If the store carries captive bred seahorses, they
will know the name of the species, not just the common
name for them – simple as that. If the horses
are labelled as “yellow seahorse”, “atlantic
seahorse” etc – odds on that they are
wild caught. Beware of “Hippocampus kuda”
– it has been used generically to describe just
about any species of seahorse.
Different species come from different temperature
zones – a temperate seahorse will quickly die
if kept at tropical temperatures. It is important
to know the species so you can provide the correct
Some shops get defensive when you politely question
them about the origin of their "CB" seahorses.
Ask who the breeder is, and the scientific name. If
they cannot give you all of this information, they
are not captive bred seahorses. If in doubt, leave
them in the store.
If the seahorse is not priced at LEAST $40-90 it
is probably not CB, although WC can be and are often
priced this high or higher, especially the large,
colourful Brazilians (H. reidi). One exception to is
in the UK, where WC seahorses are for some reason
often more expensive than CBs.
If the seahorse is a large, mature specimen, it is
probably WC. Seahorses are expensive to raise and
feed, so breeders try to sell them fairly small, when
they are just eating frozen. If they guarantee other
marine fish, but don't offer the same one on "CB"
seahorses, chances are they know they are WC and are
more than likely to die, no matter what the hobbyist
does, so they won't guarantee them.
If the seahorses won't eat anything, or will only
eat live food, they are probably WC. Captive breds
should be trained to eat frozen mysis. Ask to see
a demonstration of this in the shop. Beware of shops
carrying seahorses that do not sell frozen mysis or
nutritious live food (e.g., appropriate sized ghost/glass
shrimp). Brine shrimp, especially if not enriched
with Selcon or similar HUFA supplement, does not count.
If the shop doesn’t carry the foods they eat,
then what are they feeding their seahorses with? If
they’ve been in store for a week or so without
being fed properly, chances are they won’t live
Another common sight is seahorses kept with unsuitable
tank mates (anemones, crabs, damsels, tangs, other
aggressive or fast swimming fish). Again this should
give cause for concern, as it shows a lack of understanding
of basic care and increases the chances of their fish
being in poor condition.