Net Pen Raised Seahorses Part II

By: | Date: 03/17/2010 | No Comments |

Hippocampus kelloggi

(reprinted with permission from

Don’t buy Kelloggi seahorses.

If you ever see a seahorse for sale at your local fish store like the one pictured here, pass it by. You’ll be saving yourself money and heartache.

When you see a seahorse at your local fish store, you’re most likely to see a Kelloggi a.k.a. “Great Seahorse,” which is the most commonly pen-raised seahorse. It’s not because they make great pets or because they are hardy. The main reason Kelloggi seahorses became popular to raise in net-pens is because they are good business for the Traditional Chinese Medicine trade. Larger seahorses command higher prices in the TCM trade than smaller seahorses. Kelloggi seahorses, which are native to Vietnam and Asia where they are pen raised, are a very large species, growing up to 11.5″ in length. Only the H. abdominalis from Australia and H. ingens from Mexico grow larger at 12″ max length. Kelloggi seahorses are grown for about one year before being harvested, dried, and sold for the TCM trade. However, when this same species is sold for the aquarium trade, they are sold when they are only three or four months old. Depending on the species, many larger species of True Captive Bred seahorses are sold as late as 9 months after birth.

Kelloggi seahorses are more likely to be purchased by first-time seahorse owners because of their low price and high availability. Ironically, Kelloggi seahorses are one of the most difficult seahorse species to keep in an aquarium. This is in part due to the fact that they are Net Pen raised or Tank Raised and tend to have high incidences of disease and parasites. More importantly, Kelloggi seahorses are a deepwater species living in waters up to 152 meters in depth. Compare this to the hardy H. reidi seahorse which spends most of its life between 15 and 55 meters in depth. Since Kelloggi seahorses live in deeper waters, it is speculated that they prefer lower lighting and cooler water temperatures. Most experts agree that this species should be kept at a maximum temperature of 68 degrees Farenheit.

I think it’s safe to say that most first-time seahorse buyers don’t quarantine or  deworm their seahorses. Since Net Pen raised seahorses are exposed to the same pathogens as Wild Caught seahorses, it is imperative that they go through a lengthy quarantine of at least 4 weeks, preferably 2 months. During this quarantine period, they should be dewormed, closely observed, and re-trained to eat frozen foods. Essentially, this species should be treated with the same exact precautions as Wild Caught seahorses. In fact, Kelloggi seahorse buyers should be even more cautious considering very few aquarists have been successful with this difficult species for more than a few months.

In May of 2008 Pete Giwojna of had this to say about Kelloggi seahorses–

“In light of the health problems so many home hobbyists have been having with their H. kelloggi for some time now, I have been discussing the needs and requirements of this species with advanced aquarists and experts that have worked with H. kelloggi in the past. The consensus seems to be that the current crop of H. kelloggi are being shipped out to hobbyists while they are still too young (the two-inch long juveniles are no more than 3-4 months old) and that they are not well adapted to aquarium conditions because they are likely being pen raised. The tiny H. kelloggi juveniles would fare better if they allowed them to grow up for a few more months and shipped them at the age of around six months.

However, the primary problem folks have been having with their H. kelloggi may be due to their temperature requirements. The people I conferred with maintained that H. kelloggi is a deepwater seahorse and is therefore adapted for lower light levels than most seahorses and also requires an cool water (Lisa Coit et al., pers. com.). They feel that this species should be maintained in temperate tanks rather than tropical aquaria, and that H. kelloggi will only thrive if they are maintained at a water temperature of 68 °F or less (Lisa Coit et al., pers. com.). They report that if the H. kelloggi are maintained at standard aquarium temperatures for a tropical marine aquarium (i.e., 75 °F-78 °F) they will be plagued by various bacterial infections and suffer as a result.”

Pete Giwojna of

H. Kelloggi stats from Project Seahorse

How seahorses are Tank Raised for TCM

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