Dear James:

Pete Giwojna

Dear James:

I’m very sorry to hear about the new complication that has knocked your seahorses for a loop, resulted in the loss of two of them, and placed the others in jeopardy.

It seems clear that these new events are related to the water change, James, and my best guess is that the seahorses are suffering from a combination of dehydration and pH shock. Allow me to elaborate.

It sounds like the specific gravity of the 15 gallons of replacement water from your LFS was considerably higher than the normal specific gravity of the seahorse tank, since replacing just 25% of the water was sufficient to raise the specific gravity of the entire aquarium significantly higher than normal. That’s problematic because raising the specific gravity of the aquarium too rapidly can result in dehydration, and in severe cases, the dehydration alone can be fatal.

When adjusting the specific gravity of an aquarium, it can be lowered rapidly without any harmful consequences, but increasing the specific gravity must be done very slowly and methodically in order to avoid the risk of dehydration. I think that dehydration is likely part of the puzzle, James.

It also appears that the pH of the replacement water was considerably lower than the pH at which your seahorse tank has been running, sir, since replacing just 25% of the tank water with replacement water from your LFS also significantly lowered the pH of the entire aquarium. As you know, any adjustments to the pH of aquarium must be done very gradually to avoid stressing the aquarium inhabitants. The symptoms you describe are consistent with pH shock, James, and I believe that is also contributing to this crisis.

Both dehydration and pH shock are stressful to the seahorses and put them at risk, and both of these conditions can result in death many hours (or sometimes even days) after the critical insult occurred.

The only thing that I can recommend that might be helpful at this point, James, would be to slowly add some detoxified freshwater to your aquarium to nudge the specific gravity downwards again. Just be sure to do this downward adjustment gradually since the seahorses are already under stress, and it may be beneficial.

It may also be helpful two very slowly and gradually increase the pH of the aquarium. Under the circumstances, perhaps the safest way to accomplish this would be to gradually increase the surface agitation and aeration in the aquarium in order to facilitate better gas exchange at the air/water interface, sir. This will naturally result in an increase in dissolved oxygen levels and a decrease in the dissolved carbon dioxide levels in the aquarium water, which will elevate the pH slightly.

But mainly this is the sort of problem that only time can resolve in the ponies pretty much have to recover (or not) on their own…

I don’t believe the time of day that you performed the water change has anything to do with these developments, James. But it seems like, for reasons unknown, the replacement water you got from your LFS on this occasion was considerably higher in specific gravity and lower in pH then the water they have been providing for you previously, and that has produced the unfortunate results on the aquarium inhabitants.

Best of luck resolving this situation without any more losses, James. (If you want to switch over to the antibiotic treatment regimen by combining Seachem NeoPlex and Seachem Focus and mixing them with your frozen Mysis, that should not do any harm, sir, but I don’t think that these sudden losses are related to the white, upraised pimples you have been treating.)

Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support

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