Re:sick female

#4974
Pete Giwojna
Guest

Dear seasons:

I am very sorry to hear about the problem that your female Hippocampus kuda seahorse has developed but I don’t know how helpful I can be under the circumstances. I don’t have a clear understanding of what may have caused her difficulties, although I can tell you that it is apparently not a water quality issue and that this does not sound like an infection due to the rapid onset of the problem and her lack of any outward symptoms other than heavy, labored breathing:

If your female H. kuda sleeps on the sand bed and spends a lot of time on the substrate, and you saw her snick at a bristleworm shortly before the odd behavior and unusual symptoms you describe first began, then we should consider the possibility that she may have spicules from the bristleworm lodged within her snout or esophagus. This can happen when a seahorse slurps up a very small bristleworm or strikes at a larger bristleworm but only gets a mouthful of spicules. The hairlike spines or spicules from a bristleworm are very irritating and could prevent the seahorse from feeding normally if any of them have become embedded within the snout or esophagus of the seahorse, which might also account for the difficulty breathing. That’s just a guess, of course, but it is the only thing that occurs to me offhand…

If that’s the case, there is really nothing you can do to remove any spicules that may be lodged or embedded within the snout, bucal cavity, or esophagus of the seahorse. But there are a couple of first aid measures you could administer to the seahorse using commonly available medications you likely have on hand that would aid the breathing of the seahorse and help prevent secondary infections from the embedded spines, namely a very brief 10-second dip in concentrated methylene blue or in 3% hydrogen peroxide..

Here are the instructions for administering a quick dip in concentrated methylene:

Methylene Blue

Commonly known as "meth blue" or simply "blue," this is a wonderful medication for reversing the toxic effects of ammonia and nitrite poisoning (commonly known as "new tank syndrome"). Since hospital tanks are usually without biological filtration, and ammonia and nitrite can thus build up rapidly (especially if you are not doing water changes during the treatment period), it’s a good idea to add methylene blue to your hospital ward when treating sick fish.

Methylene blue also transports oxygen and aids breathing. It facilitates oxygen transport, helping fish breathe more easily by converting methemoglobin to hemoglobin — the normal oxygen carrying component of fish blood, thus allowing more oxygen to be carried through the bloodstream. This makes it very useful for treating gill infections, low oxygen levels, or anytime your seahorses are breathing rapidly and experiencing respiratory distress. It is the drug of choice for treating hypoxic emergencies of any kind with your fish.

In addition, methylene blue treats fungus and some bacteria and protozoans. Methylene blue is effective in preventing fungal infections, and it has antiprotozoal and antibacterial properties as well, by virtue of its ability to bind with cytoplasmic structures within the cell and interfere with oxidation-reduction processes. A "must" for your fish-room medicine cabinet. However, be aware that it is not safe to combine methylene blue with some antibiotics, so check your medication labels closely for any possible problems before doing so.

If you can obtain the Kordon brand of Methylene Blue (available at most well-stocked local fish stores), the instructions for administering it as a very brief, concentrated dip are as follows:

For use as a dip for treatment of fungus or external parasitic protozoans and cyanide poisoning:
(a) Prepare a nonmetallic container of sufficient size to contain the fish to be treated by adding water similar to the original aquarium.
(b) Add 5 teaspoons (24.65 ml) per 3 gallons of water. This produces a concentration of 50 ppm. It is not recommended that the concentration be increased beyond 50 ppm.
(c) Place fishes to be treated in this solution for no longer than 10 seconds.
(d) Return fish to original aquarium.

When you administer such a dip, hold the seahorse in your hand throughout the procedure and time it closely so that the dip does not exceed 10 seconds.

If you obtained a brand of methylene blue other than Kordon, just follow the instructions the medication comes with. Remember that methylene blue will have an adverse impact on the beneficial bacteria that carry out the nitrogen cycle, so don’t use it in your main tank — rather, use the methylene blue as a quick dip or for treating the seahorses for a prolonged period in your hospital tank.

And here are the instructions for performing the very brief hydrogen peroxide dips:

<open quote>
Therapeutic Hydrogen Peroxide (H202) Dips

A very quick dip 10-second dip in a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution is effective in cleansing fish of Uronema and other protozoan parasites and will also help to disinfect bacterial lesions and promote healing of open wounds and sores. (Note: 3% is the standard concentration of hydrogen peroxide that you obtain at the drugstore or probably have in your medicine chest at home, but this is not the best choice for performing this procedure.)

Rather, if possible, it is customary to obtain the stronger 35% Food Grade or Technical Grade of hydrogen peroxide and then dilute it to the proper concentration instead. For example, 35% hydrogen peroxide was approved for aquaculture use by the FDA in January 2007 and is sold under the name of PEROX-AID(r). This is a much stronger solution of hydrogen peroxide which professional aquarists start with when performing such dips. The desired 3% hydrogen peroxide dipping solution is prepared by taking one gallon of dechlorinated freshwater and then removing 10-oz of the water and replacing it with 10-oz of 35% hydrogen peroxide (PEROX-AID) instead. This formula will produce a ~3% solution of hydrogen peroxide for the brief dip (Kollman, 2003).

You can also scale this formula down by starting with 1/2 gallon of dechlorinated freshwater for the dip, and then removing 5 ounces of the water and replacing it with 5 ounces of 35% hydrogen peroxide instead. That will again produce a ~3% solution of hydrogen peroxide and 1/2 gallon is enough for dipping seahorses if you put it in a relatively small container rather than a large plastic bucket.

The 35% Food Grade or Technical Grade hydrogen peroxide can be purchased from chemical supply houses and some online sources, but it is much stronger and more volatile than the drugstore hydrogen peroxide, and must therefore be handled with great care. Be especially careful NOT to confuse the 35% hydrogen peroxide solution with the mild 3% hydrogen peroxide solution from your drugstore when disinfecting wounds or performing the usual first aid measures that the weak solution is customarily used for around the house.

Once prepared, you can use the same dipping solution for dipping several seahorses in quick succession, but it should then be discarded and you will need to prepare a new solution of 3% hydrogen peroxide each day immediately before you perform the dips, if you will be doing them on a daily basis. This is necessary because the hydrogen peroxide dissipates fairly quickly and must be used immediately after it’s prepared for best results.

Dip the affected seahorse in the hydrogen peroxide solution for 10 seconds and then return it to the treatment tank. Cup the seahorse in your hand so that you can remove the seahorse quickly after 10 seconds of exposure in the dipping container. The hydrogen peroxide dip will disinfect bacterial lesions and abrasions and help promote healing. The dips have the added benefit of cleansing the fish from some ectoparasites and may help the seahorse’s breathing because the hydrogen peroxide greatly increases the dissolved oxygen levels in the dipping solution. The 3% hydrogen peroxide dips can be repeated once a day or once every three days as needed, depending on the severity of the infection/infestation.

In summation, the entire seahorse can be submerged in a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide for a period of 10 seconds to disinfect wounds or rid them of ectoparasites. DO NOT use a stronger solution of hydrogen peroxide for this procedure! The very brief dips in 3% hydrogen peroxide are a treatment regimen that has been refined by Dr. J. Peter Hill , DVM, who serves as the veterinarian for the Newport Aquarium. He uses it to treat ectoparasites such as Uronema as well as to combat external bacterial infections and to disinfect open wounds or ulcers, thereby helping to promote more rapid healing. He has recommended such baths for seahorses for these purposes…

In a pinch, some hobbyists will use the 3% hydrogen peroxide from their drugstore, but for best results, it’s safer to start with a concentrated 35% Food Grade or Technical Grade, or better yet the 35% PEROX-AID designed for use in aquaculture, and then to dilute it to 3% H2O2 as previously described.
<Close quote>

Okay, those are a couple of things you might consider that could possibly help your female kuda. Either the quick dip in concentrated methylene blue or the quick dip in 3% hydrogen peroxide will help the labored breathing of the seahorse and disinfect any internal wounds from embedded or lodged bristleworms spines, helping to prevent secondary infections. They don’t require you to set up a quarantine tank because the seahorse can be returned to the main tank after the 10-second dip, and these are safe procedures that can be repeated daily, if necessary.

I’m sorry that I couldn’t be more helpful but that’s the only thing I can think of under the circumstances…

Best of luck resolving this unusual problem, seasons.

Respectfully,
Pete Giwojna


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