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Saltwater (was Seahorses)


Najoha
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Have spoken to a few people who are toying with the idea of having seahorses (sh). I have never had sh or even a saltwater tank, however I have had many other varieties of fish for over 20years. I love horses and fish. I have dreamed of having sh for my whole life. So now it is time to take the plunge ;) This is going to be a blow by blow account of the fun of setting up a saltwater tank. I knew nothing when I started and still Know very little :D but I'm taking you on my journey of discovery. Please feel free to ask questions or make suggestions and I'll try to explain why I've done certain things. I have a, suppose to be, 100L octagonal tank and stand that was purchased second hand. I have touched up the paint work and replaced the hinges on the lid for ones that will handle salty conditions better. The tank has been scrubbed and sat outside for a month (uv overkill?) then cleaned with water again. Approx 5kg of course shell grit and course coral sand has been washed, uved( only a day this time) and added as well as an anchor ornament with rope attached to provide 'hitching' spots for the horses. On the Sydney road trip, the stayers would know I purchased an Australian made hang on back, filter / protein skimmer combo from AKS aquarium products. BioSkim 2000 "mini pak" + powerhead Atman 104 which should turn over 1500L/h however I have it on the lowest setting. What that pumps at I have no idea! The filter was a problem for me as the tank is on the small size and being octagonal the sides are small, so many filters were too big or powerful. Also the stand is open and I didn't want messy stuff underneath. The skimmer does stick up the top but that is unavoidable. Gone to collect sea water before high tide!

Edited by Najoha
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Just remember that you will be looking at about $120ea for tropical seahorses. You can get pot bellys really cheap for around $40, although i have tried them and they died in the summer heat here in sydney. Contact Wayne at www.docksidemarine.com.au about the seahorses, the tropical ones arent apparently on the import list so you have to get wild caught Australian Tropicals. They should be relatively easy to look after, only needing frozen brine shrimp as food :) Also get atleast one piece of live rock to add all that 'natural' bacterias etc to the water :)

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I will not be buying wild caught seahorses. They have problems taking / eating frozen and are not tuff enough for a beginner apart from the environmental conserns. I'm having enough of a fight with myself about the rock that is taken from the sea so have sourced some from someones established tank to limit my impacts on the environment. I have been checking out tropical species as it is the only type I can keep without a very expensive chiller. Tank breed fish can be purchased cheaper than that from breeders. Frozen brine shrimp has limited nutrients and sh have short intestines so they need frequent nutrient rich foods. Enriched Mysis shrimp is an alternative.

Edited by Najoha
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(If you would allow me to share my experiences with seahorses) I have had at least 20 seahorses ever since I set-up my reef tank around 2 years ago, and all I can say is, 'they die pretty easily' . They should only be included in a fully cycled marine tank, and they are only compatible with dragonets (since they are pretty slow, almost all the food will be gone before they even make a move when you put them in with the fast fishes). Yellow seahorses couldn't be paired with the black ones because they will also turn into black (dunno why). Put in something they can 'cling' on to. And they don't eat dry foods (I've never had one which did), I fed mostly guppy or molly fry which should be released very near their area of the tank. They are just very beautiful creatures that's why I kept on buying even if they don't last a month. Eventually I stopped after the last one died a couple of months ago. I even bought a pregnant male (200 baby seahorses released the next day!) one time. Problem was, I didn't have artemia at the time and sadly they all starved to death. Here is the compatibility chart: (source:liveaquaria.com)

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I hope you learned something from my experiences. :)

John

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Thanks NAM At the moment Southern Knights are only selling 'pots' which are a cool water variety and will not survive the summer. My tank has no heater and is about 24C in the early morning so too hot. Will have to go tropical. Picking up cured rock tomorrow.

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There are two tropical varieties of seahorse that can be obtained from Seahorse Australia in Tasmania: Hippocampus Kuda @ $55 each Hippocampus Barbouri @ $65 each Those prices are flat rate - even the pet shops down here have to pay that so it's cheaper to get them yourself from the property doorstep itself. It cost me $150 all up for a pair of barbouri including petrol to travel to beauty point and back. I'm not sure how much extra it would cost for a shop to buy them on the mainland once you factor in freight and profit margin. In my experiences with them, the Kuda seem to be a bit hardier and are much larger than the barbouri are. The barbouri are very cute (they have heaps of spikes) but susceptible to bacterial skin disease, which I had to buy a prescription vet ointment to treat. Also, if you are going to dabble in seahorses, I would start with females first, as males are prone to getting gas bubble disease (GBD) in their pouch. Water quality is VERY important with seahorses so starting with females helps to avoid costly learning experiences with GBD. We currently have barbouri in one of those little 30ish litre aqua one kit tanks, but I've slowly been working on converting my 3 foot tank for luxury sea horse accommodation. They do like a current, but you want to make sure you don't have *too* strong a current as they end up being dashed against rocks, tethers, etc. If you can get caulerpa, get it, they absolutely love it. Also don't be surprised if they change green, or orange or something if you put it in. Seahorses change colour all the time, often a few different shades in one single day. As far as compatible tank mates, you want peaceful companions (if any). The ones going into my 3 foot tank will be living with another stenopis, probably a midas or bi-colour blenny and 6 pyjama cardinals. It's a matter of finding relatively peacful fish that won't blatantly outcompete for food. When I can think a bit clearer I'll add to the post with a list of things I reckon would go along okay with them Dragonets are a good choice provided you can supply them with the live rock that contains all the little copepods they tend to eat... rarely have a seen a dragonet that subsists solely on hobbyist foods, frozen or otherwise. You might be able to put a reasonably peaceful hawkfish in the tank, or other sorts of shrimps... peppermint or redline perhaps.. Maybe even a small cowfish, although in time he'd grow a fair bit and maybe need to be relocated. Gobies too... lots of them would be fine with sea horses. We kept the kuda without any major problems in a tank with a stenopis hyspidis (coral banded boxing shrimp) and a bicolour blenny. Both tankmates can be territorial at times, but never really harrassed the seahorses that badly. You'll have no problems with the shrimp (more territorial than the blenny by far) provided you have a large enough tank. The blenny tends to gobble up a lot of food when we feed the horses (currently barbouri), but if you pay attention and distract him with a bit of food, you can easily get food to the horses unmolested. Especially since they get to know you really quickly. The female we have swims up to the front of the tank whenever we go over to look at them, very friendly little girl =) Another VERY important note . . . . DON'T PUT ANEMONES IN THE TANK. I have to go, i was supposed to be somewhere about 15 minutes ago but thought I would try and put something in sooner rather than later. Lots more to type, and probably could have arranged and explained the info in a better way but hope it helps. Steve

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Got my ROCK today!!! I know what you are thinking, it is 10kg of rock, but no it is not Just rock. It has all sorts of algie, and feather things, snails and molusces and a sea squirt! It squirted in the shop and again when I put it in the tank. Will load pics later and add so you can see the progress. Thanks Steve for posting the info. Tank mates are still a little way off but I like the gobies. They come in so many different colours. I Love the pyjama cardinals but will wait and build up stock slowly. Haven't heard from Tas or SA suppliers yet (probably should give them longer than 1 business day to respond :), just so excited) And thanks for the tip about females. Had planned to get two females then add two males later on. Sound OK? Oh and more excitement, the protein skimmer started working this afternoon after I put the cured rock in. Bubbling and collecting and stuff. I think I'll go and have a little lie down. Too much excitement...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Oohh my LR has some amazing things living and growing on it. About 4 snails have been grazing, the largest at 2.5 cm. and last night I found the tiniest hermit crab while I was testing the water. The water has tested 0 ammonia and nitrite all the way thru with a stable Ph even when the sea squirt died. The protein skimmer has lovely yellow froth that needs a clean very few days. THEN today 10% water change and what was on the glass but a 1.5 cm red seastar!!! I'm sooo happy. They move so fast. Maybe that is why I haven't seen him before.

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Family decided they wanted nemos after looking at wild caught SH and seeing other SW fish so after much discussion I lost and we have tank bred Nemo and Marlin and well as Bubbles the yellow clown goby (I know he was a yellow tang but he darts from his perch just like the one in the movie). These fish still cost less than one SH and better for beginners. I guess I'll have to rename the post. All parameters have remained unchanged and all fish are eating well. 'Tanks' (lfs) makes a marine mix that is frozen and is fed in the shop so the fish haven't missed a beat. I'm happy about 'our' decision as the family owns the tank, it is in the lounge room and the movement and colour are lovely.

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  • 2 months later...
  • 2 months later...

Just been tank cleaning and thought an update might be good. The salt water tank now has a number of residents. Still have the clown pair and the yellow goby. We now also have a green coral goby named 'Oscar' from Shark tale, a yellow tail blue damsel named Dory cause we couldn't fit a real dory in our tank and a red sea star named 'Peach'. In the live rock there are 2 crabs that we know of and heaps of different things (don't know the names or they don't have common names) living on the rock. Got a second hand metal halide light that has really made a difference to the coral growth. We have purple and orange mushrooms, a torch coral and a frog spawn coral. Steep learning curve and lots more things to test for to keep things growing well but with great advice we are all really pleased with it. My husband wants to turn some of those other tanks with brown fish into salt water too! we'll just have to think about that...

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