Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm and Tours | Kona Hawaii › Forums › Seahorse Life and Care › opinion on my setup
- This topic has 4 replies, 3 voices, and was last updated 16 years, 4 months ago by Pete Giwojna.
January 20, 2007 at 10:16 am #1092saltfreakMember
I have a 45g corner pentagon tank 36\" high. It has about 45lbs live rock and another 20lbs of rubble, along with 3\" sandbed. I have no livestock in it yet except for amphipods, copepods, misc. snails and lots of macro algae. Over the display tank I have a 7g refugium packed w/pods of all sorts and macro algae. this tanks been cycling for months with a hang on filter and I just added a 10g sump w/15lbs sand and 15lbs lr rubble. also a coralife superskimmer. Isnt this tank just begging for some seahorses? If anyone has any input on improving my setup before I get my horses please let me know. should I invest in a u.v. sterilizer?
\’January 20, 2007 at 10:19 pm #3322KrisGuest
Sounds good to me!
You could easily put a pair of any of the larger horses( h.erectus, h. kuda, h.reidi) in that tank to start with! Depending on how well you’ve built your bio filter you could conceivably have 2 pairs!
A UV is deffinately a good investment!
KrisJanuary 21, 2007 at 6:18 am #3326Pete GiwojnaGuest
Yes, sir, I have to agree with you — it sounds like you’ve created a veritable seahorse paradise! Plenty of live rock and live sand, outstanding height, efficient filtration including a good protein skimmer and a sump, lots of macroalgae, a refugium, and a tank teeming with assorted ‘pods — that’s the sort of complex environment with a variety of microhabitats that seahorses need to thrive. That would make an ideal biotype for Mustangs and Sunburst (Hippocampus erectus) or most any other tropical seahorses. A tank that’s 36 inches tall should really minimize any problems with gas bubble syndrome. Well done!
It would be hard to improve on a superb setup like that but I do have one or two minor suggestions to offer.
First of all, I suggest keeping the macroalgae in your refugium and/or sump illuminated around-the-clock or on a reverse photoperiod to the main tank in order to help offset the daily fluctuations in pH, photosynthesis, dissolved oxygen/carbon dioxide, and redox levels that otherwise occur in the aquarium. Daily variances in chemical, physical and biological phenomena are a fact of life in aquaria, linked to the light and dark cycles and the diurnal rhythms of captive aquatic systems. As one example, the pH of aquarium water typically peaks after the lights have been on all day at a maximum of perhaps 8.4, only to drop to low of below 8.0 overnight. This is related to photosynthesis and the fact that zooanthellae and green plants consume CO2 and produce O2 when there is adequate light, but in essence reverse that process in the dark, consuming O2 and giving off CO2. Redox levels, available calcium and other water quality parameters are affected in similar ways. Needless to say, these variations are far greater is a small, closed-system aquarium than they are in the ocean, so it’s beneficial to minimize such fluctuations by maintaining 24-hour illumination in your refuge and/or sump. Voila! Just like that the roller coaster ride is over: no more daily fluctuations in pH or highs and lows in calcium levels, oxygen minima, or peaks and valleys in redox potential.
Secondly, I would suggest adjusting the lighting on the main tank so that provides your seahorses with a simulated dusk and dawn, as described below. Personally, I like to provide my seahorses with a natural day/night period that includes twilight periods at "sunrise" and "sunset." To accomplish this, I like the power compact (PC) light fixtures that include two tubes — one actinic and one daylight fluorescent — with dual ballasts so that each ballast can be placed on a separate automatic timer. I like to have the bluish actinic come on before the daylight tubes and stay on after the daylights go off, thereby providing a simulated dusk and dawn (Giwojna, unpublished text). This is important for seahorses since they conduct most of their courting and breeding in the early morning hours under twilight conditions. It’s a neat effect and fish and invertebrates can then anticipate "lights out" rather than being plunged into total darkness at night or suddenly thrust into bright light in the morning. I also adjust the timers to lengthen or shorten the daylight periods in accordance with the changing seasons. I find that maintaining a natural cycle this way aids reproduction (Giwojna, unpublished text).
I would also consider installing an ultraviolet sterilizer in your sump. Although it does not improve water quality to nearly the same degree as an ozonizer used in conjunction with a protein skimmer, UV radiation in the proper range (295-400 nanometers) is known to help oxidize phosphates, metabolites, organic molecules and nitrogenous compounds through the incidental production of ozone (Fenner, 2003a).
The primary benefits UV sterilization provides, however, are disease reduction and the reduction of nuisance algae. Ultraviolet radiation can be very effective in reducing free-floating algae, bacteria and microbes in general, certain parasites while in the free-swimming stages of development, and other suspended microscopic organisms (Fenner, 2003a). Seahorses are prone to a number of serious bacterial problems such as Vibriosis, and a properly installed and maintained UV sterilizer can be invaluable in reducing the incidence and spread of such infections. When properly used, UV sterilization can reduce microbial levels in the aquarium to the low levels normally found in the wild or below (Fenner, 2003a).
For best results, the UV sterilizer must be properly sized, operated, and maintained. In order to provide a good kill rate per pass, the effective dwell time (the length of time the water is exposed to UV radiation while passing through the sterilizer) should be maintained at or above roughly twenty gallons per hour flow per watt of UV (Fenner, 2003a). This sounds complicated, but selecting the right sterilizer for your needs is actually very easy. Every manufacturer provides guidelines to help the hobbyist choose a unit and a pump that provide the proper wattage, flow rate and exposure time for any given application.
To assure efficient transmission of the proper wavelengths, sleeves (i.e., the quartz jacket that shields the lamp) must be kept clean and UV bulbs must be replaced at regular intervals. Equally important, the aquarium water should be filtered before it passes through the sterilizer. For maximum efficiency, make the UV sterilizer the final component of an in-line filtration system, so that the water has already passed through your mechanical, biological and chemical filtration media before it flows through the sterilizer (Fenner, 2003a). Do not operate your UV sterilizer during the break-in period when a new aquarium is being cycled and the biological filtration is becoming established. It is counterproductive to reduce microbe levels and nutrient levels when the aquarium is cycling.
Ultraviolet sterilizers are not necessary for maintaining seahorses, but nowadays I would not attempt to keep wild-caught seahorses without one. Hardy, disease-resistant farmed-raised seahorses can do just fine without them, and reefers often frown on UV because it reduces the population of microscopic planktonic organisms filter-feeding invertebrates require. But in my opinion a UV sterilizer makes a very useful addition to the filtration system of the average seahorse setup. The fish farms and aquaculture facilities that raise captive-bred seahorses employ UV radiation in their nurseries and grow-out tanks, and there is no reason the home hobbyist should not take advantage of this technology as well.
Best of luck making a few minor adjustments to your outstanding seahorse system, saltfreak! Your seahorses showed flourish in a tank like yours and will definitely enjoy grazing on the abundant pod population between meals.
Pete GiwojnaJanuary 21, 2007 at 12:39 pm #3328saltfreakGuest
Thanx for your insight pete. Luckily I already have the full lighting setup wired and ready including a 65w actinic and 1 65w 10k w/white lunar lights. They are all running on timers w/ my reef tank. Im not much of an electrician, but Ive wired the lighting on all my tanks w/ no probs yet. As far as the uv, i think im gonna hold off for a while if at all. I will definately be purchasing captive bred. Thats the only way to go in my opinion. I try not to buy any w/c stuff. Id say my reef is probably 75% aquacultured. I already have a fire shrimp who should take care of any external parasites. Good call on the reverse photo period,Ive been doing that on my reef for a little while w/ good results. Ill definately have to do it on the sh tank. anyways I think im all set. I CANT WAIT. HERES THE LIVESTOCK I PLAN ON TRANSFERING FROM MY REEF, 1 BIG ORANGE GORGONIAN, 1 SMALL RED GORGONIAN, 1 MEDIUM RED TREE SPONGE, 1 FIRE SHRIMP, 1 GREEN MANDARIN DRAGONETT. I THINK IM GONNA DO THE MUTANG/SUNBURST SPECIAL TOO. IM AS GIDDY AS A SCHOOLGIRL. NOW ALL I NEED IS MONEY:( ANYONE WANTING TO CONTRIBUTE TO MY SEAHORSE FUND PLEASE CONTACT ME. NO FEEDING STARVING CHILDREN, BUY ME SEAHORSES JK;)January 22, 2007 at 2:27 am #3330Pete GiwojnaGuest
Okay, it sounds like you really have all the bases covered! As long as you will be keeping domesticated seahorses that you obtained directly from the breeder, and rigorously quarantine any fish from your LFS (cultured or wild-caught), and ultraviolet sterilizer is strictly optional.
Your stocking plan sounds reasonable. Seahorses often gravitate towards tree sponges and gorgonia as natural hitching posts, but I might hold off on the tree sponge if I were you, at least for the time being. Tree sponges rarely flourish in a newly established aquarium; they do best in mature, well-established reef systems with strong flow. You might want to consider another gorgonian or soft coral in place of the tree sponge until your system has matured.
Large cleaner shrimp are a good choice to augment your aquarium janitors. By all means, consider adding a few large Peppermint Shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni) , Fire Shrimp (Lysmata debelius) and/or Scarlet Cleaner Shrimp or Skunk Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis) to complete your cleanup crew and add a touch of color and activity to the tank.
Peppermint shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni) are a favorite with seahorse keepers because they eat Aiptasia rock anemones, and the peppermint, fire shrimp and Scarlet cleaner shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis) will perform another useful service by grooming the seahorses and cleaning them of ectoparasites. As an added bonus, they reproduce regularly in the aquarium, producing swarms of larval nauplii that the seahorses love to eat.
Just remember, it is important to select the largest possible cleaner shrimp for your seahorse tank(s). Live shrimp is the favorite food of all seahorses and, up to a certain point, they will not hesitate to attack shrimp that are too large to be eaten in one bite.
This often happens when feeding seahorses live ghost shrimp or grass shrimp, many of which are too big to be eaten intact. Seahorses are so fond of these shrimp that they often attack specimens that are far too big to swallow. In that case, they will attempt to break the back of the shrimp by snapping repeatedly at the carapace. If they are successful in severing the abdomen from the cephalothorax, the seahorses will then slurp up the tail section and head half of the shrimp separately. Or should their victim be so large it cannot even be swallowed in sections, they will snick out mouthfuls of the soft tissue exposed inside the abdomen or thorax.
At times, several seahorses will gang up on one big shrimp this way, like a pack of lions teaming up to bring down a water buffalo that’s too big for any one of them to tackle alone. Under the right circumstances, a sort of slow-motion feeding frenzy may then ensue, with the seahorses playing tug-of-war over the pieces of their prize.
Grass shrimp that are too large to be overcome by such tactics may survive to become long-term residents of the seahorse tank, coexisting with their reluctant tankmates in a sort of uneasy truce. Such die-hard shrimp provide a useful service as scavengers from then on.
We tend to think of our seahorses as gentle, nonaggressive creatures that wouldn’t harm a fly, but in reality they are surprisingly fierce predators in their own right. To small crustaceans, seahorses are the tigers of the grassblade jungle, striking without warning from ambush and devouring anything of the right size that moves.
When introduced to a seahorse setup, small cleaner shrimp face the same risks as large ghost shrimp and grass shrimp (a hungry ‘horse doesn’t distinguish between decorative shrimp that are intended as tankmates and eating shrimp that are intended as dinner). It is therefore important to select the largest possible cleaner shrimp for your seahorse tank(s). Seahorses will sometimes actively hunt small cleaner shrimp and they are quite capable of killing shrimp that are far too big to swallow whole, so the cleaners need to be large enough that they are not regarded as potential prey.
Another thing to keep in mind when introducing cleaner shrimp to your aquarium is that they are more sensitive to water quality and rapid changes in pH, temperature, or salinity than fishes are, meaning the shrimp need to be acclimated more carefully and gradually. Whereas drip acclimation should be avoided for seahorses that have been on the shipping bag for 24 hours or more, it is the perfect way to acclimate delicate shrimp from your LFS. They will do best it drip acclimated to the new aquarium over a period of several hours to allow them to adjust to any differences in the water parameters very gradually.
Shrimp that are introduced to a new aquarium too abruptly will not flourish and are liable to die within a day or two from the stress of acclimation, unable to adjust to any significant differences in pH or salinity, or they simply fail to thrive and expire a week or two later for no apparent reason. If the shock is too great, they will autotomize, dropping legs, claws and/or antennae immediately upon being introduced to the new aquarium conditions.
The Mustang/Sunburst (Hippocampus erectus) special is an excellent choice for your first seahorses. They are very hardy, adaptable, and sociable, and the two types will even interbreed freely.
Best of luck stocking your outstanding seahorse setup, JT!
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