Re:Pouch Emphyzema

#3750
Pete Giwojna
Guest

Dear Tammy:

Thanks for the update! It sounds like you did a fine job of administering the Diamox and treating your stallion’s tail injury, and it’s good to hear that he responded to the treatments so well.

It’s not surprising that he didn’t have much of an appetite while he was undergoing the Diamox treatments. One of the unfortunate side effects of acetazolamide is that suppresses appetite and may put seahorses off their feed. It’s great that he is eating again now that he is back in the main tank, and it’s really very encouraging that he seems content to hang out at the bottom of the aquarium now, rather than spending all of his time perched up near the top on the centipedes.

The chances are a lot better that his problems with pouch emphysema and positive buoyancy won’t recur if he continues to hitch near the bottom where the hydrostatic pressure in your 30-inch tall aquarium is the greatest. But I would also be a good idea for you to pick up a Pouch Kit if you don’t already have one, Tammy. That’s a handy item for any seahorse keeper to keep on hand in his or her fish room medicine chest.

I’m not surprised that your stallion is not as active as your female. That is often the case and It is normal for male seahorses to be a bit more sedentary than the females. Males tend to be real homebodies that will often choose one particular hitching post as their home base and spend much of there time perched right there (think of your Dad hunkered down in his favorite easy chair in the den). Researchers studying seahorses in the field therefore refer to males as "site-specific" because they can be found at the same tiny patch of reef or seagrass day after day, rarely straying from their chosen spot. Mature males are often naturally more shy and retiring than females, which can be quite brazen at times. I suspect this is due to their parental duties — during the breeding season, pair-bonded males are ordinarily ALWAYS pregnant, and they can’t risk exposing their precious cargo to any more risk than absolutely necessary.) The unfettered females tend to be far more footloose and fancy free, and in the wild they typically roam over a home territory of up to 100 square meters. So I wouldn’t worry if your male only tends to wander around the tank on occasion, whereas your female is more active and explores more.

Yes, indeed — algae often grows on the exoskeleton of seahorses, typically on their head and neck which are closest to the light source. That’s perfectly normal and nothing at all to be concerned about. In fact, seahorses often encourage algae to grow on them as a protective device to enhance their camouflage, and it’s often best simply to ignore any such growth.

If you find the algae growth to be unsightly, you can certainly brush it off a new, very soft Campbell’s their paintbrush. Just be very careful when you are handling the seahorse and gently brushing away the algae so that you don’t remove any of the seahorse’s protective slime coat if you can possibly avoid it.

The seahorse’s pliant skin or integument is of course its first line of defense against disease. It contains mucus glands, and the slime covering the skin acts as a barrier to ectoparasites and infection. The protective slime can contain antibodies and antibacterial substances, and excessive mucus production is often the first sign of an infection or parasite problem. On the other hand, healthy seahorses often have small bright dots on their heads and torsos, which are actually mucus deposits. These beads of mucus glisten like little diamonds and are a sign of vibrant good health. When handling a seahorse, it’s important to wet your hands first in order to avoid removing too much of the protective slime coat.

Marine fish are always in danger of dehydration because the seawater they live in is saltier than their blood and internal body fluids. As a result, they are constantly losing water by diffusion (osmosis) through their gills and the surface of their skin, as well as in their urine. The mucus layer acts as a barrier against this, waterproofing the skin and reducing the amount of water that can diffuse across its surface.

For this reason, it’s often best simply to ignore the algae growth on your ponies or to curtail its growth by reducing the photoperiod and/or intensity of the lighting.

Best of luck with your seahorses, Tammy!

Happy Trails!
Pete Giwojna


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