Seahorses make great aquarium pets but if you've never set up or kept a salt-water tank before, then it's better to familiarise yourself with how to do this before investing in these lovely sea creatures. The reason being that they are incredibly sensitive fish and need a lot of dedicated attention in order for them to thrive as pets kept in marine tanks.
As mentioned above, seahorse are sensitive little creatures, they are also protected under international law which means their trade is regulated but not prohibited. People are allowed to breed seahorses in captivity and this makes them easier to obtain in many countries of the world.
The thing to remember is that seahorses are marine fish, so they need to be kept in a salt-water aquarium. This means all the relevant equipment would be needed to set up the tank which is one reason why many people think twice before investing in marine fish as pets. Keeping seahorses is it pretty expensive but it is also a very rewarding hobby that becomes addictive. They are relatively expensive to buy and you have to make sure you choose a reputable dealer to buy them off, preferably someone who is recommended through a reef club.
Because seahorses are such delicate marine creatures, they need some special requirements and this makes them different than other salt-water fish as well as other invertebrates. One difference is they need to be kept in lower temperatures and there should be nothing in the environment that could hurt them, which includes corals and anemone. They need a different environment to live in than other species of marine life. The best way to find out more about environments is to seek the advice of the experts or through online reef club forums.
Seahorses tend to be picky feeders, they also need a specialised diet. Unlike other fish, kept in aquariums, they need to be fed often because seahorse eat quite a lot. Shrimp and/or shrimp brine is okay but this needs to be supplemented with frozen mysis. Another very important point to take on board is you cannot miss a day and not feed them – they really do need to be fed every day for them to stay healthy. If you plan to go away on holiday, make sure you organise someone to religiously feed your seahorses while you are away and it has to be someone who is really reliable and preferably understands and knows about them.
Always go to a reputable and recognised breeder to make sure you are getting seahorses that have been bred in captivity. Like this you can be sure you are buying healthy creatures who are not prone to getting many of the diseases that wild seahorses catch. Seahorses tend to be less resistant to certain bacterial infections, so you need to make absolutely sure the creatures you buy are healthy from day one.
If you are very keen, then get as much information as you can about these lovely, little sea creatures before you go ahead and set up a tank. Get on the Internet and join a reef club. This is where people who keep seahorses as pets, really do know their stuff, they would be able to offer lots of valuable advice. There are a few misconceptions about keeping seahorses as pets, so it is far better to hear from the experts before investing in these delightful marine fish.
If you want to keep other types of fish in your aquarium along with your seahorses, then make sure the tank mates you choose are slow ones. Seahorses catch their food slowly, there are even some that will just stare at their food for up to about ten minutes before deciding to eat it. On top of this, busy, fast fish tend to frighten seahorses which puts them under stress. If you choose other marine creatures who are small and slow, your seahorses will be that much happier. However, most people who keep them as pets tend to keep them with other seahorses.
Setting up a seahorse aquarium takes a lot of thought and planning because they need a different environment than other reef fish. The flow rate in aquariums needs to be pretty precise – 10x-20x/hr being the optimum for these sea creatures to do well and thrive in. This is basically the amount of times per hour the volume of water in the aquarium 'turns over' - or more simply put, the amount of times the water is moved through the pumps installed in the tank.
However, it is also a good idea to allow a sheltered area or two where your seahorses can rest if should they need to. Intakes and overflows have to be well covered over so the little creatures don't get caught in them, seahorse are slow swimmers which is why they get tend to get trapped in intakes and overflows.
The temperature of the tank is crucial, the water also needs to be kept as clean as possible. A slightly lower temperature is needed than for other marine fish because seahorses appear to have more trouble fighting off certain bacterial infections and these of course thrive better in warmer waters. Ideally the tank should be kept at 70 degrees whereas other marine sea creatures need water temperatures that are slightly higher than this.
Seahorses tend to be messy eaters which can be a problem when keeping tanks as clean as they have to be. They consume large amounts of high protein and high fat foods basically because their digestive systems are not very efficient. The end result is your tank tends to have a lot of high protein and fat fish poop that needs to be cleaned out.
This is one of the main reasons why when first setting up an aquarium, you need to pay a lot of attention to filters and other ways to keep tanks as clean as possible at all times. Seahorses thrive in good quality, clean water which is why looking after them takes a lot of dedication and little more work.
Although they are not the easiest of marine creatures to keep as pets, having an aquarium with seahorses in it is very rewarding. It's an exciting experience that does become addictive. The key to success, is to make sure you get all the right kind of advice you need before you set up your aquarium. Joining a reef club is a great idea because other members can advise you on how to set up your tank and how to keep seahorses so they remain happy and healthy. They are not the cheapest of marine creatures to buy, but most people once they have one of two seahorses in an aquarium, want to keep a few more!
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