Seahorses and corals are a beautiful combination for exotic aquariums. Corals may look beautiful, but some species have vicious stings, which will be bad for your seahorses. With so many different species of corals out in the market, it might be a little daunting to figure out which are the best corals for seahorses.
Ideally, you want live corals that don’t have any sting, as they could end up harming your seahorses. When choosing corals for seahorse tanks, you should look for the ones that require minimal care. They should also be less sensitive to aquarium parameters.
To be honest, making a reef tank for seahorses is not as complex as people make it out to be. There are many things to watch out for, but you can easily make your seahorses and corals thrive by following some simple steps. I’ll now elaborate on what those steps are and which corals are best for seahorses.
What Are the Best Corals for a Seahorse Tank?
There are a vast number of corals that you can use as a base for your coral reef. Switching from a species tank for your Seahorse to a working coral reef can be a daunting challenge. Both corals and seahorses are sensitive to the lighting of your tank. They are also sensitive to things like water current, ph level, salinity, etc.
That’s why you need to be particularly careful while choosing your corals for a seahorse tank. Since your primary focus is the seahorse, you should pick corals that have more flexible requirements. In that regard, sticking to hard corals is better for you.
Hard corals come in two different varieties, LPS, and SPS corals. I would generally tend to pick LPS corals to pair with seahorses. These corals are hardy and they don’t have strict living conditions. They can be found with fluctuating salinity, lighting, and parameters.
Now I’ll list out ten coral species that are the most compatible with seahorses. It is mostly going to be a personal opinion, but I’ll try to explain why I think these species are better than other species. Based on these, you can later choose to pick a different coral that has similar attributes.
1. Kenya Tree
Kenya tree is a resilient coral that can survive in bad water conditions. They can live under almost any lighting condition and thrive as long as they can conduct photosynthesis. You can place it anywhere in your tank.
One of the best qualities of Kenya tree coral is that it can grow exceptionally faster compared to other corals. That makes it very easy to integrate into an already existing system. They pose no threat to Seahorses and can aid them by acting as an anchor against water flow.
Kenya tree coral needs medium to fast water flow, but you can keep them at the low medium for your seahorses. It is a peaceful coral, and will not harm other corals most of the time, but other hard corals may staunch its growth.
2. Green Nepthea
Green Nepthea is a beautiful leather coral. They come in various shades of green. They require extremely little care. These corals have lots of thick leathery branches, almost like a bonsai tree, but underwater. Seahorses can use them as hitching posts to stop themselves from flowing with the current.
This coral is not particularly aggressive. They primarily gain most of their nutrition in the form of photosynthesis. However, they require medium to fast water flow, which can be a bit tricky. Most seahorses like slow to moderate flow, so you could make a compromise and keep the water flow at a level that suits both the seahorses and the coral.
Green Nepthea does require a fair bit of light because it needs that for photosynthesis. And you need to keep a decent amount of space between it and other corals you plan to put in the tank because Green Nepthea will attack other corals that come into contact with it.
The outer skin of this coral is coated in mucus. This mucus is poisonous to humans, so take appropriate protection measures before handling this species.
3. Encrusting Xenia
Xenia is one of the fastest-growing invasive Corals. They can coexist peacefully with seahorses. However, they grow so fast that you could even think of them as parasites. They will grow over anything within its reach, including other corals.
Encrusting Xenia can retract its tendrils when it senses danger. Aggressive corals can stop their growth by stinging it. However, you can’t bring too aggressive corals in a seahorse tank. That’s why you need to place them in a place that you don’t mind covering. These corals are tiny so they can’t act as hitching posts for larger seahorses.
4. Toadstool Leather
Toadstool Leather is a non-aggressive coral. It is versatile in the sense that you can place it anywhere on the tank and it will still grow fine. Seahorses are very compatible with this coral because it doesn’t sting them. It grows rapidly and gets most of its nutrients from photosynthesis.
It needs enough space to grow but it does not have an obtrusive presence in the tank. It can thrive in moderate water flow, which is perfect for seahorses as they don’t appreciate fast flow.
5. Pink Anthelia
Pink Anthelia is a rapidly growing soft coral. One of the few soft corals that I like pairing with seahorses. They are peaceful but a bit too timid in my opinion, because predatory fish can easily damage them. But seahorses are peaceful creatures too, so they share great compatibility with these corals.
If you’re looking for more soft coral inspiration, you can check out my list here.
Pink Anthelia can be placed pretty much anywhere in the tank, but they grow best when you place them in between the ridges of rocks. These corals do need a tad bit stronger water flow, so they don’t go well with tiny seahorses. However, larger seahorses can do fine in moderate water flow.
This species of coral can produce food on its own, but additional filter-feeding is better if you want faster growth.
Zoanthids are versatile corals that can thrive in water parameters suited for most seahorses. They are semi-aggressive and can harm other corals should they come into contact with each other. They don’t harm other living creatures so your seahorses have nothing to worry about.
Zoanthids are capable of photosynthesis, but they can’t usually thrive on just that. In a fish tank, they need to be filter fed alongside your seahorses for optimal growth. Some species of Zoanthids produce Playtoxins. It is an extremely strong neurotoxin so take extra care while you handle this coral.
7. Grube’s Gorgonian
Grube’s Gorgonian is a variety of coral that has long, spread out branches. It’s a good partner for seahorses because it acts as hitching posts. These corals are easy to maintain, and they don’t harm fishes or seahorses. They are very flexible because you can fit them anywhere on the tank.
This variety of Gordonians can thrive in low lighting conditions, so you have more options while choosing your aquarium space. Seahorses can live fine in moderate lighting conditions so ultimately; they pair off quite well.
This species of Coral does not need fast water flow, but the water flow needs to be constant. Most seahorses also have the same requirement so it works out well.
8. Colt leather coral
Colt leather coral is a moderately aggressive coral from the Alcyoniidae family. It is a type of leather coral that is usually preferred to grow in small colonies. They don’t require extra care so it is popular among both veterans and beginners.
It can be placed on any hard surface in the tank and it is highly compatible with seahorses. It requires stronger than average water flow, so I recommend you pair it with larger seahorse species.
9. Devil’s hand leather corals
Devil’s hands is a leather-coral. It has finger-like tendrils that move around with the water flow, seahorses can use these as hitching posts. These corals grow rapidly and don’t need too much lighting nor water flow.
They are a passive sort of coral that doesn’t attack fish or other big animals. They are not particularly toxic either. However, you should keep them away from other corals because they can attack them.
10. Green Star Polyps
Green Star polyps are exceptionally easy to grow coral. It can survive in a wide range of water conditions. It is a type of soft coral that isn’t particularly aggressive, which makes it a perfect choice for your seahorses.
It is an encrusting coral, so it will grow over everything within its reach. However, that does not harm seahorses in any way. They end up helping seahorses by providing them with support against the water flow.
Proper Tank Condition for Seahorses and Corals
Seahorses are one of the most unique pets in the world, but that also makes them one of the most sensitive ones to care for. Keeping a seahorse itself is not that hard, the hard part is managing a proper reef tank.
Aquariums are aquariums, no matter how hard you try, it won’t replicate the seabed 100%. That’s why there will always be something unpredictable happening in the tank, putting your seahorses in danger. Let’s talk about how to ensure seahorses thrive in a reef tank.
- Buy good breeds: You can’t fully control everything, but can control what type of seahorse you have. Try to always get captive-bred seahorses. They are resilient and are more accustomed to life in aquariums. They will fare much better than a wild breed.
They are better at assimilating themselves with their tank mates.
- Cleaning: Keeping a clean tank is probably the most crucial part of having a healthy aquarium. But I still see many novices neglect this step. A clean tank will not only benefit your seahorses but will also help your corals thrive.
If you ignore cleaning the tank for too long, bacteria’s start to thrive in the tank. Seahorses are particularly juicy targets for bacteria. Some corals also develop diseases if you keep them in a dirty tank for too long
- Conditioning: One of the common rookie mistakes is putting new seahorses right into your existing tank. Most seahorses you buy from a breeder won’t be accustomed to a regular reef tank environment. They are generally raised in vats in larger numbers. That, coupled with the stress from shipping affects new seahorses heavily.
Worst-case scenario, they will stop eating food and fall sick. You can easily avoid this by putting them in an isolated tank. Just throw in some hitches and cured live rocks and keep it in a separate tank. Feed it regularly and continue this process for a few weeks. After that, you can move them to the main tank.
- Water Flow and Filtration: Waterflow is one of the most crucial things for seahorses and corals. Some corals need moderate water flow, some corals prefer stronger flow, but most seahorses need low to medium flow strength.
Seahorses are not particularly good swimmers so having a strong flow in your tank can be detrimental. However, corals need high water flow to stay healthy, so you can’t pair them with seahorses.
The corals I picked in this post are versatile, they can survive in almost any water condition. You can adjust your water flow with your seahorses by keeping it at a sweet spot for both the coral and seahorse.
Never use a wavemaker in a seahorse tank, or a powerhead for that matter. Seahorses don’t appreciate strong currents so the wavemaker is doing it no good. And powerheads are even more dangerous because they can directly injure your seahorses
As for filters, search for one on the stronger side. Seahorses appreciate a good filter because it slows down bacteria build-up. Corals also appreciate filters, even those that rely on plankton as it’s the main source of food.
- Space: Seahorses are not horizontal swimmers like most fish. They prefer going up and down vertically. That’s why the height of your tank matters more than the width. Generally, you’d want around twenty to thirty gallons of tank space for a pair of seahorses. That is assuming they are fully grown.
You can give the width of your tank some slack, but try to get as tall a tank as you can. Adequate space is crucial for ensuring proper growth.
Best Seahorse Species Compatible with Most Corals
Corals are only one part of the equation. For a healthy and thriving seahorse tank, you need to pick hardy seahorse species. Here’s a list of seahorses that are great for the aquarium.
- Lined seahorse or northern giant
- Brazilian seahorses
- Pacific seahorse
- Tigertail seahorses
- Dwarf seahorses
These seahorses are strong and playful. They can usually show excitement and other interactions faster once they recognize you as the one who brings food.
These seahorses can thrive in standard tank temperatures, which is around 28 degrees Celsius. They can handle medium to strong water flow, which makes it easy for you to adjust the flow with your corals. They need a medium to high lighting, which is also perfect for your corals.
Can Corals Harm Seahorses?
Corals enhance the beauty of a tank, and generally, you can put in any type of coral you want with strong fish. But seahorses are delicate animals, and some species of coral can heavily damage your legless friend.
Here is a list of corals that you should never put in your seahorse tank:
- Plerogyra Sinuosa
These corals can thrive in low lighting and slow water flow. They also don’t require much care to maintain. On top of that, they look beautiful with various color schemes. So why should you not put them in your seahorse tank? Because they are aggressive like nobody’s business.
They will attack any other coral they can get their tentacles on. They also have a nasty habit of injuring small to medium-sized fish. Seahorses are particularly susceptible to their sting because unlike most fishes, seahorses are poor swimmers. They can’t even get away from danger when they sense it.
Most seahorses will go to the corals in your tank and try to use them as hitches. If you put aggressive corals in there, your seahorses will be seriously injured. Therefore, you should avoid putting in these species of corals at all costs.
As you can see, maintaining a healthy seahorse tank is much easier than what people believe. There is very little hassle, once you know how everything works and what to avoid. Same with live corals, they can be fairly easy to maintain too. The hard part is adjusting the tank to mimic the living condition of both seahorses and coral.
My preferred method is picking the seahorse and coral with the most similar living conditions possible, then you can adjust them so that both can live in harmony. That’s how you pick the best corals for seahorses.