Thinking of keeping seahorses? Don't be tempted to collect them from the wild in UK waters, as they are a protected species. There are now plenty of captive raised animals to be purchased in th hobby, they were a bit more difficult to source when I kept them. Around 2007, I decided I would like to try and keep sea horses and this is my journey

I purchased a Orca (Boyu) 450 as a all in one solution, everything was supplied, except the water.


Sea horse aquarium Sea horse aquarium
Sea horse aquarium  


After adding mature live rock, sand and monitoring the water levels, after a bout a week it was time to source some horses. I was lucky enought to find someone selling a pair in York and purchased them for collection the next week. With the rock, some caulerpa prolifera and coral frags, the horses were introduced. Clean up crew consisted of 4x Nassaurius snails.

Sea horse aquarium Sea horse aquarium
Sea horse aquarium Sea horse aquarium
Sea horse aquarium Sea horse aquarium
Sea horse aquarium Sea horse aquarium
Sea horse aquarium Sea horse aquarium
Sea horse aquarium Sea horse aquarium

The horses are funny things to watch eating. They actively hunt the frozen mysis before suddenly gulping the food in. They are amazing to watch as sometimes they will allow the food to float straight past their mouths and go in search of some on the substrate. When swallowing the food, little clouds of "dust" can be seen coming from the gills. I am assuming this is the shell of the shrimp being expelled, but don't know for certain. Frozen brine shrimp is normally ignored, not sure why. I am going to try and train them to eat it as although not very nutritious on their own, brine shrimp can be gut loaded with spirulina and omega 3 to give them a more balanced diet.

Sea horse aquarium Sea horse aquarium
Sea horse aquarium Sea horse aquarium
Sea horse aquarium Sea horse aquarium
Sea horse aquarium Sea horse aquarium
Sea horse aquarium Sea horse aquarium

Once a feeding regime was in place (they had to be fed a minimum 3 times per day due to having no stomach), the colours came out on them. I had no idea the colour they would become, when I saw them in the previous keepers tank, (which was a refugium on the end of a 5 foot system) they were black too. Enriched mysis produced the fabulous yellow colour you see below.

Sea horse aquarium Sea horse aquarium
Sea horse aquarium Sea horse aquarium
Sea horse aquarium Sea horse aquarium
Sea horse aquarium  

I kept these for about a year before admitting to myself that  the system really wasn't big enough, they like to have height to  swim up and down. the amount of food being fed also meant water changes had to be kept on top of with such a small volume of water. At the time, I couldn't provide them with the  accommodation they needed, so I was able to trade them in at my local aquarium store where they were placed in their display system.

As well as the basic algae scrubber, which worked fine but I was always safety conscious about splashing salt water! I was lucky enough to be given a pre made unit by a fellow forum member, for which I used warm white cfl bulbs to light the screen. 2x 9w bulbs on either side gave some good growth, but unfortunately I did not document it so well for my own personal use. I placed all of my pictures on a forum, which is no longer running, whoops. The build is below, you will see that I modified some bits of cardboard to prevent light from leaking out and being more direct on the screen.


Algae Turf Scrubber

Algae Turf Scrubber

Algae Turf Scrubber

Algae Turf Scrubber

Algae Turf Scrubber


I had many ideas of making my own algae scrubber from acrylic and using leds. 660nm was decided to be the best wavelength for great growth, so I experimented with some 3W. I also planned and had a acrylic unit made up, but it was never used in anger due to being too big for the new aquarium I was to purchase.

Algae Turf Scrubber  
Algae Turf Scrubber Algae Turf Scrubber
Algae Turf Scrubber Algae Turf Scrubber

Looking at this design now, it isn't too different to the one I purchased and am currently using!





There are a lot of missing links I am working hard to fix on this article.

The record of my new (2005) tank has become rather long winded. It had taken up seven pages, each with quite a lot of time consuming graphics to load. I have decided now that I will make it easier for visitors to see the new updates by creating date links. Next time you return, you will be able to scroll down to see if a new date has been added to this page and then go and see what has changed.

1st October 2005 10th October 2005 26th October 2005
29th October 2005 30th October 2005 5th November 2005
7th November 2005 16th November 2005 18th November 2005
19th November 2005 20th November 2005 27th November 2005
1st December 2005 4th December 2005 9th December 2005
11th December 2005 19th December 2005  


Yellow clown goby



Another year arrives as my tank matures. Many more pictures and events listed below, please carry on reading.



3rd January 2006 7th January 2006 22nd January 2006
4th February 2006 14th February 2006 18th February 2006
23rd February 2006 10th April 2006 16th April 2006
16th May 2006 21st May 2006/ 31st May 2006
11th August 2006 13th August 2006 22nd August 2006

27th August 2006

10th September 2006

18th September 2006

24th October 2006 8th November 2006 18th November 2006
30th November 2006 10th December 2006  




This year will bring the arrival of my new fragging project. It is my intention to be able to make as many corals as possible that I keep self sufficient, albeit in my new nano tank that will arrive soon


7th January 2007 17th June 2007 18th June 2007

1st October 2005

I collected my new aquarium and cabinet today. I found a cabinet manufacturer on eBay who was happy to have the tank made and drilled for me and also to have a sump made. The cabinet is made of solid pine and is very sound and heavy!!. I have a 50mm hole drilled in the rear left of the tank and a weir assembly siliconed around it. I will place a standpipe within and also silicone a comb to the top to filter the water of any suicidal fish. Another smaller hole for 20mm pipe has been drilled in the top right which is where the water will be returned to the tank through.


Tank  Tank 1


The cabinet has three doors and encloses the sump which you have to place in through the top, so once it is in!! The cabinet has yet to be stained the correct colour and some parts cut from the cabinet for ventilation purposes, otherwise everything will overheat and the condensation within the unit will be unbearable. I am hoping to have the aquarium running for Christmas (this year) but we shall have to see what other financial constraints I have.

10th October 2005

Passing by Castle Donington today, I dropped into Fit Filtration (now closed at this location) for a look. I purchased a small container of Bacterlife to help in seeding the filter and a Ocean Runner pump to run my system.

The tank has also been filled for the first time today to leak check. The Ocean Runner pump has also been switched on for a brief trial. Now all that is needed is for the leak check to be successful (so far so good), then the aquarium and cabinet can be moved to the lounge.

26th October 2005

Over the last couple of weeks, money has been "trickling" away. The cabinet has been stained and a backing put in place.

tank 2   tank 3 tank 4


The pictures below show the eggcrate structure within the tank. These platforms have been built to support the weight of the rock. Basically, this allows less rock to be used which in turn allows more water to be held in the system. You will also notice some 1" high lengths of glass. These prevent the eggcrate from collapsing outwards, whilst also keeping the sand out from underneath. Holes have been cut into the eggcrate to act as a refuge for fish and also to allow access for siphoning out waste. As you can see, the cabinet is very solid, but unfortunately no ventilation was allowed for. I have used a hole saw to cut into the rear and purchased some grilles from B&Q to cover them outside. Although the tank is empty, notice how blue the light is. Current lighting is T5 actinic and T5 marine white.


tank 5  tank 6 tank 7 tank 8


29th October 2005

The tank has taken almost four days to fill with RO water, hopefully the sump will be filled by lunchtime tomorrow. The RO unit is not producing at its' optimum rate due to being outside where it is colder. The best water temperature for producing RO water is about 74F, my supply is about 56- 58F, so you can see the problem!!

30th October 2005

Tank is filled, water is at 76F and SG 1.023. Pump is running happily and all tubes are now fitted with reflectors. I am still waiting for the delivery of two powerheads to add to the extra circulation. Yes, I know you can see the eggcrate beneath the rocks but I have still to add 10kg of live rock to the system and have to put it somewhere!!


tank 9 Tank 10 Tank 11 Tank 12 Tank 13


Below you will see the sump. They are not very good pictures owing to the way the cabinet is constructed. Water flows into the first chamber (still trying to get the bl**dy gurgling noise from the overflow pipe under control) through the bioballs into the second chamber. This is where the skimmer will go as and when I decide on having one. Water then flows over the top to chamber #3 which has a 3" sand bad, 2x 300w heater stats and a 25W Sun Glo tube above. May have it on an alternate cycle, may have it on 24hours, not sure yet. Water then flows into #4 which again will have some bioballs in, before going to #5 and the return pipe.



Sump left   Sump middle Sump right

7th November 2005

Over the weekend, I purchased a small frag of xenia and branch coral (I think that's what it is) to add some extra to the tank. Working near Leicester today, I dropped into Marine Madness to buy some turbo snails and I also bought some small blue leg hermits. I must confess that they are very small and difficult to see once in the tank, but hopefully the scarlets won't beat up on them too much when they go in. To make sure I can keep some of them, I have placed four in the main tank and three in the sump.

Panic stations this morning. One of the clowns was floating around by the weir overflow looking a bit sorry for itself. Out came the test kits to make sure no ammonia or nitrite was present, both turned out to be negative. Reading on another forum, I found this is quite common and some clowns adopt this area to sleep at night. Panic over as this afternoon they are playing chase again around the tank.

18th November 2005

Another quick trip to the local fish shop to buy a new powerhead. I had ordered a Maxijet 1200, but it hadn't arrived due to distributor problems and I settled for a Maxijet 900. What a difference the extra 300lph made to the water flow! I have placed the K30 powerhead to the rear of the tank to blow along the back glass in an attempt to keep the detritus moving until it reaches the weir. I will buy two Maxijet 1200's, but that will now have to wait until after Christmas. The two cleaner shrimps are supposed to be the more "sociable" shrimps you can get, they are supposed to be always out. So far I have seen them for about 20 minutes in total as they have taken refuge within the egg crate under the rocks to the right of the tank. Every now and again, you will see the white feelers poking out as they think about exploring. I think one of them has just moulted and hence is feeling a bit vulnerable until the body hardens again. Another 6 hermits went in today just to try and keep on top of things. I would like to get some more snails before Christmas, but that is it as far as livestock goes now for a while. Time to sit back and watch as the tank matures and hopefully starts to blossom.


tank 34 tank 35 tank 36 tank 36

tank 38 tank 39 tank 40 tank 41

tank 42 tank 43 tank 44 tank 45

tank 46 tank 47 Nasty Aiptasia!!!

19th November 2005

Looked like the builders had been in today!! The new powerhead is obviously much more powerful than that which it replaced. Because the Hydor rotating head is on to give a bit of current, the blast is aiming straight for the sand bed. Ideally that would be good, to keep it free from detritus, but this time it is making large sand dunes in the middle of the tank!! The powerhead is already situated at the top of the tank, so it can't be moved higher to weaken the blast. I may have to strategically place a rock in the way to try and act as some sort of a breaker.

I finally relented today. Despite promising not to buy anything else for the tank until after Christmas, I was persuaded to buy a 150w Aqua Medic metal halide lamp with a 13000K rated bulb (I have since been informed that even though labelled as a 13000k bulb, it is in fact 14000k). I now have to work out how to suspend the light above the tank and also how to place the two T5 tubes so that I can have some actinic light in the tank still.

It is a bad move to take the wife shopping with you as she can then see the prices of things also!! In the invert tank were two small black urchins. They have a bright orange eye and within the centre body, there are neon blue tentacles waving furiously back and forth. The shop told me that they are extremely good scavengers, so good in fact that they may scrape away the coralline algae from the rocks. I needed something to scavenge for me and I was assured the bio load they would add would be miniscule. With a little bit of pestering from the Wife, one was bagged and brought home 

Prior to carrying out a 25 litre water change, my vital statistics were: Nitrite 0.01; Nitrate 2.5ppm; SG 1.023; Temperature 76.7F. All in all I am very happy with the way things are turning out. I have taken a lot of advice over the last few weeks from my local stores, Interfish and Essential Aquatics. I have also found useful information on the Marinefish UK Forum (now closed).

4th December 2005

Unfortunately, both cleaner shrimps appear to have passed away. They disappeared from view on Wednesday for what was assumed to be a moult. After a couple of days, one of them re- appeared at the front of the tank, but was a bit listless, returning later to the "house". Yesterday I spent the day watching it wriggling on it's side and back. At this stage I was hopeful it was still trying to get out of it's old casing and was struggling. Today however, once the tank lights came on, I found the shrimp in the corner curled up and not moving. It definitely isn't the moulted casing, it is the whole shrimp. Water parameters have remained constant throughout, although the SG is currently measured with a glass hydrometer while I await delivery of my refractometer.

I purchased a new type of food for my fish which arrived yesterday from Marines Dream (no longer trading). Apparently the food is supposed to be irresistible to fish and inverts. I have tried feeding it to the fish for the last two days and although they are eating it, they don't seem to have the passion I was lead to believe they would have. That said, one of my mushroom anemones caught a rather large particle and has wrapped itself around the food parcel to inwardly digest. I shall keep an eye on how they take to this food, although I will still be feeding the brine shrimp, mysis and flake as well.

A couple of messages via the Marinefish UK forum and a chat at my other LFS (Interfish) has reassured me that the algae I have in my sump is okay, so long as that is where it stays!! Fast growing algae is the best way to export excess nutrients from the tank, which must be why my levels are currently so low (that and the low stocking level).

19th December 2005

I have taken delivery of 25 sand sifting cerith snails. These little creatures are supposed to keep the sand bed turned over, so I added 10 to the main tank and 15 to the sump. I have seen more of these snails crawling around the glass of the tank than I have burying themselves!! I have another 20 coming tomorrow hopefully. Overkill? I'm not sure, we shall have to see if the tank can handle that sort of population.


The installation of the copepod culture was a bad move. I mistakenly floated the container in the sump. Evaporation is quite substantial there and after three days, I found a almost dried up culture container. I rapidly filled the container with water and flushed out any surviving pods to the algae. Hopefully some have survived and will populate the algae rather than being delivered directly to the tank. I may have to consider another culture in the new year.


I have purchased two Maxijet 1200 powerheads today. I don't really think the tank needs the extra movement as everything seems to be growing well. I would however like to keep some of the debris suspended a little while longer to give it a chance to enter the sump and be filtered out. 


Unfortunately, a lot of the information between the end of 2005 and August 2006, June 2007 has gone missing. Below is what is left of the set up whilst in full flow.


27th August 2006

There have been some new arrivals in the tank recently. I bought 3 yellow clown gobies the week before the tang died. I didn't have a chance to update with their details before. They are cute little things and have currently taken to perching on the algae magnet as well as some of the open rocks. They tend to hide quite a lot at the moment, but they are the smallest fish in the tank at the moment!!

Yesterday saw me visiting Interfish where I ordered my new protein skimmer. I am going to go with the Kent V2 Skim 400 which seems to suit my requirements. The air driven skimmer does its job, but the pores on the wooden diffuser block with alarming regularity. It's time to buy a skimmer that is sufficient for the aquarium's needs, especially now the sump has so much life. I still don't want to overskim in case the sump life is affected, but I still have this niggling 0.01ppm nitrite reading and I need to do something about it.

In the "cheapo gap fillers" section I managed to pick up a reasonably sized piece of organ pipe coral. The inner area of the structure was devoid of any polyps which would be why it was so cheap. I managed to pick off all the valonia bubbles I could see growing within the structure, but that's not to say there isn't still some there.

I also decided on buying a dwarf angel. I have looked at the coral beauty for many months now and although not as vividly colourful as some of its other relatives will be a welcome addition. I didn't want to add an angel and a butterfly to the same tank in case of squabbling, but due to recent circumstances, I am now able to add one. Since releasing it yesterday, I have seen it a couple of times. It fed with the rest of the fish last night, but I think it is still finding its way around the tank and is extremely shy. I have put a sheet of seaweed out for it today, but it obviously isn't that hungry just yet.

I decided to take some pictures of the tank from above. I thought this would be a bit different to the ones that are almost always normally taken from the side. Unfortunately, the only pictures I have currently of the angel are not very good as it is while it was still in the bag.


Tank 168 Tank 169 Tank 170 Tank 171

Tank 173 Tank 174 Tank 175 Tank 176

Tank 172 Tank 177 Tank 178


I am trying two new products at the moment, one is a food for corals called Coral Vibrance. It is a fine powder that can be fed 2- 3 times per week. I have been using it for about a week now. The coral polyps obviously like it as they wrap around the particles with vigour as soon as it is put in the water column. I am also experimenting with Seachem Flourish (iron). This is a freshwater plant food which is high in iron. Having spoken at length to one of the regulars at my LFS, I was told that putting the iron in the sump with caulerpa gave it a "bit of a boost". When first put in my sump, the caulerpa did a fantastic job and grew quickly. Over the last few months though, the growth has slowed with yellowing of the leaves and small holes appearing. I first added the supplement yesterday which made the tank cloudy. Initially, panic set in but it was soon apparent there was no effect on the inhabitants and it soon cleared. Today you wouldn't even know there had been anything wrong.

17th June 2007

Has it really been that long? This update has been somewhat neglected recently, but having recently (ish) purchased a new camera, I am hoping the updated photos will make up for it. Unfortunately the brain coral which lived at the front of the tank has died. There is something in the tank somewhere that is causing rockfalls. Upon coming downstairs one morning, there was some rockwork that hand landed on top of the coral. Unfortunately this then caused the tissue to recede and for the coral to eventually die.



Page started 10th January 1998, and all information was correct at that time.


Coming soon, pictures and details of how I construct a 24"x 15"x 12" marine system. Hopefully it is going to be based on the plenum system, filtered with live rock. UK shops say it is not possible to have a successful plenum in tanks under 100 UK gallons, in the US successes are reported in as small as 10 gallons. Who is right?? All pictures shown on this page can be seen in a larger size (320x 240) by double clicking on them. Please be warned that this page is graphics intensive.



STOP PRESS A word of warning for those of you looking for eggrate to use with your plenum. DO NOT go to your aquatic outlet, you are likely to be ripped off. The price for a 4'x 2' sheet was quoted as being £25.00. Look through your Yellow Pages under "suspended ceiling contractors". The same size sheet will cost you around £5.00!!!! You have been warned.



20th March 1999

I have recently read in an American magazine about a product called cell pore. Apparently it is a sintered glass type product which is manufactured in sheets for placing under the coral sand, or in the shape of rocks to use as décor. Apparently this material is supposed to mimic plenum conditions, so being willing to try new ideas, I have ordered two sheets. Delivery is expected to take 6- 8 weeks because I opted for surface mail delivery (much cheaper). Keep coming back for more information!!!


 17th April 1999


I finally started the construction process yesterday. I have got fed up waiting for the cell- pore to arrive so I had to make a decision and it didn't involve a plenum either!!! I have recently set up a marine aquarium for a customer  using a canister filter, coral sand and live rock. I am going to apply most of these principles to my small mini- reef with one major exception, no canister. The aquarium below is now ready to receive it's first consignment of ocean rock and some live rock.


Tank 0 Tank 2

The water parameters are 79°F (needs cooling a bit), SG 1.021 and pH 8.3. Lighting is provided by one Triton and there is also a small bubble up sponge filter at the moment, I may or may not keep it depending on how well the "reef" begins to take shape.


17th April 1999


9lbs of inert ocean rock @ 55p per lb and 5lbs of cured live rock @ £4.50 per lb have been purchased and added to the tank. 4kg of coral sand was spread over the bottom after positioning. The rock is encrusted with little feather dusters, some algae and I have seen one or two little critters wandering around. As the live rock is already cured and acting as it's own filtration system, it is now ready for some small beasties. I will however be waiting until next weekend before I add 10 red legged hermit crabs and 10 turbo snails when hopefully the water will be crystal clear.


 Tank 03 Tank 4 Tank 5 Tank 6

25th April 1999


A trip to Coral Cave in Hardwick, Cambridgeshire has reaped some new livestock. Although it is a small tank, the conditions have settled nicely, not surprising really as there is nothing in there to add to the bio load. More miniature feather dusters have appeared on the live rock along with some interesting polyps and small shrimps. The picture to the left shows the acclimatisation process of my new arrivals.


Tank 7 Tank 8 Tank 9 Tank 10


After half hour my new acquisitions were ready for release. As well as floating the bags to equalise temperature, a small amount of aquarium water was also added to try and make the SG difference less of a shock to the animals. I have acquired two Caribbean feather dusters, caulerpa encrusted rock, coloured polyp rock, small mandarin goby, royal gramma and 6 red legged hermit crabs. Two hours after releasing the livestock, they all seem to have disappeared from view. I suppose they are busy trying to find their way around their new home. Some careful monitoring of water conditions will now be carried out to ensure that there is no catastrophic rise in ammonia levels now some livestock has been added. Feeding will commence on Wednesday with frozen brine shrimp.



13th May 1999


Two weeks have passed and unfortunately the gramma has passed away. A fungus infection covered its right eye and I was unable to catch the fish to treat it. After five days I found it wedged into a piece of rock, dead as the proverbial Dodo. The Mandarin is doing fine. I was informed by the shop that it was eating frozen brine shrimp when I purchased it, but I have found no evidence to prove this. It is obviously eating something which is in the tank, otherwise it would be dead by now. I have also added two more feather dusters, some polyp rock, some anemone rock and six more hermits. I have also purchased one 18" Powerglo and one 18" Coralife 50/ 50 fluorescent tube which gives the tank fantastic illumination. I shall be adding a powerhead to give some current and a new air pump as my old Whisper 500 has about had it. Below is how the tank looks at the moment.


Tank 14 Tank 15 Tank 16 Tank


15th May 1999


A ghost 2 air pump has been purchased along with a Aquaclear 101 powerhead for water movement. The mandarin goby has also passed on. Water quality tests okay, so I can only assume it died of starvation as I never did see it eat any shrimp. Another local shop has had some various varieties of algae which have proved to be extremely hardy and pretty, there is a red and a green version. More life is appearing from the live rock, there are little worm like creatures and some new polyp colonies have appeared. A particularly nice piece of yellow polyp rock has been acquired as well as two orange sea slugs. Algae is starting to cover the rear of the aquarium making a more natural backdrop.

19th May 1999


What a beautiful looking tank, even if I do say so myself!!! One of my friends has recently lost one of his four percula clownfish and the remaining least dominant was becoming a bit beaten up. Being the good friend I am I agreed to take this poor soul and offer a new home. With my clown I also relented and purchased another percula and a brown bubble anemone for their home. It has taken 24 hours for the clowns to acknowledge the anemone as a host and they are now virtually inseparable.

Tank 17 Tank 18 Tank 19 Tank 20


Over the past five weeks, I have carried out weekly water changes of approximately 3-5 gallons. The SG remains steady at 1.022, temperature 76°F, nitrate below 10ppm and ammonia undetectable. I shall continue to monitor this "mini- reef" and will report my findings on this page.

2nd June 1999


Okay, let's get the "I told you so's" out of the way. Everything has been okay in the tank, all readings have remained where they were supposed to. I noticed just before the weekend that the polyps weren't opening like they used to. They stayed closed for a few days so I thought about......... Protein skimming!!! I have had a Sander piccolo skimmer in my "odds and sods" box for a few years now, I never used it previously because I couldn't adjust it properly!! Anyway, suffice it to say that the skimmer is producing a yucky urine yellow substance in the collection cup. I haven't adjusted it professionally, I use the cover glass to hold it in place. At the end of the second day the polyps are thinking about opening again. Below you can see a picture of the skimmer in place and working, unfortunately the aquarium hood doesn't allow for such extras. The next picture shows the collection cup with the foam accumulating.

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