Hayden Systems Seahorses                 Seahorse Care


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We have two books on Amazon, written by Tom Hornsby 'So you want to keep seahorses'  and 'So you want to keep dwarf seahorses'.  These are written in basic English, easy to read, more like manuals and full of breeder's tips.

Seahorses are very delicate fish and do have special requirements, but once these requirements are in place you should have many hours enjoyment from them.  There are many books written on their care, and information on the web.  I have a lot of experience, but no formal training.  So all that I have written is from my personal experience.

The first requirement is water quality, as with all marine fish, but seahorses make a heavy load of waste, so in this case it is far more important.

The water should be tested regularly using a variety of chemical indicators of water quality. These include:

Make up  the salt water with a density of 1.024 and the temperature about 74 degrees Fahrenheit, although some would question the density of the salt at 1.024 and if the seahorse type comes from an estuary there may be a reason for taking the salt down to 1.021.  Some seahorses are from temperate zones and require cooler water, so I will just be covering tropical seahorses for now.

The tank should be easily accessible, as you will need to remove the waste regularly.  I get large droppings from my giant reidi and these need to be removed manually.  Turkey basters are fine for this.

Water changes have to be performed often as the waste is high, so good water means healthy fish.  I have different filtration in different tanks, but water changes are always top priority in all types of tanks.

The next is to review what you have put in the tank. For the substrate you can use live coral sand or dry coral sand or even have bare bottom tanks. Macro algae is very useful and will anchor well to rocks and sand.  There are a great many algae available in the UK today and in various colours,  Seahorses like to hitch to the algae and also to large gorgonians.


It is important to be aware of the delicate skin covering of the seahorse when adding corals to your tank. Do not put anemones into a seahorse tank as they are able to sting the seahorse and if the seahorse were to sit on an anemone it could capture the seahorse and kill it.   Aiptasia anemones will also sting seahorses, as will catalaphyllia, euphyllia ancora etc. so if the coral has stinging tentacles it is dangerouse to the seahorse.

Most toadstools and mushrooms are safe, but seahorses are quite happy with rock and caulerpa, although the feather caulerpa can catch very young ones and they die in it.  Some shrimps can be OK but if they pick at the seahorses this can irritate them, and they cannot always reach the offender.  If you put in some smaller shrimps the seahorses will eat them.

Hitch hikers

Asterina starfish although tiny, can be a real problem.  One had attached itself to the under side of a tiger tail seahorse, I could not reach the seahorse and when I could and did remove the starfish, there was an abscess where it had been irritating (or eating?) the tiger tail.  Despite treatment this fish died.  I know of others who have had similar issues with these stars.


Tank Mates

I keep a copperband in with the seahorses and I move him around the tanks as he keeps the tanks clear of aiptasia, but he is very big and has a taste for river shrimp, so is not upset by the moving around in the different tanks.  Some copperbands would not survive this.  Look out for a healthy one and see if it works for you.  Another one that is good for clearing aiptasia is the small tassel file fish and they are ok with seahorses when young. As they grow they harm seahorses, so have to be moved on.

Slow fish are OK with seahorses, mandarin dragonets, some goby and blennies, but any fish will compete for the food.  Algae blennies are not good with seahorses they try to scrape the algae from the seahorses backs which really irritates them.

I personally prefer to keep them on their own, as this avoids competition for food, and the babies are not eaten by the other fish then.

Lastly is the food.

They love live food, and the little crustations that live in the live rock.  They spend hours watching a piece of live rock and then snatch some small shrimp from it.  So it is good to have a mature tank to put them in.

They require a lot of food spread over the day.  So small and often is great, however they will manage with morning and evening feeds when they are mature. 

The best food for them is frozen Mysis enriched with vitamins etc, and they really do get good colours from this.  I give additional foods to mine.  River shrimp, which I feed enriched mysis, before feeding to the seahorses.  I also feed the river shrimp algae and sometimes flake food, so the seahorses get a variety of foods via the river shrimp.  My Giant Brazilian reidi can eat three river shrimp in as many minutes, (but no more for quite a while).

The seahorses also love live brine shrimp, but these do not have enough body protein fat to be good for the seahorses.  I have to be careful if I feed live shrimp that they do not stop eating the frozen mysis, so it is frozen mysis first then a treat later.  Brine shrimp is only offered if they loose their appetite.  It is not good for them, and if you can get live mysis that would be far better for them if they are off their food.  Feed artemia nauplii to the mysis shrimp to enrich them before feeding to the ill seahorse.

There is other foods they will eat, but they are happy with mysis and the occasional river shrimp. Long term, other foods may be necessary for their longevity, copepods and ampipods, small shrimps, found in reef tanks for example.

If you want more feeding advice please email (see contact sheet).