It’s always best to be prepared well in advance just in case, and I would be happy to discuss some of the must-have medications seahorse keepers should have available at all times. It is infinitely better to have a medication and not need it that it is to need a medication desperately and not have it at hand.
Of course, when it comes to health problems, prevention is our first goal but that is not always possible to achieve, and when disease problems do crop up, early detection of the problem and prompt treatment are the keys to restoring health. Some diseases are remarkably fast acting, such as pathogens and parasites that multiply by binary fission and can quickly explode to plague proportions when conditions favor them. By the time a health problem becomes apparent, there is often no time to make the rounds of your local fish stores searching for the right medications, much less time to order the meds you need through the mail.
Savvy seahorse keepers avoid such delays by keeping a few of the most useful medications on hand at all times so they’re right there when needed. For the greater seahorses, the following weapons should be in your disease-fighting arsenal at the ready, and I strongly suggest you stock your fish-room medicine chest will the following: first aid preparations such as methylene blue, a pouch kit, and a good topical treatment for wounds such as betadine; potent antiparasitic agents such as formalin and metronidazole; a good antifungal agent; and broad-spectrum antibiotics. And don’t forget the heavy artillery for emergency situations when you’re not sure what you’re dealing with — combination drugs with ingredients that are effective against protozoan parasites, bacteria, and fungal infections alike.
In general, I would say that a basic seahorse First Aid Kit should include the following items and these are the items you should make sure you have on hand in your fish-room:
Methylene Blue (for reversing nitritepoisoning and relieving respiratory distress);
Betadine (as a topical treatment for disinfecting small cuts, scrapes, or minor injuries);
Biobandage (a biological bandage containing an antibiotic for coating cuts and scrapes and other minor skin problems in order to prevent infection and facilitate the healing process);
Formalin (for treating ectoparasites and fungal problems);
Antiparasitic for treating internal parasites (i.e., praziquantel or metronidazole);
Small Syringe with Needle and Cannula (pouch flushes, tube feeding, needle aspirations);
Diamox (i.e., acetazolamide for treating Gas Bubble Disease);
Deworming Agent such as Panacur (for hydroids, Aiptasia, nematodes and bristleworms);
Vibrance (includes beta-glucan to boost the immune system and help prevent disease);
Broad-Spectrum Antibiotics (i.e., neomycin sulfate or Neo3 or Furan2 for treating bacterial infections).
Having the items above on hand will allow you to address nearly all of the common afflictions of seahorses promptly and effectively. In short, your seahorse First Aid Kit should include all of the basics listed below:
Small Syringe with a fine needle and cannula or catheter
Biobandage is a combination of neomycin, a vitamin complex, and unique polymers that form a sort of "biological bandage" that binds the medications to the wound, thus helping to prevent infection and promote rapid healing.
Together with freshwater dips, these items comprise the basic first aid measures you will need to deal with heavy breathing and many of the most common problems hobbyists encounter, such as bloated pouch and hunger strikes. They are the fish-room Band-Aids, disinfectants, and tools you’ll need for scrapes and abrasions and other minor problems.
Along with your basic First Aid Kit, the seahorse keeper’s medicine chest should also include the following categories of must-have meds so that you are prepared to deal with any major disease problems that may arise:
Antiparasitic Agents: Praziquantel or metronidazole for internal parasites (pick one and keep it on hand at all times), plus a good antiparasitics for external parasites such as formalin or Parinox.
Antifungals: Nifurpirinol (Furanase) and formalin are recommended.
Broad Spectrum Antibiotics: if you can only keep one antibiotic in your fish-room medicine cabinet, make it neomycin sulfate due to efficacy and the ability to combine with the other antibiotics mentioned above. For example, it can be used together with nifurpirinol to create a potent combination that’s effective in combating both fungal and bacterial infections. Or another good choice would be Neo3 by Aquabiotics, which is a concentrated formulation of neomycin sulfate combined with sulfa compounds to produce a potent rot-spectrum antibiotic with synergistic effects.
If you can afford to keep more than one antibiotic on hand, build on that approach and add others that can be safely combined with the neomycin to further increase their potency, such as Kanamycin and Sulfathiazole or other sulfa compounds (e.g., Triple Sulfa).
Combo Medications: When it comes to the heavy artillery, Paragon II and Furan2 are my favorite big guns (pick one and keep it at the ready in your arsenal). They can save the day when you’re not sure whether you’re dealing with a fungal problem, a parasite infestation or a bacterial infection. But remember, they are weapons of mass destruction that will nuke your biofilter, so use them with discretion and only in a hospital tank.
Diamox (Acetazolamide): in all its different forms, Gas Bubble Syndrome is one of the most common problems that plagues seahorses, and Diamox is your primary weapon for defeating this affliction. But as a prescription drug, it can be difficult to obtain.
Best of luck assembling the basic first aid kit for seahorses, Billie. Let me know if you’re having trouble locating any of the medications that I mentioned, and I will be happy to point you in the right direction.