Care and Dietary Instructions for Hippocampus Zosterae (Dwarf Seahorse – English common name)


These Seahorses are captive-bred in glass tanks by seahorse.breeder.

Temperature Range :  21-25°c

PH: At or close to 8.2

Salinity: The salinity should be kept stable at 1.022

Daylight Hours: 11-14 per day.

This is a challenging species for experienced aquarists only, as they require constant enriched live food. Please contact us to discuss their requirements:

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Hippocampus Zosterae are one of the tiny seahorse species, reaching more or less 4cm in length. They can be kept successfully in captivity, but do require live food – brineshrimp to be constantly available to them. They can be various colours: shades of white, yellow, orange or brown are the most common. All tend to have prominent crowns, whilst others also have cirri. H.zosterae should be sold at 2cm in length or more.

Temperature: These tropical Seahorses are happy to be kept between 21-27 degrees C, they do well at 22 degrees C. This temperature is achieved by using a reliable heater-stat.

Heat Spikes: Quick increases in temp will not be tolerated leading to stress and possible disease.

Maximum Seahorse size: 1.5 inches or 3 to 4cm.

Behaviour: H. zosterae will happily live in ‘herds’ or as pairs. Breeding males when attracted to a ‘gravid’ female will quiver (vibrate) very quickly next to her, she will either respond in like or ignore him. Mating occurs in the water column. H. zosterae are a quiet species, happy to hitch and eat. They do not like to be disturbed and will quickly un-hitch, moving away from the disturbance in the water.

Feeding: We keep this species with live tropical mysis shrimp, which act as both a cleanup crew and a live feed. In addition we feed 2-3 times a day, morning, noon and night on newly hatched brineshrimp. Check on density of brineshrimp in the tank prior to feeding, as you don’t want to overfeed either. Zosterae’s will feed from their hitching sites, the water-column and the tank bottom. Old food and excreta must be cleared away morning and night. It is essential to enrich the Brineshrimp, we use Rotigrow plus to provide the essential DHA’s.

Breeding: H. zosterae will happily breed in a tank environment. Gestation by the male is 10-20 days dependent on water temperature. They normally produce 10-30 fry that can hitch from birth and eat brineshrimp. Zosterae fry are born at approx.1cm in length. They are also quick to grow on.

Tank Size: Baseline for a pair (2) of H. zosterae is 20 litres with every additional pair an additional 6 litres needs to be added to be tank/system.

Water changes: These must be undertaken on a daily basis to maintain a healthy aquarium and to keep ammonia levels in check. It is recommended at least 10-25% a week.

Tank mates: Seahorses are best kept in a seahorse only tank, which is species specific – one species only. H.zosterae are very sensitive to stinging hydra, anenomes etc..which will sting, kill them and also consume their food.

Distribution in Wild: Western Atlantic, Florida, Bahamas, Bermuda and the Gulf of Mexico.

Habitat in Wild: Shallow estuarine species found in Seagrasses, at a depth of a few meters in pairs or small groups.

IUCN Red List Information: Hippocampus Zosterae are listed as Data Deficient (DD) on the current Red list, previously the species was listed as Vulnerable, but was changed due to lack of data. However, Conservation Actions are in place to limit the trade and harvest of this species. H.zosterae are the second most common seahorse species traded for the Aquatic trade, therefore conservation of the species in the wild benefits directly from Captive-breeding Programmes (CBP’s) supplying the Aquatic Trade.

Acclimatising your new Seahorse

  • Upon arrival remove the plastic bag containing your livestock from its box, place the bag in your aquarium and leave the bag to float for 15 minutes – this ensures that the water inside is the same temperature as your aquarium water.
  • Start to add a little of your aquarium water to the opened bag (roll down the top of the bag to maintain it in an upright position) containing the seahorse/s – add a little at a time over a minimum period of one hour – this ensures that the pH, Salinity and temperature will be a matched
  • Slowly release the livestock from the bag, the seahorse should swim out of its own accord. Tip the bag on its side and allow it to swim out.

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