Tank Mates for Seahorses-Live Corals

Posted by Alyssa Gabriel on

Tank Mates for Seahorses-Corals

It is important to be aware of what tank mates are generally considered safe to keep with your seahorses and which to avoid. Seahorses are very unique animals and do have specific care requirements. These tank mate recommendations are for the large seahorse varieties, not dwarf seahorses H. zosterae. 

Live Corals

Seahorses are slower moving compared to most other saltwater aquarium fish. In their natural environment seahorses are sit and wait predators. They hold onto different "hitching posts" with their prehensile tail and wait for food to come to them. For this reason one should be conscientious about what live corals they add to their aquarium. A coral with a strong sting can sting your seahorse. If this happens it will hurt them and possibly lead to an infection. This should be avoided!

Why have live corals in a seahorse aquarium?

Some seahorse keeping hobbyist prefer all artificial decorations in their seahorse display. There are also those who prefer more of a natural look. Incorporating live corals in your seahorse aquarium can make for quite the beautiful and impressive display! It is important to make sure you have reef capable lighting. In a properly setup seahorse aquarium one should have plenty of filtration for live corals.

Photographs above are different Zoanthid soft coral varieties.

Corals that can be used as "hitching posts" for your seahorses to hold onto

It is important in any seahorse aquarium to make sure you have plenty of "hitching posts" for your seahorses to hold onto and rest. A "hitching posts" is seahorse lingo for any object your seahorse grabs hold of. Seahorses will wrap their tail around pretty much anything they can. Some corals we recommend for this and consider safe for seahorses include live Gorgonians and Leather corals.

Photosynthetic Gorgonians are preferred by most hobbyist as these are very easy to care for compared to non-photosynthetic species. Non photosynthetic Gorgonians require heavy feedings often and for this reason are very challenging to keep long term. These non-photosynthetic species often stave in the home aquarium after a few months of introduction. While non-photosynthetic Gorgonians are safe to keep with your seahorses they should be left for the advance keeper who is prepared to meet their special feeding needs.

Slit Pore Sea Rods, Plexaurella spp, are among our favorite Gorgonian variety to keep with seahorses for their extreme hardiness and thick branches. Our seahorses love to hitch to these. Corkey Sea Fingers, Briareum asbestinum, are another great Gorgonian to keep with seahorses. This species is unique in it is actually an encrusting Gorgonian. It generally is branching in appearance because it encrust over top of other branching Gorgonians in its natural environment. It will not be invasive in your home aquarium so no worries about this. In general they are earth ton to purple in coloration.

Other commonly available photosynthetic Gorgonian species include:

  • Muricea elongate-Common names Rusty or Orange Spiny Gorgonian 
  • Muriceopsis flavida-Common names Purple Brush Gorgonian
  • Pterogorgia citrina-Green Lace Gorgonian
  • Pterogorgia anceps-Purple Ribbon or Purple Flat Blade Gorgonian
  • Pseudopterogorgia bipinnata-Golden Plume Gorgonian. There is also a purple variety, Purple Plume Gorgonian
  • Psuedopterogorgia elisabethae-Purple Frilly Gorgonian
  • Eunicea sp.-Purple Knobby Gorgonian, another one of our favorite varieties!
  • Plexaura flexuosa-Purple Candelabra Gorgonian

Leather Soft Corals are another hardy photosynthetic soft coral variety safe to keep in your seahorse aquarium. There are many different species and varieties of leather corals. The branching leather coral varieties are great to keep with seahorses as your seahorses will use them to hold onto. There are many shapes, textures and color varieties of these easy to keep corals. Leather corals can really add to the aesthetics and a new dimension to your natural seahorse aquarium.

  • Sarcophyton sp.-Includes the toadstool leather corals
  • Cladiella sp.-Includes Colt leather coral
  • Lobophytum sp.-Includes Devil's hand leather corals
  • Sinularia sp.-Includes Finger leather corals (great for seahorse hitching posts)

 Other Soft Corals 

There are lots of soft coral species safe to keep with seahorses. Most soft corals do not have a strong sting and are peaceful. These are some we recommend for your natural seahorse display aquarium.

  • Mushroom Corals (Discosoma sp., Rhodactis sp., and Ricordea sp.). These soft corals come in every imaginable color.
  • Zoanthids-Another easy to keep soft coral. These come in every color and lots of different patterns. They are beautiful corals. Some do carry toxins so one must be cautious when handling these and wash your hands or even better, wear gloves.
  • Green Star Polyps-An encrusting coral. This coral variety is one of the hardiest corals to keep. Warning, they are very quick growing once established in your aquarium. They are beautiful but it helps to isolate them in an area of the aquarium where they can not be invasive. 
  • Pipe Organ Coral
  • Sympodium-A beautiful blue soft encrusting coral. Not many corals are blue in color making this species quite unique.
  • Clove Polyps or Daisy Polyps (Clavularia sp)
  • Xenia-Like Green Star Polyps, this coral variety is one of the hardiest corals to keep. Warning, they are very quick growing once established in your aquarium. They are beautiful but it helps to isolate them in an area of the aquarium where they can not be invasive. 

Corals to Avoid with Seahorses!

We strongly recommend avoiding these coral species as they are know to have a strong sting and are likely to hurt your seahorses.

  • Euphyllia (Torch, Hammer, Frogspawn)
  • Galaxea
  • Anemones-Bubble tip, carpet, rock anemones, long tentacle and all other varieties should absolutely be avoided with seahorses.
  • Acanthophyllia
  • Lobophyllia
  • Symphyllia
  • Cynarina
  • Scolymia
  • Plerogyra sinuosa (Bubble coral)

Thank you for visiting our website and blog. We hope you find this information helpful when selecting coral species for your seahorse aquarium. 

These are some general guidelines we have came up with from our experience and other seahorse keepers experiences over the years. They are just that, general guidelines, and there are always exceptions. If you are unsure about a specific coral feel free to contact us and we can let you know our thoughts. We are happy to help.

Contact-Email: orders@seahorsesavvy.com Phone: 410-618-3604


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