Reply To: Barbouri may be sick

Pete Giwojna

Dear Eric:

It sounds like your Hippocampus barbouri has developed a tail condition, a problem which is commonly known as white tail disease or tail rot. Heat stress is one of the factors associated with such infections, so check to see that your aquarium temperature is not creeping up into the 80°Fahrenheit range, sir.

I recommend a three-pronged treatment procedure for treating cases of white tail disease or tail rot: (1) broad-spectrum antibiotics added directly to the aquarium water in a hospital tank or treatment tank to combat the infection externally, (2) oral antibiotics to combat the infection internally, and (3) topical treatments of the affected area, it indicated.

The topical treatments should be attempted only if the seahorse is strong enough to withstand handling and tolerates the application of the topical medications well. Otherwise, the stress associated with handling the seahorse to administer the topical treatments can do more harm than good.

The topical treatment I find to be most helpful, especially when the tail rot has been detected in the early stages, is Debride Medicated Ointment, which can be especially beneficial when there has been tissue erosion or an open sore has developed.

Debride Medicated Ointment may be useful as a topical treatment for marine ulcer disease, tail rot or snout rot. It contains corticosteroids to reduce swelling and a local anesthetic to reduce pain and tenderness, as explained below in greater detail.

Debride Medicated Ointment

Debride is a medicated ointment that promotes prompt and complete healing of ulcers, mouth rot, fin rot, and tail rot, all symptoms of Aeromonas and Pseudomonas. Koi Care Kennel conducted extensive field trials on this product in 2001. We sent samples of Debride to over 100 hobbyist and dealers who had requested these samples and who had sick fish. The user’s evaluation came back at a 90% success rate.

Debride is safe to apply to the fish’s mouth and will not harm the gills. Debride contains Corticosteroide and topical anesthetic in a butylester copolymer Petroleum distillate carrier. Debride comes in two sizes, a 12 gram tube for approx. 20 applications and a 1 oz. (28.3 grams) tube for approx. 45 applications.

Suggested Retail Price: 12 gram tube $25.95 , 1 oz. (28.3 gram) $44.95

For best results, I would also recommend treating your seahorse with a good antiparasitic that is administered orally (by pretreating frozen Mysis with the meds). The reason for this is that tail rot is often the result of a mixed infection involving ciliates (certain protozoan parasites) as well as a bacterial or fungal infection. I recommend Seachem Metronidazole combined with Seachem Focus and Seachem Garlic Guard for this purpose, as discussed below:

Medicate your seahorses’ frozen Mysis with a good antiparasitic (Seachem Metronidazole) used together with an antibiotic (Seachem Focus) and then soak the medicated Mysis in Seachem Garlic Guard, which acts as an appetite stimulant. Your seahorses will ingest the medicated frozen Mysis and receive protection from potential bacterial and parasitic infections this way, which are possible contributing factors in any tail rot infection. The following information will explain how to use these products (Seachem Metronidazole, Seachem Focus, and Seachem Garlic Guard) properly to medicate the frozen Mysis.

<open quote>
Seachem Metronidazole Aquarium Fish Medication – 100 g

Product Description:
Parasitic and Bacterial infections don’t stand a chance with Metronidazole. When you find your fish infected with such nasty bugs as Ich or Hexamita, grab the Metronidazole and say goodbye to infection. This fast and effective treatment is safe for biological filtration and is easily removed with carbon after treatment. For freshwater or marine fish.


Do not use UV, ozone or chemical filtration during use.
Use 1-2 measures (each about 100 mg each) for each 10 gallons. Measurer included. Repeat every 2 days until symptoms disappear.

To feed, blend 1 measure with about 1 tablespoon of frozen food paste.
<close quote>

Okay, that’s the rundown on the Seachem Metronidazole, which comes in powder form and includes a little scoop for measuring the doses.

And here is the corresponding information for the Seachem Focus, which also comes in powder form with its own measuring scoop:

<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 treating 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 finding medications to fish food.
<close quote>

That’s the rundown on the Seachem Focus.

Here is the corresponding information for the Seachem Garlic Guard (pay special attention to the “Directions for Use,” which explains how to use the Garlic Guard together with Seachem Metronidazole and Seachem Focus properly):

<open quote>
Seachem Garlic Guard

* For fresh and saltwater fish, planted and reef aquariums
* Contains allicin, the active ingredient in garlic
* Contains ViSaran C for enhanced health benefits

Whet your fishes’ appetite with the natural healthful properties of garlic. Contains allicin, the active ingredient in garlic with powerful antioxidant properties that can lessen free radical damage to cells – plus ViSaran C for enhanced health benefits. For fresh and saltwater fish, planted and reef aquariums.

Directions for Use: Shake well before use. Soak food in Garlic Guard before feeding. For enhanced effectiveness against Ich and other parasites use Seachem’s Focus and Metronidazole as follows: Add 1 measure of Metronidazole to 1 measure of Focus per tablespoon of frozen food. Completely soak this food mix in Garlic Guard, refrigerate, and feed once or twice daily for 1-2 weeks.

Guaranteed Analysis
Garlic Extract 9900 ppm
Allicin 130 ppm
(active ingredient)
ViSaran C 1000 ppm
<close quote>

Okay, as you can see from the information above, it is actually quite easy to medicate the seahorse’s frozen Mysis using these products: You just use one scoop of the Seachem Metronidazole together with one scoop of the Seachem Focus for each tablespoon of the frozen Mysis you will be medicating, and then thoroughly soak the resulting mixture in Seachem Garlic Guard. The medicated frozen Mysis and then be fed directly to the seahorses and any excess can be frozen for later use.

Feed the affected seahorse(s) twice a day using Mysis that you have medicated as explained above for at least five straight days and that will help the healing process.

The metronidazole will eliminate any protozoan parasites that may be contributing to this tail problem, while the nitrofuran antibiotic in the Seachem Focus helps to combat secondary infections after being absorbed into the bloodstream from the seahorse’s gut. This will allow you to fight infection internally at the same time the neomycin sulfate and sulfa drugs in the aquarium water are combating the infection externally.

Call around to your local pet shops and fish stores to find one who carries products from Seachem Laboratories, and they should have all of the products above. If not, they are all readily available online from many different sources.

Here is some additional information tail rot for future notice that you may find helpful:

White Tail Disease or Tail Rot:
Ulcerative Dermatitis of the Tail Tip

Tail rot, a.k.a. white tail disease or ulcerative dermatitis of the tail tip, can result from a number of causes. It can develop when a mechanical injury to the tail, such as a cut or scrape, becomes infected. Certain ciliates and protozoan parasites can attack the skin of seahorses, and when their integument is compromised, secondary bacterial and fungal infections may set in, resulting in tail rot. Likewise, cnidarian stings or the embedded spicules from a bristleworm can become infected and lead to tail rot. Many times an underlying bacterial infection (Vibrio, Pseudomonas or Mycobacterium) may be the primary cause of the tissue erosion and ulceration that’s so characteristic of tail rot. It is often associated with heat stress, particularly in temperate seahorses that have experienced a temperature spike during a summertime heat wave.

The tip of the tail is especially prone to infection because blood-oxygen levels are often deficient in the extremities — oxygen tension is lowest in the most distal part of the tail — and the bacteria that are responsible for tail rot prefer a low oxygen environment. A dirty substrate can be a contributing factor in some cases, and stress is almost always involved. The seahorse’s tail is prone to scrapes and abrasions as well as injuries such as stings from anemones or bristleworm spicules because it is used to grasp objects and often in contact with the substrate.

Disease-causing (pathogenic) bacteria such as the ones that cause tail rot are opportunistic invaders that are normally present in low numbers but don’t cause problems until the fish is injured, stressed, infested with parasites or otherwise weakened (Indiviglio, 2002). They will then take advantage of the overtaxed seahorse’s impaired immune system and reproduce extremely quickly, causing a variety of illnesses and problems (Basleer, 2000). Some of these are specific to seahorses, such as snout rot and white tail disease, and others are common to all fishes (e.g., Mycobacteriosis).

A progressive loss of prehensility and increasing discoloration beginning at the tip of the tail are the initial stages of tail rot or white tail disease. As I mentioned, it often affects the most distal portions of the tail first, where the oxygen tension is lowest and the blood circulation is the poorest, which seems to make the tail tip particularly susceptible to such infections.

Here is an excerpt on tail rot from my new book (Complete Guide to the Greater Seahorses in the Aquarium, unpublished):

White Tail Disease (Tail Rot)

As you might expect, this problem is due to an infection that attacks the tails of seahorses. The tip of the tail typically turns white and, as the infection spreads, the whiteness moves progressively up the tail and ulcers or open sores begin to form where the skin peels away (Giwojna, Oct. 2003).

Hobbyists usually refer to this problem as Tail Rot or White Tail Disease, but the disease is already well advanced by the time whitening or tissue erosion occurs (Giwojna, Oct. 2003). Early detection makes it much easier to get these infections under control. Some of the early indicators of a tail infection to watch for are discussed below.

The disease begins with a loss of prehensility in the very tip of the tail (Giwojna, Oct. 2003). At this stage, the seahorses can grasp large objects just fine, but cannot take hold of slender objects with a small diameter (Leslie Leddo, pers. com.). Next the loss of prehensility spreads further up the tail and the seahorses begin to act as if their tails are very tender and sensitive. They will drape their tails over objects rather than grasping onto them and begin to drag their tails behind themselves, often arching the end of their tail upward in the shape of “U” (rather than the usual “J” or tight coil) as if to lift it off the ground and keep it from touching anything (Leddo, pers. com.).

This is usually when the tip of the tail becomes white and the loss of coloration starts advancing further and further up the tail (Giwojna, Oct. 2003). At this point, the discolored skin begins to flake or lift up and open wounds and ulcers develop on the most distal portions of the tail (Giwojna, Oct. 2003). The infection attacks the underlying tissues, and the tail is gradually eaten away, often all the way to the bone, exposing the vertebrae (hence the name Tail Rot). Survivors may end up missing the last few segments of their tail (Giwojna, Oct. 2003).

White tail disease is highly contagious disease. I have seen it often in temperate seahorse species suffering from heat stress, as well as in crowded nursery tanks where it spreads through the fry like wildfire (Giwojna, Oct. 2003).

Infected seahorses should be treated with antibiotics in isolation at the first sign of a loss of prehensility in the tip of their tails (otherwise the antibiotics may harm the biofilter in your main tank, creating more problems). There are a number of treatment options to consider, and the following antibiotics have proven to be effective in treating tail rot in seahorses in some cases:

Enrofloxin (brand name Baytril) — a potent prescription antibiotic that can be difficult for the home hobbyists to obtain;

Tetracycline or oxytetracycline (but ONLY when administered orally);

Minocycline (e.g., Maracyn-Two Powder Saltwater by Mardel or a combination of MarOxy + Maracyn-Two);

Sulfa 4 TMP (four different sulfas plus trimethoprim) — National Fish Pharmaceuticals;

TMP Sulfa (trimethoprim and sulfathiazole sodium) — Maracyn Plus by Mardel; National Fish Pharmaceuticals;

Neosulfex or Neo3 (neomycin + sulfa antibiotics) — unfortunately, no longer available

Neomycin sulfate + triple sulfa (both available from National Fish Pharmaceuticals)

Kanamycin sulfate + triple sulfa (both available from National Fish Pharmaceuticals)


Nitrofuracin Green (equivalent to Furan 2) — National Fish Pharmaceuticals

We’ll discuss each of these medications and how best to administer them to your ponies in some detail below. Hopefully, you will be able to obtain one or more of them in your area:

Enrofloxin (brand name Baytril)

Baytril (Enrofloxacin) is a powerful new broad-spectrum antibiotic that increasingly used to treat infections of the urinary tract, skin, prostate, gastrointestinal system, liver, ears, and lungs in humans. It is affective against both gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria and is widely used in aquaculture to treat marine fish. It belongs to a relatively new class of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones, which are effective against a wide variety of bacteria, and is now being used in the aquaculture industry to treat bacterial infections in valuable fish. Baytril is a more potent antibiotic than aminoglycosides such as kanamycin or neomycin, but you will probably have to obtain it from your veterinarian. In liquid form, enrofloxin (Baytril) can be administered either by injection at around 10mg/kg bodyweight every other day or administered orally.

In order to determine the proper dosage for the intramuscular injections, you need to be able to weigh the seahorses accurately, and you must obtain the injectable form of the medication.

Due to their bony exoskeleton, injections are particularly challenging with seahorses. Seahorses store their limited fat reserves primarily in their tail, which is the most muscular part of their body. The meaty part at the base of the tail is best suited for IM injections. If you attempt the intramuscular injections, I would suggest targeting the base of the tail a short distance below the pouch using a ventral approach with a shallow angle of attack. The needle should be directed between the scutes/plate margins for ease of penetration through the skin. The external area can be rinsed with sterile saline or a drop of a triple antibiotic ophthalmic solution applied prior to needle penetration.

The Baytril can also be administered orally by tube feeding it to the seahorse, which is helpful when the seahorse is not eating, but it is a stressful procedure for the seahorse. Here are the instructions for administering the Baytril orally, courtesy of Ann at the org:

ENROFLOXACIN Oral Dosage and Preparation Instructions
Active Ingredient: Enrofloxacin
Indication: bacterial infection
Brandnames: Baytril
The following information is based on the most commonly available tablet sizes for Enrofloxacin/Baytril
available in the US and abroad and an average sized seahorse of approximately 10 grams.
Tube feed the seahorse 0.1mg of Enrofloxacin once a day for 10 days.
Day 1 – 10 of Treatment
• Crush 1/4 of a 68mg or 50mg tablet into a fine powder.
• Use a mini-blender or small hand-blender to thoroughly mix the powder with marine water. Mix 1/4 of a
68mg tablet with 85mL of marine water. Mix 1/4 of a 50mg tablet with 62.5mL of marine water.
• Fill a small syringe with 0.5mL of the solution.
• Tube feed the seahorse just as if you were force-feeding the pony to provide nutritional support.
• Throw out the unused Enrofloxacin and marine water solution. You will need to make new solution daily because Enrofloxacin breaks down quickly in saltwater causing it to become completely ineffective by the next day.

Important Notes:
Enrofloxacin is available only by prescription from a veterinarian.

Enrofloxacin International Version – Tablets are produced in 15mg, 50gm, 150mg, & a 2.5% injectable solution

Enrofloxacin US Version – Tablets are produced in 22.7mg, 68mg, 136mg, & a 2.27% injectable solution

If you are able to ascertain the exact weight of your seahorse you may want to adjust the dosage as necessary to get the most benefit from the medication. In such an instance you would dose Enrofloxacin at 0.01mg of the medication per gram of body weight.
A veterinarian who works regularly with small exotics will be familiar with the proper way to dilute injectable Enrofloxacin solution to fit your needs.

Here are the instructions for adding the Baytril directly to the hospital tank, rather than injecting it or giving it orally:

If you obtain the tablet form of Baytril rather than the liquid, just add one 90.7 mg tablet (or the equivalent) per 10 gallons to the filter box on the treatment tank each day for 3-5 consecutive days. The circulation of the water through the filter will dissolve the antibiotic tablet and dispersed throughout the aquarium. If you don’t have an external filter on your hospital tank in which to dissolve the Baytril tablet, then just crush it into a very fine powder and dissolve it in the treatment tank as thoroughly as possible. Repeat the procedure for three consecutive days.

The tablet dosages are recommended by Dr. Peter Hill, DVM for the Newport Aquarium, and were intended for a 10-gallon hospital tank. In other words, the dosage of Baytril he recommends is one 90.7 mg tablet per 10 gallons of water (or ~45 mg Baytril/5 gallons if you are using a five-gallon hospital tank or a 10-gallon tank that’s half filled with water). This dosage should be repeated for 3-5 consecutive days. In short, the treatment regimen for prolonged immersion in your hospital tank would be as follows:

Day 1: Baytril — one 90.7 mg tablet/10 gallons
Day 2: Baytril — one 90.7 mg tablet/10 gallons
Day 3: Baytril — one 90.7 mg tablet/10 gallons

Note: enrofloxin/Baytril is most effective when injected or administered orally; the bath treatments are less effective and typically must be maintained for at least a week or more in order to be helpful in treating tail rot.

Tetracycline Antibiotics

Unlike enrofloxin, tetracycline and oxytetracycline are widely available to home hobbyists over the counter, without a prescription, and are relatively inexpensive. They can be very effective in treating infection such as tail rot in seahorses, but ONLY when they are ministered orally after bioencapsulation in feeder shrimp. This means they are only helpful in cases where the affected seahorse is still eating normally, which is often the case with tail rot in the early stages. (The tetracycline antibiotics are useless when added to the aquarium water in a saltwater tank, because calcium and magnesium bind to the medications and deactivate them when the pH is 7.6 or above.) So the only way tetracycline antibiotics can be used effectively with seahorses is to gutload feeder shrimp with the medication or, alternatively, to soak frozen Mysis in the proper concentration of the medication, and then feed the medicated Mysis to the seahorses.

If you can obtain live adult brine shrimp, the feeder shrimp can be gut loaded with the tetracycline antibiotics and then fed to the seahorses. In that case, the best way to administer the tetracycline would be to bioencapsulate it in live adult brine shrimp and then to feed the medicated shrimp to the ailing seahorse.

Many times the most effective way to administer antibiotics orally is by bioencapsulating or gutloading them in live shrimp, which are then fed to the seahorses. The easiest way to gutload antibiotics is to bioencapsulate them in live adult brine shrimp (Artemia spp.), as described below. The recommended dosage of antibiotic for this varies between 100-250 mg per liter or about 400-1000 mg per gallon of water. Stay within that range and you should be all right.

In the case of tetracycline, I recommend using 500 mg per gallon of freshwater for bioencapsulating the antibiotic in adult brine shrimp. Tetracycline is a photosensitive drug, so keep the container of freshwater covered to shield it from the light or in a relatively dark area of the room while you are gutloading the brine shrimp.

If the antibiotic you are using 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 freshwater at the dosage suggested above. Soak the adult shrimp in freshwater treated with the antibiotic for 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 antibiotic 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.

The antibiotics I would recommend for gutloading in most cases are tetracycline or oxytetracycline. Tetracycline is widely available for aquarium use, so you should easily be able to get a product at your LFS in which the primary ingredient is tetracycline, such as Maracyn-TC by Mardel Labs or Tetracycline MS by Fishvet. These products generally include 250 mg capsules or tablets of tetracycline, or packets of 500 mg tetracycline powder, which would make it easy for you to determine the right amount to add to 1 gallon of freshwater in which to soak your brine shrimp to gutload them with the antibiotic. (Just add two of the 250 mg capsules or crushed up tablets — i.e., 500 mg worth — of the tetracycline to a gallon of water.) Or in the case of the Tetracycline MS, use one 500 mg packet per gallon of freshwater.

Although tetracycline and oxytetracycline generally work very well when administered orally, they are all but useless when used as bath treatments for marine fish. This is because the calcium and magnesium in hard water or saltwater bind to tetracycline and oxytetracycline, rendering them inactive (Yanong, US Dept. of Agriculture). In addition, tetracycline and oxytetracycline are photosensitive drugs and will decompose when exposed to light. So these drugs are very useful for seahorses when they are administered via bioencapsulation, but they are utterly ineffective when added to the water in a saltwater aquarium are hospital tank (Yanong, USDA). This is another reason why you must soak the live adult brine shrimp in freshwater when gutloading them with tetracycline or oxytetracycline.

Gutloading the adult brine shrimp in freshwater has several advantages. 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. But the most important reason that you gutload the adult brine shrimp in freshwater when you are using tetracycline or oxytetracycline is that these medications will be deactivated in saltwater and rendered useless if you attempted to bioencapsulate the medication in adult brine shrimp that are in saltwater.

I would feed your seahorses their fill of adult brine shrimp gutloaded with tetracycline once a day for 7-10 days. 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. So that would be a total of 7-10 feedings, one per day, using adult brine shrimp gutloaded with the tetracycline. Give the seahorses a second feeding of frozen Mysis enriched with Vibrance later in the day. The Vibrance includes beta glucan as an active ingredient, which is in an immune stimulant that will help the seahorses to fight off any infections.

It is impossible to determine precisely what dosage of medication each individual fish ingests when gutloading, but the tetracycline antibiotics are very safe to use for this application and you really cannot overdose a seahorse using this method of treatment. Feeding each seahorse its fill of shrimp gut-loaded with tetracycline for 7-10 days assures that they receive an effective dose of the medication. As long as each seahorse is getting its share of the medicated brine shrimp every day during the treatment period, you needn’t be concerned if one of the ponies is eating more than the others.

As I mentioned above, tetracycline in oxytetracycline can be effective treatments for tail rot when they are administered orally. However, they are useless as bath treatments for marine fishes. This is because calcium and magnesium bind to tetracycline and oxytetracycline, rendering them inactive (Roy Yanong, US Department of Agriculture). Adding tetracycline or oxytetracycline to saltwater in a hospital tank is therefore completely ineffective (Yanong, USDA), but administering the antibiotics orally can produce good results.

Minocycline Antibiotic

Minocycline is another helpful antibiotic for treating white tail disease (i.e., tail rot). It is the active ingredient in Maracyn-Two Powder Saltwater by Mardel Labs (Maracyn-Two consists of minocycline together with a complex of B-vitamins). Maracyn-Two is readily available over the counter from aquarium stores and pet shops that carry fish.

Maracyn-Two Powder Saltwater by Mardel Labs
Active Ingredient
Each powder packet contains 20 mg Minocycline activity. 15.00 Pantothenic Acid, 8.60 mg Riboflavin, 2.60 mg Thiamine Mononitrate, 2.60 Pyridoxine Hydrochloride.
Be sure to treat for the full duration recommended, even if symptoms disappear after a few days. DO NOT overdose. Follow dosage directions as detailed on the product packaging.
Dosing Instructions
First day, add 2 packets per 20 gallons of water. On the second through fifth day, add 1 packet per 20 gallons of water.
Repeat this 5 day treatment only once if needed.
Special Notes on Diagnosis
Diagnosis of bacterial infections and parasitic infestations in salt and freshwater fish is very difficult, even for the most advanced aquarist.

For best results, consider combining Maracyn-Two with MarOxy by Mardel Labs. It can be difficult to determine whether tail rot is due to a bacterial infection, a fungal infection, or a mixed infection, and the combination of Maracyn-Two plus MarOxy will be helpful regardless of the nature of the underlying infection:

MarOxy by Mardel labs
Safe, stable and non-staining, MarOxy treats fungal as well as bacterial diseases, such as clamped fins, swollen eyes, and patchy coloration. Use of a hospital tank is recommended. Active ingredient: stabilized chlorine oxides. 1/2 teaspoon per 10 gallons daily, for no more than 5 days. 1 oz. treats 25 gallons for 5 days. For fresh and saltwater.

Sulfa drugs combined with trimethoprim can also be very helpful for treating tail rot. The most potent of these synergistic combinations are Sulfa 4 TMP and TMP Sulfa.

Sulfa 4 TMP Powder

USE: this is a special blend of four different sulfas that all have different absorption rates and solubility. The sulfas are combined with trimethoprim, which potentiates each other’s ability to kill bacteria. The result is a wide spectrum antibiotic with less chance of resistant strains developing.

DOSAGE: 1/4 teaspoon per 20 gallons of water. (1/2 pound treats 3640 gallons of water.)

TMP Sulfa (trimethoprim and sulfathiazole sodium)

USE: for treating bacterial infections, both gram-negative and gram-positive. The combination of trimethoprim plus sulfathiazole sodium retards resistant strains from developing. It exerts its antimicrobial effect by blocking 2 consecutive steps in the biosynthesis of the nucleic acids and proteins essential to many bacteria.

DOSAGE: add 1/4 teaspoon per 10 gallons of water every 24 hours, with a 25% water change before each daily treatment. Treat for a minimum of 10 days.

(1/4 pound treats approximately 940 gallons of water.)
*More effective than triple sulfa.

Both Sulfa 4 TMP and TMP Sulfa can be obtained online without a prescription from National Fish Pharmaceuticals at the following URL:

As an alternative, Maracyn Plus by Mardel Labs is another effective medication that combines a sulfa drug with trimethoprim to combat tail rot, and which is commonly available at pet shops and fish stores:

Maracyn Plus by Mardel labs
Directions for Use:
Add one capful (10ml) per 10 gallons of water. Treat on days 1, 3, and 5. Use as soon as the first signs of disease are noted. Treated water may appear cloudy at first due to the presence of the microscopic spheres. All cloudiness will be gone within 30 minutes to 1 hour after treatment. Maintain normal filtration and air during treatment.
Active Ingredients: Sulfadimidine and Trimethoprin
General Information:
Maracyn Plus is a broad-spectrum antibiotic for controlling the bacteria that cause mouth fungus, fin and tail rot, Popeye, dropsy and ulcers.
Benefit: Maracyn Plus makes use of a revolutionary technology that delivers the antibiotic directly to the fish. Multi-layered micro-spheres attach to the fish and break down one layer at a time releasing the antibiotics in a controlled regulated manner. A filming agent, Chitosan, which has a molecular structure similar to the natural mucous coat of a fish, seals the treatment in contact with the tissue surface.
Use: Contains two powerful broad-spectrum antibiotics that are effective against the bacteria that cause Fin and Tail rot, Popeye, Dropsy, Ulcers, and “Mouth and Body Fungus”. As the bio-spheres attach to the fish, they form a protective medicated layer over the fish’s skin that kills the infecting bacteria and prevents re-infection. The healing properties of chitosan speed up the regeneration of damaged tails, fins, mouths and skin. For use in fresh and saltwater aquariums.

Neosulfex and Neo3 — both broad-spectrum antibiotics consisting of neomycin combined with sulfa compounds to produce a potent synergistic combination of antibacterials — are the antibiotics home hobbyist choose to rely on most often for treating tail rot. Unfortunately, neither of these combination medications are available any longer.

However, many hobbyists have been getting similar results by creating their own version of these medications by combining neomycin sulfate with various sulfa compounds. One that seems to work well is combining neomycin sulfate with triple sulfa. You may be able to get neomycin sulfate and triple sulfa compound at a well-stock LFS. If not, you can obtain both neomycin sulfate powder and triple sulfa powder from National Fish Pharmaceuticals without a prescription. You can order them online at the following site:

Kanamycin sulfate used alone or in conjunction with neomycin sulfate would also be an excellent choice for treating tail rot, both of which can be combined safely with triple sulfa.

Kanamycin sulfate powder

USE: Gram-negative bacteria for resistant strains of piscine tuberculosis and other bacterial infections. Works especially well in salt water aquariums.

DOSAGE 1/4 teaspoon per 20 gallons of water. Treat every 24 hours with a 25% water change before each treatment. Treat for 10 days. For piscine tuberculosis, use for up to 30 days.

This is a potent broad-spectrum, gram+/gram- 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. Kanamycin
can be combined safely with neomycin to further increase its
efficacy. Like other gram-negative antibiotics, it will destroy your
biofiltration and should be used in a hospital tank only.

Neomycin sulfate powder

USE: Gram-negative bacteria (Pseudomonas), piscine tuberculosis and other bacterial infections. Works well in freshwater or saltwater aquariums.

DOSAGE 1/4 teaspoon per 10 gallons of water. Treat every 24 hours with a 25% water change before each treatment. Treat for 10 days. For piscine tuberculosis, use for up to 30 days.

Neomycin is a very potent gram-negative antibiotic. Most of
infections that plague marine fish are gram-negative, so neomycin
sulfate can be a wonder drug for seahorses (Burns, 2002). As
mentioned above, it can even be combined with other medications such
as kanamycin or nifurpirinol for increased efficacy. For example,
kanamycin/neomycin is tremendous for treating bacterial infections,
while nifurpirinol/neomycin makes a combination that packs a heckuva
wallop for treating mixed bacterial/fungal infections or problems of
unknown nature. Keep it on hand at all times.

Neomycin will destroy beneficial bacteria and disrupt your biological
filtration, so be sure to administer the drug in a hospital tank.

Triple Sulfa Powder

USE: for treatment of gram-negative infections, fin and tail rot, mouth fungus, collapsed fins, columnaris.

DOSAGE: add 1/4 teaspoon per 10 gallons of water every 24 hours, with a 25% water change before each daily treatment. Treat for a minimum of 10 days.

You can get both kanamycin sulfate and neomycin sulfate, as well as triple sulfa, from the following vendor:

Furan 2

Furan2 is a good combo medication that consist of two nitrofuran antibiotics (nitrofurazone and furazolidone), often combined with good old methylene blue. That gives it both bacteriostatic and bactericidal properties, and makes it active against various gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria. The methylene blue stains the water in the treatment tank as and prevents the photosensitive nitrofuran antibiotics from being deactivated by light. Methylene blue is effective in preventing fungal growth, and it has antiprotozoal and antibacterial properties as well, by virtue of its ability to bind with cytoplasmic structures within the cell and interfere with oxidation-reduction processes. This makes the combination of methylene blue, nitrofurazone and furazolidone very broad spectrum and quite potent. Furan2 is especially effective for treating mild skin infections.

However, you have to take special precautions when administering nitrofuran antibiotics such as Furan2 because they are photosensitive and can be deactivated by light. That means you’ll need to darken the hospital tank while you treat the seahorse(s). Do not use a light on your hospital tank, cover the sides of the tank with black construction paper or something similar, and keep an opaque lid or cover on the aquarium during the treatments. Remove this cover from the aquarium only long enough to feed your seahorses.

Furan2 can be administered either as a bath (less effective) or orally via gutloaded feeder shrimp (best). Here are the instructions for both methods (again, courtesy of and at the org):

FURAN-BASED MEDS (immersion) Dosage and Preparation Instructions for a 10g/38L Hospital Tank
Active Ingredients: Nitrofurazone and Furazolidone
Indication: bacterial infection
Brand Names: Furan-2, Furanase, Binox, BiFuran+, Fura-MS, Furazolidone Powder
Dose daily for 10 days. Disregard package info concerning dosing frequency and water changes.
Replace the medication in ratio to the amount of water changed daily as needed to control ammonia.
This product is best administered by feeding it to adult live brine shrimp, then in turn. feeding those animals to the Seahorse. If this is not an option, it may be administered as follows.
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.

Here are the instructions for gut loading live adult brine shrimp with the Furan2, (courtesy of Ann):

FURAN-BASED MEDS (oral) Dosage and Preparation Instructions for a 10g/38L Hospital Tank
Active Ingredients: Nitrofurazone and/or Furazolidone
Indication: bacterial infection
Brand Names: Furan-2, Furanase, Binox, BiFuran+, FuraMS, Furazolidone Powder
Feed adult brine shrimp gut-loaded with medication to the Seahorse 2x per day for 10 days.
• Add a small amount of the medication to one gallon of water and mix thoroughly.
• Place the amount of adult brine shrimp needed for one feeding into the mixture. Leave them in the mixture for at least 2hrs.
• Remove the adult brine shrimp from the mixture and add them to the hospital tank.
• Observe the Seahorse to be certain it is eating the adult brine shrimp.

A very effective technique for gut loading live adult brine shrimp with Furan2 is to set up a clean, plastic pail or bucket filled with 1 gallon of freshly mixed saltwater, and then to add one packet of Furan 2 to the bucket of water. Next, add a generous portion of well-rinsed adult brine shrimp and let them soak in the bucket of medicated water for at least two hours, in order to bioencapsulate the antibiotics in the brine shrimp.

You will be performing a 50% water change in your 10-gallon hospital tank daily to maintain good water quality, and you should be sure to include the 1 gallon bucket of medicated water and all of the live adult brine shrimp that have been soaking in it as part of this water exchange. (In other words, the bucket of medicated water will account for one of the 5 gallons of newly mixed saltwater you add to the 10-gallon hospital tank daily.) This way, you will be adding the excess Furan 2 from the medicated bucket of water to the treatment tank as well as the gutloaded adult brine shrimp, thus helping to assure that the affected seahorse receives a good dose of the medication.

Nitrofuracin Green (equivalent to Furan2)

This is National Fish Pharmaceuticals’ special formula of nitrofurazone, furazolidone, methylene blue, and sodium chloride.

USE: anti-microbial, anti-protozoan, antibacterial, and anti-fungal. Wide spectrum. Good for newly arrived fish in quarantine situations. Also be good for healing wounds and ammonia burns on newly arriving fish. Widely used for shipping or packing water. Works well for sores on fish in Koi ponds.

DOSAGE: add 1/4 teaspoon per 20 gallons every 24 hours, with a 25% water change before each daily treatment. Treat for 10 days.

Okay, those are good antibiotics to consider when treating a case of white tail disease or tail rot, and hopefully one of them will be in your fish will medicine cabinet are readily available from one of your local fish stores.

At the same time, begin treating the seahorse with metronidazole and a nitrofuran antibiotic orally by feeding them frozen Mysis that have been medicated using Seachem Metronidazole, Seachem Focus, and Seachem Garlic Guard, as we discussed previously in this post.

Best of luck resolving this tail problem and restoring your seahorse to good health again.

Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support

©Copyright 2009. All rights reserved. Permission to reproduce is granted by the author (Peter Giwojna) for your personal use only and is not transferable without written permission by Ocean Rider and the original author.

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