The facility is managed by Tracy Warland, who has successfully captive bred

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South Australian Seahorse Marine Services has been in operation since, 1998, originally located in Port Lincoln, South Australia. During this time our breeding program has successfully bred and sold small numbers of captive bred seahorses to the aquarium market world wide. 

In January 2007 the facility moved to Port Adelaide and now operates as an educational viewing facility with a small scale breeding program. The down scale of the breeding program came about due to the size of the new facility.

The Captive Breeding Approval and Authority to Export Permits were allowed to lapse as we had stopped exporting one year prior to moving to Port Adelaide, and did not expect to recommence exporting for several years. We are now ready to begin exporting seahorses and seadragons again in 2010.

Some of the species currently held at the facility are not currently under any breeding program, they are used solely at this stage for display purposes. However, any off-spring raised from these species will be offered to the aquarium market, until specific breeding programs for these species are implemented.

Broodstock are obtained by either collection of species available locally, or by purchase from licensed breeders/collectors from interstate. Self-perpetuating broodstock with occasional fresh genetic input will be all that is required to maintain the breeding programs. Further permits are sought from the relevant authorities as required.

The facility is managed by Tracy Warland, who has successfully captive bred H. abdominalis and H. whitei over the years taking each species to 4th generation. The facility also employs 2 full-time staff. Work experience students from local Universities, TAFE and other institutions often attend to gain “hands on” work experience as a component of their studies.

In the past, twelve monthly reports of the operation have been supplied to Fisheries and Aquaculture South Australia and Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts in regards to assessment of culturing operations, behavior of animals under culture conditions, provision of food sources and culture techniques for foods, reproductive success, including spawning, rearing, mortality and sales records. These reports will once again be forwarded on once our approval has been granted.

No wild caught broodstock (either harvested by the organisation or purchased from registered collectors) is sold. It is our intention to only make available for sale “tank raised” or “Captive Bred” specimens. Our only market will be the aquarium trade.

Resource assessments of harvest areas are undertaken during broodstock collections and details are submitted to State Authorities. Details of harvest locations, animals harvested and relevant observations will be submitted after any collections. Animals are harvested by hand.

Sustainable management of our natural resources, via small wild harvests will enable sufficient broodstock to be maintained and markets met. It is our intent to have minimal impact on the environment.

We therefore seek Captive Breeding Approval under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act) , and Authority to Export all “Captive Bred” or “Tank Raised” species of family Syngnathidae.

Management and Permit Details

Tracy Warland,

South Australian Seahorse Marine Services ,

ABN 58 796 404 981

20 Divett Street, Port Adelaide SA 5015

Telephone: +61 8 8447 7824

Fax: +61 8 8447 5546

Mobile: 0428 334 516


Web Site:


Copies of the Permits are attached for your information


Landbased Aquaculture Licence AQ 00079—under the Aquaculture Act 2001 South Australia


Collection Permit for ten (10) adult pot bellied seahorses (Hippocampus abdominalis); The collection of ten (10) short-snouted seahorses (Hippocampus breviceps); collection of ten (10) spotted pipefish (Stigmatopora argus); ten (10) wide-bodied pipefish (Stigmatopora nigra) and collection of two (2) egg bearing male and two (2) female weedy seadragon (Phyllopteryx taeniolatus) - Fisheries Act, 1982: Section 59. Schedule 1—2 Issued 25th March 2009—valid until 31st December 2009.


Collection Permit for one (1) adult gravid male leafy seadragon ( Phycodorus eques) - Fisheries Act, 1982: Section 59. Schedule 1—2 Issued 3rd August 2009—valid until 30th June 2010.


Trade Waste Discharge Permit SA Water. Valid until revoked – copy of last audit for your information included.




The species listed below are currently held at the facility


Scientific Name Common Name

Australian Species of Seahorse

Hippocampus abdominalis/

Hippocampus bleekeri The Australian Pot Belly


Hippocampus breviceps The Short Snouted Seahorse


Hippocampus whitei White’s Seahorse or The Sydney Seahorse


Hippocampus elongatus The West Australian Seahorse


Hippocampus tuberculatus The Knobby Seahorse


Hippocampus angustus The Western Spiny Seahorse





Stigmatopora argus The Spotted Pipefish


Stigmatopora nigra The Wide Bodied Pipefish


Sea Dragons


Phyllopteryx taeniolatus The Common or Weedy Seadragon


Phycodurus eques The Leafy Seadragon


Exotic Species


Hippocampus barbouri The Tiger Snouted Seahorse


Hippocampus reidi The Brazilian Seahorse


Hippocampus kuda The Yellow Seahorse






Seahorses—An identification guide to the world’s species and their conservation

Sara A Lourie, Amanda CJ Vincent and Heather J Hall


Seahorses, Pipefishes and their relatives—A comprehensive Guide to Syngnathiformes

Rudie H. Kuiter


Breeding Records

Mortality Records and Annual Production Figures

Twelve monthly reports will be submitted to Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts and Aquaculture SA.


The breeding program over the last 4 years has been maintained small scale, ensuring manageable stock during the move to Port Adelaide, this small scale program will continue for at least another 5 (five) years, due to the size of our current facility.


Fry Rearing Techniques

Pregnant males are isolated into Paternity Tanks, upon birth, the male is removed and the fry remain in this tank for at least one week. Tank sizes and design vary according to species. Several of the species held at the facility are pelagic—behaviour is free swimming with current in open water, while some are demersal—behaviour is resting on sea floor.


The Pelagic species are often raised in a pseudo kestrel tank similar to a “fish bowl” type nursery, while demersal species are raised in small glass or plastic aquariums from 10 litres to 30 litres.


Newly born fry are fed 3-4 times daily on artemia nauplii, rotifers and copepods enriched with Selco and various algae sp. Small sponge filters are used for filtration and water changes of approximately 10-20% occur daily. Fry are then moved to grow-out tanks approximately 1 week after birth.


While some of the survival rates with the new species are still quite low, breeding programs are still being researched for some species in regards to fry rearing tank designs, stocking densities, optimum raising parameters and food sources. It is envisioned that as this on-going research continues fry survival will increase.


Source of Parental Stock and Estimate of Additional Breeding Stock Requirements

Local species are sourced from South Australian waters. Harvest sites are not returned to for a period of at least 5 years. Species from interstate/overseas are purchased from licensed collectors/importers.


We only ever intend to maintain small numbers of a variety of broodstock, with fresh genetics sourced as required, with a maximum of ten (10) pair being added to the broodstock every two years. The facility will only every produce small numbers of a diverse range of species to the aquarium market.


Self-perpetuating broodstock, with the addition of small sustainable harvests to ensure genetic diversification will ensure the breeding program can continue for years to come. It is our intention to only ever breed to fourth (4th) generation without the addition of fresh genetics.



Details of Breeding Methods and Procedures

Broodstock are placed in suitable breeding tanks, rather than the specific breeding of one/two pair, a group of suitable aged/sized adults are placed in mating tanks where the selection process of mating is by natural selection.


Records of brood genetics and brood numbers are maintained to ensure minimum risk of genetic relationship when selection of self-perpetuating broodstock occurs. Tanks are labeled and numbered and records maintained to indicate generation and genetics.


Brood size and average fry size vary from species to species. However, it has been noted that fecundity is relevant to broodstock age/size, with brood numbers increasing as broodstock matures

Assessment of Culturing Operations and Behaviour for Each Species:

Hippocampus abdominalisMarket demand for this species is limited due to the temperature requirements (temperate) which are hard for hobbyists to maintain. Small numbers only of this species are bred to supply overseas markets who require them for display purposes. A number of stock are also maintained at the facility for display purposes only. South Australians enjoy seeing their local species on display.


Fry are born ±18mm, slightly pelagic in behaviour for approx four (4) week period. Artemia nauplii is suitable as a food source from birth. Adults are showing some cannibalistic behaviour The species is not totally monogamous, they appear to pair bond, sometimes for several matings. These are a temperate species and largest brood size recorded is 467 (± 180—adult—±29—6 mth).


Hippocampus whitei—These appear to be a popular, hardy species for the aquarium market. New broodstock is currently required for this species, large public viewing aquariums are being approached with an effort to source fresh broodstock from their display tanks, if unsuccessful, application will be made to a local collector with the appropriate permits to make small collections (5 pair) on our behalf.


Fry are born ±10 mm, demersal behaviour. Artemia nauplii is suitable as food source from birth. No cannibalistic behaviour has been observed. Pair bonding is more consistent than monogamous behaviour. Sub–tropical species and largest brood size record is 193 (± 125—adult—±18—6 mth).


Hippocampus breviceps have been maintained as a “display” for the purpose of tours only. Due to their temperate keeping requirements they will probably not be in huge demand for the aquarium trade. There may be the opportunity to make them available to the public viewing aquariums world wide. Observations and protocol still being established on this species. We will attempt to harvest further broodstock this year.


Fry are born ±18mm, slightly pelagic in behaviour for approx four (4) week period. Artemia nauplii is suitable as a food source from birth. Not enough successful matings have occurred for observations and average brood sizes to be conclusive. They appear to pair bond. These are a temperate species and largest brood size recorded is 50 (± 50—adult—±0—6 mth).


Hippocampus elongatus These have also been used as a “display”. Breeding has commenced with several broods over the last year. Success has been very limited to date as the fry are pelagic and we have not been experiencing very good success rates.


Fry raising protocols are still being researched and unfortunately limited success has occurred with raising the fry over the last 12 months. They do not appear to be monogamous and no cannibalising has been witnessed. No unusual behaviour has been witnessed. Sub-tropical species and largest brood size record is 267 (± 140—adult—±35—6 mth).


Hippocampus tuberculatus were purchased from licensed collector in Western Australian. This species is thought to be a synonym of H. breviceps They are being used both as a display, but they have produced several small broods over the last few months.


Brood sizes are small and fry are relatively large ±12 mm considering the size of the adults ±5.5 cm. Limited success over the last 12 months has produced a small amount of fry. Protocols are still being established and trials will continue. Artemia Nauplii is offered as a first food source. They do appear to pair bond, although are not totally monogamous. No cannibalising has been witnessed. No unusual behaviour has been witnessed. Sub-tropical species and largest brood size recorded is 67 (± 25—adult—±6—6 mth).

Hippocampus barbouri are purchased from a breeder in Western Australia who sells to the local aquarium trade.

Fry are born ±10 mm. Food sources for young are also required to be small. They do not appear to be monogamous and no cannibalising has been witnessed. Artemia Nauplii from birth. No unusual behaviour has been witnessed. Tropical species.


Hippocampus kuda were purchased from breeder in Tasmania, who imported them from Indonesia and is selling captive bred stock.


Protocols are still being established as this species has an extended pelagic period. Food sources for young are also required to be much smaller, fry are born at ±5 mm. They do not appear to be monogamous and no cannibalising has been witnessed. No unusual behaviour has been witnessed. Tropical species.


Hippocampus reidi were purchased from a breeder in Western Australia who sells to the local aquarium trade


Protocols are still being established as this species has an extended pelagic period. Food sources for young are also required to be much smaller, fry are born at ±5 mm. They do not appear to be monogamous and no cannibalising has been witnessed. No unusual behaviour has been witnessed. Tropical species.


Hippocampus angustus were purchased from a breeder in Western Australia who sells to the local aquarium trade


Protocols are still being established as this species has an extended pelagic period. Food sources for young are also required to be much smaller, fry are born at ±5 mm. They do not appear to be monogamous and no cannibalising has been witnessed. No unusual behaviour has been witnessed. Tropical species.

Stigmatopora argusThe Spotted Pipefish. We are still establishing protocols for this species with limited success. Gestation is approximately 24 days. Fry are ±18 mm, Artemia nauplii are suitable from birth. Fry achieve adult size (10 cms) in approximately six (6) months. This species is currently used as display, no fry have been sold.


Phycodurus eques One leafy seadragon was harvested on 31st January 2009, unfortunately the eggs he was carrying dropped and no successful off-spring were produced. However we have been re-approved and will be collecting a gravid male in November/December 2009.


Phyllopteryx taeniolatus have been harvested over the last few years, we believe we have pairs however, no successful egg transfers have occurred. We will look to harvest gravid males during the mating season November/December 2009.


Overview of Observations:


 Experimentation with stocking rates has enhanced growth rates, less stocking densities per tank has increased growth with juveniles reaching a saleable size in 5 1/2 months, rather than 6 months. Sexual maturity is also occurring earlier when stocking densities are lessened. Sexual maturity is reached at age 5-6 months.


Trials on all the display species are expected to continue in the future and will be on-going to further enhance fry survival rates. New fry rearing tanks are being trialled - experimentation with flow rates and water movement in a variety of different shaped tanks encouraging the pelagic species to remain in the water column—some of the species in-take air if the water movement is not sufficient to keep them within the flow. They end up floating sideways in the tank on the water surface, they usually die not long after this.


Variety in both food sources and enrichment sources is critical to health and longevity of both broodstock and stock produced. Live feed is essential for juveniles for the first 8-10 weeks of life.


At present our facility cultures artemia, copepods, rotifers and when cultures are available species of mysid shrimp. Our fish are fed on live food grown in our own hatchery and terrestrial crustaceans and marine plankton (harvested from sea and land based breeding tanks).


Artemia are an excellent food source that can be easily hatched. They are utilised in two stages, firstly as nauplii suitable for juveniles, then as adult shrimp for later stages. Grow-out of these artemia is obtained by using mixed algal feed and supplements to improve the nutritional profile of the animals.


We use commercially available feed enhancement foods such as Spirulina and Algro as well as algae cultures Tetraselmis sp, Chaetoceros sp, Isochrysis sp, and Dunaliella sp. Other food sources such as bran and rice flour are used to on grow artemia. Generally enrichment is fed to nauplii 12 hours prior to feeding.


Land based culture tanks supply most of the facilities needs, with some wild harvests to enhance culture stock. Plankton are screened, rinsed and fed to both juveniles and adults. Feed enhancement is constantly being researched and trials have commenced improving the nutritional profile of tank bred animals.


Juveniles are fed four to six times daily while adults and sub-adults are fed one to three times daily. The movement of live feed is an important stimulating trigger to induce feeding. Tank construction and substrate allow the seahorse to hunt the readily available food.


As it is well known that live feed and nutritional value is a critical factor in both fish health and rearing success, production of a continuous supply of a variety of fresh live feed and feed enhancement ensures the nutritional requirements of these fish are met.


The seahorses once they have reached an age of approximately 8-10 weeks of age are trained to eat the frozen foods that are readily available for the aquarium market. A variety of frozen brine shrimp and mysid shrimp are purchased from Pet Wholesalers and fed out as a supplement to the seahorses.


The health, longevity and condition of seahorses within our captive breeding operation are at all times the foremost consideration. Extensive research in all facets of nutrition is an ongoing concern.


Live Food Growing Tanks

Description of Facilities
South Australian Seahorse Marine Services is located in Port Adelaide, South Australia. We operate our venture from a 27 metre x 12 metre building.


Ocean water is sourced from West Beach at the South Australian Research and Aquatic Sciences Centre, the water is filtered to 1 micron and stored in 2 x 5,000 litre rain water tanks. Water cartage is achieved by a 1000 litre tank on the back of a small truck. Waste water is recycled via settlement ponds and biological filtration, once filtration is completed this water is used in the production of our live feed, until final discharge to the sewerage compliant with the SA Trade Waste Water Discharge Permit.


An internal layout plan of our facility is attached. Four (4) reverse cycle air-conditioners maintain a constant temperature as well as a dust free environment. Back-up power is supplied as necessary by a generator. Every effort is made to ensure the temperature, water quality and oxygen supply is a constant. Thermostatic heaters and heat/chill pumps are installed on most tanks ensuring the life support systems are maintained at correct temperatures.


Life Support systems for each tank are maintained, ensuring no cross contamination and include foam fractionation, biological and UV filtration ensure bacteria and pathogens are eliminated and quality maintained. Oxygen is supplied through aeration to each tank via air lines. .


Water quality is tested daily and adjusted where necessary, approximately 5% of water is changed on a weekly basis. Tanks are siphoned daily to ensure minimum build up of debris and waste.


Fish are fed one to three times daily for adults and sub-adults and four to five times daily for fry. Lighting is approx 14 hours of light and 10 hours darkness (this is dependent on the seasons). Fish are fed a variety of both food sources and enrichment sources. The use of the variety of food sources will enhance health and longevity of stock.


Stocking densities depend on the size and species of the fish varying from 1 per 1 litre (adult) to 10 per 5 litre (fry). Tanks contain adequate hitching posts—ropes and fish netting are used. These are removed, cleaned and or replaced as necessary further enhancing the hygiene of the system.


Pregnant males are isolated during gestation allowing them to rest, the young are maintained in the birthing tank for one week before being placed in a grow out tank. Isolation tanks are also maintained in the event of sickness or infection.


Quarantine tanks are used for any new species entering the facility (separate equipment is maintained for each tank) - new species must undergo a in-house quarantine period of six weeks before being acclimated to any re-circulation system.


Hatchery staff maintain a clean working environment, washing hands and equipment constantly. Tanks and pipe work are cleaned on a regular basis ensuring there can be no build up of pathogens or bacteria.


Tank design as with all other facets of this emerging industry, is constantly undergoing research and may vary from time to time. As our knowledge of this unique fish increases we adapt living conditions to suit. We use a variety of tanks for housing both broodstock and fry mainly glass aquaria and fiberglass conical designs.




Description of Facilities Cont.

 Please note the drawing is not to scale


Staff Room

Storage area

Live Food



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