Encouraging Brighter Seahorse Coloration

Encouraging Brighter Seahorse Coloration in Your Aquarium


Seahorses are similar to chameleons in they have the ability to change color. Seahorses change color based on surroundings, mood, diet, genetics, water quality and other factors. Many seahorse keeping hobbyists enjoy encouraging brighter coloration in their seahorses. Below we will discus some help tips on how to do so.

Hitching Posts and Aquarium Background

Having lots of yellow, orange, pink, and white "hitching-posts" for your seahorses to hold onto will encourage brighter coloration in your seahorses. A blue aquarium background also helps promote bright coloration. A dark blue background typically promotes bright coloration where a light blue background tends to promote more pastel coloration. Red, purple, black and dark colors will bring out darker coloration in your seahorses.  


Lighting can also play a role in seahorse coloration. Bright lighting will give your seahorses a "sun tan" and typically makes them darker. Moderate to lower lighting will help promote lighter coloration. 

Health and Environment

Keeping your seahorses healthy and happy is very important in promoting better coloration. When a seahorse is stressed it often becomes much darker in coloration. Even shipping stress can make a seahorse turn dark or sometimes pale. Some shipping stress is normal and they should color up once settled into their new home.

Maintaining high water quality will play a big role in promoting better coloration and also keeping your seahorses healthy. Using RODI water is a must in our experience. Tap water contains impurities which can harm or stress your seahorses. Regularly weekly water changes are recommended. In general, a 10-25% weekly water change is recommended. This varies based on stock density and filtration. 

Also, keeping your seahorses well fed with quality food is key! We recommend feeding your captive bred seahorses 2-3 times daily, frozen Mysis shrimp. We recommend using a mix of Hikari BioPure Mysis shrimp and PE Mysis Shrimp. Both of these are high quality food and we highly recommend using them.

If you have any questions about promoting brighter coloration in your seahorses feel free to contact us at orders@seahorsesavvy.com. We hope to hear from you!



Seahorse Savvy

Hello Vikki,

Thank you for sharing your experience with everyone. Light absolutely can effect the color of seahorses. Intense lighting such as metal halide or bright LED lighting will encourage melanin production in the skin cells making the seahorses darker in coloration. This is similar to a sun tan in humans.

In addition, in our experience with our seahorses a warmer color or more white lighting encourages brighter coloration in H. erectus, H. reidi x H. erectus hybrids, and H. reidi seahorses. More blue lighting seen in some T5 or LED lighting can encourage darker coloration too. This varies for different seahorses species too.

We hope you find this information helpful. Thank you for visiting!

Vikki pickard

I have seahorses in two tanks. In one of them my horses are orange and one red, my other tank they all stay dark. I have same colors in both. Does lighting effect their color?

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