Dwarf seahorse help

Discussion in 'Seahorses and Pipefish' started by Zelika, Feb 1, 2011.

  1. Zelika

    Zelika

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    After thinking about it for years I've finally decided I'm going to go for it and get dwarf seahorses. I will say that I have limited saltwater experience, but I have had freshwater tanks my whole life and I've put a lot of thought and research into this. Unfortunately there is not a lot of resources available dedicated to dwarves. I've figured out enough to know that they have different needs than regular seahorses. Every website I look at specific to dwarves totally contradict each other! Based on the books and websites I've read and the people I've pieced together a plan I want to run by you guys. My LFS told me there's a lady on this forum that is the all knowing goddess of dwarfs, which is why I came here!

    So here's my rough plan. I want to use my 10 gallon tank. It's a little larger than I'd like, and i know smaller tanks are harder to keep in check, but i already have the tank, and I've been told if I put lots of plants in there it should be fine. I want to put lots of plants in there for filtration/oxygen supply reasons as well. I can't figure out what kind of plant I want, although I've been told macro algae is the way to go. I've also found out that certain types will take over your whole tank, and some will go sexual and kill your whole tank. I want to give the horses something they can grab and hide in, but not something they can hide too well in. I'm thinking maybe eel/turtle grass? I want a mushroom coral as well too. I'd like to have my tank set up so that it is pretty well self filtering. I want to use a HOB filter, I've been told that this will be sufficient filtration as well as creating a slight current. I would of course have a cover of some sort on the filter intake. I don't want to mess around with a sump, but I'm open to suggestions.

    I want to start by cycling the tank with just treated saltwater, and a commercial live sand as a substrate. I have a bacteria additive I would use to get it going. When i get the ph/nitrite/nitrate/ammonia levels get to where they should be and stay that way for a week, I'll add the plants/corals. If the levels stay where they should for another week, I want to add copepods. I'll let them have some "fun" if you get my drift, for about 2 months. If I get through all that without incident then I'll start looking for some CB ponies. The lady at the store said that letting the copepod population build for that long should create a self sustaining food supply when I put the dwarves in, as long as they have a refugium. Im totally prepared to feed them 3 times a day and was before that, but an in tank self sustaining food supply sounds way easier and better for the seahorses.

    Let me know what you guys think. I'm trying, I really am! Lol! Its just that Good info on the little buggers is just so hard to find.
     
    Zelika, Feb 1, 2011
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  2. Zelika

    Bifferwine I am a girl

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    I am pretty sure that is Catherine (Picasso). Hopefully she will respond to your post soon!
     
    Bifferwine, Feb 1, 2011
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  3. Zelika

    Picasso Seahorse Whisperer

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    YAY another pony keeper!

    I can't imagine me being the goddess that your LFS was talking about but I do think I can point you in the right direction!

    Dwarfs are the hardest ponies to keep mainly because of their food. Dwarfs need to be fed live, enriched baby brine shrimp (bbs) 3 times a day. The enriching process is tedious, you need to hatch the shrimp, add enrichment water for 12 hours and change their enrichment water every 12 hours for 2 days before they are ready to be used as food. Dan at Seahorsesource.com is experimenting with keeping live mysid shrimp in the same tank as dwarfs but he is not yet able to keep the mysid population up for the dwarfs. Dwarfs can NOT live on copepods alone it does not provide enough variety of nutrients for the dwarfs. I strongly, strongly suggest you practice with your brine shrimp hatcher for a few weeks before deciding if dwarfs are right for you because you'll be married to the hatcher once you get them and you'll need to understand the enrichment process. Talk to Dan or Abbey at Seahorse Source, the ultimate place for captive bred seahorses. for more information about feeding these tiny creatures.

    Second, the tank. Your 10 gallon tank is probably too big for dwarfs. You need to keep the tank smaller so your brine shrimp won't get lost before they become food. The brine shrimp will die young and if they are not consumed they will become muck in the tank and throw your water quality off. You'll need to feed the dwarfs enough to make it "snow" over them 3 times a day. If your tank is too big you'll have to put way too much in there. Also, be extremely careful about what goes into your tank. Most dwarf keepers only allow artificial decoration in their tanks because of their fear of hydroids. Hydroids will kill a dwarf seahorse. Hydroids are on everything from rocks to coral frags. They are tiny and hard to spot. You'll need to start your tank from dry and be extremely careful about examining anything that goes in there! A 5 gallon tank would be much better. What kind of lighting were you thinking about using? Your HOB will need to be fitted with a special sponge to avoid sucking up the dwarfs. Macro is great for the ponies. There is a huge variety of plants out there. Caulerpa is known to go sexual and muck up your tank and it will overgrow if you don't prune it back so you'll probably want to stay away from them. There are lots of other choices. Let me know what you're looking at and I'll try to help you with placement in your tank. Turtle grass needs a deep sand bed, oar grass might be a better choice. These stay low in in the tank, you'll probably want something to float too so they have a variety of places to "hitch" on to.

    Why are you wanting to start with dwarfs? It might be better to start off with a hardier seahorse that can be trained to eat frozen foods?

    It will take quite a while to get your tank ready and in the meantime here are some resources for you:

    Pete Giwonja teaches a fabulous FREE online seahorse class: Seahorse.com - Seahorse, Sea Life, Marine Life, Aquafarm Sales, Feeds and Accessories - Home. Go to their forum. Pete will cover everything you need to know from tank requirements to how to perform a pouch evacuation and how to deal with breeding.

    Seahorse Organisation. Keeping and Breeding Seahorses in the home aquarium. has a whole forum dedicated to dwarfs. There you can find people that raise a variety of cultures to feed their ponies.

    I'm not an expert by any means but I do think I can find the answer to any questions you might have. Welcome aboard!

    Catherine
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2011
    Picasso, Feb 1, 2011
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  4. Zelika

    Ulta REEFER

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    haha, ninja'd by Catherine. Shes quick!
    and has got you covered :)
     
    Ulta, Feb 1, 2011
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  5. Zelika

    Bifferwine I am a girl

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    ^ and that is why she is the all-knowing expert of seahorses. ;)
     
    Bifferwine, Feb 1, 2011
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  6. Zelika

    dcantucson

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    :bowdown: All hail, Goddess Catherine. :bowdown:
     
    dcantucson, Feb 1, 2011
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  7. Zelika

    ErinCahir Sausage Wrangler

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    ErinCahir, Feb 1, 2011
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  8. Zelika

    Aquatic

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    I hereby submit myself to the all knowing, powerful Catherine.

    What is thy bidding my master?
     
    Aquatic, Feb 1, 2011
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  9. Zelika

    Zelika

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    Damn LFS getting ideas in my head that I can have a self sustaining low maintenance food supply! I'm already a slave to 4 legged ponies outside, might as well be a slave to no legged ponies inside *eyeroll*. I was expecting to have to mess with brine shrimp anyway.

    If I have to get a different sized tank, I think it would be smart to rule out dwarves and go for something bigger. I haven't ruled them out completely but I plan on researching bigger species more thoroughly now. That and I found out my boyfriend has a nice empty 29 gal with a stand that might just have to find a new career.... So far I'm a fan of h. Erectus and H. Capensis. They seem to be the most newbie friendly and are the least picky eaters. I also like h. Procerus and h. Whitei, but I guess only more research will tell. Thank you so much oh great seahorse goddess for some reliable resources! It seems websites contradicting each other about everything down to water temperature is not specific to dwarves..., *bangs head on desk*. Any advice with regards to species, or just things you might think I would find helpful is most welcome.

    Btw, am I still good with a HOB filter on a 25 or 29 gallon??
     
    Zelika, Feb 1, 2011
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  10. Zelika

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    Hang on back power filter? If so, I wouldn't use it to be honest. It can be a death trap for detritus and other things. You don't want that stuff breaking down. A skimmer would do you nice. Some people on here will tell you that you don't need a skimmer on a small tank but using one is just my own opinion. If it is a power filter, you can either use it if your tank has a lot of gunk suspended in the water or just plain use it but be sure to clean the filter media on a regular basis. The power filter is great for sucking up suspended detritus and the like so you can clear a tank a bit faster.
     
    Aquatic, Feb 1, 2011
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  11. Zelika

    Zelika

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    I also feel the need to specify I've wanted seahorses in general for years, not specifically dwarves. I just really wanted to use my 10gal tank because I just have the absolute perfect spot for it :( oh well. I'll just have to find something fun to put in there :).
     
    Zelika, Feb 1, 2011
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  12. Zelika

    Bifferwine I am a girl

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    I was in the same spot you are in a few weeks ago. I had a 14 gallon BioCube sitting around, and I wanted to use it for seahorses. I realized it just wasn't going to be suitable for them, so I bought a 30 gallon tall tank instead and set it up. It's still cycling with rock and macroalgae, and it will be a couple months before it's ready for horses, but at least I know I'm providing the best habitat I can for them.

    I'm sure you will find an acceptable replacement for the 10 gallon! Seahorses do best in tall tanks (at least 18" in height), so maybe there is a perfect spot in your house for a tank of that shape?
     
    Bifferwine, Feb 1, 2011
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  13. Zelika

    Zelika

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    Yes a hang on back power filter. I'm not sure how I feel about protien skimmers, my old tank when I was a kid never had one, and I don't completely understand how they work either. I do plan on putting a sponge type cover on the intake of a power filter so nothing gets sucked in. I want most of my filtering to be done through plants/corals, I mostly just want another filter so I don't need to rely on only one method. I plan on going plant/coral crazy. For those of you that don't know jaguar cichlids, they destroy EVERYTHING. Plastic plants, thermometers, decorations, heaters, gravel. You can't even give them larger stones since they bang them against the side of the tank and occasionally break the glass. Needless to say, I'm really excited about having a tank I can actually put nice things in!
     
    Zelika, Feb 1, 2011
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  14. Zelika

    Zelika

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    Hahaha, don't worry, I'll make a perfect spot!

    I'm in no rush with this tank. I want horses but I also want to do it right.
     
    Zelika, Feb 1, 2011
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  15. Zelika

    vonjankmon

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    Well you could use the 10 gallon as a sump if you really want to use it. Taller tanks are better for seahorses in general, although I will say this is mainly due to breeding them. If you have absolutely no interest in ever breeding your seahorses a taller tank isn't a big deal, otherwise it is because of their mating ritual.

    You don't have to use a protein skimmer but without one you need A LOT of macro algae and the lighting to support it. Basically a protein skimmer removes...well protein, uneaten food particles have have begun to break down in your water. Macro algae can basically do the same thing by absorbing the nutrients to grow but you have to have a lot of macro and the lighting to support the fast growth. The general recommendation is to have a protein skimmer but it is possible to do without.

    As for a hang on power filter, you can do that but I would *HIGHLY* recommend having a sump, you could run the filter on that if you wanted or your main display tank but a sump will make your life so so so so so much easier over time. Trust me, I passed on one on my first SW tank and regretted it so much. I spent probably something like twice to three times as much effort caring for my first 55G than I do on my 90G now and mostly because of the fact that my 90G has a nice big sump now.
     
    vonjankmon, Feb 1, 2011
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  16. Zelika

    Picasso Seahorse Whisperer

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    When you decide to get dwarfs, you are making a serious commitment. People think because they are smaller then you can get away with less care but that is not the case. I decided to go ahead with dwarfs as a response to the BP oil spill. The spill has eliminated many of their habitats and I think it is important to keep a captive population in as many areas as possible. I applaud your decision to get a hardier horse as a beginner! I'm a fan of the h. erectus. They have a lot of personality and are pretty easy, as long as you set up a tank for them properly.

    Currently, I have 4 h. erectus in a 28 gallon bow front tank. It has no sump. I'm using a HOB filter to move the water and I really love it. You are getting contradicting information here so I'll try to help sort it out. Horses must "hitch" their tails on to things. Their tail is prehensiled and it really has a mind of it's own. Because of this you need to keep a lot of stuff in your tank for them to grab onto. I have macro. Tons of it. People generally keep their macro in their sump to clean their water, it's called a refugium. My horses live in their refugium. Usually, you don't want a HOB filter because it builds up crud from your tank and puts it on to a filter pad. The crud then breaks down which messes up your water quality. Also, that pad will trap your pods and when you change those pads you'll kill them. If you want or need to use the HOB it is doable with a few special considerations. First, change your filters 2-3 times A WEEK. Also, when you change those filters, try to seek out any pods that might be caught and release them into your tank. With my HOB, I use it to move the water. It moves the water perfectly for my tank and for the wimpy swimming horses that live there. I put filters in a few hours a week to make the water sparkle but usually the HOB has a wad of chaeto and some ulva in there to act as a breeding ground for pods. I do frequent water changes to help keep my water where I want it to be. For me, water changes are easy because I've streamlined the process. My current set-up is temporary meaning it will change in a few months. If it were long term, I would add a skimmer and a plenum. One thing to note, I spent a long, long time building up my sand bed community and working on biological filtration before I added my horses. If you spend a long time setting up and planning your system properly, then you will have a much easier time maintaining your tank.

    Right now, I think the most important thing you can do is to sign up for Pete Giwonja's class. He is incredibly knowledgeable and he loves to share his knowledge with us! He will tell you how to set up a horse tank and how to get it to cycle properly.

    I know it is frustrating at first but you'll get there. Horses are wonderfully rewarding and a lot of fun!

    Let me know if there is anything I can do to help!
    Catherine
     
    Picasso, Feb 1, 2011
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  17. Zelika

    Picasso Seahorse Whisperer

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    Your biocube would have worked for the horses you wanted to keep but you would have always had to make exceptions and keep in mind your height. It would affect your aquascaping, your choices on which gender to keep... Your 30 is perfect and you're doing everything right in setting it up:

    https://www.livingreefs.com/biffs-seahorse-tank-t31703.html

    I think you'll be much happier with the 30.

    Catherine
     
    Picasso, Feb 1, 2011
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  18. Zelika

    Bifferwine I am a girl

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    Things have changed in the hobby over the years. Power filters are not commonly used in saltwater anymore because they tend to lead to poor water quality -- namely high nitrates. The reef tanks of decades ago looked very different than the reef tanks of today, and we are now able to keep alive animals that people never thought were possible to keep in this hobby because of advances in equipment, for one. As Cath said, filters trap gunk on their pads and in their media. But because the water is constantly flowing through it, that crap ends up decomposing and a good portion of it ends up getting washed right back into your tank. A protein skimmer collects that crap in a separate cup, which you remove and wash down the sink. The crap does not come in contact with your water, and you do not run the risk of releasing it back into the tank.

    Protein skimmers are the preferred method of filtration, with canisters, hang on back filters, power filters, trickle filters and wet/dry filters falling out of favor in the last decade or two. They are just not used in saltwater anymore.

    Corals and plants play different roles -- corals don't filter the water, and they require good water conditions to survive.
     
    Bifferwine, Feb 1, 2011
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  19. Zelika

    little_fish Moderator

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    I would highly recommend getting the Erectus, plus i have never seen those other species you listed for sale in the US. Always, always, always buy captive breed ponies. I think you already know this, but im saying it again because its so important.

    Dont trust your lfs to buy you seahorses, who knows where they originally came from, what sort of worms they are have, if they are trained to eat frozen, and even if they are the correct species.

    Here are two great places to buy seahorses. I wouldnt buy them from anywhere else. Theses people have amazing costumer service, and really care about their seahorses.

    Seahorse Source, the ultimate place for captive bred seahorses.

    Seahorse.com - Seahorse, Sea Life, Marine Life, Aquafarm Sales, Feeds and Accessories - Home
     
    little_fish, Feb 1, 2011
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  20. Zelika

    Picasso Seahorse Whisperer

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    I was going to recommend seahorse.com and seahorsesource.com but I don't know if they ship to Canada. Little fish is very right about where you get your horses. Unless you have a very close relationship with your LFS and you can totally trust them, I wouldn't purchase locally. Wild caught horses are extremely undesirable in your tank. Not only will they all have worms, like little fish said, they will be difficult to train to eat frozen foods and trying to get a horse to eat can be frustrating. One of my first horses wouldn't eat frozen and I spent a year and hundreds of dollars on pods trying to train her to eat frozen. She ultimately died because I just couldn't give her the nutritional diversity she needed. You want captive bred horses that are guaranteed to eat frozen food. Seahorse.com is awesome and their recent drop in prices makes them a great choice. Seahorse.com has Pete Giwonja, seahorse expert, to help you every step of the way with your horses and he will. Seahorsesource.com has Dan and Abbey who will give you all the help and support that you might need. Not only will they answer calls day or night, they also are the main experts on seahorse.org website. Their horses are a little less trained than seahorse.com but their prices are lower and they usually have a wider diversity than seahorse.com.

    A word about seahorse.org. It is a great site for anyone interested in horses. They have lots of articles and some very dedicated horse keepers. Their audience is very international and some of the practices in Europe are different than ours. Some of their stuff is awesome but some people give some pretty crazy advice and some of it is just wrong. I love their site their people are very nice, just keep in mind that you'll need to double check any information that seems very different than what is normal. That's really good advice for any internet info you get, really even from me. Please don't feel like I'm speaking negatively about seahorse.org, they are really great, I lurk there all the time!

    A video series about how to set up and cycle a saltwater tank:

    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=od2X9PJEc7o]YouTube - Nano Lagoon (1): Tank and Filter[/ame]

    Gerald at IPSF is a marine biologist and he is my go to guy for setting up a healthy sand bed and biological filtration system. The stuff he uses in the video you can get anywhere.

    Catherine
     
    Picasso, Feb 1, 2011
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