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Finding the proper seahorse habitation is a little different compared to other fish. These sensitive fish require a specific setup with a selected group of tankmates compatible with their delicate nature and distinct water parameters.
Given the right conditions, seahorses can be kept in a community tank safely and can co-exist in harmony. Normally fragile fish like seahorses weren’t seen as ideal community tankmates but with the arrival of captive-bred species, it’s now more possible than ever before. For this to work they require specific tankmates that are similarly sized, similarly natured, and willing to thrive under the same environmental conditions.
Most people often disregard every other option of keeping seahorses and only keep them in species-specific tanks.
While this is the safest option I believe there are many more housing options that hobbyists can take advantage of.
Now that seahorses are being captive-bred it’s like the creation of an entirely new specimen.
These domesticated ponies have proven to be more hardy, and resistant, and are able to endure more adversity compared to their wild-caught counterparts.
These new and improved seahorses give enthusiasts options they’ve never had before like placing them in community tanks or pairing them with other fish that weren’t even seen as ideal.
Obviously, there are certain conditions that must be met in order for this community aquarium to work.
Like choosing the right tankmates, taking into consideration the sizes, temperament, aggressiveness, and territoriality of possible inhabitants.
Also, the setup must be adequate to house additional members with the right dimensions and water capacity as per breed.
These should also include tank customizations and requirements that are species-specific so all tankmates can co-exist thriving together.
Provided you meet the standard and fit the criteria it’s completely possible to keep seahorses in a community tank successfully.
Conditions For Keeping Seahorses In A Community Tank.
Now that we know it’s possible to keep seahorses in community tanks there are certain conditions that need to be met to make the partnership work.
Remember we looking to create an environment that is fitting for all tankmates to thrive in. Let’s take a closer look.
1. Choosing the Right Setup.
The first step to the right setup is finding the tank that will accommodate all tankmates comfortably. With seahorses, it’s very difficult to maintain water quality in small tanks due to lower water capacity.
It’s recommended to keep at least a 30-gallon tank (amongst a pair) when keeping seahorses since it provides enough capacity to maintain strict water parameters needed for seahorses.
You also need a tank with the right dimensions since seahorses are more vertically oriented they need tanks with more height as well as length.
Depending on other tankmates you wish to keep make sure you provide enough room for all inhabitants to thrive.
Some tankmates may be long-distance swimmers, while some may be bigger than others all for which a larger tank will be needed to house them.
Bigger aquariums often perform better giving greater chances of success, especially with saltwater aquariums.
Aquariums like these are examples of what’s required to make these community tanks work.
2. The Right Tankmates.
Even though seahorses are mostly kept in species-specific tanks you can pair them with other compatible fish.
When looking for the right tankmates for seahorses there are a lot to take into consideration.
Temperament– The best temperaments are docile, easygoing, and friendly. Stay away from predatory fish who are aggressive. These fish can easily prey on seahorses. Also, stay away from fin nippers and venomous creatures.
Territoriality – Fish that are highly territorial and aren’t willing to co-exist should not be allowed near seahorses. Rather opt for species that are willing to share their habitat in a mutually beneficial relationship.
Sizes– It’s best to choose fish that are similarly sized with seahorses. Keeping larger fish even though they can be docile there is a possible chance of the seahorse falling prey. After all, fish are opportunistic and are always on the scout for food.
3. Feeding Practices.
One of the biggest challenges hobbyists have faced when trying to keep seahorses with other fish is the competition for food.
For a seahorse to be successfully kept in a community tank they must be able to contend for resources. As you know seahorses are very passive feeders and even the slightest competition can outcompete them.
For this pairing to work you must be able to target feed your ponies so that each individual gets their requirements daily.
Target feeding is individually feeding each fish with the use of a turkey baster making sure that all house inhabitants even the slow ones aka seahorses are well sustained.
This is the only way to keep seahorses in a community tank, if not they will be easily outperformed leading to their decline.
4. Creating Safe Havens.
Creating safe havens is a great way of making sure all tank inhabitants have their individual zones where they can seek refuge in times of stress.
For seahorses, they require hitching posts which are areas they can wrap their tails around. This is an area where they seek rest since they aren’t the best swimmers.
Likewise, you can create comfort zones for other possible tank inhabitants, I know many fish like hiding between crannies and crevices.
These safe havens are ideal for tankmates to find refuge when uncomfortable or threatened. It’s just another way of achieving success in a community tank.
5. Environmental Conditions.
Seahorses require very specific water conditions when in captivity. One of the biggest factors is temperature.
Seahorses don’t have an internal body temperature as they depend on the water temperature to maintain their internal body temperature.
They require water temperatures of around 70-74 F for optimum health, this is much lower than usual reef tanks as they operate at a temperature ranging around 76-80 F.
Tropical seahorses must be kept within these temperature ranges if not they will be compromised leaving them in a state of decline.
Only compatible fish that can handle low temperatures must be paired with seahorses. If not tankmates will not do well and this can lead to their decline.
Apart from temperature, the following are the specific water parameters they require
|Nitrate (no3):||Preferably 0 <25 PPM|
|Phosphate (PO4):||<0.2 PPM|
|Temperature:||70-74 F (21-23 C)|
Compatible Seahorse Tankmates.
|1. Goby ( Firefish, Purple, Neon)||6. Pipefish (Banded, blue stripe, Janss)|
|2. Cardinalfish ( Flame, Pajama)||7. Molly Miller Blenny|
|3. Dartfish (Red, purple, Exquisite, Helfrichi)||8. Royal Gramma|
|4. Jawfish (Yellow head, Blue dot)||9. Clownfish (caution)|
|5. Dragonet (Mandarin- red and spotted, scooter)||10. Angelfish (caution)|
Benefits Of Community Tanks.
1. Keeping a variety of mixed species is great for adding diversity. Community tanks bring together different types of marine life, and personalities making the aquarium more visually appealing.
The different vibrant colors of marine life can also add pops of color making the aquarium more aesthetic.
2. Increase in tankmates will introduce a whole lot of activity making for a great and thriving aquarium.
This makes the aquarium come to life with robust interaction that’s shared between tankmates.
3. Community tanks help deal with excess food which is a concern in seahorse species-specific aquariums.
The more tankmates mean more chances of food being eaten rather than accumulating on the sandbed.
This helps prevent detritus from building up which is a threat for seahorses at least for water quality.
4. Community tanks are always good for creating mutually beneficial relationships. Some tankmates may offer grooming for seahorses which is an added benefit.
It’s a win-win situation whereby seahorses get to be cleaned up whilst debris and algae are seen as a food source by other omnivores.
1. Possibility of aggression is always the case in community tanks. Even though there are many safe and peaceful fish that are suitable for community tanks there is always a chance of aggression given the situation.
2. Competition for food is another major concern at least for seahorses who are rather sedentary even when it comes to feeding.
However, with target feeding, it’s possible to maintain these ponies successfully even in a community tank.
3. Community tanks are more for intermediate hobbyists who know what they are doing.
Even though beginners also have a fair shot at success the idea of having a variety of marine life within the same aquarium isn’t very beginner friendly.
4. Disputes, bullying, and territoriality are incurred risks at the beginning but this unwanted behavior soon subsides.
In worst-case scenarios, this may result in injury, and stress, or may even lead to a creature’s decline.
5. Initial mistakes are to be expected since at the beginning you really trying to find out what works.
Choosing the right tankmates, aquarium conditions, and setup is challenging at first but once you’ve found what works it’s pretty easy to just maintain thereafter.
The hobby of seahorse keeping has revolutionized through the years with the arrival of the hardier captive-bred species.
Hobbyists have much more options when it comes to tankmates, types of tanks, and overall customizations.
These fragile creatures are not so fragile anymore making them a lot more versatile for enthusiasts to work with.
Given the right conditions, they can now be kept in community tanks, reef tanks as well as with certain tankmates which once wasn’t an option.
However, you should always proceed with caution for the best possible outcome.