- This topic has 4 replies, 3 voices, and was last updated 17 years, 2 months ago by ramilmarcelo.
November 29, 2006 at 7:28 pm #1023Pete GiwojnaModerator
Spikeys and Sunbursts are indeed completely different species. The Ocean Rider strain of captive-bred-and-raised Hippocampus barbouri are marketed as Spikeys because of the well-developed spines that characterize this species, whereas Sunbursts are Hippocampus erectus. Barbs (H. barbouri) have a prickly appearance due to their sharp, relatively well-developed spines, whereas spikey Mustangs and Sunbursts are adorned with extravagant cirri.
The hair-like extensions on the head and neck of spiky Mustangs or Sunbursts are known as dermal cirri, and are an attractive adornment possessed by certain seahorses. Dermal cirri are fleshy tabs or branching outgrowths of the skin that serve to break up the seahorse\’s outline and allow it blend into its weedy habitat all the better, a sort of natural camouflage. Unlike the spines on H. barbouri, cirri are not permanent structures in most cases. Up to a certain age at least, seahorses appear to be capable of growing or shedding these fleshy filaments as the occasion demands in order to better suit their surroundings. For example, specimens that are rafting in clumps of Sargassum are apt to have well-developed cirri, giving them an appropriately shaggy appearance, while a seahorse inhabiting the mudflats of an estuary will be smooth skinned. Cirri grow most commonly on the head and neck region and are more common in juveniles than adults.
Hippocampus barbouri typically range in coloration from white to vivid yellow and bright orange. Most specimens have striped snouts and a pattern of fine, brown lines radiating from the eyes completes the picture. Barbs are the pretty, prickly, tropical seahorses we all used to know and love as Hippocampus histrix until the histrix complex was revised and taxonomists officially changed their name to H. barbouri. Barbs are one seahorse that the average hobbyist can easily recognize. They are readily identified by their sharp, very well-developed spines, their prominent five-pointed crown, and their boldly striped snouts. Common names for H. barbouri include the Spiny seahorse, Prickly seahorse, Zebra-snout seahorse, Barbour\’s seahorse, and of course, Spikeys. They are often called Barbs for short here in the US.
So I can see why it would be easy to be confused by the designation of Ocean Rider\’s strain of H. barbouri as Spikeys and the fact that Mustangs and Sunbursts with well-developed cirri are said to come with the \"spiky\" option. But in fact Barbs or Spikeys (H. barbouri) and spiky Sunbursts (H. erectus) are completely different species of seahorses. The two species have virtually identical aquarium requirements and make good tankmates for each other.
Best of luck with your seahorses, Carrie!
Pete GiwojnaNovember 29, 2006 at 8:47 pm #3119carrieincoloradoGuest
Thank you Pete! I deleted my original message because the question sounded so silly.. but I’m really glad that you saw it and answered it! Now I really want to get a pair…. Time to start saving up!December 1, 2006 at 2:15 am #3130ramilmarceloGuest
This message caught my attention in particular, as I just sent in an order for Mustangs and then saw that Spikeys may have been a viable alternative (maybe for later as I gain more experience). How different are these two in hardiness? Do they interbreed?
RamilDecember 1, 2006 at 3:29 pm #3132Pete GiwojnaGuest
Like all captive-bred-and-raised seahorses, Ocean Rider’s strain of cultured Hippocampus barbouri or much hardier than wild-caught H. barbouri and will thrive in the aquarium when provided with favorable conditions. However, they are not quite as hardy as Mustangs and Sunbursts (H. erectus) just yet, simply because the Barbs or Spikeys (H. barbouri) haven’t been selectively bred as long as the Mustangs and Sunbursts. So the OR line of domesticated H. barbouri hasn’t gone through as many generations of strengthening and improvement at this point.
But they are certainly not delicate by any means, and they have a couple of advantages over the Mustangs and Sunbursts. For one thing, the Spikeys (H. barbouri) can be a little more tolerant of summertime temperature spikes. But the main advantage of the Barbs is that they produced large benthic babies that are considerably easier to raise than the pelagic H. erectus fry.
Newborn Barbs are suitable for the easy rearing method. H. barbouri produce modest broods (about 100 fry on average) of large, well-developed, benthic fry. They will swim to the surface in order to inflate their swim bladders, and then immediately orient to the substrate and seek out hitching posts after the first day. They can take newly hatched brine shrimp (Artemia nauplii) as their first food and enriched Artemia alone is generally sufficient to sustain them through the fry stage (Goedegebuur, pers. comm.). They are not quite as easy to raise as H. zosterae, H. capensis or H. fuscus, but they are far behind those species in terms of ease of rearing. All in all, barb babies are fairly easy to rear.
In short, Ramil, once you gain a little first-hand experience working with Mustangs or Sunbursts (H. erectus), you can confidently add a pair of Spikeys (H. barbouri) to your herd.
Barbs or Spikeys (H. barbouri) are unlikely to interbreed with Mustangs or Sunbursts (H. erectus) as long as the seahorses are provided with mates of their own kind. At least I have never heard of that particular cross (erectus + barbouri) before.
However, H. barbouri has been known to crossbreed with other species of seahorses under certain circumstances. Such unusual pairings usually produce perfectly viable, healthy hybrid offspring that show a mixture of traits from their parents.
As a rule, we don’t want to encourage interspecific hybridization, but the results of such crosses can sometimes be quite striking. For example, I know of one case where a female H. barbouri mated with a male H. comes in a hobbyist’s tank (Greg Hiller, pers. com.) and produced offspring. Hiller succeeded in raising one of these hybrid fry well into the juvenile or subadult phase, and it was a very beautiful specimen indeed. The hybrid barbouri-comes youngster showed the pale color, crownlike coronet, increased spininess and boldly striped snout of its H. barbouri mother, while retaining the splendid mottling and tiger stripes on its tail and body that it inherited from its H. comes father. Outstanding!
Best of luck with your seahorses, Ramil!
Pete GiwojnaDecember 2, 2006 at 6:05 am #3134ramilmarceloGuest
Thanks for your informative reply. The relative ease of rearing benthic fry for barbs vs. pelagic fry for H. erectus is certainly an incentive to get the former as a next step in seahorse rearing.
I can’t wait to get my first pair next week.
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