10 Things You Should Know Before Keeping Seahorses As Pets
1. Yes! Seahorses can be kept as pets.
As long as you have the proper aquarium set up, and take take proper care of them. They are protected by international law, but that means their trade is regulated, not prohibited. Most countries allow the free trade and keeping of captive bred seahorses. Captive bred seahorses are easy to obtain in many countries and are generally allowed under the regulations protecting seahorses.
2. They are marine fish.
They require a saltwater aquarium, and all the equipment that goes with it. Which leads us to:
3. They are expensive.
Seahorses themselves start around $60 each from reputable online vendors. Overnight shipping which is required for seahorses to arrive in good health runs anywhere from $40-$80, depending on the distance they are sent. The equipment and materials to run a saltwater aquarium tend to be very expensive. $500-$1000 for a set up is not uncommon.
4. Seahorses can’t be kept like most other marine fish.
Seahorses have special requirements that preclude them from being kept like most other saltwater fish or invertebrates. They require lower temperatures, are suseptable to coral and anemone stings, and need a different environment to thrive. See our article on keeping seahorses.
5. Seahorses have a specialized diet.
Seahorses are picky eaters, and the need to eat a lot. They mainly eat shrimp, but readily available brine shrimp is not an adequate diet. Most captive bred seahorses eat frozen mysis and those unfortunate enough to own wild caught seahorses have to feed live foods. See our seahorse feeding guide.
6. You can’t go on vacation when you have seahorses.
Okay, that’s not true. But you do have to find someone reliable with at least saltwater aquarium experience to take care of them if you do. Seahorses can’t be left without food for more than a day, and vacation feeders don’t work.
7. You should always purchase Captive Bred seahorses.
Even if you can get wild caught seahorses, you should always opt for captive bred. They are easier to care for, less disease prone, easier to feed, live longer, and are generally adapted well to life in captivity. Plus, you’re not taking them from the wild where they are already threatened by overfishing and habitat loss.
8. Tank-Raised or Net-Pen Raised isn’t the same as Captive Bred.
Many distributors and fish stores sell seahorses that were either raise in giant pens in the ocean, or collect the pregnant fathers and hatch the babies in captivity. The problem with this is that they’re still prone to many of the diseases that wild caught seahorses are vulnerable to. You’re best bet is to buy seahorses from a recognized breeder to ensure that you’re really getting captive bred seahorses.
9. Most pet stores give wrong information about seahorses.
Pet stores and fish stores tend to be the worst place for getting advice on seahorses. It’s not intentional most of the time, there is just a lot of bad information that has been passed around for years. The internet, reef clubs and online sites are much better sources of information about seahorse care. See the article on 20 misconceptions about seahorses.
10. Keeping seahorses is addictive.
Despite the difficulties and special requirements, keeping seahorses as pets is a rewarding and exciting experience. It’s hard to stop at just one or two! Before you know it, your house will be filled with aquariums and your wallet be lighter. But hey, there are worse addictions out there!
If you are interested in keeping seahorses, I highly recommend getting them from seahorsesource.com. I am not affiliated with them in anyway, I am just a happy customer and only hear glowing reviews of their service.