Dear Lucienne:

Pete Giwojna

Dear Lucienne:

It is extremely difficult to determine the cause of death in a case like yours where a seemingly healthy seahorse dies suddenly for no apparent reason, especially after the fact when you don’t know anything about the circumstances involved or the aquarium conditions at the time of the incident.

However, I can tell you that the different forms of gas bubble syndrome (GBS), such as chronic pouch emphysema or bloated pouch, are environmental diseases which are caused by certain conditions within the aquarium, rather than any sort of illness or disease pathogen.

So when a male seahorse develops problems with excess gas building up within his pouch and has to have the pouch evacuated to release the trapped gas, handling the seahorse to do so is always an inherently stressful procedure, both for the hobbyist and the seahorse involved. And, unless you make modifications to the aquarium set up, it is likely that such problems will reoccur, often every few weeks. When that happens, the stress from repeatedly “burping” the male’s pouch does have a somewhat cumulative and debilitating affect on the seahorse, so it’s important to correct the conditions that led to the problem in the first place.

But other than the stress involved in burping the pouch, there are usually no lingering aftereffects from such an incident once the seahorse recovers and regained neutral buoyancy. So if your stallion only had one incident of the pouch gas and then died weeks later for reasons unknown, it’s difficult to say that the stress from that incident led to the demise of the seahorse. In that case, the previous incident of pouch gas may only have been a minor contributing factor to the stallion’s subsequent death.

All I can say is that is all that occurs to me, as someone who did not witness the incident and is unaware of the circumstances surrounding your stallion’s death, but you are certainly a much better judge of that than I am looking at the incident from afar and speculating as I am…

Pregnancy does take a toll on the gravid male’s bodily resources and if the stallion has a difficult delivery that is also a stressful experience, Lucienne, but as I said, you may never be able to determine the proximate cause of the stallion’s death at this late date.

The precautions discussed in the documents I sent you on preventing gas bubble syndrome are worth implementing in any case, as a precaution to prevent potential problems with the different forms of GBS in the future.

Good luck!

Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support

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