Seahorse Training Program — get certified now!

Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm and Tours | Kona Hawaii Forums Seahorse Life and Care Seahorse Training Program — get certified now!

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    Pete Giwojna

    Dear hobbyists:

    I am pleased to announce that a comprehensive training program for new seahorse keepers is now available to all interested parties from Ocean Rider!

    Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Pete Giwojna and I provide tech support for Ocean Rider ( One of my duties in that regard now includes providing a quick training course for new Ocean Rider customers and first-time buyers to get them up to speed on the aquarium care and requirements of seahorses. All newbies are required to complete the training program to my satisfaction before they can be certified and authorized to purchase seahorses, but the training lessons are available to anyone who cares to participate.

    The purpose of this training is twofold: (1) to assure that the home hobbyist has a suitable aquarium, completely cycled and with the biofiltration fully established, ready and waiting when his seahorses arrive, and (2) to assure that the hobbyist has a good understanding of the aquarium care and requirements of Ocean Rider seahorses by the time he or she has completed the training and been certified. All of which will help to ensure that things go smoothly and that the home aquarist’s first experience with Ocean Rider seahorses is rewarding and enjoyable.

    This basic training is very informal and completely free of charge. Ocean Rider provides the free training as a service to their customers and any other hobbyists who are interested in learning more about the care and keeping of seahorses. It’s a crash course on seahorse keeping consisting of 10 separate lessons covering the following subjects, and is conducted entirely via e-mail. There is no homework or examinations or anything of that nature — just a lot of good, solid information on seahorses for you to read through and absorb as best you can, at your own speed. The training course consists of a total of over 180 pages of text with more than 100 full life and color illustrations, broken down into 10 lessons covering the following subjects:

    Lesson 1: Selecting a Suitable Aquarium & Optimizing It for Seahorses.
    Tank dimensions and specifications (why height is important);
    Tank location and aquarium stressors;
    Setting up a SHOWLR tank to create ideal conditions for seahorses;
    filtration options
    protein skimmers
    UV sterilizers
    titanium grounding probe
    water circulation
    Test kits for monitoring water quality;
    Aquascaping the seahorse tank;
    artificial hitching posts
    Basic aquarium setups for seahorses;
    undergravel filters
    sponge filters

    Lesson 2: Cycling a New Aquarium & Installing the Cleanup Crew.
    The nitrogen cycle;
    nitrification and denitrification
    Step-by-step instructions for cycling a new marine aquarium;
    Seahorse-safe sanitation engineers and aquarium janitors;
    microhermit crabs
    cleaner shrimp
    Starter seahorses (hardy, highly domesticated, high-health ponies)

    Lesson 3: Reading Assignments (books, articles, and columns devoted to seahorses).

    Lesson 4: Water Chemistry, Aquarium Maintenance, & Maintaining Optimum Water Quality.
    Basic water quality parameters (acceptable range and optimum levels);
    specific gravity
    dissolved oxygen
    Advanced water chemistry for reef keepers;
    Performing partial water changes to maintain good water quality;
    Aquarium maintenance schedule;

    Lesson 5: Feeding Seahorses.
    Frozen Mysis serves as their staple, everyday diet;
    brands of frozen Mysis
    thawing and preparing frozen Mysis
    enriching with Vibrance
    Recommended feeding regimen;
    how to tell if your seahorse is getting enough to eat
    Feeding tips for seahorses;
    preparing and serving the frozen Mysis
    feeding new arrivals
    secretive feeders
    morning feedings
    setting up a feeding station
    training the seahorses to use a feeding tray
    artificial feeding stations
    natural feeding stations
    purchasing a ready-made feeding station
    elevating the feeding station
    fasting seahorses
    target feeding
    Mysis relicta from Piscine Energetics
    Broadcast feeding or scatter feeding — just say no!

    Lesson 6: Compatible Tankmates for Seahorses.
    Safe and unsafe companions — no guarantees;
    Tropical tankmates;
    fish to avoid
    seahorse-safe fish
    seahorse-safe invertebrates
    Feeding seahorses in a community tank;
    Seahorse-proofing a reef tank
    safe corals
    unsafe corals
    lighting the seahorse reef
    managing water circulation for a seahorse reef

    Lesson 7: Courtship & Breeding.
    Courtship displays in Hippocampus (fully illustrated)
    tilting and reciprocal quivering
    pouch displays (pumping and ballooning)
    copulatory rise and the egg transfer
    Pair formation
    Morning greetings
    Male brooding — a true pregnancy
    Giving birth — dawn deliveries

    Lesson 8: Raising the Young.
    Seahorse fry
    Determining ease of rearing
    Setting up a basic nursery for benthic babies
    Advanced nursery tank options for pelagic fry
    the shaded nursery
    kriesel and pseudokreisel nurseries
    the divided nursery
    in-tank nurseries (illustrated)
    the greenwater "starter" nursery
    hyposalinity for pelagic fry
    Delivery day
    Culling the fry (if necessary)
    Feeding the fry
    hatching and enriching brine shrimp (Artemia)
    decapsulated brine shrimp eggs
    culturing rotifers and copepods
    Fry feeding schedule
    Weaning — making the transition to frozen foods

    Lesson 9: Disease Prevention and Control.
    Captive bred vs. wild-caught seahorses
    Importance of High-Health seahorses
    Seahorse anatomy illustrations
    external anatomy
    internal anatomy
    Screening seahorses from your LFS
    Quarantine tank
    Quarantine protocol for pet-shop ponies and wild seahorses
    Beta glucan boosts immunity to disease
    Early detection of health problems
    aquarium stressors
    disease symptoms in seahorses
    What to do at the first sign of a health problem
    The seahorse-keepers medicine chest
    first aid kit for seahorses
    must-have medications to keep on hand
    properties of the main medications
    Life expectancy
    Hepatic lipidosis (prevalence of fatty liver disease)
    Seahorse disease book

    Lesson 10: Mustangs and Sunbursts (Hippocampus erectus) & Acclimating New Arrivals.
    Nature of Mustangs and Sunbursts
    multi-generational approach to rearing
    hybrid vigor
    genetic diversity
    selective breeding
    Hippocampus erectus species summary
    scientific name and common names
    meristic counts and morphometric measurements (illustrated)
    climate and distribution
    color and pattern
    breeding habits
    breeding season
    gestation period
    brood size
    pelagic/benthic fry
    onset of sexual maturity
    ease of rearing
    natural habitats and natural history
    preferred parameters and aquarium requirements
    suggested stocking density
    successful rearing protocols
    feeding the fry
    nursery tank designs
    rearing and grow out tanks
    diet and nutrition
    color variations
    temperature requirements
    wide ranging species with different races
    recommended reading
    Acclimating new arrivals (step-by-step instructions)
    Keeping and culturing red feeder shrimp (Halocaridina rubra)

    I will be providing detailed information on these subjects to anyone who is interested in participating in the training course, and then answering any questions you may have about the material I present. I will also be recommending seahorse-related articles for you to read and absorb online.

    In short, the training course will teach you everything you need to know to keep your seahorses happy and healthy, and it will arm you with the information you need in order to tackle your first ponies with confidence. It will explain how to set up a new aquarium and optimize it to create ideal conditions for your seahorses.

    How long this training will take to complete depends on your experience level as an aquarist to a large extent. For example, if you have never kept seahorses before and you do not already have a suitable saltwater aquarium up and running, it will take at least eight weeks for your training and preparations to be completed before you can be certified. It will take that long to learn the basics of seahorse keeping, set up a suitable aquarium, cycle the tank from scratch to establish the biological filtration, and optimize the tank to create an ideal environment for seahorses. Only then can you be certified ready to receive your first seahorses.

    On the other hand, experienced marine aquarists and hobbyists that have had seahorses before and already have a suitable saltwater aquarium up and running can be certified much more quickly. I will run through the same basic information with them, but most of the information I provide will be familiar material for such hobbyists and they should be able to review it and get up to speed quickly, plus they should have well-established aquariums ready, fully matured that they can fairly quickly adapt in order to make them more ideal for seahorses. In a case like that, certification can be completed as soon as they have absorbed the material I provide and are confident they have a good grasp of the specialized requirements and aquarium care of the seahorses.

    In order to provide you with the best possible assistance during the training, I will need to know a little more about your background as an aquarist and the type of aquarium you have available to serve as your seahorse tank, So in order to get started, it will be helpful if you could tell me how experienced you are with saltwater aquariums. Have you ever kept a marine aquarium before? If so, how long have you been involved with the saltwater aquarium hobby? Do you have one or more marine aquariums up and running at this time? If so, how long have the tanks been in operation?

    Do you have an aquarium up and running at this time that you intend to use as a seahorse tank? If so, can you please describe the aquarium system you will be using for your seahorse tank? How large is the aquarium (length, width, and height)? What kind of filtration equipment is installed and running on the aquarium? What type of lighting system does the tank you? How long has the proposed seahorse tank been up and running? Please list all of the current inhabitants of the aquarium you will be using as your seahorse tank, if any.

    If not, if you don’t have an aquarium for your seahorses as of yet, that’s just fine. I will be providing you with lots of recommendations and options in that regard so that you can pick out a tank that is just right for your needs and interests. And I will be working with you personally every step of the way until your new aquarium is ready for seahorses and you are well prepared to give them the best of care, regardless of how long that may take.

    I strongly encourage anyone and everyone who is interested in seahorses to take advantage of this outstanding free training program. Go through all the lessons with me and get your seahorse tank up and running in time for the latest crop of Mustangs and Sunbursts, which will be maturing this Spring. The latest generation of Ocean Rider Hippocampus erectus seahorses will be hardier and better adapted to aquarium life than ever before.

    The free lessons are available to anyone who is interested. You do not have to have Ocean Rider seahorses to be eligible for the training — it is open to all hobbyists regardless of where they may have obtained their seahorses, or whether they have any seahorses at all. Many of our trainees are simply doing long-term research on seahorses and have no plans to keep them in the near future; they just want to learn as much as they can on the subject for that fateful day when and if they decide to take the plunge…

    If you would like to give the seahorse training program a try, just send me a brief e-mail off list ([email protected]) with your full name (first and last) along with the information requested above, and I will get you started out with the first lesson right away.

    Best wishes with all your fishes!

    Pete Giwojna

    Post edited by: Pete Giwojna, at: 2010/01/23 03:52

    Post edited by: Pete Giwojna, at: 2010/02/10 04:12


    Hi Pete,
    I’m a knew aquarist and I’ve recently taken an interest in seahorses and have decided to start a tank devoted to them. I’ve gotten a lot of information from and now I’m interested in getting certified and taking the lessons 1-10.
    From, Jocelyn Louie

    Pete Giwojna

    Dear Jocelyn:

    Excellent! I have your e-mail address from your follow-up message and I will contact you off list with the necessary information and get you started on the lessons right away. You should receive the first lesson no later than Monday, January 18.

    Best wishes with all your fishes, Jocelyn! Welcome aboard!

    Happy Trails!
    Pete Giwojna


    Dear Pete

    Great :woohoo: I m very much interested in enrolling myself for training program for new seahorse keepers. I m having marine aquarium for last 3 years ( size :- L 5ft, H 3ft, B 1ft 6inch). Truly I have never kept Seahorse in my tank as I didnt had any knowledge on Seahorse keeping. And was never confident that i could give proper care to them. But always dream of keeping a tank fully devoted for such gentle pets.

    Please enroll me in your training program which is via email. So that i can educate myself in careing and keeping of seahorse.

    My Full Name : Sadanand Salaskar

    With warm regards

    Post edited by: Pete Giwojna, at: 2010/01/20 06:13


    Hi Pete,
    It’s me Jocelyn I was looking at the website again and I just found out that Ocean RIder doesn’t ship within the state of Hawaii. I can understand why and I was just wondering if you could maybe recommend some seahorses that I can find on the island of Oahu. This would be much appreciated. Thanks so much.

    Pete Giwojna

    Dear Jocelyn:

    Yes, you’re quite correct — Ocean Rider ( does have a strict policy against selling any of their livestock within the State of Hawaii. This limitation is necessary to prevent the accidental or intentional release of seahorses that are not native to the islands into Hawaiian waters where they may have a negative impact on endemic seahorses and ecosystems.

    The release of captive specimens is widely acknowledged to have the potential to do considerable harm under certain circumstances. The primary concerns are that such releases could introduce diseases into seahorse populations, could pose genetic threats to wild populations, and could disrupt the structure and normal function of seahorse communities, and may therefore actually result in extirpations (localized extinctions) of native seahorses.

    The fact that Ocean Rider cannot provide livestock for you will have no effect whatsoever on the training lessons since you do not have to have Ocean Rider seahorses, or seahorses of any kind, in order to participate in the training course.

    However, seahorses are still being imported into Hawaiian from sources other than Ocean Rider. Under the circumstances, your best option for locating seahorses will be to contact the local fish stores in your area and ask them to notify you the next time they receive a shipment of seahorses. (I am not in a position to recommend any particular pet shop or fish stores.) As always, Jocelyn, captive-bred-and-raised seahorses are much preferable to wild-caught seahorses or pen-raised ponies, when you have a choice. Lesson 9 (disease prevention and control) discusses how to screen seahorses from the pet store to make sure they are healthy before you make a purchase, so be sure to keep those guidelines in mind when you are selecting a seahorse from your local pet store.

    Best of luck finding the perfect ponies for your new seahorse setup when the time comes, Jocelyn!

    Happy Trails!
    Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support

    Pete Giwojna

    Dear Sadanand:

    That’s just fine! I have received your follow-up e-mail off list and you are now officially enrolled in the Ocean Rider seahorse training program. In fact, by the time you see this message, you will probably already have received the first two lessons.

    Best wishes with all your fishes, Sadanand! And good luck with the training course.

    Happy Trails!
    Pete Giwojna


    Thanks Pete,
    I’ll keep looking!:)


    I would like to take the seahorse training course. How do i go about getting the info to complete?


    Pete Giwojna

    Dear TJ:

    The seahorse training program is a correspondence course that is conducted entirely via e-mail. If you would like to participate, just send me an e-mail off list with the information regarding your background as an aquarist (if any) and basic information on any marine aquariums you are already keeping, along with your full name (first and last), which I need for my records. You can contact me at the following e-mail address at any time: [email protected]

    I will then enroll you in the training course and reply to your e-mail, sending you the first of the lessons. I will be corresponding with you from then on, answering any questions or concerns you may have following each lesson. From there, we will proceed at a pace that is comparable for you until you have completed the entire training program. We just have to make contact via e-mail before the training program can begin…

    So just shoot me a quick e-mail off list with the information requested above and I’ll get you started out on the training program right away, TJ.

    Best wishes with all your fishes!

    Happy Trails!
    Pete Giwojna


    Pete. I would like to take your seahorse training program. My wife and I were at the facility a week ago. It’s a fantastic place, I’d love to work there.I have had aquariums for atleast 25 yrs. Saltwater for about 15 yrs. I have a 55gal freshwater, a 40 gal. salt, a 10gal. salt. a30 gal. fresh, and a 2500 gal. pond in my backyard for koi. The horses will be going into the 40 gal. which measures(36in. long x 20in. tall x 12in. deep. Ready to get started!


    Pete Giwojna

    Dear Ross:

    Your 40 gallon aquarium can make a fine seahorse corral and I would be happy to enroll you in the training program and explain how to optimize your tank to create ideal conditions for seahorses. But I need to know your e-mail address and rather posting it on the forum here for the general public to see, I prefer that you contact me off list at the following e-mail address: [email protected]

    As you know, sir, the seahorse training program is a correspondence course that is conducted entirely via e-mail. Once I receive your e-mail address, I will then enroll you in the training course and reply to your e-mail, sending you the first of the lessons. The lines of communication will then be open, and I will be corresponding with you from then on, answering any questions or concerns you may have following each lesson. From there, we will proceed at a pace that is comparable for you until you have completed the entire training program. We just have to make contact via e-mail before the training program can begin…

    So just shoot me a quick e-mail off list with your full name (first and last) and I’ll get you started out on the training program right away, Ross.

    Best wishes with all your fishes!

    Happy Trails!
    Pete Giwojna


    I would be interested in your course.
    I have been keeping H kellogi for over a year and a half and have been into aquaria for 20+ years.

    Pete Giwojna

    Dear Scott:

    Excellent, sir! If you have been able to keep your delicate Hippocampus kelloggi seahorses alive for a year and a half, you are obviously doing a lot of things right already, Scott, but I would be very happy to enroll you in the seahorse training program.

    As you know, it’s a correspondence course that is conducted entirely via e-mail. In order to sign you up for the lessons, Scott, I therefore need to know your e-mail address, and rather posting it on the forum here for the general public to see, I prefer that you contact me off list at the following e-mail address: [email protected]

    So please send me a brief e-mail off list including your full name (first and last), which we need for our records, and a brief description of your H. kelloggi aquarium and how it is equipped, and I will reply with the first lesson right away.

    Best wishes with all your fishes, Scott! Keep up the great work!

    Pete Giwojna


    Thanks Pete.
    What a great course.
    Not only have I learned so much about seahorse raising I now feel that I have a go-to source for information without sorting through a plethora of conflicting info and opinions.
    I would recommend this course to anyone who keeps a marine system with or without horses.
    My LFS currently has three ponies that where sent to her along with the two I had ordered. She hid them in her office tank away from the public as she didn’t want to let them go to anyone not prepared to house them properly. I told her about this course and she agreed to make any prospective horse keepers take your course prior to adopting.
    The three ponies in the office are now safe as when she mentioned selling them her husband (whom never had shown an interest in any of her fish) has fallen for the horses. She says he spends hours watching the horses where that time before had been spent on line.
    A world of thanks,
    Scott Burner

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