10 Things You Should Know Before Keeping Seahorses As Pets

By: | Date: 04/13/2009 | 41 Comments |
Keeping Seahorses as Pets! Photo courtesy of shellac

Keeping Seahorses as Pets! Photo courtesy of shellac

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.

After reading this, are you thinking of setting up your own seahorse aquarium?  Stop by our forums to ask any questions you have about keeping seahorses.

41 Responses to “10 Things You Should Know Before Keeping Seahorses As Pets”

  1. Cheryl Parker Says:

    If the primary food for seahorses is NOT brine shrimp nor algae, what is the best food for dwarf seahorses? Thank you!

  2. Aquagrrl Says:

    Dwarf seahorses are the one exception. Newly Hatched and enriched Baby Brine shrimp is generally used as a staple. This is because they are more nutritious, still having the egg yoke or being enriched. Larger seahorses will not eat baby brine shrimp, its too small.

    Even then, they should probably be offered copepods and very small shrimp on occasion to supplement their diets.

  3. Felicia McCaulley Says:

    “Tank-Raised or Net Pen raised isn’t the same as Captive Bed.” BRAVO!

  4. Brandon Klaus Says:

    great info…i’ve always been interested in keeping a seahorse tank, but haven’t had much time. my reef tanks keep me busy enough!

  5. elle Says:

    wow, i never thought that seahorses could be very difficult to take care and quite expensive too. i’ve always wanted to keep seahorses as pets but i really don’t think i could do such required responsibilities. i think i need to be more educated on this.

  6. mark Says:

    i have not much idea about seahorses but i’d loved to keep them as pets. can anyone suggest me of which kind of seahorse i should get? i prefer the one that has a long life span. thanks!

  7. Aimee Says:

    Im glad that I read this. Im a massive fan of all things to do with both fresh and saltwater aquariums and this post was useful to me. Thank you once again. I will keep reading your blog with interest.

  8. Fishfan Says:

    I plan to gift a seahorse to a friend. It would be nice if you could give me me detailed information about the cost involved and also any other things I should keep in mind/may overlook. Thanks…loved the article!

  9. Rugger Says:

    I fell in love with seahorses as a kid and never new you could have them as a pet! Thanks for the helpful resources!

  10. Rugger Says:
  11. Amber bacon Says:

    Hello i love sea animals and land animals my favorite is horses i am 13 years old i love too learn new thing about animals i love all

  12. Jackson Says:

    I am 7 Yrs old i wanted a bird until my mum suggested seahorses and now i want some seahorses i never new until then that you could have seahorses as pets when i save up $200 dollers i will get two seahorses and when i save up more i will get 2 more and just to rap it up i say

  13. Jackson Says:

    SEAHORSES ARE AWSOMER THAN BIRDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. Jackson Says:

    wsorry i published my coment in two just read both

  15. Aubrey Says:

    Can’t you but different types of seahorses together or is it better to do the same kind??

  16. Aubrey Says:
  17. admin Says:

    There is a lot of debate on this topic. Some suggest that mixing seahorses can introduce pathogens that one species is a carrier of and another is susceptible to. I don’t believe there has been any studies regarding this one way or another.

    My personal feelings is that most seahorses do best in pairs anyway, so by default that would eliminate mixing species. If, however, you had a large enough aquarium to accomodate multiple pairs or have a shared water system, then mixing species can be done with caution. Make sure you get true captive bred seahorses, and make sure they’re from a reputable breeder. They should be quarantined for a minimum of 4 weeks, and many suggest 6-8 weeks.

  18. Serene Seahorse Systems and Fab.com: Seahorse Deathtrap | FusedJaw: Seahorses, Pipefish & Seadragons Says:

    […] of art. They aren’t. I love seahorses but the dedication required isn’t for everyone. Read about some of the things you should know before keeping seahorses. Fab.com provides none of this information. Serene Seahorses has finally added some acknowledgement […]

  19. iwantaseahorsesuperbad Says:

    im 11 a want one horse soooo bad! thnx for the info

  20. Dash Says:

    When I was a child. I was swimming along at the beach in Florida where I live. All of a sudden something gently
    grabbed my finger and wouldn’t let go. To my amazement it was a seahorse! Just saw a Nat geo show and Remembered this. Was the coolest inter-action I’ve ever had with an animal. They are awesome. Thanks for the great site.

  21. Aquagrrl Says:

    Very cool! I only have experience with seahorses in the aquarium, but it’s always something special when I’m cleaning and one swims up to me and grabs on to my hand.

  22. Jeanne Says:

    I have two hippocampus kuda and the female seems quite active; the male seems quite lathargic. Is this normal?

  23. Tami Says:

    Hi Jeanne, It’s tough to say. Males are usually a little less active than females but I wouldn’t go as far to say lethargic. I would recommend going over to our forums at http://seahorsetalk.fusedjaw.com and posting information about your setup like how long you’ve had them, what the tank size and setup is like, what the water parameters are and when you noticed him acting lethargic. Posting pictures of the male and female would help as well.

  24. gary yan Says:

    can you send me a pricelist for seahorse ?

  25. Aquagrrl Says:

    This site does not sell seahorses and does not condone the sale of dried seahorses.

  26. Anthony piper Says:

    I love this topic on seahorses

  27. Konj Says:
  28. juan Says:

    will seahorses live with a purple reef lobster? im afraid my lobster will mess with them.

  29. admin Says:

    Your fears are correct. Seahorse should not be kept with reef lobsters. Please look at the tankmates article.

  30. john Says:

    I am thinking of buying a seahorse and I would like to know the minimal tank size that they require

  31. admin Says:

    Hi John. It depends on the species you are looking to keep, but most need a minimum of a 29 gallon aquarium for two. Some very large species need even larger aquariums.

  32. john Says:

    I am thinking of a dwarf sea horse

  33. tharu Says:

    I love seahorses

  34. teddy Says:

    Hello, I’ve found aseahorse on one of my boat moorings and I tried letting it go but there are lots of trigger fish around. May I please know which would be a good place to let the sea horse go? Into the wilderness

  35. Darkman666 Says:

    I want to buy 2 different breeds of sea horses and raise them in separate tanks. Maybe even get captive bred ones vs. wild caught ones. I say vs because eventually I will put them in the same tank for 1 on 1 battles. I think it will be cool to watch them fight. Is this against the regulations? Is there a loophole? It will be like Pokémon lol. If sea horse vs sea horse gets boring, I could always throw my piranha in there. See how many sea horses it takes to challenge him! Thank you for the info

  36. admin Says:

    It’s never a good idea to pit captive raised versus wild caught. They inevitably pair up, the wild caught using it’s superior hunting skills and the tank raised bringing useful knowledge of how humans operate.

    I believe the last time this happened was in a lab in the former Soviet Union in the mid 1970s, in an effort to weaponize the species. After the fourth week of the project, all communications with the facility were lost, emergency crews were called in and for a full three mile radius, no full bodies were found, only small pieces of macerated human tissue.

    I’d advise against it.

  37. shihtzuhappens Says:

    Hahaha, way to go admin!! Love your response to darkman666. LOL!

  38. Dena Says:

    I was in surfside this weekend and caught a very small seahorse. About an inch long. It is now in a 30 gallon ice chest filled with ocean water from where I caught him… now what….

  39. TamiW Says:

    Hi Dena – Are you prepared for the amount of work and expense keeping seahorses requires? What did you think of the above questions? If you think you’re ready to keep a seahorse, I suggest starting with captive bred individuals. I would strongly recommend releasing this one back into the wild as close to where you found it as possible. And then take a look at So You Want To Set Up A Seahorse Tank as a good starting point.

  40. Kenneth Pletter Says:

    Not sure that you got my last message…can i put 2 same sex ponies together?…I don’t want to breed and am afraid of what to do with all of the babies…thanks…

  41. Andrew Says:

    Thanks for taking your time with this good information I have two horses as of right now one thing to point out there is the water temperature!!! 75 F degrees with that saying four to five degree drop in water temperature puts a lot of stress on them possible harm them.. :/

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