Photographs by the author and also courtesy of Atlantis
In a previous research project I
explored the “do it yourself” aspect of creating a
system for delicate animals (Blundell 2004). This project is a
follow up intended to provide examples and encouragement for the
care of seahorses, pipefish, juvenile fish, jellyfish and
The care of delicate animals is under constant improvement. As
we learn more about the needs of various marine life our
construction of captive systems improves. For example seahorses
have historically been animals to avoid in captivity because
“their unique husbandry requirements make them quite
difficult to maintain and display” (Burhans &
Melechinsky 2004). However a decade ago great progress was made
in breeding programs for Hippocampus sp. by using kreisel systems
like those described here.
Currently there is a shift taking place. That shift is from
the need for public aquaria to breed animals to a new found
responsibility for aquaria hobbyists to conduct such efforts.
This shift is demonstrated by public aquaria working to educate
hobbyists. One of the most successful people in this field is
Todd Gardner of Atlantis Marine World. Gardner has presented and
described simple home systems for the use of jellyfish culture.
Shown here are examples of Gardner’s systems.
According to Gardner the most difficult aspect of jellyfish
care is the need to feed, and the difficult in filtration
(Gardner 2004). As with juvenile fish or seahorses “the
increased bio-load in the tank leads to water quality
problems” (Burhans and Melechinsky 2004). While biological
filtration is increasingly popular many of these kreisels systems
are set up without substrate to allow for siphon removal of waste
products. Foods for such tanks are highly variable depending on
the animals being raised. In general most systems use small
portions of enriched foods, rather than high quantities of
standard foods to prevent excess waste.
Overall appearance of the aquarium is another important factor
to consider. Some of these aquariums are designed for a specific
husbandry or culturing purpose. Likewise some of these aquaria
are showpiece items of great aesthetic beauty. I think of this
like the old biology saying “form vs. function”.
The needs of each animal being raised are also of great
importance. In many cases water flow and turbulence need to be
controlled which is why we use these systems. Additionally water
speed, intakes, outputs, walls, other animals, are all items that
need to be thought of well before adding animals to these
systems. Remember these systems are not designed as ways to cure
problems, but as ways to help provide optimal care.
The following pictures show the systems in action. The first
picture is a picture from my previous article showing the
construction of the kreisel. The second picture shows the same
tank now in use four months later. Notice that the tank now has a
glass fish bowl in the tank. This is useful as many small
seahorses can be raised in these small glass bowls early on, and
then these bowls can be moved into larger kreisel systems as is
Home aquarists can (and some have the responsibility to) care
for delicate marine organisms. The examples shown here provide
encouragement for the growth and reproduction of animals that
were previously viewed as unsuited for captivity. With hope the
future will bring these systems to a successful and common locale
in the marine aquarium hobby.
First off I would like to thank Todd Gardner of Atlantis
Underwater World. Todd is a wonderful addition to this hobby and
his willingness and ability to bridge the gap between public
aquaria and home hobbyist are impressive to say the least.
Secondly I would like to thank Bob Burhans from the Birch’s
Aquarium at Scripps for his insight and knowledge about seahorse
husbandry. He is not only knowledgeable but eager to help those
who wish to contribute to the aquaculture of these ill-omened
animals. Funding for this project was provided by The Aquatic
& Terrestrial Research Team, and publication and support was
generously provided by The Advanced Aquarist Online Magazine.
Adam Blundell M.S. works in Marine Ecology, and in Pathology
for the University of Utah. While not in the lab he is the
president of one of the Nation’s largest hobbyist clubs, the
Wasatch Marine Aquarium Society
is also Director of The Aquatic & Terrestrial Research Team,
a group which utilizes research projects to bring together
hobbyists and scientists. His vision is to see this type of
collaboration lead to further advancements in aquarium husbandry.
Adam has earned a BS in Marine Biology and an MS in the Natural
Resource and Health fields. Adam can be found at
- Blundell, A., (2004) “Delicatessen Part I: Creating a
system for rare and delicate animals”, Advanced Aquarist
- Burhans, R., Melechinsky, D., (2004) “Seahorse
Husbandry and Propagation”, Scripps Institution of
Oceanography. San Diego, CA.
- Gardner, T., (2004) “A Low-Tech Approach to Jellyfish
Culture”, Presentation, Marine Ornamentals, Honolulu,