Re:I am new to seahorses I have a question?

#4406
Pete Giwojna
Guest

Dear Jeanna:

Okay, if you are having difficulty locating the opening to the pouch or inserting a catheter through the tightly closed opening, or your male is simply too uncooperative to accomplish such a procedure, your best bet may be to obtain a fine needle and syringe and release the trapped gas by performing a needle aspiration instead. Many times a needle aspiration is much easier on both the seahorse and the aquarist, and it is a painless procedure that can both remove gas from the bloated pouch as well as administer a pouch flush, as described below.

Needle Aspirations.

It is also very practical to aspirate air from a bloated pouch using a small hypodermic needle and a syringe. The pouch can easily be penetrated from side and is not harmed by the entrance of the needle. It causes the seahorse surprisingly little discomfort and is often less traumatic that massaging the pouch and other methods for evacuating gas. It is a quick and effective technique and is often easier on the seahorse keeper and his patient than other approaches.

Remember, when you perform a needle aspiration, you are not penetrating the seahorse’s stomach, but rather the brood pouch that is slung beneath its belly at the base of its tail.

You cannot release the gas that has built up in your male’s pouch simply by perforating the side of his pouch with a small needle. That’s not what the term "needle aspiration" means. Rather, you need a hypodermic needle and syringe in order to perform a needle aspiration. You must first depress the plunger on the hypodermic syringe to empty all of the air out of the barrel of the syringe, and then carefully insert the hypodermic needle into the side of the pouch, just far enough to penetrate into the central cavity of the pouch, and then gradually withdraw the plunger again, which will extract the gas from that area of the pouch.

You may need to perform this procedure twice, once from the left-hand side of the pouch and once from the right-hand side of the pouch, since male seahorses in breeding condition develop an septum or internal membrane that divides their pouches roughly into left and right hemispheres. So you may need to aspirate air from the left side of the pouch, and then repeat the procedure with your hypodermic needle on the right side of the pouch in order to remove all of the trapped gas from your stallion’s marsupium. But do not penetrate the pouch of your male with a hypodermic needle more than that; if aspirating the gas once from each side of the pouch is not sufficient to deflate the pouch and eliminate the problem with positive buoyancy, then you will need to flush out his pouch instead or release the gas using another method.

I know that a needle aspiration sounds like an intimidating procedure, but it’s actually much easier on both the seahorse and the aquarist than some of the other methods you may have tried, such as burping his pouch or opening of the aperture with the aid of a bobby pin, and it can be more effective in extracting the gas that builds up within the pouch. It’s definitely the way to go if the affected male is pregnant, and it will stress him out much less than other techniques. I can assure you that it’s a perfectly painless procedure for a pony.

In addition to aspirating trapped gas, the hypodermic can also be used to flush out the pouch thoroughly either with sterile saline or a medicated solution (an antibiotic or Diamox dissolved in saltwater). Here’s how another hobbyist describes this procedure:

<Open quote>
dear pete, it was time to give the antibiotics due to recurrent swelling of his pouch and i had small iv catheters but i was unable to intubate the opening. either too small or voluntary tightening by the horse. only choice left was an injection with a needle. i used a 29g insulin syringe and first removed whatever air i could. then reinjected approx .5cc mix of neomycin sulfate plus bifuran until distended then withdrew approx half of that and left the remainder in his pouch. a couple of lethargic days followed with little food intake. then he started eating live brine shrimp then the usual mysis. it is now 5 or 6 weeks later and all seems well. before that a diamox bath didnt do much but i stopped the diamox due to what seemed like unfavorable side effects. hard to believe the antibiotic injection worked so well. i gave only one injection as it seems to have worked. thanks again for all your help. he was certainly a goner without the intervention and we are most grateful. best regards sg
<close quote>

Best of luck performing the pouch wash, Jeanna! Here’s hoping it produces the desired results.

Respectfully,
Pete Giwojna


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