It’s Rodeo time, Hippocampus erectus style!
My fascination with seahorses began a long time ago, it all started when I was a boy reading the classifieds in Field and Stream, an ad selling dwarf seahorses caught my eye and that was that. I ordered the ponies and proceeded to watch them die one by one over the next few days, I was crushed.
Many years later and a lot more experience with wild caught seahorses I thought I’d give tank raised seahorses a try to see if I could get them to breed.
I found an ad in a fish magazine and ordered two male and two female Hippocampus erectus, approximately 3″-4″ long. The fish were placed in a 29-gallon aquarium with a canister filter, undergravel filter and a sponge filter. The tank had 2″-3″ of crushed coral on the bottom and a couple of pieces of live rock. Lighting was done by a Coral Life 20,000 k fluorescent tube. The fish were fed Piscine Energetic mysis shrimp as their mainstay and then fed live ghost shrimp and live brine shrimp as treats . Now I don’t do ads or really endorse any products but when I hear of something that really works I say something. The mysis shrimp from Piscine Energetics is far superior to any other I have seen. Before feeding shrimp to the fish, I thaw them while soaking in .5ml of selcon and 2-4 drops of liquid vitamins. The fish consumed the food in short order and continued to grow until they reached 6″-7″ in length.
After about a year and no spawns I was beginning to reconsider my tank set-up and then I lost a seahorse and yet another. Being the obsessed aquarist I am, I ordered two more seahorses, one male and one female, then I re-thought my methods. First, all the filters pretty much do the same thing, collect waste and hold it. Second, an undergravel filter is basically an under water landfill, constantly trapping waste. What I did next is somewhat radical but it worked. I removed all the crushed coral and u.g. plate, removed the canister filter, removed all but two pieces of live rock and reduced the lighting to 6000k. Then I reset-up the tank with ½” of crushed coral, two pieces of live rock, two plastic plants, an anchoring tree and an air driven sponge filter, all to reduce nitrates. The gravel is easily vacuumed once a week and the sponge filter is cleaned in a bucket of tank water every other week, to reduce the waste trapped in the filters, gravel and water. It works great.
Now back to the seahorses. The new wards of the tank turned out to be both males so now I have three males and one female. With the new set-up and new ratio things began to happen. One day back in June 2002, I came home from work and much to my surprise I had fry.
I placed the fry in a 2 1/2 gallon tank with only a sponge filter. They were fed marine rotifers, newly hatched brine shrimp, micro-worms and cyclop-eze. The tank bottom was cleaned with daily 10% water changes. The fry grew fast and at about a month I had about half of them left, due to illness on my part. They were then moved to a 20-gallon tank and their food was slightly changed to finely chopped p-e mysis, baby brine shrimp, Cyclop-eze and hikari mysis (due to their small size). The fry will soon be converted to all mysis shrimp and then will have to go to new homes.
Since my first spawn, I have had three more and managed to keep two of them, so an update will appear to let everyone know what is happening.
For me this has been a lesson in patience and chances, for I cannot give up so easily if a fish does not spawn in my time frame, or for the quick accumulation of b.a.p. points. This has truly been my most exciting spawn to date.
From “Splash,” Milwaukee Aquarium Society, reprinted with permision from Aquarticles