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Old 09/28/2016, 11:49 AM   #1
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Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: North of 44
Posts: 44
Sea horses seem to have less appetite

About 6 months ago, I got 3 very small erectus captive bred sea horses that were less than 2" in size (actually I got 4 but one didn't make the first night). When they arrived I did a fresh water dip, but no quarantine on them because they were so small.
About a month ago, a friend donated a single long snout (unknown exact type) female that is about 6" in size which she had kept by itself for several months. 2 of my 3 have grown to be about 6" long, one male, one female and they have paired up in the last couple of weeks.
The third (male) has always been a bit small, and we have had some trouble with him in the past. He seemed to have developed problems swimming upright about 2 weeks after we got him and we did a gentle massage on his belly, expelled a small bubble and he was all good. No issues since then, although he has not grown as much as the other two. He has sort of taken up with the long nose, but also spends a bit of time with the female erectus, if she is interested. There is no aggression between the two males.

Our seahorse tank is a 33 gallon tall cube display refugium, attached to a 250 gallon total tropical system. The water parameters are generally really good with nitrates being low, phosphates 0, salinity is 1.025 and temperature is 78 degrees.

We keep the ponies with macro algae, leathers, sponges, anthelia and some gorgs. There are a couple hermit crabs and a large serpent star that we never see and does not bother the seahorses. Probably too many fireworms, but the seem to avoid the sea horses too.

The flow is reasonable, it was actually really low, and recently we added 2 nano pumps to get more circulation.

They get fed frozen mysis (PE or Hikari) some spriulina brine which is always pre rinsed. When they were small, they would eat like pigs and I know they spent a lot of spare time hunting copepods and amphipods in the back under the rocks. Their colour is good, no red marks, no missing skin, no blotchy patches, no fuzz.

Last week, we noticed the large male had developed quite a pouch. We also noticed that he and the girl would disappear under the rocks together and hang out.

Then they started to loose weight. They are not eating as much as before.

The smaller male has lost his appetite as well. Last weekend he was gyrating around the tank very oddly not latching on. So I did a fresh water dip. I saw some small bugs go running off him and he was very twitchy for a few minutes but settled down after a while. We ran the dip for 15 minutes. When he went back in the tank, he disappeared under the rocks and did not come out for the rest of the day.

I think I may have noticed as well that his nose is slightly white but cannot be totally sure, so am just adding this as a comment. Yesterday, I know the small male was very pale (normally he is black) when the lights came on, but his colour came back within about an hour or so.

However they did not eat very much yesterday at all. This is the same for all 3 erectus, the long nose seems to be eating about the same as before.

So I am thinking they may have internal parasites? I am sure that I have to treat them somehow, so here are my questions and thoughts. Please add comments and options that you think are appropriate.

I can set up a separate 10 gallon qt tank, but we have labelled this tank as the tank of death because 10 gallons is just not enough for us to successfully qt anything in. I cannot set up anything larger, as I don't have room. (we already have 3 qt tanks running). I could put the sea horses in with the ventralis anthias in the 30 gallon qt but don't want to expose anything to either group and the anthias are not ready to come out yet.
Is there a way to successfully qt these sea horses in 10 gallons??? I suspect I should do all 4 and not just the 3 erectus that are not eating as much.

Or, is it possible that the 2 that have paired up are just occupied with each other and it is common that while they are doing the hanky panky they slow down their eating?

I have always suspected that the small male may not be as healthy as the other two, so would it make sense to just qt him?

If I wanted to treat in the display refugium where they are, I could isolate this tank from the rest of the system, and treat them. However I have corals in there and some inverts as well.

What would be the best drug of choice to start with? (I have everything). I could also do a formalin dip and return them to the tank, but if this might be bacterial, then it's a subject for another post.........

All comments are welcome.

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Old 09/28/2016, 12:08 PM   #2
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Location: Austin TX
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Will the temperature for the ponies is to high they do better in temperatures of 70-74. When the temperature of the tank is to high disease, bacteria, and infection take place. I personally would never recommend to attach a seahorse tank to a DT for the reason that seahorses are so delicate and will pick up infections from fish.

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Old 09/28/2016, 02:01 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by nutbar29 View Post
Will the temperature for the ponies is to high they do better in temperatures of 70-74. When the temperature of the tank is to high disease, bacteria, and infection take place. I personally would never recommend to attach a seahorse tank to a DT for the reason that seahorses are so delicate and will pick up infections from fish.

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I also agree with this. Seahorses do best long term in specie specific tanks where the temperature is 74 or below. It is also risky mixing different species from different sources.

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Old 09/28/2016, 09:00 PM   #4
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Location: London, Ontario, Canada
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It's been my experience in my 13 yrs or so of seahorse keeping that keeping them long term can be challenging if conditions are not right. (and sometimes even when conditions appear to be right)
However, I've had the most problems when mixing seahorses from different sources and I've come to believe that when seahorses are exposed to pathogens they haven't grown up with, their systems often don't tolerate it well and the pathogens take over. By introducing a seahorse or any other fish from another system, or from the wild, you are introducing pathogens they most likely haven't had exposure to previously.
Coupled with warmer temperatures, and, a tank that is on the small size for so many, problems would be more likely to occur than not.
Being connected to another larger system also can be a source of pathogens they may not be able to deal with.
Being connected to that larger system doesn't necessarily make the water quality better for the seahorse tank because much of the bacteria that may be causing the problems remain mostly in the tank, even with high flow through. In time the buildup of uneaten food provides food/bedding for nasty bacteria that can multiply exponentially for each rising degree, especially when going above 74F.
10g tanks are standard for most of us seahorse keepers I believe. It doesn't need to be large because you are going to be changing usually 50% of the water daily, and using heavy aeration instead of filtration because of the meds you will use.
My base med for bacteria is Furan II, often with tri-sulpha as well.
You must also be prepared to tube feed any that go long without eating as I've found it almost impossible to get them eating again if they go around 5-6 days without on their own. is an excellent site for more up to date information on seahorses and problems associated with their keeping. For starters take a look at the column on the right side of the page, "Article Categories".
See pledosophy's post #5 on the thread here at

Seahorses. Culture nanno, rotifers and brine shrimp.

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