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Old 01/31/2018, 07:46 PM   #1
vlangel
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Dawn's seahorse garden!

Hi all, I always loved seahorses but stayed away from them for quite a few years because of an ill fated experience I had with them as a newbie marine aquarist. Finally about 4 years ago I began researching them and considered giving it another go.

Seahorses and macro algae go together well. Seahorses create a very heavy bioload and macro algae need high nutrient water. Also macro algae make wonderful, safe hitches for ponies. They are perfect together.

My 1st tank in 2014 was a 30XH for 1 pair of seahorses. I connected it to the sump of my 36g bowfront reef. That way I only had 1 set of parameters to watch.


Getting into seahorses. by Dawn Gilson, on Flickr



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Old 01/31/2018, 07:55 PM   #2
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The 2 tanks, 1 system. by Dawn Gilson, on Flickr
Once I got it all set up it looked like this. I also kept 2 pipefish in with the pair of seahorses.


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Old 01/31/2018, 08:01 PM   #3
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It was nice but the 12" depth on the 30 gallon XH tank was a challenge to scape and a challenge to scrape (when it came time for cleaning). Seahorses are very vulnerable to bacterial infections so the husbandry on both tanks had to be top notch or the ponies could get sick. After a year of having both tanks I decided that it was too labor intensive for me. To remedy the situation I made the difficult decision to go down to just 1 tank...a seahorse tank.
Consolidate and downsize to 1 seahorse tank. by Dawn Gilson, on Flickr
It made the most sense to use the 36 gallon bowfront since it was bigger, deeper and my favorite of the 2 tanks.


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Old 01/31/2018, 08:07 PM   #4
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With all the coral from 2 tanks now in just the seahorse tank, it looked instantly full and mature. Unfortunately I learned the hard way that a tank with wall to wall coral can trap detritus and excess uneaten food and present a problem for ponies.
Dealing with bacterial sickness by Dawn Gilson, on Flickr
It is much harder to keep bacteria under control in such a crowded tank. Skin and gut issue began to appear.


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Old 01/31/2018, 08:17 PM   #5
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After losing my male seahorse, Adam to gas bubble disease I decided to upgrade to a whole new tank, a 56 AGA column tank. It had wonderful dimensions for ponies in that it was tall. It also was deep enough to allow some elbow room to clean and to aquascape. I chose to go bb even though I love sandbeds hoping to provide a cleaner enviroment for the seahorses. So the build began.
Upgrading the seahorse tank, 56g column! by Dawn Gilson, on Flickr


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Old 01/31/2018, 08:21 PM   #6
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I went to the Art Institute of Pgh for my degree and decided to do something a little different with this tank. Not only did I paint the bottom underneath to simulate sand, but I painted a mural on the back glass.
Bare bottom and spray painted mural. by Dawn Gilson, on Flickr


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Old 01/31/2018, 08:24 PM   #7
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The wood cabinet only came in black and so I painted it and added trim to dress it up a bit.
2018-01-31_08-39-41 by Dawn Gilson, on Flickr


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Old 01/31/2018, 08:26 PM   #8
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This is what the end result turned out like.
The finished product and transfer done. by Dawn Gilson, on Flickr


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Old 01/31/2018, 08:31 PM   #9
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There is one other important aspect that I did not tell you about. When I set up the 30g XH seahorse tank, I plumbed it into the 10 gallon sump that was in the cabinet of the 36g bowfront. A 10 gallon sump was barely adequate for the 36 gallon tank. Also being in the cabinet and doing bucket water changes in the livingroom was less than ideal, not to mention that being a 50 something woman was also less than ideal.


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Old 01/31/2018, 08:38 PM   #10
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For years (actually decades) I dreamed of a basement sump with a water station to do water changes. I knew there was a drain close to underneath my tank in the basement. I also knew the cold water line ran along the wall there. I just could not bring myself to drill holes in the hardwood floor. However, seahorses changed that. Needing to do 21-25 gallon water changes a week by bucket helps a person see reason, LOL.
Plans to plumb a sump in the basement. by Dawn Gilson, on Flickr
These were my plans on paper.
Sump in operation. by Dawn Gilson, on Flickr
And this is what it looks like in reality. Its not pretty but it works wonderfully. I have 2 brute cans, 1 with rodi water and the other that I mix salt in. I drain the sump, and then just pump newly made saltwater back in. No carrying and no lifting. I do 7 gallons at a time, 3Xs a week. I can do everything in 5 minutes. It is by far the best upgrade I ever did.



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Old 01/31/2018, 08:50 PM   #11
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The bb was wonderful from a husbandry aspect, aesthetically not so much. Even with it painted to look like sand, it lacked a natural look. It was so clean that it was down right sterile. Great for the seahorses' health but I kept longing for sand. Finally after over a year, I just had to make a change. So I pushed my 2 large rocks together to form a retaining wall.
2018-01-23_04-48-16 by Dawn Gilson, on Flickr


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Old 01/31/2018, 08:53 PM   #12
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And I filled the area behind the retaining wall with fine oolite sand. This is going to be the DSB portion of the tank.
2018-01-26_02-50-39 by Dawn Gilson, on Flickr


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Old 01/31/2018, 08:59 PM   #13
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2018-01-26_06-07-16 by Dawn Gilson, on Flickr
The rest of the tank is only shallow sand. Some of it is even swept bare from the high flow from the powerheads. I have about 2000gph of flow from the powerheads alone pointed toward the bottom and the rock wall to keep food in suspension so it does not rot and feed bacteria. I have gone out on a limb believing that I can keep this tank clean enough to keep healthy ponies but only time will tell.


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Old 02/01/2018, 06:50 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vlangel View Post
This is what the end result turned out like.
The finished product and transfer done. by Dawn Gilson, on Flickr
Dawn,
You are an artist. Beautiful picture! I love the seahorse outline on wall above the tank. I hear your commitment to the ponies.

I hear the issue to control skewed bacteria populations to prevent infection. As western medicine is finding out, killing bacteria normally favors the bad bugs. Bad bugs are more resistant to antibiotics (aka super bug) and often survive sterilization procedures but the good bugs die. Without good bugs to fight bad bugs, skewed populations favor bad bugs and infection.

For a differrent reason, I am finding bacteria as the most likely culprit for some of my unexplained loses with macro algae.


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Old 02/01/2018, 08:24 PM   #15
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Thank you very much for the kind words. My sister in law sent that seahorse wall hanging and I just love it. Its really perfect above the tank.

It is such a shame that our society has misused antibiotics so much. My husband lost his leg because super bugs infected a wound after surgery and medicine could not control it. Not that I am blaming doctors because Dave had cancer in 2003 and he has been cancer free ever since. An amputation was a small concession considering.

Still, I try as much as possible to maintain a healthy bio-diversity while discouraging pathogenic bacteria from getting a foothold where excess uneaten food could be decomposing. Its all a balancing act.


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Old 02/02/2018, 07:34 AM   #16
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You have a very interesting history with your seahorse systems. I like the addition of the sand bed and the deep sand bed section, and the tank looks great!. I look forward to following your thread in the future.

What livestock are you currently caring for?


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Old 02/02/2018, 10:24 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Chasmodes View Post
You have a very interesting history with your seahorse systems. I like the addition of the sand bed and the deep sand bed section, and the tank looks great!. I look forward to following your thread in the future.

What livestock are you currently caring for?
Ha ha, my interesting history is really a lot of trial and error. Even with all my research I made so many mistakes. I sure hope I am not making one now!😯

Only the 3 seahorses and snails atm. When I set up the tank as bb I also decided on a specie specific. Now a year and some months later I am restless to have other fish, which was another reason I added sand. Along with blennies I also love gobies and jawfish. I know KP Aquatics sometimes gets in pairs of yellow headed jawfish and that might be really cool. Ocean Rider have captive bred bangaii cardinal fish and banded pipefish which I am thinking of as well. Ocean Rider is where I got my first pair of ponies.

And of course I want more macro algae.


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Old 02/02/2018, 10:30 AM   #18
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I should have bought 1 bag of a coarser grain sand. This oolite sand keeps getting trenched and drifting my macros and coral. I have readjusted the flow direction multiple Xs. This morning I relunctantly decided to slow the flow of the manual adjust tunze. I broke the nob so I guess I wasn't meant to slow it. Maybe I will just have to get that other bag of sand.


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Old 02/02/2018, 01:27 PM   #19
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Absolutely beautiful. I think I read a 40 plus page on another site about this tank.


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Old 02/02/2018, 02:47 PM   #20
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Absolutely beautiful. I think I read a 40 plus page on another site about this tank.
O my, I can't believe you would read that much about my tank! I am flattered. Thank you very much, your comments are encouraging.


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Old 02/03/2018, 06:09 AM   #21
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“And of course, I want more macro algae.”

I absolutely love your tank. I am not familiar with the Red Titan. You mentioned it growing fast. Can you post some close up picture of Red Titan? How does it attach?


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Old 02/03/2018, 07:01 AM   #22
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“And of course, I want more macro algae.”

I absolutely love your tank. I am not familiar with the Red Titan. You mentioned it growing fast. Can you post some close up picture of Red Titan? How does it attach?
Thanks Patrick, actually I have been following your 25 year old plenum tank and your new build and I love your tanks! Along with Michael's tank, your tanks inspired me to make this change. I wanted more of that look for my seahorse tank.

To be honest, I am not sure that the red fast growing macro is red titan. It looks like a macro that I bought from 'got2envy' and she called it red titan. Her variety however grows painfully slow. This macro that I got at my lfs grows really fast and if a piece breaks off it can attach itself to almost anything. I have it growing on rock, on the holder of my powerhead and even on the overflow. Its easy enough to remove but could probably considered invasive. I will take a close up 2hen the lights come on.


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Old 02/03/2018, 10:14 AM   #23
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Great thread! It was fun to see it evolve. It seems like a tricky proposition keeping it super clean, while wanting to make it more natural. I feel your pain! I look forward to more.


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Old 02/03/2018, 03:33 PM   #24
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Great thread! It was fun to see it evolve. It seems like a tricky proposition keeping it super clean, while wanting to make it more natural. I feel your pain! I look forward to more.
Like so many aspects I will be walking a fine line...which is SCARY! But nothing ventured, nothing gained. I am employing a lot more cuc. I already have 4 peppermint shrimp and I plan to get 5 or so nassarius snails. I have 2 bee snails that will eat trapped mysis. Today I attempted to vacume the SSB but the cheap syphon clean I bought was worthless. Maybe I will just rigorously stir the SSB once a week. I have over 2200 gph of flow in a 56 gallon tank so its pretty robust. I have the bulk of it directed at the lower portion of the retaining wall. That way stuff is lifted up to the overflow and filtered, at least in theory.

The other long range plan is I think these will be my last seahorses. Now my 2 yearlings should still have 4 years in them or more but I will probably move to more blennies, gobies and inverts. In fact I may start adding some fish in the near future.


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Old 02/03/2018, 04:03 PM   #25
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I agree, you're walking a tightrope! I'm sure it's making you a better aquarist for the future. I can see how you might like to go with something less demanding, down the line. In the meantime, I look forward to following along with you on your seahorse adventure!


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