- This topic has 7 replies, 3 voices, and was last updated 8 years ago by Pete Giwojna.
April 11, 2013 at 5:26 am #1995Pete GiwojnaModerator
There are actually quite a number of snails that would make good additions to a cleanup crew in a temperate tank housing potbellied seahorses (Hippocampus abdominalis), Sue. Three that come to mind and are the red foot moon snail (Norrisia norrisii), the Margarita snail (Margarites pupillus), and Astrea snails from temperate waters such as the Pacific Coast of North America and Mexico.
Here is some more information on compatible tankmates and aquarium janitors that would be suitable for a temperate tank that would be suitable for Hippocampus abdominalis seahorses, Sue:
In general, tankmates for temperate and subtemperate seahorses must meet the same compatibility requirements as the companions for tropical seahorses, with of course the added proviso that they must be comfortable at cooler temperatures. Coldwater seahorses (temperate and subtemperate species) generally tolerate temperature ranging from 50°F-70°F (10°C-21°C; Kuiter, 2000), with 60°F-66°F (16°C-19°C) being a reasonable range for subtemperate aquariums and 66°F-72°F (19°C-22°C) a feasible temperature range for temperate species (Wrobel, 2004). These cooler temperature requirements restrict the suitable tankmates for coldwater seahorses severely. Temperate fishes and invertebrates are simply much less readily available in the US than tropical species. Nevertheless, there are a number of specimens that make delightful tankmates for temperate and subtemperate seahorses.
Chief among these are the gaudy Catalina gobies (Lythrypnus dalli). These little jewels will thrive at temperature from 64°F-72°F (18°C-22°C) and are perhaps the most colorful of all the gobies with their dazzling blue and orange stripes (Wrobel, 2004). Beautiful, peaceful, and passive eaters, Catalina gobies are the ideal tankmates for coldwater seahorses. Best of all, they are widely available from pet dealers.
Although they are hard to come by here in the US, Australian hobbyists with temperate tanks report that the humble Hulafish (Trachinops taeniatus) does well in cool water tanks with temperate seahorses such as pot bellies (Hippocampus abdominalis). It is a shy, passive fish sometimes displayed in public aquariums.
A number of colorful coldwater invertebrates are also available for temperate tanks. For example, Bat Stars (Patiria miniata) are very common denizens of the kelp forest and tide pools in temperate seas, and they are brilliantly colored with variegated patterns of vivid red, orange, violet and beige (Wrobel, 2004). They are active scavengers but not as voracious as some of the predatory starfish, making them good candidates for a seahorse-only setup. However, they cannot be trusted in a modified reef tank with soft corals and sessile invertebrates (Wrobel, 2004). Although they will scavenge for meaty leftovers such as frozen Mysis, for best results they should be fed a piece of fresh fish or shellfish about once a week. You will know when it’s time to offer them a meaty tidbit since they will climb the glass and expose their tube feet and underside at the surface of the water when hungry and searching for food (Wrobel, 2004).
Bloodstars (Henricia sp.) are another good choice for a temperate tank (Wrobel, 2004). Despite their ghoulish name, which refers to their coloration, these starfish are entirely innocuous in the aquarium. Their diet consists primarily of detritus and small organic particles that adhere to their mucous coat and are passed along to their mouths when enough has accumulated (Wrobel, 2004).
Most other coldwater starfish should be shunned. For example, the beautiful Rainbow Stars (Orthasterias koehleri) are predatory on mollusks, as are Ochre and Giant-spined Starfish (Pisaster sp.; Wrobel, 2004). Although lovely, their mission in life is to terminate marine mollusks. They pose a serious threat to tank inhabitants, and they will relentlessly hunt down and devour all the snails in your cleanup crew (Wrobel, 2004). They can’t be bargained with or reasoned with. They don’t know pity or mercy or fear. And these gastropod terminators absolutely will NOT stop — ever! — until all your snails have been consumed. Avoid them accordingly.
Worse yet are the attractive Sunflower Stars (Pyncnopodia helianthoides; Wrobel, 2004). With more than 20 arms, these starfish are capable of surprising speed and should be considered heavily armed and dangerous (Wrobel, 2004)! Day and night, the activities of these malicious, multi-legged monsters are one endless search-and-destroy-mission for sessile invertebrates and anything else the can overpower. Aside from their destructive habits, they are notorious for releasing toxins into the water (Wrobel, 2004).
Like the gaudy Catalina goby, the California red rock shrimp (Lysmata californica) is adapted to the cool-water California conditions and makes a colorful addition to the cleanup crew in a temperate tank.
Coonstripe Shrimp (Pandalus danae) are ideal for a temperate aquarium (Wrobel, 2004). Brilliantly colored, these dazzling shrimp are boldly marked with electric blue and red patches (Wrobel, 2004). They will seek out crevices, caves, overhangs and other sheltered nooks and hidey-holes in the aquarium, and if you can get large enough Coonstripes they should do very well with temperate or subtemperate seahorses.
There are also a number of coldwater snails that make valuable additions to the temperate tank. Like their tropical counterparts, temperate turban snails are prized for their ability as algae grazers. The Red Turban (Astraea qibberosa) is renowned for its tireless efforts to cleanse rocks of stubborn filamentous algae and brown diatom growths (Wrobel, 2004). An armored brigade of these snails can do wonders for controlling nuisance algae in a temperate tank. The common Tegula tide-pool snails will perform a similar service in temperate tanks, and their small size allows them to get in tight spots where the Turbans cannot go, making a mixture of temperate Astraea qibberosa and Tegula snails a very effective combination for combating invasions of nuisance algae (Wrobel, 2004).
Two of the commonly available aquarium snails that will do very well in a temperate tank with potbellied seahorses (Hippocampus abdominalis) are the red foot moon snail (Norrisia norrisii) and the Margarita snail (Margarites pupillus):
Red Foot Moon Snails (Norrisia norrisii)
Also known as the Norris Top Shell, the Mexican Red Foot Snail, or Red Foot Moon Algae Snail, the Red Foot Moon Snail is easily distinguished by its bright red foot, which makes it an attractive addition to your cleanup crew.
The Red Foot Moon Snail (Norrisia norrisii) comes from the coastal waters on the Pacific coast of Mexico, and is therefore accustomed to cool water temperatures, making it a good candidate for a cleanup crew in a temperate tank.
Red Foot Moon Snails thrive in large aquariums with lots of room to roam and plenty of live rock to graze on. They do an especially good job of cleaning film algae from the sides of the aquarium, and like many snails are sensitive to high nitrate levels. As is true of most invertebrates, the red foot moon snail cannot tolerate copper-based medications, which is not a problem for the seahorse keeper, since such medications have no place in the seahorse tank. The Red Foot Moon Snail is larger and more active than many of the other herbivorous snails that are commonly available, so it’s best to limit yourself to a maximum of one specimen per every 5-10 gallons.
Margarita Snail (Margarites pupillus)
The popular Margarita snails are also excellent choices for a temperate or cool water aquarium, and are very popular with aquarists because they are active snails that consume a lot of algae, including the dreaded nuisance hair algae. Because the snails are both voracious and faster moving and more active than most snails, they can starve to death in an aquarium without adequate algae to sustain them. When added to a newly established aquarium without much algae growth, is therefore important to supplement their diet using dried seaweed or Nori, which can be offered using an ordinary lettuce clip attached to the aquarium glass.
The Margarita snail has a brown body and foot with a smooth, turban-shaped shell, and it is a peaceful grazer that will not bother other snails, sessile invertebrates, are other tankmates.
It is well suited for temperate tanks but Margarites pupillus should be avoided by aquarists with tropical tanks, since it has been my experience that the Margarita snails will weaken and gradually succumb to chronic heat stress when maintained under tropical conditions.
Like most other snails and invertebrates, the Margarita snails is sensitive to high nitrate levels and even trace amounts of copper-based medications, so plan accordingly and be sure to keep your nitrate levels as low as possible.
Most other temperate snails are rather drab, but the omnivorous top shells (Calliostoma sp.) include a number of colorful species such as the Jeweled Top Snail, which is decorated with gold and purple spiral bands (Wrobel, 2004).
If your coldwater tank is setup for temperate species, with a milder temperature range of perhaps 68°F-72°F (20°C-22°C), then you have many more options. Virtually all of the hermit crabs, snails, and cleaner shrimp that are commonly keep in tropical tanks will adjust very well to those temperatures (Leddo, Jun. 2003). Likewise, almost all of the commonly available gorgonians, feather dusters and brittle stars are comfortable within that range of temps (Leddo, Jun. 2003).
Among the soft corals, the following species are suitable for an aquarium with temperatures 68°F-72°F or 20°C-22°C (Leslie Leddo, pers. com.):
Tree Leathers (Cladella sp.) 68°F-79°F (20°C-26°C)
Mushroom or Cup Leather Coral (Sarcophyton glaucum) 68°F-79°F (20°C-26°C)
Lobed Leather Coral (Sinularia dura) 68°F-79°F (20°C-26°C)
Kenya Tree (Lemnalia africana) 68°F-84°F (20°C-29°C)
Broccoli Soft Coral or Tree soft coral (Capnella sp.) 68°F-84°F (20°C-29°C)
Pinnate Bouquet Soft Coral (Anthelia glauca) 68°F-84°F (20°C-29°C)
Lobophytum sp. 68°F-86°F (20°C-45°C)
Among the fishes that may do well in a temperate setup are the Yellow Coral Gobie or Yellow Clown Gobie (Gobiodon okinawae, 68°F-77°F), Wheeler’s Prawn Gobie (Amblyeleottris wheeleri, 69°F-86°F), the Neon Gobie (Gobiosoma oceanops, 70°F-82.5°F), the Pinkbar Gobie (Amblyeleottris aurora, 70°F-82.5°F), and the Yellow Snout Gobie (Stonogobiops xanthorhinica, 70°F-81°F) (Leslie Leddo, pers. com.).
For more information, you may also want to check out the following website:
Okay, Sue – that’s the quick rundown on compatible tankmates for coldwater seahorses.
Best wishes with all your fishes, Sue!
Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech SupportApril 16, 2013 at 1:35 am #5529suew1Guest
Many thanks for your reply,i have taken a copy of the list you so kindly sent me.
My lfs is haveing difficulty in getting some catalinas for me,i already have some red footed moon snails and as you say, they clean up great.
Will show my lfs the list of corals and will see what he can get for me.
I know that having such cool water(18/66) is hard to get things that can adapt to this type of water.
Once more many thanks.September 13, 2015 at 5:45 am #5793shranchGuest
Do you happen to have a list of corals that would be safe with abdominalis at cooler temps (e.g., 60 degrees)? I know there aren’t many cold water corals that enter the trade, but I’ve seen a few pass through coldwater marine aquatics, such as Alcyonium glomeratum: http://www.coldwatermarineaquatics.com/collections/anemones/products/red-dead-mans-fingers-alcyonium-glomeratum . It is listed as a soft coral, so I would assume it is seahorse safe due to soft corals lacking strong stinging ability. I also believe that gersemia rubiformis is a coldwater soft coral. Finally, I have seen Balanophyllia elegans mentioned as a temperate coral. From my understanding, they are related to tubastrea Sun Corals which I know are seahorse safe, so my initial inclination would be to think that Balano is fine, too, but I’m not certain. Obviously, very few coldwater corals enter the trade, but I’d like to get a sense of what might be worth looking out for if I decide to go with a coldwater tank for abdominalis. Any feedback you could provide on these and/or other cold water corals would be appreciated. I’d assume that all of the coldwater anemones listed at http://www.coldwatermarineaquatics.com/collections/anemones are unsafe, but I wanted to double-check on that, too. I’ve seen someone that has a very nice looking coldwater reef that appears to list some coldwater anemones as inhabitants along with an abdominalis, but I don’t know if trying to emulate this type of setup would be improper: http://oregonreef.com/sub_coldwater.htm
ChrisSeptember 15, 2015 at 10:22 pm #5794Pete GiwojnaGuest
That’s excellent information, sir!
A list of some the corals that would be safe and work well with abdominalis in a temperate tank is something that I am lacking, Chris. Normally, for live corals, I will set up a traditional tropical reef system, so I have no experience keeping live corals in temperate tank with cooler temperatures that would be appropriate for potbelly seahorses (Hippocampus abdominalis).
You are correct in your assumption, Chris – soft water corals of all kinds are typically safe for seahorses with one or two rare exceptions, and I do believe that would also apply to soft corals that would do well in cooler aquariums.
In general, it’s often much more difficult to locate specimens for temperate aquariums since relatively few outlets offer fish and invertebrates for cold-water aquariums.
With your permission, I will add your suggestions regarding compatible cool-water corals to my list of temperate tankmates and share it with other hobbyists who fancy the outstanding pot bellies or are maintaining temperate tanks.
With anemones, it’s usually best to play it safe and avoid them in an aquarium that will include seahorses, Chris, but much depends on the potency of their nematocysts and how powerful of a jolt they can deliver. As a rough rule of thumb, if the anemone feels “sticky” if you brush up against the, or if you can feel the sting from the tentacles on the delicate skin of your wrist, then it has no business in a seahorse tank.
This is what usually advise home hobbyists regarding anemones, whether in cold water or tropical tanks, Chris:
It’s best to avoid any stinging animals with powerful nematocysts when keeping seahorses. This means fire corals (Millepora spp.) and anemones in general should be excluded from the seahorse tank, and any corals with polyps that feel sticky to the touch should be used with discretion and only after careful planning. When a seahorse brushes up against them or attempts to perch on them, the nematocysts or stinging cells of these animals can penetrate the seahorse’s skin and damage its integument. Needless to say, this causes pain and discomfort and can leave the seahorse vulnerable to secondary bacterial and fungal infections, which may take hold at the site of injury.
With experience, seahorses will often learn to avoid anemones, so with due diligence and care, it can be done successfully, Chris. But for most home aquarists, the best approach is to eliminate the risk altogether and not to take any chances of an injury. Because they are relatively feeble swimmers, they cannot always stay out of their way and small seahorses may not be able to free themselves from the stinging tentacles of a large anemone. I have seen seahorses get in trouble and get their snouts stung when frozen Mysis landed on the tentacles of an anemone and the seahorses attempted to slurp up the tasty tidbits from the surface of the anemone.
In general, the larger the anemone and the more potent its nematocysts or stinging cells, the more dangerous it is to seahorses. Carpet anemones and tube anemones are especially dangerous in that regard and can capture or kill them.
On the other hand, a few Aiptasia rock anemones normally don’t pose a serious threat to any of the larger seahorses such as Mustangs and Sunbursts (Hippocampus erectus). The greater seahorses are quite impervious to the stings of hydroids, nor are they normally troubled by the small Aiptasia, which they can easily avoid.
However, Aiptasia rock anemones can rapidly increase in number and become a threat to seahorses when they are so numerous it is difficult for the seahorses to avoid coming in contact with them. For this reason, it’s best to keep even the relatively harmless Aiptasia out of your seahorse tank altogether, especially since they can be very tenacious and difficult to eradicate once they become established in an aquarium.
Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech SupportOctober 6, 2015 at 1:48 am #5798shranchGuest
Sure Pete, feel free to use any info you’d like!
I’ve found a bit more info about potential tankmates, too. Bob Fenner at wetwebmedia notes that the Blue Spot Jawfish is typically found at temperatures in the 50s and 60s in the wild. So, I’d estimate that this jawfish would make a good candidate as a potbelly tankmate. It is another fish like the catalina goby that is typically sold by suppliers as a tropical fish. If adding this fish to your setup, be sure to add a few inches to the height of your aquarium. Blue Spots require a deep sand bed for burrowing. A deep sand bed added to the needed height for h. abdominalis would require a very tall aquarium.
ORA captive breeds three temperate fishes. The Hulafish that you mentioned as difficult to obtain in the states can now be obtained pretty easily, as ORA captive breeds them: http://www.orafarm.com/product/eastern-hulafish/
The other two coldwater fishes that ORA breeds, I don’t think I’d personally feel comfortable keeping as seahorse tankmates, but this is just my guess.
There is the Kamohara Fang Blenny. The bite of Fang Blennys is apparently venomous. While the bite isn’t especially dangerous and they’re not very likely to bite, I’d rather not risk it: http://www.orafarm.com/product/kamohara-blenny/
There is also a Pygmy Filefish that they offer that comes from colder waters in Southern Japan. Apparently, most filefish tend to bite onto things including seahorses not out of aggression, but out of curiosity, etc: http://www.orafarm.com/product/pygmy-filefish/
A few other fish that have come through Coldwater Marine Aquatics that I’d guess would do well with seahorses are Rhinogobiops nicholsii and perhaps the tiny Lethotremus awae as they appear to be weak swimmers. I’ve also seen a few people with Rhamphocottus richardsonii in their coldwater tanks. If they can be obtained, I would think they would do well, too, as these cute little fish appear to just slowly scoot around the bottom of the tank. Let me know if you think any of these fish would not make good tankmates if you have any experience with them.
For people who are experimental and willing to try to keep their seahorses with more aggressive feeders while committing to target feeding their seahorses (and to move the aggressive feeders to another system should problems arise), there are some other lovely fishes from a genus or two that we typically associate with more tropical waters, but that are species that they themselves occur in colder climates (down to at least the upper 50s) such as anthias like Sacura margaritacea and Anthias anthias, Callanthias japonicus, and Caprodon schlegelii, and butterflyfishes like Chaetodon auripes.October 9, 2015 at 12:47 am #5799Pete GiwojnaGuest
Excellent – that’s very helpful information for all the hobbyists who maintaining temperate tanks and have trouble finding a nice assortment of marine fish that will do well at cooler temperatures. Well done!
Thank you very much for taking the time to research this and to let us know some of the recommendations from Bob Fenner in that regard! I certainly will add this information to the section of my seahorse training manual that deals with temperate seahorses, such as the popular pot bellies (Hippocampus abdominalis).
Keep up the great work and thanks again!
Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech SupportNovember 20, 2015 at 1:27 am #5812shranchGuest
Here’s a write up on a nice temperate abdominalis tank that includes some of the corals I mentioned and others:November 21, 2015 at 11:46 pm #5814Pete GiwojnaGuest
Thanks for posting the link to the article on the temperate tank for potbelly seahorses (Hippocampus abdominalis) that features many colorful soft corals and stony corals!
That’s a very interesting article with lots of great information on temperate invertebrates that would make suitable additions to a cold-water marine aquarium. Well done!
Best wishes with all your fishes (and invertebrates), Chris!
Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support
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