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Old 03/24/2018, 06:55 PM   #1
ctroms
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Filter for Seahorse Tank?

I am setting up a seahorse tank. It is 50 gal & will include live sand bed 1/2-1" depth, 10-30 lbs of live rock, fake plants & holds, and fake coral. Live stock will include 2 lined seahorses, 1-3 firefish, & mandarin goby. Feeding will not be an issue, live food & frozen food additions, and may be on the heavy side.

So here is my question, what are people using for filtering & what changes would you make to your system?
Thanks for your input.


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Old 03/25/2018, 09:02 AM   #2
rayjay
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IMO, food is the BIGGEST problem with keeping seahorses as many people just don't do the needed husbandry to keep the water from becoming bacteria factories due to decaying uneaten food remains in addition to natural seahorse waste.
There are NO test kits available to the hobbyist that will tell us when that condition is becoming dangerous so preventive measures are needed.
Any filter method you choose needs to be simple and easy to clean VERY frequently or the human nature factor can take over in that you skip a cleaning here or there and eventually the water degrades to the point the bacteria explosion affects the seahorses.
When I first started about 15 yrs ago I used canister filtration until I eventually learned more about the problems seahorses have with bacteria. Took me a long time to realize it though.
Many filtration methods are in use and chosen most times by what one perceives that will work best for the conditions they have and how much one is willing to do to keep things ideal.
For me, I evolved to bare bottom that doesn't look as nice but is better for me in my aging years and health as it is MUCH easier to clean excess uneaten food and detritus.
I have powerheads with quick filter attachments in the tanks with others placed to just move the water around enough to put crap in suspension long enough to get captured by the quick filters. I use timers to turn on the ones with the quick filters that I turn off while feeding and also timers to turn on the extra powerhead movers long enough to keep food in suspension while feeding and somewhat longer to remove uneaten food. I also have filter socks on the overflows. Oh yes, I turn off the return pumps also to keep food in the display and these are also turned back on with the timers.
Temperature will also come into play as bacteria expansion occurs exponentially with each rising degree in temperature, especially after you reach 74F.
There is an excellent read on this matter by pledosophy in the fifth post on this thread: http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2274878


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Old 03/25/2018, 10:36 AM   #3
ctroms
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I am more or less looking for the nitty gritty details, I have been keeping tanks a long time, have a background in animal husbandry. That is why I tried to state feeding wouldn't be an issue, but while we are on the issue I would like to ask if you have any experience with seahorses eating Peppermint Shrimp Larva? Like I said I am more interested in filtration and someone with your experience will surely have a ton of knowledge.

Can filters- I know you said it was some time ago but... do they really change? Did you run oversized (2-3x volume)? Did you change media, remove, use some and/or not all? Did you remove pads?

Sump- Would you recommend a set-up ie (Sock-Skimmer-Fuge-Return)? Substrate and/or size? Do you run UV? Have you found if you oversize UV for better contact time less bacterial problems? Any DIY inventions? Skimmer recommendations ie(2-3X) system?

I am really looking for Pros & Cons of peoples system and what/if they would change looking back. Thanks for your time


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Old 03/25/2018, 06:16 PM   #4
rayjay
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With all due respect, the people with lots of prior tank experience can be the worst ones to take on seahorse keeping. At least those that haven't kept tanks before will possibly do sufficient investigation to make them more aware of possible problems.
I was one of those with experience that learned the hard way, costing needless seahorse lives in the process. I'm 75 now, keeping tanks since grade 5 many decades ago and switched to salt water tanks in Jan 94. (9 tanks smallest 40g) When I started seahorse keeping around 2003 I thought I had sufficient experience to have few problems in my hobby expansion.
It turns out that keeping seahorses is nothing like keeping normal salt water fish. I've never kept ANY marine fish that was SO susceptible to bacteria influences that seahorses are.
I know of nothing in animal husbandry that will contribute to success at keeping seahorses but hopefully there will be something that helps.
Hopefully you can get replies from other keepers that have used other methods of filtration as I've not got into much other than canisters, HOB's and my present methods.
As for canister filters, I originally didn't realize the importance of frequent cleaning and when I did, the at least weekly cleanings of the detritus build up was just too demanding in the long run. In time, I ended up skipping a change here or there and that just meant that it took longer for the bacteria problem to show. The media didn't require frequent replacement as it was after the detritus filtration part.
Once I switched to powerheads with quick filter attachments that could be very easily cleaned every 3-4 days, I was much more successful.
I have no experience with peppermint shrimp larvae as the only shrimp I had in them was cleaner shrimp that ended up being torn apart and eaten by two of the female H. reidi.
I suspect the pep larvae should not be food for the seahorses as adults because over fifteen years of seahorses I found most wouldn't even entertain even baby brine shrimp.
The do however take to enriched adult artemia that I've been raising a decade more than I've kept seahorses for. Small foods if they DO partake of them are not of much value because of the inordinate amount needed to provide sufficient nutrition.
I have NO use for UV in adult seahorse tanks as the majority of destructive bacteria like the vibrios species are benthic and don't pass through the UV like pelagic ones that are not usually a problem for adults in our tanks.
Dan Underwood of seahorsesource.com only recommends them for fry systems as far as I know.
As for sumps, I have one for every tank but for me, the importance of the sump is just to boost water system volume to make it more forgiving when something does go wrong, and, to place most of the live rock which I don't like in the display tank as it makes it even harder to see the seahorses when I want to, and, makes it more difficult to clean as rocks trap detritus VERY easily.
I don't think the seahorses really care what the contents are as long as they can't be damaged, and have sufficient room to do their thing. My tanks don't have the nice look my coral tanks did but they are easier to keep alive with my now limited capabilities.
If you DON'T get enough feedback here on filtration systems, you could post on Facebook's Seahorse Keeping Made Fun or Seahorses and Pipefish.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/seahorsekeepingmadefun/
https://www.facebook.com/groups/Seahorses.Pipefish/


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Old 03/26/2018, 05:38 AM   #5
vlangel
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Hi ctoms, I have a 56g column tank with 3 seahorses, 2 captive bred pajama cardinals and 2 captive bred mandarins. I also have 4 large peppermint shrimp. With the sand, coral and macro algae plus the mandarins, I never see shrimp larvae but I am guessing that they are in there. My erectus prefer bigger food and I do see them hunting amphipods that get shot into the tank from the sump with a fuge.

I feed the frozen food in a bowl so that less is wasted because my display has sand, rock, coral and macro algae. It also has fairly high flow (22Xs turnover) with the powerheads and return combined to help keep detritus/excess food in suspension.

My 20g sump contains an oversized skimmer rated for 180g tank in the drain chamber, the 2nd chamber is a fuge with a dsb, rock and macro algae, and the last chamber has my return pump and more rock.

My system with so many things to catch and trap food requires very diligent husbandry on the DT several times a week. I also syphon the sump every sevetal months. I do not run a UV sterilizer anymore for the reasons that rayjay stated.

I painted the floor of my DT and ran it bare bottom blasting the floor with flow for over a year and the seahorses were very healthy. I also did not have any fish in the tank with the seahorses, just snails and peppermint shrimp. I basically had 2 large rock structures with coral and macro algae that could be easily moved for cleaning and rescaping. It looked nice but a bit sterile without sand. I would recommend it for a new seahorse keeper who still wants coral too. Adding sand adds more chance of trapping detritus/excess food.

There are multiple ways to keep seahorses but the most important aspect is not to allow accumulation of detritus/excess food to collect anywhere and to keep water quality up by husbandry and large frequent water changes.


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Old 03/26/2018, 07:07 AM   #6
kizanne
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I'm not going to speak to filtration as I am new a horse keeping.
I have sand and rock. So I also have bristle worms, tiger conch, small grass shrimp, amphipods and a cucumber to help clean up the mess. I target feed and try to feed only what they will eat in 20 minutes. When I first got them I think my male got a touch of vibrio and I was worried so I broke out the chiller and lowered the temp to 72-73. Whatever it was cleared up. I'm keeping a close watch out but I'm still worried about my set up. I have chaeto and it tends to trap detris.

I will add I do think a chiller is invaluable for the bacterial problems and that my horses suck shrimp up like candy. They love mysid, grass shrimp and show interest in live brine though larger is better for their interest. They also hunt amphipods with patience and persistence.


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Current Tank Info: 125 gal tank, 40 gal refugium - 30 gal Ruby Red tank - 70 gallon erectus / mandarin tank
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Old 03/27/2018, 06:46 PM   #7
ctroms
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Rayjay
know of nothing in animal husbandry that will contribute to success at keeping seahorses but hopefully there will be something that helps.

Animal Husbandry- the science of breeding and caring for farm animals.

Isn't aquaculture farming? What is the percentage of aquacultured seahorses currently in the hobby? 80-90% on the conservative side.

I have no experience with peppermint shrimp larvae as the only shrimp I had in them was cleaner shrimp that ended up being torn apart and eaten by two of the female H. reidi.
I suspect the pep larvae should not be food for the seahorses as adults because over fifteen years of seahorses I found most wouldn't even entertain even baby brine shrimp.
The do however take to enriched adult artemia...

You do realize what you said here right? They tore apart an adult but shouldn't be feed larva?
Peppermint shrimp larva are reared on artemia and baby brine shrimp @ week 2, P.S.L. are larger and faster moving.(reef keeping mag.)

Do want to say thank you for your filter experiences & preferences.

Vlangel
Thank you exactly what I was looking for, also thanks for including flow rates in tank. I have an over-rated skimmer but not as large as what your running. Also seriously considering getting much larger return as well. With tank sizes being similar I think this is a great frame for the system. Thanks again.

Kizanne
Thanks for the info on the temp situation. I live in the north & we still have plenty of snow on the ground and are still skiing, so I will need a heater. I would still be interested in your filter system & pro's and con's.


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Old 03/27/2018, 07:50 PM   #8
rayjay
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Quote:
Animal Husbandry- the science of breeding and caring for farm animals.
Isn't aquaculture farming?
Just use of the word "farm and farming" doesn't really have any bearing on this. Farm Animals are NOT seahorses in spite of the words "aquaculture farming" I know of NO similarities between breeding/caring for farm animals and breeding/caring for seahorses although I admit that my farm animal experiences were back in the 40s and 50s whereas my seahorse experiences have been in the last 15 years.

Now as for peppermint shrimp, I don't see that tearing apart adult cleaner shrimp has anything to do with seahorse consumption of shrimp larvae.
At least the adult shrimp pieces are sufficiently large enough for some decent nutrition, whereas you would need an inordinate amount of larvae to provide similar amounts of nutrition.
While juveniles may show some interest in smaller foods, adults seldom do and while I've heard of some adults going for small, in my 15 years and with about 5 or 6 different species the only adults I've had that ate small food was H. zosterae.
Now if you are going to raise the peppermint shrimp until they are about 4 weeks old or older, and then add them to the seahorse tank then you have a great additional food supply for the seahorses.
However, trying to culture the larvae in the seahorse tank itself is VERY problematic from what I recall from about a decade ago when reading about rearing peppermint shrimp larvae, as they start with live brine nauplii but normally progress to "dead" foods or flake foods and the density needed would SEVERELY complicate water issues leading to bacteria problems in a seahorse tank.
I may have incorrectly assumed that you were talking about larvae from peppermints IN the display rather than a separate culture.

In reading your reply about needing a heater, if you do, please be sure to protect from burning seahorses that like to latch on.
You say you are in the north and I might be further north than you as I'm in London Ontario Canada and while we basically only have snow piles left the ski hills in the west end of London are still active. Tomorrow is going to be warm at about 7C (about 44F) the nights are still below zero (32F).
Its not as much how cold it is outside but rather what temperature do you keep the home at IMO.
For me, I keep my house at 20C (68F) in winter and the tanks stay about a degree warmer due to pump/powerhead heat, and in summer I have the AC set for 21C (70F) again with water temps a degree or so higher.
My seahorse fry rearing is done in the basement at temperatures running 18-20C (about 64-68F) as the cooler temperatures help to prevent bacteria problems in the fry containers.


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Old 03/29/2018, 03:14 PM   #9
ctroms
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Yes pep. shrimp cultures would be done in a separate system. 3-4 weeks rearing was the plan. If Can filter is used the heater will be in-line, if sump the heater there. Temp to run tank at is planed 68f. This temp will almost double the gestation period of the seahorses, but breeding is not the goal. The plan is to provide the seahorses the best environment. It will not only provide entertainment & education for family & friends, but bring a slice of the ocean into a home.
The livestock serves a purpose to clean up extra food and also provide more/different coloration. Firefish are small and very peaceful, & will consume uneaten food. Mandarin again another very peaceful fish. I've never heard of a "bad" one. Very disease resistant because of thick slime coat.
But back to filter:
I am leaning towards running an under-gravel filter backwards driven by a small powerhead or protein skimmer return. This will push aerated flow up through the sandbed and push detritus into water column. The in-takes on the Can will be covered with foam (same as for clownfish fry). Protein skimmer will either be HOB or DIY screened pump, liverock "shroud", and plumbing decorated and used as "hold". The pump & "shroud" can & will be pull from the tank at times for cleaning & maintenance.
Other option is sump. Not to say it can't be done but the tank can't be drill, access & placement are an issue, & then you have the overflow issues as well if power is lost.
But back to my question it seems as people who have replied are using skimming/ mechanical, & biological filtration. No one really commenting on use of chemical filtration ie. Carbon or others. More input is certainly welcome as nothing is set in stone yet. Thanks


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Old 03/30/2018, 08:55 AM   #10
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I use activated carbon passively in the sump to polish the water and to absorb toxins from the softie coral.

I also use a HOB overflow box since 2004 without a problem. It just needs to be set up so the flow leaving the return nozzle is the same as the maximum capacity of the drain. Now a days with the adjustable flow DC pumps that is very easy to do.


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Old 03/30/2018, 11:02 AM   #11
rayjay
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ctroms View Post
Yes pep. shrimp cultures would be done in a separate system. 3-4 weeks rearing was the plan.
It will be a great addition for seahorse nutrition.

Quote:
If Can filter is used the heater will be in-line, if sump the heater there. Temp to run tank at is planed 68f. This temp will almost double the gestation period of the seahorses, but breeding is not the goal. The plan is to provide the seahorses the best environment.
I'd suggest checking with other successful keepers on the canister filter choice. I, along with others have found the frequent cleaning needed to keep bacteria at bay was a big PITA and ditched it for easy to clean filters.
Quote:
The livestock serves a purpose to clean up extra food and also provide more/different coloration. Firefish are small and very peaceful, & will consume uneaten food. Mandarin again another very peaceful fish. I've never heard of a "bad" one. Very disease resistant because of thick slime coat.
I found that additions of livestock don't alleviate the husbandry needed as everything that eats the uneaten food also passes the waste back into the water column, still degrading the quality and proving bacteria with the needed food and bedding. It doesn't mean though that you can't have it or that conditions will be worse. For me, the firefish kept jumping out the tanks. Mandarins seem to work ok if they are captive bred and trained on frozen foods. If not, they need a mature tank with a lot of natural live foods.
There is also the chance that introducing other fish ALSO means possibly adding pathogens to the seahorses that they haven't grown up and acclimated to so that seahorses that have lesser immune systems fall victim to the pathogens. I had the problem with adding pipefish which being wildcaught were not as safe as captive bred ones would be. Not many captive bred pipefish around though, especially here in Canada.
Quote:
I am leaning towards running an under-gravel filter backwards driven by a small powerhead or protein skimmer return. This will push aerated flow up through the sandbed and push detritus into water column.
I love "pre-filtered" reverse flow undergravel systems. I used hagen powerheads with quick filter attachments to filter the water first before pushing it down under the plate so it couldn't accumulate decaying crap there to feed the bacteria.
Quote:
Other option is sump. Not to say it can't be done but the tank can't be drill, access & placement are an issue, & then you have the overflow issues as well if power is lost.
I don't understand overflow problems on power loss. My sumps are at a level that when power goes off, or I turn off return pumps for feeding, the water DOESN'T overflow. My 90g and some of my fry systems have drilled holes, but all my 40g displays have either U-tube overflows or DIY PVC overflows. Occasional siphoning off of trapped air allows for uninterrupted flow with no blockages. I usually do this ~ two week intervals.
Regarding chemical filtration, it DOESN'T take care of the solids.
I do have my H. barbouri tank that doesn't have a skimmer on it and I use carbon in a reactor for that.
I recently started (5 months now) using Rowaphos on one tank. So far it is not long enough for me to have made a determination as to whether or not it's worth doing. It appears to take perhaps a day longer (6 days now instead of 5) for algae to accumulate to the point I need to use the mag cleaner, but, I am hesitant to let my water change frequency go longer to be able to know if it is indeed helping water quality with regards to bacteria. I just hate the thought of loosing a seahorse even to experimenting.


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