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Hippocampus kuda
Spotted Seahorse, Common Seahorse, Yellow Seahorse, Black Seahorse

 Age of Aquariums > Saltwater Fish > Spotted Seahorse - Hippocampus kuda

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Hippocampus_kuda_1.jpg (15kb)
Black seahorse male
Photo Credit: Mike
Hippocampus_kuda_2.jpg (15kb)
Black seahorse female
Photo Credit: Mike

Name: Hippocampus kuda
Size BehaviorReef
Origin: Indo-Pacific
30 cm Social w/ Caution


Hippocampus kuda habitat spans Australia, south to New South Wales, north to Southern Japan, Pakistan east, to the Hawaiian and Society Islands. Colors vary a lot from black/brown to yellow, orange, red or cream, and there may actually be several different species throughout the habitat. The male and female seahorses are distinguished by their front sides. If you look clearly, you will see that the male seahorse's stomach is nice and round, while the female's looks like it is cut off at some point. This is solely because of the male's pouch.

Seahorses are reef safe with caution. They like to hook on to things, which means that they might try to attach themselves to coral. If the coral the seahorse attached to has a powerful sting, it can lead to the seahorse's ultimate downfall. For this reason, seahorses should be kept away from most coral. Macro algae seems to be the best thing for them to latch on to in their aquariums, because they usually inhabit planted areas in the ocean. They seem to prefer thicker plants like mangroves, but they will also enjoy caulerpa, gracilaria, and chaetomorpha. Seahorses tend to fare well around most invertebrates, except for anemones, crabs, lobsters, and some shrimps which might pick on the seahorses. They do well with snails, starfish, and peppermint shrimp which tend to leave the seahorses alone for the most part.

Tank reared seahorses tend to be much easier to raise than their wild counterparts, although they still have some problems as well. They tend to be far more disease resistant than wild seahorses; however, this can quickly change. If you introduce a wild seahorse or a wild pipefish to the aquarium, the tank reared seahorses can be easily affected by any possible disease that the new introductions have.

As with any seahorse, the Spotted Seahorse can be very difficult to keep. They are not disease resistant and are finicky eaters. Most will not accept anything but live foods, which not many people can provide because seahorses need to be fed frequently. As a result, most seahorses tend to starve to death. For these reasons, most seahorses are now being bred in captivity.

The most common food to feed these seahorses is frozen mysis shrimp because it is the most nutritious food that they will eat. They will not eat any other food, including frozen brine shrimp, once they are trained to eat that one thing. The Spotted Seahorse should be fed 2-3 times a day. The first and possibly second time, depending on your feeding schedule, can be smaller amounts of mysis (around 1/2 or 3/4 of a cube) and the night feeding should consist of a full cube. Keep in mind that these quantities are for two seahorses.

Unfortunately, eggs are not the only things that go into the male seahorse's pouch. From time to time, air can get trapped in their pouches due to bubbles in the tank. If your seahorse was pregnant, he would get fat but behave in his usual way. If he has trapped air, he will try to hang on to something for his dear life so that he does not float around on top. This is an easy problem to fix though. You have to grab the male seahorse and position him so that he is not moving around too much in your hands. Once he has settled down and curled into a ball, move his tail aside. The last step is to push up from the bottom of his pouch so that all the air gets to the top and then push the sides of his pouch. Lots of bubbles will come out and you might sometimes hear a sound come with it. To ensure that most if not all the bubbles have been removed, let go of the seahorse but keep your hand below him as he falls. If he sinks, you got all the bubbles out. If he is still floating, you have more bubbles to remove. Once he sinks into your hands, take him to a favourite attaching place and let him hold on to it. He will become a lot more timid for a few hours and might refuse food, but he will be up and running again later on in the day. He just needs some time to rest.

Seeing as how the seahorse has these special needs, they are best kept to a species tank, meaning a tank that only has them in it. The seahorses will feel more comfortable and will be more likely to survive as they will not have to compete with other fish for food. Seeing as how seahorses are slow moving, they will not get any food before most other fish will.

Contributed by Mike

I have kept seahorses for years now and I hear a lot about how fussy they are with food. You can train them to eat almost any frozen food they can suck in very simply. How this is done is with a small net and water pump. You place the net anywhere in the tank and place the pump so it's blowing very slowly into the net. First off place the foods they are eating into the net, if setup right the food will be moving about. Do this every day, until after 3 or 4 days add a little of the new food as well as the old. As time goes by add more and more of the new food and less of the old. Within 2 - 3 weeks your horse will be eating both types of food and you can remove the net and pump. In my 10 years or so of keeping seahorses this method has worked about 80% of the time. Most of my horses eat any type of shrimp, blood worm any type of mosquito larvae and daphnia. Good luck.

Contributed by Carlo Dixon

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