Pete Giwojna

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  • in reply to: How to remove Fenbendazole from a tank? #68672
    Pete Giwojna
    Moderator

    Dear Taylor:

    If you’re going to use a three-gallon tank that’s been treated with fenbendazole as a micro reef with live corals, the safest thing to do would be to replace the substrate and live rocks. That should not be too difficult or expensive for such a small aquarium.

    Otherwise, you could try continuous filtration with a good grade of activated carbon to continuously remove any trace amounts of the fenbendazole (brand name Panacur).

    Best of luck with your micro-reef project, Taylor!

    Respectfully,
    Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support

    in reply to: Seahorse Training Program — get certified now! #68219
    Pete Giwojna
    Moderator

    Dear Eric:

    All you need to do to participate in the seahorse training program is to contact me off list via e-mail ([email protected]) and express an interest in the training. It’s a correspondence course conducted entirely via e-mail, so we have to make contact off list in order to proceed.

    Now that you have done that, and received your free copy of the Ocean Rider Seahorse Training Manual, we can go over any questions or concerns you may have about the information in the reading material anytime you care to ask.

    Best wishes with all your fishes!

    Happy Trails!
    Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Training Program Advisor

    in reply to: Dwarf seahorse #68138
    Pete Giwojna
    Moderator

    Dear TriWolf:

    Yes, sir, sexy shrimp should do just fine with the Halocaridina rubra Hawaiian volcano shrimp.

    Past their first instar, brine shrimp (Artemia nauplii) are filter feeders that will ingest anything that is suspended in the water column with them, so phytoplankton is indeed a good form of enrichment for brine shrimp. Vibrance 1, the original Vibrance formulation, is also ideal for enriching baby brine shrimp, as are Selcon and many other additives. Let me know if you would like to discuss enriching baby brine shrimp in more detail, TriWolf.

    Newborn dwarf seahorses (Hippocampus zosterae) are different than Hippocampus erectus seahorse fry. Because the newborn dwarfs eat the same foods as the adults, they can be raised in the main tank right along with their parents as long as you can maintain an adequate feeding density in the main tank.

    Best of luck with your pygmy ponies!

    Respectfully,
    Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support

    in reply to: Dwarf seahorse #68020
    Pete Giwojna
    Moderator

    TriWolf –

    Overall, that sounds like a very good approach for a dwarf seahorse setup.

    Yes, sir, the Nassarius snails do best with a sand substrate. In this case, you might consider keeping a few Nassarius snails in the refugium, which will have a sand substrate.

    And, in your main tank, you might want to substitute 6-12 Hawaiian volcano shrimp (Halocaridina rubra) as useful scavengers that are are safe with dwarf seahorses and their fry.

    I would recommend Nitokra lacustris as a good species of copepods for you to culture.

    If you are going to be culturing copepods in large quantities for your rearing program, sir, you may want to acquire a copy of the Aquaculture Desk Reference Manual by Leroy Crestwell to provide you with additional guidance.

    In addition, there is a good online article by Adelaide Rhodes (September 26, 2003) titled “instant Algae — Copepods: Nitokra lacustris Starter Cultures” that you may find helpful. Just copy the following URL, paste it in your web browser, and press the “Enter” key, and it will take you directly to the right webpage to read this article:
    .
    http://www.copepod.com/nitokra.htm

    When it comes to copepods, the Harpacticoid copepods are generally preferred for aquaculture, and one of the most useful species is Nitokra lacustris.

    It’s been quite a while since I ordered starter cultures, TriWolf, but two good sources I have used in the past are Reed Mariculture and Florida Aqua Farms, so those would be good places to try.

    Here are some suggestions from Bill Stokely for culturing Nitokra lacustris to get you started:

    Species Nitokra lacustris (Harpacticoid)
    Motility Planktonic (in the water column)
    Size 40 – 270 microns
    Application Larval and Adult Fish
    Larval and Adult Seahorses
    Zooplankton feeding corals
    Wide aperture filter feeders

    Life Cycle Eggs ->
    Nauplii ->
    Copepodites (Juveniles) ->
    Adults – Females bearing egg sacs
    Reproduction The females only need to mate once in order to have 3 to5 sacs of eggs with 35 eggs each.
    How long can a culture be maintained? Indefinitely if treated correctly
    What is the doubling time? 2-3 days, depending upon temperature and feed
    Culturing Technique
    In batch cultures use very low aeration. Treat water with chlorine or filters (to 1 micron) before using. The water sho Mariculturry 9 to 10 days, depending on level of productivity. It is important to be conservative with the feed.
    Periodically (every one to two months) filter and restart the cultures to remove detritus. Filter for small juveniles with 35 micron sieve and adults with 125 micron sieve. Use smaller stages for fish feed, retrieve females with egg sacs for restarting cultures.
    Restart cultures with females bearing egg sacs. (About 10/L if you have low numbers, 50 to 100/L will result in faster population growth.)
    This formula works for every size container, used in batch culture (meaning no recirculation). It may be possible to increase population growth by removing ciliates by filtration – this is not known yet.
    Notes
    These copepods are about the same size as rotifers which means that they will be hard to see with the naked eye. This product is only recommended for customers that are interested in culturing copepods – not for customers that need an immediate feed source.
    better would be keeping Stockley’s seed culture growing,
    Reed Mariculture’s algae paste or disks from Florida Aqua Farms…here goes:

    The following is the standard
    procedure for culturing algae and copepods. I use a 5-gallon plastic water
    bottle for the algae culture and a 30-galloon plastic trash can for the
    copepods. The temperature range is 75 to 85 F and the salinity is 1.022. Air
    pump and air stones are used in both for circulation.
    By the way, you can enrich newly hatched Artemia with this algae culture.
    A. Algae culture
    Microscopic, single-celled algae (phytoplankton) is cultured for use as a
    food for filter feeders such as the Tridacna clam and various corals, and
    for feeding microinvertebrates such as brine shrimp (Artemia), rotifers, and
    copepods. Microinvertebrates are used for feeding larval and juvenile fishes
    and corals. We culture several families of phytoplankton; the techniques for
    their culture are almost identical. The species we use are Tetraselmis
    chuii.
    Procedures
    1) Clean the containers. Bottles should be acid cleaned and flushed. Large
    vats should be scrubbed lightly and rinsed out. The object here is to remove
    most of the surface-bound organic matter so that the chlorine sterilization
    (next step) is more effective. Be sure to fill acid cleaned bottles
    completely with tap water to remove acid vapors.
    2) Fill containers with seawater, and add 1.0 ml of Clorox (5.25 % sodium
    hypochlorite) for every litre of seawater. Let the containers sit unaerated
    away from strong light overnight. If water is needed sooner, add 5 ml of
    Clorox per litre and let stand at least 2 hours. The object here is to
    maintain a chlorine residual of > 10 ppm overnight. Residual chlorine is
    affected by organic load, so more will be needed in dirtier water. A
    swimming pool test kit is adequate for measuring residual. Strong light and
    aeration will disperse chlorine and reduce its strength.
    3) Neutralize the chlorinated seawater by adding 1.0 ml of sodium
    thiosulfate solution (1N, 250 g Na2S2O3-5H2O per litre of distilled water)
    for every 4.0 ml of Clorox that was added earlier. Neutralization is
    complete when water is mixed (i.e. turn on air). Airstones are not
    recommended for algae cultures because they take too long to clean. A
    plastic pipette or piece of lead on an airhose will do. If airstones are
    used, soak them in full-strength Clorox between batches and rinse them
    thoroughly before use.
    4) Add nutrients to the sterile seawater. Our “F/2” nutrient stocks
    (Guillard, 1975) are made up at 500 times final concentration. Thus, 2 ml of
    nutrient should be added to each litre of sterile seawater. Nutrients are
    kept in a plastic bottle in the refrigerator. Normally, 2L bottles get 4 ml
    of F/2; 100L buckets get 200 ml of F/2, etc.
    Alternate nutrients: Put 2 level tablespoons Miracid in 300ml tap water.
    Store this in any clean, capped plastic bottle at room temperature. Use 1ml
    of this blue solution for every liter of algae for dense TE growth. This is
    “F/1” strength, and works very well with outdoor Tetraselmis in partial
    shade. It may not work for all species. (Stockly’s Aquariums method)
    5) Add algae inoculant. It is best to check microscopically and record cell
    counts and health occasionally. You can usually tell by color if a 2L
    culture is healthy and dense enough to use as inoculant for 100, 200, or
    600L cultures. Note the date, inoculant source, inoculant quantity, and
    algal species on a piece of tape (or directly on glass bottles) whenever a
    new culture is started. This procedure will help you to determine how well a
    culture is doing, and is good for inventory control.
    C. Copepods
    The harpacticoid copepod, Euterpina acutifrons, is a nearly ideal food for
    larval marine fishes due to its size, trophic ecology, nutritional value,
    culturability, and (most importantly) acceptability by pelagic marine fish
    larvae. There are few literature references to successful copepod culture.
    Suggested readings include Theilacker and Kimball (1984); and Zurlini et aL
    (1978). Culture techniques are easy, using the following suggestions.
    1) Do not use an algae that gets too slimy and settles heavily. You will
    want to aerate sufficiently to suspend the algae, but not so much that you
    interupt sexual coupling. Slimy surfaces will trap nauplii. Chaetoceros
    gracilis (4 x 4 x 5um) works well. So does TE. You may get faster growth and
    a higher fecundity if a dinoflagellate or other flagellated green
    phytoplankter is present. Normal growth rates at 25oC are 10-15 % per day
    (up to 100 fold increase in 8 days), with harvest densities of 20 to 50
    adults copepods per ml.
    2) Partial shading helps, if cultures are outdoors. Keep the cultures in a
    growth phase, and change them over to a clean container every few weeks.
    3) Inoculate with 1-10% of your harvest. I like to keep the density above 1
    per ml so I can count them with a 1 ml. pipette, but they will grow fast at
    densities of 1 per litre. Algal densities of 5 x l0e4 to 2 x lOe5 cells per
    ml will give good growth rates. You can approximate these densities as
    visibilities of 7 to 10 cm.
    4) Do not let rotifers enter the system. They will usually outproduce the
    copepods. It is difficult to keep these two zooplankters separate with
    screens because their sizes overlap. If you do get a rotifer takeover,
    isolate 10-100 gravid female copepods and start over in 2 to 40L of new
    medium (check them in a microscope to make sure there are no rotifers).
    5) There are 6 naupliar stages, and 6 copepodite stages, including the
    adult. Size is 50 x 50 x 70um (N1) to 150 x 175 x 700um(C6). I use a 37um
    screen to harvest N1 & N2, and a 100um screen for copepodites. Generation
    time is about 8 to 11 days under best conditions, at temperatures of
    24-26oC. If you stock your rearing container with all sizes of copepods, new
    nauplii will be produced by the adults to replace those consumed by the fish
    larvae.
    Good Luck,
    Bill Stokely

    When it comes to the mushroom corals, the Panacur should not do them any harm at all.

    As you know, TriWolf, fenbendazole (i.e., Panacur) is an inexpensive anthelmintic agent (dewormer) used for large animals such as horses, and the de-worming granules can be obtained without a prescription from stores that carry agricultural products (e.g., farm and ranch equipment, farming supplies and products, veterinary supplies, livestock and horse supplies, livestock and horse feed). If you live in a rural area, those would be good places to obtain it as well.

    However, there are a couple of things you should keep in mind when treating an aquarium with fenbendazole, TriWolf. Administering a regimen of fenbendazole (FBZ) or Panacur will eradicate any hydroids, Aiptasia rock anemones, or bristleworms from live rock or live sand, thereby rendering them completely seahorse safe. The recommended dose is 1/8 teaspoon of the horse dewormer granules (22.2% fenbendazole) per 10 gallons of water. Dose the live rock with 1/8 teaspoon/10 gallons every other day until you have administered a total of 3 such treatments (Liisa Coit, pers. com.). Even one dose will do a fine job of eradicating bristeworms, but Aiptasia rock anemones and hydroids are a bit tougher and may require 2-3 doses to eliminate entirely.

    Because fenbendazole is essentially a de-worming agent, it will destroy any bristleworms, flat worms, spaghetti worms or the like. The FBZ or Panacur treatments are best administered to the live rock in a bucket or hospital tank before the LR is introduced in the main tank. Otherwise, the massive die-off of the worm population in the aquarium may require large water changes in order to prevent a dangerous ammonia spike! And after the treatment is completed, its a good idea to add a portion of newly purchased live sand to the system in order to help restore its normal diversity of fauna and microfauna again (Liisa Coit, pers. com.).

    Fenbendazole does not have any adverse effects on biological filtration, but be aware that it is death to many Cnidarians besides hydroids. Mushrooms and related corals are generally not affected, but expect it to have dire effects on other corals (e.g., sinularias), polyps, gorgonians, and anemones. In general, any Cnidarians with polyps that resemble the stalked family of Hydrozoans are likely to be hit hard by fenbendazole, so don’t use this treatment in a reef tank!

    Also be aware that fenbendazole seems to soak into the porous live rock and be absorbed indefinitely. I know one hobbyist who transferred a small piece of live rock that had been treated with fenbendazole (Panacur) months earlier into a reef tank, where it killed the resident starfish and Astrea snails. So enough of the medication may be retained within treated live rock to impact sensitive animals months after the fenbendazole was administered. Don’t treat live rock intended for reef systems with fenbendazole (Panacur)!

    At the lower dosage recommended for nursery tanks and dwarf seahorse tanks with fry (1/16 tsp. per 10 gallons), fenbendazole normally does not harm cleaner shrimp and decorative shrimp. With the exception of Astrids (Astrea), Coit and Worden have found it does not usually affect the types of snails typically used as cleanup crews (e.g., Nassarius, Ceriths, and Nerites). It will kill starfish but copepods, hermit crabs, and shrimp are normally not affected.

    Macroalgae such as the feathery or long-bladed varieties of Caulerpa or Hawaiian Ogo (Gracilaria) are not harmed by exposure to fenbendazole at even triple the normal dose. In fact, if you will be using Caulerpa in your nursery tanks to provide hitching posts for the fry and serve as a form of natural filtration, it’s a very wise precaution indeed to treat them with a regimen of fenbendazole beforehand.

    So fenbendazole (FBZ) or Panacur is primarily useful for ridding bare-bottomed nursery tanks and dwarf seahorse setups of hydroids and Aiptasia anemones, ridding Caulerpa and other macroalge of hydroids or Aiptasia before its goes into the aquarium, and cleansing live rock of bristleworms, hydroids, and Aiptasia rock anemones before it is introduced to the aquarium.

    It can also be used to eradicate bristleworms, hydroids, an Aiptasia from an established aquarium if it does not house sensitive animals such as live corals and gorgonians, starfish, Astrea snails, or tubeworms and other desirable worms that may be harmed by FBZ, providing you monitor the ammonia levels closely and are prepared to deal with the ammonia spike that may result from the sudden death of the worm population.

    Best of luck with your dwarf seahorse tank, TriWolf!

    Happy Trails!
    Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support

    in reply to: Seahorse Training Program — get certified now! #66861
    Pete Giwojna
    Moderator

    Dear Taylor:

    Yes, the seahorse training is always available to Ocean Rider clients and customers.

    However, the seahorse training program is a correspondence course that is conducted entirely via e-mail, so I will need you to contact me off list with your e-mail address so that we can begin the training lessons. You can reach me at the following e-mail address any time:

    [email protected]

    I will be looking for your reply so that we can begin the training without any further delay, Taylor. Stay safe and stay healthy in the meantime!

    Happy Trails!
    Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support

    in reply to: Seahorse Training Program — get certified now! #66677
    Pete Giwojna
    Moderator

    Dear Mary:

    All you need to do to earn your certification is to contact me ([email protected]) and express an interest in the seahorse training program, just as you have done, and then complete the seahorse training manual, with my assistance, as needed.

    Okay, Mary, to help get you started off on the right foot with your certification, I will go ahead and send you the entire Ocean Rider Seahorse Training Manual – all 10 lessons together in one file – in PDF format as an attachment to this e-mail. You can then download the attachment, save it on your computer, and read through the 10 lessons at your leisure, taking all of the time you need to go over the information and absorb the material.

    As you do so, it will be your job to contact me via e-mail whenever you have any questions or concerns about the material in the lessons, and I will then do my very best to answer all of your questions and clarify everything for you. And I will also be relying on you to keep me updated when you select the aquarium system you will be using, or make any changes or additions to the tank, so that I can keep the information in my records regarding your particular seahorse setup current and accurate at all times. That will allow me to give you the best possible guidance and assistance as you go along.

    All we ask in return is that you stick with the highly domesticated Ocean Rider Mustangs or Sunbursts when you are finally ready to add ponies to your tank, Mary. As you know, Mustangs and Sunbursts are the perfect ponies for beginners and advanced aquarists alike. They are hardy, highly adaptable, easy to feed, and perfectly adapted for aquarium life — the world’s only High-Health seahorses, guaranteed to be free of specific pathogens and parasites.

    The seahorse training program is very comprehensive, consisting of several hundred pages of text with more than 250 full-color illustrations, and it will explain everything you need to know in order to keep Ocean Rider seahorses successfully in a home aquarium. We provide a free copy of the seahorse training manual to all first-time buyers and customers to assure that home hobbyists are well prepared to give our ponies the best possible care before they make a purchase. There is no charge whatsoever for this service.

    Be sure to save the PDF file with the seahorse training lessons on your computer for future reference, Mary. It includes a detailed table of contents with page numbers, so that you can quickly locate the material or section you would like to go back and review at any time.

    Just remember that the lessons are for your eyes only, Mary, with the obvious exception of any immediate family members who may be helping you with the aquarium or the care of the seahorses and other fish. Please don’t share the PDF file with the complete training program or the individual lessons with any other hobbyists or individuals without first obtaining my expressed permission to do so. Thanks for your cooperation!

    Best wishes with all your fishes, Mary!

    Happy Trails!
    Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Training Program Advisor

    in reply to: Dwarf behavior/care questions #66407
    Pete Giwojna
    Moderator

    1. Do they eat in the dark? or once lights out they settle in for bed?

    No, they need sufficient light to clearly see and target their prey, so they do not feed in darkness. Any live brine shrimp that are in the dwarf seahorse tank during the night will only be “eaten” by the aquarium filter, so it’s best if there is little or no live brine shrimp left at night time.

    2. How long do they graze on food for? as long as there’s BBS in the water? (trying to find the right schedule to feed them, don’t want to feed too close to lights out)

    Yes, they will normally continue to feed as long as baby brine shrimp or other suitable prey items are present and there is enough light to target their prey. It is possible to overfeed your dwarf seahorses, and I will suggest a possible feeding schedule for you when I answer your following question.

    3. How much BBS is too much? I’m concerned about overfeeding, yet I don’t want them to starve enough. Any photo examples of what the tank should look like when feeding?

    When feeding baby brine shrimp (bbs) or Artemia nauplii to newborn seahorses or dwarf seahorses, you want to avoid overfeeding (feeding them too much at a single feeding) as well as feeding them newly hatched bbs which have depleted their yolk supply and are nutritionally barren. The best way to do that is provide the fry with many small feedings throughout the course of the day, each of which they can clean up fairly quickly, rather than one or two massive feedings.

    I suggest feeding the fry 3-5 times daily, at least 2-3 hours apart. When you are feeding the right amount, the fry should consume most of the nauplii within the first 20-30 minutes, but give them 3 hours to finish the rest and digest it fully before you feed them again. Ideally some brine shrimp will remain throughout each 3-hour feeding session, albeit at a greatly reduced feeding density after the first half-hour.

    In other words, your ideal fry feeding schedule should go something like this: 8 AM feed, 11 AM feed, 2 PM feed, 5 PM feed, 8 PM feed, lights out at 11 PM. Harvest the baby brine shrimp for each feeding session in succession from each of the jars you started hatching at 3-hour intervals. This will assure that the Artemia nauplii you are feeding to the fry are no more than 3 hours old and thus at the peak of their nutritional value.

    Like all babies, seahorse fry exist only to eat and poop. To say they are voracious is a gross understatement — at this stage of their development, the newborns have but one mission in life: to eat and thus to grow. Researchers have found that a single seahorse only a few weeks old can consume 3000-4000 newly hatched brine shrimp in a single day! Milligram for milligram, a great white sharks feeding habits appear downright dainty and positively anorexic compared to a baby seahorse on the prowl for live prey. And as you can imagine, when well-fed fry eat that much, defecation is amazingly rapid, with each newborn producing an average of one fecal pellet every 25-30 minutes.

    One of the many quirks of seahorse anatomy is that they lack a true stomach like ours with the capacity to store food between meals (Bellomy, 1969). Rather, they are endowed with a rudimentary “stomach” that is little more than a pouchlike expansion of their intestine with no distinct separation between it and the rest of their digestive tract (Tamaru, Aug. 2001). Food passes continuously through this simple stomach instead of being stored therein. This is an adaptation to a sedentary lifestyle in which seahorses feed while at rest (as ambush predators that wait for their prey to come to them) more or less continuously throughout the daylight hours, rather than storing food or stockpiling energy in fat reserves (Tamaru, Aug. 2001). And like other carnivorous fishes, their intestinal tract is also relatively short (Tamaru, Aug. 2001).

    Therefore, think of their digestive tract as a short continuous tube. When a seahorse is full, nothing more can be taken in at one end of its digestive tract without something being passed out of the other end. Seahorse fry don’t stop eating once they are full — the feeding instinct of these seagoing gluttons is so strong it compels them to keep eating as long as suitable prey is present. Baby seahorses, not sharks, are the ocean’s “remorseless eating machines!”

    When they are overfed, particularly on hard-to-process Artemia nauplii, food passes through their system too fast to be digested properly. Because they swallow their prey whole and intact, this can actually reach the absurd point where they are passing live Artemia in their fecal pellets (Warland, 2003)! When that happens, they are getting virtually no nourishment from their food and are literally starving in the midst of plenty. Here’s how Tracy Warland, a commercial seahorse farmer in Port Lincoln, Australia, describes this feeding dilemma and how to deal with it:

    “We feed by looking closely at the ponies’ feces under a microscope, (a cheap dissecting microscope is ample); we breed 5 different species and all the ponies are the same, in as much as they are total gluttons. Baby seahorses (ponies) will eat so much instar 2 Artemia that they will pass out live Artemia in their feces, and they will of course not get any nutritional value from any feeds, so by over feeding you will starve them to death. We have done this. So if you feed them too much you will just love them to death as they will starve due to inability to digest. We look at the feces to determine the level of digestion and feed accordingly. Usually, a feed is what the biomass of the tank can clean up in a 20-minute session, after which we leave them alone for about 2 hours and then feed them again. As soon as they defecate, we use a pipette to gather up the droppings and examine them under the microscope to check digestion levels and adjust our feeding accordingly. This is not necessary for every feed as you can soon learn the quantity required for each feeding; just make sure that the Artemia is digested fully (Warland, 2003).”

    So if you have a microscope, you can easily verify that you are feeding enough but not too much at any given feeding by visual examination of the fry’s fecal pellets. Otherwise, you will eventually learn the right amount to feed and how often to feed from experience. The right feeding regimen varies according to species, the size of the brood and the size of your nursery tanks, as well as the type of food you are providing, so it is difficult to make generalizations in that regard. But Tracy Warland recommends the following:

    You need to add enough food for your fry to eat for about 15-20 minutes (75% of the food should have been consumed within that time). If it is not, then you have added too much. The fry then should have some time to digest this food, about 2 – 3 hours is plenty. Provide at least 3-5 feedings daily. Only feed during daylight hours and turn off lights at night (Warland, 2003).”

    Tracy’s feeding regimen may not be the best option for the home hobbyist, however. The average hobbyist has his hands full just trying to keep up with the demands of a brood of fry, doesn’t have access to a microscope to monitor the fecal pellets of the fry, and generally needs to be far more concerned about underfeeding than overfeeding. The salient point is that when rearing fry, many small feedings daily are vastly preferable to one or two large feedings. Most hobbyists are more successful at rearing when their goal is to assure that the fry have access to at least some food throughout the day. Many breeders accomplish this by adding small amounts of newly hatched Artemia to their nurseries whenever they walk by. For the sake of hygiene and water quality, it’s important to siphon off the bottom of the nursery tanks between feedings, whether or not you are able to do a microscopic examination of the fecal pellets.

    Many home hobbyists find an alternating 2-hour feeding schedule works well during the day. The fry are allowed to feed for 2 hours, then fasted for 2 hours, then given another feeding and fasted for 2 hours, and so on. The nursery is then darkened overnight and the seahorses are rested.

    If you are raising dwarf fry in the same tank along with the adults, you may wish to try a similar feeding schedule, Warren. In such a feeding schedule is not compatible with your busy schedule, then you can tweak your continuous flow of live brine a bit, so that there is a constant supply of newly-hatched brine shrimp available, but at a little lower feeding density, so the seahorses need to work a little harder and there’s a bit more delay between each bite. Examining their fecal pellets, as described by Tracy, while you are adjusting the flow rate will let you know when you’ve got it right.

    If you haven’t already done so, I would also suggest that you pick up a copy of Alisa Abbott’s guidebook titled Complete Guide to Dwarf Seahorses in the Aquarium. That’s one book every Pixie owner and dwarf seahorse keeper should have on hand. I’ve proofed Alisa’s dwarf seahorse book for TFH publications and wrote the preface for it, and I highly recommend it! You can order a copy from Amazon or any of the major booksellers, and it does include a couple of photographs that show the proper feeding density of baby brine shrimp to provide for your miniature marvels.

    4. I’ve noticed some turn themselves upside down or lay down- this has me nervous since I think they are dying but they’re not. is this normal behavior? Why do they turn themselves upside down while hitched?

    Dwarf seahorses will often anchor themselves to a convenient hitching post with their tails and then hang upside down in order to feed on baby brine shrimp that are passing by beneath them, or congregating at the bottom of the tank. That’s just an acrobatic feeding posture that they frequently adopt when hunting passively.

    5. I have a nylon stocking covering my filter intake- occasionally I’d find a pony stuck to it when lights on in the morning- I assume its because they are asleep and don’t notice where they’d land, but I still nudge them away from it. Are they strong enough to pull themselves away once they wake up? Not sure if I am being too paranoid.

    No, dwarf seahorses are not strong swimmers, and if they are getting sucked up against the filter intake at times that indicates that the suction generated by the water flowing through the intake is too strong for them to overcome, and you’ll need to reduce the flow rate for the aquarium filter to prevent that from happening in the future.

    in reply to: Seahorse Training Program — get certified now! #65972
    Pete Giwojna
    Moderator

    Dear swiechdawn:

    Yes, the seahorse training is always available to Ocean Rider clients and customers.

    However, the seahorse training program is a correspondence course that is conducted entirely via e-mail, so I will need you to contact me off list with your e-mail address so that we can begin the training lessons. You can reach me at the following e-mail address any time:

    [email protected]

    I will be looking for your reply so that we can begin the training without any further delay, Rebecca. Stay safe and stay healthy in the meantime!

    Happy Trails!
    Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support

    in reply to: Male erectus problems #63972
    Pete Giwojna
    Moderator

    Dear Eric:

    Your stallion is floating because he is positively buoyant, sir. And he is positively buoyant because he is afflicted with gas bubble disease (GBD), which causes excess gas to accumulate in certain areas of the seahorse’s body. Pouch emphysema, in which the excess gas accumulates in the seahorse’s pouch, is the most common form of GBD.

    In your case, Eric, if your stallion is floating but there is no gas in his pouch, then that indicates that excess gas is building up elsewhere in his system, most likely in his coelom (abdominal cavity) or in his gas bladder/swim bladder.

    Acetazolamide (brand name Diamox) is the best way to treat those forms of gas bubble disease. If you contact me off list ([email protected]), I’ll be happy to send you a lot more information on GBD so you can do a little more research on the matter.

    If you cannot obtain the Diamox, let me know, and we can discuss how to attempt treatment using the recompression/decompression cure for internal GBD.

    Good luck resolving this matter, sir.

    Respectfully,
    Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support

    in reply to: Moved: Reply To: How do i help my seahorses #63946
    Pete Giwojna
    Moderator

    Dear Janet:

    You should be able to obtain selenium from any business that sells vitamins and other health food products.

    I do not know if that is the same concentration as the product you used to find at your local fish stores. For example, Formalin 3 by Kordon is only a 3% solution, although the standard concentration of formaldehyde in formalin is 37%, Janet.

    It’s best to administer the formalin as a short-term bath or a series of dips in a separate treatment tank or hospital tank because formalin can be harmful to invertebrates and may have a detrimental impact on the beneficial nitrifying bacteria that provide biological filtration for the aquarium.

    Here are the instructions for administering 37% formalin as a short-term bath, Janet:

    Recommended dosage of 37% formaldehyde (formalin) from Ann at seahorse.org

    FORMALIN Short-Term BATH Dosage and Preparation Instructions
    Active Ingredient: 37% Formaldehyde
    Indication: external parasites
    Brand Names: Formalin, Formalin-MS
    Notes:
    1. Do NOT use Formalin that has a white residue at the bottom of the bottle. White residue
    indicates the presence of Paraformaldehyde which is very toxic.
    2. “Formalin 3” by Kordon contains only 3% Formaldehyde. Dosing instructions will need to be modified if using this product.
    • Fill a small tank with aged, aerated, dechlorinated marine water. Match the pH, temperature, and salinity to that of the tank the Seahorse is currently in.
    • Add an artificial hitch and 1–2 vigorously bubbling airlines. Formalin reduces dissolved O2 so heavy aeration is required.
    • Add 1ml/cc of Formalin per one gallon (3.8 liters) of tank water. Allow several minutes for the Formalin to disperse.
    • Place the Seahorse into the dip water for 45–60 minutes unless it is showing signs of an adverse reaction. If the Seahorse cannot tolerate the Formalin dip, immediately move it back to the hospital tank.
    • Observe the Seahorse for 24hrs for signs of improvement.

    [Note: 1 ml = 1 cc and 20 drops equals 1 ml. Also 1000 ml equals ~ 1 quart.]

    And here are the instructions for treating seahorses using Formalin 3 by Kordon, Janet. Please read through the following information carefully before you proceed:

    ‹open quote›
    Formalin 3 by Kordon is the medication I prefer for these treatments. These are the instructions for treating fish with Formalin 3, the Kordon brand of formalin, which is readily available at most fish stores:

    ‹open quote›
    Formalin 3 by Kordon is the medication I prefer for these treatments. These are the instructions for treating fish with Formalin 3, the Kordon brand of formalin, which is readily available at most fish stores:

    SUGGESTED TREATMENT PROCEDURES

    The following procedures are suggested for both freshwater and marine systems, unless otherwise noted. It is important to note that some activated carbons can remove formaldehyde from water, but formaldehyde persists for only a few hours in aquariums and does not accumulate in the water.

    SUCCESSFUL DISEASE TREATMENT

    Successful treatment of diseases of aquarium fishes relies upon several factors. Firstly, as discussed above (“General Diagnosis of parasitic Diseases of Fishes”), a proper diagnosis of the disease must be made, and this can be one of the most difficult tasks facing an aquarist.
    Secondly, the start and duration of a treatment is important. A disease which will usually respond to a given medication may not respond if the treatment is started too late, or if the length of treatment is not long enough.

    Lastly, the correct medication at the correct dosage must be used with the proper treatment method. Formalin·3, for instance, will not be effective against systemic (internal) diseases of aquarium fishes because the therapeutic effects of the formaldehyde are restricted to those surfaces of the fishes that contact the treated water.

    Water changes are another important factor. Some medications state that water changes are not necessary, but the fact is that water changes are always helpful. Depleted dissolved oxygen levels are replenished, dissolved organics are removed as are free-living disease organisms.

    Treatment in a separate treatment or hospital tank, if possible, is also important. However, this is often a nuisance and in many cases the entire aquarium population is diseased.

    TREATMENT OF FUNGAL AND PROTOZOAL DISEASES OF FISH (LONG-TERM BATH)

    (a) Since there is conflicting evidence regarding the safety of formaldehyde to biological (nitrifying) filtration, all long-term bath treatments with Formalin·3 may (at the user’s discretion) be done in a separate hospital or treatment tank.
    (b) Remove granular activated carbon from all filters used on the treatment tank; clean or change the mechanical filter media (i.e., filter floss), and return the filter(s) to service (minus the carbon).
    (c)Make a partial water change of approximately 25%
    (d) Depending upon the condition of the fishes needing treatment (i.e., the severity of the disease, involvement of the gills and the degree of debilitation), the dosage should be varied from 1 to 2 teaspoons per 10 gallons (10 to 20 ppm.) Severely diseased or debilitated fishes should be treated at the lower dosage.
    (e) The treatment may be repeated every 24 hours, by repeating all of the above steps, including the required water changes.
    (f) The dosage may be increased as the condition of the fishes being treated improves.
    (g) If the fishes were removed to a separate tank, the original aquarium or pond should remain devoid of all fishes for a period of at least 4 days to insure all of the remaining infestation has expired.

    METHOD 2 (DIP) FOR THE PREVENTION OR TREATMENT OF FISH DISEASES

    (a) To a clean, non-metallic container (i.e., a plastic bucket), add one or more gallons of fresh tap water treated with Kordon’s AmQuel . For marine fish use freshly prepared saltwater adjusted to the same specific gravity (or salinity) as in the original tank. Make sure the temperature in the container is identical to that in the aquarium
    (b) Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of Formalin·3. This produces a concentration of 100 to 200 ppm. formaldehyde.
    (c) Agitate the solution with an airstone and adjust for a moderately strong flow of air.
    (d) Remove the fishes to be treated and deposit them in the container for a treatment period of not more than 50 minutes. Immediately after the treatment period, or if signs of distress are noted, remove the fishes to a previously prepared recovery tank. The fishes may be returned to their original tank, but the presence of the original disease-causing agents in the tank water may result in a reoccurrence of the disease condition.
    (e) Observe recovering fishes. Make sure that tankmates do not molest them during recovery.
    (f) Repeat treatment as needed, every week. Each treatment is very stressful to the treated fishes. Do not reuse the dip solution.

    If you are going to use the formalin to treat your seahorses, Janet, please copy the following URL and paste it in your web browser. It will take you to a webpage with additional information about Formalin 3, and you should read through the information there before you begin the treatments:

    http://www.novalek.com/kordon/formalin/index.htm
    ‹close quote›

    Okay, that’s the quick rundown on how to treat seahorses using formalin safely and effectively, Janet.

    Good luck!

    Respectfully,
    Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support

    in reply to: Male erectus problems #63857
    Pete Giwojna
    Moderator

    Dear Eric:

    If your male is floating but his pouch is not swollen and distended, Randy, that’s an indication that the gas is building up within his abdominal cavity or within his swim bladder, rather than in his marsupium. If that’s the case, a medication known as acetazolamide (brand name Diamox) is sometimes the only treatment option that will help.

    Unfortunately, obtaining Diamox (the tablet form of acetazolamide) can often be a Catch-22 situation for hobbyists. It is a prescription drug often used for treating glaucoma, hydrocephaly, epilepsy, congestive heart failure, and altitude sickness in humans so you have to get it from your Vet or perhaps your family doctor. Regrettably, Veterinarians are often unfamiliar with using Diamox to treat gas bubble syndrome in seahorses — it is sometimes used by vets to treat glaucoma and cats or dogs or as a diuretic to treat certain conditions in horses (the four-legged kind), but your veterinarian will probably never have heard of gas bubble disease or treating it with carbonic anhydrase inhibitors. Many pet owners are on very good terms with their Vets, who are accustomed to prescribing medications for animals, so it’s often best to approach your Vet first about obtaining Diamox despite the fact they may never have heard of it until you brought it to their attention. Your family doctor, of course, will be familiar with such medications and have Diamox on hand but it can sometimes be difficult to get your MD to jump that final hurdle and prescribe it for a pet. Either way, it can be tough to get the medication you need under these circumstances.

    However, I would always exhaust those possibilities first before I considered an alternative source for the Diamox. Do a search for “carbonic anhydrase inhibitor” on the “Seahorse Life and Care” discussion forum on the Ocean Rider website (www.seahorse.com), and print out some of the detailed information that’s been posted regarding gas bubble disease and how it’s treated using Diamox and present that to your family veterinarian and/or your family practitioner. Bring photographs of your stallion with the positive buoyancy problem and be prepared to bring the seahorse in for a visit, if necessary. (Veterinarians are prohibited by law from prescribing medications to treat an animal they have not personally seen and examined. If you have had a close personal relationship with your vet over a period of years, they are often willing to bend that rule in the case of fish, but you may well have to bring the ailing seahorse in for a quick checkup to get the desired results.)

    As I mentioned, if the pouch-flushes are unsuccessful in resolving this problem and it keeps re-occurring, you can try administering Diamox orally if your seahorses are still eating, or as a series of baths if they’re not, or try pressurizing the seahorse in a homemade decompression chamber next.

    Let me know if you if you can obtain the Diamox, Eric, and I will be happy to provide you with detailed instructions explaining how to administer the medication properly.

    If the pouch-flushes are unsuccessful in resolving this problem and it keeps re-occurring, or the problem is due to a hyperinflated swimbladder or internal gas bubble syndrome, then Diamox is the best treatment option.

    If the affected seahorse is still eating, you can administer the acetazolamide orally, which will allow you to treat the affected seahorse in the main tank amidst familiar surroundings and in the company of its tankmates where it is the most comfortable. You get the acetazolamide into the food by preparing a solution of the medication, as described below, and then injecting it into live feeder shrimp or even the large Piscine Energetics frozen Mysis relicta. The medication is deactivated fairly quickly once you prepare the solution for injecting, so you must prepare a new acetazolamide solution each day during the treatment period. Here’s how to proceed:

    Administering Acetazolamide Orally

    I have found that acetazolamide is often more effective when it’s ingested and administering the medication orally allows you to treat the seahorse in the main tank where he’s most comfortable and relaxed.

    If you can obtain a small syringe with a fine needle, the acetazolamide solution can simply be injected into feeder shrimp or even frozen Mysis. Mic Payne (Seahorse Sanctuary) used this method of administering acetazolamide successfully when he had recurring problems with GBD due to maintaining a population of Hippocampus subelongatus in shallow tanks only 16-inches (40 cm) deep:

    “Seahorses maintained in this system are susceptible to gas bubble disease. Specimens with bubbles around the eyes or under the epidermis of the tail are readily treated with acetazolamide (Diamox tablets 250 mg). Mix a very small amount of crushed tablet with water and inject it into several glass shrimp that are then frozen. These are then fed to the target animal at the rate of two per day for four days. Bubbles disappear on the second day.”

    Hawaiian volcano shrimp or red feeder shrimp (Halocaridina rubra) work great for this. If a fine enough needle is used, they will survive a short while after being injected — long enough for their twitching and leg movements to attract the interest of the seahorse and trigger a feeding response.

    Leslie Leddo reports that a 1/2 cc insulin syringe with a 26-gauge needle was ideal for injecting frozen Mysis or live red feeder shrimp. They plump up when injected and ~1/2 cc is about the most of the solution they can hold. Their bodies will actually swell slightly as they are slowly injected and excess solution may start to leak out. The 26-gauge needle is fine enough that it does not kill the feeder shrimp outright; they survive long enough for the kicking of their legs and twitching to assure that they will be eaten.

    If the affected seahorse is no longer eating, then you will have to administer the acetazolamide (tablet form of Diamox) as a series of baths in your hospital tank instead:

    Acetazolamide Baths

    The recommended dosage is 250 mg of acetazolamide per 10 gallons with a 100% water change daily, after which the treatment tank is retreated with acetazolamide at the dosage indicated above (Dr. Martin Belli, pers. com.). Continue these daily treatments and water changes for up to 7-10 days for best results (Dr. Martin Belli, pers. com.).

    The acetazolamide baths should be administered in a hospital ward or quarantine tank. Acetazolamide does not appear to adversely affect biofiltration or invertebrates, but it should not be used in the main tank because it could be harmful to inhibit the enzymatic activity of healthy seahorses.

    Using the tablet form of acetazolamide (250 mg), crush the required amount to a very fine powder and dissolve it thoroughly in a cup or two of saltwater. There will usually be a slight residue that will not dissolve in saltwater at the normal alkaline pH (8.0-8.4) of seawater (Warland, 2002). That’s perfectly normal. Just add the solution to your hospital tank, minus the residue, of course, at the recommended dosage:

    Place the affected seahorse in the treatment tank as soon as first dose of medication has been added. After 24 hours, perform a 100% water change in the hospital tank using premixed water that you’ve carefully aerated and adjusted to be same temperature, pH and salinity. Add a second dose of newly mixed acetazolamide at the same dosage and reintroduce the ailing seahorse to the treatment tank. After a further 24 hours, do another 100% water change and repeat the entire procedure until a total of up to 7-10 treatments have been given. About 24 hours after the final dose of acetazolamide has been added to the newly changed saltwater, the medication will have lost its effectiveness and the patient can be returned directly to the main seahorse tank to speed its recovery along.

    One of the side effects of acetazolamide baths is loss of appetite. Try to keep the affected seahorse eating by plying it with its favorite live foods during and after treatment, until it has fully recovered.

    Okay, Eric, that covers the different ways of administering the Diamox.

    Best of luck treating your male’s positive buoyancy, sir.

    Respectfully,
    Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support

    in reply to: Moved: Reply To: How do i help my seahorses #63853
    Pete Giwojna
    Moderator

    Dear Janet:

    I’m very sorry to hear about the problem some of your seahorses have developed, Janet.

    As you know, the loss of suction during feeding is commonly known as “weak snick,” Janet, and it can become a serious problem if it progresses to the point that the seahorse can no longer slurp up enough food keep it going.

    Weak snick and related feeding disorders are usually due to either to deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals or to a physical injury, a gradual buildup of organic wastes in the aquarium, or an infection affecting the seahorse’s hyoid bone trigger mechanism or the underlying musculature with which it generates the powerful suction that it uses when feeding.

    Since your Sunbursts have been doing well since you first got them last year, I suspect that this problem may have been triggered by a gradual accumulation of organic material building up in the tank, Janet, and the first thing I would suggest is to do a general cleanup of the aquarium in conjunction with one or more partial water changes to remove excess organics and improve your water quality, as discussed below.

    At the first sign of a health problem:

    Because diseases are so often directly related to water quality, or due to stress resulting from a decline in water quality, when trouble arises the first thing you should do is to break out your test kits and check your water chemistry. Very often that will provide a clue to the problem. Make sure the aquarium temperature is within the acceptable range and check for ammonia and/or nitrite spikes first. See if your nitrate levels have risen to harmful levels and look for a drop in pH.

    Be sure to check your dissolved oxygen (O2) level too. A significant drop in O2 levels (6 – 7 ppm is optimal) is very stressful yet easily corrected by increasing surface agitation and circulation to promote better oxygenation and gas exchange. At the other extreme, oxygen supersaturation is a red flag indicating a potentially deadly problem with gas embolisms (Gas Bubble Syndrome).

    If any of your water quality parameters are off significantly, that may well be the cause of the problem or at least the source of the stress that weakened your seahorses and made them susceptible to disease. And correcting your water chemistry may well nip the problem in the bud, particularly if it is environmental, without the need for any further treatment.

    Clean Up & Perform a Water Change

    After a quick check of the water chemistry to assess the situation, it’s time to change water and clean up. In most cases, the surest way to improve your water quality and correct the water chemistry is to combine a 25%-50% water change with a thorough aquarium clean up. Siphon around the base of your rockwork and decorations, vacuum the top 1/2 inch of the sand or gravel, rinse or replace your prefilter, and administer a general system cleaning. The idea is to remove any accumulated excess organic material in the sand/gravel bed, top of the filter, or tank that could degrade your water quality, serve as a breeding ground for bacteria or a reservoir for disease, or otherwise be stressing your seahorses. [Note: when cleaning the filter and vacuuming the substrate, your goal is to remove excess organic wastes WITHOUT disturbing the balance of the nitrifying bacteria. Do not dismantle the entire filter, overhaul your entire filter system in one fell swoop, or clean your primary filtration system too zealously or you may impair your biological filtration.]

    At first glance your aquarium parameters may look great, but there are some water quality issues that are difficult to detect with standard tests, such as a decrease in dissolved 02, transitory ammonia/nitrite spikes following a heavy feeding, pH drift, or the gradual accumulation of detritus. A water change and cleanup is a simple preventative measure that can help defuse those kinds of hidden factors before they become a problem and stress out your seahorses. These simple measures may restore your water quality and correct the source of the stress before your seahorse becomes seriously ill and requires treatment.

    If the problem persists following the general clean up and subsequent water changes, Janet, then we will have to consider some of the other possible causes (and solutions) for weak snick in seahorses.

    For example, Dr. Richard Loh observed a case of weak snick that was due to bacteria destroying the esophagus of a seahorse, detailed here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cG7C4BEY7Eg&app=desktop

    And, of course, mechanical injuries can sometimes be caused by ingesting a foreign object while feeding, or the problem may be due to protozoan parasites that attack the gills and eventually affect the muscles that operate the buccal suction pump and/or the opercular suction pumps. In some cases, the loss of suction has been traced to muscle degeneration in this region resulting from nutritional deficiencies, so that’s another consideration to keep in mind.

    As Tami Weiss puts it, “In the hobbyist world, we see weak snick a lot with tanks with a high organic load…The hypothesis is that it is caused by a profusion of ciliates attacking/irritating the hyoid bone. Two treatments that have been effective for many home hobbyists in relieving this problem are freshwater dips and formalin baths. Freshwater dips need to be temperature and pH matched, and are for 8-15 minutes. That is usually the first line of defense. If that doesn’t work, formalin either as a short dip or a longer-term bath is also used.”

    I understand that you cannot obtain the formalin, Janet, but at least you should be able to administer a brief freshwater dip instead, providing you feel the affected seahorses are strong enough to tolerate such a procedure. This is what I usually advise home aquarists regarding administering freshwater dips, , which would be the first treatment option I would recommend in your case, if a general clean up followed by a series of partial water changes to remove dissolved organics do not resolve the problem.:

    Freshwater Dips

    A freshwater dip is simply immersing your seahorse in pure, detoxified freshwater that’s been preadjusted to the same temp and pH as the water the seahorse is accustomed to, for a period of at least 10 minutes (Giwojna, Dec. 2003). It doesn’t harm them — seahorses typically tolerate freshwater dips exceptionally well and a 10-minute dip should be perfectly safe. Freshwater dips are effective because marine fish tolerate the immersion in freshwater far better than the external parasites they play host to; the change in osmotic pressure kills or incapacitates such microorganisms within 7-8 minutes (Giwojna, Dec. 2003). A minimum dip, if the fish seems to be doing fine, is therefore 8 minutes. Include some sort of hitching post in the dipping container and shoot for the full 10 minutes with your seahorses (Giwojna, Dec. 2003).

    If you will be using tap water for the freshwater dip, be sure to dechlorinate it beforehand. This can be accomplished using one of the commercial dechlorinators, which typically include sodium thiosulfate and perhaps a chloramine remover as well, or by aerating the tap water for at least 24 hours to dissipate the chlorine (Giwojna, Dec. 2003).

    If you dechlorinate the dip water with a sodium thiosulfate product, be sure to use an airstone to aerate it for at least one hour before administering the dip. This is because the sodium thiosulfate depletes the water of oxygen and the dip water must therefore be oxygenated before its suitable for your seahorse(s). Regardless of how you detoxify the freshwater for the dip, it’s important to aerate the water in the dipping container well beforehand to increase the level of dissolved oxygen in the water. Many hobbyists leave the airstone in the dipping container throughout the procedure.

    Adjusting the pH of the water in the dipping container so that it matches the pH of the water in the aquarium is a crucial step. Ordinary baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) will suffice for raising the pH of the water. If there is too much of a difference in the pH, there is a possibility the seahorse could go into shock during the dipping procedure. Preadjusting the pH will prevent that from happening. If you will are unsure about your ability to accurately adjust the pH in the dipping container, avoid this procedure altogether or be prepared to monitor the seahorse very carefully or shorten the duration of the tip to no more than about 2 minutes.

    Observe the horse closely during the dip. You may see some immediate signs of distress or shock. Sometimes the horse will immediately lie on its side on the bottom. That’s a fairly common reaction — normal and to be expected, rather than a cause for concern, so don’t be alarmed if this happens. Just nudge or tap the seahorse gently with your finger if it lies down on its side. Normally, the seahorse will respond to the slight nudge by righting itself again and calm down for the duration of the dip. However, if it does not respond, stop the treatment.

    With the exception of Hippocampus kelloggi, most seahorses tolerate the treatment well and experience no problems, but if you see continued signs of distress — twitching, thrashing around etc. — stop the treatment immediately and return the seahorse to normal strength saltwater. How well the seahorses tolerate a freshwater dip can vary from individual to individual and from species to species. Hippocampus barbouri seahorses, for example, often have a low tolerance for freshwater and should either not be dipped or the freshwater dip should be shortened to 1-2 minutes as a safeguard for this species…

    After you have completed the dip and returned the seahorses to the aquarium, save the dip water and examine it closely for any sign of parasites. The change in osmotic pressure from saltwater to freshwater will cause ectoparasites to lyse (i.e., swell and burst) or drop off their host after 7-10 minutes, and they will be left behind in the dipping water. Protozoan parasites are microscopic and won’t be visible to the naked eye, but some of the other ectoparasites can be clearly seen. For example, monogenetic trematodes will appear as opaque sesame seeds drifting in the water (Giwojna, Aug. 2003) and nematodes may be visible as tiny hairlike worms 1/16-3/16 of an inch long. Other parasites may appear as tiny dots in the water. Freshwater dips can thus often provide affected seahorses with some immediate relief by ridding them of these irritating pests and can also aid their breathing by flushing out gill parasites.

    If you suspect a problem with parasites, the dip should be extended for the full 5-10 minutes, if possible, and an for best results.

    If more than one seahorse is affected, do not dip all of them simultaneously. I would dip them individually so you can keep a close eye on each seahorse throughout the dip and make sure it is tolerating it well. That way, you can use the same dipping container and dipping water for all of the seahorses as you dip them in sequence. I like at least a gallon of water in the dipping container, but that depends on what I’m using. If it’s a clean three or five-gallon bucket, I will fill it about half full with freshwater adjusted to the aquarium temperature.

    Freshwater dips are the first treatment option for cases of weak snick, Janet, and they will often resolve the problem when it is detected early and treated promptly. If that’s not the case for your seahorse, then I would recommend vitamin therapy instead, as explained below in more detail:

    Véronique LePage, from Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada was looking into nutrient deficiencies in weak snick in sea dragons. Weak snick occurs in sea dragons as well, which is not surprising considering their physiology is so similar to seahorses. One researcher (Véronique LePage) at a vet college in Ontario discovered that several seadragons she had observed with weak snick had muscular weakness or degeneration (myopathy) around the muscles of the face and head. This was due to a Vitamin E and selenium deficiency, and once treated, the ability to snick and eat normally resumed.

    Likewise, the Birch Aquarium also found myopathy, necropsy and degeneration of the head and jaw muscles in syngnathids (Tami Weiss).

    If you have not been fortifying or enriching the frozen Mysis you feed to your seahorses, Janet, and in light of the findings I have just mentioned, I would suggest that you begin enriching the Mysis using a product rich in vitamins (especially Vitamin E and selenium) in addition to administering a quick freshwater dip to the affected seahorse(s).

    When the weak snick is suspected to be due to a vitamin deficiency, I would recommend gut loading live adult brine shrimp with Vita-chem Marine Formulation by Boyd Enterprises in conjunction with a selenium supplement.

    The Vita-chem Marine contains a wide array of vitamins including Vitamin E and may be available at your local fish stores or pet shops, or it can be purchased online from many sources such as liveaquaria.com (see the following link):

    https://www.liveaquaria.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=4380&ref=4395&subref=AA&cmpid=PLA-_-GS-_-NB&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI5pnyg4Th6gIVEdbACh2BZgN5EAQYBCABEgIT__D_BwE

    You can add the proper amount of the Vita-chem Marine Formulation directly to the aquarium water as well as adding a few drops of it to the container of freshwater that you are using to gutload or bioencapsulate the adult brine shrimp.

    You can obtain a selenium supplement at any drugstore or pharmacy inexpensively, and then use it along with the VitaChem Marine to gutload the adult brine shrimp as explained below.

    The best way to administer the Vita-chem Marine and selenium to your seahorses orally is by bioencapsulating or gutloading them in live adult brine shrimp (Artemia), which are then fed to the seahorses.

    If the selenium supplement you are using for this comes in tablet form, crush it into a very fine powder (you may have to use a household blender to get it fine enough) and dissolve it in a small container of freshwater. Soak the adult shrimp in freshwater containing the dissolves selenium tablet and several drops of VitaChem Marine Formulation for 15-30 minutes and then feed the medicated shrimp to your seahorses immediately. (Don’t let your pumps and filters “eat” all the brine shrimp!)

    The brine shrimp are soaked in freshwater, not saltwater, because in theory the increased osmotic pressure of the freshwater helps the vitamin/selenium solution move into their bodies via osmosis. But in fact, nobody knows for sure whether the antibiotic is diffusing into the brine shrimp or they are ingesting it in very fine particles (brine shrimp are filter feeders and will take in whatever is suspended in the water with them) or whether the brine shrimp merely become coated with the antibiotic while they are soaking in it. But that’s not important — all that really matters is that gut-loading adult brine shrimp with medications this way is effective.

    Gutloading the adult brine shrimp in freshwater has several advantages, Janet. First of all, it disinfects the brine shrimp (the osmotic shock in going from concentrated saltwater to freshwater will kill off any protozoan parasites the brine shrimp may have been carrying). Secondly, the freshwater increases the effectiveness of the gutloading process by allowing some of the medication to enter the body of the brine shrimp via osmosis. And gutloading the adult brine shrimp in freshwater saves the hobbyist from having to mix up fresh saltwater every day in order to medicate the adult Artemia. Just use dechlorinated/detoxified freshwater as described above, and everything should go smoothly.

    I would feed your seahorses their fill of adult brine shrimp gutloaded with a powdered selenium tablet and several drops of Vita-chem Marine once a day. Gutload a new portion of the adult brine shrimp each day for the seahorses’ first feeding of the day when they are the most hungry.

    It is impossible to determine precisely what dosage of the vitamins and selenium each individual fish ingests when gutloading, but these supplements are very safe and you really cannot overdose a seahorse using this method of treatment.

    In short, Janet, the feeder shrimp I find that work best for gutloading or bioencapsulating medications are adult brine shrimp (Artemia species). As you know, I prefer adult brine shrimp (Artemia spp.) for gutloading for a number of reasons. For one thing, adult Artemia are inexpensive and readily available to the home hobbyist. Secondly, soaking live adult brine shrimp in a solution of the desired additives in freshwater is by far the simplest and most convenient way to bioencapsulate meds, as we have discussed previously. Thirdly, a much wider range of medicines are effective when bio-encapsulated in live brine shrimp than can be used effectively as bath treatments for marine fish because they adult brine shrimp tolerate freshwater so well while they are being gutloaded.

    Best of luck resolving your new Sunburst’s problem with weak snick, Janet. Please keep me updated on how well they are doing.

    Also, be sure to contact me off list at the following e-mail address and I will provide you with lots of additional information regarding Weak-snick and associated feeding disorders:

    [email protected]

    Respectfully,
    Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support

    in reply to: How do i help my seahorses #63847
    Pete Giwojna
    Moderator

    Dear Charlotte:

    It’s clear that your male was performing pouch displays in order to interest your female in courtship and breeding, and that she has responded to his overtures positively, which may ultimately lead to a successful mating between these two ponies.

    If you contact me off list at the following e-mail address, I will send you a lot of additional information about courtship and breeding in seahorses so that you will have a better understanding about exactly what is going on between your ponies:

    [email protected]

    In other words, Charlotte, it sounds like your ponies are showing a healthy interest in courtship and breeding at the moment. I can only speculate as to why your female was so inactive previously, but as lie-in-wait ambush predators, seahorses are naturally rather sedentary animals that do not move around a great deal since they rely on their camouflage for protection against predators, and prefer to blend into their backgrounds in order to escape notice when they are not actively feeding or breeding…

    Best wishes with all your fishes, Charlotte!

    Respectfully,
    Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support

    in reply to: Seahorse Species and Compatibility #63846
    Pete Giwojna
    Moderator

    Dear Laurel:

    Personal opinions on compatible tankmates will vary depending on the individual hobbyist’s experiences when keeping seahorses in a community tank, and what works well in one aquarium isn’t always successful in another setup. But I would be happy to help you sort through some of the confusion.

    When discussing compatible tankmates for seahorses, it’s important to remember that one can only speak in generalities. There are no unbreakable rules, no sure things, no absolute guarantees. For instance, most hobbyists will tell you that small scooter blennies make great tankmates for seahorses and 9 times out of 10 they’re right. But every once in a while, you will hear horror stories from hobbyists about how their scooter blenny coexisted peacefully with their seahorses for several months and then suddenly went “rouge” overnight for no apparent reason and turned on the seahorses, inflicting serious damage before it could be captured and removed.

    Does that mean that we should cross scooter blennies off our list of compatible tankmates for seahorses? Nope — it just means that we must be aware that individuals within a species sometimes vary in their behavior and respond differently than you would expect, so there are exceptions to every rule. It’s fair to say that scooter blennies generally make wonderful companions for seahorses, but there’s always a small chance you might get Satan reincarnated in the form of a scooter blenny. There’s no guarantee that adorable scooter you picked out at your LFS because of his amusing antics and puppy-dog personality won’t turn out to be the blenny from hell once you release him in your seahorse setup.

    Likewise, micro-hermit crabs are generally entertaining additions to an aquarium that do a great job as scavengers and get along great with seahorses, but over the years, I’ve had a few seahorses that were confirmed crab killers. These particular ponies were persistent hermit crab predators that specialized in plucking the hermits out of their shells and attacking their soft, unprotected abdomens, and they honed their skullduggery to a fine art. They were experts at extricating the crabs and would eat only their fleshy abdomens and discard the rest. Mind you, that was only a few individuals out of a great many Hippocampines, but I could never keep hermit crabs in the same tank with those specific seahorses.

    It’s the smallest hermit crabs that are at greatest risk, of course, but this behavior sometimes becomes habitual. So if my experience is any guide, crab killing could become a bad habit for the seahorse that is doing the stalking and you’ll have to watch that particular pony around hermit crabs from now on. Once they have discovered how to go about it, a seahorse may develop a taste for hermit hinders and consider them to be a regular part of its menu henceforth.

    On the other hand, sometimes it’s the micro-hermits that are the troublemakers. Most of the time, they coexist perfectly well with their fellow janitors in the cleanup crew. But I’ve had more than a few tiny hermits with a taste for escargot that persecuted snails mercilessly. These cold-blooded little assassins would kill the snails in order to appropriate their shells. Once they had dined on the former occupant, they would take up residence in their victim’s cleaned-out shell! It soon became clear that these killer crabs were driven not by hunger, but by the need for a new domicile. Once I realized they were house-hunting, I found I could curb their depredations but providing an assortment of small, empty seashells for the hermits to use. Colorful Nerite shells are ideal for this.

    The same thing can sometimes happen with the decorative shrimp we introduce to our seahorse tanks. Most of the time they do great with seahorses, but sometimes the cleaner shrimp cause problems at feeding time and, on other occasions, the seahorses may give the colorful shrimp a hard time.

    For instance, Peppermint Shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni) and/or Scarlet Cleaner Shrimp or Skunk Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis) are popular additions to seahorse tanks to augment the cleanup crew and add a touch of color and activity to the tank. Peppermint shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni) are a favorite with seahorse keepers because they eat Aiptasia rock anemones, and both the peppermints and Scarlet cleaner shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis) will perform another useful service by grooming the seahorses and cleaning them of ectoparasites. As an added bonus, they reproduce regularly in the aquarium, producing swarms of larval nauplii that the seahorses love to eat.

    Yet once established in the aquarium, those beautiful red shrimp species are much more active feeders than seahorses. They’ll come flying across the tank the moment that enticing scent of frozen mysids hits the water, raiding the feeding station and snatching mysis right out of the ‘horse’s snouts. Does that mean they’re incompatible with seahorses? Heck no, you just shoo the pesky shrimp out of the way at dinnertime and target feed the seahorses, making sure each of them gets its fill.

    Other seahorse keepers caution against cleaner shrimp not because the shrimp could outcompete the ponies for frozen Mysis, but because their seahorses don’t discriminate between feeder shrimp and decorative shrimp, and may be inclined to add the expensive cleaner shrimp to their dinner menu. When introducing decorative shrimp in a seahorse setup, it is important to select good-sized cleaner shrimp for this very reason. Live shrimp is the favorite food of all seahorses and, up to a certain point, they will not hesitate to attack shrimp that are too large to be eaten in one bite.

    This often happens when feeding seahorses live ghost shrimp or grass shrimp, many of which are too big to be eaten intact. Seahorses are so fond of these shrimp that they often attack specimens that are far too big to swallow. In that case, they will attempt to break the back of the shrimp by snapping repeatedly at the carapace. If they are successful in severing the abdomen from the cephalothorax, the seahorses will then slurp up the tail section and head half of the shrimp separately. Or should their victim be so large it cannot even be swallowed in sections, they will snick out mouthfuls of the soft tissue exposed inside the abdomen or thorax.

    At times, several seahorses will gang up on one big shrimp this way, like a pack of lions teaming up to bring down a water buffalo that’s too big for any one of them to tackle alone. Under the right circumstances, a sort of slow-motion feeding frenzy may then ensue, with the seahorses playing tug-of-war over the pieces of their prize.

    Grass shrimp that are too large to be overcome by such tactics may survive to become long-term residents of the seahorse tank, coexisting with their reluctant tankmates in a sort of uneasy truce. Such die-hard shrimp provide a useful service as scavengers from then on.

    We tend to think of our seahorses as gentle, nonaggressive creatures that wouldn’t harm a fly, but in reality, they are surprisingly fierce predators in their own right. To small crustaceans, seahorses are the tigers of the grass-blade jungle, striking without warning from ambush and devouring anything of the right size that moves.

    When introduced to a seahorse setup, small cleaner shrimp face the same risks as large ghost shrimp and grass shrimp (a hungry ‘horse doesn’t distinguish between decorative shrimp that are intended as tankmates and eating shrimp that are intended as dinner). It is therefore 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.

    Just remember that crabs and shrimp are natural prey items that are on the menu of all large seahorses. Kealan Doyle conducted a study on seahorses in the wild in Portugal in which he did a stomach analysis of wild caught individuals, and was quite astonished to see parts of quite large crabs and shrimp in their stomach contents (Neil Garrick-Maidment, pers. com.). Of course, it’s good that Ocean Rider seahorses are such aggressive feeders, but it is inconvenient at times when they take a culinary interest in one’s hermit crab sanitation engineers.

    Arrow crabs are another good example of the type specimens for which you might find conflicting advice with regard to their suitability as suitable tankmates for seahorses. I would characterize arrow crabs (Stenorhynchus seticornis) as opportunistic omnivores. I have kept them in a number of my aquaria over the years, including a few seahorse tanks, without any problems. They never bothered my Hippocampus erectus at all, but they can be hard on sessile invertebrates in general and I certainly wouldn’t trust them with dwarf seahorses. Nor would I trust them with a small goby.

    I kept a couple of large arrow crabs in my Monster Bin with a 14-inch African lionfish (Pterois volitans) and a couple of overgrown ribbon eels, and the arrow crabs proved to be fairly proficient at capturing the live minnows I fed to the lionfish, particularly after the minnows had been weakened by the saltwater. If the opportunity presents itself, they are quite capable of capturing small bottom-dwelling fishes like your goby.

    Arrow crabs will happily devour any bristleworms they can catch but they won’t eradicate them from your aquarium. Too many of the bristleworms always remain inaccessible to them within the rockwork and sand for that, but a small to medium-sized arrow crab or two can help control the bristleworm population. A fairly effective way to reduce their numbers is to regularly trap large bristleworms after lights out along with keeping a young arrow crab to thin out smaller worms (providing there are no sessile invertebrates in the tank the crabs could harm).

    In my experience, small to medium-sized arrow crabs are safe with large seahorses and can be used to help limit the number of bristleworms in your tank. But if you want to try this, you don’t want to pick out the biggest, baddest, bruiser of an arrow crab to do the job! Go with a smaller specimen, keep a close eye on it, and be prepared to replace it with a smaller individual after it molts once or twice. They grow fast and can nearly double in size after each molt.

    Remember there are always exceptions to every rule, and large crustaceans are never completely trustworthy. Even the most harmless and seemingly inoffensive crabs can cause trouble under certain circumstances. For example, not long ago I heard from a hobbyist that had been keeping a decorator crab in his seahorse tank. All went well at first and there were no problems of any kind for months until, for no apparent reason, the crab suddenly began to quite deliberately amputate portions of the seahorses’ tails. It was not attacking the seahorses as prey or attempting to eat its mutilated victims, it was merely methodically harvesting portions of their anatomy with which to adorn itself! It was simply doing what all decorator crabs do — snipping off and gathering bits and pieces of its immediate environment to attach to itself as a form of natural camouflage. It just goes to show, with crabs you can never be sure how things are going to work out…

    Bearing that in mind, Laurel, to get you started, here is a list of tropical tankmates that often do well with tropical seahorses other than the dwarf seahorse (Hippocampus zosterae):

    Tropical Tankmates.

    I have prepared a list of suitable fishes and invertebrates that generally make compatible tankmates for tropical seahorses below. Avoid fin nippers and aggressive, territorial fish that would be inclined to bully or physically abuse the seahorses, such as damsels, most clownfish, triggerfish, angels, puffers, cowfish and the like, as well as any predatory fishes that are large enough to swallow a seahorse, such as lionfish, anglers, sargassumfish, rays, large groupers and morays. For best results, other fishes that would not persecute the seahorses in any way should also generally be excluded because they are active, aggressive feeders that would out-compete the seahorses for food. This includes most butterflyfish, tangs, and wrasse. Stinging animals like anemones and jellyfish are unsuitable, as are other predatory invertebrates such as lobsters, mantis shrimp, certain starfish and most crabs.

    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 and the cultured A. occelaris or percula are not normally territorial or aggressive toward seahorses.

    In short, fishes that are suitable as companions for seahorses must be docile, nonaggressive specimens, which are fairly deliberate feeders that won’t out-compete them for food. Some good candidates include:

    Anthias (assorted Mirolabrichthys, Pseudanthias, and Anthias sp.)
    Firefish Goby (Nemateleotris magnifica)
    Purple Firefish Goby (Nemateleotris decora)
    Gobies (assorted small species)
    Neon Goby (Gobiosoma oceanops)
    Assessors (Assessor spp.)
    Midas Blenny (Ecsenius midas)
    High Hats (Equetus acuminatus)
    Marine Betta (Calloplesiops altivelis)
    Banggai or Banner cardinals (Pterapogon kauderni)
    Flame cardinals (Apogon pseudomaculatus)
    Pajama cardinals (Apogon nematoptera)
    Pipefishes (assorted small species)
    Percula clownfish (Amphiprion percula)
    False percula clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris)
    Royal Grammas (Gramma loreto)
    Blackcap Basslets (Gramma melacara)
    Green Chromis (Chromis viridis)
    Blue Reef Chromis (Chromis cyaneus)
    Longnose Hawkfish (Oxycirrhites typus)
    Six Line Wrasse (Psuedocheilinus hexataenia)
    Scooter Blennies (Synchiropus spp.)
    Green Mandarin Goby or Dragonet (Pterosynchiropus splendidus)
    Psychedelic Mandarin Goby or Dragonet (Pterosynchiropus picturatus)
    Orchid Dottyback (Pseudochromis fridmani) – avoid other Pseudochromis species!

    Mandarin gobies or dragonets (Pterosynchiropus spp.) are peaceful, deliberate feeders with brilliant colors that do well with seahorses and often even learn to accept frozen Mysis in time. But they are best reserved for very large, well-established aquaria with lots of live rock that supports an adequate population of copepods and amphipods to sustain them.

    Good inverts for seahorses include decorative cleaner shrimp like those listed below:

    Peppermint Shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni)
    Scarlet Cleaner Shrimp or Skunk Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis)
    Fire Shrimp (Lysmata debelius)
    Harlequin Shrimp (Hymenocerus elegans and H. picta) — predatory on sea stars;
    and/or
    large ornamental snails (living sea shells) such as the following:
    Tiger Cowry (Cypraea tigris)
    Deer Cowry (Cypraea cervus)
    and/or
    Assorted Feather Dusters (Sabellastatre magnifica, Sabella sp.) whose colorful crowns resemble gaily-colored parasols.

    As far as starfish go, it’s best to avoid a large predatory species such as chocolate chip starfish and African starfish (Protoreaster spp.). I would describe predatory sea stars such as these as “opportunistic omnivores,” meaning that they are likely to eat any sessile or slow-moving animals that they can catch or overpower. For instance, I would not trust them with snails, clams, tunicates, soft corals and the like. Most fishes are far too fast and agile to be threatened by sea stars, but seahorses are sometimes an exception due to their sedentary lifestyle and habit of perching in one place for extended periods of time. What occasionally happens, in the confines of the aquarium, is that a predatory starfish may pin down the tail of a seahorse that was perched to the piece of coral or rock the starfish was climbing on, evert it’s stomach, and begin to digest that portion of the seahorse’s tail that is pinned beneath its body. That’s a real risk with large predatory species such as the beautiful Protoreaster starfish, which are surprisingly voracious and aggressive for an echinoderm.

    But there are a number of colorful starfish that do well with seahorses. Any of the brightly colored Fromia or Linkia species would make good tankmates for seahorses. However, bear in mind that, like all echinoderms, seahorses are very sensitive to water quality and generally will not do well in a newly established aquarium. Wait until your seahorse tank is well-established and has had a chance to mature and stabilize before you try any starfish.

    Two attractive species I can recommend are the Fromia Sea Star or Marbled Sea Star (Fromia monilis) and the Red Bali Starfish (Fromia milliporella), which are safe to keep seahorses. They are not nearly as delicate as the Linkia species and should do well in the tank such as you’re planning that has lots of live rock and optimum water quality, and are nonaggressive starfish that feed primarily on detritus and meiofauna on live rock and sandy substrates.

    By no means is this intended to be a comprehensive compilation. It is intended merely to give the hobbyist an idea of the types of fishes and inverts that generally make suitable tankmates for seahorses. But there are many more seahorse-safe fish and invertebrates that could have been added to the list, and no doubt many aquarists would disagree about some of the species that have been included.

    For more information on seahorse-safe tankmates, contact me off list with a brief note at the following e-mail address, and I’ll be happy to provide you with much more material:

    [email protected]

    Be that as it may, Laurel, there are three precautions that should always be observed when contemplating keeping seahorses with other fishes:

    (1) All fishes that are intended as tankmates for seahorses MUST be quarantined first without exception, unless they are captive-bred-and-raised animals obtained from a high-health aquaculture facility. Any fish you bring home from your LFS is a potential disease vector for all manner of nasty pathogens and parasites, and you need to take every possible precaution to prevent these from being introduced to your display tank.

    (2) If you are new to seahorses, you will be much better off sticking to a species tank rather than attempting to keep them in a mixed community. Beginners are well advised to keep things as simple as possible while they learn the ropes, and introducing other fishes and invertebrates tankmates complicates feeding and carries new risks that inexperienced seahorse keepers are ill-equipped to cope with. Get some firsthand experience with seahorses before you consider adding any tankmates other than a cleanup crew.

    (3) You must be willing to feed the seahorses properly when keeping them with other fishes in order to assure that the seahorses get enough to eat, as discussed below:

    Feeding Seahorses in the Community Tank

    When keeping seahorses in an appropriately elaborate environment, 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 or live rock 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
    http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i5/seahorse_feeders/seahorse_feeders.htm

    Personally, 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 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 scarfing 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?

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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. (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. And it’s great for tapping on the cover to ringing the dinner bell and summon the diners for their gourmet feast!)

    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.

    The key to keeping active specimens like firefish 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.

    Live corals are a different matter altogether, and you must observe some special precautions when selecting corals for a seahorse tank. Here are some suggestions regarding what specimens do well with seahorses and which should be avoided, if you will be keeping live corals with your ponies or maintaining a reef biotype for them, Laurel:

    Seahorse-Proofing the Reef Tank

    When designing a reef tank that will include seahorses, one must anticipate the different ways they might be injured in such a setup and then take precautions to prevent them from coming to harm. The process of rendering your reef system seahorse safe is much like the measures new parents take to childproof their house when they are expecting their first child. Intake tubes for the filters should be shielded, siphon tubes should be equipped with filter baskets or screens, and so on…

    For instance, when powerful water movement is combined with overflows, there is a risk that seahorses could become pinned against an overflow or even go over it (Delbeek, Oct. 2001). Therefore, in the seahorse reef, overflows must be baffled and/or screened off, or the water flow should be adjusted sufficiently to prevent that from happening.

    Likewise, although seahorses have no problem with strong currents in the wild, in the confines of aquarium, it is possible for them to come in contact with stinging corals if they are struck by a sudden powerful wave or surge, or are overwhelmed by a strong, unexpected current (Delbeek, Oct. 2001). The hobbyist needs to take this into consideration when placing water returns and corals in the seahorse reef (Delbeek, Oct. 2001). If possible, keep the water currents steady and unvarying so the seahorses can establish holding areas in the sheltered spots and low flow zones without getting blindsided by unpredictable currents.

    One good way to accommodate both the needs of corals that prefer brisk currents and the seahorse’s need for slack-water retreats is to create tall rock formations a foot or two down current from the strongest water flows to intercept and deflect or divert that strong flow of water, creating eddies and slack-water zones where there is relatively little water movement down current. Seahorses will hold in these low flow areas when they want to move away from the current, so it’s a good idea to position convenient hitching posts in the lee or down-current side of such formations..

    Another excellent way to accomplish the same thing is to use small powerheads to create and direct current wherever needed. A properly positioned powerhead can thus bathe your prized Acropora formations in a brisk water stream precisely without generating too much water movement elsewhere in the aquarium. Just be aware that powerheads can become death traps for seahorses if their intakes are not properly shielded or screened off, and take the necessary precautions (Delbeek, Oct. 2001). Carefully conceal the intakes amidst the rockwork where they will be completely inaccessible to seahorses, otherwise shield them, or screen them off with a sponge prefilter.

    In short, the hobbyist who wants to keep seahorses in a reef system must be willing to make some concessions and modifications to accommodate their special needs nonetheless. For example, the reef keeper must be willing to limit himself to corals and invertebrates that meet the following criteria:

    1) Avoid any stinging animals with powerful nematocysts. This means fire corals (Millepora spp.) and anemones should be excluded from the seahorse reef, 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. Short polyped stony (SPS) corals are generally fine, but large polyped stony (LPS) corals should be regarded with caution, as discussed in more detail below.

    2) Water movement and circulation must be managed as previously described. Corals that require powerful surge or overly strong water currents could overtax the limited swimming ability of Hippocampus unless slack water areas the seahorses can retreat to when needed are also provided.

    3) The corals must be able to withstand being used as hitching posts by the seahorses from time to time; that is, they cannot be so delicate that having a seahorse’s grasping tail anchored around them could cause them any harm. For instance, soft corals may retract their polyps when a seahorse perches on them. This can be harmful to their health if it becomes a chronic problem, because many corals rely on their polyps to absorb light and convert it to energy via photosynthesis. Be sure to watch any soft corals and hermatypic corals to make sure they are not closed up for extended periods. Normally, they adjust to the seahorses’ presence and unwelcome attention after a while, and remain contracted only briefly after each contact. After repeated exposures to grasping tails, each such incident elicits a weaker response, so they tend to extend their polyps sooner and sooner after being disturbed (Delbeek, Oct. 2001).

    4) Avoid Tridacna clams and similar bivalve mollusks. Sooner or later a seahorse will perch on them with its tail between the valves and the clam’s powerful adductor muscle will clamp down on it like a vise. At best this will be a very stressful experience for the unfortunate seahorse, since it can be the devil’s own business trying to persuade the stubborn mollusk to release its struggling victim! At worst, it can result in serious injury or permanent damage to the seahorses tail (Giwojna, unpublished text).

    5) Beware of unwanted hitchhikers that may have come in on your live rock unbeknownst to you and which can harm seahorses, such as fireworms, mantis shrimp, or Aptasia rock anemones. When setting up a reef system for seahorses, it’s a wise precaution to pre-treat your live rock with a hypersaline bath to drive out such pests beforehand because they can be very difficult to remove or eradicate once they make themselves at home in your aquarium (Giwojna, unpublished text).

    As long as the specimens you are considering for your seahorse reef satisfy these requirements, anything goes! Some of the good and bad candidates for such a reef system are discussed below:

    Seahorse-Safe Corals

    Soft corals have very little stinging ability and generally make good choices for a modified mini reef that will include seahorses (Delbeek, Oct. 2001). This includes most mushroom anemones (corallimorpharians). However, as Charles Delbeek cautions, “One notable exception is the elephant ear mushroom anemone (Amplexidiscus fenestrafer). This animal is an active feeder on small fish and will envelope them whole with its mantle then slowly digest them by extruding its digestive filaments into the space created. No small fish are safe with these animals in the tank (Delbeek, Oct. 2001).”.

    Hippocampus also does very well with zooanthids and colonial polyps in general. But the hobbyist must be sure to observe a couple of precautions when handling the zoanthids and placing them in your aquarium.

    First and foremost, many of the commonly available Zooanthus (button polyps) and Palythoa (sea mats) species contain a very toxic substance in their mucous coat known as palytoxin, which is one of the most poisonous marine toxins ever discovered (Fatherree, 2004). Palytoxin can affect the heart, muscles, and nerves, resulting in paralysis or possibly even death, and many hobbyists have reported numbness, nausea and/or hallucinations after merely touching these corals (Fatherree, 2004). When you handle zoanthids and palythoans, you cannot help picking up some of their protective slime on your fingers, and so much as rubbing your eye, picking your nose, or a small cut on your finger can be enough to land you in the hospital. When handling Zooanthus are Palythoa species, it’s very important to wear disposable latex gloves, avoid touching your mouth or eyes, and carefully dispose of the gloves immediately afterwards (Fatherree, 2004).

    Secondly, zoanthids and other soft corals such as mushrooms may wage border battles if you place them in close proximity to each other (and the zoanthids almost always lose out to the mushrooms in these skirmishes). So be sure to allow adequate space between the colonies. Some rapidly growing Zooanthus colonies can be aggressive to soft and stony corals alike as they rapidly spread over the rockwork, but in general they are quite peaceful, and you can always slow down their rate of growth by reducing the nutrient loading in the aquarium.

    Other low light corals that should be suitable for a seahorse reef include genera such as Cynarina, Scolymia and Trachyphyllia, as well as non-photosynthetic gorgonians such as Subergorgia and Didogorgia, and perhaps wire corals such as Cirripathes spp. (Delbeek, Nov. 2001).. However, supplemental feedings of zooplankton may be required to maintain these corals in good health.

    The hard or stony corals fall into two categories depending on the size of their polyps. The small polyped stony (SPS) corals have tiny polyps that extend out of minute openings in the stony skeleton, and generally have weak stings that should not pose a threat to seahorses. Depending on conditions in the tank, SPS corals such as Acropora, Montipora, Pocillipora, Porities, Seriatopora and Stylophora can be tried freely at your discretion (Delbeek, Oct. 2001).

    The large polyped stony (LPS) corals, however, are generally best avoided altogether. These include genera such as Catalaphyllia, Cynarina, Euphyllia and Trachyphyllia that have large fleshy polyps which often have tentacles equipped with powerful stinging cells. The Euphyllia and Catalaphyllia have the most powerful nematocysts among the LPS corals, and can deliver stings that are stronger than most anemones (Delbeek, Oct. 2001).

    Some of the soft corals and stony corals that generally do well with seahorses in a modified reef tank are listed below. (By no means is this intended to be a comprehensive list, but rather just a few examples of suitable corals to serve as general guidelines when stocking a reef tank that will house seahorses):

    Finger Leather Coral (Lobophyton sp.)
    Flower Tree Coral – Red / Orange, (Scleronephthya spp.)
    aka: Scleronephthya Strawberry Coral, or Pink or Orange Cauliflower Coral
    Christmas Tree Coral (Sphaerella spp.)
    aka: the Medusa Coral, Snake Locks Coral, or French Tickler
    Cauliflower Colt Coral (Cladiella sp.)
    aka: Colt Coral, Soft Finger Leather Coral, Seaman’s Hands or Blushing Coral.
    Toadstool Mushroom Leather Coral (Sarcophyton sp.)
    aka: Sarcophyton Coral, Mushroom, Leather, or Trough Corals.
    Bullseye Mushroom Coral (Rhodactis inchoata)
    aka: Tonga Blue Mushroom, Small Elephant Ear Mushroom (rarely)
    Clove Polyps (Clavularia sp.)
    Stick Polyp (Parazoanthus swiftii)
    Green Daisy Polyps (Clavularia sp.), Indonesia
    Orange & Green Colony Button Polyps (Zooanthus sp.), Fiji
    Pulsing Corals (Xenia spp.)
    Red Ricordea (Ricordea sp.), Indonesia, occasionally Solomon Islands
    Lavender Hairy Mushroom (Actinodiscus sp.), Tonga
    Pimpled Mushroom (Discosoma sp.), Indonesia
    Purple Gorgonians

    For more information regarding seahorse-safe fish, corals, and other invertebrates, see Will Wooten’s online Compatibility Guide at the following URL:

    http://www.seahorse.org/library/articles/tankmates.shtml

    Lighting for a Seahorse Reef

    If at all possible, metal halides should be avoided for a reef tank that will include seahorses. In addition to providing high-intensity lighting, the metal halides also tend to generate a lot of heat, and as you know, heat stress can be very detrimental to seahorses. Most of the subtropical/tropical seahorses do best at temperatures of around 73°F-75°F (23°C-24°C); so avoiding temperature spikes above 80°F (27°C) is very important. This can be very difficult to manage with metal halide lighting. In addition, seahorses don’t like excessively bright light and they may go into hiding, seeking shaded areas amidst the rockwork, if the lighting is too intense for their comfort level. And the seahorses won’t look their best and brightest under metal halides because they will produce excess melanin (black pigment) in order to protect themselves against the harmful ultraviolet radiation they associate with intense light, and darken as a result. For instance, Jorge Gomezjurado reports “…I have exposed yellow seahorses to strong metal halide and they have turned black in few hours.” So it would be a shame to display brightly colored seahorses under metal halide lighting in a small, close system aquarium.

    All things considered, power compact lighting is a better alternative for a seahorse reef. I prefer the power compacts because they allow me to provide my seahorses with a natural day/night period that includes twilight periods at “sunrise” and “sunset.” To accomplish this, I like the power compact (PC) light fixtures that include two tubes — one actinic and one daylight fluorescent — with dual ballasts so that each ballast can be placed on a separate automatic timer. I like to have the bluish actinic come on before the daylight tubes and stay on after the daylights go off, thereby providing a simulated dusk and dawn (Giwojna, unpublished text). This is important for seahorses since they conduct most of their courting and breeding in the early morning hours under twilight conditions. It’s a neat effect and fish and invertebrates can then anticipate “lights out” rather than being plunged into total darkness at night or suddenly thrust into bright light in the morning. I also adjust the timers to lengthen or shorten the daylight periods in accordance with the changing seasons. I find that maintaining a natural cycle this way aids reproduction (Giwojna, unpublished text).

    Basically, I find PC lighting to be a good compromise for a seahorse system. Power compacts provide plenty of light for macroalgae or the seahorse-safe soft corals in a modified reef system without being too bright or generating too much heat, and the dual ballast system allows for a natural day/night rhythm that changes with the seasons. The resulting dusk and dawn facilitate courtship and help the seahorses maintain a natural reproductive cycle (Giwojna, unpublished text).

    LEDs can provide the spectrum of light and intensity needed by light-loving corals without the same concerns regarding overheating that make metal halides undesirable, and that’s a huge plus for the seahorse keeper. Aside from generating less heat, they also provide very considerable energy savings and the longevity of the LED is also superior to metal halide lamps. Best of all, the flexibility and adjustability of a LED Illumination System allows you to independently set the lights to duplicate sunrise, daylight, cloud cover, sunset, and even the lunar cycle. They certainly are very expensive, but they have some wonderful advantages over the conventional metal halide lighting, particularly for seahorses.

    Of course, for seahorse keepers who do not have live corals in their corrals, standard fluorescent bulbs or tubes are more than adequate. For all intents and purposes, you really can’t go wrong no matter what lighting system you chose as long as you avoid overheating and provide both shaded areas where your seahorses can escape from light altogether and well-lit areas where they can bathe in the light as they please.

    One good way to accomplish that is to keep the coral and inverts that require stronger lighting at one end of the tank, which is brightly illuminated, and keep the other end of the tank shaded to accommodate the seahorses, reserved for corals that don’t need high-intensity lamps. If need be, you can also provide shaded areas by positioning sections of aluminum foil atop your aquarium that are the right size and shape to cast shadows where you want them below. You will find your seahorses will move into and out of the light often, seeking the comfort level that suits them at the moment.

    Once a new aquarium has finished cycling and the biological filtration is fully established, it’s customary to begin stocking the aquarium by adding live macroalgae and your cleanup crew of sanitation engineers.

    To be extra safe, many hobbyists like to wait an additional six weeks after introducing the macroalgae and cleanup crew before they acclimate the first seahorses to their new systems. This gives the new aquarium a chance to further break in and stabilize, and also serves as a quarantine period for the aquarium janitors and live plants. Any parasites they may possibly have been carrying that could pose a risk to the seahorses would require a vertebrate host in order to survive, and after six weeks without any fish in the aquarium, any such parasites should have been eliminated and are no longer a cause for concern.

    This is what I normally advise hobbyists regarding aquarium janitors or scavengers for their seahorse setup, Laurel:

    Cleanup Crew for a Seahorse Tank

    As for your sanitation engineers, I prefer a cleanup crew consisting of a mixture of assorted snails and micro hermits (heavy on the snails but light on hermits) at a density of no more than 1-2 janitors per gallon. The snail assortment may include bumble bee snails, trocha snails, margaritas, Astrea and Cerith snails, red foot Moon snails, etc., fighting conchs, but especially Nassarius snails.

    Nassarius snails are terrific detritivores and amazingly active for snails. They’ll bury themselves until they detect the scent of something edible, and then erupt from the sand and charge out to clean it up.

    A varied assortment of snails is very desirable because different types of snails have different habits, seek out various microhabitats within the aquarium, and prefer to eat different things. Some are herbivores that feed on microalgae, and some of the herbivorous snails prefer to graze on it from the substrate, others like to clean it from the rocks, and still others love to scrape algae off the aquarium glass. Furthermore, the different herbivorous snails tend to specialize on different types of microalgae and have definite preferences as to the types of algae they will eat, so it’s important to have a nice variety of snails that cover all the bases in that regard. It’s equally important to include some omnivorous snails in your assortment, which will go after meaty leftovers, along with the vegetarians. And you’ll want to have plenty of detritivores, too, which will feed on detritus and decaying organic matter in the aquarium

    For best results, Astrea sp. snails should go in the tank as soon as the ammonia and nitrite levels are down to zero in order to keep nuisance algae from gaining a foothold in your tank. Introduced as soon as possible to a new aquarium, that has reached this cycling phase, Astrea snails effectively limit the development of all microalgae. In other words, they are good at eating diatoms, but will consume red slime and green algae as well.

    But you must avoid predatory snails such as tulip snails, horse conchs, crown snails (Melanogena corona), and the venomous cone snails (Conus spp.), which can kill a human with a single sting from their harpoon like radula. Tulip snails, horse conchs, and crown conchs will hunt down and eat the other snails in your cleanup crew, whereas cone snails prey on small fishes in addition to presenting a deadly hazard to the aquarist.

    For hermits, I like a combination of Dwarf Blue-leg (Clibanarius tricolor), Left-handed (Calcinus laevimanus), Mexican Red Legged Hermits (Clibanarius digueti) and above all, Scarlet Reef hermit crabs (Paguristes cadenati), which are my personal favorites.

    The Scarlet Reef Hermit Crab (Paguristes cadenati) is a colorful micro-hermit that’s a harmless herbivore. So cannibalism isn’t a concern at all for these fellows, nor are they likely to develop a taste for escargot. As hermits go, most of the time the Scarlet Reefs are perfect little gentleman and attractive to boot. I even use them in my dwarf seahorse tanks. Best of all, they eat all kinds of algae, including nuisance algae such as red, green and brown slimes, as well as green hair algae.

    If you’re going to have any hermits, stick with species like the above, which are known as micro hermits because they start out tiny and stay small. Avoid Anomura species of hermit crabs no matter how small they are, however, because they will kill Astraea snails to obtain their shells.

    A mixture of the snails and micro hermits we have discussed will provide a very good balance of herbivores, omnivores, and detritivores that are all active scavengers and completely compatible with seahorses. They will clean up meatier leftovers such as frozen Mysis as well as helping to control nuisance algae.

    After the tank has been up and running for several months, you can add a few large Peppermint Shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni) and/or Scarlet Cleaner Shrimp or Skunk Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis) to complete your cleanup crew and add a touch of color and activity to the tank.

    Peppermint shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni) are a favorite with seahorse keepers because they eat Aiptasia rock anemones, and both the peppermints and Scarlet cleaner shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis) will perform another useful service by grooming the seahorses and cleaning them of ectoparasites. As an added bonus, they 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.

    Another thing to keep in mind when introducing cleaner shrimp to your aquarium is that they are more sensitive to water quality and rapid changes in pH, temperature, or salinity than fishes are, meaning the shrimp need to be acclimated more carefully and gradually. Whereas drip acclimation should be avoided for seahorses that have been on the shipping bag for 24 hours or more, it is the perfect way to acclimate delicate shrimp from your LFS. They will do best it drip acclimated to the new aquarium over a period of several hours to allow them to adjust to any differences in the water parameters very gradually.

    Shrimp that are introduced to a new aquarium too abruptly will not flourish and are liable to die within a day or two from the stress of acclimation, unable to adjust to any significant differences in pH or salinity, or they simply fail to thrive and expire a week or two later for no apparent reason. If the shock is too great, they will autotomize, dropping legs, claws and/or antennae immediately upon being introduced to the new aquarium conditions.

    Okay, Laurel, that’s the quick rundown on compatible tankmates for seahorses. Best of luck stocking your tank!

    Happy Trails!
    Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support

    in reply to: How do i help my seahorses #63610
    Pete Giwojna
    Moderator

    Dear Charlotte:

    It is good to hear that some of the seahorses are becoming a bit more active.

    But you still need to work on the water chemistry in your seahorse tank, since both the nitrite and nitrate levels are way too high. The nitrate is relatively harmless, whereas nitrite is quite toxic, so the next thing you need to do is to get your nitrite level down to zero. (When it comes to nitrogenous wastes, you must maintain zero ammonia and zero nitrite at all times.)

    I would suggest dosing your seahorse tank with a good bacterial additive such as Stability by SeaChem, as explained below in more detail:

    ‹open quote›
    In my opinion, one of the most important steps that the home hobbyist can take when preparing a new saltwater aquarium is to cycle the tank using a product such as SeaChem Stability, and one of the most important steps they can take when maintaining their aquarium thereafter is to include monthly boosters of the Stability to help maintain optimum water quality and assure that the biological filtration in the aquarium is functioning at maximum efficiency.

    Not only will cycling a newly established aquarium using SeaChem Stability greatly accelerate the cycling process, it provides the aquarium with denitrification ability as well as the usual beneficial nitrifying bacteria. That is extremely important because the anaerobic, heterotrophic, and facultative bacteria included in the SeaChem Stability give the aquarium the ability to complete the nitrogen cycle, not only converting deadly ammonia into nitrite and then breaking down the nitrite into relatively harmless nitrate, as usual, but then taking the process a step further and converting nitrate into nitrogen gas (N2) that bubbles out of the aquarium into the atmosphere and is removed from the tank entirely. That prevents nitrates from accumulating in the aquarium, which is very important for seahorses and delicate invertebrates that are sensitive to high nitrate levels.

    Furthermore, the ability of the heterotrophic bacteria in SeaChem Stability to break down phosphates, detritus, waste products, and the grunge that accumulates in the substrate over time and prevents organic wastes from accumulating in the aquarium is especially helpful for keeping seahorses, which have specialized aquarium requirements, healthy and happy in the long run.

    Here is some more information on the SeaChem Stability, how to use it properly, and how it accomplishes these beneficial effects in the aquarium, Sandra:

    <open quote>
    SeaChem Stability

    Stability® will rapidly and safely establish the aquarium biofilter in freshwater and marine systems, thereby preventing the #1 cause of fish death: “new tank syndrome”. Stability® is formulated specifically for the aquarium and contains a synergistic blend of aerobic, anaerobic, and facultative bacteria which facilitate the breakdown of waste organics, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Unlike competing products, the bacteria employed by Stability® are non-sulfur fixing and will not produce toxic hydrogen sulfide. Stability® is completely harmless to all aquatic organisms as well as aquatic plants, thus there is no danger of over use. Stability® is the culmination of nearly a decade of research and development and represents the current state of the art in natural biological management.

    Sizes: 50 mL, 100 mL, 250 mL, 500 mL, 2 L, 4 L, 20 L

    Why It’s Different

    Illustration of Stability’s™ bacteria on biofiltration material. Stability contains a synergistic blend of aerobic, anaerobic, and facultative bacteria

    The bacteria used in competing products are inherently unstable. The conditions necessary for their growth and development fall into a very narrow range of temperatures, pH, organic loads, etc. When any of these parameters are not strictly within the proper range, the bacterial culture quickly crashes and dies. Stability® does not contain any of the aforementioned bacteria.

    The bacteria strains in Stability® have been in development for over a decade. The necessary conditions for growth of our bacterial strains encompass a very broad range. When other bacteria begin to die off (usually from high organic loads caused by the undetected death of an organism), Stability® simply works harder and grows faster! The strains function in fresh or saltwater. Stability® contains both nitrifying and denitrifying bacteria, a blend found in no other product. Additionally, Stability® contains facultative bacterial strains which are able to adapt to either aerobic or anaerobic conditions. The bacteria in Stability® are non-sulfur fixing, another innovation in the industry. Most other bacterial supplements will form toxic hydrogen sulfide under the proper conditions. Stability® will not, ever.

    Directions

    Use 1 capful (5 mL) for each 40 L (10 gallons*) on the first day with a new aquarium. Then use 1 capful for each 80 L (20 gallons*) daily for 7 days. Fish and other aquatic species may be introduced at any time as long as dosage is maintained for 7 days. For optimum biofilter performance use 1 capful for each 40 L (10 gallons*) once a month or with each water change and whenever introducing new fish or whenever medicating an aquarium.

    Stability

    Q: I’m currently using Prime + Stability together for my weeky water changes, but on the bottle of Stability it says not to run UV. After dosing with Stability how long do I need to wait before I can safely switch back to UV?

    The UV and/or Ozone should be kept off for the 7 days you are dosing if you are cycling or for at 24 hours if it is for Stability additions of new fish or water changes. The reason both should be turned off is because UV and ozone break down and kill bacteria.

    Q: What is a reasonable amount of time to allow the Stability to come out of the spore state and find a home to attach themselves?

    A: The bacteria should be able to find a suitable home within 24 hours.

    Q: i just finished cycling my new tank, but i made a mistake of introducing many fishes at the same time. i was wondering if i could use Stability to increase the beneficial bacteria for the increased bioload?

    A: Yes, Stability will prove very helpful in removing ammonia and nitrite, including nitrate, as a result of the increased bioload. If your ammonia level is not at zero, a combination of Stability and AmGuard is very useful and great in reducing ammonia toxicity on the bacteria blend as the bacteria consumes the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate in the aquarium

    Q: Bio-spira has to remain refrigerated in order for the bacteria to survive. Why does Stability not need refrigeration? If there’s living bacteria in the solution, how do they stay alive for so long? Or is there something else besides bacteria in the product altogether?

    A: The bacteria in Stability are alive but not active. They exist in a spore form. They can withstand extreme temperatures and do not require food to survive. When you add them to your aquarium, they become active due to dilution.

    The bacteria that require refrigeration are active. Refrigerating them slows down their life cycle and they require less food when cold. Because they are active, they do require food, and that is packaged with them. They also will not survive extreme heat or cold and will die when they run out of food.
    <close quote>

    Okay, Charlotte, that’s the quick rundown on the SeaChem Stability. As you can see from the instructions above, it takes only about seven days to completely cycle a new tank with this product and establish both the nitrification and denitrification ability of the aquarium. This will allow the biological filtration to complete the entire nitrogen cycle and make it much easier for you to maintain optimum water quality thereafter. Just add a daily dose of the Stability to your seahorse tank until the nitrites are at zero, and then continue adding monthly doses of the SeaChem Stability as indicated above, and your water quality parameters will stabilize at optimum levels.

    Good luck.

    Respectfully,
    Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support

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