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Seahorses Fighting

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  • Offline TamiW
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Seahorses Fighting

« posted: 5 years ago »
I just uploaded a couple videos to youtube that show some seahorses I had fighting. The video is from several years ago, and the camera at the time was crappy, but you get the idea. It's always stuck with me and made me wonder if we really should be keeping seahorses in groups rather than just pairs. Most monogamous species, in the wild, don't spend time together except for their mates. H. comes is thought to live in small groups even though they form pair bonds, but that's the only one we know of. Polygamous species like H. abdominalis and H. breviceps are often found in groups.



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  • Offline steffie78
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Re: Seahorses Fighting

« Reply #1 posted: 5 years ago »
Wow! He's pretty aggressive. I wonder what size the tank is? I know when I've seen seahorses (I believe they were H. Erectus) at the New England Aquarium, there must have been a dozen or so in the one tank. And there are even posts on the Gallery Blog about them being confrontational in that tank (not sure of the size, maybe 200+ gal?). Definitely something to ponder before expanding the herd...
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  • Offline TamiW
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Re: Seahorses Fighting

« Reply #2 posted: 5 years ago »
That was a 38 gallon aquarium. A little cramped for two pairs (should be 30+15) but I don't think that was the problem, or rather, I don't think an extra 7 gallons would help. The lady that sold the agressive male to me didn't tell me that she had problems with him, but I stumbled upon a post from a forum we were both on where she was describing the fighting. SO it was a little underhanded that she sold them without disclosing he was agressive.

It's the only time I've owned one where they've fought like that, but there are more youtube videos out there with seahorses fighting, so it makes me wonder if maybe seahorses really would prefer to be alone. Most seahorses tail wrestle at worst but there still does seem to be some bullying going on. I've read people talk about seahorses establishing dominance, but in the wild that really doesn't happen, they're not pack or herd animals (a small number of species excepted), they live in pairs. And even in pairs, the male and female only hang out in the morning and on the day they mate. Otherwise they go their separate ways for the day. In seahorses studied, the females have a larger territory than the males so I'm not even sure they'd cross paths much except when they intentionally want to.

I also suspect that coming from the wild vs captive bred makes a difference. If they're captive bred, they grew up in high densities. Whereas in the wild, they likely grew up dispersed.

Anyway, I keep my breeding pairs isolated to their own tank largely for this reason. Even if they do okay in groups, in pairs they are less likely to face distractions from other seahorses trying to but in. I've heard from a number of people that their seahorses kept in groups tend to have only one pair that breeds. That seemed to happen to me as well back when I was keeping them in groups. I still do keep bachelors and others I'm not actively trying to breed in groups.
  • H. erectus, H. comes, H. kuda, H. zosterae, Doryrhamphus excisus, Bryx dunckeri, Corythoichthys flavofasciatus
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  • Offline Laurasea
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Re: Seahorses Fighting

« Reply #3 posted: 4 years ago »
My little sh has been in with the two adults a couple of weeks now.  The 2 sisters are really close spend all there time together and share food each will snick food and the other finishes the bite.  They will feed separately but many times seem to deliberately share a bite.  They almost never leave each other side.  Well now one sister and the baby are interested in each other.  When the baby wrapped around her new friend the other sister got very upset, and then snick popped her right in her side!  The baby swam off, and a little while came back and was interacting whith the friendly sister when the other one charged her! So the little one backed up and swam off again.  What is up? Am I going to have problems? Can three tiger tail girls live together? I think the baby is a girl though Tami and Sue told me it may be to early to tell.  But the adults are defiantly girls. What should I do?
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  • Offline DanU
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Re: Seahorses Fighting

« Reply #4 posted: 4 years ago »
Based on my experience with both WC and CB, fighting is more of a rarity than a common occurrence.  It does happen with some but we very rarely see it.  When we have, it has been with WC seahorses and males competing for a female.  In one case, down right aggressive and we feared the worst and had to separate.  I also had one customer who said one male killed the other.  Most CB don't seem show as much aggression.  As Tami mentioned, they are often reared in high densities and have never had the freedom of the open range of the seas.   

I currently have 38 WC adult erectus that we are holding in quarantine and converting to frozen feeding for a researcher.  They are in a 75 gallon tank.  A mix of males and females and all adults.  So far, no signs of any aggression.

I agree with Tami on the breeding with individual pairs and groups.  With groups, the whole group doesn't seem to produce, usually only a pair or two.  However, we recently had most of our H. erectus take a long break.  We moved them into a couple of large round tubs as a group again, and got production a short time later.  Makes me wonder how often they really do switch partners.  I guess we need to teach them to raise their hand and ask for a new mate when they are ready!  :)

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  • Offline HISPOIEMA
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Re: Seahorses Fighting

« Reply #5 posted: 4 years ago »
So basically is it that 2 seahorses do best together in terms of not fighting? And can they be a combination of sexes? ( ie.  2 males, 2 females, or 1 of each)

 And does less fighting occur when the tank is larger so that they feel more freedom, or does that vary with individual sea horses?

What, if any, is the average size tank that a seahorse feels happy/ content in without being too territorial or feeling threatened? I suppose it must depend on their size as well?


Re: Seahorses Fighting

« Reply #6 posted: 4 years ago »
Wow, that's one mean seahorse. It didn't look like any of them got hurt. But, if that kind of behavior continues, it would probably be a good idea to separate them. Beautiful seahorses, by the way.