A while ago my fiancée, after seeing my reef tank said to me “I have always been fascinated by sea horses, and would love to have a sea horse tank.” I thought to myself that it would be easy, but then recalled that I was given a red sea horse several years ago, which despite my best efforts refused to eat, and eventually died of starvation. So, doing what I have always advised my readers to do, I did some research. The physical environment was to be the easy part.
Sea horses (family Syngnathidae, species Hippocampus spp.) prefer a tall tank to a long tank, with gentle water movement and little to no competition from faster swimming fish – almost any fish can swim faster than a sea horse. I learned from Ocean Rider that sea horses require excellent water quality, the kind of water quality found in most successful reef tanks. I purchased a 20-gallon high tank, with a canopy top equipped with a fluorescent light, added a heater and canister filter filled with activated carbon and took gravel, water, and some branches of dead coral covered with zooanthids, plus some Caulerpa prolifera from my reef system, and within 24-hours we were ready to go. To my surprise the Caulerpa prolifera is growing well under the small fluorescent tube, and has to be regularly cut back. See photo!
After some difficulties with shipping we now have two thriving sea horses – one from Joe Yaiullo (the director of the Atlantis Marine World) and one male Mustang from Ocean Rider. See photo! What I have discovered is that the trick to keeping sea horses is to get them to feed. It is extremely difficult to get wild sea horses to feed in captivity, and only sea horse experts should even try. However, you can get beautiful sea horses from Ocean Rider (one of our sponsors) that are tank raised and readily eat frozen mysis shrimp. One more tip: be sure to get frozen mysis where the shrimp are whole when thawed out, not a crushed mess. Ocean Rider can tell the brand or brands to get.
In this issue, we published an article by Mike Paletta, which is clearly a promotion for his new book Ultra Marine Aquariums. I decided to allow an info-commercial article because both Paletta and Microcosm (the publisher) are long time friends of the hobby, and it is nice to see pictures of beautiful reef tanks from all over the world. With flattering pictures and text about my reef tank, how could I not. Doug Robbins will write a thorough review of the book in a latter issue of Advanced Aquarist.