Pony Tank?


Reef pro
Ok - don't skin me alive for wondering about this . . .

Could I set up my little 14 gal tank for a miniature sea horse tank only? Its 1.5ft long, 10in wide and 15 in tall. I know its not quite the right shape. If so can you help me figure out what the optimal way of setting it up would be? Such as filtering unit (besides live rock) how much turn over, protein skimmer (do they even make them that small?), or anything im forgetting to make them thrive. Also pictures of full pony tanks would be lovely, for planning and fun!

Ok - don't skin me alive for wondering about this . . .

Could I set up my little 14 gal tank for a miniature sea horse tank only? Its 1.5ft long, 10in wide and 15 in tall. I know its not quite the right shape. If so can you help me figure out what the optimal way of setting it up would be? Such as filtering unit (besides live rock) how much turn over, protein skimmer (do they even make them that small?), or anything im forgetting to make them thrive. Also pictures of full pony tanks would be lovely, for planning and fun!


What a great idea! At 15 inches you're a little short for most species of horses but if you pick carefully you can work this out.

You should first decide which species of horse you want. You could easily keep a whole herd of dwarf seahorses (Seahorse Source - Hippocampus zosterae. Dwarfs are super tiny and a bit more difficult to keep because they need live brine shrimp a few times a day. I was in the middle of starting up a dwarf tank but I chickened out because of their feeding requirements. I didn't want to be married to my brine shrimp hatcher. Probably the best choice for a tank that size is the
Sea Pony (the link says erectus but it's a link to fuscus) Seahorses - Hippocampus erectus Unfortunately, they are hard to find. I've been looking for a pair of captive-bred H. Fuscus for several months and they are very difficult to find. Those are the two species that would be best for your tank. Horses need vertical height. 18 inches is the minimum for most species.

Do you have this tank set up yet?

I dont, Im just in the stages of planning everything out. Because they require live foods do you think that i could section off a small portion of the tank (say a two gallon size corner) stuff it with cheato and let it function like refug for pod growth? Do you think that could support say 5 of them? Will they even eat pods?

if you don't think that would work, how about H. Barbouri?

Please, continue to educate me!
You are doing it right!

Here are my suggestions. There are people much more knowledgeable about this than me but I think I have enough resources to help you learn everything you want to know.

First, your questions: I've been trying to figure out how to section off a bit of tank as a "pod breeding ground" forever! Here is my failed attempt at working out dwarf ponies: https://www.livingreefs.com/contest-team-seahorse-catherine-t21580.html

I entered the nano build contest with the intention of starting a dwarf tank. You could easily house 20-25 dwarfs in a standard 10 gallon tank because those things are tiny, tiny and they do best in "herds." I have worked on several different breeding systems for pods and brine shrimp. I would be happy to discuss each one of my failed systems if you are interested. Right now there is another member of this board (he doesn't know this yet) but he designed a very cool automatic water changing system and I plan to scour his plans and devise my new pod system using his ideas. I'm hoping to get lots of ideas from him. D2mini, you reading this????? Anyway, the best idea I've seen for trying to breed pods and shrimps in a tank with the dwarfs is to use one of those plastic things freshwater guys use when they have a pregnant fish. They are cheap and there is a reasonably good water exchange going on.

Ok about the Barbouri, I have no experience with that horse I can't tell you. What I will tell you is that Abbey and Dan (Seahorse Source owners) they are awesome and will happily spend all day on the phone answering all of your questions. They are major contributors to the site Seahorse Organisation. Keeping and Breeding Seahorses in the home aquarium. where you will also be able to find TONS of information. (Now that I've told you about that site, you've still got to stay active here because we need more Pony keepers on this site!!!! )

The best thing you can do right now is to contact Pete Giwonja ( Seahorse.com - Seahorse, Sea Life, Marine Life, Aquafarm Sales, Feeds and Accessories - Getting Started) He has a FREE 10 lesson online seahorse class that is absolutely fabulous. The class covers everything you would ever want to know about tank set-up and horse keeping. He sends you a lesson each day for 10 days and you read it and ask him questions. I have never been asked to give money or make any purchases for my participation in the class. He is awesome! His philosophy is a bit different than Abbey and Dan's so it's great to talk to both!

My favorite species of horse is the H. erectus. They have tons of personality as compared to my H. reidi and they are a bit hardier.

I hope this helps and stay active!!!!!!!

Great! I will be calling them both, hopefully, today. Ill let you know what they say. And im looking into those lessons now.

Thank you!
Great! I will be calling them both, hopefully, today. Ill let you know what they say. And im looking into those lessons now.

Thank you!

A great way to stay active here is to start an official "Build Thread" in the tank showcase. That way we can all learn about you and your experiences as you get this set up. Several times I was on my way to making a costly mistake and had it pointed out to me in my build thread. Let's see a pic of your tank now it will be a fun "before" shot.

Well, I can't even being to put the tank together until august, so i was going to use this as a planning thread.

I don't think im going to do the dwarf, i know i cant do the brine shrimp hatcher like they require and i don't know if they eats the pods that you usually grow in refug. There seem to be lots of different pods.

I talked to the people at seahorse source and they said I could do the barbouri, but a bigger tank would be better in the end. I might be able to get a bigger tank, so we will see how things turn out. I also like the zulu lulu's at the other site, but the price of their livestock is way beyond my means.

So from what I have picked up today, i think the only equipment I will need for my tank is a sponge filter, a powerhead, and lighting. Which leads me to my next question: what sorts of lights do i need to keep the macro algae and some of the easier, seahorse safe corals.
I LOVE the zulu lulu! Unfortunately they are one of the most endangered horses and seahorse.com has stopped selling them.

Your list looks pretty good so far. You may need to invest in a chiller because some species of horses need cooler temps. I keep my tank at 72 degrees and I don't need a chiller because it's in a cool basement. The lighting depends on the macro but you don't want anything that needs intense lighting your horses won't do well with very bright lights.

When do you start your class??

That would explain much, and i already started them.

Im not sure if i will need a chiller, I was going to try a fan on the open top and see how that works. At the very least i wont need to worry about it until the next summer because im planning on getting a bigger tank, and im assuming that it wont be until November that I could add the ponys. Which would be prefect because the seahorse source doesn't think that they will have any babouri until that time.

I know you took apart quite a few of your tanks, do you have any that would be good for seahorses you would be interested in selling?

And I think i will do a majority of plastic plants so i don't have to worry about them, but have a small stash of real ones to absorb nitrates. But im curious as to how you delt with problem algae cycles. Should I wait till after those events to add the ponys?

Also can you think of a small fish i could put in there with them that would be ok with the cold waters to keep the tanks going until I get the ponys in there. It would be nice to put a blue spotted jaw fish or a pellet eating mandrin, but I can't seem to find out if they are ok with the cold waters.

Aren't the classes awesome??? I totally loved each one!

When I set up my first tank, I used live rock and live sand and the reef tank tune up from IPSF and never had a true cycle. I did start in on hair and the red stuff but I called Leroy at Garf and told him I was having trouble and he put together a snail and crab pack I put them in and they ate it all! GONE in like 2 days. I will NEVER start a new tank again with Live rock or live sand. I have been fighting bristle worms like crazy. I used to be pro bristle worm because they do a lot for the ecosystem but seahorses like to hitch on things and crawl around on rocks and they can get stung. Every tank I get in the future will have dry rock from tampa bay saltwater NOT their "package" their dry rock [URL="http://www.tampabaysaltwater.com/"]http://www.tampabaysaltwater.com/ I got about 30 lbs of it in October and that stuff is awesome. Great shapes, lots of nooks for corals and holes for water movement... LOVE it. I added it into my 55 gallon tank along with my live rock I already had and it's fabulous. When I set up my 155 gallon, I'm getting rid of all my live rock and only doing the dry. I hope this helps you decide which way you want to go.

Personally, I hate the look of plastic plants so I would never do that but there are lots of other things you can do to create hitches. Mine LOVE finger leathers and I've got some killer macro that I've never seen for sale on the web. This stuff is perfect for the horses and does well in all types of lighting. I'll send you some when you're ready for it. You can get a few leathers going pretty quick after setting up your tank and the horses really do love them.

There is a great list of tank mates here: seahorse.org - Tankmates I have kept a fire fish and a yellow watchman goby with my horses with no problems. I am looking into getting a mandrin right now so I should be able to give you feedback before you get your horses.

Finally, I did take apart a lot of tanks but they were all used again. You want a tank that has a lot of vertical height, at least 18 inches, and a way to set it up where you can keep good water flow going. I have a nifty way of setting rock in using a sponge filter and air bubbles to keep a gentle flow going all around the tank so when you get to that point let me know and I'll send you a diagram. I think you could find a tank off craigs list or maybe your local LFS knows of a good used tank.

Hope this helps,
BL1- thanks for showing me those guys, there are really cool!

Picasso - ya, im definitely going to start with dry, i don't want to worry about unwanted crabs, worms, an other nasty creatures. And thanks so much for the macro help and flow help. I will defiantly look into the finger leathers, are they kinda like the hairy leathers? Would they like the mushrooms? Have you had any coral in your tanks that they seem to like? Also what was in your clean up crew, I was thinking of going only with various snails. I found a really good article on seahorse.org (i think) about cuc snails.

Do you have whole tank shots posted anywhere? I like to see what sort of hitching posts you have, and how they are scattered about. Also do you use a protein skimmer?

I wish i could start my tank now, this wait is going to kill me! Oh well, patience is virtue find it if you can, seldom in a women, never in a man . . .
Yeah, go slow, it helps with the tank and the pocketbook!

I've had hermits and they don't seem to mess with my horses too much. Right now, I've got a HUGE emerald crab, an urchin, bunches of snails (talk to Leroy at Garf, he'll put together a pack just for you GARF.ORG - The reef aquarium place
I've got a cucumber named Loofah and a bunch of narsissarius snails to stir my bed. Heres some shots of my leathers, before I killed them:



Here's a really lousy shot of Star hitching onto my leather, the shot's really bad, I had just done a water change:


Here's a couple shots just for fun. This first one is Pegasus and Phoenix. Pegs is an erectus and Phoenix is a reidi (I mixed them before I knew you shouldn't, now they are a mated pair...) She's dragging him because they were doing their mating dance and I stuck food in. Pegs is a total pig and she bee lined for the food, dragging Phoenix behind:


This one is Callie when I first got her. She's a tiny baby there. I got her from Seahorse Source. Their erectus have the most beautiful saddle markings I've ever seen!


I know I've got lots of FTS but I'm not finding them on my flickr account for some reason. I'll find them tonight.

Yes, I have a skimmer but I had a lot of trouble when I hooked up a GAC filter, made the water too clean and hurt my pod population. I've got tons of 'shrooms, ric's and zoo's in my tank. The horses pretty much ignore them. One of my 'shrooms, JoJo is a HUGE hairy thing and Star likes to sleep in there every now and then. You want non stinging corals. That's mostly softies. If you have stronger lights you need to provide LOTS of shelter for your horses so it's best not to go super strong.

Seahorse.org is a fabulous site. I go there often for information and I'm a member on their boards but I'm not really active. The people here are fabulous and many I consider good friends so I'm trying to get an active horse thread going here! Glad to have you!

Something to think about, you could start a little refugium right now. They are super easy to set up, mine is in a big tupperware tub that holds about 3 gallons of water. If you got a fuge going, you'll be able to kick start your tank a lot easier. All you need is salt water (mix it using RO/DI) and some sand. You can use dry and get a little cup from your LFS tank or you can get a little kit like this Halimeda

I love his 'fuge pack. The sand is teaming with shells, and stuff. My urchin came as a hitchhiker in his refugium sand. You don't need fancy lighting, I've got a couple extra hoods that I modified (see my contest build thread) that I'm not using or you can make your own easily enough. You really don't need that much light, look at Biff's fuge! Mine is a replica of hers (named it Biff). Just get a little heater from Wal-Mart and I have a bubble stone, the long kind, and that's it. Later, it will be easy to hook it to your tank. If you don't want to hook it to your tank, you can just keep it as a pod breeding ground to refresh your supply in your DT. If you get from Seahorse source your guys will be eating frozen but fresh is always nice.

This is so much more fun than refinishing my floors, thanks for the diversion!

I really like the idea of starting a little refugium right now. The only thing is as soon as my finals are done im driving down to new mexico for a summer job, which is also why i have to wait till august to start my tanks. So do you think that i could set this thing up in say a big plastic tub and put in my car and take it with me?

If so could you send me more detail on how you set it up, pictures would be much appreciated.

Also thanks for the pictures, they are really helpful in getting an idea about what i would like in my tank.

Another question: What do you do with the babies?
Biff, are you reading this? Do you have any pics of your 'fuge?

you can make one in any size container, heck you could do a tiny, tiny one in a jar. I kept a good supply of tigger pods going for 3-4 months in one of those jars you use for canning, the bigger size. I don't know your living conditions but if you've got electricity then you can do a tiny fuge and carry it with you!

What are you studying in school? My daughter is looking at colleges right now and is interested in Univ of Colorado at Boulder.

I haven't had live babies yet. Next time they do it I'm going to set up a paternity ward, and see if I can get them to live.

I'll send you drawings tonight on how I did my 'fuge to help give you ideas. There are zillions of ways to do this and it's not nearly as complicated as it seems.

I would love to be able to do one a bit large than a jar to create an interesting summer project and i would also have some sand that i can add to my tank to get it seeded. What sort of maintenance do you think it would need in terms of water changes, feeding and would a simple florescent light be adequate? Also do you think i could stick some macro algae in there and maybe a crab or two?

I am currently studying biochemical and chemical engineering with a minor in bioengineering and life sciences (basically a biology minor) at Colorado School of Mines, which is really close to CU. This is all in preparation for going to vet school when i graduate from here. CU is great school, i thought about going there. I decided not to because the engineering program here is better and im afraid of the how large the campus is. I don't think i could handle being one of 40000. Their entering freshman class is bigger than our entire school, i thought i might get lost and swept under the rug. However, now that i am going here ive realized i would have been much happier going to someplace that i could get a biology or zoology degree, and im kinda suck because they don't offer those majors here and my classes don't transfer. But graduating from Mines is a very prestigious thing, and it shows a lot of qualities they look for an a future vet student.

What is your daughter interested in studying?
Here's my little fuge when I first set it up:


And again a few months later:


I don't have that one set up because I've moved everything to Biffy, my big fuge. This set up did a good job of being a pod farm.

My little jar fuge was an accident. I had purchased a couple bottles of Tigger Pods from my LFS. I dumped one bottle in my fuge and the other in my tank. I thought I had swirled the container out but the next morning when I went in, there were about 10 tigger pods swimming in a little drop of water still left in the container. I got a jar, filled it with fresh salt water and put a little wad of chaeto in it. Added a little air tube and the thing was swimming with pods within a week. About once a week I would dump just a bit more than half the tiggers into my tank, strain the rest through a fine mesh net and replace the salt water. I added a drop or two of phyto every other day or so. Worked great 'till I got tired of changing the water so I dumped the whole thing into Biffy. Fuges can be as complicated or simple as you want. In Biffy, I've got some mineral mud, bunch of crabs (I'm pulling the crabs out of my DT and putting them in there, snails, live rock and some caluerpa, Don't have a serious light source, just a curly bulb. I'll be adding a bunch of chaeto soon.

My daughter is looking into bio engineering, structural engineering (pre architecture), medical robotics/ engineering and radiation physics. She's just finishing her junior year so she's got a while to narrow things down a bit. We have traveled a lot in Colorado, LOVE Golden, and she may want to go to school there which is why UC bolder is on the list. I want her to go to a smaller school for her undergraduate then move to a bigger university with more resources for her masters. It seems to change daily so it will be fun this next year seeing what she works out.