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Seahorse and Pipefish

includes seahorse and pipefish species

Seahorses are a tropical species and can be foundin the waters of Indo-Pacific and Caribbean oceans; however, Petco seahorses are captive-bred and -raised. A seahorse’s color variation ranges from black, brown, reddish-maroon, yellow and gold. Using their tail, seahorses can grasp hold of branches and other décor. Pipefish are cousins of seahorses, and can be much stronger swimmers. They are for seahorse aquariums only and are for expert hobbyists.

Seahorse and Pipefish

Seahorse and Pipefish Facts

Average Adult Size 4 to 11 inches (vertical), depends on species
Average Life Span depends on species
Diet: carnivore
Minimum Aquarium Size 29+ gallons, depending on species
Water Temperature 72-82°F
Specific Gravity 1.020-1.025

Diet

A well-balanced seahorse or pipefish diet consists of:

  • Frozen mysis shrimp.
  • Frozen brine shrimp may be fed as an occasional treat.

Feeding

Things to remember when feeding your seahorse or pipefish:

  • Feed 2 to 3 times daily but do not overfeed.
  • Thaw frozen food before feeding.

Housing

  • Keep in an appropriately sized aquarium; provide artificial plants and corals for the Seahorse to grasp with their tail.
  • Live rock can provide a natural food source while also enhancing biological filtration.
  • Stable water quality and parameters are critical to the health of aquatic life. If you are unsure of your water quality, Petco provides free water testing.

Characteristics

  • Seahorses have a prehensile tail that they can use to grasp onto things.
  • They are not strong swimmers and can't tolerate strong currents typically found in reef tanks.
  • Captive-bred seahorses are hardier than those found in nature, and they can therefore tolerate environmental parameters similar to those of other marine fish.
  • Pipefish can be beneficial in helping eradicate red bug infestations on acropora coral.
  • Pipefish are relatively hardy and adjust well to aquarium life.

Habitat Maintenance

  • Daily: Check filter, water temperature, specific gravity and other equipment.
  • Weekly: Check water quality at least once a week.
  • Monthly: Change 10 to 25% of the total volume of water every 2 to 4 weeks, or as needed.
  • Introduce new inhabitants to the aquarium gradually.

Compatibility

  • Seahorses may be kept with pipefish and some gobies and snails, but it is best to keep them in a species tank with only other seahorses. Remove tank mates at the first sign of aggression and if your seahorse is not eating as they are competitive feeders.
  • Be sure to research the tank compatibility for any fish you wish to add to your seahorse tank.

Health

Signs of a Healthy Seahorse and Pipefish

  • Slow, sustained breathing
  • Grasping décor in tank(seahorses)
  • Eats normally
  • Controlled buoyancy/floating
  • Avoid overcrowded conditions, which are a major cause of stress and disease. Maintain good water quality with regular water changes and adequate filtration.

Red Flags

  • Loss of color or appetite
  • Spots or fungus on body or mouth
  • Erratic swimming
  • Rapid respiration
  • Rubbing against substrate
  • Buoyancy problems
  • Unable to grasp decor with prehensile tail (seahorses)

Common Health Issues

Health Issue Symptoms or Causes Suggested Action
Health Issue Bacterial infection Symptoms or Causes Erosion/sloughing of the skin, cloudy eyes, rapid respiration, swelling and loss of appetite or unable to feed. Suggested Action Improve water quality and seek veterinary advice.
Health Issue Ectoparasites Symptoms or Causes Visible parasites (whitespots), ulcerations/blisters, cloudy eyes, rubbing against substrate, erratic behavior. Suggested Action Improve water quality; seek veterinary advice.
Health Issue Snout rot Symptoms or Causes Discoloration, swelling and/ or tissue erosion of the snout, lockjaw, loss of appetite or unable to feed. Suggested Action Improve water quality; seek veterinary advice.

Sources

Ask a store partner about Petco's selection of books on marine crustaceans and the variety of private brand products available for the care and happiness of your new pet. All private brand products carry a 100% money-back guarantee.

Because all aquatic life are potential carriers of infectious diseases, such as Atypical Mycobacterium and Salmonella, always wash your hands before and after handling your aquatic life or habitat contents to help prevent the potential spread of disease.

Pregnant women, children under the age of 5, senior citizens and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physician before purchasing or caring for aquatic life and should consider not having aquatic life as a pet.

Go to the Centers for Disease Control at cdc.gov/healthypets for more information about aquatic life and disease.

This care sheet can cover the needs of other species.

Note: The information on this Care Sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care. If you need additional information, please refer to the sources on the following page or contact your veterinarian as appropriate.

Developed with and approved by a qualified veterinarian.