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July 13, 2009 at 1:40 am #1714stephj1977Member
I have a 25Gal tank ihave decided I want seahorses. It has a CPR backpack protein skimmer with a MaxiJet 12 powering it. I have another MaxiJet 4 sitting around. the tank is 20\" depth x 24\" long x 12\" width. How many total GPH is good for seahorses. Any advice will be great. Thanks, StephJuly 13, 2009 at 5:13 am #4907Pete GiwojnaGuest
In general, you want the water pump/filter for a seahorse tank to be able to turn over the entire volume of the aquarium at least 3-5 times per hour. So for a 25-gallon aquarium, you want the actual output from the filter to be about 125 gallons per hour. That amount of water flow would provide good circulation without being too overpowering for the seahorses.
Here’s what I normally advise home hobbyists with regard to the water movement in their seahorse tanks, Steph:
Time and time again I find that home hobby tanks have far too little water movement. In my experience, most seahorse setups are chronically undercirculated, a serious mistake for small, closed-systems aquaria, and our pampered pets often suffer as a result. Many hobbyists are overly conscious of the seahorse’s inactive life style and limited swimming ability, and have adjusted their flow rates accordingly, resulting in less water movement than desirable. In actuality, seahorses prefer moderate water movement, including some areas of brisk current, providing there are also sheltered spots and some areas of relatively slack water they can move to when desired. Slack water means comparatively low flow, NOT stagnant conditions! Avoid dead spots and stagnant areas at all costs.
I have often discussed this matter with professional divers and collectors who regularly encounter seahorses in the ocean, and they report that the horses are often found where you would least expect them — well offshore and thriving in areas with powerful currents. For example, here is how Paul Baldassano, a commercial diver in New York who makes his living collecting sea urchins, describes the behavior of his local seahorses:
"In regard to seahorses in the wild, I occasionally see Hippocampus erectus in the wild while SCUBA diving but never in the places where they are supposed to be. I see them in the open sea far from shore and also in areas with large rocks and very strong currents. The last one I saw was in a channel off the south shore of Long Island New York in water about 12 feet deep. The current was so strong that I had to hold on to the rocks so as not to be swept away. This Hippocampus erectus was having no trouble staying there munching on the abundant plankton. Apparently they find places near the rocks where there is no current because as you know they are lousy swimmers. There is also a large population of seahorses in a similar area in another part of the New York shore, but I think it is best not to divulge that location for obvious reasons (Baldassano, pers. com.)."
Neil Garrick-Maidment, a very successful seahorse breeder in the UK, reports much the same thing:
"Whenever I have dived on Seahorse sites I have always been amazed by the currents and tides that this very fragile looking Seahorse lives in. We often find Seahorses in flat muddy/silt areas nowhere near rocks or weed. These areas are often scoured by strong currents and the Seahorses do well in them and seem completely unperturbed by the current. In setting up a tank for them I try to remember the feeling I had in those areas and replicate them. (Garrick-Maidment, Jun. 2002)."
Kirk Strawn, who earned his Master of Science thesis studying Hippocampus zosterae in the field, echoes Neil’s thoughts on the matter:
"The aquarist is not giving his seahorses natural conditions when he keeps them in a still-water aquarium. In nature tidal currents, wind, and waves are usually mixing the well aerated surface film water with the deeper water."
Likewise, David Warland, a fish farmer and commercial seahorse breeder in Port Lincoln, Australia, reports he often finds Hippocampus abdominalis perching on the tuna net enclosures at the farm in deep water:
"The Horses that are around the farms have traveled vast distances over plain sand/mud to get to the farms, which are in at least 20 meters of water, and are miles from the nearest land or shallow water (Warland, pers. com.)."
And Jorge Gomezjurado, the Senior Aquarist at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, recommends the following when it comes to water movement:
"I personally believe that current and water dynamics are very important for Syngnathids. In nature they live in areas with active water movement.(i.e., tides in mangrove lagoons and estuaries, coral reefs, kelp forests, etc.). Why don’t give them the same environmental conditions in captivity? Our small tanks (90 gallons) also have large turnovers on an average of 5 gpm (or 300 gph). It is very important that the current is steady and directional constant, which allows the animals to find a good spot to hold and they will not be pulling in different directions all the time."
The point is that, as long as slack-water retreats are available, the greater seahorses can tolerate far more current than most folks suspect and good circulation is as important for a seahorse setup as any other aquarium. I cannot emphasize that enough.
For example, in addition to an external power filter, my SHOWLR system also has a 200 gph powerhead with a sponge pre-filter positioned right near the top for surface agitation and extra water movement, with additional small powerheads used as needed to eliminate any dead spots along the substrate or behind the rockwork. I like to give my seahorses as much current as they can handle without getting blown around.
In short, if your filtration is not turning over the entire volume of the aquarium a MINIMUM of 5 times per hour, your seahorse setup is probably undercirculated. With a spray bar return raised above the surface of the water to diffuse the outflow, you can achieve turnover rates of several times that much without producing too much turbulence or current for seahorses. A waterfall return is another good way to diffuse the output from your filter, and also works well for seahorses. There will be an area of relatively vigorous water movement at one end of the aquarium underneath and nearby the waterfall, while the other end of the tank is a relatively low flow area.
But as with anything, too much of even a good thing can be undesirable, and too much current can overwhelm the limited swimming ability of Hippocampus. One indication that you may have too much water movement in your seahorse tank is if the seahorses are getting buffeted around by the currents, and whisked away uncontrollably when they tire of fighting the current. Or alternatively, they may stay perched in one place all the time and refuse to swim around and explore their tank for fear of getting swept away by the current if they relax their grip on their hitching posts. So you can get a pretty good gauge of how well the seahorses are able to cope with the water movement than their tank by observing how the current affects the swimming ability.
Likewise, if a mated pair of seahorses is consistently spilling eggs during the copulatory rise, that’s another pretty good indication that there may be too much turbulence or water movement in the upper reaches of their aquarium.
If the seahorses are having difficulty tracking their prey and eating because the current whisks the frozen Mysis past them too quickly to target it accurately and slurp it up, that’s another red flag. Often that situation can be corrected simply by adjusting the output from your filter to reduce the current during feeding time or turning it off altogether while a seahorses are eating.
But as long as your seahorses aren’t getting buffeted around, aren’t routinely dropping eggs during disrupted mating attempts, and aren’t having difficulty targeting their prey and eating, there’s really no such thing as too much water movement. In general, the stronger the water flow, the more important it is to keep the water currents steady and unvarying so the seahorses can establish holding areas in the sheltered spots and low-flow zones downcurrent without getting blindsided by unpredictable currents. Just make sure your seahorses are not getting trapped against overflows and be sure to screen off the intakes for any powerheads. Powerheads can be switched off at feeding time, if necessary.
In short, there is a fairly simple way to roughly determine whether or not the water movement and circulation in your aquarium is adequate. As a general rule of thumb, if your filter/pump(s) are not turning over the entire volume of your seahorse tank at least 3-5 times per hour, then the aquarium is under circulated. So just take the number of gallons per hour that your filter/pump/powerheads move and divide that by the capacity of your aquarium, and you can get a rough gauge of where things stand. Ideally, that calculation will come out to be 5 or above; if not, you can probably stand to increase the water flow a bit, and if the figure works out to be less than three, then you definitely need to step up the circulation. Likewise, if the number comes out to be considerably greater than 5, then you probably need to tone down the water movement somewhat, especially if you don’t have a spray bar return or waterfall return that diffuses the output from the filter. Remember, adequate surface agitation to promote efficient oxygenation and gas exchange at the air/water interface is just as important as the overall water movement.
Okay, Steph, that’s the quick rundown on water circulation for a seahorse tank. If you are in the process of setting up and preparing aquarium for seahorses, I recommend you take advantage of Ocean Rider’s training program for new seahorse keepers.
Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Pete Giwojna and I provide tech-support for Ocean Rider (seahorse.com). Part of my duties in that regard include 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 this basic training to my satisfaction before they can be certified and authorized to purchase Ocean Rider seahorses.
The purpose of this training is twofold: (1) to assure that the 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 assure that things go smoothly and that your first experience with Ocean Rider seahorses is rewarding and enjoyable.
This basic training is very informal and completely free of charge, Steph. 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:
Aquarium care and requirements of seahorses;
Selecting a suitable aquarium for seahorses;
size (tank height and water volume)
aquarium test kits
Optimizing your aquarium for seahorses;
water movement and circulation
hitching posts (real and artificial)
Cycling a new marine aquarium;
The cleanup crew (aquarium janitors & sanitation engineers);
water quality & water changes
aquarium maintenance schedule
Compatible tank mates for seahorses;
Courtship and breeding;
Rearing the young;
Disease prevention and control;
professional rearing protocols
Acclimating Ocean Rider seahorses.
If you are interested, Steph, I will be providing you with detailed information on these subjects and 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.
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.
So in order to get started, Steph, the first thing I need to know is 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, Steph, 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 should also point out that completing the training course in no way obligates you to purchase Ocean Rider seahorses now or at any time in the future. 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 the 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 want to give the training course to try, please contact me off list ([email protected]) as soon as possible with the information requested above, Steph, and we will get started with your training right away.
Best wishes with all your fishes, sir!
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