Re:Ned Help with Sick Horse

Pete Giwojna

Dear Ken:

All of your readings are excellent so it doesn’t appear that water quality is an issue with this problem, sir.

I think you have assessed the situation correctly and taken all of the appropriate steps under the circumstances, Ken. Your male may have been been having a problem with intestinal flagellates or other internal parasites. As you know, the symptoms to look for in such a case are a seahorse that’s losing weight or not holding its own weightwise even though it feeds well, or alternatively, a lack of appetite accompanied by white stringy feces (Kaptur, 2004). When a seahorse stops eating aggressively and begins producing white, stringy feces instead of fecal pellets, that’s a clear indication that it’s suffering from intestinal flagellates or other internal parasites (Kaptur, 2004). The treatments you have administered with the metronidazole and praziquantel should have eliminated any such intestinal parasites, and you can discontinue further treatment with those medications. You certainly did the right thing but the medications should have done their job by now.

At this point, your stallions may be completely free of intestinal parasites but can still be producing white, stringy feces simply because it’s been a long time since he has had good meal. It’s quite typical for seahorses to produce white stringy fecal matter rather than the usual fecal pellets anytime they are off their feed or have fasted for an extended period for any reason. In such cases, it simply indicates that the seahorse is underfed at the moment and its gastrointestinal tract is empty rather than packed with food like it normally is when a seahorse has been eating well. So the white stringy feces may mean nothing more than your seahorse is malnourished and hasn’t been getting enough to eat.

I would concentrate on getting some good nourishment into him to help build up his strength again, Ken. Surrounding him with choice live foods he can eat at his leisure is an excellent way to fatten up an ailing seahorse, but if you do not see him eating any of the live Mysis or feeder shrimp, it may be time to consider force feeding him.

But before you resort to tube feeding, I would like you to try handfeeding your male erectus instead. By handfeeding in this case I mean holding one entire, intact (whole and unbroken) frozen Mysis that you have carefully thawed in your fingertips and then placing the head end of the Mysid directly in the mouth of the seahorse. Many times the seahorse will simply spit it out again, but often if you can insert the Mysis into its open mouth far enough, his feeding instincts will kick in and take over so that he slurps up the frozen Mysis almost reflexively. That’s a much less stressful and less invasive method of force feeding a seahorse that sometimes works well (especially if the seahorse is accustomed to being hand fed and doesn’t shy away from the aquarist).

So I would suggest attempting the handfeeding method of force feeding your stallion, Ken, and if that is unsuccessful and the seahorse still is not eating the live foods you provided as indicated by the white, stringy feces, then tube feeding him is the only other option. Let me know if you need me to repeat the instructions for tube feeding a seahorse, sir.

Best of luck getting some nutrition into your emaciated male, Ken.

Pete Giwojna

Post edited by: Pete Giwojna, at: 2009/02/26 19:16

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