Planted Seahorse Tank

Minorhero

New member
Hello folks!

I am in process of building out my first saltwater tank. I have many years of experience with freshwater aquariums but never wanted to dip my toes into the saltwater side until recently. Essentially I was inspired when visiting the Baltimore Aquarium where I saw a Seahorse display with live seagrass. I had seen macro algae tanks many times before but never true plants in saltwater. I was hooked instantly, but it took a few months for things to build to a point where I was both ready and willing to make it happen. That point has come!

First order of business was securing The Wife's support. Every tank I get requires a new and very different negotiation. For this tank I offered The Wife a cat. She got to pick a cat, and I got to get seahorses. In my mind a cat was something you go to the local shelter to secure. But The Wife was brought up to appreciate breeds of animals. So in this case the cat is a breed, a Russian Blue to be specific. And while it cost a bundle, I will probably end up spending more on this tank by the time I'm done.

Picture of the cat for those who like cats:

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So on to the tank!

After securing permission, next up was securing placement. For many reasons the best spot is in my office which is located in my basement, right next to my existing freshwater High Tech Newt Tank. And since the Seahorse tank was going to be right next to the Newt Tank, I wanted to make it look very similar to the Newt Tank. To that end I wanted to copy the stand and use a similar sized footprint for the tank itself.

The stand for the Newt Tank is a heavily modified petco metal stand. So I bought one, assembled one, and then began my modifications. I added plywood to the sides to enclose it in and also to provide a place to attach plumbing/equipment. I also drilled and taped holes in the bottom to provide places for steel brackets that could eventually support a shelf and sump.

Here is what that looked like:

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The door of the stand was held on by magnets. Here is what the stand looked like when done:

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The stand is designed to hold a rimmed 40 breeder. BUT the Newt Tank is using a waterbox mini 30 clear which has a footprint of 24x18x18H. The New Tank therefore uses a poured concrete top to the stand, and so I needed to make one for the Seahorses as well. Here is a picture showing my form for the concrete made from 3/4" melamine:

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And here is how it looked after I made my pour:

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Somewhere along the lines I did my maths wrong when calculating how much concrete I needed. I thought I would only need about half a bag, when in reality I needed a full bag of rapidset mortar mix. I had added color to the concrete for the first half of the bag, but when I realized I didn't have enough and was racing the clock (the stuff starts setting up in like 20 minutes), I definitely did not add enough color for the second half of the bag. The result was a horribly ugly top. So I decided to solve that problem by spray painting it:

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Overall, pretty happy with how it turned out. Here is the new stand in place next to its twin:

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After sorting the stand it was onto the tank! I had put a call out for local tank builders but got back very responses and none that I ultimately wanted to use. So I decided to make the tank myself........ Spoiler, it didn't go well ;P

There were a few problems with making it myself. The first was the glass itself. I had assumed the local glass company I chose would give me glass cut and polished at 90 degree angles on the corners and never bothered to specify that is what I needed. As it turns out, their machine was horribly out of calibration and the glass I got was all trapezoids and rhombuses. Not by a lot, only .5 to 3 degrees off by my estimate, but that meant quite a bit when trying to put together a glass box with fractions of millimeters of precision. The other problem was that my silicone work was really sloppy. .... It was ugly.



Frankly I couldn’t accept it. It was a costly mistake but I simply could not tolerate the mess I made of it. So I ordered the tank from Glass Cages. If the timeline for it remains, it should be shipping to me sometimes in the next week. The tank will be 24x18x24H (approximately 45 gallons), rimless, with black silicone. When it comes, I will drill holes for the modular marine overflow and two 3/4” returns.



For filtration I will be running a sump with a roller filter and a uv sterilizer.



If you made it this far, then I suppose its time to discuss the vision for what will be inside the tank. Essentially, what I want to make is a freshwater tank that happens to have saltwater in it ;P. Or such is my thought process. I want to aquascape the tank like its a freshwater tank and plant it with manatee grass, shoal grass, and red mangroves. The livestock will be an extensive clean up crew, and a pair of Erectus Seahorses.



Since this is my first saltwater tank my plan is to take it slow with actually adding seahorses. I will run the tank for at least a few months with only the clean up crew present. I do not have any plans of adding coral or macro algae.



And That cover’s most of what I have been up to these last few weeks. I have already gotten some great advice and key information from Michael Hoaster’s thread and I’m really looking forward to learning more about this hobby as I go.
 

Michael Hoaster

Registered Seaweedist
Premium Member
Absolutely brilliant first post! Your stand turned out beautiful. Thanks for sharing your trials and tribulations! Love the 'cat bargain'! I may use that one too some day…

Have you drilled tanks before? Seems like a dark art. If it was me, I'd have Glass Cages do it, so it's their nickel if something goes wrong.

Looks like a great thread. I look forward to following!
 

Minorhero

New member
Thank you all, it's super fun to stretch myself in a new aspect (new for me anyway) of the aquarist hobby.

I have drilled a few tanks before. The first one is super intimidating but it's actually super easy to do and relatively hard to mess up if you take some basic precautions and don't do anything crazy :p in this case it's easier for me to handle the drilling because the overflow comes with a drill template I would need to ship to glass cages or very precisely measure for them to reproduce on their end. I also would need to figure out return bulkhead placement which I was frankly going to base off of overflow bulkhead placement, so more precise measuring. But with a drill template in hand, I can drill the whole thing in less time it would take me to measure it and draw up a diagram.
 

vlangel

Premium Member
My son who also is a marine aquarist has drilled his own tanks as well. He said the same thing as you did, that it was very intimidating the first time but he has had excellent success ever since.

Your plan sounds like a good one, especially in adding the seahorses after the tank is well established. Erectus seahorses are not too difficult and your tank sounds like a good choice for them. The main reason I did not continue to keep them was dealing with their care when we traveled, two of our boys and their families live out of state. It was hard for me to find a reliable seahorse person to feed them daily. I did learn some tricks which I can share with you when the time comes.
 

Minorhero

New member
;n32363046 said:
My son who also is a marine aquarist has drilled his own tanks as well. He said the same thing as you did, that it was very intimidating the first time but he has had excellent success ever since.

Your plan sounds like a good one, especially in adding the seahorses after the tank is well established. Erectus seahorses are not too difficult and your tank sounds like a good choice for them. The main reason I did not continue to keep them was dealing with their care when we traveled, two of our boys and their families live out of state. It was hard for me to find a reliable seahorse person to feed them daily. I did learn some tricks which I can share with you when the time comes.

Thank you! I am definitely open to any tips, tricks, outright corrections etc ;)

Deciding to get seahorses was also my wife and I deciding to get a dog walker to come into our house and feed them when we go on vacation. When I was doing initial research and found out how often they needed to eat I thought that was kind of it, and that there was no way for me to get them since we do go on vacation for 1 to 2 weeks a couple of times a year. Then I read in a thread about using a dog walker and looked up some options in my area. Apparently getting them to come in and feed fish is not terribly uncommon and my local companies are open to it. For a 2 week trip I would probably pay for an aquarium service company to come in halfway as well and do a water change.
 

vlangel

Premium Member
Yes, the dog walker person could definitely work. We generally take our dog with us since its a shih tzu mix and travels very well. Our local mom and pop lfs went under some years ago and I wasn't sure how to find a trustworthy fish person to care for the ponies so when the last pony passed, I changed the direction of the tank to something much less labor intensive and simpler. I do miss the seahorses, they are such charming fish with awesome personalities.
 
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