Re:ill sunburst

Pete Giwojna

Dear Kurt:

Thank you for the photograph. The whitish discolored areas on the left flank of your seahorse indicate the early stages of ulcerative dermatitis, but I cannot determine simply from a picture whether the skin infection is bacterial, fungal, the result of protozoan parasites, or a mixed infection of some sort. The treatment regimen we discussed in my previous posts is appropriate and I would continue just as we outlined.

Be sure to obtain some neomycin or kanamycin to add to the trisulfa and increase the effectiveness of the antibiotic therapy as soon as possible. That’s going to be imperative for a good result, sir.

In addition, you can consider applying a topical antiseptic to the discolored area if you can obtain a suitable product. The anitibiotic I recommend for this is povidone iodine (brand name Betadine).

The topical applications of Betadine should be performed once a day well holding the seahorse over a separate bowl of tank water to prevent any excess Betadine from entering the aquarium. While carefully holding the seahorse out of the water in the upright position, dribble the Betadine antiseptic over the affected area, being very careful not to let any of it get into the container of water or otherwise come in contact with the fish’s gills or eyes.

The idea is to dribble the antiseptic over the infected area from a short distance above the wound without actually touching the injury or contacting the seahorse with any sort of a swab or applicator. If you cannot control the application of the Betadine accurately enough by dribbling it on, then you can VERY gently apply the Betadine to the affected area with a new or sterilized artist’s soft bristle brush. If you use the latter technique, apply the antiseptic using as little pressure as possible. The discolored area is very fragile and sensitive, and you must be very careful to avoid aggravating the injury or damaging the delicate tissue any further when applying the antiseptic.

Don’t forget to gradually lower the water temperature in your treatment tank, Kurt. One simple way to drop the water temp in your hospital tank is to position a small fan so it blows across the surface of the water continually (Giwojna, Oct. 2003). This will lower the water temperature a several degrees via evaporative cooling (just be sure to top off the tank regularly to replace the water lost to evaporation). Leaving the cover/hood and light off on your treatment tank in conjunction with evaporative cooling can make a surprising difference.

When reducing the water temperature via evaporative cooling, I should also caution you to observe all the usual precautions to prevent shocks and electrical accident when you are using an electric fan or any other electrical equipment on your aquarium, Kurt.

One such precaution is to install an inexpensive titanium grounding probe in your aquariums. That will protect your seahorses and other wet pets from stray voltage and should also safeguard them electrocution in the event of a catastrophic heater failure or similar accident..

But the best way to protect you and your loved ones from electrical accidents around the fish room is to make sure all the outlets are equipped with Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters. And it’s a good idea to make sure all your electrical equipment is plugged into a surge protector as well to further protect your expensive pumps, filters, heaters, etc. from damage. Some good surge protectors, such as the Shock Busters, come with a GFCI built right into them so you can kill two birds with one stone. So when you set up your cooling fan(s) on the aquarium, be sure they’re plugged into a grounded outlet with a GFCI or a surge protector with GFCI protection.

Best of luck controlling this infection and restoring your seahorse to good health, Kurt. You have done an excellent job of keeping your seahorse eating thus far despite his problems with weak snick.


Pete Giwojna

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