Thanks for sharing your experience with the rest of the members of the “Seahorse Life and Care” discussion forum! That is good advice about avoiding puffers, however small, and other fin nippers when selecting tankmates for your seahorses, and hopefully it will save other home aquarists from a lot of grief in the future.
In my experience, among the worst offenders when it comes to fin nippers are puffers and cowfish as well as filefish of various types.
The good news is that as long as the dorsal fins of your seahorses were not eaten away entirely, right down to the musculature, they should be able to regenerate and repair the damage to their dorsal fins. Ocean Rider seahorses are very recently and the dorsal fin normally has excellent regenerative ability, so I am optimistic that this damage can heal over time. The key to a complete recovery is to prevent secondary infections such as fin rot from taking hold and keeping your seahorses eating despite their lack of mobility so you can keep their strength up throughout the healing process.
However, there is always a risk that any splits, or tears, or semicircular bites that have been removed from the soft dorsal fin can become infected and develop into fin rot, so you’re going to have to remain very vigilant in that regard. If the seahorses are still able to eat normally, it would be a good precaution to medicate their frozen Mysis with antibiotics before you feed it to the seahorses.
I would recommend using Seachem Focus together with Seachem NeoPlex for this purpose because the Focus contains a nitrofuran antibiotic whereas the NeoPlex contains neomycin sulfate, which is a potent aminoglycoside antibiotic. The antibiotics in the Focus and the NeoPlex can be used safely together in order to produce a synergistic effect that makes the combination much more potent and effective than either of the medications used alone.
The Seachem Focus and Seachem NeoPlex are readily available from any local fish stores that carry Seachem products and it’s very easy to use them to medicate the frozen Mysis to feed to the affected seahorse so that the medications will be ingested and move efficiently into the bloodstream, where they can be the most effective in combating infection.
In short, I would recommend that you obtain some Seachem NeoPlex and administer it to the seahorses orally by mixing Seachem Focus and the NeoPlex together with frozen Mysis that you have carefully thawed and prepared. The Focus will bind with the medication in the NeoPlex and then bind to the frozen Mysis in a manner that masks the unpleasant taste of the medication and makes it more palatable to the seahorse. The active ingredient in the NeoPlex is neomycin sulfate, a potent aminoglycoside antibiotic, so when the seahorses subsequently eat the frozen Mysis, they will ingest the antibiotics and get the maximum benefit they can provide.
Here is some additional information on the Focus by Seachem Laboratories, which explains how to use it to combine medication with food:
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 contaminating 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 binding medications to fish food.
And here is an excerpt from an e-mail from another home hobbyist (Ann Marie Spinella) that explains how she uses the NeoPlex together with the Focus for treating her seahorses, Tami:
“When I bought the NeoPlex yesterday I also picked up a tube of Focus. According to the instructions, it says it makes the medication more palatable to fish & reduces the loss of the medication once it’s in the water.
So I followed the dosing instructions exactly. I used regular frozen mysis instead of PE. I figured it was softer & smaller. I was thinking along the lines of more surface area for the medication to adhere to & with the softer shell hopefully it would absorb into the shrimp a little better.
I used 8 cubes which came to just about 1 tablespoon. I thawed & rinsed the shrimp thoroughly in a little colander & let it sit on a paper towel to remove as much water as possible.
Then I put in it in a small dish & added the Focus & NeoPlex in the recommended ratio which is 5:1 (5 scoops Focus / 1 scoop NeoPlex). I mixed it thoroughly & added a few drops of Garlic Power.
Then I measured out 5 – 1/4 tsp. servings & 4 servings I placed on a sheet of Glad Press & Seal, sealed them & put them in the freezer, since it says in the instructions that you can freeze what you don’t use right away, & the remaining 1/4 tsp. I split in half & fed to them this morning. The rest I’ll give to them
this afternoon & I’ll do this every day with the remaining shrimp that I already prepared & froze.
In the video you can see that the seahorses are eating it. Yea!!
Thanks for all of your help & I’ll keep you posted.”
Okay, that’s the rundown on using the NeoPlex together with the Focus so that you could administer the medication in the NeoPlex orally after adding it to the frozen Mysis for the seahorses daily meals.
Here is some more information regarding the dorsal fin of your seahorses and why it is so important for their health and well-being that you may find to be of interest:
Being encased in a bony exoskeleton and lacking a tail fin — the primary means of propulsion for most fishes — the seahorse is naturally a poor swimmer. At first glance, the seahorse appears to glide majestically through the water almost by magic, with no apparent effort on its part whatsoever. Its miraculous means of locomotion can be discovered only by careful observation. Closed examination will reveal a high-speed blur at the center of the seahorse’s back. This, of course, is the nearly transparent dorsal fin, oscillating as fast as 30-60 times per second. The seahorse is thus propelled slowly through the water by the rippling action of its dorsal fin.
The dorsal fin is located along the midline of seahorse’s back and provides its primary means of locomotion. Hippocampus swims in an awkward, upright position that is unlike any other fish. This unorthodox, upright swimming style is necessary because the seahorse must assume a vertical posture in order to bring its dorsal fin into position to push it through the water. High-speed undulations pass down the dorsal fin and propel the seahorse forward (Seahorse Anatomy, 2004).
Although it gives the seahorse an effortless grace and quiet dignity, this method of locomotion is necessarily slow. The seahorse is designed for maneuverability, not speed. It has the ability to negotiate its way through a complex environment filled with tight spots and closed spaces, whether that be dense seagrass flats, tangled mangrove roots, thickets of sea fans and stands of gorgonians, sponge beds, patch reefs or the coral jungle itself. Even when swimming in the open sea, Hippocampus needs to move no faster than a bit of seaweed or flotsam would drift with the currents, the better to disguise itself from its enemies.
The dorsal fin is wonderfully well adapted for this job. The leading edge of the fin sweeps out only a small area but waveforms pass down it at high frequency (Blake, 1980). This is important because these rapid undulations render the dorsal fin invisible to predators. Research has shown that the frequency of oscillation of the seahorse’s dorsal fin is beyond the fusion frequency of the eyes of its potential predators. As a result, R.W. Blake concludes, “To all intents and purposes the fin would be invisible and the slow moving syngnathid indistinguishable from drifting vegetation” (Blake, 1980). The dorsal fin rays of the seahorse are stout and unjointed, which helps them withstand the heavy loads generated at high frequencies of oscillation without distortion or severe bending. The number of soft rays in the dorsal and pectoral fins is species dependent, and fin rays counts are used to help identify seahorses.
Best of luck helping your seahorses to make a quick, complete recovery from this traumatic experience.
Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support