Aquarium Livestock Pet Care Guides

Seahorses and Pipefish


Indo-Pacific, coastal Atlantic

Tank Temperature




Specific Gravity



Some may only accept live foods at first, but may be weaned onto frozen. All will benefit from vitamin supplements. Food items must be appropriately sized for their small mouths.


Very docile, passive, weak-swimmers. Need "hitching points" to grab onto with their tails (especially seahorses). Have been known to breed in captivity; males hold young in their pouch until birth. Some, especially seahorses, can change their color or pattern to blend into their surroundings.


Best kept in species-only systems. Any tankmates, including inverts like crabs and shrimp, must be chosen carefully. Mixing species or fish from different sources or breeders can be risky due to the risk of contamination from different strains of naturally occurring bacteria. Males tend to be more difficult to keep than females due to issues with their brood pouches; keeping males and females together is not necessary and would bring the risk of accidental babies.

Species Overview

Seahorses and Pipefish are some of the most recognizable and iconic marine creatures but until recently, their care in the aquarium has been reserved only to experts and highly skilled aquarists. Recent developments in captive breeding, filtration and feeding have made some species of seahorses and pipefish less difficult and more rewarding as aquarium animals.

Seahorses and Pipefish are both from the family Sygnathidae which also includes some far less common animals like Shrimpfish and Sea Dragons. Though Shrimpfish occasionally enter the trade, Sea Dragons are endangered and illegal to keep without a permit. Many seahorses and pipefish species are also restricted for wild collection without permits, but they have been successfully bred in captivity. This family is known for their slender bodies, tube-like mouths, and prehensile tails. Their unique breeding strategy is also well-known as the males house the young in their pouch until ready to be released.

Due to their small mouths, the diet of these fish must be appropriately tiny. Some will only accept live foods like baby or adult brine shrimp, rotifers, copepods, small ghost shrimp and similar foods; other may adapt to a frozen diet of these same items but should be given vitamin supplements as well. The tank should have a gentle flow and a height of 2-2.5x the adult height of the fish for seahorses. Pipefish, especially Corythoichthys pipes, will spend much of their time swimming snake-like around the rockwork. Tankmates must be chosen carefully if added at all as aggressive fish may harass the passive seahorses or pipefish or outcompete them for food. They are best kept in a species-only tank.

Seahorses and pipefish require specialized care, feeding and attention. Their aquarium design should be planned in advance and the species being kept should be chosen carefully. With the proper care and attention, these fish can thrive!

We always suggest that you do further research before adding a new pet to your tank. What we have provided for you are guidelines and suggestions. If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact our fish room at 717-299-5691 ext. 1213 or

Recommended Items

Frozen Aquarium Food
Salt Mix
Fine Substrate
Coral Ornaments