Re:tail leson

Pete Giwojna

Dear Julie:

I’m very sorry to hear about the tail injury the in female Hippocampus reidi has suffered. I suspect that the scrapes she got when she was stuck in your rockwork have become infected, and I think that is why she is off her feed and has darkened in coloration.

Tail infections are always serious, Julie, and require prompt treatment with broad spectrum antibiotics in order to heal. These types of antibiotics cannot be used in the main tank because they would destroy the beneficial bacteria that carry out biological filtration, so I feel that your best option is to treat the Brazilian female with a good antibiotic, or combination of antibiotics, and a hospital tank.

The medications I recommend for this are aminoglycoside antibiotics (either kanamycin sulfate or neomycin sulfate, or better yet — both of them) combined with triple sulfa or other sulfa compounds. However, kanamycin sulfate and/or neomycin sulfate are sometimes difficult for hobbyists to obtain from their local fish stores, and it’s important to begin treatment as soon as possible, so other good treatment options would include Maracyn-Two, which contains minocycline as its active ingredient, and Furan2, both of which can often be obtained locally. You should be able to obtain one of these antibiotics at your local fish stores, Julie, and I will provide you with the instructions for using all of these antibiotics below:

Kanamycin sulfate powder

USE: Gram-negative bacteria and resistant strains of piscine tuberculosis and other bacterial infections. Works especially well in salt water aquariums.

DOSAGE 1/4 teaspoon per 20 gallons of water. Treat every 24 hours with a 25% water change before each treatment. Treat for 10 days. For piscine tuberculosis, use for up to 30 days.

This is a potent broad-spectrum, gram+/gram- antibiotic. It is
wonderfully effective for aquarium use because it is one of the few
antibiotics that dissolves well in saltwater and that is readily
absorbed through the skin of the fish. That makes it the treatment of
choice for treating many bacterial infections in seahorses. Kanamycin
can be combined safely with neomycin to further increase its
efficacy. Like other gram-negative antibiotics, it will destroy your
biofiltration and should be used in a hospital tank only.

For best results, it’s an excellent idea to combine the kanamycin with neomycin to further boost its efficacy, as described below:

Neomycin sulfate powder

USE: Gram-negative bacteria (Pseudomonas), piscine tuberculosis and other bacterial infections. Works well in freshwater or saltwater aquariums.

DOSAGE 1/4 teaspoon per 10 gallons of water. Treat every 24 hours with a 25% water change before each treatment. Treat for 10 days. For piscine tuberculosis, use for up to 30 days.

Neomycin is a very potent gram-negative antibiotic. Most of
infections that plague marine fish are gram-negative, so neomycin
sulfate can be a wonder drug for seahorses (Burns, 2002). As
mentioned above, it can even be combined with other medications such
as kanamycin or nifurpirinol for increased efficacy. For example,
kanamycin/neomycin is tremendous for treating bacterial infections,
while nifurpirinol/neomycin makes a combination that packs a heckuva
wallop for treating mixed bacterial/fungal infections or problems of
unknown nature. Keep it on hand at all times.

Neomycin will destroy beneficial bacteria and disrupt your biological
filtration, so be sure to administer the drug in a hospital tank.

If you obtained neomycin in capsule or tablet form rather than the powder, the standard treatment protocol is 250 mg/gal (66 mg/L) as the initial dose and 50% replacement (125 mg/gallon) thereafter with a daily 50% water change repeated for 10 days.

Kanamycin and/or neomycin sulfate can also be combined with various sulfa compounds. One that seems to work well is combining neomycin sulfate with triple sulfa. You may be able to get neomycin sulfate and triple sulfa compound at a well-stocked LFS. If not, you can obtain kanamycin sulfate, neomycin sulfate powder and triple sulfa powder from National Aquarium Pharmaceuticals. You can order them online at the following site:

Rather than ordering antibiotics to the male and the laying treatment until they are delivered, Julie, you might have better luck locating Maracyn-Two or Furan2 at your local fish store so you can begin treating your female’s tale infection immediately:

* Broad-spectrum antibiotic for gram-negative bacterial infections in aquarium fish
* Effective fish medication for Dropsy, Septicemia, Popeye, and Fin & Tail Rot
* Prevents secondary bacterial infections and treats sick fish that will not eat
A broad-spectrum antibiotic for internal or external gram-negative bacterial infections. Effective treatment for fin and tail rot, popeye, gill disease, dropsy, bleeding or red streaks, secondary and internal infections. Also helps treat sick fish that will not eat. Active ingredient: Minocycline. For freshwater, use 2 tablets per 10 gallons first day and 1 tablet per 10 gallons thereafter. For saltwater, use 1 tablet per 10 gallons first day and 1 tablet per 20 gallons thereafter.

Furan2 would also work well for this sort of infection and can be used as follows:

Furan2 is a good combo medication that consist of two nitrofuran antibiotics (nitrofurazone and furazolidone) plus good old methylene blue. That gives it both bacteriostatic and bactericidal properties, and makes it active against various gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria. The methylene blue stains the water in the treatment tank as and prevents the photosensitive nitrofuran antibiotics from being deactivated by light. Methylene blue is effective in preventing fungal growth, 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. This makes the combination of methylene blue, nitrofurazone and furazolidone very broad spectrum and quite potent. Furan2 is especially effective for treating mild skin infections.

However, Julie, you have to take special precautions when administering nitrofuran antibiotics such as Furan2 because they are photosensitive and can be deactivated by light. That means you’ll need to darken the hospital tank while you treat the seahorse(s). Do not use a light on your hospital tank, cover the sides of the tank with black construction paper or something similar, and keep an opaque lid or cover on the aquarium during the treatments. Remove this cover from the aquarium only long enough to feed your female Hippocampus reidi.

Or, alternatively, you could treat the hospital tank with methylene blue at the same time as you are administering the Furan2. The methylene blue will darken the aquarium water and protect the active ingredients in Furan2 from the light.

You should also be aware that using methylene blue with the Furan2 will cause discoloration of the aquarium water, turning it a shade of blue-green. This is harmless and can be removed after the treatments using activated carbon filtration. Furan2 will impair beneficial nitrifying bacteria and disrupt your biological filtration, so it should be administered in a hospital tank.

Here are the instructions for dosing and administering the Furan2 for best results, Julie (courtesy of Ann at the org):

FURAN-2 (immersion) Dosage and Preparation Instructions for a 10g/38L Hospital Tank
Active Ingredient: Nitrofurazone and Furazolidone
Indication: bacterial infection
Disregard package info concerning water changes and duration of treatment. Dose medication daily for
10 days.
Replace the medication in ratio to the amount of water changed daily as needed to control ammonia.
This product is best administered by feeding it to adult live brine shrimp, then in turn, feeding those
animals to the Seahorse. If this is not an option, it may be administered as follows.
DAY 1 of Treatment
• Thoroughly mix one packet of Furan-2 with about 1 cup of marine water.
• Pour the mixture into a high-flow area of the hospital tank.
DAYS 2 – 10 of Treatment
• Perform a 50% water change.
• Thoroughly mix one packet of Furan-2 with about 1 cup of marine water.
• Pour the mixture into a high-flow area of the hospital tank.

However, Julie, the Furan2 is most effective when it is administered orally via gutloaded adult brine shrimp, and the live food will also encourage your ailing female to eat more aggressively, which will help to get some nutrition into her in order to keep her strength up, so if possible tried to administer the Furan2 as follows:

FURAN-BASED MEDS (oral) Dosage and Preparation Instructions for a 10g/38L Hospital Tank
Active Ingredients: Nitrofurazone and/or Furazolidone
Indication: bacterial infection
Brand Names: Furan-2, Furanase, Binox, BiFuran+, FuraMS, Furazolidone Powder
Feed adult brine shrimp gut-loaded with medication to the Seahorse 2x per day for 10 days.
• Add a small amount of the medication to one gallon of water and mix thoroughly.
• Place the amount of adult brine shrimp needed for one feeding into the mixture. Leave them in the mixture for at least 2hrs.
• Remove the adult brine shrimp from the mixture and add them to the hospital tank.
• Observe the Seahorse to be certain it is eating the adult brine shrimp.

And here is how to set up a quick hospital tank if you do not already have a quarantine tank up and running, Julie:

The Hospital Ward or Quarantine Tank

A bare-bottomed aquarium with plenty of hitching posts will suffice for a hospital ward or Quarantine Tank (QT). Ideally, the hospital tank should have one or more foam filters for biofiltration along with a small external filter, which can easily be removed from the tank during treatment but which can hold activated carbon or polyfilter pads when it’s time to pull the meds out. It’s important for the hospital ward to include enough hitching posts so that the seahorse won’t feel vulnerable or exposed during treatment. Aquarium safe, inert plastic plants or homemade hitching posts fashioned from polypropylene rope or twine that has been unraveled and anchored at one end are excellent for a hospital tank. No aquarium reflector is necessary. Ambient room light will suffice. (Bright lights can breakdown and inactivate certain medications and seahorses are more comfortable and feel more secure under relatively dim lighting.)

So just a bare tank with hitching posts is all you need for your hospital ward. No heater. No reflector. No lights. No substrate. You can even do without the sponge filters or external filter in your case, just adding a couple of airstones to provide surface agitation and oxygenation. That’s it.

In a pinch, a clean 5-gallon plastic bucket (new and unused, NOT an old scrub bucket!) can serve as a makeshift hospital tank. It should be aerated and equipped with hitching posts and perhaps a heater, but nothing else. This makes a useful substitute when the Quarantine Tank is occupied or in use and a seahorse needs treatment.

Stay on top of water quality in the hospital tank/bucket with water changes as often as needed during treatment, and and when you are treating the occupants for a health problem, re-dose with the medication(s) according to directions after each water change

In addition, Julie, you might consider treating the tail lesions on your female with Biobandage as a first-aid measure. This is a combination of neomycin, a vitamin complex, and unique polymers that form a sort of "biological bandage" that binds the medications to the wound, thus helping to prevent infection and promote rapid healing.

In summation, Julie, I would recommend treating your female’s tail lesions using broad-spectrum antibiotics in your hospital tank, along with topical applications of Biobandage to the scrapes.

Best of luck resolving this problem, Julie.

Pete Giwojna

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