Introduction: Intro to Seahorse Care
Seahorses are fascinating creatures that you can enjoy in your own home with proper knowledge of their husbandry. My mom had her own aquarium business when I was growing up and for 8 years we had a seahorse-centric tank in the living room, hosting both common and dwarf species at different times.
Due to the significant changes in standards for seahorse care since I kept them personally, I have removed much of the information form my original instructable. It wasn't up to the modern standard for their happiness and health. Some great places to go for information are Ocean Rider, long time captive breeding facility located in Hawaii, and also many FB groups about seahorse keeping.
Step 1: Captive Bred or Wild Caught?
If the label on the shop tank does not specifically say, another good question to ask is whether the seahorses are captive bred.
If the option is available, ALWAYS go for captive bred over wild caught! Captive breeding has been going on successfully for over 15 years, so there's no reason to support the sometimes cruel industry of wild capture.
Wild caught seahorse are exactly that --taken from the wild ocean. Many will not survive the trip to be in a shop tank, and those that do will likely have short lives. As with many other animals, wild caught seahorses do not adjust to captivity well. They will often refuse to eat and definitely will not be interested in frozen (dead) foods. They can also harbor parasites, which might exist in tolerable levels while in the ocean but then get out of control when the stress of travel shifts the balance of their health.
A "Captive Bred" seahorse had parents who lived in a tank, was born in a tank, and has lived its entire life in ...you guessed it...a tank. They have never, at any time, known the ocean. The term "captive" may sound negative, but in this case it is a big plus. Captive Bred seahorses make for much happier and healthier pets. It is unlikely that they will have parasites and they will be most likely to accept a variety of live and frozen foods. They may even, on occasion, be more sociable with their owners. Rather than viewing you as a predator to hide from, they understand that the big blob outside the glass is the bringer of food. We had one female, Winnie, who would actually come up and hitch to your finger if you put it in the water. She also lived the longest of all our seahorses.
*I'm not proposing anyone try to train their seahorses to do this, and honestly sticking your hand in the tank a lot is not a good idea. What can I say? We were kids and holy crap was that magical to see!
You may also see some seahorses advertised as "Tank Raised". My understanding is that this may mean the parents were taken from the wild and gave birth shortly after, or the seahorse was very young when it was captured. As long as it has grown large enough for sale, you're probably in the clear. Just be sure to ask about what foods it readily accepts.
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