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Seahorses require special care and intermediate maintenance to keep them healthy and thriving.
It’s not simple to decide whether seahorses are high or low maintenance because it depends on the person’s knowledge and experience with saltwater aquariums.
Anyone can keep seahorses as pets as long as they are devoted, diligent, and willing to learn, even through failed attempts.
With the right knowledge, it’s very easy to set up and maintain them. Even though some people find seahorses hard to care for it’s actually pretty simple once you set up and find a routine that works for you.
Here are the main reasons why many people find seahorses as high maintenance and hard to care for.
1. Regular Individual Feeding.
Seahorses lack teeth and stomachs therefore food enters and passes through their digestive system very fast.
They require several feedings throughout the day, generally 2-3 times a day with each meal spaced at least 6 hours apart.
There are many ways to feed seahorses but since they are very messy eaters target feeding is the most practical yet demanding feeding method, at least from my experience.
It’s basically individually feeding each seahorse through a turkey baster or feeding tube. This allows for minimal waste, portions are controlled and seahorses are being fed.
This is a more time-consuming process and it requires patience knowing that this process must be done 2-3 times a day.
However, if you are a really devoted seahorse lover then you won’t mind the bonding experience that target feeding gives you, but for some, it may be too hard to maintain.
2. Temperature Checks.
There are cold water and tropical seahorses, but most captive-bred seahorses are cold water. Therefore they need cold water to match their natural habitat for their optimum well-being.
Daily temperature checks are required to make sure that the water is at the right temperature for them. Temperatures of 70-74F are recommended for seahorses, which are slightly cooler compared to other saltwater aquariums.
Temperature control is a constant maintenance requirement for seahorses since they are susceptible to bacterial infections and any changes in temperature can promote bacterial growth within the aquarium causing them to become sick.
We know that seahorses are messy eaters, food is always coming out of somewhere somehow. So to limit waste and build up clean-ups are required after every feed.
It’s advised that 30 minutes after every feed, you do a clean-up to remove any excess food floating around to prevent it from accumulating on the aquarium bed.
This will help in the long run making sure bacteria levels are controlled and water quality is maintained. Clean-ups also help in keeping the water cleaner for longer so instead of weekly changes they can be done every two weeks.
Clean-ups are just another time-consuming process that adds to the reason why seahorses are considered high maintenance, at least for some.
4. Water Tests.
Water quality is very important in making sure your seahorse is kept healthy and happy. Weekly water tests are needed to make sure the correct levels are being maintained.
You should test for nitrates, nitrites, ammonia, PH, salinity, etc. Home test kits are a great way in ensuring these tests are done regularly without having to cause too much of a problem.
These tests are quite simple and it doesn’t require much time. The only difficult task is creating a routine to make sure these tests are performed weekly.
One of the most common reasons for seahorse death is poor water quality. Water quality must remain consistent to ensure survival.
5. Water Top-ups.
With all aquariums or tanks evaporation is bound to occur however with saltwater aquariums this can be dangerous for the aquatic life swimming in these waters.
Evaporation in saltwater aquariums only results in water levels decreasing but the salt levels in the remaining water increase making the water more concentrated.
High levels of salinity can cause harm to seahorses therefore you need to maintain the correct levels of salt in their water. You must have a refractometer to check salinity regularly.
Weekly top-ups are required. Always use RODI (reverse osmosis deionized) water to mix saltwater for saltwater aquariums.
Normal tap water may contain harmful chemicals that can negatively affect the aquatic wildlife within your aquarium.
5. Water Must Be Changed.
Generally, once the aquarium is set up and fully cycled a 10-25% weekly water change is recommended. This basically means you remove between 10-25% of the salt water and replace it with new fully mixed salt water.
Water changes are very important in maintaining low levels of nitrate, phosphate, and organic build-up. This is to make sure water quality remains optimal for seahorses to thrive.
This however adds to the pressing burden and effort needed to maintain saltwater aquariums for seahorses.
6. Algae Removal.
With weekly water changes and clean-ups, algae removals must also be done. With high levels of nitrate and phosphates in the water this can spike algae growth.
The algae growth can become rapid causing visible changes to the aquarium. This can cause unwanted stress for the seahorses.
You can physically scrape the inner glass of your aquarium making sure all algae growth is removed.
This makes it easier for seahorses to remain at ease and happy within their own environment since any changes can cause distress in seahorses.
7. Regular Aquarium Gravel Siphon.
Gravel siphon is a crucial step in seahorse aquariums. This is basically cleaning the gravel that sits on the bed of your aquarium.
Gravel can house all sorts of debris, build-up, and organic matter causing the quality of the water to deteriorate. This negatively affects seahorses and can even lead to death.
Regular gravel siphon will remove any sort of detritus from the gravel making sure bacteria levels are controlled hence decreasing the chances of any pathogens.
This only helps the aquarium remain balanced with enough healthy bacteria. It’s a small price to pay to ensure your horses are kept thriving.
8. Require A Specific Set-up.
Seahorses need a mature saltwater aquarium with selective features that suits their needs. They require strict water parameters, specific corals, and features for their tails to wrap around.
Their tanks must be big enough with vertical space to facilitate their kind of swimming. They function best in pairs. They also require a good clean-up crew compatible with them to make sure tanks are clean and free from excess food.
These creatures are very delicate and need protection. A specific setup must be formulated to cater to their needs.
9. Finding The Right Flow!
Instead of having few powerheads on high flow, it’s better to have more powerheads on moderate to low flow.
This is due to the poor swimming ability of seahorses making high-flow powerheads dangerous, which can cause them to get stuck and injured.
Many powerheads on flow to moderate flow will allow the correct amount of flow to avoid dead spots without the water being too turbulent, to allow the seahorses to remain safe.
At first, it’s difficult to find the correct flow, but once you find what’s working it’s pretty straightforward thereafter.
10. Must Be In A Species-Specific Tank.
Seahorses are very fragile and sensitive pets. They are not compatible with most aquatic wildlife and must be placed in a species-specific tank to ensure survival.
They need to be in tanks with their own kind or with any other aquatic life that is similar to them. In terms of their movements, eating abilities, behavior, and personality.
Needing a separate aquarium for seahorses means extra care, costs, and overall effort in maintaining a saltwater aquarium.
As you can see seahorses aren’t difficult to care for but they do require moderate levels of maintenance. Depending on your availability and requirements you should decide whether the seahorse is the right pet for you.
Ultimately it doesn’t matter if something is high or low maintenance. All that matters is if you are devoted and willing to do whatever is required to make it work.
You must fall in love and be mesmerized by these majestic creatures to be able to care for them. It’s only then that you realize that every action or requirement is actually time well spent doing something you enjoy.