Dear Kira & Nicole:
Thanks for the updates! It’s really good to hear that your seahorse responded well to the freshwater dip and is now back to normal again.
However, that may be only a temporary reprieve. If her respiratory distress or labored breathing recurs, you may need to treat her again with another freshwater dip and/or a very brief dip in concentrated methylene blue. So do be sure to pick up some methylene blue at your earliest opportunity.
The white specs you noticed in the dipping container afterwards are not bacteria, which are microscopic and not visible to the naked eye, but they could well be external parasites that were infesting her gills. There are quite a number of protozoan parasites and gill flukes that can cause the sort of respiratory problems your seahorses have been experiencing, especially after they been stressed out and weakened by heat stress or a temperature spike. The freshwater dip will provide your seahorse with some immediate relief from such ectoparasites by causing many of them to rupture or lyse and forcing some of the embedded parasites to detach in the freshwater. However, if those parasites are still present in the main tank in large numbers, there is a good chance that your seahorse will be reinfested by them again at some point after its return to the main tank.
In that case, Kira, if the respiratory problems keep returning, it will be necessary to treat your main tank for these parasites. Hyposalinity or Osmotic Shock Therapy (OST) is one option for accomplishing this, as are various antiparasitics such as Parinox that are safe for seahorses and won’t impair your biofiltration.
Which of these remedies may be most suitable in your case, Kira, depends on whether or not you have any delicate corals are invertebrates in your tank as tankmates for your seahorses. I know you have a feather duster worm, but do you have any other invertebrates in the tank as companions for your seahorse or as aquarium janitors? Any peppermint shrimp or cleaner shrimp? If you have a cleanup crew, what type of snails and/or small hermit crabs does it include? If you can let me know what other specimens are in the tank beside your seahorses, I will be able to better advice you on how to proceed if the heavy breathing or other symptoms recur.
The pallor you described is very characteristic of seahorses that are not getting enough oxygen. This can be due to either gill parasites or low oxygen levels (or high CO2 levels) in the aquarium. Seahorses will blanch when subjected to hypoxic conditions. So the return of your seahorse to her normal their coloration is another good sign that she is breathing better now since the freshwater dip.
If you need to repeat the freshwater dip or administer a very brief dip and methylene blue, be sure to aerate the water in the dipping container thoroughly beforehand to saturate it with oxygen. It would be a good idea to leave an airstone in the dipping container while you are performing the dip, if possible.
Please keep us posted if your seahorse develops any further problems. Hopefully, now that you have the temperature back down to 75°F and her gills have been cleansed of parasites by the freshwater dip, she won’t have any additional difficulties. Do pick up some methylene blue ASAP and let me know about the tankmate situation right away just in case.
Best wishes with all your fishes, Kira and Nicole!
Post edited by: Pete Giwojna, at: 2006/07/05 19:04