- This topic has 1 reply, 2 voices, and was last updated 17 years ago by Pete Giwojna.
February 19, 2007 at 2:46 am #1131MoonValleyAzMember
I am starting a sea horse tank. The tank has been running for three months now. I have an excellent cleaner crew from GARF. I put in a few fish during cycleing process to keep the tank interesting. I have already taken out the wrasses, I still have a royal grama, and two clown fishes. I plan on taking them out when I put in the sea horses in about a month.
I plan on leaving the following in the tank, and wondering about compatibiltiy,
I have three sponges, diferent varieties. I understand they are good for filtering. I have several mushrooms on a rock. I also have a gorgegania. I understand these are all o.k. My biggest wonder is I have a fire shrimp. I am wondering if he will be o.k. He is very timid, and mostly stays under a shade rock with one of the sponges. Only coming out to feed. The fire shrimp is fairly large, Red with with spots. Any feed back on compatiblilty would be appreciated.February 19, 2007 at 6:17 am #3443Pete GiwojnaGuest
Dear Moon Valley:
Congratulations on your new seahorse setup! It sounds like you’ve done a good job of cycling the aquarium, establishing the tank, and getting an efficient cleanup crew in place. Keep up the good work and in your seahorses should do very well.
The specimens you are wondering about should do very well with hardy captive-bred-and-raised seahorses that are pre-trained to eat frozen Mysis and pre-adapted to aquarium conditions. I have found that the royal gramma (Gramma loretto) does great with my Ocean Rider seahorses. Royal grammas are highly territorial and very quarrelsome amongst themselves, but for all practical intents and purposes, it’s been my experience that they utterly ignore seahorses (and vice versa). They have brilliant colors, a docile disposition towards seahorses, and are deliberate feeders that won’t outcompete the ponies at mealtime. As long as you are willing to limit yourself to just one Royal Gramma and quarantine it before you introduce it to the main tank, I’m quite confident it will make a wonderful addition to your seahorse tank.
Bonus Tip: if you do decide to try a royal gramma, see if you can obtain a Gro-Lux fluorescent tube to use in your light fixture. Osram Gro-lux bulbs put out wavelengths of light that are concentrated toward the red and violet regions of the spectrum. They are intended to stimulate better plant growth, but have the added affect of greatly enhancing any red or orange or purple colors they illuminate. When bathed in Gro-lux light, bright red or orange seahorses literally glow! And so do Royal Grammas — the magenta coloration of these fishes will all but fluoresce under Grolux lighting. The pinkish-purple end of these bicolor beauties will be instantly suffused with a dazzling hot-pinkish purple glow that the ends abruptly where there yellow half begins. Dazzling!
Your large fire shrimp should also make a terrific tankmates for seahorses. I find that large decorative shrimp such as Peppermint Shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni), Fire Shrimp (Lysmata debelius), and/or Scarlet Cleaner Shrimp or Skunk Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis) are wonderful additions that add a nice splash of color and a little extra activity to a seahorse tank.
Peppermint shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni) are a favorite with seahorse keepers because they eat Aiptasia rock anemones, and both the peppermints, fire shrimp (Lysmata debelius) and Scarlet cleaner shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis) will often another useful service by grooming the seahorses and cleaning them of ectoparasites once they get used to them. As an added bonus, these hermaphroditic shrimp 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). Seahorses will 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. It sounds like your fire shrimp is nice and big, so it should do very well in your seahorse setup.
Clownfish meet many of the criteria for suitable tankmates, but should generally be regarded with caution (Giwojna, Feb. 2004). Most species, such as Tomato Clowns (Amphiprion frenatus), Maroon Clowns (Premnas biaculeatus), and Skunk Clownfish are surprisingly aggressive and territorial, and should be shunned on that basis. Others do best when keep with anemones, which are a threat to seahorses. All clownfish are prone to Brooklynella and Marine Velvet (Amyloodinium), and should be considered Ich (Cryptocaryon irritans) magnets as well (Giwojna, Feb. 2004). The only species I would recommend as companions for seahorses are Percula Clowns (Amphiprion percula) and False Percula Clownfish (A. ocellaris), and then only after a rigorous quarantine period (Giwojna, Feb. 2004). Captive-bred specimens are best.
In short, if you’re clowns happen to be false Percula clownfish (Amphiprion occelaris), then they may make suitable companions for your seahorses, since A. occelaris is both one of the most colorful and gentlest (least territorial) of the clownfish species. They stay small and do well without anemones, which must be avoided for seahorses because of their stinging ability.
However, there are a couple of feeding suggestions that you’ll need to bear in mind if you will be keeping your seahorses with active companions, as discussed below:
Feeding Seahorses in a Community Tank
No matter which species of seahorse you select for your reef tank, it is imperative that you feed them properly! Domesticated seahorses thrive on enriched frozen Mysis as their staple, everyday diet. But the worst thing you can do when feeding the seahorses in a intricate reef environment is to scatter a handful of frozen Mysis throughout the tank to be dispersed by the currents and hope that the hungry horses can track it all down. Inevitably some of the frozen food will be swept away and lodge in isolated nooks and crannies where the seahorses cannot get it (Giwojna, 2005). There it will begin to decompose and degrade the water quality, which is why ammonia spikes are common after a heavy feeding. Or it may be wafted out into the open again later on and eaten after it has begun to spoil. Either outcome can have dire consequences (Giwojna, 2005).
The best way to avoid such problems is to target feed your seahorses or set up a feeding station for them. See my online article in Conscientious Aquarist for a detailed discussion explaining exactly how to set up a feeding station and train your seahorses to use it:
Click here: Seahorse Feeders
But I prefer to target feed my seahorses instead. The individual personalities of seahorses naturally extend to their feeding habits. Some are aggressive feeders that will boldly snatch food from your fingers, while some are shy and secretive, feeding only when they think they’re not being observed. Some like to slurp up Mysis while it’s swirling through the water column, and some will only take Mysis off the bottom of the tank. Some are voracious pigs that greedily scarf up everything in sight, and some are slow, deliberate feeders that painstakingly examine every morsel of Mysis and stare it down forever before they accept or reject it. Some eat like horses and some eat like birds. So how does the seahorse keeper make sure all his charges are getting enough to eat at mealtime? How does the hobbyist keep the aggressive eaters from gobbling up all the mouth-watering Mysis before the slower feeders get their fair share? And how can you keep active fishes and inverts with seahorses without the faster fishes gobbling up all the goodies before the slowpoke seahorses can grab a mouthful (Giwojna, unpublished)?
Target feeding is the answer. Target feeding just means offering a single piece of Mysis to one particular seahorse, and then watching to see whether or not the ‘horse you targeted actually eats the shrimp. Feeding each of your seahorses in turn that way makes it easy to keep track of exactly how much each of your specimens is eating (Giwojna, unpublished).
There are many different ways to target feed seahorses. Most methods involve using a long utensil of some sort to wave the Mysis temptingly in front of the chosen seahorse; once you’re sure this has attracted his interest, the Mysis is released so it drifts down enticingly right before the seahorse’s snout. Most of the time, the seahorse will snatch it up as it drifts by or snap it up as soon as it hits the bottom (Giwojna, unpublished).
A great number of utensils work well for target feeding. I’ve seen hobbyists use everything from chopsticks to extra long tweezers and hemostats or forceps to homemade pipettes fashioned from a length of rigid plastic tubing. As for myself, I prefer handfeeding when I target feed a particular seahorse (Giwojna, unpublished).
But no doubt the all-time favorite implement for target feeding seahorses is the old-fashioned turkey baster. The old-fashioned ones with the glass barrels work best because the seahorses can see the Mysis inside the baster all the way as it moves down the barrel and out the tip. By exerting just the right amount of pressure on the bulb, great precision is possible when target feeding with a turkey baster. By squeezing and releasing the bulb ever so slightly, a skillful target feeder can keep a piece of Mysis dancing at the very tip of the baster indefinitely, and hold the tempting morsel right in front of the seahorse’s mouth as long as necessary. Or if the seahorse rejects the Mysis the first time it drifts by, a baster makes it easy to deftly suck up the shrimp from the bottom so it can be offered to the target again. In the same way, the baster makes it a simple matter to clean any remaining leftovers after a feeding session (Giwojna, unpublished). (You’ll quickly discover the feeding tube is also indispensable for tapping away pesky fish and invertebrates that threaten to steal the tempting tidbit before an indecisive seahorse can snatch it up.)
In short, target feeding allows the hobbyist to assure that each of his seahorses gets enough to eat without overfeeding or underfeeding the tank. And it makes it possible to keep seahorses in a community tank with more active fishes that would ordinarily out-compete them for food, since the aquarist can personally deliver each mouthful to the seahorses while keeping more aggressive specimens at bay (Giwojna, unpublished).
The key to keeping active specimens like clownfish, Grammas, or cleaner shrimp successfully with seahorses is to feed the other fish and inverts with standard, off-the-shelf aquarium foods first, and once they’ve had their fill, then target feed the seahorses (Giwojna, unpublished).
Best of luck with your new seahorse setup, Moon Valley!
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