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Seahorse Care

Seahorses, along with Pipefish and the elegant Sea Dragon, are part of the Sygnathidae family. These animals are among some of the rarest and most delicate in the ocean.  Most species of Seahorses are benthic for the majority of their life cycle, meaning to live on or near the ocean floor.  However, juvenile seahorses are considered to be pelagic, or free swimming, for the first part of their lives.  Floating seaweed and sargassum plants provide makeshift shelter from predators while small species of shrimp, also living within the seaweed, provide a steady source of food for the young fry. 

As the Seahorses mature, they begin to “hitch”, or attach themselves to corals, rocks and plants along the ocean’s floor.  There they begin the benthic stage of their lives.  This includes foraging rocks and grass beds for food and eventually finding a mate. 

The majority of Seahorses are monogamous.  While exhibiting an incredibly synchronized dance, the females deposit eggs into the males brood pouch where the stay until they are released into the water column.  The males have been known to release as many as 400 fry at once!

We hope that the following instructions will ensure proper acclimation and care for your new seahorses.
The first step is to make sure that your tank is cycled.  Regular testing of your water is a good start after seeding your system with the necessary bacteria.  Tanks which already have aggressive animals may not be a suitable environment for seahorses.  Acclimation into the new system should be a slow process.  The most common method is by dripping a low volume feed of water from the new system into the animal’s bag and removing the mix of water inside as it fills.  This is the preferred method because it gradually transitions the animal into its new environment.  It is also a good idea beforehand to test both the water in which the animal arrived as well as your system water.   This will give a good idea of the differences in chemistry.  Temperature, salinity and pH can be adjusted to make the acclimation more tolerable for the animal.  Total acclimation for one seahorse should last about an hour.  Once your animal has gotten to know its environment, you may attempt to feed them.  Our animals are trained to feed on frozen mysis.  It is a good idea to enrich the mysis with a vitamin supplement.  This will ensure good health for your seahorses.  They will need 3-5 mysis shrimp at least twice a day and can be fasted for no longer than one full day.  Feeding should be carefully monitored.  It is a good idea to have a few extra animals in your system to remove any uneaten food or remove it by siphon no longer than 15 minutes after feeding.  This will eliminate any water quality issues due to excess feeding.

An ideal salt water system should include substrate as well as rocks.  It is important to provide “hitching posts” for the seahorses.  Rocks, plants or corals should be present to allow for a variety.  Most corals are safe for seahorses however, some species of anemones may deliver a sting that could be harmful to the animals.  The flow rate of the system may need to be adjusted for turbidity.  A gentle flow is suggested as not to stress the animals.  Overflow areas in the system such as standpipes and drains may need to be covered to prevent possible ejection.  Water temperature should remain between 74 and 76 degrees.  Fluorescent lighting is suggested but, the use of metal halides will not harm the animals.  It is important to take care in choosing tank mates for seahorses.  Aggressive fish such as groupers, eels, tangs, triggerfish and angelfish are not suitable for co-inhabitance with seahorses.  Not only will some species harm seahorses but, they have potential to out-compete the seahorses for food.  Fish such as gobies, blennies, mandarins and pipefish make excellent tank mates and will eat the similar foods!