Tank Bred vs. Captive Bred vs. Wild Caught

Discussion in 'Seahorses & Pipefish' started by mollymonticell, Oct 17, 2007.

  1. mollymonticell

    mollymonticell New Member

    Some of you are new to seahorses, and you may be wondering, "What's the difference?" These terms may seem a little confusing and misleading to you, and trust me, they are not misleading by accident.
    A Captive Bred, or CB for short, seahorse has been bred in captivity using synthetic seawater in enclosed, sterile systems. These seahorses have proven extremely hardy, easy to breed, and long-lived. They are trained to eat frozen mysis shrimp before sale, which makes them easy to feed. An excellent alternative to Wild Caught.
    A Wild Caught seahorse has been caught in the wild. CITES has limited the distribution of WC seahorses, so you probably won't see them around much. History has shown that these seahorses are difficult to keep in captivity. They often never eat frozen foods, and must be provided with live foods for life. They most often come with parasites and other diseases that are difficult or impossible to treat, even prophylactically.
    Now, when we get to tank raised/maricultured/tank bred/net pen raised seahorses, things are a little different. You might be saying, "But isn't it a good thing to buy Tank Raised?"
    I STRONGLY BELIEVE THAT TANK RAISED, MARICULTURED, TANK BRED, AND NET-PEN RAISED SEAHORSES ARE THE NUMBER ONE THREAT TO THE SEAHORSE HOBBY.
    Let me explain the history behind it.
    Net pen raising is the brain child Amanda Vincent, self-proclaimed seahorse expert. It was invented to give poor people an alternative to catching them in the wild. Instead, they catch the juveniles, raise them in net pens in the ocean where the seahorses eat natural foods in their natural environments. Most of the net pen raised seahorses bred every year go on to be sold in the Traditional Chinese Medicine trade. Literally Tons, thousands and thousands of pounds. As an afterthought, many breeders started to sell their excess to US, the Aquarium trade.
    Most often, it is done like this--When the breeder is done harvesting for the TCM trade, their excess is often put into bare bottom tanks flushed constantly with natural sea water. The seahorses are packed in like sardines. They finish "growing them out" here, thus allowing them to be called "tank raised." They are fed frozen foods, but not what I would call "trained." Basically, any seahorses that refuse to eat the frozen foods die, and are carted off to be sold to TCM. The ones that survive are then sold to us in the aquarium trade. These resulting seahorses are often loaded with parasitic and bacterial infections like Vibrio, even webbing. They are like little ticking time-bombs. Many of these infections are highly contagious to other syngnathids (including your pipefish) and incurable, even with prophylactic treatment. Even expert seahorse keepers who are capable of raising fry have had bad luck with these "tank raised" seahorses.
    Now, some problems with this system--breeding a seahorse using natural seawater and mostly natural foods from the ocean is really cheap. The cost is next to zero. That makes net-pen raised seahorses very inexpensive. Legitimate captive breeding costs money. The salt, the food, it all adds up. Most seahorse breeders charge from $50-$100 per seahorse, and they never take home a paycheck. The most commonly "tank bred" or net pen raised seahorses are H. kelloggi and H. kuda. These species are not always native to the areas where they are being net pen raised. This means that some hybrids have been reported. Hybrids making it into the trade, and hybrids in the wild. Also, it's difficult to quantify exactly how much waste and pollution is produced by this method of breeding tons and tons of seahorses. But I can assure you, it is not minimal.
    Back to the money issue. In the past year, most of the legitimate captive breeding facilities have closed down. Draco Marine just stopped production, they are shipping their last order this week. Poor Jorge could never bring home a paycheck. There are only a couple left, NYseahorse and Dan U. from seahorsesource in Florida. Neither have much in stock right now. There is still Ocean Rider in HI, but that's only if you want to pay $150 up to $999 for a single seahorse.
    Right now, the most common species being tank raised are kuda and kelloggi. As far as I know, no one is breeding kelloggis in synthetic sea water. Maybe a couple kudas. Unfortunately, not much is known about kelloggi seahorses, except how to mass produce them. Being a deep-water seahorse, it is speculated that they may prefer temperatures even lower than where most people keep their seahorses at 74*. They have a horrible track record in captivity. Most only live for a few months. The ones that do last a year or two are the lucky ones, and that's a significantly short life span for that type of seahorse.
    Continued below...
     
  2. mollymonticell

    mollymonticell New Member

    There are so many other species out there, why buy TR and limit your options? The most commonly Captive Bred seahorse is H. erectus. they are also the hardiest and most prolific, some say the most beautiful. As far as I know, they are not available TR. But there are so many other options, or at least, there used to be. At the very least, 10 or 15 different species are bred in captivity, but not available as net-pen raised or tank raised. Why? because the main purpose of net pen raising is not for us, the aquarists. It's for the TCM!
    So next time you go into your LFS and you see a H. kelloggi or worse, Hippocampus sp. or "yellow seahorse," please pass on it. You'll be saving yourself some heartache. Educate your LFS and even your favorite online vendors. Tell them that you demand legitimate Captive Bred seahorses. Be cautious and do your homework. Some vendors and retailers are sneaky about it. Even ORA is importing TR seahorses (their reidi are net-pen raised)! Educate other beginning seahorse hobbyists. There is no other way to save this wonderful seahorse hobby.
    I have made a promise to myself, and to the seahorse hobby, to never buy a tank bred seahorse. I will only buy from a legitimate captive breeding facility that uses synthetic seawater, bare bottom tanks, and frozen mysis. Join me, and make the promise. IF WE DON'T STOP BUYING TANK RAISED SEAHORSES, SOON WE WON'T HAVE A CHOICE!
    Feel free to add your comments and opinions.
     
  3. teresaq

    teresaq Active Member

  4. grabbitt

    grabbitt Active Member

    Excellent information. This should be read by all.
     
  5. reefkprz

    reefkprz Active Member

    not a true question really but can you Cite your sources for this information?
    I think it is very valuable information and a good write up, I just think it would be nice to know the sources of the information.
     
  6. zeke92

    zeke92 Active Member

    i could make a thread that would skip right to the point of all of this
    buy tank bred, not wild caught or tank raised. tank raised and wild caught are taken fromt he wild and can harm the sehorse population. buy tank bred, always.
    'Nuff Said
     
  7. bronco300

    bronco300 Active Member

    Originally Posted by zeke92
    i could make a thread that would skip right to the point of all of this
    buy tank bred, not wild caught or tank raised. tank raised and wild caught are taken fromt he wild and can harm the sehorse population. buy tank bred, always.
    'Nuff Said
    still very good info to know and the reasoning behind it, thanks for sharing this molly
     
  8. monalisa

    monalisa Active Member

    Thanks Molly...I know when I was first researching my sh set up, I was convinced that I would purchase from a LFS that had "tank raised" seahorses. It sounded right to me, until I began using that term in my postings and found out exactly what that meant. I haven't been back to that LFS since.
    Captive bred seahorses are the only way to go if you wish to get that far into the sw hobby. Leave those in the wild to procreate and inhabit the oceans and seas where they're meant to be.
    Lisa
     
  9. mollymonticell

    mollymonticell New Member

    Just to clarify, "Tank Bred" can also be used to identify a seahorse bred using natural sea water. "Captive Bred" is the term you want to see. But make sure to ask the supplier if they were bred in closed systems using only synthetic sea water and kept separate from other fish, particularly other syngnathids.
    Thanks, everyone for the replies. I've been thinking about writing up a formal article on this with some help from some friends. I have been looking for some photos that the owner of one of these Asian net-pen to Tank raising facilities actually shared with us last year. It may take some time and a little effort, but I can get you some sources. There aren't any formal, scientific articles written on this subject yet, that I know of, aside from the interviews with A. Vincent. If there are any specific parts that you might think are a bit sketchy, let me know, I might be able to get you a quicker reference on it. Hey, I might be a little off on some of this info, it all came from my memory. A lot of the disease info is just a conglomeration of experiences shared on a popular forum specifically for seahorses. There is a fine Pathology Doctor there who actually does little autopsies on dead member's seahorses and reports his findings. I don't know the exact numbers, but the incident of disease in Tank raised, Tank Bred, Maricultured, and Net-pen raised seahorses is phenomenal and heartbreaking.
    Check out this book in the meantime http://www.cafepress.com/seahorses.55655887
     
  10. teresaq

    teresaq Active Member

    very cool. i am a member there too.
     
  11. mollymonticell

    mollymonticell New Member

    Originally Posted by zeke92
    i could make a thread that would skip right to the point of all of this
    buy tank bred, not wild caught or tank raised. tank raised and wild caught are taken fromt he wild and can harm the sehorse population. buy tank bred, always.
    'Nuff Said
    Just wanna drive this point home--"Tank Bred" is a term you want to AVOID. It is a synonym for "Tank Raised, Maricultured, and net-pen raised." The only "clean" seahorses you can get are "Captive Bred." But use caution, some suppliers and vendors use this term incorrectly, and use it to label net-pen raised horses.
    Also, the point of this post wasn't to buy Captive Bred only to save wild populations of seahorses, it's to ensure that you are receiving seahorses free of (sometimes incurable) disease and parasites, which is common in TB, TR, and net-pen horses.
     
  12. myers93

    myers93 Member

    Wow thank you sooooooooooooo much i was just about to buy a TR seahorse thinking it was the same as a CB!!!!
    thx
    Laura
     
  13. monalisa

    monalisa Active Member

    Originally Posted by mollymonticell
    Just wanna drive this point home--"Tank Bred" is a term you want to AVOID. It is a synonym for "Tank Raised, Maricultured, and net-pen raised." The only "clean" seahorses you can get are "Captive Bred." But use caution, some suppliers and vendors use this term incorrectly, and use it to label net-pen raised horses.
    Also, the point of this post wasn't to buy Captive Bred only to save wild populations of seahorses, it's to ensure that you are receiving seahorses free of (sometimes incurable) disease and parasites, which is common in TB, TR, and net-pen horses.
    Molly,
    Thank you, THANK YOU for posting this information!! I think that it is very common with those researching setting up a new sh tank to misinterpret these terms...as I did...and very nearly fell for it!! It really can be very confusing...
    Captive bred and eating frozen is the ONLY way to go with horses...ponies (dwarf seahorses), now that's another story as far as diet is concerned...
    Lisa
     
  14. monalisa

    monalisa Active Member

    It's very sad the fact that many of the reliable sh vendors that are closing their doors or halting sales, even temporarily because they can't compete with LFS selling seahorses that are WC, TR, etc. and labeling them as something they're not. Check the internet, quality CB horses are not to be found at this point.
    Lisa
     
  15. teresaq

    teresaq Active Member

  16. Seahorsewhisperer

    Seahorsewhisperer New Member

    11 years later.....yep, I’m going to bump this! Well said, very important information, that is unfortunately still being overlooked and misunderstood.
    Bump, bump, bump!
     

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