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The concern with any suspicious spots or bumps on the snout of a seahorse is they could be the initial stages of snout rot.
Here is an excerpt on snout rot from my new book, (Complete Guide to Greater Seahorses in the Aquarium, unpublished), which will explain more about this condition and how it can be treated:
Snout rot is a dreadful disease that afflicts all Syngnathids. It’s a dangerous disease that requires immediate treatment in order to save the seahorse.
Snout rot is most often the result of an infection, which can be either bacterial or fungal in nature (Giwojna, Oct. 2003). The initial symptoms are discoloration and slight swelling in the affected area of the snout. At this early stage, the seahorse is often not bothered by its affliction and eats and feeds normally. But don’t let that lead to complacency — you cannot afford to take a “wait-and-see” approach with this affliction! As the disease progresses, the infection will begin to eat away the underlying tissue, and if left untreated, snout rot is both disfiguring and deadly (Giwojna, Oct. 2003).
The tip of the snout is often the first area affected, becoming inflamed and eroding away, and once its mouthparts are involved, the seahorse can no longer be saved. It is unable to feed, its jaws disintegrate, and the tip of the snout is progressively eaten away (Giwojna, Oct. 2003). I have seen seahorses with over half their snouts missing, and euthanasia is the only recourse for fish in this pathetic condition.
I have also seen several cases of snout rot as a secondary infection in seahorses recovering from protozoan parasites that attack the gills, and in those cases the progression of the disease was somewhat different (Giwojna, Oct. 2003). The barrel of the snout was often affected rather than the tip, and instead of the end of the snout eroding away, one or more holes were eaten through the snout elsewhere (Giwojna, Oct. 2003). Although its jaws and mouthparts are intact when this happens, the seahorse’s ability to feed is still impaired because it can’t generate adequate suction through its suddenly “leaky” snout. In such cases, the snout rot may be preceded or accompanied by other unusual ailments, such as weak snick, trigger lock or “lockjaw (Giwojna, Oct. 2003).”
There is considerable anecdotal evidence suggesting that bacterial snout rot can be differentiated from the fungal form of the disease by a close visual inspection (a hand lens or magnifying glass may be required for this). If the snout rot is due to a fungal infection, the affected area of the snout is often pinkish and may appear lumpy or raised, whereas when bacterial infection is at work, white tissue is exposed upon flaking or sloughing of the skin (Giwojna, Oct. 2003). Thus, many hobbyists maintain that if the affected area of the snout looks pinkish, it’s fungus, but if the affected area appears whitish, it’s a bacterial problem (Giwojna, Oct. 2003). This information can help guide you to the appropriate treatment.
Medications with powerful antifungal agents such as nifurpirinol (the active ingredient in Furanase) are a good treatment for snout rot when a fungal infection is indicated (Giwojna, Oct. 2003). A wide spectrum antibiotic such as doxycycline hydrochloride combined with kanamycin sulfate or kanamycin plus neomycin are good choices when bacterial snout rot is indicated (Giwojna, Oct. 2003). Treatment with these medications should take place in a hospital ward or quarantine tank to avoid nuking your biofilter.
In addition to antibiotic therapy, some hobbyists report that it is also beneficial to treat the affected area of the snout topically using high-dose Sodium Chloride, which has some antimicrobial properties and is not irritating or harmful if it accidentally get into the mouth or gills of the seahorse, but that’s not a treatment I have personally tried, so I cannot say if it is effective or not…
Okay, those are the basics regarding snout rot, Georgie. It’s important to treat this condition ASAP and I would suggest administering antibiotics orally if the seahorse is still eating, or, if not, then treating the affected seahorse with potent antibiotics in your hospital tank. Kanamycin sulfate used alone or in combination with doxycycline hydrochloride or other aminoglycoside antibiotics, such as neomycin sulfate, would be a good choice for treating the water in the hospital tank.
If this is snout rot in the early stages and the affected seahorse is still able to eat, I would recommend administering antibiotics orally by mixing them with frozen Mysis since that is the most effective way to administer many medications and it allows you to treat the seahorses in the main tank, where it is most comfortable, without harming the biological filtration in any way.
I would like you to use Seachem Focus together with Seachem NeoPlex for this purpose, Georgie, because the Focus contains a nitrofuran antibiotic whereas the NeoPlex contains neomycin sulfate, which is a good aminoglycoside antibiotic. These two antibiotics can be combined together safely to produce a synergistic effect that makes the combination much more potent and effective than either of the medications used alone. This can be a particularly effective combination in this instance because I have no way of knowing whether the snout rot is bacterial or fungal in nature in your case, and the nitrofuran antibiotics have some antifungal properties while the neomycin sulfate is a good broad-spectrum antibiotic.
The Seachem Focus and Seachem NeoPlex are readily available from any local fish stores that carry Seachem products and it’s very easy to use them to medicate the frozen Mysis to feed to the seahorses so that the medications will be ingested and move efficiently into the bloodstream, where they can be the most effective in combating infection.
In short, I would recommend that you obtain some Seachem NeoPlex and administer it to the seahorses orally by mixing Seachem Focus and the NeoPlex together with frozen Mysis that you have carefully thawed and prepared. The Focus will bind with the medication in the NeoPlex and then bind to the frozen Mysis in a manner that masks the unpleasant taste of the medication and makes it more palatable to the seahorse. The active ingredient in the NeoPlex is neomycin sulfate, a potent aminoglycoside antibiotic, so when the seahorses subsequently eat the frozen Mysis, they will ingest the antibiotics and get the maximum benefit they can provide.
Here is some additional information on the Focus by Seachem Laboratories, which explains how to use it to combine medication with food:
Seachem Laboratories Focus – 5 Grams Information
Focus ™ is an antibacterial polymer for internal infections of fish. It may be used alone or mixed with other medications to make them palatable to fish and greatly reduce the loss of medications to the water through diffusion. It can deliver any medication internally by binding the medication to its polymer structure. The advantage is that the fish can be medicated without conDannating the entire aquarium with medication. Fish find Focus™ appetizing and it may be fed to fish directly or mixed with frozen foods. Focus™ contains nitrofurantoin for internal bacterial infections. Marine and freshwater use. 5 gram container.
Types of Infections Treated:
DIRECTIONS: Use alone or in combination with medication of your choice in a 5:1 ratio by volume. Feed directly or blend with fresh or frozen food. Feed as usual, but no more than fish will consume. Use at every feeding for at least five days or until symptoms clear up.
Contains polymer bound nitrofurantoin.
Active ingredient: polymer bound nitrofurantoin (0.1%). This product is not a feed and
should not be fed directly. Its intended application is to assist in binding medications to fish food.
And here is an excerpt from an e-mail from another home hobbyist (Ann Marie Spinella) that explains how she uses the NeoPlex together with the Focus for treating her seahorses, Dan:
“When I bought the NeoPlex yesterday I also picked up a tube of Focus. According to the instructions, it says it makes the medication more palatable to fish & reduces the loss of the medication once it’s in the water.
So I followed the dosing instructions exactly. I used regular frozen mysis instead of PE. I figured it was softer & smaller. I was thinking along the lines of more surface area for the medication to adhere to & with the softer shell hopefully it would absorb into the shrimp a little better.
I used 8 cubes which came to just about 1 tablespoon. I thawed & rinsed the shrimp thoroughly in a little colander & let it sit on a paper towel to remove as much water as possible.
Then I put in it in a small dish & added the Focus & NeoPlex in the recommended ratio which is 5:1 (5 scoops Focus / 1 scoop NeoPlex). I mixed it thoroughly & added a few drops of Garlic Power.
Then I measured out 5 – 1/4 tsp. servings & 4 servings I placed on a sheet of Glad Press & Seal, sealed them & put them in the freezer, since it says in the instructions that you can freeze what you don’t use right away, & the remaining 1/4 tsp. I split in half & fed to them this morning. The rest I’ll give to them
this afternoon & I’ll do this every day with the remaining shrimp that I already prepared & froze.
In the video you can see that the seahorses are eating it. Yea!!
Thanks for all of your help & I’ll keep you posted.”
Okay, Georgie, that’s the rundown on using the NeoPlex together with the Focus so that you could administer the medication in the NeoPlex orally after adding it to the frozen Mysis for the seahorses daily meals.
To be on the safe side, I would administer the Seachem Focus plus Seachem NeoPlex combination to the seahorses orally for at least 7-10 days, Georgie. Don’t be concerned if the healthy seahorses also need some of the medicated Mysis says it won’t do them any harm whatsoever and will help to assure that they are not affected by this problem in any way.
If the affected seahorse has stopped feeding, which is often the case when dealing with snout rot, then you will need to transfer your female to a hospital tank for treatment with powerful antibiotics that would damage the biofilter in the main tank. In that event, Georgie, kanamycin sulfate is the best choice because it is one of the few antibiotics that both dissolves well in saltwater and is absorbed readily through the skin and gills of the seahorse. For best results, kanamycin can be combined safely with doxycycline or any other aminoglycoside antibiotics.
Let me know if the seahorse stops eating, Georgie, and I will be happy to provide you with some suggestions for force feeding the seahorse in order to provide it with nutritional support to help promote better healing.
Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support