Reply To: diagnosis please–i am treating for ascites ??but is he pregnant? probably not

Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm and Tours | Kona Hawaii Forums Seahorse Life and Care diagnosis please–i am treating for ascites ??but is he pregnant? probably not Reply To: diagnosis please–i am treating for ascites ??but is he pregnant? probably not

Pete Giwojna

Dear Brenda:

It would be very helpful to see photos of your seahorse to help you determine if it is having a problem, and, if so, what the best method of treatment may be. You can send digital photographs to me via e-mail at the following address:

[email protected]

If you contact me by e-mail regarding this issue, please be sure to include your current readings for the following aquarium parameters:

water temperature

At this point, I am not sure if there is anything wrong with your seahorse if it is eating well and in good coloration. Sometimes they don’t swim much and will often hang out on their favorite hitching post in the aquarium for long periods of time.

But if your seahorse is experiencing negative buoyancy due to a buildup of fluid in its abdomen (ascites), that is an issue that can be caused by kidney failure or bacterial dropsy. In that case, antibiotic therapy could be helpful in resolving a kidney infection or bacterial dropsy.

Kanamycin is an excellent medication for treating such infections, Brenda. As you know, kanamycin sulfate is a potent aminoglycoside antibiotic that is absorbed very well through the skin and gills of the fish, allowing it to attack the infection internally, from the inside out, even if the seahorse is no longer eating, or if it will not eat Mysis that has been medicated with the Kanamyacin.

You may be able to find a medication that includes kanamycin sulfate as its primary ingredient at one of your local fish stores (it is usually sold under a brand name such as KanaPlex (Seachem) or Kana-Pro or Kanacin or alternatively Kanacyn — be sure to use the marine dose). Or you can always obtain pure kanamycin sulfate powder without a prescription from National Fish Pharmaceuticals at the following URL:

Kanamycin sulfate is a potent broad-spectrum, gram+/gram- aminogylcoside antibiotic. It is wonderfully effective for aquarium use because it is one of the few antibiotics that dissolves well in saltwater and that is readily absorbed through the skin of the fish. That makes it the treatment of choice for treating many bacterial infections in seahorses. Like other gram-negative antibiotics, it will destroy your biofiltration and should be used in a hospital tank only.

If I could only keep one antibiotic in my fish-room medicine cabinet, kanamycin sulfate is the one I would choose because of its excellent solubility in saltwater and effective absorption.

Best of all, kanamycin sulfate can be safely combined with certain other antibiotics such as doxycycline or neomycin or triple sulfa to increase its efficacy, as explained below. If you can keep more than one antibiotic in your fish room, make it one of the antibiotics that can be combined safely with kanamycin to produce a synergistic effect. For example, kanamycin + doxycycline is an effective combination for treating certain Vibrio infections. Likewise, combining an aminoglycoside antibiotic (e.g., kanamycin or neomycin) with triple sulfa works well for combating some bacterial infections in seahorses.

In this case, the kanamycin may be even more effective if you combine it with triple sulfa. The triple sulfa attacks the infection from the outside, while the kanamycin will be absorbed into the bloodstream, where it can attack the infection from the inside. You should be able to update triple sulfa compound at a well-stock LFS (sometimes it is called triple sulfate, triple sulfa, triple sulpha, or Trisulfa).

A 10 day regimen of kanamycin + triple sulfa is appropriate. Here are the instructions for using the triple sulfa, which should be administered along with the kanamycin:

TRIPLE SULFATE (Sulfa/Sulpha) Dosage and Preparation Instructions for a 10g/38L Hospital Tank
Active Ingredient: Sodium Sulfathiazole, Sodium Sulfamethazine, and Sodium Sulfacetamide
Indication: bacterial infection
Brand Names: Triple Sulfa, Triple Sulpha, Trisulfa
Dose per package instructions for 10 days. (Normally ~380mg per day for 10 days). Disregard package
info concerning water changes.
Replace the medication in ratio to the amount of water changed daily as needed to control ammonia.
DAY 1 of Treatment
• Thoroughly mix the medication with about 1 cup of marine water.
• Pour the mixture into a high-flow area of the hospital tank.
DAYS 2 – 10 of Treatment
• Perform a 50% water change.
• Thoroughly mix the medication with about 1 cup of marine water.
• Pour the mixture into a high-flow area of the hospital tank.

And here is the corresponding information regarding kanamycin sulfate, Brenda:


USE: It is used to treat many sensitive gram–negative and some gram–positive bacteria. Works especially well in saltwater aquariums. Works well combined with Nitrofurazone for flexibacter (columnaris) (Symptoms: Fuzzy, thin, white coating on the body and fins. Looks like a fungus). Also useful for Pseudomonas — open red sores or ulcerations, fin and tail damage, fins and tail are eaten away, in severe cases, down to the body. Kanamycin is very effective in high pH applications, especially Vibrio, making it useful for brackish and marine treatments.

Kanamycin can be effective for whirling disease, suspected kidney disease and dropsy.

Kanamycin sulfate appears to prevent bacteria from making their cell walls, so the cells die.

DOSAGE: 250-500 mg per 20 gallons. Treat every 48 hours with a 25% water change before each treatment. Treat for 10 days.

If they could not be administered orally via medicated Mysis, Brenda, then antibiotics such as kanamycin sulfate or triple sulfa must be administered in a hospital tank or quarantine tank since they can impair the biological filtration if they are used in your main tank.

This is what I normally advise home hobbyists regarding a suitable hospital tank, Brenda:

<Open quote>
Basic Hospital Tank set up

Live sand and live rock are not necessary in a hospital tank. A bare-bottomed aquarium with plenty of hitching posts will suffice for a hospital ward or Quarantine Tank (QT). Ideally, the hospital tank should have one or more foam filters for biofiltration along with a small external filter, which can easily be removed from the tank during treatment but which can hold activated carbon or Polyfilter pads when it’s time to pull the meds out. It’s important for the hospital ward to include enough hitching posts so that the seahorse won’t feel vulnerable or exposed during treatment. Aquarium safe, inert plastic plants or homemade hitching posts fashioned from polypropylene rope or twine that has been unraveled and anchored at one end are excellent for a hospital tank. No aquarium reflector is necessary. Ambient room light will suffice. (Bright lights can breakdown and inactivate certain medications and seahorses are more comfortable and feel more secure under relatively dim lighting.)

So just a bare tank with hitching posts is all you need for your hospital ward. No heater. No reflector. No lights. No substrate. You can even do without the sponge filters or external filter in your case, just adding a couple of airstones to provide surface agitation and oxygenation. That’s it.

In a pinch, a clean 5-gallon plastic bucket (new and unused, NOT an old scrub bucket!) can serve as a makeshift hospital tank. It should be aerated and equipped with hitching posts and perhaps a heater, but nothing else. This makes a useful substitute when the Quarantine Tank is occupied or in use and a seahorse needs treatment.

Stay on top of water quality in the hospital tank/bucket with water changes as often as needed during treatment, and and when you are treating the occupants for a health problem, re-dose with the medication(s) according to directions after each water change.
<close quote>

As you can see, hospital tank is pretty easy to set up because it’s not intended to house the seahorses long-term, only while they undergo a treatment regimen that usually lasts 10-14 days. However, it might be appropriate for you if you want to set up your hospital tank with freshly mixed saltwater that you know has zero ammonia and zero nitrites, and then keep them safe in the hospital tank for the next 10 days or so well your main tank completes the cycling process. That would be a possibility you can consider if things haven’t improved in the main tank within the next couple of days.

For filtration, I keep things really simple in a hospital tank, using only foolproof air-operated sponge filters for my dwarf seahorses. Avoid sponge filters with weighted bottoms or other metal components, however, since they will rust when exposed to saltwater. Sooner or later this will cause problems in a marine aquarium (sooner in the small setups that are most suitable for H. zosterae). Select a sponge filter that has no metal parts and is safe for use in saltwater. The proper units will have suction cups to anchor them in place rather than a weighted bottom.

The sponge filters I find that work well are the Oxygen Plus Bio-Filters (models 2, 3, 4, or 5) or the Tetra Brilliant foam filters. They have no metal components, making them completely safe for use in saltwater, and just one of these foam filters will do the job on a tank of 5 gallons or less. They do not have a weighted bottom but are equipped with suction cups instead. Two of the smaller models can be used on larger 25-gallon tank like yours, Lori, but one of the larger models, like the one at the link below, would be sufficient for your 10-gallon aquarium:

Click here: Foam Aquarium Filters: Oxygen Plus Bio-Filter 2

Avoid the Oxygen Plus Bio-filter 6, 11, and the Multi sponge, which all have a weighted bottom (metal), that rusts when exposed to saltwater. If you want more filtration, you’re better off going with two of the smaller suction cup sponge filters rather than any of the models with weighted bottoms. For instance, for a 12 -gallon tank, I’d suggest using two well-established foam filters, one at either end of the tank for the biofiltration, just as you are planning, Alex.

All you need to operate sponge or foam filters is an inexpensive, diaphragm-operated air pump (whatever is available at a reasonable price from your LFS will do just fine), a length of airline tubing to connect the air pump to the foam filter(s), and a set of air valves (gang valves) to regulate the air flow to the filters. That’s all — nothing to it! The inexpensive Apollo 5 air pumps work great for sponge filters, but whatever air pump you have on hand should certainly do the job.

Cleaning the foam filters is a snap. Simply immerse them in a bucket of saltwater and gently squeeze out the sponge until it’s clean and releases no more sediment or debris. Run a bottlebrush through the inside of the tube, wipe off the outside of the tube, and you’re done. The filter is ready to go back in the aquarium with no impairment at all of the biofiltration. Takes only a couple minutes.

Okay, Brenda, those are my thoughts regarding setting up a hospital tank.

If the affected seahorse is eating well, then you may find it easier and more convenient to administer the antibiotics orally via medicated Mysis, rather than treating the seahorse in a hospital tank, Brenda.

The antibiotics that work best for most home hobbyists when treating seahorses are Furan2, which can be used all by itself, or a group of medications by SeaChem that can be used together and mixed with frozen Mysis in order to administer the medications orally.

The SeaChem medications that work best for this purpose are SeaChem, KanaPlex, SeaChem NeoPlex, and Focus by SeaChem.

The active ingredient in SeaChem KanaPlex is kanamycin sulfate, a potent aminoglycoside antibiotic that is a very broad spectrum, and which can be combined with the neomycin sulfate (another aminoglycoside antibiotic) in SeaChem NeoPlex to create a synergistic effect that is more effective than either of these antibiotics used by themselves.

The SeaChem NeoPlex contains neomycin sulfate, a good aminoglycoside antibiotic that is very effective when ingested, and the SeaChem Focus contains a good nitrofuran antibiotics and is the perfect medium for mixing medications with frozen foods. I will explain more about how to use these two products together for you below.

Both the NeoPlex and the Focus come with little scoops for measuring out the proper dose of the medication, and preparing the frozen Mysis with the medications is actually pretty easy. First, you want to find out how much of the Mysis you are using amounts to a tablespoon. I imagine that several of the cubes of Mysis would be needed to fill a tablespoon after you have thawed it out as usual, if that’s the form of frozen Mysis you happen to have. (It’s important to find out how much of the thawed Mysis constitutes 1 tablespoon because the correct dosage for NeoPlex is one scoop or measure per tablespoon of Mysis.)

Once you have thawed out 1 tablespoon of the frozen Mysis, you then measure out one scoop of the NeoPlex and five scoops of the Focus and mix the two medications thoroughly so that they bind together. (You always add five times as much of the Focus as the amount of antibiotic you are using.) Once you have mixed the powdered NeoPlex and Focus together very well, you then add the resulting mixture to the tablespoon of thawed Mysis you have prepared and very gently but thoroughly mix the powder and Mysis together so that the medications bind to the shrimp. You can then either feed the medicated Mysis to your seahorses immediately or freeze it for later use.

Once you have prepared the medicated Mysis, you feed it to your seahorses twice a day for at least five consecutive days or as long as is takes for the symptoms to clear up.

Of course, you can prepare more than 1 tablespoon of the medicated Mysis at a time in order to make it more convenient, Brenda. For example, if you wanted to prepare 5 tablespoons of medicated Mysis at one time, you would thaw out 5 tablespoons worth of your Mysis in advance. Then you would take 5 scoops of NeoPlex (one scoop of NeoPlex per tablespoon) and 25 scoops of the Focus (5 times as many scoops of Focus as the antibiotic) and mix it together thoroughly with the five scoops of NeoPlex so that they blend together and bind. Finally, you would take the mixture of powders and gently but thoroughly combine the powdered medications with the thawed Mysis so that the medicine also binds with the shrimp.

If you want to prepare extra medicated Mysis in advance, it’s best to spread it out on a piece of Saran wrap or Glad wrap or aluminum foil, or something similar, so that you can cover it completely to protect it from freezer burn until you’re ready to use it.

Here is some additional information on the Focus by Seachem Laboratories, which explains how to use it to combine medication with food:

<open quote>
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 contaminating 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.
<close quote>

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:

“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 and 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 Piscine Energetics frozen Mysis. I figured it was softer and smaller. I was thinking along the lines of more surface area for the medication to adhere to, and 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 and rinsed the shrimp thoroughly in a little colander and let it sit on a paper towel to remove as much water as possible.

Then I put in it in a small dish and added the Focus and NeoPlex in the recommended ratio which is 5:1 (5 scoops Focus / 1 scoop NeoPlex). I mixed it thoroughly and added a few drops of Garlic Power.

Then I measured out 5 – 1/4 tsp. servings and 4 servings I placed on a sheet of Glad Press & Seal, sealed them and put them in the freezer, since it says in the instructions that you can freeze what you don’t use right away, and the remaining 1/4 tsp. I split in half and fed to them this morning. The rest I’ll give to them this afternoon and I’ll do this every day with the remaining shrimp that I already prepared and 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.”
Ann Marie

Okay, Brenda, 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. If you got the KanaPlex instead of the NeoPlex, it can be combined with Focus and administered in exactly the same way as outlined in the instructions for the NeoPlex above.

• Treats protozoan parasites and anaerobic bacterial diseases
• Little danger of overdose
• No impact on bio-filter
• Well suited for medicated food mix for internal parasites
MetroPlex™ is an effective and safe treatment for several protozoan and anaerobic bacterial diseases of fish (Cryptocaryon, Hexamita, Ichthyophthirius). It does not adversely affect the filter bed and is easily removed with carbon. It can either be dosed into the water or combined with Focus™ in a medicated food mix. It will treat both internal and external infections regardless of the delivery method. When used in a medicated food mix, it is excellent for treating parasites in tanks that contain invertebrates. MetroPlex™ is gentle and there little danger of overdosing.
Active ingredients: metronidazole (70%)
Inactive ingredients: excipients (30%)
MetroPlex™ is appropriate for treating a variety of protozoan and anaerobic bacterial diseases of fish. Below are some of the more common diseases treatable with MetroPlex™. Be aware that many diseases and infections share similar physical and behavioral symptoms, e.g. clamped fins, lesions, loss of appetite.
‹close quote›

You can feed the medicated Mysis to your seahorses twice a day until your stallion is back to normal again and all is well. Don’t worry that all of the seahorses will be eating the medicated Mysis because it won’t do any harm for the others to ingest the antibiotics either, and could actually be beneficial for them as well.

Just let me know if you obtained the Furan2 antibiotic instead of the SeaChem products, and I will explain the best way to administer the Furan2 medication.

Good luck.

Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support

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