Re:Strange seahorse behaviour

Pete Giwojna

You wrote:

Hi Again

Thankyou very much for your advice. I really appreciate the detail you have given.

As of today he is still displaying the same behaviour but still no signs of bloating anywhere.

Here’s hoping he is just playing 🙂

Thanks again

Dear Scott:

Well, sir, neither gas bubble syndrome (GBS) in its various forms or an overinflated swim bladder are intermittent problems that come and go, so I don’t know what else to make of your seahorses unusual behavior. A seahorse can be having a problem with positive buoyancy with no obvious bloating when it is the result of an overinflated swim bladder or gas bladder, but when a problem like that becomes so severe that the seahorses floating at the surface, it does not spontaneously resolve itself so that he can swim down to the bottom again the next morning as usual and chase down food without any difficulty the next day.

Keep a close eye on Spike for any further symptoms of positive buoyancy or GBS, Scott. One simple way to determine if the seahorse is struggling with positive buoyancy is to observe him while he is swimming. The first indication of positive buoyancy is a loss of equilibrium. The seahorse’s center of gravity shifts as it becomes more buoyant, and it will have increasing difficulty swimming and maintaining its normal posture, especially if it encounters any current. It will become apparent that the seahorse has to work hard to stay submerged, as it is forced to abandon its usual upright swimming posture and swim with its body tilted forward or even horizontally in order to use its dorsal fin to counteract the tendency to rise. In severe cases, the seahorse may even end up swimming upside down.

The uncharacteristically hard work it must do while swimming means the hard-pressed seahorse builds up an oxygen debt in its muscles, and the lactic acid that builds up as a result of anaerobic metabolism further disrupts its blood chemistry and worsens the situation. It will struggle mightily in a losing battle against its increasing buoyancy until finally it can no longer swim at all, bobbing helplessly at the surface like a cork whenever it releases its grip on its hitching post. At this point, its pouch is normally obviously swollen and bloated, if the positive buoyancy is due to pouch emphysema.

As long as Spike can descend to the bottom of the tank when he wants to, has no difficulty fighting against the current when he is swimming, and can maintain his normal upright swimming posture and chase down food like usual, there should be no need for you to intervene.

Best of luck with your new seahorse, Scott!

Pete Giwojna

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