Blue Reef Aquarium breeds short-snouted seahorse

by Owen James

Baby short-nosed seahorses

Portsmouth’s Blue Reef Aquarium has 120 more seahorses than it used to, thanks to the first stages of a successful breeding program.

Endemic to the UK and endangered, the short-snouted seahorse is found in limited numbers across the south coast, with some even making it into the mouth of the river Thames. It differs from the only other UK seahorse, the long-snouted seahorse, in having… well, guess! (Ahem. A shorter snout).

As anyone who has successfully kept tropical seahorses knows, keep them together and well fed and it’s not difficult to get seahorses to breed. The hard part comes when you have to look after and feed the babies.

Blue Reef has the fry in nursery tanks and also has plenty of microscopic shrimp on hand, so the omens are good.

According to aquarium spokesman Robbie Robinson:

“This is the first time we have successfully bred short snouted seahorses here and for so many to have been born is fantastic. They are all being looked after in special nursery tanks and are being fed on a diet of microscopic live shrimp. It’s obviously very early days but we’re keeping our fingers crossed that many of the babies will survive into adulthood and help boost the captive bred populations of these endangered and beautiful fish.”

Like all seahorses, the female short-nosed passes over fertilisation and incubation duties to the male, who eventually gives birth to them from his special pouch.

This sexual kink might be what makes breeding them such a perennially popular news story. As I say, it’s not hard in my experience to get them to breed.

If you fancy keeping seahorses, by far the best are captive-bred tropical species. They come in bright colours, and are trained from birth to eat frozen mysis shrimp. They’re now widely available in the US and Europe, so there’s absolutely no excuse for buying wild caught ones anymore, especially since wild stocks face immense pressure from the Chinese medicine and environmental degredation.

Tropical seahorses aren’t more difficult to keep than other marine fish in my experience PROVIDED you set up a dedicated tank that’s furnished exclusively for them, and so long as you can feed them 2-3 times a day.

See Seahorses.org for loads of great articles on seahorse keeping before you get started.

Read the Ultimate Secrets To Saltwater Fish And Invertebrates.

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