Re:Kuda scratching/curling???

Pete Giwojna

Dear Andrea:

I’m happy to hear your new Hippocampus kuda arrived in good condition and acclimated well.

However, the head shaking and scratching you have observed is not normal behavior for new arrivals. Assuming you acclimated them properly and that the aquarium parameters in the tank you are temporarily housing them in our wear they should be, then I strongly suspect they have been exposed to the Cryptocaryon you have been battling with your neon gobies in the main tank despite all your best efforts to prevent that from happening. Cryptocaryon irritans attacks the gills first (hence the head shaking and efforts to curl their tails upwards and scratch their heads) and as the name of this parasite indicates, the burrowing of the embedded parasites is extremely irritating, which is why scratching is one of the telltale signs of an outbreak of ich.

Cross-contamination of nearby aquaria is very common and difficult to prevent when dealing with an outbreak of Cryptocaryon or similar diseases. The infectious stage of the parasites can be transferred from tank the tank in a single drop of water or even when carried on the aerosol mist from an airstone or skimmer. Failing to sterilize nets, hydrometers, dip tubes, algae scrapers and other aquarium equipment before using them on a new tank is often a source of the contamination. But probably the most common cause of cross-contamination is a simple oversight — placing your hands in another aquarium after you have been working in the infected tank.

At any rate, I think it is likely that your new kuda are now infested with Cryptocaryon and if the scratching persists they should be treated right away. Administering a freshwater dip as described in the instructions for administering osmotic shock therapy will provide them with some immediate relief, and you can then treat them for ich using hyposalinity or any of the medications we have previously discussed. Seahorses tolerate all of the usual medications that are effective in treating Cryptocaryon irritans very well, and with prompt treatment, your kudas should shrug off this infection with no difficultly.

Best of luck with your new seahorses, Andrea!

Pete Giwojna

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