Re:anyone have any suggestions? can use some help

#4673
Pete Giwojna
Guest

Dear Johnny:

I’m sorry to hear about the problems you’ve been having getting your new red seahorse to eat, sir.

What you are describing sounds more like generalized weakness that an illness at this point, and I suspect that the seahorse has been weakened as a result of malnutrition. Very often seahorses are not fed properly during their stay at the fishstore, and if your new seahorse has not eaten in your aquarium since you purchased it, the chances are good that it’s been a long time since it had a good meal. I would concentrate on tempting your new seahorse with choice live foods in order to provide it with some badly needed nutrition and help it regain its health:

For example, this is how Dr. Martin Greenwell of the Shedd Aquarium describes the importance of good nutrition in maintaining the health of seahorses:

"It is very important to realize that this group of fishes constantly forages in nature. There intestinal
transit time is fairly rapid and their fat stores tend to be rather minimal. These may be
evolutionary trade-offs that are complementary to having bony-plated armor. Consequently,
syngnathids are at a high risk for loss of body condition… Offering nutritional support can mean
the difference between survival and death in sick and/or anorectic seahorses."

When a seahorse stops eating, the most important thing is to get some food into him one way or another. You’ve got to keep your new seahorse’s strength up and give her a chance to recover before you can worry about weaning her back onto frozen foods again. Hawaiian red feeder shrimp or volcano shrimp (Halocaridina rubra) are ideal for this — seahorses find them utterly irresistible! But anything that’s readily available — enriched adult brine shrimp, live ghost shrimp that are small enough to be swallowed, newborn guppies or mollies, Gammarus amphipods, copepods, you name it — is worth a try. Just get some good meals into your new seahorse ASAP to build up its strength and help it regain its conditioning.

Adult brine shrimp are often the easiest live foods for obvious to find local and they will work well providing you fortified or enriched them before you offer them to your seahorse. Adult brine shrimp (Artemia spp.) can certainly be used as occasional treats or dietary supplements, or to help break a hunger strike, providing you enrich it to fortified nutritional content. Here are the instructions for enriching brine shrimp, in case you that’s the most convenient live food for you to provide, Johnny. The original Vibrance formula that is rich in highly unsaturated fatty acids and other lipids (i.e., Vibrance I) works best for fortified brine shrimp:

Enriching Artemia with Vibrance I

For enriching or "gut packing" live Artemia (brine shrimp), or other live shrimp or live food of all sizes. Blend 1 teaspoon of Vibrance into 1 cup of water for 3 minutes. Add this to the live food vessel for 30 minutes, or until you see the gut of the animal turn red. Rinse the animals with clean salt water and feed immediately to your seahorses or other fish.

Some of the choice live foods that sea horses find irresistible are Ocean Rider’s red feeder shrimp (Red Iron Horse Feed, Halocaridina rubra), the post-larval white shrimp (i.e., "snicking shrimp") from Seawater Express, and the live Mysis from Sachs Systems Aquaculture. These live shrimp are what I’d like to call a "feed-and-forget" food. They are tough, rugged little shrimp that you can toss in your tank with no acclimation whatsoever. They are agile and elusive enough that your filters won’t eat them and the seahorses won’t be able to capture them all right away. Some will hide and evade well enough that your seahorses will still be hunting down the stragglers for the next day or two. Best of all, you can toss a nice batch of them in your aquarium, secure in the knowledge that they won’t perish and pollute it, but thrive and survive as real, live, "catch-me-if-you-can" prey items that seahorses cannot resist.

So in your case, Johnny, I would suggest providing your new seahorse with some live adult brine shrimp for now and then ordering perhaps 100-200 of the feeder shrimp mentioned above and setting them up in a small tank of their own with a few small algae-covered live rock as for them to feed on and use for shelter. That would tempt the new red seahorse to eat and give you a chance to enjoy your seahorses while they are stalking and hunting live prey, which is fascinating to watch.

The Ocean Rider Aquaculture Facility in Hawaii (http://seahorse.com/) is a good source for the following live foods:

Green Iron Horse Feed (Gammarus amphipods)
Red Iron Horse Feed or Volcano Shrimp (Halocaridina rubra)

Seawater Express is an excellent source for post-larval white shrimp. They provide bite-sized white shrimp (Penaeus vannamei) in batches of anywhere from 50 to 1000 each. They are hardy, easy-to-keep and disease free. I recommend getting the smallest of the "Snicking Shrimp" they offer:

Seawater Express Inc.
Organic Shrimp Farm / Hatchery
<<http://www.seawaterexpress.com/>&gt;

Or the live Mysis from Sachs Systems Aquaculture would also be a good choice for this. You can obtain 200 live Mysidopsis bahia for $35 from Sachs and your seahorses will love them:

<http://www.aquaculturestore.com/swinverts.html&gt;

All of the sources listed above are high-health aquaculture facilities that provide disease free live foods.

In the meantime, Johnny, be sure to check the water quality parameters in your seahorse tank as well, especially the ammonia and nitrite levels. Generalized weakness could also result from mild ammonia poisoning and nitrite toxicity. Exposure to moderate levels of ammonia and nitrite, or very high levels of nitrates, can change the normal hemoglobin in the seahorse’s blood stream to a form (i.e., methhemoglobin) that is no longer able to transport oxygen. If this becomes severe enough, it will leave the affected seahorse starved for oxygen, which makes it very weak and fatigued. As a result, the affected seahorses may detach themselves from their hitching posts periodically and rest on the bottom, unable to exert themselves in their weakened condition. As you can imagine, being deprived of oxygen really wipes them out in terms of loss of energy and stamina. And it also results in respiratory distress, and rapid, labored breathing as they try to oxygenate themselves and compensate for the lack of normal hemoglobin.

In short, sir, concentrate on getting some choice live foods to tempt the seahorse to eat so that you can fatten up a bit and maintain optimal water quality at all times, and you will hopefully be able to turn the situation around.

Best of luck getting your new red seahorse to eat and regain her health, Johnny!

Respectfully,
Pete Giwojna


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