Dear Dee:

Pete Giwojna

Dear Dee:

I’m very sorry to hear about the recent problems you have been having with some of your seahorses. It is so terribly difficult to try to diagnose health problems from afar when you cannot see the seahorses or the system they are in, and you have no laboratory tests, cultures, skin smears, wet- mounts, necropsy reports or anything concrete to go on to guide your diagnosis. But I would be happy to try to share my thoughts based on the meager information I have and discuss the situation with you in more detail.

A good place to start would be with a good general aquarium cleaning and a series of partial water changes, Dee. I know you said that your water quality parameters are all in the proper range, but there are many water quality parameters that can’t be measured with standard test kits, such as the overall level of organic loading in the aquarium, phosphate levels, or a drop in the levels of dissolved oxygen, to name just a few.

Secondly, after you have performed a general cleanup and a series of small partial water changes as a precaution, I do think it would be a good idea to treat the tank using metronidazole and praziquantel in case an outbreak of parasites is involved. The metronidazole is especially good for treating internal parasites, particularly intestinal flagellates, whereas the praziquantel is another good antiparasitic medication that is more broad-spectrum than the metronidazole.

Both the metronidazole and the praziquantel are seahorse-safe medication that can be used to treat the main tank while your ponies are still in it. However, you will need to remove your activated carbon filtration (if any) beforehand in order to prevent it from removing these medications from the aquarium water.

If you can obtain General Cure, that’s a good product that combines both metronidazole and praziquantel in the proper proportions and that can also be used to treat the main tank safely, as discussed below in greater detail:

General Cure by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals

* Anti-parasitic fish medication rapidly treats a wide variety of parasitic diseases
* Effective fish medication for use in fresh and saltwater aquariums
* Treats diseases such as gill & skin flukes, hole-in-the-head disease, anchor worm, velvet, and fish lice.

Easy-to-use fish medication contains metronidazole and praziquantel in quick-dissolve powder form. Treats a wide variety of parasitic diseases – including velvet, anchor worm, fish lice, hole-in-the-head disease, and gill and skin flukes. Will not color water. For use in both freshwater and saltwater aquariums. Each packet doses 10 gallons. Economical 850 gram bulk jar doses up to 3,270 gallons and includes a 1 tsp scoop.
Active Ingredients: 250 mg Metronidazole and 75 mg Praziquantel per packet.
Directions for Use: For best results, remove activated carbon or filter cartridge from filter and continue aeration. For each 10 gallons (38 L) of water, empty one packet directly into aquarium. Repeat dose after 48 hours. Wait another 48 hours then change 25% of the aquarium water and add fresh activated carbon or replace filter cartridge.
This package treats up to 100 gallons. Two doses required for full course of treatment.

Diagnostic Chart
Gill & Skin Flukes: Very common fish parasites. Can be found on the gills, scales or skin. Not visible without the aid of magnification. Symptoms may include: darkening of skin, clamped fins, excess mucous. Fish may also swim erratically or become emaciated.
Hole-in-the-Head Disease: Symptoms include pitting and erosion of skin and muscle tissue around the face and side of body. Many infected fish exhibit poor appetite, weight loss and nervousness
Anchor Worm: These worms penetrate the skin and embed an anchor-like attachment into the fish. Often a thread-like appendage is all that is visible. Fish tissue is often red at the point of attachment. May be difficult to see without magnification.
Velvet: Heavy infestations cause a golden, velvety appearance or small, white spots on the sides of fish. Gill infestation may cause labored breathing and scratching on objects in the aquarium.
Fish Lice: A parasitic crustacean that can easily hide under the scales or other parts of fish. Fish lice pierce the skin, sucking blood and tissue fluids. Magnification is typically required to see fish lice.

Finally, Dee, I am going to send you an e-mail with an attached document for you to download, save on your computer, and read through right away. It is titled “Fish Health Management Considerations in Recirculating Aquaculture Systems – Part 2: Pathogens,” and it will explain in much more detail how diseases spread through recirculating aquarium systems such as home aquariums, and how to deal with disease outbreaks such as you have experienced. I think you’ll find it to be helpful.

Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support

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