Can You Keep Seahorses As Pets? A-Z Guide

Yes, you can keep seahorses as pets even though they have special care requirements and must be maintained in a proper type of fish aquarium. These creatures are quite easy to breed but have unique dietary needs and must be kept with the right tank mates that don’t threaten their survival.

Keeping a pet is a huge responsibility, whether a cat, dog or even a less active aquatic animal like a seahorse. This article is a guide to keeping a seahorse as a pet. So without further ado, let’s get started!

Can You Keep Seahorses As Pets? 

Seahorses are known for their loyalty toward their partners. They are monogamous, which means they stay with their partner for a lifetime. Considering their affectionate behavior towards their partners, we can say they are loyal creatures.

Can you keep seahorses as pets? Yes, keeping seahorses as pets is more common than you think. However, it’s essential to give them a proper diet, keep them in a proper environment, and ensure their tank mates are appropriate. 

Only someone with experience with saltwater fish should keep seahorses as pets. 

Note: Basically, if you want to keep seahorses as pets, you need to ensure two things: a) You need to feed them daily, and b) You must have the ability to give them food multiple times a day.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Seahorse for An Aquarium:

Seahorses are fascinating creatures and make amazing pets. However, before keeping them as pets, here are some things you should keep in mind: 

  1. Size of Aquarium: 

Seahorses are vertically-oriented creatures who like to utilize their aquarium to the fullest. So, you should consider the width and height of your aquarium. 

Your tank must be more than 18 inches in height. A 37-gallon tank should be enough for two pairs of seahorses. You can add a few extra fish to an aquarium this size without causing too much stress.

Aquarium
  1. The Temperature of The Tank:

Maintaining the tank’s temperature is critical for a seahorse’s health. Cool temperature is ideal for these aquatic creatures. 

The ideal temperature ranges from 74 to 76 degrees Fahrenheit, keeping seahorses most comfortable. 

You can use a fan to control the tank’s temperature, but using a chiller is a better idea if you live in a warmer climate.

  1. Filtration:

We already know that seahorses are not good swimmers. So, it’s essential to control the flow in their tank to ensure their safety. 

For filters, you could choose a HOB but must select one designed for a larger tank. 

  1. Corals:

Can you keep seahorses in a reef environment? You can keep reef denizens in your tank. 

Make sure you go for lower light levels since seahorses prefer darkness. Select your corals accordingly. 

Avoid large LPS corals because they might hurt the tissue of the seahorse’s skin. You can use small crushed coral as a substrate at the bottom of the aquarium. 

I love to keep the substrate height 2 to 2.5, which is around 10 pounds. 

Note: Some seahorse-friendly corals include daisy polyps, mushrooms, corky fingers, purple bush gorgonian, and many others. 

Warning: Adding too much substrate in the water tank can cause food to fall into it and produce hydrogen sulfite. The presence of hydrogen sulfite in aquariums is toxic to seahorses. 

How do you care for your Seahorses As Pets?

You need to be careful to ensure its best fit as a pet. You must follow some key things when caring for seahorses as pets. 

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1) Be careful about the amount of Diet

If you decide to keep large species of seahorses in your aquarium, then you need to be prepared to give them a wider range of foods

Following are some large species of seahorses (for example):

  • Big-bellied seahorse
  • Atlantic seahorse
  • Hippocampus Erectus etc. 

They are accustomed to eating frozen food: clams and prawns. Besides this, if you want to keep small seahorse species, then feeding them brine shrimp in smaller amounts would be enough. 

2) Check health condition

It is recommended to check the daily health condition of your pet seahorses. More specifically, you can better check their health while feeding them. 

Thus you can prepare yourself to defeat any potential problems related to their health condition. 

Do You know what the signs of a healthy seahorse are? Following are 4 common signs of a healthy seahorse: Round and full belly, clear fins, active eyes and movement. 

3) Be aware of disease

I believe if you have primary knowledge about the symptoms of seahorses’ diseases, then this will help you treat them promptly and quickly. Possible signs of seahorses’ diseases are as follows: 

  • Bloating
  • Coughing 
  • Heavy breathing 
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Little eye movement 
  • Gray, white or inflamed growths

4) Seek veterinary care

If you notice any severe case in your seahorses’ health, then don’t wait to consult with a vet expert. 

A veterinary expert (who has enough knowledge about marine biology) can diagnose the problem and give proper treatment. 

This may include prescribing medication, popping air bubbles or suggesting giving them antibiotics to get fast results. 

Note: Instant veterinary care is significant to ensure your pet’s sound and tank mates’ health.  

How do I fill aquariums with salt water to keep Seahorses As Pets? 

  • Buy a water tank and place it in a level place.
  • Buy sea salt mix for preparing the aquarium 
  • Add clean, fresh and dechlorinated tap water with sea salt mix 
  • Now, add a water purifier to dechlorinate the mixture. 
  • Wait 2 hours before adding aquarium salts (Follow the package instruction) 
  • Finally, pour the total saltwater mixture into your aquarium to keep your seahorse happy. 

Did you know how to make saltwater for seahorses? To get certain gravity as natural seawater, 1.025, you should add o.5 cups of reef salt into 1 gallon of fresh water and then purify it by osmosis and deionization.

How Do I Maintain the Tank for my Seahorses? 

The smart way to maintain the water tank for your seahorses is to spend in a suitable tank mate. Invest in a tank-mate? What do you mean? Umm..yes, I’m not joking!!! 

You will find certain species of tank mates who can clean the aquatic environment inside the Aquarium for your seahorses. Following are some of my favorite seahorse tank mates. 

  • Coral banded shrimp
  • Sea hares
  • Sea cucumbers
  • Lettuce nudibranch
  • Brittle or serpent star

Besides these, Ensure there are no waste items or toxic chemicals in the aquarium water. Ensure the tank filters are working properly. If the filters seem not working properly, fix them or replace them with a new one. 

Another significant thing you need to do is replace 10 to 20 percent of the water in your aquarium once every week. Changing the water can stop unpleasant odors and maintain a healthy environment for your pets. 

 Is Owning a Seahorse Illegal?

Nope, it isn’t illegal to own a seahorse. But when it comes to trading seahorses, it’s illegal according to the International Trade in Endangered Species law. 

baby seahorse

Animal laws, including the trading of seahorses, vary from country to country. As far as the USA is concerned, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species protects these animals.

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In India, purchasing, sale and any other form of use of seahorse species are illegal and punishable ~ Schedule। of Wildlife (Protection) Law 1972. 

In Europe and the UK, it is also illegal to buy and sell seahorses. 

Although it is illegal to own them, you can import and export them after filling out specific paperwork. Read more to know about trading seahorses. 

Did you know? Seahorses are a “vulnerable” species and quite close to becoming endangered. ~ International Union for the Conservation of Nature

This is one of the reasons why it is not permitted to trade them without legal permission. 

What Do Seahorses Eat in An Aquarium?

Whether your seahorses are wild-caught or tank-bred, they will prefer eating live foods, including small crustaceans ranging from copepods to brine shrimp. However, this will vary depending on the seahorse’s species, age, and size

When keeping a seahorse as a pet, diet is where you must be most careful. Never depend on pre-made food like pellets or flakes. In some cases, your pet seahorse might reject whole frozen foods too!

If they’re not picky eaters, you can feed them frozen fish foods like brine shrimp, plankton, krill, Mysis shrimp, ghost shrimp, and cyclops. 

Note: Most seahorses eat about 6 to 8 shrimps a day. 

How often should you give food to seahorses in an aquarium?

As I said earlier, seahorses mostly prefer eating live food, but you can also feed them frozen food. You will have to feed them multiple times a day unless you provide them with 24-hour access to food. 

How much should you feed seahorses? This depends on their eating speed. It’s best to provide them access to food at all times. They don’t build fat reserves, so this shouldn’t be a problem.

Live food is ideal for seahorses since it won’t go bad in their tank. Their aquarium must facilitate the growth of small crustaceans and pods. 

Can You Keep a Single Seahorse in an aquarium?

Although you can keep a single seahorse in a small tank, it is best to purchase them in pairs. Living in a group reduces the chances of stress compared to living alone in captivity. 

Keeping mated pairs helps seahorses thrive. It ensures they stay happy and healthy, providing behavior enrichment for these sea creatures. 

Plus, it’s a good opportunity for fishkeepers to learn about their social interactions and courtship customs. 

Tip: It is ideal for keeping at least three to four pairs in a 45 or 60-cm marine aquarium. For larger species, a tank of 90 cm in length and 60 cm in height is best.

What Fish Can Live With Seahorses?

Court Jersey Goby, Royal Gramma, Pajama Cardinalfish, and Radial Filefish are some fish that can live with seahorses. Other fish include the spotted Mandarin, Molly Miller Blenny, and Orange-lined cardinalfish.

When selecting an appropriate tankmate for your pet seahorse, remember that these aquatic animals are quite shy and avoid interacting with other fish. So, other fish are likely to be more aggressive toward seahorses. 

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Don’t forget that keeping bigger fish with seahorses is not a good idea because seahorses are slow swimmers and more susceptible to predator attacks. 

What happens If You touch a Seahorse?

Seahorses are tiny, delicate creatures; touching or manipulating them may break parts of their body or result in abrasions. 

Touching or moving these sea animals causes them to exhibit a severe stress response, so observing them while keeping your distance is recommended.

Can Seahorses Live With Snails?

Yes, snails make great tankmates for seahorses. In fact, most seahorses prefer live food and snails can be a good option for most species. 

You can also keep zooplankton and krill in the aquarium as tank mates because they are a source of nourishment for seahorses. 

Can Seahorses Live With Goldfish?

It’s not a good idea to keep fish with seahorses. However, slow, cautious fish make good tank mates. The problem with goldfish is that they will feed on the live food that is primarily for seahorses. 

If you have plankton or small crustaceans in the tank for your seahorses, goldfish will end up devouring them, leaving your seahorses undernourished. So, goldfish cannot live with seahorses. 

Can You Put A Seahorse With Clownfish?

No, you cannot put a seahorse with clownfish. Although clownfish are peaceful creatures, their fast movements will eventually stress out your seahorses. Plus, seahorses are terrible swimmers and prefer to move slowly.  

At a certain age, clownfish become very territorial, leading to seahorses’ aggression. It also causes the seahorses to lose quickly.

What Animals Must You Not Keep With Seahorses In The Same Aquarium? 

When selecting tankmates for your seahorses, choose fish that are not aggressive feeders. Fast fish will displace your seahorses for food. 

So, what animals should you avoid keeping with your seahorses? Here are some types of animals that you should avoid:

  • Fin nippers: such as tiger barbs, cichlids, blue gouramis
  • Territorial fish: for instance, clownfish, red-tail sharks, cichlids
  • Predatory fish: such as anglers, lionfish, morays, and triggerfish 
  • Stinging animals: for example, jellyfish and anemones
  • Predatory invertebrates: such as crabs, some starfish, and lobsters

In general, any animals that may persecute, abuse, or bully seahorses do not make suitable tankmates for these exotic animals. So, fishes such as cowfish, angel puffers, and damsels are not appropriate options. 

Can Seahorses Live in Freshwater?

No, seahorses cannot live in freshwater. Seahorses can only survive in saltwater.

So, if you find someone selling “freshwater seahorses”, they are pipefish which are related to seahorses and closely resemble them. 

Compared to freshwater fish, seahorses have very different requirements. You might need to use pre-mixed saltwater or make your own using specialized aquarium salt solutions. 

Note: You must maintain a saltwater aquarium for your seahorse with salt levels as close to the ocean as possible. Higher salt levels are life-threatening for aquatic creatures. 

How Much Does a Seahorse Cost?

If you think seahorses are cheap, you are mistaken! 10 dwarf seahorses cost around $100. However, this cost varies according to the breed of the seahorse.

So, it’s crucial to do your research before spending any money on seahorses. 

Conclusion

Seahorses are not your typical pet. Any aqua enthusiast will tell you that you must be extra careful of seahorse diet and living conditions to ensure they remain healthy. I hope this article successfully guided you on keeping seahorses as pets.

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