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Pet Product News Editorial Blog:

March 13, 2013

It's Easy Keeping Seahorses

By David Lass

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One of the most interesting animals that we keep in our glass boxes has got to be the seahorse. Over the years I have had seahorses on many occasions, and it never ceased to amaze me that some folks who saw them would say, “Are those real? I always thought they were just a fake trinket sold at the shore.”

The good news is that seahorses are, indeed, alive and well, and they are easy to keep in your store--and equally easy for customers to keep.

Seahorse
Seahorses always capture customer attention and are easy to keep in retail as well as home or office settings. (iStockphoto/Thinkstock)
A few years ago, seahorses were put on one of the CITES lists, and they no longer are being taken from the ocean. This is true for us in the aquarium industry, but it might be less true for the Chinese medicine industry, which is where most wild seahorses were, and are, used.

Be that as it may, the good news is that there are several sources in the industry today for obtaining tank-raised seahorses. The bad news is that prices have gone up.

Captive-bred seahorses are far superior to those removed from the wild. Most importantly--they live. Captive-bred seahorses are free of parasites, and they have been trained to take frozen food--primarily mysis shrimp. Frozen mysis shrimp are available in a couple of sizes and should be fed according to the size of the seahorse. Whatever size shrimp being fed, they should be enriched in Selcon or any of the xanthin powders available from different manufacturers.

One of the most effective ways to merchandise seahorses is to set them up in a small nano tank of their own. Several manufacturers make some very nice complete tank packages, and the only requirements for seahorses are that the tank should have a protein skimmer and a heater.

Limit flow in the tank because seahorses do not like fighting the current. They also do best if they are the only fish in the aquarium because they will not aggressively compete for food. Limit the cleanup crew to small hermit crabs.

The best way to feed seahorses is to place a small bowl in the front of the aquarium, off to one side, with high enough sides to deter the hermit crabs from grabbing the food first. Turn off the filter and skimmer while the seahorses are feeding, and put the enriched mysis shrimps into the bowl. The seahorses quickly learn to go to the bowl for their food, and after they have become accustomed to being fed this way, you can replace the bowl with a small clam shell or another more natural receptacle.

Seahorses always get customers' attention. They are easy to keep in the store in a small tank on the counter, and they are just as easy for your customers to keep at their homes or offices.


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