Care and Feeding of Seahorses

Salinity: Salt levels can range from 1.015 to 1.024….but the horses seem most comfortable at 1.020.

Aggression: Wild Caught seahorses may attempt to eat ornamental shrimps, especially small ones.

With Inverts: Seahorses may be housed in reef aquariums as long as there are no strongly stinging inverts present.

Seaweed: Seahorses benefit from calupera in the aquarium as they clean themselves by rubbing on it.

Feeding: Seahorses do best if fed small amounts of vitamin enriched Oregon Desert Mysis shrimp, 2-3 times a day. A gentle current over the shrimp encourages them to eat.

Nitrate Levels: Male horses are more prone to pouch infections in poorly tended aquariums. Keep Nitrates low and do regular water changes.

Companions: Horses do best when they have company…so should be bought in at least pairs, though not necessarily male / female sets.

Friendly Fish: Horses should only be kept with smaller fish, but not fish that are so small that they are tempting for the horses to snick at… such as the Rainford Goby. Cardinals make great tank mates, as well as lawnmower blennies, Twinspot gobies, Firefish, small wrasses such as the six line (as long as the horses are the larger variety)

Other Friendly Species: Horses do great with snails, conchs, brittle stars, urchins, small crabs, feather dusters, and starfish.

Unsafe Fish: They do NOT do well with tangs, triggers, butterflies or any fish that will out eat them, or nip at them. Seahorses are VERY slow eaters and slow moving and should only be housed with like minded fish.

Live SeaHorse Tips

From SaltyJo

So you think your Seahorse won’t eat frozen shrimp?
Try this!

1) Make your feeding time the SAME TIME each day.

2) Buy a bottle of “Garlic Extreme” (liquid garlic capsules or a garlic powder supplement from a health food store works, but they do cloud the tank a bit, the Extreme is cleaner and comes with a dropper).

3) Each time you feed, introduce your live food in the tank in a net. Use the same net each time. I use a small 3 inch green net. Let the horses see that the food is coming from the net. Get them WELL used to that net! They should be meeting the net when you put it into the tank at feeding time. With each feeding, rub a drop of Garlic Extreme on the net before it goes into the tank with the food in it. Or if you are gut loading your live food, treat the gut loading food with a drop of garlic. I’ve even soaked my live shrimp in shallow water and a bit of garlic, but keep it short, the shrimp don ‘ t like it. {Woody’s note: Brine shrimp have lived several days in a refrigerator with only a tablespoon of water while soaking in 5 drops of Extreme} After a while they will associate the smell of the garlic with feeding time. Garlic is used both to boost the immune system, help clear out internal parasites, and as a trigger to train your horses to accept frozen foods. The idea is to retrain them, not to allow them their ” preferences ” .

4) After a week or two, once it seems they are well trained to their “feeding hour” combine a bit of thawed (make sure its tank temperature WARM) frozen food (mysis or artemia, depending on your horse size) with your live food. DON ‘ T FORGET THAT GARLIC! Once you begin introducing frozen food, the garlic can be put ON the frozen food Allow it to soak into food during thaw stage. Place the net in tank with both types of food – just a small amount of frozen to start. Make sure that the frozen food in the net is either in a soft current or gently jiggle it so it has the appearance of being alive. Hopefully you will have a horse brave enough to ” snick” at it. Once they get a taste, they seem to keep at it.

5) As they are getting interest in the frozen food, reduce the amount of live food in the net until they are eating frozen only! After they are well “taught” to eat what has the garlic smell, they should eat both live and frozen without problems changing back and forth. Remember, the smell of garlic is their trigger! Once they are happily munching on their frozen food, you can begin slowly introducing small amounts of vitamins to the frozen food along with the garlic ON the food. Remember vitamins change the flavor, so start with VERY small amounts to graduate them up to the dose you desire. Personally I like Selcon, though the powdered vitamin from Ocean Rider changes the color of the shrimp, seeming to make it more attractive to the horses. Don ‘ t give up if this seems like a slow process. Even if you prefer to feed live, they should be trained and fed SOME frozen in case of emergencies (i.e. your ghost shrimp tank crashes or your order gets lost).   Some horses will accept frozen right away once they associate the ” trigger ” . Others may take quite a while to get used to it. I had one take almost 8 months! If you have several horses in a tank and one of them is eating frozen regularly, ALWAYS offer frozen first! They learn from watching each other! Slowly cut back on the number of times you offer live foods as new horses are accepting frozen. If a stubborn horse is healthy, it won ‘ t hurt it to not eat for a day, and the hunger will encourage it to go after the frozen! Once they are all happily munching frozen, as long as you continue with the  ” trigger ” there should be no problem switching back and forth.

As soon as you have a horse accepting frozen, if you want to use a feeding station, you can begin training them to it by using ” their ” net to put the frozen food inside the station. If you keep the feeding time consistent, they will begin beating you to the station at feeding time. Give it a try, let me know how it works. I’ll be trying this theory on my zosterae when I get them.


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