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I like to give my seahorses as much current as they can handle without getting blown around. In short, if your filtration is not turning over the entire volume of the aquarium a MINIMUM of 5 times per hour, your seahorse setup is undercirculated. With a spray bar return raised above the surface of the water to diffuse the outflow, you can safely achieved much higher turnover rates without producing too much turbulence or current for seahorses.
A waterfall return is another good way to diffuse the output from your filter, and also works well for seahorses. There will be an area of relatively vigorous water movement at one end of the aquarium underneath and nearby the waterfall, while the other end of the tank is a relatively low flow area. By the same token, however, if the filtration system in your seahorse tank is turning over the entire volume of water much more than five times per hour, it may be too overpowering for the seahorses unless it is diffused by a spray bar or waterfall return.
As with anything, too much of even a good thing can be undesirable, and too much current can overwhelm the limited swimming ability of Hippocampus. One indication that you may have too much water movement in your seahorse tank is if the seahorses are getting buffeted around by the currents, and whisked away uncontrollably when they tire of fighting the current.
Or alternatively, they may stay perched in one place all the time and refuse to swim around and explore their tank for fear of getting swept away by the current if they relax their grip on their hitching posts.
So you can get a pretty good gauge of how well the seahorses are able to cope with the water movement than their tank by observing how the current affects the swimming ability. Likewise, if a mated pair of seahorses is consistently spilling eggs during the copulatory rise, that's another pretty good indication that there may be too much turbulence or water movement in the upper reaches of their aquarium.
If the seahorses are having difficulty tracking their prey and eating because the current whisks the frozen Mysis past them too quickly to target it accurately and slurp it up, that's another red flag. Often that situation can be corrected simply by adjusting the output from your filter to reduce the current during feeding time or turning it off altogether while the seahorses are eating.
But as long as your seahorses aren't getting buffeted around, aren't routinely dropping eggs during disrupted mating attempts, and aren't having difficulty targeting their prey and eating, there's really no such thing as too much water movement.
In general, the stronger the water flow, the more important it is to keep the water currents steady and unvarying so the seahorses can establish holding areas in the sheltered spots and low-flow zones without getting blindsided by unpredictable currents.
Just make sure your seahorses are not getting trapped against overflows and be sure to screen off the intakes for any powerheads. Powerheads can be switched off at feeding time, if necessary.
To sum up the above and quantify everything, you generally want the filtration system for seahorse tank to be able to turn over the entire volume of the aquarium about five times every hour in order to provide adequate circulation throughout the whole tank. So for the gallon bio cube, the filtration system should put out about 70 gallons per hour in order to provide optimum conditions for the seahorses.
But if the output from the filtration system exceeds gallons per hour, the seahorses may have difficulty with the powerful currents and you may need to make modifications cents you're going to have too much current and turbulence for the seahorses otherwise, Joe. This is what I typically advise home hobbyists who want to keep seahorses in reef systems such as bio cubes or with live corals, Joe:.
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:.
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.
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. The hobbyist needs to take this into consideration when placing water returns and corals in the seahorse reef Delbeek, Oct.
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. 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:. This means fire corals Millepora spp. 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.
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. 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. 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. 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:. Soft corals have very little stinging ability and generally make good choices for a modified mini reef that will include seahorses Delbeek, Oct. 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. 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, 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, 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, as well as non-photosynthetic gorgonians such as Subergorgia and Didogorgia, and perhaps wire corals such as Cirripathes spp.
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. 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. 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:.
For more information regarding seahorse-safe fish, corals, and other invertebrates, see Will Wooten's online Compatibility Guide at the following URL:. 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.
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. All things considered, power compact lighting is a better alternative for a seahorse reef. 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. The resulting dusk and dawn facilitate courtship and help the seahorses maintain a natural reproductive cycle Giwojna, unpublished text. The Solaris 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 the Solaris 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.
However, because of the cost factor, I prefer PC lighting for a seahorse tank with live corals myself. 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.
There has been a lot of interest lately in keeping sea horses in reef aquaria. Although it is possible to do so, there are some things that need to be taken into consideration. Most reef tanks that house corals also have a great deal of water movement. When combined with overflows, it is not uncommon for sea horses to be trapped against or even go over, overflows.
Powerheads are also often used and can be death traps for sea horses if the intakes are not properly screened off. To keep sea horses in reef tanks one really must foresee all the possible ways that they could be injured and to take precautions against this happening. Many corals are powerful stingers, but these belong mainly to the stony coral families. Most soft corals have very little stinging ability and will not harm sea horses. However, since sea horses can grasp onto soft corals with their tails they can cause the coral to retract its polyps.
This can be a problem if the coral relies on its polyps to capture light to provide the energy it requires to survive. Fortunately in most cases, the coral will habituate to the constant irritation caused by the sea horse and will not retract its polyps as frequently as in the beginning.
The observant aquarist should keep an eye on their soft corals to insure that they are not remaining closed for long periods of time. In the case of stony corals there are two main groupings to be considered. The small polyped stony SPS corals consist of genera that have small polyps that extend out of very small openings in the skeleton. These SPS corals are generally considered to be weak stingers and should not irritate sea horses very much.
However, the same precaution I mentioned for soft corals also applies to SPS corals. The second major grouping are the large polyped stony LPS corals. These include genera such as Catalaphyllia, Cynarina, Euphyllia and Trachyphyllia that have large fleshy polyps often with tentacles that can have powerful stinging cells. Of these the Euphyllia and Catalaphyllia are the strongest stingers, and any sea horses placed into tanks with these corals should be carefully observed. Despite what many people think, sea horses are quite effective swimmers and can hold their own in strong currents.
However, in the confines of an aquarium, it is not impossible for them to come into contact with stinging corals if suddenly caught in a very strong current.
The aquarist needs to take this into consideration when placing water returns and corals in the aquarium. People have been keeping fish with corals for several years now and the instances where fish have been taken by corals are few and far between, but it does happen occasionally. Sea Horses, like any other fish, have a natural ability to avoid most powerful stinging corals, and the slightest touch is enough to reinforce this natural avoidance behaviour.
Other invertebrates that sea horses should do well with include zoanthids, corallimorpharians mushroom anemones , sponges, sea cucumbers, shrimp and the smaller detritus or algae feeding snails, worms and crabs.
One notable exception is the elephant ear mushroom anemone Amplexidiscus fenestrafer. No small fish are safe with these animals in the tank. Okay, Joe, that's the quick rundown on keeping seahorses in a reef tank that will include live corals. Having explained all of the above, I should also again point out that Mustangs or the Sunbursts Hippocampus erectus often thrive in suitable reef tanks, where they benefit from the optimum water quality, natural surroundings, and abundant copepods and amphipods in typical well-established reef systems.
They occur naturally in reefs and sponge beds in the wild, as well as mangroves and seagrass habitats, and are ideal for first-time seahorse keepers, as explained below. If these will be your first seahorses, then I can heartily recommend Ocean Rider Mustangs and Sunbursts Hippocampus erectus , which are ideal for beginners.
Commonly known as the Lined Seahorse or the Northern Giant or Florida Giant, Hippocampus erectus was the first seahorse to be commercially raised for the aquarium hobby. Mustangs and Sunbursts have been captive-bred and raised for more generations than any other seahorse, and have now achieved a level of domestication that makes them better adapted to aquarium conditions and life in captivity than other seahorses.
The Ocean Rider aquaculture facility in Hawaii that raises H. After numerous generations of strengthening and improvement, the current breeds of farm-raised erectus are tough as nails. Very hardy and very impressive, Mustangs and Sunbursts are great choices for a novice seahorse keeper who is still learning the ropes. They are very adaptable and have led the on-going trend toward keeping captive-bred seahorses only.
Simply put, more hobbyists keep captive bred erectus than any of the other greater seahorses, and rightly so. Mustangs are impressive animals. They are large, robust, deep-chested seahorses that can reach well in excess of 7 inches in length when fully grown. They tend to be cryptically colored, and often show earth tones such as beige, russet, charcoal black, gray, brown, ochre or olive over an underlying pattern of fine parallel lines that run down their necks and across their chest Giwojna, Jun.
White blazes, blotches, saddles, triangles, and diamonds are common markings for captive-bred erectus Giwojna, Jun. Seahorses are one fish that can become a true pet, and I'm convinced this is because they are more intelligent than most fishes. The highly domesticated Mustangs and Sunbursts are real personality fish and many of them actually enjoy being handled. Unlike most other fish that back off when you approach the aquarium and flee in terror if you place your hand in the tank, seahorses soon learn to recognize their keeper and will come out to meet you.
They quickly learn to take food from your fingers, and as you will discover, having your pet ponies literally eating out your hand is a very rewarding experience. When one of these shy, enchanting creatures -- whose very survival in the wild depends on concealing itself from predators at all times -- comes trustingly up to the surface to eat right out of your palm, it's a thrill you won't soon forget. The training sessions and daily feedings required for this tend to forge a close, personal relationship between the aquarist and his charges, and hand-fed seahorses often become special pets.
Many times they will even include you in their daily greeting, flashing their recognition colors and parading back and forth and at the front of the tank, performing their dancelike displays for your benefit. The first pair of captive-bred seahorses I ever owned were Mustangs, and my 'stangs quickly learned to recognize me as their feeder, whereupon they would often interact with me at dinnertime by turning on their greeting colors.
My original pair are still going strong several years later, and I have watched them go through a number of color phases from month to month. One has settled on gray-green as its base coloration for the moment, and the other ranges between rust, burnt umber, and orange, but always with contrasting beige bands Giwojna, Jun. Last season, the male adopted a rich ochre yellow as his everyday attire still with the same beige bands, though , while the female displayed a dark purplish ensemble with definite greenish highlights.
When courting, they consistently brighten to a pearly white and a creamy yellow respectively Giwojna, Jun. They make a handsome couple, and I find my erectus to be very attractive specimens in all their guises. I set up my pair of these spirited steeds in a brand-new 30 gallon tall aquarium all their own, and that tank has been my most entertaining, trouble-free exhibit ever since.
With a simple setup like theirs, I prefer to target feed my seahorses. That allows me to observe them closely on a daily basis, monitor their health, keep track of exactly how much each specimen is eating, and remove any leftovers immediately. Led by the female -- by far the bolder and most outgoing of the two -- the Mustangs were soon literally eating right out of my hands. I know, I know -- sensible aquarists should always strive to keep their mitts out the aquarium as much as possible, but handfeeding is a thrill I find difficult to resist, and hey -- nobody ever said I was sensible!
Of course, I'm very well aware of the risks involved and extremely diligent about taking all the necessary precautions beforehand. And besides, there are major advantages to handfeeding that more than offset any minor risks.
For one thing, the seahorses seem to enjoy the experience every bit as much as I do. They head for the feeding station as soon as I approach the tank, a series of color changes betraying their excitement, and queue up at the dinner table looking their best and brightest. Of course, they both try to snap up the first morsel -- even pair-bonded ponies are not big on sharing or waiting turns -- so I no longer offer them one mysid at a time.
I offer them a handful of individually thawed Mysis in my upturned palm instead. They know the drill and happily perch on my fingers while snicking up the shrimp as fast as they can.
Secondly, feeding your seahorses by hand permits the aquarist to conduct a close-up, daily inspection of every specimen in his tank, and I like to use the opportunity to give 'em a good once over.
These detailed examinations make it difficult not to notice any subtle changes in my seahorse's appearance or behavior that might signal impending problems with disease or the water chemistry. That's a big advantage, since the sooner such potential problems are detected, the easier they are to cure or prevent, and I recommend other hobbyists do the same.
Take a moment to enjoy the show when feeding your seahorses. Make sure they're all eating well, and use this opportunity to look them over closely for wounds, injuries, or signs of disease. Seahorses are natural-born gluttons. Ordinarily, these galloping gourmets are ALWAYS hungry, so when a seahorse is off its feed, that's often an excellent early indicator that something's amiss in the aquarium.
Early detection of a potential problem can be the key to curing it, so it's a good idea for the alert aquarist to observe his prize ponies while they put on the ol' feed bag. Make sure they all show up for mess call, are acting normally, and have a well-rounded abdomen when they're done eating. Handfeeding makes it hard to miss when one these chow hounds is off its feed, tipping off the alert aquarist to a potential problem. Options brokers london regulatory Those.
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