Are Seahorses a Fish I Could Keep?
I have an aquarium designed for seahorses which I’ve kept with success for several years. One of the most frequently asked questions I get is, “Aren’t they hard to keep?” Let’s discuss some of the special needs I’ve found when keeping seahorses as pets.
One of the most difficult things, I feel, in keeping seahorses is their eating habits. Seahorses have a relatively simple digestive system and need to graze during the day. I think that most people who successfully keep seahorses feed them at least twice a day. I feed mine a varied diet of different brands of frozen mysis shrimp and enriched brine shrimp in the morning and early evening. I defrost the shrimp, rinse it, and use a coral feeder to siphon the food into a feeding dish. The feeding dish is a small ceramic bowl that I have attached to the side of the tank using a MagClip. The seahorses are used to being fed there and are often waiting for me when its mealtime. Feeding them in a feeding dish helps to keep the tank cleaner and allows me to remove any uneaten food when they are finished. Seahorses are very slow and very visual eaters. They study their food, looking for just the right morsel to ‘snick’. I often sit next to the tank and watch them feed.
When you are ready to purchase your seahorses, look for ones that are captive bred/tank raised; they should already be trained to eat frozen foods. Be very careful when buying seahorses at a fish store that carries them; most don’t know how to properly care for them and may have net or pen raised seahorses which are basically wild. These seahorses may come with problems that are not readily apparent. Get your seahorses from a responsible breeder or fish store that guarantees they are captive bred/tank raised; they are more likely to be healthier and hardier which will make a big difference in your experience being successful.
Another important aspect that you need to be aware of when keeping seahorses is to be diligent in maintaining the water quality in your tank’s system. If you are someone that can go a month without doing a water change then you may want to stick with fish that are much hardier than seahorses.
Seahorses don’t belong in a typical reef tank. Many of our reef inhabitants are just too aggressive for seahorses. Whether it is a fast moving fish that can out eat and stress our seahorse to a coral or anemone that stings the seahorse when they curl their tail around it, not everything is suitable for a seahorse tank. Many reef inhabitants can inadvertently cause damage or death. For this reason I think building a seahorse system with keeping them in mind is the best way to start out.
If you have the time and desire to set up and maintain a saltwater tank for seahorses, then keeping seahorses is something that is entirely within your reach.
In the next blog, I’ll discuss the equipment that I think is necessary to have when keeping seahorses as pets.