Reply To: Slithering on the bottom

Pete Giwojna

Dear Chris:

Regarding the other male that’s doing well otherwise but seems to be having a problem with negative buoyancy, I don’t think the problem is a pouch full of unfertilized eggs. A pregnant male will simply reabsorb any infertile eggs that fail to implant in its marsupium.

In seahorses, many times a problem with negative buoyancy is merely the result of an underinflated gas bladder or swimbladder, as explained in more detail below:

As in many other bony fishes, the seahorse’s gas bladder functions as a swim bladder, providing the lift needed to give them neutral buoyancy (Seahorse Anatomy, 2004). In essence, the swim bladder is a gas-filled bag used to regulate buoyancy. Because the seahorse’s armor-plated body is quite heavy, this organ is large in Hippocampus and extends well down into the body cavity along the dorsal boundary (Seahorse Anatomy, 2004). It will have a whitish to silvery appearance and is a simple, single-chambered sac that begins at the bend in the neck and extends to about 1/3 of the length of the coelomic cavity (Bull and Mitchell, 2002).

If the problem is just an underinflated swimbladder, Chris, which I suspect may be the case, then the stallion should gradually reinflate it from his gas gland as usual. This is a slow, gradual process, however, and it can take several days, perhaps weeks, in some cases, for the swimbladder to accumulate sufficient gas again, but that’s ordinarily something it will regulate all on its own. So for now I think all you need to do is make sure your water quality is up to snuff, with no spikes than the ammonia or nitrite levels, and see if the second stallion can correct his negative buoyancy problem on its own.

Good luck.

Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support

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