I know some of these treatments and procedures are intimidating for a newbie, but it’s important to treat the fish at the first sign of a problem so that you can nip it in the bud. External parasites are irritating and stressful for the seahorses, and when they go untreated it leaves the affected seahorses weakened and susceptible to secondary infections. The burrowing of the parasites compromises the integument of the seahorses, opening the way for secondary bacterial or fungal infections to take hold. I wish you had begun treating the seahorses at the first sign of scratching an itching, when we discussed this problem initially, instead of waiting until you can see flakes and white bumps on the seahorses…
It’s difficult to say what the "flakies" may be. Marine fish often produce excess mucus in response to the irritation from ectoparasites, and the flakes could be patches of the seahorses’ protective slime coat sloughing off as a result. Or they could be patches of skin lifting up due to an underlying infection. If that’s the case, an open sore may be left behind when they flake off entirely.
If the white spots or bumps on the anal fin resemble ick, that would be consistent with an infestation of ectoparasites. The dips and bath treatments I mentioned in my earlier post are all effective in cleansing external parasites from seahorses, so one of those would be a good place for you to start.
Formalin can be useful in treating fish with the following clinical symptoms:
Increased respiration; loss of normal body color; presence of discrete white spots (freshwater or saltwater "ich"); white areas on the body with circumscribed, reddish perimeter (Epistylis and/or bacterial infection); scratching on tank bottom or objects, lethargy, white cottony tufts or strands on body (fungus); dust-like, "peppered", yellowish spots on body surface (Oodinium); whitish skin slime or filmy body covering or patches (columnaris disease); disintegrating fins or fin edges (fin rot); mouth "fungus" (bacterial infection); pustules, furuncules or ulcers.
If any of the above symptoms are similar to the problems you’ve noticed with your seahorses upon close inspection, then administering formalin baths to the seahorses may be helpful, mermaid. Formalin 3 by Kordon is the medication I prefer for these treatments. These are the instructions for treating fish with Formalin 3, the Kordon brand of formalin, which is readily available at most fish stores:
SUGGESTED TREATMENT PROCEDURES
The following procedures are suggested for both freshwater and marine systems, unless otherwise noted. It is important to note that some activated carbons can remove formaldehyde from water, but formaldehyde persists for only a few hours in aquariums and does not accumulate in the water.
SUCCESSFUL DISEASE TREATMENT
Successful treatment of diseases of aquarium fishes relies upon several factors. Firstly, as discussed above ("General Diagnosis of parasitic Diseases of Fishes"), a proper diagnosis of the disease must be made, and this can be one of the most difficult tasks facing an aquarist.
Secondly, the start and duration of a treatment is important. A disease which will usually respond to a given medication may not respond if the treatment is started too late, or if the length of treatment is not long enough.
Lastly, the correct medication at the correct dosage must be used with the proper treatment method. Formalin•3, for instance, will not be effective against systemic (internal) diseases of aquarium fishes because the therapeutic effects of the formaldehyde are restricted to those surfaces of the fishes that contact the treated water.
Water changes are another important factor. Some medications state that water changes are not necessary, but the fact is that water changes are always helpful. Depleted dissolved oxygen levels are replenished, dissolved organics are removed as are free-living disease organisms.
Treatment in a separate treatment or hospital tank, if possible, is also important. However, this is often a nuisance and in many cases the entire aquarium population is diseased.
TREATMENT OF FUNGAL AND PROTOZOAL DISEASES OF FISH (LONG-TERM BATH)
(a) Since there is conflicting evidence regarding the safety of formaldehyde to biological (nitrifying) filtration, all long-term bath treatments with Formalin•3 may (at the user’s discretion) be done in a separate hospital or treatment tank.
(b) Remove granular activated carbon from all filters used on the treatment tank; clean or change the mechanical filter media (i.e., filter floss), and return the filter(s) to service (minus the carbon).
(c)Make a partial water change of approximately 25%
(d) Depending upon the condition of the fishes needing treatment (i.e., the severity of the disease, involvement of the gills and the degree of debilitation), the dosage should be varied from 1 to 2 teaspoons per 10 gallons (10 to 20 ppm.) Severely diseased or debilitated fishes should be treated at the lower dosage.
(e) The treatment may be repeated every 24 hours, by repeating all of the above steps, including the required water changes.
(f) The dosage may be increased as the condition of the fishes being treated improves.
(g) If the fishes were removed to a separate tank, the original aquarium or pond should remain devoid of all fishes for a period of at least 4 days to insure all of the remaining infestation has expired.
METHOD 2 (DIP) FOR THE PREVENTION OR TREATMENT OF FISH DISEASES
(a) To a clean, non-metallic container (i.e., a plastic bucket), add one or more gallons of fresh tap water treated with Kordon’s AmQuel . For marine fish use freshly prepared saltwater adjusted to the same specific gravity (or salinity) as in the original tank. Make sure the temperature in the container is identical to that in the aquarium
(b) Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of Formalin•3. This produces a concentration of 100 to 200 ppm. formaldehyde.
(c) Agitate the solution with an airstone and adjust for a moderately strong flow of air.
(d) Remove the fishes to be treated and deposit them in the container for a treatment period of not more than 50 minutes. Immediately after the treatment period, or if signs of distress are noted, remove the fishes to a previously prepared recovery tank. The fishes may be returned to their original tank, but the presence of the original disease-causing agents in the tank water may result in a reoccurrence of the disease condition.
(e) Observe recovering fishes. Make sure that tankmates do not molest them during recovery.
(f) Repeat treatment as needed, every week. Each treatment is very stressful to the treated fishes. Do not reuse the dip solution.
If you are going to use the formalin to treat your seahorses, mermaid, please copy the following URL and paste it in your web browser. It will take you to a webpage with additional information about Formalin 3, and you should read through the information there before you begin the treatments:
Therapeutic dips in hydrogen peroxide can also be helpful for treating ectoparasites and bacterial infections, and they are easier on fishes suffering from respiratory distress than the formalin, so bear that in mind if your seahorses are having any difficulty breathing.
Here are the instructions for performing the very brief hydrogen peroxide dips, mermaid:
Therapeutic Hydrogen Peroxide (H202) Dips
A very quick dip 10-second dip in a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution is effective in cleansing fish of Uronema and other protozoan parasites and will also help to disinfect bacterial lesions and promote healing of open wounds and sores. (Note: 3% is the standard concentration of hydrogen peroxide that you obtain at the drugstore or probably have in your medicine chest at home, but this is not the right choice for performing this procedure.)
Rather, it is customary to obtain the stronger 35% Food Grade or Technical Grade of hydrogen peroxide and then dilute it to the proper concentration instead. For example, 35% hydrogen peroxide was approved for aquaculture use by the FDA in January 2007 and is sold under the name of PEROX-AID(r). This is a much stronger solution of hydrogen peroxide which professional aquarists start with when performing such dips. The desired 3% hydrogen peroxide dipping solution is prepared by taking one gallon of dechlorinated freshwater and then removing 10-oz of the water and replacing it with 10-oz of 35% hydrogen peroxide (PEROX-AID) instead. This formula will produce a ~3% solution of hydrogen peroxide for the brief dip (Kollman, 2003).
You can also scale this formula down by starting with 1/2 gallon of dechlorinated freshwater for the dip, and then removing 5 ounces of the water and replacing it with 5 ounces of 35% hydrogen peroxide instead. That will again produce a ~3% solution of hydrogen peroxide and 1/2 gallon is enough for dipping seahorses if you put it in a relatively small container rather than a large plastic bucket.
The 35% Food Grade or Technical Grade hydrogen peroxide can be purchased from chemical supply houses and some online sources, but it is much stronger and more volatile than the drugstore hydrogen peroxide, and must therefore be handled with great care. Be especially careful NOT to confuse the 35% hydrogen peroxide solution with the mild 3% hydrogen peroxide solution from your drugstore when disinfecting wounds or performing the usual first aid measures that the weak solution is customarily used for around the house.
Once prepared, you can use the same dipping solution for dipping several seahorses in quick succession, but it should then be discarded and you will need to prepare a new solution of 3% hydrogen peroxide each day immediately before you perform the dips, if you will be doing them on a daily basis. This is necessary because the hydrogen peroxide dissipates fairly quickly and must be used immediately after it’s prepared for best results.
Dip the affected seahorse in the hydrogen peroxide solution for 10 seconds and then return it to the treatment tank. Cup the seahorse in your hand so that you can remove the seahorse quickly after 10 seconds of exposure in the dipping container. The hydrogen peroxide dip will disinfect bacterial lesions and abrasions and help promote healing. The dips have the added benefit of cleansing the fish from some ectoparasites and may help the seahorse’s breathing because the hydrogen peroxide greatly increases the dissolved oxygen levels in the dipping solution. The 3% hydrogen peroxide dips can be repeated once a day or once every three days as needed, depending on the severity of the infection/infestation.
In summation, the entire seahorse can be submerged in a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide for a period of 10 seconds to help disinfect wounds or rid them of ectoparasites. DO NOT use a stronger solution of hydrogen peroxide for this procedure! The very brief dips in 3% hydrogen peroxide are a treatment regimen that has been refined by Dr. J. Peter Hill , DVM, who serves as the veterinarian for the Newport Aquarium. He uses it to treat ectoparasites such as Uronema as well as to combat external bacterial infections and to disinfect open wounds or ulcers, thereby helping to promote more rapid healing. He has recommended such baths for seahorses for these purposes…
In a pinch, some hobbyists will use the 3% hydrogen peroxide from their drugstore, but for best results, it’s safer to start with a concentrated 35% Food Grade or Technical Grade, or better yet the 35% PEROX-AID designed for use in aquaculture, and then to dilute it to 3% H2O2 as previously described.
Methylyne blue is also very useful for treating seahorses with respiratory problems due to protozoan parasites or gill parasites, mermaid. Here are the instructions for performing a very brief 10-second dip in concentrated methylyne blue:
Methylene Blue Dip
For best results, consider administering a very brief (5-10 seconds — no more than 10 seconds maximum) dip in a solution of methylene blue between 30-50 ppm, as described below. Prepare the solution of methylene blue using saltwater from your seahorses tank ahead of time. Time the very short Methylene blue dip closely — maybe keep each seahorse in your hand while you dip it in the blue so there’s no fumbling around to capture it when time’s up — pull the pony out after 10 seconds and immediately return it to the main tank afterwards.
If you can obtain the Kordon brand of Methylene Blue (available at most well-stocked local fish stores), their suggested treatment protocol for treating external parasites as a dip is as follows:
For use as a dip for treatment of external parasitic protozoans:
(a) Prepare a nonmetallic container of sufficient size to contain the fish to be treated by adding water similar to the original aquarium.
(b) Add 5 teaspoons (24.65 ml) per 3 gallons of water. This produces a concentration of 50 ppm. It is not recommended that the concentration be increased beyond 50 ppm.
(c) Place fishes to be treated in this solution for no longer than 10 seconds.
(d) Return fish to original aquarium.
See the following link for more information on treating with Kordon’s Methylene Blue:
Click here: KPD-28 Methylene Blue
If your methylene blue is not Kordon (KPD-28) Methylene Blue, then disregard the instructions above and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for using your brand as a bath or dip instead.
Any of the dips are baths mentioned above should provide your itchy seahorses with immediate relief and will serve as a helpful first aid measure to start with, mermaid. However, for a heavy infestation, it is also necessary to treat the seahorse tank in order to eradicate the parasites. In your case, Parinox is the medication I would recommend for treating the seahorse tank, providing it does not house any sensitive invertebrates that could be harmed by the medication. As you can see, Parinox is effective and eliminate a wide range of external parasites and also has antibacterial properties:
USE: for ich, Hexamita, costia, ichthyophthirius, ectoparasites, monogenia (trematodes), Hirudinea, parasitic copepods, argulus, Lernaeidae, anchor worms, fish lice, leeches. Also a protozoacide. Antibacterial, antiparasitic — very wide spectrum. Our version of a "cure-all."
DOSAGE: 1/4 teaspoon per 20 gallons of water. Treat once a week for two weeks. If water changes are done, add back the percentage of the medication according to how much of the water was changed.
Parinox is available online without a prescription from National Fish Pharmaceuticals:
Finally, mermaid, your six-gallon nano tank is really too small for anything but dwarf seahorses, and you should be planning to upgrade your seahorse tank to a larger aquarium as soon as possible.
Best of luck resolving this problem and restoring things to normal again, mermaid.