Captive-Bred Lined SeaHorse Care
As far as seahorses go the Lined Seahorse is one of the toughest out there. When looking into caring for seahorses it is advised you look at each species, their hardiness, and then into their individual specifications of what makes them tricky to care for. While most seahorses require peaceful environments and calm tank mates, each one has something about them that will make them a unique case to care for. While peaceful in temperament and beautiful to watch, their eating habits, tendency to get stung by aggressive coral, and shyness in the face of rowdy tank mates can make any seahorse environment kind of challenging to create.
The Lined Seahorse is a species native to Nova Scotia and Canada. They are a social fish and do the best when they are in mated pairs. They are bred in captivity and can be found in pre-bonded pairs. My suggestion is when selecting what tank companions and corals you want for your seahorse tank to seek to minimize as much stress as you can. The rest of this article will deal in specific details of what you can do to help reduce stress in a seahorse tank.
Seahorses can be tricky in a few ways. They are not strong swimmers and do best with gentle flow. They also lack any scales; instead their bone structure is modified into a series of plates that act as bony armor, differing from most other aquarium mates. Their lack of scales makes them prone to injury from stinging corals, anemones, and even crabs. An injury can easily become a bacterial infection in seahorses, especially in tanks where the water temperature exceeds 74 degrees Fahrenheit . They prefer to have vertical type supports to hang out on, wrapping their prehensile tails around easy supports, known as a hitching post. This is a major reason to check compatibility with corals in a seahorse environment, because the seahorses will touch and hang out on what seems comfortable and when distressed they are not quick to move away. It is best to create their system with them as the main occupants in mind.
Competition for Food
Seahorses are also notoriously slow easters, and don't do well in an environment with aggressive tank mates that will outcompete them for food. Suitable tank companions are slow moving, peaceful fish. Pipefish, fire fish, and dragonettes are all wonderful additions to a seahorse tank. While I don't think tangs would pester them specifically, as most tangs seem to be worried about fish that are the same color and shape as themselves, tangs are fast moving, quick-eating, and rowdy. All of which set up your seahorses for stress. Having a population of copepods for them to graze on will help in their overall health. Seahorses should be fed twice a day and if you acquire aqua-cultured seahorses they should already be eating frozen mysis shrimp. And we mentioned before a seahorse tank should be less turbulent/low flow than a reef tank say with a large acropora set up. Their slow eating rate makes this vital as well. One of the best ways to feed is to turn off the flow, present the food in a shallow dish where it isn't going to drift away quickly at the same times each day, creating a schedule they will anticipate. Seahorses are thoughtful eaters, seeming to search for the perfect piece of food before snacking. For this reason it is vital that the fish and invertebrates sharing a space are not going to eat everything before the seahorses get to it, or that they are not so rowdy that the seahorses begin to stress.
Another thing to consider when setting up a seahorse environment is the way this creature moves. They tend to enjoy much more vertical space than most reef fish, and perform elaborate courtship dances with their mate when they are doing well. Something to also consider are the corals you are putting in with them. Most corals aren't compatible with seahorses, though there are some gorgonians and sea fans that this critter tends to like. Anything with sweepers, stinging polyps, etc isn't suitable. Anemones, clams and even crabs should be avoided in this system as there is a similar issue with them hurting seahorses. A regular clean up crew including snails and limpets is how you want to build the safest clean up crew for your seahorse friends.
When it comes to lighting seahorses do not have a lot of specific requirements other than they prefer mid level lighting overall. They have a corrugated retina, which are rich in rods, which gives them amazing visual acuity under twilight conditions and low light levels in general. As long as the lighting isn't heating your water beyond where your animals are comfortable it should be fine. For that reason I think LED lighting is preferable in this instance, and I would avoid the use of metal halides. This is one area where the seahorses are easy to care for.
This is a fantastic starting place for the addition of Lined Seahorses to an established, peaceful system. Or as a place to begin to construction of a seahorse heavy/only system. As long as you can meet their slow dining requirements and take into account their sensitive skin and tendency to perch on corals, you should be able to construct a happy environment for these guys.