Pete Giwojna

Dear Gay:

Yes, I certainly do think that you’re on the right track and prompt treatment with the Diamox should resolve this problem with subcutaneous emphysema (external GBD).

Having the Hikari Jumbo Mysis will make the job of injecting the feeder shrimp with the Diamox solution much easier for you, Gay — the normal Hikari Mysis tends to be much smaller than PE Mysis and is often fragmented. If the Hikari Jumbo frozen Mysis is about 3/4-inch long, then it may be pretty comparable to small feeder ghost shrimp, in which case handfeeding two of these medicated jumbo Mysis to Dennis once a day for four consecutive days may suffice.

Administering medications orally via bioencapsulation is far from an exact science, Gay. It’s difficult to determine how strong the Diamox solution is, how much of it ends up inside the shrimp that are injected, and how many of the medicated shrimp the seahorse ingests. But the medications are much more potent when they are administered orally because they can be absorbed from the gut and enter the bloodstream, so very little is often required.

Yes, you can overdose seahorses using acetazolamide so don’t overdo it if Dennis is an aggressive eater. (Oftentimes, that isn’t a problem when administering Diamox orally because it seems to have a bit of an unpleasant aftertaste and the seahorses frequently become less eager to consume additional shrimp after eating one or two of the Diamox-filled Mysis.) If Dufus’ episode with pouch emphysema was recent, it would not hurt to offer him some of the medicated jumbo Mysis as well, but don’t offer any to the Brazilian seahorses (Hippocampus reidi) that haven’t had any problems with gas bubble syndrome. You never want to treat with Diamox prophylactically…

That’s a tough call regarding the protein skimmer, Gay. They can be great for improving water quality and the evidence linking certain protein skimmers with gas supersaturation (hence problems with gas bubble syndrome) is largely anecdotal. So many factors are involved — different aquariums with different filtration systems and different numbers of seahorses, differing maintenance schedules, varying water depth, etc. — that it’s difficult to determine if there is any sort of a direct relationship between some protein skimmers and the occurrence of GBS or not. Many of the reports I have seen in that regard could be purely coincidently…

What is known for certain is that gas supersaturation in small, closed-system aquariums is often due to the entraining of air on the intake side of a leaky pump, which then chops the air into fine microbubbles and injects it into the water (Cripe, Kowalski and Phipps, 1999). Water and air are thus mixed under high pressure and forced into the water column, which can result in gas supersaturation. So if a poorly adjusted or poorly designed protein skimmer is releasing clouds of excess microbubbles into the water, and these bubbles are then drawn into the water pumps, low-level gas supersaturation of the aquarium water could result, and gas supersaturation is one of the environmental triggers associated with GBS…

Since your problems with GBS occurred with no protein skimmer running in the aquarium, using the new protein skimmer is certainly an option that you can consider as long as you make sure that the protein skimmer is tuned properly so that the bubble column is confined within the body of the skimmer itself. You don’t want the protein skimmer to be spewing microbubbles into the rest of the sump.

Best of luck with the Diamox treatments, Gay!

Pete Giwojna

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