Re:Help needed with a capensis

Pete Giwojna

Dear Garet:

I’m sorry to hear about the problem you are having with your Hippocampus capensis. The growing white spot on his tail indicates an active infection, possibly tail rot or ulcerative dermatitis of the tail, but without more to go on, it’s very difficult to say whether the infection is bacterial or fungal in nature, or possibly a secondary infection associated with protozoan parasites that attack the skin. The latter is unlikely, however, if none of the other seahorses in the aquarium are infected, so my best guess is that you are dealing with a primary bacterial infection.

All of your aquarium parameters you reported look good, and I can see nothing there that could have contributed to a problem like this. Your water temperature is a little low, but that’s actually a good thing when you are coping with a possible bacterial infection. For future reference, however, you should keep in mind that H. capensis stops breeding when the water temperature drops below 68°F, so I recommend keeping these temperate seahorses at a temperature of 68°F-72°F unless you want to prevent them from breeding.

You did well to begin treating the seahorse with antibiotics (triple sulfa) followed by an anti-parasitic (acriflavine) when the sulfa did not appear to be helping, but the prognosis for this type of problem is poor once it reaches the point where the seahorse stops eating, and I think you need to alter your treatment regimen if there is to be any hope for recovery.

I recommend isolating the affected seahorse and treating him with broad-spectrum antibiotics in a hospital tank. Since triple sulfa was not helpful, and you are currently administering a regimen of Acriflavine, I would add Furan2 to your treatment regimen immediately, as discussed below. (The Acriflavine is an antiparasitic that is unlikely to help this type of problem on its own, but it makes a very effective 1-2 punch when combined with the Furan2:)

Furan2 is a good combo medication that consist of two nitrofuran antibiotics (nitrofurazone and furazolidone) plus good old methylene blue. That gives it both bacteriostatic and bactericidal properties, and makes it active against various gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria. Best of all, it can be safely combined with Aquarium Pharmaceuticals antiparasitic medications such as Acriflavine to increase its effectiveness and guard against secondary infections when you are treating for parasites.

Thus, when combined with a good antiparasitic medication like Acriflavine, a good combination drug like Furan2 can be the ultimate weapon in your medicine cabinet. It is effective against a wide range of diseases, making it a versatile shotgun for restoring order when trouble breaks out in your tank. When you suspect an infection is at work, but don’t know whether you’re dealing with fungus, bacteria, protozoan parasites or a mixed infection, don’t hold back — break out the heavy artillery and give the bugs both barrels (Furan2 + Aquarium Pharmaceutical antiparasitics)! Furan2 is especially effective for treating mild skin infections.

However, Garet, you have to take special precautions when administering acriflavine or nitrofuran antibiotics such as this because they are photosensitive and can be deactivated by light. That means you’ll need to darken the hospital tank while you treat the seahorse(s). Do not use a light on your hospital tank, cover the sides of the tank with black construction paper or something similar, and keep an opaque lid or cover on the aquarium during the treatments. Remove this cover from the aquarium only long enough to feed your seahorses.

You should also be aware that Furan2 will cause discoloration of the aquarium water, turning it a shade of blue-green. This is harmless and can be removed after the treatments using activated carbon filtration. Furan2 will impair beneficial nitrifying bacteria and disrupt your biological filtration, so it should be administered in a hospital tank. Keep the water in the treatment tank and 64°F, if possible.

Best of luck resolving this problem, garet.

Pete Giwojna

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