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Old 08/27/2016, 12:22 PM   #1
MrsGsClassroom
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Good evening! I am asking for advice, tips, whatever you've got for a middle school club for which I'm the sponsor. We are a 6-8th grade school and also have high school members that are interested in reef keeping and marine biology. I teach 8th grade science and have a 75G mixed reef tank in my classroom that I use as a learning tool. I got so many kids wanting to help/showing interest that I created a school club.

Recently a interior designer in the are donated a 40G tank, sand, rock, water and fish to our club that we set up in the library. It was a running FOWLR tank for 11 years. We updated the equipment (tank and sand) and have been letting the tank and its inhabitants acclimate for the last month. Our current residents are a edible angle fish (which I assume I will need to move to our reef tank or LFS), a yellow watchman goby, a copper banded shrimp (I'm not opposed to evicting him), 2 picasso clowns, 2 pajama cardinals and a orchid dotty back. Im not opposed to getting rid of anything except for the clowns.

My students are wanting to set up a planted marine tank to house sea horses to study the differences in the ecosystems and,hopefully, reproduction. Any tips on how to get started? I assume its not as complicated as keeping a reef tank when it comes to water parameters but I could be wrong. I would love any advice any of you have to offer. Also My LFS doesn't have anything when it comes to seahorses, any tips on there to purchase online that would be willing to work with a school when it comes to pricing (wholesale prices- ORA has worked with us)?

Thanks in advance!


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Old 08/27/2016, 06:12 PM   #2
vlangel
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I personally would not set up a seahorse tank for your students. They are more labor intensive than even reef tanks plus their feeding schedule is not conducive to school hours. Seahorses optimally need to eat twice or 3Xs a day so weekends would create a hardship for them. Also their high fat, high protein diet along with their somewhat inefficient digestion put a heavy bioload on their tanks. All that food makes for a messy tank if filtration and maintenance are not top notch.

Also seahorses are very susceptible to bacterial infections, much more so than other marine fish. It would be devastating for the students to see their charming wards succumb to sickness, but that is what could happen.

There is a free online seahorse training course offered by Ocean Rider. Maybe the best way to handle your club is to enroll in the course. Its very indepth but presented in a way that the students will understand thoroughly how to keep seahorses. The facilitator answers questions so that would also help the students. They can be preparing the 40 gallon tank in the meantime by adding macro algae, seahorse safe coral, tank mates and clean up crew. After completing the course the students will either be better equipped to care for seahorses or they will realize that a school club may not be the best situation for a high maintenance fish like seahorses. Either way they will have learned a great deal about a fascinating creature.


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Old 08/27/2016, 09:15 PM   #3
Dogshowgrl
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Originally Posted by vlangel View Post
I personally would not set up a seahorse tank for your students. They are more labor intensive than even reef tanks plus their feeding schedule is not conducive to school hours. Seahorses optimally need to eat twice or 3Xs a day so weekends would create a hardship for them. Also their high fat, high protein diet along with their somewhat inefficient digestion put a heavy bioload on their tanks. All that food makes for a messy tank if filtration and maintenance are not top notch.

Also seahorses are very susceptible to bacterial infections, much more so than other marine fish. It would be devastating for the students to see their charming wards succumb to sickness, but that is what could happen.

There is a free online seahorse training course offered by Ocean Rider. Maybe the best way to handle your club is to enroll in the course. Its very indepth but presented in a way that the students will understand thoroughly how to keep seahorses. The facilitator answers questions so that would also help the students. They can be preparing the 40 gallon tank in the meantime by adding macro algae, seahorse safe coral, tank mates and clean up crew. After completing the course the students will either be better equipped to care for seahorses or they will realize that a school club may not be the best situation for a high maintenance fish like seahorses. Either way they will have learned a great deal about a fascinating creature.
This is all truer than I want to admit.

I too have an extensive reef tank. I too work at a school and sponsor a marine biology club. I work several positions and I am at school seven days a week. The school is very close to my house I rarely am not there even durning breaks and the summer. I keep full reefs, predator, and mantis shrimp tanks all in classrooms across school. I keep and breed seahorses at work (a LFS, second job) and home. I have 5 species and a total addict.

There is no way I would set up a seahorse tank at school. They easily contract diseases, and are easily stressed. They need to be fed often and then the food removed after not eating it. Their needs are extensive. The air conditioning or heat in school is often turned off when teachers or students are not there. Most tanks can handle that but not seahorses. The tank needs to be 70-74 for most commonly available species here in the US. That is often in need of redundant heaters and a good chiller.

Raising the babies is beyond tough. If you keep the perfect tank and the male has no pouch issues, then fry are born in the tank. If you are not there they are caught in filters and create a large ammonia spike and quite the mess. If you are there you get them out, replace the water taken our with the babies and put them in a rearing tank. This is a complete separate set up. This means hatching live foods and around the clock care. Enriching food, breeding live phytoplankton, and multiple water changes in a day. My erectus have babies every 16 days. 16 days like clockwork.

Ok, if nothing else please consider having a seahorse tank at home for a year before taking on the venture on campus. I am passionate about them and wish everyone could have exposure to them. I love how you are inspiring the next generation, but this is not the venture I would recommend.


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Old 08/27/2016, 10:13 PM   #4
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I'll also agree that a seahorse tank would not be the best tank for a school.
Water quality is the most important thing to deal with when it comes to seahorse keeping as if not kept high quality it leads to bacterial infections and internal organ diseases. I believe seahorse water should be better than for any reef tank for best chances of success.
Also, the tank is already too crowded to add seahorses to it. One pair should have at a minimum, 30g just for itself. Then too, the coral banded and angle fish would have to go, as well as the clowns and dottyback. While occasionally clowns and dottybacks have worked out in seahorse tanks, the odds are against it because of their inherent territorial tendencies.
http://www.angelfire.com/ab/rayjay/seahorsekeeping.html
http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2274878 see post #5 by Pledosophy
http://www.seahorse.org/library/arti...ankmates.shtml
http://fusedjaw.com/ a great resource with more up to date information than most sites


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Old 08/28/2016, 10:24 AM   #5
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I would agree with the folks above.

If you are going to have a seahorse tank you will have to make it a one species only setup. No other fish and you would have to chose inverts very carefully. Some can be very harmful to horses and some will be eaten by them.

I raised and sold seahorses for 5 years. I had customers all over the US and even though I vetted them before I sold anything I would say that at least 50-60% failed to keep them alive for more than a month or so.

If you provide the proper set up and keep the temps down, below 74, you may have success. However most people, even the most experienced aquarists, have had failures with seahorses.

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Old 08/28/2016, 04:05 PM   #6
MrsGsClassroom
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Thank you

Thank you all so much for the advice. I have been doing a lot of research on my own and also think it may be too extensive for my students at this level. Although I have multiple heaters and a chiller I use in the summer as redundancy, the bio-load would probably take up too much class-time . I am at the school 7 days a week including holidays but the care of the organisms is my utmost concern; I am passionate about marine organisms and education and love teaching my students about the amazing world we live in. I think I may take the Ocean Rider class with my students and let them come to the same conclusion that I have. No matter what it will be an awesome educational experience for them and myself.

Just wondering- is this the same with pipefish?


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Old 08/28/2016, 04:12 PM   #7
MrsGsClassroom
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Birds of a Feather

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dogshowgrl View Post
This is all truer than I want to admit.

I too have an extensive reef tank. I too work at a school and sponsor a marine biology club. I work several positions and I am at school seven days a week. The school is very close to my house I rarely am not there even durning breaks and the summer. I keep full reefs, predator, and mantis shrimp tanks all in classrooms across school. I keep and breed seahorses at work (a LFS, second job) and home. I have 5 species and a total addict.

There is no way I would set up a seahorse tank at school. They easily contract diseases, and are easily stressed. They need to be fed often and then the food removed after not eating it. Their needs are extensive. The air conditioning or heat in school is often turned off when teachers or students are not there. Most tanks can handle that but not seahorses. The tank needs to be 70-74 for most commonly available species here in the US. That is often in need of redundant heaters and a good chiller.

Raising the babies is beyond tough. If you keep the perfect tank and the male has no pouch issues, then fry are born in the tank. If you are not there they are caught in filters and create a large ammonia spike and quite the mess. If you are there you get them out, replace the water taken our with the babies and put them in a rearing tank. This is a complete separate set up. This means hatching live foods and around the clock care. Enriching food, breeding live phytoplankton, and multiple water changes in a day. My erectus have babies every 16 days. 16 days like clockwork.

Ok, if nothing else please consider having a seahorse tank at home for a year before taking on the venture on campus. I am passionate about them and wish everyone could have exposure to them. I love how you are inspiring the next generation, but this is not the venture I would recommend.
I'm so glad I've found another educated with tanks! We have two in my classroom and we just started one in our library. I use them to teach pretty much every aspect of biology and chemistry. The students LOVE it. Our Marine Biology is pretty new- only 2 years old. Any tips?


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Old 08/28/2016, 04:37 PM   #8
MrsGsClassroom
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rayjay View Post
I'll also agree that a seahorse tank would not be the best tank for a school.
Water quality is the most important thing to deal with when it comes to seahorse keeping as if not kept high quality it leads to bacterial infections and internal organ diseases. I believe seahorse water should be better than for any reef tank for best chances of success.
Also, the tank is already too crowded to add seahorses to it. One pair should have at a minimum, 30g just for itself. Then too, the coral banded and angle fish would have to go, as well as the clowns and dottyback. While occasionally clowns and dottybacks have worked out in seahorse tanks, the odds are against it because of their inherent territorial tendencies.
http://www.angelfire.com/ab/rayjay/seahorsekeeping.html
http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2274878 see post #5 by Pledosophy
http://www.seahorse.org/library/arti...ankmates.shtml
http://fusedjaw.com/ a great resource with more up to date information than most sites
Thank you so much for the websites; they will be invaluable resources for my students and myself.


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Old 08/28/2016, 05:57 PM   #9
vlangel
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrsGsClassroom View Post
Thank you all so much for the advice. I have been doing a lot of research on my own and also think it may be too extensive for my students at this level. Although I have multiple heaters and a chiller I use in the summer as redundancy, the bio-load would probably take up too much class-time . I am at the school 7 days a week including holidays but the care of the organisms is my utmost concern; I am passionate about marine organisms and education and love teaching my students about the amazing world we live in. I think I may take the Ocean Rider class with my students and let them come to the same conclusion that I have. No matter what it will be an awesome educational experience for them and myself.

Just wondering- is this the same with pipefish?
I have a captive-bred banded flagfin pipefish from Ocean Rider that I ordered with my seahorses. To my knowledge OR are the only source of captive-bred pipefish. They are also the only pipefish that I have experience with so I am not really qualified to answer about wild caught pipefish. Maybe someone else could jump in and answer about WC pipefish. Ocean Rider's pipefish would probably do better than seahorses but they do share some of the traits and vulnerabilities of their seahorse relatives.


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Old 08/28/2016, 10:10 PM   #10
Dogshowgrl
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrsGsClassroom View Post
I'm so glad I've found another educated with tanks! We have two in my classroom and we just started one in our library. I use them to teach pretty much every aspect of biology and chemistry. The students LOVE it. Our Marine Biology is pretty new- only 2 years old. Any tips?
Nope! I volunteered with the club last year. This year I am a co sponsor. My husband and I both work in campus, we put tank where ever they will let us!

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Old 09/20/2016, 11:03 PM   #11
Kremis
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Wish I had you as my teacher in middle school. lol
Seahorses, at least in my experience are not that hard to keep, but they do require at least 2 feedings every day, and at least 1 water change every week to keep the quality good. Also, you might want to get a high quality protein skimmer to help. Honestly, if you think you can do it, go for it. Heck, I am only 15 and i have had em for almost 8 months. But I will give you a few suggestions. If you do decide to go for it, make sure temperatures are below 74 degrees. Keep it species only. You will also want to put in a lot of things for hitching posts for them, but since It looks like you will have macro algae that shouldn't be a problem. Keep in mind though, that they need at least 2 feedings every day. So as long as you can fit that in your schedule, you should be good. Best of luck to you, hope I helped


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Old 09/21/2016, 02:35 AM   #12
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Doryrhamphus pipefish are as reef dwellers a bit hardier than seahorses, but can have the same ailments. Also, they are quite sensitive in the acclimatization phase.

I have several pairs of African Blue Stripe Pipefish, Doryrhamphus exisus.
Once acclimated and settled in they can hold their own as this video shows:



But the water should be kept relatively clean for them as well. This was a QT and I left them there a bit to long without a skimmer and not enough water changes. As a result the male developed some gas bubbles in his pouch.

Breeding these guys is not easy as they have relatively small larva. Though I plan on trying it as soon as I get the larva tank build and find a reliable way to harvest the larva.

Here another species, Doryrhamphus janssi




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Old 07/21/2017, 11:32 AM   #13
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Seahorse are quite delicate and require an advanced aquarist. They also have very few compatible tank mates and none in the forty gallon would be suitable. If you really want a seahorse tank I would recommend doing a small species tank and having 1 or 2 dedicated students tank and come in on weekends too. Another great alternative that is a little easier to care for but is in the same genus is the pipefish. You can also put some of the larger species in reef tanks. Also if you do corals you could have a dragon face pipefish which eat red bugs that are coral pests. If you add a refugium with copepods you can easily house most pipefish. You also won't have to worry about feeding them if you have a steady supply of copepods in the tank. Copepods are also beneficial to reefs as they are detritavores which means they eat detritus and will help tidy up your reef. In my opinion you should probably get some pipefish as they are cool to watch, are in the same genus as seahorses, are easy to feed with copepods, and will make a nice addition to your marine biology club.


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Old 07/21/2017, 11:38 AM   #14
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I have a captive-bred banded flagfin pipefish from Ocean Rider that I ordered with my seahorses. To my knowledge OR are the only source of captive-bred pipefish. They are also the only pipefish that I have experience with so I am not really qualified to answer about wild caught pipefish. Maybe someone else could jump in and answer about WC pipefish. Ocean Rider's pipefish would probably do better than seahorses but they do share some of the traits and vulnerabilities of their seahorse relatives.


Wild caught pipefish are harder to feed and often come in with internal parasites. I work with wild caught dragon face pipefish and they are a little harder to care for but they are a joy to keep.


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Current Tank Info: 55 gallon rimless saltwater reef tank and many more
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