Reply To: Rapid Breathng followed by a hiccup?

Pete Giwojna

Dear Daniel:

I am very sorry to hear about the problem that one of your seahorses has developed.

I have seen one or two cases over the years in which healthy seahorses choked to death after accidentally ingesting a foreign object while feeding from the bottom. When this happens, a foreign object of some sort apparently lodges within the tubular snout, disrupting the flow of water over the seahorse’s gills so that it suffocates in a matter of moments. (Seahorses can often clear such obstructions, but it appears that the seahorse’s powerful suctorial feeding mechanism is much better at sucking objects into its tubular snout than it is at expelling something it has accidentally snicked up.)

As you said, sir, there is not much they can be done after the fact in a case where a seahorse has sucked up a foreign object of some sort. Training your seahorses to eat their frozen Mysis from a feeding station or feeding tray can help to prevent such accidents from occurring in the first place, however.

It might be helpful for you to increase the surface agitation and circulation in your seahorse tank to promote more efficient oxygenation in order to make it easier for the affected seahorse to breathe in the meantime. Consider adding an extra airstone or two anchored just beneath the surface of the tank to increase the aeration and facilitate better gas exchange at the air/water interface.

And be sure to keep a close eye on all of your seahorses for any new symptoms that could indicate a more serious problem than a choking accident, such as an infectious disease of some sort…

Here’s hoping that your seahorse will be able to resolve this problem on its own and will soon be back to normal again.

Good luck.

Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support

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