Pete Giwojna

Dear Nigel:

I’m sorry to hear that your female Hippocampus reidi suffered a mishap while you were away. Did the accident occur in your reef system, sir?

When designing a reef tank that will include seahorses, one must anticipate the different ways they might be injured in such a setup and then take precautions to prevent them from coming to harm. The process of rendering your reef system seahorse safe is much like the measures new parents take to childproof their house when they are expecting their first child. Intake tubes for the filters should be shielded, siphon tubes should be equipped with filter baskets or screens, and so on…

For instance, when powerful water movement in a minireef is combined with overflows, there is a risk that seahorses could become pinned against an overflow or even go over it (Delbeek, Oct. 2001). Therefore, in the seahorse reef, overflows must be baffled and/or screened off, or the water flow should be adjusted sufficiently to prevent that from happening.

And remember that powerheads can become death traps for seahorses if their intakes are not properly shielded or screened off, and take the necessary precautions (Delbeek, Oct. 2001). Carefully conceal the intakes amidst the rockwork where they will be completely inaccessible to seahorses, otherwise shield them, or screen them off with a sponge prefilter.

Neo3 is a good antibiotic for tail problems and it sounds like your female H. reidi is responding well to the medication. Whether or not you should treat your male H. reidi along with the female depends on whether you think her tail infection is a secondary infection or a primary infection, Nigel.

If you feel her problem is due to an opportunistic secondary infection that took hold at the sight of an injury when she got sucked up against the siphon, then there’s probably no need to treat the male. However, if you feel your female H. reidi probably became ill with an infection while you were away, which subsequently weakened and debilitated her, and that she only got sucked up against the siphon because the illness left her weak and vulnerable, then it may be a good idea to treat your male at the same time, particularly if he seems to be carrying or holding his tail in an unusual manner that indicates tenderness or a loss of prehensility. In other words, do you feel your female developed an infection because she got sucked up against the siphon, or do you feel that she got sucked up against the siphon because a bacterial infection weakened her beforehand?

Remember to check the ammonia levels in your hospital tank at least once every day during the treatment period, and make water changes as necessary to maintain good water quality, redosing the antibiotic to compensate for the amount that was removed during the water changes. If you are going to have two H. reidi confined in a five-gallon hospital tank, you will probably need to make substantial water changes daily to protect them from ammonia spikes.

Best of luck with your H. reidi, Nigel!

Pete Giwojna

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