Building a Sea Horse tank with sump from ground up


New member
Good morning my name is Chris. I have had a lot of tanks over the years and have always modified them in one degree or another for sea horses. I also want to keep inverts, sponges and some gorgoneia. I have not had a tank for about ten years so I am not up on the newest equipment and products. I am just starting info gathering, including your opinions and experiences. I just bought a new old house in western Maine. I just got our generator and so now I'm ready to start. I am going to have the tank on inside wall and want to run the lines to a large sump in the basement, probably a 10-12 foot drop. I am looking for some advice on tank shape as well. I would like a display tank to be at least 70 gallons My ideal is have the display tank and stand in my living room and do all the maintenance in the basement. I want the sump not only as a volume increaser but also as a place to grow pods for the seahorses. I would also like to have a hospital tank incorporated in the sump but with separate water. And while I am at it I want to build a nursery tank for the inevitable baby seahorses. I have been able to raise a few from babies. I have done most of this stuff before but never centrally located in one big sump. I want to incorporate a top off system as well. That's it in a nutshell. If anyone has some advice or can point me to an existing thread that might cover what I'm looking for I would greatly appreciate it
Your plan sounds great and I can't wait to follow your progress, lots of pictures once you get going please ;)

I don't know that you'll be able to find a commercially available sump that will incorporate everything you're looking for. You might have to have one custom built. That said, there are a lot of sumps these days that do have built in refugiums included.
Sounds like you’re headed in with a good plan. Perhaps look into using a large Rubbermaid tub (100-150 gallon) as a sump. Then you can likely tie everything you want into it.

I don’t keep seahorses but I run my systems very basic without a bunch of gadgetry (I have a controller and dosing pump but that’s about it).
@Jim B. @VWD any thoughts?
I have raised local New York seahorses a few times and they are fun but certainly time consuming, especially after the fry get a few weeks old and are to big for baby brine shrimp. Pods won't satisfy them unless you have very large pods. I just raised the brine shrimp along with the baby seahorses so they were the proper size, but you need thousands of them so your food raising tank may have to be larger than your sea horse rearing tank.

The babies really don't eat dead food that I have seen. You need a pump with a head pressure over 12'. That will be a powerful pump because remember the ratings of pumps is with no head pressure and it drops proportionately as the height increases so if a pump is rated at 1,000 gph, that is the output right next to the pump. At 10' you may get 100 gallons if you even get anything but I am sure you already figured that out.

Seahorses need plenty of "holdfasts so I used strings with weights at the bottom and floats at the surface.

Good luck
I raised Seahorses like 20 years ago, what species are you going with?
Coincidentally we expect our horses to arrive today, but we are going with hippocampus zosterae in a nano (4gallon) custom tank from PNW MIcros.