Re:Male has odd estrusion

Pete Giwojna

Dear Howard:

The problem you have noticed is a partial prolapse of the seahorse’s pouch. This is not a life-threatening condition and in many cases a prolapse will often resolve itself if you segregate the affected stallion from the females so the amorous male doesn’t persist in performing those energetic pouch displays, which can aggravate the problem. If not, the prolapsed tissue can easily be manually repaired. Here’s some additional information from my new book (Complete Guide to Greater Seahorses in the Aquarium, TFH Publications, unpublished) that explains how to deal with more serious prolapses:

Prolapsed Pouch

A prolapse or a partial prolapse of the pouch occurs when part of the lining of the marsupium becomes everted and protrudes through the mouth of the pouch. Prolapses can occur during or shortly after parturition as a result of the birth spasms during a strenuous delivery, or when courting males are performing their vigorous pouch displays and pumping water in and out of the pouch, or as a complication of recurring pouch emphysema. .

Treatment involves anesthetizing the seahorse, reinserted the prolapsed tissue with a blunt probe, and follow-up treatment with antibiotics as a precaution against secondary infections. You will also want to keep the male away from female’s while he’s healing so he won’t be tempted to inflate his brood pouch for those strenuous courtship displays. The stallions usually recover nicely following this simple procedure.

Here is an email from Tracy Warland describing how she treats her Pot bellies when a prolapse occurs:

<Open quote>
Sounds similar to some horses we have, I’m assuming he has been displaying and some of the lining of the broodpouch has popped out. Last week I had four little pot bellies with a similar problem. All are fit and well, eating and today I saw one display, no problems.

Treatment was a little tricky – anesthesia, I use Benzocaine 1ml per litre of sea water (in a separate bucket obviously – and glove up as this is likely to soak through to your skin) a soluble aesthetic you could use clove oil and get similar results. You will need to work quickly once horse is under, take about 1 minute at most, work with horse under the water, with a blunt probe (sterilized of course) push distended pouch lining back into pouch opening and then massage pouch in downwards direction gently and hopefully it will fall back into place. An isolation recovery tank to revive him, perhaps with some soluble oxytetracycline or similar broad spectrum antibiotic, he should awake within a minute or so and be ready to eat almost immediately. Keep isolated if possible for a few days, changing water and perhaps adding some stress coat or similar product, keep away from females for about a week or so, just in case he gets the urge to display and ruin your handiwork.

Tracy Warland
<close quote>

I would suggest isolating your male from the females in a hospital tank to see if the prolapsed tissue will revert to normal once he is no longer pumping up his pouch. If the prolapsed doesn’t resolve itself, you can then manually reinsert the prolapsed tissue just as Tracey described. There is an excellent description of how to sedate a seahorse with clove oil and tube feed it at the following URL, including photographs of the entire procedure, so you may want to refer to that as well before you attempt to repair the prolapse, Howard:

Of course, you won’t be tube feeding your seahorse, but the procedure for sedating the seahorse using clove oil is exactly the same whether you’ll be tube feeding or repairing a prolapse.

The antibiotics I would recommend following the procedure or kanamycin sulfate or neomycin sulfate. You should be able to find a suitable medication at your local fish store whose primary ingredient is kanamycin sulfate or neomycin sulfate.

Once his prolapsed pouch is back to normal and he is reunited with the female, I suspect it won’t be long before the male’s courtship displays produce the desired result and he becomes pregnant. He is obviously trying very hard to impress the female and get himself pregnant right now — perhaps even trying a bit too hard for his own good — so I think it’s only a matter of time before he succeeds.

Best of luck with your seahorses, Howard!

Pete Giwojna

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