old 30-50 gallon tank and set it up for a pair or two of large seahorses. If it’s been in storage for a while, it would be a good idea to rinse it out thoroughly with a garden hose, and then wipe down and clean the inner and outer surfaces using plain water before you fill the aquarium. If it’s an old marine aquarium, plain old kitchen-style vinegar works wonders for dried on, crusty salt deposits. Just don’t use any solvents, soaps, detergents, cleansers, glass cleaner, etc., when cleaning and refurbishing the old tank.

    Best of luck with your first aquariums, sir!

    Happy Trails!
    Pete Giwojna

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