Pete Giwojna

Dear Sue:

I’m very sorry to hear that you lost the male that was ailing. Please accept all my condolences for your loss, Sue.

No, I don’t believe there is anywhere you can send the seahorse to have a necroscopic examination done in order to determine the cause of death. It would be an expensive, time-consuming proposition to have the seahorse’s internal organs examined (multiorgan histopathology) and to prepare cultures and then grow out and analyze any possible pathogenic bacteria that may have been involved. I don’t know of anyone that would be willing to donate the necessary lab time for such a procedure. Under the circumstances, there is really no way to determine the proximate cause of your stallion’s demise with any degree of certainty.

But there are some precautions that you can take that should assure that none of the other seahorses are affected by the same sort of problem. First of all, Sue, you will want to address the water quality in your main tank as we discussed in your previous post on this subject. Please go ahead and follow through with the suggestions that I made earlier in order to (1) improve the water flow and circulation in the aquarium, while increasing surface agitation and oxygenation; (2) improve your filtration system by adding a protein skimmer or upgrading the existing protein skimmer and installing micron filtration; (3) reduce the amount of organic matter that you add to the aquarium in the first place by adjusting your feeding regimen; (4) combine a major water change with a good general aquarium cleaning. If you can implement as many of those measures as possible, as I described in detail in my earlier post, you can then be sure that your water quality is as good as you can make it, and that you have reduced the organic loading in your seahorse tank is much as possible, which will help to assure that your other male is not affected by the chronic pouch emphysema that plagued your other stallion and does not have problems with any other forms of gas bubble syndrome.

All of which will go a long way toward providing your seahorses with the stress-free environment, Sue. Secondly, you’ll want to take some steps to eliminate undesirable bacteria from your aquarium and from your seahorses’ systems. In order to do that, you should contact Teri Potter, INVE Aquaculture’s Utah distributor, and order the following two products:

(1) a bottle of DC-DHA SELCO enrichment formulation.

(2) 500 grams of Sanolife MIC-F probiotic powder.

You can obtain both of these INVE Aquaculture products from Teri Potter, whose contact information is as follows:

3528 W 500 S
Salt Lake City
UT 84104
Tel. +1 (801) 956 0203
E-mail: [email protected]

Both products are easy to use and will help to eliminate harmful bacteria from your seahorses and your aquarium, Sue. When they arrive, you will simply be measuring out a small amount of the Sanolife MIC-F probiotic powder and adding it to your aquarium each day, while you are feeding the DC-DHA SELCO to your seahorses. To feed the SELCO to your ponies, you just obtain adult brine shrimp, enrich the brine shrimp using the SELCO, and then feed the fortified live adult brine shrimp directly to your seahorses immediately afterwards. You should keep the seahorses on a steady diet of live adult brine shrimp enriched with SELCO for 7-10 days, Sue. This will help to keep your seahorses healthy because the DC-DHA SELCO has antimicrobial properties and can prevent harmful bacteria such as Vibrio from colonizing the gut of the seahorses.

After you have fed your ponies adult brine shrimp enriched with DC-DHA SELCO for 7-10 days, Sue, you can discontinue the SELCO and switch to the Sanolife MIC-F probiotics instead when feeding your seahorses. Whereas the SELCO has antimicrobial properties that will help cleanse harmful bacteria from the gut in gastrointestinal tract of your seahorses, the Sanolife MIC-F probiotic will colonize the GI tract of your seahorses with beneficial microflora that can outcompete harmful bacteria such as Vibrio, completing the process of eliminating them from your seahorses and from your seahorse tank.

Simply put, probiotics such as the Sanolife MIC-F are mixtures of specially cultured microbes and microflora that are known to be beneficial to the aquarium and its inhabitants. As we have previously discussed, Sue, when added to the aquarium, probiotics populate the aquarium substrate and filter media, as well as colonizing the gastrointestinal tract of the seahorses. Probiotics that colonize the digestive system of the seahorse with beneficial microflora can offer protection against certain pathogens by means of competitive inhibition, and there is also good evidence that suggests they may improve immune function by increasing the number of IgA-producing plasma cells, increasing or improving phagocytosis as well as increasing the proportion of T lymphocytes and Natural Killer cells.

At the same time, other beneficial bacteria in the probiotics mixture colonize the sand and gravel, live rock, and filter media, where they specialize in breaking down waste products, detritus, and other organic matter. This helps to maintain optimum water quality by reducing organic loading, stabilizing the pH, improving the clarity of the water, and reducing the levels of nitrates and phosphates in the aquarium.

In short, Sanolife MIC-F probiotics can help prevent seahorse diseases by three mechanisms: dramatically improving water quality, boosting the immune system, and outcompeting pathologic bacterial, such as Vibrio. This is important for the seahorse keeper to know because Vibrio are the type of bacteria that are most commonly associated with infections such as tail rot, snout rot, and marine ulcer disease or ulcerative dermatitis. in addition, probiotics are also known to markedly reduced the incidence of gas bubble syndrome (GBS) when seahorses are kept in small, closed-system aquariums, probably by virtue of their ability to degrade organic wastes and promote optimum water quality (Dan Underwood, personal communication).

The beneficial Bacillus bacteria in the Sanolife MIC-F probiotic will reduce nitrates and improve water quality by degrading waste products and organic matter. When administered orally, they will also colonize the digestive tract of your seahorses with beneficial microflora that improve their digestion, so your ponies will produce less waste even though they may be eating the same amount. The Sanolife beneficial bacteria also help make your seahorses more disease resistant by helping to eliminate opportunistic pathogenic bacteria through the phenomena of competitive inhibition and by enhancing the immune response of the seahorses. Here are the instructions for using the probiotic in your seahorse tank.

Dosing Sanolife Mic-F for home aquariums:

The Sanolife MIC-F probiotic can be administered in two ways — either by direct application of the powder to the aquarium water in the main tank on a daily basis, or it can be administered orally by mixing the powder with frozen Mysis or with live adult brine shrimp (Artemia), which are then fed to the seahorses. For best results, both methods can be used simultaneously. Administering the probiotics with the seahorse’s feed will help the special mixture of beneficial microbes to colonize the pony’s digestive tract, allowing the microbes to better stimulate the seahorses immune system and outcompete harmful bacteria such as Vibrio. Meanwhile, adding the Sanolife powder directly to the aquarium will encourage the enzymatic activity that breaks down excess organic matter and helps to assure optimal water quality.

Here are the instructions for both methods of administering Sanolife MIC-F:

Procedure for Direct Application of the Sanolife MIC-F To the Aquarium Water

The recommended daily dose is 5 grams of the probiotic per cubic meter of water in the aquarium system. Since 1 cubic meter of water equals 264 gallons, the proper dosage of the Sanolife powder is therefore as follows:

5 g per 264 gallons of aquarium water
2.5 g per 132 gallons of aquarium water
1 g per 53 gallons of aquarium water
500 mg per 26 gallons of aquarium water
250 mg per 13 gallons of aquarium water

[Note: 1 ounce equals ~28 grams]

When you have measured out the proper amount of the Sanolife MIC-F Powder, scoop up a little water from the tank, mix it with the powder and disperse the mixture evenly throughout the tank. Repeat daily.

Procedure for Administering Sanolife MIC-F Orally

Mixing Sanolife Powder with Frozen Mysis

The recommended dosage is 150 mg of Sanolife MIC-F powder per ounce of frozen Mysis. Thaw out 1 ounce of frozen Mysis. If the thawed Mysis is not sufficiently moist, sprinkle no more than 3 mL of water over the frozen Mysis to moisten it. (The added moisture will help the Sanolife powder adhere to the Mysis.) Gently but thoroughly mix in 150 mg of the Sanolife powder with the thawed, moistened Mysis. Then feed the prepared Mysis to the seahorses immediately or store it for a maximum of 24 hours in the refrigerator. Repeat this procedure for each day’s feedings.

Enriching Live Food with Sanolife Powder

Add 500 mg of Sanolife MIC-F powder per ounce of water in the enrichment container directly to the live adult brine shrimp (Artemia sp.) enrichment container. Apply at least two hours and no more than six hours before harvesting the enriched adult brine shrimp. Feed the enriched adult brine shrimp to your seahorses immediately thereafter or keep the enriched adult brine shrimp in cold storage for a maximum of 24 hours before using. Enrich a new batch of adult brine shrimp with the appropriate amount of the Sanolife powder for each day’s feeding.

If treating seahorses for a health problem, continue to administer the Sanolife MIC-F probiotic orally until the symptoms have completely disappeared and the seahorse is back to normal again. Otherwise, use the Sanolife MIC-F probiotics daily for two weeks and then taper off. You can re-dose the seahorse tank with the probiotics periodically thereafter as needed.

Okay, Sue, those are the precautions that I would recommend in order to make sure that the rest of your seahorses are not affected by the same problem that claimed the life of your male. If you concentrate on reducing the amount of organic wastes in your seahorse tank and improving the water quality and circulation, as described above and discussed in detail in your previous post, and then use the SELCO and the Sanolife MIC-F probiotic powder to eliminate harmful bacteria and replace them with beneficial microflora, boosting the immune system of your seahorses in the process, you will have done everything possible to make sure the rest of your herd remains healthy. These measures are very often effective even in cases like yours where it is not clear exactly what caused the demise of the dead seahorse.

Best of luck!

Pete Giwojna

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