Reply To: Need some expert advice!

Pete Giwojna

Dear Dan:

In your case, sir, when the weak snick is suspected to be due to a vitamin deficiency, I would recommend gut loading live adult brine shrimp with Vita-chem Marine Formulation by Boyd Enterprises in conjunction with a selenium supplement.

The Vita-chem Marine contains a wide array of vitamins including Vitamin E and may be available at your local fish stores or pet shops, or it can be purchased online from many sources such as (see the following link):

You can add the proper amount of the Vita-chem Marine Formulation directly to the aquarium water as well as adding a few drops of it to the container of freshwater that you are using to gutload or bioencapsulate the adult brine shrimp.

You can obtain a selenium supplement at any drugstore or pharmacy inexpensively, and then use it along with the VitaChem Marine to gutload the adult brine shrimp as explained below.

The best way to administer the Vita-chem Marine and selenium to your seahorses orally is by bioencapsulating or gutloading them in live adult brine shrimp (Artemia), which are then fed to the seahorses.

If the selenium supplement you are using for this comes in tablet form, crush it into a very fine powder (you may have to use a household blender to get it fine enough) and dissolve it in a small container of freshwater. Soak the adult shrimp in freshwater containing the dissolves selenium tablet and several drops of VitaChem Marine Formulation for 15-30 minutes and then feed the medicated shrimp to your seahorses immediately. (Don’t let your pumps and filters “eat” all the brine shrimp!)

The brine shrimp are soaked in freshwater, not saltwater, because in theory the increased osmotic pressure of the freshwater helps the vitamin/selenium solution move into their bodies via osmosis. But in fact nobody knows for sure whether the antibiotic is diffusing into the brine shrimp or they are ingesting it in very fine particles (brine shrimp are filter feeders and will take in whatever is suspended in the water with them) or whether the brine shrimp merely become coated with the antibiotic while they are soaking in it. But that’s not important — all that really matters is that gut-loading adult brine shrimp with medications this way is effective.

Gutloading the adult brine shrimp in freshwater has several advantages, Dan. First of all, it disinfects the brine shrimp (the osmotic shock in going from concentrated saltwater to freshwater will kill off any protozoan parasites the brine shrimp may have been carrying). Secondly, the freshwater increases the effectiveness of the gutloading process by allowing some of the medication to enter the body of the brine shrimp via osmosis. And gutloading the adult brine shrimp in freshwater saves the hobbyist from having to mix up fresh saltwater every day in order to medicate the adult Artemia. Just use dechlorinated/detoxified freshwater as described above, and everything should go smoothly.

I would feed your seahorses their fill of adult brine shrimp gutloaded with a powdered selenium tablet and several drops of Vita-chem Marine once a day. Gutload a new portion of the adult brine shrimp each day for the seahorses’ first feeding of the day when they are the most hungry.

It is impossible to determine precisely what dosage of the vitamins and selenium each individual fish ingests when gutloading, but these supplements are very safe and you really cannot overdose a seahorse using this method of treatment.

In short, Dan, the feeder shrimp I find that work best for gutloading or bioencapsulating medications are adult brine shrimp (Artemia species). As you know, I prefer adult brine shrimp (Artemia spp.) for gutloading for a number of reasons. For one thing, adult Artemia are inexpensive and readily available to the home hobbyist. Secondly, soaking live adult brine shrimp in a solution of the desired additives in freshwater is by far the simplest and most convenient way to bioencapsulate meds, as we have discussed previously. Thirdly, a much wider range of medicines are effective when bio-encapsulated in live brine shrimp than can be used effectively as bath treatments for marine fish because they adult brine shrimp tolerate freshwater so well while they are being gutloaded.

Best of luck resolving your new seahorse’s problem with weak snick, sir.

Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support

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