Watch Out For This Case Of Mistaken Identity: Not Dwarf Seahorses; Baby Seahorses
Regular readers of FusedJaw.com are aware of my concern over juvenile seahorses being sold far too small and young. It came to my attention recently that sometimes very young juveniles of larger seahorse species are being sold as Dwarf Seahorses Hippocampus zosterae due to the exceptionally small size they are being sold at.
The seahorses in question were in fact juvenile Tiger Tail Seahorses Hippocampus comes. While dwarf seahorses stay small at around 1.5″-2″, H. comes grow significantly larger to 5-7″. The two species have drastically different feeding and housing requirements.
Saddened, Not Surprised
I was both shocked and at the same time unsurprised by this. Juvenile seahorses from overseas farms are arriving smaller all the time, so of course it’s obvious that these types of mix ups will happen. Identifying seahorse species is notoriously difficult to all but the most avid seahorse aquarists and researchers, and even then we make mistakes. Of course the next progression of misidentification of super small juvenile seahorses is going to be confusion over the diminutive Dwarf Seahorses. Once farm raised seahorses started showing under two inches, this was inevitable.
Mary believes this was just the mistake of a store employee, and the Florida-based store is well respected. But it highlights some additional problematic issues with extremely small juvenile seahorses now often found for sale. They can easily be confused with dwarf species to the unwary, and either outgrow their setup, or worse, languish in an incorrect system.
And lest we think this is a one off occurrence, another aquarist Momo Yang chimed in that he too observed H. comes sold as Dwarf Seahorses in Los Angeles, CA. I can’t help wondering how often this occurs.
A Small Silver Lining
As it happens, there might be some overlap in care for very young seahorses from larger species and true Dwarf Seahorses H. zosterae. Some juveniles have been arriving so small that newly hatched and enriched artemia might be a necessary first food. And smaller aquariums can make feeding very young seahorses easier than trying to target feed in an appropriately large aquarium.
The trick of course is to be sure to upgrade as they grow, which should happen rather quickly. If you don’t know that will happen or aren’t expecting the expense of constantly upgrading aquariums, and keeping water stable on small aquariums where rapidly growing seahorses need to be fed with multiple daily feedings.
This can be a problem for many aquarists. The expectation with dwarf species is that they can stay in a small aquarium indefinitely, provided they are well-cared for. Now, with a fast growing, medium size seahorse, they are on the hook to provide suitable housing for a seahorse that was expected to spend it’s life in a 2-6 gallon aquarium. As a former fish store employee and someone who’s witnessed the hobby for 30+ years, there is if not the intent, the hope that aquarist will start with a small, inexpensive aquarium and then upgrade to a larger, more expensive setup. If the small seahorses survive, it’s going to be a requirement.
Dwarf seahorses are in a league of their own and bbs hatched and enriched daily. They can stay in small aquariums indefinitely and in fact should to ensure feeding densities are correct. The aquarist now need to be mindful that maybe it will work in the short term, but very quickly they’ll need to graduate to larger food such as small mysis. This in itself is tricky business, something that might give the aquarist quite a bit of trouble.
We have two different people on different sides of the US reporting they’ve seen very young juvenile seahorses sold to them as Dwarf Seahorses. Is this a trend or two unusual circumstances? I hope the latter but fear for the former.
Have you seen young juvenile seahorses sold as dwarf seahorses? If so, please leave a note in the comments below.