Seahorses are particularly elegant and exotic aquarium inhabitants. Perhaps you have already thought about keeping these small animals. What conditions do the seahorses need and what does a species-appropriate husbandry look like? Here you will find helpful tips about keeping seahorses. An important note in advance, seahorses are very demanding, require a lot of care and are therefore only suitable for experienced aquarists.
Occurrence And Species Protection
Seahorses, which belong to the family of pipefishes, have been living in the oceans for millions of years. Compared to other fish, their genomes can adapt quickly, which is why they are distributed worldwide. Their skin spines change depending on their habitats and protect them from potential predators.
The natural habitat of seahorses is in protected areas of warm waters such as seagrass beds or coral reefs.
There is not sufficient data for all species, but between 30 and 80 different species could be assigned worldwide, the tendency is decreasing. Within the species there are many different varieties.
Seahorses belong to the endangered animal genera and some species are threatened with extinction. Although they have few predators because their spines and bony plates are difficult to eat, the population is still decreasing. This is due in part to habitat destruction caused by high levels of fishing in the seas. They are also believed to have healing and potency-enhancing properties in the eastern regions, which is why they are used dried as a remedy.
Since 2004 seahorses are under species protection and therefore subject to registration. The possession of a seahorse must be reported to the responsible nature conservation authority and the authority must also be informed about offspring.
Tips For The Purchase
Since the seahorses are under species protection, you can not simply buy them in stores. The purchase is possible in special institutions such as the Karlsruhe Natural History Museum or on the Internet.
Already when buying you should pay attention to the health of the animal. You can tell from the chest area if the seahorse is sufficiently nourished. The animals should not have white spots, they are a sign of parasites.
As a rule, one seahorse per transport bag. A piece of green algae in the bag makes the seahorses less likely to panic, as they can cling to the algae.
Keeping The Delicate Seahorses
Keeping a seahorse is very time consuming and costly. The small animals make very high demands on their environment. If you have no experience in aquaristics, you should not keep a seahorse, because the mortality rate in aquariums is very high. Even small changes in water temperature or pH can cause them to die. Here it is up to the keeper to recognize the changes quickly and early and to correct them.
Important: The water values such as salinity, pH and water temperature must be checked daily. Different water test sets can help you with this.
In nature, seahorses live in waters with little current, so a pump should not create too strong a current. Flow pumps are important, but should be specifically adapted to the needs of the exotic fish. Because if the current is too strong, the tail of the animals cramps and they can no longer move freely in the tank.
Important: A seahorse is a very social creature and cannot be kept alone. If you want to keep a seahorse, a pair is recommended already at the time of purchase. The animals remain faithful to each other throughout their lives and should not be separated.
Setup And Size Of The Aquarium
Seahorses need a lot of space. Two small specimens need at least a 100 liter aquarium. If you want to buy a larger species, an aquarium with a capacity of 250 liters or more is the right choice.
It is important that you offer the animals many retreat possibilities. Different plants, stones, corals or high algae offer great hiding places.
Important: The tail is used to hold on to stones and plants in the aquarium. You should avoid sharp edges, sharp stones and plants with deep roots.
Proper lighting is crucial for the plants to grow well.
Seahorses are also quite demanding when it comes to food. They absorb their food very slowly, as they do not have a stomach and digest the ingested food directly. Ideally, the food should be divided into two feedings per day. In total they will eat the food for about 1-2 hours per day. After that you can remove leftover food.
Seahorses prefer live food such as small fish larvae, crustaceans or zooplankton.
Tip: brine shrimp are a good source of food for seahorses and can be home bred with little effort.
Feeding live food is costly, so some keepers switch to frozen food. However, if the seahorse has not already been offered frozen food by the breeder, it may not eat the frozen food.
Various vitamin and mineral supplements will also ensure that deficiency symptoms do not occur.
Important Requirements Of The Seahorses At A Glance
pH value: 8.2-8.4
Salt density: 1.023 (30-33 g/l)
Water temperature: 22 to 27 degrees Celsius, ideally 26 degrees Celsius
Nutrition: live food, only sporadically frozen food is possible
Aquarium: at least 100 liters, for larger species 250 liters
If you want to keep more than two seahorses, one male and several females are recommended. Two males of the same species in one aquarium would fight constantly. Alternatively you can keep pairs of different species in one aquarium.
If you want to keep fish and seahorses together, you have to consider the requirements of the fish. If they match, there is nothing to prevent a socialization.
Tip: Hectic and fast swimming fish are not suitable for keeping with the calm seahorses. Mandarin fish, snails or hermit crabs are better cohabitants.
In seahorses, the male is the main reproductive force. Unlike most creatures, the eggs are hatched by the male. During the mating dance, the female lays up to 200 eggs in the breast pocket on the male’s abdomen. Only in the breast pocket does fertilization of the eggs occur. After 10 – 14 days the small seahorses hatch. The male seeks a quiet place for this, so that he is not disturbed.
If you are lucky enough to have a couple breeding in your aquarium, it is best to raise the newborns in a separate tank. The technology in the large aquarium can be dangerous for them. Already from the beginning the young animals eat special live food on their own.
Important: The offspring must be reported to the responsible nature conservation authority due to species protection.
The keeping of young animals is generally considered to be even more demanding than the keeping of adult animals.
The keeping of seahorses is not suitable for beginners. The high demands on water quality and food pose some challenges for keepers. Deviations must be recognized and corrected quickly. Those who want to keep these special fish should be aware of the great responsibility.