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Seahorse aquariums are always somewhat sedentary and monotonous to an extent. This is sad because these creatures are mesmerizing, but their tanks are the opposite.
That’s why it’s good to try and add a little diversity to change it up a bit, This can be done by adding suitable tankmates or even a variation of seahorse species in the same aquarium.
I know there are conflicting emotions when it comes to keeping different seahorse species together but given the right conditions, it’s absolutely possible.
Let’s take a look!
Can You Keep Different Seahorse Species Together?
There are many species of seahorses each of their own kind and appearance hence requiring different environments for them to survive.
Given the right conditions, different species of seahorses can be kept together within the same aquarium. For this to work you will need compatible species, with the right size tank together with healthy specimens who are able to thrive under the same aquarium paramaters.
There are a variety of seahorse species each with its own features, differentiations, and physiological makeup.
There are some who are regarded as cold water seahorses and some who are tropical seahorses requiring warmer temperatures.
This means that not all seahorses can be kept together due to environmental incompatibility. But even if they can be together most people don’t recommend it.
Most enthusiasts in the aquarium hobby often advise against the mixing of seahorse species due to the fear of potential disease transfer.
While these are understandable concerns there are definitely alternative ways of keeping seahorses together in a safer manner.
Conditions For Keeping Seahorses Together.
For you were to keep different species of seahorses together there are certain conditions that must be met.
1. Only species of the same types can be kept together. This means that if you keep tropical seahorses, you can only keep other suitable species that are also tropical. This will ensure the water temperature will be suitable for all inhabitants to thrive since seahorses are very temperature sensitive.
2. Dwarf seahorses (Hippocampus zosterae) cannot be kept with other larger seahorse species due to the difference in feeding habits. If paired incorrectly this could lead to much bigger problems with the chance of possible fatalities.
3. You must harvest specimens from the same breeder or aquaculture facility. This is required to prevent cross-contamination and the potential transfer of diseases.
Dealing with the same breeder also helps since all specimens will have similar upbringing for better chances of adapting.
4. Th aquarium must be large enough to handle the inhabitants you wish to add. Normally a 30-gallon tank is ideal to house a pair of seahorses and an additional 15 gallons for every additional pair you wish to keep.
Depending on the number of occupants you wish to keep make sure the tank is able to house these creatures comfortably with sufficient space for individual territories.
5. Introduction of new tankmates must be done in pairs to create a smooth transition. It’s not a good idea to add several pairs of seahorses to your new aquarium all at once.
That would increase the bioload too fast putting pressure on the biofiltration system, resulting in all sorts of water quality problems that could be potentially harmful to the seahorses.
6. Correct quarantining is required before new tankmates are introduced. You must have an additional tank system to house new arrivals since some can be carrying deadly pathogens that you don’t want in your closed system.
Quarantine and acclimation can be done as per breeders’ recommendations.
7. Make sure the aquarium is established with water parameters stable enough to support life. Seahorses require mature water of high quality for them to thrive.
With new aquariums always allow for maturing first then run the necessary tests to confirm water parameters before you introduce livestock.
8. Captive-bred seahorses are preferred instead of wild-caught since these domesticated ponies are more hardy, resistant, and more adaptable.
Don’t mix wild-caught with captive-bred seahorses since they come from different locations carrying all sorts of micro fauna which can leave other seahorses susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections that they aren’t immune to.
Best Species To Keep Together.
Cold water Species.
Hippocampus abdominalis better known as Pot Belly and Zulu-lulus (Hippocampus . capensis) are a type of cold-water seahorse that must be kept alone.
These cold water species require environmental conditions far different than other species making them incompatible with other domesticated species of the hippocampus.
They are one of the largest species growing to about 10-12 inches in length and they require water temperatures of around 65-68° F (18-20°c)
They also require larger tanks compared to other species and must be kept alone. These species are not suitable tankmates for any other species.
They can only be successfully kept at temperatures lower than what tropical seahorses require.
There are few options when keeping tropical seahorses and most of them can be kept together if conditions are right.
For instance, H. erectus, H. reidi, H. barbouri, H. comes, or H. kuda seahorses can all be kept together in an aquarium with a stable water temperature of around 72-75°F (22-24°c).
All these tropical seahorses require similar water conditions and environments for them to thrive.
These species are amongst the most commonly kept seahorses since they are versatile and hardy.
The water parameters required are as follows :
|Nitrate (no3)||Preferably 0 <25 PPM|
|Phosphate (PO4)||<0.2 PPM|
|Temperature||70-74 F (21-23 C)|
Dwarf (Hippocampus zosterae)
Dwarf seahorses are the smaller more fragile species that grow to about 1-1.5 inches. This is a really neat species but they have unique feeding and care requirements hence they must be kept alone.
They also require a smaller tank typically under 10 gallons. Their diet normally consists of Artemia nauplii (baby brine shrimp) which is small enough for them to ingest.
They don’t do well in community tanks or with sharing their space with other inhabitants.
Since Dwarf seahorses have such unique care requirements we highly recommend keeping them in a dedicated species-specific aquarium and not mixing them with other seahorse species.
The Right Seahorse Setup.
|1. The Right Tank.||6. Compatible Tankmates|
|2. Stable Water Parameters.||7. Good Flow/oxygen|
|3. Hitching posts||8. Proper filtration.|
|4. Substrate/live rock||9. Protein skimmer|
|5. Proper diet||10. Stable water temperature|
Seahorses require the right tank with the right dimensions to adequately house them. Since they are upright swimmers they require tanks that would facilitate this movement.
Make sure you choose the correct aquarium for these ponies, you can check out my previous post that assists in choosing the right tank.
Stable Water Parameters.
Seahorses are very fragile and sensitive to even the most insignificant changes. They require stable water parameters that can provide the right environment needed for them to thrive.
Mature water is best for these creatures as it validates a thriving biofiltration system.
Seahorses require suitable objects that they can wrap their prehensile tail around. These resting places are called hitching posts.
These are the safe havens that they normally seek when stressed or tired. It’s important to provide enough of these areas as possible depending on the number of inhabitants you wise to house.
These are the best ways of providing safe hitching posts worthy enough for seahorses.
Live rock is a great addition to your seahorse aquarium and it has a lot of benefits. They help house beneficial bacteria and they help with biofiltration.
A substrate bed is also an added feature that creates a more aesthetically pleasing environment. Even though it’s not a need for seahorses it needed for other invertebrates.
Seahorses need consistent food since they don’t have stomachs. Normally Mysis is a great choice since its nutrient-enriched making for a well-rounded diet.
Seahorses can be kept with other docile fish and invertebrates that are compatible with their nature. Fish like guppies, goby, and cardinal fish are great choices.
You can also add different species of the hippocampus to make a well-established thriving aquarium.
Seahorses require a good flow that is not too rough while strong enough to prevent dead spots. Because they are weak swimmers they won’t be able to handle strong currents.
They require moderate flow to keep food particles suspended in the water while keeping them comfortable.
They also need high levels of dissolved oxygen to cater to their primitive gills.
A seahorse tank requires heavy filtration to cover their messy eating habits while maintaining water parameters.
There are many filtration methods that you can use, however, most hobbyists use a combination of mechanical filtration as well as activated charcoal and the use of a protein skimmer.
Filtration is the key to keeping water clean and reducing organic build-up.
A protein skimmer is an additional filtration equipment that is a lifesaver when it comes to seahorse aquariums.
Even though it’s not a need, having one provides the best possible chances of maintaining a healthy environment needed for them to thrive.
It would be foolish to not get a good protein skimmer.
Stable Water Temperature.
Seahorses are very temperature sensitive, even the slightest changes in water temperature can be huge to their health.
When exposed to temperature that is too high or low certain proteins in their bodies become inactive leaving them in a compromised state.
If left untreated this can lead to their decline pretty quickly. Make sure you have a cooling and heating system to keep the temperature within the required limits.
Benefits Of Mixing Seahorse Species.
1. Keeping a variety of mixed seahorse species is great for adding diversity. Seahorses come in an array of sizes, colors, and patterns.
This is great for adding different personalities and making the aquarium more visually appealing. The different vibrant colors 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. Adding more seahorses help deal with excess food which is a concern in these 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. More seahorse variations can potentially result in a great variety of offspring (fry) if you are interested in breeding.
These mixes can result in great diversity since interbreeding is a possibility.
Also having more bonded pairs increases the chances of courtship hence more offspring are produced.
5. Seahorses do best in pairs or in small groups. This is due to having company for them to interact with and spending more time together instead of being alone.
This positively affects their mental well-being making them feel less stressed and comfortable. As a result, they will thrive bursting with activity and daily greetings.
Even though it’s possible to keep certain species of seahorses together there are still risks that you’d incur if you do decide on keeping a mix of seahorse species together.
1. The most common or feared risk that many are terrified of is the potential transfer of disease-causing bacteria and parasites.
Seahorses come from different locations and house a variety of microfauna.
When introduced to other seahorses of a different species it can become deadly since some specimens may not have immunity against these.
As you know seahorses are susceptible to infection and anything that could lead to greater compromise of their health could end fatally.
Even a simple infection could be deadly for these creatures so be sure to follow the correct protocol when introducing new tankmates.
2. Aggression is also a potential risk when too many seahorses are placed in a closed system as they fight for dominance.
This may catch a few off guard since seahorses may not be known for aggression. This however is normally seen in males.
Male seahorses can fight for dominance, for a female mate, or for territory.
Be sure to have bonded pairs for the correct pairing to take place since having more males than females may pose a problem.
3. Territoriality is also a concern when mixing seahorse species. This normally occurs due to insufficient space.
Seahorses love their own space it gives them the freedom to rest, hitch, and perform their daily rituals needed for courtship.
Lack of individual spaces will result in territorial behavior which can hinder this partnership.
Make sure you have a tank that is large enough with several hitching posts for each of them to have their own safe haven.
4. Stress is also a concern when mixing different species together since the density of occupants increases making living conditions different.
The arrival of new tankmates is always stressful for all occupants. It can create uneasiness and tension which can leave some vulnerable and stressed.
This can negatively affect their health since stress affects their immune defenses leaving them in a compromised state.
This makes it easy for dormant diseases and parasites to overtake.
5. Having more occupants in the same aquarium puts pressure on the aquarium system due to seahorses having a heavy bioload.
Seahorses are constantly releasing waste through their rear end or ingesting food expelling leftover pieces.
This repetitive cycle of doom is deadly, especially for a saltwater aquarium as water quality can easily decline.
Make sure you introduce seahorses in stages allowing for a smooth transition so that the system is able to adapt to maintaining water quality.
If not harmful chemicals can increase intoxicating all tankmates.
6. Once new occupants are added everything in the aquarium must be adjusted to suit the current demands of the system.
This will require an increase in biofiltration, an increase in clean-up crew members, and an increase in the frequency of maintenance.
Failure to adjust will result in imbalances and significant changes to the chemistry of the water. This opens the doors to a host of issues that is sometimes irreparable.
7. With many seahorses together this can bring about competition for resources, mating pairs, and territory.
This could potentially lead to disputes and uneasiness among tankmates.
Seahorses are great magical creatures that make great additions to an aquarium. Even though they can be paired with other fish it’s safer to keep them with their own kind.
Having a mix of seahorse species together is great for their health and it can be safely done without great risk, provided the right conditions are met.
Ultimately you just need to plan in advance undertaking for all possible outcomes which will greatly increase your chances of success.