Shop tour Dublin
Nathan Hill heads off on PFK’s first shoptour of Ireland and enjoys a journey full of energetic, passionate, dedicated and charismatic retailers...
Take a group of expert breeders, marine biologists, cabinet makers, and committed life-long hobbysists, and stick them into a shop in which no expense appears to be spared and you might get close to Seahorse. This is a store that oozes passion— and quite relentlessly so.
Staff knowledge is totally off the radar and then some. There are (off-show) breeding facilities on site, creating a continuous stream of seahorses and clownfish. There are walk-in quarantine facilities, so you can see what’s due to be on sale and how it’s progressing.
There’s an Ikeaesque showroom for tanks and cabinets that’s so homely you want to put your feet up, get a cuppa and just sit back and enjoy for an hour. There is, quite simply, nothing that Seahorse does not excel at.
It may well be the best-designed store I’ve visited to date...
The fish health and selection mirrors the staff knowledge – diverse and excellent. It doesn’t matter what your niche or specialisation, you’ll find something that you’ll want. I was even taken by the numerous varieties of freshwater shrimp and other inverts on sale. I’ve been to dedicated shrimp suppliers that didn’t match this superb range.
Marines are a real treat to the senses, with amazing display tanks, and a livestock offering the likes of which covers a wider range than some stores will carry over their entire lives. On the invert side, there are both corals and motile species. Coral labeling is above and beyond the usual expectations.
The man overseeing the marines can fill you in on whatever you need to know, at times having to be reined back in for fear of getting too technical. That’s a theme you find with whoever you speak to. Start a conversation and try to get as technical as you can, and you’ll find there are no flies on anyone here.
Whatever aquarium you’re planning, Seahorse can cater for you. The shop’s own tanks are made on site, with a dedicated member of staff there for the job. He’s well equipped too, with a devoted workshop brimming with works in progress and completed numbers sat ready for collection.
The tropical freshwater fish had me bounding from tank to tank,whooping in delight, and were it not for the transport factor, I’d have left with many boxes.
As well as its marine breeding room, Seahorse also has a freshwater breeding guru who spawns almost everything he turns his hand to. Oddities like Red terror cichlids lurk in tanks, surrounded by their offspring, all from a man who does much of the breeding in his own time, as well as working at the shop full time.
You’ll find bigger one-off fish, if that’s your thing. You’ll find community species, you’ll find oddballs, you’ll find dedicated banks of Malawi and Tanganyikan fish and you’ll find a colossal bank of aquarium plants.
The only thing you’ll not find is pond gear, but that doesn’t detract. As well as selling superb stock, the site is tied in with various seahorse conservation projects, including Save our Seahorse, under the eagle-eyed control of resident marine biologists.
They’ve even gone so far as to make documentaries that are narrated by John Hurt and gained sponsorship from massive companies like Sanyo in the pursuit of their noble cause. It’s hard to be anything but overwhelmed at the incredible devotion these guys show for their subjects.
As for dry goods, Seahorse has it covered from entry to advanced levels. There’s abundant stocking hidden away behind the scenes, too, so it’s unlikely you’ll ever find this retailer wanting for a product to sell you.
Why would anyone ever want to leave Ireland with a store like Seahorse there? If you haven’t visited yet, then you’ve never lived. I’ve only been away from it for a few days and the craving has already kicked in.
Note the abundant five-star ratings below. Seahorse deserves every one it gets.
- Walking batfish €85
- Trumpetfish €poa
- Garden eel €45
- Red Congo puffer €60
- Nothobranchius simoensis €15 pair
- Polypterus teugelsi €29.99
- Mouthbrooding betta €35 pair
- Sulawesi shrimp €9.99
- Wild Tefe green discus €100
Shop tour choice
Fresh from his travels, Nathan Hill picks out the Irish fish he wishes he could have brought home with him…
Red Congo Puffer
- Scientific name: Tetraodon miurus.
- Origin: African; Congolese.
- Habitat: Often found on the base of very fast flowing, clear or turbid streams and large rivers.
- Temperature: Keep between 24-28°C/75-82°F.
- Water parameters: Completely freshwater in origin, pH of 6.8 to 7.6, hardness 10 to 16°DH.
- Diet: Fierce carnivore and predator. Chunks of fish, earthworm, cockle, mussel, shrimp, and snails.
- Sexing: No external indications.
- Aquarium: A solitary fish suited for a species-only tank. Use a set-up with fine substrates, cobbles (which the fish will pretend to be one of) and branches, and a strong flow of well oxygenated water. Koralia pumps, or even a river manifoldare both good ideas.
- Notes: This will devour any fish it is kept with and it is ill advised to place alongside other species. It is particularly hostile towards its own species. Be careful when maintaining the tank, as the powerful beaks on these fish can cause damage to any unattentive aquarist.
- Why we like it: Congo puffers are fascinating curios at the best of times — but the red markings truly set this fish apart, as both something that likes to hide away, yet can be frequently seen in the tank. It is a superb character fish for the species-only aquarium.
- Price: €60
- Availability: Seen at Seahorse Aquariums, Dublin.